God 52 – Week Twenty-nine (16/7/2013)

16 Jul

fireworksOne of the main focuses of God52 is the Spiritual Disciplines; the ancient tools by which we try to draw closer to God. When we think of the disciplines, we might immediately picture someone fasting, or sitting in total silence for a prolonged period. We may not immediately think of the discipline of celebration.

That’s right. Fun is a spiritual discipline. Party is a principle of the Kingdom of God. We aren’t just followers of the man who died on a cross; we’re a Resurrection People. We have much to be thankful for, and much to celebrate. Learning to celebrate our life and our faith is an important part of the Christian journey. So this week, we’re giving ourselves an opportunity to practice it:

29: Celebrate with someone

Celebration is defined by Richard Foster as one of the corporate disciplines; meaning we don’t just practice it on our own, but in community. So see this week as a great opportunity to organise a celebration with friends, relatives or members of your community. You don’t need a reason – just create a space where you can encourage, build up and enjoy one another.

Remember – party is a principle of the Kingdom! Let’s extend the Kingdom of God this week!

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of celebration – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Twenty-eight (9/7/2013)

10 Jul

????????????????????????????????So, after a week’s amnesty and a week spent reflecting – God 52 is back with a new challenge, and it’s only (?!) one day late. Sorry about that. Anyway, a lot of the challenges to date have involved doing things, often spiritual disciplines, on our own. And this is all well and good, but wouldn’t it be nice to do something with someone else? Well, as we’re feeling generous…

28: Spend an hour praying with someone else.

Pretty simple this one, but valuable. If you’re anything like me you get far less distracted when praying in a group. You could use the time to pray for an issue or person that you’re both concerned about, praying for each other, or just spending time listening to God. It could be someone doing God 52 already, someone who’s never heard of it, or someone who’d like to get involved. It could be in person, down the phone, on skype. Basically, however you want to do it – do that.

Simple enough. Off you go.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of prayer – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

Some reflections on… reflection by Nick Parish

8 Jul

Writing in response to our recent challenge on reflection, Nick Parish looks forward and back, and risks encouraging his inner eeyore…

eeyoreWhat a perfect invitation. “This week we’re going to invite you to make a new half-year resolution – and get back on the God52 wagon…”

Last week’s amnesty was good (though in all honesty, I could do with a couple more weeks of amnesty…) and a chance to reassess. So this week’s invitation to recommit was timely.  Because it reminds me that being a Christian and living for Christ doesn’t simply require one decision. It requires daily choices being made.  It asks me to commit myself through words and actions day after day after day. In the week that Andy Murray won Wimbledon, it’s also worth remembering that the daily commitment to something, whilst demanding, can also bring rewards. We are doing these weekly challenges not just for the sake of it, but to draw closer to God.

And so I have devoted some time to reflecting.  Looking back and looking forward. In the process of reflecting, I wrote two headings:  “Stuff I’ve achieved” and “Stuff to come”. I wrote a couple of things down under each heading, glanced back at the challenge and realised my mistake (one I make all too easily). The challenge wasn’t, in fact, to chart my personal successes over the first six months of the year, it was to consider “what God has done in your life”. So I rewrote the first heading and had another crack at reflecting on it.  The fact of the matter is, the best things I achieve tend to be the ones that God and I work on together. Raising my boys (which is my main role) is the greatest thing we’ve worked on together. I often don’t get it right, but that doesn’t mean I give up, it just requires recommitting to it. The last six months have been one quarter of Luke’s entire life. That’s hugely significant for him, surely. But only in reflecting on the last six months has that been brought home to me.

As I continued to reflect, there was the ongoing danger of seeing my life through Eeyore’s eyes. With this sort of exercise, I find myself more likely to take a gloomy approach than a cheery one. But God has been working in my life over the last few months, and taking time to notice where is such a valuable exercise. It reminds me that I am not alone. It reminds me that my personal triumphs are not the be-all and end-all; life is bigger than that. Reflecting also excites me about the future. The coming six months will have some challenges, without a doubt. But they’ll have plenty of opportunity to grow closer to Him, to serve Him through the things that I prioritise. There will be a direct link between my commitment and my growth. This may or may not be visible in the coming months, but by taking time to reflect, I’m reminded that God has been good, and will be good in the future. Some things never change.

Nick Parish is a stay at home Dad who’s slowly learning that this fact doesn’t need to be justified by adding things like, ‘I’m writing a book’, and ‘I’m a Special Constable with Derbyshire Police’ (though both these facts are true…)  He is married to Anna, who runs the boarding house in which they live, and they have two boys, Joshua and Luke. Check out his blog and catch him on Twitter.

God 52 – Week Twenty-seven (2/7/2013)

2 Jul

rebootAfter last week’s amnesty – this week we’re going to invite you to make a new half-year resolution – and get back on the God52 wagon.

At the beginning of 2013, Jamie and I made a decision – throughout this year, we’re both going to try to get closer to God, through practicing the Spiritual Disciplines, acts that express Christian character, and mission activities. Every week we set ourselves a new challenge – and remarkably, lots of people have decided to join in. Through the guest blogs, through social media, and in local church and youth group communities, we’ve seen hundreds of people engage with the idea and adapt it for themselves.

However, if you’re anything like us, you’ll have found the consistency of this difficult at times. In recent weeks we’ve noticed that many people (including us, truthfully), have begun to run out of steam. January feels like a long time ago; December still seems a long way away. So we want to encourage you to join us in a half-year resolution – to get back on the God52 horse, and ride!

Why not make a promise to yourself this week to re-engage with God52? Or, if you’ve never got involved before, why not start now? Here’s your first/27th challenge:

27: Spend an hour reflecting on what God has done in your life over the last six months, and your hopes for the six months ahead.

This is a meditation exercise, so find somewhere quiet, without distractions, and carve out some quality time to rest, think and reflect in the presence of God. You might want to take a Bible with you, and a notebook to jot down anything that strikes you. Try to devote a really good period of time to this exercise, and use it as a springboard for the second half of 2013.

Back on that horse? Great stuff. Here’s to 25 more weeks of God52.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of meditation and reflection – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Twenty-six (25/6/2013)

26 Jun

amnestyint1And we’re halfway through the year! If you’re still with us, congratulations! Next week, we’re going to relaunch in earnest – as much for our benefit as for yours. Jan 1st seems a long time ago, and New Year’s Eve is mercifully still far away. If you’re struggling with momentum, don’t worry – and don’t give up. This week, we’re going to try to help you out.

This week, we’re going to give you an opportunity to catch up. It’s amnesty week, if you will:

26: Do one of the challenges that you missed first time around.

That’s right – all you need to do is go back through the archives, and find a challenge that you either failed to complete, or missed out entirely. If you’re anything like me, there’s a least one of these which has been playing on your mind: you meant to do it but never got around to it / found it too difficult. This week you have a chance to put that right. If you’ve missed several weeks, I encourage you to pick the most difficult one! To help, we’ve added a ‘categories’ menu on the right hand side of every page – just click the ‘challenges’ button to find all the previous challenge posts.

And if you’ve never missed a week, congratulations! You get a week off!

God 52 – Week Twenty-five (18/6/2013)

19 Jun

BullhornAs many of you will know, the two of us behind the site spend a decent chunk of our time working on Youthwork magazine. (On a side note you can get a free copy here – you really should.)

Anyway, we’re currently working on a special issue focused on evangelism. Not mission,  not social action, not doing nice things for people – we’re talking about evangelism – telling people about Jesus. In the course of reading other people’s work, interviewing people and reflecting on the issue I’ve realised that so often we surround ourselves with excuses not to tell people about Jesus. So this week’s challenge is scary.

25: Tell someone about Jesus

The who, the how and the why are up to you. But if we believe what Jesus says then our friends’ and families’ need for Jesus in both this life and the next is pressing. So let’s do something about it.
We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Twenty-four (11/6/2013)

11 Jun

art‘I’m a creative’, says the man in the fetching pink shirt and the trendy glasses. Let’s call him Quentin. Creativity is how he defines himself; it’s his key selling point at work, church and in everything he does. Creative Quentin, they call him.

But here’s the trouble with Quentin, and people like him. The idea that some people are ‘creatives’ makes the rest of us feel like we must be something else. Uncreative. Not creative. Short on ideas.

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of who we are as created beings. We are made in the image of the Creator – the most imaginative, idea-filled, creative being in the universe. So we have that seed of creativity within us – all of us do – it’s part of who we are.

So forget about Creative Quentin. You’re a creative too. And in this week’s challenge, you’re going to exercise that muscle:

24: Carve out some time to create something – a piece of artwork, a poem, an idea… anything you like

Find some rest time in the next seven days to explore your own God-given creativity. Put any ideas that you’re not creative to one side – just write, or paint, or pick up a musical instrument. Do it as a celebration of who you are as a created child of God; maybe even do it as an act of worship. There are no rules – except that you have to have some fun. Go play!

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of creativity – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

May God go before us – an anonymous guest post

10 Jun

In this anonymous guest post, written in response to our latest challenge, a writer shares her story…

So this week’s challenge to keep going with something that’s difficult came at an interesting time for me. There’s been a series of major incidents happening to or involving people around me of late. People I have a lot of emotional investment in have all been grappling with big life stuff just in the last two weeks!

Some of that stuff has involved church, and to be more specific, relationships within our church. God’s calling for his people to be in community with each other sounds like a lovely, warm, friendly way to do life. Until you actually start working with people! Because we’re all broken, each of us has our own unique brokenness, and when you put people together: really together, that brokenness can clash and get painful.

Our situation involves our church leadership. I felt challenged to do what seems to be a VERY difficult thing and confront my church leaders. I say it’s a very difficult thing, and yet it shouldn’t really be. Surely where we feel injustice is happening in church life really we ought to be able to challenge it, and leaders ought to encourage those in the wider leadership team (as I am), if not the body of the church to do just that. But it’s difficult, for many reasons!

So more than two weeks ago I went to the church leader to try to make my response to a specific situation that is still ongoing. I came out of that conversation feeling as though I hadn’t actually said the thing I wanted to say and he hadn’t really understood even what I had said. And I decided that I wouldn’t try again, thinking: I’m too close to my friend (also involved in the leadership) who is being hurt; I’m too emotional to be able to put my point across clearly and without tears. Maybe it’s not up to me, I thought, I’ll leave it to God.

Two weeks later, after much prayer, many tears, truly pleading with, and then really listening to God I went back to the same church leader. I hadn’t prepared what to say; I hadn’t necessarily intended to try to ‘sort out’ the situation. I didn’t want to wade into a situation that really might not need me. But I was able to say ‘This is unjust’; he heard me; and I walked away with a lighter step and hope in my heart that this relationship might be reconciled.

My prayer all of last week (apart from God will you just DO SOMETHING!) was:

May God go before us and come behind us.

And do you know what? He really did.

God 52 – Week Twenty-three (4/6/2013)

5 Jun

?????????????I’m writing this from the midst of sermon prep. What this tends to involve, is a lot of silence, some browsing the internet, a myriad of unconnected ideas and a significant number of prayers that basically go ‘God, can you tie this all together somehow. Amen.’ Anyway, I’m constructing this preach on faithfulness, and it’s a bit all over the place, but the one bit that really sticks out is this, from Mother Teresa, ‘God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.’

And that’s our challenge for this week.

23: Keep going with or re-start something that’s been really difficult.

We’re surrounded with the pressure to be successful, to only do things that produce tangible results. I believe fruit is important, but sometimes I think God is just calling us to develop ‘stickability.’ So the challenge for this week is to keep going, even when it hurts, even when it’s difficult – because if God’s called you to it, that’s what you need to be doing.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of Bible study – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

The Perfect translation? by Eddie Arthur

29 May

We’re thinking about the Bible on God52 at the moment, as you’ll find if you read this week’s challenge. In this guest blog, Wycliffe UK’s Eddie Arthur encourages us to consider what our view on the best Bible translation says about us.

Eddie Talking 2If you ever feel like starting an online argument; just ask people what their favourite version of the Bible is. People get really excited about this one and start chucking terms like paraphrase and dynamic equivalence around like hand grenades. Some people love to argue about Bible translations!

Can I let you into a secret? Almost all of the English translations are really good. The NIV, ESV, NLT and a host of other three letter acronyms are all worth reading. They have their strengths and weaknesses and some are more suitable in some situations than others; but they are all good translations. Oh, did I mention that I’m a Bible translator?

To be frank, I don’t care which translation of the Bible you read as long as you read it. Far better to read a version of the Bible that isn’t perfect than to have the world’s greatest translation sitting on your shelves unopened. Get into the Word and don’t get paranoid about finding the perfect translation.

Meanwhile, as English speakers get all heated up about which translation they should read, there are about 210,000,000 people who don’t have a single word of the Bible in their language. That’s right, while we have shelves of versions to choose from, there are about 2,000 languages without a verse of Scripture.

Just imagine trying to plant a church or to help Christians grow without being able to open a Bible and show people what God was saying to them. How about your own Christian life? How would you get along if you didn’t have a Bible or if you had to read it in French or Spanish?

But it goes deeper than this. Think about what it must mean to have a language that is so obscure that even God doesn’t seem to speak it. The people who don’t have a Bible in their language are among the most marginalised in the world. If there is Bible, there is probably no other literature either; nothing written down. If you don’t have a Bible in your language, your educational and political options will be limited and child mortality rates will be higher.

Years ago, it was Christians who pioneered education in the UK; so that everyone could read the Bible. This story is being repeated around the world today as Bible translators and others reach out to the most marginalised.

Eddie Arthur is the Executive Director of Wycliffe UK. Follow him on Twitter @Kouya, or find out more about Wycliffe at www.wycliffe.org.uk