FRIDAY FAST FORWARD

TOGETHER – A story that made the rounds, with a real hear-warming feel… Maybe because we all long for such lasting and faithful relationships…
http://www.kcci.com/news/29528191/detail.html

IF ONLY
– A visual link of the week, a stunning reflection on destiny, timing and details of life – from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvrzATr4gaQ

HACKED – An interesting article from The Atlantic. This is worth reading and being aware of.
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/hacked/8673/

BREAK-DOWN – This is maybe a strange link, but everyone should know what to do, although I hope no one would ever need to use it.
http://lifehacker.com/5853774/break-down-a-door-without-hurting-yourself

2CELLOS – This is my musical discovery of the week. Stunning. Soothing. Enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNtali_cuYA&feature=youtu.be&a

READY OR NOT?

The only imminent and inevitable truth about our lives is that death will knock at the door for every single one of us. I don’t know when. I don’t know how. I don’t know to whom, first…

It’s damning and almost ironic that we either chase or worry after so many things that aren’t really that important, while death remains one of the ultimate taboos of the modern Western world. We avoid thinking about it and we certainly don’t want to talk about it. And too right. at least we are honest about it for once. We are either scared or confused, therefore we prefer to pretend it isn’t there.

Woody Allen said, ‘I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be here when it happens.’ Lars Ulrich from Metallica had it at all yet he realised that ‘death is the only thing that I cannot control in my life’. From time to time, the unwelcome shock of having someone we care for I’ll, or the death of someone famous, it causes us to freak out and become restless. But only for a while.

Sunday morning I was speaking on Jesus raising Lazarus from the death and proclaiming something sensational. He said ‘ I am the resurrection and the life. whoever believes in Me will never die but even if he dies he will live forever.’ This truth is the anchor that brings hope in a world so marred and frightened of death.

Yet as He declares that fantastic promise, Jesus throws in the 65,000$ question: ‘ Do you believe?’

I know I do.

What about you?

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RESTLESS PURSUIT


‘ Ask, and God will give to you. Search, and you will find.
Knock, and the door will be open for you.’
Matthew 7:7 NCV

In the Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Sixth Sense’, Bruce Willis plays a psychiatrist who tries to help a child that sees ‘dead people’. It becomes a surprising journey of discovery. The film ends with a classic final twist: Willis himself was actually dead without knowing it!

It makes you wonder how many Christians have become so cold, spiritually, that they don’t even know they are dead…. According to Jesus, the Christian life is a dynamic life: ‘ask, search, knock’. You should never come to a place – however mature or blessed you might feel – where you can say ‘I have arrived’.

All that asking, searching, knocking suggests a life-long struggle. Those who follow Jesus don’t give-up, get cynical, get bored or get lazy… Martin Wroe asked himself some pretty probing questions: ‘How long does it take to make a difference? When can I start? What will history say of us when we’re history too? What would be left of us when we’re left.’

Almighty God, teach me what it means to be spiritually alive today. I want to keep on asking, searching and knocking – but sometimes it’s hard to keep on going….I need your Spirit’s renewing power to be at work in my life today.

FRIDAY FAST FORWARD

After a few weeks pause – here is this week’s Friday Fast Forward – my favorite links that I have stumbled on in the last 7 (-ish) days or so.

REDISCOVERED HYMN
I stumbled on the superb words of this beautiful hymn on Josh Harris’s blog a few weeks ago. It captures so beautifully the great affections of God for undeserving sinners just like me:

He washed my eyes with tears that I might see,
The broken heart I had was good for me;
He tore it all apart and looked inside,
He found it full of fear and foolish pride.
He swept away the things that made me blind,
And then I saw the clouds were silver lined;
And now I understand ’twas best for me,
He washed my eyes with tears that I might see.

He washed my eyes with tears that I might see,
The glory of Himself revealed to me;
I did not know that He had wounded hands,
I saw the blood He spilt upon the sands.
I saw the marks of shame and wept and cried,
He was my substitute for me He died;
And now I’m glad He came so tenderly
And washed my eyes with tears that I might see.

By Ira Stanphill

SOUND
After the title – this is actually my visual link of the week. Interesting and full of observations. Are you listening? Properly?
http://vimeo.com/30419922

OP 10 HIGHLIGHTED BIBLE VERSES
Kindle has this great feature in which you can both highlight and see what other highlighted. The top 10 doesn’t show many surprises. Two observations: they are verses that encourage and they are a bit ‘me-centred’. Make of that what you want. J
http://nwbingham.com/2011/09/top-10-highlighted-bible-verses-sep-2011/

HOW TO PACK A BAG
great little feature aimed at blokes. It avoids the stereotypical over-packing that women tend to do as well as the packing ineptitude blokes tend to suffer from. I learned a few new tricks.
http://artofmanliness.com/2008/10/16/how-to-pack-a-bag-when-traveling/

THE CIVIL WARS
Saw these two perform on Jools the other week. I loved their simplicity and the harmonies:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yd_VUIvnMgU&feature=related

 

SMARTEN-UP

‘ Only the Lord gives wisdom; he gives knowledge and understanding…Then you will understand what is honest and fair and what is the good and right thing to do.’
Proverbs 2:6,9 NCV

From the very beginning humanity has always been on a quest for understanding the nature of wisdom and the means of achieving it. This quest – doubled by pride – was the cause of man’s fall in the garden of Eden.

There are many forms of wisdom and often it is hard to know what is the genuine article. The apostle Paul often wrote about ‘the wisdom of the world’ that he contrasted with God’s wisdom.

The true wisdom is God-inspired and is revealed on the pages of His Word. The true wisdom isn’t just an intelectual set of concepts but principles that affect our everyday lifestyle. As Charles Swindoll puts it: ‘Wisdom is the God-given ability to see life with rare objectivity and to handle it with rare sensibility.’

Are you still searching for wisdom? Ask God and search His word and you will discover riches of wisdom you would have never dreamt of.

Lord God, I am hungry for wisdom today. Help me to understand your Word when I read it and make it alive for me. Teach me how to live wisdom out and share it with others around me.

TOP 10 – Guest Post Q & A #2

In your context, like anywhere else, I am sure that you had struggles. What are/were the greatest battles?

Not being in control has been quite a big struggle. In England if something goes wrong there is always a reliable hospital, police who aren’t corrupt, firemen who turn up, friends and family to help out etc. but here there isn’t really any of that! We have had to try not to worry about these things, and put our trust in God. He is the only one we can totally trust.

Church life can be struggling and challenging at times. It’s not the easiest place to stay spiritually sharp. It’s just completely different to what we’re used to back in England. We try to download some good teaching off the internet to keep us on our toes.

How did it change your views on life, job, leisure, culture – each answer on your own…;)?

Jez

Life: is important, it’s short and God’s saved us for a purpose; to bring people to know Him.

Job: This topic has been on my mind quite a bit recently. Looking back I feel like I have learnt so much since leaving my job. Being here has been a learning curve in all aspects of life including jobs. I would like to do a job that I enjoy and a job that makes a difference and has an impact on society. But who knows what I’ll end up doing.

Culture: hmmm…a tricky one…this culture is different to my culture! After being here over 6 months I have begun to see ‘behind the scenes’ of the Ghanaian culture. People’s attitudes, people’s ways of doing things, people’s views on life are all different to my own. Sometimes it is really fun and liberating to be in this new culture but at other times it can be quite frustrating.

Leisure: My leisure in the uk involved friends, music, walking, reading, computers etc. There’s none of that here! My leisure times here involve Lois teaching me how to knit (which I secretly enjoy). I have come to really appreciate all those things I did in the UK and I want to make the most of those things when we return.

Lois

Life: I think I will appreciate a lot of things that I took for granted: running water, a car, carpets, a large choice of food, etc.

Job: I’ve realised that I think I found a lot of my identity in my job in England. When we came here I was no longer a preschool manager, I didn’t even know how to get to the market, let alone buy anything or begin to cook with different ingredients. I realised I had to look to God for my identity rather than in the things I could do in England.

Leisure: There are so many ways to spend free time in England! I don’t think I appreciated it! But it has been nice having to resort to other leisure activities… Boggle, cards, pen and paper games, knitting…!

Culture: I have really enjoyed living in a different culture. I realised I had quite a stereotypical view of Africans and Muslims and I realise now that there is a huge variety within these groups.

Do you wish you would have done this earlier in your life, or should you have waited for later on in life?

We think it was good timing! If we had waited we might have got too comfortable with our lives in England and been less keen to go. If we had gone sooner there would be no college here to teach in, so God’s timing is perfect!

Do you think your life will be different when you return? How? (Maybe this will change, but it would be interesting to see what you write now).

Jez: I think before we came to Ghana we were a bit sucked into life. I was sucked into life doing things that 20 something people do – jobs, family, houses, savings, DIY etc. I think I have learnt a lot being here and hopefully things will be different. I feel like God has been showing me what really matters in life.

Lois: I think we both want to make our lives ‘count’. We want to be living lives that serve God rather than just living to make money and live comfortably. I think I have had a little taster of what is involved in mission; I have a lot more respect for people who dedicate their whole lives to reaching people in another culture!

This is your first major endeavour together – how did it affect your relationship? Any lessons?

Since being here we have spent pretty much all our time together. We don’t tend to go anywhere on our own, we live in a 6.5m x 4m house, and we work at the college together. However we have really enjoyed it! It has been good, we have got on well and it’s been fun having so much time to spend together! Any lessons…? We think to keep communicating with each other. You can spend lots of time together but not really communicate. So share lots! This is how we have been finding things over the last 7 months of being in Ghana. Who knows what will happen in the next 5 months!

TOP 10 – Guest Post Q & A

My very good friends Jez & Lois have spent the last 7 months in  Ghana. They very kindly offered to answer 10 questions that will give you an insight into their lives and experiences abroad. Here are the first five questions:

If you could sum up your experience abroad in the last few months in 5 words, what would you say?

Jez: Hard, rewarding, life-changing, eye-opening, enjoyable
Lois: Hot, challenging, lovely, learning, fun

I am sure that you had preconceived ideas before you went – what were the things that surprised you most?

Before we left the UK we had a couple of seminars on things like ‘expectations’, ‘culture shock’ etc. We listened carefully during the seminars but then concluded that we didn’t have any expectations. We thought were going with open minds and that we were quite flexible and things wouldn’t be a problem. “We’ll do anything, we’re just going to serve…” then we arrived in Ghana and realised we did have pre-conceived ideas; it was quite different to what we were expecting.

Before we came almost everyone who had been to Africa told us that people will love us being here, they’ll crowd around us, children will rush to us, we’ll be asked to speak at every event we go to etc. etc… but in reality people weren’t really that interested in us! It’s a bit different where we are now as it’s a smaller town, but the first few months were quite a humbling surprise.

Something else that surprised us was that we weren’t particularly busy every day doing ‘mission’. It took a couple of months before we realised that God is more interested in our relationship with Him that what we do for Him.

What have you missed most from home/UK?

Jez: Friends, family, church, oh and I’m very much looking forward to a Big Mac!
Lois: After friends and family, it would have to be chocolate and cheese. Oh and a flushing toilet!

If you could take something back with you to the UK – what would it be?

Jez: Time with God, time to be available for Him, more prayer stamina (people here have no problem praying for a long time).
Lois: I would like to take back the slower pace of life, sun, and the joyful, enthusiastic worship in the churches.

We are discovering new things about God’s character all the time. What have you discovered since going to Ghana?

Jez: I think God has been teaching me that He will never leave us or forsake us, no matter where we are in the world or what we’re doing. From giving peace in the face of fear to equipping us for various challenging activities, I’ve learnt that it’s nothing that I can do but it’s all about Jesus working through me. I just need to remain available for Him to use.
Lois: I’ve really been able to see how God can change lives. The first class of students we are teaching are all Christians but over half of them came from other religious backgrounds where I would have thought they wouldn’t change or accept the Good News about Jesus coming to save them. I’ve realised that God can draw people to Himself from all sorts of backgrounds.