3.11.09

Moving

Moving blogging site action.

check http://lifeblogchris.wordpress.com/

That's where I'll be

Holla

26.9.09

Smashing Fears

So with a face that said "Yeah boi!" but a heart that said "just sack this off, you're not cut out for it" I went down to Steel City Gym with Dan, Chris and a couple of none-Chrispys that we had met by random in Western Park (that is quite a sweet God-led missional story actually).

Some of the things that kept coming up in my mind were "you still have a really sketchy neck problem, you've botched your wrist up pretty good still and you are terrified of flips and being upside down in general, what on earth are you going to be doing for 2 hours other than listing better things that your £6 and 120 minutes could have been spent on".
But anyway I prayed it through and went. A bit like Jesus, the Steel City Gym has nothing to draw you to it in appearance but what it actually is, is something incredible (don't get me wrong, it was nothing compared to Jesus, although Jesus did do some incredible work in me whilst I was there). After a while of standing and feeling like a chump I got up and went for it and it was flipping amazing.
If anything, my passion and attraction to this stuff has just blasted its way to the top of my thought priorities. All I have been able to think about today at work and I rearranged books on shelves and carried boxes up and down the stairs is how I can improve my back flip, how I can improve my diet so that I can be more effective, what I can begin to work on next, what I can try out at Bole Hills, how I can train better in the week so I can do better next week. More importantly than all that I can see how God has been moving in me, challenging me and pushing me to rely on Him to sort out my fear and my unwillingness and I think the challenge (alongside the physical challenge) is to make sure that He remains the focus in all my activities, because I can only do these things because of Him and I can do more through Him who strengthens me.

All of this stuff has been a catalyst for quite a lot of thought and I have started thinking about my mountain survival qualifications again; I flipping just want to get out and start living. I am a child of generation that has been raised in front of some sort of screen, be it a computer screen, a TV screen or a video game screen. This nation in this century is producing a generation of people who grow up sitting down and I have to be honest, I've been no different, msn and facebook have been vices, computer games used to be, TV used to be, but something is stirring inside me that is rejecting all of these things like the body rejects bad food. I feel like I should feel awful at all the time I have wasted but I actually don't, I do however feel so thankful that God has stirred this inside me now; I can imagine that some people will grow to be very old when they finally realize that they never did anything they wish they had and that they lived their life through the actions of movie stars in films.
So I am resolving to press forward, with God as my loving Father and my eternal Saviour I'll go climbing, I will do free running, I will jump around and back flip, I will go out into the mountains and do survival again.

And all of this can sound fake and clichéd through a mere blog post. But most of you guys who read it know me well and are the closest people to me (...else you wouldn't have this address haha) so call me on these things, ask me how their going and if I am actually doing them. and pray for me, that I continue to enjoy these things, and get better at them, and allow God to be the absolute center and focus.

peace x

21.9.09

I SMASHED the red route at the Matrix. More from that when I get round to writing a proper blog...

14.9.09


Since when is getting a job offer a bad thing?

So, today I was working in the CLC Bookshop (which I love btw) when I felt my phone vibrating; I couldn't answer it then because I was on the shop floor so went downstairs later to listen to the voice-mail. It was a call from the manager of one of the Cafés I had applied to when I looking for work a few months ago before I got the job in the bookshop.

just to bring anyone who isn't already, up to speed; I work at CLC which is amazing and perfect along with doing Form this year but it is voluntary so I am living off funding for my gap year.

So I don't know if the job will fit around Form at all yet or what the pay is (I do know what the hours are; they are 7.30am-3.00pm or 3.00pm-7.30pm, the later isn't possible and the realistically the I don't know how sensible it is going to be pushing my mornings earlier and earlier when there is loads going on in the evenings atm). But, whatever it pays and whatever the hours are, money is money and it would make financial sense to take it.

Agh, I dunno what to do, I just got this job at CLC. I really don't want to leave, it is just so perfect for this year. I think I really need to seek God about what to do and I don't have much time left because the spaces are filling up at the café and they want me to start next week.

I would really appreciate prayer on this one!

I seems so strange a dilemma when so many people are struggling to get an interview let alone a job at the moment...

6.9.09

24 minutes and 49 seconds later...

So I ranted and vented my despair and hopelessness to Ben on the phone. And I think I've got my second wind.

I still don't feel great but as I look for ways that God might be working in all of this I can see that everything that I hate about the situation I find myself in at the moment (and will be in for an entire year) is a challenge, and for each of those particular challenge (which are mostly people related) I can see how overcoming them will get me closer to where God wants me to be to take the next step. And at the end of the day I wanted a challenge, but I guess we can never be too particular about the challenges that we want God to lay before us to change us and shape us in the people He wants us to be.

So with that in mind...

onward I go...
No Peace.

OK, I'm going to lay this out now at the very beginning. of the year and hopefully later in the year I can look back at this post and say how God has moved so much and changed me so much since this point. But right now I have absolutely no peace about the decision I have made for the coming year. This is Form I'm talking about.

I just have a really restless feeling of hopelessness about it.

I bailed on our first meal together today because I just felt so uncomfortable being there. All I really want to do what God wants me to do but I feel like I made the decision to do Form way too fast, didn't think or pray about it, just thought "I want to stay in Sheffield and my end goal is to be in full time ministry...meh I'll do Form" - a few months on from that train of thought the way I think has changed to a much more "your will be done Lord, show me the path and I'll follow it" direction. Had I thought and prayed a little more months ago I may well have ended up deciding to do something different.

Right, I really need to try and unpack my thoughts systematically and coherently. Here's where I'm at right now:

~I want to serve God
~I want to serve God in a way that glorifies Him
~I want to serve God using the gifts that He has given me
~I want to be lead by God completely in all decision I make
~At the moment I feel that full time ministry is the direction that God is pointing me in but I need training and preparing
~I am itching to get abroad and see what the Lord is doing elsewhere in the world
~I want to live the radical and extraordinary lives that the people we read about in the Bible lived
~I want to be trained and prepared and practice in the right environment
~I want to help and love people
~I believe I am in Sheffield by God's leading and right now there aren't any other options
~It is impossible to get a job at the moment. Period
~I have some really good friends in Sheffield and it is probably right to stay for at least one more year
~Finding St Toms in the first place was no accident
~I can listen to easily to the opinions of others and have perhaps taken on board more negative advice and negative opinions than are healthy
~From most angles it would seem that Form is a door opened by God as the next step...but if that is the case then why do I feel so uneasy about doing it?
~At the end of the day I just can't see that they can teach me anything that I haven't already read in some book!
~I feel like I am going to spend the year disagreeing with other people on the course

AGH I don't know! But what can I do? I have a house in Sheffield now, I have a new job that I start tomorrow morning and I have a year long commitment to the Form course!
I can just think of so many other things that I would much rather be doing this year; I think about other friends, like Ben, going to Kenya to do his gap year, to learn about the Bible and how to apply it in some real faith situations I just look at the where I am at the moment and can't help feel that I am in the wrong place. I would go to Kenya in a second if someone offered me the opportunity right now. Things like Mike Breen's 3D Ministries 2 year course, Soul Survivor's course in Watford! (yes please!), WYAM, Oasis...

...ANYWHERE!

I just don't want to waste time, y'know. I only have one life and I want to use every second of it doing God's will, of course if it is God's will for me to be here then that is amazing and I will go into this year whole heartedly. I just hope this is God's will and that although I'm not particularly feeling it, that I am on the path that He wants me to be on.

2.9.09

Quick Summary of Push Day Training (let's go mental and call it PDT)
(1) Normal push-ups
(2) Diamond hand shape to the chest
(3) Right leg elevated (4) Left leg elevated
(5) Right leg elevated and leaning fully to one arm on rep looking across (alternating the arm each rep) (6) Same again with left leg elevated
(7) Bringing knee up to meet elbow on each rep (alternating leg)
(8) Some mental capoeira push that Danny taught me for one side of the body (9) same again (mental capoeira push that Danny taught me) for the other side of the body
(10) Clapping push-ups
At the moment, doing about 10 reps for each position that brings it to about 100 push-ups which for the moment is probably about right. I'll try and stick to it rigidly for a while but I'm sure I'll work out new little adoptions and stretches that work for me.
The best thing I have learned is leaving each set of exercises for 72 hours to let the muscles heal before training in that way again; it works so well and also, I think I'd die if I was trying to cain 100 push-ups a day - I'm not Spartacus!
So the 72 hour rest (although it probably works out less than that) is working in pretty well with the rest of the training sched:
Monday Push
Tuesday Pull
Wednesday Run (which by the way I am rrrrub at right now)
Thursday Push
Friday Pull
Saturday Run
Sunday Sabbath boi!
I didn't train while I was at Soul Survivor or Momentum, which was a flipping good choice. Stewarding turned out to be a 16 hour day so I was rinsed most of the time, and after a long 3 or 4 hour shift of standing dead still there was nothing less appealing than pushing out 100 reps. Instead I had the flipping longest shower in the world! As an aside, here's a tip should you ever find yourself stewarding; a well showered steward doubles his productivity! Period.

So quickly, on running; I'm finding this to be a much tougher challenge than I thought it would. Just to put you in the picture a bit without bragging; I have flipping ace credentials for walking and hiking long distances over days, but I don't talk about that *cough*mountain training expedition leadership*cough* lolz, Anyway, turns out running and walking are not cut from the same cloth, which surprises me, I mean, it's legs innit. This is a long wided way of saying I suck at running and a short jog up to Bole Hills from my house just about finishes me off the day. So that can be an area I can work on a bit.

1.9.09

Today has been a very there and there day with loads of thoughts and musings so let's try and throw some of them out into a blog page:

I went into Birmingham today to get a few things sorted before I go back, go to the bank etc. Now, I'm not really a shopper but I somehow ended up in a Japanese store called Muji.


It's a pretty cool store, very minimalist in a Japanese way that reminds me of Lost in Translation (favourite movie) and puts an emphasis on recycling and avoiding waste in production and packaging. They sell quirky edgy things like cardboard speakers and "New York in a bag" so you
can take NY with you wherever you go. I'm a chump for stuff like that and all of that stuff is cool but it is was the simplistic Japanese vibe that pulled me in and moved me to spend £50 on some new shirts. I don't usually buy clothes but I liked what I saw, I had some spare money and thought "yeah, why not". But since getting home (and if I'm honest, ever since I left the store) something just hasn't sat right with me about my purchases. I've been trying to deconstruction this feeling all evening and I think the bottom line is that I am feeling slightly guilty about having splashed out because at the end of the day, I can live without these things. Now, my money is not my own, it is God's and He has given me sovereignty over it to use and spend how I choose, so is buying clothes wrong? (even if we don't really need them?), no, of course not, it's fine. If you've been blessed, enjoy it and thank God for it. So if I am feeling guilty then that can't be from God, so what is the feeling? I think 'living without' might be a personal challenge to me at the moment, and particularly with clothes to just be much less concerned about what I wear; outward appearance, aesthetics, looking good and good looking clothes are a common grace that Christians and non-Christians alike share, but the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us is part of the amazing free gift of Salvation that we as Christians receive and ultimately, it is dangerously attractive. For a while, I think, I want to try and concentrate on that aspect.
So, am I going to having a deep theological debate with myself every time I buy something? Nope. But on this occasion I just feel a real unease about buying; so the stuff will all go back Birmingham tomorrow morning.

So what else about today?

I've been caining through that book by Mike Pilavachi and Andy Croft today; been learning so much, half an hour my head was so full of all this amazing information that I had just read and I wanted to pour it all out into my blog but I just can't remember it all now lol. But here is the small part that I do remember that really stuck out to me as I read it. Most of it I already knew but it was amazing to read it in a fresh new way and to have old truths re-realised in my heart again:
The Old and the New Testament are both covenants; the Old Testament is a covenant between God and His chosen people, but His people just couldn't keep the covenant and God perused them endlessly and they just kept messing up - after reading through the stories of how God's people turned their backs on Him continually then the so often asked question of "why did God so angry" changes very quickly to "why did God not get more angry". The Old Testament is just full of imagery that likens God's relationship with His people to that of a marriage and the people who are in this marriage covenant with God continuously commit adultery to the point where any person would be understood completely for walking out on them, but God never did. Eventually God made a new covenant, Jesus. But this time the covenant is not with us at all, the covenant is with Jesus - so God (fully one but also three person - the triune God) make a covenant with Jesus (God with himself) that will atone for the sins of the people so that they no longer have to keep the laws. Now since our God is a covenant keeping God and He is making a covenant with Himself (Jesus) we know for certain that this covenant will not be broken. So what we have in effect is a will; on the death of Jesus the will is read and we find that we inherit...EVERYTHING! Our salvation is no longer contingent on what we do but on what He did! This means that we do live in freedom: "I messed up today, I must have fallen out of favour with God" and "I had an extra long quiet time today, I am back in God's good books" are both illusions; we are saved and there is nothing that we can do to change that because He has done it. It is finished.


x

31.8.09

Other People's Blogs/
My good friend Ben has just started up a blog as he prepares to depart for 5 months in Kenya. As I was looking up and down the few extras that adorn the side of his page I found myself idly clicking the links; first I clicked the link to my own blog and read through that as though I had stumbled across something both completely new to me and thoroughly interesting (well, isn't it!). Anyway, after having read through my own blog page I went back to Ben's and looked at some of the websites that he was endorsing and, having read through a few felt that I just had to give them a shout on here:

John Piper: Desiring God

Adrian Warnock
Mark Driscoll: The Resurgence

Have a look. Peace

30.8.09


So I'm back from Soul Survivor and Momentum. Instead of going straight back to Sheffield I have ended up at home for a few days. I have been back two days now and feel as though all the anointing that ever was upon me has been sucked out of me long ago, leaving me in a state of being spiritually: empty, dry, baron, void. Having said that, this is the feeling I have usually come to associate with 'being home'. It was a quick and heavy transition after having been slowly spiritually built up over a long, well planned 10 days to have it all undone so quickly in the less than 24 hours.


Like a tone of bricks.

Anyway, I did feel moved to write something down on a piece of paper on the first night that I was back from Soul Survivor and Momentum (while I was still "feeling it") and I made a point of remembering to blog it but I can't seem to see the piece of paper I wrote it on lying around anywhere right now. It was marking the page of a book I bought on the last day of the festival; it is an absolutely amazing book by the way, it is called Storylines, it's written by Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi and it basically tracks theological links throughout the Bible. So each section of the book goes through the whole Bible looking at each event from the perspective of each continuously identifiable theme such as; Jesus, covenant, kingdom etc. I recommend it.
By the way, I will write up about my 10 days at Soul Survivor and Momentum but there is an awful lot to tell so will leave it till I have time to thoroughly enjoy writing up a lengthy blog (in a format that makes it seem really short; I find plenty of spaces between very short paragraphs a good tactic).
(pause...space...next line)

So this piece of paper, I'll just go find it...brbz...no, can't find it, which is a shame because I worded it so well when it came to it (it felt very divinely inspired actually). Anyway, I will paraphrase as best can (oh I wish I hadn't lost it!):


ok, not being able to let this go I have turned my house upside down for the past hour looking for that piece of paper. I am having a clear out of the loft at the moment, 70% of it is all my old school work which means there are just books and books and about 9 years worth of pieces of paper ALL over the house, and today most of that got burned in the incinerator so I feared the worst, but in one last act of hope I went through one more box of loose pieces of paper (due for burning tomorrow evening) and found it! I am SO glad. It reminds me of Luke 15:8-10; the parable of the woman who loses 1 out of her 10 coins and flippin' tears the house apart until she finds it.

Right, this vision; so yesterday, when I was back this came to me as though God just dropped it into my head and I felt prompted to write it down (read Habakkuk 2:2-4 MSG.) so I put pen to paper "and the words come out like this" (to quote "The Vision"):

Living for God is something you are, not just something that you are into. It is not as though when your friend says "I'm really into football" you say "football is good, but I prefer Christianity" as though it is a music artist that you prefer over another. It is something that you are. No more than you can help being human, or breathing to stay alive can you help being a Christian and having the Holy Spirit living inside you.

OK? So since being a Christian is what I am intrinsically then it should be the case that people can't help but see that I am Christian anymore than they can help notice that I am a human being. What this should look like in practice is that everyone we talk to should be given the chance to be invited to Jesus through exposure to Him through us. What this means is that if they do not come faith that on that final day when the earth and sky is moved away and there is nothing left between them and the Lord and they are asked why they did not choose Jesus, even despite meeting us, that their answer can never be that "they never gave me a reason to".

So this isn't a challenge concerning evangelism particularly. The point isn't about the final judgment or the unsaved. The challenge is to live so dangerously and undeniably for Jesus that we grow to be more like Him to the point that we are Christlike in the way that the Bible teaches us that we should be; in fact, that we conform more to the image of God's only Son Jesus than we do to the world around us. Eugene Peterson in his Message translation, in Romans phrases it like this:

Rom 12:2 Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I think I'll finish there for the night. Peace and love to everyone x

16.8.09

I was just lying in my bed with my headphones in, listening to some really chilled, steady music and looking out through the large velux window in my attic room into the night sky. After a while the clouds cleared in time for me to see a meteor stream across the sky. It was a moment worth remembering.

9.8.09

The Lunch Box Challenge

5
Guys | 4 Peaks | 3 Counties | 2 Charities | 1 Mission


So here's the idea: You remember those school lunch boxes you used to have as a kid or those Tupperware boxes you get to put your sandwiches in? Well, armed with just one of those each we'll get a train out to the far end of the Peak District and walk back to Sheffield across the 3 districts that the Peaks covers in 3 days. The idea will be to live on as little as possible and to walk as far as possible on what we have. Across the 3 districts we will cross 4 different trig points in the Peak District and sleeping in the forests (the exception to lunch box rule will be sleeping bags, bivi bags and emergency gear (med kit etc)).

on illness.
I got it! I thought I had escaped. For the past 4 days 3 of our house have been ill, only Rom and myself seemed to have dodged the bullet. But sure enough it got us today. Really not too cool since I'm supposed to be stewarding at Soul Survivor in a few days. Ah well, will have to see what happens. Worst comes to worst I will be forced to take it easy for a week (a burden which I am sure I will bare tolerably well).

Well, just wanted to throw the Lunch Box Peaks Challenge plan out into the universe. Heading out to the Midlands tomorrow without laptop so will blog from wherever I can connect.

Peace and Love

6.8.09

26So I do not run aimlessly; (1 Corinthians 9:26)


What's New?
What's up y'all. I just got back from staying in Liverpool with Dan. Had a great few days - got up to loads of cool stuff, seeing what's popping in a city that I didn't think an awful lot of before I actually saw it. Liverpool is a sweet city and has some pretty sick stuff to see and look at.

Actually, on site seeing I saw something that was pretty amazing. Near the center of Liverpool is a church that was bombed out in the war which is open to look round. Inside (and from the outside looking in especially) it looks just like the cathedral that Cloud lives in in Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. Check it out
:


...maybe you can tell better when you are actually there.

Training.
So a while ago I started up this blog with the idea of tracking how my training is going. As I went back to Birmingham I pretty much slacked off the training and threw myself back to square one which is a pretty poor show but since my few days in Liverpool I have started a 3 day training plan which looks a little like this:

Mon: Push
Tues: Pull
Wed: Run
Thurs: Push
Fri: Pull
Sat: Run
Sun: Rest/ Play/ have fun

I'm going to carry on climbing on the side of this, perhaps on the pull days, I dunno yet. I'm sure I'll work out a good way of working it. Pretty much I would rather climb with other people so I'll probably work my training sched round when others climb.

So here's what I'm doing for the push days - and I've noticed an incredible difference already - I'm sure all of these have names but I don't know them so I'll just explain them:

(1) normal pushes; feet and hands at about shoulder width
(2) hands together in the center of the chest (these are flippin' hard atm)
(3) one leg up in the air with the other still at shoulder width (after set number reps repeat with other leg)
(4) again, one leg up in the air but on pushing down lean to the right hand looking left, then on the next push down lean to the left looking right (swap which leg is raised after reps)
(5) every push down, bring the knee of one leg up to over the elbow then again on the other side; alternating for set reps

I think that's about it, I don't know about the science of it but it works out a whole bunch of stuff in the upper body.
Climbing.
Yesterday Dan and I walked out to Hilbre Island at low tide and did some climbing there for a few hours. Was an incredible place to work a few routes. There was an old Lifeboat station which was kinda empty and roofless so that was good to mess around on. Here are some of the photos we took out there.

Hilbre Island; between Liverpool and Wales (that's the Welsh coast in the background)

Iron ladder in the cliff next to the old Lifeboat station

Cave climbing - hold broke off in my hand inside the case, ended up flat out

Sand stone was pretty sketchy but some swei routes

This side of the island was the best for tricky little routes

I liked this route - like a mini Matrix overhang

This is my climbing face
...oh and this is my tan.

Neat little arch on the side of the island

So after 5 days of training, climbing, site seeing and watching the Fire Fly series (which should never have been canceled btw!) I'm pretty whooped.

Peace in d' streetz

1.8.09


Melancholy.
China.
Then to Alaska.

25.7.09

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
-Aristotle


You want a killer read on discipleship? Peep Mike Breen's A Passionate Life. That book will flipping blow your hair back. By the way, before I get going; I know I got a couple of 'none-Christian' readers on this site, this is a Christian blog, I'm aware that a lot of the stuff I talk about is very much "in-house" topic stuff, I hope that's aight with y'all but that's definitely where this blog is heading over the next year.

Aight, so here's a few thoughts I've been having today:

Power Napping.
I'm a night person, I usually switch on about 10 or 11 and stay pretty wide awake until I start to push the boundaries of "I'll be lucky if I get 6 hours" into "I might as well just stay up". Sleeping earlier is a hard discipline for me, but I've been putting it into practice over the last few days so that I am ready for the 9-5 life that I am about to start in September.
In any case though, last night I stayed up way too late and made myself hella tired throughout today. Desperate to end sleepiness I Ask Jeeves what I should do (actually I Googled, but i prefer the turn of phrase). In any case I ended up reading a few sights about Power Napping and resolved to give it a shot - it is pretty good, I felt miles better after 20 minutes of just lying down. I don't think I did much actual sleeping but I managed to not move from my bed and kept my eyes pretty much shut for the duration. I think imma start trying it a bit more often. I have read so much sciency stuff about sleep and power naps on websites today so I could fire random impressive facts for a good essay length blog but I won't...but here are a couple of pretty neat things that I learned:

(1) This is how it works; what you're doing during a power nap is capturing the benefits of the first two of the five stages of the sleep cycle (I didn't look up what the last three of the five stages are but I'm well read up on the first two). These first two stages take place in the first twenty minutes. Typically I think the physical improvements of 20 minutes sleep are memory and motor skills.

(2) According to Nasa research, studies show that a nap just 26 minutes can boot performance by as much as 34%. A Nasa/ FAA study observed that when flight crews were provided a planned 40 minute nap opportunity (resulting in an average of 26 minutes actual sleep) the rendered effects subsequently exhibited were improved physiological alertness and performance. Neat huh?

Prayer.
Here is a quick thought that I had, which was very much inspired by Mike Breen's book. Something I struggle with a lot is the whole "spending time with God" thing. I really don't want to be so conditioned to think of God as a religious concept that I limit the time I spend with him to "religious times" (like Church). Sometimes I find it so hard to be in conversation and maintain the idea of "walking with God" and I guess the reason I find that a struggle is...I don't know really what that looks like. Often we feel as though we are just talking at God when we pray, like we have brought Him a shopping list of things that we need Him to do for us, but that doesn't seems to lack something of the "relationship" that we read about having with out Father in our Bibles. But here's something great to remember; Every time you pray, you are simply responding to the call of God in your heart (it's the same when we respond to Him in praise). Even when we give ourselves to others around us, when we give ourselves to the lost and the least and the hurting, we are interacting with Jesus. I started doing Homeless Outreach last semester, I never thought of it as "interacting with Jesus" I just got on with it then probably went home later that night and contemplated how little time I am giving to interacting with Jesus, but the truth is, I probably wouldn't be doing Homeless Outreach in Saturday evenings if God hadn't stirred my heart to do so, by going along and helping people I am actually responding to a call that God has placed on my heart.

That comforts me because often I feel like I am not really involving God an awful lot at all. Like a lot of Christians I struggle with "quiet time", I find it so hard to just sit myself down in solitude and meditate, right now I am spending so much time studying the Bible I forget to pray and when I relax I go wall climbing and bouldering and don't really leave myself enough time for quiet time. But here's something I realized, some of the most spiritual times I have are when I go climbing, especially when I go climbing on my own; it's in there that I really just chill out with God and enjoy the common grace of being able to climb, I pray about climbing, I thank God for climbing, I thoroughly enjoy whacking my iPod onto some Holy Hip Hop, some Worship or even a sermon and just hit the wall for a couple of hours. Again, this is something I could talk about for ages (another time...perhaps?) I just wanted to throw a thoughts out this evening.

I think quiet time and meditation is important, but I think we can totally enjoy that personal relationship with God wherever we are, whatever we're doing, and EVEN when we're having fun. We just gotta stop being religious and love being with Him, start knowing that He loves us, live like He loves us and walk in His presence =] Here's a verse to wrap it up:

What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with your God
-Micah 6:8

One last thought for tonight; I had a day dream about turning a room of my house into a bouldering cave. I had a look online for that kind of thing and found this immense picture:


How awesome does that look!

Anyways, I'm gonna jet and get this "early night" ball rolling.

Peace and love

Travel Journal.
You have probably heard it said before, or read it as a slogan on a piece of well marketed mountaineering equipment or seen it penned onto the rucksack of a fellow traveler, words to the effect of "the location doesn't matter, what matters is how you got there". Being an absolute sucker for that kind of stuff it undoubtedly resonated with the journeyman in me. This train of thought led me to thinking about...no wait, the thing I was thinking about in the first place which I am about to disclose was the train of thought which led me to the thought that I began this blog with...anyway I was thinking about those travel journals, like the ones that people have in movies; the old, faded, well traveled, well written in journals that include taped in pictures and notes, a mixture of pencil and black ink, bound with a piece of string or an elastic band (or in the movies it is "my father's journal" and it will lead them to the hidden location of the lost Inca treasure through the clues that he managed to leave hidden in the notes inside this worn but incredible aesthetically appealing book). So anyway, I want on of those.


For Bible and theology notes I keep a well kept, neatly written Moleskin. If you've not hear of Moleskin it is "the legendary notebook of Van Gogh, Hemingway, Matisse and Céline" (it's ok, I've only heard of Van Gogh and Hemingway as well) and I was the chump that paid about £15 extra than a normal notebook costs for the privilege of owning such an incredible canvas for the neatly written and well articulated products of careful study. But I want to keep another one, an new one, a new one that looks old! with really rough edged pages (I wonder how on earth the pages end up looking so ragged; do you think there is a shop that sells them like that? with a genuine authentic ragged look...like Levis worn jeans?) with things stuck in and postcards and plane tickets hanging out, and random sketches and facts about places, historical information and local lores that I learned first hand from talking in the native tounge to the indigenous peoples of...somewhere or other. I have such a book...but an empty one, I think it is time to start writing in it, everything and anything.

Yes. I am resolved to it. It will begin!

Highlight of the day.
hitting Birmingham with Ben
Just kicking back and watching the OC
Musing about starting a travel journal (even though I've made no plans to do any actual traveling)

Peace out y'all

18.7.09

I thought somebody had to say something/
if not the populous would continue to walk in silly assumptions/
so I wrote this in the hopes of provokin’/
kids to study the scripts before the word is spoken//
DnA; Stephen the Levite


Where did the Bible come from?
aight, let's explore the background a little bit. This morning as I went to the Bible I brought myself to explore a question that has bugged me for a while but that I have never looked into and that is: what is the Bible? Where did it come from? Who put it together? How was it decided what gets included and what doesn't? How can I trust the words of the book that I hold here in my hands (ok, so that is a whole bunch of questions). So let's unpack this a little bit...

ok, first off; the early Christians did not have the book The Bible that we read today, there was no ESV, no NLT and no NIV (perhaps that was for the better...ooooooh no Chris, don't go there). The final contents of the Bible as a complete package was agreed on around 400AD.

"...in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians." (Acts 11:26).

So when the early Christians would talk about the scriptures they were talking about the Hebrew scriptures which we know today as The Old Testement. In talking about the Old Testement they most likely sung Psalms, studied the prophets to see how they pointed to the Jesus and told stories and shared memories of Jesus, His life and His teachings, passing on these memories from group to group.
After time had passed the church had grown but the original eyewitnesses started to die so people began to write down their own personal accounts of events, drawing on their own memories and observations of. These then became the Gospels.

[Q]
So these are just memories? How can we trust that they are accurate accounts and not subject to the writers own interpretation of events?
[A] There are a couple of verses that help us along with this one. The first is in John; Jesus is talking to the disciples, He promises them that the Holy Spirit would help them remember the words that He had spoken "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:25-26).
The second verse (which I refer to a lot) is more one that requires faith for the scriptures: "All scripture is breathed out by God..." (2 Timothy 3:16). If the question is "how can I trust the accounts of these men when when they are human and imperfect and liable to make mistakes?" then the answer in light of this verse is: if all scripture is breathed out by God then you can trust that he guided those whom he elected to write the scriptures to write them without error. Also, if we are approaching scripture under the presumption that our God is a promise keeping God then when He promises in John 14 that He will send the Holy Spirit to help the disciples in their remembrance of Jesus' words then we can be sure that the Holy Spirit guided them as they wrote their accounts.


So, at the same time that the Gospels were being written, leaders such as Paul, Peter and John were writing letters to churches offering spiritual advice and helping to solve problems. These letters were collected, copied and passed around the early church. Eventually the gospels and the letters were brought together to form the New Testament.
The early church decided what should be in the Bible. This is how they did it; they would look for writings that were attributed to the apostles or people who were closely associated with Jesus. Church leaders drew up their own lists of recommended reading. It is important that a group of church leaders were doing this and it is also important that they were in fact church leaders because at that time some people had started circulating fake gospels and acts that were full of weird teachings and false doctrines.
Finally in 376AD, Bishop Athanasius wrote to the churches in his region listing what he considered to be "Holy Scripture". His list was eventually confirmed by two councils; one in Rome in 382AD and one in Carthage in 397AD and this is the New Testament that we read today.

Oh and just so you know; the word "Testament" means promise. So, paraphrased; the Old Testament tells the story of God's promise to the Israelites and the New Testament tells of His promise to all people.

This has been a real learning curve for me today. It seemed like a good idea to get some background knowledge on the origins of the book by which I live my life. A couple of books that I found helpful in researching this topic are: Nick Page's Explorer's Notes and Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology (read the section on The Word of God). Because I'm no genius, everything I know comes from reading someone's book; I'm just so thankful to God that there are some people who have studied the scriptures so much and written books that help us to understand His word with such ease and accessibility.

Anyways, rinsed I am.

Peace and Love.

17.7.09

In the midst of the darkness, Lord give us your heart/
the world‘s quenchin' the spark that you’ve given us/
please rekindle the light so we can minister life/
to all the sinister types, tryin’ to live it up//
Spark; Stephen the Levite


Bible.
Here is something that God has really laid on my heart recently. The importance of knowing scripture. It seems to be something that has become quite forgotten in the church in this day and age but at the same time it seems to be something that is being screamed out for. Even now as I get stuck into the Word and begin to understand more of it I am thinking back to things that I thought and said only a year ago that I now distance myself having learned more about God's word.

Having been convicted to know the truth of Bible I have started to take a very systematic approach to studying scripture and have found it to be such an incredible way of learning about God's word and also how to live it out in everyday life, after all, that is the purpose of having a Bible - so that we can live in the way that we are instructed to by our Father in Heaven.
So, if you're wondering what Systematic Theology is:

"Systematic theology is any study that answers the question, "What does the whole Bible teach us today?" about any given topic"

-Wayne Grudem (cf. Professor John Frame)

It knowing the balanced (not compromised) view of the whole of scripture. I think it would be so amazing if the whole of God's church just knew, understood and lived the doctrines of scripture. It feels like Western Christianity has attached this stigma to "sound doctrine", misinterpreted it for legalism and consequently separated it more and more from their Christian lives, adopting a mentality which is contrary to scripture and believes "we don't need doctrine, we just need more of the Holy Spirit". Something that a lot of people seem to miss (and I include myself in this, for I have been a Christian most of my life and until this year have never thought to pick up my Bible) is that scripture (all scripture) is the infallible word "breathed out by God" (2 Timothy 3:16). Simply, the Bible is a letter from God to us instructing us how to live. Just as an aside; if God sent a personally addressed letter to you, wouldn't you want to read it? Or even, wouldn't you be so excited about it that nothing in the world could stop you from reading it and living in the way that it instructed you to? I think that is how we should approach the Bible.

"This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you are to meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it" (Joshua 1:8)

From this verse alone it seems that there is a clear command in the Bible to know the Bible. Simply, the importance of knowing what the whole Bible teaches us is so that we can live our lives accordingly. The word of God in the Bible is unchanging, therefore knowing the steadfast truth within it safeguards us from being "like children tossed to and fo and carried about by every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14). I could probably talk for ages about this (another time. Perhaps lol) but I do want to make one thing very solemnly, soberly clear about how God wants us to approach scripture...

HE WANTS US TO ENJOY IT! =D

Psalm 119:18 says "Open my eyes, that I may behold the wondrous things out of your law". I think that when we really allow ourselves to actually want to study the Bible and when we allow God to speak to us through it and consequently live in accordance with it, our understanding and living of the scriptural doctrines will be one of our greatest joys.

So, get stuck into the Word, have fun with it, enjoy it. Approach it with the presumption that (1) it is true, and is our only absolute standard of truth and (2) that the God who is spoken of in the Bible exists, and that He is who He says he is: the Creator of heaven and earth and all things in them (Wayne Grudem).

Peace and Love.

13.7.09

Sunday Afternoon.
St Tom's does a lot of work down in an area of Sheffield called Firvale with groups of Slovakian gypsies. Yesterday after church the opportunity came up to go down spend a couple of hours working with the some of the Slovakian children. My initial reaction was to decline, I'm usually so awkward round children and have no idea what to say or how to act in a way that is fun for them and no to ridiculous for me. But I really felt a gentle nudge from God to just put that reason aside (it isn't really a good enough reason to not do something, especially if you are doing it for God) so I resolved to go. I prayed about it on the way down and God really blessed the time we spend there. During this time of year most of the gypsies go back to Slovakia (the general pattern is that they are only here for the winter and then they return home for the summer months) so we thought that no-one would turn up at all and it was really hanging in the balance whether they would go down or not. But in the end they did and after hanging in the balance myself (I think I am using that phrase in context...) I decided to go down as well and just have faith that God would make me of use. In the end about 7 or 8 kids showed up which was a miracle considering we weren't expecting anyone to show up at all.

When we got down there, and the area is quite a bit different to the area we live in, a lot more police sirens going off and generally more run down (coming from Birmingham it wasn't too much of a shock). The church we met in was an old, large methodist church with one or two boarded up windows with holes from where thrown rocks had shattered the glass ("please let those be only be rock holes in the window" was my immediate thought). Anyway so that is a brief description of the area. Meeting the kids was amazing. Having never done kids work at church or anything I didn't really know what to expect but as soon as we just started playing ball with the kids and seeing them have a good time there were genuine moments where I would thrown back tears as I realized just how much Jesus loves these children and wants good things for them. My heart was so quickly overwhelmed with love for them myself that I couldn't help deciding that I wouldn't mind giving up more Sunday afternoons to this kind of work.

We spent some time playing different games with the kids and generally just having a good time. We took some time during the time to do a drama for them to show them about God's love for everyone and then played more games with them before finishing. The time there spent with these kids was amazing.

Ultimately, what urged me to go yesterday afternoon (along with the gentle nudge from from Spirit) was thinking on what was said at church in the morning. The sermon was about the last chapter of John (21) where Jesus talks to Peter about love for Christ, feeding, tending to and looking after His sheep and I was just reflecting on the importance for us to show love to people in our lives and if we claim to love Jesus then that necessarily means showing love to all of God's children as Jesus loves them. Yesterday was an open door for me to practice that and see just how much He loves and cares for all of us. I learned so much just by being there and my passion for people has just grown so much over the last day, I'm now considering more seriously volunteering at Soul Survivor and just helping out in whatever way they need for that week. Even my passion for China now has an added something something since yesterday afternoon. I can only think that God wanted me to learn something useful yesterday =]

Peace and Blessings everyone.

[btw. after listening through the Stephen the Levite album a few more times I've come to flippin' love it. great album]

9.7.09


My initials are C.J.H. BA(B)
The BA(B) stands for:

Bachelor of Arts BABY!

That's right, my results just came through online. The three years is finished and I'm graduating with Honours!

Get In!

7.7.09

Random Musings

I'm home for a few days doing a few things; clearing my parents loft (that's why I'm back), gathering my thoughts, reading my Bible and watching Mark Driscol sermons online.

China
I was in the CLC bookstore the other day - oh yeah, I'm applying to work there as a volunteer during my Form year, I am still looking for work and will continue to do so even after the course starts but I have been blessed to have been given full funding for the Form year so if I don't find work, it is taken care of, God has blessed me so much in my financial life recently, He is just incredible - so I was in the CLC bookstore checking out the music section and my eye fell on a free flyer that was lying on the table, it looked kinda cool and Chinese and so naturally I was drawn to it. What the flyer was about was a new album bought out by Mark Tedder who is the worship leader at Spring Harvest. The album is called The Door and it is the first live worship album to ever be recording in China. I looked it up and have been reading a bit about the project online. Bascially, against really tough restriction from the government and constant threats to shoot the whole things down and consistent denied permission the recording went ahead. It is so incredible to see God break through in such a suppressed society. I love reading about the different ways that God is breaking through in China. Government stats report that are about 21 million Christians in China (that's 16 million Protestants and 5 million Catholics), unofficial figures estimate that number to be 70 million but an 'under the radar' and more accurate figure estimates that there are 130 million Christians in persecuted China. Considering that the communist party membership is 74, that means that there are more Christians than Communists in China. The real Christian movement in China is underground but it is spreading like wild fire, it excites me so much when I read about a place that has tried to keep Jesus out not being able to stop the Holy Spirit from bursting through the door and over the threshold. As I think about the possibility of me moving out to China in a years time I can't help thinking more and more that I would love be involved with getting the message of Jesus spread wider out there. It is certainly something I will be giving a lot of thought and prayer to this year whilst I do Form.

Training
Training? Yeah, so I started this blog, in part, to keep a track of my training and diet as a working progress. My diet has been slowing improving to a good level, my sugar and general rubbish intake has gone down considerably and has been replaced my a much more balanced diet though the problem I have faced at the moment is that I am not eating quite enough so that is the next thing t work on. As for actual training I have put on a bit of a hold over the past few days; I did something to my wrist the other day but I'm not sure what, I just haven't been able to put any pressure on it or lift anything with it for the last few days. I'm not sure how I did it but I did quite a few things that day; climbing, lifting boxes in our new house, parkour at night, they're all likely suspects so pick the coolest of those activities to blame the injury on. It has been feeling better today and I can move it much more freely but I'm going to be sensible with it for a few more days I think.

Internet Umbrella
I love finding out what is going on in Japanese technology because there is always some mental new gadget that will get big in Japan then sooner or later hit the shelves over seas. More often than not it is something we don't really need but it's usually something impressive to see. So the most recent product, created by two graduate students at Keio University is an Internet Umbrella. The umbrella acts as a photo browser displaying pictures from the internet as you walk along, it contains a projector in the handle which displays the images on the underside of the umbrella. As well as the projector the handle also includes a camera, a motion sensor, a GPS and a digital compass (so at least you'll never get lost), so there's a fair amount of technology packed into that one small handle, usually the best you can get is one of those buttons in the handle that deploys the umbrella quickly (but not always safely) off a spring load mechanism, it's cool, but it's no GPS. The Umbrella is called Pileus...in English that means "head of a mushroom"...neat huh.

Stephen the Levite
...haha, yeah, pending. I did listen through the album yesterday and today. It is taking a bit of time get into it. In fact, I'm even a little disappointed with it but I'm gonna keep listening because I know it is a good album. The guy speaks the truth.
It's definitely not as easy a listen as The Atonement but there are some great tracks on there and some real hard stuff to chew on. Favourite tracks probably include: BnA (part B), ...To Die is Gain, Soundtrack to My Life, RnA and Disconnected (feat. Shai Linne).
I think next on the list will be Timothy Brindle - the Great Awakening

Anyway, till next time
Peace and Love

(oh yeah, the Guardian mug smashed. It's a sad story)

6.7.09

Yeeeahyeah Hip Hop Holy, Rep Rap, Street...apples! You feel me?

I just got Stephen the Levite's 'To Die is Gain' on download. I'll get a review in when I've given it a proper listen through.

Check the sampler here.

29.6.09

Want some truth? Check this.

Shai Linne

The Atonement









I bought this album today, I've listened through it a couple of times now; it is next level. It is like listening to sound doctrine through Hip Hop. Even if Hip Hop isn't your thing I think you should check this album; it takes you on a journey from 'the fall' through to Jesus, His sacrifice for us and salvation. I love it, it reps Christ the whole way through.

Cue up the sample tracks here at Holy Culture Download.

Favourite tracks; Actually I thoroughly enjoyed the album the whole way through, I haven't really picked out any particular favourites but these are the ones that stood out the most as I listened through: School Daze, Through My Eyes, Jesus Is Alive (House of Tea Remix) and Throne of Grace. But seriously, the whole album is a definite winner.

Sola Dei Gloria.

Peace.

28.6.09


Future Musings.

Feeling a bit blue at the moment. Everyone has left Sheffield now and it is just too quiet. The months of June-September are always weird ones; a bit like being stuck in limbo. It is hella hard to get a job at the moment so I have pretty much nothing to do; I am thinking of applying to CLC which is a Christian book shop in Sheffield. CLC is completely voluntary work and even the managers live on faith, all their money goes towards charities worldwide. This is their mission statement:

"CLC is an international missionary organization made up of individuals from many denominations. We are bound together by a common purpose: we desire to see people come to faith and maturity in the Lord Jesus Christ and we believe that evangelical Christian literature is an essential part in this process."

So, a really good organization and if I'm just waiting for a job I think I would like to have some kind of focus.
My training has just totally taken a back seat over the past few days; I have a pretty sketchy neck. I don't know what is wrong with it, but of late it has been hurting loads and I've not climbed or training for fear or damaging it more. Please pray for healing for it because it is becoming quite a problem and I am just dying to go climbing, especially with all the free time I have right now.

Aight, so what is really going on with me at the moment? Well, in September I am due to start Form, which I am pretty sure is the right thing to do, but over the past few days I have just not felt any kind of peace about any of the decision that I have been making recently, including whether I should have stayed in Sheffield for another year, especially with the lack of money going around at the moment. But looking back a few months ago I felt that it was the right decision and an obvious door that had been opened by God so I went for it, I think now that I just have to trust God that He is laying the path out in front of me even though I can't see it myself.
I am thinking quite a bit about what to do after this year in Sheffield. The aim of Form is to train and equip its students to be able to go out and plant ministry anywhere in the world regardless of language and culture because the truths of the Bible transcend things such as culture and age that we live in. With this in mind and also just opening my mind to dream wildly about what I would like to do I have started thinking about China again. China has been a nagging thing in the back of my mind for a few years now but a thought that I have never really developed much. I started learning to speak Mandarin about a year ago but had to put a hold on that for my final year of uni so that I could give everything to the course but now the interest and the urge has been returning quite a bit. Here are my reasons for exploring this further:
(1) As a young aspiring preacher I think it is important to get world experience; I know that a lot of pastors in full time ministry wish that they had worked in the world for a few years before they went into the church full time. And I definitely think that I want to do that.
(2) China appeals to me, for years it has, since having Chinese friends from back home I just bought into the culture and the people and the lifestyle so much. I think that things that we enjoy and sometimes things that are planted in our mind and appeal to us for no apparent reason can often be promptings by God.
(3) 2009 - statistics are saying that this is officially the worst year to graduate, the economy is in a mess and there isn't anywhere much safer than under your mattress to put your money. The opportunities for graduates to make money at the moment is low, very low. In fact, advice being given to graduates of this year at the moment is along the lines of "go, find a job outside of the UK and come back when England has sorted itself out". Basically, if there is a time to go it is now, while I am single, while it is productive to be out the country, while the fire to see China is there and especially after a year of training that will prepare me to be out there.

China.
I was talking to my Dad on the phone about this the other day and "son, I think you just need to go, get it out of your system" was pretty much his advice. Which I am more than happy with.
So what do I plan to do out there? Teach English? Well, yeah! I always assumed that I would never do anything with my degree, but if I was ever to make any kind of use of it, it would be to teach English as a foreign language and if not to Chinese students in England then definitely in China itself. I've been Googling around for different places and courses and there are so many out there, I found my way to a site that offers 6 or 12 months contracts, fully paid for, flights, accommodation, meals etc at the Xi'an College to teach courses in Conversational English.

Bible.
Ok. So I have been getting pretty into my Bible recently, which, as I ask around turns out is actually a rarity these days, especially among young Christians (but that's for another day). Now, I'm a Bible geek, I love the Bible, I love different translations of the Bible, on my shelf I keep a KJV, a NKJV, an NLT, a CEV, the Message Bible (such an incredibly passionate paraphrase of scripture), 3 adaptations of the NIV (including a Thompson Chain edition) and this week I am rocking a new ESV which is endorsed by great pastors and theologians such as Mark Driscol and Wayne Grudem (read Systematic Theology). So yeah, I'm loving the Word. So I've started to out into action a Bible reading plan to get me through it in a year (Form require us to read the Bible in a year) so this is the plan; very simple: four chapters of Old Testament a day and read the New Testament freely. I find the New much easier to read than the old so I'm not putting too much of a rigid structure on my reading of that. So that's where I'm heading with my Bible reading for the next year and I am reading through Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology as I go.

Highlights of the Week.
This is great. ok, I love porridge, and since living at Simon's I have had access to these incredible mugs that are more like bowls with handles, they are massive and hold such an incredible amount. It is such a simple joy but there is nothing better to eat porridge out of than one of these. They look like this:


So after two weeks of living with Simon and helping him move out I am now in possession of one of these incredible mugs.

I'm pretty blogged out.

Peace and Blessings


Song of the day: Alone in Kyoto - Air (You can hear this track in the film Lost in Translation, which is actually my all time favourite film)