Thursday, 20 November 2008

The most awesome family in the world

Seriously blessed to have these guys as family.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Going away... and coming back

So, I just got back from an unbelievably good weekend away with guys from CU- at a big house outside Reading- a weekend full of spending a lot of time studying God's Word, praying, spending time with brothers and sisters of the faith, worshipping, walking in the country and still other activities which sound stuffy and boring, but which in actuality have left me more refreshed and challenged than i could ever have expected. We studied the book of Jonah in some depth over the three days, and i was struck with how much deeper the story is than i remember from sunday school. We looked at our motivation for evangelism, and the way we are enabled to do it- 2Cor4- it is not us. It is ALL down to God, and we are just the vessels. We discovered anew the God of Grace who saved us- something that left me broken at the realisation of how much Christ has done.
Several points of thought from the weekend--
Why did God flood the earth in the time of Noah?
-- To prove to sociologists that if you remove all the "bad people" from the earth in one cataclysmic event- if you wipe out all sin on the planet, if you start again with the only six righteous people on the face of the earth-- You will still not solve the problem of sin. Sin is a disease, invisible, and much much more serious than paralysis (see mark 2)
Cutting off the hand might prevent repeat offenses of stealing, pulling out your eye might prevent you from looking lustfully at a woman- but sin is a matter of the heart. So to solve it you have to cut out your heart. In order to prevent repeat offences, you have to die. You have to die to everything that makes you human in order to be made new- the life i now live in the body i live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.
Gal 2.20-21.
I can only live by grace, as there is nothing within me capable of attaining salvation for myself. I am wholly lost and in outright rebellion to God and His authority- I am an enemy of God and all that He is- But when I accept Jesus, I die to sin. I am no longer in the dominion of sin, of darkness, a slave to evil- I have become a slave to righteousness, and the recognition of this phenomenal mercy that makes me alive with Christ overwhelms me. I now subsequently and naturally should and will spend my life in learning more of this Jesus, the source of all light and life, the one who has brought me out of darkness and into His kingdom.
And with the dscovery of just what I have been saved from, how can i not see my friends differently? How can i refuse to notice that they have a one-way ticket to oblivion and seperation for eternity? The people around me who I claim to love are in outright rebellion to the King, and unaware of their status- And I may be the only Jesus that they will ever know. How can i sit still? Jesus, give me perspective! Please don't let me carry on this apathetic reluctance, or valuing others' opinions more highly than yours- Break my heart for what breaks yours, Jesus, and don't leave me alone until I do something about it.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Friday, 26 September 2008


No, they're not mine... but they're awesome:-)The thing about flying is you have to jump off the ledge. In order to glide upwards on the currents and eddies you must hurl yourself headlong into the abyss and believe that underneath are the everlasting arms. A mother eagle does not teach her chicks to fly bit by bit. She simply kicks them out of the nest. Often God is more gentle with us, but often He wants us to do our bit of the growing too. I often wish that God would simply place in me all of the attributes He wants me to have so that I won't have to learn them the hard way. But, it turns out, the only way to develop patience is to be faced with many oppurtunities to be patient. The only way I am ever gonna learn to fly is to get out of the nest. But if I won't get out, God may well give me a shove. He knows I need it. Instead of resenting God's nudging or overspiritually rebuking the enemy when in fact it is only my circumstance which are out of place- I need to recognise the purpose and the lesson in the shove. What attribute am i learning here? How are these circumstances giving me oppurtunity to grow up?
Ranting and raving about unfairness, i've discovered, is kind of pointless. Are we actually genuinely demanding what is due to us? Let's think about that for a second. That might be dangerous... I deserve eternal judgement and fury for what I've done. But God in His incredible and reckless grace has chosen to be a father to me, whether that requires taking me by the hand as I take my first steps, picking me up and reassuring me when I fall, or sometimes saying, "Matt, you're old enough to do this now- just do it. Don't make me shove you. You have to grow or you'll stagnate and I'm not willing for you to be lost. So even if it means me shoving you out of this nest, You're gonna grow and become who I want you to be, and fulfill all that I have planned for you. I love you too much to let you stay how you are. Now get out of this nest and get on with the flying."

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


So its been a while since i posted, i know. That doesn't mean nothing ahs been going on :-) loads has happened and is still happening that makes the normal things of a previous life less and less comfortable. Maybe thats what I need in order to accept growth. I heard recently that you spell growth C-H-A-N-G-E and also that faith is spelled R-I-S-K. Well that's all very well until you have to do it.
Circumstances are changing in my life which will mean i have to adapt and change, grow and progress, in order to deal with it. But the working out of what to do next is anything but clear. I need the wisdom to see the next step and the faith to take the R-I-S-K.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

What hurts the most

Wow. i got just a little bit emotional watching this- thought i'd share it.


Graft (egkentrizo; the Revised Version (British and American) "graft"; the King James Version, "graff"):

The word occurs 6 times in Rom 11. Paul assumed that those living about Rome were familiar with the process of grafting olive trees, for olive culture had been adopted by the Greeks and Romans in Paul's time. The wild olive trees (Arabic colloquial, zeitun berri) are cut back, slits made on the freshly sawed branch ends, and two or three grafts from a cultivated olive (Arabic colloquial, zeitun jouwi) are inserted in such a way that the bark of the scion and of the branch coincide. The exposed ends are smeared with mud made from clay, and then bound with cloth or date straw, which is held by thongs made from the bark of young mulberry branches. The fruit thus obtained is good. Wild olives cannot be made cultivated olives by engrafting, as Paul implies (Rom 11:24), but a wild olive branch thus grafted would thrive. So Gentiles would flourish spiritually when grafted into the fullness of God's mercy, first revealed to the world through Israel.
James A. Patch

This website i've found really helpful in understanding my place in relation to the people of the promise, Gods chosen Israel. I think its interesting that grafting can't happen without wounding. The process of joining, of uniting, is a painful one and requires wounds.
Just something to ponder...

Thursday, 31 July 2008

New Name

Did you know that the disciple Matthew was also called Levi? I just found that out. pretty cool. so i looked into the name- always nice to have a cool biblical alternative name eh? Levi means "joined" or "attached" from the Hebrew word yilaveh.
Levi as well as being a disciple/tax collector in the new testament, was the third son of Jacob and Leah. When she gave birth, Leah is supposed to have said, "maybe now my husband will be joined to me because I have borne him three sons". Wow. unpack that one why don't you?

We tend to look at Rachel, Jacobs second wife, as the significant one, the more loved one, the one who bore Joseph. How often do we look from Leah's side of the fence? I find this really interesting to look at because i have often struggled with feeling like an outsider, despite feeling like i have every reason to be accepted. Leah was the older sister, had given Jacob more children, but was unloved. We see in the name she gives her son, the longing to be finally joined with her husband- not legally, that was already taken care of; but in his heart. She wanted to be one with him.

We find ourselves in much the same position as Leah oftentimes, even when it comes to God. God chose his people, Israel first. As Gentiles, we are not part of the covenant he made with Abram, (later Abraham). We are outsiders. Over there are the people of the covenant, those with whom God shares a testament. But we are over here ignorant of His ways, chasing after gods of our imaginings and bowing down to any hint of significance or greatness we can create.

And yet God, in His indescribable mercy chose to include us in His covenant. The problem with the old, and its dependance on the actions of men, chosen men yes, but fallen men nonetheless, has been wiped away with the new covenant, which depends only on Himself. God swears a covenant by Himself. Not dependant on us. And inclusive of us. Romans 11:17 calls us Gentiles "wild olive branches" that have been grafted into the root. This "grafting in" is kind of similar to the "joining" in the Leah story, i think. But the inclusion in the amazing heritage and promise God made for his chosen people is an incredible honour. Its easy to forget our place. We did not start this. God in His grace simply chose to graft us in.

"Levi/Levy, Standard Levy לוי Tiberian Lēwî ; "joining"
"The text of the Torah argues that the name of Levi refers to Leah's hope for Jacob to join with her, implying a derivation from yilaveh, meaning he will join."

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Monday, 28 July 2008

Everlasting Doors 2

"You're back in the way again- I thought i told you last time- Get out of the way, my Dad is coming through."

Thursday, 24 July 2008

To write Love on her arms

This story is the foundation of "To write Love on her arms", and i've found it challenging and moving. The group it inspired, , is worth looking at. I won't apologise for the language, sometimes it's necessary to understand.

TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS by Jamie Tworkowski

Pedro the Lion is loud in the speakers, and the city waits just outside our open windows. She sits and sings, legs crossed in the passenger seat, her pretty voice hiding in the volume. Music is a safe place and Pedro is her favorite. It hits me that she won't see this skyline for several weeks, and we will be without her. I lean forward, knowing this will be written, and I ask what she'd say if her story had an audience. She smiles. "Tell them to look up. Tell them to remember the stars."

I would rather write her a song, because songs don't wait to resolve, and because songs mean so much to her. Stories wait for endings, but songs are brave things bold enough to sing when all they know is darkness. These words, like most words, will be written next to midnight, between hurricane and harbor, as both claim to save her. Renee is 19. When I meet her, cocaine is fresh in her system. She hasn't slept in 36 hours and she won't for another 24. It is a familiar blur of coke, pot, pills and alcohol. She has agreed to meet us, to listen and to let us pray. We ask Renee to come with us, to leave this broken night. She says she'll go to rehab tomorrow, but she isn't ready now. It is too great a change. We pray and say goodbye and it is hard to leave without her. She has known such great pain; haunted dreams as a child, the near-constant presence of evil ever since. She has felt the touch of awful naked men, battled depression and addiction, and attempted suicide. Her arms remember razor blades, fifty scars that speak of self-inflicted wounds. Six hours after I meet her, she is feeling trapped, two groups of "friends" offering opposite ideas. Everyone is asleep. The sun is rising. She drinks long from a bottle of liquor, takes a razor blade from the table and locks herself in the bathroom. She cuts herself, using the blade to write "FUCK UP" large across her left forearm.
The nurse at the treatment center finds the wound several hours later. The center has no detox, names her too great a risk, and does not accept her. For the next five days, she is ours to love. We become her hospital and the possibility of healing fills our living room with life. It is unspoken and there are only a few of us, but we will be her church, the body of Christ coming alive to meet her needs, to write love on her arms.
She is full of contrast, more alive and closer to death than anyone I've known, like a Johnny Cash song or some theatre star. She owns attitude and humor beyond her 19 years, and when she tells me her story, she is humble and quiet and kind, shaped by the pain of a hundred lifetimes. I sit privileged but breaking as she shares. Her life has been so dark yet there is some soft hope in her words, and on consecutive evenings, I watch the prettiest girls in the room tell her that she's beautiful. I think it's God reminding her. I've never walked this road, but I decide that if we're going to run a five-day rehab, it is going to be the coolest in the country. It is going to be rock and roll. We start with the basics; lots of fun, too much Starbucks and way too many cigarettes.
Thursday night she is in the balcony for Band Marino, Orlando's finest. They are indie-folk-fabulous, a movement disguised as a circus. She loves them and she smiles when I point out the A&R man from Atlantic Europe, in town from London just to catch this show. She is in good seats when the Magic beat the Sonics the next night, screaming like a lifelong fan with every Dwight Howard dunk. On the way home, we stop for more coffee and books, Blue Like Jazz and (Anne Lamott's) Travelling Mercies. On Saturday, the Taste of Chaos tour is in town and I'm not even sure we can get in, but doors do open and minutes after parking, we are on stage for Thrice, one of her favorite bands. She stands ten feet from the drummer, smiling constantly. It is a bright moment there in the music, as light and rain collide above the stage. It feels like healing. It is certainly hope.
Sunday night is church and many gather after the service to pray for Renee, this her last night before entering rehab. Some are strangers but all are friends tonight. The prayers move from broken to bold, all encouraging. We're talking to God but I think as much, we're talking to her, telling her she's loved, saying she does not go alone. One among us knows her best. Ryan sits in the corner strumming an acoustic guitar, singing songs she's inspired.
After church our house fills with friends, there for a few more moments before goodbye. Everyone has some gift for her, some note or hug or piece of encouragement. She pulls me aside and tells me she would like to give me something. I smile surprised, wondering what it could be. We walk through the crowded living room, to the garage and her stuff. She hands me her last razor blade, tells me it is the one she used to cut her arm and her last lines of cocaine five nights before. She's had it with her ever since, shares that tonight will be the hardest night and she shouldn't have it. I hold it carefully, thank her and know instantly that this moment, this gift, will stay with me. It hits me to wonder if this great feeling is what Christ knows when we surrender our broken hearts, when we trade death for life. As we arrive at the treatment center, she finishes: "The stars are always there but we miss them in the dirt and clouds. We miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope."
I have watched life come back to her, and it has been a privilege. When our time with her began, someone suggested shifts but that is the language of business. Love is something better. I have been challenged and changed, reminded that love is that simple answer to so many of our hardest questions. Don Miller says we're called to hold our hands against the wounds of a broken world, to stop the bleeding. I agree so greatly. We often ask God to show up. We pray prayers of rescue. Perhaps God would ask us to be that rescue, to be His body, to move for things that matter. He is not invisible when we come alive. I might be simple but more and more, I believe God works in love, speaks in love, is revealed in our love. I have seen that this week and honestly, it has been simple: Take a broken girl, treat her like a famous princess, give her the best seats in the house. Buy her coffee and cigarettes for the coming down, books and bathroom things for the days ahead. Tell her something true when all she's known are lies. Tell her God loves her. Tell her about forgiveness, the possibility of freedom, tell her she was made to dance in white dresses. All these things are true. We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don't get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won't solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we're called home. I have learned so much in one week with one brave girl. She is alive now, in the patience and safety of rehab, covered in marks of madness but choosing to believe that God makes things new, that He meant hope and healing in the stars. She would ask you to remember.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

A step at a time

"When you are going through hard times- you have to take it one day at a time"

-"actually, make that one second at a time"

In the middle of life in all of its chaos and numb stupor the only thing i can do is to keep walking- one step at a time. With my eyes fixed on the hope of which i have been assured and look forward to, I press on through the anger, through the distrust, through the empty loneliness towards a time when everything will be clearer. But the trust that prompts action- the decision to walk through the valley when i don't understand, the belief that Father cares enough to guide my steps even when i can't see Him- this is different to the cynical despondancy i tried before. Childlike faith along the empty road keeps my eyes on the throne and keeps me from despair. And it is in these times i learn to praise the God who gives and takes away.

"When you're going through hell, don't stop. Just keep walking."

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


Those who have gone before.

Often my direction comes from those who have gone before me, but I tend not to recognise the pain with which the first one made the trail when it seems so well worn to my feet. The first man to walk this road deserves my gratitude and honour- for showing the way, despite the pain it caused to walk the narrow path.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him"

"Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their hearts, without anguish in their mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe only in the God idea, not God Himself."- Miguel de Unamuno

Monday, 14 July 2008

Hello? anyone there?

God I really don't know where you are in all of this- I really want to know you're there but I can't seem to find you right now. If you're there, we could use some help.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Fearing Normality

"Normality shouldn't be so terrifying."
Very interesting statement that came up the other day when I was talking with a friend. It's made me think rather a lot about what it is that I truly want. The old British adage "anything for a quiet life" is, to me, simultaneously attractive and utterly terrifying. One part of me would love to have no pressure, nothing to worry about; the dominant part has a persistent desire to achieve something, to make some form of a mark on the world.
Fading into the background and doing something meaningless with my life may well provide less stress in the daily living, but doing something meaningless with my life would be, by definition, entirely unfulfilling.
But the more I think about it, the more I realise that doing something great or noteworthy by the world's standards is perhaps worse than doing nothing at all in terms of the value it will add to my life. Most people who are incredible "successful" in the world’s eyes suffer from that accomplishment daily, reflecting the stress, loneliness, worry and fear of loss in their constant grasping for more. Yes, I'm generalising, but Jesus said it was harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle. I don't think he was being entirely metaphorical. I think (shoot me if you will) that he meant it. And yes, it is more about the priorities of your life, and whether "the money owns you" (*gags on the cliché*) but let's be realistic, eh? Even the rich young ruler, who had followed ALL of the commandments from his youth still LACKED one thing- "Go, sell all of your possessions and give to the poor- then you will have much treasure in heaven".
So I guess the point I’m coming to is that making a mark on the world is just a worthless as a life of mediocrity. But those things that are worth something eternally are worth investing in.
The question of how much I accomplish eternally and what my life is worth is not measured by the things I do externally , but by what is in my heart as I go. If I give some change to the guy on the street and feel smug about being so generous for parting with a fiver- rest assured, I’ve had all the reward for that already. A heart of love for the lost, and caring for the fatherless, being an ordinary radical- someone who loves people as only Jesus can, in every part of life. These are the things I aspire to. God give me grace to grow in those things that are really significant.

Monday, 7 July 2008


Shall I see her face again--the pale face and the glorious hair? Of that
I know nothing; Fate has no hint, my heart no presentiment. I do not
know. In this world, perhaps--nay, it is likely--never. And can it
be that somewhere, in a manner whereof our flesh-bound minds have no
apprehension, she and I will be together again, with nothing to come
between us, nothing to forbid our love? That I know not, nor wiser heads
than mine. But if it be never--if I can never hold sweet converse again
with her, or look upon her face, or know from her her love; why, then,
this side the grave, I will live as becomes the man whom she loves; and,
for the other side, I must pray a dreamless sleep.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


"The Big Bang was actually Chuck Norris roundhouse kicking God in the face."
so inappropriate.
not even funny.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Seeking Solitude

Being by yourself is interesting isn't it? I've always avoided being alone by being part of a great big busy family, having friends at church, friends at uni... but now i find myself, in one sense, very much alone. The only people i see day to day are a bunch of scientists, all much older than me and with interests limited to their work or maybe football. Great. I don't like football, I can't talk about X-ray diffraction at their level, so I'm kind of stumped here. Other than that, i see my landlord. And thats it. So in one sense, I'm very much by myself. In terms of actually finding some other people to talk to, i'm going to a really awesome church this sunday, so maybe God will provide some new company :-) But at the moment, it's just me and Him.

And I think this experience is one which will stick with me- in fact, I will make sure to carve out some time for solitude when I am back among friends, because I recognise the value of it now. Being alone is not usually a choice. But solitude is different than loneliness. Solitude is sought- the choice to be alone with my thoughts and with God. This goes way beyond carving out twenty minutes for a quiet time in the morning- that twenty minutes does not end up being quiet, or solitary enough to allow proper release into God. And that is the key thing i have seen- that the time alone with God is not to be clearly structured or defined or ordered, though these things become necessary when the time is limited. Simply seeking out the presence of God, resting in that presence, and releasing everything i am thinking about, worried about, proud about, all up to him. This Practising the presence of God, as recommended by Brother Andrew (read the book) is really something to live by, something to live out, every day and in every form of company. It shows itself in the conversations we choose when we are with friends, in the activities we pursue when among christians and non christians alike, but importantly, it shows itself in the subject of our meditation when we are alone. Meditating on the Word and in the Person of God is something we should do as readily and as eagerly as breathing.

The other practise that is conducive to healthy christian living is, of course, fellowship. But i have never been short of fellowship in my christian walk. There have always been people around me encouraging me, and that is a very valuable thing. But relating to God and being comfortable alone with Him; that is something i have not really spent much time practising. Solitude was Jesus' main priority at many times during his ministry, and it was and is a necessary counterpart to the very relational majority of his life. Being alone used to hold a sort of fear for me, and i avoided it. But Solitude is something different, and something valuable. Something I will not run from now I know that I am never truly alone.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

giving up and getting back

I realise now as I sit to write this, that i haven't written a blog in forever. O well. Much has happened in my life since my last blog, and i am in such an entirely different place now, it seems hard to believe.
I have seen answers to prayer, seemingly unanswered prayers, made new friends, and come very close to losing two of my best friends through selfish stupidity. I'm currently not even home in Essex, I'm in oxford doing an internship, and from the start of next week, I'll have to find somewhere else to stay as the people I'm living with now are going away. Much change.
But one thing remains- God is faithful. He hasn't left me, and still has good plans for my life, even when i try to wrench them from his grasp and make it happen in my own time. The main example of this in the past months is the whole relationship thing. If you look back at my February blog/rant on valentines day, you can probably sense some of my impatience with God. "God, I know you're going to bring her along when I'm ready, but does it really have to take this long?"... well, let me tell you, taking matters into your own hands doesn't work out so well. Trying to force God's plan just caused incredible pain and betrayal, and the effects are still apparent in the broken trust between friends. In fact, I surprise myself at how much of an idiot i can be, given the chance. Trust me, it's not worth it.

But God has been nudging my heart back into trusting him with this. I feel like i have to do something or i may never find her, or if she's right in front of me she will just slip away. But God says he has plans for my life- good ones, and if i will wait on him, he'll guide my steps. So that's what I'm trying to do- just leave it at his feet, and trust him to bring along the senorita :-) What i can do is work to rebuild the friendships i bulldozed in my attempt at matchmaking without God's input. And hopefully I'll learn from this and come out stronger and humbler.

God, I give over my life plans to you, and ask that you replace them with your own. Help me walk in your presence and listen to your voice. Amen

Friday, 4 April 2008


hey i know this is my third blog on forgiving...sorry :-)

So. forgiveness, eh? it requires a decision for us to forgive. forgiving is a choice we make, and the emotion follows. Forgiving someone doesn't mean not feeling what they've done anymore. It means choosing to start the recovery process, and not holding onto the pain or the betrayal in order to hold it up for all to see. Flaunting the deed to draw attention to oneself and condemnation upon the accused. That's what we do, isn't it? I know when I've been hurt, the last thing i want to do is let go of that, because then who is going to agree with me and share in my righteous anger?

"righteous anger"? The day we start calling down judgement from heaven on those who have hurt us, as my pastor says "we'll get our fingers burned". Everyone of us is selfish and lashes out at times, i know i do, but then it is with such great surprise that we find out our friends sometimes lash out at us too. How dare they? that's a question and a half. how dare any of us.

But that doesn't help me out in what to do with this whole forgiveness thing. If i want to regain a friendship, you're right- saying "i forgive you" may not make it all better. But it releases the HOLD that we let that unforgiveness have over our emotions, and we invite God to heal. And he does.
Time is a great healer, they say. But not without God, and not without us letting go of our
unforgiveness. When we do, God can heal us. And yes, it takes time, but sometimes not as long as you think. Nothing is impossible with God.

The situation that prompted the past two blogs is on its way to a complete recovery now :-) and what is so funny is that the act which i was so angry about and had such trouble forgiving, when put in perspective, pales by comparison to some of the hardships this person has faced. So i had no right to take the high ground there. But unforgiveness, when held onto like that, has a way of distorting the truth. Make the choice, say the words- both to the person and to God, and God will heal the pain. It may take time, but He is faithful.

Friday, 29 February 2008

forgiving 2

So-- i've been thinking a whole lot more about my last post-- and i've come to the conclusion there is a big difference between forgiving and excusing-- i can forgive, and i need to forgive. That doesn't mean i let myself be manipulated, and that doesn't mean being a pushover. So yes, a relationship needs healing and growing. But i can forgive now- that doesn't mean going back to the same state as before. It doesn't mean saying- "its ok for this relationship to be one-sided and wrong." Because it's not ok. But i can forgive that person, and then work on building a real friendship once i've forgiven that person. And i can't work on fixing a broken friendship if i have unforgivness in my heart. So firstly, I do forgive you. And secondly, yes i want to build a real friendship, but it'll take time.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

on forgiving

why is forgiving so flippin hard?
when someone does something that hurts me i can always pretty much forgive them straight away. Either I am able to see it from their perspective, or i understand where they're coming from, and so i can extend forgiveness without that much trouble. This time i'm having a really hard time with it.
I think it's when one particular action makes you realise the status of a whole relationship-- one text message exposes an entire "friendship" as manipulative and one sided. What do you do at this point?
when it's assumed that you will forgive straight away, and "matt can handle it", so people dont spare a second thought to how they treat you. At some point you stand up and say- guess what? You're not manipulating me anymore. I'm not gonna be taken for granted, because i'm a real person and i'm not here to cater to you.
Is that wrong? I have a sneaking feeling that it is wrong. But i'm having trouble getting past that point into forgiveness right now.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Realising you feel

I just had a memory/thought about one of the strangest things i ever experienced-- loss of someone you have no logical reason to be connected to or really to care about. Very wierd- maybe writing will help me figure this out.

Ok so lots of people in my family i.e. relatives and stuff, have died. You're just going through life, you come home from school, and Dad says- Matt, we just heard, Nanny died. Or Grandpa, or whoever. You know what i mean. And maybe i'm alone in this, but my initial reaction is not to shout or scream or cry- in fact i almost never cry. I take the news with a sort of detachement. even when i know the person really well, and love them more than the whole world. The fact that all of my family lives 3000 miles away might have something to do with that. But i'm not sure if i would react any differently if the person lived 10 miles away rather than three thousand. My mute reaction of detached incomprehension is as far as my response goes.
Then a few months later, our family goes back to the states to visit, and i absent-mindedly say- "o yeah dad i meant to ask, when are we going to visit Nann............" and burst into heart wrenching sobs when the loss actually becomes real to me.
It really takes a long time for me to grasp that loss- and that might be me alone, or maybe others feel that way too. Who knows?

But the only time i can remember grasping, understanding, really feeling a loss INSTANTLY was this past summer. And the wierdest thing is, i really had no reason to feel that loss. I was working at a friend's farm in a warehouse, painting the inside of an office; i could see outside through a huge big window, and everything was ok. My boss's dog, Baxter was sitting happily outside as far as anyone knew. A beautiful chocolate labrador puppy, only like a year old.
All of a sudden this huge tractor thing comes around the corner and either hit Baxter or just ran over his leg, or something. Baxter starts howling, jumping around and just looking frantic- i, not having seen him get hit, thought he was playing, but then he collapsed on the ground. I realised something was wrong, ran down the stairs to the door just as he was lying there on the concrete. And then his eyes glazed over and he was gone.
My boss put him in her car and rushed off to the vet, but he was dead long before she got there.

And so there's me. Standing in a half painted office with cream colour paint all over my hands, and tears literally pouring down my face. Wondering how i'm supposed to wipe my eyes cus i'll get paint in them. And feeling this enormous sense of loss, which had no right to be there. I didn't know this dog from any other walking in the street. It's a dog not a human. It's not my dog. Why am i so ridiculously torn up by this?
But i guess it comes down to a life- it was there one second, and snatched away in the next instant-- whether that puppy belonged to me or not, i still felt that loss. Illogical as it is, whatever anyone says, i think i felt that more intensly and certainly more instantly than any other loss i have experienced. Maybe i'm just screwed up. But i think that trying to get rid of that or forget that emotion or try to excuse it would be wrong. So i'll give it up to God. As soon as i work up the courage. But i think that could take me a while.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

On valentines day

For years, probably 3 or 4 years in fact, i've been pretty much fine with being single. After my last major relationship ended, i realised i needed to be a complete person, myself, before looking for completion in anyone else. With that decision came a sort of peace, cause i knew God had it in hand, and i was and am being fathered by God, learning to be the man he made me to be. Believe me, i'm a long way from that work being completed, but i have definately felt that working-- i'm more on the way to being a whole person than i've ever been before-- i'm learning to stand on my own two feet now in a spiritual sense, and my relationship with God has become more real. I live every day trying to make this salvation my own, not my parents faith. And i've made some progress.

But i'm not in that same place of resignation anymore. Things aren't how they were, and people change. I see that in the relationship of two of my closest friends who i love very much. I only realised literally two days ago, the enormity of his love for her. Yes, i know that its completely obvious who i'm tlking about, but i dont apologise for that. You guys, you know who you are, mean more to me than anything. But i see in you the pain of people changing. The way someone can change, but the other not be able to see it. But the biggest thing i have learned from these two friends is the dedication and intensity of a love that is no longer selfish, a love that won't let go in the face of pain, and that is protective, caring, listening, and at every instant wanting to be with that other person. Even when it is not returned. When we have to learn to speak again, and refuse to let things go back the way they were. That love is the most amazing reflection of God i have ever seen. And i don't apologise for picking you out :-) You have taught me so much.

But the point of this blog is this. I thought i was fine being single. I have been for ages. But i'm not. I want someone. I want to love, to protect, to provide, to care about the little things. I know i will screw up at times, but this gift God gave to man- i want to be part of that. I'm probably being ridiculously emo here, but i don't want to go through life a hermit- i want to live and experience joy, love, hope, and face the trials with someone by my side. To be the man God made me to be, not just for myself but for someone else as well.

Maybe Valentines day brought this to head, but its totally true, and whats on my heart right now. Please God, bring someone into my life.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

C.S.Lewis is a legend.


Master, they say that when I seem
To be in speech with you,
Since you make no replies, it's all a dream
--One talker aping two.

They are half right, but not as they
Imagine, rather, I
Seek in myself the things I meant to say,
And Lo! the wells are dry.

Then, seeing me empty, you forsake
The Listener's role, and through
My dead lips breathe and into utterance wake
The thoughts I never knew.

And thus you neither need reply
Nor can; thus, while we seem
Two talking, thou art One forever, and I
No dreamer, but thy dream.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

on the subject of loving people.

A good friend raised the question some time ago of the reason behind my caring/ doing anything for the people around me-- am i fighting for a cause for it's own sake- and is that worth doing? Do i care about people, or just their situation? What does this desire for resolution find its root in? Is it simply a cause-fighting instinct, one by which i feel the desire for advocacy? Do i look straight through the people as i'm looking at their situation?

The truth is, sometimes its easier to try and solve somebody's physical problems than relate to them as people. The only reason we can do anything for anyone without hypocrisy is by genuinely feeling love for them. This goes for telling people about my faith as well. The only reason for me to share my faith with someone is out of love for them. Any other motive is laced with insincerity.

"do you only love me because you want me to become a christian, or do you want me to become a christian because you love me?"

that about sums it up to me- any motive that doesn't include love is false.
But the reality is, i don't naturally love people. They are a nuisance to my selfish way of life. They get in the way of my life-plan. They have loads of needs and desires, hopes and aspirations that i don't want to worry about.
The only place i can get this love is from God. It ain't gonna come from me, no matter how "deep inside". God has to put that love in me for His beloved, and all i have to do i ask.
Now, equipped with this immeasurable love, i have no excuse not to demonstrate God's love to every person i meet.
Read a couple of chapters of James, it leaves me with no doubt that my faith must be a faith must be a faith of action. Inner state demonstrated by outward actions. But sincere, because i know what i have been given, and now have a love beyond understanding.

Monday, 28 January 2008

This is one of the hubble deep field shots-
i love this picture, and others like it.
Astronomers focused the hubble space telescope on an apparently "blank" area of the night sky and let the exposure run for a while.
There are thousands of galaxies in this picture- eliptical galaxies, spiral galaxies, supernova remains, nebulae...
what a creator.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Everlasting doors

sometimes there seems like there are huge obstacles in the way of moving forward in my walk with God. A couple weeks ago, pretty much starting on new years, it was insanely hard for me emotionally- seemed like everything around me was just coming to a head and i didn't feel like i could sort through all of the issues at once.

I felt like i didn't fit/wasn't wanted both in the group of friends i value most, and within my own family. It turned out these sort of things had been a problem for me for a long time but i always bottled them up- just tried to move on past them without dealing with the root problems.

Anyway, we had a week of prayer and fasting at our church which i tried to go to as much as possible- it was really intense for me-- during the week i got a definite analogy kept coming to my mind. It was as if all the fear and anxiety about acceptance was right in front of me like huge gates, much like the enormous Assyrian gates in the the British museum i love so much- and the way forward with God was on the other side. I struggled like crazy to just shrug off all this crap and just move on, like i usually do. It wasn't working.

Two things gave me hope in that place- both simple things but really powerful to me at that time, and continuing.
1st- What does the bible say about big gates? about gates of brass, everlasting doors? it says, in Psalm 24-
Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty— he is the King of glory.

so i grabbed onto that with both hands and declared, you know what- open up you gates of brass- Gods bigger than you, get out of the way. i genuinely believe that words have power- way more than we are inclined to believe, as western middle of the road Christians. We were made in the image of a creator God who spoke the universe- our words have power too, and even more so when we are speaking the words of God, through the scriptures.

OK so 2nd-- I praised. I have always said, you know, worship and praise means more when you don't feel like it, and declaring God's faithfulness is true so you should do it no matter what you feel like... well i have said that flippantly in the past with no idea how hard it is.
well, let me tell u- in that black place, where you feel like you can't do anything but worry and go around in circles in your head, going over and over the problems which fill up your entire vision--
in THAT place-- THAT is where praise is so immensely powerful. It totally takes the focus off of me, and back onto God where my focus ALWAYS belongs. yeah its hard, but it is the best thing you can do. Put on music that lifts up and declares that God is good, all the time, and MAKE yourself sing along.
its almost impossible at first, but the longer you praise, the more you get a completely new and right perspective.

anyway, that is what I've learned and am still learning this year.
i know i still have a long way to go, but the road is forward from this point.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

knowing that you know- pt 2

I am partially changing my opinion on "knowing that you know"... i think that now i can know that i know that God will always be there, but knowing certain things about Him is not important- rather knowing Him in all His uncertainty.
Awesome quote from Oswald Chambers in "My Utmost for His Highest" comin at u--
Gracious Uncertainty
. . . it has not yet been revealed what we shall be . . . —1 John 3:2
Our natural inclination is to be so precise— trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next— that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not put down roots. Our common sense says, "Well, what if I were in that circumstance?" We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been.
Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life— gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God — it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, ". . . unless you . . . become as little children . . ." (Matthew 18:3 ). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. Jesus said, ". . . believe also in Me" (John 14:1 ), not, "Believe certain things about Me". Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in— but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him

knowing that you know

always thought that when u became a christian, you just had a massive mindblowing conversion and then you just knew. what were you supposed to know? that you were forgiven, that everything was ok and that your eternal destiny was secure maybe. well, when i became a christian it wasn't all fireworks- i grew up in a christian home, i dont think you can get any more christian than having a dad who is a preacher man! so when i was 14 i got baptised because i knew that Jesus had died for my sins and i could be forgiven if i accepted that. Well, since then it has been a major growing curve for me. My family moved churches so now i'm in an amazing awesome chuch with great people, and now i'm starting to know.
It didnt happen the moment i accepted christ, in fact i cant place an exact day on when i became a jesus follower, but now, i know. i'm not sure when it happened, but sometime over the past 5 years or so, Gods words started sinking into me, and i started to believe what God said about me. Here is what i know.
I was created to be the very image of a loving God, a beloved son with an inheritance that stretches across the galaxies.
I walked away. It started before i could walk, before i could speak; i decided to think about me. i walked away, believing that God was holding out on me.
A jewish carpenter was born to a young virgin, grew up in the family business, healed the sick, raised the dead, and spoke earth shaking teachings which had him arrested and killed as a criminal to pay for his crime of blasphemy.
He was in fact not a heretic. Jesus Christ of Nazareth was and is the Son of God, and the execution of Him paid a blood debt to God for all humanity that could not be paid but for a perfect blameless sacrifice. He died in my place. When he was nailed to a tree on Mount Moriah, the Scriptures say he was disfigured beyond recognition as the sin of the whole world crushed him. As evening fell, he gave up his spirit and slumped, dead and gone. That was the end, for death is the final end of all, is it not?


He was certified dead by the Romans, the most efficient and ruthless executioners known to the history of man. He was buried, left in the tomb for three days, but it was not the end.
God incarnate could not be held down. Jesus rose from the dead, shattering the power of death over man and wiping the slate clean for all who wish it. Jesus paid my sin debt for me, and then proceded to shatter the power which held me in captivity since my birth.
What do i know? I know i am forgiven. I know i am a completely new creation, the old has gone the new has come. I know my God loves me and for all history has been trying to win me back. And i know that want to spend all of eternity in His presence loving Him and being loved for who i am, not what i have done. I can finally be who he made me to be, because now i know that i know that i know that God is not out to get me, but only to welcome me back with loving arms and cry with me.
I am sorry for the time i wasted with my back turned against you, Jesus. Thank you that you love me so much that you made a way for me to be alive with you. Thank you that you want me to have life abundantly. And thank you that I can know that i know, because you said so. Thank you Jesus that i can know you.