30 June 2016

God...in sport (1) - By Jack Lewis

As you might have noticed I'm starting to do a lot of series now, and I'm going to start another one. It's basically taking the life stories of a group of famous Christians, and seeing what we can learn from them. The category I'm going to start with, is Christians in sport. These are people who have gone into what is, to be honest, a fairly ungodly environment, where fame and wealth reign, and come out the other side with God's gold medal. Two of the most obvious examples of this are Eric Liddel and C.T Studd. 

Firstly, to briefly tell the story of Liddel, he was a Scottish sprinter about 100 years ago, and he won so many of the races he entered in. To many he was most famous for winning a race from 20m behind after he'd been knocked over! Imagine if Usain Bolt did that in this summers Olympics, he'd be treated as a) a god, or b) a drug cheat! That's what Eric Liddel will often be remembered for by the world, but for Christians there was a more significant event. In the 1924 Olympics, he found out that his specialty, the 100m, was to be run on a Sunday. He therefore decided to withdraw from the race, which he was one of the favorites to win. He instead chose to compete in the 400m, which most thought he had no chance of winning. To the surprise of everyone, he won the race and a gold medal! As he quoted afterwards: “Those who honour Me I will honour." (1 Samuel 2:30)
So the main things we can learn from the life is that if we are faithful to God, he will be faithful to us, and he'll give us back many times more than we gave to him!

The second main example, is C.T. Studd. He grew up with a life of total luxury, and became one of the leading players in English cricket. He was also one of the players in the first ever ashes. After his brothers near-death experience, something changed, and as for the rest of his life... I'll go into all that next week.

There are also more modern examples, Kaka and Daniel Sturridge being examples in the football world. Billy Vunipola is also a rugby ambassador, and Manny Pacquiao is a Christian boxer. Add that to the likes of Kriss Akabusi and it proves that there still are Christians on the mission field that is the world of professional sports.

23 June 2016

Representing Christ (3) - Putting it all together - By Jack Lewis

As you might well have noticed, the last two weeks I've gone into detail about parts of being Christ's ambassadors on earth, so this week I'm going to try and do a more general post about representing Jesus. The first thing to say about all this, is that representing Jesus doesn't mean standing in the street, under pouring rain, from 5 in the morning to 11 at night, wearing "I've been saved!" t-shirts, and yelling "You're going to hell if you don't believe" at anybody and everybody that walks past! That's not what we're talking about. The kind of representing that will work is surely to do it the way that Jesus would do it. He would help the people who needed help, welcome the people that needed welcoming, and preach to those who wanted preaching to. Jesus never went up and started grilling someone about their life, so we shouldn't either. Instead we just need to live in a Christlike way, and then answer the resulting questions people bring up. I know I've probably said that in both of the last two posts, but that's the main point I'm trying to get out of this series, so if you only remember one thing I've said, then please remember this: "The best way to represent Christ is by living like him." I know that it's not possible to live exactly like Jesus, and I'm probably really bad at that, but that's not the point, it's not a competition, because none of us could ever win. We can't always live like Jesus, but he knows that, and he's not demanding it; but surely we should do what we can, and when we are faced with a choice, think "What would Jesus do," and then act on it. And I'm not just talking about the big choices like a career, I mean the little choices, i.e. should I go and talk to that new person in my church, or should I talk to this guy about what I believe. It's those little decisions that come together to make up who we are, and it's those little things that God remembers. Hebrews 13:16 "For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do." So the challenge is, will we make the decision to do what our saviour wants us to do? Or will we chicken out and do the easy thing that we want to do? And when faced with that choice, you might find these things helpful. "God does not want nibblers of the possible, he wants grabbers of the impossible." - C.T. Studd.  

The best way to represent Christ is by trying to live like him.  

17 June 2016

Represnting Jesus on Earth (2) - Witnessing - By Jack Lewis

Hello everyone, last week I did a post about representing Jesus here on earth by being welcoming, and this week I decided to continue with the theme of being Jesus' representatives. This week the more specific subject is talking about Jesus, or witnessing. 

First of all, is the "why." Well, imagine it like this, you meet some random guy who gives you £1 million, and also promises that he'll give a million pounds to anyone else who asks. What would you do, surely you want want to let your friends know about the offer so they can share in the money too! When we witness to others, that's exactly what we're doing, except we aren't offering money, we're offering eternal life! Also, if a friend turned down the money, would it matter? No, that's simply their loss. Again it's the same in real life, if someone turns our offer down, God won't think of us as failures, it's quite simply the other persons loss, and so there's absolutely no reason to be scared that they might turn round and say no! So the "why," is really quite simple, you've been offered eternal life and so you should surely go out and offer it to others, it's not like heaven will ever get overcrowded!

The second aspect of all this, is "how". Everyone has a slightly different way of doing it, so I can only really offer my personal advice, but I think there are are a few key things to remember. 1. Don't force it. One of the worst things we can do is try forcing it down people's throats, especially if they don't want to listen. If someone tells you they don't want to know, don't force it, as that can put them off Christianity for ever. In fact they may be way more likely to think that "perhaps these Christians are alright" if you don't go on about it, so instead just try to be a good witness in the way that you live. 2. Rather than talking too much, it's often better to simply answer their questions. I think that ideally, we'll live in quite a godly way, so they'll then start asking questions about why we are like this, and we then have a great platform to build from which will hopefully end up in them coming to know Christ.

Thanks for reading and any questions, please comment below.

14 June 2016

The Lord’s Prayer by Nathan Jukes

This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
 on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us today our daily bread.
 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
  And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

Here is the Lord’s prayer. This is how Jesus said we should pray. Let’s take a look at what it has in it.

We can praise God with this.
We can ask for his will to be done.
We can ask him for our daily bread.
We can ask God to forgive our sins.
We can ask God to help us not to get tempted to do wrong.
We can ask him to deliver us from the evil one.

Here is everything we need in this prayer. It is the way Jesus said to pray, so why not pray this prayer more often.

9 June 2016

Representing Jesus on earth: Being welcoming - By Jack Lewis

 Quite often we hear it said that we are, "Jesus hands and feet on the earth", but we sometimes struggle to understand exactly what it practically means. Whilst it is a combination of quite a lot of things, there's one particular thing that I want to draw attention to today, and that's being welcoming to others. I might go into a few other aspects of being Jesus' representatives in the following weeks, but I don't really know yet whether I'll turn this into a series or not, so watch this space!

I'll start going about this by trying to make it understandable what a difference it makes to be welcoming, so lets go from close to home. There are probably countless times that you've been to a new place/group for the first time, and often when we get there we almost feel a bit intimidated, unless we already know the people there. Try thinking back to a few of those situations, and asking yourself whether you felt welcomed or rejected. Also, did that affect you're decision to go back again? The point I'm trying to make here is that if we as Christians are not welcoming, then people a) won't like/think positively of us, and b) won't come back. Just think of the amount of people we probably lose from churches, and ultimately heaven, because they don't feel welcomed, it's quite likely a lot. (I don't know that, I'm just guessing so don't quote me on it!) We often find welcoming people quite difficult, because we're busy in our own little social circles, and we just don't want to take the time out, but it's worth it. I've recently been experiencing both ends of that in my church groups, as I'm in my last term of the years 7-9 group, but I've also just started the years 10+ group. In the first group I'm one of the oldest and probably more popular people there, so it's easy to forget about the newer people who come along. However a few weeks ago I went to the older group for the first time, and suddenly I was the youngest and least well known person there. A few people came up and started chatting, and it made me realize how important that was. Also, to bring it more obviously onto the point of representing Jesus, remember that one of his greatest attributes was welcoming people, even if they weren't in the "cool" gang at the time. (Think Zaccheas for example) 

So to conclude I think that if we really want to "be Jesus hand's and feet," being welcoming to other people is one of the first and most obvious places we should start. That way we will surely bring more and more people into our churches, and we'll also have more chance of them thinking that "they want the thing that we've got." So the challenge for you is, next time you see a new person at your church or youth group, go over and make them feel welcome.