Friday, 29 April 2011

New arrival... Mabel Jennifer Alred

We've been at home for two nights now. Chlo & Mabel came home from hospital just a few hours after giving birth.

On the morning of the birth, Chlo came down to tell me that 'it's started.' I immediately went into organisational mode much to her distress. Chlo's mum came over to take Rufus, (she has been gold) while Chloe was having contractions every minute or so. We had contractions on the door step, in the car, in the car park, in corridors and then finally into the room with the birthing pool. We got there around 8.00am.

The labour was fast. We had baby in arms by 9.40am! She was 9.11lbs. By 12.45 we were driving home from the hospital.

It was great to introduce Mabel to Rufus and then later more friends and family. Two days in so far and we are going well. Mabel is feeding well and sleeping for a couple of hours at times. My friend told me that by the end of the first week you have some idea about how you are going to actually cope with caring for two little ones. I hope he is right! :-)   

Friday, 22 April 2011

Have you been substituted yet?

A couple of times during my short lived rugby career I was playing so badly that I got substituted. I remember one particularly bad experience during a BUSA quarter final vs. Hartpury College when I got taken off at half time. I had a kicked charged down and dropped a ball, giving the opposition a two score head start. It was not good.

For the sake of everyone I was taken off the pitch! Someone else came on to take my place. It was a humbling experience.

The essence of Good Friday is an offer of a substitution. It's amazing how familiar the sight of a Roman cross is these days. It's common in jewellery of course and features in many tattoos and other forms of art. Yet the cross was a brutal means by which the Romans would torture people to death.

Worse than my performance in some rugby matches, (and of course with far more serious implications) the behaviour of humanity before God is, according to the Bible, horrendous. The Bible describes us as God's enemies. The Bible describes us as those who live in God's world receiving good gifts and yet ignoring the giver. The Bible attributes the suffering and evil in the world to our choices as a race against God. Each one of us plays our part and each one of us is responsible according to scripture.

If we don't think that God is serious about our offence, or that he is not serious about his love for us, we have to look no further than the cross.

Jesus came into history to pay our debt. He paid so that we might not have to. He faced the anger of God as a substitute for us. He offers this act to people as a gift so that we can get to know God again. He pays so that we don't have to. The word he uses is 'ransom'.

Humanity is divided between those who have accepted Jesus as their substitute and those who will face Jesus as his enemy. I wonder if this Easter might be a time to consider where we stand at the moment.

Here is a great series for those who want to ponder once more the mystery of the cross by CJ Mahaney. If you're a Christian I recommend a long walk and a listen to these on your iPod and talk to your God who died for you. He died in my place, for my sins, so that I can know and love him as I was made to.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Porn is the norm.

I lived my first twenty odd years my life my way. I have lived the last six years as someone who follows Jesus.It has been quite a transition. Some Christian values are widely accepted as being good and right. In some ways our culture is aligned with Jesus.

There are however, many teachings of Christ which have been widely rejected and ignored. I think that this is particularly true when it comes to sex and sexuality. It is certainly true when it comes to pornography. When I was growing up I'd say that porn was normal and an expected part of life. Whether online or videos or late night freeview. TNS surveyed 1,057 adults aged 18-24 for the research between 18 March and 21 March 2011 as illustrated above From BBC Website. It's interesting reading how views are developing on this one.

The teaching of Jesus collides head on with what is now accepted as the norm.

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 5:28 ESV

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

Colossians 3:5-6 ESV

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
Ephesians 5:3 ESV

To enjoy porn (drawing sexual pleasure from someone who is not your wife or husband) in scripture is to be unfaithful to your wife, to anger God and it should not even be hinted at among Christians.

This sharp contrast is really the tip of the iceberg in terms of different values. As a Christian I am standing on  and working out the following:

1. This is God's world and it's for him to say what is good and what is not.
2. I have got it wrong.
3. He died for me and invites me to learn to walk His way with His power and patience.
4. People are made in his image and are valuable to be honoured and respected.
5. Sex is designed to be exclusively enjoyed in marriage.
6. Great marriages include great sex for years and years. This will not happen without work. This bookbelow is awesome. :-) I think married couples should have a glass of wine and read it through together. There are application points for each chapter. (!) I have also enjoyed reading 'Sex, romance and the glory of God' by CJ Mahaney. A must for husbands.
7. Sexual satisfaction, thoughts and imagination are to be given to my wife alone.
8. Porn robs people from enjoying sex in the way for which it was designed.
9. We have some work to do.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Waiting for number 2...

Our second baby is due April 23rd. My wife looks like she could go pop at any moment. It's been strange thinking back to the early days when Rufus was first born. Here is a picture when he was just a couple of months old.

I can't wait to meet my daughter. She moves around a lot. I wonder if she will be dark or blonde. Rufus started dark and now is really blonde! I'm praying for a safe and successful birth.

I think it took me about six months to feel like I could start to do stuff in life and not just survive after Rufus. I wonder how long it will take with two babies to feel like I can cope! I guess every parent feels a mixture of excitement and also aware of the daunting nature of the task ahead. I guess also we will take each day as it comes and work hard together. Grateful that God is actively involved in all that I do, that I am in a Church family and have wider family who are willing to help.  

A mixture of paternity leave, bank holidays and Leadership Training means that I will not be at the Church office very much in May. I have a couple of important commitments to honour but other than that I will be largely on home base, then I aim to travel to Catford for Leadership Training May 18th.

I'm looking forward to standing with my wife and being with my family over the coming weeks while at the same time feeling like I am just about to start running a marathon!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Matt Chandler on suffering - deep

Asking for a flood

Ask for God

Walking with Jesus starts with, and is continued by the power of the Holy Spirit. God dynamically dwells within His people. Amazingly in the Bible, we find invitations to ask for 'more of Him'! It appears He is willing to give more and that we can ask.

On Sunday

I'm praying for many to ask for and encounter God in any and every way this Sunday as we preach through Ephesians 5v18-21 where Paul tells believers not get drunk on wine, but be filled with the Spirit.

The Bible describes the impact on believers as 'rivers of living water' which can flow from people. Charles Spurgeon wrote hungry for a flood of the Spirit for his people:

"What a wonderful thing a flood is! Go down to the river, look over the bridge, and see the barges and other craft lying in the mud. All the king's horses and all the king's men cannot tug them out to sea. There they lie, dead and motionless as the mud itself.

What shall we do with them? What machinery can move them? Have we a great engineer among us who will devise a scheme for lifting these vessels and bearing them down to the river's mouth? No, it cannot be done.

Wait till the tide comes in! What a change! Each vessel walks the water like a thing of life. What a difference between the low tide and high tide. 
You cannot stir the boats when the water is gone; but when the tide is full, see how readily they move, a little child may push them with with his hand.

Oh, for a flood of grace.
The Lord send to our Churches a great springtide! 

Then the indolent will be active enough, and those who were half dead will be full of energy. I know that in this particular dock, several vessels are lying that I should like to float, but I cannot stir them. They neither work for God nor come out to our prayer meetings, nor give of their substance to spread the gospel. If the flood would come, you would see what they are capable of: they would be active, fervent, generous, abounding in every good word and work. So may it be! So may it be!"

So may it be.