Invisible Things Matter


Iceberg

Posted on: 16th October 2017

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 4:18

Not being able to see one step ahead of us can be a hard thing to comprehend, both in the physical and metaphorical sense. For our eyes may work but there may be obstructions in the way, it may be dark or foggy, we may have to turn a corner or avoid a blockage on our path. Sometimes we have to learn to navigate situations without having all the information in front of us.

Take the titanic for example. A ginormous ship that had the capacity to make it from England to America with 2208 people on it, the most extravagant of its time. Yet, the choices that the captain made where purely based on what he could see and not what he couldn’t. He could see the tip of the iceberg but not the extent of it below the surface of the water.

The bible helps us understand and appreciate the ‘behind the scenes’ of our lives, it unpacks why we can see some things now and why other things we cannot. In 1 Corinthians 13 v 12 (MSG) it says:

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”

For Christians that passage is helpful knowing that one day we will understand fully what God is doing our lives but for many it poses the question well what am I supposed to be doing now while I’m stood in the fog? The passage goes on to say:

“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.” (1 Corinthians 13 v 13 MSG).

What can we continue to do while we are in the invisible?

We can trust steadily.

Hope unswervingly

Love extravagantly.

This week, you may not be able to see what’s ahead but don’t let it stop you from trusting, hoping and loving with all your might.

Honesty


STW Blog - Honesty

Posted on: 9th October 2017

“You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
Matthew 7:16

Honesty is marked as being free from deceit or untruthfulness, being sincere. The Christian life should be one marked with integrity and honesty, yet because we all sin and find it easy to do so, honesty is something we must work hard at! An honest life is important on so many levels from relationships with peers, children, at our workplace, and interacting with our community. Matthew 7:16 tells us that we are known by our fruit. Let us be examples of a God of truth and life by living lives of integrity and truthfulness.

What did Jesus say about our honest faith? Jesus was out with his friends, his disciples and they had just started eating as Jesus was talking to the crowd that was gathering around. The Pharisees were quick to point out that they hadn’t washed their hands before they began to eat, so one raised their voice, “Why don’t your disciples do the traditions and rituals of our elders? Why don’t they wash their hands?” (Mark 7 v 1-5 abbreviated).

Jesus responded to them by calling them hypocrites (sometimes he just said it as it was). But What the Pharisees hadn’t realised that the disciples had been serving the people through their ministry, they had been with Jesus for a few days (or maybe more) working hard and were ready to sit down and eat. The Pharisees were letting the traditions get in the way of their honest faith. No, we shouldn’t forget that some traditions that we may do today are reminders of our faith and help strengthen our faith when we do them. However, we must be careful to not fall into a trap of doing it for traditions sake or just for going through the motions but through our focus on God and in faith.

But what do we do when it comes to our honesty? Do we let our traditions, timetables, to-do lists get in the way of our honesty towards other people? Would we say we would look after someone but when given the responsibility to do so would be prioritise our own traditions?

Our 5 Senses Can’t Explain Everything


Senses

Posted on: 2nd October 2017

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Somethings are outside of our senses, somethings we can explain, something’s we can’t yet, we know they are there.

For example, when a leaf blows through the air we don’t question what it is that is making it move, and though we can see the leaf moving, the effect of the wind, we know it is just the wind.

We can’t touch the wind on our skin either, we can feel it’s effect, maybe something blows into you and taps against your skin, we don’t question it for we know it’s the wind.

We hear the effect of the wind passing through alleyways and between houses, we sometimes say the wind is howling but it is simple the effect of the wind navigating its route over hills, through trees and houses.

We don’t question that the wind has an impact on us yet our five sense might not always be the first receptor of the wind but the things it makes happen.

The same could be said for our faith and God.

We can’t always see, hear, smell, touch or taste God, but we can see the effect of His works.

For some we might see God when we look at creation, for others, the songs of praise and worship may be how they hear God speak. Some people may consider sitting and eating tasty food with friends and constant reminder of God’s blessing around them or maybe the smell of freshly cut grass in the spring may be the sense that reminds them of God. For some, a gentle hug from a friend or a high five is the reminder God is there.

We may not always be able to sense God but our faith is the explanation, the confidence, the assurance that what we believe, in our God that we cannot see will come into fruition.

This week consider what does the idea that our five senses might not explain everything mean to you? Why might there be more ways to understand the world than just our five senses? Can you share a personal experience that is not easily explained by just your five senses?

Courage


Pebble - Courage

Posted on: 18th September 2017

He will empower you with inner strength.
Ephesians 3:16 (NLT)

Have you ever watched a super hero film and been convinced that you have super powers that you haven’t discovered yet? Or looked at a freshly run bath and thought, “It can’t be that hard to walk on water!?”

As much as we can close our eyes and convince ourselves we can teleport from our desk to somewhere lovely and warm especially in this September rain we seem to have, we sometimes feel pretty weak. In fact, for most of us, not having super powers is probably our version or normal. We’ve all had moments of sheer helplessness, where it’s almost impossible to get out of bed because we are physically/emotionally exhausted. Yet in those moments, as hard as it is we can trust God, then if you are willing to, His power goes with you. Isaiah 40v 29 says, “He gives STRENGTH to the weary and increases the POWER of the weak.” That’s a pretty cool encouragement, right?

We may not have teleportation powers, but that verse tells us that even in our weakest moments, we have power that God will build on. That verse means that we don’t have to live in extortion and weakness but that we can live in His power, His strength and His courage.

What does this mean for us?

When we try to do things on our own it can seem hard but have courage. Have the courage to trust in God, in our weakness he is strong. Have the courage to believe with Him you can do more that you can on your own.

This week, have courage, step out and try something new.

Worship and Our Every Day Pt 1 & 2


News-Blog-Parts

Posted on: 4th September 2017

PART ONE

“25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honoured, every part shares in its joy.”

1 Corinthians 12:25-26

It’s September, which means NEW! New academic year; for some a new place of education, new jobs, new friends, there is lots going on here at St Wilfrid’s. However, there are some things that remain the same. The key one in the Academy being our worship.

At the outset of this term, we want to bring the focus back to what it means to be a part of an Academy that shares a Christian Education where all can thrive. Over the next two weeks we will spend time looking at how we come together in worship as a collective group of people and also why we as individuals are a significant part of that group. In the Academy, we are all needed to play our part and there is a passage in the New Testament of the Bible that suggests the same when it comes to our worship. We can read it in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 but here is just a few key sections of it:

12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ…14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts. 15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.

21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honour…25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honoured, every part shares in its joy.

27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.

It can’t be said much better than that! We are each an essential part of the body that builds the worshipful community of St Wilfrid’s Church of England Academy. If we all remember that over this coming year, what a year it’s going to be!

PART TWO

Romans 12:1-2

It’s week two of our new year and our new term, how are we finding it? Are we running at a sprint? Are we struggling to keep up? Wherever we are at this week we are going to pause, take a moment and think about our everyday ordinary lives. There may be somethings we do that are second nature to us, eating, drinking, getting dressed. There are many things we do that we don’t really remember doing because in the moment they don’t feel significant or special. Yet, here is what the bible says about these things:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 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.

Romans 12:1-2

This letter from Paul (the guy who wrote a lot of the New Testament books and whole lot of letters) was writing to the Christians in Rome, a group of people most likely to have converted from Jewish ways to Christianity though it isn’t certain how the church in Rome began. All Paul is doing here is teaching these people the basics. When we put our lives, every little bit of our everyday ordinary lives, we are transformed and changed from the inside out. It may be a process but our offering can gain reward.

So what does this mean for us? Simply, be open to what God might do in the big and the small. Really give thanks for the things that are insignificant. Raise the level of maturity in our lives and encourage those around us.

It’s week two, let’s consider our worship and how that looks with our everyday ordinary lives.

Shine Your Light


Shine Your Light

Posted on: 26th June 2017

““You are the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.” People do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”
Matthew 5:15 (paraphrased)

What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? What are you good at? Where do you flourish?

Jesus was sat with his disciples when he encouraged them with this passage. You can find the same story being told in three of the gospels, so here it is from Matthew. Early in chapter 5 He discusses who as a team they are to serve, who they are to love, but then he goes on to encourage them personally.

“You are the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.” People do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

However, this does not just apply to the disciples and their ministry. In fact, this parable has morale value too:

Did you know you could be a light to the world? Like a city that cannot be hidden?

At the beginning, this devotional asked what your strengths are. However, what else it should say is, how do you share them with others?

Did you know that when you use what you are good at for yourself it is as if you have just put your light underneath a bowl so no one can see it? However, when you use it to teach, encourage, and share it with others, both you and those you are helping shine a little bit lighter?

This week, think about where you are a light, think about the areas of your life where you potentially aren’t sharing your light.

Trust


St Wilfrid's C of E Academy - Blog - Trust

Posted on: 19th June 2017

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
Luke 17 v 6

(Story of a Mustard Seed)

Have you ever gone to watch a football game and not really believed your team can win? Alternatively, have you ever started out doing something (maybe late homework or a mountain of housework) and looked at the amount to think, “I’m never going to get this done?” Maybe you have questioned why you cannot believe more, why you have not been better at believing or why you cannot see things happening the way that would be ideal. The apostles quizzed Jesus regularly or they challenged him. On this occasion, they wanted more faith.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

This week we are talking about trust; the firm belief in what we know to be reliable. The bible verses above share that the capability of our faith is not equal to the size of our faith; it flips what we know as logic to for our minds. From a young age, we are taught that as we learn more knowledge the better we will do in life, but the size of our faith does not necessarily equal the actions that can take place because of it.

So why faith the size of a mustard seed? When a mustard seed is planted, it is one of the smallest seeds, yet when it grows and flourishes; it will be one of the largest trees around. This journey from the smallest to the biggest is how Jesus explains our trust and our faith. See trust starts with a step, just one. The tiniest of steps to say I believe, I trust.

So what are you trusting in this week? What are you trusting for? As we may waiver and wobble from time to time let’s remember that even the faith and trust of a mustard seed has the potential to move the largest mulberry tree from the land to the sea.

Forgiveness


Blog - Forgiveness

Posted on: 22nd May 2017

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Matthew 18 v 35

(The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant)

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.   As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he, his wife, his children, and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged, went, and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Have you ever held a grudge? Alternatively, maybe you have had a grudge held against you and more over you have let it affect you and how you communicate with that person? Maybe you have seen a grudge in effect, as someone disagrees with a brilliant idea just because of the person who said it.

Grudges are often held when one person feels like someone else owes them something. Maybe they do owe them something like the story above and yet they keep that thought as a hold over the other person. Yet, the bible tells us to forgive.

Forgiving is giving up your right to hate or hurt the person who hurt you. It is about letting go of the stronghold or grudge over an area of your life, not allowing it to control how you see someone else or how you judge what they do.

This week as we think about forgiveness, remember what this story teaches us, that we are forgiven by our heavenly father, that we should forgive as we hope others will forgive us and that we shouldn’t keep hold of the grudges that control how we see others around us.

Honesty


Honesty

Posted on: 15th May 2017

“For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.”
Luke 12 v 23

(Tradition vs Honest Faith)

This week we are looking at the story that Jesus tells to the Pharisees in Luke 12 as they challenge his disciples for their practice of eating without doing a wash ritual first. Let’s remember though why Jesus told stories and parables. One reason was to explain what the kingdom of heaven was like and another was to explain the law of the old scriptures to people who didn’t understand it or who were using it wrongly. This story was told for the second reason, to help people understand what the bible said about rituals and traditions.

So Jesus was out with his friends, his disciples and they had just started eating as Jesus was talking to the crowd that was gathering around. The Pharisees were quick to point out that they hadn’t washed their hands before they began to eat, so one raised their voice, “Why don’t your disciples do the traditions and rituals of our elders? Why don’t they wash their hands?” (Mark 7 v 1-5 abbreviated).

Jesus responded to them by calling them hypocrites (sometimes he just said it as it was). But what the Pharisees hadn’t realised that the disciples had been serving the people through their ministry, they had been with Jesus for a few days (or maybe more) working hard and were ready to sit down and eat. The Pharisees were letting the traditions get in the way of their honest faith. No, we shouldn’t forget that some traditions that we may do today are reminders of our faith and help strengthen our faith when we do them. However, we must be careful to not fall into a trap of doing it for traditions sake or just for going through the motions but through our focus on God and in faith.

But what do we do when it comes to our honesty? Do we let our traditions, timetables, to-do lists get in the way of our honesty towards other people? Would we say we would look after someone but when given the responsibility to do so would be prioritise our own traditions?

This story illustrates a challenge to us all as to how we live out our faith. Do with live it with all honesty and integrity or do we hope our traditions keep us in the ‘good books’ of God?

Contentment


Contentment

Posted on: 8th May 2017

“For life is more than food and your body more than clothing.”
Luke 12:23

(The Parable of the Rich Fool)

What do you want to achieve in your life? How will you measure the success you have? How will you know if you have made it?

More frequently, we are seeing the measure of success to be something like how much money we have made; how many followers we have on social media; or what possessions we own. That however does not really match up with God’s idea of success. See God is not opposed to us gaining possessions nor does he dislike our achievements in both the big and the small. But God does want us to know that this life in which we live in now can only offer us so much. In fact, a better way to look at it is to remember is how much is the worth of our possession or our achievement in light of eternity.

If we hold tight to the things we think are valuable now, we are going to waste our time on the wrong things.

The story of the Rich Fool reminds us of our contentment in what we have from God; it reminds us of the worth of temporary items or achievements.

The story Jesus shared was about a farmer who had an amazing harvest one year, all the crops were too big to fit into his barn. Instead of sharing the rest of his crops that overflowed his barn with his friends and siblings, the farmer built a new barn that was bigger than the original one. But God challenged him and asked him if he was to die tonight what would happen to his crops? (Luke 12 v 13-20 abbreviated)

The labour and effort that this man had put into his barn was wasted, he had enough when he had filled his barn but he was greedy and he wanted more. The man was rich in his earthly possessions but he wasn’t rich in the eyes of God as his greed had overcome him.

So this week the challenge is this, what are you storing up? What are you aiming for? Is there one thing that you could spend less time on or give up completely to give that time to God?