A new beginning…

Finding my feet in living for Jesus.

Archive for the ‘church’ Category

Easter Sunday at St. Paul’s….

Posted by lauraoli on April 24, 2011

Today is Easter Sunday, the most important celebration in the Christian calendar. I have now been a Christian for around 2 years, and for those years I have always been able to go to ‘my’ church for Easter service; an evangelical church with a band, modern songs, a big, young congregation and a Jesus-centered message. However, this year I have come home for the holiday, and since my parents are church-goers at important occasions, we went to the local town parish church for this mornings service.

I was really not very pleased about this, and had not been looking forward to it at all. I dread the long, sung prayers, the sermons that don’t seem to mention Jesus and the lack of numbers in the congregation. However, I was firmly put in my place this morning, when we arrived 10 minutes before the start of the service to find the place absolutely packed, with around 400 people crammed into the church. We had to make do with some chairs put right at the back of the church – better than those people who arrived a bit later than us, who ended up sitting in the entrance porch! We did have our fair-share of sung prayers, but much less than normal, and thankfully, the vicar did a really good sermon. He aimed it at the children in the audience, which meant his puppets came out, (which always instantly winds my dad up!) but managed to address the adults in the congregation as well.

His message was really gospel centred, with 3 main points:

  • Joy! Today we celebrate the empty tomb.
  • The end of fear of death. We have certain hope in the resurrection and eternal life in the presence of Jesus.
  • Sharing our faith with others. He challenged us to tell people when back in our day to day lives next week that we believe.

I have been well and truly challenged, and humbled in my attitude that this church wasn’t as good as ‘my’ church. Today, thanks to that parish vicar, 400 people heard the gospel message, and the wonderful news Easter brings because of his message.

So, to all of you, whoever you are, Happy Easter!!! I hope you have had the opportunity to hear the wonderful news of the gospel today, and can celebrate with joy the truth that the empty tomb brings.

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Reverse Thinking

Posted by lauraoli on April 4, 2011

Ephesians chapter 2 really is one of my favourite bible chunks – and this clip, based on what it says is just BRILLIANT.

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Are you ready?

Posted by lauraoli on November 29, 2010

So in the last couple of weeks I’ve heard 3 sermons at two different churches, and each one has been on Jesus’ second coming. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for the world’s sin, he rose again 3 days later and he will come again to judge the world. We don’t know when he will return, but we can be sure that it will happen. When it does happen, those that know and love Jesus will rise with him to Heaven to spend eternity with him.

It definitely hasn’t already happened – the bible is very clear that when it happens there we won’t miss it and there will be no doubt, (1 Thessalonians 4:16 ‘For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God’) and in fact warns against those who try to deceive us. (Matthew 24:4-6 ‘Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah’ and will deceive many’).

In yesterday’s service, we had our Advent celebration. Advent is the time of the year when we look forward to Christmas and to Jesus’ birth, but we should be looking forward to Jesus’ return every day. What if Jesus comes back before tonight – are you ready? Are you a ‘son of the day’ or a ‘son of the night’?

Yesterday’s evening sermon was based on 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. These are the major points.

  1. No warning: We don’t know when Jesus is going to turn up. There will be no adverts, no build up, no warning. The bible compares it to ‘a thief in the night’.
  2. No escape: It will be like the start of labour pains in a pregnant woman, from which there is no relief. No-one on Earth will be able to avoid judgment.

These two things are the same for everyone, whether you belong to Christ’s body or not. The last 3 points are for those of us who believe in Christ and are known by him; ‘sons of the day’:

  1. No surprises: We should be expecting Jesus’ return, and we should be ready.
  2. No sleepiness: Non-Christians are ‘asleep’ to the fact Jesus will return. We shouldn’t fall away from him, and we should be ‘awake’ to his return at all times.
  3. No condemnation: It’s the BEST DAY when Jesus will return – it’s when we will receive the free gift of salvation and go to spend eternity together with him.

So I end this post with a challenge – are you in, or are you out? There is no third option; no ‘I might believe later’, or ‘I’ll look into it when I’m older’, or ‘I’m not sure there is a God’. There is no middle ground. You need to make a decision; you need to choose to be a ‘son of the day’ or a ‘son of the night’. You can’t abstain from this choice. If you don’t choose to be in, then you choose to be out.

If you’re in, then are you ready?

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The Good Samaritan?

Posted by lauraoli on March 19, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I saw something, which at the time seemed pretty incongruous, but actually turned out to be the preceding moments of a very serious crime. The guilt I dealt with for the next few days was pretty enormous. More than anything, I felt awful for not paying more attention to the disturbance. Having to sit in a police station the next day for over an hour and try and remember every little detail of a split second of my life was not only exhausting, but made me realise how little I had noticed.

I always thought I was the sort of person who would stop in a situation where someone needed help. It turns out, I may not be after all. I didn’t walk by on the other side of the road intentionally, but does the fact I didn’t realise the seriousness of the situation mean that it’s ok to not stop? Is that not just as bad? Is it a sin?

Being a student, and also being part of a sports team, practical jokes and the like are common occurrences. When I saw what I did, I was in ‘student mode’ and so my reaction was to laugh it off and walk on. If I hadn’t been a student when I saw what I did, or if I hadn’t been in Brighton, or if it had been late at night rather than the middle of the day, would I have acted differently? Probably.

So maybe God was teaching me to take more notice of my surroundings. Or maybe He wasn’t. I haven’t worked out yet what to take from it yet. Maybe I’ll never know.

One, hugely positive thing that did come from this was how my Christian friends really helped me. The guilt I was feeling was pretty tremendous, and I visited a friend who sat with me for a couple of hours, and allowed me to say everything that I was feeling, and why. At the end of the afternoon, we prayed together, which is the best medicine for anything, and she read Psalm 46. I won’t write it all here, since it’s pretty long, but the first 2 verses say the following:

‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea’

Psalm 46:1-2

 

So maybe that was what God was trying to teach me. Not to rely on my own strength, but to take refuge in Him.

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