A new beginning…

Finding my feet in living for Jesus.

What is faith, anyway?

Posted by lauraoli on May 11, 2011

A few weeks ago I went away for New Word Alive – a Christian conference in Pwllheli, Wales. It was a fantastic week – loads of great speakers, lots of quality time spent in fellowship with people from church, singing worship with 5,000 people, and meeting other Christians from every walk of life imaginable.

One night in the main meeting, a guy came on stage and recited an incredible poem. I loved it, and I’ve just found a recording of it, so thought I’d share it here for all of you to enjoy!

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The benefits of faith!

Posted by lauraoli on April 30, 2011

So it appears that being a Christian can extend your lifespan by 14 years!!! See the articles below…

Health benefits of Christian faith <– the original report.

‘Doing God’ is good for your health <– this is a really interesting article published on the CMF blog about the above report.

Faith ‘good for you health’  <– and this is the Telegraph newspaper article about said blog post.

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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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Good Friday?

Posted by lauraoli on April 22, 2011

Easter is the most important event in the Christian faith. This morning, in church, the preacher commented about the fact that today is called ‘Good Friday’. Why is today ‘good’, when today is the day we remember Jesus’ death? Surely that’s a bad thing? Christians say he was the Son of God, why on earth would we call the day we remember the Son of God dying ‘good’?

The reason that it is ‘good’ is because of what that death means. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, one without blemish, and yet he took our punishment and wrath from God by dying, in our place so that we may look forward to everlasting life with him. The bible says, in Romans 6:23, that ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.‘ It is the greatest gift that anyone can ever receive; eternal life in the presence of our loving, saviour God and through no action of our own. That is why today is ‘good’!

A year ago I posted about watching the film ‘The Passion of the Christ’ with a friend. It was amazing to see the words written in the bible come to life on screen. This year on Brighton seafront on Easter Sunday is a Passion Play (4pm, West Pier). If you happen to be in Brighton this weekend – go and see for yourself what Jesus endured for you.

http://www.passionofchrist.co.uk/

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Spring has sprung!

Posted by lauraoli on April 22, 2011

I officially LOVE Spring. I have come home to the Lancashire countryside for a week, and yesterday I arrived to be greeted by these lovely images!

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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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From the Depths of Hell to the Heights of Glory

Posted by lauraoli on February 23, 2011

A friend recommended this book (Taming the Tiger by Tony Anthony) a few weeks ago, saying that it held an extraordinary story of a man coming to know Christ whilst in prison in Cyprus. I was intrigued, and so bought it. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.

The first few chapters recall Tony Anthony’s early childhood, of being sent to China from England to live with his Grandparents at the age of four. His grandfather was a Kung-fu champion, a Shaolin monk, and a direct descendant of the Soo family kung-fu dynasty. Once in China, Tony was trained by his grandfather in the ways of kung-fu, not only in the physical aspects of it, but also in the mental and spiritual side, learning to focus his ‘Ch’i’ and to rely on the ‘god inside of him’. This training set him up to be World Champion 3 times, before becoming a bodyguard to some of the world’s most powerful people. Whilst in his role as a bodyguard, his fiancée died and he started to commit crime. He was eventually caught and sent to Nicosia prison on the island of Cyprus for a total of 3 years. It was whilst incarcerated, that a man by the name of Michael Wright began to visit Tony, and simply spend time chatting about day to day life. After many visits Tony eventually asked Michael why he bothered to visit him, and he explained about Jesus and how much He loved Tony and wanted to be in a relationship with him. Soon after this, Tony confessed his sins to God, and received His forgiveness. The rest of his time he was in prison he spent learning more about God and telling the other inmates about Him. He soon started a regular bible study for those other inmates who had become Christians, and as a consequence of this had to serve extra time in prison. The book continues to tell his life story up until the present day, living in England, married with children and leading the Avanti Ministries Evangelical organisation.

The book really is an incredible picture of how God can work in lives of those people who seem to be the furthest from him. The story of the time Tony spent in Nicosia prison is simply awe-inspiring, and it’s incredible to see the difference Jesus made in the life of the author. It also shows the love of the missionary, Michael, as a great example of how we should live our lives, trying to reach those who don’t yet know about Jesus.

This was a book I thoroughly enjoyed, and was greatly inspired by, and would recommend it to anyone, Christian or not. The early part of the book documenting Tony’s time in China, being trained in the art of kung-fu is particularly fascinating. However, the greatest part of the book, for me, was the amazing story of how God reaches those who need Him the most by ways we just would not think possible.

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The hope of the resurrection

Posted by lauraoli on January 29, 2011

Yesterday was my Grandma’s funeral. She was a wonderful, kind-hearted, loving lady who I will miss very much.

I read a passage from 1 Thessalonians during the service, and I found so much comfort and hope in it that I thought I would share it here.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:9-10

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died, so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

Then we will be with the Lord forever.

So encourage each other with these words; God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.

It is such an encouraging passage. Reminding us that death is not the end, but through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can look forward to spending eternity with him in heaven.

I will miss my Grandma a lot. But I have the certain hope of an eternal future, together with her, in heaven with the Lord Jesus. Reminding myself of that will be such an encouragement in those moments when I miss her the most.

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He’s on His way!

Posted by lauraoli on December 14, 2010

This was posted on the BBC news website today. This poster is being put on 2010 bus shelters across the country, and is designed to spread the word of the real meaning of Christmas by using a familiar image given a new twist.

It’s very clever – Christmas should start with Christ… that’s what it’s all about after all.

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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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