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Someone, somewhere …

Be content with what you have; someone somewhere doesn’t have a fraction of what you have.

Be satisfied with who you are; someone somewhere looks at your life with longing.

Be caring and loving towards the people you have in your life; someone somewhere is lonely.

Be thankful for friends who love you; someone somewhere has no-one who cares.

Be grateful when things are going well for you; someone somewhere is crying as if their heart will break.

Be gentle and compassionate with those you encounter; someone somewhere is carrying a deep hurt.

Be kind and considerate with strangers; someone somewhere needs to know they matter.

Matthew 12:7

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

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Happy New Year

Welcome to 2011.

I am going to try and post at least one image each day for all of 2011. That, hopefully, will be 365 days of the things I encounter through the lens of my new Lumix FZ100. It will probably be a mix of subject matter, but I may well develop a theme from time to time. The first photo was taken at the Weir in the grounds of Crathes Castle, near Banchory, on 1.1.11.

If you would like to see my photos you will find them at the following link …

http://2011inpictures.posterous.com/

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What if the story was unfolding today?   Would we follow the Tweets as the Magi followed the star?

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Today I sat in the homes of several of our members who are going through hard times at the moment.   When I get home after such an intense day, I sometimes look back in amazement at how I have been ministered to by being the presence of people who, despite their life’s circumstances, are not decrying God for what is going on in the lives, but continue to marvel at “how great is our God”.    As I reflected on this yet again, I was humbled to think that while they thank me for my visit and my time “because we know how busy you are”, the reality is that they have encouraged me in my ministry and indeed strengthened my faith.    So imagine my delight as I have thought about all these things, and how like those I have visited today, I continue to believe just how great and faithful our God is, that I receive a link to the video below – quirky “instruments” but the words have always been favourites and for the moment this is my new favourite rendition.    So thank you to one of our worship leaders – John, for forwarding this to me, and also to the Irish Worship Band – Rend Collective Experiment.

 

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I’m sitting preparing the sermon for this coming Sunday; the last of our Summer Series – Wired that Way.   The theme for this week is “Wired to Know” and I’ve been looking at various passages which highlight how down though the ages and in various ways God has spoken to make his existence known … in creation, through the prophets, through Christ, through Scripture.  

As I’ve been reading, the words of the French philosopher Blaise Pascal kept coming back to me “There is a God-shaped hole in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator.” Or in the words of the contemporary Christian singer, Plumb, (Tiffany Lee):

There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us

And the restless soul is searching

There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us

And it’s a void only God can fill.”

I am often amazed at how many feel little or no inclination to follow a particular religion, and yet they are nonetheless conscious of what might be called ‘the God-shaped hole’.  Many seek to nurture the spiritual side of themselves, and yet rather than enter a church they would gladly pay for a course to hear a speaker talk of feel good factors they can embrace in order to have fulfilled lives.   I’ve read articles on ego, meme pools and the selfish gene and frankly none of these make my heart leap or give me a sense of peace and fulfilment.  

The “God-shaped hole” is the innate longing of the human heart for something outside itself, something transcendent, something “other.”  Ecclesiastes 3:11 refers to God’s placing of “eternity in man’s heart.”  And I suppose that given that God is eternal, for in him there is no beginning and no end, then it is only God that can fulfil our desire for eternity; which is found in a relationship with him.

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Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, and for me there is a growing sense that most folk skip straight from this Sunday of celebration, to the joy of Easter Morning. The numbers that participate or enter the stories of Holy Week itself seem to be getting less. So perhaps we should be doing both – celebrating the entry to Jerusalem and reflecting on the events of the Passion too.   That’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of years; yes, we do still have services during Holy Week that tell the story and give us time to reflect, but tomorrow we will begin our service with our children entering the sanctuary waving palm fronds, and we will leave having moved through the last week of Jesus’ life, to stand at the foot of the Cross.

Below is one of the songs we will be singing … The Power of the Cross: Written by Keith Getty, sung by Stuart Townend

  

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I found “Church History in 4 minutes” via Twitter, I’ve retweeted it and thought I’d like to share it with others.   Loved the fact that it was set to “we didn’t start the fire” lyrics   For those of you who like a different musical style there’s a parody of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Modern Major General covering the entire history of the church.

Update: Janet, the producer of the aforementioned video, has recently posted the words to her flick:

Pentecost, Palestine, barbarians, Paul gets a sign
Neglected widows, martyred Stephen, Gentile vs. Jew
New Testament, getting tribal, Gnostic gospels, Holy Bible
Jamnia, Revelation, word of God is true
Martyrs, Diocletian, Polycarp, Domitian
Church learns, Nero burns, Christians underground
Chi-Rho, basilica, Vita Evangelica
Nicea, Who was Jesus, Christians start to rebound

CHORUS: We didn’t start the fire
It’s been always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
Though we didn’t light it
And we cannot fight it

St. Patrick, Monastery, Visigoths are pretty scary
Pope Leo, St. Jerome, forgetting how to read
Mohammed writes the Koran, Convert or die to Islam
Hard to cope, Where’s the Pope, the Venerable Bede
Dark ages, knights and pages, east and west will split in stages
Monks’ skulls, cathedrals, Charlemagne starts to reign,
Methodias, Constantinople, Peasants, clergy, serfs and nobles
Augustine, Irene, everything goes Byzantine

CHORUS: We didn’t start the fire …

Cluny, bubonic plague, Vikings, Saracens invade
William conquers, priests and monks, and Jerusalem gets sacked
Flying buttress, St. Clare, celibacy, worship Mary
Knights Templar, stained glass, Sultan Saladin gets whacked
Mendicants, Avignon, Albertus Magnus, Genghis Khan
Aquinas, Maimonides, Gentle Francis of Assisi
Summa bono , Faith and reason, say God bless you when you’re sneezin’
Just War, Crusades galore, but who are we fighting for?

CHORUS: We didn’t start the fire …

Competing popes, not much hope, Joan of Arc makes her mark
John Wycliff, Thomas Kempis, Canterbury Tales
Michelangelo, Siena, Leonardo and Vienna
Reformation, printing press, Guttenberg prevails
John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, indulgences for the kingly
Martin Luther pounds the door, Here I stand, I’ll do no more

CHORUS: We didn’t start the fire …

King James Bible, John Locke, Galileo, J.S. Bachj
Anabaptists, Guy Fawkes, Blaise Pascal, John Knox
Puritans preach denial, Salem witches go on trial
Enlightenment or transcendence, we declare our independence
Whitfield makes us all Awaken, Pentecostals get us shakin’
Darwin teaches evolution, Marx preaches revolution
Jesus freaks, immigration, nuclear annihilation
Overwhelmed by information, Who will save this generation?

CHORUS: We didn’t start the fire
It’s been always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
It will still go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on …

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