God’s crazy about me!

WGF13-Nadia-Bolz-Weber2I like to read a few other blogs, I have favourites that I go to as soon as I see a new post has been added. One such blog is that of Nadia Bolz Weber. I love her insights and grittiness of her real, and often raw, message.

This week I have  listened to Nadia’s sermon on Matthew 13, the baptism of Jesus,  quite a few times.

Her message is hard hitting, although easy to listen to, but ….. this is what really grabs me and has kept me held for the last few days is her whole take on God loving us first and what this relationship with God is like. Listen to her sermon, you won’t regret it.

Nadia challenges me by relaying what an old guy said at her 12 step meeting: ‘I don’t know about you, but my God is crazy about me’.

I believe that.
I know God loves me …. not for what I have done but for who I am.
Similarly a few days back I linked to a Brene Brown video where she said: ‘your worthiness is a birthright and not something you earn’.
I believe that … really I do …

BUT

if I believe it, why is it so stupidly bloody hard to live like I believe it?
if I believe it, why do I notice myself trying to prove myself, to earn myself points, with a God who already is crazy about me?
If i believe it, why do I still search for a father figure so that I feel ‘acceptable’ to the world and to God?
If i believe it why am I sat at my desk at 1230am trying to get one more job done?
Dave Jacobs writes here about giving ourselves ‘a wide moment of quiet leisure’.

if I believe it … why can’t I just believe it
That’s THE question of the moment for me
That’s a question I am struggling through.
In some ways just accepting it is too stupidly easy that my mind yells out that there must be some form of catch. 

So … thanks Nadia for challenging my mindset and self worth, and my whole life really … i’m trusting because I do believe it, but at this very moment I don’t know how I believe it or how I am going to live it!

letting God be God

tumblr_llrj0wy6Th1qenz05o1_500Yesterday I had the real privilege of taking a baptism at St Mark’s Church. Sarah and Jo led all age worship amazingly, as they always do, in a way that engaged people in a way that set them at ease but also challenged them to consider God’s word afresh, or maybe even for the first time.

The churches I work alongside do around 40-50 baptisms a year, which in itself is pretty exciting. One of the churches I am connected to has two baptism services per month due to the local demand. In a world that is supposedly becoming increasingly secular this in itself tells me that God is present and engaging with people in this area in a  pretty fundamental way …. by making people aware of their need for God in their lives.

Yesterday’s baptism was special and will stay with me for a while due to the story that goes with it. The person I baptised went on a school trip to a cathedral. In the cathedral, on a normal school trip, just wandering around the building, chatting to friends and listening to teachers, during a week day, with no talk, or exposition, or funny crowd pulling story … something special happened to this person.

The day after the school trip the person was found kneeling by the sofa with hands together. When asked by one of the family what was going on this reply came: ‘I’m praying because yesterday at the cathedral, I met Jesus, and now I want to be baptised.’

Wow!!!
God just did that by …. errr being GOD! 

Sometimes I get frustrated with people who seem to believe that we need to have a certain formula, or do things in a certain way, or have a certain tone of song, before God will act and do anything.  Sometimes I have found people, myself included, to be so sure of how God will behave to such an extent that if those certain things do not happen, they then draw conclusions that God was not there!

How incredibly bizarre is that way of thinking!

There is nowhere in God’s creation that God is not present. A basic principle of orthodox Christianity is the omnipresence of God.

keep-calm-let-god-be-godEssentially, this puts us in the position of dictating to God the way that God should do something. Actually I wonder if that puts us on the border of actually attempting to be God ourselves.

I wonder a lot of the time if what actually happens in the world is that God simply carries on doing what God does … and we can be so boxed up in our thinking that we miss what God is already doing. It’s not God’s fault that people don’t see what God is doing!

Sometimes… just the space, just the realisation that God will be God, and just allowing God to be God is simply all that is needed.

baptism: i changed my mind!

Over the last two weeks I have had the privilege opportunity to baptism 4 children, 2 in the cathedral and 2 in a parish church in Gillingham. This were both great events, special events and events where God is clearly at work.

I guess I am writing this here as upon reflection I have been surprised by how my view has changed … and I don’t think I really noticed the change.

A few years ago, and even longer, when I was youth worker at Holy Trinity Nailsea I remember being involved in changing the baptism policy of the church. They baptised everyone that asked for it which a number of us felt was wrong. We decided we should offer thanksgiving services, and then if people wanted to come back for baptism they could after a course of preparation. I think we were wrong to do that … and I also believe the church in Nailsea has put right our mistake.

I think our concerns were centred around people not understanding, parents not having faith, people not coming to church and so on and so on and so on. I think it came from a (wrong) understanding of having a faith that needed protecting, maybe even with a belief that only people who went to church regularly should have their children baptised… otherwise it would be a mockery.

As I read back through that I shiver! My excuse is that I was a young fiery evangelical man who was a little over exuberant on rules rather than compassion and grace. In my fieriness I had thought too much on what we do at baptism and not enough on what God does.

Baptism is, I believe, a free gift from God. God parents or the person being baptised make certain promises … but that is only a minor part of what is happening in baptism. Baptism is a sacrament, which may be described as an outward sign of something that God is doing invisibly and mysteriously. The more I reflect the more I am coming to believe that baptism is more about what God does rather than what we do.  God plays the major role in some mysterious way that we do not fully understand …. and if that is so, then who are we to deprive anyone from that free gift of God?

So … I have changed my mind …. I wanted people to know … as some ‘out there’ think I would never admit to being wrong 😉

welcome Matthew!


Yesterday we had a great extended family day as we descended upon Bagshot to celebrate the baptism of Matthew with Chris, Juliette and Lucy.

This was a truly special day as Juliette and Chris, along with Maria and Andrew as god parents, and all of us present really, made some great promises about bringine Matthew ‘up in the faith’.

I always find baptism an amazing event and an exciting time. It is one of those great occasions where people say some great thing and believe they are making promises to God and indeed they are.

Chatting to my very learned mother and father in law afterward, we agreed that sometimes it is easy to forget the mystery of baptism. We forget, and neither do we fully understand, what God does at baptism.

God acts in some way, and in a way that is not obvious to us, but we know God acts. That is part of baptism as well.

Today was a great day – thanks Chris and Juliette for allowing us all to be part of it.

baptism

We had a great time in church this morning.

Sarah led an excellent service in which 3 of our young people were baptised by full immersion.

As is our custom the 3 young people shared with the congregation why they wanted to be baptised and I always find this an incredibly exciting and personally challenging event at St. Mark’s.

Today, as always, all the reasons were different; one wanting to acknowledge the difference that Jesus has made to her life, one as a response to a message that an angel had given him and one because he wanted to publicly state that he now owned his own faith as he had grown in a Christian family.

Three completely different reasons and 3 completely valid reasons.