Faith

Faith By Leonid Afremov

 

Faith is living and unshakeable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a man would die a thousand death’s for it’s sake. This kind of confidence in God’s grace, this sort of knowledge of it, makes us joyful, high spirited, and eager in our relations with God and with all humanity. This is what the Holy Spirit effects through faith. Hence a man of faith, without being driven, willingly and gladly seeks to do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of hardships, for the sake of the love and glory of God who has shown his grace.

Martin Luther.

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Awesome 2011

I had the privilege to lead on our churches youth camp for the first time. It was so different seeing how things worked behind the scenes but it was so rewarding to serve the youth in a way that the leaders had served me on the past. Leon Stead preached through Philippians over the 5 days, here’s a quick reflection on what I got out of it.

Day 1: Philippians 1:1-11

We’re all in this together, as a church following Christ we are in partnership in a shared passion. The world tells us that we need to invest ourselves in a passion that is about us but God’s intended us to be part of something that’s not about us. Our passions are reflected in where we invest our time, money, energy etc. Often we fear that we won’t succeed in our passion but what’s really important should be a fear of succeeding in something that doesn’t matter.

  • I was really challenged in this talk to make sure I’m investing my life in things that matter, not self fulfilling things but God glorifying things.

Day 2 – Philippians 1:12-30

Common-Unity for all in Christ. Unity is being like-minded, one in spirit and purpose and having the same love for one another – following Christs selfless example. Knowing what it looks like isn’t the problem, it’s living it. Living it means we have to put aside all our selfish ambitions and put Christ at the centre of ourselves, to look out for each other instead of ourselves. In all situations: conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel. This kind of community in the church shines in the darkness of the world and brings freedom from conflict and deepens relationships.

  • I was challenged to let go of protecting my reputation or self and instead look to how I can look out for other people’s needs.

Day 3 – Philippians 3:1-11

You don’t need to do anything to belong to God. Paul, who wrote the letter, was once the equivalent of a Pharisee, he followed all the rules laid down and even persecuted Christians who said that these rules didn’t matter anymore. But then when he himself was converted, everything he one held as his highest achievements became a loss, and what he once saw a loss he valued highly. Not only was his life redirected, but everything he believed in was inverted. Holding onto our lives outside of Christ is like sitting in our own excrement and being content – being called as a follower means through sanctification, we are to leave these things behind. We contribute nothing to our relationship with God, it is all through Christ.

  • I was challenged to review what I valued most in life and to replace it with Christ.

Day 4 – Philippians 3:12-4:1

Live life in light of the destination, have a single minded goal. Forget what you’ve left behind – the sin you were entangled in, repent and give it to God. Follow Christ’s model, don’t go back and live up to what you’ve attained. Jesus is sufficient, we’re not perfect yet (we will be in Christ) but we have a joy and hope.

  • I was challenged to work hard at keeping Christ’s coming in my mind, rather than my own constructed destinations.

Day 5 – Philippians 4:2-23

Confidence in Christ, a contentment that brings joy, a joy that is external to yourself. If it was only within yourself it would never satisfy but in Christ, it is everlasting. This joy is manifest in gentleness, the self sacrificial demonstration of love to other people.

Living for Christ is not just about controlling your behaviour it is about controlling your mind and heart, your desires, to bring the things in the front of your mind to God.

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

Facebook: A Christian Perspective

Fakebook?

Tonight at church Mike preached on Facebook, it was a really challenging talk because I’m a frequent facebook user, and I’m sure many of you are too. And not only that but it seems applicable to any sort of social networking, blogging included.

 
I’m just going to give a summary of what I found challenging but the whole sermon will most likely be available here very soon.
 
For starters Mike addressed the dangers of facebook. One that particularly challenged me is the danger of falling into narcissism – of using facebook to promote yourself and to expect that everyone is interested in you. Essentially assuming you are the centre of the world.
I think its something many people do. Facebook has become a place where we can remake our identity, make people think things about ourselves or make us think things about others that just aren’t true. So I was challenged as to whether what I do on facebook is really just about making myself look good.
A good challenge is to talk about others and encourage others instead of talking about yourself.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your interests but to the interests of others.”  
Philippians 2:3-4
So Big Challenge #1
Be authentic about myself on facebook and use it to promote others and not myself.
 
Time Wasting was the next danger Mike addressed. Our society has this dying need to always be contactable, the thought of being disconnected is so strange. Not having phone reception can become catastrophic. The number of times I have checked facebook in the morning before reading my Bible is actually ridiculous.
 
Big Challenge #2
No facebook until I’ve read my Bible.
 
Facebook also poses limitations on relationships. Written words can lack the meanings we mean, we can use it as an online space where we sort out our problems or where we can quickly share our opinions and gossip.
http://www.arewefriends.org/ Check this out. This guy really challenged how facebook has come to redefine what it means to  be friends with someone. Now we distinguish between ‘friends’ and ‘facebook friends’.
It’s important to remember how much more sufficient real face to face physical friendships are, and they should have priority.
 
However, facebook is also a great gift, if used properly. If you use it to relate to people and share with them rather than to just report to ‘your audience’ things about yourself.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people 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. In the same way, let your light shine before men…”
Matthew 5:13-16
Facebook can be used as a unique opportunity to live louder for God.
So often the letters in the NT begin with verses such as these:
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.”
Philippians 1:3-4
Facebook could be a useful prayer tool, a means to see what people need praying for. But not only praying for them but letting them know that you are. Mike challenged us to either gradually go through our list of facebook friends and to pray for each of them or maybe to pray for people as their posts come up on your newsfeed.
 
Big Challenge #3
Use Facebook as a prayer tool.