Monday, December 31, 2007

A year

Well 2007 is nearly over. As I am writing is now new years eve in both the UK and NZ (various other parts of the world will have to wait longer, sorry).

It is a strange thought that in a couple of weeks that I will have been here in NZ for over two years. Much has changed in the last year and there is much to be thankful for: the work on campus has grown, New Zealand feels much more like home, Anna and I became a couple (be it a long distance couple), and I have again gotten to visit family and friends back in the UK. It has not always been straight forward but at the moment nothing negative is coming to mind at the moment. Having read another friends blog I am reminded that an easy life is far from what Christians are guaranteed. All the things that I am grateful for are from His grace and not things that I have earned, and this has served to increase my gratitude to Him.

Another friend had blogged about his favourite books of the year. I have read a few good books (if I was to do eight I have to confess that would probably have to include every book I have read in the last year!) but I decided to blog about something that stuck with me from earlier in the year.

It was part of the preaching course that I studied earlier in the year. An article we read explained how as preachers the temptation can be to preach to the actions/fruits of sin that we see in peoples lives. But if you just cut the fruit off it tends to grow back. What we need to do is preach to the roots that cause the actions/attitudes to grow in peoples lives. This is how the fruit is stopped from regrowing. By stopping things at the root.

An example of this is how as we can say that sex is good but only within marriage because God has said so in the bible. And that is by no means wrong, because that is what the bible says, but it is not a full reason as to why sex is good but only within marriage. When faced by temptation to sexual sin it is not always easy (though it should be) to say "the bible says that I shouldn't do this outside if marriage so I won't". Our hearts have been conditioned by various influences to not trust God. We need to address what is going on in our hearts that is causing us to doubt God.

The other danger of preaching to fruits is that of legalism. "Don't do this because God says you shouldn't" can come across as teaching people to behave in a certain way (and to make it worse people sometimes leave with the impression that this is what makes us acceptable to God). Our intention should be to see lives transformed. I don't know about you but I haven't been able to simply behave myself out of sin as yet.

For me personally it has changed how I engage with sin in my own life. No longer "I shouldn't do this" but more "I shouldn't be like this so why am I? What particular lie am I believing in my heart that is causing me to do this?".

There you go. My end of year reflection. Happy New Year. Maybe see you around on one side of the globe or another.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Well. Just got back from my final trip to the the UK for a while. Anna and I spent a week with each others families and caught up with a couple of friends that we didn't get a chance to see on the last trip.

We had a really nice time. We had an early Christmas with my family on the 25th November (at least the date was right). We had a lovely day; all my family could be there which was a joy. All my nephews and nieces took a real shine to Anna with the girls prefering her over me at points! My mum had done all her Christmas baking so that it was ready for when I was there. We put up the Christmas tree and had Christmas dinner. My mum made all my favourite food (she pretty much did that for every meal we were there) for Christmas. We exchanged gifts from Anna and I to everyone else and everyone else to us. It really was like the real day and that meant so much to me. I miss my family a great deal but they made it a wonderful day and I really can't thank them enough or explain how much I enjoyed it. It was a joy, Thank you!

From there we headed on to Milton Keynes. Family are very important to both us so it was great to be able to get to know Anna's family better. We had a great time with them all and they made me feel really welcome. It was lovely to be around for Anna's nieces dedication and Anna's commissioning service. For the commissioning part of the servcie the church leaders gave a really helpful explanation of how Anna was remaining part of their church family and they were sending Anna out from them to serve in New Zealand not packing her off and forgetting about her. That was combined with one of the best explanations of the importance of behind the scenes type service in Christian work that I have heard in a long time.

Sadly the trip was over all too quickly and it was time for me to head back to NZ and for Anna to get on with final preparations for moving out to NZ and Christmas with her family.

The picture is of my youngest niece. The only Christmassy picture I have as I spent most of my time playing with a video camera rather than taking pictures. I'll play with the movie footage soon!