Seeds, Surrender, and the Alpha Course

It’s amazing the lengths God goes to to catch your attention!

(And how slow I can be to catch on)

This morning I read the devotional for my daily reading plan, “Bible in One Year” by Nicky & Pippa Gumbel, pioneers of the Alpha Course. I was particularly struck by one thought about Matthew 13:18-25:

“When I look at the lives of some of those who did Alpha five, ten or fifteen years ago, they have had a massive impact. Some have even started ministries that have had a global impact.”

As I read this line I started counting years on my fingers- it’s been 13 years since I sat in a parish hall on Tuesday afternoons (like this one!) taking part in an Alpha Course with some of my teenaged classmates. It was in that hall that I first heard you could have a relationship with God.

This was a completely new idea to me, who considered myself a good church member. I knew you could do good things for God, pray to Him, etc. but the thought of Him answering back, being interested in my life, and wanting a friendship rather than a dictatorship was completely new. It was a seed that dropped straight into the depths of my heart.

A few months later, I responded to the good news of the Gospel by surrendering my life to God completely- not out of compulsion but as a grateful response to His undeserved love. I accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as punishment for my sins and received His free gift of eternal life. Intense, enduring peace washed over and through me.

I would never have guessed that 13 years later, I would be sharing that same Gospel message of hope and reconciliation with students just a little older than I was then. I would never have guessed that I would be involved in an international ministry committed to having a global impact.

As I thought about this this morning, I remembered that Nicky Gumbel will be one of the keynote speakers at our upcoming European conference in April- duh! What an honour to hear from a man who pioneered a ministry that has impacted the lives of thousands of people, including countless individuals (like me) whom he has never met!

P.S. I’ve been invited to address a group of students this evening. Please pray with me for God to give me grace and the right words to say to inspire a new generation to impact the world by making disciples who make disciples!

 

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How to Talk to Strangers

Last Thursday, I accidentally started conversations with two strangers.

In the afternoon instead of tapping and swiping on my screen, I pulled out needles and yarn and started to knit. I used to do this in order to hijack some attention. Today was purely practical. Continue reading

Hairline Fractures and Flying Debris

The past three days have been eventful. On Saturday, my brother fell fifteen feet out of a tree and broke his back. Yesterday, a piece flew off the roof of my rented home and damaged a neighbour’s car. While storm Ophelia raged outside, my grandfather’s cousin passed away peacefully surrounded by his family.

Outside of my tiny sphere of experience, three people lost their lives because of Ophelia and many more people are assessing damage of property and vehicles and trees and roads and waiting for the electricity to come back on (it could take up to ten days for some).

In the wake of tragedy and deliberate evil, I often hear the question, “Where was God when…?” “Where was God when that tree fell on Clare O’Neill’s car?” “Where was God when Stephen Paddock starting shooting?” I think these are perfectly valid questions, I ask them too. It’s very rarely I hear the reverse though. Continue reading

Dear Coffee

It’s nothing personal, I’m just done- it’s over.

I know everyone is going to to think I’m crazy breaking up with you- you’re as close to perfect as they get. You are idolised the world over from hipster haunts to fast food basics to the jar of instant in Mum’s cupboard. People cling to you in the mornings as if their lives depended on you (and they would swear they do). Endless memes have been created to praise your name. You even have your own international day of recognition this Sunday. Your fans have raised the standard of living for farmers and suppliers across the world. They’ve also raised the standards of taste and consistency- even I can tell the difference between franchise and something special and smile a sigh of appreciation! Continue reading