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You’re going to fast?!


Joel 2: an army of locusts

1 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
    sound the alarm on my holy hill.

Let all who live in the land tremble,
    for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
    a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
    a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
    nor ever will be inages to come.

Rend Your Heart

12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

13 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
    and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
    for the Lord your God.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
    declare a holy fast,
    call a sacred assembly.
16 Gather the people,
    consecrate the assembly;
bring together the elders,
    gather the children,
    those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
    and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord,
    weep between the portico and the altar.
Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord.
    Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
    a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
    ‘Where is their God?’”

 

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Solemn words from the book of Joel, the Old Testament prophet.

It’s a book and passage that doesn’t sit comfortably with us.  The first half of Chapter 2 talking about God’s Judgement: darkness, gloom, fire, violence, wilderness and anguish. It goes on.

It’s not all that uplifting reading and we see from it how seriously God takes our rebellion, selfishness and sin.

Yet amidst this bleak outlook, the prophet Joel prophetically reveals God’s heart towards his people, verse 12:

“yet even now, return to me with all your heart.

Return to the Lord – for he is gracious and merciful,

Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

Return to the Lord…with FASTING.  Today marks the start of Lent – a time traditionally given to prayer and fasting.

What do you think of when you hear the word FAST?

Well, here are my 3 reflections today…my play on words…please go with it!

 

“You’re going too fast!”

Have you ever been caught speeding?  Been on a speed awareness course?  I never have, but I’m told they do work and get you thinking.

But, whether or not you’ve been caught – I bet we’ve all had moments of self-realisation that we live in a fast world and we’re living frenetic and frantic lives.

There are demands on us from others, from ourselves.

These days our lives are often defined not just by what we do, but by how successful, efficient, productive we are.

We’re taught that faster, quicker, stronger is better.

But have you ever asked yourself?  Am I going too fast? 

Or, more poignantly, has anyone said to you: You’re going too fast?

Is it time this Lent to SLOW DOWN?

 

You’re going to fast?!

The Spiritual discipline of Fasting is not one that people know about.

Some might say it’s for the religious nutcases.

 “You’re going to fast?” the world might say

“I’m not going to fast?” you might say.

 FASTING is something that in a consumerist world is counter cultural and radical.

Denying yourself FOOD, as the bible instructs, to make us aware of our total need for God, and to make us desire His word, the bread of life.

Perhaps the idea of Fasting is one which you think:

“I’m not sure that’s for me”

“I’m not sure whether I can do it.”

“I’m not even sure I want to do it.”

Perhaps it feels awkward.  Perhaps it’s the same feeling you have if colleagues were to know that you’re a Christian.

You’re going to fast?!  You’re a Christian?!

Are you caring too much about reputation and what people think of you?

Are these thoughts and feelings something that God wants you to deal with today, or in this Lent season?

Is it time this Lent to let go of what others think of you? [or what you think they think of you!]

 

You’re going to fast!

Yet, Jesus says in Matthew “when you fast” the same instruction as “when you pray”  – this is something that we’re being expected to do, it doesn’t sound optional.

We’re reminded of Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days.  Fasting, and the season of Lent, is a time where we can shift gear, and adjust our pace.  To seek God, to depend on him in new, deeper and profound ways.

To seek His will for our lives – His plan for our futures – His provision for our need.

My prayer is that you will not only embrace Ash Wednesday today, but the whole Lent season, and beyond – and that you will pray and fast in new or even brand new ways.

So, are you hungry for God?

Is it time this Lent to say: “Lord I want to have a greater Spiritual hunger and desire!?”

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Aslan is on the move

At St Michael’s, Southfields, we’re spending Lent reading C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Each week different people are offering their thoughts on the chapters we’ve read, and it was recently my turn. Here it is:

We’ve reached that point in the story where the 4 children are venturing deeper into their newly-discovered world and where they’re told by Mr & Mrs Beaver that they are part of the rescue plan, not just for Mr Tumnus but the whole of Narnia.

Whilst at supper with the Beavers, Mr Beaver tells them of The Prophecy, whispering those great words: “Aslan is on the move!”

I think there are great parallels between Mr Beaver and John the Baptist, a messenger for the one to come, the saviour who will free the captives from oppression, “He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

Hearing the name of Aslan causes the four children to react in different ways; fear, courage, delight and anticipation. And so, to this day, the name of Jesus conjures in us different feelings and reactions.

 “…a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning – either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now.

At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”

Do we believe there is power in the name of Jesus?

If so, how does this affect how we think, speak and behave?

Is Aslan on the move in your life?

As the children flee from the White Witch’s secret police, Mr Beaver tells them there’s no going back, that “Aslan is waiting”, that he has prepared an army and works for them to do (Ephesians 2:10). He also reminds them that they will need Aslan’s help to overcome the spell and fulfil the prophecy.

I’m sure we can all identify with the children’s reactions to both hearing the name of Aslan and also their wavering between wanting to be self-reliant and dependent on Aslan.  Just as Jesus’ disciples were, at different times, confused, confident, doubting and courageous, so our lives and faith journeys are often the same.

Names are pregnant with purpose.

What stirs within the recesses of your soul when you hear Jesus’ name?

An enigma personified, wholly man, wholly divine.
Took on the lowest names, so slaves could reign as kings.
Deity who chose to endure mortality so we could enjoy eternity.

Why does NO OTHER NAME affect the sceptic, the heretic and the majestic, the homicidal, suicidal and the matinee idol?

NO OTHER NAME changed nature, mindsets and matter, opened blind eyes, deaf ears and healed cancer.

NO OTHER NAME came with this mandate: Heaven’s Kingdom expressed on Earth.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Lent & 24-7 Prayer Room

GOD ON MUTE
I’m really excited to be reading God on Mute with friends at St Mike’s this Lent.
It’s an amazingly honest book and seeks to discuss a common of issue of: “Where is God when nothing happens when I pray?”
Follow weekly reflections here

24-7 PRAYER ROOM
Also, we’ll be running a 24-7 Prayer room in Southfields, SW London from 24-31 March.
To find out more click here!
To sign up for a slot at the room click here

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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in spirituality

 

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The Story of Everything

I’d forgotten just how good this video is, please watch, comment, question or share.

[via youtube.com/user/richoster]

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in life, spirituality

 

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7 Signs of Life: a spiritual healthcheck

“If the church were a patient in hospital, it would be admitted into Imageintensive care, for the vital signs of life are not evident!”

What are the vital signs of life?  Remember the Biology mnemonic – MRS GREN? [Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, Nutrition]

Every now and again, I use those headings to do a health check of my spiritual life, to identify where signs of life may have dried up or disappeared and to give myself a bit of a kick up the bum to sort things out.  So I offer you the following questions for you to use in thought and reflection of your own life.  I also hope that even if you are someone who wouldn’t say you had a faith, these questions might be useful in some way.  Do also let me know what you think, or feel free to ask any questions!

MOVEMENT

If something is alive it is on the move:

Are you on the move? | Is God moving in you at the moment? | When did you last say “yes” or “go” to what God wants for you? | Are you in step with God’s plan for your life? 

[Galatians 5:25 “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit]

RESPIRATION

What are you inhaling and taking in? | When and where have you [or do you] sense the breath or presence of God breathing in your life?

[John 21: Jesus breathes new life into the faith of Peter & the disciples after the resurrection]

SENSITIVITY

Are you sensitive to God and what he is saying in the world? | What areas of your life have become hardened and maybe need to be softened? 

Sensitivity starts when we recognise hardness in our lives and decide we want to be softened in some way.  Do we miss opportunities in life, with people we know and meet due to hardess of attitude, mindset, prejudice or lack of acceptance?

GROWTH

Are you growing? | Are you friendships & relationships developing and deepening? | Is your faith deepening? | Do you feel like your spirituality is maturing and bearing fruit? | How have you grown over the last 6 months? | Where haven’t you grown? 

If we are truly growing, our foundations and roots are deepening and strengthening and we will be bearing fruit.  If it’s not, we can pray for God to breathe new life and growth into our lives, but it requires us to be proactive and do something.  When we break bones, it is of course painful, but the mending and regrowth can also be painful – strengthening ourselves is a painful process, but worth it in the end!

REPRODUCTION

As followers of Jesus, it’s our commission and calling to help others to grow, Jesus’ last words to us on earth were: “Go and make disciples” [Matthew 29:19]

When have you shared your faith recently?  | Or at least had a chat about along the lines of ‘is there more to life than this?’ with friends, family or colleagues? | Are you willing to share and witness and to speak of your faith and explain more about who Jesus is?  | Do you need to get rid of a fear of rejection and what others may think or how they might respond?

EXCRETION

How do you deal with the negatives and toxins in your life? |  How do you treat people that you don’t get on with or like? | What are your toxins? | Have they been dealt with?

We are very quick to avoid toxins, fatty or sugary things in our diet, but are we as quick to recognise these in our internal spiritual lives?  How you treat people defines who are are: let tolerance & patience define your life.  Deal with things quickly and openly, in the presence of others [Matthew 18:15]

If we are alive and healthy, we get rid of toxins effectively.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” [Psalm 139: 23-24]

NUTRITION

Jesus refers to himself as the bread of life in John 6: “I am the bread of life.  Those who come to me will never go hungry, and those who believe in me will never be thirsty”

How do you feed on the words of Jesus? | How do you let the Word of God feed you? | Are you investing your time and energy into things that will help you grow? | What’s your spiritual diet?  Fast-food or gourmet? | Regular feeding or occasional binges? 

Are you helping others to grow and deepen faith?  In small/home groups, in prayer triplets etc? | Are we bothered about the stuff that bombards us every day in some many different ways? | Everything goes in – have we become anaesthetised or passive to filtering and regulating all that is thrown at us?  

If you’d like to get in touch, please do: matt.southcombe@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in life, spirituality

 

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Video

29 ways to stay creative

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Music Tuition

With over 10 years experience as a teacher, performer and studio session musician in London and the South East, I am available for the following:

MUSIC TUITION
Piano Tuition – Beginner to Grade 8+
Cello Tuition – Beginner to Grade 8+
Music Theory – Grade 5, GCSE & A Level Music
Composition Coursework assistance – for GCSE & A Level Music

STRING ARRANGEMENT
Studio or Live strings – fixer for quartets and other ensembles.
String arrangement for artists, bands etc.

Based in SW London

matt.southcombe@gmail.com
Wimbledon | Southfields | Putney

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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