John Bunyan

I have the privilege of living within 2 miles of where the famous Christian preacher and author John Bunyan who was born, in Elstow , Bedford. I was Christened as a baby in the very same font that he himself was also christened , and had the joy of being married there at Elstow Abbey to my wife Karen.

                                                              ELSTOW ABBEY CHURCH

elsow                                                       elstow_john_bunyan_sign_300x351_1418

John Bunyan (1628-1688) was born at Elstow, England, about a mile from Bedford, and became one of the most influential authors of the seventeenth century. Few writers in history have left such a wealth of Christ-centered writings.

Bunyan’s moving conversion is recorded in his Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. His first lasting conviction of sin was produced by a sermon denouncing the violation of the Lord’s Day by labor, sports, or otherwise–because his greatest enjoyment came from sports on the Lord’s Day. Some time later while passing through the streets of Bedford, Bunyan heard “three or four poor women” sitting at a door, “talking about the new birth, the work of God in their hearts, and the way by which they were convinced of their miserable state by nature. They told how God had visited their souls with His love in Christ Jesus, and with what words and promises they had been refreshed, comforted, and supported against the temptations of the devil.” From these pious women Bunyan learned to despise sin and to hunger for the Savior. Later, while passing into the fields, he recounts, “This sentence fell upon my soul, ‘Thy righteousness is in heaven’…for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Then “his chains fell off,” and he went home rejoicing.

In 1655, Bunyan was baptized by immersion by Pastor John Gifford of Bedford and called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bunyan was arrested November 12, 1660, for preaching without the approval of the Anglican Church. He was charged with “teaching men to worship God contrary to the law” and was in jail more than twelve years.

His most well-known work, The Pilgrim’s Progress, was written while in the Bedford jail. During Bunyan’s lifetime there were 100,000 copies circulated in the British isles, besides several editions in North America. It has been continuously in print since its first printing. Bunyan’s remarkable imagery was firmly rooted in the Reformation doctrines of man’s fallen nature, grace, imputation, justification, and the atonement–all of which Bunyan seems to have derived directly from Scripture.

The Pilgrims Progress is only 2nd to The Bible in the number of copies printed and sold world wide.

Pilgrim’s Progress is an awsome book about a man named Christian. In the beginning, we find that Christian has a heavy burden on his back that he can’t get rid of.  He tries to take it off himself but he can’t.  He then meets a man named Evangelist.  Evangelist tells him that the only way to get rid of this burden on his back is to go to the Celestial City.

…he keeps going and doesn’t give up.  

Christian leaves his friends and family back in the City of Destruction and makes the long and treacherous journey to the Celestial City.  He goes through many different obstacles and trials that get in his way on the way to the Celestial City.  Although it takes him a long time to get there, he keeps going and doesn’t give up.

This is an excellent book to read.  As a Christian, I sometimes get discouraged in my walk with Christ.  This book has really helped me with that.  It has taught me that I’m not alone in my walk.  There are others that are struggling with the same things that I am struggling with and that we must persevere.

 

It shows us of the temptations and pitfalls that we must be alert to and avoid on our Christian journey through life,  until we reach our ultimate destination with Christ waiting with open arms to embrace us.

If you have not read this masterpiece i encourage you to do so, it is hard, slow going at time,s the language being difficult, but is truly worth the effort i,m sure you will get so much out of it.

If you have read it or when you have finished it i would be pleased to hear your reviews of it , and what  encouragement or lessons you got out of it  if anything.

 

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A bit of HDR photography

 

 

 

 

 

One of my hobbies when i get some time is to get out and about with my camera gear in tow and try and get creative.

I particularly enjoy HDR photography. So what is this i hear you ask, well…

 

HDR Photography is also known as high dynamic range photography. HDR photography is the process of combining 3 or more exposures of the same image. The idea behind high dynamic range photography is to highlight the best exposure for different parts of the same photograph. HDR photography typically works best in outdoor settings, or settings with a wide range of light ,and texture. Digital cameras however expensive cannot take in all of the range of light and texture variants in the shot. Combining different exposures gives the detail in the darkest through to the brightest parts of your shot.

I process my photographs using specialist HDR software Photomatix pro and then tweek the images in Adobe Photoshop . Playing around with the settings in Photomatix and Photoshop can create some interesting effects , many HDR shots look ‘painted ‘ or even ‘cartoony’ .

Anyway here are some of my efforts.

 

 

bedfordpark

 

church corn

 

 

 

 

 

 

london round tower

falls

 

 

I think that God delights to see us using our skills and talents as photographers to enjoy and document the wonderful world he has created. One thing that made me think about photo’s  is, how many times do you see an old photo of yourself or someone you Know and you say ” wow you look really young there”

Its true we cannot stop time slipping by and we cannot stop getting older , we in this life are truly perishable , but we can however look forward to eternal life with our saviour  because of  the sacrifice he made for us.

John 1:3

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made

Remember everytime you look through that camera view finder that everything you see the beauty of your Wife , Children,  animals,  the beach , the moutains or anything else , that it was all created by our One God , our loving father.

 

 

Colossians 3 : 1-4

 Colossians 3:1-4

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above,where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life,appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

I have spent the last couple of Friday evenings with a friend studying the above passage , in some depth. I have been blessed with the help Edward has provided in interpreting scripture , the Lord has gifted him great skills in teaching and we continue to be a blessing and an encouragement to one another.

These 4 verse’s when dug into deeper have  reveal so much to us , and personally have been a real blessing in keeping on track , faithful and, importantly, aware of how easy it is to be distracted from our loving God.

Two lines really stood out for us :

1. Set your hearts on things above

2. Set your mind on things above

These too statements are not requests but commands from God. But how can we achieve this?

1. Acknowledge that its no longer i that is living but Christ living in me.

2. Reading the bible and praying.

Ezekiel 36:26

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

The above verse from Ezekiel tells of how God has given us a new heart ,a loving heart of flesh filled with his glorious spirit. If we fail to keep our heart and mind on God however things soon slip back and our heart turns back to stone as we turn away from him.We find ourselves stumbling blindly along the path that is our own inferior plans ,set to fail, putting our trust in perishable things that cannot ultimately bring eternal happiness.

So turn back to God set your heart and your minds fully on him, accept that his plans are the key to our ultimate happiness , do not let your plans intersect the Lords plans,

and most importantly PRAY. Pray that his will be done.

The Frontline

So what is ‘The Frontline’?.  Well as Christians we all have one. It is the positions and situations we find ourselves in on a daily basis, a place God has intentionally put us in to use us as his special agents! A place were we can make a real difference  for Christ. It may be at home with the family, it could be as we meet up with friends or team mates and for most of us when we are at work. It is  easy  , at church on a Sunday, to build up high barriers between us and the outside world to feel safe and secure within our church family, but the real work for Christ happens out beyond the church at all of our frontlines. Maybe you are fed up with your job , bored and feel like you are ‘better than this job’ . But stop and think –  has God put me in this place for a reason?. Of course he has, and you should learn to make this your motivation.

We need to respond to what is in front of us on our frontlines. We should trust that God will lead us where he wants us to go and will make clear what he wants us to do. Maybe we just need to hear the cries of the world around us to know how best to offer the good news to people . Maybe we need to develop our alertness to the promptings of God, who we believe is at work in his world.

Remember wherever your frontline may be God has given you a set of  unique skills, to conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Colossians 3: 12-17

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Small Screen Big impact – Gaming

Another part of the Small screen Big impact series this one relating to gaming from Ray Evans Paster at Grace Community Church in kempston.

This is a great series talking about some of the most popular modern media, there place and impact on our lives as we try to keep our focus on God.

The gaming industry is mind bogglingly big. Games outsell Hollywood 5 fold, and have millions around the world obsessed.

Take a listen to this sermon its around 25 minutes long.

http://www.graceinthecommunity.com/Media/Player.aspx?media_id=98566&file_id=108243

PSALM 11:5

The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

 

 

Small Screen – Big Impact Social networking

The link below is to a sermon by a Martin Salter one of the Church leaders at Grace Community Church in Kempston, Bedford.

It is a great insight into the impact of social media on our lives. It is part of a series of 6 talks based around the title small screen – big impact.

Have a listen it will be of great help i,m sure.

He talks about the dangers of social media , and also the great benefits of using social media.

I will try to add each talk in the series daily.

http://www.graceinthecommunity.com/Media/Player.aspx?media_id=98851&file_id=108539

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 
Ephesians 4:29


Opendoors

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/

We as Christians are immensely blessed here in the U.K to be able to openly show our faith and practice our Christian beliefs.

Normally the worst persecution we suffer is maybe people calling us names behind our backs, and laughing about our beliefs.

This however is not the case in many parts of the world where Christians are persecuted in the worst possible ways.

Preachers are locked away indefinitely for no reason, followers are beaten and tortured, homes and livelihoods taken or destroyed,  churches are attacked with bombs or by arson and Christians are executed for their faith.

We must all come together and pray that these things may come to an end , and pray for the suppressors that they to may one day come to know Christ as their Saviour to.

Also we can pray for organisations that are in place to help and support the suppressed Christians of our world such as Open Doors. The people involved in such organsiations risk their own saftey that the good news of the Gospel can reach those in even the most persecuted countries.

Take a minute to click on the above link and look at the work of open doors

. Please pray for them and their workers, and for the supresses and the supressors.

 

 

But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior;
therefore my persecutors will stumble;
they will not overcome me.
They will be greatly shamed,
for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor
will never be forgotten.

—Jeremiah 20:1