Thursday, 28 April 2011

THE Royal Wedding

Tomorrow, whilst we’re drinking tea and either happily watching British history in the happening or complaining about tax-payers money being spent unnecessarily on the wedding of two strangers, Kate Middleton will marry Prince William. She is the ultimate WAG, almost from a normal background, inheriting all sorts including inevitably one day the title of Queen. The whole country is decked out with union jack bunting and revision procrastination seems to be coming predominantly in the form of endless Royal Wedding related TV documentaries. I’ve spent most of this week with my Nanny, and both she and my Granny up in Scotland are mad far it. So am I (a little surprisingly) and not just because a relatively little part of me would love to become the next princess and marry Prince Harry, the royal with the most appropriate hair colour. With all this talk of The Royal Wedding, I can’t help thinking about the ultimate up and coming, eternal union.

In the bible, imagery about a perfect and faithful husband is used to describe the relationship between Jesus and his collective followers, referred to as ‘the bride of Christ’. As the perfect husband, Jesus has shown immeasurable sacrificial love to the church by giving himself as a sacrifice. His sacrifice was necessary to pay the penalty for each individual’s sin, providing a means by which God’s righteous judgement is satisfied and we as fallen people may enter the kingdom of God. If we believe, not only are our old lives gone with Jesus’ death, but with his resurrection comes new life bought at a price (and therefore owned) by the King of the universe with whom we are united.

God hasn't planned marriage as an institution for oppressing women without a voice but it is designed to model Christ’s loving relationship with the church. When I grow up, If I marry a man who wants to model his love for me on the example set by Jesus’ sacrificial obedience to the cross, I expect it would be a freedom and joy to respond submitting to such leadership. The metaphor provides the ultimate expression of marrying rich. I’m realising more and more that without Christ I have nothing, and being united with Him I have everything, sharing in his inheritance as the son of God. If as Christians, we are each united with Christ, then in follows we are united with one another. This is the Church, otherwise known as the kingdom of God or the bride of Christ, existing now with the deposit of the Holy Spirt and a role to play, in light of the glory still yet to come.

On THE Royal Wedding day there will be no illness, angst or apathy amongst the people of God. No division over secondary issues, hurt feelings or moaning about particularly lengthy sermons. No judgement faces, inconsequential squabbling over hymns, how to play them or supposed theological high ground. As we wait for the big day approaching, let's press on keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. By his grace and for his glory, let's continue living exchanged and changed lives until his work on this earth is done.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God’.

-Revelation 21: 1 – 3

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Christ plus nothing.

Last week I went to New Word Alive, a christian conference held at Haven, in Pwhelli, North Wales. It was my first time at this particular event, and I genuinely loved it every minute! Unusually having no stewarding/youth related role to fulfil made for a lovely change, meaning the experience was purely a holiday one. (Discounting some early morning emailing and pretending to read some notes on molecular pharmaceutics.) There was plenty of time for catching up with very old friends and making new ones whilst eating jelly, drinking tea and/or wine, playing adventure golf and frolicking in the sea. I was definitely the most naked person on the beach on one swimming occasion although this wasn't difficult considering the overcast weather!

The main meetings were full of lots of sung worship which I really enjoyed. In addition to the certain and glorious biblical truth found in the words to the songs which were sung, and therefore their super encouragement, singing alongside so many others helps to point me towards thinking about (in perhaps the smallest little way) what living in God’s new creation might be like. Will there be singing? I hope so. But ultimately there will be people (too many of them to count and myself included) giving Jesus all the glory. In terms of teaching, I went along to about three epic bible talks every day, so I can certainly say I used the opportunity to learn something.

From new word alive I have taken away lots of things to think about and ultimately marvel over. I want to seek more actively an eternal perspective not based on earthly things but on hope found in Jesus alone. I want to reject apathy (off of this amazing/inspirational t-shirt some guy was wearing)and follow the advice of whoever wrote Hebrews chapter 12 when they wrote;

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God’. (Hebrews 12;1-2)

God is so much bigger than I realise! Whilst all of the above, and all I know about God is based on his limitless grace, how easily I misunderstand the way I am made to relate to him. How much do I even without realising it put my faith in my own faltering faith, rather than God’s unchanging faithfulness! (Hebrews 11vs11 shows me that faith is a response to seeing that God is faithful.) I can easily remember that I saved by the work of Jesus’ death and resurrection alone, but what about my life now lived out daily as a child of God? How easily I can forget that I now live as a child of God, still by his grace alone. The beginning of Galatians 3 has some words on this.

'You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?' (Galatians 3:1-3)

I am certainly quick to forget that there is no such thing as a good or bad christian, however up to date or behind I am on my youth group planning. The Gospel isn’t about what I do, but about what God has already done. Specifically, the gospel is about what God has already done in the person of Jesus Christ. My relationship with God doesn’t go up and down depending on what I do, but it depends upon the perfection of my substitute.

I have changed my mind about getting a tattoo. I mean, that if I were going to get a tattoo tomorrow (or as a post graduation present to myself) I have changed my mind about what I would like it to say. The words now, might read

‘Christ plus nothing’

Because this is the grounds for my relationship with the living God. Nothing I can do will make God love me more or less because he accepts me solely on the grounds of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, which was made on my behalf. Without Christ I have nothing, and there is nothing more. Below are the words to a quality old hymn written about the same stuff!

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

pharmaLIFE: blogging pharmaceutically

So, I've earned a spot blogging on the PJonline website. Another time commitment to squeeze in and an additional meaty CV filler arising as a symptom of the new zeal for clinical pharmacy I seem to be experiencing.

It would seem I ended up training in this profession a result of process of elimination, accidental logic and some encouragement from others. In all of it I can also see God's awesome sovreignty. I liked science at school, and had an interest in working with people. I didn't want to be a doctor, but when I stumbled into a department open day, pharmacy seemed to fit. Although always working hard and often enjoying the work, a quiet reluctance has thus far been ever present with respect to my long term life choices. So this genuine interest of late, in my degree and it's relevance to the world of work has naturally taken me a little by surprise!

This is not to say that my current enthusiasm will continue long term,that I will work as a pharmacist forever or even far beyond pre-reg because genuinely God only knows what will happen. But what I am saying is that I have an interest in pharmaceutics, and sometimes I am amazed at the novel things people have thought of to try and get problem drugs into the body. I like pharmacetical care planning (well, I think I do) because now I feel like I have some clinical knowledge, the prospect of it to the lives of real people (and keeping them alive) does not seem so foreign. I like medication, I like people, I like talking, I like helping. Therefore I like helping people by talking about their medication.

I am, at heart, quite geeky. Other symptoms of this recent enthusiasm have presented over the past few weeks. I went to a student Interprofessional Learning Conference last week, and had the interesting experience of attending and taking part in The Great Intercollegiate Pharmacy Debate held at KCL over the weekend. I sometimes help out on pharmacy open days showing prospective students around the uni and i even considered applying for a summer research project. I have pharmacy related 'evidence of esteem' coming out of my ears. Just as well; I need all the coursework marks I can get considering those pointless ones we loose for emailing in a tesco team roles questionnaire 5 minutes late.

I'll maybe be writing more about these pharmacy escapades, and the pharmaceutical wonders which amaze me a bit more in my new blog, found at .