Who is Jesus? Week One of the questions of faith series hosted at my local church

When I first became a Christian, I struggled to feel close to Jesus. I found it much easier to connect and communicate with the Holy Spirit. Yet when I had my encounter on the Alpha course, I experienced all three aspects of God at once. I felt the overwhelming love and protection of God, I saw my Lord Jesus Christ and invited him into my heart, and I knew the Holy Spirit was allowing me to have this experience. I knew that all three parts were there, ready to love and welcome me but I struggled to maintain that connection. Like a poorly tuned radio signal.

Things began to improve as I started to read or listen to a section of the Bible every day and meditate more on Christ’s life and the nature of his journey and sacrifice. When the opportunity came to attend a discipleship course at my local church, I leapt at the chance because I want to live as a good modern Christian and learn how to spread the message to others. To do this I need to improve how I listen to God.

The question for the first session was: Jesus – Who is he?

Well, he is a human being who is also God. That is a really difficult thing to understand. He was born just like all of us. He could feel pain, the full range of human emotions, he had doubts and fears and tangible relationships, but he was God and has existed since The Beginning. He is right there in Genesis 1; He is The Word. “and God Said”, that is Jesus creating as God. All three parts of the trinity are there from the very beginning.

That is a difficult thing to comprehend, how can someone be 100% human and 100% God? The leader of the course had us picture a television. The colour and volume could each be turned to 100, or to 0. The options were a picture with no sound, sound but no picture or the ideal, both together. Together, they allow us to appreciate the sound and picture simultaneously to form a heightened experience. Jesus is like that, by being God and Human, we can come closer to our creator and see the true beauty of that relationship whilst being completely and utterly understood.

The Reading: Philippians 2: 5-11

The reading for the session came from Paul’s letter to the Philippians whilst he was imprisoned in Rome. We listened to the reading twice the NIV version and the Message version. I got to read a third version as my bible is NLT. We thought about what phrases or words stood out to us and I have highlighted them below.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,[a] he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b]; he took the humble position of a slave[c] and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,[d] 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2: 5-11 [NLT]

I have always struggled with authority. Particularly at school. I don’t believe you should respect people just because of their age and I think it’s fine to call people out when they say something fundamentally wrong, biased, or based on false information. As a child I could have been more polite about it, then perhaps I wouldn’t have been labelled as precocious. As an adult I pick my battles and words more carefully. I can be brash, blunt, ornery, and often fall into group leader roles but within me I have felt a desire to be subservient to something. To obey something other than myself. I thought I could find that in a sexual relationship, that perhaps I could be submissive there, but that route led to all manner of problems both emotional and physical. When I accepted God as my Lord and the master of my life it filled a void for me. This was a force I could always respect, that I wanted to please and obey. I do not feel awkward when I humble myself before my Lord. I know that I am loved beyond my imaginings and that if I obey God’s will

This passage spoke to me in particular because it tells us that Jesus put aside his divine right to become humble before God, he became God’s slave. Whereas I only had to put my self-interest to one side, Jesus put aside many of his rights as God, he submitted himself to God’s will and was crucified as a criminal, with murderers. There are some people I would die for or risk myself for, but when I try to imagine death by crucifixion, I feel nauseous, I start to sweat, I want to cry. Its horrific. I don’t think I could do it for anyone. Jesus did it for people he never met, for me, for you, for the worst sinners those we don’t feel deserve redemption. He died to give us all hope of an eternal life in God’s love. It is quite frankly amazing.

The Universe and My Aquarium – Why was God a man?

Following the reading, the session leader read an abridged version of The Universe and My Aquarium written by Philip Yancey. It’s a fantastic metaphor for why God had to send their son to bridge the gap between two completely different worlds. The fish are constantly afraid of the person that is trying desperately to care for them and keep them safe. They only way to make them understand is to become a fish and live among them. Then you could explain why the keeper is acting the way they do: you can share the message that the keeper loves you and does things out of that love.

God had tried to care for us and each time we grew scared and disobeyed him, it’s all over the Old Testament. God sent their Son to die for us and offer us redemption for our sins and uninhibited access to God’s love. Jesus Christ lived, died and was raised again to allow us to come into God’s love and enjoy everlasting life after death.

A lot to consider over the next two weeks

The course is fortnightly and I have a lot to consider. The first verse tells us to have the “same attitude” as Jesus Christ. To me that means to put God’s desires and wishes above my own. To do that I need to listen carefully and keep my heart open to God.  It certainly isn’t going to be easy. Our lives are busy and full of temptations. I am going to end this one on a prayer I think:

“Lord, please help me to hear your voice. When I read the Bible, when I walk in nature, when I am quiet and meditating. When I hear your voice help me to put my own desires and fears aside so that I can enact your will and trust in your vision for my life”

Thank you for reading this, God Bless.


My Journey to God – I’ve Been Scattered More Than Once

Every day I listen to a portion of the Bible with an aim to have listened to the whole thing in a year. I started on the 2nd of July 2021. I use the YouVersion Bible App+Audio. I can listen as I walk, or I can read along with the audio recording. The app is free to download and contains a vast array of Bible study tools and plans. I am following “Bible in One Year 2021 With Nicky Gumbel”. Each day starts with a devotional that explains that sets out a theme between the passages and then goes into them in more detail. It brings the word to life for me and puts it into a modern context. I understand how to apply it to my present.

The devotional on days 49 and 50 really struck a chord within me and they are the inspiration for this post. The New Testament passage is Mark 3:31 – 5:20 which is quite a large segment (but it is over two days), a lot is covered in this portion of Marks gospel but the parts that struck me most were the parable of the scattered seed, the parable of the lamp and the parable of the mustard seed particularly when listening to them in the context of Nicky’s devotional. They reminded me of my personal journey in faith and brough back a lot of memories some filled with joy, others more painful.  

I am going to do a post on each of these parables and how I feel connected to it in my own personal journey, how it resonated with me.

The Parable of the Scattered Seeds

This parable is discussed twice in chapter 4 of Mark’s Gospel. Jesus tells a story to the assembled crowd about a farmer sowing his seeds, he describes what happens to the seed depending on where it lands (Mark 4: 4-8), then when pressed later in private by his disciples he goes on to precisely explain what various parts of the story represent (Mark 4: 14-20).

As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

Mark 4: 4- 8 | New Living Translation

14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Mark 4: 14 – 20 | New Living Translation

My Interpretation of the Parable

There are three main components here: the seed, the soil, and the farmer. The seed is the word of the Lord within us, it is the news that God loves us, exists, and wants us to thrive. The soil is the conditions we find ourselves in when we hear the word, and the farmer is the source of the word at the time of sowing. I want to take this further and describe the time when I was sewn on the path, the shallow soil and where I have been sown now.

As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up

I see this as when I was really young between 6 and 12. My parents are not religious or spiritual and all of my education about God came from my aunt, and a close family friend. They bought me colourful Bibles and took me to Sunday school when they could. At this point in my life there was no groundwork, there was no soil for the seed to grow in and so it was lost. It didn’t have a chance to take root.

Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

I was extremely lucky and attended a private school in England which had a chapel attached to the dining room. We attended chapel most mornings and on weekends. It was a beautiful building, and I was part of the choir. I felt a desire for what being a Christian would mean for my life. I thought it meant I would always feel safe. I thought if I were confirmed it would make it all work. I would be covered and never be alone again. I went to confirmation classes held by my biology teachers’ husband who was a reverend. Each week for several months I went to the headmaster’s lounge which overlooked the grounds and learnt about the word with a couple of other members of my year. This time I am the seed sown on shallow soil. I was so keen, eager, I devoted myself to my study. My parents did not understand my decision, but they didn’t oppose it either. I was confirmed when I turned 12. 

When I was 14 my parents separated, and my mother’s mental health began to become a serious issue. In the face of so much anger and abuse my faith withered. I renounced God and became a staunch atheist because I was alone and helpless. Despite the efforts of close friends and dedicated caring teachers my faith died. I buried it. When I think back on that time, I am brought to the brink of tears, not solely because my family disintegrated but because instead of running to the light, I chose to slam the door on it. I know I was a child and responded to the situation as a child, but I am so grateful that God sent someone to scatter the seed of the word in my life again.

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times

The third time the seed was sown by my Alpha course leaders, it landed on deeper soil. It has shot up and a year later is growing even stronger than ever, tended carefully by new and old friends, it hasn’t started to wither at all. I opened the door I had closed 17 years previously and welcomed God’s love into my life. I hope this time I have been sown in the good soil and I don’t get swallowed up by the weeds. Modern life is constantly trying to tell us what we should prioritise, and I am determined for nothing to overtake my faith. If I do this right the things I want, and my faith should complement each other. I’m trying not to worry too much about the future and to trust that God will provide what I need. I want to thank all the farmers that prepared the soil in the years before, I want to thank God for continuing to shower me in love even when I was determined to pursue my own path. I pray that in the future God will reap the crop of my faith and I will have helped spread the word to many others.

Admin To Finish

This article shares some really personal parts of my journey, but I am a candid person.  The images used in this article aren’t mine I found them on another blog written by Russ McCullin, you can find his original image here. As always, I welcome your thoughts, feedback, comments, advice, and most of all your prayers. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I urge you to be polite in your feedback even if you have taken great offence to or been angered by what is written. I am always learning and always willing to listen to those that state their point without hate or malice.

God bless you and keep you,