Thursday, 22 September 2011

"Sorry Coach, I can't Make Sunday!"

Paul Levy at the Reformation 21 blog just wrote a short post about Euan Murray the Scottish prop, who shall not be playing on Sundays throughout the rugby world cup. Full story at the BBC sports site.

Murray, well known for being a christian was quoted saying,  
"It's basically all or nothing, following Jesus. I don't believe in pick 'n' mix Christianity. I believe the Bible is the word of God, so who am I to ignore something from it? I might as well tear out that page then keep tearing out pages as and when it suits me. If I started out like that there would soon be nothing left. I want to live my life believing and doing the things (God) wants and the Sabbath day is a full day. It's not a case of a couple of hours in church then playing rugby or going down the pub, it's the full day."
A lot of sport is played on Sundays. Murray feels there should be no sport played on Sundays and hopes for change in the future. I can't see it happening though! 

Murray has always been outspoken about his faith. It's great to see sportsmen who are radical and serious about their faith speaking out regularly in public. There have been numerous sportsmen in the past who have done the same Eric Liddell and Jonathan Edwards among the most famous.

Jason Robinson (another well known Christian) actually committed his life to Christ because his Wigan team-mate Va'aiga Tuigamala was open about his faith in Christ.

I am sure Murray's comments will draw a lot of attention, both positive and negative. I say fair play to the bloke! We need to see more Christians at all level of sport taking their stand for Christ!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Rugby World Cup 2011...

Every sport has its trademark event/tournament. Tennis has Wimbledon, American football has the super bowl and Rugby has the world cup. 

It all started in 1987 as sixteen teams gathered in New Zealand and Australia to play the month long tournament. New Zealand dominated and rightly won the tournament, beating France 29-9 at Eden Park in Auckland. 

A lot of change has taken place since that first world cup. In the twenty four years that have passed, five other world cups have been and gone seeing Australia (1991 & 1999) and South Africa (1995 & 2007) running out winners twice each and England once (2003). The game turned professional after the 1995 world cup which obviously has brought a lot of money into the game. Back in 87, 91 and 95 players would have had to taken time out of their day jobs to travel to the tournaments. 

On the 9th September the 2011 world cup kicked off with New Zealand beating Tonga 41-10. New Zealand are once again the hosts, so obviously there is a lot of speculation about whether they can finally win the title again. Those of you who follow rugby closely will know that the Kiwis have a reputation for 'choking' when the pressure comes. In 2007 they were once again halted by a tenacious French side. They meet the French this Friday in their third pool game.
The problem with the French is you never know whether they are going to turn up. At their best they can rip to shreds even the best sides in the world, but they are unpredictable and erratic. In 2007 they looked unstoppable after beating a strong Kiwi side, only to be halted by a mediocre English team who gritted their way all the to the final. 

England's finest moment came in 2003 when Martin Johnson's men lifted the Web-Ellis cup. Despite looking lethargic and playing boring rugby (well that's what the Aussies said!) we still beat every team we faced. I'm not surprised either. The strength of the squad that we had was simply incomparable with the players we have at our disposal at present. No one can stand even close to the likes of Martin Johnson, Hill, Jason Robinson, Josh Lewsey, Neil Back, Laurence Dallaglio, Ben Cohen, Will Greenwood and the Jonny Wilkinson of 2003. 

Since then, England just haven't been a team that I can be optimistic about. I don't know if it is because I am expecting too much from them. I just want to see an England team dominating world rugby like they did between 2001-2003. Maybe I should just be content with winning games. After all we have won our first two games of the world cup beating Argentina (Just!) and Georgia which the Aussies have failed to do.

Australia, one of the tournament favourites lost to Ireland. The Irish really dug their heels in and took the game to the Wallabies and they came away with a deserved win. I always like to see the Aussies lose, it makes all the taunts of David Campese a little less bitter.

If you asked me to pick a winner, I think I would struggle. From what I have seen so far it is wide open. South Africa look strong, as do New Zealand. South Africa have the knack of turning up to world cups and playing some of their best rugby, where as New Zealand generally fall. Will the home advantage serve the Kiwis? I don't know. 

I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Moving At The Speed Of Life...

Life is an interesting thing. At times it goes by in a flash, sometimes it is mind numbingly slow. Last Tuesday was one a moment where the speed of life really smack me in the face, as I celebrated my twentieth birthday. The years have well and truly flown by. It seems like only five minutes ago I was seven years old and running around on the school playground playing tag!

On Saturday I will be moving to Exeter to start studying Theology. The summer has flown by and now I find many new experiences and challenges staring me right in the face. Our time spent at university (so I have been told) is the time in life where we change the most, it's the time when we form our outlooks on life that stay with us and the time when we make friends that will journey with us through life.  

For the past few weeks I have been in a rather anxious state, wondering what university life is going to be like. Will I be able to make new friends? Will I lose contact with my current friends? Will I cope with the work load? Those of you who know me reasonably well will know how much of a worrier I am. 

Then yesterday it hit me. For someone who raves about the sovereignty of God, I wasn't acting as if God is sovereign. I was worrying about all these things when the truth of the matter is that GOD IS IN CONTROL! God knew that I would go to Exeter university, God knew that I would study Theology, God knows who I am going to be living with and by his grace and the power of the Holy Spirit he will empower me. 

The next few years are going to provide some of the most joyous, challenging and life changing times of my life. I look forward to journeying with my awesome God (for the remainder of my life) and having him as the centre of all that I do. He has been faithful to me, guiding me, leading me my entire life even if I didn't know it and appreciate it for the first fifteen years. God's grace is sufficient for me and for you.

God's answer to Job...Pt 2

Chapter 39
1"Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
   Do you observe the calving of the does?
2Can you number the months that they fulfill,
   and do you know the time when they give birth,
3when they crouch, bring forth their offspring,
   and are delivered of their young?
4Their young ones become strong; they grow up in the open;
   they go out and do not return to them.
 5"Who has let the wild donkey go free?
   Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
6to whom I have given the arid plain for his home
   and the salt land for his dwelling place?
7He scorns the tumult of the city;
   he hears not the shouts of the driver.
8He ranges the mountains as his pasture,
   and he searches after every green thing.
 9"Is the wild ox willing to serve you?
   Will he spend the night at your manger?
10Can you bind him in the furrow with ropes,
   or will he harrow the valleys after you?
11Will you depend on him because his strength is great,
   and will you leave to him your labor?
12Do you have faith in him that he will return your grain
   and gather it to your threshing floor?
 13"The wings of the ostrich wave proudly,
   but are they the pinions and plumage of love?[a]
14For she leaves her eggs to the earth
   and lets them be warmed on the ground,
15forgetting that a foot may crush them
   and that the wild beast may trample them.
16She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers;
   though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear,
17because God has made her forget wisdom
   and given her no share in understanding.
18When she rouses herself to flee,[b]
   she laughs at the horse and his rider.
 19"Do you give the horse his might?
   Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
20Do you make him leap like the locust?
   His majestic snorting is terrifying.
21He paws[c] in the valley and exults in his strength;
   he goes out to meet the weapons.
22He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
   he does not turn back from the sword.
23Upon him rattle the quiver,
   the flashing spear, and the javelin.
24With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
   he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
25When the trumpet sounds, he says 'Aha!'
   He smells the battle from afar,
   the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
 26"Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars
   and spreads his wings toward the south?
27Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
   and makes his nest on high?
28On the rock he dwells and makes his home,
   on the rocky crag and stronghold.
29From there he spies out the prey;
   his eyes behold it from far away.
30His young ones suck up blood,
   and where the slain are, there is he."

Sunday, 18 September 2011

God's answer to Job...

 Chapter 38:
1Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
 2"Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action[a] like a man;
   I will question you, and you make it known to me.
 4"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
   Tell me, if you have understanding.
5Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
   Or who stretched the line upon it?
6On what were its bases sunk,
   or who laid its cornerstone,
7when the morning stars sang together
   and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
 8"Or who shut in the sea with doors
   when it burst out from the womb,
9when I made clouds its garment
   and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10and prescribed limits for it
   and set bars and doors,
11and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
   and here shall your proud waves be stayed'?
 12"Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
   and caused the dawn to know its place,
13that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
   and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14It is changed like clay under the seal,
   and its features stand out like a garment.
15From the wicked their light is withheld,
   and their uplifted arm is broken.
 16"Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
   or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
   or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
   Declare, if you know all this.
 19"Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
   and where is the place of darkness,
20that you may take it to its territory
   and that you may discern the paths to its home?
21You know, for you were born then,
   and the number of your days is great!
 22"Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
   or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
23which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
   for the day of battle and war?
24What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
   or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
 25"Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
   and a way for the thunderbolt,
26to bring rain on a land where no man is,
   on the desert in which there is no man,
27to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
   and to make the ground sprout with grass?
 28"Has the rain a father,
   or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29From whose womb did the ice come forth,
   and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
30The waters become hard like stone,
   and the face of the deep is frozen.
 31"Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
   or loose the cords of Orion?
32Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth[b] in their season,
   or can you guide the Bear with its children?
33Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
   Can you establish their rule on the earth?
 34"Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
   that a flood of waters may cover you?
35Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
   and say to you, 'Here we are'?
36Who has put wisdom in the inward parts[c]
   or given understanding to the mind?[d]
37Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
   Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
38when the dust runs into a mass
   and the clods stick fast together?
 39"Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
   or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40when they crouch in their dens
   or lie in wait in their thicket?
41Who provides for the raven its prey,
   when its young ones cry to God for help,
   and wander about for lack of food?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Adventures in the Peak District

This week I have been up in the Peak District visiting my uncle. This trip has offered a chance to get away from the busy life and relax before heading off to university in a few weeks time.

Being in the countryside provides freedom to roam the fields and get to grips with nature. On Monday we went for a walk around the Derwent reservoir dam. The scenery is just spectacular.

This is a popular cycle and walk route and bank holiday Monday sure attracted a lot of visitors. I can see why. The main track goes all the way around the water, which meant we walked roughly 12 miles.

Yesterday we took a short walk into local town Bakewell (Home of the Bakewell tart). We had a look around the few shops there was and then had lunch by the river. The river is highly populated by different bird species, however wherever I seem to go there is always sea gulls!

Local farmers like to keep a variety of animals. Up the road is a small herd of not so wild wild boar. On the way to Bakewell are three Lamas and today we walked through a field of water buffalo. Not your average farmyard animals.

Being in the countryside is great but I don't think I could live there full time. I'm a city/town boy through and through. I like people. And there aren't many people in the country. Being here this week has really confirmed that I want to live in a big city one day. Where? I don't know yet. I guess we shall just see.

We have a few more days up here so i'm sure I will post some pictures before the week is over.