Monday, 28 February 2011

I take it all back

Rocky's got a new lead.

Now to most dogs in most homes this is not major news but to Rocky it is potentially life-changing. 

The Sage-On-The-Hill is probably Rocky's biggest fan and it was he who supplied the lead. It's one of those fancy-pants extendable jobbies with a spring loaded coil for easy extension and retraction.  Rocky loves it.  He gets to wander about from side to side paying as little attention to me or the Wife as possible.

The only drawback is that when he spots something in the distance which provokes uncontrollable excitement (a bike, a ball, a bird...) he takes of with such speed that the jerk which happens when he reaches the end of the lead would almost knock you off your feet but maybe that's a story for another day.

Retractable leads would be useful for other things as well.  I'm thinking about our words. On so  many occasions it would be great just to pull back into our mouths the loose talk that flows so freely out of it.  The harmful gossip, the inappropriate word of hate, the inappropriate word of love, the joke that went to far, all the things that cause hurt and damage. 

Unfortunately we don't have retractable leads for our words, once they're out - they're out.  So what's the answer?  The bible describes a misplaced word as a spark that can start a forest fire (James 3). It also says that what comes out of our mouths starts off in the heart.  It's not our tongues which are hate-filled or cutting, or judgemental or gossips - it's our hearts.

Keep your words on a short leash by ensuring your heart is free from malice and full of wisdom.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
James 3:9-10

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
James 1:5-6

Friday, 25 February 2011

Totally awesome

Sometimes little kids can be the greatest teachers.

This week Anchor Boys was a lot of fun.  As usual there was a mix of stories, games, singing and healthy treats.With all the buzz it was getting pretty warm and so one of my wee buddies came to me and asked:

'I'm getting pretty hot, can I take my jumper off?'

'Of course' I replied.

'Thanks. Do you want to see my t-shirt? It's totally awesome.'

He wasn't lying, his t-shirt had a monster truck on it covering the entire front, that is totally awesome in my book.

It's so refreshing to see someone with such innocent excitement, someone who can look at something as simple as a t-shirt and see the awesomeness of it all.  We should all search for the awesome in everything (here's a website that will help) we should practice awesome seeking, it should be like orienteering only much much more... well, awesome.

We will find the awesome when we look for it because all things have been made by God who is the author of all things awesome.  The way he has designed this world and designed the creatures of the world can only lead us to praise and worship the God of heaven.  Look at your children, the food on your table, the flowers, your thumb, foreign languages, cornflakes, cars, aeroplanes... look at everything, see the awesome and praise the Lord!

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14


Thursday, 24 February 2011

Training Trevor

Fish are lazy.

It has become clear to me that fish have developed a great strategy to get away with their slothfulness for years now.  There have somehow tricked the humans into thinking they have only a memory of two seconds.  Let me tell you conclusively, here and now, that that is in fact a lie!

 According to marine scientists, fish can remember for up to three months! Despite this they still just swim aimlessly around their little tanks happy to let us think they are doing it all for our relaxation.

Fish can, with positive reinforcement techniques, be trained to do all sorts of fun things as this video shows.  They can score goals, do the slalom and even limbo - genius.

I'm considering putting Trevor through his paces; I reckon he'd make a great gymnast.

If fish can be trained and improved then so can we.  In fact we are commanded to improve.  God provides both the training and the skills but we have got to participate, to follow His leading and guidance.

The problem is that many Christians are happy to swim about in the tank letting on they're daft or unable or unaware of their need to change.  It's time to renew your mindset and starting training in the ways of righteousness, to start changing into someone more like Jesus.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Collateral damage

Here's a wee clip courtesy of the BBC.  Sound is not essential, fullsceen it for maximum effect!

When we fight the hatred hurts more people than just the object of our wrath.  How many families have been destroyed by needless feuds feulled by pig-headedness.  It's such a terrible shame and it is completely unnecessary.

The bible says:

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
Ephesians 4:25-27

It also says:

“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 
  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Matthew 18:21-22

So that brother or parent or friend or neighbour or person from church or work colleague that you 'hate'... go and forgive them, resolve the issue and live free again.  The people around you who you are hurting as a result of your pride deserve better.


Psalm 117 done a bit differently by the Sons of Korah.


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Housing crisis

It's a topsy-turvy world.

I transported a game of Monopoly in the boot of my car yesterday.  It was not a huge job I admit but I still had problems with it.

The game, or the car, jiggled on the journey and so did the contents of the game. So much so in fact that when I opened the boot to get it out I was confronted with display of miniature carnage.

There where houses and hotels everywhere, strewn about like they had suffered the worst tornado Kansas had seen but with Oz nowhere in sight.  There were chance cards everywhere, top hats tossed about, even a dog clinging on the the side of the board like it was holding on to it's very existence.  It was all very distressing.

It all looked ridiculous and yet somehow very real indeed.  The houses that are real, that we live in, are really no more reliable than Monopoly houses, they cannot be trusted to hold our money or protect our future, the phrase 'safe as houses' no longer applies.  Repossesion rates have gone through the roof, homes are getting 'broken' all the time and sadly as in the case for New Zealand today, even the physical protection of a house cannot be relied on.

So if we can't trust property for our security and if even our families can be destroyed, if all money is Monopoly money and chance cannot be trusted, who do we cling to in the days of trouble?  There is only one who is the beginning and the end, only one who can claim stedfastness and control.  Turn to God, hold tightly to Him in the good times and bad and he will not release His grip on you.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

Monday, 21 February 2011

Under pressure

There's nothing quite like the feeling of sweet relief from sustained pressure.

Whether it's hearing the final whistle after your team has held on to a 1-0 lead with only ten men for half the game, or that moment when you realise that you are not going to be late for that job interview after-all, or getting the electricity bill and knowing it is just low enough to be able to pay it this month, or finally reaching the toilet after a three hour car journey over potholed roads; no matter what the situation, when relief comes it is very very sweet.

'sore thumb' - Geddit?
The Sage-on-the-Hill was acting in a most unsage-like manner at the weekend when he accidentally closed the car door on his thumb, ouch.  After some time he realised that it was probably going to need hospital attention.  The throbbing had become unbearable, the pressure was building inside the damaged digit.

There was only one thing that could be done, the offending appendage had to be punctured, the pressure had to be relieved - instantly the pain subsided, sweet relief.

At Rathcoole Presbyterian Church the Rev also had pressure on his mind.  He was talking about the pressure that Jesus was under from all sides.  The Pharisees out to trap him, the hordes wanting healed, the need to teach, the constant demand for miracles, demons screaming His name at Him (Mark 3); all these things brought tremendous pressure on the Saviour.  So how did he overcome them?  He got alone with God, He got quiet with God and he got close to God.

When we feel so put upon that we could explode it is often because we feel that things are out of control.  The reality is that everything is out of our control, but it is not out of God's control.  We need to release the pressure to God, move it from our shoulders to His.  Talk to Him in the quiet places and let Him reassure us of His control in all situations.

Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
Luke 6:12


Queen - Under Pressure

Friday, 18 February 2011

Sleeping's for wimps

There are a number of things that can stop a 'leader' getting enough sleep on a youth weekend.

The sound of teenagers playing midnight baseball, excessive and violent snoring, late night chats with the person in the bottom bunk, the person in the room next door having late night chats with the person in the bottom bunk and alarming alarms can all prevent restful nights.  However last weekend I  encountered an additional unexpected problem.

I have one of those sleeping bags with a hood.  It is great, very 'snugly' as the wife would say but it is bloomin' hard to get into.  I struggle with the whole simultaneous wriggle, hop and zip of a normal sleeping bag but the hood adds a whole new dimension.

My problem was that no matter how hard I tried I could never seem to get in the right way round first time.  When I put the hood up for extra comfort it ended up covering my face.  Comfy, but deadly.  The great thing I had would end up killing me.  The wriggling continued until sleep was almost more hassle than it was worth.

It is important to have comfort in life.  By that I meant true comfort in the middle of the people of God.  A place where we can have shelter from all the stress and strains, temptations and trials of life on earth.  It is God-given comfort.  However the goal is not to live in church, to always constantly be surrounded with like-minded safe people but instead to be restored, encouraged and strengthened so that we can go out into the world and glorify Jesus.

Instead at times we linger in church surrounded by the comfortable people and the comfortable things.  When we do this we are in grave danger of suffocating our witness.  That is something worth losing sleep over.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20


Thursday, 17 February 2011

As good as a rest

This is my 100th post.

After 99 with the same look about them I decided it was time for a wee change.  Today has been full of my struggles with technology and trying to get things right.

I'd welcome your comments on the new layout etc, I know it's not world changing or radical, it's not even original, but it's mine.

The look is only one change that I hope to make in the next wee while, changes that will, I hope, interest, entertain and maybe even challenge you.  All suggestions will be considered so if you have any ideas don't be shy to share!


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Very alarming

We had had a bit of a scare.

23 of us where away last weekend to Rostrevor and stayed in a youth centre (don't worry most of our group actually were youth unlike my good self).  We had a great time but there was one incident that we'd be happy not to repeat.

It was four o'clock in the morning when the carbon monoxide alarm went off in the kitchen of the centre.  The girls that heard it first very wisely got us all up and we left the building.  It was raining and cold and there were a lot of grumpy faces. 

The incident brought back memories for some of past tragedies (support CO awareness here) and brought to the surface the ever-present underlying fear for leaders when they take young people away.  We followed procedure, we got out, got the fire-brigade out and stayed out.

Before too long the fire-brigade arrived, blue lights flashing, and sorted the situation out.  It turned out it was a faulty alarm and we could all return to bed an hour and a half after the whole thing started, tired but safe.

There are a lot of people in danger at the minute, heading towards eternal lostness and the alarm needs to sound.  The church needs to ring the bell loud and clear and warn everyone  that they need to run to safety.  Some just roll over, covering their head with a pillow, unwilling to hear the warning.  Others get very grumpy that anyone has dared disrupt their lives at all with the unpleasant message of the reality facing them.  But some will heed the warning, will evacuate their own doomed way of living and flee to Jesus and live. Which will you be?

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; 
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, 
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A fish called Trevor

Last weekend a heard of us travelled up to Rostrevor on the shores of the beautiful Carlingford Lough for a youth weekend.  There was much fun to be had.

One challenge set was to trade an object of little value (a tiny bag of sweets) for something worth more.  There were four teams and the one who ended up with the greatest value item was the victor.

One team did not trade, one team managed to get hold of a bible themed stationary pack, another swapped the sweets for a miniature bottle of 'beverage' with a price sticker of dubious origin showing a value of £99.99. The last team and the winning team came home with a goldfish, 'Trevor-the-fish'.

Undoubtedly the (shaggy-dog) story associated with the mini-bottle was by far the most imaginative and it is possible that the actual price of the item was more than the fish.  But this was not about price, this was about value and what is the value of created life?

A car, a big house, two holidays a year, what do you consider too high a price to pay for a life with God?  We constantly make idols, giving them the priority in our lives over God.  We chase after material possessions, mere stuff rather than seeking after the Lord Jesus.  Those things become everything to us and yet they won't last, they won't bring joy and the won't bring life eternal.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21


Monday, 14 February 2011

Love is all around us

Today is Valentine's Day, remember?

I remember the first Valentine's card I sent; I had made it myself.  I composed a poem for it and it went a little something like this -

Knickers are red,
Knickers are blue.
Knickers are smelly
and so are you.

It was the finest valentine's card my mother ever received.

Things have improved (slightly) from then.   I do enjoy being romantic although I have a habit of leaving the organising to the last minute.  Sometimes though the garage does do lovely flowers!  I love to tell my wife that she is beautiful (because she is) and that I love her (because I do) I love to make her feel special (because she is) I and I love reminding her that I still mean, 'Till death do us part' (because I do).

You probably know that I am now going to talk about God and His love for us.  I don't care if it is repetitive because there is no greater thing to talk about than the love of God.  He loves to remind us of his love through His word and through the countless blessing He pours out on us.  The great thing about His love is that it does not require me to look good, to remember birthdays, to be romantic, to by gifts or to even be a nice person.  He loved me when I still hated Him.  And He showed His love for me before I even knew Him

Jesus Christ, Son of God, Author of Love went all out for me, gave His all for my good, died for my life.  That is love.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:10

Friday, 11 February 2011

Pack up your troubles

Rocky's going on holiday.

He's off to our friend Roger's house tonight and will be staying the whole weekend.  Me and the wife and twenty-odd of our closest friends are off on a youth weekend (sadly neither of us are counted among the youth anymore, instead we have to be 'leaders').

The problem with Rocky is that he's rubbish at packing an overnight back so we've got to do it all for him.  I find it hard enough to sort myself out without having to run around after him as well, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Bed? check.  Water bowl? Check.  Food bowl? Check. Food? Check.  Blanket? (I know, I know) Check. and so it goes on.

This life is a journey that we need provisions for.  We need to be equipped to handle it.  The thing is that no matter how hard we try to equip ourselves we never quite manage it, do we?  In a way you could say that we are rubbish at packing our own bags.  We try to fill it up with self-help books, TV wisdom, money, sex, hobbies, fame, family and much much more.

Instead of carrying all this junk around with us we should let God, our loving parent pack the bag for us.  He will give us all that we need including a jumbo, family-sized, buy-one-get-one-free, only-one-you'll-ever-need sized barrel of His love. 

The problem is that we are not like our wee dog who is happy to let someone else do everything for him.  We are like stubborn wilful teenagers who refuse to accept help from the only person that can truly help us.

Come on, let's give in, get equipped and live life to the full.

The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.
Psalm 118:7



Thursday, 10 February 2011

Feedback Friday

Sometime ago I asked you to 'describe your experience of God'.

I have no idea how you felt that went, whether you thought it was beneficial or not but I really got a lot out of it.  Sharing with each other about God is what true fellowship is and it is always useful and always edifying.

Now I'm not one for simply duplicating something, I like to revamp, to improve, to add value to an idea.  So whereas before we had 'Feedback Friday', on a Friday, today it's on a Thursday - radical dude.

I'd really appreciate you commenting on this post, not so I could indulge in self-congratulation but so that I, and I hope you, could benefit from the wisdom of others.  Let's pool our observations, let's embrace to our collective experience, let's grow a little.

So the topic, it's simple really but do try to share if you can.  I have further simplified the comment making experience and I trust you'll not have any problems with it.

How has God's love been demonstrated in you life?


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Just add water

There's nothing quite like playing football in the rain.

Some time ago I lived in sunnier climes.  It was very hot for ten months of the year, very very hot for one month and then in the remaining month, if God was pleased to let it happen it would rain.

Being the milky-skinned foreigner I always felt at a bit of a disadvantage when trying to play football under the intense Kenyan sun but I (and my other equally milky colleagues) battled on.  However when if rained - and it didn't have to be more than a light drizzle, our tough-guy African friends all ran for cover, pathetic.

What a pleasure to back in this country and to run out in the rain, mocking anyone in a snood and relishing the wetness.  The water dripping of your nose, the loud slapping sound of synthetic imitation leather against slightly flabby thigh.  The sheer joy of being soaked through and not caring a bit because this is a battle against the other team, against the weather and against your very will, truly awesome.

This is how a Christian, a person belonging to Jesus, can face the stinking weather of life.  As the rain of pain drips from our emotional, physical or spiritual lives we can take heart in the knowledge that we are in a battle, that this is what we are here for.  We, none of us, where created to look pretty in a pew or smile widely as the minister tells another corny joke, we are here to bring glory to Jesus and we do that best when we know we're in a fight.

God's people are not wimps, or fair-weather worshippers; God's people are warriors with victory in their sights.  With Jesus as our commander-in-chief, the bible as our weapon and the Holy Spirit as our guide we will never, never, never be defeated!

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:13

All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.
1 Samuel 17:47


And now for something completely different. 
Hero by Skillet. Rock on.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Moving day

Roger is still in the process of moving house.

You may recall that his new abode has already been decorated (read about it here).  He has since moved in and is enjoying life in the metropolis of Ballymena.  However he still has a house to clear and so enlisted the help of the best people he could find (which included me) to help.

It went a little like this:

'Bin, bin, bin, charity shop, bin, do you want this?'

'No thanks.'

'Bin, charity shop, charity shop, bin, do you want this?



On and on it went until the sum total of Rogers possessions could fit into the gym bag of a first-year boy.  It was both very practical and very cathartic for Roger.  He is not a hoarder, he is not materialistic compared to a lot of folks but even he had acquired a lot of surplus pruck over the last few years.

We do that. We gather stuff around us that we use for a time and when we are finished with it we don't want to let it go so we store it.  The problem is that all this stored uselessness makes it difficult to move.

When God gives a new life to someone a lot of the things once thought of as vitally important very quickly becomes surplus to requirements.  These things aren't just material, they can be old habits, dangerous practices, childishness, irresponsibility, drunkenness etc etc.  We know they're not good for us, that they are now unnecessary but we hold on to them anyway - for sentimental reasons if you like.

They are no good, they are slowing you down, they are unnecessary cargo, ditch them!  Sentimentalism for the old life left behind (in my experience) reduces growth, restricts development and slows you down.

Roger is now able to move house with just a car and a trailer, he is slimmed down and ready to go where-ever, whenever.  Are you the same?  Can you do what ever God asks, when He asks or are you burdened by the accumulation of junk that you are clinging on to?

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness
Ephesians 4:22-24


Monday, 7 February 2011

The vinyl countdown

The wait is almost over

I'm nothing if not slow to get things done. You may remember that on Monday 15th November I put a screw into a pipe and made a bit of a mess. (Read about it here). Well last weekend after almost three months of waiting, procrastinating and generally twiddling our thumbs we have finally got our act together, got down to our local flooring shop and ordered some vinyl.

A lot has happened between the need of vinyl arose and the ordering of said floor covering.  Christmas has been and gone, we've had the worst snowfall in 20 years, Australia has flooded, the government of Tunisia has been overthrown and the DFS sale has finally ended.  So what on earth has taken us so long?

Well nothing really, just life.  We've been busy, or lazy, or strapped for cash, or unsatisfied with the available options, there has always been some distraction, some excuse.

When we are far from God and need to re-affirm our relationship with him we procrastinate too, don't we?  We know that the horrible discontent feeling we get when we separate ourselves from communion with God is easily fixed.  A short trip from our feet to our knees, a confession of the foolishness of trying to hide from God and the experience of the warm embrace of a Father who loves us is all that is needed to take away the pain. Simple.

So now the time is almost upon us, we are on the home stretch, the last furlong, the vinyl countdown. Our new vinyl is going to make our little toilet all tickety-boo again, we're looking forward to it coming.Getting it was so simple we're wondering why on earth we didn't do it sooner.  The loo will be revived, renewed, revitalised and in such a simple way.  You too can be revived, redeemed, reborn if only you'd stop putting it off, get down on your knees and let your Father restore you.

As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,
   “In the time of my favor I heard you,
   and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
   I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:1-2


Friday, 4 February 2011

Little by little

Two little boys, different in size, age and nature always seem to gravitate towards each other at Anchor Boys.

Why this happens I just don't know but it does.  Last night was no exception. Little and Big where playing together in the usual ways.  Big was playing in his big way and Little in his little way.

It led to lots of this;

Big: The Startroopers are going to steal all the Rockets
Little: Philip, he took my Rocket.
Me: Come on now you have to share, give him back his rocket.
Little: Yes, I've got my rocket back, you'll never catch me again..... Phil, he took my rocket, again!

They are an unusual pairing but they seem to be stuck with each other.

After one particularly epic intergalactic tussle Little headed my way clutching his arm. I had been watching them closely and I could not work out when any harm could've come to him so I was a little nervous about what was about to transpire.

"You see him, he could've broken my powers"
"Sorry, what?"
"He could've broken my powers but it's ok, look..."

He then adjusted the imaginary Power Dial on his arm and flew off around the room with one arm outsretched. Fantastic.

We are Little.  For some reason we seem to want to play with an inapropriate playmate, temptation.  It seems like fun but it is only going to led to us getting hurt.

Maybe you are flirting with temptation at the moment.  An office worker, some easily accessible money, gambling, laziness...  it seems like it might be fun to indulge just this once.  Trust me, the fun of anything like that is very shortlived, in the end only hurt happens. Hurt to you, hurt to your relationships and distance between you and God, that hurts the most.

Temptation though, never has to win, there is no temptation greater than what we can withstand - God ensures that.  So shake yourself, see that temptation as the harmful thing it is and walk away.  When you do you'll be able to say,

"That temptation could've broken me but it's ok, look!"
(Flying round the room at this point is optional... but recommended.)

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Somebody shoot JR

They gave us JR, they gave us stetsons, they gave us that theme tune.  We loved it (well my mother loved it) folks gathered round the TV when it was on, it was the ultimate water-cooler talking point and it finished in 1991.

Now Dallas is being reborn complete with Larry Hagman playing JR Ewing. (I'm serious, they even said so on the BBC so it must be true. Read all about it here.)

As good as it was, and it was very good. Surely it is time to lay the thing to rest once and for all. Yes many people have many happy memories of the 80's but we all know that this new version will not be as good as the original - it never is.

And to you folks out there in churches across the land.  You good folks who have run successful ministries down the ages.  You remember the good times, the times of plenty, the times of packed houses, when what you were doing was exactly right for the time; if that time has past you have got to let it go.  We can not run clubs or organisations or programmes in our churches just because they used to work, we should only do them if they are working (present tense).

God is not a one-trick pony and He won't have made you that way either.  If we are stuck in a rut doing something simply because we have always done it then we are not making best use of our talents and God's resources.  Let's concentrate on building God's kingdom and not our own.

There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8



Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Dive in

Here's a little mid-week music for y'all.  This song is Dive by Steven Curtis Chapman.  It's not a new song but it's one I like.  It says that a relationship with God is not something to just dip your toe into but to dive in and immerse yourself fully.

Giving ourselves completely over to God is the only way to claim the full life Jesus promised.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 
John 10:10


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Homoerectus Influenza

I'm sick.

Sore head, sore throat, bunged up. Yes, that's right, it's another tragic case of man-flu.

My long-suffering wife has been very kind to me in my distress, she has met my every demand - feed me, nurse me, medicate me - while I have lay about like a beached whale enjoying the attention and sympathy.

I think churches are prone to a variant of man-flu,  let's call it church-flu. The symptoms of church-flu can appear very serious, lack of leaders, lack of money, a congregation that's growing older, a building that's crumbling.  But let's get to the heart of these problems.

The church-flu sufferer that complains of these things, decides that the only thing they can do when faced with these ills is to lie about complaining.  'Woe is me', it cries, 'woe is me'.  What they is actually saying is that God has not properly equipped them to do the work he has given them, He is unreasonable, unfair and unfaithful.  God is working His people like a slave-driver in ancient Egypt - what a cruel God we have.

God has not (according to church-flu sufferers) lived up to His promises of making their burden light, He is not a refuge for them but rather they are having to carry Him.  'Woe, Woe, Woe'.  NO!

If God has given us enough to do what he asks us to do (which He definitely has) then the problem must lie at our end.  Are church-flu sufferers simply doing the wrong things, those things which God has not asked them to do.  Or are they perhaps not accessing, through prayer, the resources God has set aside for them, or are they trusting more in the power of people and money and stuff than the unstoppable power of God?

Man-flu is annoying, church-flu can be a killer, if you or your church is suffering from it then don't allow yourselves to wallow any more.  Stop laying around feeling sorry for yourselves, come before God and get it sorted out.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13-14