Review of Life is ____ .

life is book cover

Half way through this devotional is the perfect time to write half of the review. This book is perfect for American sports fans, there are plenty of football analogies and general sport examples. It is half time and I have to say that there are some good biblical principals written here but unfortunately for me I am not a sports fan and I do not have small children and animals. This leaves me at the disadvantage of reading “cutesy” stories or stories of heroics on the football field because I have no context. ““Jesus is Beast Mode,” is an example. Do I want to think of Jesus as beast, or in that mode? So is this book for someone like me?

However there is helpful writing here:

“We analyze our feelings, we weigh our behavior, we read into our circumstances, we employ our intellect and logic—all in an effort to discover what the Bible already told us, if we would just believe it: God loves us.”

Moving on to the second half:

The analogies became more useful or maybe I got more used to them. I spoke to a couple of mates and they totally got the analogies and translated them into my understanding.

It was reading day 26 that I had my epiphany moment. Oh I so knew what he was talking about. I can walk for days with a pebble in my shoe but then suddenly I need to take it out. We can cope with an irritation for so long. He says ““Finally you can’t take it anymore. You take twelve seconds out of your life to remove the rock. Then you slide your shoe back on and stand up. Inside, you brace yourself in case nothing has changed. But the rock is gone, and the feeling of relief is palpable. It’s massive. It’s like you got a new lease on life. You wonder, Why didn’t I stop to take that out hours ago?” Or in my case days ago.

I loved the reflection questions and it all made sense and was useful. By having a pebble in my shoe I was distracted from my walking, I put off the dog walking activity etc. So in my walk with God what were the distractions or “pebbles” that kept me from total focus.

I began to read with more verve and section four was amazing. I absolutely got into it and my mates were on standby to help with the sporty bits. I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to dive into the Godpool more.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

resting vs busy

tantrum

So often we get this so wrong.

What is it about our lives that we don’t take the time to smell the roses? (we even call that smell the coffee now.)

These are a few scenarios I encountered today, there is no judgement, it is a chronically first world issue. We all get it wrong – just to different degrees.

A toddler was having an epic tantrum in the supermarket but it was a holiday so both parents were present and one lifted the child and took him out of the situation. I was in the queue at the checkout and engaged with the lady in front about the child because I have been there in a supermarket with a toddler inconsolable because I couldn’t afford whatever it was they wanted. I endured the looks of sympathy, the shaking heads, the angry heads. But I needed to stay in the situation because otherwise I was setting myself up for years of misery.

A toddler was in a buggy with his parent sitting outside a café. The parent was engaged in conversation with a friend, the child tried to get the attention of the parent and so the parent passed their phone to them.

Another toddler was watching a video on an ipad.

Our toddlers are getting busy – when they could be resting and they are learning it from us.

We spend our time on our phones, we collect emails constantly, we reply to text messages instantly, we play games when we are not doing any of the other things. We are always doing something, if not two or three things at a time. We juggle our time as though we had control over it and we get tired, so very, very tired.

There is another way of living, a different way, a way that turns busy upside down and changes everything. We may not be toddlers but we have to stop. Toddlers have little control on their choices, but we do.

We can choose life with God, we can choose a life of living and living well. When we ask the Lord come dwell in us, we can being to breathe in a restful manner. Sitting in a comfy chair, opening our bible and reading God’s living word, opening our hearts to the inbreathing of the Spirit changing our thought processes, changing our heart processes as we fix our eyes on Jesus and become as we grow closer and closer to the Lord and more and more like Jesus.

It is to him we look when we investigate how to balance a very busy life with a restful spiritual life.

Sermon 22~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 2

“Blessed are the meek: For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: For they shall
obtain mercy.”

Matt. 5:5–7

Meekness and Majesty is one of the songs I love to sing, it is a song of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, God enters into our life – knows exactly what it is like to be human. Son of God becomes a vulnerable babe – knows exactly what it is like to be tempted. Meekness and Majesty, Jesus lived a humble life, a life of giving in time, energy and wisdom, a life of healing, preaching and teaching – that is the meekness – a life of quietness and gentleness, and then majesty… Jesus left his throne, but was still that Majesty whilst here on earth.

Are you still thirsty for Him? Do you still hunger to hear the word? Are you aiming (still) to be Christ like? Or is getting all a little bit weary? Is your worship a little flat? Prayers intermittent?

There is a new children’s online encyclopedia, run by Dorling Kindersley and went to have a looksee. I searched “Jesus” and got three hits, none would tell children about Jesus. So I put in “Holy Spirit” and got nine hits. If a child wanted to know about the holy spirit on this site they would learn about Native Americans, Diwahli, Egyptian mummification, cave paintings and Vikings. They can even learn about the surface of Mars but they don’t get to hear about the Holy Spirit.

To learn about Christ they would meet the Basilisk Lizard. Is something wrong with this picture? DK are a respected book brand, their children’s books are great with lots of pictures and interesting facts, they sell eight different Bibles for children so why can children not look up Bible people and events, why can they not learn about Noah and Abraham, Peter and Paul.

When did we get all a little bit weary, that this way of living is normal. When our children can be subject to every other concept of god except God. When did we stop hungering and thirsting to allow such wishy washy living be the normal?

When did you last show mercy? When were you last shown mercy? Love is not rash or hasty in judging. Love extends mercy and it is on this extending that some people meet Jesus for the first time. 96% of the world’s population recognise the  Coca Colalogo, how many have heard the Good News? In the UK only 25% of people believe in God or a supreme being which means that less than 25% believe in God. There are no statistics available for Ireland but it is likely it is less than it was last year and the year before that.

What are we willing to do about this? How can we show mercy and in doing so extend the invitation from Christ to all?

test3-scaled1000

Sermon 21~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 1

“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: And  when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: For they shall be comforted.”

Matt. 5:1–4

poor in spirit

This is the first of thirteen discourses on the Sermon on the Mount, I am sure Wesley preached on it more than that because this is the crux of the social justice & holiness threads of Methodism.

This is the Methodism I experienced as a child, the love of God expressed not only in church but in the way the Northern women in two-up, two-downs lived and loved with each other. Eileen was sick, her fifth child was under two, her eldest causing chaos around the village at seventeen, her world was falling apart, her travelling salesman husband was beginning to see the lodger’s eyes in the fourth and fifth children. The lodger seemed more at home there than the husband. There were bruises and much walking into doors. The women of the street took over. The children were sheltered in neighbouring houses, the lodger moved in down the road and Eileen and her husband were given time to themselves and with the local Minister. The result some months later was an amicable separation and two years later Eileen married the lodger who adopted all the children and began helping the oldest rehabilitate after borstal and prison. The women met Eileen and her family not full of false piety, they met them in love, and there was accountability and consequences but most of all was LOVE.

Wesley talks of the poor in spirit not in earthly terms of poverty but as humble people who know they have sinned, know they have fallen short and cannot do anything in themselves to gain righteousness. The humble who fall at the foot of Cross knowing there is nothing they can DO to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and lay themselves naked before the Lord confessing their sin, repenting of their sin and receiving forgiveness (which they did not deserve) and stand with a slate wiped clean.

Still sound hoity toity! Let’s make it personal. I is a good word to start with. I fell at the foot of the Cross, I lay all my sins before Him, I confessed over many days my sins, I repented of them and I received forgiveness and I accepted that I had been forgiven and I can stand with a slate wiped clean. Christ in dying on the Cross atoned for MY sin, for my sin that was, is and still to come. He atoned for all our sin. Because it was needed, there was nothing we could do to get back the relationship that Abraham and Moses and the prophets had with God. There was a gaping hole, and there was nothing anyone could DO to bridge it – except… God himself came down to earth, where he lived as a man, he was fully a man whilst being fully divine, he taught and preached, he healed, he met people in dire circumstances – he touched a leper, he came to fulfil the Law, and we – humanity tortured, battered and bruised him, we laughed and scoffed at him and we drove nails through his body and hung him on a tree. But in dying on that Cross, making it look like the world and the devil had won. He snatched victory, the veil was torn and he died to atone for our sin. When he rose again and stayed in resurrected form for some time he continued to walk with his disciples a small while before ascending to heaven. Mission accomplished. Relationship restored, there was now a way for us into the Kingdom of Heaven, the door stays open for us – all we have to do is turn to him, turn to Christ and begin that process of life ever after which starts with a humble heart and one word SORRY.

Sermon 20~~~{The Lord our Righteousness}

“This is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.”

Jer. 23:6

Wesley finds himself once more in the middle of a religious dispute. He really does seem to take the middle road on many doctrinal issues. He has a logical, rationalising mind that methodically looks at all the evidence and then responds in a measured way.

He first speaks of how disagreements turn away people from the church. And in turning away from the church turn away from the Lord: sinners openly wanting to know Christ and yet constrained to “weep secretly” because of arguments amongst denominations over this or that.

The “this” in sermon 20 is indeed a page turner. The truth of “The Lord our righteousness” Wesley argues enters deep into the nature of Christianity and supports the framework of it. Wesley is shocked that not all who follow Christ would agree on this issue. The righteousness of Christ is in the first instance a divine righteousness – He is the Son of God, equal in divinity with Him. Secondly there was his righteousness as human, this is the internal and external righteousness that he carried with him as human.

I only heard the word impute in a sermon three weeks ago and didn’t know its meaning. On locating the definition I spent some time with all the different meanings and especially on the obsolete meaning to charge a person with a fault but that meaning is in the context of another sermon where sin was imputed. A charge of sin is against all of us.

I therefore find interesting this alternate idea of imputation, that of vicariously attributing a quality that belongs to one person on another. I think that if God could not look on me without looking through the eyes of Christ, i.e. through the righteousness of Christ because God cannot be where there is sin. Christ is our bridge, our righteous bridge that allows the conversation flow once more.

I recall when someone came one time talking of being sanctified and righteous I got awfully muddled because he was a nice guy and all that but if we are in this broken world we are sinners, due in first part to the original sin in the Garden of Eden and then because our human nature gives in so easily to temptation.

Last week I was walking with a bunch of people who wanted to go into an amusement arcade (gambling den) for me and my past I so did not want to enter. I subscribe to the Methodist non gambling rule because a) it suits me not to gamble and b) if I were to I would be ruined. Nevertheless I entered in and stood in this tempting arena, I stood steadfast and sure, praying in my heart for continued deliverance from the surrounding temptations. Others were at home in the surroundings and joined in with the gambling. One person noticed my detachment and suggested a walk, which I gladly took thanking the Lord for protection.

I am not full of righteousness, every day is battle with the temptations that lurk in the cobwebs of my mind. But in Christ is the victory, in Christ I am seen by the Father as righteous because Christ died for my sin and fully atoned for all of my sin. He took all my guilt, all my shame, all my back story and it died with Him on the Cross and when he burst from the grave I was set free, free to follow Him all the days of my life.

Now try to get me to say that under duress and you’ll get maybe John 3:16 if you are lucky.

Wesley when he wrote his sermons wrote in plain English for his time. When I write mine I write them in plain English for my time. But the sentiment, the kernal of truth, the truth that is indestructible is very much unchanging. In recording this sermon I was reminded of the first time I attempted to question someone on their theology. They had spoken from a platform of authority that “God didn’t have to be good, he chose to be good.” In my head I was thinking “No, God is good, it is one of his character traits, he didn’t choose it any more than I can choose not to have inherent addiction issues.” He is good, God is good all the time. Of course I didn’t get an answer from the person except to question the theological proclivities that I had and was passed off as an experiential comment rather than his eternal nature.

The doctrine of imputed righteousness is from the Reformed tradition, Wesley and Methodism does not believe we can state our righteousness in the present moment, in our situations so full of temptation and sin. We are made acceptable to the sight of God only through Christ and the moment our eye gets distracted we are back in the world. A friend said at the weekend, we can only get through “xxx” with our eyes fixed solely on Him. True words spoken.