changed life

A funny thing happened on the way to …

Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters

It is no secret I like old black & white movies, English kitchen sink movies, Ealing comedies and all the rest, but…

I could never bring myself to watch Carry on films or films of that ilk.

Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters

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This is not a confession piece that I am now an avid Carry On watcher. But I have begun to reflect and what it is in those movies that I find unpalatable and yet Hot Fuzz I could watch every day for a year.

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I was reminded again yesterday of “A Taste of Honey” and that inevitably got me to the The Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner.”

23t11g7          loneliness of the

There is something in both those movies that is seen in people today; ‘there’s no point,’ ‘why bother,’

Because if we don’t bother, if we don’t care, then who will. I am struggling my way through BBC3’s documentaries this week. They are so hard to watch, I am having more nightmares than usual, but, I remember the nightmares I had after watching the above two films:

People with dead eyes or no eyes having a complete “Clockwork Orange” frenzy – just because they can. A lawlessness in every aspect of their lives. I am going to Ealing Comedy myself out of these nightmares with “Passport to Pimlico” on top of the list.Unknown-2

For any house owner who wants nightmares, may I suggest a foray into the mind of Grahame Greene and his short story turned into a drama, “The Destructors.”

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Having said all that, there is hope for humanity, dead eyes, vacant eyes, pedestrian living can be transformed into real living. All a person has to do is turn to the Lord and He will take care of the rest.

A funny thing did happen on the way to the film forum, this week, I looked at my daily verse:

I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.

Psalm 119:30 NIVUK

I have hope, because I have made that choice. I stand firm in my faith of the risen King and because of that – vacant eyes have become engaged.

Praise the Lord!

learning {being still} daily

April was a busy month and I didn’t get done everything on my “To Do List.” Over and over again I ended up staring at walls, out of windows, standing in my garden, kneeling in my kitchen and just being still.

So the poster is half finished, the prep work is three-quarters done, the kitchen didn’t get that clean I promised and yet I continue to be still.

There was an amount of distraction and having so many unfinished projects did cause me to sit and ponder which to do first and the pros and cons of each one. But the over-riding thought above all others was the wonderful, beautiful peace I sat in. I garnered these moments jealously, I selfishly found more and more of these moments.

And now it is May, the month of the vacation, and I am leaving for Florence with much undone and it feels okay. Before I go there is much busyness and as soon as I get back there is more busyness but it is okay.

Because being still, taking time to be with the Lord, to commune with my living God, is far more important than deadlines, than “To Do Lists,” than doing church. I have been to some amazing places and had wonderful conversations in April and I wouldn’t change any of it. I am healthier than I have been for some time because of them and the physical exercise.

Oh I have just had a blessed month, don’t get me wrong I had days of struggle, one week in particular stands out but in it all was God. As I had to get my head around doing and being His way, when my old way of thinking and living was shouting, “NOT FAIR.” He is in control, and I was brought low to realise that, I can’t start a new way of reading His word, just to suit my life story. It isn’t about me, it is about how my story can glorify His name.

I head out into next week to days of walking ten or more miles in lovely warm Italy, I have no expectations for the vacation I will just enjoy whatever comes, I might even get back into writing regularly.

workshop rambling

I can’t fault you, you know your Bible well. Sure you quote it to me when you tell me I’m wrong, when you tell me I’m defective. I know my Bible too, I just don’t make it into an arrow and quote it back at you, mate, I live it.

So as you rebuke me, I love you, as you correct me, I love you, as you kicked me out your sacred building, I still loved and love you.

All scripture is God breathed, I agree my friend, but not because you say so and not just the bits you find palatable, and believe it or not I am accepted, not by you obviously but by the true and living God.

I do love you, there is no bitterness or smarting in my words, I love you, my friend, I do.

This is part of a monologue that was presented at a Local Preacher seminar earlier this year. It’s voice is left to the imagination, maybe it is yours. As I wrote it out today I was thinking of Helen Blogs and how church can hurt people.

Jesus came and died so we all could have a personal relationship with the loving Father, so we could bring all our guilt & shame & sin, everything that we have done & everything that has been done to us and can bring it to the Cross and we can lay it down and we can repent of our straying ways and we can accept the beautiful forgiveness that is offered for free. Jesus didn’t come so some people can feel so excluded – look at who he hung around with, look at who he conversed with, look at who he loved.

We are invited to come, we are invited – not just a blanket junk mail invitation…

BUT

a very personal invitation, handcarved/handwritten with our very own names etched in the invite.

So how can we be so exclusive that some people are not only uncomfortable with our comfortableness but we hang necklaces of ‘not welcome’ around their necks. We give them letters of unwelcome. We hide our secret bits in suits of respectability.

If we are following Jesus then maybe we should take a leaf out of his address book and not just visit but sit in uncomfortable places so his gospel can be shared with our words and with our actions…

BUT

most of all with our love.

After all – John 3:16 -18

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 

In response~~~Day 6

There is an interconnectedness of all the study I do today. For the past week I have been doing four different studies that has a common thread i.e. Christian and three of them had a further common thread of Lent but until today they were distinct and separate, the angle or POV was different and until today took separate energies.

So could I not write one piece and be done with it?

No, I think the importance of today is not about saving time, it is about going deeper into the spiritual discipline of fasting {safely}. I haven’t tested myself since ‘the time’ and maybe I have shied away from the test in case the natural me takes over again.

There is compelling evidence that a one day fast every week helps us in our obedience and our prayer life and I know that fasting for an extended time does bring the experiential manifestation of the Spirit ever so close. So it is not like I am deliberately turning away from that experience, it is to keep self pride and self sufficiency at bay that I have to couch a fast in rules specifically for me. To keep concupiscence from the door of my heart and to keep pride effaced from my mind.

At Lent we hear of people giving something up and there are those who will have a full fast, but the balance of why we do what we do has to be thoroughly thought out, what are our motives behind the fast. A church recently announced a fast and a member jumped at the opportunity not for a closer walk with God but to fit into size 10 jeans. Our motives are everything.

The call placed on our lives explicitly and implicitly tells us of aiming toward Christlikeness, and so the argument of a 40 day fast has to be raised. But look at Jesus and look at ourselves. He was perfect so it took an extreme situation for him to be tested by the temptations of Satan that we could see there was very real temptation and a very real choice made. Think about it – if we has read that Jesus fasted for one day and the devil popped up and started tempting him with bread, knowing he was perfect, we would say that’s no test. But 40 days is extreme even for the perfect one and so we see in that passage of scripture Jesus enduring hardship, doing without sustenance for forty days and nights and then not succumbing to the devil, but being victorious in the spiritual battle.

For us a day is hard enough to bear, in this world of instant gratification, with food stalls at every junction and petrol station. I fasted for just short of six weeks four years ago. People on the outside thought I was doing it to lose weight as I did lose some, but I was in the battle. I physically could not take food, the feel of solids in my mouth was abhorrent, I felt sick all the time and I did try to eat, but it all fell to nothing. Knowing my health could suffer from a prolonged food fast, I drank milk and soup as much as I could bear but solid food turned my stomach. People tried to help by suggesting I ate something I really ordinarily would crave but it didn’t work and made some interesting bathroom visits.

Then one day I got healed from a long term habit, I was in Dublin, and the next meal time I tucked into a slice of pizza, I couldn’t finish it because I was full. But I knew the time of fasting was over. It took time to remember how to eat and when but over the next few months I relearned, with the one rule – I must eat at least once a day. At first the rule was I must eat by six o’clock but as time went by and I trusted myself more it can be nine or ten at night but the rule remains steadfast.

So today I am being encouraged to fast, over the last few days I initially baulked at the idea, thinking myself not strong enough to withstand the temptation of a longer fast. Yesterday I wrote of my intention to join the fast but with the proviso of the rule.

The scripture reading today takes us to Jesus answering some people about fasting (Mark 2:18-22) and he does it by talking about the old and new. He is the fulfilment of the Law, he has come so we can experience life with him. As we move to become more and more like Jesus, as he becomes more at home in our lives and we become more at home in him, then we learn to let go of those hindrances to that closer walk. So I am stepping out in the steadfast faith he has given me and I am embracing the concept of fasting for a time for that deeper walk, deeper prayer life and deeper discipline.

Jesus can reprogram our story about ourselves, not just an intellectual assertion or renewing of our mind but allowing Jesus into our lives in a practical every day way, and with other believers that help us be honed all with the help of the Holy Spirit.

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tidalwaves

tsunami hazard sign reads
go to high ground
get off the beach
what do you do when the tidalwave hits home
out of nowhere doubts and fear arise
resurfacing through counter waves of joy
confusion reigns in the land of Suke
focus, girl, focus
on the one who loves
focus, girl, focus
don’t move your eye off the path
the storm brews in silence
batten down the hatches
keep old nick from the door
let peace descend, fluttering into the chaos
order the thoughts, girl
renew the mind
let the heart fly untethered
all for the greater good.

My sincere thanks to three special ladies that intervened today, and of course the G who arrived just in time.

Father God, thank you for your love that infuses my being and thank you for the love shared today, physically by a hug and a hand on my face and in conversation with two others. Thank you Lord for all the special people in my life, the people you have placed here and I thank you that you take care of me when distracted by doubt. Amen

Sermon 29~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 9

“‘No man can serve two masters; For either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. “‘Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye
shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: For they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of
little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. “‘Take therefore no thought for the morrow: For the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.’”

Matt. 6:24–34

Wesley quotes from 2 Kings 17:33 before asking

“How nearly does the practice of most modern Christians resemble this of the ancient Heathens! “They fear the Lord;” they also perform an outward service to him, and hereby show they have some fear of God; but they likewise “serve their own gods.”

And is it possible that today also, that there may be Christians whose practice of Christianity, practice of worshipping the Lord resembles that of non-believing folk?

Yes it is, our churches are full of people who worship for an hour on a Sunday but go back to their own lives, serving the gods of money, celebrity, status, stature, size, self, family, pets … at some point during Sunday lunch.

I am not talking about church, and doing churchy stuff. I am talking about a living faith and a living breathing walk with the Lord that consumes our entire life. It is the first day of Lent and I am trying to encourage others to do something for God for 40 days in the spirit of generosity or contemplation or maybe both. When we are generous from the bottom of our heart, from the bottom of the bank of time & energy, from the bottom of our wallets we are showing God’s love in a very practical way. A way that could bring another to the foot of the Cross. Not in an attractional sense but in a very real heartfelt way. There is nothing attractive in scooping a girls hair out of her eyes as she pukes into a doorway on a Saturday night, nor do we need attractive visible uniforms to do this act of kindness: if the fruit of the Spirit is evidenced in our lives this sort of generosity should be instinctive. It shouldn’t be because we are part of a project, or because a friend is watching and we will grow in their esteem, it should just be an act of love.

A couple of weeks ago I heard this story from “the guy” of a market town Saturday night. He was weaving his way home in the early hours of the morning when he came across a young girl of about eighteen, very much the worse for wear. But him being “the guy” thought it inappropriate to come to her aid. A few yards thence he met with the ‘Snotty Sisters,’ who as far as the town was concerned would rather eat dirt than be seen to talk to the common folk. He approached them and told them of the wee lass. The sisters collected the girl, took her home, dealt with the puke, bathed her, dried her hair and put her to bed, ringing her, no doubt, worried parents in the process. In the morning they drove her home after tea and toast. No reproach, no judgement just invisible kindness.

If all Christians acted in this manner – what a different world this would be.

A world of compassion – not greed

A world of love – not hate

What we need is to share the outrageous grace and mercy of the Lord to all we meet.

Let us stop worrying about the clothes on our back and money in the bank and live in the present, live in the day that has been provided to us.

sharing

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is yet to come. But think of the gift we have in this day, how are we going to share Jesus today?

What time is it? Time to praise the Lord

I came home from chapel via circuitous route because I wanted to see something special. There is a wee brook not far from here that when the light catches on the water as the tumble down the stream light hits back up on the bank and depending what flowers are blooming they begin to radiate light too.

I was singing as is my wont as I drive, How lovely is Thy dwelling place, and when I arrived at my spot this came out instead of Psalm 84. Any theologians who wish to pick apart my lack of basic understanding of  it – work away – it is just an expression of how I was feeling today, not a doctrinally and theologically sound essay.

The theme of the service this morning was light, with the readings coming from John 1:1-14 and although it is a well known passage, it is one of those that springs off the page and dances in front of us. When we light a candle and then light another from it, it does not diminish the first light and we then have double the light. I don’t know where I heard this but ‘if every Christian shared the good news with just one other person and they accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour that would double the number of Christians in the world’

“Do we reflect the light of Jesus in all we think, do and say?”

Praise the Lord for He is good, praise Him every day
Sing songs of hope and redemption, sing songs of joy and love
He is our Saviour King, He is our Living God
So praise the Lord for He is good and praise Him all the time.

We come before His throne this day, we come to worship Him
To acknowledge our deficiencies, we need to tell Him so,
To place our lives before Him, to make us fit for use
And praise the Lord for He is good and praise Him all the time.

Praise the Lord for He is good, praise Him every day
We witness of His mighty love, we tell of wonder and signs
He does stuff through us, that the world says ‘impossible’
So praise the Lord for He is good and praise Him all the time.

Step out in faith and take that risk, the poor in spirit rise,
Shake off the bonds of guilt and shame, humble then we come,
Through Him all things are possible, because He is so great
So praise the Lord for He is good and praise Him all day long.

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