27 April 2009

Psalm 20

Psalm 20 (New International Version)
For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. Selah
4 May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
5 We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.
6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
9 O LORD, save the king! Answer us when we call!

21 April 2009

Sheer Stupidity

Stupidity (noun)
1) a poor ability to understand or to profit from experience
2) the opposite of intelligence
3) a stupid mistake

I did something today which was wrong and extremely foolish. Sheer stupidity. And I only found out about it - that is, realised what I had done and the damage I had done - well after the event.

Seeking forgiveness from God and from the people concerned is the first thing I must do. The next thing is seeking forgiveness from myself, which is a good deal harder.

For if I can get it so wrong so easily, how many times do I get it wrong and never ever find out about it....

"It is against stupidity in every shape and form that we have to wage our eternal battle. But how can we wonder at the want of sense on the part of those who have had no advantages, when we see such plentiful absence of that commodity on the part of those who have had all the advantages?" - William Booth

20 April 2009

Exactly how dark is 'The Dark Knight'?

Those who know me well know my love for Sixties' and Seventies' popular culture - the TV we watched, the comics we used to read as we grew up. As we look back on those times we see the role models that we chose then in a different light. But does that now include the Dark Knight?

The character of Batman has been a personal favourite of mine for a while now. Although part of mainstream popular culture, he's a very dark, brooding hero. Both of his parents are murdered in front of him, and the way he comes to terms with it is to become a costumed vigilante. The whole look of the character is designed to project a particular image - but which one is the real man, Batman or Bruce Wayne? I've used this character as a study of obsession in a Salvation Army Youth Fellowship group which I used to lead in the Nineties.

However, you might remember the quotation which was used in the recent Batman movie, 'Batman Begins'. At a key point in the plot, he says “it’s not who I am that defines me but what I do." That's the opposite of the truth that Bible teaches, and it's one of the points that I've been blogging on lately.

As a Christian, I am aiming for something that used to be called “Christ Likeness." Throughout my life and my personal devotions I am striving to become a better person, which means become more like Jesus. Once I start getting that bit right, what I do should flow naturally out of it. It is not necessarily doing things and then out of your doing that defines who you are, your sense of identity and worth. It should flow from your being; who you are as a person, in relation to who Christ is in you.

John 15:16 (New International Version)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

15 April 2009

Misunderstood? part two

So I've been through all the usual questions, the challenges. I've worked out where I think I ought to be, and tried to work out how to get there. Back came the answer 'God will make a way'. But I've still been trying to work out for myself which way I need to go. I've come along with the best of intentions, and often found myself taken for a ride by my peers, who are happy to use my willingness to serve. I've asked the question “why is this happening to me?"as I struggle through problems others seem to breeze through. I try my best, but my best doesn't seem to be good enough.

And of course it isn't. Nothing I do will ever be good enough. When trials come, God is at work within me, shaping me into the person I need to be. Not necessarily for now, but for future service. I've just misunderstood what is being done. In fact, I've misunderstood the whole object. It's not what I can do for God. It's what He can do for me. I'm a work in progress! God's hard at work with his tools, checking my progress with his plumbline.

You see, I've often said to others that they need to be a 'human being', not a human doing. However, applying that concept to my life has been ... er ... difficult. There's always something to do! So, taking this truth and applying them to the two points I blogged about last time:

I am a Salvationist, chosen to be a soldier.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bare fruit.”
John 15:16

That God is calling me to something deeper.
That calling isn't necessarily what else can I do for Him - but who I can be for Him. God's the one with work to do - and it's already under way.

13 April 2009


I'm just a soul whose intentions are good,
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.
(Bennie Benjamin, Gloria Caldwell and Sol Marcus)

The chorus to the above song has been bouncing around in my brain for most of the weekend, but I think I've worked out why today. I've had quite a thoughtful Easter break, taking in what has been imparted to me in the various meetings over the last few days. I've stayed away from the 'net, trying to avoid distractions, getting my head together. So what have I concluded so far, to take me into the week ahead?

1. That I am a Salvationist. An obvious comment, you might say... However, I'm not just a Christian that worships at The Salvation Army, but a person called into The Salvation Army for a reason. I've met a fellow Christian this week who used to come to the Army but now goes to the local baptist church. That's great for him, but after some thought (trying to put myself into his shoes) I just can't consider worshipping anywhere other than in an Army setting. Why should that be? Is the Army way of doing things 'the only way'. No - but it's the only way for me. The only way I can explain it is by this chorus:

"Chosen to be a Soldier, Chosen by God.
Chosen to be a Soldier, Washed in His Blood.
Chosen to be a Soldier, Lost ones to save.
Chosen to be a Soldier In the Army brave."

2. That God is calling me to something deeper. I suppose if you take the first point and the reasoning behind it as true, it must therefore lead to point two. However, where he is leading me, I still don't know for sure. Yet. Yes, I've been to DFL, spoken to officers about this, sat and prayed about forms and covenants. I've met some folks who have an 'assurance' that they know where they are being led. There's some plenty of good advice being thrown at me by friends and colleagues, some of it contradictory. I've identified in me some very strong good intentions to take a next step, however I'm not finding the decision as to which direction to go an easy one to take. I know that 'good intentions' alone aren't good enough... I remember that 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions' (late sixteenth century quotation).

Here's some more quotations about 'good intentions'

"Let your intentions be good - embodied in good thoughts, cheerful words, and unselfish deeds - and the world will be to you a bright and happy place in which to work and play and serve." - Grenville Kleiser
"The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding." - Albert Camus
"Hell isn`t merely paved with good intentions, it is walled and roofed with them" - Aldous Huxley
"Good intentions aren`t good enough!" - George W. Bush
"Life is short and if you`re looking for extension, you had best do well. `Cause there`s good deeds and then there`s good intentions. They are as far apart as Heaven and Hell."- Ben Harper

... more later ...

12 April 2009

The Light

The following e-mail has been circulating around earlier this year. You may have received this, or have heard something similar before. "Due to recent economic crises, the stock market crash, budget cuts, rising unemployment, unstable world conditions, outsourcing of business, the cost of insurance, electricity, petroleum and taxes of all kinds, we regret to advise you that the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off. We apologise for the inconvenience."

This may be the case for some. They may feel that their only light that has been turned off due to the credit crunch. But it's not my light.

John 8:12 (New International Version)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Happy Easter to you!

9 April 2009

Fun Fun Fun

I'm just about to go offline for the Easter period (I won't be touching the internet between Good Friday and Easter Sunday), but just before I do, here's a note of what I'll be watching this weekend:

This weekend will see the first Red Dwarf shows in over a decade. These will be found on Dave (Sky Channel 111, Virgin TV 128, Freeview 19 if you don't already know) and are most eagerly awaited. Check out details here:

And there's a new episode of Doctor Who on Easter Saturday, entitled 'Riddle Of The Sands' - 6.45pm, BBC ONE

Happy Easter, folks.

5 April 2009

Twenty Questions

  1. Early bird or Night owl? Early bird
  2. Quiet Night In or Wild Night Out? Quiet Night In
  3. Cinema or Theatre? Either
  4. Pub or Wine bar? Neither
  5. Optimist or Pessimist? Optimist
  6. Sweet or Savoury? Tough call, probably Savoury
  7. Blackberry or paper diary? Neither at the moment, most of my dates are kept in Yahoo
  8. Facebook or MySpace? Facebook
  9. CD's or vinyl? Prefer MP3's
  10. Tea or coffee? Coffee
  11. Vanilla or Chocolate? Vanilla
  12. Cats or Dogs? Cats
  13. Scary Movie or Comedy? Comedy
  14. Sunset or Sunrise? Sunrise
  15. Shower or Bath? Bath
  16. Train or Plane? Train
  17. Summer or Winter? Summer
  18. Talking or Texting? Talking
  19. Bright Room or Dark Room? Not too bright - 'mood lighting'
  20. Monopoly or Scrabble? Scrabble

1 April 2009

Building Up And Pulling Down

Amos 7:1-17 (NIV)
1 This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king's share had been harvested and just as the second crop was coming up.
2 When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, "Sovereign LORD, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!"
3 So the LORD relented. "This will not happen," the LORD said.
4 This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: The Sovereign LORD was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land.
5 Then I cried out, "Sovereign LORD, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!"
6 So the LORD relented. "This will not happen either," the Sovereign LORD said.
7 This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand.
8 And the LORD asked me, "What do you see, Amos?" "A plumb line," I replied. Then the Lord said, "Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.
9 "The high places of Isaac will be destroyed and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined; with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam."

(with thanks to WordLife for initially bringing this passage to my attention)

Apparently, the use of a plumb line to ensure that your building is straight dates back as far as the Egyptians when they built the pyramids. If the bricks that you are laying in the first few levels of your building are even a little bit out, then the whole structure will be unstable and will probably have to be torn down. So, what is your 'plumb line'? How do you measure up? And if you don't measure up, are you prepared to be deconstructed, even by a little?
Break me - melt me - mould me - fill me.