28 March 2010

Ticking Time Bomb of Fury

"... I am a ticking time bomb of fury..."
Mr Furious (Ben Stiller) - from 'Mystery Men' (1999)

The oblique reference referred to above is an appropriate one to start what will be a rather cryptic blog entry for me. In the course of just over a year I have tackled some quite personal issues within this blog - as well as some light-hearted or trivial ones. It's been a very useful discipline, giving me the opportunity to sound off on some subjects that are important to me. It's noteworthy, then, to report that I've reached a point where I need to stop and deal with an issue that's got to be addressed - it's one that's not so easy to talk or blog about, it's getting just a bit too personal. In fact I'm not too sure where I should go next with this.

As it is Holy Week, I'm taking this time to sign off for a little while to reflect on and pray about my own personal 'ticking time bomb of fury'. This should give us a few days to attempt to defuse it before it goes off. Again.

24 March 2010

Every Step You Take

"Every breath you take and every move you make
Every bond you break, Every step you take,
I'll be watching you"

(from 'Every Breath You Take', written by Sting)

I'm thinking this week about looking after myself, both in terms of input (food, drink, reading of scripture, TV, radio, etc) and output (prayer, christian service, exercise, etc.). My son John even gave me a step meter last night! Also known as a pedometer, this little device measures the number of steps you take in a typical day. I thought I'd give it a go today.

To stay healthy, the Chief Medical Officer's recommendation is 30 minutes moderate activity at least five days a week, with a suggested step meter target of 10,000 steps a day. Most people only walk 4,000 steps.

As at 5.30pm tonight I recorded a figure of 13,428 steps. Not too bad for someone who is in theory 'sitting in an office all day'!

Proverbs 14:15 (New International Version)
A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.

22 March 2010

End Of Your Rope

Matthew 5:3 (The Message)
"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much." ~Mother Teresa

"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

I’ve found the secret of success,
’Tis holding on, ’tis holding on;
The way to every blessedness,
’Tis holding on, ’tis holding on.
Our warfare may be hard and fierce,
Oft Satan’s arrows wound and pierce,
But still we get more smiles than tears
By holding on, by holding on.
SASB 806, verse 1 - Ruth Tracy (1870-1960)

19 March 2010

Bricks without straw

Exodus 5 (The Message)
1 After that Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh. They said, "God, the God of Israel, says, 'Free my people so that they can hold a festival for me in the wilderness.'"

2 Pharaoh said, "And who is God that I should listen to him and send Israel off? I know nothing of this so-called 'God' and I'm certainly not going to send Israel off."

3 They said, "The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness so we can worship our God lest he strike us with either disease or death."

4-5 But the king of Egypt said, "Why on earth, Moses and Aaron, would you suggest the people be given a holiday? Back to work!" Pharaoh went on, "Look, I've got all these people bumming around, and now you want to reward them with time off?"

6-9 Pharaoh took immediate action. He sent down orders to the slave-drivers and their underlings: "Don't provide straw for the people for making bricks as you have been doing. Make them get their own straw. And make them produce the same number of bricks—no reduction in their daily quotas! They're getting lazy. They're going around saying, 'Give us time off so we can worship our God.' Crack down on them. That'll cure them of their whining, their god-fantasies."

10-12 The slave-drivers and their underlings went out to the people with their new instructions. "Pharaoh's orders: No more straw provided. Get your own straw wherever you can find it. And not one brick less in your daily work quota!" The people scattered all over Egypt scrabbling for straw.

13 The slave-drivers were merciless, saying, "Complete your daily quota of bricks—the same number as when you were given straw."

14 The Israelite foremen whom the slave-drivers had appointed were beaten and badgered. "Why didn't you finish your quota of bricks yesterday or the day before—and now again today?"

15-16 The Israelite foremen came to Pharaoh and cried out for relief: "Why are you treating your servants like this? Nobody gives us any straw and they tell us, 'Make bricks!' Look at us—we're being beaten. And it's not our fault."

17-18 But Pharaoh said, "Lazy! That's what you are! Lazy! That's why you whine, 'Let us go so we can worship God.' Well then, go—go back to work. Nobody's going to give you straw, and at the end of the day you better bring in your full quota of bricks."

19 The Israelite foremen saw that they were in a bad way, having to go back and tell their workers, "Not one brick short in your daily quota."

20-21 As they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them. The foremen said to them, "May God see what you've done and judge you—you've made us stink before Pharaoh and his servants! You've put a weapon in his hand that's going to kill us!"

22-23 Moses went back to God and said, "My Master, why are you treating this people so badly? And why did you ever send me? From the moment I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, things have only gotten worse for this people. And rescue? Does this look like rescue to you?"

17 March 2010

Anything different is good

My son John and I watched 'Groundhog Day' together the other night. It's a personal favourite of mine, one I've blogged about before. In discussing with John the various stages that Phil Connors (Bill Murray) goes through during the film, I find that I couldn't help but reflect on where I am personally ... I suppose a 'groundhog day' lifestyle is only to be expected in an office job like I have at the moment; every day can kind of feel much like any other. I tend to yearn for something different. In fact, I try to ensure that each weekend I have something completely different to occupy me. It's probably because of my attempts to step out of my comfort zone...

However, I often hear that this attitude is at odds from popular opinion; it's generally accepted that people don't like change. It's said that they take comfort in the familiar, relaxing into habitual behaviour. I think that what they don't like is change where they don't have any control - where there is a risk they may lose something. Perhaps that's why so many people have such a difficulty breaking a bad habit...
Back to the film: according to director Harold Ramis, Phil would have spent about a decade stuck in the time loop. Some fans feel the period could even be as long as 30 or 40 years. Which is a long time in anyone's book. At the end of the film, free from his 'time loop', Phil finally concludes that 'anything different is good'.
I'm moving towards that conclusion as well. I'm just a bit stuck in one or two of my own 'loops' at the moment...

9 March 2010


Psalm 43 (The Message)
1-2 Clear my name, God; stick up for me against these loveless, immoral people. Get me out of here, away from these lying degenerates. I counted on you, God. Why did you walk out on me? Why am I pacing the floor, wringing my hands over these outrageous people?

3-4 Give me your lantern and compass, give me a map,
So I can find my way to the sacred mountain, to the place of your presence,
To enter the place of worship, meet my exuberant God,
Sing my thanks with a harp, magnificent God, my God.

5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God— soon I'll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He's my God.

6 March 2010

Awards Weekend

Yes, it's that weekend once again. We have the glitz and the glamour of Oscar Night to look forward to on Sunday - and to start us off we have my own particular highlight, with the Razzie awards being handed out tonight!

The Golden Raspberry Awards is the annual award ceremony held in LA to recognise the worst in film. Further details on this year's Razzie awards can be found at http://www.razzies.com/ .

5 March 2010

Let Me Help - part two

"Let me help. A hundred years or so from now, I believe, a famous novelist will write a classic using that theme. He'll recommend those three words over I love you."
quotation from Star Trek - The City on the Edge of Forever (1967)

I like to think that both of these phrases - 'I love you' and 'let me help' - are both expressions of love. However, just because one person may reject our offer of assistance does not mean we are of little or no use - just as one person's rejection of love does not mean we are unlovable.

The solution? Once again, it centres on our relationship with Christ. It's allowing Christ to walk with you, to walk through the disappointments in life with a day-to-day knowledge of His provision for us. Yes, as believers we can be rejected, however at least we are trying to help. There are many that you meet who don't try at all! As a Christian, I have a choice to allow that rejection - a pothole on the path of life - to upset your progress, even to wound you; or you can choose to pick yourself up and move forward in God's grace. And also to remember that forgiveness of others and of self is also a gift to us, given from Christ Himself.
Ephesians 4:32 (New International Version)
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

4 March 2010

Let Me Help

As a Christian, I am encouraged to put out an hand of friendship to others, to try and help them whenever and wherever I can. Why is it, then, that when you try to help some people, the offer of assistance is often rejected or dismissed? When does a genuine willingness to help someone become interference in somebody else's life? Comments are directed back to you saying 'it's not your concern, leave me alone.' I suspect that the answer lies in the area of Respect, that is acknowledging other people's opinions or views may be different from your own.

Here's some quotes about Helping Others, as I ponder this further.

"Never underestimate what a simple gesture can do. It is the little things that you do that make a big difference in other people's lives." - Catherine Pulsifer

“Do something for somebody every day for which you do not get paid.” - Albert Schweitzer

"Do all the good you can, and make as little fuss about it as possible." - Charles Dickens

"The more I help others to succeed, the more I succeed." - Ray Kroc

"Life's most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (New International Version)
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Acts 20:35 (New International Version)
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "

1 March 2010

Are We There Yet?

These famous words are familiar to anybody who has ever taken their children on a long car journey. The journey may often be long and wearisome, particularly to the driver who is constantly subjected to cries of 'are we there yet' by the bored youngsters in the back...

Folks who know me well will realise that I have been making a few inroads into aspects of my life which are in need of improvement. It seems to be a very long journey. Last year it seemed as though I was stuck at traffic lights. A year on, and at last I seem to be making some progress! The problem is, I admit that I get weary of the constant travelling - I always seem to be moving towards what I need, and never seem to get there. I often ask of God 'surely I must be nearly there by now?'

I was fortunate enough to lead the meeting at the Corps yesterday, and spoke on Matthew 11:29-30, which in The Message says:

"Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

I'm pleased to say I am regularly walking with God - and today He's telling me it's about time I started enjoying the journey, rather than keep asking 'are we there yet'?