29 June 2010

Greater Things

Every comrade, Lord, we pray,
Thou wilt richly bless;
Lead us forth into the fray,
One in holiness,
One in faith and harmony,
One in perfect charity;
Then we know that we shall see
Even greater things.

Greater things! Greater things!
Give us faith, O Lord, we pray,
Faith for greater things.

SASB 769, verse 3 and chorus
Albert Orsborn (1886-1967)

28 June 2010

Lighten Up!

Something quite unusual (and wonderful) has happened to me this weekend. I think that an important piece of the jigsaw began to fall into place, and things are suddenly a lot clearer to me today than they ever were on Friday morning.

This has of course been a stressful weekend for many, with the England match on the horizon and all the passions coming to the surface as a result. Now I'm not a football fan by any stretch of the imagination, but like to support my country, cheer on our team. However, I'm quite aware that it's only a game when it's all said and done...

However, I came to the conclusion this weekend that the whole of life is sometimes just a game. And you know what that means...

Some people like to win, and don't like it when you don't play by their rules. Sometimes you are not advised of the rules before you start, or they seem to change as time goes on. Sometimes the rules are all too clear but you don't feel that you can ever measure up to them. Some times you are so concerned about the rules that all the fun of actually playing the game goes out of the window!

Add to that mix a whole host of frustration concerning malfunctioning computers (and that were the ones at home, not the work ones!) and a particularly challenging sermon on Sunday by the CO (Andrew's last before he moves appointment) and suddenly it all starts to add up. It took me a while, a few tears and a good deal of prayer, but I've got there. I think the phrase that nicely fits my current frame of mind is this one (a quote which I found on the 'net on Sunday night):

"Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realises that it's just a game" - Nerijus Stasiulis

I have decided, therefore, to lighten up a bit. A conscious decision to loosen up. Which could prove interesting to some of my friends and colleagues. Going to have some fun this week!

22 June 2010

Free or Costly?

Do we really appreciate things that are free? This has been the subject of debate for a while in my family. You see, I have both friends and family who regularly use EBay to pass on unwanted goods or buy presents and who sometimes find out to their cost that things aren't always what they appear to be (caveat emptor). As for me, I much prefer to donate things to charities or to use facilities like Freecycle and Freegle, local web-based groups designed to keep useful items out of landfill, making these available to people if they are still useful. But does the value on the price tag make all the difference? 

On a similar tack, a recent chat with someone about voluntary work gave me pause for thought. 'You mean to say - you actually do this for nothing?' He could not understand why I could possibly give up my time for no financial reward... 

I think people get suspicious of our motives. The concept of 'free' in the 21st Century is often nothing more than a marketing tool, with a hidden agenda just around the corner... are we going to set signed up for something expensive on the back of the 'freebie'? A sprat to catch a mackerel', as they used to say...  is it going to turn into a costly venture, with a hard-sell pitch soon to follow...

Or perhaps there's those who don't see the freebie as being worth anything. A poor copy of the 'real thing'. One example could be the free newspaper that spills through our letterbox. Filled with ads that pay for the paper, some actually have very little actual news contained in its pages! My son and I have been looking at free apps for his iPod.  Most of the apps on offer are samples or cut-down trial versions. They aren't the real deal. 

Why is it surprising then that the free gift of God's love is often dismissed or rejected? Are folk wary of a forthcoming hard-sell sales pitch? Is the offer a poor substitute for what they perceive as 'real life'? Is it the real deal?

I think we need to start emphasising the costly things we do for Him. It is worthwhile, but it is costly ...

‘Doth that man love his Lord who would be willing to see Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, while for himself he craves a chaplet of laurel? Shall Jesus ascend to his throne by the cross, and do we expect to be carried there on the shoulders of applauding crowds? Be not so vain in your imagination. Count you the cost, and if you’re not willing to bear Christ’s cross, go away to your farm and to your merchandise, and make the most of them. Only let me whisper this in your ear, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” '  - Charles Spurgeon

17 June 2010

Weeds of Discontent

Hebrews 12:14-17 (The Message)
Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you'll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God's generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God's lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God's blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.
Following last night's Bible Study, these verses are uppermost in my mind today.

13 June 2010

As Little As Possible

In the film 'Chinatown', there's a scene where Jake tells Evelyn about his time as a beat cop in L.A.'s Chinatown, where he was instructed to do "as little as possible." I believe that's a good analogy to explain where I find myself today... There's so many who seem to share that view. They want to do as little as they can - just enough, no more.

This is my response:
“I’ve heard it before. But go and do something! Do something, Bramwell, do something!” - William Booth, to his son. This was to be the start of The Salvation Army's social work.

I want to be one of those who make a difference. Anyone with me?

6 June 2010

The Water Of Life

The well is deep and I require
A draught of the water of life,
But none can quench my soul's desire
For a draught of the water of life;
Till one draws near who the cry will heed,
Helper of men in their time of need,
And I, believing, find indeed
That Christ is the water of life.
SASB 351, chorus (Albert Orsborn)

5 June 2010

The Word

John 1:1-5 (New International Version)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

Whenever you think of 'The Word', what do you think of? A 1990s Channel 4 television programme with Terry Christian? A independent music magazine in the UK? Perhaps it's Peter Griffin singing 'Bird Is The Word' on Family Guy?

As for me, I keep going back to the reference in John 1:1. In this verse, the Greek word "Logos" is interpreted as 'The Word', and refers specifically to Jesus. Centuries of theological study have been published on the subject, and is worth further study. You can find more about the subject here.

A discussion in the wee small hours of yesterday morning by a very intelligent young man called Benedict has sent me back to this verse. You see, he had studied this verse in various forms, including in the original Greek, and simply could not get it. It was a mystery to him, it meant nothing. With all of his intellectual capability, he had not understood it.

Even though it's daylight now, it seems he's still in the dark. Benedict's on my prayer list today.