29 November 2010

Colourless Lives

Following on from my recent blog entry about the dawn, here's an interesting observation that follows on from this.

You know when you walk around in the dark. There may have been a sudden power cut at night, and the whole house in plunged into darkness. You stumble around looking for a torch, walking into the furniture, perhaps even into the wall! However, eventually your eyes get used to the darkness, and you begin to take advantage of lesser sources of light, perhaps a freshly-lit candle, the moonlight through the window.

You start to see quite well – after a fashion. But as you look around, you’ll find that the world will lack any colour to it. The walls and furniture will be grey, except for the occasional beam of colour from an external light source. You can see, but by and large without that added dimension of colour.

Perhaps you are living in darkness, a perpetual night, just waiting for the dawn to find you. The life you are living will probably be just as grey as the illustration above. There’s not enough light to make your life colourful, perhaps even to make it worth living. Some may even sit there in the dark, trying vainly to remember how life was when colour was the norm. We begin to forget what it was like to have a colourful life.

This isn't living. You’ve got to seek out the light, bring it into your life. With every new level of illumination you encounter, your life will take on a whole new aspect. You'll soon be able to put your current challenges behind you, perhaps become a means of illumination to others...

John 12:46 (New International Version, ©2010, the words of Jesus)
"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness."

Put some colour back into your life!

27 November 2010

Darkest Before The Dawn

There’s an old saying that has been handed down to us across the years. "It’s always darkest before the dawn." If you think this phrase refers solely to the daily transition of night into morning, then I'm sorry to say it’s just not true. If you've been up and about at that time (as I have) then you'll see that there’s quite a brightening on the horizon before the actual sunrise – and even if you count "dawn" from when the light level starts increasing, it’s still not necessarily darker then than any other time during the night. The darkest time of the night is on those occasions when the moon isn't out - it's amazing how we miss even that softer gleam on those nights. Moonlight is, as you will know, sunlight which is reflected from the moon's surface. It's not as bright as light from the sun, but it does help.

If you consider this particular saying in a purely spiritual sense, then this phrase may be spot on. It tends to be when things get really dark that you really miss that light; when you realise you need to seek some assistance. If you're one of those folk who tend to suffer from depression or are going through a difficult time, chances are you've heard this phrase given as encouragement. Just hang on a bit longer, it'll soon be dawn...

Here's another way of looking at it. You don't have to sit around and wait for the dawn. That may be a long time. In the winter months, night can seem to go on and on forever. Why not set out to bring the light into your life! Let it illuminate your situation and brighten up your mood. There's nothing to beat the warmth of a sunrise, particularly when you've been waiting for a long period of night to end. But even a small glimmer of light can cheer us - even the light from the moon can provide enough illumination for us to see the way we ought to go.

John 8:12 (New International Version, ©2010)
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.”

Jesus is the light that you need to seek. Fellow christians may provide you with some immediate illumination, however the light that we offer is light reflected from the Son. It's not as bright as light from the Son, but it does help.

22 November 2010

Lead Me To The Rock!

Psalm 61 (New International Version)
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.
1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
2 From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.
4 I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
5 For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
6 Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations.
7 May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
8 Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.

18 November 2010

Misleading Movie Descriptions

Accurate but deceptive summaries of popular films. Just shows how easy it can be to 'bend the truth' sometimes.

"Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again."
(The Wizard of Oz)

"Disaffected farm boy destroys military installation, killing thousands"
(Star Wars)

"A floppy-eared alien meets two robed humans who take him on a series of increasingly disturbing adventures, including an attempt to acquire a small boy on a bet."
(Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace)

"A former soldier tries to find someone in the Big Apple but is frequently distracted by the colourful locals and their interesting lifestyle choices."
(Escape From New York)

"Time travellers attempt to steal an endangered species just to save their own behinds."
(Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

For a longer list, click over to Filmcritic.com


14 November 2010

The Iron Fetters Yield...

"He comes, the prisoners to release,
In Satan’s bondage held;
In Satan’s bondage held.
The gates of brass before Him burst,
The gates of brass before Him burst.
The iron fetters yield,
The iron fetters yield,
The iron fetters yield."
(verse 2 of 'Hark The Glad Sound' by Philip Doddridge)

Verses which came to me during the Divisional Prayer Meeting tonight. Very powerfully!

No Publicity!

Matthew 6:3 (New International Version)
"But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing..."

I find this phrase has particular significance to me at the moment. Picture the scene: you need to help someone, however your nearest and dearest proceed to kick up a fuss about it. Your relatives and friends try their best to prevent us from doing it. Perhaps for the best of reasons. They may feel we are going too far, doing too much. With the best of intentions they are there to save you from yourself. So, the answer from the Lord seems to be that you should do it anyway and keep quiet about it!

The passage from Matthew 6:1-13 (culminating in the well-known words of The Lord's Prayer) is not exactly teaching us what to do, but how to do it - without making a fuss or attracting too much publicity.  It's not telling us to be deceptive - to avoid the concerns of our loved ones - but to simply go about our work without fanfare or fuss. It's more a direct attack against hypocrisy, against an outward show in our faith without an inward commitment.  Remember, God knows what you do, and He has promised to reward us -  as a loving Father does to his obedient child.

Both faith and works should not be for fame or glory - but simply for Him!

13 November 2010

Future Plans

"Mary, I know what I'm going to do tomorrow and the next day and the next year and the year after that. I'm going to leave this little town far behind, and I'm going to see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Coliseum. Then I'm coming back here, and I'll go to college and see what they know, and then I'm going to build things. I'm going to build air fields. I'm going to build skyscrapers a hundred stories high. I'm going to build bridges a mile long." - George Bailey, in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life."

As a Christian, I believe God has a particular plan for each of our lives. He equips you, prepares you and sends you out. Each plan is unique to each of us, to our gifts and personality types. If you aren't especially aware of any leading from Him on this subject, I would recommend you to follow up on it. Enter a dialogue with the Almighty; get to know what His plan is, grasp it firmly and pursue it. It's likely to be the most exciting thing you can do in the world. My wife and I went on a Design For Life weekend some time ago, and I'm still working out what was revealed to me at that weekend.

However, what if God's plan for your life is not to travel the world; to build the airfields, the skyscrapers. That's George's dream. Each of us may plan to do great things. It's like wanting to win the big talent show; to secure that high-paying job; to retire to that little cottage by the sea. Such dreams are common to many.

However, God may be calling you to ministry in a faraway land, to make a stand and really make a mark on this world. To go out and make a difference. If so, good for you. Go for it. God's plan for your life will be the greatest adventure...

But, what if God just wants you to do His will - right here. To boldly stay put (to coin a phrase)? Perhaps He's not calling you to change the whole world, but to be salt and light just where you are at the moment. Just to change your small town. Perhaps that isn't quite the adventure you were thinking of...

Would you say yes - even if perhaps it's the last thing that you would want to do?

Would you?

10 November 2010

The Right Time, The Right Path

Some stray thoughts at the moment, as I'm finding myself descending into the 'valley' after a exciting 'mountain-top' experience at Congress (all scripture verses are New International Version):

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Psalm 37:23
The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him...

Proverbs 16:9
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

Proverbs 1:33
...but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Isaiah 48:17
This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go."

Psalm 32:8
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Psalm 48:14
For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.

Isaiah 58:11
The LORD will guide you always...

3 November 2010

Called to Serve

"How did you get lumbered with that?"

That was the way an acquaintance of mine reacted when faced with the news that I had volunteered to do a favour for someone. The acquaintance merely saw it as an inconvenience to me, whereas I saw it as an opportunity to serve, a chance to do something new. It's not necessary to tell you what the favour is - I'm not telling you this to get any glory for myself - but simply to ask you a question: Who is right?

You see, in the incident related in Matthew 23:8-12, Jesus faced up to a similar issue. Here he was talking about a group of Pharisees who spent their day basking in their own glory, in their own self-importance. He simply gave us another alternative, a life of humble servanthood. We are not called to pursue titles and positions that glorify ourselves. Rather, our attitude should be that of a servant.

Matthew 23:8-12 (New International Version)
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

...and again...

Mark 9:33-35 (New International Version)
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”