Cross posted from aonotes - a thrice weekly meditation that some in StB follow
Each day, each hour, I choose to operate under one of two managements.
One choice is to be managed by the false self (performance self). The Bible has several names for it, one being the "sinful nature". This is the natural self that tempts me to resist God's love and control.
The other choice is the true self, the Holy-Spirit-managed self. When I choose to operate under the control of the life-giving Spirit of God. This produces life and peace.
This choice is not easy: "And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from the conflict." -- Gal. 5.17b (NLT 1996)
Coffee/tea thought: Holy Spirit, may You alone direct my desires today and produce Your character in me.
Hadassah: cross posted from here
A number of experiences have shaken me in this last week. On multiple fronts the questions is posed: Is the walk with Jesus [hard/easy]? Delete the one which is not applicable to you.
There is a characteristic of the internet where people anonymously tell of their deepest struggles. For example, I saw one which said they were fired from their job because they were considered suicidal after they had called the suicide hotline. Just think about the issues involved in that!
Then I read someone's anonymous admission about their struggle with Christianity, and they said "I don't think the Christian way is for me"
Pause. Consider that statement.
There are two ways to think about it. One reaction is that this is like saying I don't like gravity, or that I think the rules of the road are not for me, or that I'm not really interested in paying my taxes this year. You can freely take that position, but whether you like it or not the choices means damaging consequences are waiting in your future.
But still some people say the Christian way is not for them. They obviously see it differently to me. Why, how? This is a challenge for ME to understand.
When all is said and done the answer is simple. Do I trust my own ability to lead me to the best outcome? Or will I trust that Jesus has the best in store for me?
The question is not whether the way is hard or easy, the question is whether I will chose to be the one to define my wants, or will I surrender all to receive Joy and Freedom.
The way is not hard. The real battle is the choice to surrender.
I am in the chair of the periodontist (big word – not known by Microsoft spell checker, apparently) and assured I will feel nothing. I hope not, because it looks like an operating theatre with two nurses assisting, bright lights and all sorts of other things that you see on medical programmes on TV.
So I opted for the easy way out and closed my eyes. I may as well say the Lord’s prayer, but I wasn’t really praying, only trying to pass the time which I did fairly successfully. Until -- after much cutting and scraping, they hit something not put to sleep by the local anaesthetic.
Well I won’t bore you with the details. He was a very good and pleasant specialist and after trying hard, he eventually had to take out the tooth. Sadly the tooth fairy does not come if it is a broken old tooth.
This morning I wondered what happens in places where there is no medical help, or what happened centuries ago when there were no pain killers and you just had to endure the agony of an abscess for weeks on end. So I am really grateful for the skill of the medical profession. I am also full of praise for answered prayers when God heals people directly.
The abscess was a bit of a double whammy as I had to withdraw from the Whale Trail as well as experiencing some of the worst pain I have ever had. But as I reflect on this I am genuinely thankful for “all the blessings of this life” (Anglican Prayer Book)
I woke up this morning and had another thought about this tiny cyst in my gums which caused me to have a pretty unpleasant week. God says to us in his word through the apostle Paul about his church “Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it … if one part suffers every part suffers with it”(1 Corinthians 12 ).
(Did you share Brian's pain?)
Last week was rough. The multiple demands to be creative in teaching, writing, debating, speaking, wasting ... the combinations of events and actions crowding my TIME, leaving little space for the really important. For anyone in the same place, take some TIME and reflect, read Ecclesiastes, and perhaps mull over this essay by Nigel Goodwin:
To remember your Creator
Before the dust returns to the ground it came from,
And the Spirit returns to God who gave it.
During my teenage years, whilst at school, I was fast developing the idea that my life’s goal was to pursue a calling in theatre. My school days were, equally and actively divided between ..." Read more here
Hadassah: Cross posted from here
I went to the funeral. It was a funeral much like many others. Grief and sadness at loss. Reflection on one's own mortality. Any many observations about opportunities now lost.
Opportunity to spend more time with someone
Opportunity to invest in another person
Opportunity to repair long-ago hurts
Opportunity to be receive
Opportunity to grow
God's plan betrayed?
More often than not the opportunity is lost through no fault but my own. I'm too busy. Its inconvenient. I'm tired. I want to do something else. Its not my priority right now. Someone else will do it. Its not my responsibility.
My frustration rose through the rest of the day as I spiralled into a moan-mood. Why should I do it? Why doesn't someone else do it? Does this have to fall to me again?
But in thinking about it, I realize the truth embodied in the quotes above. Opportunities are not negative, they're not simply another job to take on! Yes, opportunities do take effort, but effort brings returns either now or later. Every opportunity is a decision point to gain and grow, or to lose and stagnate. When I protect my personal comfort zone by declining an opportunity to extend myself, then I end up sitting in the middle of my cesspool of self interest.
Opportunity is God's gift to grow more into what we were be created to be.
When I decline an opportunity that God gives to me, I lose. Someone else also loses. And another of God's gifts is rejected.
But God promises to bless my efforts spent on the opportunities he gives to me. My choice.
Plot. Plan. Build up some treasure in heaven.
Everyone who is already committed to helping at Alpha is also already helping keep St. Barnabas alive in some other way as well. For example: in case you didn’t know we still have folk desperate for an evening service, but those who could make it happen cannot sustain the additional work load on top of their jobs, and their existing commitments to St. Barnabas and Alpha etc.
We all need to grow up in faith and works. So lets all please start growing up and exercising in faith and works.
Will this mean giving up going to the gym or giving up running for a couple of months to get some spiritual exercise and do some good work? Will this mean going out in the evenings to Alpha for a couple of months instead of relaxing at home midweek? What is your hindrance that prevents you from participating at Alpha?
Come on let us all grow up a little.
Put on a little kindness. Put on a little love.
Put on faithfulness. Put on Christ.
Let us know how you are committing to Alpha (use the form in the previous blog entry)!
1Th 5:11 ... encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1Th 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
So how can I encourage you to not miss out on the purposes of your life? Are you really not meant to be involved in Alpha? Who told you that? Who are you listening to?
Today's blog is for you to complete. In the best style of all the most fashionable magazines, we present your own online challenge quiz: Are YOU an ALPHA expert?
How to take the test: Simply check all boxes that apply. Each line presents a task with a short description of why this is a valuable skill. Consider carefully if you are able to accomplish each task.
How to score your test: count the number of ticks you make, and if your total is one or more, then BE ENCOURAGED ... you are an ALPHA expert!
For those who score "EXPERT": we would strongly encourage and advise you to take advantage of this amazing opportunity, not to be repeated in 2012. Simply complete your details on the form and click "SUBMIT". You'll be amazed at what it can do for you, for St Barnabas, and especially for someone else!
For further details on Alpha, see here
So I sit with the dilemmas we all face.
Jesus said: “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Matthew 5:42
The City newspapers report that the answer is to: Give to and through the NGOs, don't give on the street.
Yet Chuck Colson wrote, “True servants are merciful. They care. They get involved. They offer more than pious words.”
In Mozambique there is an orphan child sponsorship programme called, “STOP for the ONE” run by Heidi Baker from Iris Ministries. With her husband, Heidi ministers in Mozambique, and is reportedly often late for events because she does just that; she is late because she stops for the one who asks or needs, whoever asks or needs.
This phrase has stuck with me. Stop for the one.
I was discussing this with my daughter, and talking about doing how the NGO’s and city want us to act toward the poor and needy, as opposed to encountering the beggar. My daughter said to me that Stop for the One "Sounds more like Jesus to me”, echoing Colson’s words and Baker’s actions.
On Sunday am before church the thought came to me. ‘Who am I listening to? Jesus or the newspapers, the world's advice?”
Jesus said: “..., the love of many will grow cold.” Matthew 24:12
Lord, help me to love. Amen.
So in response to the blog entry on this site (here) sarcastically commenting on commitment in church, a little family squabble broke out with opposing views (here and here).
One party says its the self interest of this age that limits peoples commitment, the other lists numerous other possible reasons. I'm not going to side with either, but make an observation.
At the First Priority prayer meeting on Monday night, we were blessed with a number of people who came to join us. Repeatedly through the prayer time were pictures and words expressing how God has established a community that can serve God in power for the City. Numerous metaphors were used to describe the potential and vision of the church in the city, but the one that came to me was one of vehicles and drivers.
If ideas are the cars and trucks of our journey, then we are not in short supply and have plenty of seats for passengers.
What we need are drivers.
Do you have a license?
So we are doing Alpha again at St. Barnabas, starting with a dinner on the 25th of July and then weekly meetings on the 1st of August through to the 26th September.
What an amazing opportunity we have to get to know each other and so much more.
There is a place for everyone who attends St. Barnabas to be part of Alpha.
What an amazing opportunity as everyone can do something.
Whether you need to be baby sat or fetched from home or look after children in your home so your husband/wife can come or pray at home.
Please consider participating even just once.
Will you invite people through face book, the invitations, word of mouth or a phone call?
Make the most of every opportunity (including this Alpha opportunity),
let us practice doing good to everyone,
and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.
(the family of St. Barnabas.)
Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance,
let us work for the benefit of all,
starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.