Tag Archives: christianity

Decisions decisions

30 Aug

Every day we are faced with choices. Choices about our day, our outfit, what we will have for lunch, whether we turn up for work, whether we press snooze on the alarm for the 10th time….. and then there are the bigger choices. Choices that shape our future. What will we do? What course will we apply for – what do we do if we get accepted. Who will we follow, who will we worship?

You, sitting here now reading this blog… are a sum total of all the choices you’ve made so far. Some of them were totally unconscious, some decisions have come as easily to you breathing. Some of them – you wish you could time-machine yourself back to choose the other option. Yet some have caused great stress and anxiety as you have battled to weight up the pro’s and cons.

Let’s focus on John 5:30 (NIV) ‘By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me’. John is expressing his desire to please his God and not others in the decisions he makes. Decisions can be incredibly powerful things. They can set people free or oppress. They can abuse or love. They can forgive or grudge.

So how can we be more Godly in our decision making? How can we be more God led?

– Invest in your relationship with God. Decisions become so much easier when your desire to please God is more than your desire to please the world (Anso Coetzer).

– Pray about decisions. Seek accountability and be open with one another

– Explore what decisions you might not be taking the responsibility for. Choosing not to make a decision is also a choice! We an either accept things as they are or choose to take responsibility for making them

– When you have a big decision to make, question your motivations and the place from which you make them. Are the outcomes supportive of Christ-like values?

– Remember that whilst you can’t often choose your circumstance, you can always choose your attitude! We can let circumstances harden us, or we can let them change and be catalysts for growth

– Choose life and say no to slavery! Sometimes the choices in front of you are so hard to make because you find the wrong choice far more attractive than the right one. Ask the Holy Spirit for the strength to choose what will be life giving, rather than that which may pull you further into a mess – making it even harder the next time

Life will always be changing and you will find yourself in all sorts of circumstances. But growth – both spiritually and personally is optional. 

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Cheesy songs and sticky notes

18 Aug

I struggle to remember birthdays and dates. I’ve not got myself into serious trouble yet but there’s always time! Telephone numbers, pin codes and anniversaries – it’s good to be able to recall them at that exact moment you need them. Failure may result in finding yourself red faced at the end of the checkout queue or hurriedly Googling ‘fathers day’ dates (you just missed it by the way).

But what about bible verses? My childhood is filled with memories of Sunday school where we sang verses in the hopes that we would remember them for the next week – fueled by the promise of sweeties!

So that was then, but how about now? How often do we make a conscious note to remember a verse? Keeping them close to our hearts and ready to be accessed when we need it in a wobbly moment, in a text of encouragement to a friend or in prayer?

There are many verses that encourage us in memorising scripture, and emphasise the importance of doing so. In Colossians 3:16 (NIV), Paul tells the church to ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom’. He is promising that if we dwell on God’s word, the Holy Spirit will bring it to mind at the appropriate time. The more we know, the more we can recall!

God word was written for us, and we were made to require the insight and wisdom it offers. Romans 15:4 (NIV) says that ‘everything that was written in the past was written top teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the scriptures and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope’. The bible is there to give us hope, guidance, counsel, renewal and joy. The more we read, meditate and know it, the closer we will be to God.

These are just two reasons among many as to why we should be memorising scripture. So, grab a bible, find a verse that jumps out at you and memorise it in whatever way is best for you – cheesy songs or bright pink sticky notes!

Here’s a good one to begin with

‘The Lord will keep you from all harm. He will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore’. Psalm 121:7-8

 

Daytime TV and trashy novels

16 Aug

 

Only 5 long days until the hubby & I step onto a plane and head towards the white sands of a Turkish beach. The hours of trawling for bargainous internet late-deals have served us well. I must admit, despite my excitement that I am a more than a little jealous of the super-sized summer holiday you have ahead of you.

‘You are what you eat’ shout the magazines from the stand, proclaiming miracle bikini diets and portraying pictures of celebrity bodies. I choose to ignore the pressures as I make a cheeky detour to the chocolate isle. Instead my mind wanders to planning my holiday reading and am hit by the challenge…

‘You are what you think’

I am so tempted to fill my suitcase with trashy novels. I want a bit of comfortable escapism from difficult family situations and the uncertainty of my future. I’m tired. What is your escapism route? Trashy daytime television? Hours of trawling Facebook… or the internet? Why? Because you can, because you are having a break from the daily routine, and frankly because that’s all that was on when you rolled out of bed at lunchtime!

So it is tempting to fill my mind with rubbish tales of endless pursuits of love and flashy lives…. but it would be about as spiritually nutritional as a deep-fried mars bar is healthy

As the months stretch ahead and we check out of our usual responsibilities, taking a little time away from tough relationships, pressures and stresses….are we going to check out of our minds too? As we step away from our home churches, are we going to step away from the discipleship and the challenge of accountability as well?

In Philippians 4:8 (NLT) Paul urges you to ‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise’

If we are products of where we let our mind wander in the quiet and in our down-time, then let’s be challenged by this verse. Of course, lie in, relax, indulge a little, party and holiday. But..make an effort to stay accountable and to keep in touch with your community, keep plugging into God – don’t leave him at uni along with the routines you had built. Here are some tips:

– Spend time asking God how he would like you to spend these months. Pray and think about the following ideas

– Make prayerful plans – pray for great conversations with family and friends

– Make financial plans – save for something or replenish that overdraft!

– Make physical plans – stay healthy

– Make spiritual plans – pray a little more, spend a little more time studying the bible

– Make active and restful plans (rest might be a spiritual discipline… but laziness isn’t!)

– Make creative plans – pick up old hobbies

So…. will this be a summer for checking in, changing, growing, challenging?

Or checking out?

Love for a murderer

17 Sep

Right, now here’s a tricky question for you.

Could you love a murderer?

I was trying to find loopholes in my little philosophy – ‘To be known, is to be loved’. Exceptions to the rule. Terminally unloveable – as known as they could be.

And for a minute, I thought I had one – or three.

Murderers, pedophiles, wife-beaters.

I mean, they are pretty sky high up there on my ‘bad people scale’. We have a national anger for what they do, and a fear that they may strike someone we love, or first-hand effect our lives. They are at the centre of stories that shock nations, generate billions of pounds worth of press and bring up all sorts of horrible feelings at their mere mention.

But

Could I love a murderer? If I really knew a murderer, and understood him. Could I love him? What if he had murdered a member of my own family?

Can you vehemently hate what someone does, and love them at the same time?

I believe that we aren’t as we are, because we simply are (yup it’s a  bit of a tongue twister, read that again!). That closed mindedness angers me. We are all mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers.

Someone to someone.

Known by someone.

Understood by someone.

And all with the potential to do the most horrific, damaging, news-worthy things.

We can get hurt, very messed up and painfully damaged. And as my Mum tells me –

Hurt people

Hurt people.

~
Our deepest fear, is not that we are inadequate
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
Marianne Williamson
~

So could I love a murderer? If you took me to death row, and gave me time, lots of time. Time to talk, time to find that story that everyone has – the one that could reduce you to tears. Time to counsel, to understand, to know.

Really know.

To find that place at the very core of someone where it all went so drastically, damagingly wrong. To peel back the layers of hurt, hate and hopelessness. To look beyond.

To forgive?

Maybe.

I have been uncomfortably challenged by these incredible, confusing, life-changingly inspiring stories. People forgiving abusers, murderers, terrorists. And abusers, murderers and terrorist’s stories of forgiveness.

So grab a cup of tea, a biscuit (preferably chocolate) and a comfy chair. And flick through these stories, be challenged – and maybe even changed.

Theforgivenessproject.org.uk

These word’s are Anne Marie Hagan’s. Her father was hacked to death in front of her when she was only 19.

‘Forgiveness is not permission. It doesn’t mean that you agree with what the offender has done, or that they had a right to do what they did. Also, forgiveness cannot be conditional on remorse because that would mean we can only forgive those who are sorry. Forgiveness is recognizing that the offender is a human being who is deserving of kindness, compassion and love despite the harm they have done’

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

My relationship with bearded Greek men

16 Sep

I have a life philosophy. And i’m quite proud of it.

If being philosophical means reading books by bearded Greek men, or sitting under trees musing single sentences and contemplating the meaning of life – I’m not very philosophical.

I do think alot though, not too much, not headache-inducing, think-yourself-into-oblivion amounts, Just nice, comfortable amounts. On journeys, whilst procrastinating, and in those odd, surreal moments just before you slip into sleep.

It began when a single sentence (from a youtube video) got stuck in my mind, playing itself over like a jammed record. And this sentence was:

‘To be known is to be loved”

It reminded me of the feeling of home. I’m not talking about the bricks and mortar ‘home’ but that feeling of being ‘at home’. For me, that feeling of home, is being relaxed around people who know, understand and love me. Family, friends, people who have taken the time to really get to know me – how I tick, what I hide, what makes me grin like a cheshire cat….

Allowing people to know you requires vulnerability.

Vulnerability and a decision to offer insights into the very core of who you are. Your story, your stories. And as you share little pieces of who you are, you may be surprised. Surprised that people don’t run, or laugh, or dislike you as you may have expected.

Because isn’t it true that we often love the people we know most

More?

We know dark places and pasts, intricate stories and shameful secrets. Vulnerabilities and insecurities. Yet we understand them more, love them more.

An in that uncomfortable place of vulnerability, you begin to feel comfortable in the vulnerability that comes with being known.

No rose tinted glasses.

No soft-focused images.

No need to invalidate the love you receive by mutterings of ‘yeah, but if you really knew me’

Because to be understood, is to be known. And to be know, is to be loved.