Tag Archives: materialism

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. 

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?

Nutella and eternity

8 Jun

My love for good holiday books tend to result in a heart-stopping moment as I place my luggage on the check-in scales to be weighed. I hold my breath as the weight creeps dangerously close to the 10kg limit. I haven’t been fined yet, but I have had to do the awkward airport-floor suitcase reshuffle.

What’s more, I’m a naughty reader. With a good book I can’t help but sneak a glance ahead. I do it with the coyness of a child who knows they are doing something they shouldn’t – cautious not to be caught with their fingers in the Nutella jar. I look around to make sure nobody is watching as I jump a fistful of pages and chapters ahead, just to get a taste of what is to come.

It got me thinking…would we live differently if we really knew where we were going? Would we act, speak, pray, spend differently? With eternity written on our hearts, we often take forgranted the reality of heaven and what it means for us as Christians to spend forever in the presence of God. The book of Revelation provides us with that peek ahead. It is full of written glimpses of heaven offering descriptive metaphors, stunning imagery and strange descriptions of a reality that is incomprehensible to us in life.

What if we were to live with a more heavenly perspective? Paul often reminds us that the best is yet to come. He encourages us to see life through the lens of eternity. In Romans 8:8 he says “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”

But how can we maintain a heavenly perspective when the world encourages us to live endlessly seeking the promises of pleasure? We enjoy the illusion of security, and desperately try to satiate a hunger for things we can’t always name or put our finger on?

With inspiration from Paul in Philippians 1:18-26, here are some tips for maintaining a heavenly perspective:

– Rejoice. Not a fluctuating happiness that depends on circumstance but praise that is offered throughout the seasons of our life. Pray for the gift of Joy and make decisions to worship even when it’s costly

– Ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and keep asking

– Pray and be prayed for

– Know what you are fighting! If it’s materialism, an addiction or a destructive relationship that battles for your attention – name it and seek accountability

– Get your hands dirty. Commit yourself to working for the Lord throughout your brief time on earth. We only get one chance, make it count

So…let’s live purposeful, heaven bound and heaven-focussed lives, creating echoes that bellow into eternity. Being driven by a spiritual urgency that acknowledges how short our time here is.

 

A fist full of M&M’s

17 May

I like it when my colleagues go on holiday. They might not be pleased to hear this, but I do. Why? Because when they return – they bring sweets.

As a result I have just eaten so many M&M’s I feel a little sick. Not to mention the number of Hershey’s kisses I ‘had’ to consume to make a firm decision on whether they A-taste delicious or B-taste like horse manure (answers on a postcard).

But, on finishing my fist-full of chocolate I was met with a not-so-sweet challenge. And the challenge is greed. Amidst my sugar high, it struck me that if greed didn’t exist, much of the sin in this world wouldn’t either. Think about it – no thieving, no adultery, no materialism, no poverty, no gossiping… the list goes on. Remove greed and you will see of our false Gods blown out the water.

So you haven’t coveted your neighbors donkey recently, or cheated on your girlfriend but have you daydreamed about a new car, felt a pang of jealousy, looked lustfully at someone or stashed away teabags from the hall canteen? Greed can be subtle and seemingly innocent, it can devastate lives, ruin friendships and pull apart families. It’s tempting to devise a ‘greed scale’ and feel smug that we haven’t committed many extreme acts, but greed is greed, and greed is a serious problem. It’s our problem.

If you aren’t shuffling in your chair you are either one special human being, live in a cave, or haven’t yet felt a little nudge of conviction.

We life in a materialistic and indulgent culture and need to actively guard ourself against greed because as Paul says – we can’t call ourselves brothers of Christ and be greedy. We need put up defenses, pick up our swords and fight. Where greed exists, there can be no fruits, it finds us blending right into the vacuous crowd of those trying to fill a never-ending deep hole – chasing the wind.We need to be investing into consistently realigning our perspective – It’s all about God, itall belongs to God.

But don’t shuffle too much – there is hope, we have an amazing, powerful and gentle God who jumps at the chance to lovingly work with us on our character – in order that we may reflect his Son more.

It’s amazing what challenges lie in a handful of American sweeties!