Tag Archives: perspective

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. 

Fresh eyes in dusty London

16 Aug

As I meandered through Picadilly Circus at lunchtime yesterday I came to a large group of people blocking my path. After 3 years of living in London and working in tourist-laden Covent Garden, I have learnt to walk like a Londoner. This usually takes on the guise of walking at a speed most people would label ‘an awkward-looking-run’, and adopting a face that tries desperately to say “I live here, I’m in a rush, and don’t you dare approach me with that clipboard”.

So, used to darting through tourists (I haven’t knocked over any small children that I know of), I am usually unfazed by huddles of people, or men stood for hours on end covered in gold paint. But this crowd yesterday intrigued me. Instead of rushing on, I had a little nosey look and quickly realised that I had stumbled across the new M&M store.As a big fan of those little chocolate dots of heaven (as you may know from another one of my blogs), I just had to see what the fuss was about.

For the next fifteen minutes I became a tourist. I browsed the store, excited at the tall rainbow arrangement of M&M tubes that reached the ceiling. I huddled around the man, with a group of children, finding out how to fill our cellophane bags with colours of our choice. After laughing at some ridiculous M&M memorabilia (M&M spatula or toothbrush holder anyone?) I dispensed a few pink M&M’s and headed to the till to pay my 53p (the cashier laughed at my paltry portion)

The thing is, yesterday I saw London with fresh eyes. It reminded of my first visits when everything was so exciting; it reminded me of why people love to visit its vibrancy and multiculturalism. But most importantly, it reminded me that we need to see things with fresh eyes sometimes.

I love helping on Alpha, and I love leading a Post-Alpha home group. Not only because it’s so wonderful getting to know people and being a part of their journey – but because its amazing to be around people who see God with fresh eyes. Their passion and excitement is infectious and can reawaken our desire to spend time with God.

Sometimes our faith can get tired. Maybe you can find yourself resenting the fact that it’s hard work. You might have lost that spark, that amazement and desire to spend time with your God. Perhaps you are moving out of duty rather than passion.

So – just as I have found a new, re-appreciation for where I live, let’s pray for fresh revelations of Jesus. Fresh passion for our faith, fresh desire to read the bible. Fresh eyes. Not just reminders of what captured us enough to devote our lives to following Jesus, but to re-experience that in a whole new way.

Isiah 43v19 says ‘I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland’.

Pray that for a fresh outpouring of God on your life. Pray with others, join together and make this your prayer for your life, campus, church, family and workplace– to see streams begin to flow, new springs, new dreams, new zest for your relationship with God and with life.

 

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!

Why clouds make me uncomfortable

20 Sep

Isn’t there something incredible about just lifting our eyes and looking to the sky?

I don’t do it often enough.

A canvas of colour, an ever-changing mystery that transforms regularly from the mundane to the breathtaking.

It puts things into perspective, reminds me that there is more to this life than the me-centered world that I live in. It acts as a metaphorical kick in the backside. It reminds me that my world is not the only one. In fact, it reminds me how small I am. How very, very small. How insignificant, vulnerable and temporary I am.

So why would I want to do this more often? Why would I want to glance up to a sky that reminds me of my fragility, and my morality? It’s uncomfortable revelation, but it changes the way I see things, the way I live.

I want to be challenged.

How would our world change if we each took more time to look at the sky, feel the uncomfortable feeling that comes with knowing how small we are, and how temporary. Would we live for different things? Live our lives in different ways? Not wait until our death beds to utter those famous words –

‘If only…’

Would we live more intentionally?

I have memories as a child, of sitting on the garden bench with my Dad during thunder storms. Watching the lightening fork down to the ground.

Beautiful and terrifying.

Proof of the truth that we are living in a world that is more powerful and unknown than we comprehend. We are not all there is. We can only explore, document and ‘know so much’. We will never fully understand. We are small.

Is life really lost by dying? Or is it lost second by second, hour by hour – those days that we haven’t truly lived, but let slip away. Just another day. Maybe days could mean more than just another page of a diary, a crossed off square on a planner.

There are a million ways to waste and lose a day. And not a single way to get it back.

Many of us are waiting for life to begin.

When I move home. That’s when.
When I get married. That’s when.
When I have a baby. That’s when.
When I have paid my debt. That’s when.
When I retire. That’s when.

What if our only real obstacle, for living. Really living. Was our choice to wait.

I want a Kingdom perspective, a heaven bound life. A day that counts, changes something, someone. Somewhere.
I want to use my gifts, talents and passions to LIVE. Really live. I want to be challenged and moved. Out of selfishness, short-sightedness, closed-mindedness. Out of letting life slip by, gifts unused, untouched. People unchanged.

So, every day this week. I will look at the sky. And I will be challenged, and hopefully changed.

Because, in the end, the way we spend our day, is the way we spend our life.

I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of (Jesus)