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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Be in no doubt, we were created to worship, to celebrate, be creative and party. The only question is what are we going to worship, make central in our lives, what will be its sum and centre, give life meaning and purpose? The best way to tell is through your bank statements. Where you direct your treasure is where your heart lays.

Whether you are at sporting venue, Glastonbury or simply down the bookies you’ll see people’s hearts’ spill over in emotion. Now is it a bad thing to go nuts at a concert or watching an exciting sports events, no way, it’s a good thing, you have a right to party. The problem is that if you turn a good thing into a god thing then that’s a bad thing.

When you see football fans turning out in streets to protest at a change in managers that they disapprove of then you know they have a screwed perspective. They have made a good thing, like football, into a god thing. Now if you worship anything other than the sovereign God of the Universe it’s going to fail you. Everything, all of creation, is under him and exists in a world we’ve messed up. As a result, along with you, its decaying so if when you invest all your passions, dreams, talents and treasure in created things, maybe kids, career, success or intellect,  eventually they are going to fail you.

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This is a mega claim, this is a big deal, it is at your peril that you dismiss this big idea without careful consideration. What staggered me a short time back is that people really do believe this. I mean sane, mature, experienced, well-travelled, free thinkings, and questioning people (and Bono) actually believe this. That alone should be enough to capture your imagination.

If you look at the suicide bomber, the Medieval Crusades, men with big hats living in palaces or hypocritical adulterous TV evangelists and dismiss Christianity because all religions are the same you have bought the lie. You have taken your self serving, warped, polluted, jaundiced worldview and looked through it to see what you want. All I am saying is let’s take a look at the evidence because, if it’s true, if Jesus Christ really is the creator God of the Universe, as He claimed to be, then that changes everything. If the Devil really is who the Bible says he is the father of lies, and prince of the world then that explains the mess you see around you. Can you tell I am excited, passionate, and eager? Good, that’s important.

See what you think of the way Richard Foster puts it:

Many Christians remain in bondage to fears and anxieties because they do not avail themselves to the discipline of study. They may be faithful in church attendance and earnest in fulfilling their duties, and still they are not changed. I am not here speaking only of those who are going through more religious forms, but of those who are genuinely seeking to worship and obey Jesus Christ as Lord and Master. They may sing with gusto, pray in the spirit, live as obediently as they know, even receive divine visions and revelations, and yet the tenor of their lives remains unchanged. Why?

Because they have never taken up one of the central ways God uses to change us; study. Jesus made it unmistakably clear that the knowledge of the truth will set us free. ‘You will know the truth and the truth will make you free’ (john 8:32). Good feelings will not free us. Ecstatic experiences will not free us. Getting high on ‘Jesus’ will not free us. Without knowledge of the truth, we will not be free.

Richard Foster Celebration of Discipline (Revised 1999)

All I am saying is that I love you, your life has purpose and meaning, from when you were first a sparkle in your father’s eye to the very day you breathe your last. That your life will resonate, for good or bad, beyond your time and into the lives of your offspring and those you meet.  Each day you have 86,400 fleeting seconds, 1,400 precious minutes and 24 shining hours, invest them wisely.

For all bloggers – ‘A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions’, Proverbs 18:2. mmm…. oops.

It’s Sunday in the shadow of the Hindu Kush. What a great day for celebrating, listening and learning. Roll in the mud, go crazy, you’re alive, it feels good.

What a great woman to have on the team. Outrageous exhibition that people long for. Imagination, creativity both in person and in those who are back stage. This is where it’s at, challenging convention in a way that people enjoy. Now there are plenty of excentrics out there who may have momentary fame but you need to nurture talent to get to Lady GaGa status. Did you know that my grandma used the term ‘gaga’ to describe those people who had lost their marbles? 

Don’t we love to escape the world? Isn’t that what Gaga, MTV, theatre and books offer? There’s no evidence of the popularity of reminding people that there desire for comfort and adulterous hearts is leading them to hell that I can find? Even soap operas, which I love to occasionally watch, are escapism, to a world of drama, heroes and villains that really bears no resemblance to the drudgery of daily life. Here’s the big idea – life is not as superficial as the world would have you believe, suicide is not painless, only pointless and there is far more to live for than we can possibly imagine.

Seems Richard Gere is a Buddhist, does that trouble you? The thing is he is making a very specific truth claim. Were you willing he would welcome you into his religion. He would say that Jesus was a really good guy, a guru, a teacher. He may as well teach that Jesus Christ was a cruel liar who persuaded people that when they die they get to hang out with him because the Buddhist truth claim is in stark contrast to what Jesus said about himself.

Today we will receive a stream messages; there’s this blog, the internet, TV, radio and conversation. For most of us we’ll accept this stream passively, drinking from its familiar waters. It’ll reinforce what we already believe to be true, a taste for which we acquired young or we’ll dismiss it as nonsense, because we trust our ‘feelings’.  Either way, the day finishes with us satisfied our worldview is intact. However, my goal is to stimulate the appetite for digging a little deeper, to examine life’s meaning and purpose beyond what we ‘know’.

Is your love trajectory rising or falling. Are your relationships with your wife, neighbours and friends progressing or digressing? I have a plan to get to know my wife better each day, to grow old together in such a way that tomorrow is a delight. Each new wrinkle and grey hair will be a mark of a relationship that is growing closer and stronger – it’s exciting. This plan works when we are together or, as now, separated by thousands of miles, the journey is taking us to the same destination.

Your sadness, grief and fatigue is good news, it has purpose.  Just imagine for a moment that you really are an image bearer of the creator God of the universe. conjure up the thoughts that you were created to mirror his love in a world that is corrupted by mankind’s’ pride, arrogance, and greed. Wouldn’t it make sense that given our personal proclivity to lie, even to ourselves, that others would start false religions, that people would want to be their own gods, have power and wealth? Suffering is a consequence of living in this world and people who suffer well have a powerful testimony.

Are you going to let the mess of your life, the degradation of others, the lies taught you through the cultural mandate, make your heart so hard that you reject the love offered you by Jesus when he took the punishment we deserve, absorbed the wrath, the pain and rejection? Nothing in this life can deliver ultimate satisfaction. look at Hugh Hefner, still searching for someone to bring him satisfaction. It may look like he’s had fun searching but isn’t that a show, is there not hidden sadness not to be envied?

One day soon I will die and see that this life, lived for our comfort, well-being and personal happiness is worthless. But what about being connected to the very source of the Love that created us? And because we are loved beyong imagination Love’s source sent his Son to make that connection, take the punishment you deserve and give you a new heart, with new desires, hopes and dreams. Happy days. Remember, don’t trust everything you think.

I am referring to evidence, history, and the reality of living, suffering, joy and death.  Hollywood’s people have had a significant impact on the cultural mandate. I certainly absorbed, albeit unwittingly, many subtle messages. From the African Queen, to the Lion King and all shades between. Most of these messages reinforced a pluralist, individualist and eastern philosophical worldview. I am simply encouraging us to take a closer look at what substantiates what we believe and contrast it with the teaching of that broke, homeless preacher from Galilee who was murdered after he accused the religious crowd of hypocrisy. He never walked a red carpet, wrote a best selling book or ran a big company and yet world history revolves around him. What’s that all about?

I can understand the yearning for liberty that occupies a man’s mind. Home life can seem like chains, escape is surely the path to liberation. Independence offers a path to happiness, success and fun.

As sons grow older parenting becomes more of a spectator sport. Your offspring are in the sporting arena of life and you hope to see them playing a fair game with honour and dignity. You want wisdom to prevail, an occasional look to you for encouragement, and a passion for service. If the game plan looks to be failing we hope for break in play for a chance to consider where the opposition is gaining an upper hand and agree a strategy for success.

The point is that you have to stay in the game to win the game. Abandon the team, the arena, the coach and the resources are lost. The rewards of staying the full course always out last the temporal relief that comes through quitting. It never takes long to realize the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence but greener where you water it.

All my blogs are about the condition of the heart. If your heart’s not in the game then how can you enjoy it? Each step of the way effects the outcome. It’s your hopes and dreams that fuel your choices. Our imaginations are vital. We need to build a picture of how it looks to be destitute, in debt and poor housing, with little hope for our children and also a picture of how it would look to be in loving relationships, able to put food on the table for our kids and a roof over our families head. These things come through work, perseverence and discipline. Remembering, that love is an action and a commitment before it’s a feeling.

Defeat is the destiny for those who don’t seek a change of heart, who don’t adopt the mindset, disciplines and habits that will keep them in the game. The game is tough and there are all kinds of attractive paths outside the arena. The urge to escape is tough to resist and many have tried only to realize that it’s an illusion. When parents know that path, have experienced its perils and know the pain and heartache which it leads to, it’s tough to witness your child, or anyone else you love, heading in its direction.

I have known men who have caused their parents trials and men who have brought their parents joy. There is no script. Rebellion, selfishness and idleness is not a rite of passage, there are choices. However, there is no breaking through to a hardened heart without outside intervention. We just have to hope and pray that the intervention, when it comes, does not have to be too severe. The Bible says that a troublesome wife is like a dripping tap and it’s better for a man to live on the roof than in the house with her. But you try persuading a single man, especially one who has yet to reach two score years, that learning to love his wife well starts today, before he may have even met her. It’s hard.

The dads in these pictures will face joy and grief in unequal measures. If sons are to be loving, noble and serve well, they need to see dads modeling that same behaviour. It’s my hope and prayer that all us dads can model good husbands and fathers and when we fail, as we all regularly do, we can display the humility to admit our shortcomings, seek forgiveness and pursue reconciliation.

 

Our offspring can bring out the best and worst in us. We reap what we sow and they provide a window into our parenting skills. Sometimes embracing the teaching moments when they come can be a real challenge, but then they wouldn’t be teaching moments would they? So deep breath, ask for patience and forbearance and enjoy the game! Happy days.

 

It is perfectly reasonable for women to dress to impress. If you are looking for husband and you are fit, healthy and have the attributes and strength of character that will attract the attentions of a suitor then go for it. It’s worth remembering though that beauty comes from within. Despite outward appearances a sister can be modest, dignified and selfish.

What’s with the smokescreen? Why the pretence? Just take the hit. I remember a movie in the 80s, with possibly Dudley Moore, you might remember. He was an advertising executive who had an unexpected urge to be honest. He coined a great line for marketing Volvos which was, ‘boxy but good’. We all thought at the time how hilarious that someone should be honest.

So where are the boundaries in life between bluffing your ticket and revealing the truth? It’s not simple. The poker face is an essential aspect of survival in a world where people are looking to secure the best deal. Warfare is negotiation. More often it involves deception, exaggeration and posturing. How do we know who to trust? Is there anyone you trust who you don’t personally know? There were many people who trusted Dominique Straus khan until he was arrested and now stands accused of rape. You want to build trust? Open your life. This was always a strength of the British Army’s officer corps. Mess life was communual. It brought people together as a family.

Relationships have to be about accountability. These ramblings are seeking to make my life an open book. Do you know that one of the men I trust most to hold me to account is my dear atheist friend? I have written about him previously. I can rely on him to tell me when I am talking nonsense. He is passionate about countering the nonsense he detects in my beliefs and attitudes and takes surgical care in deconstructing what I have to say. Two hours with him can fly by whereas sometimes two minutes with some of my Christian brothers can drag. What’s that all about? I am excited about the day he accepts Jesus’ call to discipleship and I have a new brother who’ll not spare my blushes.

These are the daughters of a Christian woman in Pakistan arrested under blasphemy laws. Similar laws to those abused by the Pharisees to arrange for Jesus’ torture and murder.

The cultivation metaphors the Bible uses are wonderful for helping examine our life and the lives of those with whom we are building trust? We are looking for a healthy tree, in fertile soil that can be cared for so that it produces good fruit. Sometimes that tree may need severe, seemingly brutal pruning. It may look lifeless through the winter season but come the spring and the fresh blossom the dividends of hard work will be apparent.

Don’t fear severe pruning. If your life is without discomfort, if you work hard to protect the status quo and become disgruntled when anyone threatens that comfort, beware. The effects of pruning season on season result in mature trees that are manageable, productive and magnificent. Would you not like to leave the legacy of a magnificent life?

How come mercurial has become fashionable as an adjective? Is it me or have you too found that missing words appear in the daily vocabulary. I am sure I have seen this. Just this week mercurial has cropped up unexpectedly several times. There’s this fashion in unusual adjectives that I have only just cottoned on to. Is something going on?