Saturday, 27 August 2011

Fire inside me

I was freezing as I walked home one day. I somehow managed to get by, by imagining a great big fire burning inside me. After a while, it felt so real that I could feel my whole body warming up. The tips of my fingers tingling with this funny sensation. Cold on the outside, but warm on the inside. It was an interesting experience, as I kept whispering to myself, "There is a fire inside me", over and over again, until I got into the warmth of my house.

What was it that kept me warm? It wasn't that suddenly the sun had woken up from hibernation and increased heat production, or that I had somehow put on some more layers of skin to protect me from the cold. Really, it was just me accepting the fact that I coouldn't do anything to change the situation, so I learnt to live with it, albeit for only 10 minutes.

Contentment is a hard lesson to learn, but once you have learnt it, it really frees your mind. You no longer are unsatisfactory with what you have. You no longer crave the next product release from Apple, or the new fashion item in Westfield. You are content with that small fire inside you, which doesn't need any upgrades, or attachments. It will keep you warm.

Sometimes we are not content with God too. We are not content with what he promises to us, we forget the fire that he has planted inside of us. The image above is one that is now my desktop picture, which I see everyday. Just that simple prayer to God really sets my priorities straight. Reminds me of the fire within, that will never be blown out, however windy the outside world becomes.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

A year of blogging

A new post,
A new week,
A new mind,
A chance to speak.

Something I made up just then, to express what I was thinking.

It is nearly a year since I started blogging, I am amazed at how much I have grown.

As a tree I am just about to put on one more ring of experience. Through the "winter of writer's block" where every word that I wrote seemed pointless, to the "summer of songs" where I just wanted to pour every thought into a post, I have struggled through. Through your comments I understand that I do sometimes bear fruit, sometimes encourage, sometimes say the right things at the right times, which I am really grateful of. As a tree, God is my water source, but your comments are like my fertiliser, without you I would not be as strong as I am.

As a human I am confounded. I do not understand how my words could mean so much to people. Over 100 people now are reading what I write, which is just indescribable! From the young one who "wanted to be like Peter" in the first post, to the person I am now, seeing how I have changed is very thought-provoking. As a human, I seek to keep on writing what I want to write, with the main purpose being to glorify God, who is my creator.

As a Christian I am grateful. I understand that it is God who has given me this blessing. I am humbled, looking to God for my inspiration. Reading through my posts, I see how he has held onto me all the time, shaping me into who he wants me to be. As a Christian, I will let God continue to do his work in me, leaving it up to the one who [as I seem to say all too often] "knows best".

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Freedom to fall but really?

Have any of you read or seen the play "The crucible" before? I just recently saw it for the first time. It made me really sad, angry, and emotional, which means it was a good play!

For those who haven't seen it, "The Crucible" is about a Puritan village in the fourteenth century. Where everything is very strict, and even the slightest hint of ungodliness, like not remembering your 10 commandments, can be seen as a sin. It shows a totally legalistic side of Christianity, with everyone saying they are "good Christians". The protagonist, John Procter, tries to convince everyone that Christianity is more than just accusing people if they do something wrong, but tragically ends up dying for his belief.

What first struck me was how wrong the village's theology was. Everyone believed that if they did not go to church on Sunday they were not a Christian, if they did not know their commandments they were likely to go to hell, and if the God appointed judge said something, it must be true, as the man is God appointed. As I pondered what it would be like living in those "dark ages" where being a Christian was just all about following rules, I was glad that I was born now instead of then. Now, we know that church is not what saves us, it is Jesus' blood. It is not the commandments that clean us, it is Jesus' sacrifice. Our world is so sinful we acknowledge that even God appointed people can fail and go into ruin.

But thinking that, I was challenged. Because now, we seem to go further. We make out that sin isn't as bad as we thought it was. That God's laws are just meant to be "tried to be followed" but that it actually doesn't really matter because we will fail anyway. That when temptation creeps up on us, God has forgiven us anyway, so we can indulge ourselves for a bit and then ask for forgiveness.

The freedom that Christ has given us is amazing but we have taken it too far. If we use an analogy of a cliff. We are like small children who have just been saved from a deep ditch by Gods hands. but instead of rushing to his safety away from the edge, we tiptoe back near the edge, asking God if we are still ok. We try and get as close to the edge of sin as possible. Then we slip, or the cliff edge breaks, and we fall into the ditch of sin again, where God has to extend his hand and take us out once more.

This just repeats on and on, and God keeps extending his hand. People will say "Yeah, God extends his hand, so it is all ok!". But what if once we fall in the ditch, and we get so caught up, we never look up into the hand that is trying to reach us and get us out. We forget our lifeline out of sin, we reject our saviour for other things?

The crucible is a very tragic story of a community that has taken God's law too far, but we are near the edge of the opposite, taking our freedom too far.

In 500 years or so, our period in time might be the setting for a different play, I just hope they have managed to find the middle ground by then, so they can gasp and squirm when they see our way of life, like we do when we see the totally legalistic society of the crucible.

If you can read this...

A friend recently went to India, and was inspired about what little things the Christians were thankful for. He said that prayer time was so long as they listed out all the good things that they could think of, and thanked God for them. Imagine going to church where the prayers are based on God's gifts to the human body?

"I thank God for feet, that I can walk,
For ears, that I can hear,
For eyes, that I can see,
And for a mind, that I can understand"

From this mindset, nearly everything becomes a blessing from God. When a car breaks down, "Thank God that we get a chance to walk!", when there is a robbery "Thank God that we have a house to be broken into!". A little over the top, I know, but in everything, we can thank God.

However, as the title suggests, one more blessing many of us forget is the simplest abilities that nearly all of us have. But, not only can we thank God for it, we can use it to glorify him too.

One encouraging story is of a man with down syndrome who told his pastor he loved reading through the book of Romans. His pastor replied "Wow! That is a very hard book!". To this the man said "I learn something new every time!".

My point is that we often skip the "lesser blessings" and say they are not important. We are proud of our skills in other things such as music, or encouragement, so who would want to just say they read as a skill?

Value God's gift of reading to you. Keep it valuable, give it a chance to shine. Maybe read a Christian book this month, read the Bible through from cover to cover. Use God's gift wisely. Don't just pass it off as unneeded.

If you can read this, you are blessed so much. But what are you going to do with that blessing?