Saturday, 24 November 2012

not what you SHOULD do for God, but what God longs to do for you.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you...
...Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
Romans 12:1-3

This is another passage like 1 Corinthians 13. One that haunts me. One that I can hold up next to my life and see how I don't measure up. I know not everyone has this same reaction, but I bet I'm not the only one. I'm not really sure how you can read this (and the rest of 12, 13 and 14-which you can read here) and not feel at least a little inadequate? It's good to set a high bar. Lot's of room for continuous improvement.

Also, do you ever have one of those times where you actually stop one of those selfish things that you do, and you realise that it's actually like a drug. It's a pain-killer. Sometimes, when I stop indulging my selfishness, I end up having a day or two of feeling low. My selfishness screams to be indulged, and if it can't have one thing it's shout for another. Pigging out, getting drunk, intimacy. I get grumpy. I get sad. I get moody. I don't know what to do about it!

Perhaps there is more to this. Maybe it's time to stop masking the problem, and try to find some real, lasting satisfaction. Some contentment. The things that we do that we feel that we can't live without. Perhaps, they are actually keeping us from feeling our need, and therefore doing something to RESOLVE it.
This passage above does seem to fit nicely with what I've already written about 'Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh' (Galatians5:16 NIV)

The problem is, it seems very easy. Easy to understand at least. I don't find it easy to implement  Things like impatience, immaturity and self-discipline get in the way. Also, I just plain forget what it is that I'm supposed to be trying to do. That very problem is something that Romans 12-14 is actually very useful for.

However, if we're setting ourselves a(nother) long list of tasks, we're missing the point again.So, maybe we want to live well, so all we need to do is make sure we follow all these rules.



That is not what it says.

GOD brings out the best in us. WE don't bring this goodness TO GOD, HE BRINGS IT ALL TO US. By what God is and what He does FOR US. Walk by the Spirit and (THEN) you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Emphasis added)

So. For those of you who, like me, would like some more of this in your life. Let's not give ourselves rules and rules to try to stick to. Let us instead do as is suggested.

Carry on living our lives, doing the things that we already do, but make it an offering to God. Not just the special times, but ALL the time. The ordinary. Fix our attention on him. When we realise he's asking us to do something, then actually do it. Without delay. If we just involve him like this, then we will change, and those things listed, that 'good way of living' will grow in us. That's what well-formed maturity is.

Now, all I have to do is do this. To continue to do it, and hopefully remember that I've written it down here when I realise that I've forgotten.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Don't plant weeds in your plowed fields

So, for all my wandering through that post yesterday, I don't think I said what I wanted to say when I started. Thankfully the next chapter of Jeremiah summed it up quite nicely!!

Here’s another Message from God to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow your unplowed fields, but then don’t plant weeds in the soil! Yes, circumcise your lives for God’s sake. Plow your unplowed hearts Jer 4:3-4

There is an important point here about not trying to seek God, but then ALSO still carrying on with the selfish things that we do. If we try to seek God, but we're still seeking our own pleasure at other's expense then we are divided. Both are required. So not only is it 'Don't just go on your merry way and then run to me when it all goes wrong' but also 'Don't try walking with me and still keep your other gods too'

We have to get rid of those things in our lives that we idolise, or that come from selfishness.

Which is really difficult sometimes. 

Most times...

Pretty much all the time.

God understands. (He knows us quite well in fact)

21-22 The sound of voices comes drifting out of the hills, the unhappy sound of Israel’s crying, Israel lamenting the wasted years, never once giving her God a thought. “Come back, wandering children! I can heal your wanderlust!” 
Jer 3:21-22

Monday, 15 October 2012


Following on from my post last week 'A cry for help' This morning I read this...

"But you say, ‘I can’t help it. I’m addicted to alien gods. I can’t quit.’.... Just as a thief is chagrined, but only when caught, so the people of Israel are chagrined. All I ever see of them is their backsides. They never look me in the face, but when things go badly, they don’t hesitate to come running, calling out, ‘Get a move on! Save us!’ Why not go to your handcrafted gods you’re so fond of? Rouse them. Let them save you from your bad times" (Excerpts from Jeremiah 2:25-28)

Kinda re-emphasises what I was saying about not running to God when we realise things are starting to go wrong, or have already come crashing down around our ears! However, today it got me thinking about another side to it. The emphasis here is about how sometimes we have our other gods, our idols, the things we dedicate our time and our efforts too. Dare I say, the things that we daydream about!?

I am so so glad that none of you can read my thoughts. My daydreams range from the pointless to the ridiculous!

God is saying 'You put these things above me in your life, and now you're running to me for help? Let your pointless, unhelpful daydreams/obsessions save you... Oh, they can't? WELL WHAT ARE YOU WORSHIPING THEM FOR THEN!?'

I'm paraphrasing of course.

So, here is perhaps another insight into what it means to 'Live by the Spirit'. Not having things that we make more important than God. It's more than just that though. If you'll permit me to simplify the idea of 'Sin' as things that are selfish. I know it doesn't say this in the verse above, but the principle still applies (I'm pretty sure) The acts of the sinful nature are all acts of selfishness, does it then stand to reason that the fruit of the spirit is unselfishness? or am I being overly simplistic? maybe unselfishness us a part of it.

My daydreams and obsessions are selfish. It's all about me. What I want, what makes me happy. It's actually quite stressful trying to get your own way all the time! Think about it. "What if I don't get the biggest cookie?" "What if they don't like me" "What if someone is better than me at the things I'm good at" 

I could go on.

Be warned as well, sometimes it's not even as obvious as that.

You know what I've discovered quite recently? Putting God first, and putting other people first is really really peaceful. It's difficult to explain (and, easy to forget and go back to 'ME ME ME' again, but I recommend it.

Last time, I had a vague idea, but here I have something more solid:
Don't let things have more of our love, time, imagination than God does.
Actively seek to give God our attention, love and time, and this includes putting other people before ourselves.

We can't do one without the other. God doesn't want to share us, and he doesn't want to be our last resort.

Friday, 12 October 2012

What are we waiting for?

When I signed back into my Blog, after not looking at it for a number of months, I found this half written post. So, this morning, I decided to finish and post it.

I'm not even sure how old it is.....

I was meditating on the prodigal son story this morning
specifically what the father says to the older son
"My Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours'
I was struck about how the Father would have given the older Son a big party whenever he had asked, but he never asked.
The brother was working hard trying to earn his fathers love and 'generosity'
but he already had those things. The whole time.
He's slogging his guts out trying so hard, and he'll never make it because he already has it.

Why do we do that? (I don't think it's just me)

Work hard, and heap up expectation on ourselves of what I need to do, how well I need to do it, how I need to live, what My life should look like so that the Father will love me and be generous. 

Generous with the inheritance

Either working till I've earned it, or waiting until it becomes mine.

The brother had access to the wealth of the Father, but he never accessed it. The Father waited for his Son to take, and use it, but he never did.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

The riches of God are already ours. We don't have to wait for our inheritance. God says 'You are always with me, and all I have is yours' And we certainly don't have to earn it. Are not able to even!! The younger Son most certainly didn't earn it! But he got it.

If we're waiting until we're dead before we enjoy all that God has for us while we're here, then we've kinda missed the point.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A Cry for Help

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians5:16 NIV)

What does this mean?? To be honest, I don't know. 

But I have been thinking about it, and what I'm thinking is this. 'Walking by the Spirit' does not mean suddenly asking Holy Spirit for help every time you feel tempted to do something you're not supposed to do.

There are two reasons I think this:

1. Maybe the thing you think you shouldn't be doing really isn't a big deal. Don't misunderstand me here. I'm not saying we should do whatever we like, just that sometimes we think we shouldn't do something, and expend a lot of time and effort and prayer trying not to do it, and in reality God had more pressing things on his mind. Please don't assume something is 'wrong' just because people tell you it is, or because you enjoy it. People are sometimes wrong. When Romans 12 says 'Dont become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit in to it without thinking' it's not just talking about your workplace/school or the local pub. It also means the church.
Also... Enjoying yourself is allowed. God delights in our Joy.

2. Running on with life, not giving God a thought, getting on with whatever and then suddenly running to him for help with one thing does not sound like 'Walking by the Spirit'. Walking is a long, slow activity. Not a sudden, and brief sprint. Sounds to me like 'Walking by the Spirit' is something that should take up more of my life than the occasional panicked cry for help.

But what does THAT look like? Well... I don't know.

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. (Galatians 5:16 MSG)

Apparently it has something to do with our motivation and not being selfish. Hmmmmm.....

Saturday, 17 April 2010


I like to hug people, and be close to people. I've even been told that my hugs are part of my ministry. It is good to show love to people when they need it. However, I've been challenged recently that a lot of the time, when I do hug people, It's me that wants the hug. I hate to admit it, but I didn't really stop to think much about whether they wanted it or not. So... I'm not actually giving a hug. I'm taking a hug.

C.S. Lewis said "Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less" and this is part of it. Not what I need. Not what I want. I have to admit, I didn't think it was possible. After all. I can't live without the things I need. That's the definition of need isn't it?

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain : John 12v24

This is an encouragement to let go. To fall to the ground and die. Someone read this verse out at church a few weeks ago, and it really spoke to me. I imagined myself, a grain of wheat. Clinging to the stalk. Clinging to my comforts. If I don't have what I need then I'll die! But what happens to a grain of what when it falls to the ground and dies? IT GROWS!

Falling to the ground is a passive act. Let go of the comforts. Let go of your needs. You'll find that you can live without them. If you let go, you will be cut off from the sun, the air and the light. (I'm speaking mataphorically. Please don't go and bury yourself alive) I can promise you that you won't like it. That's ok. Don't give up. Let yourself fall all the way to the ground. And die. Don't worry about your needs. If we don't give up our attachment, we remain dependant, small, weak and useless. And alone.

When a seed dies, that only means that it's life as a seed is over. God breathes new life into broken seeds. New as in different. New as in better. God sends rain to refresh and fulfill, and the seed will grow into an entirely new shape. It will break out into the sun, which will warm and nourish it. A seed cannot refresh itself, but can only let the sun and the rain do their work. New shape means new purpose, and new seeds.

Sunday, 21 February 2010


What does this picture make you think of?

I've asked a few friends, and had a few different answers. Some about old memories and friends. Some about light and dark and life and death. Some wanting to know the story of the Tree. Everyone can see the tree is leaning, but no-one is sure why.

When I saw this picture, my immediate thought was that the tree had grown up in strong wind all it's life. Whether that's true or not I don't know but that's what I thought.

Do you ever feel like that? Like your whole life you've been pushed in one direction? Not just suggested, but not quite forced to think, act and make decisions in certain ways?

When we're 'born again' (accepted God and have recieved a new life from him) we inherit some excellent promises. For example...

"Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Corin 6:9-11

Society/culture/the media tells us that we can't live without certain things. It tells us that we need to worship idols (stuff, people etc) It tells us that sex is the grand aim of life. It tells us that we're dissatisfied with what we have, and need more. Or that everyone else has more than us, so we're fully entitled to do whatever it takes to get what we're missing out on. It tells us that how God feels about relationships and sex doesn't matter.

The Bible however tells us that we're washed, sanctified and justified. In other words our past is washed away, and we're fresh and new. We're a new 'sanctified' person who doesn't worship idols, who is content with what they have, who doesn't feel like they're missing out, and have to cheat to get what they need. Sex is no longer the whole point of our existence, but can be put in it's rightful place, as God intended. Sanctified means set apart for God. It means we have purpose, and we are pure. Also, we're justified. We have a new relationship with God where we are part of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit community.

All of these things are in the past tense. They have all happened. They are all already true, but many times I find that my life doesn't look like the promises. I feel like a tree, rooted in promises that I'm not enjoying. Blown over by the wind, which constantly pushes and pushes. I've grown up in the wind and come to accept it as truth. It isn't the truth, it's a big lie.

God, help us to recognise our roots from our leaves. Help us to remember what you've done for us. Help us to grow straight, and strong and tall.