Thursday, June 30, 2011

Without Excuse

I'm always hesitant to write about things that may be opinionated or controversial because I am very aware of my lack of authority or qualifications to talk about theology. The questions I have and topics I don't understand far, far outweigh the minuscule list of things I am sure of.

But I have read a few things lately about the topic of the 'final judgement'. I have not read it yet, but there has been a lot of talk about Rob Bell's book Love Wins and I read a blog by Rachel Held Evans and she discusses similar sorts of things.

There are many things that people question and struggle with, such as what about children who are too young to make a decision? What about people in remote places who have never had the chance to hear the gospel?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pick 'n' Mix faith

I was searching for a bible verse in Google - what did we ever do without that handy tool? - and came across a page where someone had compiled a list of verses they took as proof that Christians pick and choose what they actually want to follow out of the Bible.

They were saying that Christians choose verses that suit them to attack others and support prejudices against homosexuals, but ignore other things the Bible says. They listed some examples such as what should be done to women who commit adultery, about women covering their heads when they pray, about slaves obeying their masters.

Two things made me sad...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Afraid that you ARE good enough

A lot of people recognise being afraid of failure, afraid of people thinking they are no good, or of feeling within yourself that you are not good enough to be successful.

Sometimes, however, I believe this is an excuse. I believe this because I was one I was using for years.

Even when I felt like I had dealt with any self-esteem issues I had - which many people do, when they are a teenagers and then carried over into adult life - I still felt afraid. I thought it was because I didn't feel good enough to be successful. I thought  it was because I was afraid of what people would think of me if they saw me fail.

But that actually wasn't the real issue. I was actually afraid that I was good enough. It seems silly. Why would you be afraid of succeeding. And because it seems silly, that's why I never considered it.
It wasn't until my husband pointed out to me one day "I think you're afraid of being good enough, because then people will expect it from you and you will have to live up to it."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One thing at a time

When I was a teacher I once used the film Crash (2004) as a film study in one of my English classes. If you've seen that film you know there are a lot of characters whose lives are connected and interwoven in various ways.

To try and help the students keep track of the connections, we drew up a character web. By the time we were done it was large and complex as there were many names on the board with many lines running between the to illustrate the relationships and connections. If anyone had walked into the room and tried to figure out what was on the board, it would have seemed a bit overwhelming.

In fact for many of the students, they too looked at it and felt daunted by it. Trying to take in the whole thing at once...well, you can't. There's too much information.

But that character web wasn't designed to be taken in all at once. It was designed so you could focus on one character. Find that characters name and then follow the lines from that character to see their connections.

When you do that it is fairly basic. You can follow a whole trail of connections that make sense, when you start with just one character at a time.

It is the same with many things, like looking at a map. It can seem overwhelming when you try and take in the whole thing. But once you find the little "You are here" marker, then work out which way you are facing, then notice which landmarks you are standing near that you can also find on the map, step by step you break it down into something that makes sense.

You can probably see where I'm going with this analogy...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hope and Disappointment

The biggest complaint people have about hope is that it sets you up for disappointment when what you were hoping for doesn't work out. It can feel like more often than not we get let down by our hopes and expectations.

But a life without hope is a hard life to live.

Maybe is not hope that is the problem, but what we are hoping for.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Does God ever let you off the hook?

For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required. Luke 12:48

I love it when God is doing things. I love it when God is doing things in me, causing me to grow and change for the better because I trust Him and know it is all for good. But I love C.S. Lewis' way of describing it like God as a builder coming in and renovating our 'house' - knocking things about, making things better.... it's not without discomfort.

Sometimes you can get to the point where you just wonder if there is an end to the stretching. Can't I have a day off from spiritual growth, God? This is hard going.

I get the feeling the answer is, no. There is no end to it. That's seems kind of depressing - does it mean we are in for a life of nothing but painful renovations?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Every Morning

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3: 22-23

God has great promises for us. His great love will never fail us. We do not need to be consumed by the troubles of today, but wait and rest in Him with the hope of new things.

This morning I woke up with worry and turmoil on my mind uncertain about what the outcome of the day would be. And in my email inbox was a gift of hope from God. (Not directly from God - I don't have his email address I'm afraid - but definitely a blessing from Him through someone else.)

When has God lifted your day with new blessings and compassion? Don't doubt that he will do it again. Great is his faithfulness.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The skies proclaim

The heavens declare the glory of God;
   the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
   night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
   no sound is heard from them. 
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
   their words to the ends of the world.  

You don't have to look very far to see evidence of God. If he takes this much care to create sunsets so beautiful, how much more will He care for you, His child?

This photo was taken of the view from my house, where I'm blessed to get a beautiful reminder of God every evening. What reminds you of God's wonder?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Stepping out of the boat

On what is meant to be Sugar Free Friday, it should perhaps be called Fearless Friday today.

Sometimes, despite all the confirmation and evidence and assurance, it is still difficult to step out of the boat and walk towards Jesus.

In Matthew 14, Jesus was right there - he was walking on the water. Though it's normally something that is impossible, he was doing it right in front of them. So when Jesus invited him, Peter also stepped out, and began to walk on the water. That is, until he noticed the wind. Until he looked to the situation instead of to Jesus. Then he remembered that walking on water is impossible, and you are more likely to drown in the wind and the waves.

Except that he had been walking on the water. And that Jesus was still there, on the water. And that anything is possible with God. But even with Jesus physically in front of him, Peter doubted.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

One Night with the King

One Night with the King is the story of Esther in a dramatised novel form, which I have recently read and enjoyed. It has also been adapted as a feature length film - but that, I did not enjoy. To me it mangled the story and didn't capture the point at all. I think they were trying to make it more dramatic or cinematic. I can't say what it would be like from the point of view of someone who did not know the story of Esther, but it wasn't even faithful to fictionalised novel it was based on, let alone the Biblical account.

But the book was good. Even if it is a fictionalised account with lots of details added, it accomplished this in a way that drew my attention more clearly to some points about the story of Esther in the Bible that I hadn't fully considered before. (As a note, I would probably recommend being completely familiar with the story as the Bible sets it out before reading, so that you don't end up getting confused between what we actually know and what was added for the novel.)

These are some things I thought about - I could write a whole blog post on each, but for now it's just dot points.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Listed again.

Yay. It's fun to see something you've written appear in a list on someone else's site. This time it's all travel blogs and articles, and one I wrote about South Africa has been listed.

You can see the Blog Carnival here.