The first quarter

As I sit here listening to gentle music and seeing the last bit of the sun setting on the hottest April day in 70 years and it also being the 108th day in the year, I’m reflecting on this first quarter of the year, which has been eventful, as on my previous reflections there have been ups and downs, but what has struck me about this quarter is of what I’ve learnt and what also what I’ve been reminded of,

What I’ve learnt..

Some of the things we learn are not from the most pleasant of things but are worth mentioning and this is what I’ll start with

1   About  loss

Not too long ago someone I knew from the age of 8 died from an illness.  The relationship I had with this person wasn’t always good, although there was a period where we weren’t at odds our relationship did not end on good terms, that saddened me, for in spite of their faults, I didn’t dislike them and I didn’t hold any ill will over our last contact.  Whilst others can mourn freely I can’t in the same way for the same reasons, I can’t shout their praise from the hilltops but neither do I want to tear strips off their life or pretend I was their best friend.  So my learning was to to how to navigate this loss, respecting others memories of this person but also allowing my own experiences of them to surface privately yet freely.  The other the thing that struck me was that knowing that I’m not immortal is one thing but being reminded that someone you’ve known a long time is not immortal either and this is something I have to remember.

2     Dealing with Danger

I recently found myself in a dangerous situation, the details of which I won’t go into for all sorts of reasons.  The thing I learnt about myself in that position is how my resilience kicked in  and even though at one point I knew I had no control about what would happen next, I still had control inwardly and how I responded to what was taking place and was surprised at my clarity of thinking and decision making processes were and in spite of the situation how very little emotion reaction at the time.

3   War and Peace

Read a book called Cross vision: How the Crucifixion of Jesus makes sense of Old Testament Violence by Gregory A. Boyd.  It was mostly a really a good book, it made me think over my non pacifist position, see my blog post called War and Peace. It hasn’t made me a 100% pacifist but certainly explains alot of the reasons in the way I can relate to for the reasons for the violence, and one great thing was he doesn’t blame God.  I learnt a great deal about some beliefs around the times of writing the old testament and it was a very well researched book. You’ll just have to read the book to find out more.  The timing was pretty apt with just last week or two of more raids from the British and US forces on Syria, the more I know about the situation the less I want to hear, just because of the possible propaganda/misinformation surrounding it all and the fact again we might be at war based on lies.  What I have learnt history certainly teaches us much about war and governments seeming to do more to go to war rather than to prevent it from happening.

4     When not to use the word “You”

I attended a marriage/relationship seminar for a day and one thing I learnt was in a conflict situation not to use the word “You” as it is often used in terms of accusations which causes people to be defensive, very useful, instead  say when this happens…or I heard …. being said.

Now to the lighter moments

5   To say Yes to invitations and opportunities

Life is to be lived to the full and that means not saying no to opportunities or invites and that’s what I’ve been doing this year, I met up with people I’d never met before through social media which was a wonderful adventure, invited to meetings and day conferences, now attend a book club run by one of our church leaders and possibly attending a bible course in September.  Saying no means closing the door on experiences whether they be good or bad, for me the only reason to say no now is either I just can’t do something as it clashes or I have a strong sense not to do it.  Otherwise any door that’s open I’ll walk through it.

Reminded of…

6  Being ordinary

Being comfortable with being just an ordinary human being, merging with the rest of the world and how freeing that is,  not having to keep up with the somebody people think you are or might be or you might want to be.  That doesn’t mean we humans are not valuable or having nothing to offer the world at large, its just accepting your ordinary and normal and that really is OK, you don’t have to be somebody to make a difference, and that was my lesson

7   Simple fun

Being reminded that fun doesn’t have to be complicated gave me a great deal of pleasure.  In January I purchased a google home.  On this device I discovered a quiz which I played on my own but you can also play with others.  So on an evening in March two of my nieces and I played the quiz together, the game gives us nicknames to play which made us all laugh for some reason I was mushroom for some strange reason it reminded me of my childhood with pictures of red toadstools with white spots on.  I loved the fact my nieces really enjoyed the quiz which happened completely by accident, simple and spontaneous fun make people happy.

8    A change is as good as a rest

In March I attended an interview for a job which unfortunately didn’t have a happy ending for a couple of weeks it certainly got me down and it was a job I felt I really wanted too.  One Friday one of my friends invited me to an impromptu drive to Sheffield with another mutual friend to visit family.  It was beautiful scenery with all weathers and good company.  I came home feeling a ton better and is if everything had completely changed  certainly  a reminder to me if I’m really down to just do something completely different or go somewhere on the spur and I’ll feel alot better.

Certainly these last 16 weeks have been intense at times, but I’ve also had time to be creative with another poem or two and another attempt at songwriting and more flapjack making.  I could add more but as I need to be up at 5:30am I need to finish.

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The role of sin in our lives, but there is good news!

I bet the headline of this  blog post has you anxious that I’m going to write a post about all the sins you’ve committed in your life and harp on about it and makes you want to either scroll on by or click the x at the top of the screen or close the app on your phone, please don’t as that’s not what I’m going to write about.

I’m sure many of you today have been chomping away on chocolate Easter eggs or something like that,  the closest thing I got was a mini egg on one of Easter nest cakes at church  and yes many of you may feel guilty for over eating and berating yourselves for eating too much and some may even think I’ve just sinned.  Many times the message of the cross is that Jesus died for our sins.  Many of those reading this already know what your sin is and the consequences but WHY is sin such a big deal it’s because of it’s role in our lives.

The role of sin

There are 3 roles to sin that are worth knowing about and even many Christians don’t see this either.

1 Sin causes us to think we are separated from God

Most people have heard sin separates you from God but the truth is that sin and the resulting guilt, shame and condemnation causes you to think you are separated from God.  God was has and is always with his creation, he is not separate from it at all, when Adam sinned in the garden Adam hid himself FROM God, God was still present, when God called where are you Adam,  it wasn’t because God couldn’t see him he knew where he was but he wanted Adam to know he was there and very present indeed.  It was sin that convinced Adam to run from God and that there was a veil there between them.  When Jesus died he cried out “my god, my God, why have you forsaken me” he cried that out when he became sin, sin caused him to think that, he was God in the flesh after all there was no separation, at that point on the cross he knew what sin causes us to believe in our separation from God.

 

2 Sin causes us to believe the worst about God

There seems alot of folk who have real misconceptions about God. That he is distant, angry and one favorite expression of mine the unmoved mover.  He’s ready to whip,  beat and catch us doing wrong at any time and ready to throw judgement at us, nothing could be further from the truth, first of all Jesus told his disciples to call God Our Father.  A real good father is not remote or ready to lash out at you whenever you do wrong.  God is the best Father and wants everyone on this planet to relate to him in that manner, sin and will tell you otherwise. the Father that does not want you to be anxious for anything to provide for and love you though thick and thin and allows you to make your own choices and trusts you like any Good father does  and wants you to come to him freely. Sin will rob you of that notion believing the very opposite.

3  Sin causes you to think that there is absolutely nothing good about you as well as God.

Yep when God created  man (man and woman) he declared it was very good and not  just that he created man in his image and likeness, we are like God, we are not God but like him, just like when you look at a family member and see your eyes, or you hear them say something a certain way you think I’d say it like that.  They aren’t you but look and sound like you.  We are like God in that we look and sound like God and portray his nature in different ways.  The serpent in the Garden like sin convinces us we are not like God and we are dark humans walking the planet and there is nothing good about us.

The good news

The good news is Jesus when he died on the cross he wanted us to know three things

1 We are not separated from God,

2 Our Father  is love personified and is not mad at us at all rather he is mad at sin and it’s destructive nature in our lives and it’s purpose, putting distance between us and his love.

3  You are good, very good, he created you and is much good in you, your sin is masking that reality of your true nature.

For any reading this your wandering I get this but now what must I do,

Talk to Father God, he loves you he knows you intimately, you don’t have to do it in a religious fashion just be yourself, he loves you like that.  Ask him to remove the veil between you in your thinking and in your heart towards him.  Tell him what you think of him and that you need help in having a revelation of who he is, ask him to come alive to you on the inside and simply be open to receive the revelation of love because Father God is love.

A very happy Easter to you all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

War and Peace

Like most people I was shocked at the events in Paris recently and some of the response from around the world.  After various conversations and reading it got me thinking about our notion of war and our notion of peace.

What is peace? Is peace always the absence of war?  What is the purpose of war? If people describe themselves involved in a faith as peaceful what does that mean?

Peace as a noun can mean freedom from disturbance: tranquillity

War as a noun is defined as a state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country.

Those are what I call strict definitions.  But there larger uses to these words, peaceful resolution, war on want, warlike, peacemaker amongst many other uses.

I think most people want and believe in peace, but how do we get it and maintain it.  For those who believe in peace, is there a possibility of having peace without conflict or any kind of disturbance to it? Can we really have peace without experiencing war in order to appreciate peace?

After considering pacifism I have problems with the notion of it.  One of which is that we can have peace without conflict, another is that communication and negotiation prevent war, hmm well I disagree for various reasons.

1 Peace without conflict

How realistic is this notion, in everyday life we can find ourselves in a form of conflict or disagreement, whether it’s ideas, beliefs, opinions and that’s just in human conversation.  How can we avoid conflict, the fact is we simply can’t.  Interestingly marriages that never have conflict tend to break down more than those that do.  They bury their issues and they fester.  I can think of a country that’s a bit like that apparently there is peace, but more like an uneasy or fragile one where there’s been a huge compromises so that certain groups don’t pick up arms again, suspicion still reigns and the power is really in the hands of people who may well have bloody hands and never been brought to justice.  To me that’s not peace that’s intimidation and manipulation how is that peace.

I’m the kind of person that hates conflicts and arguments, and I would avoid it as much as possible even though I could have an argumentative mind and could argue.  Many years ago I remember confronting someone over an issue something that they had done behind my back, this person received what I had to say with good grace and it really improved the relationship, I learnt a valuable lesson, a relationship without conflict or confrontation is not a secure relationship, but one where there is that level of honesty is secure, I gained respect as a result of that confrontation.  Over the years I had many conflicts with that person to this day although I have no contact with them anymore (not for any bad reason) there’s still respect and ultimately trust.

2  Communication and negotiation prevent war

If pacifists believe this notion then why are some of them the most difficult to have dialogue with, they don’t practice what they preach with words.  I have found they tend to win an argument rather than a relationship.  If they really believe in pacifism they would handle discussions, debates differently, they may not use guns or believe in the use of them but their mouths are pretty good ammo.  Death and life are in the power of the tongue.  Much destruction and pain can be caused by words.

Does this mean I’m a proponent of war? , yes but only in some conditions.  First I will address some causes of war.

I get irritated that people will say religion causes wars, well yes some, but many are caused by other things, land, tribal issues, greed, resources.  The Falkland islands was over territory, something like 98% of them wanted to remain in the UK.  The conga, conflict there was over gold, Rwanda, tribal issues.

These are the conditions to go to war, defence of territory from an invasion, protecting people around you from threat of attack from outside territory which should be proven obviously, defending those who can’t defend themselves.

Does this mean I’m a war monger, far from it, there are stupid reasons for war, some based on ridiculous ideologies, some based on, the idea we bomb the hell out of a place then rebuild it, no they are not good reasons.  There has to be a valid reason for war but also an objective once war is over. I do believe in peace as far as possible, yes I believe in negotiation, but remember even saying the wrong thing could create conflict anyway, I believe war should be a last resort when other options have been exhausted.  As I write this discussion about bombing Syria is being discussed, I don’t like the idea of bombing the place, I think it plays into the wrong hands at the same time there are know threats to this countries security, does that mean we sit back and do nothing and have another July 7th? Well I’ll leave that with you to make up your own mind. In the meantime I purse peace not war. Peace everyone.