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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A life to be thankful for

Today I attended a funeral of a couple who are friends of mine who’s 43 old son died last week, leaving a wife and four children.

I was more than happy to go as the mother of the son who had died had unexpectedly attended my mother’s funeral just a few years ago, and It had meant a lot to me that she had been, and she and her husband had been such a support to me since that time.  I generally prefer funerals to weddings, not because I like people dying but because your presence alone means a great deal to those suffering around you, whereas at a wedding I’ve often felt just a casual observer.

I was rather surprised to be affected by this funeral, as I’ve attended quite a few this has been one that affected me the most apart from family members of course.  I didn’t know this couple’s son very well, but I couldn’t help being moved by first looking at the order of service and seeing the man who I will call John looking radiantly happy with his wife, that happiness cut short, and then the picture at the back of the four children left behind, also seeing John’s father walk in with his arm protectively around his wife following his sons coffin beautifully decorated with photographs, which must have been an ordeal for them followed by the large family impacted by John’s death. I couldn’t help the large amount of tears in my eyes.

At the same time there were some moments which were funny, with my kind of humour I couldn’t help noticing someone nearly trip over part of the pew that’s used to kneel on, later on navigating a song that either didn’t have the correct words printed  or the organist got the wrong music, whichever thankfully  there were quite a number of voices got round that particular mistake well.  It’s usually me who gives people laughs at funerals, at my nan’s funeral I was sharing a car with my cousin and it was thundering and lightening, I said to my cousins, well at least she went off with a bang, which made them both laugh. my eldest cousin said “only you could get away with saying that”.  At my mums internment it had been snowing heavily getting round the tombstones was rather difficult I climbed over a large mound of snow only to discover I was clambering over a tombstone which made my nieces laugh.

Towards the end of the funeral the father gave an overview of his son’s life.  I sat there thinking about the fact John was only a year younger than me he had a wife and children I hadn’t and he was more worthy of living than I was, but after hearing his euology, about his love of sport, that he travelled extensively, studied at university, travelled again, and settled down with is wife and became provider of his four children, I got the impression he loved life and lived it to the full.  I came to the conclusion that although his life was short he had achieved a great deal most importantly loving his family. Although this is a deep loss to his family and friends no one can say he hadn’t lived his life to the full, and after all isn’t that the purpose of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Losing my way

I haven’t written a blog for a while here’s why, I feel lost, well more accurately I’ve lost my way.

I had one of those weeks last week where I felt let down and blocked at any progress I was trying to make.  So I come to a full stop.  How do I proceed and where the hell am I going?

As a child I would get lost, who wouldn’t, my solution find an adult or more accurately I would have lost an adult and try to proceed finding them, it would result of tapping someone on the shoulder or shouting Dad or mum at somebody only discover it was someone else, embarrassing.  Sometimes I’d be looking for a vehicle only to get into the wrong car that would look very similar, that’s happened to me about three times.  I’ve lost my reading glasses a million times or more I’m sure.

In times past I felt I’d lost my faith born out of dryness, disappointment or doubt, the truth there is God knew about the feeling of being lost when he shared the parable about the woman who had lost the coin, the interesting thing about the other two parables and that one is that the people had lost something that belonged to them, something that was already in their possession I’ll let folks think about that one.

The thing is I’ve lost my way, my direction in life, but I’ve not only lost my way or direction, I’ve lost my destination, what is my destination? Is it true that having lost my way I’ve lost my destination?

Destination determines something way off in the future, as human beings we are programmed to think ahead, destination determines outcome or achievement.  That notion of achievement is thought provoking,  should achievement be the end game of everything we do?

My problem has always been I may have a destination but my strategy in getting there is poor, I’m not really a strategist, it’s not really my strong point.  In some situations your destination can seem like an agenda and not a good one.  How many of us for instance in order to arrive at our destination we try and manipulate people or circumstances in order to arrive at the most beneficial outcome to us?   We may not be the only ones on that particular course of direction or destination.  Athletes compete in a race for the prize  they are heading the same way, their approach and strategy determines who wins, but it also determines who loses.  Is life about winning and losing, or rather should life be about winning or losing?

Believe me I’ve thought a lot about some of the things I’ve wanted to do, my motives for doing them are they pure, justifiable.  My search for work is difficult because I’m not the only one wanting work, so do many others, Is it arrogant to think I could be better than someone else to do a job?  To be fair having a dual disability means I’m further down the food chain of desirables from an employers perspective as being the best choice.

For all the advice people give me in my life, there are no simple answers.  and my problems can’t just be fixed.  There’s nothing worse coming away from a conversation feeling as though that person has it all worked out and you feeling as though you don’t measure up to those standards they are inadvertently setting.  To be fair I’ve done it too , come up with solutions for people when it’s not what they need at that time, when they have lost their way, or they don’t know what to do, in those circumstances all people need is empathy,  a listening ear and most of all encouragement, not solutions, pat answers or questioning.

In the meantime what do I do?  Well the only answer I have right now is rest, I don’t mean do nothing but not strive for answers, let go of trying to come up with solutions that are depressing which a lot of them are.  Just let go of trying  to work it all out.

I have to trust that somehow, somewhere or someone, will bring some light into my pathway, so I can move forward.  In the meantime I stay lost.

Christianity and Disability

For some time now I’ve been thinking a great deal about this topic.  Just from different things that have happened.  I’ve wondered what is the best approach to talk about this subject or rather write about it.  I’ve come to the conclusion the best way to address it using the passage about Bartimaeus.

1 He cried out

Bartimaeus was on the side begging, but he heard a commotion, he asked what the noise was about and he was told it was Jesus, obviously knowing about who Jesus was, he cried out to him,  he cried out because he knew Jesus could help him.  The words he used was Son of David, have mercy on me.  Yes he was shouting to get Jesus attention because he wouldn’t have been able to find him easily.  But he could have cried out those words for another reason.  Particularly his reference to David.  Was he thinking about the story of Mephibosheth of which  he may have heard in the synagogue, this is recorded in 2 Samuel Ch 9.  David showed kindness to Mephibosheth even though it was his dead rivals sons relative.  Bartimaeus probably didn’t feel that he earned the right to sit at the masters table but asked for mercy anyway. Because he knew that David had shown kindness to someone with a disability.  David had shown kindness on the previous king’s relative by asking him to come to his palace and providing him a place to live and be seated at his table as if he was one of his own.  Mephibosheth was also given servants.  For this Mipobosheth had done nothing to deserve this kindness.  So Bartimaeus was appealing to the son of David’s kindness in the form of Jesus.

2 The people were stern with Bartimaeus

The people’s response to Bartimeaus cries were hostile and harsh telling him to shut up.  Why tell someone in need to shut up, why tell someone whose lived with debilitating condition for many years to shut up.  What is our response when disabled people complain or cry for help?  In fact thankfully in spite of the harshness of the people surrounding him he didn’t give up, he was single minded in his pursuit of Jesus, and had the courage to speak out all the more, telling someone to shut up can often lead to the opposite affect, nothing was going to deter Bartimaeus from receiving his sight not even the fear of man or peoples prejudice.

Before I go any further in this post with the different points of the story I need to say that from this point in the story by the two different accounts recorded in the Bible they diverge.  One accounts Bartimaeus throws off his cloak and  is called over by Jesus, in the other account, he tells those around him to bring Bartimaeus to him.  I’ve decided to go with the account recorded in Luke as I believe it better reflects Jesus character and actions and although I’m sure Bartimaeus threw away his cloak and , therefore throwing away his identity as a disabled person, I don’t believe because of his blindness he would have been able to make his way through a crowd of people to Jesus on his own, therefore I believe Luke’s account is more accurate.  Now I will proceed.

3  Jesus  stopped and commanded “Bring him to me”

Jesus stopped, why because he heard someone cry out to him.  Not just anyone, Jesus didn’t just ignore this man or his disability, in fact he stopped and listened, not only did he stop and listen he also responded. In fact he commanded those around him to bring Bartimaeus to him, he didn’t expect Bartimaeus to try and navigate to him on his own in the huge crowd pressing on him.  He honoured him, he knew his limitations and gave him dignity.

4 Jesus  asked him what he wanted

It may seem strange and it may seem obvious that this man wanted his sight back, but no.  Many disabled people sit in churches and the people assume if they need prayer its because they want prayer for the healing of their particular disability , or that’s the only prayer they need.  NO NO NO.  People with disabilities have the same needs as everyone else, provision, relationships, and emotional health.  so don’t assume when a disabled people come up for prayer its physical healing they want.  Jesus was showing the man respect, he may have already have known Bartimaeus needed physical healing but he needed to ascertain what he wanted at that particular time.  Jesus asked him in order to demonstrate the principle of not assuming you know what someone needs just because it’s obvious.  Also there is more to a disabled person than their disability and this I’m sure he wanted to demonstrate in his actions to the people around him these points that I’ve written here.

5 He responded to his request

Jesus did heal Bartimaeus.  But I want to point something out that may not be obvious. When did Bartimaeus get healed.  You might think it was when Jesus laid hands on him.  I believe it was far sooner than that.  I believe it started at the point where Jesus commanded those around him to bring him to him.  Once those people around Bartiemaeus responded to his command and  brought him to Jesus that’s the point where I believe healing began, because it was a demonstration of love, which I believe is a prerequisite for healing or at least the start.  As soon as Bartimaeus saw Jesus loving response and the immediate kindness from those around him he was able to throw away his identity as a disabled person and become someone with a disability.  Once he reached Jesus then Jesus did the rest.  Bartimaeus became a man who was blind but now could see.

So what does this passage teach us about disability and those of us who are Christians?

1 Listen to people with disabilities  when they cry out for help.

2 Don’t rebuke a disabled person asking for help.

3 Seek to understand what they want and not dismiss their issues and concerns as mere complaining.

4 Ask others to come and assist that individual but be willing to be the one to ultimately help that person if necessary.  Much of the time a disabled person just needs to be heard and understood and ultimately loved the same way as any able bodied person would.

5 Pray for them but ask what they want prayer for.

I may write more on this issue, because I know there are issues that have not yet been addressed. So don’t be surprised if I do another part to this in the future.  Please feel free to ask questions or comment. Thanks 🙂

Letting Go

I was sitting on a train home following a visit to my friends and I thought I saw someone I knew, only from behind, I kept wondering is it them or not, my curiosity was really strong, I was thinking I wish they would turn round then I would know for sure, I wouldn’t want the embarrassment of mistaken identity which is a common thing with Vi’s.  But it got me thinking laterally about other things. my plans and dreams, I knew that I’ve got work to do once I returned home in relation to those things, but I found myself thinking  specifically about the need to let go.  Letting go of the fact that some of my dreams and plans may not come to fruition.  The application form for a course I want to attend I may not be accepted on, this blog may not flourish, the new fb group I’ve created may not gain the momentum I want it too, my current voluntary work may not lead to anything more than it is, therefore it was time to let go.  Also time to let go of not being able to be the kind of friend I want to be to some people, to let go of my expectations of others, of not being the most charismatic individual around.  The list goes on.

Of course I’ve had to let go in the past sometimes I’ve been in no other position but to do so, the death of my mum in 2012, my job when in 2013 the company I worked for went bust.  Believe me those were painful experiences.  But this time on the train I felt these were just clear choices.  The thought was in my mind does it really matter if these things never come to fruition or bear fruit.  So what if I don’t get accepted on the course I want to do would it really be the end of the world?  What about the relationships I have with those around me and my expectations or theirs is it such a big deal?  The fact that I don’t always feel valued and understood by those around me is it really necessary that I need to explain or make myself understood and be valued?

Strangely I felt a smile spread across my face at the thought of letting go, because letting go can mean letting other good things in, there are no limits, we often think our options are limited if we let go,  our fears are that if we let go nothing else will come in its place, hmmm.  Does this mean I should not do what I can to make things work such as this blog and the rest, of course not, my passion for the things I have in the pipeline are still valuable, but passion fuels me to do what I do but it doesn’t rule me.  So I’m  left with a sense of peace about my future after all often we are afraid of the future and what it entails.  I can still make effort with my relationships with the people around me without allowing what I think they need from me to control me.

I rather see my life being like a tree, a tree cannot grow new leaves without shedding some dead ones, but in the place of those leaves new shoots of life replace the dead leaves.  In other words my life has stuff that’s not right  or good in it those things get shaken off and new things or better things come in their place.  I just have to trust that when things die or don’t work out new green shoots will form and grow and produce life and if things don’t work out it means better things are ahead or adaptations need to take place.   Another analogy is the passage where Jesus talks about the seed that has to fall into the ground and die before it bears fruit.  In my case I’ve seen that happen.

In Feb 2000 I got offered an opportunity to do some work for a company I wanted to work for, but it came to nothing, my then pastor mentioned that scripture I mentioned above  that was already confirmation to me, I let it go.  Nine months later I got offered a job at that same company and stayed there for 13 years.  So letting go can be a good thing and it brings peace.

Ok so back to my original  starting point.  So now you maybe wondering did I get to find out if who I saw on the train was the person I thought it was?   Well when the  train finally pulled into my final destination , the assistant met me just at the door of the train, he walked me to the bus stop where I could wait for my bus.  I’d been standing there for a few seconds then I looked to my left, walking away from me was the assistant talking to the person who I thought I recognised on the train, unfortunately again it was from behind so I have no way of knowing whether the person I saw was who I thought it was, and it could have been a different person entirely to the person I saw on the train  so that will be a mystery to me and something I have let go of , so now you will have to let go of knowing who It was I thought I saw 🙂

The quote that got me thinking 

Late last night I do my favourite pastimes bath book and bed I call it BBB 🙂 Anyway I was finishing a book I’ve been reading called Gaining heaven’s perspective: A guide to hearing and seeing the voice of God by Julian C. Adams, something he said got me thinking.

God is more interested in your relationship with him than you waiting for his commands

What a quote, it sent me back to the time in a church I was in many years ago when there was much emphasis on obeying God’s commands, it rather reminded me that the person who used to say it the most saw God as a sergeant major.  I believe that the image of God we have determines what sort of relationship we have with him.  It reminds me of the passage in Matthew 25 from verse 14 about the different people been given possessions by their master how they viewed him caused them to respond in kind.  The man who was given just the one talent just hid it saying that his master was harsh the others used what had been entrusted to them and got more, knowing their master trusted them, each of the people responded according to what they believed the nature of the master was and what they believed about themselves.

For many Christians they see God as a harsh TASKmaster waiting for their next command instead of knowing God trusts them in using what they already have been given by him whether it’s their brain, finances, gifts or opportunities.  Interestingly the master was away for long time away from those people’s presence leaving them to make choices without interference, he trusted them.  Also when the master returned he was pleased with how those people used those talents, they showed him, he was proud of them, God is proud of you. enjoys your gifts and talents.

In conclusion I would say God is not a harsh taskmaster issuing commands rather he is a loving father who gives to us and enjoys what we do with what he puts in our hands, the result will be based in what we believe about him, if we believe he is good, kind and loving there will be fruit, if not then their will only be mistrust of the one who gave us the things entrusted to us.  That doesn’t mean the father won’t direct or guide us, he will if we need it and he will correct us if we go off track, but comes out of a position of trust.  People who are neither trusted or respected have to resort to commanding people to do things for them rather than if they are trusted people will naturally seek them out for direction or guidance.

To any reading this Father can be trusted, he loves, enjoys and celebrates you, he gives good gifts and trusts you, don’t be afraid to seek direction and guidance from him, but if he doesn’t answer your probably doing well he’s not into micro managing, he trusts you.  He will probably most likely encourage you to keep going.

Gratitude Why it’s so important

As I look around the room, I notice many things books on the shelves, stack of CDs,  good lighting photographs of beloved family members.  I also feel the warmth from the central heating, taste the tale end of a piece of Thorntons Chocolate, hear the relaxings sounds of Chopin from the speaker, I appreciate and am grateful for all these things and more, the beautiful sunshine streaming through my window during  the last few weeks (not today though), laughter with friends, tickets for a show I’m seeing in February and feeling healthy and also content.  But I haven’t always felt like this.

In the late 90s I found myself out of work for four years, I was told just before I was made redundant that I would get depressed (How nice!) for the first three years that didn’t happen but the last year it hit me bang, no work, no future, no hope.  No amount of praying seemed to help, eventually I prayed Lord show me your goodness.

Around the end of August of 2000 I happened to turn on the TV and Oprah Winfrey was doing her show and the topic was on gratitude. I knew this was speaking to me, she shared about composing a gratitude journal, which I decided to start myself it seemed there were some great results in doing so, which I will get to later.  I actually started the blog on 25 October of that year, I’ll just share a piece from Fri 27 October 2000.  “Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the beautiful sunset on my way home all the oranges across the sky and the pink strips before hand” etc.  I won’t put the rest of that piece it may just overwhelm those less spiritually inclined, and I don’t want to do that here.  I kept that up fairly regularly up to July of 2001, not always daily but regularly.  During that time I had a new carpet on a good deal, started to feel joy, discovered I had an interview then got a job!!! The depression had also gone, amongst other things.

From time to time I’ve started writing in that journal and at the beginning of the year I started a 365 daily gratitude/positive/good report about my day.

Here’s what I’ve discovered in producing a gratitude journal.

1 It gives you perspective

When circumstances are bad it forces you to look for the good, you find as time goes on things are just drawn to your attention the good things people and events in your life that are GOOD.

2 Attraction

I personally think it’s a law of attraction good things just seem to draw themselves to you including people,.

3 Negativity is fleeting

You tend to focus less on the negative and you can’t handle having it being around for long.  I don’t recommend burying your head in the sand that is quite frankly has great consequences. But it means those negative things don’t seem as huge and impossible.

4 You appreciate the small stuff

You appreciate even the littlest of things like finding something you have lost , or you managed to get something from the shop you needed before they ran out.

5  People are impacted by your positive attitude and appreciation of life

This is the best thing of all I think, this affects others, if you are positive it not only affects other people but infects them as well, they start to respond to your outlook and may even behave likewise.

I’ve also discovered its actually harder to write something positive on a good day, because the good things don’t stand out so clearly on a generally good or non happening day, it’s on the bad days the good seems accentuated.

If you are inspired to produce a gratitude journal or daily facebook post on things to be thankful for here are some tips.

  • Don’t fret about doing it daily, regularity is the key
  • Reread old entries
  • Notice your mood and perspective change over time
  • Read other peoples gratitude entries, they can inspire you.
  • If you can’t think of one thing to be thankful for just remember where there’s breathin your body there is always hope.

I hope this page gives you something to think about and a little cheer to your day. And Thank You for reading this blog post it’s much appreciated :).