Friday, June 26, 2009

Find the fishy

Sorry I have been scarce this week, and not responding to all the deep and meaningful comments and e-mails I have been receiving. My internet connection has been down since Tuesday, and seems in no danger of being repaired soon. The guys at tech support say it won't help to come fix it yet, because the storm last night knocked over a relay tower. So I might not be seeing you for a while. :-(

I'll come around and be sarcastic... uh, I mean clever... on all your blogs as soon as I can.

Just keep swimming.

Monday, June 22, 2009

You got mail

Over at my other blog, where I pretend to be a writer, I entered a contest recently. The mandate was to write a letter we would really like to receive.

My entry, which you can see here, read as follows:

My blessed child,

I’ve been thinking about it, and have decided that you’ve had enough confusion and consternation in your life.

So from today, I shall be answering all your questions directly, and audibly, and using small words so you can understand me.



How cool would that be?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sorry, Got these sacks.

gt0438 To me, it's a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way, if anybody says, "Hey, can you give me a hand?" you can say, "Sorry, got these sacks."  -  Jack Handey


Okay, did you laugh at that?  Yes?  No?
Either way, please go back and read it again.  Yes, I meant now.

I’ll wait.

So have you read it again?  Good.  Now isn’t that just about the stupidest thing you’ve ever read?  Carrying heavy sacks around with you all day, just so you won’t have to help someone else to move something.  Stick around, there’s more stupidity in the works here.

So do we ever do this?  I know I do.  I carry heavy sacks with me every day.  Great, heavy bags containing every stupid thing I’ve ever done, and am sure everyone else remembers; sacks containing all those sins I just can’t get away from, no matter how hard I try; sacks with those hurts and imperfections beyond my own control, which I cry about everyday.

So we sit and wail, “Woe is me, for I am an afflicted man/woman/fish.”  Then we mutter to ourselves about this thorn in our flesh, and our burden to bear, and we struggle on.  Until we see someone else struggling under the weight of their burdens as well.  And what do we do?  Do we drop our sacks and run to help them?  No, we look over our shoulders, and see our sacks where we left them, and we smile a small smile to ourselves, and say out loud “Sorry brother, I can’t help you.  I’ve got these sacks.”

So you think that’s stupid?  Wait.  It gets worse.

Then someone comes along, with light arms and a clear back.  He looks at us with love in his eyes, and says, “Here brother, let me help you with those sacks.”  And of course we immediately respond with great enthusiasm…. “Get your own sacks, these are mine.”


Get your own sacks, these are mine.”???

Okay, seriously.  Just how stupid is that?

Why are we, and by we I mean me of course, afraid to give up our sack?  I think sometimes we get so used to the idea that we have our own sacks to bear, that we use it as an excuse not to help other people with theirs.  And sometimes we are just so used to the weight that we are afraid to let it go.  And sometimes I think we like our sacks.  I’m afraid if I lay down my sack, and help you with yours, I might find that I’ve been carrying it for nothing for so many years.  I’m afraid that I will find that your burden is a real burden, and my sack is just my own stubborn refusal to put it down.  I think sometimes we use our sack as an excuse not to run, and dance, and jump. 

Jesus says to us, “Come and run, and jump with me.  Let’s have some fun.”

“Sorry, can’t.  Got these sacks don’t you know.”

Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall.

Psalm 55:22

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A bucket full

I have a guest post today over at Hey look, a chicken! Go check it out.
Or not. It's up to you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pride and Purpose

ManySlidesAndNotesSampleBannerI absolutely love being a small-group leader. Despite the intense frustrations I feel at times, and the constant work to ‘feed the mill’ as it were, I love it. Why? Because when I am designing lessons, or sharing the material with my group, I feel like God is working through me; Like I am fulfilling my part in the great plan, whatever that might be. There is something very satisfying about knowing that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. Do I think this is my entire purpose in life? Heaven forbid. Do I think God could find someone better than me to do this? Probably. But it gives me pleasure. And I know I am good at it.

So is this pride? I hope not.

exeter_cathedral_laura_450x338C.S. Lewis talks in Screwtape Letters about humility (or lack of pride) being a sense of forgetfulness. Not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. The example he gives is of a man designing a cathedral, and knowing it is the best cathedral in the world, and taking pleasure in it’s beauty, just as if someone else had designed it. In essence, being able to be glad that the cathedral is beautiful, and God is glorified through it, without taking pride in the fact that he designed, it.

For me this equates to being able to design lessons for my small group, or for any other group for that matter, and to be as happy with the lesson as if someone else had designed it.

Part of the joy I feel as a small-group leader is the joy of sharing old truths in a new way; of seeing people grow in their faith, and grow closer to God; in seeing real fellowship being formed. To know that this is happening is awesome, regardless of who does it. When I decided to take up the job of being a cell leader again, I had to do some real soul-searching to see why I wanted to do it. Was it pride, or purpose. I came to realise that God had really laid the members of my group on my heart, and given me a passion for walking alongside them.

But I love the fact the He lets me be part of it. It gives me a purpose, which gives me joy. It comes back, I suppose, to the post I did recently about having God’s heart, so he can break it for you in certain areas.

I love that he is prepared to let me have some of the fun, while he does all the hard work.

How cool is that?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Caffeinated Randomness : Spoons

So Pete Wilson over at Without Wax did a post today called The Antitheses of Spiritual Growth , which sounds heavy, but is actually an account of how his community group (which I guess is like my cell group) played a game of "spoons" a while ago.

Let me tell you a story about the last time my cell group played spoons.

So there I was on Saturday night, minding my own business, like a good Christian boy, when some bright spark pulls out a pack of cards.
(Okay, they might have been my cards, I don't recall)

Because gambling would be wrong, (and because we were too lazy to fetch the poker chips) somebody decided we should play "Spoon" (A card game where the idea is not to be the last person without a spoon.)

So the cell group leader, youth pastor, worship leader and two lay minsters set about corrupting their flock by turning it into a drinking game. (Heathens)

The game became a little excited, including one lay minister hitting another in the face with a spoon they were fighting over. (Okay, but she had it coming!!!! That spoon was mine)

After matters had quitened down, and we were all a little more relaxed. (Some more than others) It was suggested that we all update our facebook status at 8AM on Monday to say that "xxx is a xxx spooner." in order to further shock the congregation and clergy who might hear stories of our wild weekend.

The idea being that "Sharkbait spent the weekend spooning with his cell group" might be a bit to blunt.

So the next day our statuses proclaim as follows.

The Cell Leader/Lay Minister claimed "Sharkbait is a dangerous spooner"

The Youth Pastor was a "tiny but awesome spooner"

The LayMin/Schoolteacher was "an ambitions spooner"

The other teacher was "an ambidextrious spooner"

and so forth.

Nothing like freaking out the rest of the parish leadership. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Are you there? Am I here?

I seem to be having a bit of a problem getting in to my BlogSpot account today.  My search engine keeps throwing me out of this site, and randomly throws me out of other peoples.  I don’t know if it is a problem with my settings, or with Blogger.  I’ll just have to wait and see if it comes right or not.

Am I the only one struggling with this?  I know it happened a few months ago, and I couldn’t get into my blog, or a friends because of something to do with the followers widget.  I suppose if that is the case I can blame this all on you, my followers.

So normal blogging will resume shortly, once I can actually blog.  This is also my test of sending a blog post from my pc to the site directly, so you may never even see this. :-)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Caffeinated Randomness : Coffee

I likes me some good coffee I does. Not Coffey, although I loves me some of that too, but the stuff with the awesome caffeine kick, and the heaven-scent aroma.

The reason this comes to mind this morning is because it is Friday, and on Friday mornings I get up extra early. Like before the sun and all. The reason? Because I go to a men's prayer group at 6AM. Yes, we meet at 6AM. Until I joined this group a few years ago, I never knew that 5 o'clock came around twice a day. Go figure.

But I digress. After going to prayers on a Friday morning, I then used to go straight to work, usually arriving about an hour before anyone else. So I used to take the time on a Friday to brew up an extra big pot of coffee in my office. So when the rest of the office staff used to arrive at 8(ish) the entire office, and the passage leading up to it, used to smell like Blend '81, or Dawn Patrol, or one of my secret blends. I used to be very popular on a Friday morning I can tell you.

Now that I work for myself, and have an office at home, I use the time between going to prayers and the start of the day for higher motives. I go back to sleep and get another hour or so until the office opens.

I still have my coffee maker in my office, but with my own kitchen next door, I tend to neglect the good stuff in favour of the easy stuff. Saves time, saves energy. But some days I still miss the Friday mornings with the queue of secretaries at my door with their coffee mugs.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Christ has no body here but ours
No hands, no feet, here on earth but ours
Ours are the eyes though which he looks
On this world, With Kindness.
Ours are the hands through which he works
Ours are the feet on which he moves
Ours are the voices through which he speaks
To this world, With Kindness

I'm sure you've heard these words, or similar words in the past. Words that remind us that "we are Christ's hands and feet in the world." Quite a heavy burden don't you think? I don't know about you, but I think trying to live up to that day by day would be pretty exhausting. So how do we know where to put our hands and feet? There is so much suffering in the world, from the fighting in Israel and Palestine, to the persecution of Christians in Egypt and Sudan. From genocide in Africa, to starvation and poverty in South America. It just goes on and on. I don't know about you, but I can't go a day without seeing people suffering, either from lack of food, or lack of God, or both.

It's everywhere. So where should we be?

When Jesus called us to be his hands and feet, he also called us to have his heart. To feel his heart beat with ours, and feel what he feels. To let our heart break for what breaks his heart. To let our heart long for what his heart longs for.

I think when we choose to join our heart with his, he will break our heart in small ways. As I draw closer to him, I feel my heart breaking for the plight of mentally disabled people, so I have a ministry to Disabled Adults where I go out to a local support centre for a church service once a month. I feel his heart break for the youth to know Christ before they start turning from their childhood teaching, so I am involved with preparing teenagers for confirmation. I feel his heart beat for the community of the small group I am involved with, where I pray constantly for them and their protection, so I am a small group leader.

I know these are areas where God wants me, because when I work here, I feel his heart. Whether I am 'enjoying' myself or not in a particular circumstance, I feel my heart beat with love, and occasionally break with sadness. This I hope is God's heart beating with mine, and letting me know where I am needed.

Sounds simple?

It is; But it's not easy.

It involves seeking God's heart all the time. Which I have shared before is very hard for me. I am good at "working for the kingdom", but find it harder to 'be still, and know that I am GOD". To know, I mean really know, that GOD is all I need, and that everything else is just extra. To know that I am reaching out to these people, not because it is the right thing to do, or because it makes me feel good about myself, but because I am really valuing what GOD values.

When HE calls out, in the words of the song:

I, the Lord of snow and rain,

I have borne my people’s pain.

I have wept for love of them.

They turn away.

I will break their hearts of stone,

Give them hearts for love alone.

I will speak my words to them.

Whom shall I send?

Will I be able to answer...

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord

I have heard you calling in the night.

I will go, Lord, if you lead me.

I will hold your people in my heart.