Tag Archives: spirit

A Light To Focus On

For some darkness is scary and foreboding, it certainly is when you’re cycling down an unlit cycle track, with just the beam of your bike light to guide you. On this journey though, there is a view that always delights me. The occasional starry sky, meets the neon glow that surrounds this cities cathedral. That is lit up, like a waypoint or beacon on a hill guiding me home.

Part of our journey through life not least as christians can be through dark times and difficulties. It may seem strange for a christian to speak of difficulty, it’s not that there is a lack of faith, or some unbelief.

Instead my image of God is one who is willing to sit amongst all the grime of life, and doesn’t always make easy answers, the jesus CS lewis, Nicholas WolterstorffDietrich Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa and my mum along with many others knew is one who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty.

But there are those Christians and churches who want a fix all God and subscribe to a constant state of perpetual and sadly unrealistic, happiness. I have attended those types of churches where everyone smiles all of the time and experienced their wonky pastoral care!

Sadly and Unfortunately on one level, I do not think  this side of glory, true equality and understanding of peoples differences can be found within this broken world, in part because, very seldom do people genuinely have the same agenda in life.

But when those agendas converge there are nation changing moments. The fall of the Berlin wall, the end to the apartheid in South Africa, to name two. Of course there are countless moments of grace where people put aside their agendas for the cause of someone or something else.

The couple who decide to have a child or adopt one, the crowds that gather to support the refugees at bus stations, and ports, the two men from Newcastle Upon Tyne, who protected a muslim woman and her family from verbal abuse on the metro. The faithful men and women who truly embody what it means to love your neighbour, littered across our neighbourhoods like stars across the night sky and who remain unsung, and unnoticed, but no less cherished.

All these situations and people remind us that in the darkness can be found light, that even in our broken world with all of its struggles there in lies the audacity of hope which whispers to you and I, life can be better, evil can be over thrown, justice can be found after all.

We need a beacon of light in all of our lives a place or a person who holds us either physically or by their words. In this place we can be known, cherished and loved. I delight in my view because I know home, safety, warmth, family is within my reach. But also as the cathedral looks out across a land scape that has changed so much over its 998 year existence, i am reminded of a God who knows me, as I cycle down dark lanes, through lit streets, over a river to get home.

The psalmist writes ‘Even the darkness is light to God its as though it is day’, to the creator of the world, meaning that wherever we are we can be known by the source of light and love. Known by him who knows our name our coming and going.

Whatever your darkness is, I wonder what might be your beacon, a place, a person or even God? Something or someone which guides you, reminds you of what is important, and true and who holds up the best version of yourself to you like a mirror.

As parents we remind our children when they have a nightmare that they are not alone, that they are safe.  Perhaps as christians when darkness surrounds us like an oppressive fog, we are not as alone as we think we are. May your darkness become less scary, less suffocating, less emotionally wearing. As you look towards your beacon of light, that focuses you on your journey that draws you to your destination.

Have a great week

 Last Weeks Post:

Are You Getting The Whole Picture

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Are You Getting The Whole Picture?

When was it, that we started taking notice of the news shouting headlines at us of how bad life is? How come we take more notice of fear than hope? How is it that the statistic of negativity is more appealing somehow than one that offers something positive?

The tea was hot just under scalding point, exactly how I like it and the conversation engaging. It was a comment during the conversation that provoked the thought and new awareness in me. As I race through life, littered with snippets of  cautionary tales, all making me consider what might go wrong if I do X, Y or Z or indeed a whole alphabet of worries concerns and trying to avoid calamity at any given moment.

My friend made me consider by her well chosen words, that in fact perhaps I wasn’t a total screw up, that the worst isn’t just round the corner, and evil is not everywhere! This of course may be a rather radical idea and you may just need to take it in for a moment, life is not always trying to trip you up!

As I walked the dog that afternoon and allowed my inquisitive spaniel to go exploring off the lead, I pondered what my friend had pointed out in me. Thinking on this I began to say to myself, I haven’t… each time completing the sentence with an affirming phrase that regardless of life ups and downs and difficulties the bad stuff has come and gone. Moreover the life I share with my family isn’t totally  messed up as the fear mungers and doomsayers would like me to think.

So I haven’t got extra bad luck for breaking a mirror or walking under a ladder.  Even though I have lived in some challenging places I have survived, being burgled twice wasn’t the end of my world hard to get over though it was.  Life can be tough but also amazing, life doesn’t need to be defined by fear but love, a love that drives out fear, darkness and all those crappy comments that pull us down, break our spirits and somehow say we are less, rubbish, and un-redeemable. Comments from professionals, magazine articles, newspapers and friends that say we are statistically likely to be robbed, stabbed, burgled, abused, get particular diseases, doesn’t mean we will, there is as good statistical chance we will know good health, safety, community, and love.

For some reason we are predisposed to drink into our lives the negativity of fear rather than the liberation of hope. Its almost as though hope has to work twice as hard as fear to remind us that there is an alternative. 

For you who are suffering for whom the darkness is very present, it won’t last, there is light small though it might be. There is hope, perhaps you don’t believe me and that’s ok, perhaps I wouldn’t believe me either compared to what you are dealing with. But thats what faith is, we are governed physically, emotionally and spiritually and sometimes we forget that in the spiritual their can be found treasure that doesn’t rust.  A treasure of acceptance, tears and healing, a reconfiguring of life where priorities are changed character is honed.

The other part of my walk with my dog on that afternoon was spent thanking God for people like my friend.  She unlocked a stumbling block in me for spiritual and emotional wellness. Let’s not see our inner life as two dimensional but 3d, and you might be amazed at what you discover.

Finally if I can offer a peace of advice, be careful what you read and who you listen too, surround your life with good counsel, a narrative that builds rather than obliterates. Perhaps we need to say together, I have not made a total mess of things. Moreover thank God who knows us, and through it all offers forgiveness where it is needed, heals sometimes in unexpected ways, and in whose image you and I are made.

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Fruit Wonderful Fruit

If I did not know anything about christianity or different faiths that offer depths and riches money simply can’t buy, I am not sure I would sign up!

It seems to me sometimes, that to not have any faith is rather freeing, you’re free from dogma, guilt, and of course you are perhaps less likely to become a suicide bomber or take a gun and shoot people in the streets, or brutalised or bully people in the name of God or because you think God has told you too, which of course people of many faiths have done throughout the ages. I do wonder though if in these cases such people are perhaps using God, as a scapegoat, to hide their own issues and prejudices.

Here the bible comes to our aid in Galatians 5:22-23 which speaks about the fruit of the spirit, being love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

These are not uniquely Christian attributes, for anybody can have these gifts to greater or lesser degree. But perhaps through them you the closer to God you are. Even if you don’t recognise it, or indeed recognise God working within you through the power of Holy Spirit.

So perhaps when we think about signing up to a faith we look for its fruit, we question what are the fruit of its disciples? Fruit of course is good for us, I am often struggling to choose fruits over chocolate! Even though I know obviously that fruit is better for me.

But the kind of fruit that St Paul is speaking about to the church in Galatia, is the kind of fruit I would look for above all else, both in myself, and the community I find myself in. Through my faith in Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit this fruit, can grow and I can see it develop in the life of others.

Where we do not find the fruit of the spirit, where we do not see anything but hatred, prejudice, and a pseudo spirituality, that veils a deeper narrative of political posturing, and so-called religious bias, that actually destroys what God is trying to accomplish in people. In those places, you won’t grow, you might not realise it at first.

However Just like you go to a doctor, and have a health check, and he sits across from you and tells you earnestly you need to eat more fruit! I Encourage you to check your spiritual diet, and just like eating healthy, bares in you the fruit of healthy living, a tighter waistline, and longevity. Becoming spiritually healthy means your bear these fruit not just in abundance, but you’ll see them in others, and be more connected with the living God, who doesn’t call you to hurt others but love them as yourself, and if you struggle with loving yourself of course, try loving them as much as God, for regardless of faith, gender, race, sexuality, or all manner of things, they, you and I have been made in Gods image and deserve to be treated as we would treat God.

Finally for those of us who have used God as a scapegoat for our own prejudices and issues, to pour condemnation on others or worse. There is hope, Jesus was hung on the cross as a scapegoat for all of our sin. Through this single act of sacrifice, we can learn the sentiment behind these nine fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, that through the power of the holy spirit can be born in us, and in turn we can be liberated from the venom that poisons our relationship with Jesus and those that don’t know him.

Why not join me in prayer?

Lord help me to see my prejudices for what they are. Help me not to mistake my words, thoughts and feelings with yours. Set me free, by the power of the Holy spirit, to live and work, as you call me too.

In Jesus name, Amen

God, I’m Thirsty!

Unknown-1The tweet read ‘without the Holy Spirit, my faith is as dry as a parched throat.’ The Tweet and shared and perhaps caught someone’s imagination or drew a question into their heart.

The question might have been how thirsty am I for more of God? The kind of thirst that many men and women of scripture recognised within themselves, as they encountered Christ and realised they needed his gift.

Just recently I have been getting back into the gym, and as part of that, you get a consultation with an instructor. He reminded me that one of the changes I need to make to be more healthy was to drink water, and that your body needs water more than the highly calorific but lovely tasting lattes I keep drinking! It seems at some level, that I have been ignoring my bodies basic need for water, I am meant to drink at least two litres apparently, every day!

I see this lack of meeting one basic need can be mirrored in our spiritual life. For example, to-do lists, church meetings, vision sessions all in the name of building Gods Kingdom, can act like lattes offering some thirst relief, but are no substitute for the real thirst quenching living water, or in other words receiving Christ’s gift.

Maybe there is a reason we are substituting our need of living water, perhaps the reasons are painful, or mean we need to make some life changes, perhaps letting go of our managed and manicured church lives, or perhaps just making time for Christ’s gift.

A gift that isn’t neat or tidy, doesn’t come with a bow or nice wrapping paper. However the gift connects you with God and enhances and produces character traits, that don’t wrinkle or perish, and are of the kind that cost nothing but are priceless, ancient, eternal.

These being love for all, joy in life, peace that centres you, patience that keeps looking, along with hope for the best in others, which flows out in actions that are good and kind. Lastly and so important of course there is self-control, that controls the tongue from demeaning others.

Let us metaphorically drink of Christ’s gift, like a tall glass of crystal clear water on a hot summers day, that doesn’t just quench your thirst but you are aware of its coolness as the liquid spreads out in your body changing your temperature, and mood.

Christ’s gift underpins all I do, I am still like all of us all a work in progress, but I find that progress is made better with His gift than without.

Lord God, may I know the renewing power of your gift of the holy spirit, may I be remade in your likeness. Amen

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