30 September 2009

FlashForward...



I don't know whether you got a chance to catch the first episode of 'FlashForward' on Monday. Already hailed as 'the next big thing on US telly', it depicts a frightening world where everyone in the world gets a brief glimpse of their own future, six months later. You see, everyone loses consciousness for exactly 2 minutes and 17 seconds, during which most people get to see visions of their lives on 29th April 2010. An FBI team from LA are soon hard at work to solve the mystery, led by Stanford Wedeck (Courtney B Vance), Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) and Demetri Noh (John Cho). Benford's contribution is the creation of a database of the visions (known as 'flash-forwards') from around the world. Known as the Mosaic Collective, he saw himself working on this during his own flash-forward. The show is being aired in the States on Thursdays, with us in the UK getting our showing the Monday after.

The premise is an intriguing one - particularly because most of us would be fascinated to know what is going to happen to us, even six months down the line. However, thankfully, we don't have this insight. We don't know what the future holds... but we do know who holds the future. :)

Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

28 September 2009

Weary Ways and Golden Days

As I write this blog entry, I must admit to feeling more than a little tired. In fact, following a frantic weekend away and after a solid eight hours kip last night I still feel like I haven't slept! Mind you, I've just been looking back on all the places I've been to this September: Stratford, Swanley, West Kingsdown, all around the streets of Dartford (annual appeal), Portsmouth, Croydon, Camberwell, Lewisham, Brownsea Island... Just think about all the people I've met, all the experiences ... What a rush! Of course if you analyse each activity you will realise there are some tremendous highs, followed by periods of nothing, extreme boredom, or tedious repetition. But that's life! The important thing I've learnt is to keep your eyes on where you need to get to. And I feel several steps closer to my goal now!

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before his face I see.

But I know whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that he is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto him against that day.
SASB 730, verse 4 & chorus
(Daniel Webster Whittle, 1840-1901)

20 September 2009

Selfish or selfless?


I'm currently at a point in my Christian walk where I have to face up to a particular issue in my life of service. The problem is a challenging one, summed up by the question at the top of this blog entry. Am I selfish or selfless as a person? I think I know the answer to that question, but is that where I should be right now?

Christians who look to embrace ministry or other forms of service would probably consider themselves as selfless individuals. Self-sacrifice doesn't seem to be a problem for them. But is total self-sacrifice actually the ideal or the goal for the Christian? Is there not time enough for 'me' in the scheme of things?

One particular blog I read this week even concluded that pursuing such service to the detriment of your friends and family was in fact a selfish act, indulging one's own personal dream of service while friends and family suffered from lack of attention. Is such a lifestyle merely an attempt to gain thanks and recognition, merely a chance to ego-boost?

Some thoughts from scripture (all quotes from the NIV):

Luke 9:23
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

1 Corinthians 13:3
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Mark 12:28-31
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
29" The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'
31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Comments are welcomed!

19 September 2009

Why Are Pirates Called Pirates?

Cos they arrrr!

'Tis International Talk Like A Pirate Day, me 'earties!

http://www.yarr.org.uk/

16 September 2009

We will survive!

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (The Message)
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us. As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralised; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorised, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus' sake, which makes Jesus' life all the more evident in us. While we're going through the worst, you're getting in on the best!

15 September 2009

All A Question Of Time...


I've been given some consideration lately to one of the most precious things we could possibly have. It's something important to mention in this Blog - it's in the title! Yes, it's all a question of Time. I've been pulling some thoughts together for a meeting I'm preparing at the end of October (when the clocks change), so here are some quotations on the subject of Time:

"There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing" - Brian Tracy

"The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is" - C. S. Lewis

"Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived" - Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart from 'Star Trek: Generations')

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." - from the Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

"Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday" - traditional

"What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know." - St Augustine

Ecclesiastes 3 (The Message)
1 There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.
9-13 But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I've had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he's left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he's coming or going. I've decided that there's nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That's it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It's God's gift.
14 I've also concluded that whatever God does, that's the way it's going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God's done it and that's it. That's so we'll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.
15 Whatever was, is. Whatever will be, is. That's how it always is with God.

11 September 2009

Enhance Your Calm!

The title to today's blog comes from one of those self-help books you sometimes see on the bookshelves. Whenever I hear it, I always think of the movie 'Demolition Man', the SF action movie starring Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock. Set in the near future, it depicts a sanitised world where they speak to each other in aphorisms, like the one above. "Be well..."

I'm endeavouring at the moment to do just that - to keep cheerful at all costs, to "enhance my calm”. There's plenty of things going on in my life at the moment, and to stay on track to where I need to get to I've got to stay focused on the task at hand. And that's means staying positive, sometimes against all odds. However, on some days this seems to be an uphill struggle!

What's seems to be your boggle? :)

John 14:27 (New International Version)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

5 September 2009

You can't handle the truth!

Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I'm entitled to them.
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessep: You can't handle the truth!
quotes from "A Few Good Men", written by Aaron Sorkin

Bart: We want the truth.
Sideshow Bob: You want the truth? You can't handle the truth. No truth-handler, you. I deride your truth-handling abilities.
quotes from "The Simpsons"

In my blogs and on my Facebook account I describe myself as a 'seeker after truth' - and so I am. I strive to consider other people's points of view, because it may give me new insight into my own understanding into a particular issue. Sometimes I still don't get it - but I still try. The big question is - once I have found the truth, and realise that it is fundamentally different to what I have understood in the past - can I handle it? Can I act upon this 'truth' to correct past mistakes?

Here's some more quotations on Truth:

"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four; calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg." - Abraham Lincoln

"Whenever you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes)

"Falsehood is easy, truth so difficult" - George Eliot

"When people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together" - Isaac Asimov

"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes" - Mark Twain

"Always tell the truth. That way, you don't have to remember what you said" - Mark Twain

1 September 2009

Roots of Bitterness

I've blogged before about bitterness, and mention this subject again following some work recently in my rather overgrown back garden. I've been working hard with cutters, clippers and even power tools on the foliage, however it's only when you get down to the roots do you really know that you've dealt with the weeds.

So, getting to the root of the problem is important. Here are some words from Samuel Logan Brengle.

Good, but do you know that your heart is clean? Are all the roots of bitterness gone? Do you bear patiently the faults of others? Do you bear meekly, and with a forgiving spirit, the unkindness of others? Do you love God with all your heart and soul and mind, and your neighbour as yourself? Do you feel that all malice and pride, and jealousy and envy, and evil and filthy desire, and unholy ambition and unbelief, and all foolish things have been taken out of your heart, and that the Holy Spirit has His own way in you all the while? Remember that holiness has to do with the heart, and that, as Solomon says, 'Out of the heart are the issues of life.' It is at the heart that Jesus looks, and He says, 'Blessed are the pure in heart.' Now, if your heart is not clean, do not be afraid or ashamed to say so, but frankly tell your Heavenly Father the whole truth about the matter.

...and from Scripture...

Hebrews 12:14-5 (The Message)
Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you'll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God's generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.

Keep the gardening tools close at hand.