27 April 2011

Wise And Foolish Builders - part two

The bible passage contained in my previous blog entry is one that keeps cropping up in my daily reading, so perhaps it's a good one to focus on this week. This follows on from a recent Bible Study at our Corps, when Graeme asked the group to meditate on whether our lives were truly built on Christ's solid Rock.

I've been pondering this for a while, as long-time followers of this blog will recall. A recurring prayer of mine has been 'Lord, lift me from the miry clay and place my feet firmly on the Rock'.

There was a particular quotation from Alexander Solzhenitsyn in that bible study, taken from a time when he was stripped of all dignity and hope, imprisoned in a Russian labour camp. He writes about the day "when I deliberately let myself sink to the bottom and found it firm beneath my feet - the hard rocky bottom which is the same for all."

In all my pleas for God to lift me from the mire, to plant my feet on the Rock, it dawned on me. The Rock wasn't something I was missing; it was already there. Underneath the mire, holding me up all this time. It's already the firm foundation of my life.

Wise And Foolish Builders

Luke 6:46-49 (New International Version, ©2011)
"Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."

More on this later...

24 April 2011

Dealing With Things

I've spent the last three days off-line: no blogs, no Internet, no Facebook, no e-mails. I didn't realise quite how difficult it would be living without my contact with the on-line community! However, the family certainly appreciated the extra time that I spent with them. I've started packing for the ROOTS conference next week; played a whole bunch of games with the kids; made great progress in decluttering the house. And I've certainly had something brought to my attention this weekend that I need to continue to pray about.

During an excellent prayer spot in Good Friday's meeting we were asked to write down an issue on a piece of paper and to place it at the foot of the cross. There's one particular topic that came to mind, so I wrote it down. It relates to issues I have emotionally, times when I have trouble controlling how I feel, how I react to people or to situations. It's a recurring issue I'm afraid. I scribbled it down and left it with God. And I thought no more about it. Until today.

Easter Sunday morning - the family and I went down to the meeting as usual. The meetings went well, in fact most things went well, but there were some times where I felt inadequate, completely out of my depth. I couldn't seem to say the right things, do the right things. The same old issues.

And then, just after the meeting, I caught a glance at the foot of the cross. There were the notes, still folded, with these issues we'd written down from Friday. And each one of them had a six-inch nail neatly piercing them. Including mine.

The symbolism wasn't lost on me; in fact I've been pondering that all afternoon. I realise that God doesn't forget about these issues; He deals with things.


18 April 2011

Searching for Meaning

Ecclesiastes 1:1-2 (New International Version, ©2011)
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

I must admit that I was very confused when someone mentioned this passage of scripture to me at the weekend. However, I certainly got so much from it when I did some reading up on this during this week. I'm much more enlightened now!

The word 'meaningless' here is a translation of the Hebrew word הבל (hebel), which literally means vapour or breath. The writer concludes that everything is shallow, empty, meaningless - with as much substance as vapour - which pretty much sums up much of our disposable, throw-away society. The chapter then goes on to state that there’s "nothing new under the sun". People don't seem to learn and keep making the same mistakes over and over again. How true.

Older translations render this Hebrew word as 'vanity'. This word originally meant futility: it now specifically refers to a narcissistic pride in your appearance. The modern use of this word does rather take us away somewhat from the original meaning. However, it does lead us neatly to John Bunyan's 1678 classic 'Pilgrims Progress', that alludes to this very phrase when his pilgrims reach a town that has a fair. 'Vanity Fair' is much like our modern-day world; people are there buying and selling all sorts of tat, the latest fads and fashions, anything for a profit and for gain.

Are you looking for meaning in a world that is so often meaningless? I doubt you will find the answer in 'Vanity Fair', however often you look. In fact, some never find it. Some may start out to find the answer but lack stamina and give up before they get there. However, if you keep searching, keep reading, keep an open mind, keep questioning, keep researching - yes, you will find it.

I wonder where you will be on Good Friday? Will you be taking the advantage of the Bank Holiday to do some extra shopping, to see what's new in the marketplace, to check out 'Vanity Fair'... Or will you be at church, giving some quality time to honour the King of Kings?

I hope you find what you are looking for.

Jeremiah 29:13 (New International Version, ©2011)
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

16 April 2011


Perhaps I wear my heart on my sleeve too much, but it always hits me hard when friends fail to keep their promises. They vow to do things to help, but either forget or deliberately let you down. Or perhaps you work hard to do something, only to see others dismiss it completely or proceed to undo it? How frustrating!

How incredible then to read in my daily reading this morning that this is exactly how God feels when He sees His world!

Isaiah 5:1-7 is subtitled in some translations as "The Song of the Vineyard"; here God is depicted as the landowner, working hard to tidy the estate, put it in order and make it fruitful. However, when he comes to harvest the fruit, all isn't as it could be.

Today, God's disappointment with the state of his 'vineyard' became awfully real to me. It's made me quite thoughtful today, because He doesn't give up. Guess I'm ready for Holy Week now. And very grateful for the hope that Jesus gives me as I head towards Good Friday.

15 April 2011

Happiness: Spread The Word!

I understand that the world's first membership organisation dedicated specifically to spreading happiness has been officially launched. A recent report in the press and on the BBC told us about Action for Happiness, an international movement claiming 4,500 members in over 60 countries. It recently launched in London, giving out tips on how to be happier.

The movement was founded last year by Richard Layard, who is a Labour peer and professor of economics at the London School of Economics; Geoff Mulgan, chief executive of The Young Foundation; and Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington College. It claims to have no commercial, political or religious affiliations.

"If we want a happier society, individuals have got to create more happiness in the world around them," said Lord Layard. "This is a movement for radical cultural change which can provide the basis for a better culture in the 21st century."

Are you somewhat sad and wish that you were happy...? :)

13 April 2011


1 Peter 1:6-7 (New International Version, ©2011)
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

I've been reading up on encouragement recently, and note that the operative part of that is the word 'courage' - something that I blogged on recently. It’s so easy to get disheartened, discouraged: particularly when things are going awry, friends let you down. We're told in such circumstances to rejoice - not about the bad things that are happening, but because God can use it for good, work through you.

He gives you endurance. Keep on believing; hang in there, persevere!

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger - Friedrich Nietzsche

5 April 2011

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

The quotation above is taken from 'Galaxy Quest', a 1999 film parody of Star Trek fandom which starred Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell. It's essentially the catchphrase of the lead character in the show. It's fast becoming one of mine! The quotation neatly encapsulates my determination to persevere through what is fast becoming the most difficult period of the year so far. In places, the situation could be described as 'dire'.

I know what I need to do. The secret is of course not to give up. Giving up means that you lose. Perseverance gives you a chance of winning. However, that's not easy. But whoever said that it would be easy?

I'm re-reading Hebrews 12 tonight. It's very appropriate.

Never give up.