22 September 2015

In the Lion's Den

In our church, we have been looking once again at some of the more familiar stories in the Bible. You know, the stories that some of us may have been taught at Sunday School. But they still have plenty to teach us even now.

Last Sunday we looked at the story of Daniel - and in particular, the time when he was thrown into a den of lions (Daniel, chapter 6, if you'd like to look it up)...

I won't go into too much detail about what happened - I'll let you read the account for yourself - but I'll simply stress what a horrible experience it must have been to be thrown into such a dangerous place. Most of us aren't subjected to threats of death because of our beliefs (although I know some do, even today...).

However, you might already have something similar in mind. Your own personal 'den of lions', a part of your life when you have difficulty being true to yourself - there's danger. Where you run the risk of getting your head bitten off - or worse - every day.

Have you got what it takes to stand up for what you believe in? We can look to Daniel's story as an example to how to stand up for our beliefs, to be faithful.

The key is not to look at the situation - but keep your eyes fixed firmly on God. Focus your prayer time on God, on His authority. Keep putting your faith in God to see you through.

15 September 2015

O P O

I was in the middle of catching up with one of my favourite podcasts, when they said something that grabbed my attention and sparked this blog entry. This was when one of the hosts alerted the other to the dangers of something they called OPO. I was intrigued. The acronym was new to me, but I understand from subsequent research that it was a recognised abbreviation, although not a popular one - there were over 30 other acronyms with those particular letters!

So what was this intriguing but oh-so-dangerous threat?
  • Optical Parametric Oscillators?
  • Organ Procurement Organisations?
  • Orbiter Project Offices?
Nope. Even more dangerous...

Other People's Opinions!

I used to love listening to this sort of thing. Phone-in programmes on the radio, vox pop interviews on the TV. I've consciously and severely reduced my intake of 'public opinion' in my life - because the one thing I needed to focus on was what I thought rather than what other people thought...

I can't cut it out completely. We are surrounded by other people's opinions all of the time - in fact, constantly bombarded with them. Reviews, political commentaries, disparate points of view. And don't get me wrong - each can be useful in getting an idea of what others think. But it's still vitally important to make up your own mind.

To have an opinion of your own.

Don't just believe what people tell you. Test it for yourself.

Experience it, prove it in your own life. Put it into practice.

Did you hear that review for that new TV series? Yep, they said it was rubbish. However, don't let that sway you, why not watch it for yourself...

Don't just take the easy route out, and follow popular opinion, "what the papers say" - think it through, apply it. Yes, you may well come to the same conclusion - however, you might not, you may end up with a completely contrary view.

And while we are on the subject - the same thing applies to my own life, and to those of my family. I am absolutely thrilled that the way we live our lives is of such interest to others. And if those others wish to impart on us some wisdom or otherwise useful information - or even help us a little - that's great. However, if these others are just criticising to give themselves the moral high ground - shame... shame on you.

"A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion." - Chinese proverb

"You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant." - Harlan Ellison

10 September 2015

Too Loud, Man

(title taken from "Banana Boat (Day-O)", the Stan Freberg version of the Jamaican folk song that was released in 1957. It features a bongo-playing beatnik (Peter Leeds) who "don't dig loud noises". Neither do I. Check it out here. )

Modern life is just too loud. It's as if they've turned the volume way up, and then wrecked the controls...

I started thinking about this topic a while ago, debating on why I tend to use headphones while travelling to and from work. Here's the post. I've developed on a bit since then, realised that this is mostly my own particular aversion to noise. So, why am I so sensitive?

There are times when I simply can't stand the cacophony generated from an excessively noisy world. However, it's a little more complicated than that. Of course it is.

Because a good deal of the noise comes from inside my own head.

You see, my mind constantly hums with thoughts, ideas, and dreams. Some of these thoughts get processed in this blog, or get channelled into other writing. A small proportion is kept to myself - heck, I simply daren't share for fear of upsetting anybody... it's between myself and my Lord...

Add to that the background noise of everyday life, and that's why it can get to be overwhelming.

I can't hear myself think.

Perhaps that's why the peace and quiet of camping appeals to me so much... it reduces the input, allows me time to process and digest some of the things that I am thinking about.

It also explains why it takes me a while to drop off to sleep at night. If the hamster running around in my head never rests, neither do I.  I guess that's why my mind gets extra busy right before bedtime, preventing me from dropping off right away...

5 September 2015

Putting Words In My Mouth

I'm actually fairly good at stringing a few sentences together on the printed page or on screen - even if I do say so myself (and I'm definitely one of those who believe self-praise is no recommendation).

However, put me on the spot and tell me that I have to come up with a few choice pearls of wisdom face-to-face - that's quite a different matter. You're more likely to get some long rambling thing rather than those few nuggets of gold that you may be expecting. I can easily get tongue-tied, then start spouting clich├ęs and half-formed ideas. I need a bit of time to arrange my thoughts...

However, it can happen differently. I was out the other day, plodding my way through the roads of my town for The Salvation Army (it's the Army's door-to-door appeal this month, entitled 'The Big Collection'). A lady came to her door and then proceeded to ask me a question.

And out came an inspired, even eloquent answer. Just like that.

I remember thinking to myself, "Where did that come from?"

I don't know about you, but it's proof positive to me that God gives us the words we need to say when the time is right.

Luke 21:15 (NIV)
"For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict."

3 September 2015

Absent-Minded

I've lost my car keys. Again. Does that make me 'absent-minded'?
 
According to Wikipedia, absent-mindedness is "where a person shows inattentive or forgetful behaviour." The article goes to outline three different ways that people could be described as 'absent-minded':
  • Not paying close attention (you 'blank' or 'zone out') - one that parents of teenagers will know quite well;
  • Paying so much attention to one single thing (apparently, something called 'hyperfocus') that you become oblivious to everything else going on around you;
  • Being distracted from the one thing you should be doing by 'irrelevant thoughts' or simply other stuff going on around you.
In my own head, I tend to associate this concept with the 'absent-minded professor', a typical character found in popular fiction, a talented academic who is so focused on his work that he forgets his own surroundings. Hence, the pic of Doc Brown from 'Back To The Future' at the top of this entry. Other professors are available...

OK, I've lost my car keys again. 
 
Does that mean I'm on a slippery slope to Alzheimer's disease?
 
No.
 
It's simply that our modern-day, multi-tasking society is just so busy.

The bottom line: the busier you are, the more likely you are to be absent-minded.

I need to find ways to remember the things I so often forget. The details that fall through the cracks of my memory. Like what I was doing when I put those keys down? Hints and tips are welcomed...
 
Aah, there they are. Found my car keys.

Now, where did I park my car?  :)