Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Serious Times

Mags and I recently caught the end of someone’s sermon at an event we went along to, it was only the last five minutes or so but what he said set me thinking.  The gentleman was, I’m sure, very sincere and well meaning and to be fair to him we did only hear the last few minutes of what he said so we missed the wider context.  He was imploring those attending the conference to ‘get serious’ because we live in ‘very serious days’.  He then spoke in a very earnest and measured manner about our nation being ‘bankrupt morally, spiritually and financially’ and we Christians need to take these things very seriously and respond in a serious way.  The language he used, the tone of voice and the way he expected those gathered to respond was so heavy, downbeat and, frankly, depressing that I felt temped to run out onto the stage and tell a few funny stories or share some of the miraculous healings and salvations we’re got used to hearing about from our friends Aliss & Rob in Blacon.

He’s quite right about the days being serious and our nation is, by and large, as he described it; what I take issue with is his response.  The lost, hurting, frightened people, our colleagues, friends and neighbours, who are trapped in moral quagmires, spiritual bondage or even financial troubles do not need earnest, serious, sober Christians nodding their heads glumly and commiserating with them on the evils of this modern age and offering a sombre prayer.  They need followers of Jesus who are filled with the Joy of heaven because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit; the same Holy Spirit that settled on Jesus like a dove, the same Holy Spirit that raised him from the dead, and the same Holy Spirit that filled Jesus with joy.  They need followers of Jesus who are fully aware that they are seated with Christ in heavenly places, who know their Daddy will meet ALL their needs through his glorious riches, who understand that the old sinful nature is dead and buried through God’s gift of grace and our baptism and they are now an utterly new creation!  But most of all they need followers of Jesus who understand that as C.S. Lewis wrote “Joy is the serious business of heaven” and are willing and able to share that joy, that man Jesus, with them.  Misery is NOT a fruit of the spirit, but joy certainly is.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Harsh reality and future fantasy

“Harsh reality beats future fantasy at the Oscars,” one of the quotes the morning after the Oscars when the Hurt locker was awarded more Oscars than Avatar, which I believe was expected to take home quite a few shiny golden statutes. It is one of those statements that jumps out at you and stays for a while, maybe having a deeper meaning than just about film awards. I’ve been thinking, probably too much as usual, whether that is true and that the human race does prefer to focus on the harsh realities of life on the planet rather than any future ‘fantasy’ or mystery.
There certainly are harsh realities going on and war zones are more than ‘harsh’, the depth of pain, misery, trauma and shock cannot be understood even by those in the midst of them. Ethics and debate aside, the reality is there are men and women risking their lives every day for motives such as honour, justice and freedom. And in the midst of the harshest of realities the human race is stuck in its paradox of showing the very best of human nature, hope, compassion, sacrifice and love and at the same time the worst, pain, misery, humiliation and hatred. The world is a messy place, it is full of harsh realities.
In the fantasy world there are happy endings, the good guys win, time travel is possible, basic laws of science and nature are bendable if not removed, there is harmony and order, happiness and fulfilment. Children’s fairy tales, clear cut stories of good vs evil, where good always wins and evil is easily identifiable, unless they are Roald Dahl’s. Fantasy films are characterized by highly imaginative and often supernatural elements. The harsh reality is swept away in favour of limitless possibilities. I enjoyed Avatar, I like films that have happy endings. I personally don’t go to the cinema to be traumatised I go to be entertained, the whole cinema experience is about entertainment and I tend to be pretty miffed if I’ve paid to be made miserable. I can stay home and watch the news about the state of the nation, everything is bankrupt apparently, the economy, morals, education....there’s all the trauma’s in the world to watch, wars, famines, disasters or even think about some of the life journeys my friends are on, there is enough harsh reality to engage in sitting in my front room without going to the cinema to see it.
So for film choices I would always choose future fantasy over harsh reality. For my every day existence I choose the time travelling mystery. I can turn my focus from harsh realities to another reality a more powerful one, full of limitless possibilities. Where the laws of science and nature are bendable, if not removed, where there is order, liberty, joy and fulfilment and where best of all the good guy always wins and so ultimately so do I. I think from this focus I can be more effective to change the harsh realities rather than getting in there with them and shift the human paradox from hatred to love.
Easter is nearly upon us and what a story of past present and future mystery. The Word made flesh and making his dwelling amongst us, dying on a cross to pay the price for us, rising from the dead!! Come on I’m choosing this story, this reality, this victory.

Saturday, 20 March 2010


I find myself standing alone on a plain, there are mountains in the distance and a vast expanse of desert in front.
I hear a rumbling sound coming from the mountains and in the distance a dust cloud is forming. Something is coming, I hear the sound of marching, I see a vast army coming over the desert. As they draw closer and closer it slowly dawns on me that this is the demonic horde, marching relentlessly over the desert ground. They form a straight line in front of me, a vast ugly army filling the space in front.
I look to my left and right and there beside me is the army of the Lord. They are bright lightening white, shimmering and ready to advance. The standard is raised and they are expectant of victory and they stand. They are holding their ground. They wait for the command to advance.
Time to make the sound, I shout, the sound comes from my belly, deep and full. “Move” and in front the demonic horde is blasted like with a sonic weapon. It is the sound that destroys them. I step forward. We advance step by step and they are destroyed by the sound.
The sound we make shifts what is in front of us. Kingdom authority spoken by the saints.
Our mandate: “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.”
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


I have been having a ponder about the wonder of our eyes recently. In the film/book ‘Dune’ people are addicted to a chemical called Spice which makes their eyes shine so blue. The trailer for it showed a young girl with bright blue eyes and it set me off wondering about the brightness of eyes and what makes them shine brightly, other than good contact lens.
Physically our eyes are amazing beyond description, so magnificent, unique and beautiful. They are so complex in design they cannot be copied and surely point to a creator. They are so clever, gathering up information from two perspectives, sending it along the optic nerve for image processing, changing shape depending on the environment and guiding us through our world. A good diet no doubt helps keep them shiny and depending on your upbringing eating carrots help you see in the dark.... However our eyes are more than just one of the five physical senses, they seem to have a connection to our spirituality.
It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Can we really know something about people by looking in their eyes? Can we stare deeply into someone’s eyes and other than get increasingly itchy eyes and a sense of being uncomfortable, see something deeper? Eye contact is seen as one of the best ways to formulate trust in a relationship. Having shifty eyes is deemed to be a negative quality. Kindness, truthfulness, wisdom, laughter, sorrow, depth of love, all attributed to the eyes. Eyes, like a window, look both ways - what people see in our eyes and what we look at. Can what we look at determine the state of our soul?
Jesus said the eye is the lamp of the body, if your eyes are good you whole body will be full of light. So what does that mean, if your eyes are good, I am sure he was talking more than physical excellence. Can we train our eyes to be good and can we assist them in growing brighter. There is a story in the bible about Jonathan eating honey and his eyes grew brighter, partly because the army were tired and the sugar increased their energy but also honey was linked to the word of God and revelation and we can make the link that the word of God makes our eyes shine brighter. Psalm 19:8 says that the commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. Proverbs teach us that bribery makes the eyes dim –turn a blind eye! Sorrow and grief make the eyes weak and dim and hopelessness makes them fail - these are the times when we really need to find a way for our eyes to be brighter.
There are stories of God opening people’s spiritual eyes in order for them to see what was right in from of them. Balaam’s being shown the angel standing in the road, which his donkey could clearly see and was reacting accordingly, Elisha and his panicking servant whose eyes were opened to see the army of the Lord on the surrounding hillside to mention a couple.
So I read my bible for revelation and I wait for God to open my eyes so they will shine brighter but I think there is more otherwise this verse wouldn’t make any sense:
‘So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ‘ 2 Corinthians 4:18
How can we see what is unseen unless we have already been given eyes to see. I think one of the benefits of being born again is being given eyes to see and the spirit within me tells me where to look. Hebrews tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. So for bright shining eyes believing I already have them is definitely a good place to start and using them to look at Jesus, well it doesn’t get better.