Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Check-list.

And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.


Beauty. I read this a lot. (Like seriously, if I talk about love a lot, it's nothing compared to how much I ponder on it.).

We can do so much that is nullified if it is not done with love.

I like that here, love is defined often by what it is not, or what it doesn't do. Because God knows that we've got a distorted idea of love in our broken world- people want to be happy, feel needed, feel like they own something- a plethora of loves askew. Just 2 years ago I broke at a lyric quoted at me by my then-partner:

"When we swear, 'my love is real', we mean, 'I like the way you make me feel'".

- a simple line with crushing implications.

But here God says that He wants us to know real love. The unconditional love that never changes. And His challenge is for us to love like this. My challenge is to use this list as a checklist. In situations day-to-day, asking, am I being patient? Am I being kind? Am I proud here, boasting, or am I envious of this person? Am I doing this for their benefit or secretly mine? Am I protecting or endangering? So often the answer is the wrong one. My love falls short.

His does not.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Perspective.

'It is, I think, entirely possible for one to respond to things at their natural value while seeing clearly their value for eter-nity. "Wisdom"-knowing the causes and ends of things-clarifies, rather than blurs, one's perception of the purely natural. The little wisdom that comes to us merely through the accretion of age does not render us incapable of understanding the passions of the young. Such wisdom helps us to understand passion better, indeed, than those possessed by it. Nor does such wisdom inhibit our sympathy for the sufferer. It is the old who know best what the young feel and who offer them the sincerest compassion.' - Elias Schwartz : The Possibilities of Christian Tragedy

This is a beautiful idea to stumble over during essay research. The notion that the longer you live, or the more you face, the more you can grow in compassion. Not that the skin would be hardened by difficulties, nor the heart be deadened by cynicism, but rather that such experience allows you to love the young and inexperienced more.

I am only twenty, and thus cannot speak as a seventy year old. But for my little part, I'm thankful for the hardest times in my life so far that have placed me in a position to love people through theirs. I know that part of my life's calling is to mourn with those who mourn. Even if I'm still working out what that looks like.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Pulse.

The one thing that I'm feeling at the moment is the need for people to pursue what they're passionate about. I think in my own life, I'm not decided on the vast majority of things. But that's fine. What's important is the one or two things you know make your heart beat faster and bring you to life. And what you do about them. I'd like to ignore everything I'm beige about, and run full pelt after the rest.

This sounds like a weird hybrid between the abstract gravity of my usual Romanticism and the immature optimism of a Taylor Swift song. I just believe that we spend too long plodding along when we could be powering after something. And I don't want to be the person I know who is constantly wishing for something without taking a step towards it.

This has been on my heart for a long time now...I guess I've just pondered it more recently (that's what essay season will do to you). How do we encourage people to find what makes them passionate? How do we encourage people to push for it? I feel like this should be something started in youth...but what about the cynical adult too?

I would love to facilitate this. I would love to see people challenging eachother to take their dreams seriously and make them a reality. I don't know what it looks like yet, but there's defintely potential for beauty. I'm pretty sure somebody saying 'what if?' could be the difference between living and being alive for some people.

"Some men see things as they are and ask "why?". Others dream things that never were and ask "why not?"" - George Bernard Shaw


I'm not sure I've ever explained the name of this 'blog', pretentious as it is to call it such. (I strangely detest writing on here for just that reason). It's a phrase that struck me in an early morning worship and prophecy session I snuck out to during my a-level exams. 7am in Nottingham, a few youth gathered to seek Jesus. As we started to worship and ask for his direction, we just had a guitar and voices, and some one pointed out that we had so little to bring.

'If you want drums...you'd better start stamping your feet'.

It's a call to worship with what He's given us, all we are and all we have. And it's a challenge to put the effort in and actively pursue the desires and callings God has put on our hearts. Glorify Him. And get up and get on with it. Go.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

"For need breaks all laws and has none." -Martin Luther.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Forget whatever I was just about to write-

The point is, my chest has been awful today. But I just sat down and read the bit in the Bible where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. This took 2 minutes. In those 2 minutes my chest completely cleared up. Claimed.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Here in dust and dirt, O here
The lilies of His love appear!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Drunken mistakes.

"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit."

If recollection and mine eyes serve me well enough, getting drunk on alcohol tends to make people do silly things, things they would be less easily tempted to do when sober, and often things that they regret shortly afterwards.

I could argue that being filled with the holy spirit has a similar effect. Contentious? Maybe.

Make no mistake, I don't purport to be 'filled' with the spirit. I reckon it's in me, but I don't feel at full capacity. Anyway, this week has been quite demanding and really challenging in terms of faith and the like, and so I've maybe asked for a little more, paid a little more attention, invested and stepped into more of what God's got on offer. Exciting and humbling times. This meant that after the crazy few days, I was buzzing a little bit still, and whilst sauntering around the peace gardens (actual, not metaphorical), chucked up an optimistic, jovial, on-the-offchance-because-i'm all spiritualized prayer to change a particular aspect of my life and help me stop messing up.

Anyway, later, when spiritual sobering had taken place, I was slightly perturbed to discover that God had taken me at my word and stepped in, cutting off my route to that particular form of screwing up. Brilliant! Except, the truth is, when we're really honest, we like to sin. Not great to point out, but if it wasn't fun, appealing and pleasurable, it wouldn't really be an issue. So here's me, the morning after as it were, berating my yesterdayself for being so stupidly intoxicated that I would do something so silly as to pray a real prayer.

Obviously, I am thrilled at this really. But it has highlighted how much conflict there is in us. In me at least. And why minds really do need to be renewed before any change of actions can be made effective. Change your heart before you change your shirt.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Pink fluff.

Valentines day.

I partake quite contentedly in the viewing of this holiday as overly commercialised, money-making, obligatory and clich├ęd. Why should one day be designated for showing affection anyway? It's status as such demands that all other regular days be made less. Bad times.

Rant averted. There are redeeming factors.

As somebody who lives for love, joy and all things beautiful, I choose to avert my eyes from the mush of Valentines day and think rather about the fact that love is on the minds of a large proportion of the population today. Whether they're in it, wanting it, remembering it, missing it, resenting it, people are acknowledging the most incredible thing in existence.

Because what else could make somebody live for another person? Or die for another? It's incredible and it's powerful and it's the thing that leaves me with no doubt in my mind that God exists. When love remains against all odds, selfless, serving, forgiving, patient, I know that we were made. Love is the fingerprint in the painting of the world.

God was blatantly a fingerpainter.

Anyway, I hope that somebody, somewhere today, wonders how they love, and how they're loved.

I could harp on about this subject for literally hours. I have done in the past. And will again I'm sure. It's worth it.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Tireless hope.

So, I've had a really bad week in terms of getting things done. Work for uni has happened, and that's a new experience in many senses. But top of my priority list was designing flyers for Healing on Campus.

I kept sitting down to do it and just getting so stressed. I found myself unable to write the gospel down in a way that didn't make me want to implode. I fear regurgitating cliched words that can only be said outloud with a misty look on a lofty face. I hate religious language. If I can learn to speak without saying 'sanctified' and 'redeemed' every other sentence then I'll be on my way. Make no mistake- I live for this- I love what God has done for me, for everyone, and I in no way wish to devalue that. It's just this whole semantic field that's so specialist and exclusive. I feel like a subculture, separate from the world we're living to reach.

I had no idea how to explain on the flyers how we have authority in Jesus's name to heal the sick- because He died on the cross- to be the perfect sacrifice for sin- which is us turning against God- and thus because of all this we're heirs and that means we inherit everything that Jesus has from His father...there's so much assumed knowledge when we talk about this sort of thing.

So I asked if God could let me know what to say, how much, and what the message needs to be.

And it turns out that He just loves us.

Beauty.


So I got on with it. Simple. He wants to heal. Heal what? Everything. Wrote them down. Why? Because He loves us. How? Through the cross.

So, for about two hours I've been staring at a selection of 20 conditions that God can heal. Just moving them, reshaping, resizing, bigger, smaller, here, there. And just through doing this and thinking about how soon we'll be offering prayer to people for these very real things, my faith's tripled. I struggle with healing. I don't get it all the time, and there have been admittedly bitter disappointments for me in the past in terms of asking for others to be healed and it not happening. This made me really nervous about going with this initiative, especially this year. But I've just spent 2 hours making the words of sickness fit into the shape of the cross. And Jesus spent His last hours putting the real forces of sickness and death under Him on the cross, so I think it's probably going to be okay.

Exciting times. I think the kingdom of God's actually bursting in.

(Still twitching at the terminology).

Nevermind.

"Death is a cold, blindfolded kiss.
It is the finger pressed upon our lips.
It puts an unwanted emphasis on how we should have lived.
Life is a gorgeous, broken gift.
Six billion+ pieces waiting to be fixed.
Love letters that were never signed, sent to where we live.

But the sweetest thing i've ever heard is that i don't have to have the answers,
just a little light to call my own.
Though it pales in comparison to the overarching shadows,
a speck of light can reignite the sun and swallow darkness whole."

-Sleeping at Last (predictably?) : Emphasis


Sunday, 6 February 2011

Frosted glass.

So, everything's rather exciting at the moment. But consequently I'm pretty overwhelmed with things to do and directions my mind should be looking in. I wish really that I could just step out for a few hours, look down on it all from a very big height, and organise from up there. Someone once told me that to God, the world is so small that the highest mountain ranges, all jaggedy and loomy to us, look smooth- the earth is like a marble. I guess this is one reason that He should be the port of call when we're panicking.

Friday, 4 February 2011

if nothing else, we're given a little time
to change the heart in which we change our minds;
our hourglasses turn.

this year is a sealed envelope;
with apprehensive hope
we brace for anything.
i swear, i understand that nothing changes that,
the past will be the past,
but the future is brighter than any flashback.

well, we could let our guards down a little easier this time,
we could trust that when there's joy, there's nothing dark behind.
in spite of history,
hope is january white.


~January White, Sleeping at Last.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Dot to dot.

So, I'm pondering how much responsibility we have in decisions. I'm not talking simple right/wrong things, but more 'which path now?' types. When there's not a clear moral decision, where people won't get hurt as a result of one over another, where alarm bells don't ring in your conscience at the thought of one you know isn't the way.

I think when it comes to a lot of things, we know what's right. It depends on your world view, but I do think people know in general, barring actual conditions like psychopathy where there is literally no comprehension of moral implication. It may be from your conscience and an empathy, a knowledge of what effects will be beneficial to you or people around you. It may be based on laws or expectations placed by society. I think my conscience is informed by God's heart, and also knowledge of His laws and instructions in the Bible.

Regardless, all of these ways lead to a little voice that says 'no!' to some things, and 'yeah!' to others. And all of them can be ignored. As much as anyone may go get drunk and act in some obscene way that offends society in the street, I can and do choose on a daily basis to do something I know full well is wrong. In the same way, much of the time we abide by the laws of society, and sometimes I do what I know is right- I stop there, or have one less, or talk to that person.

So that's tricky- getting your body in line with your head in decisions in which you know the value of each option. What complicates matters even more is when there's no clear cut right or wrong, but just one or another.

Is it all up to us? Can we do whatever we want? Or is there a specific linear trajectory we're supposed to be heading on? Or is it like a playground, where we can play on whatever we want as long as it's within the boundaries?

I don't know. I sometimes think it's more up to us than we'd like to think.

Stress is not my forte. What happens here?

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Ache.

This is where I want to be right now:


Atlantic Reach Resort Country Club: Watergate Bay - Even better when it's sunny


It's not a beautiful picture, but since my laptop was stolen I'm forced to resort to google images. I did pick one which isn't too sunny, so it matches my memories in that way. That's not meant to be gloomy in tone...more just informative that if you will holiday in Britain at October half term, it will constitute a childhood of drizzly beaches.

Anyway, this is Watergate Bay. I love it. Rocks to climb, long enough to walk down for an hour, rough waves with potential for being deemed unsafe on crazy days. I just want to be there. Wrapped in many layers perhaps, but it'd do nicely.

It costs £38.60 to get the over night train there...tempted.

Anyway.

This isn't really what I want to talk about.





Isaiah 30:21, 'Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."'

Whether or not you listen is on your own back.