Monday, 21 March 2011

Blindingly Obvious

Rwanda, no, Iraq yes, Zimbabwe no, Kuwait yes, Sudan no, Libya yes,. It's an easy equation to solve:

Genocide + oil = intervention, Genocide + 0 = don't get involved.

Of course David Cameron's argument is an easy one to fall for 'the fact you can't always do what is right, shouldn't stop you from doing it when you can'. Strange how we only find it possible when self- interest is threatened. But what is more subtle is the subtext that somehow some external force prevents us from acting whenever it is right - it takes away our responsibility and lays the blame on this outside force....

Or we fall for the lie that there is a limit to the good we can do, that somehow the bucket of goodness will run dry if we spend it too soon... So we ration where we intervene on this most spurious and ungodly of criteria. 'what's in it for us?'

But I guess it's pretty hypocritical if I rail at governments and don't write to my MP, and even more if in my personal life I use the same criteria for decision making... Time for a look;

Did I choose that job motivated out of love - God's for me, mine for him and others?  Or was it to do with career progression, financial insecurity? That relationship I just ended, was that godly or for fear of committment? That house I just extended, was it really so the small group could meet more comfortably, or because we wanted it?

I guess it extends to 'christian' things too - do I go to this church, this small group for what I get out of it or because it is where God has placed us? Am I involved in that ministry because it feels fulfilling? Do I offer hospitality to those people simply because I enjoy their company?

Actually, I suspect that frighteningly little of my life has been motivated purely by the love of God, where there was nothing in it for me.... and underneath that behaviour is this simple reality. I act as if I believe that I am God. I know what is best for me, what will fulfil me, what will feel right. I trust in my decisions and processing more than God's. I value my perspective above His.

Fundamentally I don't trust in His love.

And when you get groups of people like me and form a government you end up invading Iraq but leaving Mugabe in power.

Maybe I need to write to myself as well as my MP. 

Sunday, 20 March 2011

taking ground, standing firm

David writes
From my penthouse suite (aka the Sarjeant's loft conversion) I get a great view of their garden.It's long and divided into two halves. It's full of trees, big old plum trees, some established sycamores and several more recent self-seeded sapplings. Sounds nice eh? And in many ways it is. Except that for a lot of the garden there's no light. And actually, the more you look at it, the lack of order is a problem and some of the trees just look old or misplaced. For too long there hasn't been pruning, cleansing or thinning. The wrong trees have taken root and prevented good things from growing through lack of light or by stealing the goodness of the ground.

Reminded me of John 15 where Jesus talks about the Father pruning good trees and rooting out bad ones. He longs for us to bear the fruit of the Spirit so that we can enjoy and overflow with His joy.

So, staying there a few days ago before flying out to Romania, I saw the difference. Catherine is a visionary - she sees in her minds eye what can be. Out went an old plum tree, out went some sycamores, the Ash tree was pruned, bushes were uprooted - the jungle tamed. Instead there is light, a new small orchard of frsh fruit trees and bushes, carefully laid out and lovingly tended. Hard work mind, researchng what was good, what was bad, having the courage to tear down the old, the energy to root out and prepare the ground. Easy if you're not careful to let some of the old remain, to grow back, to encroach and steal life from the new... Needs dilligent attention, just like life itself.

Catherine writes
I've had a difficult few weeks, am so aware we are in a battle zone (not guns and bombs and killing people, but a spiritual battle zone, truth vs lies, love vs fear). This battle came on the back of some significant breathroughs in areas that I had been struggling with for years. (Thanks YWAM Carlisle!)

Orphan, vs daughter. I had struggled to believe that I have value, that I belong, that I am a beloved daughter, and instead had always felt a bit of an outsider, unable to really approach my Father, and believing I was seperated from his love.. So whilst in Carlisle, I ended up battling with some friends on truth, taking ground from the enemy who had lied to me for a long time. Taking ground is a process of replacing lies with head, in heart and in the depths of our being....  these sorts of lies which are strongholds require more than just saying a sentence of truth, they require serious pruning, hard work in tree-felling, thorough root extraction, vigillant follow-up...  but so often we simply say something on our own with things not feeling any different afterwards. Taking ground from the enemy is about removing lies and progressively replacing with truth in in head, heart and soul. With deep rooted lies that have been believed for years it often takes a number of battles.. each time truth sinking deeper.. But you have to live it out, you have start responding, behaving as if the truth is...true!

So what happened after Carlisle? Daily life. The weeds grew fast... and friends made some decisions that made it hard for me to hold on to the truth and easier to go back to the comfortable, killing lies that I didn't belong. Like in most battles, there are set-backs, casualties, small retreats.

But here's some truth that I'm believing and living out. We win. We win an overwhelming victory. The ground has been taken, it's mine, the enemy can't stay. Ground clearance is underway again, the new fruit trees are planted.

Just look at the blossom.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Who to follow

Catherine writes
My Children are at an age where they are coming out with some fantastic things.

On a walk in the Lake District we were working out which way to go, and Becky said 'There's a sheep, lets follow it' Then a few days later Josh commanded my mum & a friend: 'Follow me, I'm a man'

Made us think - who are we following? Something that seems to know the area, that has confidence - but is actually a sheep? Or the charismatic leader who has lots of confidence, but not necessarily well founded!  Who are we following? It's kind of like that bit in acts where they are fighting over who to follow.. Paul or Apollos.

Truth is even those who think they are following their own instincts turn out to be following someone else....

As Dylan puts it 'You're gonna have to serve sombody'

David Writes
Jesus said 'follow me'... sounds pretty simple, but this following business isn't as straightforward as it seems... I guess most of us like following when the destination is known, the course plotted and the journey secure. We really like the idea of being led by green pastures, still waters etc - but what's all this talk about shadowy valleys? And then Jesus went on to say that if we want to follow him we have to pick up a cross and that by comparison with our devotion to him our love for others must seem like hate...

Catherine writes
So who are we going to follow? The sheep? ' Guess it looked at home in the hills! Problem with following the sheep is you don't know where it is going.. It meanders, it wanders, it just goes where the grass is. It doesn't have a direction, it just moves round the fields and hills. So funny as it would have been to see the crowd of us (Becky, Josh, me, Gareth,  David and Janet) all following the sheep, we would have ended up wherever the rambling sheep wanted to go, not at the destination of our car. Worse, sheep following is tiring! Round and round, up and down - the illusion of progress, but no real purpose - end up exhausted and disillusioned... and no nearer our real destination.

Or maybe we follow the confident sounding voice, the charismatic figure. The big-name church leader, the celebrity, the one who promises much....

David writes
Or perhaps we don't trust others enough to follow them at all. Instead we trust ourselves, our instincts, our cleverness.'I did it my way' is our theme..

Seems to us that if we look around and ask 'how's it going so far' we'd have to say 'not well!'

All we like sheep have definitely wandered off. The strong leaders end up being another Pol Pot, another Gadaffi. The self-made men turn to dust along with their 'achievements'.

So, maybe it's time to respond like Peter. 'who else shall we follow? You have the words of eternal life'

Catherine writes
So maybe it's time to stop trying to sweeten the pill, soften the message. The cross doesn't come with padding. The nails don't include anaesthetic. The road is narrow, it does pass through shadowy valleys. But it leads to life, it is life - and the joy and peace of having Jesus with us outweighs it all. Nothing we give up compares to what we gain.

In these days, lets be praying for our brothers and sisters who are walking this road. Lets be praying for courage to walk with them.

Follow me he said. Then he picked up a cross, gave up his life and saved the world.