Tag Archives: consequences

Red Wine Stains

Accepting Limitations

Recently I have started to get up early each morning around 5:30am. I was tending to find that staying in bed until 7-8 o’clock left me feeling drowsy and I found it very difficult to get into gear. Furthermore, God had specifically told me many years ago that this was a discipline that I needed to master, since it was going to be of major benefit to my life.

Typically I come downstairs, as quietly as I can so as not to wake up everyone else in the house, go into the lounge, and spend time talking with God and planning my coming day. Over the last few days I kept being drawn to an old, circular purple mark on the hearth in front of the fireplace. It looks like at some point, someone placed a wine glass down and some of the split liquid had soaked into the stone. I think it has been there ever since we moved into the house 11 years ago, but for some reason I was really drawn to it this time.

I decide to take a closer look at this offending blemish that ruined what was a beautiful plinth of fine marble. I ran my finger across it; it felt slightly rough to the touch. With my thumbnail I scratched at the surface to see what I was dealing with. “Is it really such a permanent mark?”, I thought to myself. I began to scratch at it with a bit more urgency, applying greater force. To my amazement this seemingly unmovable disfigurement began to disappear. I slowly worked my way round the shape watching it get gradually lighter and lighter until it refused to lighten any more. I then marched to the kitchen and brought back a cloth and a knife. I continue to rub at my tenacious adversary. Almost gone now, I applied the knife and gently scrapped at the surface. In just a few minutes, what had stood for over a decade was gone without a trace.

The question I asked myself was this – “Why didn’t I do something earlier?” With such minimal effort the issue was resolved in such a short space of time. I’d presumed that this issue was a permanent fixture and it hadn’t even occurred to me that there might be way to remove it. How often can this be said of many of life’s issues. They linger with us year after year, niggling away at us. Not too irritating that we take positive action to address them, but they stop us to scratch regularly only to forget about it for another day. I think that God occasionally reminds us that he is our healer and that even the most long standing of issues can be resolved. We sometimes just need to listen for his prompting and go with the leading of the holy spirit. And when we do this we typically find that God does something quite incredible, something that makes us stand up in amazement.

So don’t just accept things as they are, no matter how long standing the problem might be. God can resolve it because he does not want us to go through the whole of life living with the hurts of the past. Who knows, maybe today is the day when God says, “I want to do something really special for you today. You know that thing that’s been niggling you and holding you back? Well today I’m going to take it away; erase it completely.” Get ready to receive something wonderful from the father that loves you more than life itself.

Luke 4:18-19a

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Busy Bees

I’ll take care of it

Just when I begin to get everything sorted out, with all things in their right place, someone messes up what I’ve spent so long putting straight. Do you ever feel like that? The days are not long enough and all the time seems to disappear. I’m a list writer and without my lists I don’t get very much done. They are a necessity that keeps me from procrastinating or being drawn off at a tangent. They help me focus on what I need to do and remind me where I was if I get pulled into something else.

The problem with lists is that they can become rather long, especially as I being to plan out all the various things I have to take care of. There’s stuff to do round the house, there’s my work, there’s church, places I need to go, people I need to see. Something is always being forgotten.

Then there are the things that I didn’t even think about; thoughts that didn’t even enter my head. How on earth did I forget to get a mother’s day card for my wife from the dog? Why didn’t I think about what we would have for dinner this evening? Why didn’t I see that big problem looming up and do something about it sooner? There is just so many things to consider; sometimes it seems as if the world is just too big.

And, of course it is. The world, even my little part of it, is far to big for me to manage all of the details and it’s kind of inevitable that I’m going to fail to look after it all. It’s a pretty good job that, first and foremost, none of my failings are held against me. God’s word says that he keeps no record of wrongs, that I’m forgiven and nothing is held against me. Secondly, he says that he will take care of everything that I forget or neglect to do. Everything!

This means that after I’ve finished doing my work for the day, I do not need to worry or even think about the things I’ve not done. All I need to do is focus on the here and now, just today. That doesn’t mean I don’t plan for tomorrow, it means that I don’t need to worry about it. If those plans get blown off course or never come to pass then that’s alright. I can only do what I can do. Just when I need it I can rest without any guilt or condemnation. I am accepted and loved for who I am and not what I achieve.

Psalm 130:3,4 NIV If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
Philippians 4:19 MSG You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus.

Belief

In the 1992 film “A Few Good Men” Tom Cruise’s character delivers the line “You can’t handle the truth!” to Jack Nicolson’s character who was sitting in the dock, justifying his horrific actions in the interest of national security.

Self justification is not just something reserved for hollywood blockbusters. No, we all do it all the time. We do it so often that we often don’t even realise we’re doing it. Now it may not be our breaking of the law or something as serious as national security but self justification is seriously affecting our lives. Take for instance when we’re watching TV, we actively choose to suspend what we know to be true because we want to believe what we’re seeing.

Not convinced? Why does it only take a single bullet to take down the bad guy but the hero just wipes off the blood and stick a band-aid on it? When do film heroes do their washing, cleaning, dusting, ironing, cooking, shopping, school runs, family errands, bill payments and filing? Why doesn’t the hero ever get an STI after having numerous partners?

The fact is we choose to believe what we want to believe and it isn’t based on evidence or facts. Of course we know that what we’re seeing isn’t real, don’t we? Perhaps we do deep down but so long as we suspend our disbelief we can carry on enjoying what we’ve seen. As soon as we pop out the bonus DVD and watch the ‘making of the film’ the illusion is shattered.

We don’t just apply this kind of thinking to television. We do it every day. When we drive over the speed limit and tell ourselves, “Everyone else does it” or “The limit should be higher anyway”. Or when we fail to hand in the lost property we find and say, “The person may not even return to collect it” or “The person I hand it to will keep it for themselves.” The other day I found a SatNav just lying on the floor. My first thought was, “What a great find! My wife would really appreciate this.” I wasn’t even going to keep it for myself – how generous was I! As I began to look through all the settings I came across the owners address. I thought about how they might feel having lost it and how they might feel to have it returned to them. Within the hour I was at their door.

You see, it’s the little things that we say to ourselves that really matter. They make up what we believe and who we are. In the Bible it says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is”. The problem with examining our beliefs is what might happen if we find that they are not true. And the problem with the truth is that it has consequences. Most people don’t want to consider the truth not because they don’t believe it, but they do not want to be faced with the consequences. Consequences require a response to accept them or reject them. They cannot be simply ignore.

The fact is that there are real consequences for all of our decisions and it is worth questioning what we believe before moving on. After all, the “theory of evolution” is still just a theory. The “missing link” is still missing. How many of us have even read the “Origin of Species” and looked at the evidence ourselves? Are we just happy to follow the masses and believe what we are presented with is the truth? Why not take the time to find out some facts for yourself and read some of the Bible; see who Jesus really was and what he had to say. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Start today with John chapter 1