peace

Bible, men, theology

The Peace and Might of Gideon


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Imagine you’re sitting at home with your nearest and dearest, around a fire, eating some food, watching a movie. You’re trying to make the most of those few weirdly glorious days in between Christmas and New Year when everyone loses touch with the day of the week and the time of the day. What day is it? Don’t know. What time is it? Who cares?

Next, imagine that it’s night time and a crowd of one thousand people silently appears outside your house. Vaguely familiar, they stand facing your fort of refuge with large, flamed torches illuminating one thousand columns of cumulus breath rising toward the naked sky and the stars beyond. (more…)

music

Citadel


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Citadel

G’day one and all. It’s summer so I hope you’re either reading this blog with a fresh cold drink on a glorious day off in the sun, or recovering with your iPhone in a cosy pub somewhere with a Ploughmans after a climb up a high, high mountain – a happy day.

It was a happy day much like one of these that I remember this instinct to write turning into focus in my head for one day after I got back from holiday. Well, this one day happens to be today – thank you for reading.

Citadel Festival

We’d been stood for literally 5 hours waiting for Sigur Rós to emerge from behind the scaffolding and smoke as we dwelt in London’s Victoria Park to see one of the best bands in the world. Crisp cider in hand and a rucksack-full of fresh fruit, we shouted, clapped and screamed through a couple of bands (including the very cool Caribou) before the Icelandic legends struck their first open chord. It was such a great day: Sigur Rós were more amazing than I’d expected (and I expected), Caribou were coolness personified as sundown came and went and the incomprable Nathaniel Rateliff just made everyone very happy.

Then it struck me – this is the way it’s supposed to be.

Sure, there were a couple of wollies who wanted to bypass festival etiquette by trying to barge to the front, yes there was a heady smell of weed everywhere and yes a few people fainted and had to be thrown over the security fence like a mannequin to receive first aid. But by and large everyone was loving it – the sun was shining, immense bands were playing 6ft away and everyone was treating everyone else respectfully and having a whole load of fun.

Numb

But as the beats per minute looped on and on, there was another world not very far away:

Terrorism, greedy banks, dividing countries, Dictators, sex scandals, wars, rumours of wars, crumbling economies…I think we’re all a little numb from not only the accelerating pace of the atrocities and stresses that seem to punctuate our days, but the peculiar numbness that comes from the constancy of dysfunction of society’s fraying – something’s not right and we know it somewhere deep inside, wondering, as we all do, if it will ever come to stare us in the face more closely to home.

It’s called fear.

This momenatry oasis of Citadel’s summer festival was respbite from the evil that is far too dominant in all of our worlds. But it was more than a mirage.

Maybe most folk weren’t thinking about the countires under attack from terrorism as Sigur Rós played another G#m and lit up the sky. But isn’t there a tiredness in all of us with evil and murder and atrocity? A kind of internal fatigue that comes when we hear of yet more carnage and flagrant disregard for the sanctity of life and yet we don’t know what to say…so normally we don’t – we just sigh and hold our nearest and dearest a little tighter. Or perhaps we drink too much so as not to think about it. Or end up taking drugs and fainting and being thrown over a metal blocade like a rag doll.

Neighbours

We all have to deal with the outrage and the fear and we’ll all deal with it in different ways. But there is one consequence of the accumulation of these sad days that should be the same for all of us blessed with rational sanity: we should all be learning to love the sanctity of life that we’ve been given, the peace in cohabiting respectfully together and the grace to be thankful for every tiniest blessing along the way.

Humanity isn’t created for guns and race wars and genocide and atrocious greed; humainity is created to dwell together in unity and to revel in the unity found only there.

When the Pharisee tested Jesus with a question about the law, the Messiah replied

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (See Matthew 22:37-38).

As I wrap up these musings about the struggle of good and evil in our days, and the small glimpses of how things are supposed to be despite them, perhaps these freedom words about loving God and loving each other as we should could be more of a comfort than we might have ever thought.

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Addiction, Exercise and Health, Prayer, spirituality

Dependence


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Did you know that it’s possible to be addicted to exercise? In fact, exercise dependence is widely recognised as a form of compulsive behavioural addiction – a psychological state that is damaging to physical, mental and social health.

The basic principle of establishing whether you’re addicted to exercise, or not, (or to what extent), is to answer a series of questions which pumps out an overall score of your psycological state.

*Google: exercise dependence and HAD test.

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Bible, Jesus

Look at the Lamb (Day 14)


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Day 14 – Pam

Summary of Chapter 14

Verses 1-4:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”

These are good verses for evil days – to remember and commit to memory. Jesus reveals that, somehow, as followers of Christ, we have been given authority over our hearts to not let them be troubled. This isn’t meant to be a robotic attempt to put our heads in the sand, but a faith-based state of heart that we can rest assured in the knowledge that God ‘sees all and knows all’ and has a bigger picture for us one day. This is echoed later in John’s shorter letter,
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1 John, Church, Culture

Back Stories


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We all have back stories – recorded and unfolding narratives of the span of our life forensically written by the sum of our experiences: great highs, often greater lows, innumerable memories all woven together in the finest detail to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art, hanging as a priceless tapestry in the inner gallery of our heart.

We don’t always want the public to view our own piece hanging there and we don’t honour the pieces that we see of others every day.

Do we walk through these galleries we’re in every day paying cursory glances at the pieces on display? Or could we stop to really look at what we see?

A biblical perspective for back stories is a faith-primed hope of a better future – all because of Jesus: He promises to never leave us alone and in the fullness of time to make all things new.

The difficulty with back stories is that we even struggle to know and understand our own let alone those of others – they require attention, thought and counsel. But understanding and attending to our own will help with our understanding of others.

The thing is – because everyone has come from somewhere, is currently somewhere processing the past and dreaming of a future; and because they are in fact headed somewhere into an unknown place, we must treat each other with the love that John talks about in 1 John. (I won’t quote chapter and verse but how about picking up your Bible, reading 1 John and noting the correlation between our love for Christ and our love for each other?).

See what I mean?

My prayer for myself and for you is that we would draw the same boundary lines as Jesus draws: grace upon grace upon grace upon grace upon grace [until it becomes annoying, ‘unfair’, even ridiculous] upon grace upon grace. You’ll need an eraser for sure; so will I:

We all know the feeling of being found outside of the boundary lines that others have drawn for us, (even in ink), essentially leaving us in relational exile where grace has run dry; but in the power of the Holy Spirit of God we can all be prayerful students of back story masterpieces and come to truly understand that each piece really does paint a million words.