Posts tagged 'love'

 

Grace – still amazing

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Grace – still amazing

News cutting of grace in action

Grace in action

Today I commuted to work by tube rather than by my usual motorbike. I picked up a free newspaper at the station and flicked through it on my journey. It was mostly the same-old, same-old mixture of “celebrity” gossip, sport with a bit of politics and maybe some world news thrown in.

Then on page 9 I saw the article shown on the right. It tells of how Mrs Patricia Machin forgave and campaigned for a lighter sentence for the man who ran over and killed her husband. I was amazed – so much so that I ripped the page out of the newspaper on the train and kept it (sorry if you picked up that paper afterwards). It put me in mind of Gordon Wilson whose daughter, Marie, was killed by the IRA bomb at Enniskillen in Northern Ireland in 1987. He described how he held his daughter’s hand as she lay dying in the street. In an interview shortly after he said:

“I have lost my daughter, but I bear no ill will . . . Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life . . . I don’t have an answer . . . But I know there has to be a plan. If I didn’t think that, I would commit suicide.” (Gordon Wilson 1987)

He went on to speak with the IRA to express his forgiveness of them personally in an attempt to create peace. This is well known. What many don’t know (or have forgotten) is that he was later shunned in the street and pretty much vilified for showing such grace and speaking of forgiveness.

For her part Mr Machin wrote to the judge saying:

“I have never had any angry or vengeful thoughts towards this young man”

The judge said:

“You have been very fortunate to be forgiven.”

In sharing the story of Mrs Machin’s forgiveness of the driver who killed her husband I have encountered a broad range of responses: ranging from “I’m not sure I could do that.” to “But that just sends the message that you can get away with it.”

Whatever else it’s good to see that grace not only exists but is still amazing and – by it’s very nature – shocking.

Tribute to a Mother

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Inspirational.

I’m not saying anything more – just watch the video.

Thy will be gun

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Thanks to Robb (@changingworship) for highlighting this brilliant and cutting piece by Bill Maher in the US. Be aware that it has swearing in it. Also I feel it will probably make us Christians feel a little uncomfortable – if it’s only the swearing that does that then I applaud you.

The thing is that non-Christians have long been able to better tell how Christians should be behaving than we seem to be. “That’s not a very Christian thing to do”, “I thought you were a Christian?” – that kind of thing. We dismiss it with “I’m not perfect” and “God isn’t finished with me yet” but we need to ask are they right when they make such accusations and also why do they make them in the first place? For some reason they expect more of us than we often expect of ourselves. Maher says: “If you ignore every thing Jesus commanded you to do then you’re not his followers, you’re just fans” and he’s right. Yes we can laugh at the idea of “fundementalist Christians” holding babies under the baptismal water until they talk but let’s be careful not to distance ourselves too far from the message behind it. If the rest of the world has a poor view of Christians and Christianity then there really is only one place to lay the blame: at the feet of the Church – which we keep on telling ourselves is the people and not the building.

Recently I had a conversation with a new Christian (for want of a better term). They expressed a concern that they felt they still weren’t getting it right (after 3 weeks!). After 35 years of being in the same boat all I could say was “join the club”. In the end though we must remember that the message we bring (and should live) is that all fall short of the standard Jesus set and that God loved the entire world so much that he gave his only Son to make up the difference. This does not give us an excuse to stop trying and to live in ways that the person we claim to follow would not have done.

Judge not…

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Judging (or not) was the sermon theme in our church on Sunday. One of the illustrations used was a story of a man who had various events happen to him. At each one his neighbours would decalre it a blessing or a curse and the man would say “all I know is that this happened” and refused to judge the situation beyond that. The principle is that we can all too often write something (or someone) off too early. We just don’t know what God has around the corner.

It put me in mind of this video (particularly the part from 3:30 to 4:00). How often do we write someone off, dismiss and belittle them on first sight. Christian’s have a reputation in some quarters of being narrow-minded, judgemental and holier-than-thou. Ever wonder how we got that reputation?

And let’s not do what I first did when seeing this and think how awful it was of “those” Christians to judge the people featured in the video as if I was somehow better than “those” Christians. Am I? Are any of us?

Always?

On a side note. This is a really good video. It’s well made, it’s not cheesy and it has a message which it delivers clearly and succinctly. I would love to see more of this kind of video from Christians and fewer of the lyrics-of-someone-else’s-song-on-somebody-else’s-landscape-photos type.

Is God good _all_ the time?

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Ever been to one of those church services where the leader makes a statement and the congregation (or those who are familiar with it) respond with another statement? A common one sometime back went like this..

leader: God is good
congregation: All the time!
leader: And all the time..
congergation: God is good!

If you’ve never sat through one, they can be as cheesy as that makes it sound – sometimes they’re not though and that usually depends on how many times you’ve encountered such practices (or perhaps whether you’ve read “The Visitation” by Frank Peretti :o) ). Anyway, I digress…

How accurate is that particular meme? Is God good all the time? Well. yes of course he is but does it always feel that way? Try asking that of somebody who is going through a rough time and feels like God is silent. Try asking it of somebody who has encountered something which shakes their very faith to the core – perhaps the unexpected loss of a loved one. Try asking it of someone who is persecuted for their faith by their own family who days earlier showed them love. Try asking it of someone who feels like the walls are caving in and nobody cares. By the way, if you live in a world where Christians don’t feel like that – ever – then I suggest you may want to consider broadening your horizons or paying closer attention to the Christians around you.

In such situations it is quite normal, even (especially?) for Christians, to question the goodness of God. It is also quite usual for the Christians around them to give them the equivalent of “keep your chin up” type advice. Scriptures are quoted, demonic “presence” is prayed against and the “victim’s” apparent “lack of faith” is usually brought up – in a loving way of course. We who are not in those places (at the time) need to remember that such responses are not always as helpful as they seemed in your head. And thos eof us going through such moments, need to remember that sometimes the words which seem lacking in thought have behind them a heart which just wants to help in any way they can – a heart of love. Having recently been in a place where I questioned God’s purpose in my situation, I can testify to how good it was to receive the opposite response from the Christians around me. Encouragement without patronisation, support without even implied finger pointing, walking beside rather than before – all these responses showed me what love is. I was truly blessed by the way my brother’s and sister’s in Christ walked with me through my own personal valley, kept reminding me of the grace of God (through action more than words) and whilst giving me space — never allowed me to slip into a dangerous solitude.

At times when you are questioning your faith; your life and your God, you need people round you who will treat you like it is okay to do so but not permit you to forget why you first had those things. If you are in that place, don’t blame those trying to help – even if they are not actually helping. Look to the heart behind their actions or words and respond to that. If you are not in a valley, try to remember how it felt last time you were and try not to overwhelm the other one with your gestures or advice. Give and be receptive of support to or from the Christians around you or as Jesus commanded us: “Love one another as I have loved you”. Such love reminds us that God is good, all the time.

My love

Saturday, September 15th, 2001

Along the road I struggle, stumbling to the ground.
My Love is there to help me, but I’m still looking down.
Slowly, to my feet I climb. Not noticing the hand
That takes my arm and lifts me up. Until, once more, I stand.
Ignorant, I stagger on. “I’ll do better!”, I proclaim.
My Love continues holding me, lest I should fall again.
I feel my burden slowing me. When I can be no weaker
I fall on my Love, and instantly my burden becomes lighter.

I hear a roar ahead now. Refreshed, I start to run.
Confident, I draw my sword. Declaring loud, “Begone!”.
The beast it waits and watches. As down the path I sprint
And as I reach it, shouting. Its’ companions hem me in.
Now I see my trouble is more than I can bear.
“Why have you forsaken me?” But my Love is standing there.
My Love’s fire, it protects me and I, gazing at the flame,
Go with my Love, who’s leading me, back the way He came.

Down the path we travel now, retreating from the deluge.
And my heart is lifted, as I look upon my refuge.
It somehow looks familiar, I’d seen this place before.
It’s the place I ran from, when I first heard the roar.
Once I rest within my Love, then I see the wisdom.
Had I stayed beside my Love, the hedge was my protection.
But even in my arrogance, when I had fled the fold,
My Love had gone there with me and of my hand, kept hold.

How is it mine, this Love then? What deed does it return?
How did I deserve it? How could it be earned?
The Word of God, it tells me, the price is not for me.
But can I faithfully accept that Love like this is free?
And Yet this Love is costly. The law demands a life.
Not mine, I know, because it needs the purest sacrifice.
The price is high and yet it’s paid. On a blood stained tree.
For reasons rarely understood. My Love’s life paid for me.

He knew I could not make it. He knew my hope grew thin.
He knew my past inheritance, that kept me far from Him.
And yet, He breathed His last for me and then He breathed the first.
So I could revel in His Love, my life now free from curse.
So I rejoice now, in My Love. And I’ll declare His Worth
“The Name that is above all names, the Joy of the whole earth.”
And as I call upon my Love ( for help comes from above ).
Know the truth is this, my friend. Jesus is my Love.