Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Influencers 1.

Some nuggets of gold that hit the mark in my heart and made a real impact. I'll start with one from the Bible. In a letter written to a group of Christians, Paul says:
Ephesians 2:20 
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Every time I read this verse it transports me. I can remember so clearly where I was. It was during a regular time of Bible reflection that I came across it. I was stumbling my way through Ephesians each morning, journalling my reflections on the bits that stuck out to me when I reached this verse one morning. It was at the end of one of my times, I had to be going to get ready for work but I couldn't leave. I felt as though I had been scaling the outside of a ship trying to board it and this was the moment I got a leg over the railings and suddenly I saw before me a huge ocean liner to be explored. This is a verse to build a life around. I could plumb its depths a long time and still not got my heart around it. It's fairly easy to understand but this is a verse, the truth of which wraps itself around your heart and coats you in a substance that stops you living in quite the same way again.

Communicating those moments on page through print to others is hard to do well and harder still to do succinctly so it's just as well that this blog is largely for me more than it is an audience...

What was is that gripped me that day that floods my memory every time I read it? It was this:
- Handiwork/workmanship
- created... to
- prepared... for us

Three simple ideas that ruined me.

A Christian is a new creation. This is key. People are very confused these days about what a Christian is and isn't and it seems to me that for the most part people interpret it to mean, and they use it to mean, whatever suits them best and requires the least change on their part. Jesus said that a Christian is someone who is 'born a second time' and Paul said that if anyone is in Christ (a Christian) they are 'a new creation.'

Christian = new creature, agree? When I became a follower of Jesus I didn't sign up to a new cause or tick a set of credal statements, I became remade. Spiritually I was raised to life and morally I was cleansed so that I became forgiven and acceptable to God. I amy not feel too different, I may not even behave too differently but I am different. This verse says that I have been made by God. I am God's workmanship. Before I go on, this much needs to be said - I display God's craftsmanship. Really? Have you seen me?

God remade me, God brought me into Christ and God has put his stamp of ownership and his signature of artistry on me. Every Christian can say 'I display God's artistry.'

But the second startling thing we discover in this thought is that I was created 'in order to...' God made me with a purpose in mind. Paul was right when he said that 'we do not belong to ourselves, we were bought at a price.'

Finally God made me to do the good works he prepared for me in advance to do. Good works are met with rewards in glory and in character and so I discover upon reflecting that God made me to reward me. I shall say that bit again. God made me... to reward me. This is consistent with the first idea that I display God's handiwork and craftsmanship. God is the ultimate artist and creative designer and so it follows that everything he makes, that he calls his own, that bares his signature, must live up to his idea for it. It should then follow that God would be committed to making me into a finished article and not leaving me as a new but stagnant creature.

New and improving by living-in-line with his design. That's what he's called me to do, to live in line with how he made me to be.

For we (all Christians) are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which he prepared in advance for us to do.

That thought has made and continues to make a big impact on me.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Resolves for 2013

1) Read. More. Last year I read... I don't know. This year I shall aim to read at least 12 books, that's doable.

2) Read. Bible. Honestly I think it's my authority for living and my invitation to meaningful encounters with God. I want my diary to demonstrate this.

3) Guard. Thoughts. So in a few days of lazy thinking I know how quickly I can be robbed of my joy, thrown into inner turmoil and left several steps back from where I'd like to be. To guard my thoughts I first of all must guard what goes in and how I allow the content to swim around. TV shows, opinions, secular statements. I can't withdraw from the world and nor would I want to but it's important that I don't allow myself to be preached at. Preaching is effective often simply because it isn't dialogue, it's one way and I know that without response or counter-balance I quickly feel the weight of the water bearing down on me.

4) Holistic living. Break down compartments, embrace all of life as God-honouring and kingdom implementing. From breakfast to TV to nappies to sermons and Alpha to grocery shopping. My life isn't made meaningful by how many notches I accrue for the gospel but I bear fruit simply by abiding in him. Abide therefore in all of life.

5) Produce more. Not babies, I think I have enough of them for now. No I intend to be less of a consumer of entertainment and information and more of a doer of it. Even if it's just for me and my family I intend to make more albums, write more blogs, do more household DIY projects. Life is made meaningful by leaving a mark, using our hands to do and build and be and make.

6) Fear rightly. So often I do and say what I do and say simply to keep the invisible imaginary ideas of what a particular person or two would want me to do or say or be or do. Fearing man like this is a trap, good only for thing - to trap me. I will aim to fear God more, that is I aim to live with 'that day' in mind. How in practise that works out is that I aim to do nos. 1,2,3,4 & 5 out of and in relationship with the Father. It means that by God's grace I stop at each crossroad and choose gospel centered living and speaking over man centered abdicating and silence.

7) Lead. With conviction. Humbly yes but decisively as well. Deliberate, discuss, seek counsel be open to change but don't limp between extremes, choose only to discuss the finer points.

8) Checkout less. Engage my brain and creativity at home with the family and not just in my own world online, at work or in the church or 'mission'. I feel how easy it is to allow home life to tick over to be an assumed constant rather than an ongoing project. A lot of my life I treat like a project but my home. A project requires thought, creativity and energy, I don't feel I put enough of this into my family. The irony is that I want to finish this post before tending to the crying baby next to me...