call, cost, Deep, Discipleship, Discipline, faithfulness, Life in the Spirit, Life styles, obidience, priorities

“There is nothing remotely sissy about the women’s auxiliary balloon corps”.

A quote from Blackadder from Captain Darling, both trying to work out ways of avoiding death in the first world war by trying to escape the trenches, yet neither of the two men wants to admit that actually they are afraid of fighting and dying.

Captain Darling, manages to get a safe job behind a desk, and Blackadder tries (and fails) to be posted elsewhere.

This picture reminds me of uncomfortable (and maybe uncharitable) thoughts and conversations I have had with Christians about mission and evangelism.

The truth seems to be they’d rather be doing something nice and pleasantly Christian rather than the costly and sacrificial following of Jesus.

Interestingly, we were doing an outreach on Easter Saturday, and the Church was full of people doing flowers, but only one person came out onto the streets to do outreach with us.

I remember once we were desperately short of people to help with out teenagers and one person emailed to say she couldn’t do it because she was the only singer who could sing soprano (or something like that) in the choir.

The problem is this is it is majoring on the minor.

Prioritising the trivial over the transformative.

Our will being done, not Christ’s will be done.

Discipleship cannot be conditional discipleship, following Jesus only when we happen to be going in the same direction.

Christianity lite.
Decaf Christianity with extra milk foam.

when I was at college there was a cartoon that said “God I will go anywhere you call me too” and underneath it said “provided it is in Surrey”.

It made me think, is the problem with discipleship in the west that it is discipleship on our terms?

A phrase that often challenges me is “If Christ is not Lord of all, is he Lord at all?”

I think all of us find it easier to serve God when it is fun and rewarding, it is harder when it is seemingly making little progress.

Rather than being a backseat driver I fear when the call looks costly, or it is hard-work and a slog, we wrench the steering wheel out of God’s hand or pull up the handbrake and rush for the nearest cushy and consumerist gathering and end up seeking out roles of maximum kudos for minimum cost, the safest option.

The truth is following Jesus is either about obedience and faithfulness or disobedience and sin, the problem is that too often we try and give sin and disobedience a sugar coating of religiosity and respectability.

Blackadder sought glory but not the danger, wants recognition without risk, medals without cost, honour without achievement, and reward without sacrifice.

Yet Christianity has never been safe.

Jesus talks of picking up our cross and following him.

Following Christ will cost us everything we have, it is an “everything or nothing choice”.

As I thought about this blog, I wondered about getting David Beckham to make the squash at football matches. It is a job he could do, but it is substantially short of what he is capable of, and leaves the wider body deprived and should short.

Too many are full of potential that they leave deliberately untapped, because -as a proverb says- “many opportunities are missed because they come in overalls and look like work”.

Lets not give God the fag butts of our time, energy, gifting and resources rather than our first fruits.

So, let’s not be like Captains Darling and Blackader trying to slope off the battle-field, but instead bravely give all that we have, our best efforts and richest resources in the service of King Jesus.

Discipleship, Discipline, Pain, Spiritual Health

I wish I’d looked after my teeth!

I hate going to the Dentist.

I’ll do anything to avoid going… in fact I only go when it reaches crisis point and I’m officially in agony!

The problem this is actually pretty stupid, as if I was good and went to the dentist every six months or so, would probably catch any problems early before they got to crisis point.

More over being an idiot, as the pain in my teeth increased, rather than sorting it out, I popped painkillers hoping it would magically go away.

Yet this ended up with some painful root canal treatment and a £220 bill!

As I was waiting in the waiting room, I began to think this is a lot like life, we only deal with things when they become urgent, often we ignore the signs and nudges to sort out the things than need dealing with before they become urgent.

How sometimes we hide the urgency with ‘pain-killers’ as a form of self-denial, putting it off for another day, until OUGH…

Our we dealing with the symptoms, or do the costly and painful (but beneficial) call and allow God to deal with the root.

Sitting in that dentists’ chair realized that it was a picture both of surrender, I know I have come to the end of my resources to deal (or at least mask) the real issues, I need someone to do what cannot, and I have to trust them.

Would we let God deal with the painful roots?

Do I trust him to deal with the the stuff below the surface?

Do we surrender? Do we trust him?

Am I at the point of surrender? The point when I am desperate?

So, was I thinking what God trying to say to you at the moment?

Are you listening or drowning him out with pain-killers (one guy, a friend of mine, had/has an awesome call on his life) described it as “God wanting to call me, but I left the answerphone on”.

Have you got the answerphone on?

Scripture says “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”

Are you avoiding dealing with something that you know God is calling you to deal with? Or do something that you’ve out off for another day? A dream that is yet to be seized? A call that’s needs to be responded too?

There is a business theory adapted from Jahari’s Window, which splits every task into 1) Important but not urgent, 2) Urgent but not important, 3) not important or urgent 4) Important and Urgent.

The theory is we waste too much time on what is neither important or urgent, or perhaps on urgent and important, but where the wise time in invested most wisely  is in the important but not urgent, so

when the time is right we are fully prepared for what needs to be done.

Scripture urges us to be wise in how we deal with time, our God given gift.

What are our priorities?

What are his priories for our lives?

Scripture urges us to:Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” (Col.4.4).

Although I am loathed to quote Greek in blogs (as normally it is just pretentious!) its worth noting that there are two words for time (when in English we only have one!) these are “Chronos” (where we get the idea of Chronological, time in sequence) or the other word “Kairos”, talks about God’s time and timing…

How do we use our time?

How do we use his time?

So let’s not neglect walking and listening closely, doing the brave and right thing, letting God lead, direct and deal with that which needs his hand alone? Or do we resist the Kairos time breaking in until everything else has failed?

I’ll close with Pam Ayres poem “I wish I’d looked after my teeth”