Thursday, November 10, 2022

Sciatica....just turned up

It's always a temptation to be personal on a blog and to over-share.  That's a real danger as I write!  And, usually, a nagging low back pain would not deserve a mention.  Sticking hot patches on myself I moved around for five days, aware that many suffer stoically.  However, last Sunday afternoon the back pain shot down my left leg within a couple of hours. \

I had been at church in the morning, walking steadily on two legs. Suddenly, I lost use of my left leg with excruciating pain dropping me to the floor.  Only able to crawl on hands and knees suppressing yelps of agony with each move, I hoped dosing up with paracetamol would give me back my leg. 

Sleepless, at 6.00 am Monday, we phoned 111 help line and a duty doctor informed me it sounded classic sciatica and he would prescribe stronger painkillers to be collected at the pharmacist.  Their high level of codeine encouraged two bouts of vomiting that were so noisy Carol had to apologize to our neighbour!   New drugs are now at work four days on....and though the dr. cheerily informed me it can be a 4 to 6 weeks recovery I am trying to remain positive.   But does mean that you will be spared any posts for the next few days!  Prayers would be appreciated.  

Saturday, November 5, 2022

God copiers 5)

In this daily battle, rejoice that Jesus is alive and well and calls us to be awake and careful together. I love the way the apostle ends this section. At a social occasion I met this professional musician who played in a famous London orchestra.  I love orchestral music and immediately I had several questions imagining how wonderful it would be to be in the middle of skillful people creating such wonderful music.  Which piece of music thrilled him most? Lots of questions.  I began: 'How wonderful to belong to an orchestra like yours. How exhilarating to be in the middle of such music making.'  And he looked at me blankly. 'No. It’s just a job'. And I suppose if you have been doing this for a number. of years, the same stuff, the conductor saying, turn to second movement bar 269.  Routine.

We haven’t looked at all the aspects of the world’s culture listed but one of them hits on drunkenness: v.18  Don’t get drunk with wine….(that’s not the way to lasting joy), instead be filled with the Spirit singing psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, giving thanks to God the Father.  Come and worship and support each other because that’s the way to lasting joy.   Nothing routine. And the power of us belonging together as community is the way that God helps us through. Our first hymn today: 'What a friend we have in Jesus" - as I sing it and realize just how foreign it sounds to world culture I glory in being among his friends singing it together.  I love the definition of a Christian: A Christian is someone with whom it is easy to be good. Being together should bring out the best.

With mind and strength we say: By thy call of mercy, by the grace divine we are on the Lord’s side, Saviour we are thine.  We say to our critic. With God's help we really are trying to be better copiers as his children. We know we make many mistakes but come and join us in kingdom culture where we seek to grow in love, care and truth.  

Thursday, November 3, 2022

God copiers 4)

This is why we need to remember Jesus said: The greatest command is to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30).  This is no walk in the park.  No easy living.  It needs all your mind with all your strength.  Copying the world comes so easily, thoughtlessly  It’s how everybody is living.  Copying God needs Jesus, the Holy Spirit, with your mind and your will.  

You see God's urgent yearning that we be better copiers through these verses.  To recognize there are so many empty words v6…words which seem so convincing and because we are in the world’s culture we can’t help bringing some of this stuff into church.  God will not tolerate worldly behaviour v.6  In contrast with this darkness we are to v.8 Live as children of light, for the fruit of light consists of all goodness, righteousness and truth It's pretty clear how God wants us to live. We don't need long sermons.  Right in the middle of the big challenges come two vital challenges:

V14 Wake up, you’ve gone to sleep. You should be resurrected people with Jesus shining on you.  Don’t sleep walk and let the world's culture dull your senses, your brightness.  

V15 Be very careful how you live not as unwise people but as wise making the most of the time because the days are evil  vv14,15.  Don’t be sleepy careless people.  In my ministry some of my most difficult times have been listening to people, sometimes in leadership positions, who found themselves sleep walking into traps set by the big three: sex, money and power.  Wake up, be very careful, be wise.

No wonder it's like a daily battle!


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

God copiers 3)

But today, an ever increasing section of society does not know the Christian story and take it seriously, God is squeezed out, the Bible is ignored, morality is what you choose. In contrast with 1858 this is called a post-Christian culture and a post-truth society.  Notice in chapters 4 and 5 when Paul describes his culture with its sexual permissiveness, impurity. greed, falsehood, anger unwholesome talk, drunkenness...its unholiness..what similarities there are with today.  This was a pre-Christian culture. Now we are slipping into a post Christian culture.  Now this is a big subject and we must never forget that God has made us in his own image so there is always goodness, good people.  As a journalist in the war in Ukraine said last week, war brings out the worst of humanity in its cruelty but also the best in its courage and compassion.  Yes, people can be so unkind, angry. and cruel. Look at social media, trolls etc. But they can also be kind and compassionate.  However, we have to agree that this church now lives in a very different world from when this church began in 1858.   

I said the hymn has some major things right, but one thing was wrong. It’s that line: Who will leave the world’s side?  And we cannot actually leave, we are always in our culture.  We  are in the world, When Jesus calls us to follow him, he is calling us to belong to his kingdom. Which has a different culture of obedience and love. To be in the world but not of the world. To belong to his kingdom culture even as we live within the world's culture. To get your second passport.  Become a dual citizen.

 When we ask: Are we following God’s culture while living in the world’s culture we are even more aware of the struggle.  Who is on the Lord's sideFacing the foe. Fierce may be the conflict. We are helped by Paul’s honesty in Rom 7:13 when he says: for what I want to do, I do not do, and what I hate I do. Copying the world's culture comes naturally.  God’s culture - his way of thinking and behaving, his kingdom way is so different.  It demands everything of us.  It’s a battle. Who is on the Lord’s side?  Who will fight the foe?