Q is for Quickening


My dad was a big fan of westerns. He was an avid watcher of The High Chaparral and Bonanza. He talked about Little Joe and Hoss, like they were mates he drank with in his local. He’d watch all the films too, from The Dirty Dozen and The Outlaw Josey Wales to more fun musicals like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Calamity Jane.

I spotted a ‘modern’ western in the TV Guide one time and suggested he watch it. “The Quick and the Dead, Da” I said. “Not sure what that means, but it’s supposed to be a good one.”

“It means you’re either dead or alive,” he replied, without even looking up from his newspaper.

“So to be quick means to be alive? How’s that?”

“Well, when them fellas point their guns at you, you better move quick or you’ll be dead!” 15672703048_23e89a5a14_n

That conversation is the only reason I understood that line from the epic hymn ‘And Can it Be’

I love those old hymns, with big tunes and deep theology. The language is not always accessible and lines like – ‘Thine eye diffused a quickening ray…’ can, at first, mean little to the hearer. I knew what it meant tho, cos my da told me that to be quick is to be alive. :)

Even though the meaning is the same, the context is a bit different from the movie to the hymn. To be quick is to live, but to me quickened, is to be made alive. pastorhistorian.com has a whole blog post devoted to the hymn and says, ‘The language of quickening or “making alive” is present in the Authorized Version of Ephesians 2:1 and 4. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; . . . Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.”  The quickening of the sinner resulted in a dungeon now inflamed with light, chains being broken, and a free heart.”

Being quickened is not just living – it’s living free, living full, living fast – but not loose! ;)

photo credit: Stetson On The Rocks via photopin (license)

P is for Perfection


girl 2Ah yes, now here is a subject I know a LOT about. Only because I’ve been searching for it for a long long time – no sign yet. (Although the little one to the left there thinks I’m doing ok…)

During the sermon last Sunday morning, in Colossians 3, the preacher said that Paul’s teaching was encouraging the readers to let the peace, love and purity of Christ permeate the world around them, rather than what was happening in Colossi; the pluralistic culture permeating the church.

In the course of the sermon, when talking about the characteristics and behaviour of “the new self”, he said something along the lines of, ‘if you are in Christ, you have the Spirit of the Lord; by grace, you can do these things…’ These things being, patience, compassion, kindness, forgiveness and love, and the context is within the church – Christian to Christian.

So why don’t we do it all the time? Why aren’t we perfect? If we have the Spirit of Christ to do these things, why aren’t we doing them?

The IVP New Dictionary of Theology, when describing perfection, says – “At all times Christians have been faced with the tension between this calling to reflect in their lives and conduct the perfect holiness of God, and the fact, all too evident to experience, of the continuing presence within the personality of the sinful tendencies of their former lives.”

Now if you’re like me, you had to read that a few times, then read it again, stopping at every comma – and eventually are quizzically looking at your own right eye, getting the gist of it.

I think what it means is – we’re supposed to be perfect, or at least WANT to be perfect, but we are incapable of being so. Or maybe the Apostle Paul, puts it better in Romans 7… “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

This is the dilemma we are living with, the tension of the now and not yet. We have this ‘new self’, the old person we used to be is gone.  Yet we still don’t have it sussed. No more or less than the Colossian Christians, to whom Paul had to write to teach them how they should treat each other.

So if you’re like them (and me), struggling to get it right, mostly getting it wrong; tripping up a lot of the time – often over the same stumbling blocks – well, be don’t despair…
nobody’s perfect*

photo credit: Good Job! via photopin (license)

* except Jesus :)

O is for Omni


Continuing with my April AtoZ (4 months later, but however) today’s word is ‘Omni’

The Oxford English Dictionary says that ‘omni’ means ‘of all things, in all ways or places.’ The all concept is attributed to God in a number of ways. It’s most often seen in these three characteristics: Omnipotent – all powerful, Omnipresent – ever everywhere, and Omniscient –  all knowing.

We see them attributed to God throughout Scripture – but I always remember the first time I realised that these three ‘omnis’ are packaged nice and neat together in one Psalm. It became my favourite Psalm that day. (Although, I have few favourites :) )

Psalm 139:1-6… YOU KNOW EVERYTHING, and that sort of knowledge is absolutely out of my league
Psalm 139:6-12… YOU ARE EVERYWHERE, I cannot get away from you, no matter how hard I try
Psalm 139:13-18… YOU SEE EVERYTHING, from the moment I was made, every day since and all the days to come

The psalmist doesn’t stop there. He can’t get his head around the fact that there are people who still hate God – especially in the light of these amazing attributes. Describing God’s character in this way leads to a sudden outburst of defence of God, and frustration that He won’t just wipe away anyone who doesn’t worship Him. But then, the writer immediately moves to contrition.

Why the sudden jump? I reckon it’s cos you can’t (or your shouldn’t be able to) understand God’s fabulousness and at the same time let your heart be filled with hatred. As well as raising indignation in the writer, an understanding these ‘super-God’ qualities gives him an understanding of his own imperfection.

It’s a challenge isn’t it?! Other people’s non-interest or abject hatred of God can raise our heckles, but our knowledge of who He is should keep us in check. After the psalmist’s outburst about the sins of God’s enemies, he looks upon his own imperfect heart and asks God to cleanse him.

Psalm 139:23-24 
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

#thatisALL :)

A x

 

Back to busy-ness…


You’d have to wonder what gives a blogger the audacity, nay.. the temerity to wander off the reservation, leave her blog languishing for the want of a post; and then to saunter back and pick up where she left off – all the while expecting her readers to swoon and sigh with relief that she deigned to notice them again.

I reckon it’s my heightened sense of self-importance and a list of dazzlingly weak excuses :) And the knowledge that there’s a lot of love and grace in you lot *imagine here a picture of me with an innocent smile – I don’t have one to post at present…*

For weeks now I’ve said… “as soon as I get settled,” or “as soon as that’s over,” or “as soon as I don’t have to think about that anymore… I’ll start writing again.” I’ve no idea where I got this crazy notion that I can only write when there is nothing else going on in my brain. I don’t normally have a taste for such luxuries. I realise that ‘the quieter day’ isn’t coming. In fact I heard an old lady once say, with great solemnity, “ah sure if it isn’t something, it’s something else.” Dagnabbit the woman was right!

I’ve been complaining to God about how little time and energy I have to write, as well as a lack of ideas, inspiration and you know… words. But instead of things quietening down, God has put me on a path that will make life a whole lot busier (and more exciting). I can’t tell you about it at the mo, but if what I believe is about to happen, actually happens… well I’ll be giving up all hopes of a quieter day, setting the alarm clock at least an hour earlier each day and, I trust, will be busier and more fulfilled than I have ever been. :)

Anyway, sorry for disappearing… again. While I wait to tell you about the thing I can’t tell you about yet… I’ll continue with the AtoZ – thanks for letting me know you liked it so far.

Next up is the ‘Omni’s 

A x

 

Is it safe to come out now?


Hello all :)

Sorry for my absence. Halfway through the A to Z Challenge we moved and it took 2 weeks to get the internet sorted. I felt like my right arm had been cut off.

The busyness of unpacking all the boxes kept me away from the keyboard for far too long. Thanks to those who were kind enough to get in touch and say you missed me. :)

I must admit that the build up to the Marriage Equality referendum in Ireland also contributed to my radio silence.

In the end, the vote was about 2:1 – yes to no. So why did it feel like 200:1 everywhere I went? I’ve no problem with people disagreeing with my convictions. I’m well used to it. But the amount of disdain towards people on opposite sides was awful. Hurtful. Painful.

It’s over now. The people have spoken. The changes will be made.
I’m just not sure how long it will take for me to recover from realising how much many people I know, respect and love, don’t just disagree with me, but hate the things I believe. And hate the people who believe them.

Anyway… I’m back. Back on social media, back here on my blog. And hoping to continue, albeit a month late, the A to Z.

ttfn folks xx

N is for Nephilim


NNow these guys  are interesting. I’ve read quite a bit about the Nephilim – and not everyone agrees who they are…

They first appear in Genesis 6…
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The discussion usually centres around ‘the sons of God and the daughters of men.’ Some sources say that the sons of God were fallen angels. Others say that they were lapsed followers of God who were attracted to women who were not followers of God, hence God’s frustration with their choice of wives.

It makes more sense that they were human. Jesus mentions angels in the NT and says that they don’t marry. (Matt 22:29) Also the beginning of the above section is talking specifically about the increase of human beings. The Nephilim are only mentioned briefly and are not talked about again until their descendants are mentioned in the book of Numbers, when the 12 spies went to check out the land (Another great story!). “And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”” (Num 13:33 ESV) It’s important to note that this was after the flood, so these Nephilim were descendants of one of Noah’s sons. So… were Nephilim people of a particular stature, rather than of a particular tribe? Not sure, but they were obviously big guys! Later on we hear that Goliath, the Philistine, was another human of gargantuan proportions. So it wasn’t unheard of, or an ‘angelic’ quality to be big!

I freely admit that this a 2 minute thought on a well documented discussion about who these Nephilim were – and don’t get me started on the Rock Monsters in the Noah movie.

I believe that the more important point is the story that surrounds them. God continually calling His people back to Him, and all but Noah responded. The Ark was built and the rains came. No one, not even the ‘sons of God’ saw what was coming, or realised God’s judgement was about to fall.

The Nephilim were ‘heroes of old, men of renown’ – but they weren’t on the ark!
There’s another lifeboat coming, I intend to be on it – how about you?

M is for Macarise


MToday’s word is Macarise. It has nothing to with fast food production, pasta with cheese; or equally cheesy spanish pop songs. It’s even BETTER than those things :)

phrontistery.info defines it as: to declare to be happy or blessed. A macarism (the noun) is also known as a ‘beatitude – taking pleasure in someone else’s joy.’ So the word can also be used to congratulate someone on their joy.

Last year I did some research on the difference between contentment and happiness. You can be content ‘in every situation’ without necessarily being happy about it. I read somewhere (sorry I can remember where) that contentment is and inner state; more to do with how you feel about how things are. Happiness is a response to the receipt of something good. This is macarism – a beatitude – declaring happiness because of a blessing.

The added element of congratulating others on their joy – well it’s double prizes isn’t it. It echoes Romans 12:15, which says that we should rejoice with those who rejoice.

There are some obvious cases of macarism in the Bible. The two that spring to mind immediately are when Miriam grabbed a tambouine and danced and sang after crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20ff.), and Mary’s own expression of joy; magnifying the LORD for His blessing upon her (Luke 1:46ff.)

My prayer for each and every reader of this post is that the Lord would give you cause to macarise today. :) x