T is for Thankful

I’ll finish this AtoZ Challenge, if it’s the last thing I do! 🙂

I know i’ve been a bit hit and miss lately and it is frustrating, but rather than go on and on about how busy I am, I want to just stop and take some time to be thankful.

11105483096_d61fc93bff_nMy job is wrecking my head, but I’m grateful for it – it’s a source of provision that I haven’t had for a few years. To be able to pay the basic bills without worrying every month, is such a blessing after the last few years of living week to week for most of the time – thank you God for my job.

We have some issues with our flat AND  our landlord – but I’m grateful for this little haven. It’s a gorgeous little flat. Near to everyone we love and near enough to everywhere we need to be. We’ve been able to host a few fun evenings and dinners here. It’s perfect for us.

I did say I wouldn’t go on about how busy I am. but I AM busy! Lots of the things I have to do are great though. I love my writing, though I’m constantly playing catch up. Meself and himself have attended/taken some meetings at another church which has meant we’ve been going to two churches at the same time really. Will be able to give you the whys and wherefores of that soon, but it’s the best reason in the world to be busy. And though I miss Spirit Radio I still am able to give them a hand with some stuff, from across the water. I thank God for all the interesting things I have to do, as well as my full-time job – see #1 🙂

I seem to be ‘well’ at the moment. Only a short-term cold a few weeks ago, none of the autumn/winter lurgy that usually floors me this time of year. Emotionally, I feel positive, hopeful and excited about the future… as I said… more anon. It’s so nice to love Ireland but not be sad and pining for it; which I did a lot of when I lived here in Wales the last time. I feel really settled and happy to be living here.

Myself and himself, though a lot of our 15 years together have been difficult, we’re happier than we’ve ever been. I don’t shove that in anyone’s face, or feel any sense of superiority about it. I know lots of people who didn’t come out the other side of difficulties as we have; and I don’t take it for granted. But I am thankful.

I’m so grateful to you aswell. I’ve been a most unfaithful blogger, but you readers seem to be very supportive. I don’t have a big audience, but I do have a faithful one, so thanks for that. And thanks for reading my ramblings. I mean it! Thank you

There are some new things coming my way and they may even change the ‘theme’ of this blog – not that it ever had a theme. Not sure what will happen really. But right here and right now, I’m thankful to God for all I have and hoping in Him for all that is to come.

Can’t ask for much more than that really 🙂 x

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R is for Rampart

15488800365_a96b029ab1_nThis is a word that is easy to pass by in the Bible. It’s only mentioned a few times. Rampart.
Definition of Rampart on dictionary.com says this:
1. Fortification.
a broad elevation or mound of earth raised as a fortification around a place and usually capped with a stone or earth parapet. 2. anything serving as a bulwark or defense.

One of the few uses of this word in the NIV is found in the Book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk, one of the ‘minor’ prophets, has complained to God and received God’s response. God’s answer to Habakkuk’s first complaint is not a pleasant one. He declares the people of Israel will be defeated in battle and taken into captivity by the Babylonians, ‘that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own.’ Habakkuk goes on to make a second complaint and says, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.”

Ramparts were used as a watch tower, a place to see what enemy might be coming. Habakkuk declares he will wait for God’s second answer on the very place that would stop, or at least warn of, an invasion. Here the rampart may or may not be a construction, where Habakkuk intends to actually stand and wait. Whether there is a tangible rampart or not, there is definitely a figurative significance.

The rebel in me wonders if Habakkuk was getting all ‘whateverrrrr’ with God. Was he off to the ramparts to stand there all, “Eh like hello? look where I’m standing, a rampart! DUH!”  OK, so maybe the ‘whatever’ thing hadn’t arrived in Israel at that stage, but it’s clear that Habakkuk is not happy with God’s first answer and, with a bit of attitude, demands a second one.

The problems experienced by God’s people came from the fact that they constantly disobeyed God. In chapter 1 v 4, Habakkuk says ‘the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.’

Despite Habakkuk’s complaining, the invasion did come; no rampart could stop God’s plan from coming to pass.

I suppose it’s a lesson in making sure that we don’t rely on our old faithful defences. I’m alright cos I pray, I’m alright cos I read my Bible, I’m alright cos I go to church, I’m alright cos I give. These are things we should be doing – but they are a response to the relationship we have with God – not things we do to earn his favour. Using our prayer life or church attendance as a rampart just won’t do. Our only rampart is Jesus.

You want to stop the wrath of God from coming crashing down on your life – then stand on the Rampart, the Rock, that is Jesus Christ.

photo credit: Wall @ Qila Rohtas (Rohtas Fort) via photopin (license)

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! 😉

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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*

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* except Jesus 🙂