Sunday, 30 May 2010

What you do in secret

In his excellent book, The life you've always wanted John Ortberg speaks about one of the great addictions of our age, which he calls approval addiction. Although not everyone is afflicted with this malady, it's common enough to merit serious attention. It consists of living our lives at the mercy of other people's views of us.

John Ortberg writes about when he stands to preach


"What will they think of me?" the voice wonders.
Sometimes I feel less like the prophet Amos and more like Sally Fields at the Academy awards. I find myself wanting to be able to say, as she did after winning her second Oscar, "You like me, you really like me!"
I do not like the voice of Sally Fields, I wish I had more of the Rhett Butler voice and could greet evaluations after a service with, "Frankly my dear...."
When Jesus spoke he was free from the need to create an impression..."

He makes other very helpful points, all based around Jesus teaching in Matthew 6.3-4
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Ortberg goes on to speak of what he calls, the practice of secrecy.
Here is the practice in a nutshell. Every once in a while do something good and make sure no-one knows about it.

I was reminded of this when I cycled to the market town of Olney a few days ago. The last mile or so is a lovely ride across water meadows. As I crossed the narrow river bridge I saw a local man collecting rubbish along the river bank which had been left by youngsters who had enjoyed the hot weather with some impromptu river swimming. There was no-one about-except me-to observe this 'random act of generosity', and it touched my heart and brought to mind the practice of secrecy.

By the time I had the thought I had cycled on and then I remembered I had my mobile phone with me. So stopping quickly I took the photo, already the litter collector had moved on, and perhaps it's right that he just looks anonymous in the distance.

Once Churchill rather cruelly remarked that Clement Attlee was, 'a modest little man with much to be modest about'. Ortberg's response is that 'I already have the second part of that description down. The practice of secrecy offers the hope that one day the first half might be attainable one day'.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Scrappage


Tomorrow my eldest daughter Sarah scraps her faithful old VW Golf GTI. It's all part of the government scheme to get old cars off the road and get people buying new cars. After all Sarah's car is getting old and beginning to need all sorts of repairs. She's very fond of it, but frankly it's beginning to be more trouble than it is worth.

I am not a fan of euthanasia. I fully sympathise with the wife who whilst facing her own ageing, has to cope with an increasingly demented husband. I feel very much for the middle aged person coping with a degenerative and incurable neurological condition. But euthanasia per se, encourages a culture wide attitude that some lives are just, 'more trouble than they are worth'. Euthanasia is fraught with difficulties, not the least of which is the insidious effects it might have on the on looking and healthy relative who subtly suggests that granny would really be better off dead, 'you wouldn't let a dog suffer'. Yea but dogs don't have houses to sell, they don't make wills (ok perhaps they do in California).

Our worth is intrinsic. Unlike Sarah's car it is not determined by age, state of repair nor clogging up the road. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, made in the image of God. Oh yes, I know that brings challenges and I subscribe to the ancient medical view that it is not appropriate to strive to keep officiously alive. But there is a world of difference between good palliative care and the drive for euthanasia

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

New Prime Minister


So it's David Cameron to lead us. He seems to have set the right tone with his opening speech outside 10 Downing Street with his words about the vulnerable and erlderly etc. He seems to have taken on board that his title included the word, 'minister'.

Last night in our home group we spent some time reflecting on Psalm 103 and what it teaches us about God and how we might praise Him. I was struck by verse 6,
the Lord works all righteousness and justice for the oppressed

God has similar priorities to David Cameron!! And how much more should those of us who follow Christ be thankful that God is the way His is and join in the 'kingdom work' of relieving oppression and working for justice.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Spending time with God..again

I'm re-reading A praying Life by Paul Miller. It's been one of the most helpful-if not the most helpful books I've ever read on prayer (and I think I have read well over 20!!). Perhaps the best compliment I can give it is that it really has lead to more frequent and meaningful (to me at least!!) prayer since I first read it a couple of months ago.

Think about these paragraphs,

'If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life. You'll always be a little too tired, a little too busy. But if, like Jesus, you realise you can't do life on your own, then no matter how busy, no matter how tired you are, you will find time to pray.
Time in prayer makes you even more dependant on God because you don't have as much time to get things done. Every minute spent in prayer is one less minute where you can be doing something "productive." So the act of praying means that you have to rely more on God.'

The Long Walk

It's always a bit chancy to give someone a book. A little like recommending a restaurant. Will others like it? Will the service be as go...