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Afraid of Time

Somewhere in the depth of our consciousness is an awareness that we are running out of time. Every second that goes by is another second closer to death. Whether you are conscious of this or not, the reality is that this thought haunts us. We only have a certain number of days left in this life, and so we have a compulsive urge to spend every moment doing what will bring us happiness.

But as Christians, this thought should have no power over us. The fact that we believe in the resurrection means that death is not fatal. Because we believe in eternity, we know that we will never run the risk of missing out. And so, while everyone else is frantically trying to work for their own happiness, we are able to work for the happiness of others.

This is the source of Christian freedom. We have not only been set free from sin, we have also been set free from the fear of time. We do not have to weigh up every decision to see whether the personal benefit will make the cost worthwhile. We are able to love recklessly; we are able to love people who will never pay […]

By |March 10th, 2017|The Call|0 Comments
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Wild and free or pruned and beautiful

In relationships, there is often a strong encouragement to just follow your heart. Let your love for other people be wild and free. Let love simply take you where it will. The idea that we would try to restrict our love seems like madness. The suggestion that we should protect our relationships with boundaries seems to go against every natural instinct.

Perhaps the best way to judge this is to compare our love to a rose bush. Rose bushes are always planted in a prominent position in a garden. No one ever hides a rose bush down the side of their house where no one can see its beauty.

The strange thing is that a rose bush is beautiful because it is treated badly.  The gardener has a vision of what it could be, and so they prune it and sometimes cut it right back so that only a few branches are visible. Yet this harsh treatment is precisely what makes the rose bush form into something graceful. Even when they are not in flower they stand above all the other plants in the garden as a symbol of beauty.

It is a very different thing with a wild rose bush. Wild rose […]

By |February 24th, 2017|The Call|0 Comments
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Falling in battle

Every country has shrines dedicated to those who have died in war. We hold annual commemorations for those who have fallen in the field of battle and ask no questions about the circumstances of their death. It does not matter whether they died heroically or if their death was because of they own failure to be on alert to the danger of battle. Either way we celebrate all fallen soldiers as heroes.

It is therefore a little bit strange that we don’t celebrate fallen Christians in the same way. Every church has stories of leaders or evangelists who have fallen into sin or even fallen away from the faith. Sadly we often think of these people as being failures and we can be tempted to make all sorts of judgements about their failure of character.

It is interesting to ask the question of whether God thinks about these people the same way that we do? Just like soldiers, they were the ones who had the courage to step into a place of spiritual battle. By choosing to serve the Lord they became a target for the enemy. They would have never run the risk of losing their faith if they had not […]

By |September 22nd, 2016|The Call|0 Comments
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Boredom and contemplation

It has been said that the source of most of our sin is boredom. There is a deep restlessness within our hearts that is always looking for more. This boredom can create a type of madness inside of us. Even when we have all that we want, it doesn’t take long before boredom sets in and we start dreaming of having something else. There can even be times when we seem to go looking for conflict or trouble because we have become bored with how peaceful and stable our life is.

The church has always been aware of this problem and it has always presented contemplation as the answer. We need to learn again to delight in the small and ordinary things of life. Boredom causes us to be constantly looking outward, driven by envy at the idea that other people are enjoying their lives more than I am. Whereas contemplation calls me to look inward and find delight in the ordinary. In a world which is constantly seeking stronger physical stimulation, contemplation teaches us to delight in the more subtle pleasures, the simple joys, even to the point of finding joy in the midst of sadness or discomfort.

The best way […]

By |September 15th, 2016|The Call|0 Comments
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The things that Jesus didn’t say

Most people are familiar with the story of Zacchaeus. This small man was a tax collector, a public sinner and traitor to his own people. When Jesus came to town he scandalised everyone by choosing to have dinner at this man’s house. The next thing we know Zacchaeus has decided to give most of his wealth to the poor and pay back anyone he had cheated. The interesting thing to notice is what Jesus does not say. He doesn’t tell Zacchaeus to repent. We often assume that this was part of the dinner conversation, but there is nothing in the text to say that happened.
What we do see is that Zacchaeus becomes a changed man simply by being loved. The compassion and acceptance of God is enough to make him change. It is as though the love of God gives him the strength to become something different.
The challenge for us to to be able to receive the love of Jesus in the same way that Zacchaeus did. Instead of focusing what you should be doing, just focus on the fact that Jesus loves you and accepts you as you are. This will give you the strength to then become something […]

By |September 9th, 2016|The Call|0 Comments
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Moulding clay

Anyone who has worked with clay will know that you can do nothing with it when it is hard. No matter how had you hit it, it will not change shape. The only way to change its shape is to pour water over it and carefully mould it into something beautiful.
The same thing happens with the human heart. Our hearts can become hard as a result of sin; either sin committed by us or against us. Normally we try to change ourselves (or other people) by beating them into shape. We try to ‘teach people lessons’, or shame them into changing.
The only way to change a human heart is to pour over it with the water of love and compassion. If we begin to accept other people (or ourselves) in spite of the faults that are so obvious, we find at the human heart is able to be gradually and gently be moulded into something beautiful.

By |September 2nd, 2016|The Call|0 Comments
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The friend of the King

In John’s Gospel, Jesus says that he no longer calls us servants: he now calls us friends. Without a good understanding of the old testament, we can miss the real depth of what he is trying to say to us.

During the time of King David, there were various official roles in the kingdom.One of the key roles was the ‘friend of the king’. This man had complete access to the king at any time of the day. He was the most trusted supporter of the king and as a result, he had an intimate insight into the thoughts and desires of the king. The friend of the king knew the king so well that he didn’t need to receive instructions; he just knew what the king wanted because their relationship was so close. So when Jesus says that he now calls us friends, he is saying that every one of his followers now fills that role in his kingdom.

We are being invited into an intimate relationship in which we have complete access to Jesus. But we are also being called into a life-long vocation in which we seek to know the heart of Jesus so deeply that we just naturally […]

By |August 25th, 2016|The Call|0 Comments
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Blinded by self-condemnation

It is a strange thing that many Christians are afraid of looking at the cross. For many people, when they look upon the cross the message that they hear is “you’re not good enough, this is is a symbol of how horrible you are, your sin is so great that it did this to me”. Christians would never admit that this is what they think, but this false belief is often betrayed by their reluctance to pray or the fact that they struggle to find joy in the gift of the cross.

When Jesus died on the cross he was speaking only a message of pure love and forgiveness. The whole point of the cross is that God is saying that he loves us while we are still sinners, and it is only when we receive that love that we will be able to stop sinning.

This self-condemnation really comes from our pride. I am ashamed that I am not perfect, so I try to make myself perfect my beating myself into shape. I need to realise that every time I feel shame over my sin, the pain has more to do with my wounded pride than a genuine feeling of being […]

By |June 17th, 2016|The Call|0 Comments
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Looking at Stars

It is always an amazing thing to look up at the night sky and see the stars. It is astounding to think that these stars are always above us 24 hours a day. But we can only see the beauty of these lights when the rest of the world is dark. We are able to see the whole world by the light of the sun, but we are blind to the world beyond us unless we enter into the darkness.

This image can help us understand the mystery of our faith. We are called to believe in things that can not be seen with the human eye, things that can only be seen when we are not blinded by the glories of this world. So often stories are told about people who come to believe in God only after they have been hit by some sort of crisis. Perhaps it is just at the moment when the bright lights of success and hope have gone out from their life and they have been shrouded in darkness that they are able to see a reality that is beyond earth.

This can also help us to understand the call of the […]

By |March 29th, 2016|The Call|0 Comments
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Love seeks union

When we look at how love works, there are two things that seem to be universal. Firstly, Love seeks to be known. When you fall in love with someone you have a desperate desire to make this love known to the other person. This desire seems to go beyond all reason to the point where you sometimes can’t control yourself. Even if you are not allowed to tell this person that you love them, you will find yourself making it known in all sorts of indirect ways.

Once love becomes known, we find that the second element of love comes in to play: Love seeks union. As soon as someone speaks to us of their love, there is an inherent understanding that that love wants to seek union with us. This is why people find it threatening to be told that they are loved. This knowledge always leads somewhere, and sometimes people are not willing to go to that place.

If you look at the bible, you can see this same dynamic playing out. The Old Testament is God seeking to make his love known. Once this love is spoken clearly, it is only natural that this love would […]

By |March 17th, 2016|The Call|0 Comments