Safe

‘It is far safer to be feared than loved’ says the Prince in Machiavelli’s infamous book (not that I have read it).

Jesus says ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ (Matt 12:31 NIVUK). Jesus says Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command… This is my command: love each other.’ (John 15:13,14,17)

John says: ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.’ (1 John 4:18)

With worldly eyes, what the Prince says might sound like wisdom, a way to get ahead in life. With eyes changed by grace, suddenly the Prince just sounds a bit pathetic; a coward. When we cling to the cross, when we walk with the Saviour, one step at a time, not only do we not look down on those who suffer thinking ‘rather you than me, chum’, not only do we think, ‘there, but for the grace of God, go I’, but ‘here, with the grace of God, I go’.

Suddenly the King of Kings says we don’t have to worry about being small or afraid or worthless (and making other people afraid of you is only something you do if you can’t find value in yourself any other way). No, we don’t have to worry any more because ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ 2 Corinthians 12:9. I don’t need anyone to be afraid of me, and I don’t need to be afraid, because I’m already safe; I’m loved by the King 🙂

Reblog: Transfigured and a Source of Joy

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Knowing that this is enough is a huge relief. Knowing that this is enough is also a huge challenge. Too often it is tempting to want to be more, and often it is tempting to be discouraged because we know we are less. I like to think of it as like a pot, like the Romans would have had, an amphora: a vessel which is designed to be useful. The trouble is, we’re all broken. But God puts us together again and the Holy Spirit shines through the cracks. The more jagged the cracks are, the more He shines, and not only are we now useful, but the cracks are bursting with His light. Jesus shines through the cracks in a completely unexpected and unique way.

Contemplative in the Mud

antonio6In one of his sermons, Saint Anthony of Padua says of Christ,

His very physical appearance, on which the angels desire to look, is a source of joy.

This reminds me of Mount Tabor. Christ took James, John, and Peter up Mount Tabor and was transfigured before them. He shone in glory. His appearance was bright, visible, luminous, and pure. That must be how he is in Heaven. He was glorified, and it affected the visible features of his sacred body.

To some extent, this is what is supposed to happen to us here below. We are supposed to be, by our very physical appearance, a joy to others.

Now, of course, this joy isn’t merely carnal, it’s spiritual!

And of course, barring any miracle, we do not physically shine like Jesus on Mount Tabor!

But still, our very physical appearance is meant to be “a source a joy,” real…

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Reblog: Shining Mirrors

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And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Matthew 25:40 (NRSVA)

‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.’

Galatians 2:19,20

‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

John 13:35

Contemplative in the Mud

If you consider God in all of them [other creatures, other persons], they will be to you as a shining mirror that represents the Creator to you.
Saint John of Ávila

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Reblog: Wash One Another’s Feet

Studies have shown that those with the fewest resources are often those who are the most generous, perhaps because when you are poor it is far easier to see your neighbour as yourself?
A timely post from A Pastor’s Thoughts on our beautiful Servant King. Freely we have received!

A Pastor's Thoughts

Sociologist Robert Wuthnow of Princeton University has explored how it is that people make everyday ethical decisions. Many people, he found, perform deeds of compassion, service, and mercy because at some point in their past someone acted with compassion toward them. He wrote, “The caring we receive may touch us so deeply that we feel especially gratified when we are able to pass it on to someone else.”

He tells the story of Jack Casey, who was employed as an emergency worker on an ambulance rescue squad. When Jack was a child, he had oral surgery. Five teeth were to be pulled under general anesthetic, and Jack was fearful. What he remembers most, though, was the operating room nurse who, sensing the boy’s terror, said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be right here beside you no matter what happens.” When Jack woke up after the surgery, she was true to her word…

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EMDR, LENT, TRAINING

I’ve had to take a break from my studies to focus on getting well. It was the right decision, but sometimes, if I compare myself to the world, I can’t help but see all that I missed. My peers went to school; I missed school. My peers did their A-levels and went off to university; I didn’t. My peers began jobs and careers; I didn’t.

It’s not that I resent the fact that I never had any of these things, because what difference does resentment make? None! So it’s a useless, destructive thing to hang onto. Nonetheless it would be so easy to feel ‘less than’. In the past few weeks of EMDR, I have had to face the extent and depth of my brokenness, but I have been strangely surprised by my strength too. Genuinely surprised. I may not have pieces of paper to prove my ‘qualifications’, but God has had me in training for years, just as today’s email from the Open Doors ‘Step of Yes’ series said. As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, so God has said to all of us today:

‘…you don’t need any written instructions. God himself is teaching you to love each other, and you are already extending your love… make it your ambition to have no ambition!’

1 Thessalonians 4:9,10 (JB Phillips)

EMDR: Fighting Monsters

EMDR always leaves me feeling like I’ve just come out of the boxing ring with the world heavyweight champion, and all the while I had my hands tied behind my back. I ache all over. I barely know which way is up. I’m like a doll who has had pins stuck in her all over and now they’re finally, painfully, being pulled out one by one.

‘He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.’

Nietzsche

I’m not a fan of Nietzsche, but he had moments of needlepoint insight and I think this quote is one of them. EMDR is fighting with monsters and gazing into the abyss, although I have been surprised by what I found there. Turns out this guilt complex is more deep-rooted than I thought. It’s a weed that will need to be dug up completely, roots and bulbs and all, and thrown on the fire, otherwise it will just pop up somewhere else (and that is a very good metaphor for PTSD too).

Today I looked into the abyss and, instead of fear and guilt and shame and anger and bitterness and remorse and self-loathing…

I found Jesus, sitting quietly. Waiting as He did for the sin-living Samaritan woman, to ask her for a drink.

He asked her.

He asks me.

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And then, instead of condemnation, the Messiah offers me living water; tells me I need never be thirsty again. Tells me the guilt is not mine, and never was. It was a lie, sown by the enemy, many, many years ago when I was too small to realise. I don’t know what I did expect to find as I looked into the abyss, but this I never expected.

‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

…all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.’

Romans 8:1,2, 14-17

Reblog: All God Wants

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God just shook me by the shoulders, reading this! I needed to be reminded that uselessness and weakness can be – are – made beautiful in Him and I needed to be reminded to stop beating myself up. It never occurred to me before that one can do ‘penance’ without actual physical violence. One’s own head can be just as ‘violent’. But guilt and shame are not mine to carry. Hallelujah!

‘For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it…

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death… if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.’

Romans 7:18,8:1,2,13,14 (NRSVA)

Contemplative in the Mud

All God wants is our heart. And He is more pleased when we value our uselessness and weakness out of love and reverence for His holy will, than when we do violence to ourselves and perform great works of penance.
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

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Reblog: What the Book of Job Really Means

Excellent post from Tim Fall about the book of Job.

I remember a well-meaning friend saying to me, when I was talking about the horribleness that I was experiencing at that time, if I had read about Job. I looked at him, frowned, and asked if Job had read about me.

Laura is absolutely right. No matter how much one might end up with, it can never take away the deep and lasting sorrows. But having gone through those sorrows and surviving and still loving God brings about a faith of a different kind – a spiritual maturity maybe? It means you’re not dependent on life being good to thank God for His blessings. You know that God is always good. God is always. God is.

I’m struggling right now. Had my EMDR session this morning and it was a bit like being hit by a tidal wave. It’s inexpressible, frankly. But I do know that God is good, and that God has always been good, even through every sad or bad or mad or terrible experience. God was never remote and distant – He was with me. I know that. And my sorrow, my sorrows, *all* of our sorrows, He shares. He gives us beauty for ashes. This is why we mourn on Good Friday and celebrate come Easter Sunday. Hallelujah!

Tim's Blog - Just One Train Wreck After Another

I can’t say I know all about the Book of Job, but I think I know a bit about it and here’s one thing I know:

The Book of Job reveals God’s grace.

Some will dispute this, saying the book instead reveals a cruel God who uses Job as a pawn in a game played between God and Satan. Here’s how they might characterize the opening scenes: God asks Satan where he’s been lately, Satan says he’s been out cruising through the world here and there, and God asks if Satan has happened upon Job.

Satan Before the Lord, Corrado Giaquinto (1703–1765) (Wikimedia) Satan Before the Lord,
Corrado Giaquinto (1703–1765)
(Wikimedia)

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8.)

Job is described as a man who cared for his…

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Reblog: But Mozart was a prodigy! (& other myths that might make you throw in the towel)

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God loves you because He made you. God knows your heart. He knows your dreams and your wishes. Before we can have any desire, our first desire *has* to be for Him. Because ultimately, as Julian of Norwich said, we are created “from love, of love, for love.”

The word Logos (which is translated as ‘The Word’ in the gospel of John) is relates to the word locus. Locus is the centre of something, e.g. a wheel, around which other things move. Jesus is both the utterance of God and the centre around which we all spin. He speaks us into existence and He pulls us together.

I am so tired today. My brain is having to work hard reshuffling all these memories. I don’t want to think ‘what if’ any more. It hurts. I just want to belong to Him.

Some of us are given heavy loads, aren’t we? I think one’s own head being awry is one of the hardest burdens. But Jesus calls us blessed! 😀

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”

Matthew 5:3-5 (The Message)

Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν

Laura Droege's blog

Has this cat gotten 10,000 hours of singing practice yet?  (Photo: Jonraguine1999, morgueFile) Has this kitten gotten 10,000 hours of singing practice yet? (Photo: Jonraguine1999, morgueFile)

If you’re like me and you’ve been working at developing a skill (such as writing) for any length of time, you’re bound to look up and see all the people who are highly accomplished at this skill, and feel envious.

I walk into bookstores and it’s almost more than I can bear. All those books! Written by someone else! Not a single title with your name on the cover.

(For a while, when I was racking up rejections for The Cruelest Month, I didn’t go to bookstores at all. It was too painful.)

. . . And if you’re like me, you read a masterpieceand feel tempted to bang your head on the table because you simply know that you’ll never, ever, in a hundred million, billion years, be able to write something that marvelous. Marvelous?

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Lent: Being

God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul!

Genesis 2:7 (The Message)

Spring is in the air, like God breathed and the whole world burst into life. Garden daffodils wave their bonny heads. The wood pigeon coos from the branch of a still-bare silver birch. The sky is blue, well there are at least blue patches amidst the grey (in England the sky is more often grey than blue). Tiny green buds have appeared on the baby cherry tree that Frank planted last year. For the first time this year I have hung washing on the line. I love the way the wind moves through the trees and idly spins the rotary airer. The clothes almost take on a life and energy of their own.

I suppose we’re a bit like that. It is God’s breath that makes us move, and His spirit that makes us move with purpose. Sometimes when I think of the Holy Spirit I hear a soft wind blowing. In the God-breathed blowing there is life – life in all its fullness. God is around us and in us, just as the air is around us and in us. I am not the air and the air is not me. I am not God and God is not me; but God is part of me and I am part of Him.

“…God who made the world and all that is in it, being Lord of both Heaven and earth… has created every race of men to live over the face of the whole earth. He has determined the times of their existence and the limits of their habitation, so that they might search for God, in the hope that they might feel for him and find him—yes, even though he is not far from any one of us. Indeed, it is in him that we live and move and have our being…”

Acts 17:28