Taking a Break
I am taking a break from this blog for a while, I start my Bsc in Substance use and Misuse next month and a lot of my spare time will be focused on reading and working towards that.
I have started another blog http://drugs-worker.blogspot.com/
which I will be adding to regularly, I am spending less time reading Theological books and more time reading books related to my work, so I guess this is the season I am to embrace for the time being, and if I feel prompted to return I shall. For now, if anyone is interested in my ramblings on my work feel free to drop in and comment.
Thinking more on my previous post, I want to try and define, albeit subjectively, what essentially is meant by motive, not in an etymological sense, but in a very practical sense.
When I offer my love to another at what point is motive weighed? At its initial offset I may indeed reach out in love, but later as thanks and praise are returned for the gift offered and ego starts to awaken what of my motives then?
I want to get this right, because the world I live in gives me many wrong motives, to look good, to feel good etc, but God asks of me something different. However again browsing over the pages of scripture I am left with a feeling some ambiguity over what God actually means by ‘pure motive’ or right motive, or any motive that is acceptable to Him, one that is not going to evaporate under the light of His glare.
As usual I feel the vagueness of this is intentional, what He is requiring of me is to seek His direction, to want His insight into what is right motive and what is wrong.
Do I rely on conscience to dictate this? In one moment conscience may whisper to me words of encouragement for the good thing done, but in that very moment I hear the whisper, I feel a feeling, a chemical reaction triggered by the whisper in a moment no longer than a nanosecond I being to hear the shout of guilt over feeling good about something good done. Is it any wonder that I am unable to define what motive is, the whole show is over and done in moments I am incapable of registering in my mind, how do I evaluate this? How do I know when what I do is right motive, and what I do is wrong motive?
The writer of proverbs in 16:2 knew well, ‘All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD’ alas not all my ways seem innocent to me, if they did I would not be here pondering this question, seeking earnestly the answer, I can only conclude that essentially I am unable to define what sort of motive will actually weigh anything on God’s scales, but I am sure of the ones that will not.
Again the mystery of being in a relationship with God comes to the forefront of my mind and I left feeling alone in this, grappling blindly for some answers.
David’s words to his son in 1 Chronicles 28:9 go someway ‘acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.
What dirves me?
I think I may have lost my way, my motives polluted by stats, and figures, and targets.
I do the work I do because I feel a passion and a concern for those locked in ways that I was once locked in, and it was this passion and concern that drew me in.
I do not think I have lost the passion, but I think that the passion which drove me has somehow got lost, distorted, confused and pushed aside from its uglier brothers, wrong motives.
This month was my busiest month ever, I did almost triple the work in some areas that I do other months, and its not as if I am slack other months, but it is now as the month closes its curtains that I here reflecting on what was the point of it all.
I was woken up a few months back by this verse in Isaiah 58:10 “and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”
The challenge that rose within me was, ‘do I spend myself’ I concluded that I spend something, a little, enough, a sufficient amount, so then I went on one, spending myself, but I forgot the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:14-14 “If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
It reminded me that motive is everything, good actions can be hidden under bad motives, not malicious motives, nor perverse ones, but subtle motives, ones of targets and figures, the work I do is measured by the company I work for, the local government, the NHS and by central government, but these measurements will not be worth much when on the day I stand before God, if I do not stop to check myself under Him and pray as David did in Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O 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”
Wow just looked at my blog site and realised I have not added to it in nearly four months.
Has my life been this chaotic for this long, indeed it has, between the very long and drawn out illness that my wife has been enduring, the fullness of my days as a drugs worker, and my distance from God these last few months I am surprised it has been 4 months.
I now plan in these now looming winter months to have a greater focus on things that are important, I have allowed the frustration and anger to drive a wedge in my relationship with God, which may sound negative and non-productive, but actually it has created a resolve deeper than before, choices I have made in this time have not been wholly healthy, but sometimes the ends justifies the means, i emphasise sometimes, as I am sure most of this was not bang on centre in God's plan, but I feel a peace about what I am at, just not sure the direction my blog is going to take.
Random additions seem pointless, so I will have to think and pray on this more.
Mealtime Habits of the Messiah:Part 1
My copy of Conrad Gempf’s new book Mealtime Habits of the Messiah
arrived today, thanks again Conrad, and this will be the subject of the next six blog entries.
The book is composed of forty chapters, which are then broken down into six sections, so I will discuss each section. I intend to have the book read in six days, but that may be a tad ambitious.
Introduction: John 21:1-14
I have so often felt a conflicting sense of pride when I have done something good, after I somehow managed to find the strength to give an extra hour for a person in need of my time, gotten home still completed the household stuff and managed to keep a good spirit about it. Then said to myself ‘it was in His strength” or “well done me” as if I had no part in what happened or all the part, no middle ground. In verse 10, after Jesus had been the great amphibian finder for the fishermen, he said to them “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” Conrad rightly points out (though blast if I ever noticed it, a gift Conrad has, and shares in his books) that He had given them the fish, though He had called the fish theirs. So it is with me, I have discovered in this profound little breakfast conversation, that at both times in what I do, behind the act of love that I outworked is the God who enables.
I have never thought of it in that way, I mean an obvious truth, I do, He helps me do, but the connectedness of the two. He gives me to do, it is His, but He lets me keep it. Like some spiritual tug of war I say to Him “It’s you Lord”, and He says back “It is you”, the act of humility, and the co-existence of our being in Him grounded in a two way agreement of He who gives so we can give.
The challenge at the end of the first chapter being how often do we pray for the usual, the routine, somehow turned into 'how often are you grateful for the usual and routine'
I also felt challenged as I thought about a phrase Conrad used on page 25 which was in regard to the random popular writings about Jesus from some obscure 2nd century sources about the actual person of Jesus, as they dismissed the validity of the Gospel writings to enjoy this new tabloid like relevation about Jesus, Conrad made the statement “Let the experts argue about nutrition, while we gorge ourselves on what’s tasty” out of context I was reminded of the tasty feeling of achievement, ‘you’re so good at your job’, yet the Nutritious truth/feeling is, 'Thank you God that you have made me good at my job, make me better', this vein of thought will I hope guide me from now on.
A wonderful truth that is both tasty and nutritious.
Thoughts On NKOC 3
I am now about half way through The Last Word and The Word after That.
To be honest this is the most provocative that McLaren has been, in my opinion. I felt myself initially wrestle with the angle that Brian takes. As usual Neil (Neo) presents a view that is both reasonable and possible with Scriptural reference being taken into account. My own view on Hell has been in the evolving process some time. A few years back I read John Blanchard's literal exposistion of hell intilted What ever happened to Hell?
And was convinced that a very literal view of the imagery that Jesus conveyed in the times He referenced Hell was the way to understand it.
However as I approached the middle of McLarens book I was finding that my view point was opening up.
Last night as I read through Chapter 13; End In Embrace, I felt the Literalism of Eternal Punishment over the dividing line of Salvation begin to disintegrate. Somehow the sense that I had made with a Literal view just seemed nonsense, in all honesty these are not new arguments that Brian is offering, but a fresh description of views that have been around since the Desert Fathers.
I feel uneasy where I am, my Evangelical position and Reformed roots have never really had the chance to bed in, I have only been a Christian for six years, and three of them I have been reading a lot of Emergent based books, which have provoked a lot of thought and change over my view point of alot of Christian doctrine.
I have had many times of unease during this process, but then something beautiful is emerging from that, something fully inclusive, and not just lip service to a whole embracive concept.
Also fear, a real awareness of the responsibility and reality of standing before God in judgement, this fear though aside from any other fears I have felt is healthy.
I think that within Christianity there is an unhealthy security, the dividing line of Salvation, where through confession only one is safe has bred a disdain for others and a security for ourselves that we can ill afford.
Yes to be secure in God is healthy and necessary, but to have a very real awareness of Judgement, side by side with those whom we did not see confess with their mouths is essential.
The quote below is from The Last Word and the Word after That
, Chapter 13 page 78, Dan and Neil are deep in conversation, Dan is wrestling with the very obvious arguments that a literal view of Jesus’ words presents, I pick it up with a question from Dan;“What about the places where Jesus talks about being thrown outside into the darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth?”
Neil nodded. “He also speaks of being thrown into Gehenna, which was a garbage dump. In fact, one of the main words translated hell in the New Testament is that word Gehenna. Does that mean people will very literally be deposited in that trash dump outside Jerusalem? And he talks about a place where worms don’t die—a place of perpetual decay, I guess you’d say. Do you believe in literal eternal worms? Why be literal in one place and not in another? Besides, all these images can’t be taken literally as the same time—I mean, you can’t have literal fire and darkness, right?
So don’t they all suggest waste, decay, regret, and sorrow? Isn’t that what anyone would feel if he spent his whole life on accumulating possessions or wealth of knowledge or power but missed out on life! H would have failed to become the glorious person he could have become and instead become something crabby and cramped and ingrown and dark and shabby and selfish. Wouldn’t that make you weep and gnash you teeth? Isn’t garbage dump the perfect imagery to use for that kind of waste? It sounds to me like hell is one image Jesus uses among many others.”
Food indeed for much thought. if you haven’t bought this book yet, I suggest you do, it is a very important contribution to a subject that is both forgotten and misunderstood.
Star Wars Episode III
Ok, so still shaken by the sheer size of this film I will try to give my thoughts and feelings on it. Lucas has done a superb job, to call this film awesome is not enough, spectacular, fantastic, incredible, astonishing, remarkable, extraordinary all are words that seem somehow not able to convey just how flipping fantastic it is.
From the opening, to the closing scenes, it travels along at light speed. The effects are absolutely out of this world, literally I need to go back and watch it again, there is so much in it that I know I missed alot.
The downfall of Anakin Skywalker from passionate Jedi to Darth Vader was told in the most intricate way. The subtleties of seduction over to the dark side are told, by Lucas in very graphic and precise terms.
This film is the Grand Canyon of Star Wars, it connects the films together superbly, and still now the morning after I feel the effects of the experience.
If you're not a Star Wars fan then shame on you, if you are and haven’t seen it yet, then go, go now, it has to be seen on the big screen, and in my opinion at least a few times.
I am Fully blown away by it, Lucas you're a genius.