Lifestyle

So as a Christian, I’m meant to pray, I’m meant to go to churh, I’m meant to read the Bible… check, check, check.

But what other expectations does the Lord have of my life? It’s all well and good to do the Christian thing, but is there something else? What is the cross that Jesus wants me to pick up right now?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the lifestyle that I live, how much stuff I have, what things I treasure. Is that really what living is about, or does it really restrict me entering into life in all it’s fullness? This lie, that living is about what I can accumulate; I like to think that actually I’m pretty much past that now… my life is about glorifying my God, not about my stuff. But wait, all my stuff is still here, and I still place a high value on it.

Not really sure where I’m going with this at the moment, but here’s a thought: if the Son of Man had no place to rest his head, then how come I have so much stuff in my house that I don’t need? Would I be unhappy with a tiny flat? With no TV? With no CDs? Or would their being gone allow space for something else?

A very true quote from a preacher whose name I can’t remember… talking about how people hide behind the wall of being ‘good stewards’ of their belongings but not letting people eat in their car, or drink in their church, or wear shoes in their house. ‘I want to look after what the Lord has given me.’ Actually, as this American speaker says, “No, you just don’t want people messing up your stuff!”

A bit of an incomplete thought, but it’s getting there.

1 month of freedom…?

So, less than a month to the wedding, what’s happening? I guess this post is more to friends that can’t make it than those who can (although I’m not sure who reads this anyway.)

Well, we’ve got pretty much all of the decorations for the hall (we’re using the hall at the church for the reception), we’ve booked suits (although the best men still need to go for fittings), we’ve sorted out a running order, bought Ceri’s ring (mine is on hold for the time being,) started to plan how things are going to go at the reception… Lots of little things that don’t acutally make me feel like I’m getting anywhere.

Still got a lot to do though: try to sort out a (reasonably priced) table hire company, which is local enough to deliver; buy my ring; buy drinks for the reception; make a plan for the hot drinks at the afternoon reception; arrange transport for some people; book the hire car for the honeymoon (flipping credit card still hasn’t arrived, so is holding things up;) adjust my sisters’ dresses a little bit, choose songs for the worship times.

Wow, what an incredibly boring list. The thing is, I don’t know if we’ve thought of everything or not. I don’t know what we’re meant to have sorted out by now, what we haven’t even thought of yet, whether I should be feeling more stressed than I am (most people seem to, in the run-up to thier wedding.)

A job would be handy too. Have to wait until Thursday to find out how my interview last week went, but in the mean-time I still haven’t been given anything through the recruitment agency – and with the ever increasing costs of the wedding, and the impending bills that will fall on our mat in just over a month’s time, it would be a lot easier to not think about money if I had some coming in. But still, Matthew always holds the answer to that:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despite the other. You cannon serve both God and riches. For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”

As I was praying this morning, my mind was so filled by my thoughts on the situation, by my desires, by what I think should be happening right now. What do You want God? What do You want to say to me in this moment?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,

Do not be conformed… is it the way of this world to stress about money? Yes. Is it the way of this world to be concerned about how bills will be paid tomorrow? Yes. Is it the way of the world to worry? Yes.

So here I am,professing to be a follower of Christ, while still conforming to the way of the world… Does God want me to work for my money, and a living? Yes, of course He does. Does He want me to leech off of people, or the government? No, of course not. But does He want me worry, to stress, to give up hope or try doing life in my own strength? A resounding no!

God has a job for me, one that will start at the right time to pay for everything that needs paying. A job which will be for so much more than money, but for His Kingdom’s sake. A few weeks ago, we were further away from having a flat than before we started looking; but God had a place for us which He’s shown us now, and that we’ll be moving into straight after our honeymoon. Ceri has a fantastic job now, praise the Lord, exactly what she was looking for. He’s bringing it all together, in His perfect timing.

For He causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purposes.  <—- That’s me!

Washing the feet of our community

So, my blogging ability, as ever, leaves something to be desired. But now that I’ve finished my travels and I’m back at home I thought here would be a nice place to write some of my thoughts and feelings about all the different stuff that’s going on.

So for starters, I thought I’d write about some Christians who’ve encouraged me recently (amid the many who haven’t). I heard a week or so ago of a minister from a local church who showed love to a lady in the community (who, incidentally is a member of a different church) in a very practical way and encouraged her so much during the difficult situations she’s going through at the moment.

With increasing stress at work, in itself very unsatisfying, and developing health problems that have all but disabled her in many ways, she was by no means able to maintain the garden that she’d really love to use to grow her own vegetables and herbs. She’s had contact with a Frinton minister through her work, and it came up in casual conversation that her garden was becoming very unkempt. Without asking for anything in return this, no doubt very busy, man (who is the sole pastor of his church) sacrificed a day of his weekend to completely dig over her garden and bring it to a point that was far more managable. Perhaps it’s just something small, but to this lady is was a ray of light that completely lifted the joy she could feel in her situation, and reminded her of Christ’s sacrificial, humble and servant-hearted love. (John 13)

It reminded me of a pastor I knew in Hillcrest, South Africa, who would often give up his time and skills to bless members of his congregation in simple things like putting up shelves or carrying things. What would the impact be in our community if all of the ‘proffesional-Christians’ showed an unconditional love and servanthood in this way? What would it be if every Christian acted out love in the same way Jesus did?

Are we humble in how we live our lives? Are our leaders humble in the tasks they’re willing to do? Are we prepared to do something as radical in our culture as Jesus did in His by washing the feet of His disciples?

To work or not to work?

So, I’ve just been flicking through the blogs of some people I know, and come to the conclusion that although everybody seems pretty bad at updating blogs regularly, no one is quite as bad as me. Especially when I promised to write a post ‘later in the week’, and 4 months on it still hasn’t arrived. Well, I do have lots of stories from Africa; and who knows, maybe some time I’ll write some of them up (although I’m sure most of you will have heard them in person by the time I get round to it!)

Anyway, now I’m back in the UK (thanks to a mix-up with my visa… I guess it was partially my fault, but I wasn’t given any useful (or consistent) guidance by the authorities in South Africa, so I’m not going to beat myself up about it too much.) I’ve moved down to Yeovil, where Ceri’s still got a few months left at her placement with the Urban Warriors. I no longer have a car, and have moved into a flat about halfway between Ceri’s house and the town centre. So, I’ve paid my first month’s rent and at the moment have enough money to support myself for a short while – but what do I do now? Do I find a job for the 6 or 7 weeks I’m going to be down here (apparently there is a cheese factory, which is quite a popular assignment with the temping agencies) or do I spend time trying to get closer to God again? Or, do I get more involved with the work Ceri’s doing? (I mean, I’m not inviting myself as part of their team or anything, but I’m sure I could be of some use doing admin work or something for them?) I’ve been trying to ask God what He wants from my time down here, but I’m struggling to hear an answer. The funny thing is, the reason I’m agonising over this isn’t because I need the money of a job right now (I’ve come to a real place of peace that God will support me as long a I’m trusting in Him) – I just don’t want to seem lazy. I’ve hated not having anything ‘constructive’ to pour myself into whilst Ceri’s been going into schools and preparing stuff for the kids she works with. Coming from being in full time ministry to having nothing to fill my time with is a big adjustment, especially when it came as unexpectedly as this did (I had 10days notice about leaving South Africa, for anybody who hasn’t heard the story.)

Despite my agonising, one of the temping agencies from the town got back to me and arranged an appointment/interview with them for next Thursday. I guess I can go along, and hope that if God hasn’t shown me anything by then He’ll make it blinding obvoius if they offer my a job (at a cheese factory!)

One thing I am sure of though, is that I’m here to glorify God. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10 v 31 I’m glorifying God by building my relationship with Ceri; that’s the reason I’m in Yoevil and not in Frinton. Our engagement, and even more so our marriage, is to be a witness of Jesus’ love for us, His bride… So right now that is my focus: to glorify God through my love for Ceri. God can deal with everything else in His time.