What makes a difficult personality- is it someone who tends to see the problems and things that need still to be done rather than to praise the achievements and successes of what has been delivered? I am thought to be blunt, direct, lacking in thought, insensitive and confrontational- and these are just the views of my family! Yet others tell me I am thoughtful, sensitive, patient, tolerant and a good listener. I sometimes struggle to understand which version of me people are getting and how much I am letting God down in how I conduct myself. I always feel that I act consistently and that I am “a what you see is what you get” personality. Is it just possible that those who are closest to me are likely to get the harshest treatment because I love them the most? Jeff Lucas has in the past made fun of Christians who use the phrase “speaking the truth in love”, as a thinly veiled excuse for giving someone a verbal kicking. Throughout my life I have always got into difficulties when speaking up or taking a stand, so should I stop? Thanks once more to Nick Fawcett’s Daily Prayer who reveals a truth through prayer that is tailor made for me:
“Help me to know when it is not only right but necessary to speak, and when such moments come, give me wisdom, sensitivity and courage, so that i will know the words to say and be enabled to say them. Give me that rare ability to speak the truth in love..Loving God, help me to speak your challenging, reforming and renewing word of truth, for your name’s sake. Amen.”
So, it’s not so much what I say as when and how I say it and the motivation of my heart in raising it. Let me be a builder up more than a knocker down!
During weeks like this faithfulness and stamina are hard to come by.It’s been a tough week for me. I am juggling a couple of projects, with key members of the team away or posts vacant. There has been a great deal to do in a fast-shrinking time-frame and sometime it feels just as the top of the hill is being reached ,the clouds come down and time is spent just finding out exactly where I am as visibility becomes challenging and the hope of making the summit in good time slips away. Thank God for friends, family and hard-working colleagues at times like these. Once again I take encouragement from Nick Fawcett’s Daily Prayer as he writes:
“Lord God, you know that life isn’t always easy. There are times when I feel exhausted, overwhelmed and defeated.Remind me then of those who have gone before, keeping the faith, and running the race with perseverance. Remind me of Jesus, his willingness to endure the cross for my sake. Remind me of my responsibility to those who will come after me…Lord Jesus Christ, inspire me through your love and the great company of those who have gone before me, to persevere and run the race, to the glory of your name. Amen.”
One of the risks in blogging about a whole range of things (and not censoring comments) is that from time to time some correspondents will get fixated on single issues. The purpose of this blog is to share with you my continued journey as an unfinished Christian and invite you to play your part in helping me along the way. I guess I’d hoped that my musings would appeal to others who consider themselves unfinished Christians or work-in-progress followers of Jesus. Well, I know of few of you reading this fit this description, but since I blogged about the BNP I have had a handful of persistent correspondents who make it their business to justify particular theological positions and excercise their freedom of speech -that well-known catch all for the right to say anything however offensive or unlated to the purpose of this blog. So, should I continue to keep comments on this blog unedited and put up with anything and everything that comes my way or do I block the people running obvious agendas? I honestly don’t know, but in the meantime I want to pray that we all need to look beyond, colour, culture and creed to the person underneath- the person that Christ died for. In Acts we read that, “God has shown me I should not call anyone impure or unclean. I recognise how true it is that God does not show partiality, but accpets people from every nation who fear him and do his will.” As ever, Nick Fawcett gets it right in Daily Prayer-
Living God, teach me that you did not just make some but all people in your likeness, and so teach me to value and respect everyone in the family of humankind. Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
Over the past few months I have listened to scores of people about the nature of how God calls us into ministry and service. I have personally found it really unsettling experiencing God guiding me into situations in which I am personally uncomfortable; yet once there -channeling something of God’s purpose and love to others. It has been a process of breaking me down and rebuilding me, slowly and gradually to appreciate that when I do things in God’s strength rather than mine amazing things can happen out of simple conversations. It has made me realise just how unfinished I am as a Christian, and also how complacent I have been for decades. I know that I still don’t take enough risks for the gospel. I now appreciate that feeling challenged and unsettled is something I have to get used to as I work out, if I can, the nature of God’s inescapable call.
Nick Fawcett puts this well in his Daily Prayer book- a constant companion of mine:
“Gracious God, I thanks you for your call: the invitation to be part of the work of your kingdom. I thank you that you welcome me as I am- with all my faults and doubts- and that though I fail you repeatedly, still you want to use me in your service. Gracious God, I praise you for that inescapable sense of call that you give; help me to respond. In the name of Christ. Amen.”
I hope this is a prayer we can all say.
Today is Trinity Sunday when the Christian Church has a focus on how God has reveled himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is a sticking point of Christian doctrine that prevents many engaging fully with the faith- they simply can’t get their head around this glorious mystery. How can one person become three and why and where and when? I am not a learned theologian and have not answers to this mystery that will give doubters the answer that they seek- it simply doesn’t make logical sense- but that doesn’t make it any less real does it? As Nick Fawcett writes in his prayer for Trinity Sunday in Daily Prayer:
“It reminds us of a truth we cannot afford to forget: that God is beyond the human intellect, defying expression, greater than we can ever conceive. We cannot explain how the pieces fit together but we know that they do, for we have experienced the truth ourselves. If we imagine that we have solved the mystery and that the full wonder of God is firmly in our sights, then it is time to think again, for if we ever think that, then the truth is that we have lost sight of him altogether. Sovereign God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. teach me to live with mystery, and simply to celebrate each day my many experiences of your love. Amen.”
So God not one person but a community of persons made one through their mutual love. The mystics and theologians have speculated long and abstractly on these matters, and we continue to do so until God settles the issue. In the meantime lets draw meaning and inspiration and give thanks by using the words of the peace for Trinity Sunday:
Peace be to you from God our heavenly Father. Peace from his Son Jesus Christ who is our peace. Peace from the Holy Spirit, the life-giver. The peace of the triune God be always with you. And we continue to give you thanks because you have revealed the glory of your eternal fellowship of love with your Son and with the Holy Spirit three persons equal in majesty, undivided in splendour, yet one God ever to be worshipped and adored.
May you discover peace, comfort and inspiration this Trinity Sunday and see more of the glorious oneness of love, mystery and hope.
In the job I do, I have to contend with a number of folks with big egos- sometimes this is challenging. Sometimes these people will ask me “what do you think?” in response to a talk or piece of work they have produced, but they don’t really want to hear any criticism, however constructive. They just a good old ego massage and the truth is I am not really good at it.. The truth can hurt and few of us find it easy to be honest in an awkward situation, and fewer still relish having the truth spoken to them. In his Daily Prayer, for today Nick Fawcett reminds us the importance of having the courage to see ourselves as we really are and to find the spur to rectify our faults, or to listen to others who have the courage to speak the painful truth to us. Nick proposes this prayer:
God of truth, you know me better than I know myself. You search my heart and mind, seeing me as I really am and confronting me with my true self. Forgive me that all too often I shy away from what is hard to accept, refusing to countenance anything that contradicts my self image. I find it so difficult to be honest, closing my ears to truths I would rather not hear. I avoid those who challenge and disturb me, preferring instead those who sooth and flatter my ego.
Thank you for all those with the rare gift of speaking the truth in love, not spitefully, vindictively, or harshly, not from any ulterior motives, but because they genuinely care. Thank you for those willing to risk my resentment, retaliation or rejection, in order to help me grow us an individual. God of all, give me humility and meekness of spirit, so that i may be ready to listen and examine myself, ready to ask searching questions about who I am and to change where necessary, ready to face the truth.
Gracious God, help me to open my life to your searching gaze and so open my heart to your redeeming love.Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
Filed under bible, Christian values, Christianity, ego, ethics, faith, faith Christianity, honesty, Jesus, Prayer, religion
The other day I was discussing an issue with a friend of mind and try as I might, I couldn’t get him to see my point of view at all. I think this is commonly known as “agreeing to differ”- each of us believed passionately that our own position was so right we tried to convince the other to adopt it. We both had closed our minds on the issue and left no room for manoeuvre. Once again Nick Fawcett’s Daily Prayer came to my rescue. Nick writes:
“Gracious God, you speak to me in all kinds of ways, through all kinds of people- forgive me that I am sometimes closed to what you have to say. I avoid that which challenges, disturbs or unsettles me, preferring to criticise and condemn rather than face the issues raised. Forgive me that I shut my ears to what I don’t agree with, rather than listen to another point of view; that I am reluctant to accept new and unfamiliar ideas, taking refuge instead in what is tried and tested. Forgive me that I can become so bogged down in what I think is right, so sure of my own convictions and set in my ways that I resent anything new. Open my heart to the living reality of Christ, my mind to the sweeping breath of your Holy Spirit, and my soul to all that you would do and say; and so help me truly to live as one of your people….. God of all, break though the barriers that shut my mind fast, and help me to see things both as they really are and as you can help them become. Move within me, in the name of Christ. Amen.”