Lent Day 9 – An uncomplicated faith

So yesterday I went to a Lent course, and lots of questions were put on the subject of “happiness” to the group. This of course, as it was supposed too led to lots of spin-off conversations.

The recurring theme was, it seemed to me that  “damage” caused by loss, or hurt, or role models not performing here on earth, led many to have very different perspectives about Jesus, Christianity etc.

In the workplace I am known as uncomplicated, and outspoken.
This it seems extends to my faith, for me its really simple. If the bible says something about how god is, or he views us. That is probably close to how it is?

I pray, he answers, I ask I do or don’t get the answer I want.

For others where he has seen to do stuff they don’t understand, or don’t comprehend the logic, or his action/inaction seems unjust, cruel, unfair. When its a good person we love, or the simple injustice of someone’s situation. We ask “Why did god let that happen”?

It leads some to all sorts of compromise ideas, relativism.

The question I think you have to ask yourself in these situations was what would Jesus do, or better what DID he do?

The lead up to Easter shows us this.

Jesus comes into Jerusalem on a role, everything is pretty good. The disciples are relaxed enough to spend time arguing about who is the best disciple.

The last supper occurs, and then later Jesus goes to the mount of Olives to pray. He prays so that he sweats like blood.

Jesus knows what’s coming and asks,  “if you are willing, take this cup away”.

More importantly he also says,   “However let your will be done”.

So he prays like we pray asking for something, and then it all becomes clear it’s not going to happen.

It can’t happen can it, the plan is even bigger than Jesus.

What follows is not simply a killing of a man, but a concerted orchestrated attempt to denigrate everything he stands for and  that the powers that be were worried about, had felt threatened by, and were scared enough to order his killing for.

That the powers of Evil had been waiting for.

They were as many have done afterwards trying to kill an idea, a thought. Some burn books, in this case the idea’s were encapsulated in a man.

First his betrayal by Judas by a Kiss? A sign of love.
This seems to be the only bit Jesus is surprised by?

Would you betray me by a Kiss?

See Jesus message has been love, forgiveness, etc.
So to pervert a thing of love to the cause of hate and destruction is the first twist of the knife.

They abused the legal system of the day to ensure the verdict, they humiliated him, blindfolded him and beat him saying

“can you prophesy who did this” Whack! and on and on.

A death he volunteered for, to take our sin as his burden, to open our chance to come before God in a righteous state.

So Jesus had to deal with evil, stupidity, fear, anger, and he suffered it unto death.

He didn’t wave a wand, he didn’t expect god to take it away.

He asked god in prayer to let it not happen, to change the path, to make it fair. Fair, to a good man, a great man, a loving, kind, gentle man. A man who’s life deserved a better end.

Then he said but “let your will be done”.

To be even handed,  even he asked at its very worst “why have you forsaken me” so we can be excused for feeling that.

But the goal, and the understanding of how we should react to evil on earth

Our real reaction should reflect Jesus

Lent Day Seven – Thank you

So this morning I was working from home. Washed Dressed ready, breakfasted and thinking about the day ahead. The first thing that happened was I saw an old friend had moved into a fantastic house.

Then I realised so had I. So the morning prayer was thank you, and no sooner had I said thank you for one thing than about 28 just spilt out of me.

All the things he has done for me since I welcomed him into my life. The list was endless and it just was rapid, and came from who knows where. As soon as I thought the list had ended then more came and more came.

Once when Lauren (my daughter) was small, she was being a bit ungrateful and selfish. I picked her up and took her to my house where I grew up. The broken inner city, it smelt of decay, and violence as it did in my day.

There I said, before you moan about anything again, look at this!
This is what my sacrifice did for you, my goal was to lift you up from this.

Today I learn’t that very same lesson.

One other lesson is that daily prayer is quite unusual, you just don’t know what’s going to happen? What felt like 40 days of small talk is turning out to be anything but?

Lent – the temptation, completed by the biggest sinner of all – jesus

So we move through Jesus temptation, which he resisted better than anyone else ever will.  He healed, he saved the world, he saved my soul, and possibly yours.

How then can Jesus be the biggest sinner of all time?

2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

That says, god sent Jesus into the world without sin. He made him “sin” for us. That doesn’t mean he stole, or lied, or whatever.
Indeed he was sinless, but he became “sin” the very essence of sin, he was every lie, every bad deed, every lustful thought you have ever had, and all of us have ever had.

So he was the biggest sinner EVER.

Why?  So that we can become ” the righteousness of God”.

We can become righteous before god because he has taken the burden of our sin, through love.

To come before God, who hates all sin, we must be free of sin.
Jesus allowed us to inherit “the righteousness of God”.

Not because we are worthy, sinless, free of any taint of sin that would bar us from coming before him.

But because he took your sin, he was the boy that took the blame for your lie, that paid the price of the thing you stole, or the hurtful word, or the lustful thought.

So as we walk through his temptation, and fail over and over again to overcome that temptation.

The only man to overcome temptation and sin, paid the price for yours. By becoming sin, the essence of it, the very thing of it.
The baddest man ever.

The ultimate act of love, is to accept the blame for someone else, to the point of death.


To accept the blame for every human that ever lived?

the great exchnage 2 Corinthians 5 21

Lent Day Five – Stop Talking

Do you ever find that when he wants to speak to you, everyone but everyone says the same thing?

People who normally don’t speak to you come up and say random things. All your occasional Facebook posters,your friends at church,  everyone.

Well for me its been this
One of the things people have to learn in Lent, is to stop…

“Stop, Don’t pray, Don’t keep talking, don’t make conversation, dont struggle for new revelations”

Just be with him”.

So when I got back from Church today I didn’t pray, didnt say anything. I was simply still.

And there he was, the man I always knew, real, conscious, merged with me.

That was quite profound for me. Normally when I have doubt I rush to make that connection, reach out and touch his presence.

But today is like when I was a kid, and my mum would just sit and be with me, not say a thing just be around.

Like when my faithful friends just don’t feel like they have to say anything. The bond is sealed long long ago and it doesn’t need small talk to cover over awkward silences.

That of course is easy to understand, I may have reached out to him a few months ago.

He knew me before I was born.

Just waiting for me to stop talking. Waiting for me to stop asking something of him, and be with him as a friend, as my best friend. Not some needy child, just someone who likes his company.

Nice for both of us. God and me, just relaxing.

I think I gave him the chance to show me

I think I gave him the chance to show me

My First Lent – what is it?

My journey into Lent

My journey into Lent

So coming from a secular background that was SO non church that Christmas was tinsel, and Easter meant chocolate “Lent” never really happened. When you have so many worldly things to block you from his love and presence in your life, there is no reason how or why would you carve out 40 days for being closer to him.

In that place sharing his loss by losing something yourself?
Just not going to happen, no reason to wonder, or find out.

At least not for me.

This is a task for the converted, not the doubtful, or drifting.

Also even for the curious its a very loose concept, almost left up to each person to find their version of Lent.
We have a framework it seems but how that framework gets applied, is up to you?

The Muslims have Ramadan, and that is much more defined, and demanded as a tenet of faith. However some of the core concepts overlap, reflection, taking time out to work closer to your god, become closer to the demands of your faith.

So we share the idea that one has to stop, and deny yourself something, to slow down the pace of your life so that your god can be heard, and that you take the time to listen.

In that regard I think Lent is one of the christian disciplines least shared by the secular world. What it is,how it happens, why it happens etc. Everything else is shared by the world, but lent is an event that is felt almost exclusively by the followers of Jesus.

So my first thought as Lent approached me was how should I approach lent?

It came at an apposite time, I had gone through the first “rush” of deciding to become a christian, to being very sure of myself, that now I was on the right track. Jesus had come and got me, I was his and it would all work out.
Then as you learn more, you realise how much there is to learn, and as more is offered, more is demanded. Then you realise this task of being as like him as you can be is rather demanding (the most common mistake of atheists is the thought he is our crutch, our box of answers, however he is as much a source of questions about ourselves, and a stick to drive his flock out into the world for action). Anyhow I was feeling the enormity of it, and realising I had not begun to begin.

That happens to all of us you know, when we tackle a large complicated subject. NLP, (neuro linguistic programming) would call this stage conscious incompetence.

However I think that’s where the analogy end’s because as a christian trying to be more like christ, that’s as good as it gets! While that thought wasn’t disheartening it aided in the slightly less disciplined way I had been approaching my growth.

So for me, I was praying a little less, working through my first full read through of the bible a little slower. My life had speed up and although I am changed, my lens on life was altered. I was certainly not as focused as I had been.

So then I had to choose something to do. Facebook was the first choice and the correct one, my drift was showing in my online interactions, and the time it was taking away from him was obvious.

Then as I thought on it more I had the STRONGEST feeling that this was simply not enough. He wanted my prayers, he wanted a dialogue, a proper chat. Like all relationships you whiz through a first rush and then you have to communicate, work a little, make some time. On the lead up to Lent I saw Facebook as the biggest task, the thing that would require the most effort.

Actually it was Prayer?
Up till now I had prayed when I had something to say, or was given something to say as part of a church service.
This is time I must make every day, and sit and ask or chat on a schedule.

That meant I couldnt cover anything up in our conversations, because i didnt have an “event” to talk about, a need to ask for. The little unresolved issues that I had parked, were the only things left to talk about. Like sometimes before I pray , a little voice says “who to” or “what too”. However the connection I feel gets me past that, and as soon as I pray it goes away totally and I feel engaged in conversation.

Now normally that gets pushed aside as I move to the subject of my prayer, but because there was no burning issue, that became the subject. How to not have that moment, what does that moment say about my faith? Can you help me with that please Jesus?

I write this on day three of lent, and already that moment is becoming less and less. So yes he is helping, reaching out to bring his wayward sheep a little loser.

So that is lent so far…

My first one, and I think Jesus is showing me what its really all about. Facebook stays away as I have promised.
But really the thing that has been the biggest challenge, the most rewarding so far?

Prayer time, because as imperfect as my prayers are, as faltering as they can sometimes be when not driven by a moments quick desire to speak to him. But done coldly almost in cold blood, without a congregation, or a subject to hide behind, or a subterfuge to move the elephant in the room to one side. He has full reign to say, no lets talk about THAT today shall we?

Let’s make your faith stronger by moving past that, ignoring it makes it bigger, and like all relationships hiding things under the carpet makes them linger, and all you get is increasingly lumpy carpet.

Writing this has been part of that process, and on day three of lent I begin to understand what making time to let him in is all about, removing the distractions, and talking to him without a demand or a question, or even devotion. But simply with the idea of “seeing where he takes the conversation”, because as I am discovering he has things he wants to say to you too?

Lent has been for me a way that with me having no agenda to our chat’s he has had that chance.

This is my little reflection on lent so far, and all I can hope is that he has found a way to use lent for you too?
Because on day three I am now looking forward to it more, and waiting almost for our next chat.

I wanted a record to look back on, and I think if more of us share our less than perfect moments, then maybe someone else may say “I had that doubt, what can we do about it please”?

Because that is exactly what he was waiting for me to ask?

Also as a lent “debutante” I dunno about you but I always find peoples first impressions interesting and a reminder of how far I have come, and sometimes a reminder.