Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Does God want to give us designer trainers?


twixt downs and sea - James 5 13
The wedding at Canaan. I had always heard it used as a kind of illustration that Jesus was human, and lived as one of us. Sunday, I learnt what this passage teaches about prayer and provision.
I have heard of churches that preach that God wants all Christians to be as rich as Abraham. And that if you want a Rolex, pray and God will give it. I’ve been taught differently so on Sunday I was surprised to hear my Pastor suggest  that maybe God does want us to have designer trainers.
We are an older congregation. Our intercessions tend to be for healing, comfort, career decisions. I doubt we have a designer trainer between us. Although I have brought up teenagers, they’ve never asked for designer trainers, Hollister shirts, popular games or this year’s mobile phones. I always felt that seeking after those kind of worldly things was wrong, unchristian.
The lesson was John 2, the Wedding at Canaan. The wine ran out on the last day, pretty trivial stuff, a social embarrassment. But to God, all things are trivial, as much our concerns about unemployment and illness  as a young lad worrying he won’t be accepted without the right trainers. Sometimes we have so much awareness of God’s greatness that we lose sight of the fact that he wants a close relationship with us. So close that he counts the number of hairs on our heads. If we hear a eight year old praying for sunshine on their birthday, we think it’s sweet. But as legitimate their prayer as mine for provision for my family because God cares about all our concerns.
In John 2 we see how Mary models to us how to intercede. She tells Jesus the problem, `then has the faith to leave it in his hands. How often do we ask for what we see as the right solution, even as we ask for God’s will to be done. Henry Nouwen, a Dutch priest writes that when he was at a loss for words he would pray “Lord, they have no wine”.
The final message from this scripture – do we limit God by not asking?  James 5 says “ Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.” and “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.“ The provision at Canaan was not just enough of the same wine it was over abundant, overflowing provision of a better quality than was expected. This reflects back to Psalm 23 “my cup runneth over”, showing Jesus is the Good Shepherd. It points forward to the Communion cup, and to our salvation. So as God more than meets our needs, we can see that it has a cost.
Still not sure about the trainers. But as a parent, if my child was unhappy, bullied, unaccepted and I could make it right, I would probably do anything I could to help. If they asked…
linking with lovely Michelle and Jen.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Living the dream?

 twixt downs and sea - work for the Lord

 

My work, my job and my home, should be my dream job. If you asked me to describe my ideal job, my ideal home and family, this is it. As a little girl all I wished for the future was a house and garden, a husband, couple of lovely children and a part time job helping people. Some time to read, some time to be creative, a good church fellowship. Tick every box.

And I believe that whatever you do, you are doing it for God.

Why, then am I so often discontent, moaning and half-hearted.

When I feel slighted at work, looked over for a good job, expected to do extra stuff for no thanks or reward, treated unfairly, I so rarely react with grace. In fact I complain, whine and tell myself I am going to give them only what is in my job description – no more.

At home, same thing, people don’t help or do their chores, leave me a mess to clear up and I stomp about, banging the bin lid and muttering.

Result, dream job, ideal home ruined by grumpy, graceless, lazy Twiz. And of course it rubs off on everyone else. And what a dreadful witness.

Well, no more.

Last year I read The Good Wife's Guide. And I started to serve my husband. And my children. And my colleagues. And everything got easier. Rather than walk past the bin 6 times complaining that no-one has emptied it and are they expecting me to do it for them, I just do it, the first time. Joyfully. (well, not resentfully anyway).

I’m still a work in progress. A lifetime of being told to be assertive, stand up for your rights, don’t be a doormat is hard to overcome at once. Service. And following that example of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Intentional service. Intentional use of my time and gifts. that’s my goal.

And just to remind myself of my One Word, as I’m linking up with Melanie I want to steward my time responsibly and intentionally,

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, Ephesians 6:7

Monday, 7 January 2013

Who’s the greatest?

DSCN0768

I have been thinking lately about pride. It’s very easy when you are flattered and included by the world to try to please people rather than God. Strangely, I find it easier to serve and do my best when I am unrecognised. Because I am doing it for God. A bit of praise and complimenting makes me try to please people. I want to do well at work and I like it when people say I’ve done a great job. After all it says in the Bible “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart” but then the rub…  “as working for the Lord, not for human masters”. Colossians 3v23.

We had a guest preacher on Sunday. An ex-mayor of our little town, he was an amazing Christian witness during his time as Mayor (and still is), and the message on Sunday was just what I needed. The reading from the word was John 3 and he preached on John 3 v30.

John’s disciples thought he was the greatest. Why was this other teacher pinching their followers?

John answers them “He must become greater; I must become less.”

The familiar story of John and James’ mother’s request in Matthew 20 reinforced the idea that to we must become less. Salome was, it is thought, the sister of Mary making her sons Jesus’ first cousins and certainly they had a special relationship with the Lord. And any mother wants the best for her children: a place at Jesus’ side would be the top spot. But as Jesus answers

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

This idea is reinforced by the next event. Two blind men call out as Jesus and his followers pass.

And Jesus stopped

He stopped and he served. And that is our model.

The preacher said that the word Jesus used for slave was a bonded slave, one that had served his time but chose to stay with his master and work for nothing. The slave was marked by a hole punched through their ear. To show they chose to belong. So should we, should I, seek to become less.

I find it hard when non Christians praise my work to give God the glory for it. I will ponder on that. May God give me the right words, right feelings and keep me humble.

linking with Hear it, use it,

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Frugal Banana Bread

Frugal Banana Cake Bread twixt downs and sea
I couldn’t wait to start baking again after Christmas.
But, not wanting to waste anything, I had to wait for all the Christmas goodies to be eaten. Unfortunately the biscuits and chocolates were so popular, the fruit bowl was neglected and I found we had 4 blackening bananas and a sad satsuma. to find a use for - a good reason to bake Banana Bread.
This recipe is good if you have a lot of old fruit as it uses four bananas. I also chopped up all the least favoured nuts that were rejected at the bottom of the selection after we’d eaten all the Brazils and almonds!
It’s adapted from All in one Banana and Walnut loaf from my old well loved Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course.
All in one Banana Bread

75g 3oz  soft margarine or soft butter  ( ¾ stick or ⅓ cup)
100g 4oz caster sugar (or any sugar you have) (½ cup)
1 large egg
225g 8oz plain flour (2 cups)
2 level teaspoon baking powder
4 ripe bananas
grated rind of 1 orange (or old satsuma) and 1 lemon
30g 2oz nuts roughly chopped (½ cup)
  • preheat oven gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
  • line a 3½ x 7½ inch (9x19cm)  loaf tin with baking parchment
  • mash bananas in a bowl, grate over lemon and orange
  • weigh butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and egg into bowl and beat (I use my Kenwood stand mixer). It will look very dry and not like cake mix.
  • Add the banana and peel and chopped nuts and beat well.
  • put the mixture in the tin and level the top
  • bake 50-55 minutes on centre shelf until bread springs back when pressed. (I tested it with a skewer and needed 10 minutes more).Cool in tin 10 minutes then on a rack. Tastes great sliced and spread with butter.
PS I did my best to translate the UK weights into US volume. Let me know if it looks wrong. I cooked in oz and had a great result.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year, New Word?

 

Wesley Best Year of my life 1875 twixt downs and sea

 

Last year I discovered the concept of word of the year. Struggled a bit to think of one that suited me but was reasonably achievable. (suggestions from the family of ‘tidy’ or ‘skinny’ were never going to work).

I had been reading a number of Christian blogs and realised that the thing I wanted to achieve was to be intentional. A bit scary for someone with a tendency to be reactive and revert to little girly helplessness at the least sign of stress.

How did I get on?

Firstly I wanted to be intentional in my prayer and bible study life. tried a few strategies; email Bible studies, good, but the fact that it was email meant it was hard not to look at the other ones: memorising and Scripture Typer went well for Lent but not enough study component for the whole year. What worked for me, and I didn’t find it until Advent is SOAP and Good Morning Girls. (I’m a kinaesthetic learner so writing stuff is good for me). Ready for Luke now, girls.

Secondly, I wanted to be intentional in my marriage. What a blessing to find Darlene Schacht’s e book. I have to admit that at first her ideas shocked me as I felt that they went against all my ideas of equality and the rights of women. But as I read on I became convicted that actually serving my husband wasn’t the same as being a doormat. Anyway, I tried it. Getting up early and making his lunch may not seem like a big deal but it sure went against the grain. I was sure it wouldn’t be appreciated and would be just another job for me. Wrong. it feels good and we start the day well. I have a few more chapters to work on this year…

I sometimes have to put an elastic band round my wrist to remind me of my good intentions but I’m getting there. A bit further on my journey. And as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians ‘we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more’

So, 2013.

The thing we kind of didn’t get intentional about until the end of the year was our finances. That little girl resurfaces at the thought of bills. We forced ourselves to read our bank statements, we renegotiated all our suppliers, we cancelled anything we could cancel and for the first time in twenty years, we wrote a budget.

And so, new word is…. stewardship. And for me that’s going to include our budget,  healthy frugal meals with no wastage and our stuff. Our time, our money and our stuff. Those great resources God has provided for our needs and others. All of those areas are going to be a challenge, ‘but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 3 13.

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