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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Storm Damage

Wild winds and heavy rains swept through UK yesterday and knocked out our power just as we prepared breakfast for a paying guest. We had to finish it on a camping stove, which made it a little different from his usual!

Driving down to help paint our son’s flat, we encountered debris and branches and even trees down at various points along the way. When we returned hours later, a broom bush had broken off into the drive, and various other bushes straggled into the pathway. Cut and tidied away now, the drive looks better than it did before (slightly...)

Emotional storms hit all of us at different times and bring damage, too. Sometimes cherished opinions are uprooted; sometimes new ideas are revealed to have no lasting value. 

Spiritual storms can rock our foundations, but they also serve to reveal who we are clinging too, and who is holding us. It’s good to clear out the debris every so often. It’s good to have erroneous beliefs exposed and uprooted. It’s healthy to rake out the undergrowth that has collapsed after the storm and allow refreshing air to circulate in our souls.

Storms can be dramatic and scary, inconvenient and disruptive and destructive. But they can also renew and refresh and encourage healthy and strong growth. 

And the calm after the storm exudes peace.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


I’ve never been what I would call ‘flaky’ – but then I would say that. It may not be true.

In the 60s we called someone flaky if they were unreliable, maybe a bit of an airhead. 

Well, for the last several weeks my eyelid and ears have become flaky. I know that sounds a little gross, and it looks and feels a little gross too. 

Turns out to be a sort of dermatitis, for which strong antidotes are required. I mean serious antidotes, the kind that would disqualify me from international athletics. Cortisone. Steroids. 

I am very reluctantly using these meds. I would much prefer a touch of lavender or olive oil or something else that sounds natural.

But I guess sometimes we have problems that can only be fixed by strong meds. 

This may be a bit of a leap. But take my sin, for instance. It could only be fixed by Jesus dying on the cross.
I would much prefer a telling off by God, and then a cuddle. 

But some things are too serious to be fixed by such an easy solution. Until one realizes that, though, they will just get flakier and flakier.

And on that rather dismal note, I’m off to a couple of days of spiritual fireworks, I hope. Will let you know.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Worship with Royalty

Every Sunday I worship with Royalty. No, that’s not correct. Every Sunday, and every minute in between them, I worship Royalty, the King of Kings. The Ruler of the Universe. The Creator, from whom all things are made. My Saviour, who stood in my place to take the rap for my sins, and never stopped loving me. My Lord. Jesus.

But last Sunday, in addition to worshiping the King of Kings, I did it in the presence of the Queen of the United Kingdom, who also bowed her head to Jesus. Members of Crathie kirk sat in the first pews, and we unknown visitors sat in the back half of the small church. We were far enough forward to have good views of those members of the Royal family who were with the monarch, as well as the Queen herself. It was exciting.

Strange, isn’t it? All the excitement over an ordinary woman doing an extraordinary job. 

We were there to support our own minister who was guest preacher, and who did a wonderful job. He spoke on our insecurities in prayer, our lack of expectation to see them answered, and took heart from a story in the Bible of the early church praying earnestly for Peter’s release from prison, but who, when he was miraculously delivered, left him pounding on the door because they weren’t expecting their prayers to be answered. 

Our faith shouldn’t be in what God will do (ie, initial our requests and act on them every time) but in who he is. Love personified. Love with arms outstretched to us, for us. But it’s risky to put our faith in his love because it makes us vulnerable, open to disappointment when he doesn’t do what we want. That’s why our love should be for him, not for what he may or may not do. We have to trust that everything he does is for the best, even when we don’t agree and it doesn’t make any sense to us. It’s risky.

We can’t ever love properly, though, if we don’t risk being hurt. We have to be open and make ourselves vulnerable if we want to experience the full flowering of true love. 

I think the Queen is amazing. 

But not as amazing as the King of Kings.

Friday, 14 September 2012

A wee boy's picnic

In the hands of Jesus, the smallest of gifts can be multiplied to nourish a multitude.

This morning’s radio carried an interview with a philanthropist called Dame Steve Shirley. She was on a kinder train evacuated from Austria at the beginning of the war, and received a lot of care and ‘charity’ during those terrible years. She went on to establish a very successful company and has spent many years now giving away vast sums of money to help others.

Her explanation for her generosity was that she had been the recipient of help and now she wanted to help others.

Those folks who helped her all those decades ago are like the wee boy who gave his picnic lunch to Jesus to share with over 5,000 people. It seemed ludicrously small and yet it fed the entire crowd and left bits and pieces to be gathered up for another time. 

So with the gifts given to Steve Shirley as a small girl. Perhaps to the givers they seemed small, a drop in the ocean of need. Yet all these years later the harvest is coming in for others in need. 

Nothing is too small to give to God. He can do anything with it. Generosity matters, however little can be afforded.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Rolling in it

No, not money. Muck.

Why do dogs do that? You turn your back for a minute while marching through a newly harvested field, which must be full of so many enticing smells for a dog – mice, rabbits, pheasants, deer. 

And muck.

When you turn back there she is, shoulder and back squirming on the ground. 

I thought it was cute. I thought she was just getting a good back rub on the hay stubble. But when we got back to the house and shut the door, the truth was obvious. What a stink!

So outside on this cold morning to have a bath. Now that’s another thing. Why does Dusty so hate baths, and yet so love leaping into any watercourse we may be near? 

I guess I have a vague idea how Jesus feels when he’s walking along, thinking I’m right behind him, and when he turns around I’m rolling around in some sort of muck. Maybe gossiping. Or refusing to forgive an infraction against me. Or being lazy. Or worse.

It took more than a bucket of water for him to wash me clean. It cost him his life, and yet I continue to roll around in the muck sometimes and need him to wash me all over again.

I am so ashamed. And so sorry.

Well, tomorrow’s another day, and he, being full of grace and mercy, has given me yet another chance. I am so grateful.

The thing is, I am now watching Dusty like a hawk to make sure she doesn’t flop into a pile of muck. But Jesus trusts me, and expects me to be following right behind him. 

I hope he helps me to do that. I can’t do it on my own. The muck is too tempting.