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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

And here’s the Easter spoken word video from Glen Scrivener, courtesy of 10ofThose. A wonderful reminder that Jesus is the Bread of Heaven who fully satisfies:

Our week of special events this Easter finishes with a Feast for All Nations – a celebration service followed by a meal of international food. We are praying that the whole week will help all our neighbours to know that:

This bread is sweet…

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After thinking about devotions honestly yesterday, the excellent Adam4d just posted this on what happens when we pray at bedtime..

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If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m  often full of great new ideas and initiatives. But what that actually means is that many old ideas and initiatives have fallen by the wayside. So when I extol the beauty of a new bible reading scheme or system of prayer, it possibly (=usually) indicates that the last system I extolled has somewhat petered out…

Last night Sharonxx asked the following:

I have tried to set myself the simple ‘resolution’ this year to pray at least once a day [either an Office or personal prayer], to read one small devotional a day and to do one bible study each day [using T.Wright…for Everyone]. I work 9-3, I have an 8 year old son and I’m married….pretty normal on the face of it….so why can’t I achieve even these simple goals??

Any tips? How do you do it with your busy life and family commitments? Indeed, DO you always manage to keep up with the bible reading etc.??

Simple goals, and ones I can relate to so well: read my bible, read something else devotional, pray. I’d love to do this every day too. But I often don’t. And I don’t work outside the house either, with all the extra juggling entailed in that.

So why don’t I do it? There are a bunch of reasons: tiredness, craziness of life in the Vicarage, but mainly it’s because other things seem more important than spending time with God. They’re not, of course, but my sinful heart takes control and I sleep a little more, tweet a little more, watch a little more Midsomer Murders. As I was reminded by my reading in Romans 7 this morning ‘What a wretched (wo)man I am!’

But the important thing is not to be discouraged when I fail. I’ve snoozed and missed the timeslot when I would have been reading my Bible. So I can grab a verse for the day on my phone. I’ve missed prayer time in the quite of the early morning. But I can still pray over the ironing board, or in the queue for the sandwich shop. I might not feel that I’ve prayed very well, or read enough of the Word, or wrestled with a theological concept. But if I’m keeping in regular touch with the Lord, I’m able to build my relationship with him. And even if I’m crazy busy or laid low by illness, there are still ways that relationship can grow, as his Spirit works in me. The Spirit reminds me of Scriptures or hymns and spiritual songs that I can cling to when I’m struggling with time or energy. The Spirit shows me the Lord’s providence in seemingly small ways that enable me to praise God when I feel like crying. The Spirit works in me so that I can will and work to the Father’s good pleasure.

Some of the resources I’ve found useful recently include using the audio setting with YouBible on my phone or tablet. This morning I read my allotted chapters from my epic 10 chapters a day reading plan but my head was a bit fuzzy and I didn’t process much. So then I listened to them again as I cleaned the kitchen and a bit more went in. Not everything, but a bit more.

My prayer life is a bit wobbly at the moment, but I’ve been using The Valley of Vision and have also recently downloaded the excellent PrayerMate app which is free at the moment. It has all the bells and whistles if you have an Apple device, but we are Android users in the Vicarage, so I have the newly launched version (which will be updated over the next few months) and am slowly uploading my prayer diary to its pages.

So I guess my answer is that I constantly fail to read my bible, to pray and balance all my family and other commitments. But I also constantly try and reboot them and get them back on track. The temptation is to feel that once we’ve missed a day in our readings, we’ve missed the boat. So we need to remind ourselves that the Father is waiting for our return. He loves us unconditionally, whether we’ve read our Bibles, prayed our prayers or simply slouched on the couch. Find a system which frees you from guilt if you miss a day; 10ofthose have some great undated devotional books. Start again. I read a blogpost in the last week about how we need to have Monday resolutions, not just New Year resolutions. And perhaps I even need to have daily resolutions. I mustn’t put off getting back on track because I’m waiting for a special season. I can reboot my resolutions today.

Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 3:7

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It’s Epiphany today, when Christians remember the Magi who visited the infant Jesus and his parents, bringing gifts. But we’re still officially (I think) in the church’s Christmas season. I’m rather a hapless Anglican when it comes to the liturgical calendar. But I think it’s still legitimate to share a song that has delighted me in my meditation on the incarnation this year, prompted by an conversation which included the Engineer’s godmother, Song. She has just completed her Old Testament PhD on the Song of Songs, so we now have to call her Dr Song. And she pointed out to me that the carol Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, that I’d loved for a while whilst being puzzled as to its origins, has its roots (badoom-tish) in the Song:

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men.

Song of Solomon 2:3

The song has also been on my mind as I’ve been reading my bible this season. There are a lot of trees in the bible aren’t there?

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My social media timelines are full of reflections on 2013 and resolutions for the New Year. Here in the Vicarage we’ve had some great down time since Christmas to gather our thoughts. Whilst we’ve not been sleeping or waking up feeling like we’ve been dozing in the middle of the M6, that is. There’s something about a busy run-up to the festive season that makes you feel like you’ve been run over by a few dozen lorries.

On reflection, 2013 was pretty good here in the Vicarage. The kids grew up a bit and are still speaking to us (except when they’re watching telly, when it’s impossible to extract even a monosyllable from any of them). The encouragements in church outweighed the discouragements by a good margin.  The clutter in our hallway has threatened but not actually managed to submerge us. I gave a Christian talk which wasn’t mainly ums and ers. I wrote a book and some people have bought it. We have seen over and over that the Lord has been faithful in the big things which concern us and the small things that bug us.

As I’ve done every year for the past few, I have been going through Don Whitney’s 10 questions as I’ve reflected. I think many of the questions will be addressed in my plan to read my bible more in 2014. And I’m going to start off by following Professor Horner’s bible reading plan – a system involving reading 10 chapters a day. You can get this reading plan if you use YouBible, although one of the recommendations is to use a single bible that enables you to become familiar with the location of passages, so I’m going to start with a comfortable softbacked ESV. Obviously this is pretty ambitious and I’m sure I’ll stumble along the way. But I want to see if I can read at the pace I normally read a work of fiction – gathering general ideas and making links, not getting bogged down in the detail. One of the hazards of too much social media consumption is the tendency to skim lots in short chunks and not sit down to read and reflect. This is what I’d like to work on this year. I want to know God through his word and be filled with thoughts of him. Dave Bish offers a similar approach in a blogpost from 2012.

Resolutions in hand...

Resolutions in hand…

My other main resolution for 2014 is to knit more. And do crafty things in general. One of the things about living in a busy Vicarage, where home is the workplace and work is in the home, is that it never quite feels like everything is finished for the day. So I usually feel guilty  (to a greater or lesser extent) about sitting down to anything that’s not *really* needing to be done. Telly and the internet don’t seem quite as deliberate as taking up the knitting needles or sitting down at the table with craft equipment. But relaxing creatively is good for me. It makes me feel refreshed and there is something there at the end which makes me smile. So I have a scarf pattern, and I have taken up my knitting needles again. And the Queen has got herself a PInterest board and I am planning to join her in having a craftier 2014.

Do you have grand (or small) plans for 2014? You might like to take advantage of the free download offered by Christian Audio this month – the entire ESV bible on mp3. And if you have an Apple device, you can now download PrayerMate for free until the end of March courtesy of London City Mission. I’ve got to hang out for the Android version… If it makes a difference just for a bit, it’s worth a go. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.

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Great fun retelling of the Christmas story. And also cute.

They won’t be expecting THAT…

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Well, that’s what I think this tasteful hanger for (I guess) a teenager’s bedroom is trying to say…

Nearly everything about this is wrong...

We didn’t buy this for the Queen

And I’m sure you all realise that Santa is an anagram of Satan…

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Lots of people have already blogged about their disappointment with the new Girl Guides promise eg Gillan, David, Alison. I didn’t manage last week, but I did express some of my feelings on Twitter. That resulted in an interview with Helen Legh on 3 Counties Radio that went out on Sunday morning. You can catch it on iPlayer until next Sunday – my slot was about 1hr 10minutes into the show. I very much enjoyed talking to Helen and think I managed to get across most of what I’ve been thinking. Which is:

  1. The Guides is a brilliant organisation. I will always be grateful to Guides for friendships made and the encouragement to lead and take responsibility.
  2. I understand that not everyone wants to make a promise to God.
  3. But being ‘true to myself’ is either meaningless – a sort of Disney nonsense, or a more insidious call to the worship of self (my daughter thought it meant ‘be selfish’).

What I forgot to mention was that the promise is going to be tricky for girls to say if they believe that to be true to themselves they cannot promise to be true to themselves, as they know that their selves are flawed and imperfect and not to be trusted. Which is essentially what a Christian believes.

And I also didn’t mention, because I didn’t know it at the time, is that my former Guide leader, (a member of my home church which I visited last Sunday), is considering sending back her trefoil (a sign of membership) because she is so cross about the new promise. She led our Guide company for many years and went on to other senior guiding responsibilites. Seems to me that the Guides may need to have a little think about where they are headed with this seemingly self-centred new declaration.

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Our lovely friend Ruth is back in hospital. Her dad, who lectured the Vicar at Oak Hill and is not generally given to daredevil pursuits (although he did dress up as King Henry VIII for a holiday club once), is jumping out of an aeroplane (thankfully with a parachute) to raise funds for the Cystic Fybrosis Trust. Do support him and the CF Trust. And pray for Ruth and read her blog – she writes movingly and challengingly on living with CF and trusting God.

Parachute jump

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Still bogged down in book writing, so just a few things that have been on my mind this week:

  1. It’s about time to fetch the Resurrection eggs out. Don’t worry about doing the dozen. If you manage half of that you’ll doubtless do better than the Vicarage. Do some – it’s fun, a great way to prepare for Easter and an excuse for early Easter chocolate, unless you’re Lentenly fasting, of course.
  2. I’m loving the music from Ordinary Time – folky acoustic adaptions of traditional hymns. Mellow and lovely.
  3. I ordered a bunch of copies of The Mystery of the Empty Tomb for our toddler group for Easter – it has lovely pics and a really clear story. 10ofthose do very fast delivery if you want some too. And give you a one hour delivery time slot. Magic. I clubbed together with some other clergy wives on the conference to get a good price. on a bulk order. Perhaps you could do a joint order with other local churches. You could make a couple of calls and save everyone money.
  4. I have about 3 weeks to finish 2 chapters, edit everything to some sort of coherence, write a final chapter and send to my editor. Messy Meals and Messy Celebrations are next week’s challenge. Am currently wondering how many easy peasy meals I can plan for the coming weeks to allow more writing time. Macaroni cheese again anyone?

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