Tuesday, May 29, 2012

29 May - God's Lavish Home

There is something addictive to me about that home building tv programme Grand Designs.  I love it – though I have to admit I’m often appalled by the money that goes into the homes and the size of many of the dwellings – especially as they might only have two people living in them.  I got this same reaction when first reading about the building of the original temple in Israel in 1 Kings chapter 6. 
We read that "Solomon overlaid the inside of the temple with pure gold" (verse 21) – really, was that necessary?  It also says in chapter seven that "Solomon left all the utensils unweighed, because they were too many; the weight of the bronze could not be ascertained” (verse 47) – isn’t that excessive, I mean how many utensils does one God need?

And I might have remained feeling that way – that the temple was a bit of an excessive exercise when after all God really doesn’t need a house.  I even thought it might be a bit simple-minded of the great Solomon to think that God could be contained in one building.  But then I read a reflection by Patrick Roemer on this passage and he reminded me that we are God’s new house, that he has chosen to live in and amongst his people, the church.  And Patrick asked, of himself and of me, 

“…[with] this passage in mind, I question if I have created a temple worthy of God’s presence. Have I put forth the same effort and time and given the same attention to detail to my temple as Solomon did for the house he built for God?”

I realise that all that gold, all that bronze and cedar and stone that we read about in 1 Kings chapters 6-7 isn’t there because Solomon thought he could give something to God or because he thought he could contain God but because God had chosen to live among them and Solomon wanted to create something of beauty and honour for God.  It was an expression of love and devotion.   The temple was lavish, it was rich, it was full of beauty because that’s what God deserves.

So what is the temple like that I am building for God?  Is my heart lavish with love?  Is my life rich towards others?  Do I respect or abuse my body, God’s new home?   Do I put time, effort and resources into being holy for God?  Those are my thoughts today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 22 - Running Away

When I was a little girl I was not very fun to play games with.  I was one of those children who, if I started loosing or finding the game hard, would stomp and pout and say ‘I don’t want to play anymore.’  The thing is, I’m not sure that I’m much different now I’m all grown up.  As I read about the judges and kings, prophets and priests of Israel in the Old Testament I’m aware of my own weaknesses as a leader and friend and how often, when I hit a troubled spot, I want to say ‘I’m not going to play anymore.’

King Solomon wasn’t like this.  He was successful, popular and chosen.  But when he was aware of his weaknesses he didn’t want to quit, instead he used it as an opportunity to press into God.  In 1 Kings 3 Solomon tells God –

“ ‘Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?’ ”
-1 Kings 3 v 7 – 9

When I’m not doing well at something, when it isn’t going perfectly, I see it as a situation to run from.  But Solomon saw it as a situation which was calling him on.  A chance for him to become a richer, deeper and wiser leader.

I have so much to learn!  And so much to ask God for.  God told Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted – and he asked for an understanding, or wise, heart.  God has told me I can as for whatever I want – in fact Jesus told his followers that “…if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” (John 15 v 7).   So today I’m going to ask God to help me be a richer, deeper and wiser leader and friend.  I want today to choose to be called on and not to run away.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dental Surgery

No, sorry, that isn't the title of a great thought for the day, it's actually what I've been up to.  So no quick word from my sore mouth today.  Back to it next week though!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

08 May - When Life Hurts

Life can hurt sometimes, can’t it?  Friendships are slowly lost and we mourn their passing.  People don’t turn out to be who we thought they were and we are disappointed.  Our ideas aren’t welcomed the way we hoped they would be or our contributes are over looked – sometimes life can just hurt.

I’ve been reading about the life of the prophet Samuel in the Bible and reflecting on how honestly the Bible records the hurts in his own life.  Samuel is a faithful and just prophet and leader of the people but they reject his succession plan.  Samuel feels rejected but the Lord tells him, in 1 Samuel 8, that it is the Lord himself who they are rejecting. 

Later in chapter 15 we read about the last sad encounter between Israel’s first King, Saul, and Samuel.  It reads; 

“Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah. Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.” (v 34 – 35).

We learn in Sunday School and Sunday service all about the heroes of our faith – the way they slay giants and survive lions.  But the Bible also records the way they suffer and sin.  The way they feel disappointed and are at times disappointing.  We don’t have a legacy of legends behind us, we have an ancestry of people who are much more like us then we can imagine.  And a God so aware of it that he came and experienced it and began a process which will change us forever.

I don’t want to be scared today of the times when life hurts.  I don’t want to try to hide it from God.  Instead I want to turn to those who have walked before me, people like Samuel, and be comforted by our shared experience.  And I was to turn to God who came, through Christ, to give me a better future.  I hope that you and I today can together turn our gaze towards Jesus.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

01 May - Daily Tragedies

I’ve been wondering this week what to do with life’s daily tragedies. I’m talking about those events which, though not serious illness or death or ruin, none the less evoke such feelings of sorrow or grief that we cannot brush them away.  It’s the pain of moving away from a home you have filled with family and love and memory for half a lifetime.  It’s the pain of infertility or continuous miscarriage.  It’s the pain of no longer feeling your husband or wife is your partner in life.  It’s the pain of loneliness, disappointment and loss.  It’s these daily tragedies which make up most of the hard times we face – the big tragedies are, hopefully, few and far between, but the little ones are always around the corner.

I’ve been thinking about all this because I’ve been going through some of these daily tragedies recently and have realised that our society encourages us to keep them to ourselves.  It’s weird, we are a talk talk talk society – one which is seemingly obsessed with watching the lives of other people through reality tv and seeing every moment of our friends weekend on Facebook.  But think about the last daily tragedy you faced – the last time you felt real sadness, hurt, or grief about something, how ever small.  Who did you tell?  For so many of us the answer is no one.   “I’m fine, how are you?” is our New Zealand standard answer to the question of how we are.  How we are, indeed, seems to have little to do with it.

I don’t know why this is.  But I don’t think it is how it should be.  In 1 Peter, chapter 3, Peter tells us that as Christians we should;

“… be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” (verse 8).

When we aren’t honest with each other – our friends, our family, our church – we rob each other of the opportunity to put into practice these words.  But honesty requires bravery.  And bravery risk.

So today I’m going to be brave.  I’m going to be open to a little risk.  I’m going to choose a friend who I trust to be honest with and I’m going to think carefully about how to answer their question of ‘how are you?’  Maybe today you might want to be honest and brave and open to a little risk to.  Today, maybe you could, with me, allow someone to fulfill the words of the old hymn –

“Brother, sister, let me serve you,
 let me be as Christ to you;
 pray that I may have the grace to
 let you be my servant too.

 We are pilgrims on a journey,
 and companions on the road;
 we are here to help each other
 walk the mile and bear the load.

 I will hold the Christ-light for you
 in the night-time of your fear;
 I will hold my hand out to you,
 speak the peace you long to hear.

 I will weep when you are weeping;
 when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
 I will share your joy and sorrow
 till we’ve seen this journey through.”