Is Peace Possible?

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I am sure I am not the only one who feels a little nervous when Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un makes an appearance on the news.  Their posturing for position and “greatness” is incredibly disturbing and, I believe, totally at odds with what makes a truly good leader.

In their hands lays immense physical power and the ability to destroy the world.  A truly sobering thought.

However, I was reflecting, is this really any different to situations the world has faced in the past?  Some of my readers may remember the Cold War when Nato countries and the countries of the Warsaw Pact engaged in an Arms Race.  Slightly more senior ones may remember the situation between Krushchev and Kennedy which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Those of you who enjoy your history, could probably trace things even further back!

I think, what makes the current world situation more disturbing, is the apparent “self-belief” that both of the parties have and their ego’s – that’s my opinion, seeing their characters on news broadcasts, not based on personal knowledge!

The sight of the poppy sellers recently, made me ask the question, “is peace really possible in our world?”  In his book Love against hate Karl Menninger says;

The world war of today is a reflection of the multiple wars in the hearts of individuals

I believe he is right. 

If, in my heart, there is conflict and unrest that will be reflected in the way that I live my life.  The way I live my life has an effect on those around me and that can be either to their benefit or, their ill.  Jesus once said;

You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.

(Luke 6 vs. 43 – 45 The Message)

So what I must do, is ensure that what is in my heart and therefore seen in my life is right.  The only way to do that, is to come before God and honestly seek Him and ask Him to renew us from the inside out.  I have been praying with the Psalmist;

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.           (Psalm 139 vs. 23 – 24 NRSV)

I believe that if we do that, there is the beginning of our journey on the pathway of peace. 

On the day I got married, a very wise friend shared with my wife and I a piece of poetical wisdom, I don’t know where it came from but, I often read and reflect on it and it says;

If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character

Beauty in two character brings harmony in the home.

Harmony in each home sees stability in the community and stable communities together, build order in the nation.

When we have order in each nation, then there will be peace in the world.

Afraid of the dark?

Ghost

It cannot have escaped your notice but, halloween is soon to be upon us.  It seems you cannot enter a shop without being encouraged to buy costumes, sweets, scary signs and all other ‘essential’ supplies to celebrate this ‘festival’.

I am sure that I am not alone in finding this celebration a little disturbing.

I want to be careful not to sound like a grumpy old man, or just have a rant about the way the marketing people are using this to sell all manner of rubbish we don’t need!  I sympathise with those parents who are trying to explain that they are unhappy with halloween, whilst their child sees their friends taking part.  For our cousins across the pond (America), halloween has been a big deal for a long time.  Sadly, however, this seems to be catching up in Britain.  In my younger days (no, Victoria was not still on the throne!), halloween wasn’t really mentioned and trick or treating was unheard of.

So, why do I feel the way I do about halloween?

I really enjoyed my time in the West Midlands and, as our time there came to a close, our family went on an outing to the Black Country Living Museum.  As part of the trip we went down a drift mine.  I will never forget the experience.  At one point, our guide turned out the all the lights.  I have never experienced darkness like it before.  The darkness felt oppressive, and all encompassing.  It was frightening because it was so disorientating. 

Our world can be a pretty dark place at times and whilst we don’t want our children to be ignorant of the real darkness out there, do we really want them to feel disorientated, oppressed or overwhelmed by it?

Just as I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the darkness in the mine, our guide did something interesting.  He switched on a small light which, he explained, had the power of 1 candle.  He explained that the miners would work with a single candle so, he wanted us to see what 1 candle power was like.  The funny thing was, the darkness wasn’t so dark anymore.  John, in his gospel says,

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1 vs. 5 – NRSV)

With just 1 candle light in the depth of the mine, the darkness wasn’t so powerful it had been overcome.  Rather than celebrating the darkness, I think we should celebrate the light!  Jesus described Himself as the light of the world and that, if we follow Him, we will not walk in the darkness but, have the light of life (see John 8 vs. 12).

One final thought. 

To me, halloween seems to focus on death, decay, evil and revels in it.  Again, we cannot be in ignorance that these things are in the world but, again, halloween sweeps aside the hope that we can find in Christ.  I love these words from the Apostle Paul;

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.                                     (Philippians 4 vs. 8 – The Message)

 Now, that is something worth celebrating! 

Light-Shines

 

 

 

 

X-Faxtor Strictly On Ice Bake Off Get me Out Of Here!

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I want to share something with you that I have been mulling over for a little while.  A few years ago, I put my foot down with a very firm hand and took the decisive step of banning certain TV programs in our house.

No X Factor, no Strictly, no Great British Bake Off or other such TV program will be watched!  I have a sneaking suspicion that there are times when my rules are broken by, less compliant members of my family.  But, as far as I am concerned, they are banned – apart from The Apprentice that is, I cannot help but watch that!

I have always been a bit suspicious of this format of show.  I think that certain things are “played out” for the benefit of the camera.  But, that is not my main reason for banning them.

My main reason is, I hate rejection.  I always feel really broken by those that are sent off the show.  Whether it is in the, so called, “early stages” where somebody has fooled themselves into thinking they are capable of something they are not.  Or, in the “later stages”‘where somebody has invested so much time and effort into the competition and the judges decide they are not good enough.

I find myself wondering what becomes of those who are rejected in this process?

Rejection is, of course, part of life.  We all face rejection in one form or another at some stage.  Rejection can break us and stop us from trying certain things.  Rejection can also make us, can make us determined to prove somebody wrong. I suppose the way we handle rejection says something about our character, our self belief and our inner strength.

But, sometimes the rejection we feel, can run very deep.  Can live with us.  Rejection even has the power to shape us and set the course of the life we live.  Rejection by someone we care about, love or, whose opinion matters a lot to us, can be crushing.

I also thought about those who do the rejecting.  I wonder how they feel about themselves?  I know when I have rejected another, I find my conscience really does not feel easy within me!  There have been times when I have laid awake at night worrying about the person I have turned away.

I have always been fascinated by the relationship between God and the people of Israel  through the Bible stories.  It seems to me, that the people are continually rejecting God, rejecting His values and laws and God does everything to bring them back.  Even at the lowest points of their history, God seeks to bring them back.

As I was thinking about this, I found myself thinking “am I really any different from the people of Israel?”  There are times when I reject Gods values, God’s laws even God Himself and yet, somehow, God keeps calling me back to Him.  There have also been those times when I have felt so troubled by my distance from God, that I have longed to get my relationship back on track with Him.

I ended up thinking of some words of Jesus

However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them (John 6 vs. 37 NLT)

I don’t know how things are with you, at the moment but, God does.  To Him it doesn’t matter if you are in a good place or bad place, He will never reject you.  Even if you have rejected Him, He will not reject you.

Half full or half empty?

half and half

So, are you a half full or, a half empty person?

You know what I mean by that?  An optimistic person can be described as a glass half full, and a pessimistic person can be described as having their glass half empty.  I have met both kinds of people as I am sure you have too.  

I have been reflecting, recently, on what kind of person I am and I have come to the conclusion I am bit half and half!  By that I mean there are times when my glass is half empty and there are times when it’s half full.

I suppose my outlook on life gets affected by circumstances (both good and bad) by if I had a good nights sleep, by how Leicester Tigers are doing in the Rugby or by items on the news.

If truth be known, I suppose we all a bit “half and half”

This morning, I read some words that the Apostle Paul wrote;

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!                                (Philippians 4 vs. 4)

What interested me in these words came from the knowledge that Paul wrote these words from prison.  He wrote at a time when false teachers were attacking the Church.  He was beset by personal problems and troubles.  Yet, he talks about “rejoicing in the Lord”.  I suppose I have always read these from the perspective that, he had such a faith that it lifted his heart and mind above his troubles.  As I have thought about this, I have come to the conclusion, I was wrong.

Paul is a realist, his writings reflect that so, I cannot accept that this is a “glass half full” “hallelujah anyway” statement.  I think these words area reflection on Paul’s confidence in God;

Rejoice in the LORD

This is about where Paul’s focus is.  If we focus on our circumstances (both good and bad), if we had a good nights sleep, or by how Leicester Tigers are doing in the Rugby or by items on the news then we will inevitably be a half and half person.

I think Paul had his focus on God and on what God was doing in the here and now.  Because he was looking for what God was doing, he saw God at work in spite of circumstances, good nights sleep etc.

Sometimes, I need to check my focus and determine that I look to God in the here and now and look at what He is doing, then I will something to rejoice in.  Let me finish with some words from CS Lewis;

 

CS Lewis