Disconnect to Reconnect

I am, dear reader, old enough to remember what the world was like BMP – Before Mobile Phone!  I can even remember the days before we had a telephone in our house so, if you needed to make a call, you had to find a call box and make sure you had enough 2p pieces with you.  Just for the record, I do not recall the world pre-decimalisation!

Please don’t get me wrong.  I am not anti-technology.  I have a smart phone and a tablet.  I like social media and enjoy being able to keep “in touch” with people.  I am, however, aware that technology can overtake my life and become my focus rather than an aid to my living.

It’s sometimes easier to spot the fault in others.  I have seen the person who is so attached to their mobile that, they are oblivious to all around them.  Whether it’s the person with a child in push chair, ignoring the child whilst the mobile is the focus as they chat to friend about what they watched on TV last night.  The person who is so busy arranging to meet somebody, via their mobile whilst bumping into people around him.  When it comes to people trying to drive and texting at the same time – don’t get me started (prepares to drag out soap box!).  But, before I become self-righteous, and point out the specks of sawdust in their eyes, I need to look at the plank in my own.

I was reading some words of Jesus, this morning, that got me thinking about this;

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.

(John 15 vs. 1)

As I read this passage it spoke to me afresh about the word “connection”.

I think there is a need in all of us to be “connected”.  In fact, I would go as far as to say human beings were made for connection, with each other and with God.  As we get drawn into the virtual world, real connections do not happen.  I no longer speak to those around me when it’s “easier” to send a quick text!

As we become disconnected from each other, I think we are in danger of disconnecting ourselves from God too.  For the branch to produce grapes, it has to be connected to the vine.  Jesus also speaks about the branches that wither and die, I see these as suffering the effects of disconnection.

So, let me get a bit personal here, be honest, do feel connected or disconnected from God at this time?  Wouldn’t it good to talk to God about why you answered as you did?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Distracted?

Sometimes, when I read the Bible, I like to imagine myself within the story.   I ask myself, who am I, what can I see, touch, hear and smell.   I find this really helpful when it is a well-known story and a text that I am tempted to almost “skip over” and so would miss what God may be wanting to say to me.

This morning I was in for a bit of a surprise!

I was faced with a story I had read countless times from Luke’s Gospel chapter 10.  Jesus is invited to stay in the home of Martha and Mary.  Martha does all the work and Mary sits at Jesus feet.  If you want to read it for yourself, you will find it in Luke 10 vs. 38 – 42.

Now, as I said, I have read it countless times before.  I have even imagined myself in it before.  The last time I looked at this passage I was one of Jesus’ followers who was tired from the trek and looking forward to a good meal (I do enjoy my food).

As I pictured the scene in my mind I could see Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and I felt a sudden surge of what I can only describe as resentment.  I realised that (please excuse the clumsy phrasing) I was a Martha when I really wanted to be a Mary!

As I looked through the Bible story, it was one word in verse that spoke to me;

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things

(Luke 10 vs. 41)

I was distracted.

At that moment, I was wanting to give my focus and full attention to God but, in reality, my mind was elsewhere.  I wanted to sit in God’s presence and know of His peace and love surrounding me when, in reality, my mind was distracted by the difficult meeting, the mountain of paperwork, the phone calls I needed to make, getting ready for another meeting, preparing talks, handling e-mails and why is there nobody that can help me?

I was a Martha when I wanted to be a Mary and I am sure I am not the only one who has experienced this.

I cannot ignore my distractions because, they are the very really tasks and challenges of my working day but, I can choose where I allow myself to focus.  Let me try and explain what I mean.  Martha was doing nothing wrong, she was only wanting to be a good host however, her timing was out!  She should have taken the opportunity to join Mary at Jesus feet.  Then, when the time was right, Martha and Mary together would have been able to do what needed to be done.

I shared with Jesus those things that were distracting me.  He wasn’t surprised.  He knew about them anyway.  For a few moments, I was able to park them and become a Mary.  I enjoyed just sitting in His presence knowing He was there with me at that moment and I got to listen to Him.

There are a couple of verses He spoke to me about and, maybe, He wants to remind you of them too;

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

(Matthew 6 vs. 33 – 34 The Message) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Book Forward!

As a small child I was sent to Sunday School where we used to sing the chorus

The best book to read is the Bible

The best book to read is the Bible

If you read it every day,

It will help you on your way

Oh the best book to read is the Bible

Through Sunday School I learnt the stories of Jesus and encountered some of the heroes of the Old Testament, like David the little boy who killed the big giant.

As I grew into adulthood and discovered faith, my reading changed.  I was privileged, through the churches I attended, to hear some wonderful preaching from people that helped to grow a real love of scripture in me. 

I was taught the value of a “daily quiet time”.  Read a portion of the Bible alongside some notes and spend some time in prayer.  It was a great discipline and one that I would not knock.  There have been times when this has been profoundly helpful and equally, times when I have struggled with it.  I still try (with varying degrees of success) and do this as part of my own daily pattern.

When I went into ministry, my focus in reading the Bible changed.  The Bible seemed to become a “tool of the trade”.  I found that each time I read a passage I saw it as a potential sermon.  I would, for example, look at my quiet time passage and start trying to find “three points” to preach from.  I found it really hard to just read scripture just for the sheer joy of encountering God through His word.  To combat this urge within, I used two Bibles.  One was “exclusively” for sermon preparation and one was “exclusively” for my personal time with God!

I have been reflecting on this struggle for some time now and I have found that my relationship with the Bible is changing again.  I have tried a few times to put into words what is happening and nothing that I wrote seemed to make sense – even to me.  Yesterday, I read this from Henri Nouwen that seems to capture where I am with the Bible at the moment;

 

“To take the holy scriptures and read them is the first thing we have to do to open ourselves to God’s call. … The word of God should lead us first of all to contemplation and meditation. Instead of taking the words apart, we should bring them together in our innermost being; instead of wondering if we agree or disagree, we should wonder which words are directly spoken to us and connect directly with our most personal story. Instead of thinking about the words as potential subjects for an interesting dialogue or prayer, we should be willing to let them penetrate into the most hidden corners of our heart, even to those places where no other word has yet found entrance.”

—Henri J.M. Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life

 

The writer to the Hebrews says this;

 

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

(Hebrews 4 vs. 12)

If I want the living word of God to impact my life, speak into my situations guide me and grow me I have to be willing to let the Bible speak for itself and allow it’s words to penetrate, as Henri Nouwen says, to those places where no other word has yet found entrance.

I wonder, how do you allow God’s word to speak to you?