The end has come!
Or is it the beginning?
The end has come!
God is with me where ever I go.
For the last 68 days I have been sharing my ponderings as the Olympic Torch has toured the UK and visited Ireland. The proximity of the torch to the majority of the population inspired me in its example of the close proximity of the presence of God in our lives.
Just before 1pm today the BBC Torch Relay website posted that hundreds of red balloons had been let off, just before the torch team stopped for a lunch break.
Much as I have tried to find a picture of this, I have found nothing. Sorry. But it didn't stop me from looking, and started me singing a 1983 song by Nena called "99 Red Balloons". If you don't know it, don't look it up. It will plague you! You have been warned.
I took my kids to the park today. Lots of kids roaming around in the hot sunny weather. Some boys came along and sheltered in the shade of one of the play apparatus. One boy had been talking to my son as they played on a flying fox type piece of equipment.
Carbohydrate and "special blessings".
I am resisting the ponder about the Olympic Torch route and day 66, and end up with some linked thoughts about the famous US Route 66. But there it is, I've mentioned it anyway!
Yesterday I pondered about the lessons youth can teach us older ones. This time I ponder over a football game I was involved today. Under 35's v over 35's. Yes I was in the second group! With youthful athleticism on their side, us older ones still managed to beat them 3:2! But given the way I feel, I bet I know who is more likely to have been nursing aching muscles; the older ones!
This evening my 11 year old son talked me through the moves to complete the Rubik's cube. I have never done this before. And it took my well practised son to help me do this for the first time. Thank you, Luke...
On the day a teenager tried to grab the Olympic Torch in Gravesend, Kent, the Olympic Torch/Flame ended the day with a dramatic arrival at the Tower of London. Carried by a Royal Marine abseiling from a helicopter, the Torch joined all the medals in the safety of the Towers vaults. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18930410)
Have you ever read a verse or more in the Bible and thought, "Wow! I never read that before", but on closer inspection you realise you must have, because you had already underlined it? Well I did that this morning!
I have been reading around John 5 for a while. There is so much in these verses, so much that relates to other things, and I have had days of distracted reading. My revelation was with verse thirty-nine.
John 5:39 (NLT)
“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!"
Jesus was talking to the Jewish leaders after He had healed the man at Bethesda who had been an invalid for 38 years. The Jewish leaders were being meticulously pedantic over the application of an interpretation of working on the Sabbath. This man should not be carrying his mat on the Sabbath!
Jesus scolded them with a lesson on how we should read the Scriptures. Jesus said they read the Scriptures in order to gain eternal life. But in reading, they had totally missed the references to the coming Messiah, Jesus.
In fact it gets worse. Jesus said they read the Scriptures wrong because they didn't have a love for God in their hearts. That's brutal exposure!
So how do we read the Bible? Isn't it by reading that we gain eternal life?
In Acts the Bereans read the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). Paul and Silas went to Berea and were preaching about Jesus being the promised Messiah. The Bereans didn't take the preachers word as "gospel"! They checked themselves, to see that everything was true. A worthwhile activity for us all. Never believe what a preacher says without checking for yourself.
So how do you read the Scriptures? If by reading the Bible we can gain eternal life, what need is there of Jesus, or our search for the presence of God?
Reading the Scriptures is pointless unless we have the love of God in our hearts. It is by grazing on the Scriptures with a desire for God that we gain benefit. Otherwise, we read and simply gain knowledge. Read the Bible because you are in love with God.
-Pr Nathan Stickland
The Olympic Torch made its way into Kent today, finishing up in Dover. And I went to Kent today too. We had an outing to Diggerland with our extended family.
Amidst the busyness of work it was good to steal back some time with my family. While it was breezy, quite blowy actually, and cloud cover was 100%, the rain only came as a drizzle while we were indoors for lunch, and as a tropical storm as we were making sure the right children were in the right vehicles on departure. Praise God!
I am a miserable person to be with in a crowded leisure park, but today I was smiling like a groom. At the height of the busy time there was only 100 or so people there, and one of the park staff said within a week they will have 1000+ visitors, with queues of an hour for some of the rides/tasks. Not a place for me then!
But today, we waited for the three or four people in front of us to take their turn, and then we were on. A day when my 8 year old daughter hooked plastic ducks out of a pond with a mini-digger using a chain and ring on the end of the arm. My son drove a 7.5 tonne, £52k JCB digger (brand new registered this year!) around the muddy and undulating digger track. And I screamed like a primary school girl as I sat with my nieces and daughter in the bucket of a giant digger as it spun round at high speed, at incrementally higher levels during the ride.
One of the rides/tasks, was to use a mini-digger to pan for gold. Well actually, you use a rake-like bucket on the digger to sift through the wet gravel, looking for the metal bricks; four in all. You scoop them up, and then place them to the side. With controls in both hands, to operate up and down, forward and backwards, and roll the rake/bucket away and towards, it takes some getting used to if you haven't used this machinery before.
Patience and method help you find the bricks. Concentration helps you do the task.
This reminded me of the sequence of stories, illustrations, Jesus told recorded in Matthew 6 & 7; storing up treasure (6:19-24), not worrying about worldly possessions (6:25-34), and asking, seeking, and knocking (7:7-12). And I am reminded of the story, well sentence actually, of a merchant who sold everything to buy a field that he knew had treasure in it (Matthew 13:44).
To summarise and apply these verse to my experience today, Jesus said, concentrating on your motivation for material possessions is a distraction, but equally you don't need to worry about what you have, or don't have, if you are making the search for God's kingdom your first priority. That when you make it imperative to ask of God, seek for God, and knock on God's door (call around at God's house, metaphorically speaking), you will be given what you are looking for because God welcomes you with an open door policy.
The imperative is that if a relationship with God is that valuable, we will give everything to maintain the ownership of that relationship, that nothing else will matter.
Digging for metal bricks in gravel is hardly a religious activity, but it can help emphasis the above mentioned invitation from Jesus. If we want the bricks, the valuable relationship with God, we have to spend time and concentration, and use our senses to gain what we value.
So next time you see a digger, ask yourself, "What am I digging for? Where is my treasure?"
-Pr Nathan Stickland