If I had my life to live over,
I’d try to make more mistakes next time.
I would relax. I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have on this trip.
I would be crazier. I would be less hygienic.
I would take more chances, I would take more trips.
I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers,
and watch more sunsets.
I would burn more gasoline. I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I am one of those people who lives
prophylactically and sensibly and sanely,
hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I have had my moments
And if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.
Just moments,one after another.
Instead of living so many years ahead each day.
I have been one of those people who never go anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a gargle, a
raincoat, and a parachute.
If I had to do it over again, I would go places and do things.
I’d travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted
earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.
I would play hooky more. I wouldn’t make such good grades
except by accident.
I would ride on merry-go-rounds.
I’d pick more daisies.
Nadine Stair, age 85
I skipped church last Sunday morning and went for a wander instead.
I read more of a book i’ve been reading, I thought and prayed, for a good while I simply sat there, not thinking, not waiting for anything particular, simply being, and losing track of time.
I believe prayer is everything, I need no convincing, but its tragic how easily I can get develop a bored and lazy attitude towards it, being subtly persuaded to believe that for the most part we can get by alright without it. Foolishness. A few paragraphs I read that morning (p71) brought back some perspective:
The feature that is supposed to distinguish Christian churches, Christian people, and Christian gatherings is the aroma of prayer. It doesn’t matter what your tradition or my tradition is. The house is not ours anyway; it is the Father’s.
Does the Bible ever say anywhere from Genesis to Revelation, “My house shall be a house of preaching”?
Does it ever say, “My house shall be called a house of music”?
Of course not.
The Bible does say, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Preaching, music, the reading of the Word – these things are fine; I believe and practice all of them. But they must never override prayer as the defining mark of God’s dwelling. The honest truth is that I have seen God do more in people’s lives during ten minutes of real prayer than on ten of my sermons.
Faithful Father, forgive me for my pride and the foolishness of my self-sufficient and independent spirit. Cure my blindness, open my eyes, convict me of my sin and of my need for you. I’m sorry I forget so easily Lord, teach me to fear you.
A few months ago my pastor recently asked a group of us to come up our “5 rules for life”. Some people liked the exercise, others didn’t, some found it easy, others more difficult. Personally I enjoyed it and found it really got me thinking. 5 wasn’t enough but I managed to keep it down to 7. Naturally everyones were different, for me they ended up focussing on my particular weaknesses. Anyways, the 7 I settled on were:
1. Always pray, always praise
These are non-negotiable essentials for me. I need connection to God. Sin is inherently self-focussed but praising draws me out of myself and lifts my eyes, to behold something much bigger, far more glorious and beautiful. I was created to praise, I guess it makes sense to make a point of doing what I was designed for. Its not all about me – helps keeps things in perspective.
2. Just do the right thing (especially when it hurts)
One of the most God-glorifying opportunities I have. This is where the rubber hits the road and the world around us sees our faith for what it really is. For me when its hard to do the right thing, its all the more important that I do it.
3. If God speaks, believe and obey – don’t get stuck on the why
I like to feel in control. God offers me wisdom, insight and instruction for every circumstance. The question is do I trust in his wisdom and love for me enough simply to obey without my needing to fully understand why? Do I believe that he truely knows best… enough to let go? Always a challenge.
4. Never base a decision on fear. If in doubt, do it
I am a recovering coward who desires to love better. 1 John 4 paints a clear picture that fear and love cannot exist together. Subconsciously fear paralyzes me given the opportunity and so i’m always striving to recognise how the devil would use it against me to hold me back. It requires me to be brutally honest with myself and my motivations, knowing I exercise courage in the face of fear, not in the denial of it. My perogative is inaction over over-action hence the “if in doubt do it”.
5. Destroy idols ruthlessly, show no mercy
Idols are awful things, promising satisfaction and fulfillment outside of God. Our hearts covet many many things. In Psalm 86 the psalmist prays for an “undivided heart”. I ask for the same. But as God faithfully reveals to me the idols I worship (and they get everywhere!), I must fight against them, fighting always to de-throne myself and to allow God sovereign reign over my heart.
6. Why not me
I can often find myself thinking stuff like “Why should I have to do that?”, “Why me God?”. In sin my heart demands its rights relative to others. However, if I instead turn it round and ask myself “Why not me?”, “Why shouldn’t I do it…” I can have no complaint given what Jesus teaches about serving. I can never serve enough. Another bad tendency I have it to quickly disqualify myself and deny my gifts and abilities. My pastor suggested I should take “why not me” as a reminder not to.
7. Don’t worry, you’re not here forever
This is one of my greatest comforts. Don’t get me wrong, I love life but I groan with creation in longing for perfection. Heaven is up ahead and so even when life can appear to really suck, I can lift my gaze to the horizon I can joyfully slog it out while I wait. Its my inheritance and where my hope ultimately lies. Nothing else will last. Ultimately, its all good! :)
If i’m stressed or tense I find drawing helps me chill out.
Often its a case of just needing something else to focus on, something very different. I was away on holiday a few weeks ago, it all got a bit much, I got grumpy, and so instead of continuing to take it out on my wonderful family and stewing in self-pity I started colouring! 30 minutes later I was the epitome of peace and tranquility once more :). Yeah it is a bit weird but i’ve the ability to be a complete muppet sometimes – and its better for the planet that I coax myself out of it ASAP!
My career has taken off. I papped a premiership footballer in Manchester Airport last Sunday as he watched the Wimbledon final in Terminal 3. Seizing the opportunity I whipped out the trusty but seriously crud 1.3 megapixel camera embedded within my phone and took these beauts. I don’t think anyone actually reads this thing but in the off-chance you do and want to have a stab at who it is i’ll give you a bit of time to have some guesses. Some larger images:
Just back from a civilised stag weekend. We stayed in Rockliffe nearish Dumfries. Highlights included Holland destroying France (particularly the goals from Robben and Sneijder), a walk which included cheese sandwiches on the top of a very big hill, beautiful surroundings, silly cricket and a seriously awesome pub eating and drinking session by the sea as the sun disappeared on the Saturday night. The weather was gorgeous.
It was brilliant, there was no humiliation, just a uber relaxing but fun weekend in good company. Call me old and dull, but given the choice, were I ever have to my own such “celebration” i’d definitely go for something similar… it was just so good, but knowing my wonderful friends as I do, I think it unlikely that i’d get away with it. Silly traditions. Civilized, chilled, pleasant… underrated.
Here’s where we were (Rockliffe nearish Dumfries)
Grandpa has gone. On up ahead and claimed his crown of righteousness. The service at the crematorium was beautiful, grandma read Psalm 16 and I got through Psalm 23. There were tears as we remembered someone we were very fond of, but for me an overriding sense of joy, knowing grace had carried him home and the faithfulness of a God in whose arms he now rests, alive and at peace.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite passages, from Psalm 103 verses 13-18. I love being reminded of our being mortal, our finiteness, our being dust. It somehow just seems right and makes God all the greater.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children-
with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
At the moment i’ve all four of my grandparents still living. Very soon there’ll be one less. Grandpa is dying. He was diagnosed with cancer about 6 weeks ago and given 4-6 weeks. I’ve been back quite a few times over the last month or so to say goodbye, but this time was almost certainly the last.
Even sitting is now weary and a quarter cup of tea has become too heavy to hold, his weariness is acute. Inspite of the separation which we will grieve, it is beautiful, Grandpa is dying well. God has been so merciful and gentle. He is at peace and in very little pain. Death holds no fear leaving him and Grandma are able to enjoy his final days.
He will soon be free, free from physical blindness, free from his mind which has become increasingly prone to forgetfulness, free from the weariness. With heaven awaiting this is not a moment to despair nor dread. After 27 years in the dark, what a moment it will be, when his gaze meets his Maker’s beaming smile as he’s welcomed by name into the eternal Kingdom.
I am the fruit of his faithfulness to the Lord and I thank God for Him. He has run his race boldy and is finishing well. His life is worthy of celebrating. My earnest prayer is that God provide me the grace to do the same.
I know death seems to carry a striking poignancy regardless of how prepared one is. I wonder how i’ll feel afterwards.
A few months ago:
With Zander, while he could still walk:
The last day that I saw him:
This morning I felt seriously very crap and didn’t want to go to work. Next weeks small group discussion is spiritual warfare, if this is meant to be prep, fair enough but it sucks.
I lied yesterday, I spoke too much (Proverbs 10:19), I gossiped, I interrupted, I was proud, I was rude, I made jokes at others expense, not to mention the assortment of sinful hideousness which ran riot through my mind. A fairly typical day. It may not have been obvious to others, but was to me.
The condemnation is incessant, so intense. The devil has my head in his jaws and is thrashing me around like a rag doll, resistance seems pointless, he is right after all, i messed up, i always mess up. His knowledge of me is bettered only by God. He knows my insecurities, my vulnerabilities and weaknesses and tailors his assault accordingly. There are no laws in this conflict, he doesn’t play clean. His tactics are designed for maximum effect. He has no sympathy for my feelings and will show no mercy. His obsession is to extinguish the name and glory of God and he’ll start by looking to tear down and nullify the likeness of Jesus being built into my life through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.
He attacks the essence of who I am, the creature Gods crafted, my God-given personality and God-given gifts, everything. Doubting my usefulness to everyone, it makes me want to hide. I look at myself and am rightfully ashamed.
Sinning goes against everything that I desire to be as a man of God, fact, and it hurts. However, on closer inspection, this isn’t the thing that hurts the most. Sadly, what hurts more is the prospect of my sin being exposed, and for those around me to see my true fallen state and foolishness. Somethings wrong with that and once again misplaced shame exposes an idol, one that goes way back, my fearing of man over God and elevating reputation for my own glorification.
ok, so the devil threw the most punches in round 1. He condemned me, floored me, starved me of hope and for a time succeeded in keeping my eyes focussed on my sin. However with some truth brought alive by the Holy Spirit we’re about to kick his ass!