This summer, before going on holiday, I did what so many people do, looked at reviews of the place we are staying at online. More often than not it is really helpful. However, it is very easy to read reviews that give a false report which are not accurate and make a decision based on a bad review.
In our English culture, death is something we traditionally don’t talk about. There are times when we really have to, however, what we tend to do is rely on euphemisms from the more comic: “popped his clogs” to the solemn: “didn’t make it” or “no longer with us”. If we have the opportunity to ignore it or bypass it in conversation though, most will try our utmost to do so.
I’ve paused while preparing the last of a series of bible studies in the book of Job to reflect on the resurrection and Job himself. He endured much suffering, the loss of family, fortune and his health. Job’s problems were compounded by three friends who insisted that he must be suffering because he sinned.
When we experience something for the first time it makes a big impression. The first time we heard a piece of music, the first time we visited a place, the first time we met someone. There is a freshness about new experiences and with it is a first flush of enthusiasm and excitement.
Oswald Chambers wrote, "Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work". Over the last year I have found this to be true I have found myself treasuring all the more my time in private speaking to my Heavenly Father. Whilst I have seen God's grace in many answered prayers I have found the communion with God in prayer as precious as the answers.
I wonder when was the last time you witnessed or experienced something which you knew had changed your life forever?
We are currently preaching our way through Exodus, the story of Moses being "called out [of Egypt] to be called in [to God’s presence]". As a leadership, our reason for this was: as we thought and prayed about our next sermon series for Sunday mornings, we became convinced that what we didn't need was more head knowledge, more theology, more things to do… (as helpful/unhelpful some of those are at times). We need God's Presence.
I wonder if there is someone you simply enjoy being around because their very presence just makes things better, happier or more peaceful.
For my daughter, her favourite soft toy is a small rabbit – blanket type thing we call Bunny (highly inventive I know). When she has Bunny she is calmer, more content, in fact, on some nights without Bunny (in the wash) she won’t sleep as well. Bunny clearly has a powerful presence.
There is nothing quite like a good cup of tea. When travelling abroad I’ve started to take Yorkshire tea bags with me. Even in India the tea wasn’t the same as back home. There is something comforting and welcoming about a good cuppa. So much so that when people visit our home, often we ask if they would like a cup of tea. However, what we are offering is not simply the finest Yorkshire tea made with the best Yorkshire water, we are showing we value someone by giving them refreshment and time to chat over a cuppa. Our 'cuppa tea' culture reveals a value.
As a nation there is a lot of uncertainty in the air – the Brexit negotiations are making people nervous, the outcome of the elections have left the government without a clear majority, people are nervous and uncertain about the future.