Thursday, 27 October 2011

Doing the right thing, the easy thing or nothing

Fork In The Road - Walnut Creek, California
(via PatrickSmithPhotography)
In our lives we come up against many forks in the road. These present us with choices, most of our choices don't make a great deal of difference. What we choose to wear each day for most of us will have little effect on the grand destiny of our lives, as much as the fashion police would beg to differ! Occasionally we have choices which clearly change our paths, as the saying goes, "nothing will be the same again".

Often these choices are between doing the right thing, as we see it, or doing the easy thing - follow the line of least resistance to pass by on the other side.

Doing the right thing can often be painful and costly, it makes us unpopular perhaps and yet along with all these negatives comes a peace in our soul.

The easy path avoids the immediate pain yet doesn't it just push the issue into the future?

Of course there is another way, one I often follow - do nothing. Don't choose, in fact ignore that the choice is there and in time the momentum of life will push you past that fork in the road and it will soon fade into the past. But the major choices in our lives come back again and again and these choices usually get harder, more difficult and more painful.

I believe that almost everyone of us is approaching a major fork in the road. If you are I pray you have the clarity and strength to do the right thing and that God will sustain you through and on that path as you walk it.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Win-win-come third

This blog 'finger in all the pies' was a finalist in the newcomers blog category. The awards ceremony at the Christian New Media Awards was last Friday night and sadly I wasn't there, I was told a few days before that I hadn't made the top two, so like the other three blogs which were finalists I am joint third!

However as I reflect on this nomination I feel I have already won in two ways.

Firstly, and most importantly I have won for me. What I mean is I have started out doing something (writing this blog) and have not only stuck at it but I am getting joy out of the exercise of writing and I know that it has challenged and stretched me.

Secondly, to have someone who doesn't know me look at my writings and think they are worthy of being put forward for an award is something that has given me a real boost. It has been like a divine yes to what I am about.

I guess my reaction to this praise shows how.much of me is really shared within this blog - as the saying goes, "love me, love my blog".

I wonder if you were to reflect on your life, is there something that you do or are connected to that is so much a part of you that you would say, "love me, love my ..."

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Six Things - Melanie Crane

Melanie Crane enjoys all the simple pleasures in life such as eating out, watching movies, taking long baths, visiting zoos, going to the beach, singing, reading, baking, and much more. Part of the dynamic duo that is Stuart & Melanie Crane, she lives in Birmingham along with their cute little son Levi.
Having worked for Clarks & the Church she knows all about souls - leather, man-made or god-made! She moved from Bishop's Stortford with her family and a bunch of other wonderful folk to starReal Life Church.
Oh and today is her birthday, Happy Birthday Melanie.

One thing that's always worth getting out of bed for
His name is Levi Matthew Crane and he is our 20 month old son. In the mornings he calls out: Mummy come and some mornings I am so tired but there is something in me that just can't wait to get his warm scruffy haired cuddle. The cuddle is usually followed by a strong demand for milk so the moment is over pretty quickly but totally worth getting out of bed for!

One thing about yourself that often obstructs you
Just one thing! Let me think... I think out loud which sometimes means that what comes out of my mouth first is total rubbish and merely mussing but everyone gets to hear it and react to it.

One thing I've learned the hard way
Forgiveness really does set you free.

One thing that gets under my skin
Again just one thing! Being ignored in a shop by people who are paid to look out for me and look after me and ultimately take my money to pay their wages. Rant over!

One thing I'd love to change
One thing about myself - Processing everything out loud. One thing about the world around me - injustice. That some get to eat and some starve. I hate that.

One thing I hope for
That both my gorgeous children (Melanie is pregnant - Ed) will grow up knowing they are loved by the God who made them and that this knowledge will totally transform their lives.

Six Things is a series of micro-interviews with interesting and creative people
in which they’re asked to respond to a standard set of six prompts.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Daily Audio Bible - my solution (this year) to reading the bible!

Unless you're a book person, one of those natural readers who just automatically defaults to reading - which I am certainly not - then regular reading can be a struggle to get into and easy to fall out of. That is certainly true of me especially when it comes to regular reading of the Bible. I want to do it but I'm definitely not the best reader. I'm very much an erratic compulsive reader. Whether it's the Bible, newspapers, books, even reading blogs and the like on the internet, I usually go through phases where I get gripped and focused on reading for a while. After a few weeks I often find my attention and therefore time and space has moved onto something else and coming back to reading is difficult.

Then around the end of May I came across the Daily Audio Bible podcast. The Daily Audio Bible is at it's core the simple reading of the bible from cover to cover over the course of the year.

So I thought I would give it a go and it has worked really well for me. I have set my phone podcasting app to pick up the download around 6am and so when I wake it up it is usually downloaded and I can listen to it over breakfast or even in the shower (I leave it on the external speaker on max so I can hear it above the sound of the water!). Sometimes I listen as I ride it work or if I haven't been able to listen during the day I put my headphones in and listen as I lie in bed, no need to have the light on or my glasses to read at night (and occasionally I have fallen asleep to it - but I trust that is what God wanted for me at that time!).

Brian Hardin the founder of the Daily Audio Bible has been doing this over five years and in the course of this time a huge number of people have connected with this ministry. Brian has started a church community in his town (based in a coffee shop he setup) and provides a place for prayer and community off the back of what has developed through the Daily Audio Bible (via the website). What I really like about Brian is that he has stuck at doing the core activity - bringing the bible into peoples lives everyday - whilst slowly adding other aspects to the ministry but each aspect is built in a spirit of community in both the general sense of people all across world have things in common but also very much in a local sense, always encouraging people to engage where they are in a local faith community.

So if you think this could help enhance your reading and love of scripture then why not have a listen - click here for a link to the podcast feed.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Sacred Heart

On holiday in Paris over the summer with my family I visited the Sacre Coeur (The Sacred Heart) Basilica in Montmartre. The building was started in 1875 and on 1st Aug 1885 dedicated as a place where there has been continuous prayer to God day & night.

I'm a Christian and I try to pray and know God calls and asks me to pray. But if I'm honest, regular and consistent prayer is often a struggle. If I pray everyday for a week it's a good week and if I make every day for a month that's great. I struggle to imagine praying every day for a whole year without missing a day. So when I think of over 100 years of continuous prayer, 24/7, it is frankly mind blowing.

The Sacre Coeur is probably a unique place in the world. Most worshipping communities desire to be places and people of prayer and we try a variety of methods, times, groups and places. Reflecting on what has been accomplished by the community at the Sacre Coeur it seems the approach we as individuals and communities need to embrace to become a people of prayer is to simply decide to pray and then pray.