updating

The Bible has been updated. It’s true. It happened this morning. I had a message on my phone that said, “Successfully updated ‘Bible'”. I am not sure what updates they have made, but it will be interesting finding out. Perhaps they have taken out the gory bits or the sexy bits or the difficult bits.

Or perhaps, as seems more likely, it was simply my phone alerting me to the fact that the Bible app I have installed on my phone has been updated – to fix a bug, for example. In fact this morning it was one of four apps that were updated.

Yesterday afternoon I had a frustrating time with my emails. I have two accounts – a personal one and a work one. The work one kept working (appropriately) but the personal one decided all of a sudden to become impersonal. It stopped receiving emails and kept asking me to enter the password as if I was entering the incorrect password, even though I knew that it was correct – after all “password” is not too difficult to remember is it?* I was getting frustrated by this and restarted the program several times to no avail.

In the end I decided to try a trick that I learnt from an amazing computer support man I knew. I turned the whole machine off and on again. As I was doing this I noticed that it wanted to install some updates. So I told it that I was happy for it to do that and guess what? When it restarted after installing the updates the email program worked fine for both the work and personal accounts.

Embed from Getty Images

Because technology is so integral to our lives nowadays, so too are updates. Bugs need to be fixed, potential security weaknesses need to be strengthened, incompatibilities with other programs need to be resolved, and (just occasionally) an update enhances the capability and look of the program or app. Sometimes these updates happen behind the scenes, without us noticing. Sometimes they need to be authorised by us, or we need to restart the machine to make the update effective. I wonder how many years of our lives are lost while we are waiting for technology to update itself?

To update a Biblical description of what the Holy Spirit does, he is constantly applying updates to the lives of people who have given him permission to do so (generally known as ‘Christians’). A lot of the time we are not aware of the updates happening because they are small, gentle enhancements or fixes. But there are other times when the Spirit makes us aware that we need to be updated to fix a significant issue, to help us to resolve a potential security weakness (avoiding temptation) or to help us with our incompatibilities with other people. And sometimes he provides an update that enhances us and our capabilities (spiritual fruit and gifts).

In those cases, when we need to take action ourselves, we are responding to the Spirit’s prompting but the update won’t happen without our involvement because we are not machines or technology to be updated by a software update program but are human beings in a relationship with the Living God. Because he has given us autonomy and free will he will not force us to be updated, but he will recommend it. Do you need to respond to any update messages today?

Be blessed, be a blessing

*I hope you realise that was a joke!

one degree shifts

one degree shiftsLittle things can make a big difference. A freshly made cup of coffee has refreshed me just now, ready to write this bloggage. A kiss goodbye with Sally (Mrs Nukelearfishing) before she went out shopping was a reminder of our love. Words of gratitude and encouragement can bless someone after they have worked hard. A hug from a friend can speak louder than words… You know the sort of thing.

I have been thinking recently about 1 degree shifts. This was inspired by the wonderful people at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. They point out that if you are facing in a particular direction and rotate 1 degree and then walk in that direction the change that you have made is small but the difference after a while becomes significant the further you travel. LICC apply that concept to change in a church, particularly looking at how you change the culture of a church.

But I think it also applies to our lives as individuals in a church, bearing in mind that churches are communities of individual believers. God’s Spirit is constantly at work in us: nudging, prompting, suggesting, encouraging, inspiring, and so on… And even if we only respond to him by making one degree shifts then over time he will have brought about significant change. And if we respond to more and more one degree shifts, then the change will be more significant.

I am in the process of preparing for Sunday morning’s service at our church and this is something of a sneak preview – a bit like the way that politicians trail what they are going to say in a speech so that it is reported that they will say ‘such and such’ later in the day; they say ‘such and such’; and then the fact that they said ‘such and such’ is reported afterwards. The impact of their speech could be tripled by this repetition!

So perhaps if you are coming to our church on Sunday you could prepare yourself for it by asking God’s Spirit what one degree shifts he might be asking you to make. Or ask him to make you ready to make a one degree shift. Or ask him to show you the one degree shifts you have already made and be encouraged…

Be blessed, be a blessing.

work in progress

When I was a little boy I was given lots of toy cars. I loved toy cars. I would lie on my side with a car in my hand, get my face right down low so my eyes were really at ground level, and then spend ages pushing the car around so I could see how realistic it looked. I would line them all up in different orders (colour, size and so on). And when my dad built me a wooden multi-storey car park I was ecstatic. It had a lift that you wound up and down, three levels, ramps between the levels and lots of things you would find on one of the plastic ones you can buy nowadays. I loved it and used it until I wore it out.

I don’t remember all the toy cars I had (although I do remember having a surfeit of tractors – but that’s another story!). But I do remember one in particular. It was a Corgi Whizzwheels Tour de France Manager’s Car. It was the fastest car I had and I thought it was brilliant. I took it to school with me one day because I was proud of it and during lunch time my friends and I took turns in whizzing it across the playground. It had never had such an open space on which to be whizzed and it shot across the playground at record speed. But every so often it would hit a stone or a wall and crash. By the end of the lunch hour its lovely bright red paintwork was badly scuffed, the plastic windows were broken, there were dents in the bodywork and the wheels looked worn out. What I had once cherished was badly damaged and although I was sad about it at the time I don’t remember being too upset. But the car got consigned to the bottom of my car tin and never saw the light of day again – up to the day when it was thrown out because it was so badly damaged.

Somehow I never forgot that car and a year or so ago I remembered it and wondered if I might find one on a popular online auction site. So I went online and searched for it. I was delighted when a few hits came up and when I clicked on them I was presented with pristine versions of my beloved car. I then looked at the prices. The minimum price was £100, and if you wanted one ‘mint in box’ you were looking at £200+. I couldn’t believe it. My first thought was regret: “Why didn’t I keep it in its box?” and then sadness: “I can never afford one of those.”

So I didn’t bid on any of them. But one of the things that popular auction website does is remember when you have searched for something and it keeps offering you similar items. A couple of months ago it offered me a scratched, damaged Corgi Whizzwheels Tour de France Manager’s Car. It was not being bid on so I put in a low bid and waited. I watched and waited. I grew anxious and excited as I watched and waited and the time for the auction drew near. I was still the winning bid with a couple of minutes to go.

The tension was quite palpable.

The timer counted down. And then at the last minute someone else outbid me and I lost the car. I was really disappointed. But I resolved to keep checking to see if similar cars turned up. A month ago another one did. I put in a similar bid to the previous time and tried to be relaxed and nonchalant about it. If I didn’t win I was not going to worry.

The timer ticked down but I didn’t check it.

I waited, not daring to look, and when I checked at the end of the auction I had won! I was thrilled. A few days later the car arrived and I held one in my hands again after all those years. It was a special moment. Then I looked at the damage. The paintwork was scratched. The stickers on it were in pieces. The plastic front bumper was scratched and a bit was missing. The wheels had seen better days. And the aerial on the top was missing. This is the car as it arrived. 

I resolved that I would restore it. I took it under my coat to a car spares shop in town and surreptitiously held it up against the cans of car paint to find the best match for the red paintwork. I looked online and found places that sold replacement stickers and new windscreens. And I started the process of restoring it.

I dismantled the car and took it back to its component pieces. I stripped the paint off and re-sprayed the bodywork. I cleaned up the grubby bits of plastic. I bought some plastic filler and re-built the front bumper. I found some chrome paint and repainted the bumper. I even rebuilt the aerial.

I haven’t finished yet. I still have to finish the wheels, repaint the underside, paint the aerial and put the stickers on it. But it is getting there. Soon it will be finished. I will post a picture of the finished car when I do. I hope the car feels cherished.

The reflection today is probably one you’ve already considered. God is far more passionate about us than I am about my little car. He has paid a priceless price for us in Jesus. And he wants to restore us by the work of his Spirit in us – changing us slowly to become what he created us to be. I hope you feel cherished and special. And we should all realised that God hasn’t finished the restoration process for any of us yet, so let’s be patient with one another.

Be blessed, be a blessing

reliance

There’s an old story of a church where the visiting preacher failed to turn up. The Minister was seriously unprepared but felt that he ought to preach. He stood up…

” Today I will have to rely on the Holy Spirit for my sermon. Next week I hope to do better.”

I think I know what he meant. But I also know that many of us would have to admit that we work like that.

We work in our own strength, rely on our experience and hope for the best. When our resources fail we rely on God.

He’s gracious enough not to let us down. But how different would your life be if you started with the Holy Spirit and he added your skill and experience to what he has in mind?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

soaring

Tig the tiny owl

Tig the tiny owl

Last week we visited a Birds of Prey centre in Devon, The Yarak Centre. We were a bit alarmed that we were the only ones there but when it came to the flying display that turned into a real bonus. Because we were the only ones there the staff brought the display to us. A tiny owl with a big growl, called Tiger (the owl, not the growl) was first. He was so cute, and we all had the chance to have him fly to us (onto the gauntlet we wore). We were also treated to seeing a Harris Hawk very close up, and I was buzzed by a larger owl.

Finally we were treated to a flight by a falcon. The falconer released the falcon and it darted away. It was flying hard and soon gained distance and height. After a minute or so it was hundreds of feet in the air, soaring on thermals to gain height, and it was several miles away. The falconer waved a lure and the bird changed its attitude. Suddenly it started to swoop downwards and gained incredible speed as it brought its wings in close to its body. It hurtled over the fence and landed on the lure. It was very impressive.

I reflected on that today and was reminded of these words in Isaiah 40:

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Like the falcon, eagles use thermals to soar to great heights in order to be able to get a good view of potential prey. It requires no effort on their part as they are lifted by the warm air currents. I think, having seen the falcon, for the first time I have realised that what God was saying through Isaiah is that if we soar on the thermals of his Spirit we do not need to exert ourselves. We do not need to stress and be anxious. We can rise up because he is beneath our wings.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

 

 

wrestlemania

Doesn’t it strike you as odd? In the midst of one of the most profound and exciting theological documents ever written we find an admission of failure by the author.

I am talking about Paul’s letter to the Romans. It is a theological gold mine, with a rich seam of gold sprinkled with priceless jewels of truth about Jesus.

And then we find this:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am!

Photo by ramzi hashisho, used by permission

It’s Romans chapter 7 (NIV). What was it that motivated Paul to write this very personal admission? If you read the preceding verses we see that Paul is talking about our new life in Christ. In that life we are no longer bound by the law (by which he means the codified rules and regulations of the Old Testament and the assorted regulations that had grown up around them) but we live in freedom because of Jesus. Paul is not denigrating the Old Testament law but he recognises that all it could do is bring an awareness that we have fallen short of the standards.

It seems to me that as he was dictating this letter he realised the truth that whilst we have freedom from the effects of sin in Christ and God’s Spirit is at work in us to transform us and make us more and more like Jesus, we are also prone to falling short of God standards (and the law reminds us of that). As a Christian leader, looked up to and perhaps even revered by many people, Paul was perhaps more acutely aware of his own weakness and failure. When people are put on pedestals one of the problems is that they are slightly further out of reach and imperfections and blemishes are less obvious.

Perhaps this is Paul’s attempt at ensuring that people did not put him on a pedestal and an attempt at showing everyone that even Paul struggled with sin in his life. He did not deserve to be put on a pedestal and certainly did not want to be.

If we are honest, especially those of us in Christian leadership, we all have the ability to present a shiny veneer to those around us that suggests we are sorted, close to perfection, super spiritual believers. And if we are really honest we will admit that these verses from Romans 7 resonate with us. All of us are prone to falling short of God standards. Some of us come up with new and original sins, others of us return to the same old sins.

So what’s the antidote? What are we to do about this? Well for one thing I am sure that Paul was not content with the status quo. You can see that in the last verse above where he declares himself to be a wretched man. Sin becomes more of a problem if we become used to it, are content with it, and it doesn’t bother us any more. Wrestling with sin is at least a step in the right direction because it shows that we do not like that aspect of our lives. This is not something we can do on our own, even though we wrestle. This is what Paul continues to say in the verses immediately following those I have quoted above:

Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (NIV)

I think the chapter divisions in our Bibles sometimes mask the truth. if we are reading the Bible we can often stop at the end of a chapter that when Paul wrote the letter there were no chapter divisions and his train of thought did not stop at the end of what we call chapter 7. That’s what the therefore is there for. We cannot sort out our propensity to sin and feel condemned by the law on our own. But God has done something about it.

We need not feel condemnation if we are “in Christ Jesus” because he has sorted out the condemnation of sin (the law has been fulfilled, the sentence served, guilt is unnecessary) and he gives us his Spirit to help us to sin less. I believe that the Spirit joins us in our wrestling and helps us by nudging our conscience, reminding us of Scripture, helping us to think about what Jesus might do and so on. But whilst he can help us, he does not take control of us. We still have to make the choice and still act on that decision.

So let’s have a little Romans 7 honesty and recognise that we all wrestle with the sin in our lives, nobody should be put on a pedestal, and pray for one another that we will listen to and receive the help of God’s spirit each day in our wrestling.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

grinding away the grot

Today a very nice man is sorting out some rust on Sally’s car and some damaged paintwork (already there when I bought the car) on my car. I am confident that he will do a good job, but it is a little unnerving having someone take a sanding disc to your car and start making loud grinding noises on the paintwork. I am sure that at the moment there is more of a mess than there was before he started (he’s only about an hour in) but it’s like the old adage: if you want to make omelettes you have to break some eggs. If you want lovely paintwork on your car you have to get rid of the grot first.

And if you want a healthy relationship with God, you have to be prepared to grind away the grot in your life. It may not be easy, it may not be comfortable but it is worth doing. And God gives us his Spirit to help us:

Paul puts it in drastic language in Colossians 3:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

But there’s a counterbalance. Paul did not just tell us to put to death what belongs to our earthly nature, he has a range of positive things to replace them and the desire to do them:

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I love the practicality of this. Addicts know that stopping addictive behaviour is very difficult. But it is easier to do if you replace that negative addition with a positive attribute, activity or attitude.

Listen to some worship songs (and sing along?) if you are tempted to think or act in a way that is spiritually unhealthy.

Ask for God’s peace instead of angst, perhaps taking time out to go and relax rather than blowing your top.

Remember that you are forgiven if you are tempted to hold a grudge.

Try and do what is loving in any given circumstance.

Whatever you do, do it with an attitude of gratitude to God, and do it all as an act of worship to him.

All of these have the effect of drawing us closer to God, and that has the effect of making us want to get closer still and sin less.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Dear Insurance Company,

I am writing in response to your request for additional information. In block number three of the accident reporting form, I put “poor planning” as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more and I trust that the following details are sufficient:

I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six-storey building. When I completed my work, I discovered that I had a large pile of bricks left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley, which fortunately was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.

Securing the rope at the ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of bricks. You will note in block number 11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh 135 pounds. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate up the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. Fortunately, by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my pain.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground – and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed approximately 50 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in block number 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles and lacerations of my legs and lower body. The encounter with the barrel, slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of bricks and fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the bricks in pain, unable to move, and watching the barrel six stories above – I again lost my presence of mind.

I let go of the rope!

access all areas

I have been amazed recently to find how much the current generation of popstars are using social networking and other media to enable their fans to follow them as never before. Twitter accounts allow fans to see what they are up to and comment on it. Websites give all the details fans would want to know about future tours and events as well as biogs. And online podcasts and video interviews give fans the opportunity to interact live with them. One group even held a pre-concert meet up with fans where they could sign autographs and chat.

I know this because I have a teenage daughter who is very keen on some groups and singers and have seen this live. For example, she is the person referred to and sung to in this video (from about 17.46).

This level of access and interaction is impressive  but it’s not new. That’s what God did 2012 years ago. Jesus gave people access to God in an unprecedented way. They could see him, hear him, touch him, eat with him, laugh with him, cry with him.

I wish I could have been there. Because lots of it is recorded in the Bible we have eyewitness accounts that give us great insight. I have been tempted to think that this is second-best, but by giving us his Spirit we have an access all areas pass to God that does not even need a Twitter account. We can be followers at any time. This is something we can easily take for granted. And because he is in others, we encounter him in and through others too.

God is with us, in us, alongside us, beneath us…

St Patrick’s Breastplate* is an ancient prayer that has a part which perfectly encapsulates this:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Today there’s not going to be a joke in this bloggage. I am going to indulge myself a little and ask for your prayers. There’s an important meeting on Monday regarding my health and if you are a pray-er I would appreciate it if you would pray for the people in that meeting – that they would be compassionate, wise and make the right decisions. Thank you. In a real way I believe you are answering the prayer above as you do because I don’t know many of you who follow this blog or read it but am experiencing God’s blessing through your prayers – Christ in the mouth of friend and stranger.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

 

*the full prayer is here

redecorating

A stand up comic was talking about decorating his house (I can’t remember which one – comic, not house). He said that as a practical joke he was considering splashing some blood red paint on the wall and writing something sinister alongside, before wallpapering over it. The idea was that this would spook the next people who bought the house when they stripped the wallpaper off in order to decorate in their own style.

I like the mischief behind that idea, even if it is rather a shocking thing for someone to discover. Many people redecorate when they move into new premises. I think it is to try to establish it as ‘theirs’, reflecting their taste and personality. It is one of the things that changes a place from being a house to a home.

I thought of this today as I saw the dolls house on our kitchen table. It was given to my daughter by a friend and gradually it is being decorated. Sally got some wallpaper samples from a local DIY store and these now adorn some of the walls in the dolls house – sneaky eh? (There is no mini reproduction of the prank mentioned above!)

When God moves into our lives by the Holy Spirit he has a massive task ahead of him. With our cooperation he does not simply redecorate but he renews, transforms, knocks through a few walls and cleans out. Occasionally he will come across scandalous mess in our lives, which we may be ashamed of, but which he will gently help us to change and transform, but only if we allow him to. That permission and participation is key. He won’t do it by force, and he won’t do it on his own.

How many of us are happy with the scandalous mess? What do we need to do in order to help clear it out?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

An elderly woman and her little grandson, whose face was sprinkled with bright freckles, spent the day at the zoo. Lots of children were waiting in line to get their cheeks painted by a local artist who was decorating them with tiger stripes.

“You’ve got so many freckles, there’s no place to paint!” a girl in the line said to the little fella.

Embarrassed, the little boy dropped his head. His grandmother knelt down next to him. “I love your freckles. When I was a little girl I always wanted freckles,” she said, while tracing her finger across the child’s cheek. “Freckles are beautiful.”

The boy looked up, “Really?” “Of course,” said the grandmother. “Why just name me one thing that’s prettier than freckles.”

The little boy thought for a moment, peered intensely into his grandma’s face, and softly whispered, “Wrinkles.”

motivation, inspiration, perspiration

I have been reading a bit recently (and doing some personal reflection) on different strengths and weaknesses, different preferred learning styles and different ways of looking at life’s problems and blessings. We are all different. If that comment shocked you, welcome back to the real world from wherever you have been cocooned for the rest of your life.

But recognising and acknowledging those differences is important. Once we have done that we can start to consider how we can accommodate those differences in our relationships.

One thing I read recently in a book designed to help us be better people and maximise ourselves (yes it is American) was saying that we should spend more time playing to our strengths and less time trying to improve our weaknesses. I can see that there is some wisdom in that. If Usain Bolt decided to become a marathon runner he would probably finish last, but because he trains and works to his strength as a sprinter he is awesome.

But there’s something that niggles me about that attitude. If we only ever focus on our strengths, how will we grow as a more rounded human being? If we only maximise the bits we are good at, do we settle for less than adequate in other areas of our life?

In our evening service this Sunday we will be looking again at spiritual gifts: 1 Corinthians 14. I reckon that these gifts are often latent within us and God’s Spirit simply wakes them up, enhances them (perhaps) and gives us the courage and desire to use them. Look at Moses. He resisted God’s call, saying that he was no good and couldn’t speak well in public. Later events tend to affirm that God was right (He will be glad to know He has my endorsement!).

Look at yourself. You may find that in your daily life you have to do things that are ‘outside your comfort zone’, but you do them and having done them you have the confidence to try again (unless you fall flat on your face). God’s Spirit takes what we offer him and asks us to  do what he knows we can do with his help.

This is not, “I can do anything I put my mind to,” or, “you can do it if you want it badly enough.” Those are blatantly not true. You won’t be able to fly unaided no matter how badly you want to. But you can do anything God wants you to. He will motivate you, inspire you, equip you and encourage you but you need to put it into practice, practice, practice.

He has the resources (many of them planted in you already), the grace, the encouragement and the wisdom to be able to help you help him help others.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

1. How many charismatics does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one since his/her hands are in the air anyway

2. How many Calvinists does it take to change a light bulb?
None. God has predestined when the lights will be on. Or… Calvinists do not change light bulbs. They simply read out the instructions and pray the light bulb will decide to change itself.

3. How many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?
CHANGE???????

4. No. Really, how many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?
At least 15. One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad.

5. How many TV evangelists does it take to change a light bulb?
One. but for the message of light to continue, send in your donation today.

6. How many fundamentalists does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one because anymore would be compromise and ecumenical standards of light would slip.

7. How many Anglicans or Catholics does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They always use candles.