feeling low?

So… we’re in the ‘lull’ between the hectic joy of Christmas and the late night revelry of New Year. One lot of celebrating is over, and the next has not yet begun. I was in my bank this morning and they are starting to take down their Christmas decorations (doesn’t it look bare and plain for a while after they have come down). Shops are busy trying to sell us party food and party apparatus for the New Year celebration (including copious amounts of alcohol and my pet hate – fireworks).

LuckyIt all seems a bit… well… low. Anticlimactic. Sad. Paul’s injunction to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’ seems somehow more difficult today – especially with the British weather doing its best impression of ‘low’. The Joy and wonder of the baby in the manger has not yet been replaced with the anticipation of a new year stretching out ahead of us.

But God has not changed. The good news of Jesus is the same. Our experience of his love, forgiveness, reconciliation, fresh starts, live in all its fullness and his Spirit within us remains unaffected by the arbitrary turning of the page in the diary.

What most blessed you about Jesus in the past year? That’s still true today.

What truth did you discover (or rediscover) about God recently? It’s still true today.

What fresh experience of his Spirit have you had? That’s still available today.

While our emotions wax and wane as much as the moon (or perhaps more like tides washing in and out twice daily) God is still ‘I am’, Jesus still calls us his sisters and brothers, his Spirit is still within us. Those things are unaffected by our emotions.

If you are still feeling a bit low (spiritually), have a look at this passage from Colossians 2 (6-15):

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (NIV)

Or in The Voice version of the BIble:

Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. 7 Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness. 8 Make sure no predator makes you his prey through some misleading philosophy and empty deception based on traditions fabricated by mere mortals. These are sourced in the elementary principles originating in this world and not in the Anointed One (so don’t let their talks capture you). 9 You see, all that is God, all His fullness, resides in His body.

10 You, too, are being completed in Him, the One who has dominion over all rule, all authority. 11 In Him you were also circumcised, set apart by a spiritual act performed without hands. The Anointed One’s circumcision cut you off from the sinfulness of your flesh. 12 You were buried with Him beneath the waters of the ceremonial washing called baptism and then were raised up with Him by faith in the resurrection power of God, who brought Him back from the dead. 13 And when your flesh was still uncircumcised—dead in transgression and swathed in its sinful nature—it was God who brought us to life with Him, forgave all our sins, and 14 eliminated the massive debt we incurred by the law that stood against us. He took it all away; He nailed it to the cross. But that’s not all. 15 He disarmed those who once ruled over us—those who had overpowered us. Like captives of war, He put them on display to the world to show His victory over them by means of the cross.

How much does any of that change because of how you feel, the date on the calendar or the weather?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

>go go gadget rev

>I love gadgets. I admit it. It is something I have to keep a tight rein on (I don’t own an iPod or iPhone or iPad, much as I might covet them). I love the ingenuity and creativity of the innovators who come up with new ways of doing things I didn’t know I needed to do. I love the look and design of them. I especially love it if it is a tactile gadget.

I suspect that this may be linked to my love of magic tricks. They are equally ingenious, creative, innovative and tactile. And I get the sense that sometimes when I perform them I am showing people things they did not know they needed to be shown!

It seems there’s something innate within us that loves something new. Were you like me at the start of a new school year loving the new clothes, new bag, new books, new equipment… even if some were handed down (equipment mainly, since the hander-down was my sister!)?

And at the same time we find safety and security in the old and familiar. Change is not something that we always embrace wholeheartedly, especially if we can’t see why it is happening. Why, for example, did they decide to upgrade the software on my phone and remove one of the functions I used most frequently without asking if I wanted it to go?

Followers of Jesus live with a creative tension between those two aspects of life. Jesus came to do a new thing, to bring in the Kingdom of God, to show us a new way of relating to God. The slapstick parables he told about patching up old clothes and not putting fermenting wine into hardened wineskins with no ‘give’ were designed to say exactly that:

He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. If they do, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And people do not pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 
(Luke 5:36-38)

If you read the following verse you will see what I reckon is a great example of Jesus’ humour, where he parodies the attitude of the establishment:

And none of you, after drinking old wine, wants the new, for you say, ‘The old is better.'” 
(Luke 5:39)

(He told the parables to the people of the establishment)

At the same time we rejoice that God is unshakeable, unchangeable, reliable and faithful. The writer to the Hebrews knew this and was blessed by it:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 
(Hebrews 13:8)

So, we are people for whom there is always something new and yet we trust in One who is always the same.

Lamp on blueI must try to remember this when I find I either don’t like changes or want to change things which other people find remind them of God’s unchanging-ness. At the same time, I must remember that my security is in the Jesus who is unchanging and yet leads me to new things, not in the places, people, habits and traditions with which I am familiar.

How many lawyers does it take to change a lightbulb?
One, but he’ll bill you for five!

How many consultants does it take to change a light bulb?
We don’t know. They never get past the feasibility study.

How many politicians does it take to change a light-bulb?
‘The Government is well aware of the situation and we are setting up a committee and calling consultants to look into the feasibility of changing it.’

How many mind-readers does it take to change a light bulb?

How many members of a government doe it take to change a light bulb.
Members of a government never change light bulbs, they prefer to keep the public in the dark.

How many film stars doe it take to change a light-bulb?
One, but he only takes one step up the ladder, and then his stunt double takes over.