words wonderful words

Words are wonderful: rearranging sounds, letters and syllables enables us to communicate with one another. Thoughtful use of the arrangements enables us to communicate clearly with one another. Yesterday on a friends Facebook status I noticed this: “It’s -10C here in Stuttgart and I just passed a teenage boy walking down the street eating an ice cream!”

The ambiguities of language mean that it is possible my friend was eating ice cream or the boy was eating ice cream. There are no other ambiguities in that sentence. Do not read any into it. Do not blame me if you see any.

As you may have realised if you are a regular bloggite here, I love the way that new words develop and enter our daily usage. The brilliant thing is that the vast majority of these new words all phrases are simply new ways of saying the same thing that we have said before. LOL (see what I mean!).

And that surely is what Christians have been doing throughout the centuries – finding new ways of saying the same thing. We get into difficulties when we “sacredize*” words or phrases. Suddenly we have imbued words with a status that they did not seek and often do not deserve. “I’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb” used to be Christian jargon for saying that they had been forgiven by God through Jesus’ death. Now it will probably get you a visit from the RSPCA. Dare I say it I think we also do with some biblical phrases: “born-again” is often used to describe someone who has undergone a conversion experience. But did Jesus really mean as to say it as often as we do? There is only one instance recorded of him saying to anyone that they should be born-again. Why have we fixated on that one phrase?

The Baptist Union of Great Britain is undergoing a review/self searching/seeking what God has to say to us process at the moment. I wonder if we have done the same thing with some of our structures and institutions. Have we sacredized them? Have we given them a status that they did not have initially and perhaps do not deserve now? Of course we can also ask the same questions of local churches and indeed ourselves.

Be blessed, be a blessing. (Now I need to consider whether I have sacredized that sentence because it has become a regular sign off at the end of a bloggage).

*yet another new word – meaning is self-evident I think

Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do “practice”?

Why do your feet smell, and your nose run?

If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?

If work is so terrific, how come they have to pay you to do it?

Is morning breath worse if you sleep with your mouth closed or with your mouth open?

Instead of talking to your plants, if you yelled at them would they still grow – only to become troubled and insecure?

Is there another word for synonym?

When sign makers go on strike, is anything written on their picket signs?

Why isn’t there mouse-flavored cat food?

Why do they report power outages on TV?

What’s another word for thesaurus?

If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?

Would a fly without wings be called a walk?

Isn’t Disney World a people trap operated by a mouse?

the future is bright, the future is God’s

Hello, dear bloggites. I hope and pray that 2012 will bring blessing, comfort, encouragement and peace to you all.

It will also probably bring a lot more bloggerel from me – you have been warned!

The good old Baptist Union of Great Britain is having a very serious look at itself in the face of a very large hole in its finances. As part of this they have formed a ‘futures group’ to “re-imagine what Christ is calling us to do as a Baptist people in the UK, prioritise key areas of our shared life and mission and in doing that move towards a balanced budget.”

Now while I applaud their approach, which includes a wide-ranging consultation process, and while I agree that we should always seek to be financially prudent in our planning, I can’t help feeling just a twinge of concern that this is being driven by financial concerns rather than God’s mission imperative. I appreciate that as a charity we must seek to be good stewards of our resources and that we cannot continue to use up resources recklessly. But if God wants us to be doing some things, we can be sure he will also provide the resources for us to do them. In fact, I reckon he already has, but it may be that they are currently being used in the wrong places or in the wrong way. I hope that this is the main thrust of the process.

I can’t help but be reminded of the following parable:

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

    14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

   19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

   21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

   22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

   23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

   24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

   26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

   28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:14-30, NIV)

DIGGING IN THE DIRTI fully appreciate that this parable is not about denominational budgets and priorities. But I wonder whether we will have the courage to take the resources that God has given us and risk them in mission, or whether we will be keeping them in holes in the ground? And perhaps we ought to excavate the holes in the ground (reserves in local churches as well as national) and see whether we are being good and faithful servants with the resources in them.

What sort of God do we serve? For me, that’s the first question for the Union, associations, local churches and us as individuals too. Only then should we consider how we use the resources he has given us… anyone need a spade?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

There were two guys working for the city. One would dig a hole, he would dig, dig, dig, the other would come behind him and fill the hole, fill, fill, fill. These two men worked furiously. One digging a hole, the other filling it up again.

A man was watching from the pavement and couldn’t believe how hard these men were working, but couldn’t understand what they were doing. Finally he had to ask them.

He said to the hole digger, “I appreciate how hard you work, but what are you doing? You dig a hole and your partner comes behind you and fills it up again!”

The hole digger replied, “Oh yeah, must look funny, but the guy who plants the trees is sick today.”