mmm… cookies?

cookiesNo, this is not a tribute to Homer Simpson or the Cookie Monster. It’s actually a reflection on how, through cookies* and the like, websites get to know stuff about us. If you search for ‘silly string’ (as I have done recently, watch out!) you will find that you start getting offered adverts for silly string on other websites you visit because of the clever sneakiness going on behind the scenes that tracks what you are interested in and offers you more of the same or similar (I still have no idea why I get offered hair products, though!).

At the moment I am gathering some items for a couple of new magic routines I am working on so the adverts are becoming quite interesting. I get offered gifts to go in party bags, fancy dress costumes and practical jokes. (I will leave you guessing what the magical routines are!)

I wonder why the clever sneakiness going on behind the scenes thinks that because we have searched for something once we want some more of the same? I have bought all I need for the magic routines, that part of my internet life is at an end. I won’t be buying any more but the adverts that are based on what I searched for assume that I want to continue purchasing that sort of thing.

Of course I recognise it’s very difficult for websites to anticipate what we will search for next – the only thing they can go on is what we have done in the past and try to extrapolate from that to offer us what we might want next. It would probably freak me out if every time I went online to search for something new my browser offered me exactly what I wanted before I had even searched for it. I would wonder how they had got inside my mind!

You and I are much more than the product of our past. We are shaped and influenced by it now and in the future. We even have to pay for it (eg loans). But the mistakes and terrible events of the past do not have to have so much hold over us that they define who we are today. We can choose.

Just because you are walking down a particular path does not mean that you have to continue to follow that path.

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Changes of direction, turning around, fresh starts and freedom are available to us all. It can take courage, resolve and we may need help (either from friends or professionals), but it’s possible. I don’t write these things lightly and recognise the limitations of a blog that can’t hope to minister to all of you, but I have found these things to be true for myself as a follower of Jesus and share that experience with you. I hope you will find the same thing in a local Christian church.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*According to Wikipedia “Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information (such as items added in the shopping cart in an online store) or to record the user’s browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited in the past). They can also be used to remember arbitrary pieces of information that the user previously entered into form fields such as names, addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers.”

at last ment

Before I start to finish let me say that this has not been intended to be an exhaustive list of the images the Bible uses to describe what Jesus’ death on the cross means. It’s a sample of some of the more significant ones. But there is so much more to explore. One of the reasons I have written this miniseries is to encourage you to think and explore more widely about what it means when we say that Jesus died for us. So, to the ‘parable’:

Alison was an Olympic-standard swimmer. She specialised in open water swimming – swimming up to 10km in events that would still take the fastest swimmers almost 2 hours to complete. Every day Alison go to a nearby lake to train, regardless of the weather. She was determined, she was committed, she was talented. Alison had the potential to be a gold medal winner: she was that good. Everyone agreed that she could be the best in the world.

The only thing was that she had some chains wrapped around her that rather restricted her swimming ability. They prevented her arms from rotating and her legs from kicking. And more than that, they weighed her down. Every day when she jumped in the water to train she sank to the bottom of and had to be dragged out. She was never going to realise her potential…

…until one day her coach suggested that he knew a man who had some bolt cutters who could cut the chains and set Alison free. All Alison had to do was ask.

Our rebellion against God / falling short of his standards / sin are like chains that bind us and restrict us from reaching out to God. Jesus’ death was such a powerful event that it broke the chains and set us free to be with God. All we have to do is ask.

Be blessed, be a blessing