About Me

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Insight into me...

At my bible group one of the leaders asked us all to do a personality test. They are changing the group around a bit and I think the idea is to be a conversation point. I was my usual skeptical self ;) but I did fill it in. It's a bit like the Myers Briggs (and similar) tests. Funnily enough I have managed to get to the ripe old age of 36 without actually doing one of these before, so I was interested to see the results. And I was quite surprised to find that some of the answers were quite tricky to pin down.

The test had a series of boxes, with various phrases in each eg:
Gentle, Kindly
Persuasive, convinces others
Humble, reserved, modest
original, inventive, individualistic

In each one you had to chose which line was most and which was least like you. If it was picking one word it would have been easier, but sometimes the phrases didn't match up, so one word was very like me and then other not at all. Anyway, fill it in I did and I got back the results a few weeks back. We then dicsussed the system at group this week. I was frankly, quite amazed to find that the survey had me to a T, even the negative stuff I could recognise as being unfortunately correct!

So according to the oracle of 'The Personality System' test I am an 'Attainer (achiever, one who perseveres)'. hmmm... Part of the summary says this:
'Individuals who are attainers exhibit an objective and analytical style. They can be fiercely independent, but also enjoy working as part of a team. Attainers derive their motivation from internal rather than external sources; typically from personal goals and an inner drive to complete a task and be considered 'righteous' or 'a winner'. Their task focus may overide consideration for others, causing them to appear uncaring and distant...Their calm and steady character makes them a good leader, and gives them the ability to 'plan their work and work their plan'....'

Have to say, it is pretty spot on, even the 'uncaring and distant' bit sadly - must work on that. I'm not convinced about being a 'good' leader but I do like to be in control and take the lead (part of my downfall sometimes!)
When we went through the system at the group this week it was interesting to hear the group leader talk about how it works. Your answers effectively have scores and these are then plotted on a graph in various columns which are then translated into letter headings. Mine was S/D. S stands for Stable/Steady and D for Dominant/Driver. The group leader mentioned more than once that you don't often find Christians with a 'D', because, well, the implication was that Christians are peaceful, loving people, not dominant independant types... I chuckled to myself...

These are some of the D words: Demanding, determined, pioneering, skeptical, decisive, competitive. The S however was much more positive: loyal, relaxed, co-operative, consitent, deliberate and so on The only words I didn't really agree with were: patient (I am deifnitely not..) and passive (again, really dont think this is me!).
So someone in the group piped up, 'well if there were a Christian who came out as a D what kind of role would they have?'... I bet you can guess the answer already... 'Probably leading a big evangelical church...' (cue face falling from me...) And whats more my friend sat next to me just pointed at me and said 'Vicar'....
It's ok God I have got the message now... ;)
What I thought was very funny was some of the possible weaknesses flagged up by the test. They were:
Oversteps authority (who me...?)
Argumentative attitude (hmm...)
and: attempts too much at once
sound familiar to anyone else?! I laughed at the authority bit - I have never been good with rules, I just want to break them. Gosh, I can't even handle centerparcs (where we are off to next week, oh joy) because I feel hemmed in by the boundaries - it's like you can't escape!!

Interestingly this test also gives you biblical examples of similar people in scripture. Apparently other attainers are: Daniel, Job and Martha. great. Rather hoping I don't have boils and the lions den to look forward to.. Actually it is quite interesting as we are studying Daniel at church at the mo, so I was able to really delve into this. I like the line in the summary:
'Daniel challenges 'attainers' to stand up for what is right, and to determine to use their commitment to high standards as a positive infuence on those around them.'

So there you have it. I am a dominant yet stable person, or a steady driver, who won't adhere to rules... thats all you need to know ;)

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Beautiful

As part of my 'readathon', my lovely Dad's suggestion was 'The Book of Common Prayer'.
I was not impressed....
However he brought me a copy over and so I delved into it and I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised. I came across this prayer last night which I thought was simply beautiful:

Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire,
Thou the annointing spirit art,
Who dost they seven-fold gifts impart.
Thy blessed unction from above,
Is comfort, life and fire of love.
Enable with perpetual light,
The dulness of our blinded sight.
Annoint and cheer our soild face

With the abundance of thy grace.
Keep far our foes, give peace at home:
Where thou art guide, no ill can come.
Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And thee, of both, to be but One.
That, through the ages all along,
This may be our endless song;
Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It's from the Section 'Ordering of Priests' (just doing some background..;) )

Monday, 11 October 2010

Law breakers?

As part of my readathon, over this sabbatical period that I have, I have begun to read the bible from start to finish. There is much of the Old Testament that I have never read, and if I'm honest I haven't been all that enthusiastic about. However I have been pleasantly surprised! It has been challenging at times it's fair to say, but that has been great. I love a challenge.
I think I have always had this view that the OT is just for Jews. That it isn't very relevant in the 21st Century. but recently obviously, I have reviewed that! Reading it is giving me clarity about much of the New Testament too. But the thing I still struggle with is how much of it do we just 'discount', if you like, as being pre-Christ? As in, oh well we don't have to sacrifice stuff anymore, Christ died so we don't have to do that. But what about all the rules and regulations? what constitutes a rule that should be obeyed and one that is ok to ignore? I mean the 10 commandments are a pretty good moral standard regardless of Gods instruction. so most people, Christian or otherwise, would probably not have a problem with them. And there are other laws too that actually could just be part of a general common sense approach to life. In fact some of the stuff in Leviticus about people with boils/skin diseases etc being put into isolation is surely just a simple and sensible approach to inefectious diseases, especially in an era where there was a very different approach to medicine! In a way the priests took a similar role to a modern day Doctor.
But what about the more contraversial stuff? What about where it says adulterers should be stoned to death and so on. Ok so this doesn't sit terribly well with our 21st C lives ;) , but what makes that decision for us? I'm not trying to be either flippant or dense, I just want to know. A good example, which jews obviously do stick to, is what the OT suggest we should and shouldn't eat. Why is it ok to eat a cow but not a pig? for example and why do Jews stick to this but Christians don't? (personally I am a veggie so I'm not bothered either way...) And indeed there are obviously bits of the laws that even Jews don't keep, I mean you can hardly stone someone in the middle of Stamford Hill can you?
What I'm trying to say I think, is that where do we draw the line? I, as a Christian, accept that the bible is the Word of God, so who am I to say, well ok, I accept but perhaps I'll ignore that bit, or just leave that section out...?

I used to think that the bible was like a guidebook that we had to interpret for ourselves and draw our own conclusions. I don't completely disagree with that now, but I would struggle with what conclusions I should draw from all those OT laws that we don't keep....

As always comments appreciated - I am trying to broaden my horizons!!

Friday, 8 October 2010

More Christian Humour...



Thanks to my friend Rob for this... although he did tell me not to post it, but as he has removed the offending word I am sure we're fine... ;) actually its almost funnier that he has removed it!!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Pursuit of Happyness

A few weeks back my husband and I sat and watched 'The Pursuit of Happness'. It's a movie starring, and I think directed by, Will Smith based on the life of Chris Gardner. Gardner is a struggling medical salesman, whilst his wife holds down 2 jobs. Their young son spends much time at nursery. The wife eventually gets fed up and leaves. Gardner struggles on, trying to sell the machines whilst looking after his son. If that weren't bad enough, the bills mount, eventually they become evcited (twice) and for months on end he and his son line up at the homeless shelter to have a room for the night, all the while lugging round the last remaining medical machine.
Gardner has big dreams, he wants a better life for his son and ends up applying for a space on an internment programme in a big trading bank, at the end of which 1 person gets a job. Only one. So at this point, he is a single Dad with no help, homeless and has no job and no money, yet he applies for an unpaid position in a huge bank. Needless to say he strives for that one job and against all the odds and all the crap that is thrown at him (and there is a lot) he gets that job and all is good. It is an amazing tale and one that would seem totally unlikely and simply the imagination of some hollywood writer. However it is true and Gardner was in fact involved in the filming.

Although there is no mention in the film of him having any faith there were so many points in the film where I thought that guy must have God in his life. You know sometimes stuff happens and you just know it is an answer to prayer, whether you have prayed it or not! At one point in the movie one of his machines is stolen (due to either his own stupidity or a genuine innocent trust of the human race, we are left to decide!). Later in the movie when all is at rock bottom he sees a guy on the street with the machine. He gets it home and eventually manages to repair it and then sell it, just when he has no money left. Or there's a time when he misses a space in the hostel by one place and all those aroud him vouch for him saying that someone queue jumped and that he should have the space. Thats from people who don't know him, and desperately need the space themselves. My favourite bit is the day before his interview for the intern programme, he gets arrested for not paying a parking ticket, and is taken from his home where he has been re-painting the room. So from there the following day he goes straight to the interview, just gets there in time but is unshowered, in his jeans and covered in paint. Somehow he blags the interview (through honesty actually). If that isnt a God moment I don't know what is!

This movie really touched me. I came away wondering if Gardner was a Christian and thinking about how people can carry on in the most awful situations (rather like chatting to the lady in London a week or so ago which I blogged about). His situation was so unfair, he worked hard, he loved his wife and his son and did all he could to provide for them, yet it all fell apart. How many of us would have given up hope at that point? He didn't, he had a dream and he did all he could to get to that dream. I was watching the movie willing him to be a Christian as it was such an amazing story of hope, of faith and of trusting in God in the most awful circumstances (Job comes to mind....).

So with the aid of Google I found out that he is a Christian, a very committed one. However I found myself a little disappointed, because they didn't even alude to it in the movie. How amazing a testimony is his, that in trust he went through all that and in the end God provided for him amazingly. Instead it's just another hollywood moment, a feel-good movie, shed a few tears over some popcorn and get on with your life. What a shame.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Harvest Festival - love it or hate it?

Whilst I usually try not to follow the blogging trendy topic of the week I can't help myself with this one. Harvest Festival - love it or hate it? Church Mouse and Charlie at Always Hope amongst others are on the case this week. Who would have thought the humble old harvest festival would be such a big deal?!

Look, I live in a rural village, surrounded by farms, so for me it is still perfectly relevant and ought to be more so - as Church Mouse says, half the inner city kids have to have the whole thing explained to them, but how sad is that? that they don't even know where their food comes from? And I'll not hear that old, 'well they have never been to a farm' argument - I have never been to a car factory but I know how my car works (well sometimes..) It should be part of the curriculum.

But anyway I am digressing. What I really wanted to say is that I think we all need to think a bit more around the subject. I don't disagree that in some places it could do with a bit of updating, but equally I don't agree with the negativity about buying plastic razors for the homeless (or sleeping bags at the church I was at last weekend!). I bet you that the homeless shelters and local charities who distribute all the produce brought in from these services don't gripe about it. I'll bet they are very thankful that with that extra input they can help so many more people. Yes it might not be your home grown apples or potatoes but these gifts are inherently more practical in the 21st Century. What we have is already a more up to date version of the Victorian Harvest Service.

I am also sure that traditionally churches used what they had in their local area to decorate the church and give out to people. So why not take that to the next level? What is in abindance on your area? Is it tin cans? get creative! And if you are in an affluent area where people would rather go buy stuff from the supermarket, or an area where razors and sleeping bags are more practical for your neighbourhood, then thats great.

But also I feel more importantly that we should be looking at this in a far wider sense in the 21st Century. And I don't mean in terms of carbon bloody footprints - what a nonsense that whole idea is anyway - its like saying, well I've just used up the entire forestry of one nation, in the process causing wildlife to die and affecting the balance of the area - but thats ok, I'll just go plant a few more trees, or better still, I'll pay someone else to do it for me and then I don't even need to get my hands dirty. (sorry bit of a pet hate...) ANYWAY what I was going to say is that we should think about the Harvest of Souls. 'Harvest' is a term bandied around a lot in Christian circles and it isn't usually referrring to the local apple trees, but more about the harvest of souls. Even the hymn (come on we love it really...) 'We plough the fields and scatter', whilst obviously talking about the literal harvest could be seen to be talking about a more spiritual harvest:

We plough the fields and scatter
The good seed on the land, But it is fed and watered
By God's almighty hand:He sends the snow in winter,
The warmth to swell the grain,The breezes and the sunshine,
And soft, refreshing rain.

Look at this verse above - we might be the ones doing the work, sowing the seeds, but it isn't us that brings people to God, it is Him. He is the one who feeds and waters us - 'by Gods almighty hand'.
It isn't always easy, there is the seeping cold of the snow, the really low times; there's the warmth of the sunshine, the good times when we feel God is right there with us; the breezes of things passing through; and the 'refreshing rain'. We get it all in life and it is God that guides us through it.

I like to think that at Harvest we are not only thanking God for the literal harvest around us, whatever that may be in our own areas, but also thanking Him for saving us - thanking Him for the souls he has led us to, to plant seeds in their lives. I'm sure we have all been in situations where you feel drawn to someone, you feel God has led you to them, you share a word, or the whole gospel maybe, but nothing comes of it. That person does not instantly receive Christ as their saviour. BUT a seed has been sown in their hearts and it is God that will use others to water that seed, to send it warmth, to feed it until their time is right to grow and flourish.

So perhaps there is more to harvest festival than pumpkins and plastic razors...

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

help!

well nothing is ever simple is it? I felt great last week. Finally felt like I wasn't going round the twist, had just about got over the denial, and well, all seemed rosy. How things change so quickly.
From there I went into total reverse. I don't even know why, there is no cause for it, no one said anything negative to me (the opposite in fact), but what I do know is that I wanted to crawl into bed and stay there for a week. I was hit with a massive amount of doubt, disbelief and negativity. The worst since our big renewal of faith. The old voice was back - 'but what if it's not real', 'is God really calling you?' 'is there a God?'. On top of that all is going pear shaped at work, some misunderstandings that have got totally out of control, one of those situations where you aren't entirely in the wrong but you have to eat huge amounts of humble pie in order to keep the peace. its do not fair!

I can't explain how all consuming all this has been. I don't want to pray because I feel like I am letting God down, I am not worthy enough for him to even listen to me, I can't be trusted. One of those times where what you really need to do is 'press in to God' but where you just can't face it. I feel afraid. Of what I don't know, I just have a pit of fear in my stomach. I feel like I am on an edge. That I could go either way - one way sees me walking in to my calling and being strong in my faith. The other sees me dropping off into no mans land and hiding my head and not thinking, so I don't have to deal with it all.

Help!
There is a part of me saying, 'pull yourself together woman, for goodness sake'. Another part saying,'its the Devil - you have made some pretty important spiritual decisions and so he's pretty darn pissed off, he will get at you whatever way he can'. Another part just avoiding the whole issue, which is not helping at all.

My heart knows all the answers. My heart believes totally in a loving and living God, who loves me and is calling me to do the good works He has planned. My heart cannot imagine a life without Him. My head, on the other hand is listening to the lies and doubts and creating obstacles along the way.

Needless to say the main argument I am having with myself is, 'how can I possibly even consider going any further with this when I cannot categorically say that I know God exists?' This side of me just wants to be a 'normal' Christian, someone who is happy in their faith and lives their life by it, but in a 'normal' life. Why do I have to step out and have a bigger role like this? I don't need to. I am happy being me thank you. Oh gosh, this is worse than the denial - bring back the denial please!

No idea where to go with this. need to pray but can't focus on it. Am finding so many diversionary tactics - was even digging the veg patch a moment ago, despite the fact that it was nearly dark. So instead I'm trying to get it all out here, might make me feel better.

Is this a stage? does everyone doubt their calling once they have finally accepted it?! Lord, help me...