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Faith, fiction and cancer stuff.


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The gate

 

 

I didn’t want to get up this morning. I was tired and my brain fuzzy, in the increasingly familiar hay fever way.

As I waited for the bath to run, I read a bit from the Bible, like normal. Today it was John 10.

Jesus says:

I am the gate; all who enter through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

(John 10: 9-10)

Instantly my head felt clear and alert. I suddenly could understand much more clearly what Jesus is saying to us; not just intellectually,  but spiritually too.

Jesus’ plan for us is to have life,  and life to the full. The enemy (thief) wants to steal, kill or destroy that life which God has given us. There is a battle for our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits.

If we allow illness, bad relationships, past pain or fear to rule our lives then we are allowing some victory to the enemy; who, let’s be clear, is not a cute cartoon devil who pokes people with his trident, as our culture would have us believe.

 

I had cancer last year. I had chemo, surgery and then radiotherapy. Thanks to God and the medical profession, it is gone. It is my past. Yes, it has changed me physically, shaped my story and its after-effects will be felt for some time; but it does not have a hold over me. I will not let cancer dictate my future.

I have come to realise that many people who have had cancer and are now better, can struggle with a terrible fear of the cancer returning. Logically, this does make sense, because sometimes cancers do return. So I  sympathise with them, because it is a horrible, life-altering or destroying disease.

But for myself, there is no fear of this cancer, or any other cancer. That does not mean that I am going to take up smoking or sunbeds, because of course we should all live reasonably healthily. But, the best explanation that I can think of for this is that God has set me free from fear of cancer. I know that he does not want me to live a fearful life, one where I worry about big or small bad things happening to me. I know this because he tells us not to be anxious so many times in the Bible. And because he loves me.

Someone at church told me that the enemy tried to destroy me with cancer, but he failed. God has the victory. Yes, this makes sense. God has a plan for my life, and he wanted me to win this battle. He knew that I would. I trusted him to fight it with me.

Jesus came to give me life to the full, so I am going to enjoy it.

He never promised us an easy life, far from it. He is the good Shepherd though, and he chose to lay down his life for us. To believers he speaks freedom not just from illness, but from the fear of illness. Freedom from the past, as well as from the mental or spiritual hold that past pain can hold over us. Claim that freedom, it’s a gift.

(Note: I know that one day I will die of something. But that is also OK,  because I know where I am going.)

 

John 8:36

So if the Son sets you free you, will be free indeed.

 

 

 

 

 


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I’m taking off my judgy pants

I seem to spend half my life trying not to offend people, and the other half exaggerating. I am growing tired of people-pleasing tbh (must be getting old.) So hopefully I will offend some people today, but in a good way. ☺

I believe that if a believer sees sin in another Christian, and they are in a good, trusting relationship  (and/or a leader) then they should be free to challenge (not condemn) their friend on it. So that is what I am attempting to do here. (Please don’t judge me too harshly if I get it wrong.) Note that it must be done out of true love and concern, out of wanting the best for that person; not out of a sense of ‘I am better than you and if you don’t live exactly like me in every way, then you are obviously wrong. And get a haircut for goodness sake.’

I know a small handful of people who do actually get this right, so it is possible.  It’s a gift like a rare gem, shiny and pointing to Jesus’ love for all of us.

Those who hear gossip about someone else and decide to put them in their place with self-righteous indignation, need not apply. Nor am I talking about a believer telling a non-Christian off for not being good enough. Seriously, read the gospel.

 

Sin is bad because it separates us from God, which is a terrible thing (for us, because God is our loving Father who made us to be in a loving relationship with him. He wants only the best for us and sin is the worst thing.) It leads to death (Romans 6:23). Also it hurts ourselves and often, other (innocent) people. So sin is bad. The Bible is really clear on what sin is  so I am not going to go into that too much.

 

The huge problem that I have noticed in the church, is that many are so focused on their sins, or, more often, other people’s sins that they are completely missing the picture on what salvation truly is and what the actual point of this life on Earth is. You are so busy watching for the roots that may trip us up, that you forget to look up to see the beautiful trees. You are so bent over, examining and judging the detail of how sinful other people are that you are in danger of tripping up and falling flat on your judgy-pants arse.

And yes, I have been guilty of this myself. If I have judged you I am so sorry.

Jesus gets angry a few times in the Bible. Mostly it is about religious people who pretend to be all holier than yow, when he and they well know that believers are no better than anyone else. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. He didn’t die for us because we are clever or dress nicely or because we are somehow more deserving than the average non-Christian. He died for us because he loves us. While we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8).

So we have absolutely no right to go around thinking how sorted we are because we have faith. We have no right to sniff at the mistakes of others in a self-righteous and proud way, as though we have never done anything wrong in our lives.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. 

For many Christians, rather than  loving people like God tells you to, you are actually saying:

“Hi, welcome. This is the way to God. Oh sorry, how awkward,  you just aren’t good enough for Jesus like I am! Lol. Get lost.”

Instead of loving the lost like Jesus does, many of us are casting them out because of our judgementalism,  ego, and inability to truly love people who we are not comfortable with. No wonder people lose their faith, after constantly being told how useless they are and how much they have to change to fit in.

No wonder people are too afraid to go to a church service, worried about what believers will think of them. Or thinking that they are not good enough to be loved by God, because all they see of Christianity is rules.

No wonder many Christians are too scared to open up to their friends when they are struggling with their finances or marriage or kids, dreading that they will be judged and found wanting by other Christians. What they need is love and support and just some good old-fashioned kindness.

This life is not about sin, it’s about God and how much he loves us! Matthew 22:37-39 tells us that we are called to love God first, and others as much as ourselves. We are not called to appoint ourselves as judge and jury over all creation.

Sin is bad and we are told not to take God’s grace for granted, but:

If you inject heroin, God loves you.

If you are having an affair, God loves you.

If you eat too much and then make yourself sick, God loves you.

If you are a Christian who struggles with judgementalism,  God loves you.

Whoever you are and whatever you have done, God loves you more than you know.

 

I am not sorted either, but I am going to take my judgy pants off and endeavour to judge less and love more. I am even going to try not to judge the judgers, because that would make me a hypocrite.

I know I won’t get it right all the time, but that’s OK because God loves me more than I can get my head around, and will help me.

 

Lord, please help me to love others with your grace and compassion. Help me to see people with your eyes. Please help me to be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Amen.

 

 

Matthew 23

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:2 ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practise what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them…

13 ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

15 ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

 


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The lost sheep

My daughter Bethany and I were playing with her puzzle. Each animal was placed in its correct space, and the appropriate noise made. But – oh dear – the sheep was missing! We had a lost sheep. 😦

We looked for it – emptied the toybox and searched the (messy) play table. But he was nowhere to be found. We soon lost interest and moved on to another toy.

Later, I was vacuuming the lounge. I swept my hand under the sofa to coax out any wayward dustmites, and there he was! The lost sheep had been found.

To be honest, Bethany and I weren’t that bothered that our sheep had gone missing. But in the Bible, Jesus tells of a shepherd that searches ceaselessly for his sheep when he loses one. He has 99 others to be getting on with, so he could be forgiven for giving up like we did. But he didn’t – he loved that naughty sheep too much to shrug his shoulders and forget.

We are like that lost sheep, before God chases us down and rescues us. The only real difference I guess, is that we, unlike the sheep, get to choose if we go back home with our shepherd where it’s safe; or if we want to stay out in the cold, dark night.

Matthew 18:10-14

The Parable of the Wandering Sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. 

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Oh no! We have lost a sheep.

Oh no! We have lost a sheep.

Sheep found

Yay! We found him. Let’s put him into the puzzle.