Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Humble pie

It's very easy to talk about wanting to be humble, having a humble attitude toward something, or acting humbly. But what does it really mean? How can we become humble? What holds us back from becoming it? So often I think I can achieve humility, and then fall flat on my face as I'm reminded that I don't have a humble bone in my body - or an ounce of drop of humble spirit in my heart.

C.S. Lewis defined humility as 'self-forgetfulness'. But how do we forget put ourselves aside?

I've just started reading Tim Chester's 'The Ordinary Hero', in which he paints a vivid picture of how vital the cross is to our humility. Referring to Jesus, he notes that 'His life shows us humility; his cross humbles us.'

He goes on to quote Martyn Lloyd-Jones, noting that 'Nothing but the cross can give us a spirit of humility,' and John Stott:

'All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.'

Tim Chester goes on to state that, 'The secret to humility is never to stray far from the cross.' The cross shows us as we really are, in our sinful natures, and reminds us that we are pure and good enough only in Jesus Christ. Only the cross can humble us and shrink us to our true size.

But how do we not stay far from the cross? Lloyd-Jones encourages you to 'preach to yourself', applied here to literally telling yourself the truths of the cross. Bring yourself back to the cross, ponder it, remind yourself who you are in Jesus, because of Jesus, that you are sinful by nature, but wonderfully saved by Christ! I think we forget, all to easily, the beauty, wonder and scandal of the cross. Do we want to become humble? We need to look at the cross. Really look, and remember.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

My year in status updates

Facebook has an interesting application that takes your most interacted-with status updates and turns them into a collage. This was, apparently, my year in status updates!

Click on it to see the full-size version.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

What is Christmas?

What is Christmas?

"What is Christmas?" The teacher asked,
to his class as they sat on the floor.
"When you think of it, what comes to mind?
An excitement? A bit of a bore?"
The looks on their faces were mixed
as they all thought of Christmas day.
Some looking forwards and some thinking back,
others were miles away.
"The presents," one freckle-faced boy offered up,
many smiles taking his side.
"The snow," said one cheery-cheeked wee girl of eight,
"when it covers the fir trees outside."
"Decorations and tinsel!" the cries came in fast,
"Baubles!" and "Stockings!" "Paper chains!"
A raise of a hand and the chatter died down
as the teacher brough order again.
"My mummy and daddy. I, see them more,"
a shy little girl offered up.
A snigger was quoshed by the teacher's warm smile,
as he drank from his warm coffee cup.
"You know, Emma-Jane," (for that was her name),
"That's my favourite Christmas bit too,
apart from the story of one little child
who was actually quite similar to you.
He was born on a night, in the roughest of beds,
just his mum and his dad by his side.
No huggable teddy to snuggle at night,
just straw and a blanket beside.
No family came, nor a single close friend
to cuddle or coo at the child,
just some shepherds who'd left all their sheep in a field
and three strangers who'd travelled a while.
The children leaned closer, all starry eyed,
"Did the boy get no presents?" One asked.
"Well, not what you'd think," the teacher replied,
"each stranger gave one as they passed.
The first gave him gold," the boys' eyes lit up,
"The second gave Frankincense."
"Frankin-what?" several chimed, the teacher just smiled,
"It was used by the priests," he said.
"The last gift was Myrrh, which caused a bit of a stir,
as it was used as a burial spice."
"So they meant he would die?" asked the oldest girl, Vi,
"Well that's just not very nice!"
The teacher just grinned, as he wiped from his chin
the last cooling drop of his drink.
"Mr Smith," piped a child, "Y'know that baby boy?
He had it quite rough, don't you think?"
The teacher just nodded, the magic unspoilt
and lowered his cup to the floor.
A glance at his watch showed a quarter past three,
"All right children, line up at the door."
As the boys and the girls took their jackets and coats,
a hand tugged the old teacher's shirt.
And as he looked down, not a hint of a frown
crossed the beaming blue eyes of young Gert.
"You know, Mr Smith, all his presents aside,
I think he just wanted our love.
A kiss and a cuddle would have made him all smiles.
I reckon that'd be enough."
The teacher beamed back, picking up a stray book,
"That gift, might just go down the best.
It's funny how love in the simplest of things
says more than a lot of the rest."
As the children filed out, each parent to find,
"Happy Christmas!" in each parting word,
The teacher watched Gert kiss and hug her tired mum,
with "I love you," the last words he heard.
As he turned on his heel, a quiet smile to himself,
the story ran back through his mind.
A child was born, many years ago,
who helped a wee girl show love, in her kind.


Friday, December 24, 2010

White Christmas

Poem: White Christmas

For the first time in ages it's white at Christmas
as snow covers the world in its shimmering shroud
yet few take the time to stop and wonder
at the beauty that lies
by the side of the path,
on the street lamps,
along the branches of skeletal trees.
Sometimes darkening and black
hardening with crusty slush and salty dirt
lying abandoned by the busy street
its wonder trampled and forgotten in the shoppers' minds.
In some places heaped in frozen mountains,
at the end of airport runways and people's drives
seen merely as a hazard and nuisance
piled up on the edge of what we care about.
We might not even bat an eye at it.
But in few places, it still lies fresh and glistening
in the mid-day sun or crisp moonlight.
Each square inch like a thousand crystals,
their facets reflecting and refracting the light that shines upon them.
This is the snow as it was created to be.
Pure. Dazzling. Beautiful.
It makes dog walkers stop and watch their breath dance in the air.
The busy city worker taking a cross-country detour turns off the engine
of his powerful 4x4 and stares out the window.
Even the local takes a moment while washing up the Christmas dinner
to stop and stare.
The sheer power of a field of snow-flakes is breath-taking.
The power to stop a mighty city.
The dazzling beauty enough to cause the hardiest soul to pause.
The sheer whiteness of its frosty blanket
pure enough to cover a world's dirtiness and grime.
Christmas time.

White and peaceful, cold and crisp,
let us all remember this:
that while the dirt still seems to cling,
snow reminds us of one thing,
that while we stood knee-deep in grime,
God came and chose the perfect time
to come into our dirty world
all rights of God'ness, sideways hurled,
to bring the snow we really need
(He knows our dirty hearts, you see,)
to clean us once and once for all
so when the snow melts at his call
all that remains beneath is white
reflecting every facet of his light.
And saying in the mid-day glow,
"Friends, come stop and look upon the snow."


Sunday, December 12, 2010

New song!

This song came out of reflecting on what the world offers us every day - what we're encouraged to rely on, strive towards, build our lives on & define ourselves by, and seeing that all of these things are transitory. They can be taken away in a single moment, our firm foundations brought to rubble and ashes. The chorus tells a different story.

Where is the righteous
the one who will light up the dark?
justice has fallen away in the land
and your word is barred.
Governments sway to the sickly sweet sound
of the world's dry voice,
poisoning ears so that much that we hear
gives us but one choice.

But our God lifts up the weary
his whisper drowns out the noise
a searchlight burning the darkness
to find and rescue us

All that we hear puts a spin
on the world that we see.
Nature is credited with all the wonders
that we can see.
Meaning is drawn from whatever
we choose to believe.
But when out foundations rocked
do we stand or fall to our knees?


It feels like there should be a bridge or final verse (or both!) here. Feel free to post your ideas as a comment :)