28 April 2006


This week I've been reminded about the power of encouragement as two people gave me words of encouragement. It doesn't matter who they were and it doesn't matter what they said. The point is simply that what they said was true, it was genuine and it encouraged me.

Reminder to self: When someone does something nice, or does something well. Let them know.

18 April 2006

Just a Small "Thank You", God

Lord, as I was driving through the countryside this afternoon, I noticed how beautiful the Spring is this year. I heard someone say the other day that the daffodils have flowered about a month late, but what a difference a month makes. Seas of daffoils everywhere along with the trees in bloom: lime green shoots here, pink apple blossoms and pinker cherry trees there and those bushes with the yellow flowers (I have no idea what they are).

Thank you for your creation and for the riot of colour this year. It took awhile, but it was worth it.

17 April 2006

God and Sinners Reconciled

(The following thoughts came to me on Good Friday. Although it's now Easter Monday, better late than never, I guess.)

From 2 Corinthians 5:19 - In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. (NRSV)

Since reading Richard Lischer's book, The End of Words, I have decided that 2 Corinthians 5:19 is a better 'sound bite' for communicating the Gospel than the ubiquitous John 3:16. I'm not saying I disagree with John 3:16, but I don't think it speaks easily to people today.

Here's how I'd unpack 2 Corinthians 5:19:

In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself - In a world where humanity is alientated from God, it is God who makes the first move towards us. God does this in the incarnation - in Christ.

not counting their trespasses against them - This is the really important bit to me. God forgives us. Full stop. Period. No strings attached. That's what is meant by Grace. Forget about all the good Christian people who say that you have to repent before God forgives you. That's not the way it works. God forgives us and, in consequence of that forgiveness, we repent. It is in being forgiven that we know we are sinful, not in recognising our sinfulness that we obtain God's forgiveness. That's another reason why the Gospel is a scandal and another reason why it is 'upside down'.

Imagine this. A family member comes up to me and says: 'I forgive you.' I am am not aware of having offended this person but when they explain what happened I realise that I have indeed offended them. Then I apologise and thank them for their forgivness. Sound good? But how many times do I respond instead by saying 'What do you mean, you forgive me?! I have done nothing to you! How dare you forgive me!' If I'm honest, I react in the second way far too often. I suspect it's because many of us react in this second way that we either don't see that God has forgiven us already or that we are offended by the idea of a God who forgives someone before they have repented.

Finally, 2 Corinthians 5:19 tells us that God has entrusted the message of reconciliation to us. When we have been reconciled with God, we are then in a position to proclaim to others that reconciliation with God is on offer to them too.

As James Alison puts it, what we find difficult is not asking to be forgiven, what we find hard is receiving God's forgiveness before we even ask for it.

To me, this is the scandalous message of the cross.

Credit for ideas in this post to:
James Alison, Paul Fiddes and Richard Lischer.

14 April 2006

Calling all Amateur Photographers

A friend drew my attention to the fact that the BBC are sponsoring a photographic competition over the Easter weekend based on the theme 'What Easter Means to Me'. I'm not a photographer, but wouldn't it be great to have a winner with a Christian theme? Seeing as Easter is a Christian holiday and all. Get snapping, folks!

05 April 2006

Writer's Strop and Book Temptation

Writer's Strop

I have 'writer's strop' at the moment. If you're American, you're probably wondering what a 'strop' is. It's a temper-tantrum of the sort that two-year olds have.

I have a paper for theology college that is due in two weeks' time and I simply don't want to write it. I'm able to write it. I have all the information to write it. But my psyche is saying 'No! I'm not going to do it! So there!' And that makes it practically impossible to do. 'My subconscious threw a strop' doesn't strike me as the kind of excuse that will wash with the tutors, though.

Someone paid me a lovely compliment today in saying that I write clearly. The problem is that I've spent the last ten years writing and writing and writing and there is a part of me that just doesn't want to do it any more. This was happening during the last year of my employment as well. I was finding it increasingly difficult to get down to writing reports whereas I used to love to write.

Book Temptation

I just found out about a new book that NT Wright has published. He's one of my favourite theology writers. The book is called Simply Christian and it is supposed to be an introduction to the basics of Christianity.

I think Tom Wright is an excellent scholar, but he's got a real gift for communicating theology to the person in the pew.