A wonderful book written in the 1990s called Metaphors We Live By speaks about how so much of how we understand the world is conveyed through the metaphors (or expressions) that we use to describe our lives. One common metaphor is talking about love as war, for example 'Love is a battlefield' or 'All's fair in love and war'. But further to just being descriptors of people or circumstances these very metaphors actually have the power to shape our lives, for better or for worse. What metaphors are you using today and how do they match up with the metaphors we find in the Bible?
I have just returned from a trip to another country in the Middle East where a group of fellow believers and I had the privilege to meet with members of the persecuted church. Hearing their stories and their perspective on hardships and suffering made me think long and hard about my own theology of suffering and waiting and hoping. Some of the stories we heard were so encouraging and the believers we met were so faithful to the Lord, others however were stories of just surviving and of seeing no point to the many sufferings that they had endured at the hands of ISIS. It was clear though that everyone had suffered to one degree or another but it was also clear that the severity of their suffering was in no way linked to their current levels of faith and hope. If anything I would almost argue that those who had suffered the most had the most hope. Suffering is not confined to persecuted Christians, around the world hundreds of millions of people live in unspeakable circumstances and suffer a lack of food, clean water, security, a place to sleep at night, a job to go to in the day or perhaps a person to love them. Suffering comes to most of us in one way or another. But it has become clearer to me that it is not suffering that is the problem, it is what we do with it. After all Jesus himself said, ‘in the world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world’.
Have you ever struggled with making sense of work and the single life? Are you putting your career on hold while you wait for Mr. Right or are you wholeheartedly pursuing your calling? This month's post looks at work and the single life.
For those of us who have been waiting any decent length of time for our spouse to enter stage left, we can have periods when we feel just so tired of waiting. Periods when we may start to doubt God’s good plans for us and when we start to look around to see is there anyone, anyone vaguely suitable on the near horizon. Sometimes a person appears in our lives who we know is pretty far from what a God-loving, dependable, kind, decent, Christian man looks like, but we start to entertain romantic thoughts about them regardless, particularly if they have shown some reciprocal interest in us.
Last year I spent nearly 30 vacation days in my home country and at the end of the year I felt more tired and discouraged about family after than I did at the beginning. So I asked the Lord to help me think about how is the family portrayed in the Bible and what can I learn from this about my own family and my expectations of them. I also asked Him how can I stay in relationship with difficult family members but not continually get hurt? And finally, what does it mean to part of the family of God and how can this help me in making sense of my biological family?
Have you ever thought that it would be so much easier to reach the people around for Christ if you were married? Or has it not even crossed your mind? What role should singles play in fulfilling the great commission? Do we have a role at all? if you have ever thought or wondered about this...read on!
So it is the New Year and you, like me, might find that this is the time when ex-boyfriends tend to reappear. Perhaps it is the cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere or the really hot weather in the Southern one. Perhaps it is the nostalgia that surrounds Christmas or the thought of not having had someone to kiss on New Year’s Eve, or the impending Valentine's Day, regardless it does seem to be the season of the ghosts of boyfriends past. When I received a new year's text a couple of weeks ago from an ex who I have no interest in rekindling any flames with, I started to think about the year ahead and what I might do more of in order to move away from Mr. Wrong and towards Mr. Right.
As I prayed and sought the Lord regarding His plans for me this year and what it was that He would have me write down as my prayers for the year ahead I felt him say the word release. Release what has gone before, release old hurts, release pain, release people from unrealistic expectations, release family members from past and even present wrongs. Release yourself from past sin, mistakes, failures and let go of what lies behind you.
Christmas, as the song puts it, is supposed to be the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ but for many people, myself included, it can be actually one of the loneliest, depressing and most angst-ridden time of the year. The growing gap between our reality and our expectations for Christmas is fueled by saccharine sweet Hallmark cards, endless happy family holiday movies and highly curated social media feeds of family bliss in the festive season. It all just looks so wonderful, so perfect but so far from the reality that we are experiencing.
We singles have a wonderful opportunity to bring Christ back to the forefront of Christmas, to share more of Him with everyone we can around us and to be actively engaged in hosting as well as attending celebrations with friends and family. I thought we shouldn’t be thinking only about surviving Christmas, we should be thinking about thriving at Christmas. More importantly we should be thinking about how we can use the season to share the reason. So with that in mind here are my five ideas for thriving this Christmas.