Perfect Love

John mentions perfect love in 1 John 4:18 in a way that seems to indicate – taken along with the rest of his writings – that he had first hand experience of it.  I’m not sure I have now because I experienced a level of love I have never had before both mentally and emotionally last night and it has left me realising that I have a lot more to know.

It wasn’t a mushy thing nor a cold, crucified kind of love.  It reminded me more of the kind of love that Paul talks about in Ephesians 3:17 – a rooted and grounded kind of love.  Like all God things ultimately it is a revelation.  It sounds simple when you describe it but the experience is profound, moving and revealing all at once.

I fancy myself as a bit of a mystic.  My mind is on heavenly things a lot.  The truth is that it is probably on earthy things more often but, as I said, I like to think in mystic ways.  I’m partial to Akiane Kramarik’s way of thinking about things and I would have a lot of time for the ideas explored in the various Star Trek series and movies.  Thankfully as someone impacted by Jesus in an experiential and life changing way I don’t have time to explore that kind of mysticism much.  As Paul says (in 1 Corinthians 8: 5) there are many gods and many lords and they are all more powerful than me without Christ – or at least most of them are I guess.  I’m better off ensuring I know the Lord of lords and God of gods first and it will take me a lifetime to do that.A walk in the woods

But that kind of mystical tendency has left me floating a few inches above the ground most of the time I think.  Or at least that is what it seemed like when God showed me His love for me in a fresh new way last night.  Being rooted and grounded in love is to be totally in touch with the here and now.  God showed me last night that in the here and now He has done nothing but protect, love and esteem me for the last 35 years.  It is just in my imaginations that I have been fearful, imagining what suffering together with Christ might mean.

He doesn’t want me to suffer, period.

Victor Hugo and the French Worldview

Victor Hugo is best known outside France for two novels he wrote, Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I recently tried to read an unabridged version of the former and I may have read abridged versions of the latter as a child.  The latest film version/ musical of Les Miserables is a powerful work which captures the main story line of the novel very well.  However when I read the book, the level of detail (“God is in the details” according to the translator) was difficult to wade through. The book had about 1500 pages and I gave up around page 1000.  Maybe I will complete it some day.

France and the UK have always stood poles apart – especially during the 19th Century.  This is mainly because France had a bloody revolution at the end of the 18th Century and the UK didn’t.  Victor Hugo was an apologist for the revolution.  He argues extensively in Les Miserables that it was a great thing for France and for the world that it happened.  On that point I could not agree.  Charles Dickens’ novel “A Tale of Two Cities” which I did complete not too long ago brings out the contrast between London and Paris at the time.  Dickens is distinctly not apologetic for the French Revolution.  In fact you would be hard pressed to find many Englishmen who are or were.

Being Irish I understand the power of blood sacrifice in nationalist revolution.  I came to live in Ireland at 12 having been schooled and reared in England until that time.  I can still remember the shock of the Irish view of revolution and what it meant to the Irish.  Everything in the Irish worldview is coloured by 1916 and 1922 as well as the history of revolutions extending back before 1798.  Around where I live there are 3 plaques and a monument within a 2 km radius commemorating battles and deaths that happened in the local area during the revolution of 1798.

Blood sacrifices have power.  As Christians we should know this only too well.

The rising up of the ordinary people was praised throughout Les Miserables.  Victor Hugo helped lay a foundation in French thinking that makes it perfectly acceptable for a large amount of people working in a particular industry to hold the rest of the country to ransom.  He also had a wife and a mistress, another pattern of French public life he reinforced.

Victor_Hugo_deathbed_portrait_by_Nadar,_1885

“Victor Hugo’s death from pneumonia on 22 May 1885, at the age of 83, generated intense national mourning. He was not only revered as a towering figure in literature, he was a statesman who shaped the Third Republic and democracy in France. More than two million people joined his funeral procession in Paris from the Arc de Triomphe to the Panthéon, where he was buried. He shares a crypt within the Panthéon with Alexandre Dumas and Émile Zola. Most large French towns and cities have a street named after him.” (Wikipedia)

Let’s continue this later.

15 Minutes

Whether it is because our lives are too busy, or because our attention spans have dropped away due to social media, but for whatever reason it seems increasingly difficult to find time to do anything – at least if you mean by the word “time” anything greater than about 15 minutes.15-minutes-300x300

We can all usually find 15 minutes:

  • 15 minute coffee break
  • 15 minutes on Facebook (normally turns into 30 though)
  • 15 minutes over a meal (which should be at least 30 but often isn’t)
  • 15 minutes power napping

So recently I’ve been trying 15 minutes praying (having been prompted about this in a number of ways).  First thing in the morning before doing anything else, sitting on the edge of my bed.  When I get home in the evening from work.  Last thing at night.  Seems to work.  You should try it.

Now it has taken me 15 minutes to write this blog (including time being distracted by someone’s birthday on Facebook) which is enough time.  Anymore and you will probably not read it.

Next 15 minutes of exercise.  Hopefully I’ll also get 15 minutes of teaching myself the electric organ before the day is out.  Isn’t it amazing what you can do with 15 minutes?

Peace and Rest

There are many places in Scripture where God tries to tell us just how important he considers it that His people should be walking in peace.

In the New Testament we are commanded to strive to enter the rest that the Israelites failed to enter because of disobedience (Hebrews 3: 12 – 4:11).

In the Old Testament God enshrined rest in the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11).  He considered it so important that the penalty for violating that commandment was death as shown in Numbers 15:32-36.  Despite the penalty for breaking the Sabbath having already been told them in Exodus 31:14, when faced with the violation they hesitate before carrying it out -understandably.  Of all the various death penalties meted out to the Israelites under the Law this one seems most harsh.

Thankfully we are not under the Law.  Nevertheless there are sins that lead to (spiritual) death (1 John 5:16) and for us as Christians it would appear that consistently not being in rest is one of them.

Jesus emphasized again the importance of resting in Him in John 15: 1-7 when he mentions some quite shocking consequences of not abiding in Him.  We can be cast out His body this way.

From my own experience I have noticed both in myself and others that if I am not in rest it is usually because I am not trusting in God – I am anxious or worried –  or I am proud and rising up in myself, full of myself.  Neither of these states is pleasing to God and, if continued in, they will inevitably result in separation from God.

Actually, spiritual death is worse than physical.  So let’s strive to enter that rest.

And remember, there is always hope in Christ. All you have to do is come to Him.  No matter where you’ve been – or how often you have been out of rest – you will find a welcome there every time you turn to him (the old fashioned word is “repent”).  His death on the cross has made that possible.  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30 (NASB)yoked oxen.

Chosen Part 2: A Strange Flight

I was sitting on the third bus on the Dusseldorf Airport apron and it was going nowhere.

Next, someone is calling my name.  I see an official on the apron with my bag in front of him.  He explained to me that 121 people had been booked into the plane when in fact there was only 119 seats on it. He apologised for the inconvenience but they had been asking for volunteers and only one person had come forward.  They then chose me from the other 120 passengers as the person they would compensate for missing the plane by giving me free accommodation, a meal, a flight back the next day (Saturday) and £150 (which was quite a lot in 1996).  And they hoped that was OK.  No explanation as to why they chose me.

Inside an airplane

I stood forlornly on the apron waving goodbye to the other 119 passengers and joined my fellow detainee for the meal back at the airport hotel.  I can’t remember much about the meal.  My fellow inmate explained that he had volunteered to come off the plane partly because of the £150 but mainly because his fellow passenger was his boss from the Dept. of Transport who was in a foul humour at being messed about so much by Aer Lingus.

I rang Olive again, and again, and again.  Somethings don’t change much over the years and my wife’s tendency is still to either not have her mobile phone or to have it on silent or buried in her handbag where she can’t hear it.  Bless her.  Anyway, she could have saved herself a trip to the airport if she had decided to turn it on before she reached there.  When she did eventually reach the airport she rang me with rather a strange opening line:  “Hi love, I see your flight has been cancelled…” I was about to say: “No, I’m just not on it.” but that didn’t make sense so I checked with her again.  It had definitely been cancelled.

I looked up at my fellow prisoner and told him.  By this stage we had been about 2 hours at our meal and the cooks had gone home.  So we wandered up to the hotel reception and sure enough, there were the other 119 passengers and the crew coming in the door.  They had spent 3 hours on the tarmac only to discover that there was a technical fault with the airplane.

Sadly for those who weren’t chosen, a technical fault is not one that Aer Lingus compensated passengers for at the time.  So the next day I got home on an earlier flight than they did and happily took my £150 compensation.

120 to one.  Not bad, Dad.