Drop Effect

Lent is an odd time, it can easily become a time of isolation. People tend to take time out to think, pray and generally be alone with God and their thoughts. It can also be a time of isolation as well as solitude because suddenly you are not doing the same things as everyone else. As a general rule the feeling of isolation is not good.

Often people that have a faith can feel isolated in society and that they can have no effect in the world. You sometimes hear phrases such as "I'm just one drop in the ocean" or "what difference can I make". Truthfully some people all on their own can effect many people. But more usually it takes a group of people working together. One drop in an ocean is nothing, but an ocean of drops is powerful thing.

The trick is to remember that we are all connected and that we do all effect one another. In my Lent course I am studying the faith of William Wilberforce, who was famed for the abolition of Slavery in the UK two centuries ago - check my recent blogs. There must have been times for him when the going got hard and the political struggle seemed unending. At times like this he must have felt isolated and like he could do no good. The truth is that he did do massive good and his actions affected other people who supported him and drew great strength from his actions. They still do, Martin Luther King was just one. But William did not achieve this alone, other people implemented his dream and other people kept it alive.

In this day and age we have more capacity to connect with one another and more capacity to help one another than ever. People working in charities at places of great need look for people elsewhere to support them. People living in great distress appreciate the caring contact that they receive from others. You can do things directly for your neighbours or indirectly by supporting charities or just giving to them. The possibilities are endless and if you decide to do something you will be joining a great mass of people that express their faith by "doing something".

Instead of allowing yourself to feel alone against the world, become a drop in a mighty ocean and let the good that you pass on wash up on another shore altogether.

Peace Dave


Key Issue

I have a friend who is for ever making one line style remarks that are a commentary on life. One of his more recent quips was that, every key represents a worry. It's true, a key is a way of protecting something that we own and by virtue of that it is something we have to be concerned about. If not I would never lock my house and soon I would be sharing it with squatters or some one would have relieved me of it's contents ! This comment rings even more true in our possession rich Western life, we have all sorts of things that are ours to worry about and protect with keys or passwords. Just stop and think how many you may have.
There is though a flip side to this, as if you had no worries and therefore no keys you would also have far less freedom - a thing that we value very highly in our society. If you had no car you would be reliant on walking or public transport. If you had no house of your own you may not be able to live where you want or conversely end up living somewhere you hate. Imagine you had to pay all your bills in cash and had to walk to the place where you paid them. Clearly there are some worries worth having.
Being Lent and as I am studying the faith of William Wilberforce in my Lent Group I started to consider this point in the context of his position. Keys , I think are more responsibilities than worries. We are responsible for our car, house, shed, bicycle, credit card, online account e.t.c. How we manage our responsibilities speaks volumes about us. My wife is constantly loosing her car keys and often won't bother to lock the house. Her security is that I will lock the house and that I will find her keys.
Some people in this life, either by birth or choice find themselves with responsibilities that they can either choose to ignore or worry about. William Wilberforce was such a man. As a minister for Parliament in the British government of the late 18th, early 19th century he was well aware of the extent of the slave trade. As a Christian he was also well aware of what his faith told him about slavery and how to treat people. This created a responsibility-the abolition of slavery- as he was in a position to make change. This responsibility just like others came with a choice. Just like a person with a house key he could choose to lose the key and ignore this issue, which would have been a very easy thing to do or pick up the key and try to unlock the issue. Unlocking the issue would be hard and very unpopular, but ultimately right.
Every day as Christians we are faced with responsibilities and forced to make choices that either define us in our faith or deny that we have one; some times on small issues and some times large ones. When Jesus decided to accept the responsibility of death on a cross for our sins that was a huge worry for him. But in seeing that through he trusted us with one small worry, remember me. Remembering Jesus and knowing about him lets us understand our faith and the love that God has for us. Jesus is the key to the Christian faith, he can unlock the Love of God. This is a love that comes with responsibilities but just remember, next time you lock your house or start your car or unlock your bike, that if you have the responsibility you also have the key.

Peace Dave


Be Determined

Lent is a time of learning and growth. Being a Christian I try to spend time in Lent improving myself. I usually give up alcohol as this helps me to maintain a clear mind. But Lent, despite what you may have heard is not just about about denial. Like most I am following a Lent course which if you have read my previous posts you will know is about William Wilberforce and his faith.
The course seeks to portray values that we could inherit personally by examining the values of William Wilberforce in the light of his faith. He was instrumental in stopping the trade in slaves two hundred years ago and was driven to this by his personal beliefs. It is what he believed that made his opinions differ from those around him. As a person he was defined by what he believed in.
In this day and age there is a great temptation not to believe in anything, especially if you live in the well to do part of the globe. The Bible offers many good moral outlooks and is rich in stories of what is right and wrong, good or bad. Reading the bible and getting to know it offers a way that my faith can determine me, that is work me out and make me something new. What it is and what it does is the great challenge of Lent.
Being determined by any set of values requires me to understand them well and try hard to live by them. This can be awkward, costly and even painful, people do not always understand. William Wilberforce would have known this all too well. But despite this he followed his faith and was determined by it. So, don't just be determined in faith, be determined by faith.

Peace Dave


Welcome News

I recently worked a lot of overtime. What that means for my employer is that they paid me extra to come to work on my days off. What that means for me is that I had two days off last month and next week my pay packet will be bigger than average. The extra pay is handy as like everyone I have bills to pay,but also I get the grinding realisation that I am trading my life to get this extra pay - no days off. To carry on day after day getting up at 5am and coming home at 6:45pm requires persistance and determination.

My Lent course this year is about a man called William Wilberforce who was instrumental in abolishishing the slave trade in the UK two hundred years ago. His was a task that went against the grain poitically, socially and economically at the time. I cannot believe that he didn't suffer for his cause or put in long hours. His determination must have been considerable even with the support of his friends.

My last blog was about encouraging one another and accepting encouragement. Not much good being encouraged if you are going to give up trying. No one, even Jesus, pretends that life will be easy or straight forward. But if you are ever going to achieve something you must be determined. This message applies to even the simplest thing like giving up smoking. Being a Christian is task in itself and it is fraught with temptations that will pull you away from God if you let them.

It's relatively simple to be a Christian, all the instructions you need are in the bible and can easily be taught at Alpha courses or picked up in Church groups. The trick is being determined to stay the course. Lent is a time to reflect on this and give yourself a sort of spiritual spring clean. Just as with William Wilberforce you are working towards a great goal, so with the encouragement of your church or family or friends, be determined. Then once you are tell God, it will be welcome news.

Peace Dave