Spiritual Climate /FaithWalk


I’m sitting on the balcony wearing a sleeveless summery top and denim shorts. The hills, palm trees and sailing boats contribute to the delightful scenery  from our holiday apartment. I watch people as they stroll along the promenade beside the beach and it’s amazing to observe who are the tourists and who are the locals.

It’s April in Majorca – a stark change from the wet and cold conditions still dominating the British Isles. It’s warm and sunny, but only the start of spring on this holiday resort.

There’s a woman crossing the road wearing a coat and winter scarf. It’s inching towards 20 degrees and I chuckle to myself. She’s obviously Spanish; she won’t be ditching the coat till it’s a couple of degrees warmer. The Brits are easy to spot; they’re wearing very little. Starved of sunshine and warmth after a brutally cold, long winter, they’re quick to strip off the layers and soak in the sunshine. Having left behind temps barely hitting 5 degrees for so long, 20 degrees feels blissfully hot.

So why the difference in attire? Most will recognise immediately that it’s all a question of acclimatisation. The Spanish are used to the Majorcan sun – it’s nothing special or unusual to them. They don’t feel a desperate need to catch a bit of a tan; they know they’ll be plenty more sun on its way. The thermometer will likely reach 35 or 40 in a few weeks and, for now, 20 is just pleasant, if not still slightly cool to them. Admittedly, even we have felt rather cold indoors in the evenings since we arrived.

This got me thinking about my faith – whether I’ve grown accustomed to the spiritual climate around me, such that I’m happy to walk around burdened by layers of stuff, rather than appreciate the newness of each day’s sunshine. Could I possibly be looking for opportunities to strip off some unnecessary layers such as legalism or spiritual striving, and simply enjoy basking in the presence of the Son? Or will I continue to take His presence for granted some days, knowing that He always promises to walk beside me?

Perhaps I’m so settled in my spiritual climate that I don’t even notice that things have changed? Has my love for God grown cold or predictable? Maybe I need to shed my coat of mediocrity and my scarf of smug satisfaction and revel in the warm glow of Christ’s grace once again, stripped of the cumbersome layers of obligations and concerns. I’m often so busy trying to achieve in my Christian walk that I neglect the simplicity of enjoying Christ and relaxing in his presence.

Just as the Spanish might take the sun for granted, it’s so easy to start taking the Son’s presence for granted. Whilst I hope that’s not true for me, I’m aware that I often don’t really make the most of  revelling and delighting in him daily. I’ll never know when I may next be led to walk through a valley or dark shadow. Life has shown me those dark days will come.

I should brim over with the goodness and spiritual warmth he pours out on me today. What a wonder to experience his light and tangible warmth! God is good.

Boston, Prayer and Tragedies / FaithWalk Response

Creative Commons: 4ThGlryOfGod

I wonder how many of us were praying for Boston before the Marathon or the explosions.

It’s not my intention to be facetious; I’m just considering some issues swirling around my head right now. It seems close to home, yet still far away. The hashtag #prayforBoston sprang up quickly across Twitter, as people of faith responded in the best way they could. When you’re too far away to give blood or offer help at the scene, prayer is the one thing unrestricted by distance.

As events unfolded on Monday, I began thinking about how much of our praying is reactionary, a knee jerk response to crises & collisions in our lives and spaces or the lives of others.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t pray after tragedies & events in the news. We should. We should always seek out opportunities to pray for those going through disaster or pain.

But maybe there’s something we can all learn from that prayer we are so familiar with – the Lord’s prayer, where Jesus instructs us to pray – Deliver us from evil… Your kingdom come.

It should be a daily practice in our spiritual walk to pray in the way Christ demonstrated to us.

Maybe we should return to the roots of our faith and revive corporate prayer… Deliver us! It’s not just an Anglican, liturgical thing; Jesus wants all believers to pray in this way.

Are we willing to get on our knees and pray for our towns and cities to be shielded from devastating violence?

I’m aware of the tendency in my own life to coast along in my prayer activity when everything’s going just nicely. When an urgent situation or major dilemma arises, I immediately think about praying fervently. It’s my natural response.

I need God when I’m in trouble. There is no shame in that. Even the psalmist illustrates how we can walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I am weak and know I need God in my moments of desperation, in times of dismay.

But what about praying with passion when nothing special is going on, when mainly good stuff is occurring in life and in my vicinity?

The Boston bombings have challenged me once again to pray urgently and wholeheartedly for my family, friends, city and country before they run into disarray. Before tragedy strikes. Before unspeakable horrors occur. I need to be reminded of this regularly.

In our towns, our cities and on our doorsteps live and lurk the desperate, the deluded and the dangerous people of our broken world.

We don’t know what thoughts consume or trouble those whom we walk past or interact with as we go about our daily life. The sad news of the distressed pregnant mother who killed herself and three children in Lowestoft struck a nerve as they lived in a street that I have walked along; it’s just a stone’s throw from a beautiful beach and I have relatives in that locality.

We shouldn’t live in paranoia, mistrust and constant fear. But we can pray – as Jesus taught us.

Your Kingdom come.

God’s kingdom come!  In our homes, on the streets, in our places of work and leisure.

Our praying will not necessarily avert destruction wreaked by those whose hearts are closed to Him. Disaster cannot be eliminated this side of eternity. But we can rest assured that we are fulfilling Christ’s commands by praying according to his will. We should not ever give up praying: “Your Kingdom come”. For where His kingdom is manifest – through love, compassion and grace – lives are transformed and nations are saved.

Let’s make it a constant thing in our Christian walk – to cling daily to the power of prayer. And at this time, as we pray for those affected by Boston’s horrific tragedy, let’s also offer prayers for the people and places near to us.

Also, be cheered by stories such as these to lift your spirits…

Amid shock at Marathon, a rush to help strangers http://b.globe.com/13ce8Xe

Museums offer free admission in response to marathon bombings http://b.globe.com/YtdgKF

Poem for Boston: Marathon Monday

Expectancy in the crowds
Runners push themselves to the limit
Breathless and bubbling with pride
Destined for glory
Racing towards the finish line

Eyes focus on the final stretch
A race against time
Passion compels to keep going
Even under the strain

Oh the pleasure of a momentous day! When –

Loud blasts dismay, flames invade
The unthinkable shatters
Dreams strewn in the gutter
Anticipation smashed by shock
Coursing through veins like a smack in the face
Into a heart of absolute terror

No cheers or jubilation
Explosions steal the day
Fear overtakes and crying commences
Chaos tears through, taking centre stage

Blood on the streets
Carnage surrounds
Fear etched on their faces
Destruction blasts the joy away
People panic and fall on this

Horror filled Marathon Monday

It was never meant to be this way
Why did this have to happen today?
Goals and dreams smashed in pieces
Despair and dread assume their places

Anything can spoil a day
But they never thought it would end this way

Pain inflicted on purpose
A hellish scene to behold
Utter disbelief, complete shock
How can someone choose to act this way?
A moment of madness brings

On this April Marathon Monday

But there is hope in humanity as
Arms reach out and legs run into
The commotion
Caring hands help heal the wounded
Swift to repair, to hold, to revive
Nothing can impede the human spirit
Forged by God himself, made in His image

Love will overcome
And Boston will rise
To live another day
But may never be quite the same

Oh the heartache of a single day

May freedom ring out once more on Patriots’ Day

Bastille: Pompeii/ FaithWalk Comment

The song playing on the radio caught my attention. I’m a sucker for a catchy song, but this time I thought I’d inadvertently tuned to a Christian channel rather than Radio 1 and had to check the dial. My foot started tapping along in the car as I heard:

“We were caught up and lost in all of our vices…”

“Oh where do we begin, the rubble o’ our sins?”

I only heard the latter part of the song and missed the artist details, but when I got home I searched over Radio 1’s playlist and discovered the song named ‘Pompeii’. It made sense when I watched the video – the inevitability of the destruction of the ancient city, how not one individual could escape the impending doom.

The spiritual analogies are rife, and I keep listening to this song which dominates the airways as it resonates with our current culture. The video is a vivid display of the inevitability of the destructive forces of our sin. But the artist leaves us with no solution. We’re simply destined to succumb to the darkness in our eyes and souls.

But there is a solution. And it’s found in the person of Christ who’s made restitution for the darkness that seeps into our hearts and tries to take over. How amazing to know that we are not lost and we don’t have to submit to the overwhelming depravity that comes to us naturally. In Christ anyone can become a new creation and experience a transformed life. We can’t get rid of the darkness on our own, but when we let God step into our lives, He can wash us clean.

This may not be the intended message that the artist wanted to convey, but my spirit almost can’t help shouting out the solution to the burden of a dark heart that Christ wants to fill with his light. I’ve experienced that light and it’s oh so freeing. Next time you hear the song, think what about what it speaks to you.