Are you someone who struggles to pray for yourself but will pray for others? Say, you have a bag of coins. All the people around you need money, so you give them out until they’ve all gone. You want to keep giving out to others, but that bag has to be filled up again.
I think it’s important to pray for ourselves – that we would be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, so He can then flow out of us to help other people (a jug of water won’t overflow unless it’s full). I can’t fill your bag of coins; what I can do is point you in the direction of that heavenly bank!
This post has been bubbling away for a while. It was sparked off by a link I saw last week, shared by a churchgoer, entitled: “Why I’d Like to Punch the Next Christian who Asks me to Sign a Petition Against Gay Marriage”. My first challenge to whoever wrote the article would be: If you want to punch somebody, surely you’re not very Christ-like yourself? If violence isn’t a problem to them, it’s no surprise that same-sex marriage isn’t either.
So punch me if you like, but can two men have children without the help of a woman? Can two women have children without the help of a man? “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife” (not his husband), “and they will become one flesh” – Genesis 2:24. Marriage is God’s design. If the UK-government starts messing with that, this country could be in big trouble. A friend pointed out to me that after the cloning of Dolly the sheep, we had an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. The outbreak before that was when the Abortion Act came in …
Will Young has put his two-pence-worth in by claiming that Christians who want to share views on marriage should be jailed (so he can share his view, but we’re not expected to share ours?), and just today I had an E-mail telling me our Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, has talked of her determination to change marriage whether the public like it or not. If she’s made that decision already, the so-called consultation – which you can find here – is pointless.
So what’s the next step? Well, if you’re in the UK, over 230,000 of us have signed a petition asking the government not to redefine marriage. I’ve personally E-mailed my MP and met her face-to-face about other issues and haven’t found her to be very sympathetic, but if you do feel you have a sympathetic MP, why not drop them an E-mail? You could tell them a real consultation means listening to the people before making a decision, and it’s undemocratic to do it the other way round. That’s one idea, and, if you haven’t already, why not go to www.c4m.org.uk and join us in signing the petition?
I’d like to thank Coalition for Marriage for their part in inspiring this post.
I woke up this morning thinking about something that happened to me a few years ago. I had gone to a university for a week-long summer school. I was doing a course in creative writing, and was all ready with my script-idea for the play I wanted to write.
On the Monday, I came back in to the hall of residents after my first day of lectures and got chatting to the lady in the room opposite. “What course are you doing?”
“It’s a course called Time for Yourself,” she told me. I must have looked puzzled because she went on: “It’s all aromatherapy and this crystal healing? …”
“Oh,” I said. I headed into my room and waited to go to the welcome reception at 5 o’clock.
I had a bad feeling about this crystal healing, as I would about any form of healing that asks you to put your faith in something like crystals and doesn’t have Jesus at the centre, so I prayed about it. I don’t remember my exact words, but they were something like: Lord, I feel really uneasy about this. Please show Barbara that it’s wrong. I told no one what I had prayed, and I never met Barbara again.
A few days passed, and I was about to leave. As I washed my hands in the ladies’ loo, I got talking to someone who said she was a tutor, so I asked what she taught. “Time for Yourself.”
“I had a room opposite someone on that course. Barbara?”
“Oh, Barbara … She decided not to do the course after all. On the opening night, she got talking to another tutor and decided to do their course instead.”
Have you ever read the book of Esther? I remember the first time I read it: I couldn’t put it down! Basically what happens is, the queen disobeys the king, so the king is advised never to allow her into his presence again, and to find another girl to be queen instead of her. A Jewess is eventually chosen – a girl called Esther. Actually, her real name is Hadassah, but she’s given the name Esther because she conceals her identity. Esther means Hidden in Hebrew, and if you read the book, you’ll see that God is hidden in the story: He’s not mentioned once, yet His fingerprints are all over.
Esther is in the king’s palace when his second-in-command, Haman, devises a plan to literally wipe every Jew off the face of the earth. He casts the lot (like tossing a coin) to determine when this will take place.
After several days of fasting, Esther goes in to the king without being called, endangering her life. She reveals her identity and requests that her people be saved. A law is written, permitting Jews to defend themselves on the day set aside for their destruction. When they had struck down their adversaries, they celebrated with feasting and called the feast Purim (meaning Lottery) – a reminder to them of Haman’s plot and how God brought relief from their enemies. Purim was a time for giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor (Esther 9:22).
Jews still celebrate Purim today (apparently this year, it’s on 8 March). In the last century, there have been many who’ve set themselves up against the Jewish people (Hitler would be one), but they can keep in mind this principle of thousands of years ago and look to God for relief.
If you want to help Jewish people celebrate, you can send Purim baskets to Israeli victims of terror attacks. You could even send a deluxe basket, which includes children’s toys as well as food. You can read more about it here, and I hope you’ll share the joy of Jewish people around the world.