Envy

Many people are drawn to become Christians because they’ve heard “God so loved the world” or some other, reassuring Bible-verse. Not me. I was changed when I heard Proverbs 14:30: “Envy rots the bones.” I knew I was envious of my sister (who was having driving lessons at the time), and I knew if that was true, my bones must have well and truly rotted away. The preacher asked if we knew where we were going, and I didn’t. I couldn’t say for certain that if I died I would go to heaven, so as everybody else sang the last song, I sat and talked to God. I told Him I didn’t want to come to Him just out of fear of going to hell; that seemed weak to me, and I clearly felt Him say in my heart: “Come because I love you.” That happened in 1999, and my life’s never been the same since. I didn’t go home thinking I had to strive to stop being envious. There was just a conviction deep inside that it was wrong, and whenever I’m tempted to envy, I think back to that verse.

Others’ lives look very different to mine. Some have the ability to drive; some have jobs and their eyesight, but I’ve got things other people don’t have. Some single people living on their own don’t have any loved ones close by to spend time with, but I’ve got my parents living nearby, and Mum has become one of my best friends. I also have a church-family, and a few close friends I dearly love and respect.

There is an antidote to envy; it’s contentment. Have you met contented people? Do you enjoy being around them? These are the kind of people God wants us to be. We’ve looked at how God is three persons rolled into one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We’ve also seen there’s a marriage between God and His people. As His bride, this verse in Song of Solomon applies to us: “I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment” (Song of Solomon 8:10).

Jesus, let me be one who brings You contentment, today and always.

Born to be With You

In answer to today’s Daily Post, yes I have a best friend. He has so many good qualities. Let’s start with creativity: The day I was born, my friend saw the commotion. He heard the clatter of trolley wheels down hospital corridors. As people peeped through the window at us and dreamed of the future, my friend knew only one of us would make it, and looked for a way to communicate with me. He knows everything – every twist and turn in life, every struggle inside my fickle heart. Do I really love my friend … or only me, and will I always put my friend first above myself?

 

As I grow and learn, as I cry over big and small things, I know my friend suffered more than my biggest let-down – felt more vulnerable than me at my most afraid. And as I laugh with the friends I’ve been given, as I marvel at things I’ve done that I thought I could never do, I know it’s nothing compared to the joy where my friend is.

 

His name is Jesus, and He’s in heaven, where He’s gone to fix up a place for you and me. He saw and heard the day you were born, too. When you hurt, you can think of Him: People tried to stone Him; His family thought He was off His trolley; before He went to the cross He was blindfolded, slapped in the face and asked who hit Him – vulnerability, and we can’t imagine His pain on the cross as His shoulders were yanked backwards, and hands nailed behind Him so He was almost on all-fours. He went through all that to identify with you in your suffering, and any contentment you’ve felt in this world is just a taste of what’s to come in eternity.

 

I know lots of people have heard about Jesus, but if reading this does something in your heart – if there’s a connection you haven’t felt before, I’d really encourage you to talk to God about it. There’s so much more to Him than stories on a page. Jesus rose from the dead; He’s alive in heaven, and He wants to be your best friend.

“Stay Calm and Content”: A Book-Review

“I wish it were easy to give feelings of self-esteem to children, young people, and the adults they become.  If we could, many of society’s problems would disappear” – Cat Williams, author of “Stay Calm and Content:  No Matter What Life Throws at You”

 

I heard Cat interviewed about the book on my local radio-station.  Thinking she talked a lot of sense, I wrote to thank her, and she sent me a copy to review.

 

As the quote suggests, the book’s main focus is self-esteem; how it shapes us; why we act the way we do.  As soon as I read the blurb on the cover, I looked forward to getting into this book.  If (like me) you’ve read “The Five Love-Languages” by Gary Chapman, I think you might enjoy this one too.  There are lots of personal stories in here and, although fictional, Cat is a relationship counsellor and some of the changes took place in the lives of her clients.

 

True to life, some situations are presented to us with no resolution, but my particular favourites are those where counselling has brought about positive change – an abusor being forgiven; a teenaged girl’s relationship with her mum; a marriage falling apart, now restored.

 

Cat says of the book:  “I know that not everyone will like it and that some people might find faults or omissions.  However, I hope you find it interesting and perhaps useful”, which I did.  Things jumped out at me that I hadn’t thought of before, such as:  ‘Old memories replaying can make you feel what you felt in the past, even though the circumstances are different’.  Or:  ‘An argument is 2 people experiencing low self-esteem, because it’s centred on defensiveness and/or criticism’.

 

So, if you buy this book, it’ll make you think.  The only thing I found it lacked was the Christian perspective, so I might have phrased some of the assurances differently.  For example, Cat says:  “We can handle anything because we can choose how we respond to it”; I would add to that by saying:  I can handle anything because God says however many days I’ve got, I’ll have enough strength for them all (Deuteronomy 33:25).  Cat’s statement that we’re good enough when we’re born, before we’ve achieved anything, is such a rare thing to hear and really resonated with me, but I can’t think of that statement without being reminded of Jesus at His baptism, where God said He was pleased with Him before He’d even started teaching or doing any miracles.  For me, my Christian faith is what’s got me through the last 14 years of my life; I can’t imagine how people cope without God, but I’ve certainly learnt from Cat’s book, and I like her style of writing.  It’s very easy to read.  She’s covered such a range of topics in this first book of hers, but I really hope we’ll see other books in the future.

Learning the Secret

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” – Philippians 4:12.

 

Confession:  I’m still learning.  I mentioned in another post about the cuts the UK-government are making, and how things aren’t looking as secure as they used to.  This is affecting me personally.  I’m not pleading poverty; I hope I’ll never do that as long as I’ve got clothes to wear and food on the table, but I am having to be more careful with money because I sponsor my lovely children.  When I sponsored them, I did it because I could afford to, but now the government have decided I need less money to live on.  I want to be a good steward of what God has given me so I can see them through to the end of their time at Compassion, but sometimes, like this morning when I felt like thanking David Cameron for ruining my life, I feel disconnected from my children.  I wonder do I love them at all?  And if I give to the poor, but have not love …  I’m tempted to drop the sponsorships and live for myself.  Sounds ugly, doesn’t it?  And then I go to my Bible … and read this verse … and I know I need God to teach me the secret.

 

God has an amazing way of helping put things in perspective.  When I’m being all melodramatic and having thoughts like this morning’s, it’s not just disconnection from my children; I’m distancing myself from Him, but His peaceful presence is always there for us.  Within about half an hour, I had stopped feeling I wasn’t ready for today and had given myself a reality check:  David Cameron hasn’t ruined my life.  He’s only the Prime Minister; he’s not God.  If God has called me to sponsor my children right up until they leave the programme, He’ll take care of it.  I don’t like not knowing, but God wants me to be free from worry; free from bitterness …  He wants me to be content.

 

This is a song I can’t seem to stop singing lately.  It’s so cheerful, and as the chorus says:

“You’ve done a good work in me,

“And You won’t quit till I’m free”!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsOoJ2OuMK0

Thanks for reading these posts on Philippians, and I’d love to chat to you in the comments.