Thursday: Identity

Below is my script for Pause for Thought on BBC Radio Devon:

 

Using the brilliant Disney film ‘The Jungle Book’ this week, we’ve thought about following, anxiety and trust.  Today we look at identity.

The monkeys had kidnapped Mowgli and taken him to their leader, the orangutan King Louie, who wanted the power of fire that humans had.  

He sings, “I wanna be like you, I want to walk like you, talk like you, …”

 

Human beings learn by copying others.

It’s as if we copy others in order that we become ourselves.

So while we maintain our unique identity; to reach it, we need community.  We need others.

loius

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Wednesday: Trust

Below is my script for Pause for Thought on BBC Radio Devon:

As my daughter and I were recently watching Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book,’ she snuggled in as the snake began his manipulative charm on Mowgli, singing, “Trust in me, just in me…’

Even she could see his sinister intent!

So far this week we’ve looked at the themes of following and anxiety, and now we turn to trust.

Not everyone who says they can be trusted are to be trusted.

Trust is a crucial aspect of human flourishing, and great damage is done when trust is broken.

holloway-kaa-the-jungle-book

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Tuesday: Contentment

Below is my script for Pause for Thought on BBC Radio Devon (at 25 minutes and 38 seconds in – I can’t believe I came on after Michael Jackson – Get in)!

 

Recently, I  was watching The Jungle Book with my two year old daughter.

Yesterday we looked at the ‘Elephant March Song’ and what it means to follow.

The second song that got my theological juices going was Baloo’s song ‘The Bare Necessities’.

 

Most people thrive when they have enough of the right things in life.

But how to determine what is enough is the big question.

What might be enough for one person, is ruinous to another.  

baloo

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Monday: Following

Below is my script for Pause for Thought on BBC Radio Devon (at 24 minutes & 22 seconds in):

In my role as a Baptist Minister, I meet incredible people.  Whether in the church I serve; or with trainee youth workers in the South West, or international missionary Bible students.

Their motivation to pursue the truth of Christian faith is compelling and inspiring.

 

The other day, I came home from work and was summoned into the living room by my recently adopted two year old daughter.

 

She was watching the 1967 version of The Jungle Book – I was commanded to sit and watch it with her.  And of course I obeyed!

colonel

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Drifting?

just-do-itThe Christian life is not easy.  It takes determined, hard graft, long-term view of life. Many people fall under the spell of easy-living, and for some unearthly reason, when some people become Christians, they expect their life to be one of ease, one sweet breeze.  Where oh where did they get that from?  What dark corner of the heart hides such a banal and idle sentiments?

But this is not so.

Not so, say the Scriptures, not so says Jesus, not so says Paul, not so says the witness of the New Testament.  Hebrews is a book of amazing theology, great exhortation, but also some sober warnings.  The very first warning says, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Hebrews 2:1).

In other words, if we do not “pay attention”, we will drift away…..away from God, away from Christ and all His salvation splendour.  Not drifting away requires a determined, hard-graft, long-term view of life.  The Christian life is much more about growing potatoes rather than eating chips; it is much more about feasting like kings rather than snacking like peasants or starving like fools

Carson-PlenaryOnce again, Don Carson nails it…..

“People do not drift toward Holiness.

Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.

We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance;

we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom;

we drift toward superstition and call it faith.

We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation;

we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism;

we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

 For the Love of God, p.23

CROSS

Distraction

0055 RST Distracted Brains - Mobile DPS 4nh.inddDistracted!

Not attracted, distracted!!

Ah!  These modern days, we’re so busy.

We distract ourselves with microchip and 4G;

We always think it’s all about me.

I’m multi-tasking; I’m so modern.

That flicker of light, our mobile we delight!

 

We pick up up everything,

Before us, and in us.

We reach, we pick up, we….distract ourselves.

Did someone just text me?

Check my phone!

Did someone just Facebook me?

Check my phone.

Are my kids talking to me…..check my phone!

 

We are a distracted people.

A picking up people.

Let us pick up our phone, our facebook, our TV guide;

But let us not be Christian inside.

We think we’re free, but really we hide;

From the terror inside, the distraction we hide.

 

What do they think?

What did he say?

Who gives a damn, anyway?

 

Jesus said, “Pick up your cross.”

Not the dross, that is your boss;

Not the phone you think you own;

Nor the life that you’ve blown.

But the cross, from new life grown.

 

You don’t have to pick up the shit; take the hit.

Pick up the Cross;

It’s not your loss.

You lose your life, in His strife;

Come to Me, said He; Be free.

 

Distracted! Attracted!

What are you picking up anyway?

Your phone, the TV guide, the Facebook like?

Your own little ego, fed every day….

…on the things that don’t fill;  anesthetized will.

 

Pick up your Cross and follow Me!

That means putting everything else down;

It means no longer following self.

Check yourself now,

Do you have the courage?

 

Do you?

Really?

I think I can hear your phone ringing……….

 

Angry at God

DSC_0771

Have you ever wanted to shake your fist in the face of God?

Have you ever read the story of the ancient Israelites and wondered why on earth they were such a dopey bunch of failures?

Have you ever read the Psalms and wondered why so many of them seem so angry, so confused, so desperate?

Have you ever read the Bible and just known that you could be reading a story of your own self, your own life?

Why can’t we just have a list of propositions?  Because God is not an abstraction.

Why can’t we just have a list of rules?  Because God is not a task-master.

Why can’t we just be told in plain Hebrew and Greek?  Because God is a Lover and all good lovers love poetry.

No doubt the relationship you have with God is difficult.  You are the angry fist-shaker.  You are the ancient Israelite.  You are the confused Psalmist.  You want abstraction because relationship is too costly.  You want rules because you are a task-master.  You don’t want the love language of poetry and Psalm because you are not a lover!

The Bible forces, allows, challenges us to face our inner conflicts.  Go on, shake your puny fist in the face of God, tell Him you’re angry at this or that, but then move on to praise, as the Psalmists often do.  Be angry; be grateful.  Complain at the bitterness of your life, how unfair it is; and then give praise for all the blessings you receive. In the fullness of your humanity, just as the ancient Israelites found out over the centuries, you discover the Face of God.

If their struggle is our struggle, the relationship is going to be difficult.  Newsflash:  We are sinners; God is not.  There is a conflict of light and darkness, love and hate, humility and pride.  Don’t misunderstand, this is no ying and yang thing.  But we post-moderns are like the ancients.  Our flesh battles with God and desires God.  We desire His love in all the wrong places.  Distorted love, broken hearts, indulgence, pride.

So the relationship is difficult, and that should console us.  We identify with those who experience struggle and sacrifice, who know the light and the dark, who hunger and thirst, who grumble and complain, who rejoice and praise.  This is not contradictory living and believing, this is real faith worked out in the real world.  A faith worked out and lived out before the inscrutable and exquisite God of love.

Augustine was right, when he said in his Confessions, “Can any praise be worthy of the Lord’s majesty?  How magnificent his strength!  How inscrutable his wisdom!  Man is one of your creatures, Lord, and his instinct is to praise you.  He bears about him the mark of death, the sign of his own sin, to remind him that you thwart the proud.  But still, since he is a part of your creation, he wishes to praise you.  The thought of you stirs him so deeply that he cannot be content unless he praises you, because you made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you…”

Go on creature…

Go on sinner…

Go on you bag of contradictions…

Go on you creature of the dust…

Go on – one marked with death…

…be real.

Shake your fist, but bend your knee also.  Shout “Why?” and “How Long O Lord?” but don’t forget to make confession and give thanks.  It’s not contradictory, it’s complexity in reality.  Worship Him, Jesus, our Lord and our God!