Thursday, July 30, 2009

Spiritual Learning, Part 2: Food

Good Food sign
I like the rich Biblical metaphor of food and nutrition: both Old and New Testaments are full of similes comparing God's Word, and knowledge of His ways, with food. The Scriptures are described as honey, a few times as milk, and as solid food — like a baby's diet and digestive system change and expand as he/she gets older, so our spiritual diet should grow, change, become deeper as we learn more about God & His character.

Food is a powerful metaphor; we know we need nutrients for our bodies to survive and thrive. If we don't eat, we get hungry. If we try to eat too much in one go, we can struggle to digest it properly.

These ideas extend, I think, to the way we treat Scripture, and spiritual nourishment in general. Are we getting enough? Are we benefiting from what we do get? These are both traps we can fall into.

I like Christian author Steve Farrar's description of these pitfalls: in his book Point Man he calls them "Spiritual Anorexia" and "Spiritual Bulimia." Spiritual Anorexia describes those of us who simply don't get enough Bible nourishment — we know it's good for us, we know the benefit that it brings, and yet we simply don't get it into us. It can be laziness, excuses ("I'm too busy / I don't have time"), or straight-out pride ("I don't need to"). All of us at some stage struggle with this spiritual eating disorder.

Spiritual Bulimia, on the other hand, is different: we "gorge" on great teaching, Bible reading, fellowship. We listen, we taste, and we say "wow, that was great teaching!" — and then we effectively go and throw it up by not letting it affect us and change the way we live. We like the taste of spiritual nourishment, but we don't want it to make us grow.

Following on from my first post on this topic, which is more of a problem for you? I struggle with both: in my day-to-day life I believe I can get by without daily Bible reading (the spiritual equivalent of skipping meals). At the same time, however, whenever I'm blessed with amazing teaching (like a great sermon, an amazing camp, or a helpful book or podcast) my tendency is to say "wow, that was really tasty!" – and then throw it up as if it is of no use to me. Both of these are unhealthy habits, so I need to be constantly working on my spiritual diet.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Music mixes!

Just joined, a site that allows you to easily throw music tracks together to form a virtual mixtape.

Here's the first one I made, hope you like it :)

Monday, July 20, 2009


So today is that day, the one that distinguishes itself every year for not being an unbirthday. They seem to come around more frequently as time progresses.

What have I learned in the past 12 months?

I Love People (but not enough!)

The past 12 months have brought so many amazing people into my life in such ways that I couldn't, wouldn't have believed had they not happened. 2 countries, 4 cities, 3 churches, 2 universities, countless individuals – it really blows my mind how many awesome people I didn't know just 12 months ago (well, 18 for some, but I hardly knew you guys then). I'm coming to realise that I love interacting with people more than almost anything in the world. What makes you special? What makes you tick? What are your gifts, talents, abilities? I want to know!

I Love God (but not enough!)

There have been times in the last 12 months when I have doubted my faith, when I have questioned whether the God I believe in is capable and trustworthy. Can He do what He promises?

There have been so many reminders (including one just last week at Summit – thanks Pete Leslie!) that the answer is a resounding, overwhelming YES! All through the Bible there are reminders for weak people like me who have asked this question all through history. And every time, God has not let them down.

I Love Coffee (just a little too much!)

…which will come as a surprise to precisely no one…

Looking ahead

The next 12 months will be an interesting ride. I've nearly finished my uni degree, and I'm not hanging around for honours, so the question of what to do will be on the agenda. (It'll be something, at least) I have some ideas, including some slightly off-the-wall ones; but we'll see what pans out. Gotta actually graduate first, that's priority #1!

I think these words of the apostle Paul will be my catch-cry for the year ahead:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Philippians 3:12-16, ESV

Press with me, won't you?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mondays with McGonagall: Magistrates, Blegh!

It's been some time since we delved into the priceless treasures contained in W. McGonagall's poetry. Today our protagonist has been banned from performing in the Royal Circus in Dundee, and he is most unimpressed. He is so put out at being treated in such an unfair manner that he's had enough, and is going somewhere he'll be appreciated. Hrumph.

Lines in Protest to the Dundee Magistrates

Fellow citizens of Bonnie Dundee
Are ye aware how the magistrates have treated me?
Nay, do not stare or make a fuss
When I tell ye they have boycotted me from appearing in Royal Circus,
Which in my opinion is a great shame,
And a dishonour to the city's name.

Fellow citizens, I consider such treatment to be very hard;
'Tis proof for me they have little regard;
Or else in the circumstances they would have seen to my protection;
Then that would have been a proof of their affection,
And how Genius ought to be rewarded,
But instead my Genius has been disregarded
Why should the magistrates try and punish me in such a cruel form?
I never heard the like since I was born.
Fellow citizens, they have taken from me a part of my living
And as Christians they should have been giving;
But instead of that they have prevented Baron Ziegler from engaging me,
Which certainly is a disgrace to Bonnie Dundee.

Who was't that immortalised the old and the new railway bridges of the Silvery Tay?
Also the inauguration of the Hill of Balgay?
Likewise the Silvery Tay rolling on its way?
And the Newport Railway?
Besides the Dundee Volunteers?
Which met with their approbation and hearty cheers.
And has it come to this in Bonnie Dundee?
But, fellow-citizens, I will not submit to such an indignity
For I am resolved to leave the city
And bid the city a long farewell,
For I cannot get protection in it to dwell,
Therefore I'm resolved from it to flee
For a prophet has no honour in his own country,
And try to live in some other town
Where the magistrates won't boycott me or try to keep me down

No more shall the roughs of Bonnie Dundee
Get the chance of insulting or throwing missiles at me
For I'm going off to the beautiful west
To the fair city of Glasgow that I like the best,
Where the River Clyde rolls on to the sea,
And the lark and the blackbird whistles with glee.
And your beautiful bridges across the River Clyde,
And on your bonnie banks I'm going to reside.