I once heard of tale of a man who crossed the Atlantic on a great ocean-going liner. He had just enough money to pay for the ticket, but not much else.
A diet that was crackers!
The story relates how he sat in his cabin every night while the other passengers enjoyed sumptuous dining. Each evening he would nibble on a few dry crackers, which he had brought with him, instead of tucking into the oysters, fillet steak and luxurious desserts served above.
What he did not realize was that his fare covered not only his travel, but also all his meals while he was on board!
Heating one room
Recently my blogging kidmin friend Barbara Graves tweeted about an experience she had some time ago.
Barbara and her husband had moved into a new apartment. They were told that there was no domestic heating fuel left in the tank. As Barbara tells it: “We lived in one room in front of the fireplace for a month.”
Imagine their surprise when they eventually discovered that there was fuel in the tank after all! They had never tried it!
Living below our privileges
No doubt Barbara and her husband can smile about it now, but tragically, the same can be true of us spiritually. God has made provision for so much grace, help and power to be available to all his children. Everything has already been paid for. Yet, too often, we are inclined to be cracker-eating Christians, existing on a minimum diet.
What a shame if we nibble away at the Bible as if it were a dry ration we are obliged to take each day. Instead, we should be reaching out in trust to the Holy Spirit, our Teacher, and asking him to help us to see the rich diet, the tasty feast, that is within the covers. If you can’t enjoy it, ask God to give you an appetite for his Word.
How tragic to be struggling with sin, phobias, anxieties, burdens or anything that weighs us down and ties us up, when we could be tapping into the “fuel tank” that God has made available to us through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. That is an unending supply of God’s grace (the ability to cope with every situation God allows to touch our lives).
Jesus Christ died, defeated death and went back to heaven, so that he could the release the Holy Spirit to this earth. The “meal” has been paid for, the “fuel tank” is full, just waiting for us to turn the tap by prayer and trust.
If we are God’s children, having received Christ, then let’s not live below our privileges. Let’s reach for and use every good thing that God has made available for us. Jesus didn’t intend that we live on spiritual emergency rations, but on an abundant and rich supply of all we need to glorify God and be victorious for him.
Is there any area in your life where you feel spiritually lacking?
Why should you wait any longer?
Reach out in simple trust and ask God to open your eyes to see all that he has made available for you.
If you need to be made clean from sin
If you need help to overcome a temptation
If you need to be effective in prayer
If you need to be able to speak to someone about Jesus
If you need to experience God’s guidance
If you need to grow and exercise your gifts and ministries
…Well, is there anything you would add to your list? What will you trust God for? Will you claim the privilege Christ has paid to give you?
The Christmas meal that had been planned for our church family last year was cancelled. The heavy snow and underlying ice made travel treacherous. So we had our get-together this week instead – complete with Christmas gifts!
On the way back home, as I walked to the car, I spotted some straggly looking plants in the border of the restaurant. In the half-light I could see that they were lavender bushes. Out of a gardener’s habit, rather than hope, I brushed my hands over the somewhat dried foliage and flower stalks. The pungent, unmistakeable fragrance of lavendar rose in the night air and clung to the palm of my hand! It was unbelievable. After almost a month of sitting under 2-3 feet of snow, the flower stalks still stood tall. Though they had been frozen rigid for so long, once rubbed, the little dried lavender flowers were exuding their scent.
How do I react when circumstances leave me cold? Do I simply wither inside when things are not going well for me? Do I turn into myself and give nothing to others?
I believe that God wants us to be like that lavender.
- We can, with his help, rest in him even when the burden that is weighing on us lingers longer than we would like.
- We can stand up tall again, and not give in, even when we have been knocked flat. We can be, as JB Philips put it, “…knocked down but not knocked out” (2 Corinthians 4:9)!
- And we can also exude the fragrance of Christ, especially when someone of something bumps against us, “rubs us up the wrong way”, bruises and wounds us.
I want to live daily in Christ’s presence, growing more like him, absorbing the atmosphere of heaven. Then, when pressures and troubles come, when I am suffering, something of the beauty and fragrance of Christ will be released to those around me.
A few years ago I wrote a little piece for the magazine I edit for The Faith Mission. As I have seen a lot of comment already in blogs and on Facebook, about the use of the word Xmas, I thought it apt to repurpose the article for Slices of my Life.
The Xmas or Christmas?
There are few things more joyous than seeing children playing in the snow! Making a big X with their little bodies, while lying down, many enjoy making the imprint of “snow angels”. But it was another ‘X’ which vexed one of my friends recently.
She remarked: “Every time I see Xmas, instead of Christmas, I cringe. X stands for something unknown. Christ is royalty, not an unknown.”
Another echoed the feelings of many: “With that X, it is as if they are crossing out Christ from Christmas.”
I used to feel exactly the same. But then I learned something which changed my feelings. Now, whenever I see ‘Xmas’ I say: “Jesus IS in this, even if the people who wrote it are too rushed to write the full word, or do not understand.”
This became my perspective when I learned about the Greek lettering that makes up Christ’s name.
X is the first letter of the Greek word “XPICTOC” (pronounced Christos – Greek: Χριστός), which means “Christ”. This letter is called “chi”.
It would have been understood by early Christians as a sign meaning ‘Christ’, especially when it was combined with a P shape (the Greek letter Rho) which was the second letter in ‘Christ’ in Greek. The Chi-Rho symbol (P with an X across the vertical stalk) has for centuries reminded Christians of the one who died to save us.
So now, when you see the word Xmas, don’t let your spirit sink. Instead of focussing on the thought that so many appear either to regard Christ as “X – the unknown”, or to cross him out of Christmas, think of Christos our Redeemer! The word Xmas need not be a stumbling block. Turn it into a stepping stone, to lift you to higher praise of our wonderful Jesus!