Friday, February 24, 2012

Facing Lent!

How can 3,000 coat hangers cause us to look at Lent in a new way?

Some may think, ‘Oh, it’s Lent again. time to give up chocolate or something else!’ It’s easy to walk into Lent with our eyes closed to the full significance of its meaning. 
And that’s the value of art - even art that may shock. So I want to challenge you with this sculpture called ‘Die Harder’ by the Turner Prize nominee David Mach currently on display at Southwark Cathedral.

Now when I posted this photo on my Facebook wall it received mixed reactions. But then that is the nature of art - it is meant to provoke a reaction:
I am appalled by the fact that any church would allow this in its doors!’ 
‘I think it's amazing : He was pierced for our transgressions... Whilst we know he was physically pierced just hands, feet and side, this powerfully portrays the totality of his suffering - raw agony and abandonment.’
A lot better than a lot of crucifixion art that sterilises a horrific execution’
‘It is amazing! It depicts just how much He suffered. Every part of His body was in agony- shown very well with the spikes!’
Personally, I think it is a realistic depiction of excruciating pain and am finding it a helpful focus at the beginning of Lent. It’s shocked me out of any complacency I might have and has immediately focused me on the point of Lent - the agonising death Jesus suffered for me. It puts all my pain and suffering into perspective. And the more I study this sculpture the more I find God speaking to me through it.
* What is your reaction to seeing Christ portrayed as a tormented figure howling in pain?
* What scriptures does it bring to mind? 

* Now spend some time thanking God for his ultimate sacrifice for you in Jesus Christ. You could even write a thank you note.

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.’ Isaiah 53:5 NLT

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Cost of Celebrity

In the last 12 months, we've seen the messy details surrounding Michael Jackson's death, Amy Winehouse's demise and now Whitney Houston's tragic death as a result of drug addiction. It seems to me that celebrity comes with too high a price tag. And yet this is what the masses strive for - their 15 minutes of fame (Andy Warhol). When and why did becoming a celebrity become a goal? The reality is so different and yet many people continue pursue it like a drug.

I think it is a deceptive objective (a golden calf and false idol) planted in our minds by the Evil One. The quest for celebrity reminds me of the board game 'Snakes and Ladders' and we know what havoc the snake wreaked in the Garden of Eden! People work hard climbing professional ladders or whatever other ladders they can (sometime selling seductive stories to the media etc) to achieve their objective, and when they get to the top and achieve some notoriety, it's not long before they're sliding down the snakes of alcohol, drugs and sexual promiscuity. The sad fact is that once the celebrity has fallen and needs help, they're surrounded by all the wrong kinds of people, who happily pay tribute to them once they're dead! This is celebrity reality. Do you still want your 15 minutes of fame?

Whitney grew up a church-going girl. My prayer is that in those final hours, like the titles of her well known songs, she was able to say to God, 'I look to You. I run to You.' What a Prodigal return that would be. And what a party in heaven would follow!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Four Tips to Stop being so much of a People-Pleaser

Being a people-pleaser is stressful and exhausting. So what is the key? Well, I think it starts with awareness. We need to become aware of who we are trying to please and why. Ask God to reveal this to you as you pray - as though holding a mirror up to your situation.  Once you know who are trying to please and why, you can do something about it. 
FEAR is often at the root of people-pleasing. Think about it. Why are you scared of offending X? What could X do to you if you didn't please them or meet their needs? is X pleased with you even when you are doing what they want?
Here are some tips from author Evelyn Roberts Brooks that may help you stop being a people-pleaser:
1. Start recognizing how often you do everything for everybody else, while ignoring your own dreams and goals 
2. Now that you see your pattern, make your own goals a priority, and do something every day that you like, even if someone else criticizes you for it
3. Learn how to say "no" when you want to say that. This is a biggie for people-pleasers, who have a lifelong habit of saying yes when they are silently screaming "no." Practice saying "no" in less crucial areas of your life and less important matters, and build from there. The practice will give you courage to say no when it's something important.
4. Forgive yourself if you slip into your old ways. You're retraining an old habit and it takes time and persistence.
The key to shifting from being a people-pleaser to a strong, assertive, self-loving person, is to let go of your fear of not being liked or not getting approval.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Are you a People Pleaser?

Are you a people pleaser? Do you tend to put other peoples feelings first usually at the expense of your own? The Bible tells us:

'There's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests...Your task is to be true, not popular.' Luke 6:26 TM

As Christians, we don't have to let other people control us through their needs. Jesus didn't, even with his close friends. He didn't exactly rush to save Lazarus from dying, but waited several days. Jesus knew that he was called to the will of his Father and so did not allow himself to be pressurised by people or the culture.

'We're not called to be doormats, if people are walking all over you it's because you are lying down.' Lin Button

Real freedom is about learning to be more fully the person God created us to be. To quote one of my Facebook friends, 'We have to be so grounded in the Father's love, that it frees us to truly be ourselves.'