Tag Archives: passion

On being open

This picture takes me right back to the first year of high school, sitting at a long bench on the top floor of the science block in a lab coat and goggles and nervously lighting a bunsen burner for the first time.

In case you’ve never used one, a bunsen burner is a very simple and common piece of laboratory equipment used for heating or burning things. It runs on gas and has an open flame which can be controlled by moving a collar at the bottom so that a little hole opens and closes letting in more or less air.

We soon got over our ten-year old nervousness and used them to burn all sorts of things we shouldn’t have.. but that’s another story. That evening’s assignment (my first ever science homework) was to draw two pictures of a bunsen burner: one with the collar closed, preventing air from mixing with the gas and producing a yellow flame; the other like this one, with the hole completely open, letting in lots of air and turning the flame blue.

The science is along the lines of the flame needing oxygen to make it burn more efficiently.  The hole-fully-open blue flame is much much hotter. If the gas is mixed with pure oxygen as in an oxy-acetylene torch the blue flame it produces can cut through metal!

The bunsen burner in today’s picture is burning much hotter because it is open to the air.

It’s made me think about my openness to the Holy Spirit and the work he wants to do in me and through me. I so much want to be open so that God can breathe into me and my flame burn hotter!

What I notice is that it’s really easy to let that collar slip round and become slightly (or very) closed to the Holy Spirit’s breath on me.

For me the killer is busyness: not taking the time to turn my face towards God and let him breathe, not taking the time to sit in the sunshine of his presence and be warmed.  But there are other airhole-closers…

Sometimes fear, fear of being hurt, fear that God’s power might overwhelm you, fear that you might look silly, fear of what he might ask you to do, even fear that he might reject you if you are that vulnerable to him, will drive you to close your heart off a little… or a lot.

For some people anger over what has happened (or not happened) in the past will lead them to punish God by turning their faces away. Just as we can punish other people by not talking to them, or not being open to them, it’s easy to fall into doing the same to God when we feel like he has let us down.

And lastly of course sin, whatever shape or form it takes can cut us off from the oxygen of the breath of God until we repent of it and receive his forgiveness.

For me, this picture is a call to be open, to be vulnerable to, the Holy Spirit and his work, so that the flame of our passion and ministry can burn hotter.

Today I’m going to ask God to show me how open I am to him and the breath of his Spirit, to show me how far the collar is twisted around on the bunsen burner that is my life and to show me what I can do to be more open to him. This week why don’t you find some time, make some time to be open to God and ask him to breathe on you again? Bring him your fear, your forgiveness, your pain, your sin and your hope, and in return ask for his life-bringing oxygen-carrying Holy Spirit.  It sounds like a good swap to me.

Burn hotter my friends, and who knows what you will be able to cut through…

Carried Away…

You hardly ever meet anyone from the UK who is ambiguous about the contents of the little black jar with the yellow lid.  Personally – I LOVE it, but Marmite (yeast extract, for the uninitiated) is one of life’s dividers, and as they say in their ad campaign – “you either love it or you hate it”. There’s no middle ground!

Here’s my revelation for today:

God is like Marmite.

When I first decided to follow Jesus I was fifteen, and I remember my grandfather saying to me at the time:

“Ellie, a bit of religion is OK, but you don’t want to get carried away”

Funny, the things you remember.  He was a good man, my Grandfather, but on this occasion, absolutely wrong.

The God who gave his only son so that the world could be reconciled to himself; the God who invites me to call him Father, and calls me his child; the God who created the glorious expanse of the universe with his words, and uses that same voice to whisper his love into my ear; this God who is unknowable and yet allows himself to be known by us..

deserves everything.

All my passion.

All my time.

All my energy.

All my trust.

All my dignity.

Everything.

God is Marmite.

You can’t be ambivalent, easy-going, under-control, take-it-or-leave-it, calm or cool about him.  You can’t be half-hearted or hold back to keep yourself ‘safe’.  That’s not what he deserves and it’s not what he’s calling us to…

So this week my friends, when you have the choice, choose to be passionate, choose to be abandoned, choose to be all-in, choose to be wholehearted in your pursuit of our amazing God.

Get carried away!

He’s more than worth it.

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Immeasurably More

Please, may I have some more?

There’s something quite awkward about asking for more…   And that awkwardness often stops me from asking.  Somehow the vision of a grubby little boy with an empty bowl swims into my mind.  But before I find myself humming songs from Oliver…

To be clear, I’m not talking about material wealth here,  although it may for many be quite reasonable to ask for more of that..  Today though, I’m thinking about other things I’d like more of:  faith, wisdom, passion, courage, forgiveness, healing, ability to receive God’s love, love for others, a sense of the presence of God…

But for some reason I find coming to God and saying “please, I want more” really difficult.   I feel I should stand back and let others go ahead of me.  Asking for more when I have already received so much from God feels greedy.  Worse than that it makes me feel as though I’m somehow not grateful enough for what I’ve already been given.

(Also, written on the wallpaper inside my head is a little sign that says “It’s not OK to ask for stuff” which applies in a million other situations, not just this one. – God and I are in the process of rubbing this -and some others-out, but that’s probably another postcard)

But for each of us, it is without question true that God has more for us in our relationship with Him.  More understanding, more faith, more peace, more presence, more.  And his pockets don’t hold a limited amount:  If he gives to me it doesn’t mean that someone else will miss out, if he’s already given me some faith I don’t have to say “OK thank you that will do”.   This isn’t a tea party at a little friend’s house my friends,  you don’t have to smile a polite smile and say “thank you, that was lovely, I’m full up now”.

I wonder what you hear from God when you look at this postcard of the ocean.  Every time I stand by the sea I think about this…  I scoop up as much water as I can hold in my hands and I think “this is how much of God’s presence, power and peace I have experienced so far’… and then I look up at the sea.

The difference between the water I can hold in my hands and the contents of the mediterranean… and then the atlantic is beyond my ability to comprehend.  It’s extraordinary to even to try to think about it.

That’s how much more there is to explore of God my friends, that’s how much more he has for you.

Immeasurably more.

You just need to ask.

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I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:16-21 NIV

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For your journal:  What do you want to ask God for ‘more’ of?   What stops you from asking?