Sunday, August 29, 2010

Out of control

I've been pleasantly surprised by the response to my blog post a couple of days back on Richard Dawkins. It has clearly sparked debate between atheists and Christians, whom I don't know personally, and that's a good thing.

  However there is a danger that when we get into these discussions that we can start to take sides and be defnesive, and in our efforts to pursue advancing our opinion, and strong in our belief that our opinion is the right one, we can easily start getting too obsessed with winning the debate. With being right.


  Does it satisfy our ego?
Does it make us feel like we're worth more?
Does it in some way make us feel like we have control over that other person?

  Maybe it can be one or all of those things, but I think they themselves come from something even deeper.


  In my experience and from what I have learnt and observed, people usually get really defensive about something due to fear. Think about it. When you've done something you regret and are trying to hide it from someone, you are afraid they will find out, and its easy to get defensive and argumentative in order to protect ourselves from being found out.

  Now that's not the case here.

  In this case, we get defensive because we are afraid our argument will get found out. We don't fully trust what we believe, or at least we don't know as much as we seem to be letting on.

  This is why it intrigues me when people get defensive or aggresive when discussing their worldview - even if they are Christians.

  I could easily have responded agressively and emotionally to some of the criticism of my arguments, but the truth is I don't need to. No matter how strong or articulate someone's arguments, it doesn't mean I have to agree with them, it doesn't mean I have to take it on board. If my security is truly in my faith and in Jesus, and what He has said about me and about what He's given me to write, then even if people do criticise, it doesn't change anything and I don't have to defend my faith.

  I just need to respond with love. To respond well. If they are making good arguments and they have genuine questions about why I believe or what I believe, of course its right to respond. And its important to ensure that Jesus gets a fair hearing.

  However, when its only about winning an argument, about being better or knowing more, then its really not worth it.

  When Christians get like this about their faith, I am beginning to think its because they believe in Jesus, but on a subconcious level they have put boundaries on this Jesus so that they can control Him to a degree. What I mean is not that they don't have strong faith, or that their God isn't big, but that because of our human nature we can get an idea of a God we can appreciate, understand and agree with and get comfortable with that.

  Its an easy thing to do. I know I haven't. My God hasn't been big enough.

  You see you could get all the human beings who ever lived or ever will live, and get them to think of their wildest, biggest, most imaginiative concept and idea of God, and put them all together, and it still would only be a tiny fraction of who God really is.

  God won't be boxed up.

  You see, God is out of our control.



  Out of our control.

  He is bigger, more powerful, more awesome, mighty, greater than anything we can ever comprehend.

  I believe if we are to know God more deeply and intimately, then we need to understand that concept. That's real faith. Knowing that God has the power to strike us down dead instantly if He chose to, could end our lives right now, can do anything He chooses and is out of our control, and yet choosing to trust our lives to Him anyway. I think when we approach God like this then we can truly know what it is to fear God, and when we fear God we have nothing else to fear.

  When we come to that place of fearing God, God says to us 'Do not be afraid'.

  We see His infinite love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. We meet with Him personally, intimately and powerfully, and have nothing left to fear, and we can know God in a deeper and more intimate way than we ever have done before.

  Nothing anyone says to us or about us, no criticism, no argument, can shake us. We don't need to respond to it apart from in love, because our security doesn't come from our relationships to or interactions with people, but from our relationship with God.

  Criticism can be a good thing. We need it.

  However, instead of waiting for it from people we don't need to respond to, get it from somewhere else.

  I have close, trusted friends who know Jesus and know me well, and who will always be honest with me. Who will tell me when I'm screwing up, when I've hurt someone, when I've made mistakes, when I'm out of order, or when something I've written is a bit dodgy or theologically incorrect. I trust and love these people, and when they give me that criticism - or God convicts me of it directly - then I listen, I examine myself, and respond in whatever way is approriate, with their help.

  But I can ignore other criticism. If people want to have a reasonable, intelligent, mature discussion, then I'll engage with it, directly with that person. I might even learn something new from it, and it can be quite enjoyable to do that in a loving, respectful way. But if all they are interested in is humiliating me, winning an argument or boosting their ego and their words or actions clearly demonstrate this, then I don't even need to read it. I don't need to take any notice.

  Because my security doesn't come from what people say about me, but from God has said about me, what Jesus has done for me and what God has said to me about me. That's it.

  Not works.
Not actions.
Not anything I do.

  Just because God has said He loves me and I'm worth everything to Him - something He wants to sayand is true of us all, equally.

  And our relationships with Him can be stronger as we let go of our need to control, let go of a concept of God that we control, and recognise we have a God out of our control and who we should fear, but whose love, grace, mercy and forgiveness for us is infinite and unconditional.

Posted via email from James Prescott

Friday, August 27, 2010

Double-standard Dawkins

I have just been watching a documentary with Richard Dawkins about faith schools. Watching it and hearing Dawkins again, it merely confirmed finally my opinion of the man. I have long gone past the initial anger and frustration with him. I think as I've matured and continued to observe and listen to what he says and the campaigns he supports, the thing I have realised is that in actual fact, its merely that I cannot have any respect for him.

  I can cope with aethists or people of other worldviews criticising Christianity and the church, and actually find intelligent debate with aethists or non-beleivers I know quite stimulating, and helps me grow in my faith.

  But what Dawkins does is totally different.

  You see, the problem he has is that he operates on a set of assumptions that are fundamentally wrong. The principle one of these is that somehow religion and religious worldviews are somehow in a different category from so-called 'non-religious' worldviews. There is an assumption that what he believes is somehow in a different category from faith, because its based on science or something more proven or more accepted by mainstream culture, when in fact his own worldview itself is not 100% proven and involves a level of faith. And when actually the Christian faith for example is just as much a worldview as his own.

  In this documentary for example he criticises faith-based schools for 'imposing ideas on children'. In one example however there are muslims attending 'Christian' schools, and in fact are still muslims. He is genuinely shocked by this, but fails to see this as evidence that his ideas are flawed.

  He also just assumes the theory of evolution is right, and that its perfectly fine to tell people as fact that its true, and gives the impression that anyone who tries to convince someone of a different view of the history of the world and how we got here is forcing a false idea of them.

  He seems to think its okay to indocterinate people to believe his own worldview, because he beleives it's scientific fact and therefore applicable to different views. But to try and educate people in a different worldview - while still educating them about scientific views of the world like evolution - is somehow imposing ideas on people. If he had his way, he'd have all children being educated in the theory of evolution as fact, and religions as something seperate, something that's not proven.

  The reality is that his own worldview is just that - a worldview, and it should be subject to the same questions and criticisms as other worldviews like the Christian worldview. His own worldview he might think is based on fact - but evolution isn't 100% proven fact at all, and requires some level of faith just the same as a belief in any other worldview.

  The gospel and the book of Acts for example, are a historical record of events written not long after they happened by some people who were involved in them. When historical events were handed down verbally at that time it wasn't like Chinese Whispers where things get changed and altered over time - there was a strong emphasis on keeping the story the same, as that's how events were handed down. Paul speaks about 500 people who testified and were still alive who had seen the risen Christ, and to be honest if they were trying to create a fictional relgion having someone raise from the dead and the first witness to be a woman - whose testimony wasn't valid at the time in a court of law or in culture - really wasn't the way to do it.

  So there is historical and factual evidence for the Jesus worldview, and that's of course not including the testimony of the many people whose lives have been transformed by faith, and people who have been healed from disease.

  Of course, the Christian faith can't be 100% proven, it involves a level of faith. But so does Dawkins' worldview, despite having a lot of evidence to back it up.

  Dawkins, for someone so intelligent, comes across as very naive and ignorant. He worries about parents imposing their views on their children, but doesn't seem to mind when trying to make sure his own children are attending a school which supports his worldview of how he wants his children to be educated. There's a Catholic priest he talks to about this who almost straight out, and says he's trying to force his opinions on others.

  He comes across more and more as someone who seems to be double-minded when it comes to religion and faith, and blind to the fact that his own worldview is equally valid as those who follow one of the world religions and in a very arrogant narrow-minded way seems to think his worldview is exempt from this.

  Now let me make this clear. The church is no saint. The church is divided, hypocritical and has been guilty of all sorts of awful things. It has been narrow minded and arrogant, and stil can be. But religion and the church can distract us from the real message and teaching of Jesus - grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, justice. Religion is a massive problem and Jesus didn't like religous people, and the church so should not be restricted or bound up with religion that they forget the heart of the message.

  Above all though, Dawkins worldview should be subject to the same criticisms and questions, and he either fails to see this, or just chooses to ignore it.

  I have no personal gripe with Dawkins, he's perfectly entitled to his views and free to express them. I truly hope one day he discovers what I believe to be the reality of Jesus, and that science and faith, rather than being opposites, can help explain and compliment each other, as many scientists who are Christians beleive. As a Chrisitan I am called to love him as a brother, and pray for him.

  But if he continues in the way he is, then I will not and cannot respect him.

  To me, he seems as intent on imposing his own worldview on people in exactly the same way that he accuses 'religous people' of doing, and thinks that because his worldview is 'scientifically proven' then its fact, and isn't subject to the same rules as 'religions'.

  Until he realises this, and sees the foolishness and arrogance of this view - even if he remains an aethist after seeing this - then I won't respect him at all, and there's no point debating what he says.

Posted via email from James Prescott

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The power of an idea

“What is the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from he human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules” - Dom Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio), Inception

One of the things that really resonated with me when watching Inception was the concept of planting an idea in people’s minds. The film seemed to think that you needed to enter into people’s heads to plant ideas in there. But in reality that isn’t true at all is it?

Ideas are deliberately planted into our minds all the time.







Shop windows

All try to plant ideas in our mind, through advertisments, sponsorships, great design, music, and clever marketing. They try to tell us what we need, what we want, what we should look like, what’s good and what’s bad, what our lives should be about, what’s important to us.

Politicians do exactly the same thing, in fact, anyone with a public voice is trying to do it. Their motivation might be for your good, in some cases, but in most cases its a means of gaining your custom, your support. 

Sometimes its even people making casual suggestions or comments, all of which plant a seed in someone’s mind, whether its conciously or unconciously.

We all get our opinions from somewhere.

We all get our ideas from somewhere

We all get our knowledge from somewhere.

There is rarely anyone who is truly neutral. Everyone comes from a certain perspective and background, which has impacted how they see the world and ultimately how they see God.

How often have you been in a discussion about some issue and somebody said to you 

“They are saying now that.....”


“People are saying now that....”

It happens all the time doesn’t it? I notice it all the time.

It has no source, no direct quote, no name. But apparently this is a statement of fact. 

No its not fact. Its not even your opinion. Its come from somewhere else, something you’ve read, some thing that has been said somewhere you’ve come into contact with. I do it a lot as well, and its an easy thing to do. But that idea that somehow this thing is true has been fed to us and we’ve not really checked where it came from.

It happens with critics of Jesus and religion. They come up with a set of criticisms which often is based on assumptions planted in their mind  - that what we believe and our worldview is somehow subject to a different set of values and critiques than their ‘correct’ worldview. One of the biggest problems with Richard Dawkins is that he takes the idea of God and religion and almost put it in a separate category from his own worldview - because he assumes that his is right, and that what he believes and his worldview isn’t in the same category, that it doesn’t involve any faith whatsoever, and therefore is exempt. 

They don’t think about where their ideas come from. They don’t fully conceive of the fact that all world views are just that - world views. They are all ideas about how we see the world and all should be applicable to the same rules. Ultimately though he doesn’t get that the values that he has come up to believe in and the freedoms he has ultimately come from the values of Jesus entrenched in our culture.

You see, both God and the enemy plant ideas in our minds - but for different reasons, and in different ways, and with different motives.

God intends them for good. The quote at the top of the post is spot on - an idea has immense power. If it is fully realised then it changes the world, and can impact many people. For example, the idea for Facebook. Someone originally came up with this little idea, and it mushroomed into one of the biggest websites around. Someone came up with the idea for the internet, mobile phones. 

Ideas change the world.

But as with all things which have immense power, its been used for evil too. The idea that all Jews needed to be exterminated. The idea to blow up the Twin Towers.

These ideas changed the world. But in a very negative, painful way. Those ideas were never intended for anything other than evil.

God plants ideas in our minds too, and He can do it in subtle ways - but He never does it in deceptive ways. The difference between Him and the enemy is that the enemy will use anything to get his ideas into our minds, he’ll be deceptive, he’ll trick us.

The fall of man is the prime example of this - and of the power of an idea. Satan put the idea into Eve’s mind to eat the apple of the tree of knowledge, he deceived her into thinking it would make her life better, and she and Adam both gave into that.  

That idea definitely changed the world.

I think its really important also that some ideas seem good or start with good intentions. We might thing we’re doing something for good, but often it turns out badly. That’s why it’s not often good to make decisions without wise counsel. Making rash decisions often leads us astray in life. Think of all the impulse decisions you’ve made. Advertisers love this idea, they so often use advertising to make us think that unless we buy their product straightaway then our lives won’t be as good, and we have to do it at that moment. 

Advertising online, on tv and even as we’re walking through shops, special offers on things, they all lead to these kind of decisions. An idea is planted in our mind and we are rushed into making a decision.

All these deceptive ideas are designed - whether its from media, people or Satan directly - to make us feel like we have a need, like something is missing from our lives. That something is wrong and that making that decision, or buying that product will solve it. It comes from a desire to feel validated, to feel valued and worthwhile, to make ourselves feel better. At a very deep level many ideas play on that. Hitler’s drive and ambition, and the decisions he made, may ultimately have been made out of his own insecurities, and to boost his own ego by destroying the lives of others, by making himself better than others - and one of the reasons so many supported him would have been that for a percentage of the population, who were in dire financial cicrumstances, it would ultimately have played on their insecurities and fears.

The bottom line -  and I make no apologies for suggesting this idea to you - is that we are all trying to find our validation from something or someone other than God, something created. Negative ideas get planted in our mind by the world around us which are designed to tell us our lives will be made better, and our egos and insecurities will be satisfied, if we make this decision or buy this product, or support a particular political party. 

God puts ideas in our hearts and minds which are for the good of others, and the good for His kingdom - and ultimately, whether its obvious to us or not, they also work out for our best. The difference with these ideas is that God usually makes it really clear they are from Him - not always at first, sometimes He wants us to come back to Him so He can affirm these ideas and be in control of how they impact our lives - but He never deceives us. 

These are ideas which are for the good of the other, ideas which seek to benefit other people and promote the values of Jesus. God even puts good ideas in the minds of non-Christians - all the scientific advancements in curing disease, in the work of major charities which aren’t necessarily Christian, all ideas which bring good into the world, which bring God more into the world, they are ultimately from God, whether we know it or not, or whether a person believes in God or not. 

Sometimes following through with these ideas isn’t easy. A calling or vision from God is essentially an idea being planted in us, but its not always easy to be obedient. Often it involves risk and faith, which is why wise counsel is so important, and why we need to take time making decisions. 

But ultimately it may often take courage to follow through on an idea from God, because He wants us to trust Him and to get closer to Him through that - and when that is the case we need to ask God for the courage to follow through and take those decisions.

Even good idea that we come up with, which aren’t given to us in prayer, worship or a ‘Christian’ environment - intellectual ideas, philosophical ideas, ideas that engage our brains as much as our hearts, ideas about justice or the environment - often they take a big risk and much courage to pull off. Scientists often go through many failed experiments before they come up with a cure for example, people often have to risk their reputation or their finances to get an idea or company off the ground, which ultimately can go on to make a huge difference in the world. 

William Wilberforce’s idea to bring an end to slavery was a great example of this. This idea ultimately consumed his life and became tied into his identity - and it changed the world for the better. 

Of course many ideas have been corrupted and used for negative ends, as is human nature. But there are ideas fed to us which aren’t good, which aren’t of God, which don’t seek to promote the way of Jesus, which only seek to serve themselves and the people who come up with them. They use the creative impulse given us by God for negative, self-serving purposes. 

So how do we deal with all this?

I think one way of dealing better with this is awareness. 

Paying attention to what’s being fed into our brains. Not necessarily counting all the adverts, messages that are being fed to us, but being aware that those things are out there and having our eyes open to them. Listening to the tone of people’s voices when they speak. It makes a huge difference. I try to do this now, and it does make a difference, it helps put perspective on things and you become less affected by them.

I think another thing, one that I’ve already mentioned, is to always try to take counsel when making a decision. Or at least, take time over making it. Never be rushed into making a decision, never allow others to compel you into making instant decisions. And try to avoid impulse decisions - though of course, sometimes God does occasionally ask us to act spontaneously, but when He does He makes it pretty clear it’s Him.

One other thing I have always done though is try to see God in anything, anywhere. I have always believed that we can see God anywhere, in anyone or anything, if we have our eyes open to see Him. If we change our perspective and try to see God in everything, to try and see the bigger picture, then not only will the negative things not affect us as much, but God may well speak to us through them. God could speak truth into our lives through the words of people who may not have intended them that way. God can use anything, anywhere for good. 

Ideas can change the world. There is no doubt about that. 

Jesus ideas about how to live, His teachings, have changed the world. They have shaped the values of western society, and its laws. The irony is, that people today are more and more blind to see this, people argue against the Christian faith and don’t realise that many of the freedoms they have and ideas about justice come originally from the teachings of Jesus in the Bible.

One of the biggest ironies of our time, I would argue.

If God gives us an idea and we follow it through, and are faithful, then even if the change isn’t obvious, it will make a change. It will bring something different and good into the world.

We just need to be aware that ideas are being fed to us all the time, to be wise enough to discern between which are good and bad, and be wise when making decisions and taking action. 

Then, when we know an idea or calling is from God, we need to have the courage to follow it through, whatever it is.

In doing that, we grow to know God more deeply and it becomes ultimately more easy to discern which ideas are His, and which aren’t. God can use anything or anyone to speak to you and plant a seed of an idea in your mind - but so can the enemy.

Just keep your eyes open, and make your decisions wisely and courageously.

Posted via email from James Prescott

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Which are you living - fantasy or reality?

Many of you will have seen or heard of the film Inception, which is currently topping the film charts worldwide. Its a film about dreams, about the power of dreams, and about the concept of planting ideas in people’s minds. Its effectively a heist film involving dreams, but watching it raised some serious questions in my mind. Its probably the most thought-provoking film I’ve seen since The Matrix.

In the film the characters enter into people’s minds to steal or plant ideas there, and sometimes go to different levels of dreams - dreams within dreams - to plant or steal these ideas, and sometimes its possible to get so lost in the dream world that you can forget which is reality, and which is just a dream, or a fantasy. The question the film leaves you with - without wishing to give too much away - is whether the main character, Dom Cobb (played by Leonardo Di Caprio) is living in a dream or reality, and you could make a pretty strong case for both.

There are several questions this film raised with me. In the next week or two I hope I can tackle these in a series of blog posts, because I think the questions this film raises are ones we really need to face up to. If you have any of your own, please let me know.

The first question concerns the balance between reality and the dream, and how easy it is to get lost in a fantasy.

You see I don’t actually think we need to dream to live in a fantasy world. We can live that out in reality. We can cut ourselves off from the pain of life, ignore the big issues that are going on both personally and in the world around us, and hide away in our comfort zones. We can buy into the consumer dream that more money/status/possessions will make us happy and even make ourselves ill pursuing that dream, and inevitably we’ll be let down by the dissapointment of not making that perceived standard we think we have to reach. We can also often get so lost in whatever dreams and goals we have, or feel like they are so unattainable, that we retreat into a fantasy world where it’s all easy and there’s no effort to achieve it, no committment, no discipline or patience. 

This is a place where addictions of any kind often have their root. The quick high, the quick fix, the easy way out. 

Reality involves committment, patience and also facing up to suffering, pain and issues in our own lives and in the world around us, and accepting that this isn’t a perfect world and life isn’t going to be an easy ride - and for Christians, its only through Jesus that we can find a path way not to escape this reality, but to go face up to it and survive it. 

However, even Christians can get lost in a fantasy world - a world where everything is great, everyone is happy and blessed, where God answers every prayer and performs miracles in people’s lives, where we have great experiences of God - but what people often forget is that God doesn’t call us to get cut off from the world, to look inward, but to look outward and engage with reality. People who indulge in only the big spiritual experiences and live in some cheesy Christian fantasy land seem to think that their church experience is the ultimate reality of life on earth, and that everything else just doesn’t matter and is somehow distant. 

But that ignores the reality of a God who while He has made everything right, and one day will restore this earth to how it was originally made, a place without pain and suffering and death, that the reality now is a lot different, and God calls us to bring heaven to earth now in the places where there is most suffering. Not to look down on suffering or see it as a result of sin, or to pity people who suffer and love them out of duty or pity, or patronise them and give them some cheesy line about God’s love, but to actually show them God’s love and be understanding of their reality - and face up to our own reality, our own issues, in a very honest and open way.

The other reality is of course that Jesus has saved us, forgiven us and made healing and restoration possible, and does give us new and eternal life - but that’s no excuse to get disconnected from reality. Jesus was a real person who really lived, and lived as 100% human, experiencing all the same temptations and emotions we do, yet was 100% God. 

And He was real. 

500 people saw Him after His resurrection. 

He’s not some happy smiley pansy-man in a bath robe, He’s the Son of God and His challenge to us is to face up to Him as the ultimate reality, and to face up to our responsibilities to use what we’ve been given to serve and love others sacrificially as He did, to make our stories part of God’s big story that’s been going on since the beginning and still has time left to go, and in which we have a part to play - and that role isn’t to disconnect and look inward, but face the reality of what’s going on in the world and engage with that in a humble, loving, servant-hearted, non-cheesy and non-patronising way. 

This is a challenge to me as much as anyone. Its easy living where I do with the resources I have to escape into films, tv, computers, internet and forget about the real issues going in  the world, and escape from the issues in my own life. But its better to face them and deal with them than hide them away, because they will catch us eventually.

Which story are you living?


Are you living engaged with reality, 

or are you living in a fantasy world?

How can you live more in tune with reality and engage with the world?

If you’re a Christian, is your faith grounded in reality or is it merely fantasy?

Are you ignoring reality, or are you embracing it?

Posted via email from James Prescott

Monday, August 09, 2010

The need for rest

Last week I wrote about my experiences at New Wine and how God had spoken to me about the ideas of sabbath, the principle and discipline of rest, and called me to explore this in my own life in a much deeper way and in so doing produce something that hopefully can be a help to others in applying this idea to their own lives. It’s a message that I think in our busy, adrenaline fuelled, market-driven, consumer culture is more relevant than ever before.

The first part of my own response to what God said last week was to sit down and go through my weekly routine and examine it, and see what I needed to change in order to get more rest in my life. I was really ill last week and I know it was because I simply hadn't had a break for a year.

I've sold one flat and bought another, and moved to the new flat, which according to experts is one of the most stressful things you can ever do, for the first time. I've changed jobs, which was a long drawn out process which took several months to sort out. I have been getting more involved in church, doing more writing and I have had issues in my family which are still ongoing. I've hardly had a rest, no holiday at all and have been sleeping less.

I don't say any of this to moan at all, or get sympathy. I say this merely to state what has been happening in my life. And some of these things are really good, and I consider to be great blessings in my life.

Serving more in church is one of the most amazing blessings I have ever had, and a real priviledge. I have grown and matured in my character and gifting, and am looking forward to serving more in the future. Moving house has been incredible, getting my own space, getting my own furniture and breaking free from my past. A very good thing. Moving job has been good health wise, a job which requires less stress and intensity, but is still challenging, has been a good thing.

All good things and blessings from God.

The reality is that I got so consumed with the things going on with my life, all the blessings from God, that I began to make them substitutes for God. I got consumed by the idea that if I did more, that if I achieved something, that if I was obedient to God, then everything would be fine.

I didn't focus enough on God, and I forgot that the world can go on without me. Its not an easy thing to admit, but the reality is the world can go on without us. It can go on without me. I'd forgotten who made the world, and who sustained it, and forgotten my own limitations.

I forgot about rest.
I forgot about space for God.

I forgot that I am a human being.

We are all human and we all have finite energy and a finite lifespan. We are not built to work 24/7, no matter what the world tells us. We were built to need rest. If we don't take this rest there will be consequences - and I've seen that demonstrated completely in the last week.

We need to create space in our lives for rest. Rest should be a priority, a discipline in our lives. Not something we do on the side.

Ever turned off your mobile for a day, or even one evening?

Ever gone a day without checking your e-mails or Facebook?

You see we need to create that space to rest, to recharge our batteries, both mentally, emotionally and physically - and all those areas come under the umbrella of spirituality and being spiritual, because everything is spiritual. If we don't, then eventually its going to back up on us, its going to effect our health, and not just our physical health. Because our physical, emotional and mental health are all interconnected, and ultimately it will all affect our relationship to God.

Rest is vital. Its life giving. We need rest to live.

So I have sat down and written a plan of how I'm going to structure my week and integrate a space for rest, and I'm going to try it and see how it goes.I'm going to read up on the original Jewish concepts of Sabbath and what it originally meant, how important it was, what Jesus said about it and how they practicised it. I'm going to some research on the pure science of our human body and how much rest we need or how much our body can take physically, and how that effects our other areas of life. From that knowledge and experience hopefully I can come up with some more detailed thoughts on the subject, and some practical things for all of us. I am sure it will take time, but it really feels like this is where God is taking me, and I will hopefully share some of my thoughts and experiences as I go on this journey.

I think in the world we live in, this is one of the most important issues we need to address.

Posted via email from James Prescott

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Time for some rest

This week I'm away at New Wine in rainy Shepton Mallet. Its my first proper break in months, in fact just about a year, and its all backed up on me.

  I feel absolutely shattered, and my dependency on the busyness and adrelanine rush of everyday life has been exposed. I've been quite ill and am still recovering, but in the midst of all this, God has really blessed me and shown me something of Himself and what He wants for me.

  For a while I've been taking more and more of an interest in the concept of rest as a discipline, the idea of sabbath and how important it is in our culture. The idea that while its important to be disciplined in the things you do - for me it would be work, writing, studying and running - its also important to be disciplined in the amount of rest you have, and to make it proper rest, rather than just 'chilling out'. This will be different for everyone as we are all different, but I would say its whatever you can't imagine your life without, whatever you can't get through a day without, the things you do all the time, that you need be thinking about taking a break from - whether its for an evening or a whole day. For me it would be the following:

  Turn off my mobile phone.

  Turn off my computer.

  Not do any studying or writing at all, or anything condusive to doing that.

  Not having any of these things going on would be a big challenge to me. But the thing we need to remember is that we weren't designed to be on the go 24/7. We weren't designed to be working all the time and pushing ourselves to the limit. God designed us with a need to rest and we all need to take that very seriously, and approach rest differently - not just as something we do when we happen not to be busy, but as a decision, a discipline.

  I think this is a topic that needs to be addressed more than ever.

  The strange thing, as an aside, is that this week I asked God to show me what project He wanted me to work on, and a friend had told me that it needed to be something that's part of my story. In my illness and tiredness, and what it showed about me and my life, I think God may well have given me His answer.

  Consider this an introduction to the subject of rest and the sabbath in today's culture. I get the sense that in the coming months and years there may be a lot more from me on this subject.

Posted via email from James Prescott