Good Friday

At the foot of the cross
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me your love
Through the judgment you received

And you’ve won my heart
And you’ve won my heart, now I can

Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down at the foot of the cross

At the foot of the cross
Where I am made complete
You have given me life
Through the death you bore for me

And you’ve won my heart
And you’ve won my heart, now I can

Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down at the foot of the cross

And you’ve won my heart
And you’ve won my heart, now I can

Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down

At the foot of the cross

Don Moen

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Act N°38 (2017): WASH DAY

I had a message from 40 Acts saying they weren’t going to use my video that Mr FD made of me in the final 40 Acts video. I was rather relieved, as I think I look and sound a bit weird (sadly, I suspect the the general opinion would be that it is just like me!) although Jasper (ICOT) makes a star appearance. Mr FD was miffed “After all that time I spent editing it…” he moaned. There was the vague promise that it may be shown later on in the year on the 40 Acts FB site...On verra.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to do much about today’s Act, TBH, as my back – although improving every day – isn’t really up to washing very much! I can just about manage to make a cup of coffee. I am teaching one lesson – I can drive there (I hope!) and then just sit down. It’s a bit of a way for 1 hour’s lesson, as it’s 45 minutes each way, but at least with this lady I get some travel expenses too.

So, today’s challenge is

ACT N° 38 :: WASH DAY

Today’s Maundy Thursday, the day when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. It was a simple act that said so much about service, humility, showing others their significance, and God’s kingdom. So today, prepare to wash some (literal or symbolic) feet.

  • Keep it simple: offer to do the washing up or wash the windows. Or, learn to do something around the house that you might not normally have done for someone else.
  • Offer to wash something a little more unusual – your neighbour’s car, their wheelie bin, their patio.
  • Wash something really dirty for someone else. The kids’ football boots might be caked with weeks’ worth of mud. The pavement in your street might need a jet wash. There could be some obscene graffiti on a wall in your area. Go and scrub it off.

If God prompts me to do some physical or metaphorical washing then I’ll do it. If my back allows! Otherwise, I’ll hold this one over until there’s washing up to be done (that I think Mr FD should do) and I will do it without complaint.

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Act N°37 (2017): CONTENT

Hey-ho. Another day where my back is ruling the roost… I have cancelled lessons again today. If it had been a drive-there-teach-there-drive-back day I think I could have managed, but on Wednesday it’s a drive-there-teach-there-drive-somewhere-else etc.etc.etc. day so I didn’t think it would be such a bright idea. Hoiking myself in and out of the car several times probably isn’t sensible. Today I can mostly sit without too much discomfort, although walking still requires a strange gait in order to avoid pain. Still, I am grateful for gradual improvements and the chance to blog every day about 40 Acts! Only three to go after this one…I will rather miss it, I think.

ACT N° 37 :: CONTENT

Contentment isn’t easy to achieve, for all of us. On bad days we feel like we’ve got nothing. On good days we feel like we have the world to share. Today’s challenge is a personal reflection: how can you be generous in every situation? Spend time looking to God to fulfill your needs or thank him for what you already have.

  • Thank God for five things you’re grateful for today, as a starting point.
  • Look at your lifestyle. What do you consume which alters how you look at your own life? Do you read lifestyle magazines; spend lots of time on social media? And, if you use social media to only put up the best pictures and moments of your life, why not show some imperfection today? Be real; be honest. It can inspire others to do the same.
  • If you really struggle to find contentment and find yourself looking in loads of different places for fulfilment, spend time with God working on that, today. Try to spend that time in quiet and stillness.  

The reflection is a paraphrase of Paul’s words, from Phillippians 4, and I love the fact that someone wrote on FB “I was reading this thinking what a smug holier-than-thou character today’s author is, then I realised it was Paul! Oops!” I know how they feel, as I have never really got on with Paul. I must admit that a book given to me by a friend once, long,long ago has helped a little: “Dear Paul” by Bridget Plass

Described thus, on Amazon: In this text Bridget Plass uses the fictional concept of a two-way correspondence between Paul and a group of contemporary men and women to explore the Apostle’s controversial teaching in a way that aims to be informative, factual and fun. The book allows Bridget to explore the real and deep issues she has encountered as a Christian speaker, against the biblical background of Acts and Paul’s letters to the early church. It is designed to minister to the needs of all those who have ever experienced self-doubt, or indeed have struggled with reconciling Paul’s theology to their own lives.
It has certainly helped me see Paul in a slightly different light!
Anyway, on with the Act…
It’s an interesting one, this. Although I like to think of myself as a positive person, with a sunny outlook on life, Mr FD would, I believe, beg to differ. He says I am a pessimist, rather like my mum, and I always imagine the darkest possible outcomes. Half-an-hour late home from cycling? Mr FD has been knocked over by a car…We can’t find a cat? They have escaped and been killed….Letter from the bank? We’re down to our last euro and the bank is closing our account… It is a bit like that, I know, and I think it has got worse as I get older.
I DO worry about things, probably unnecessarily  – witness the kerfuffle over the nasty bit of bureaucracy that I had to deal with: there was genuine weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, as well as IBS and near panic attacks. I have tried to do the “Hand it to God” routine, but it doesn’t help that much, as I keep snatching “it” back to worry about it some more! I don’t think I will ever be able to reduce this completely, and skip through life like Pollyanna, but perhaps it isn’t the greatness witness to the fact that God brings peace to our lives to be constantly worrying about stuff.
In regard to the Amber challenge, I don’t think I’m guilty of just posting the”good” things in my life on my blog. I don’t moan and groan too much, but nor do I pretend everything in the teapot is rosy. I’m perfectly willing (as you have seen) to admit that I frequently fail in my relationship with God. And with Mr FD.!
But, in the spirit of the Green Challenge I bring you Five things I am grateful for:

1) Mr FD. Who – despite driving me crazy at times, for various reasons – I love dearly, an,d can’t imagine beng without.

2) The cats who bring me much joy. And many scratches.

3) My job. Which is work I love – I am teaching, but without all the cr*p that went with mainstream education in the UK

4) The opportunity that we had to realise our dreams to live in France. It hasn’t been everything we hoped, in some ways, but in other ways it has surpassed expectations. Whatever Brexit means for us, I’m glad we havebeen able to do this.

5) My calling to be a Licensed Lay Minister – those who encouraged me to explore the call, those who taught me through the 3 year course, those who have supported me, and helped. The fact I can use my talents to God’s service in the church is a wonderful thing.

And a Brucie Bonus,

6) The true meaning of Easter. Eggs are good. But the death and resurrection of Christ, who conquered death (whatever that means…I don’t think our little finite minds can really grasp it!) are so much better than that!

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Act N°36 (2017): HABIT

Hello everyone! For the second day in a row I have cancelled lessons, because of my bad back. Very frustrating. It’s certainly improving – I can sit on (and get up from!) the toilet now (is that TMI?!) and I can walk almost upright. I’m becoming aware of other strains caused by not standing straight however, so have to try to get properly upright ASAP.

I’m sure that the main cause – apart from the fact I have crumbling discs – is that I don’t do enough exercise. With dodgy knees too I am limited, but I plan to try to walk more. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day – this fits in nicely with the “Habit” theme from today’s Act as well! I hope that Mr FD will accompany me on some of these walks, plus Friend Cathy when she arrives. I know that I will need to make an effort to carve out a niche of time for them, but it has to be done.

ACT N° 36 :: HABIT

Breaking a habit is a challenge, but creating a positive one can be even harder. The theory says it takes 21 repeat goes at making a habit stick. What generous action could you start turning into a chain of repeats, today?

Just one option. Start today. What generous action from the last 35 days do you want to make a habit? Commit to putting this into practice regularly.

Like someone else mentioned on the FB page, letter writing is a habit I’d like to try to keep up. I started really well this Lent, but it fell by the wayside a little, but if I can find time each weekend to write & send one letter that would be good. I may use this afternoon to write a few more postcards/letters to send.

I have also enjoyed leaving what I call “Ninja Notes” – basically postcards, either from places I’ve been to, or blank ones I’ve decorated myself, with encouraging messages, or Bible verses

.

I will continue with these two Acts I think.

The other is Forgive.

Like I said, this is definitely an on-going challenge for me, but one that I need to work at, with God’s grace backing me all the way.

I have to say, it’s good to see this as one of the Challenges. As I remember saying last year, 40 Acts isn’t just for Lent, and it has never been just a “Tick. V.G.” list…It needs to be something that changes attitudes, and opinions, and actions. Chocolate Tuesday is great (especially if it continues every Tuesday) but it’s our whole outlook that needs to change.

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Act N° 35 (2017): AGAINST THE TIDE

Hello everyone. I’m “confined to barracks” today, having hurt my back yesterday. It’s getting better, thanks to strong painkillers, and very gentle yoga-ish positions, but I still didn’t think I was very capable of teaching today. I hope I’ll be back to driving capacity tomorrow, as I have three lessons. But if not, hey, I’ll just have to cancel those too. Not much to be done, really!

So, after last week’s Forgiveness challenges, I have been certainly challenged to bite my tongue over certain things but I think it’s going reasonably well. I haven’t made so many snidey comments, but I’m not sure I have complete control over the mardy facial expressions yet!

Today, the challenge is:

ACT N°35 :: AGAINST THE TIDE

Following the crowd is easy, but it’s not always a good thing. Especially when what’s popular excludes people, or isolates the already lonely. Swimming against the tide is the biggest challenge. But trying it – even just giving it a shot – can be life-changing.

  • Have a think. Are there any situations where we’re in danger of following the crowd? First stop is social media. Review last week’s posts. Are we ungenerous in how we talk about others on Facebook and Twitter? Resist joining in for the sake of it especially if it might take you to narcissistic or gossipy places.
  • Office gossip? Train delays making everyone grumpy with train staff? Collective moaning becoming a habit? Think about how you can turn against the tide. Or, something tougher: Who have you been pushing to the back of your mind during the 40acts challenges? Take the challenge to do good to that person today, even if you think they won’t appreciate it.
  • Challenge ungenerous behaviours that damage communities, our country, and the world. For example? Well, are we locked into a worldly pattern of consumption? Thinking about how our shopping choices affect the world? Generous in the things we like and share on social media?

(Just because it – kind of – fitted with “against the tide”…I imagine it’s photo shopped but it’s still quite clever!)

This is another of those challenges that may not be completely relevant today, but which will certainly be relevant at one time or another, I am sure. I am becoming more convinced that, as Christians, we need to support our brothers and sisters of other faiths, and of none. Not with any ulterior motives of bringing them to Christ, but just because. Because they are our brothers and sisters. Because no-one deserves to be treated with distain (even if we disagree with their politics/ stance on Brexit/ religion/ whatever )

So I support “Stop Funding Hate” & now sign their petitions and write to those companies that support the hate-mongering newspapers. Although this article from The Spectator, arguing against the SFH campaign is interesting reading; I can partly, at least, see their point of view, but I still think that it’s worth supporting SFH, even if that makes me a “nasty eliteist”.

And when (which isn’t often) I read hate-mongering comments on FB I try to challenge them.

It’s only a small thing, but every small thing helps somewhere along the line…

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A Pause in Lent N°5: Judas

Joining in with Ang, and some other blogging friends, sharing thoughts on Lent. I have been sharing poems that have meant something to me, or just caught my eye. Today I offer you one, perhaps really meant for Good Friday, and beyond…

Judas

 Thirty pieces of silver

Was it worth that –

or more?

Would you have done it

for less?

Believing that you were part of the plan,

Believing perhaps that He had lost his nerve

And wouldn’t rise up

In all His glory to bring about

The New Jerusalem.

And how did you feel

when it all went

wrong?

When the beginning you thought would come about

appeared to be

the End?

Your whole world crumbled,

Broken shards of confidence

Of what you held so dear

Of what you thought you knew.

Were you so distraught

That the meaning of your life had gone

So that

to continue breathing

was not to continue living?

And when your anguish overcame you

And you chose to die,

Did you ever, for one

heart-stopping moment,

believe that ~

despite it all ~

the end was the beginning,

And the death was

the start of Life itself

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Acts N° 33 & 34 (2017): Forgive (2) & Flow

Hello dear Readers. I hope everyone is well. I am feeling rather full up, and not quite all-here, due to a long night’s consumption of beer and pork products. You can read about it over at Fat Dormouse

But I’m not here to complain about feeling full up; I’m here to write about 40 Acts. On with the show!

Act N° 33 :: FORGIVE (2)

This is about following through on forgiveness. Forgiveness is tough, but once you’ve made a decision, it’s significantly easier than dithering over the choice. With God’s grace it can happen, but the hurt might not always disappear overnight. By showing forgiveness in a practical way you help to heal the wounds.

  • If you are still getting to grips with yesterday’s act, spend today getting closer to forgiveness.
  • Finding a practical way to show forgiveness starts with sincerely putting the other person first. There are two ways to approach this: (1) think, yourself, of a way to show forgiveness; (2) ask the person you’re forgiving what might be a good start.
  • Give more than they deserve back. If you’ve forgiven someone, how do you actively demonstrate that with kindness?

As I said yesterday, this is more an act for me that challenges me on those little, everyday niggles of when I think Mr FD (or someone else, for that matter) hasn’t pulled their weight, or hasn’t done something that I think they should have done. It’s going to be an ongoing challenge, where God will have to work hard on me. I can forgive, but I do put a bit of a face on me, so that everyone knows I’m mightily pissed off, even though I’ve “forgiven” the person!

Anyway, as a bit of a nod in this direction, I changed all (but one) of the eight litter trays that we have around the house. It should have been Mr FD who did at least half of them, but I did them.

ACT N° 34 :: FLOW

‘Busy’ is overtaking ‘fine’ as the standard reply to ‘How are you?’ There aren’t enough hours in the day, you’re rushed off your feet, you haven’t the time. Most of us are guilty of making ourselves too busy. It’s possible that the most urgent thing on our agenda should be slowing down and focusing energy on the people and things that matter. So, spend today going with someone else’s flow.

  • If today is one of those days you’ve got no leeway on, earmark a future time for being flexible to others’ needs.
  • Have a quick catch-up with somebody. Phone a relative. Or take a colleague out for coffee. Take the opportunity to look around you as you go through your day, and see who you bump into that you could slow down for.
  • Make it happen. Whoever you’ve ‘been meaning’ to spend time with, today’s the day (or afternoon or evening).

I’d planned to do some work this morning, and then attack the courtyard this afternoon – partly because Mr FD has been saying for weeks that he’d do it, and has never got round to it. I thought that, if I started, I might “guilt” him into it. That’s not very 40 Acts, is it?! – The buddleia is growing and needs pruning (probably the wrong time of year, but buddleias never seem to mind; the bird stuff needs cleaning, changing, throwing away; the pots need changing, and refilling, and moving. Lots to do. Neither of us really like such things, but it’s always good when it’s finished.

ANYWAY, I read today’s prompts, and remembered that I’d been meaning to contact a German lady who got in touch via my blog when George disappeared. We’d sent each other a few emails, but that was it. I’d thought about suggesting we meet up, but somehow hazd never quite got round to it. So, on reading the Acts, I emailed Regina, saying I was free this weekend if she was. Within 5 minutes she’d phoned me and I’m going over there this afternoon. And, for a Brucie Bonus, there’s a kitten for me to feed!!!!

So, there you go! An Act that really isn’t much of a challenge really… The courtyard will be there tomorrow, so I can do it then. Thank you 40 Acts for getting me off my bum. I’m off to make some scones to take with me!

UPDATE: Just to teach me a lesson (!) when I attacked the courtyard on Sunday I was given a bad back after 20 minutes, so I couldn’t do very much to “guilt” Mr FD after all! I pruned the buddleia & that was about it! My afternoon with Regina and Keith was a delight, however, which was good. So thank you, 40 Acts for that.

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