Autumn

Do you enjoy autumn? I have mixed feelings about the season. I love the amazing colours of autumn leaves, the red and yellow, the orange and brown which spread across hillsides producing beautiful landscapes. I love walking in freshly fallen leaves, kicking them up with my shoes as I stroll along a woodland path. I am not so keen on sweeping and binning them back home however! I enjoy crisp cold mornings with gentle mist and even frost on the ground. I am not so keen on having to de-ice the car! As the nights draw in it is comforting to be able to snuggle up in a warm house, draw the curtains and shut the cold outside.

If spring is the season of new life, then autumn must surely be the season of life’s twilight. Plants especially are in the final throes of their annual life cycle. People and animals are preparing for the sleep of winter when they have to rely on stores of food or even in some cases going into hibernation. Technology and rapid transport mean that we are largely insulated from the hardships of winter that our grandparents knew. Unlike them we can eat ‘seasonal’ food all year round, in season and out of season.

The latter years of our human lives are sometimes compared to the season of autumn. Youthful strength declines and we may have to rely more upon reserves of wisdom built up during our lives. We may have fond memories of a life lived well, shared experiences with family and friends to relish and enjoy. Yet there is also the sadness of friends and family who have passed away. They are all too frequent reminders of our own frail humanity and the certainty of our own death. We may try and insulate ourselves from the inevitable, but ultimately the sands of time run out for each of us.

For followers of Christ this season of life is bittersweet. The aches and pains of aging are indiscriminate and tiresome for us all. However followers of Christ have the hope that there will be a new season of spring as we anticipate a resurrection life with Christ; a life that will be free from all the difficulties of the present.

The Apostle Paul faced more trials in his life than many of us ever will. He was shipwrecked, flogged, spat upon, left for dead and imprisoned. Indeed it was while he was in prison that he wrote ‘for me to live is Christ, to die is gain’. For him following Christ was a win – win option. His life was devoted to spreading the message of Jesus. Every day was a fresh opportunity for him to discover the joy that Christ would bring, irrespective of the difficulties he faced. Soon however would come the day of his death when he would go to be with Christ forever. He was eagerly looking forward to his eternal hope.

That hope is available to everyone, young and old. If you would like to know more, simply ask God to reveal it to you.

This blog post featured in the November 2015 edition of Hook Focus

 

Money Talks

I once heard about a very ordinary family who had a friend called Ralph who was a self-made millionaire. For many years he would generously take them away on his boat for holidays as they both had daughters the same age. At the end of each day they would stop at the best moorings belonging to riverside hotels for their evening meal. When the waiter came to their table Ralph would give them a tip before placing the order with the promise of more if the meal was good. He reasoned that it was better to guarantee good service by paying for it in advance than hoping it would be worth rewarding after the event when it was too late. Money talked for Ralph.

You may not have the kind of wealth that opens doors for you in the way that Ralph had, but like it or not, wealthy or poor, the way you handle money speaks volumes about you. Even people who claim that money is not important to them would be surprised how much time and energy they spent earning it, spending it, talking about it, paying bills, and planning for the future. Money does indeed talk!

Therefore it should not be a great surprise to find that the Bible actually has quite a lot to say about money. Jesus said that how you deal with money is an indication of what is in your heart. Agur, who wrote part of the book of Proverbs, penned this prayer:

Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. Proverbs 30:7-9

Agur realised that too much wealth could lead him to rely on his own means and deny God. Equally, poverty could lead him to pursue dishonesty to provide for his family. Paul too learned through personal experience that contentment in life does not depend upon material wealth but upon our security in Christ:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

Over the next few weeks we shall be looking at what the Bible has to say about money in a series called ‘Money Talks’. As we study this subject from a biblical perspective, invite the Holy Spirit to help you handle money in a God glorifying way.

This blog post featured in the November 2015 edition of Lifelines