Birthing the Blog 1: Abundance

Welcome to my first mini-series at ‘Living Life to the Full’! It’ll be based on some scriptures which I think will speak into the content of this blog. Today’s post is part one of four, and the aim is to explore Jesus’ words in John 10:10, ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’. Words which, I’m sure, will inform the blog in a big way. Please add your comments and experiences so that we can start a conversation. Also, if you know of anyone who might appreciate this series, please share it with them.  

Where does this verse come from? This verse is found in the Old Testament (aka the Bible part one), in John’s gospel account of Jesus’ life, in a passage entitled ‘The good shepherd and his sheep.’ Jesus is talking here to the Pharisees – members of an ancient Jewish sect who were prone to applying the Old Testament (aka the Bible part one) very legalistically – for themselves and for hapless others. Performance and rules were more important to these guys than their relationship with God and other people, as Jesus points out elsewhere in the gospels.

It’s an amazing passage – read it! – but in this post I’m focusing on verse 10, ‘I came that they may have life, and have it to the full’. These words follow straight on from a verse in which Jesus uses the metaphor of a gate to explain that he makes a way for us to know the Father God. I want to suggest that as well as making the way for an eternal relationship with God (what happens when we die), Jesus is also talking about living fully and abundantly in the here-and-now (what happens during our earthly lives). My understanding of John 10:10 is that following Jesus isn’t just about going to heaven – as mind-boggling and exciting as that is – but that it has implications for how we live in the world now. How does this ‘full/abundant’ life apply to me? When I first heard this verse, I wasn’t a Christian – but I remember thinking ‘Gosh, life to the full – that sounds pretty good – how could you not want that?’ It certainly challenged some of my preconceptions about the Christian life being ‘religious’ and dull. But it didn’t really occur to me at that stage to think of how the words would translate in my own life.  I mentioned in the post ‘Living Life to the Full’ that I’ve been pretty busy since Freddie started school last September. And before that, too – I was a full-time teacher prior to him being born, and the years between birth and school involved volunteering for a parenting charity, helping out at the local secondary school and nursery, a bit of paid marketing work and translation work, helping in the church crèche and running the mid-week toddler group. I’ve always been enjoyed being busy, and now Freddie’s at school I have even more time to fill. I pitch in at Freddie’s school and although I have moved on from pre-school involvement at church I have taken on other roles there (both my own city-centre church and sometimes at my fab local church). I’ve started a community interest company for social enterprise with a friend, and I volunteer for an amazing charity which provides a bridge between those who wish to give and those who have need (read more about that here). I love all these roles, and in addition I have windows of free time for friends, knitting, cycling, crossword-ing, being part of a book group, Pilates and now blogging! In fact one day not long ago I came across John 10:10 again and thought ‘Yes, this is how I feel. This feels like life to the full, abundant life.’ It’s nothing to do with material abundance – it’s all about relationships, my relationship with Jesus and with those around me. I said I might look at a ‘truth’ and a ‘lie’ for each value in this blog series. The truth according to John 10:10 is that Jesus came that I might have life, and have it to the full. There are staggering implications for our lives, now and for ever. The lie is that voice in my head telling me that I SHOULD be busy all the time, lest life should feel empty. I must admit that on the day Freddie started school, the house seemed eerily quiet! (Readers that know Freddie will be snickering into their keyboards right now!) I have often intentionally made myself busy just to cover over the deafening silence of not having him around. I think this is potentially a hard and sad topic for many parents, and one that would necessitate a whole separate blog post. But I do feel that to make myself busy is to fall into the same trap as the Pharisees, who emphasised ‘doing’ more than ‘knowing’ God. I’ve found that it’s possible to ‘do’ so much, I forget who I originally set out to do it for! And let’s not forget the first half of this verse – there is a thief out there who doesn’t love life, who wants to destroy it. If my diary becomes jam-packed, I’m effectively doing the thief’s work for him by sucking the joy out of life. It’s not kind to me or to those close to me. I love Jesus’ comeback in the second half of the verse – in him the thief has been defeated, the bondage of death broken. This is how God is changing me through my new-found free time. I’m learning that living life to the full doesn’t mean filling every second – it means knowing Jesus. What a privilege! This series will be continued as we look at the values of safety, freedom and rest, but for now I’d love to know your thoughts about today’s post – give me some ideas for the coming instalments!

  • Are your expectations of yourself kind?
  • When you look at your diary, is there anything in it that is no longer life-giving and could be laid down?
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‘Birthing the Blog’ – Mini-Series

Over the past few days I’ve felt really excited to be blogging again, and I’ve decided to kick off ‘Living Life to the Full’ with a mini-series of blog posts about the Bible verses which God has put on my heart as I’ve been thinking and praying about returning to blogging. I suspect these wonderful scriptures will speak into what I write about on here, and will come to reflect the ‘values’ of this blog. I quoted some of the verses a few days ago in my first ‘back from the dead’ post, and my lovely friend and fellow blogger Desertmum then commented that she’d love to read a blog on them. What Desertmum wants, Desertmum gets! (She’s very nice, you see).

So, in this mini-series I’ll be exploring:

1) Abundance – ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ – Jesus, in John 10:10
2) Safety – ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze’ – Isaiah 43:2; ‘I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust”’ – Psalm 91:2
3) Freedom – ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’ – John 8:36; ‘The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father”‘ – Romans 8:15.
4) Rest ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake’ – Psalm 23:1-3
I’m considering looking at a ‘lie’ and a ‘truth’ within each post – God speaks the truth to us through his Word, but sometimes a silly voice in our head can get in the way of that. Especially if you’re a girl, maybe!

Over to you:

  • Does one of these verses in particular say something  to you?
  • Do any of them connect with experience from your own life?
  • What would you like to hear about within the mini-series?

See you soon for the first instalment!

PS Thank you for your support and encouragement on my return to blogging. You’re the best! 

Hope and a Future

A couple of months ago I was at The Besom in York blogging about my experiences of conducting assessments for this wonderful charity. Come on over!

The Besom in York

Matt 8 v 10 use
When a friend told me that she had started giving her time to assess recipients for the Besom in York, I thought, ‘That’s something I’d be really interested in doing too!’ I live in a community where affluence jostles uncomfortably against deprivation – not much in between. I had heard fantastic things about the work of the Besom, providing a ‘bridge’ between givers and recipients in neighbourhoods just like mine. They make it possible for people to give their time (like my friend was doing), as well as skills, money and things, to those in need. At the time however I was at home with my young son and had other commitments too so I didn’t have any time to give through the Besom.
Six months later however, my son had just completed his first term at school – God had given me some extra time each day. Chatting to…

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Living Life to the Full

Hello.

This blog has lain dormant for over a year, beating my previous record in blog-related indolence.

I considered wiping the old blog and starting afresh, but I decided instead to make a few tweaks and come back with a new name – ‘Living Life to the Full’.

Quite a lot has happened since I last blogged. Freddie (the small person who was taking up most of my time when we last met) is now at school full-time. This has been quite a big change for me* and the fact that I don’t have any other children to be with when he’s at school has sometimes felt quite big too. Perhaps I’ll blog more about this at some point.

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‘What do you do with your time now Freddie’s at school?’ is a question I get asked a lot. My week now looks very varied, and that is proving joyful and life-giving. I expect this blog will journal some of these activities I’m up to now, and what I’ve observed that God might be up to in the midst of it all. The truth is that it’s because I’ve been so busy that I’ve strayed from blogging – but when life is starting to look increasingly like the ‘full’ life Jesus promises, why not tell the world?!
The blog is now linked to Facebook and Twitter, and I hope to prettify the general look of the blog in due course. An exciting new season!

These are some scriptures that have come to mind while I’ve been thinking and praying about re-starting this blog. If these verses resonate with you too, won’t you come along with me on this new adventure?!

  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ – Jesus, in John 10:10
  • ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze’ – Isaiah 43:2
  • ‘I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust”‘ – Psalm 91:2
  • ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’ – John 8:36; ‘The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father”‘ – Romans 8:15
  • ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake’ – Psalm 23:1-3

* Disclaimer: Freddie’s school is absolutely brilliant and he’s having a great time! He attends a school which I gained a great impression of back when I was teaching in the local area, and I trust these hard-working people hugely. We feel truly blessed by the whole process.