Monday, 2 May 2011

No ordinary rating

Here at Baafest (Bellingham All Acoustic Festival) we were told the story behind a song.....
From Sunderland - an apparently ordinary rating, Jack Crawford, had been press ganged to serve on a naval ship in the Battle of Camperdown (1797) - in which we were fighting the Dutch.

HMS Venerable was Admiral Duncan's flagship and during the battle, part of the Venerable's mast was felled, including the colours (flag). Lowering the colours was a sign of surrender, and even an unintentional fall was unacceptable. Despite being under intense gunfire, Jack Crawford climbed the mast and nailed the colours to the top.

The story goes that this act of heroism so stirred the demoralised and disheartened British, who were on the wrong end of this particular battle, that the battle turned from that point. With the colours again 'atop' the mast they went on to win a decisive victory. As with all such historic tales there are disputed elements of the story, some of which may be right some of which may be historians seeking a name for themselves, however, there undoubtedly truth contained within it. That the course of individual lives and of history can be changed by single heroic acts has been shown to be true many times. Such acts can touch lives, communities and nations and can prompt similar selfless actions.
In Hebrews 11 we read about a number of 'heroes' of faith whose stories are there,in part at least, as examples to stir those who come after them to similar or greater acts of faith which will, in turn, encourage and strengthen the coming generations of God's family.
However, those historic faith figures are not my focus - we are. The present generation that God has called and empowered and equipped are the one's who need to be, and among whom the next generation will have a right to look for, 'heroes of faith'.
We need to be people whose lives and actions turn the direction of history, serve as examples that stir others to follow and are responsible for raising the bar of expectation and action.
Jack Crawford didn't nail his own colours to the mast, he risked his life to nail the King's colours to the mast. An act of heroism becomes the invitation the inspiration and the challenge to present and future generations.
And my challenge? What part will I play in this story..........

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Sunday, 1 May 2011

What are you qualified for

Qualifications are important for many reasons. In the case of certain academic qualifications they indicate you have reached a level of knowledge ( or have a good enough memory) to pass particular exams. Others can give a potential employer an indication of achievement from which potential ability may be inferred and still others can point to a level of professional competence that allows you to practice a certain profession. Some are a legal requirement, in the case of certain professions, and rightly so but in other cases they can be given so much 'weight' that you may be forgiven for thinking that you are worth no more than the sum of your qualifications.
Employers write off people they have never seen, irrespective of a whole range of other referenced and demonstrable achievements simply because someone is 5 marks short of gaining a paper qualification. Society always loved to reduce people to something that enables boxes to be ticked and relatively arbitrary decisions made on the basis of them. These decisions, however, which are often made about a person in their youth, can build, or destroy hope and vision for a lifetime. They are not light decisions and they are so often made without ever meeting the person! Made on the basis of qualifications alone which makes many of our processes for people selection extremely monochrome one dimensional and limiting.
Thanks goodness our God sees in multi dimensional colour, always has an expansive, visionary approach and always bases decisions about us based on an intimate knowledge of us. There is a great verse in Colossians where we read about something that no one, through their own ability, cleverness, wealth or passing any number of exams can ever qualify for. This could lead to hopelessness or despair or the feeling of 'then why bother?' until we read: " thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." Col 1:12

When it comes to the critical issues of our eternal future and of our personal relationship with our creator, He doesn't leave us to our own, inadequate, devices - He qualified us, He gives us the requirements for entry, He is our 'A' grade. Praise God that He does not leave us to our own cleverness and does not judge us on the basis of some arbitrary, impersonal measure - He gives us Himself and He is our qualification.

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