Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Making decisions

O.K. so maybe I'm obsessed about making decisions or something but I have been thinking a bit about this and I reckon there are three basic ways we make decisions in our life.

Active decision making - The first way what I call active decision making. This is the thing we do throughout our life of picking between different options based on the perceived merits of each. So this includes decisions like...
PC or Mac
Call of Duty or Bad Company 2
Going to university or getting a job
Moving to Oxford or Moving to Cambridge
Taking one Job or taking another
Getting married or staying single
Eating cereal for breakfast or eating toast

This is the way we normally think about decision making. We normally think of the vast array of things we decide on throughout our life. The specific examples will change but we all make many decisions like this.

Decision making by neglect - So the second way we make decisions is what I call decision making by neglect. This is all the decisions we make because we never even think of them as options. This includes decisions such as...
Deciding not to kill someone today
Deciding not to take up pilates
Deciding not to get a job as a professional plate juggler
Deciding not to paint my house orange

Now the individual examples may not apply to you (or me) but what I am talking about here is that whole host of things which we never decide to do because we actually never think about them or consider them as options. It's not that we make a conscious decision to not do these things it's just that by never thinking about them we decide not to do them.

Decision making by default - The third way we make decisions is what I call decision making by default. This represents all those things which we never decide either to do or not to do but which our lives decide for us. This includes decisions such as...
Getting fat - You don't sit there and decide I am going to get fat but by each day eating more than you should practically you have made that decision
Not going to lectures - You may not decide you're not going to go to tomorrow's lecture but by staying up until 6:00AM practically you have made that decision

Now it strikes me that when it comes to becoming a Christian or not many people make this decision either by neglect or by default, That is to say that many people go through their lives without ever thinking about whether they are going to become a Christian or not. They therefore make the decision not to by neglect. Others go through their life never mixing with Christians, never going to church, never reading the Bible, never finding out about Christianity and therefore although they would describe themselves as open to Christianity their lifestyle makes the decision not to become a Christian by default.

Jesus says that he came to divide people and the division he makes is based on what people make of him. Let me encourage you to make an active decision about Jesus rather than making it by neglect or default!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

What should I do

I feel like my life is absolutely full of this question. I ask myself again and again what I should do.
So I wake up on a Monday morning and I ask myself the very basic question what should I do today. I get into difficult situations and I ask myself what I should do about them. I think about my future, my career, my year, my time and am constantly asking myself what I should do.

Not only do I ask myself this question all the time I am often asked it by other people. People with a whole host of decisions (about careers or where to live or what to do or how to make things better) all asking the same question 'What should I do?'

Now what has struck me about this is that we ask ourselves this question in the specific but too often fail to ask it in the general. By this I mean that when it comes to specific decisions (about time, money, locations, careers, relationships etc) we are obsessed with asking ourselves what we should do but when it comes to the big question of what should I do with my life we fail to ever ask this question.

It seems to me that most of us live our lives on a sort of firefighting basis so we hit a decision we need to make and then fret about what we should do without ever taking the time to think about what we should be doing with our life as a whole. However, if we asked ourselves what we should be doing with our lives more often I wonder if we would find it easier to think about the specifics.

I have been challenged recently by the parable of the talents (Matthew 15v14-30) to ask myself the question 'What should I be doing with my life?' more often. We are so often too busy fighting the current fire to ever stop and think about this but how do we hope to fight the fires and what do we expect to get out of life if we never ask ourselves what we should get out of. The Bible promises me that life is for getting to know God so as I think about what that means for my life hopefully I will become better at answering the smaller questions.

I should be getting to know and glorifying God through my life what should you be doing with yours?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Ugly things

The other day I was listening to a Ben Folds song (yes I am not going to try to deny it I like Ben Folds) and I was struck by one of the lines. He sings this,

'Alice, the world is full of ugly things that you can't change
Pretend it's not that way
It's my idea of faith'

As a Christian I live by faith. However, the problem I have when I say this is that most people's idea of faith is this head in the sand mentality. People think that when I say that I live by faith what I mean is that I spend my life believing something which is frankly unbelievable. The thing is that this is not how I understand faith. When I say that I have faith in God and his revelation in the Bible it means that because of what God has already done (as recorded in the Bible) I have confidence that he will go on to do what he has promised. We all exercise faith in some things and the trick of life is to try to have faith in things which won't disappoint. I have faith in God because I believe he is the most trustworthy person in the universe.

The other thing these lyrics got me thinking about though was the ugly things in the world which I can't change. I read an article last week by the one and only Richard Dawkins in which he said that Christians were obsessed by suffering. Now whilst I disagree with this assumption I would like to say that in a world which is full of ugly things which you can't change you either have to face up to them or live life pretending that it's not like that. Christianity faces up to and tries to deal with suffering when most people (myself included at times) simply pretend it's not that way.
Sadly the world is full of ugly things that you can't change and I don't have sufficient 'faith' to simply pretend it's not that way.