“IF” is an important word

Does anyone out there want a Brother portable typewriter, just one careful owner?

This Christmas our visiting family so overwhelmed the vicarage that I realised that we need to reclaim much-needed room space. So I am in the process of a ruthless clearing out. Some stuff goes to charity shops but most to recycling, what we used to call the tip. Not a task for the fainthearted or the sentimental!

But my typewriter?

It’s been with me through thick and thin, ever since I was a student. I owe it a lot for I learned to touch type without making a mistake. You had to, for otherwise, it was a laborious procedure to delete. Either careful rubbing out with a special eraser leaving lots of little bits or  the delicate application of liquid paper.

In complete contrast to Dragon Dictate 2.5 for Mac. When I make a mistake now, I simply give a spoken command. (The more alert of you will realise that I can’t actually say what the command is!)

This ruthless discipline imposed by my Brother, although a pain at the time, soon paid dividends.  I recall the reaction of Prof Douglas Jones to my first essay at theological college in Durham. “Rubbish, but beautifully typed!”

Very simply, my ancient portable typewriter taught me the importance of consequence – do this and that happens, make a mistake and lose five minutes.

The Alpha Northern conference last Saturday at Sheffield was inspiring. We were told about the National Parenting Initiative, Here I quote:  “The NPI is a coordinated attempt to enlist as many churches as possible throughout the UK to run a parenting course at some point during 2012 for their local community”.

This is in response to what is widely perceived as a crisis in parenting and I’m hoping that we’ll be involved in this project.

Teaching our children the importance of consequence seems to me at the heart of being a good parent. So when daughter Beth spends her entire week’s holiday money on the first day, that’s it –  however much she may weep!  In contrast, a very good friend has no budgeting sense whatsoever. His mother always bailed him out. He wasn’t taught the importance of consequence.

And consequence, of course, is at the heart of the Bible, in its teaching on covenant.  The key word here is IF, especially on the lips of Jesus. IF you do this, THEN that happens, even if you do not understand the linkage, as in the power of prayer.

“IF you remain in me and my words remain in you,” says Jesus, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”. This is all of God’s grace but Jesus is teaching us that we have a part to play.  We need to ensure that we are in the place of grace through living by God’s word, by abiding in Christ.  Only a spoilt child would think otherwise.

For our heavenly Father is teaching us the importance of consequence so that we lay hold of his blessings.

And also disobedience. The Christian life is more like using my Brother portable typewriter than any speech recognition software.
Mistakes are significant so that we may learn from them, from 1° of glory to another. (I’ll let you work out how Dragon Dictate made a timely mistake. That was unrehearsed!)