God knows us

Reading Psalm 33 today – a great one. This line struck me – God made our hearts, so he understands everything about us. Made this in response.

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what is fasting?

As it is Ash Wednesday – the start of Lent – lots of posts and thoughts about fasting out there. It is easy to get caught up in religiousness, guilt, or trying to over-do our spirituality. But fasting isn’t about all that. It’s about choices to make ourselves available to God.

Keep it simple friends.

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pray love listen serve

So often we find ourselves in the middle of conflicts, situations we are unable to handle, or places we just want to give up. It’s normal. It’s life. And it’s difficult. I’ve been thinking about some of the ways I tend to react that don’t end of actually helping: I try to take control. I want to fight, defend, or rely on talking my way through it.

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Instead, what if I try to pray, love, listen, and serve? Can I go wrong? First, they will do things IN me. But I believe they will also have very different effects in the hard places we find ourselves. These responses are sure to be beneficial to the others we are dealing with. I also think they have the power to change the atmosphere.

worth trying…

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stars

Reflecting this morning on the fact that God created the universe, holds the stars in his hands, and STILL sees and loves each and every one of us. Overwhelming…

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Keep Asking Why

WHY is such an important question! Although it can come across as accusatory (“WHY did you do THAT?”), it can actually be a very powerful question to help us interrogate motivation or cause. There is another maxim which says that honestly and positively asking WHY repeatedly until you can’t come up with anything else is the best way to get to the real root of things.

I bring this up as this question was asked of me by a friend recently about my work: “Yes, I know WHAT you do, but WHY do you do it?” I’m still thinking about it, but as I do, it has made me consider the types of responses ANYONE might have to this question…
– Someone has to do it
– I’m good at it
– It needs to be done
– I get paid to do it
– I love it
– I can’t imagine doing anything else
– I feel God has told me to do it
– I am trained/experienced to do it
– There is no one else
– It is a step toward something further
– I committed to doing it

None of these are right or wrong. And, I would guess that most of the time, you might respond with several of these. What other WHY’s do you have for what you do?

I’m asking myself this question and maybe it would help you (as an individual, team, or organisation) to ask the same on a regular basis. It keeps us from just doing things “because that’s what we do” and re-motivates us. Often, it helps to have another person ask it of us so we have to think about it again.

Keep thinking and doing!

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Not Happy With God Right Now

Have you ever tried to do a puzzle without the picture on the box of what you are trying to build? Probably not. It is difficult not seeing what you are creating or having the clues of context – this colour must go here because it is part of this flower, etc. But it is possible- slowly testing each piece against all the others to see if/where it fits.

This is who I feel about life right now. I have pieces – good pieces – of people and work and responsibilities. But at the moment, God isn’t showing me the ‘picture on the box.’ How do these pieces go together? Are all the pieces I am working with part of the puzzle, or have a few strays from other puzzles got mixed in? I’m looking at the pieces, I’m looking at the puzzle being built – and I am confused.

I know some people live this ways just fine. But not me. I prefer and am accustomed to knowing the big picture and what I feel God is saying and doing. It helps me prioritise and hold in tension the various parts of my life. It helps me hope and take hard steps – seeing where they lead.  And to be honest, I’m a little angry with God right now for not showing me what is going on, especially in areas that just don’t seem to make sense.

Yes, I am talking about THAT God – the one who created and runs the universe. The one who is good and loving. It’s that God. I’m not doubting God, or giving up on God. I’m just not happy with God. I think God is ok with that. I hope you are ok hearing this [you know, because I am a minister and a missionary – one who basically does what God says for a living]. I am not acting disobediently or sinfully. I’m just not happy…  Maybe you have or do feel the same way yourself?

Why am I angry? Well they say that anger is often an indicator of other more specific feelings. So I guess:

I am feeling lonely. In this lost place, other people don’t know what to say or how to relate or help. In some cases, I feel friends are distancing themselves from me to keep themselves safe. Or people just don’t like what I am feeling/saying. I suppose it is similar to those who experience grief and all they need is people to be present – meanwhile people want to give them space or don’t know how to sit with them in their places of pain. And those who understand what I am feeling are often in similar situations and are barely holding it together themselves. What I need is for anyone who has been in this place to say ‘it’s ok, i understand, you’ll be alright, what can i do to help?’ And for the other people in my life to not not run away when I act weird. Don’t leave me alone.

I am feeling disoriented. I am accustomed to hearing God speaking and knowing what to do. Therefore, this place I am in now feels very much like being in the dark. God is there, I know. And I am not afraid of the dark. But I  don’t like all the tripping and bumping into things I am doing as I attempt to move as best I can. I find myself understanding – perhaps for the first time – the Biblical cry ‘don’t take your presence away!’ I always wondered about that – I mean, God would never do that. Yet here I am, knowing God is here, but asking, ‘where are you? what are you doing? why won’t you speak?’

I feel powerless. I can’t make long-term plans. I can’t say much with assurance. I doubt myself most of the time. I keep waiting for God to make things more clear, to rescue me, to do SOMETHING. And what God is saying is, ‘I am here.’ Yes, God, I KNOW. Now what???? I like to DO things, go places, see results. I have no control here – I’m not happy. Maybe – maybe – maybe this is for my own good. I am sure there are things God is doing that I don’t know. But it seems to me it would be helpful to our relationship if He would communicate more 😉

So, I am having an argument with God right now. Please tell Him I will be watching football until He’s ready to talk. I’m sick of puzzles.

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photo caption: ah, those were the days…

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For your year-end reflection

I recently led a Selah Day for people to pause and pay attention to God, their heart, and life. We took the time to respond to the work of God with us right now now as well as to think back over the year. A few people have subsequently asked for and purchased some of the materials from me and I thought you might like to use them too. I am asking that you make a donation if you download/use these (minimum $5 per user) by clicking this link to PayPal.

My experience is that most of us know we need to take time to reflect, yet seldom make the time. That’s probably why people like when I organise days like these for them!

I hope you find these helpful.

Mary’s Song (the Magnificat). What is your song? YearEnd2015SelahMagnificat

Year-end Reflection QuestionsYearEnd2015SelahReflections

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hope vs expectation: an Advent reflection

Been thinking about the difference between hope and expectation, at least for me. And now with it being Advent (the time leading up to Christmas), there’s the annual reminders of hope and anticipation and preparedness for Jesus coming/what God wants to do in our lives.

hope: the longing for something that is to come

expectation: the anticipation of specific realisations of what we hope for

Hopes, I think, are generally fine and may be from God at times. Expectations, on the other hand, feel like they can actually get in the way of what we are hoping for! It seems to me that people (I) struggle when we confuse the two.

It’s normal – we are finite and human and need concrete things to grab onto. So we may have a hope for a “home of our own” but get fixated on a particular way this will look or come about. And I (probably no one else does this?) then mess everything up trying to get it. God says one thing, I hear it and slowly build my own interpretation of what God has said, and then I too often focus on this instead of what God actually said. I am learning/struggling to not force things to become how I expect them to look, but rather to let hope come about the way God wants.

And Advent – is it about hope or expectation? I see that so often people miss what God is wanting to do, how God is wanting to do it, because they have such specific expectations (a Messiah, for example) that they miss what they are hoping for (salvation) because God does it another way. At the same time, we can’t just hope for peace and love as concepts – they need flesh for us to really grasp and experience them – which is part of the beauty of Jesus, isn’t it?

Hold firmly to hope. Often it is all that keeps us going through hard or dark times. And try to hold loosely to your expectations (can you see which are YOUR expectations separate from what God has said?), or at least loose enough to adjust to what God brings.

Come Lord Jesus. We hope for you. And we look for you in whichever ways you fulfill your promises…

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tell of God’s greatness

Reading Psalm 34 this morning and wanted to make/share this – a reminder of how important it is to speak of God and encourage one another.

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