Illuminate the beauty in others…

I was sitting before my laptop today trying to put words together for a song when I saw two things on my Momentum dashboard in Chrome.

[Side note: I’ve been doing a lot of stress management during Covid – music helps me; apologies for not writing much; work has been busy.]

The first was a quote:

“One who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.”

Confucius

That is definitely true. No matter how much I think I might know about something, there is always something new to learn, and I acknowledge that. The second is from the mantra’s that provide daily encouragement, and it simply said this…

So this is what I’m going to attempt to do.

Still, I fear I may be touching on a controversial subject – who should or should not participate in communion. Reflecting on those with more restrictive rules or self-imposed exile from the sharing because, let’s face it, there are always times when we don’t feel worthy [clue, we are never as righteous as we believe we are].

Now, I should point out, I’m not a priest, but I am a child of God, a brother of Jesus, cousin, brother, father and son to the multitude of Christians who share the love of Christ in our hearts – I don’t make rules, neither do I enforce laws in a church, but I do have opinions. I feel I’m entitled to hold them, whether other people support them or not.

Bit of background; we have a broad mix of people in our church, whose personalities vary from a more high church or traditional experience right through to the more modern and more open traditions. I have been told I’m more traditional than trendy, reflecting my earlier understanding of the church in youth. We all have different ideas of what church is, what it means to us. Ask anyone around you, “what is a church to you” and I’m sure you’ll get quite a few different answers.

Today I witnessed the struggle of another person.

A person who was painfully aware they have sinned, and their struggle between that knowledge and forgiveness.

This struggle between sin and forgiveness happened during communion. As the rows of people stood and went forward (abiding by our current social distancing practices), one row within earshot caught my attention. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed this, and if this struggle had not resolved itself, I might have taken it upon myself to offer help and prayer, but thankfully I did not have to, although I will still pray for this person.

One by one, each person stood up away from the pew, but one person, the last, remained seated and quiet as a mouse said to themselves, “I can’t… I have sinned”. Now, this should not be a surprise to us, we are in this together, and we all find ourselves in this situation, the conflict between sin and forgiveness. But this alarmed me, but I had the patience enough to wait; I’m not sure how long I’d have waited but wait, I did.

My mind was crying out. “No, you sought forgiveness from our Lord God, our vicar has given the general absolution, even still you have been absolved from all sin by the death of Jesus upon his cross, and in his resurrection, he defeated the devil and all his works”.

The Parable of the Lost Son
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Luke 15:11-31

The other thing was “please don’t judge yourself, you do not need to seek forgiveness, God forgives, Jesus forgives, They forgive freely, even when we don’t ask, especially then; think of the parable of the lost son, so many examples. Jesus broke bread with sinners. He went out of His way to break bread with sinners. So if anyone should get up to receive communion, it is you above all others”.

Jesus Calls Levi and Eats With Sinners
13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:13-17

While I think all of this, something remarkable happened, something beautiful – that person, the one who acknowledged their sin before God in His house, stood and joined the queue to receive a socially distanced communion.

Inwardly I was cheering – if we were allowed to shout in church, I’d have shouted for joy with one almighty

“Yes! Thank you, Jesus!!”

So if you are ever sat there and feel as if you don’t deserve the forgiveness of Jesus, stop thinking, stop talking, because it is the devil within you that is fooling you. You are always welcome to forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Lord, through the love of our God, our Father, bestowed upon us through his grace and mercy.

We seek forgiveness and receive absolution in church services or otherwise is not an excuse to continuously sin. Still, unfortunately, it is within our nature. Unfortunately, it is often the easier path to take, so be a mindful Christian, be aware of your circumstances, the situations you find yourself in and the needs of those around you.

If you don’t consider yourself a Christian yet, or at all, remember that to deny that God exists, you are, in fact, acknowledging that He is there. After all, you cannot deny something that does not exist because denial is a refusal to accept the truth.

Regardless, do not deny yourself forgiveness or communion as one body with Christ, as this one person almost did. They did a beautiful thing today. Whether anyone else noticed it does not matter (that I did was perhaps circumstantial), the only thing that mattered was that inner conversation at that time between that person and God. I am so happy that took place.

I am so glad forgiveness won.

If I am ever in a situation where I am priested (seems more unlikely each passing year) and you are before me refusing communion because you have sinned, please don’t sit there. Instead, come forward because you need it more than those who don’t readily acknowledge their sins. To judge another is a sin. To judge oneself is a sin and carries a much heavier burden that we cannot afford to have.

Jesus broke bread with sinners.

I will break bread with you just as gladly as He did.

Activity versus Accomplishment

Our church is putting thought and prayer into what church will be like after lockdown.  I have a fair idea of what some of it will be like, and it won’t please everyone. Our vicar has his thoughts, our curate too, so too everyone involved.  I’d like to see the continuation of all the extra communication and online presence and our improved meet & greet.  So I’m doing a bit of reading around all that when I find the inspiration to do so and wanted to share this with you . . .

Activity versus Accomplishment

When the Crystal Palace Exhibition opened in 1851, people flocked to London’s Hyde Park to behold the marvels. One of the greatest marvels back then was steam. Steam ploughs were displayed. Steam locomotives. Steam looms. Steam organs. Even a steam cannon.

Of all the great exhibits that year, the first-prize winner was a steam invention with seven thousand parts.  When It was turned on, its pulleys, bells, and gears made a lot of noise, but, ironically, the contraption didn’t do a thing! Seven thousand moving parts making a lot of commotion … but having no practical use.

With the high-tech era we live in, it’s easy to confuse activity with accomplishment, to be fooled into thinking that the sound of gears and pulleys is the sound of something important being done.

Is that true of your life? Of your church? Are there hundreds, even thousands, of parts spinning and turning and making a lot of noise, but accomplishing very little?

If so, remember that even though your contraption may win a prize at a state fair or the denominational convention, God is the final judge. And what you think has substance may dissipate before His searching eyes like steam.

Swindoll, Charles R. (1988)  The Church: Purpose, Profile, Priorities (Bible Study Guide) . California: Insight For Living.

It resonated with me in so many ways. For instance, at work, with so many people/cogs churning and possibly making lots of noise, but are we achieving anything? Some do, some don’t. Are we accepting or dismissive of change? Are we attempting to maintain our status quo? Are we settled or too comfortable? Is the congregation just going through the motions? Et cetera, et cetera.

It made me sit back and think, try and look from a distance, determine if there are any parts of my life where I am just repeating the same old routine and doing the moonwalk to achieve something where there is no substance.  I believe there are, but breaking out of some constraints I find myself in is not easy – on top of that, I think lockdown leaves us feeling at least twice as restless as we usually are.

Celebrate Recovery adopts the definition of insanity as doing the same things repeatedly but expecting different results each time – it’s one of the lessons we cover among the many steps associated with the Beatitude based principles. I love the insanity of awarding a prize to something overly complex that does not do anything; it’s quirky and reminiscent of whenever we, as a population, are asked to decide something (Boaty McBoatface springs to mind). Still, at the same time, I pity us that we can celebrate something that so clearly illustrates one of our inadequacies.

I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”
Ecclesiastes 3:17

There’s lots of room for activity, but activity for its own sake will not help us. Ultimately, our perception of success is meaningless.

God judges our activity . . .

. . . and our accomplishments.

A letter received

This week I thought I’d share part of a letter we’ve received:

Dear friends,

   I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

   Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.

   Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

   “He committed no sin,
      and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

   When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

   Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
      Peter

God at work

A letter to work colleagues:

Hi everyone,

Firstly I’d like to thank everyone.  Between COVID, more restrictions, our work, our lives outside work, all of which pulls us all in different directions and risk tearing us to bits as individuals, it is lovely to see everyone supporting each other in prayer. It is beautiful to behold, so thank you so much for being who you are.

We’re still trying to meet up online for prayers (in work).  Not all of us can make it at the time, and that is fine, we all do have so much going on (I think I’d be bored if I didn’t).  What I think is important to remember is that even when we are apart, we are at our closest through our relationship with Jesus – so long as we all continue to carry Him in our hearts, we can know that we are not alone.  He is walking beside us and links us all as a family, brothers and sisters in Christ.  Just remember it’s a huge family, well beyond our circles, our church, our parish, or our nation – there are people abroad who have never met you who are supporting you in prayer as much as we support them in prayer.  Just as Jesus prayed for his disciples, so he prayed for each of us.

Jesus Prays for All Believers
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 

John 17:20-21

I recently bought yet another book (it should come as no surprise to those who know me) called “Working in the Presence of God”, by Denise Daniels and Shannon Vandewarker and is subtitled “Spiritual Practices for Everyday Work”.  Admittedly I’m not very far through it, but I thought I might try to share some thoughts on what I’m reading.  The book is in three sections, then chapters in each; it looks at Orienting, Engaging and Reflecting on work.

My first bit of reading reminded me that God, too, is a worker, especially a creative worker (lousy pun intended).  I mean, look at all He managed to achieve; and we’re not just talking about small projects here; even still, He put as much care and attention into the smallest project as He did with the largest.  The part I’m reading now looks at how our spiritual and secular worlds are divided.  It is a sad thing to say, but yes, they are.  It touches on another interesting topic which is encapsulated by the word Ordinary.  How do we find God in the Ordinary around us?  Well, one way of looking at it is to remember the creation story. Remember God worked, how everything He created in His eyes was right, how He breathed His breath into Adam, how he gave Adam and Eve a job to do. We can find Him in the Ordinary; possibly, we only need to reorient our understanding of what it means.

We’re in the middle of looking at Ephesians in one bible study. We’ve had a chance to reflect in small groups and when we were talking about prayer being as-you-go or on a schedule, someone talked about how they mostly prayed in church. It is an obvious example of how our secular and our spiritual lives are different.  They separated their time with God by using the church as the focal point for their relationship with God, probably through no fault of their own as our lives have many demands on our time.  With this in mind, please take time to reflect on this. Do we have any self-imposed boundaries between our secular lives (our job, for instance) and our spiritual life (our relationship with God)? Remember that God is always present with us, even when we are not present for Him, and incredibly close in those times when we need Him the most.

God bless us all

Heroes…

In today’s lectionary (Common Worship and the Book of Common Prayer Thurs Aug 13 2020 at time of writing), one of the Saints celebrated on this day, happens to be Nurse Nightingale.  When I first learnt about her way back in school, almost another lifetime away, I remember wishing I could achieve as much as she did.  I remember learning about the dreadful Crimean War and the conditions that people where surviving in (or rather not at the time).  Learning of the impact her reforms had, not just then, but so many years to come afterwards.

She was, in her way, one of my many childhood heroes alongside the astronauts, Captain Scott and all of the other Antarctic adventures and a few others that I have since forgotten.

In many ways, we often fall short of our heroes because we place them on a pedestal so high that we make it virtually impossible for us to emulate them.  Of course, events in our lives often transpire in such a way as to take us in different directions, and sometimes it doesn’t.

The danger with placing our heroes on pedestals is that we put them out of reach, and we do that by ourselves, nobody else does it for us. We sometimes allow others to create the pedestals for us, but we are the ones who chose to use them.

But there is one person, our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is not out of reach on a pedestal.  He is on a throne in Heaven and rather than being far from accessible He is listening to us all, interceding on our behalf, loving us, and encouraging us. He welcomes us with open arms and a warm heart, comforting us in our troubles and celebrating with us in success.  Jesus is within every single one of us, all we have to do is accept His love for us, and He will reside within our hearts forever.

Christ is not a hero out of reach on a pedestal of our own making, He is right beside us every day of our mortal lives, and every day of our immortal lives when He comes again to call upon us.

Jesus is more than a hero.

He is everything.

“To whom will you compare me?
    Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Isaiah 40:25

21 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
    and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
    and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
    and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
    no sooner are they sown,
    no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
    and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
25 “To whom will you compare me?
    Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
    Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
    not one of them is missing.

Isaiah 40:21-26

I used to want to be more like my heroes.

Instead, I share my life with Jesus,

and the weird thing is,

it’s a whole new level of complexity doing that, and yet so much simpler at the same time!

God bless us all.

Pray, always

Amid everything, I tried to take a break, but after five months of non-stop activity, I found it a little challenging to recharge my batteries.  By the time I was ready to recuperate, it was time to start work again; I no longer feel like I had a break.  We face this challenge daily, the long hard slog through the day and not enough time at home to relax because there are so many more demands on our time than work.  Finding a decent work-life balance in this new COVID world will be one of the many challenges we have to face. I think the most challenging thing for me was psychological in that where I work now is my home so switching off is troublesome.  On top of that, the nation is going barmy, and people are starting to have a go at the littlest things and our neighbours, who might have been happy to let things be, start baring teeth because they are unhappy with the way things are.  Times are troublesome, challenging and for some people difficult to manage, and for some so challenging to face that they turn in directions that lead them astray from who they are.

We have a phone tree in church, I see some of it personally, and I get to listen to others who are experiencing all sorts of issues with varying degrees of success and failure. One of our solutions was to expand the weekly prayer group, so a group of us now pray morning and evening prayer (I’m on the rota for early Friday eves) – I find this helps.  I have my own separate private prayer time, my continuous conversations with God and Jesus. Still, with the only congregational worship presently restricted to looking at a monitor and the nature of future worship looking so different, I find the fifteen to thirty minutes of structured prayer on a Friday and praying around the prayer lists, and parish needs, comforting.

You can join in live online via Facebook, YouTube, Zoom and many more for most things these days.  While we, as congregations, are dispersed, we, as a church, can still meet.  The building itself is only there to facilitate togetherness – it is not the source or focus of our worship or prayer.  It reminds me of the early church, of the apostles moving from one place to another, in Acts, creating and facilitating new churches, new congregations, new followers of Jesus.  It reminds me of the early church in Rome, struggling to meet for fear of persecution, in homes, in isolated, hidden or empty places.  I feel a deeper connection to those Christians who have trodden our path before us as a result. My faith may even be a little deeper, all I know is I haven’t strayed because we as Christians need to be a light in this hour of darkness for those who are struggling, and for each other.  Even those beside us who look as if they’re doing OK will have issues they’re fighting with so being there, giving things in prayer, is essential.

When I pray, I let go of things, I release it all into God’s hands, and I empty myself before Him.  I know I shouldn’t have to worry …

… of course, I’m human, so I do, but I shouldn’t …

… ad infinitum in our human frailness.

But the one thing I do is pray, or talk, or look to Jesus and sigh it out.  One thing I never am is angry with God or Jesus, and I try to limit it with everyone else because our anger does not come from God; it comes from within us, and it is not an easy thing to live with or for people to control.  How are we expected to forgive if we are angry? We cannot have peace within if we allow rage to reside in our hearts and minds, or enable it to dictate how we behave.  It is something we believe we can control, but ultimately we can’t so we have to lean on God for help, for without God, without Jesus, we are unable to fulfil our purpose upon this Earth.

The Vine and the Branches
.5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

John 15:1-17

God bless us and keep us safe.

Live in peace with everyone…

Today’s verse of the day, courtesy of bible.com (YouVersion bible app) is:

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14 NIV

I’m sure you’ll all agree this is hugely important, to live in peace, with everyone, is something a vast majority of us fail to do at the best of times. However, it is something we all strive to do. Perhaps with a sprinkling of extra patience, or with an increasing understanding of ourselves and others. We are learning to appreciate differences and the uniqueness of character and person, through controlling our behaviour and being more mindful of it, of other peoples, our surroundings and the circumstances of others. By listening more than imposing our perspectives of things over others, or by being more graceful in our actions and our words – this small set of examples are all something we can work towards easily if only we would put effort into it.

What is not so easy to quantify, or to achieve, is being holy.  What does it mean? How are we to do that?  It is a tricky thing, to be holy, but scripture provides us with clues and encouragement.

For example, 

19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6 19-23

Holiness is not something we start with; it is something we seek to obtain, and we may never fully achieve it if we don’t listen to the one person who can lead us there, Jesus.

Seek out the Lord, our God, through our Saviour Jesus Christ, so that in everything that we do, we bring glory to His name, to the Lord God Almighty.  Follow the perfect example of Jesus as best as we can for we are not perfect, but do not be afraid of our imperfections because God knows us through those as much as he knows us in any other way.

We are clothed anew in righteousness through the holy spirit when we are baptised, to enable us to serve as best we can, to allow us to walk the correct path, to be free from sin so that we may be Holy, in mind, in body, and spirit.

We are born to serve, just as Zechariah’s song shouts out loud and clear in verses 74-75

74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
    and to enable us to serve him without fear
75     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Zechariah’s song

So in all things, as Jesus said:

37 … ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

Matthew 22:37-40

So that we may “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy.”

God bless us all.

My favourite hat

Until recently the sun has had his hat on. Now it just seems to be putting it on and taking it off, and on and off again.

Unfortunately, I have hats on my mind. Partly because of the Mad Hatters Tea Break coming up in work, partly because I like hats and have quite a few of them, and partly because this week I have been wearing many different hats as my life morphs between work, home and church.  I was struggling to sleep the other night wondering whether I should wear my mad hatters top hat and take a picture for the tea party, and then some of this came to me:

We wear many hats throughout our lives, swap between so many roles, but there is one hat that we all have; a favourite hat:

I have a favourite hat
My hat fits perfectly upon my small head,
but is sooooo very very large it can sit upon the world!
My hat can be seen, but is invisible to the eye.
My hat cannot be touched, but it can be felt
but is not made of that or wool or leather.
I like my favourite hat.
Some people don’t like my hat,
they hate it,
try to take it,
resent it and despise it
and some ask me to “Please leave your hat at the door”
as if I could “take it off!”
for I cannot remove my favourite hat.
Once I don my hat it’s on for good
although I may doff it
I will not scoff (much)
about my favourite hat.
My hat is with me every day
and every night is on my head,
even when I’m in my bed
It is warm and comforting,
wraps me round like a blanket
and sits like a soft pillow on my head.
My hat would fit you too,
you only have to try it!
It may not be the current fashion
but is popular, but you can’t buy it.
It cannot be taken,
but can be given and shared;
there is no other that can be compared.
My hat is unique,
it’s my one of a kind,
yet it’s the same,
as yours,
or theirs,
some people wear it sideways on,
some people wear it in pairs!
Some hats are made from different stuff
and come from different places,
yet they are built to last
among the different races.
Some you can tell have it on,
some don’t even know it,
but wear it all the same as me
you can tell them; but it won’t sit.
I have a favourite hat,
I hope you have yours too!
I love my hat,
It loves me back!
It loves you just the same.
My hat is love,
of love divine,
because it was made
by Jesus.

Think about all the hats you wear, all the hats people next to you are juggling, pray over them, especially at the end of the day, but remember we all wear the same hat even though we can’t see it. 

God bless you all and keep you safe as we walk through a new wilderness together.

Thy will be done…

I have mixed feelings about the recent week or two – our government is submitting to socioeconomic pressure to lift lock down while we are seeing second spikes appearing in other countries that, perhaps, eased them too early.  Suffice to say I think this particular virus will be with us for some time to come, so we have to learn to adapt and hopefully we will prevail where others have so far failed.

This week, for many of us, we have been adopting new working practices in line with social distancing, moving into new working environments, or perhaps spring cleaning all of our collective hoard of old documents, manuals, coffee sachets ten years-out-of-date hiding in corners of drawers, and so on.  One thing that remains constant in all of this is that Gods Will is ever present.

Sometimes we are driven by human desires and needs; a workplace example might be an instruction from a manager, who in turn are dealing with the demands placed on them.  Sometimes we are driven by forces that don’t make any sense; maybe an urge to do something different, to go someplace, to say a particular thing.  It is at times like these that we need to be aware of who or what is driving it.

When you recognise these circumstances, it is essential to know whether it is God-given or not. There is no hiding the fact that there are forces at work against the will of God; the battles have raged for centuries. The thing to remember is that the war is already won, through the one final sacrifice and resurrection of God’s Son, our saviour Jesus Christ.   As such, any power of evil has no claim on any us, no right to demand anything of us, so long as Jesus is at the very centre of our heart evil will dissipate before us.  When you believe there is a power urging you to do something, place your trust in Jesus and pray, if it is against the will of God it will vanish, but if it is God-given it will persist (FYI: God is very, very patient, and very, very persistent).  We are to be subservient to Gods will, but only because we have free will to choose to do so; we get to choose whether we act or not (mostly, God will face down any argument you have with love and reason to persuade you otherwise and not by force and anger). You have to recognise the gentleness of the impulse as opposed to a push in the back.

There is a prayer in one of my books that reflects on will very nicely; it goes like this:

My Father, help me as a follower of Christ
to say “Your will be done”.
You would not have me accept your will
because I must, but because I may.
You would have me take it,
not with resignation, but with joy,
not with the absence of murmur,
but with the song of praise . . .
Teach me that your love is wise.
Guide me not blindfold, but with open eyes . . .
Give me the blessedness of the man
whose delight in in your law,
who can tell of your statutes rejoicing the heart.
I shall obey your will in perfect freedom
when I can say, ‘your Spirit is good’.

George Matheson. A Book of Prayers, Lion Publishing 1988

We have free will, to accept Jesus, to accept God’s wisdom, His gifts and to rejoice in life no matter what it may hold for us right now. We must open our eyes and our ears for His guidance; we do not walk blindly through the light or darkness.

We can listen to thunder, marvel at lightning, hear the scream of the wind in our ears and cower in the facelessness of a virus, but that is not where you will find God’s voice. It may be in a whisper to your soul, or it may be in a rush of warmth in your heart as it fills with the love of creation.

We begin with acceptance of His will; by accepting that we are His children and therefore His agents, ambassadors & messengers.

Through God we will prevail with His strength and guidance, for the glory of His Kingdom upon this earth.

May God bless us all.

A time for …

…prayer, music and worship.

A time for reflection, for taking a deep breath, to take a moment.

To breathe in deeply and release it slowly, to centre ourselves in preparation for prayer, to be right with ourselves so we can truly and honestly open our hearts to God.

You may have noticed it’s been a while since I wrote anything…

Surprise!!!

Now here’s two posts in such a short time 🙂 I think I’ve set myself a new record; either that or the content is appallingly bad.

My lack of writing is partly due to world crisis, partly because I am busy with work and home, but also I’ve been busy taking time out, for myself, because sometimes we need to care for ourselves as much as we do for others; to ensure I stay grounded so that I can still help others.

This is something I encourage you all to do when you feel stretched.

I am lucky, I will admit that … I have my work, my books, my prayers (and prayer books), my bible(s), music, games and my musical instruments, not to mention support from church and members of the congregation even though we are all separated at this time.

I am aware that others are not so fortunate. Many have lost their jobs, many have lost family and friends, many are still unable to be free to enjoy their lives or their faith in the way that some of us can. I see some of this in our prayer lists.

Trust that if you find yourselves in any of those circumstances, our prayers, and some form of assistance from God is or will be with you in one form or another – you may not be aware of it but God can make a change in one area of life that affects a change in another, and so the butterfly effect kicks in, and eventually the Kingdom of Heaven will arrive and with it away goes all of the suffering, the turmoil, the hatred, the anger and the sorrow.

To help keep myself grounded in these troubled times I tried to do what I’ve seen others on the internet do and use a little time to learn something new. I picked up my keyboards and revisited a tune that I started way back in the late ’80s. I felt a desire, a nudge, a gentle push to do something with it so I did; it has been a long time since I last played. I obtained a copy of FL Studio and proceeded to learn how to use it (I still have so much to learn).

My attempt at musical mastery(ish) is available on Soundcloud, I hope you like it.

FL Studio also has a video generator built in so I’ve put a copy of the song on YouTube with a video – can you believe that, it’s certainly not up to professional label music video standards but that I could do that myself using the tools available is brilliant.

Note: some of our tools as Christians are our faith and resolve, the love of Jesus, sharing the peace, our tranquillity, our voice, morals and ethics, Gods wisdom, all our prayers, the Holy Spirit – the list is long; you can have a go at listing some yourself.

If you like the song, leave a comment and share it. However, if you don’t like it, fair enough, don’t listen to it, but it may grow on you – I already caught my one person I know humming the tune without realising they were doing it.

There is a prayer in the middle…

We’re on our knees Lord 
We’re begging you please Lord
We’ve got a huge problem down here
We’re all dying down here
We’re praying you can hear us
Please come and be near us
Reach out your hand and save us.

God bless us all.