Monday, 28 February 2011


Posted: 23 Jan 2011 10:01 PM PST
“Receive the kingdom God has prepared for you since the world was made.” Matthew 25:34

The problem with this world is that it doesn’t fit. Oh, it will do for now, but it isn’t tailor-made. We were made to live with God, but on earth we live by faith. We were made to live forever, but on this earth we live but for a moment. We were made to live holy lives, but this world is stained by sin.

This world wears like a borrowed shirt. Heaven will fit like one tailor-made.

by Max Lucado

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Getting the "I" Out of Your Eye

by Max Lucado
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3–4 NASB)
Love builds up relationships; selfishness erodes relationships. No wonder Paul is so urgent in his appeal: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit” (Phil. 2:3 NASB).
But aren’t we born selfish? And if so, can we do anything about it? Can we get our eyes off of self? Or, better asked, can we get the little self out of our eyes? According to Scripture, we can.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind. (Phil. 2:1–2 NASB)
Paul’s sarcasm is thinly veiled. Is there any encouragement? Any consolation? Any fellowship? Then smile!
What’s the cure for selfishness?
Get your self out of your eye by getting your eye off your self. Quit staring at that little self, and focus on your great Savior.
A friend who is an Episcopalian minister explains the reason he closes his prayers with the sign of the cross. “The touching of my forehead and chest makes a capital ‘I.’ The gesture of touching first one shoulder, then the other, cuts the ‘I’ in half.”
Isn’t that a work of the Cross? A smaller “I” and a greater Christ? Don’t focus on yourself; focus on all that you have in Christ. Focus on the encouragement in Christ, the consolation of Christ, the love of Christ, the fellowship of the Spirit, the affection and compassion of heaven.
If Christ becomes our focus, we won’t be like the physician in Arkansas. He misdiagnosed the patient. He declared the woman to be dead. The family was informed, and the husband was grief-stricken. Imagine the surprise of the nurse when she discovered that the woman was alive! “You better tell the family,” she urged the doctor.
The embarrassed physician phoned the husband and said, “I need to talk to you about the condition of your wife.”
“The condition of my wife?” he asked. “She’s dead.”
The doctor’s pride only allowed him to concede, “Well, she has seen a slight improvement.”
Slight improvement? Talk about an understatement! Lazarus is walking out of the tomb, and he calls that a “slight improvement”?
He was so concerned about his image that he missed an opportunity to celebrate. We laugh, but don’t we do the same? We’ve gone from cremation to celebration. We deserve a lava bath, but we’ve been given a pool of grace.
Yet to look at our faces you’d think our circumstances had made only a “slight improvement.” “How’s life?” someone asks. And we who’ve been resurrected from the dead say, “Well, things could be better.” Or “Couldn’t get a parking place.” Or “My parents won’t let me move to Hawaii.” Or “People won’t leave me alone so I can finish my sermon on selfishness.”
Honestly. We worry about acid rain in silver linings. Do you think Paul might like to have a word with us? Are you so focused on what you don’t have that you are blind to what you do? Have you received any encouragement? Any fellowship? Any consolation? Then don’t you have reason for joy?
Come. Come thirsty. Drink deeply from God’s goodness.
You have a ticket to heaven no thief can take,
an eternal home no divorce can break.
Every sin of your life has been cast to the sea.
Every mistake you’ve made is nailed to the tree.
You’re blood-bought and heaven-made.
A child of God—forever saved.
So be grateful, joyful—for isn’t it true?
What you don’t have is much less than what you do
A Love Worth Giving

A Love Worth Giving:
Living in the Overflow of God’s Love

Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2002) Max Lucado

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel ...

When I was in school, my headmaster once said, 'Don't worry about the things you cannot control.' This is a sentence that has stuck in my head ever since, and year by year I am more and more convinced as to the truth of it.

However, more recently, I've come to the conclusion that there is a corollary to this. 'Hand the things you cannot control to God, so that He can worry about them.' This becomes more true when one realises that God is always in control, and therefore handing things over to Him hands them into sure hands.

But either way, either of these two sayings can, and should, be applied to daily life - especially life in the workplace. If you're anything like me - a perfectionist - it can become a challenge trying to adapt to constantly changing demands, let alone people who do not carry out their work with the same integrity or completeness as you try to apply to your work. This can lead to intense frustration, and ultimately high levels of stress, caused by constantly questioning others' actions (getting annoyed that they don't match your expectations).

There is always a choice. One can choose to get frustrated, stressed and annoyed (usually an unconscious choice) - or one can choose the opposite - to worry about the things you CAN control (your actions), and hand the rest (others' actions) over to God.

His Children

“God sent his Son . . . so we could become his children.” Galatians 4:4-5

We . . . were orphans.


No name. No future. No hope.

Were it not for our adoption as God’s children we would have no place to belong. We sometimes forget that.

From daily email received from Max Lucado

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Worship Wednesdays

This hymn is among my favourites, and recently I was really struck by the majesty portrayed by the words of the last verse shown here. Being a writer and sometime poet, I admire the gift to find the right words for the right situation, and unquestionably these were well-chosen!

Crown Him with Many Crowns

Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of peace, whose power a scepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease, and all be prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end, and round His piercèd feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend their fragrance ever sweet.

Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.

Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou has died for me;
Thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity.
Words by Matthew Bridges, 1852

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Outcasts - good or bad?

Ok, so I started watching Outcasts because my husband thought it was filmed in South Africa (which it is), where we're from. For sure, as so many people have commented, it has been difficult to get into, but for me it has grown with each episode. I now cannot wait for the next one.

I personally thought that this latest episode (5/8) was fantastic - especially the reveal. Throws a whole new light onto Julius Berger's antics - I never did trust him, and would still quite happily slap! ... but still leaves one wondering just who to trust. Is Julius really bad, or is it Tate ... or someone else entirely? Who are the pawns and who are the movers?

And yes, Carpathia is definitely playing with it's residents ... intriguing that people are "seeing things". There's definitely more to this series than people give it credit for, and I for one devoutly hope that they do not stop at this one season.

Oh - and just who are the outcasts? Is it the ACs, or is it in fact, the residents of Forthaven?

Monday, 21 February 2011

When Death Becomes Birth

by Max Lucado
You, as all God’s children, live one final breath from your own funeral. Which, from God’s perspective, is nothing to grieve. He responds to these grave facts with this great news: “The day you die is better than the day you are born” (Eccles. 7:1). Now there is a twist. Heaven enjoys a maternity-ward reaction to funerals. Angels watch body burials the same way grandparents monitor delivery-room doors. “He’ll be coming through any minute!” They can’t wait to see the new arrival. While we’re driving hearses and wearing black, they’re hanging pink and blue streamers and passing out cigars. We don’t grieve when babies enter the world. The hosts of heaven don’t weep when we leave it.
Oh, but many of us weep at the thought of death. Do you? Do you dread your death?
Is your fear of dying robbing your joy of living? Jesus came to “deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying” (Heb. 2:15).
If Scripture boasted a list of the famous dead, Lazarus would be near the top. He lived in Bethany, a sleepy hamlet that sat a short walk from Jerusalem. Jesus spent a lot of time there. Maybe he liked the kitchen of Martha or the devotion of Mary. One thing is for sure: he considered Lazarus a friend. News of Lazarus’s death prompts Jesus to say, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up” (John 11:11).
And now, four days after the funeral, Jesus has come calling. Literally calling, “Lazarus, come out!” Can we try to picture Lazarus as he hears those words? Heaven-sent Lazarus. Heaven-happy Lazarus. Four days into his measureless days. By now he’s forming fast friendships with other saints. King David shows him the harps. Moses invites him over for tea and manna. Elijah and Elisha take him for a spin in the fiery chariot. Daniel has promised him a lion of a Bible story. He’s on his way to hear it when a voice booms through the celestial city.
“Lazarus, come out!”
Everybody knows that voice. No one wonders, Who was that? Angels stop. Hosts of holy-city dwellers turn toward the boy from Bethany, and someone says, “Looks like you’re going back for another tour of duty.”
Lazarus doesn’t question the call. Perfect understanding comes with a heavenly passport. He doesn’t object. But had he done so, who could have faulted him? His heavenly body knows no fever. His future no fear. He indwells a city that is void of padlocks, prisons, and Prozac. With sin and death nonexistent, preachers, doctors, and lawyers are free to worship. Would anyone blame Lazarus for saying, “Do I have to go back?”
But he doesn’t second-guess the command. Nor does anyone else. Return trips have been frequent of late. The daughter of the synagogue ruler. The boy from Nain. Now Lazarus from Bethany. Lazarus turns toward the rarely used exit door. The very one, I suppose, Jesus used some thirty earth years earlier. With a wave and within a wink, he’s reunited with his body and waking up on a cold slab in a wall-hewn grave. The rock to the entrance has been moved, and Lazarus attempts to do the same. Mummy-wrapped, he stiffly sits up and walks out of the tomb with the grace of Frankenstein’s monster.
People stare and wonder.
We read and may ask, “Why did Jesus let him die only to call him back?”
To show who runs the show. To trump the cemetery card. To display the unsquashable strength of the One who danced the Watusi on the neck of the devil, who stood face to clammy face with death and declared, “You call that a dead end? I call it an escalator.”
“Lazarus, come out!”
Those words, incidentally, were only a warmup for the big day. He’s preparing a worldwide grave evacuation. “Joe, come out!” “Maria, come out!” “Giuseppe, come out!” “Jacob, come out!” Grave after grave will empty. What happened to Lazarus will happen to us. Only our spirit-body reunion will occur in heaven, not Bethany Memorial Cemetery.
God Came Near Deluxe EditionWhen this happens—when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die—then at last the Scriptures will come true:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
(1 Cor. 15:54–55)
With Christ as your friend and heaven as your home, the day of death becomes sweeter than the day of birth.
Come Thirsty
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2004) Max Lucado

Slow Down

by Max Lucado

“Man . . . heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.”  Psalm 39:6, NIV

We need one day in which work comes to a screeching halt. We need one twenty-four hour period in which the wheels stop grinding and the motor stops turning. We need to stop . . .

Slow down. If God commanded it, you need it. If Jesus modeled it, you need it . . . Take a day to say no to work and yes to worship.

Monday, 14 February 2011

The Woodcutter's Wisdom

by Max Lucado
Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before—such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.
People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.
One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. “You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”
The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?”
The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.”
The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”
The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.
After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”
The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?
“Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”
“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.
The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.
“You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”
The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”
It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.
“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Your son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”
The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”
The old man was right. We only have a fragment. Life’s mishaps and horrors are only a page out of a grand book. We must be slow about drawing conclusions. We must reserve judgment on life’s storms until we know the whole story.
God Came Near Deluxe EditionI don’t know where the woodcutter learned his patience. Perhaps from another woodcutter in Galilee. For it was the Carpenter who said it best:
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matthew 6:34)
He should know. He is the Author of our story. And he has already written the final chapter.

Come Thirsty
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2004) Max Lucado

Saturday, 12 February 2011

When Grace goes Deep

I receive emails from Max Lucado on a daily basis, and occassionally a story (or extract from one of his books) is also mailed. This is one of them. Something that we ALL need to hear. There will be a second post tomorrow - another extract that touched me.

When Grace Goes Deep

by Max Lucado
The prodigal son trudges up the path. His pig stink makes passersby walk wide circles around him, but he doesn’t notice. With eyes on the ground, he rehearses his speech: “Father”—his voice barely audible—“I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not worthy to be called your son.” He rehashes the phrases, wondering if he should say more, less, or make a U-turn to the barnyard. After all, he cashed in the trust fund and trashed the family name. Over the last year, he’d awakened with more parched throats, headaches, women, and tattoos than a rock star. How could his father forgive him? Maybe I could offer to pay off the credit cards. He’s so focused on penance planning that he fails to hear the sound of his father…running!

The dad embraces the mud-layered boy as if he were a returning war hero. He commands the servants to bring a robe, ring, and sandals, as if to say, “No boy of mine is going to look like a pigpen peasant. Fire up the grill. Bring on the drinks. It’s time for a party!”

Big brother meanwhile stands on the porch and sulks. “No one ever gave me a party,” he mumbles, arms crossed.

The father tries to explain, but the jealous son won’t listen. He huffs and shrugs and grumbles something about cheap grace, saddles his high horse, and rides off. But you knew that. You’ve read the parable of the gracious father and the hostile brother (see Luke 15:11–32).

But have you heard what happened next? Have you read the second chapter? It’s a page-turner. The older brother resolves to rain on the forgiveness parade. If Dad won’t exact justice on the boy, I will.

“Nice robe there, little brother,” he tells him one day. “Better keep it clean. One spot and Dad will send you to the cleaners with it.”

The younger waves him away, but the next time he sees his father, he quickly checks his robe for stains.
A few days later big brother warns about the ring. “Quite a piece of jewelry Dad gave you. He prefers that you wear it on the thumb.”
“The thumb? He didn’t tell me that.”
“Some things we’re just supposed to know.”
“But it won’t fit my thumb.”

“What’s your goal—pleasing our father or your own personal comfort?” the spirituality monitor gibes, walking away.

Big brother isn’t finished. With the pleasantness of a dyspeptic IRS auditor, he taunts, “If Dad sees you with loose laces, he’ll take the sandals back.”

“He will not. They were a gift. He wouldn’t…would he?” The ex-prodigal then leans over to snug the strings. As he does, he spots a smudge on his robe. Trying to rub it off, he realizes the ring is on a finger, not his thumb. That’s when he hears his father’s voice. “Hello, Son.”

There the boy sits, wearing a spotted robe, loose laces, and a misplaced ring. Overcome with fear, he reacts with a “Sorry, Dad” and turns and runs.

Too many tasks. Keeping the robe spotless, the ring positioned, the sandals snug—who could meet such standards? Gift preservation begins to wear on the young man. He avoids the father he feels he can’t please. He quits wearing the gifts he can’t maintain. And he even begins longing for the simpler days of the pigpen. “No one hounded me there.”

That’s the rest of the story. Wondering where I found it? On page 1,892 of my Bible, in the book of Galatians. Thanks to some legalistic big brothers, Paul’s readers had gone from grace receiving to law keeping.

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ.… (Gal. 1:6–7)

Joy snatchers infiltrated the Roman church as well. Paul had to remind them, “But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work” (Rom. 4:5).

Philippian Christians heard the same foolishness. Big brothers weren’t telling them to wear a ring on their thumb, but they were insisting “you must be circumcised to be saved” (Phil. 3:2).

Even the Jerusalem church, the flagship congregation, heard the solemn monotones of the Quality Control Board. Non-Jewish believers were being told, “You cannot be saved if you are not circumcised as Moses taught us” (Acts 15:1 NCV)
God Came Near Deluxe Edition
The churches suffered from the same malady: grace blockage. The Father might let you in the gate, but you have to earn your place at the table. God makes the down payment on your redemption, but you pay the monthly installments. Heaven gives the boat, but you have to row it if you ever want to see the other shore.

Your deeds don’t save you. And ychromour deeds don’t keep you saved. Grace does. The next time big brother starts dispensing more snarls than twin Dobermans, loosen your sandals, set your ring on your finger, and quote the apostle of grace who said, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10 NKJV)

Come Thirsty
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2004) Max Lucado

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Approachable Jesus

There was not one person who was reluctant to approach Him for fear of being rejected. - Max Lucado

This sentence really started me thinking. I'm not sure where my thoughts are taking me, but I can't seem to get beyond this line. The context is that Max is discussing how, although there were people who envied Jesus, there were people who mocked him, yet there were none who found him unapproachable.

Is this how we as believers in, and followers of, Jesus, are to be? Approachable? I would argue that, if we wish to be considered as followers of Jesus, then we should be.

So - do people find you approachable? Or are you aloof? Do you have too little time in your years (note, I don't say 'days') for helping, caring for or spending time with people?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Did God or Didn't God?

Originally posted on the blog "Honest Investigations" on the 4th November 2010

People argue that others who believe in a creator God (in a God who created the universe) 'invoke' God as an answer to the 'where did we come from?' question - usually in opposition to the Big Bang/Evolution theories. I can understand their reasoning. After all, if one doesn't believe in any type of supernatural (or even natural) deity or life, then only the physical remains.

My reading today is from John 10:10: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Circa 2,000 years ago, a man walked on this planet who revealed himself to be God, and who revealed God's desires to all mankind. He was unconventional, but his presence made a real difference to some other very real people. He cared for the 'little' people: those who society overlooked, trod down and derided. The blind, the lame, the sick. He said things that, today, everyone respects - even if they don't remember who originally said it. He also spoke of life for eternity, something that we all, if we care to truly search our hearts, desire. He is the ultimate 'role model' for all mankind. He personifies the 'good' that we all want to be.

My question today is this: given an option between 70 or so years of life on this planet, and no more life whatsoever, or an eternity of life, which would you take? 

Oh yes, there is a tiny catch. You need to accept that you aren't perfect. But seriously, that shouldn't be too  hard - do you live up to your standards for yourself? Well ... God gives us a get-out clause for that too .... Jesus paid the ultimate price so that He can live up to God's standards for you. Why take the chance of losing out on eternal life? Personally, I'd rather stand the chance of gaining it than risk losing it.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Father's Love

The Lord said, “I have loved you.”  Malachi 1:2

Father, your love never ceases.  Never.

Though we spurn you, ignore you, disobey you, you will not change.  Our evil cannot diminish your love.  Our goodness cannot increase it.  Our faith does not earn it anymore than our stupidity jeopardizes it.  You don’t love us less if we fail.  You don’t love us more if we succeed.

Your love never ceases.

Taken from Max Lucado: Everyday Blessings, received 02 November 2010.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Do not fear ...

Originally posted on the blog "Honest Investigations" on the 1st November 2010

My reading is today is called 'Hope', but it then discusses fear and faith. So I think I'm going to go off on a tangent too.

The Bible verse today is from Genesis 26:24: Do not fear, for I am with you. What do you fear?

Lack of finances? Loss of loved ones? Loss of property? Violence? Burglary? Death? Reducing investments?

Let me tell you something: nothing is secure anymore - at least, not on this planet.

Now there's a thought. So what to do. Do you feel like you're sitting on the edge of a jetty with Jesus next to you, and Jesus is telling you to stand up on the water and walk across to the other side with him? How does that make you feel? Oh, but remember, Jesus walks on water! Surely you can trust him? After all, he's right beside you.

The Bible teaches us, from start to finish, that there is one person and one person only on whom we can depend, and that person is Jesus. If we place our lives and our trust in him, he will not let us down, ever. We are also taught that it is better to store up treasure in heaven than here on earth, for we will lose what we store up here, but what is in heaven will last forever. Where do you want your treasure to be?

It is a challenge, for sure, to take one's eyes off this world and look towards a place we cannot see. That is, if one believes that one should last forever. But if we honestly search our hearts, we will know that deep down, there is a desire to never die. In Christ alone, that desire is reality.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Are we Listening?

Originally posted on the blog "Honest Investigations" on the 31st October 2010

Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening. - 1 Samuel 3:9

How do we expect God to speak to us? Through a sunrise, or in times of peace or triumph? Often times, however, when we listen more clearly are in times of pain, darkness and tragedy.

I think that there is an important distinction in what I've said here. Anyone who has known me for the last couple of years will know that I dislike the concept of 'expectation'. To me, expectation places a burden on others, and, like unforgiveness, ties us down.

So perhaps we must stop expecting God to speak to us, in certain times, or even at all. Instead, we should become listeners. Here, now, today. Whatever our circumstances, listen, so that we can hear what God is saying right now.

Friday, 4 February 2011


Originally posted on the blog "Honest Investigations" on the 30th October 2010

Today's verse comes from 2 Peter 1:16, which reads that ... we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

My first reaction to reading this phrase is 'Yup, the universe, the awesome things we've seen through Hubble; this world and all the amazing things that we can see in it'. However, the verse is not actually talking about the created, but the creator, Jesus Christ (and by definition, God) himself. Peter is conveying to his readers that he and Jesus' fellow disciples have not made up the stories that they speak of. That they met, and lived with, a man who was like no other, a man who completely transformed their lives.

This small group of disciples - twelve in all - had the greatest privilege of all: they lived, ate, slept, walked and talked with our creator. With a person who understood their every emotion and every desire. With a God who loved and cared for them above and beyond all else. With a saviour who was to die for them.

And what did this small group of disciples see? A man and a God who loved above all else, and who died in order that we could be redeemed. A God who moved among the world but was not of the world. A man who changed people's lives. A God who cared.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Do Not Judge ...

... or you too will be judged. Matthew 7:1

Originally posted on the blog "Honest Investigations" on the 29th October 2010

On reading this sentence (yet again), I realised that there is a corollary to this, found in Matthew 7:12 (is it a coincidence that it is from the same chapter of the Bible?) - So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.

One cannot really say it better than that. There is one thing that I have learnt, though. Each of us (and those around us) walks our own path. We have factors that influence us, circumstances that oppress us, people who frustrate us, and others who cheer us. If someone who is angry walks across your path, do not judge them. You have NO idea why they are the way they are, what has happened to them that day. If someone cuts you off while driving, or drives too slowly or too fast, if someone says something that upsets you (without meaning to, or even meaning to), give them all a little grace. You never know - the grace that you offer may be the only grace they receive that day. We cannot please everyone, but at least try to make the world a more peaceful place.

I learnt this all to vividly at work a couple of weeks ago. Two people said something to me that made me react very badly: I was angry, frustrated, and certainly could not think of anything good in response. Thankfully I had the presence of mind to keep my mouth shut at the time. I later realised that what had been said to me probably came from a point of stress, not that it was anything to do with me, and this enabled me to keep my mouth shut further. I decided that I did not want to make things more stressful and unpleasant for all concerned. It was a good move.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Ambition and God

Originally posted on the blog "Honest Investigations" on the 28th October 2010

My latest reading has set me thinking. Probably because I don't see how they connect the Bible verse quoted, Job 28:28, which says that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, with ambition. Having said that, however, I do agree with what the rest of the reading says, which is that there is no room for ambition with God.

Personally, this isn't so much of a problem, as I have never had ambitions. The drive to accomplish and achieve has never become, for me, all-consuming. My parents left me to my choices when I was growing up. Sometimes I had to bear with the consequences of my decisions, but ultimately I've been able to do whatever I've wanted to play with at the time.

But I can see where ambition can become a problem with God. Ambitions are usually all about 'me and what I can do', while people who follow God should think more along the lines of 'what does God want me to do', or 'I make myself available to God in order that He achieves His purposes'. Foreign concepts to most of the world, admittedly. But these are my choice.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

"A Holy Gift"

Originally posted on the blog "Honest Investigations" on the 27th October 2010.

Title of this post is taken from the email discussing this topic, received from Max Lucado.

Today's exerpt from the Bible is from 1 Peter 2:24, which says in no uncertain terms that Jesus carried our sins when he died on the cross. My reading then goes on to ask WHY Jesus cried "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me". The conclusion stated is, "So you'll never have to."

Ouch. That hurts. But it also makes me so grateful. I know, if I care to think about it, that I'm anything but perfect. I make mistakes, hurt people (intentionally or not), fail to meet my own standards - nevermind God's - and generally speaking, would never get to heaven through anything that I do, because it all falls so far short of the perfection that is the entry-standard for heaven.

But God doesn't leave me there. Instead, he reached out, 2,000 years ago, to tell the whole world, and me, that he wouldn't leave us alone. That he loves us SO much that he's willing to walk amongst us, and die by our hands, so that we can be together with him, as he intended, for all eternity.

What better place to be than in a position to say 'God will never forsake me'?