Tuesday, September 25, 2012

25 September: Chained to Peace

You may have noticed in the last couple of weeks a darkening of my thoughts.  I’m trying to share honestly about my life as a Christian which involves trusting and loving God even when life is dark or challenging or just plain tiring!  That is life, Christian or not, I imagine.  There are great years and hard ones, wonderful times and sad times.  And I must admit that many of my problems are what you would call first-world problems.

But I was trying to list how I feel the other day and I realised that there was one word that trumped them all.  I feel at peace.  I feel grief, physical sickness, uncertainty, disconnection.  Those things are there and they are true and they define much of my thought.  But they do not own me.  I am chained instead to the peace of God. 

How can this be true?  How can this be possible?  I do not know.  I only know that the Bible told me it would be and for the first time in my life I understand the words of Paul in Philippians 4, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4 v 6-7).

There is so much I don’t know or understand in my life right now.  But I feel certain that God is here with me and that he will answer my questions and lead me out to new understanding, new relationships and greater truth.  And that certainty brings peace. 

It is so humbling.  Who am I that God would care for me? I am no different than you, I am no more spiritual or more worthy of God.  So if these words can be true for me I believe they can be for you too.  Whatever you are facing today take action on the words of first Peter “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5 v 7), and I believe you will find that the Lord, today, will care for you.  I believe it because it is true for me, the worse among sinners.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

18 September: Becoming

Have you ever been in a situation when you felt sure God had led you to something and felt sure you knew what you’d achieve; only to end up really confused about your purpose when you get there?  I can focus so much on what I achieve, what I create or what I’m doing that when those things fall away I question God.  Where are you Lord?  Did I hear you correctly when you called me here?  What God, do you want from me?

Or maybe, like me, you are in a place where you currently feel emotionally and physically exhausted.  I have no energy to give, no time to create, no ability to do anything beyond the basics.  So I worry, if I can’t do anything for God doesn’t that make me a failure?  What use am I?

I was reflecting on this – how useless and empty I felt one day – when God lavished me with the truth.  I realised that things can slow us down, things can incapacitate us or drain us; we can fail or have our purposes radically challenged, but nothing, nothing, can stop us from becoming.  Becoming more like Christ.  Becoming more filled with the Spirit of God and living out a life of joy, love, kindness, faithfulness.  

When Paul wrote in Romans 8 “…I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8 v 38 -39) I wonder if this is what he meant.  Life will be challenging.  It will be unexpected and confusing and at times we will fail to achieve what we hope for but God isn’t really interested in what we are doing he is passionate about who we are becoming and we are to become someone wrapped in and reflecting his love.  And so we are assured – nothing can get in the way of that love.

If you are in a situation today where nothing seems to be going your way, or where you know you won’t do anything the world thinks is worthwhile, look instead to who you are becoming in Christ.  Even curled up in a ball, sick and tired you can receive and reflect God’s love.  Even as you are made redundant or miss that promotion you can receive and reflect God’s love.  Hallelujah, praise the Lord!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 September: Resurrection People

Do you ever have moments or people or events in life where you feel like all hope, all future, has been buried?  Where it seems like the life has gone from that relationship or situation which was previously such a joy?  I have a situation like this in my life at the moment and I’m left struggling.  I can see no future in that area of my life.  I struggle and struggle, I look and I strain and I screw up my eyes but all I see is the black of this grave I’m in.

Then today I opened my Bible to my allotted reading.  Matthew 28.  The resurrection of Christ.  Here’s what I read –

“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.  His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.  The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.  Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.  And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”
- Matthew 28 v 1 - 7

Now here is a group of women who know how I feel!  Oh the depths of their sense of loss and confusion when they saw their Lord buried in a borrowed grave.  How dark everything must have seemed.  I imagine all future dreams, all hope and all joy would have been gone from their lives and the lives of those who had given everything to spend three years following Jesus and learning at his feet.  For all creation, how dark those days of Christ’s absence. 

But then the stone was rolled aside.  There was light where there was darkness and hope where there had been despair and an unimaginable eternal future on offer.  For we are the people of the resurrection.  Whatever happens in life we can be sure that there will be a future day.  Whatever our pain we are guaranteed a future joy.  We are the people of the resurrection, the massive, universe changing one but also the small ones.  As I read recently, “as Christians we have the power of Jesus’ resurrection to roll stones of hopelessness out of people’s lives and show them a life full of hope and love!”

I look for that life today.  I look for it in the only place I’ll ever find it.  The God-man Jesus of the resurrection. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 4: In Someone Else's Eyes

Sorry for the break!  Here's this week...

A few months ago my daughter knocked out one of my teeth.  Or rather she hit my mouth with a jaw crunching head-bash that it fractured one of my teeth and left it unrepairable.  Since that time I’ve been walking around without one of my front teeth while awaiting a less organic replacement.  The dentist offered to wire in a temporary solution but I thought I’d be fine, after all I’m hardly vain…am I? 

It turns out I am.  I feel very different without my tooth and you won’t find a smiling photo of me over the last few months.  I’ve always thought I had a nice smile but toothless I feel a bit like a pirate!

It reminded me how much I care what others think of me, even if I like to pretend that I don’t.  I was reading a reflection, written by Lance Clack, on the temptation of Jesus recently and I realised that this obsession with how we are seen by others is deeply human.  So much so that Satan thought he could use it against Jesus. “If you are the Son of God,” Satan baits Jesus, “tell these stones to become bread” (Matthew 4 v 3).  And again in verse 6  “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Lance Clack reflected, “How often do we allow priorities to be skewed by the feeling that we must prove to others or ourselves who we are or that God loves us? Jesus, secure in His identity, refused to take the bait.”

How come Jesus didn’t take the bait?  How come it didn’t throw him that Satan so directly attempted to attack his identity?  Why did Jesus not care what Satan thought of him?  Maybe it comes from what happened before this temptation.  At his baptism, just before going into the wilderness, Jesus has this experience –

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3 v 16-17).

Jesus knew who he was to God and it steadied him when he was to face attack after attack from others about his identity and value.  When I start to feel insecure, when I’m tempted to ‘allow priorities to be skewed by the feeling that [I] must prove to others’ (or myself) who I am, I need to stop and go back to the source.  To find in God that I am so loved, just as I am, that he counts even the hairs on my head (Matthew 10 v 30).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

7 August: Love is a Choice

I grew up in church singing an 80’s version of ‘TheSteadfast love of the Lord never ceases’. Even now it easily comes to mind, the melody locking the words away in memory forever.  It is based on the words in the Old Testament verses,

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.” (Lamentations 3 v 22 – 23)

What I didn’t really realise before is where those words are found in the Bible.  So when I read the whole chapter, Lamentations 3, recently my head started spinning.  For just before those faithful, hope –filled, trusting words the same author says of God,

“He has made me chew on gravel.
    He has rolled me in the dust.
Peace has been stripped away,
    and I have forgotten what prosperity is.
I cry out, “My splendor is gone!
    Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!”
 The thought of my suffering and homelessness
    is bitter beyond words.
 I will never forget this awful time,
    as I grieve over my loss.” (Lamentations 3 v 16 – 20).

How can the author, who has just witnessed the horrors of the siege and destruction of his home, who feels such pain coming from the hands of God, so readily turn to that same God is praise?  How can he go on a verse later to say “The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him” (v 25) when it seems the Lord has been far from good? 

It appears that we can close our fist at God or lift it high and open in praise and that that decision has little to do with what has happened to us.  It is a choice.  A choice to believe that God is always good.  That we are always loved.  It’s a choice I’m ashamed to say I don’t always make.  But if his mercies are new every day then today I want to start afresh to notice them, to praise God for them.  To lock them away in memory for the dark times.  Maybe you could join me?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

31 July: Live Today

Sometimes I look back on when my daughter was young, her first six months, and I think how foolish I was to wish it away.  I was always longing for the next stage – when she was first born I couldn’t wait for when she would interact and smile at me.  When she always needed to be held I couldn’t wait for her to sit independently.  I couldn’t live in the moment, the moment always seemed to hold only a lack of sleep and time and energy. Yet when I see a young baby now I realise how much of my present-daughter I missed because of my thirst for my future one.  There was so much to love, which I missed because I was thinking only about what I would love in the future. 

I realised this week though that this is also how I see the relationship I have with my heavenly God as I, his daughter, grow.  I am part of the church, his beloved bride.  And the book of Revelation tells me  “blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19 v 9).  But I can get trapped forgetting that I am his beloved now, today, as I wake and start a day.  I am loved now, I am living my eternal life now, in death I’ll enter an extensive of that but Christ has already made me one with God again.  What if I am missing the joys of being a present-daughter because I thirst only for my life as a future one?

What is it to believe that I am fully and always loved by Christ?  What confidence might that give to me today?  How might I live differently if I believed that, today, right down to my core, God was here with me in every moment?

I have grown as a mother and I now try hard (and sometimes succeed!) to live in the moment with Elliot.  To enjoy the long walk home from the park as she examines every flower and takes joy in every step.  I guess I now understand that it will pass.  That the future will come before I know it but that this moment will never happen again.

But now I need to learn this as a daughter, as God’s daughter, that the future will come but that God is found in this day.  And his promises of love are here, now.  I want today for my eyes to be open.  Maybe you can join me today in singing Psalm 118“this is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it”.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

24 July: What's Worth It?

On my bad mothering days I wonder if it is all worth it.  At times it is hard to be gentle and kind and present and available to a whining toddler.   It is hard to stick to the advice to avoid television for under two’s when it is such an instant sedative.  It is hard to do a job that is thankless and earns nothing when my boss used to tell me how great I was, how useful.  People don’t say that much to me anymore. 

Sometimes I find myself saying with King Solomon
“What do people gain from all their labours
    at which they toil under the sun?”
- Ecclesiastes 1 v   3

But then today I saw my daughter sitting in a chair with a doll soothing and cuddling it and gentle patting it on the back.  My daughter has been teething lately and there has been lots of giving up my goals or plans for the day and instead sitting soothing her for what feels like hours.  Is it worthwhile?  It is when I see her modelling it like that – when I realise that it’s more then just a drain on my time, it’s a lesson for her in loving kindness, gentle care and responsiveness.  It’s a way to teach her how to love.

I often hear 1 Corinthians 13 read at weddings, but it occurred to me today that we are called to love everyone, even our enemies.  And what is love in these verses? 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
- 1 Corinthians 13 v 4 – 7

There are times we all struggle to love like this.  But it is worth it, it is always worth it.  Whether it’s because we get to see it reflected back to us or just knowing that God sees our effort.  After all, if God is love then any time we choose to love deeply and well we are choosing to be like Christ.  To be truly Christian.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

17 July: Loving Extravagantly

Before I had my daughter I wasn’t sure if I would be a very good mother.  I just didn’t have much patience or affection for other people’s kids.  But then Elliot come along and I found I had this depth of love and devotion and patience and tolerance for her.  But I’m still not very good with other people’s children!  In fact, I was explaining a child the other day as being moody, a bad listener, naughty, pushing boundaries, ungrateful and a little bit dumb.  Wow, replied my husband!  That’s an over the top reaction to a typical child isn’t it?!  Especially when my daughter at times can do all the same things and yet get a much more patience, kind and generous response.

Thinking about this made me remember some words of Jesus in one of his famous sermons, the Sermon on the Mount.  He says –

“If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.”
Matthew 5 v 46 – 47

Ouch!  What a failure I am in this!  Jesus is saying that God’s love (the kind of love we are meant to copy) is extravagant, without bounds or limits.  It is not to be reserved only for those who are – through relationship or personality – easy to love.  Indeed, when God chose to love me I was still his enemy.  I was still a sinner. 

I pray every day that God will help me be a godly mother, loving and kind and patient with my daughter.  But today I want to pray that He will help me see all the people I come in contact with as worthy of the best, most extravagant, limitless loving kindness.  And that His Holy Spirit will help me to express this loving kindness.  For me this will probably be tested when interacting with irrational preschoolers, but for you it might be workmates or in-laws or grouchy neighbours.  Whoever it is, I encourage you to try, with me, to love those who are hard to love.  Because that is what God did for us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

10 July: Cares and Worship

I’ve been feeling burdened down this last week, full of uncertainty for the future.  The future for me, my family, my church community and my friendships.  So I came to my devotional time today full of requests.  Ready to quickly read the set text and then rush into asking God to sort out my life.  God however had other plans.

I opened the Bible to Psalm 8, a psalm of worship to God, or wonder at his creation and the wonderful, undeserved love he has for us.  It reads:

“Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

Wow.  I was stopped in my ask-ask-ask take-take-take prayers to God and suddenly caught up in praise that He has set in motion time itself.  That He has given me life.  I raised my arms in worship until they were sore.

And here’s the thing – the rest, all those things I had lined up to demand from God – they were gone.  In those moments of worship they no longer mattered, they were already known to the God who fills the skies and the oceans; the fields and the wild mountain passes.  I was known to Him.  My cares, my worries, my burdens.  And from that came great joy. 

I walked away from time with God today with a light yoke.  If you are feeling burdened down this morning, maybe you too can turn to God in worship, not request, and through the awesomeness of God find He has taken your cares on to himself.  For He cares for you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

26 June - Start with Me

My eighteen month old daughter has started walking and over night she seems to have become a toddler, not just literally toddling around but also in her behaviour.   Sometimes I’ll hear her saying ‘no, no, NO!’ and rush over to see that she is just sitting there practicing how to say this newfound favourite word.

I feel like this has crept up on me and, being geeky, the first thing I did was go to the library to get a bunch of books on parenting toddlers.  The best one was by Elizabeth Pantley and it was full of helpful ways to gain coorperation and help toddlers with their newfound freedom of emotion.  One thing which really stood out to me this week though was her words on modelling.  If you want your child to use their manners then make sure you are using yours when talking to them.  If you don’t want your children to whinge check to be sure that you aren’t whinging at them to comply with you all the time.

It seems simple, doesn’t it, that getting the best out of your child starts with making sure that the best is coming out of you.  But I keep thinking this week about all the things I want – from my daughter, my family, the Christians I lead in home group, my church community – and how I need to be asking God to ‘start with me.’  Do I want my home group to be more passionate in prayer?  Then I need to start by examining the way I pray.  Do I think Christian’s need to challenge our consumerist culture?  Then I need to start by looking at the way I live.  Start with me, Lord, start with me, I should be praying.

Jesus understood this so well.  Famously he knelt down and washed the feet of his disciples, the men who had sat at his feet learning from him for three years.  After this he told them;

 ““You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
-John 13 v 13 – 17

If something was important to God, Jesus would demonstrate it first, tell people to do it second.  He was saying, ‘I will start with me.  I will show how important humility is to God by first being humble.’  I want so much from people, from this world.  But today I’m going to remember that I need to make sure that change starts with me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 19 - Who God Uses

I’ve been wondering this week why it’s so easy for me to think that I know the mind of God?  God!  Beyond, above, immense – I’ve sung from such a young age that I have an awesome God, a great God.  So why is it I think I can know the depths of his plans, actions and consequences?  I was reading a Christian website the other day which quoted Gandhi and my first response was to think, ‘as if a Christian can learn anything from a non-Christian, no matter who they are.’ How proud I am!  How arrogant.  As if my status as a Christian has given me a superiority.  What a fool I am! 

That very same day I read about Gandhi, I read Ezra chapter 1.  God firmly put me back in my place.  Here’s what I read –

“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfil the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them.”” 
- Ezra 1 v 1 – 3

God uses who ever he chooses and that can at times be a surprising choice.  The Lord moved the heart of Cyrus, a pagan King.  This king of godless Persia is recorded forever as being a man who God used for his will.  And not in an unwilling way, as if possessed, rather as any of us respond who have had their hearts stirred by the Holy Spirit.

I need forgiveness.  Grace.  A willingness to be humble among others, no matter who they are or what their outward life might say to me – because I can not know the mind of God.  The songs from my childhood are right – he is a great and awesome God.  I pray that I will walk more humbly among his creation today.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12 - Less Than Perfect

I know we aren’t ever supposed to admit this but I’m just going to put it out there – I’m judgemental.  I’m not proud of it, not at all, and I have huge admiration for those who are generous of spirit and graceful in character.  But that’s not me.  So it’s not surprising really that I was heaping judgement about the Israelites in 2 Kings chapter 23 this week.  In this chapter King Josiah is a wonderful King committed, the Bible tells us, “to follow[ing] the LORD and keep[ing] his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul” (v3).  And part of that meant cleaning up the mess of idol worship and dualism the nation had got itself in.  Here’s just a few examples –

He had to “bring out of the temple all the objects made for the false gods Baal and Asherah and for all the stars of heaven” (v 4).  “He broke down the small rooms in the Lord’s house that were used by the men who sold the use of their bodies for their false gods.” (v 7) and “The king made Topheth unclean, which is in the valley of the sons of Hinnom. He did this so no one might give his son or daughter there as a burnt gift to the false god Molech.” (v 10).

All I could think was ‘how could they?!’  How could they have become so compromised that they would even consider sharing God’s temple with idols and worshiping through the use of prostitutes?   How far from God were they that they thought it a gift to burn their children?  They had to be crazy people, loose with the facts and ignorant to boot.

Or so said my natural, judgemental nature.  But as I thought more on this I started to wonder if they are so different from me.  What might I have allowed to sneak into my life (the place God calls his new temple)? What things might I be bringing into my life, asking the Holy Spirit to share space with? What sinful diversions or thoughts which are detestable to God do I have?  What other things do I worship?

I guess one of the things about being judgmental is that it comes from a place which assumes I am perfect and looks at others as flawed.  But that’s far from true, isn’t it?  I don’t want to be like the Israelites, I don’t want to be so offensive to God.  But I need to realise, today, that without Christ, I am.  And without the Holy Spirit I can never hope to be any different.  Thank God therefore for God!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 05 - Keeping the Faith

I love the movie Keeping the Faith.  The plot sounds like a bad joke – a Rabbi, a Priest and a karaoke machine.  But it’s a story of commitment.  Everyone falls in love with the same girl – including the Priest.  He goes to a senior priest, wondering if, due to these strong feelings, he should resign. Father Havel, tells him –

“The truth is you can never tell yourself there is only one thing you could be. If you are a priest or if you marry a woman it's the same challenge. You cannot make a real commitment unless you accept that it's a choice that you keep making again and again and again.”

I thought of this movie when I was reading 2 Kings Chapter 2 this week.  Elijah is about to be taken from the earth and he is travelling with Elisha, another prophet.  First in Bethel, then in Jericho, then in Jordan, Elijah says to Elisha “Stay here.”  Each time Elisha replies, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” (v 2, 4, 6).

It is not often in life when we get these moments to affirm our commitments.  Our commitment to our partner, to our church, to our family, to God.  Instead we often travel along the path and can feel like life is just happening to us.  “We just fell out of love,” we might say.  Or “I just found I didn’t have faith anymore.”

Perhaps Elijah knew that Elisha needed these moments of choice – of commitment – so he continually gave them to him.  I think I do.  I need to sometimes say out loud “I’m committed to this relationship, this friendship.”  “I’m committed to God, to this faith.”

If there is a commitment which you are struggling to keep today, if you keep finding yourself dreaming of a different life which leaves behind the commitments you have made, then maybe today is a good day to say out loud “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave…”

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

29 May - God's Lavish Home

There is something addictive to me about that home building tv programme Grand Designs.  I love it – though I have to admit I’m often appalled by the money that goes into the homes and the size of many of the dwellings – especially as they might only have two people living in them.  I got this same reaction when first reading about the building of the original temple in Israel in 1 Kings chapter 6. 
We read that "Solomon overlaid the inside of the temple with pure gold" (verse 21) – really, was that necessary?  It also says in chapter seven that "Solomon left all the utensils unweighed, because they were too many; the weight of the bronze could not be ascertained” (verse 47) – isn’t that excessive, I mean how many utensils does one God need?

And I might have remained feeling that way – that the temple was a bit of an excessive exercise when after all God really doesn’t need a house.  I even thought it might be a bit simple-minded of the great Solomon to think that God could be contained in one building.  But then I read a reflection by Patrick Roemer on this passage and he reminded me that we are God’s new house, that he has chosen to live in and amongst his people, the church.  And Patrick asked, of himself and of me, 

“…[with] this passage in mind, I question if I have created a temple worthy of God’s presence. Have I put forth the same effort and time and given the same attention to detail to my temple as Solomon did for the house he built for God?”

I realise that all that gold, all that bronze and cedar and stone that we read about in 1 Kings chapters 6-7 isn’t there because Solomon thought he could give something to God or because he thought he could contain God but because God had chosen to live among them and Solomon wanted to create something of beauty and honour for God.  It was an expression of love and devotion.   The temple was lavish, it was rich, it was full of beauty because that’s what God deserves.

So what is the temple like that I am building for God?  Is my heart lavish with love?  Is my life rich towards others?  Do I respect or abuse my body, God’s new home?   Do I put time, effort and resources into being holy for God?  Those are my thoughts today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 22 - Running Away

When I was a little girl I was not very fun to play games with.  I was one of those children who, if I started loosing or finding the game hard, would stomp and pout and say ‘I don’t want to play anymore.’  The thing is, I’m not sure that I’m much different now I’m all grown up.  As I read about the judges and kings, prophets and priests of Israel in the Old Testament I’m aware of my own weaknesses as a leader and friend and how often, when I hit a troubled spot, I want to say ‘I’m not going to play anymore.’

King Solomon wasn’t like this.  He was successful, popular and chosen.  But when he was aware of his weaknesses he didn’t want to quit, instead he used it as an opportunity to press into God.  In 1 Kings 3 Solomon tells God –

“ ‘Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?’ ”
-1 Kings 3 v 7 – 9

When I’m not doing well at something, when it isn’t going perfectly, I see it as a situation to run from.  But Solomon saw it as a situation which was calling him on.  A chance for him to become a richer, deeper and wiser leader.

I have so much to learn!  And so much to ask God for.  God told Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted – and he asked for an understanding, or wise, heart.  God has told me I can as for whatever I want – in fact Jesus told his followers that “…if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” (John 15 v 7).   So today I’m going to ask God to help me be a richer, deeper and wiser leader and friend.  I want today to choose to be called on and not to run away.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dental Surgery

No, sorry, that isn't the title of a great thought for the day, it's actually what I've been up to.  So no quick word from my sore mouth today.  Back to it next week though!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

08 May - When Life Hurts

Life can hurt sometimes, can’t it?  Friendships are slowly lost and we mourn their passing.  People don’t turn out to be who we thought they were and we are disappointed.  Our ideas aren’t welcomed the way we hoped they would be or our contributes are over looked – sometimes life can just hurt.

I’ve been reading about the life of the prophet Samuel in the Bible and reflecting on how honestly the Bible records the hurts in his own life.  Samuel is a faithful and just prophet and leader of the people but they reject his succession plan.  Samuel feels rejected but the Lord tells him, in 1 Samuel 8, that it is the Lord himself who they are rejecting. 

Later in chapter 15 we read about the last sad encounter between Israel’s first King, Saul, and Samuel.  It reads; 

“Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah. Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.” (v 34 – 35).

We learn in Sunday School and Sunday service all about the heroes of our faith – the way they slay giants and survive lions.  But the Bible also records the way they suffer and sin.  The way they feel disappointed and are at times disappointing.  We don’t have a legacy of legends behind us, we have an ancestry of people who are much more like us then we can imagine.  And a God so aware of it that he came and experienced it and began a process which will change us forever.

I don’t want to be scared today of the times when life hurts.  I don’t want to try to hide it from God.  Instead I want to turn to those who have walked before me, people like Samuel, and be comforted by our shared experience.  And I was to turn to God who came, through Christ, to give me a better future.  I hope that you and I today can together turn our gaze towards Jesus.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

01 May - Daily Tragedies

I’ve been wondering this week what to do with life’s daily tragedies. I’m talking about those events which, though not serious illness or death or ruin, none the less evoke such feelings of sorrow or grief that we cannot brush them away.  It’s the pain of moving away from a home you have filled with family and love and memory for half a lifetime.  It’s the pain of infertility or continuous miscarriage.  It’s the pain of no longer feeling your husband or wife is your partner in life.  It’s the pain of loneliness, disappointment and loss.  It’s these daily tragedies which make up most of the hard times we face – the big tragedies are, hopefully, few and far between, but the little ones are always around the corner.

I’ve been thinking about all this because I’ve been going through some of these daily tragedies recently and have realised that our society encourages us to keep them to ourselves.  It’s weird, we are a talk talk talk society – one which is seemingly obsessed with watching the lives of other people through reality tv and seeing every moment of our friends weekend on Facebook.  But think about the last daily tragedy you faced – the last time you felt real sadness, hurt, or grief about something, how ever small.  Who did you tell?  For so many of us the answer is no one.   “I’m fine, how are you?” is our New Zealand standard answer to the question of how we are.  How we are, indeed, seems to have little to do with it.

I don’t know why this is.  But I don’t think it is how it should be.  In 1 Peter, chapter 3, Peter tells us that as Christians we should;

“… be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” (verse 8).

When we aren’t honest with each other – our friends, our family, our church – we rob each other of the opportunity to put into practice these words.  But honesty requires bravery.  And bravery risk.

So today I’m going to be brave.  I’m going to be open to a little risk.  I’m going to choose a friend who I trust to be honest with and I’m going to think carefully about how to answer their question of ‘how are you?’  Maybe today you might want to be honest and brave and open to a little risk to.  Today, maybe you could, with me, allow someone to fulfill the words of the old hymn –

“Brother, sister, let me serve you,
 let me be as Christ to you;
 pray that I may have the grace to
 let you be my servant too.

 We are pilgrims on a journey,
 and companions on the road;
 we are here to help each other
 walk the mile and bear the load.

 I will hold the Christ-light for you
 in the night-time of your fear;
 I will hold my hand out to you,
 speak the peace you long to hear.

 I will weep when you are weeping;
 when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
 I will share your joy and sorrow
 till we’ve seen this journey through.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 24 2012

Imagine that together we walked up to a mountain.  I looked up at it and said to you ‘hmmm, I don’t like the look of that.  It’s so very different from the kind of paths I usually take.  In fact the more I look at it the less I like it.  So I’m going to simply change it.  I’m going to make this mountain into a valley because I suit valleys much more.’  What would you say to me?  Would you tell me I was crazy, that it would be much easier for me to get used to the mountain then to change it? 

That would be sound advice and I don’t feel like you would have to argue with me for long.  A few attempts would surely show me that you are right.  Yet I’ve been thinking about how that is exactly what I do with people.  I’m thrust into a relationship with someone (though work or church) who I just don’t really like or understand.  And I think the answer is to change them, making them more like me.  My response shows clearly that I think their differences are weaknesses.

I’m not talking about mean or cruel or deeply flawed people – not anymore flawed then I am anyway.  Just people who are different in tradition and thoughts and ways from me.  For you it could be the chatty women who sits next to you at work – she’s efficient and kind but she just goes on and on!  Or it could be a person in your home group who doesn’t have the same theology on certain things as you – he still loves the Lord, that’s plain to see, but you can’t understand the way he thinks.

I was praying about someone I know who fits this category the other day when it occurred to me that these relationships – the ones which aren’t so easy – are an opportunity from God for me to grow, not an opportunity to try and change the person.  In Ephesians Paul talks about the affect of being different, together.  He wrote that Christ -

“makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” 
- (Ephesians 4 v 16).

God loves and adores and has chosen the people I don’t like or understand to be a part of his body just as he has chosen me.  My prayer today is that I might learn to acknowledge the awesomeness of those who are so different from me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

17 April - Confession

I have to confess something – I’m a hypocrite.  It’s the one thing always used against Christians isn’t it – that we aren’t the people we claim to be.  That we aren’t ourselves what we expect of others.  And I’m afraid I’m not.

For example, I tell myself that people who want revenge and punishment for those who hurt them are vengeful.  You need to be forgiving I say.   Then I turn into a growly bear when someone so much as pushes my child in the playground.  I tell people the church is a family, here through thick or thin.  Then I meet someone whose personality I struggle with and I want a different family.

It is scary to consider the depths of my own hypocrisies.  Especially when I read Matthew 23 where Jesus strongly criticises the Pharisees saying over and over again, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites!” (verse 13).

And yet, I’ve been wondering if my inability to be who I claim to be – who I want to be – is a part of something deeper than this.  Surely a true hypocrite would be more comfortable in their fraud then I am?  Maybe it’s not fraud at all, maybe it’s human failing – a failure to be how I truly wish to be.  A failure to be like Christ when I have the Holy Spirit’s knowledge of what that ought to look like.

At the end of the book or Joshua he tells the people of Israel –

 “ ‘So fear the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD alone.  But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.’ ”
- Joshua 24 v 14 -15

And the people say “We would never abandon the LORD and serve other gods.” (verse 16).  But of course they do.  In the very next generation and then over and over again. 

You see, I am nothing new, my failure is nothing unique.  And I will die because of this failure.  But that’s not the end of my story.  God has promised me He will love me, accept me, and give me life again, despite my human failure.  My hypocrisy.  And for that reason I strive afresh, today, to be the person I claim to be – a member of God’s family.  I choose today to serve Him.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 10 - Post Easter

Last week I imagined what it would have been like to be a friend of Jesus when he walked, as man, here among us.  I acknowledged that I would have been a fickle friend – keen to know him in the good times, disillusioned when I began to realise he wasn’t following the path I wanted, betrayed and angry when he allowed himself to be so easily put to death.  I sadly confessed that though I might have a friend in God I wouldn’t have, and might not still today, be that great a friend in return.

So how might it have been to be a friend of Jesus this side of Easter?  Word would have begun to spread that Mary had seen him – really seen him!  "What, really?!  Where?!  I don’t understand, how can it be Jesus?!" I would feel the excitement begin to build.  As more and more people said ‘it’s true, he has risen!  It is him, but more...different...holy!" I would be caught in the wave of joy and excitement, I’d run to each place people said he had been or would be. 

And then I’d see him.  And I’d remember.  Oh God!  I’d abandoned him.  I’d been angry at him and I’d walked away.  I’d even cursed him, so betrayed had I felt by his failure in my eyes to be the king he promised.  I’d try to shrink back into the crowd.  "Don’t let him see you!" my inner voice would cry. 

But it would be too late.  He would turn to me.  He would look, straight into my eyes and ask, "do you love me?"  "Yes", I’d whisper.  "Oh despite all I have done, yes!"  A smile would consume his face, "then I am yours and you are mine.  All is forgiven."

It’s funny, it doesn’t seem to matter if I knew Jesus then, or now.  If I was his follower on dusty feet 2000 years ago or am following his spirit’s guidance today.  The story is the same.  I have failed God.  But, even when it might seem otherwise, he has never failed me.  And he is always waiting, waiting to forgive my sins and welcome me home. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 3 - Pre Easter

What would it have been like to be a friend of Jesus?  I know we talk about Jesus these days as our ‘best friend’, our bff, but I mean, what would it have been to be a friend of the pre-resurrection Jesus – to have walked with him in the dust of a small corner of the Roman Empire, to have been a physical witness to his death?

At first I would have been so excited to be his friend.  I love to know or know of famous people.  I would have name-dropped my friend Jesus whenever I could.  “Oh Jesus, yeah, we go way back.  He’s like no one I’ve ever met.  I was with him the other day when he, you know, like somehow brought Lazarus back to life!  I don’t know how he did it, eh?  That guy – he’s our future," I might say.

And then people would start saying he was a King – our king.  I’d walk just behind him into Jerusalem while the people shouted ‘hosanna, hosanna!’  I’d secretly imagine the privilege that would come for me when Jesus took his throne.  I would be more than just a subject; I’d be a person the king made time for.

But then.  Then he’d start talking about his death, over and over.  He’d say things like “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”  All I would really understand is that Jesus thought he was going to die rather then be enthroned.

Disillusionment would start to creep in.  "He’s made false promises to me,’ I’d complain to myself.  ‘He’s like two people – who’s my real friend Jesus?  The one happy to have the people call him King, or the one intent on giving up?"  I’d start to question whether this friendship was really worth it.

And then we’d enter the dark night.  They would come for him and he wouldn’t resist.  I’d feel sorrow.  Angry.  Betrayed.  Misled.  And, like so many many of his friends, I would abandon him to the crowd.  Cut my losses and run.

I have a friend in God.  But what sort of friend would he have had in me that night?  What sort of friend does he have in me now, when life seems not to go to plan?  When I don’t understand him, or his ways?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I got a bit busy and didn't record anything this week.  The station played a repeat - I'm now off to write and create so there will be something next week!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday 20 March

I was talking to a friend about travelling to Dubai when she told me that I wouldn’t be able to take my Bible.   My first thought was that I was being told they were going to take away my faith at the passport counter – I was a little horrified and not sure if I could consider going after all.  But the more I thought about it the more I realised that carrying a Bible in my travel-on is not the sum of all my faith.

In fact, there have probably been many more Christians in the world who have been a Christian without a Bible than with it.  Think of the vast history before the printing press, English translations and general literacy.  Think of many in the developing world today without a Bible in their language, without the money to buy one or the skills to read it.  Or think of the early Christians, faithful before all the letters and gospels were even written.

I am blessed to have a Bible, several in fact, in different translations and available in different media - from book form to online to spoken.  But the Bible is only one way that God speaks into our lives.  As Christians we also believe that his Spirit guides our conscience, gives us ideas when we need them, helps us change to be more like Jesus and even intervenes in events at times to help us in our lives.  And no country can make us leave the Holy Spirit in a bin before going through the arrival gates, no fire can burn it, no person steal it. 

Jesus called the Holy Spirit the comforter.  In John he tells his followers, people like you and I,

“…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforter who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”
- John 14 v 16 and 17

God’s Spirit is a great comfort to me.  He leads me when I’m unsure.  He lives in me.  What a joy!  What a faith.  What a God – to give us so much of himself; his words; his son; his Spirit.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday 13 March

My mum loves this book called ‘Messy Spirituality’.  And ‘messy!’ is the word that I thought of when reading Numbers 14 recently.  God had led His chosen people out of slavery, to freedom, but they hit a snag, the journey ahead was looking too hard and they were giving up.  The Bible records that the people  ‘plotted among themselves, [saying] “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”’ (v 4).  Back to everything God had rescued them from.

No wonder then that God was getting a bit sick of their lack of trust and faith in Him.  Moses was there trying to keep everyone happy and eventually a compromise was reached – the people could stay as God’s people but, that generation at least, wouldn’t receive God’s promises. 

Perhaps the mess could have been contained there, but the Bible tells us that -

‘…When Moses reported the LORD’s words to all the Israelites, the people were filled with grief. Then they got up early the next morning and went to the top of the range of hills. “Let’s go,” they said. “We realize that we have sinned, but now we are ready to enter the land the LORD has promised us.” But Moses said, “Why are you now disobeying the LORD’s orders to return to the wilderness? It won’t work.  Do not go up into the land now. You will only be crushed by your enemies because the LORD is not with you. When you face the Amalekites and Canaanites in battle, you will be slaughtered. The LORD will abandon you because you have abandoned the LORD.”
-       Number 14 v 39 – 43

Sure enough they ignored him, off they went and crushed they were.

It’s just a big mess, don’t you think?  A mess full of lack of trust and faithlessness; not listening; thinking they could make it right on their own; changing from day to day; thinking the certainty of slavery was better then the gift of freedom.

But you know what?  As I say these words I don’t know who I’m talking about any more – the Israelites or me.  My story of faith is full of lack of trust in God.  Of believing in myself above Him.  Of not listening and making as much of a mess of trying to put things right as I did in putting things wrong in the first place.  I am in a state of messy spirituality.  Yet it doesn’t matter.  Because the Bible says we are made right with God through Jesus.  And ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.’ (Hebrews 13 v 8).  Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday 6 March

I have this morbid habit of hearing a good song and then loudly proclaiming to my husband, ‘you can play that at my funeral!’  A song can says something about the way I am, how I love, what life is to me, which makes me want it to be used to define and remember me.  Maybe it’s this reaction to music that made me decide to have a birth song for our daughter – one we’ll always play on her birthday.  For her we chose ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by The Beetles (because she broke our literal and figurative long, cold, lonely winter).

In 2 Chronicles 7 we see the birth of the temple – it’s completion and the celebration of the people.  And we see a song being sung to record the moment in verse 3, it reads –

“When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the LORD filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying,
   “He is good!
      His faithful love endures forever!””
- 2 Chronicles 7 v 3

What kind of God is our God?  For in this moment it’s his love, his faithfulness and goodness that the people sing of.  It is not the whole story of our God – He goes on in this chapter to tell Solomon that He is holy, requiring holiness.  That He is faithful, requiring loyalty.  That He is King, requiring obedience.  But it isn’t this that seems to define him to the Israelites. In this moment it’s his love, his faithfulness and goodness that the people sing of.

In Exodus 34, God passes before Moses and tells him his name, Yahweh, and says He is,

“The God of compassion and mercy!
   I am slow to anger
      and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” (v 6).

Again, I know this isn’t the whole story but this is the first thing he tells Moses! And it is what, despite a history of being disciplined, the people remember. 

I wonder, is this my God?  Are these the words I would sing to Him?  Or have I lost sight (through religion or past church hurts or even bad teaching) of His great love for me?  For as Romans 5 v 8 tells us:

“…God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday 28 February

I contribute to an online devotional, called Vertical, and I also use it in my own devotion time. I always like to have a nosey at the ‘about the author’ section to find out more about my fellow contributors.  One day last week all it said was ‘Michael Petersen, Chase Oaks parishioner.’  Now most people talk about their family, maybe their occupation or life experience; I usually include that I write this quick word for Christian radio.  I want people to respect me, to think I’m worth listening to.  In short, I want people to know something impressive about me.  But not Michael Petersen.  He was happy to be known simply as a part of the church.  It struck me as very humble.  And not much like me!

The devotional reading that day was Genesis 25:19-34 a story of two brothers.  Here’s what happens –

“Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” …
 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”
But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.  So Esau despised his birthright.”

When I started reading it I couldn’t imagine how Esau could be so crazy – to put something like a bowl of food above his future.  It seemed like a crazy, inconceivable swap to fulfil an instant need or desire at the sacrifice of an eternal one.  But then I came to that author’s note at the bottom and started to thing about the things the Bible has to say about being humble. “Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5 v 5) for example.  Letting people think I’m cool, making them impressed with me, being prideful, it’s a momentary pleasure.  It fulfills me in a way, yes, but perhaps at too great a sacrifice.  Maybe I’m not that different from Esau after all – maybe I too swap an instant need or desire at the sacrifice of an eternal one.  Maybe, in different ways, we all do.  It’s something to think about today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday 21 February

Next door there is a rampant bamboo patch which borders our property.  I think I’ve told you about it before.  When we first moved in we had to fight to keep it out of our backyard.  So far so successful, however I was looking at it through the kitchen window and realised that it wasn’t just a bamboo patch anymore.  A vine has wrapped itself, uncontrolled, up and in and through the stalls of the bamboo, growing weed upon weed. 

As I stared in horror at it I realised that I really shouldn’t be too surprised, because it can often be like that in life can’t it?  I’ll be angry at someone so then I’ll be rude to them.  I’ll let my tv viewing standards down and soon the words that come out of my mouth start to also stink.  Have you ever experienced this?  Maybe you let yourself think too much about that cute guy from the cafĂ© and soon you are telling your husband he’s useless.  Or maybe you start gambling on a Friday, just a little, but then you find yourself hiding from your wife the truth about the size of your work bonus.

For some reason weeds grow on weeds in nature and sin grows on sin in life.  I think this might be part of what Paul is getting at when he says to the Ephesians,

“… “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”  Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”
- Ephesians 4 v 26 – 27

My experience has been that small bamboo shoots are easier to deal with then a rampant patch and that a rampant patch provides a foothold for a rampant weed-vine to grow.  Now all I need to do is remember this in life too!  To remember that my small problems of character or behaviour are going to be easier to deal with then big ones and that rampant sin provides a foothold for many kinds of problems.  If there’s one good thing about that neighbouring bamboo patch it is that it might serve to remind me of all this! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday 14 February

One of my best friends is getting married in a few weeks and we were discussing wedding readings.  She isn’t a Christian but wondered if there was anything suitable from the Bible – I came up with the standards; Corinthians 13, Ruth.  But I feel like there is a deeper story that the Bible tells about love, one that is in these passages but is lost by their familiarity. 

I have another friend who is a marriage celebrant but has been feeling disheartened.  50% of the Christian marriages she has conducted have ended in divorce.  There is something the Bible has to tell us about this too.

It’s Valentines Day.  A day of flowers and chocolates and love and cards from secret admirers.   But there’s a gift we can give the people we love that is even greater than all this, something the Bible has to teach us about.

I didn’t think of it when planning wedding readings with my friend because it’s not one reading – it’s the whole theme of the love of God which we can emulate in the way we love people.  Joseph and his brothers, I think, give us this deeper story of love.  Joseph’s brothers despised him – their relationship broke down to a point it seemed that there was no repair, they harmed him and abandoned him.  Joseph had every reason to respond in kind the next time he saw them.  But instead, this is what happened (as found in Genesis 45);

“Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace…Weeping with joy, he embraced Benjamin, and Benjamin did the same. Then Joseph kissed each of his brothers and wept over them, and after that they began talking freely with him.”
-       Genesis 45 v 1 – 2 & 14 -15

Joseph gave the gift of love undeserved.  He gave the gift of forgiveness.  Of tenderness, vulnerability, of reaching out first.  It is easy to say ‘oh yes, but you don’t know my situation.’  And I don’t.  But I know mine.  God gave me the gift of love undeserved.  God gave me the gift of forgiveness.  Of tenderness, vulnerability, of reaching out first.  And these gifts have been more meaningful, more life changing, more sustaining then any other.  And they’re the gift I want to give to my marriage, this valentines day and every day.  It is this that gives my choice to love true meaning…and that which sustains it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday 7 February

I’ve tried to write this quick word so many times but it keeps coming out wrong.  It seems I can’t simplify the complex.  I can’t even tell it as a story – it always finishes with me as a villain or a hero, neither of which is the point or the truth.

You see, I’ve been trying to put down in words this feeling I have that, despite once owning a WWJD – What Would Jesus Do – bracelet, I’m not actually sure how to be like Jesus, like God.  I feel like my personally leads me towards justice and judgement and yes, justice is a character of God.  But it’s not that simple is it?  The way justice manifests itself in my life often leaves no room for grace, for empathy.  And so I’ve started to realise that I can’t claim to be like God, or to becoming like God, or to be doing what Jesus would do, in only one way.  The fact that I love justice is not enough.  I must love all He loves.  I must have all the fruits of the Spirit, not just the ones that come naturally to me.  And I don’t know how.  I don’t know what to do to make that true.

I’ve begun to feel like I’m in a dance with God, only I know so little about the music or the steps, and I have two left feet.  So, if I’m to lead, or even to be a partner in the dance, I’ll always end up dancing my way to once corner of the room.

The thing is, I think I got it wrong somewhere along the line.  At some point I picked up the message that I can actually be like God.  That in fact it’s my purpose in life to become more like Him.  So I sit down and try to tell you how far from true that is and the words can’t come out right.

But that’s all wrong isn’t it?  For God doesn’t have an equal, and he never expected one in me.  No, my purpose is to love God and worship him.  He’ll do the work in me.  He’ll lead the dance while I stand on his feet, gazing up at his face in wonder.  As Psalm 95 (verse 1 – 7) puts it;

“Come, let us sing to the LORD!
      Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
 Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
      Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
 For the LORD is a great God,
      a great King above all gods.
 He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
      and the mightiest mountains.
 The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
      His hands formed the dry land, too.
 Come, let us worship and bow down.
      Let us kneel before the LORD our maker,
    for he is our God.
   We are the people he watches over,
      the flock under his care.”