22 November 2017

Context Is Everything

Do you ever wonder why, sometimes, you simply don't quite 'get it'? Yep, that's been me quite a bit recently. I haven't really been feeling 100% lately, a whole host of things have happened that have knocked me back a bit. I know I have had quite a lot on my mind. I've been trying to work through the various problems however that hasn't helped how I have felt; it just left me overwhelmed and overtired and, quite frankly, 'zonked'. It's obvious to some people that I wasn't quite right, they could tell by the way I reacted. I didn't quite get the joke; I didn't seem to react to the usual 'cues', or suddenly 'over-reacted' spectacularly when something unpleasant happens.

Had a day off today - therefore I had a moment or two to take stock. I began to realise that I seem to have lost the context to my life.

I watched an episode of QI recently which neatly illustrated an aspect of this. It depicted a shark, swimming towards the camera, with the music from Jaws playing menacingly in the background, What was the scariest part of the whole clip? The close up on the shark's teeth? The anticipation of the approach of the creature? Nope, it was the music. They played the same clip with different music, and it wasn't the same...

And that's been me. The music hasn't been right. Do you know, I used to wish that I could say my life sounded like this at the moment. But it doesn't.  (and I'm not sure I could take too much of that sort of soundtrack either!)

I have been yearning and yearning to make some drastic changes in my life.

However, I now know that's not in fact what I want. What I need is to get my life back into context.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without fault and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

I've tried to lean too much on my own knowledge and understanding to deal with the issues in my life. And it didn't work. I need God's wisdom in my life. However, I also need to get God's discernment in my life, so I can tell the difference between the wisdom of God and the whispers of the enemy. Both are evident in my life at the moment. I need to tell them apart! It's so hard... I can't tell if people are trying to help me or to lead me astray...

I wrote a little while ago about Rhema, and the little light that suddenly came on in my life. To be honest, it's that little light that is the only thing keeping me going at the moment. That was God's voice, I know that for sure. Everything else is in doubt.

Dear Lord, times are really hard right now.  I really need to hear Your voice. Give me the discernment so I can hear Your voice and Your voice alone. I need Your wisdom. Speak to me in the way You know I will hear You best. Your Will be done, Lord. 

In Jesus Name, I pray. 

20 November 2017

A Light Switched On

I read something today that really changed my outlook on my week. And I'm glad it did.

It's not been a great week for me, to be honest with you. Challenge after challenge, one problem after another. I've carried on regardless, but eventually this rubbish week took its toll on me. I've ended up feeling frustrated, and even bitter about what had happened (and I thought I had dealt with you, Bitterness, my old adversary). I was about as low as I could get. I wasn't exactly thrust into darkness, but life was pretty gloomy...

I sought refuge in prayer, desperately holding one to at least one aspect of my relationship with my Father in Heaven.

And today, it was like a light had switched on.

I was reading a passage about how prayer works, which explained that God speaks to His people in many ways (of course - He's God, and infinitely creative - He can use any of a hundred thousand ways to speak to His people).

Through the Bible, God speaks generally — the Word of God to everyone — and that is what scholars call logos.

He also speaks personally to individuals through His Word, and that’s rhema. God can choose to illuminate certain passages, to show how it can apply to us, or to teach us something new. Point us in the right direction.

And that's when the light switched on. (Click)

Suddenly, all the things I had been listening to today in church started to fit into place, started to make sense to me. I began to come alive again. The light level in the room went up three notches.

Thanks, Lord!

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth."
John 16:13a (NIVUK)

14 November 2017

Take It Slow

All my friends are heathens, take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don't make any sudden moves
You don't know the half of the abuse...


Why'd you come? You knew you should have stayed
I tried to warn you just to stay away
And now they're outside ready to bust
It looks like you might be one of us...

(from "Heathens" by Twenty One Pilots - written by Tyler Joseph)

7 November 2017

Running With Perseverance

It's hard to simply keep going.

Keep going - when things aren't easy, when for days on end everything seems to be constantly "uphill and against the wind".

I persevere, but I'm afraid it doesn't get any easier. The longer I go, the harder it seems to get! Understandably - because I need to put some effort into it if my life is to be faithful, to be worthwhile. I understand that what I am undertaking is a marathon rather than a sprint. I need to run with endurance, as well as perseverance.

I've tried to rid myself of all of the things that hinder... have I forgotten to ditch something?

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hmmm. "Grow weary and lose heart". Yes, that's the problem. It's too easy for me to lose heart if I lose my focus on the reason why I am running. I need to fix my eyes, not on what I am doing, but who I am doing it for....

I must also run "the race marked out" for me. Not the race I want to run. But the one I'm instructed to run.

3 November 2017

Not Forgotten

Ever had one of those days?

Your prayers seem to go unanswered?
Bad things happen, unexpectedly?
Things just don't happen the way you want it to?
And you feel helpless. Isolated, alone, on your own, adrift in a sea of troubles.

Yeah, been there. Even today...

Nevertheless, the truth is:

God has not forgotten you.

He’s right alongside you. He’s with you every step of the way.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

He's right there. Call on Him. Talk to Him about how you feel.

You aren't on your own. You're not forgotten.

15 October 2017

Nothing is impossible with God...

With God there is always hope, no matter how bad things look. You've heard it before - nothing is impossible with God.

It might defy logic, but there are so many around who have proven it to be true. Whatever struggles you or I are facing at the moment, however difficult life looks, however impossible the situation seems, God loves us to bits - and wants to help.

Matthew 19:25-26 (MSG)
The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?”
Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”

7 October 2017

Vulcan Hello, Irish Goodbye

This week has been a week of learning new ways of saying 'hello' and 'goodbye'...

It started last weekend with a binge watching session to catch up with the latest Star Trek series, Discovery, which is now available to watch on Netflix in the UK. And, I have found it to be pretty good so far! Well worth a watch, and definitely full of nice little plot points and pieces of character development to please a long time Trek fan such as myself. And it has also introduced me to the concept of the Vulcan Hello.... (the title of the first episode) ... I won't give any surprises away - however, I'm sure that the reasoning behind such a greeting is logical... or will be by the end of the series ...

And later on that week, thanks to a podcast, I have been taught a whole new way to say goodbye. Ever think of what is worse than going to a party that you didn't really want to be at? It is trying to find the right time to get up and leave that party... remembering to politely say your goodbyes. I think we've all been there. Ugh

I was intrigued this week to hear about something called the Irish Goodbye... referring to leaving a social gathering without saying your farewells. Just slipping out the back way, as you won't be noticed in the crowd... Apparently, the phrase stems from the Irish predilection for extreme hospitality (oh go on, go on, go on... Father Ted reference) and the resultant, tremendous difficulty in getting away from an Irish get-togethers. It's far, far easier to slip away unnoticed...

Yes, I know what you're thinking. How rude to leave without saying goodbye! And there's the problem. Many of us are far too polite to simply walk out without saying thank you. Even if you said thank you when accepting the invite, and once again, when coming in the door in the first place, you have to say it again on the way out... Probably why an Irish Goodbye is so frowned upon. And yet, the practice is now so popular, there's even a term for it. And it's not as if you didn't bother turning up at all, is it...

If you are a slave to etiquette, you simply have to say something. The Emily Post Institute (which advises readers of its website about the correct way to do things) advises that party guests should... "make sure to say goodbye and thank you to each of your hosts... If they're not by the door, seek them out and thank them personally before you go."

I wonder if I could get away with an Irish Goodbye more often...

25 September 2017

So, What Happens Now?

So what happens now?
(Another suitcase in another hall)
So what happens now?
(Take your picture off another wall)
Where am I going to?
(You'll get by, you always have before)
Where am I going to?
(lyrics from "Another Suitcase In Another Hall", written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber)

This track from the classic musical Evita features a character who wonders about her uncertain future, eventually convincing herself - or at least telling herself - that she will be fine. The song was first released as a single by Barbara Dickson, a singer who is a particular favourite of mine.

I think that we all go through times of uncertainty, don't we? Times when we sit down and wonder, "so, what happens now?" More often than not, we don't get a suitable answer... only loads more questions...

All we can do is live one day at a time.

I can try and plan for tomorrow, however I can't actually live it out until that day arrives. No one can, I remember that John Lennon once wrote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Matthew 6:34 (MSG).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

17 September 2017

Got Any Rivers?

Got any rivers
You think are uncrossable?
Got any mountains
You can't tunnel through?
God specialises in
Things thought impossible
And He does the things
That others cannot do.
(lyrics: Oscar C. Eliason)

15 September 2017

Nothing Can Get Between Us And God’s Love

Romans 8:31-39 (The Message)
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.