Revelation 21:3-5 (The Message)
A time for new beginnings. May you grow closer to God in 2009.
Well, it's the end of the year, and what a year! So much has happened in an 'interesting' twelve months, that I'm so looking forward to a new start in 2009! The following are all stray thoughts and words of wisdom that I have learned in 2008 and share with you now (all bible verses are from the NIV):
January & February: 2008 began as 2007 ended - with much the same going on in my life. Life can be a bit like 'Groundhog Day' more often than not: you get up, go to work, come home, go to bed. Each day is much like any other. Oh, there are times when you do something a bit different... my good friend Elizabeth lent me the book 'If You Want to Walk on Water, You'Ve Got to Get Out of the Boat' by John Ortberg, which indicates a little of what I have been trying to achieve in my life. At least I've started to get my feet wet this year....
March was probably the first occasion in the year where I boldly stepped out in faith and left my comfort zone during 2008, trying to explore new possibilities in my Christian service. It was the 'Exploring Leadership' day at the Wiliam Booth College. Well, little steps first! I know now first hand what was meant when the songwriter he wrote "Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us, O’er the world’s tempestuous sea". I knew I was being led somewhere, but wouldn't yet know how rough the sea would get ...
April: some more foundations laid, when I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting to discuss the possibility of a Street Pastors initiative in Dartford. A very promising start - I'm looking forward to seeing some fruit from this one day!
May: Another step of faith was my weekend away to ROOTS in Southport over the early May bank holiday, which gave me further confirmation as to where I should be looking... This was followed by a very pleasant family week away in late May, camping in Wales - the first time I had ever been to that beautiful country, and hopefully not the last! How wonderful that the campsite had no TV or mobile phone reception, I'm sure that's why it was so peaceful!
June: A string of memorable events occurred in this month. Firstly, my first all-night of prayer, which proved most illuminating and uplifting. More, please! Secondly, and more devastatingly, was the shock of having my car written off in mid-June (at about three in the morning), and the subsequent damage to the courtesy car almost exactly a week later by a hit-and-run driver. In both cases the cars were parked outside my house at the time. You can understand that I was a little 'sensitive' that month - all these particular highs and lows all occurred within the same fortnight! Psalm 20:7 says: " Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."
July: It's incredible what modern technology can do, for it was in July that I started this very blog. Some say they start blogging as a type of therapy, some because they have a need to write. I think my reasons are a little of each. Wow, what an eye-opener - I've been quite surprised about who gets to reads it and who passes comment!
August: As further opportunities of service that I tried to explore in late July didn't exactly work out, I spent much of August taking stock of my life, exploring what Andrew and Tracey Bale called 'sabbath rest' - a difficult concept. At least this meant I was able to take a short break away with the family at the end of the month, before the Annual Appeal... a good time of peace and quiet in Canterbury. And some really good Olympics coverage!
September: is of course the Army's Annual Appeal month, and thanks to a very good team the collecting went so very well this year, despite the 'credit crunch' and we even saw an increase in donations. September also saw the Corps celebrate the Battle For Bull Centre Centenary, a very uplifting event for the entire fellowship.
October: This seems to be a time of 'pruning' in my year, removing so much dead wood in my life, and this was reiterated at Harvest time. I've also been learning how to 'declutter', which is also quite tough, and getting the kids to do the same has been even harder!
November: Another great opportunity for me has been this trip to the Territorial Congress in Birmingham, which proved to be a further confirmation of where I should be headed. Some tremendous advice has been given to me by friends and colleagues, but nothing can beat the famous phrase "Don't lose your Dolphin" (thanks Don for these impressive words. They will stay with me always).
December: I've learnt this month (and indeed this whole year) that if you have a choice between two things, choose the one you haven't done before, the thing to take out out of your comfort zone. Leo Buscaglia said: "What we call the secret of happiness is no more a secret than our willingness to choose life." Looking back, I can see how far out of my comfort zone I have moved this year. Sometimes not by choice, but there you go.
Here's to a better 2009 - one full of the right choices....
"You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between"
(Johnny Mercer/ Harold Arlen)
The Saviour of men came to seek and to save
The souls that were lost to the good;
His Spirit was moved for the world which he loved
With the boundless compassion of God….
Except I am moved with compassion
How dwelleth Thy Spirit in me?
In word and in deed
Burning love is my need;
I know I can find this in thee.
"Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life. " Joan Lunden
I don't know what you think, but I'm of the opinion it's the battles I have with my own 'issues' which are causing these symptoms. So, I'm trying very hard today to keep cheerful, despite feeling lousy. Well, that's not easy, and I've got it wrong already today. Forgive me my friends when I get it wrong!
Remember, Jesus said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick". (Matthew 9:12, NIV) Having consulted the Great Physician I have a fair idea of what to do now.
42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.Remember, half the people you know are below average.
Begone, unbelief, my Saviour is near,
And for my relief will surely appear;
By prayer let me wrestle, and he will perform;
With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm.
2.Though dark be my way, since he is my guide,
’Tis mine to obey, ’Tis his to provide;
Though cisterns be broken and creatures all fail,
The word he has spoken will surely prevail.
3.His love in time past forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer I have in review
Confirms his good pleasure to help me quite through.
4.Since all that I meet shall work for my good,
The bitter is sweet, the medicine food;
Though painful at present, ’Twill cease before long,
And then O how pleasant the conqueror’s song!
SASB 712 (John Newton)
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.
4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
7 Then I said, "Here I am, I have come — it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."
9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O LORD.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased, O LORD, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me.
14 May all who seek to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!" be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "The LORD be exalted!"
17 Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.
Those who know me are constantly encouraging me to step out - to walk on the water - to step out of my comfort zone. Trouble is, stepping out will mean potentially getting into some very scary places! It stands to reason you're going to be concerned about the unknown, and feel anxious about being moving on. That's why so many people dislike change.
However, I'm looking forward to change. There's certain aspects of my life where I'm in a place that I don't want to be - I want to move on...
So, am I trapped in a paradox? A no-win scenario? Between a rock and a hard place (as the Americans have it)?
Well, I'm trusting in the Rock. I am trusting in God to hold me and keep me safe.
When starting today's puzzle, I jotted down the words 'God Can Do Anything' on the page, a stray thought from another blog that I had read over the weekend. If that's true, He can even talk to you while you're doing a Sudoku puzzle, if you're open to Him. This is what struck me today:
"When we can't piece together the puzzle of our own lives, remember the best view of a puzzle is from above. Let Him help put you together." Amethyst Snow-Rivers