30 May 2014

29 May 2014

I Often Say My Prayers...

I often say my prayers
But do I ever pray?
And do the wishes of my heart
Go with the words I say?

I may as well kneel down
And worship gods of stone,
As offer to the living God
A prayer of words alone.

For words without the heart
The Lord will never hear,
Nor will He to those lips attend
Whose prayers are not sincere.

Lord, teach me what I need,
And teach me how to pray;
Nor let me ask Thy grace,
Not feeling what I say.
(John Burton)

Facing Your Fears

Matthew 14:22-33 (NIV)
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

"Come," he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."


I have blogged on the subject of fear a grand total of eight times since I started this site. This entry makes nine.

There's so much that I am challenged by from the above bible passage.

I'll also share with you a few other quotations, below.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
- Frank Herbert, science fiction author

Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. - Unknown

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. - Eleanor Roosevelt

26 May 2014

Decluttering...

I've spent what seems like an eternity recently, decluttering one of the rooms in my house.

I'm assured that it's only actually been two days. However, it seems like forever... because I've been a little unprepared by all of the emotional baggage that has been unearthed at the same time. Mementos trigger memories which in turn trigger emotions. Before too long I am reliving times in my life that I had forgotten, little details from the past that have been long buried. Details flood my mind, roll around in my thoughts. I've been travelling in time - and I feel a bit jet-lagged!

I've also quite taken aback by the pleasant feelings when I reach a milestone. When it's out of the away, cleared away.

I am also reliably informed that outer order contributes to inner calm.

I hope so. 

21 May 2014

Character-building

(ˈkærɪktəbɪldɪŋ)  adjective
that strengthens certain good or useful traits in a person's character especially self-reliance, endurance and courage.

I am reliably informed that certain difficulties in life are good for you. They build character. The process can be painful and may test many areas of your life to breaking point, and even beyond.

The important thing to do in such circumstances is to remain faithful to what you believe, hold on to truth.

Sometimes, you just have to hold on. The difficulties can't last forever.


Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

19 May 2014

Chickens and Eagles


A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.

All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

The old eagle looked up in awe. "Who’s that?" he asked.

"That’s the eagle, the king of the birds," said his neighbour. "He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth — we’re chickens."

So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.


I've been reminded of this story whilst mulling over these thoughts about flying.

Both of these creatures are birds; both have a beak, feathers, wings. The chicken spends much of its time on the ground with other chickens, scratching around for food and keeping busy. They can only fly a little. When a storm comes, they run around, making lots of noise, scrambling for cover (I know this; my dad used to keep chickens when I was small!).

All of us (despite our background) will face the same sorts of storms in life; it is how we deal with them that makes the difference. Adversity can either kill us or help us to grow. It's how we respond that makes the difference.

God wants us to grow and be all that we can be. Do you see yourself with the potential to be an eagle? Soaring above your problems; using the strong currents of the storm to soar ever higher.

Or does everyone you meet keep telling you to stop trying? "After all, you are just a chicken..."

18 May 2014

Taking Flight

"Somewhere over the rainbow, Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can't I?"

I've been having a recurring theme in my prayer times lately... and some pretty interesting dreams in my sleep.

Thoughts and dreams about taking flight. Flying, and soaring really high!

I've started to see references to flying everywhere. There was an advert that leapt out at me an hour or two ago - spurring me on to blog about this.

I have an idea or two what this might mean - I'm also adding the words from Don Moen's song which mean so much to me. And it's something that I intend to pray into further this week.

"Hold me close, Let Your love surround me
Bring me near, Draw me to Your side
And as I wait, I will rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You, Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love"


16 May 2014

Empty Handed

I was awake at well before 6am this morning, so I was quickly up and dressed and waiting for my breakfast.

I was away from home on business, so couldn't eat until the restaurant opened, so I took the time to walk in the grounds of the hotel, listening to the birdsong. I love the peace of the countryside and the stillness of the dawn, and so wanted the most of this experience.

At that time of the morning I was totally alone. Just me... and God. I felt myself relax, releasing all of my tensions, my burdens, till I was totally empty-handed before my Lord.

And the words suddenly came - straight from Stuart K Hine's terrific hymn...

"When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze...

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee...

How Great Thou Art."

It was terrific this morning. An unbeatable start to the day.

More, please. :)

13 May 2014

Shouty People

I have a real problem with "increased volume for emphasis". It's so prevalent in the city, where there's so much competition for business. You often hear people raising their voices to sell their own position, drowning you and any other opposition out. In the Square Mile, sales pitches at raised volume are common, in offices, on the street corners, standing outside the pubs.

The BBC programme 'Horrible Histories' refers to people like that as 'shouty people'. In the show, the 'shouty man' is the stereotypical advertising bloke who tries to sell you a range of quite awful products...

I don't respond well to 'shouty people'. I'd far rather listen calmly to persuasive detail than to aggressive personality. Try the hard sell on me at high volume and you've lost me straight away. Even if your product is the best thing since sliced bread...

And whilst we are on the subject, I also don't respond well to being shouted at. It's disconcerting, and possibly a waste of energy on your part - it'll make me think twice about whatever point you are trying to make to me.

12 May 2014

Waiting

Psalm 40:1-2 (NIV UK)
"I waited patiently for the Lord ; He turned to me and heard my cry.   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."

It's been a busy weekend. I have (once again!) crammed so many things into two days that I feel exhausted just thinking about it.
Because, every day, I've been challenged.

On Friday night, when I was very low, He reminded me that I was remembered and loved by Him even when others had scattered and things were looking awfully bleak...

Then on Saturday I was challenged to once again acknowledge other people's struggles. You might think you have it tough - others go through similar problems - some, even worse...

This was followed up on Sunday by a terrific but very personal assurance of His own promises to me. A reminder that I don't face these things alone. He's there with me; He knows what I need. A personalised acknowledgement card from the Almighty. He's on the case!

I'm still waiting for some of these promises to be fulfilled. But I know the answers are almost here.
I'm waiting patiently.

5 May 2014

Positively Assertive

This post came about as I pondered a comment made on this blog by 'The Artful Dodger', who was kind enough to say that what I needed to be was a bit more 'positively assertive'.

I've given this a bit of thought, by considering the sort of public image that I like to portray; a very altruistic, mild-mannered sort of bloke (yes, that 'Superman' reference was very intentional...).

I then compare that image with what we know of the Son of Man. So many people paint themselves a picture of the Lord as "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild", absolutely forgetting the fact that here was a man who transformed his world, who was never afraid to challenge contemporary thinking, who chased out the money changers from the temple with a whip in His hand... is that assertive enough for you?

So, what about me? Why show the world this image of a meek, wouldn't-say-boo-to-a-goose kind of guy? My Clark Kent alter ego.

I use the term 'alter ego' because there is another side to me. A wild, slightly weird individual that doesn't see the light of day very often. He's a bit crazy, is very passionate about what he believes, and wants to change the world. He's very assertive - perhaps even dangerous - but because he's rather crazy I keep him on a very tight rein. He has upset people before. Occasionally he peeks out. You see his work in this blog from time to time.

It is appropriate that I would use a Clark Kent reference to initially describe myself. I suppose it's on the top of my mind as I saw 'Man Of Steel' for the first time the other day. And it struck me that we never truly saw the Clark Kent persona as a grown man - the film centred more on Kal-El far more than Clark. Apparently, Zack Snyder's take on the Superman legend deliberately shifted the focus of the film to emphasise the Kryptonian.

Kal-El uses a public face – Superman – so he can work, save the world. However, in order to live a normal life, he also changed his Clark Kent identity (given to him by his adoptive parents) into a 'everyman' figure.

Are either of these personas actually the real Kal-El? Or are each just facets of the same person...

Back to the question...

Do I need to be more 'positively assertive'?

Perhaps I do. Perhaps I need to reveal more of my wild alter ego. He has no problem with being assertive.... he wants to change the world... and he loves his Lord with a passion.