Are you a What or a Why?

There’s a verse in the Psalms I’ve loved for a long time.  “He made known His ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel” (Psalm 103:7).  I like that God made a distinction between those who knew about Him, and the one who was a friend to Him.  To Israel He revealed the things He did, but Moses was given a deeper understanding of the heart behind those deeds.  As Christians, Jesus doesn’t call us servants anymore, but friends.  God’s ways are so different from ours, but no longer do we have to be outsiders – just observing the things He does; we can actually ask Him questions and get to know Him.  I think that’s amazing.

 

Are you an observer of what God does, or do you wonder about Him and want to know why He does it?  If you’d like to know God, you can do that by accepting that Jesus died on the cross in your place, taking the punishment for all you’ve done wrong, then God raised Him to life and took away the power of death.  Now Jesus stands in the gap between God and you, and you can talk to God because of what Jesus has done.

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Can I Recommend …?

You know some books you read and you think:  Well, that’s an interesting way of putting it, but I kind of knew that already?

At the moment I’m in the middle of studying “You’re Going to be Okay” (by Holley Gerth), and I wanted to point you to chapter 3 because I’ve never read anything like it before.  It was a bit like a science lesson, where Holley talked about the 3 parts of the brain.

First there’s the brain stem, which has 2 functions – survival and threat detection.  That’s the part that sends out alarm signals – makes the heart beat fast etc.  Then there’s the system where your emotions are, which reacts to what’s happened with feelings of sadness, anger and so on.  Finally, the neo-cortex (just behind your eyebrows) thinks deep thoughts – processing how you feel and deciding on a response.  Holley said we could break this down into stages, I.E. when we perceive a threat, stop and recognise what’s happening to us.  If we ignore it, the brain stem will send out the same message with greater and greater intensity.  Then we need to acknowledge how we feel (a reaction is inevitable, but our response isn’t), so we can go before God with our feelings and ask Him to help us deal with them.

I found that really, really helpful tonight and I hope you do too.  I’d recommend buying the book if you want to see all the detail in this chapter, and as I’ve only got to chapter 3 so far, I’m thinking there’ll be other wisdom in the ones to come.

Love Is …

Have you remembered that Valentine’s Day’s coming up this week?  So I’m linking with Kirsten today to share about love:

* * *

Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.

Love is the Father who understands you while others think you’re extreme.

Love is the Friend who invests in you forever, irrespective of the return.

Love is the Judge who never thinks badly about you, but only what’s true.

Love is to be shared.

Love is unstoppable; even your future can’t change it.

Love is God; God is love.

Tell Them About Me

I just want to let off steam with this post.  I’ve been part of a discussion tonight about whether an organisation should mention God to people at a crisis time in their lives.  Someone very firmly in the no camp told me she had read a quote from the Bible (Matthew), saying that when we do things for God, we should do them quietly.  Only when I came home and had time to think about what she’d said did I realise she had taken the quote totally out of context!  Let me explain.

“Take care!  Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, for then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.  When you give a gift to a beggar, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity!  I tell you in all earnestness, they have received all the reward they will ever get.  But when you do a kindness to someone, do it secretly—don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing.  And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.

 

“And now about prayer.  When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who pretend piety by praying publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them.  Truly, that is all the reward they will ever get.  But when you pray, go away by yourself, all alone, and shut the door behind you and pray to your Father secretly, and your Father, who knows your secrets, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-6).

Those verses are all about the motives behind our actions.  They teach about being humble and not showing off, but they’re nothing whatsoever to do with the message of God’s love!  Jesus wouldn’t want us to keep that quiet!  Have a look at this:

“You are to go into all the world and preach the good news to everyone, everywhere” (Mark 16:15).  What’s Jesus saying?  Spread it around!  Put it in your leaflets!  Get on the streets!  Wear your “I Believe” sweatshirts!  Do everything you have to – just tell them about Me!

Of course people want to be helped in a crisis; they don’t want all words and no action, but our words are important.  “Has the Lord redeemed you?  Then speak out!  Tell others he has saved you from your enemies” (Psalm 107:2).

And a sobering thought:  If you maintain you don’t want God involved, maybe you should consider this.  “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).

4 Things for Those Difficult Days

Are you a Christian who has hard days – days when you’re pacing the house in tears, wondering how much longer you can carry on, what you have to contribute, and thinking everyone would be better-off without you?  If you know what I’m talking about, here are some of the things I remind myself on those days:

1.  This earth isn’t all there is.  Others may get the nice holidays or the dreams come true, and maybe one day you’ll have those things too, but your faithfulness will reap a better reward.

2.  Don’t be bitter – because sometimes on the days when God’s refining our characters, we need to face the rubbish in ourselves.  My pastor said just last Sunday:  “If you only live for the present, your trials will make you bitter – not better.”

3.  The Holy Spirit lives in you – yes, even though you might be wondering what kind of a Christian you really are.  If you truly call Jesus your Lord/the Master of your life, you can only do that through the Holy Spirit.  “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6).

4.  You make a difference, and you’re supposed to be here glorifying God.  I think of Enoch in the book of Genesis.  “Enoch walked with God, and then he disappeared because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24).  If God didn’t want us here, surely He would have taken us away.  Our lives are His to take away (not ours), so while God has a plan for us on this earth, let’s live it.

This week’s Coffee for Your Heart prompt has been encouraging words for a hard day.  How would you encourage someone through a difficult time?

Appropriately, Holley Gerth (instigator of Coffee for Your Heart) has released a new book today.  It’s called “You’re Going to be Okay:  Encouraging Truth Your Heart Needs to Hear, Especially on the Hard Days”.  Why not treat yourself or a friend to a copy?

Link

So, I’ve told you about the Compassion Bloggers’ trip to Uganda, and about all the posts that were going to be written.  I had quite a few to catch up on, and one of the stories that really stuck was of a mother called Sarah and her 11-year-old son.  Shaun and Jeff tell it so well. If (like me) you’re moved by this story, how about sponsoring a child?