5-Minute Friday: Doubt

5-Minute Friday’s here again, just writing for approx. 5 minutes without worrying whether it’s just right. This week’s prompt is: Doubt, and if you want to read some of the other offerings, you can visit http://katemotaung.com or follow the #FMFParty hatchtag on Twitter.

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Doubt has always seemed such a negative word. Someone believes something is true, but then they have doubts. You discern something that makes you feel uneasy, but you’re encouraged to give the person the benefit of the doubt – questioning your own judgment. The more we walk down the path of doubt, the further away we are from the path of faith.

John the Baptist started to make his way down the doubt-path as he languished in prison. God had told him the one His Spirit rested on would be the Messiah, but John’s preaching of what was right had landed him in a cell. Surely any Messiah, and especially a relative of his, would give him freedom. That thought must have been like the mouse in the corner, gnawing and gnawing at him, until finally he sent some to ask Jesus: Was He the One or should they expect someone else? Scepticism at its most sceptical, but Jesus knows what John needs: He needs another taste of the world outside, a fresh look at what’s going on. The lame walk! The deaf hear! Good news is preached to the poor!

Relief must have flooded John as he heard the news, but shame at the same time. He had doubted; what would Jesus think of him now? But Jesus complimented him in the hearing of the crowd, and gave him hope that he would be blessed if Jesus wasn’t an offence to him.

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5-Minute Friday: Try

I haven’t done one of these posts for a while, where you time yourself for 5 minutes and just write, without worrying whether it’s just right. Kate’s prompt for this week is Try:

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I sit on the sofa with the phone next to me: Email, Facebook, Twitter, EBooks … I love how much I can learn, but I want something more. I want to be out in the midst of people again – to step out and try, if I knew what I was trying.

Because trying can be a very positive thing, but then there’s the negative side – the striving; the trying to do things in your own strength rather than God’s. As one of my songs says: “You lead me quietly beside the water; help me not to strive, and just be free – just be free”. Freedom from trying hard brings you into God’s rest – that quiet trust; that place of knowing He already did it all for you, with splintered wood and bloodied nails and sharp thorns. Because He went through the ultimate trial, we can go boldly before God – boldly, as if it’s the easiest thing we could do, and it is, because of what He’s done. I love the open door to the throne-room and the cleansing that’s on offer. Thank You, Jesus.

5-Minute Friday: Adore

Judging from something I’ve read this morning, I think you and I need to ask ourselves the question: Why are we adoring? Because it might be that Jesus doesn’t want just any adoration.

In Mark chapter 5, a man with demons in him is cured by Jesus. Jesus allows the demons to enter a herd of two thousand pigs. The pigs then rush down the hillside into the lake and drown. What? Why did Jesus do that?

I remember worship-leader Godfrey Birtill pointing out that the people begged Jesus to leave because, after seeing their livelihood destroyed, they feared the change to their routine. Could it be that if the pigs had stayed alive, everyone would have latched on to Jesus? He would have become the next big thing, with everyone following Him because of what He did, but Jesus never wanted to be just the next big thing.

I don’t think He wants to be adored for the things He does, so let’s instead adore Him for who He is.

5-Minute Friday: Whisper

My thanks to Kate Motaung for this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt: Whisper.
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My first thought when I hear the word ‘Whisper’ is of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. God wasn’t in the earthquake, the wind or the fire, but He came to Elijah in a gentle whisper – a still-small voice. Some say it could be translated as ‘The sound of silence’.

Have you had any of those whisper-moments with God? Sometimes His voice says things you don’t want to hear. I remember when my uncle was dying – how badly I wanted God to heal him and people to listen to his testimony and believe; God whispered that this wasn’t going to be a time of harvest, but a time of growth.

His whispers can give you comfort too. I remember sitting on my bed, wondering who would look after me when I was old and unable to do the things I do now; the children I write to in the Philippines are so far away … God whispered that even to my old age and grey hairs, He would sustain me, and a song came out of that:
Keep me safe in Your will, dear One;
I know Your power will sustain me to the end:
When there’s fear that could come in,
I remember the hope and the future that You have for me.

I know it’s safe to trust in You;
I know You will never disappoint:
I know You loved me enough to send Your Son;
You will not leave me alone –
You’ll sustain me as I grow old.

5-Minute Friday: Reach

Kate Motaung has got me writing again with her Five Minute Friday prompt, and my 5 minutes for this week starts with an unusual question:
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Who remembers S Club 7? When I was in my early 20s, they released the song “Reach”. It wasn’t a Christian song, but its message is optimistic:
“Reach for the stars;
“Follow that rainbow,
“And your dreams will all come true”.

For some strange reason, that song was the first thing to come into my head when I saw this week’s prompt, maybe because I’m in a good mood (Friday’s a favourite day of the week for me), so why don’t we ... reach for the stars?

What’s the big dream in your life – the thing you would reach for, if only ... I have lots of them. I’d love to go up Table Mountain in a cable car with my South African friend; to take my Filipino boy to a theme park in Manila called Enchanted Kingdom; to record more of my songs professionally; to have a paid job; to ...

But it’s good to have those dreams. When you want to do something, it’s good to be able to ask yourself: "Why not?" Sometimes answers to that question aren’t slow in coming, but when we still dream, when we still ask, it means there’s a part of us that’s alive – that’s reaching – that’s trusting for better things around the corner.

“With every step you take, think about what He wants, and He will help you go the right way” (Proverbs 3:6).

5-Minute Friday: Fill

Kate Motaung has taken over the reins of FMF this week. She explains on her blog how it works, and did you know Five Minute Friday has a Facebook page? I’ve really enjoyed writing for 5 minutes on this week’s prompt: Fill.
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It’s hard – the empty. You look in the inbox to discover an E-mail that closes a door ... and then another. It’s ok to hurt or to grieve, but the Bible tells us not to grieve like those who have no hope. Because yes, the empty is hard, but I’m blessed to know the One who fills – the One who says ‘Open your mouth and I will fill it’.

Even when the employment door’s stayed closed, He’s been there, filling my life with different ways I can use my time – perhaps not as much as I would like, but always the knowledge that He’s prepared good works for me to do. Always the reminder not to become weary of doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up.

Do you know the One who wants to fill your empty? Who wants to come into the gaps and fill them with His peace? His love? Inviting Jesus into your life is something very special, and ultimately, life-changing. Life-changing because from that day forward, you’ll always have Him there with you to help you cope with whatever life may throw at you.

5-Minute Friday: Begin

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll know I participate in 5-Minute Friday from time to time. Well, today is a day to say goodbye to its founder, Lisa-Jo Baker, and hello to Kate Motaung who’s taking over from her. I follow Kate’s blog now and am looking forward to getting to know someone who spent years in Cape Town – a place I’d love to visit one day.

Lisa-Jo is seeing this transition not as an ending but a new beginning, and has chosen for her final prompt: Begin. If you’d like to join us, you could write for 5 minutes on ‘Begin’, then go over to Lisa-Jo’s blog and be part of the link-up.
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Begin is one of those words that seems so attractive, that draws you in. A beginning is a blank space waiting to be filled, and nothing before it. The ones who know you from the beginning haven’t known anything before, and really there’s only One who’s known you that long – the One who knitted your body together in your mother’s womb and saw you before you were born.

Wouldn’t it be nice to begin again? To start out with people who didn’t see the mess your life was, the mistakes made by others and by you, the dreams unfulfilled? Yes, it would, but none of those things can be erased. They’re there – part of you, part of the intricate and wonderful being that is you.

5-Minute Friday: Mercy

Who’s ready to write for 5 minutes without worrying whether it’s just right?  This week’s theme is mercy and I was a bit stuck initially, but then I was thinking about Habakkuk and the word ‘Mercy’ came back into my mind, so I read it (only a short book) and then wrote for 5 minutes:

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Who do I think of when I think of mercy?  Today I thought of the one who told God:  I have heard of Your fame, I stand in awe of Your deeds …  In wrath, remember mercy, but that wasn’t the beginning.

 

That prayer was a response – to God’s response – to this same man who poured out his heart to Him.  He wasn’t afraid to say what he thought.  “How long do I call out for help?  And You don’t listen!”  So God answered that the Babylonians were coming.  Most people might have said fair enough, but he argued.  “Are we only fit to be caught and killed?” so God responded again.  Had He not promised?  It might seem slow in coming, but wait patiently.  He was giving reassurance that He was in control, and that’s when Habakkuk said:  “In wrath remember mercy.”

 

Are you trying to pray the right prayer but not really feeling it?  Maybe it’s time you were honest with God.  If you feel like He doesn’t listen say so, because maybe you won’t be able to pray the right prayer until you’ve had His reassurance.

5-Minute Friday: Red

Oh yes, it’s 5-minute Friday time again – a time to write for 5 minutes without worrying whether it’s just right, and this week’s theme is ‘Red’, so why not go to Lisa-Jo’s blog and join in for yourself?  And don’t forget to visit the blogger whose post’s before yours and leave them some encouragement:

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Dresses and strawberries and people wearing plastic noses, wanting to do others good.

A feel-good colour.

The cord that hung out through the window to rescue Rahab and her family.

Red is for rescue:  Because Jesus died on the cross, and His blood was poured out for us.  That wouldn’t make you feel good unless you knew the end of the story.  But when you know the end, when you know He’s won and it’s finished and He’s praying for you and cheering you on, doesn’t that make you feel great?

Thank You for the blood; thank You for brightness.  My bright future.  Sometimes the clouds of life hide it from view, but it’s there.  Help me to break through the clouds and take hold of it.

5-Minute Friday: Worship

It’s 5-minute Friday time again, where we write for 5 minutes without worrying whether it’s just right, and this week Lisa-Jo’s picked a prompt that’s close to my heart:  Worship.  I enjoyed writing this, and if you want to join in, you can too.  You can either write a post (like me), or share in the comments over on Lisa-Jo’s blog.

 

So, worship:

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Worship; worth-ship.  Expressing what God is worth, but how?  Is He worth much if He’s just put in a box to bring out every morning when you read your Bible?  Could the fact that you read your Bible before the day starts be a heart-cry to the Lord:  “You come before everything else.  I want to put You first”?

So what’s your expression?  Maybe it’s singing.  Maybe it’s dancing, and maybe even respected people in the church have told you you’re a showoff, but usually the ones who think you’re a showoff only think it because they feel too self-conscious to do the same thing themselves.

So tell Him what He’s worth.  Tell Him in the songs and the dances; in the money that goes out of your bank account; in the love that spreads from you to others, and to Him.  Tell Him what He’s worth – yes, give Him your worship.