‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh’
Sometimes when I get on the train in the evening, before it’s left the station, I reflect on how I did at work. I look back on the battle, so to speak. What does the battleground look like now that particular day of battle has finished. Did I make the right decisions? Have I looked after my own interests and let others fend for themselves? If I feel like I succeeded, did I succeed with skill and with my dignity and reputation in tact? Or did I play dirty with different or selfish rules for myself and without a care for others. Quite simply, did I behave the way God would expect to me behave? Tough but necessary questions. Most of the time I don’t know the answers or I’ve failed miserably but only God Knows.
Realizing or being aware of our misgivings is a good step forward but it’s important to be able to check ourselves and do something about it. How do we do that? It can only happen if we’re close to God. Because if we’re more like him we behave more like he does. We share love the way he shares it. We care the way he cares. We feel pain for others the way he feels it. Our hearts are softer. God will be in us! The Holy Spirit! Even as I write I feel it. More than I did 30 minutes ago. It’s because I’m thinking about God. When I’m around other Christians I feel it too.
So let’s pray for that relationship to prosper and strengthen. Let’s open our hearts to Him so He can soften them. Then let us share it with those around us today. Then maybe we’ll feel better about ourselves tonight!
Pray with me
‘Heavenly Father, Forgive us when we behave wrongly. Help us to treat others with the respect they deserve. As equals in your eyes regardless of statue and position in the workplace. Soften our hearts Lord so we can love others the way you love us’– Amen!
‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’
I only ever realize how human I am when I compare what I have to create to what God created. I occasionally get overwhelmed when I think too much about what I need to get done by the end of April. It’s a lot. I’m in the middle of the biggest thing I’ve ever taken on in my entire career. But, the good news is I have God on my side. The one who created the universe and everything else in 6 days. The one that designed all those intricate colors on the wings of a butterfly. It’s impossible to try to describe what He did. It doesn’t sound like He was too panicked by it either. Not if the Bible is anything to go by – ‘God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars’.By the way, he also made the stars!
Compared to me, ‘And on Friday Andrew stared out of the window all day not being able to think of anything and if he did, it was rubbish’.So, we need God. It’s why we’re human. We can’t do what He can do alone. We need Him in us. Can I get 12 TV commercials and a 100 other things done by the end of April? No, but He can. What can He help you get done?
Pray with me
‘Heavenly Father, You’re the greatest designer and creator. You have blessed this earth with many talented and gifted people but they all fall short compared to you. Compared to what you have done and will always do. Help us to be thankful for you, always’ – Amen!
‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful’
‘Peace Train’ is a Cat Steven’s song if you were wondering where those words came from.
I’m occasionally influenced by my daily devotional in what I write in this blog. In today’s reading it suggested that rather than give up something for lent, we take up a habit instead. Of course, the habit has to be something related to God rather than eating more chocolate. Focused prayer was one idea. So, as I’m traveling a lot I’ve decided to pray for peace for all the people I’m traveling with. Both the people I know and the one’s I don’t – passengers on planes, aircraft crew, hotel staff etc.
If you travel on a train or ride in a car perhaps pray for all the people you’re traveling with on the train or the road? I don’t know what the result of that prayer will be. Some people will know God, others won’t. But whatever, it’s worth praying for God to enter their lives and for them to have peace because we live in troubled and difficult times. And all those troubles are hidden and suppressed by a world that demands us to be continually ‘on our game’ and to always impress and never fail. It’s heartbreaking to think that people are hurting inside without knowing that it can be healed by the peace of Christ. We owe it to those people to pray for them. We may not ever get to meet them or know them but we know someone who longs to, don’t we?
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid, from now on you will catch men”. So, they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything and followed him.
Those are such powerful words. The problem is, they’re almost like a fairy tale. So familiar, they’re unreal. But it really happened. We have laptops, desks and office buildings. They had boats, water and nets. It makes no difference if they were scraping by to make a living on the lake over 2000 years ago or if we’re comfortably earning our way in Darien and New York in 2013. The principal is the same. We can still follow God in the same way.
Why did God fill up their nets with fish for them? I’d hazard a guess that he wanted to show them that everything will be fine if they have faith. And so it’s the same for us. What are we leaving? I’d suggest it’s our dedication to the things that simply don’t matter like wealth, status and pride. And the anxiety, worry and stress that comes with that. When we leave those things behind and let go, anything can happen. (It’s also a huge relief). God sees a different heart and He will work through that heart and do the most amazing things. Things you could never imagine yourself doing. I’m no testimony to that but I’m trying. But I’ve seen it happen and I’ve read about people who are. To name a few, the fisherman, Moses, Noah, Abram, and even tax collectors! Everyday people like me. And you.
Pray with me
Heavenly Father, we want to follow you but we’re distracted by worldly things. Help us to take that leap of faith and truly follow your path even if it’s only lit a few steps of the way – Amen!
I’ve had lots of delays on my travels over the past few weeks. More than usual. Bad weather and faulty planes. Delays are frustrating and I’m impatient. But God isn’t. He waits, patiently for us to arrive so He can be close to us. Have we arrived if we just believe in God? I’m not so sure. Arriving is about being with someone. Embracing them and showing that you’re glad to be with them. We can’t do that from a distance. If you’re on a train now, imagine God greeting you at the your destination with open arms. Joyful in your arrival. And then walk with him to work. Take Him to every meeting. Involve Him in every decision. He knows more about what you do, than you do, no matter how much experience you have. Unlike all of our other relationships you never have to say goodbye to God. No tearful farewells. He won’t leave you. But if you leave Him, He’ll be waiting for you. Patiently.
Pray with me
Heavenly Father, draw us close to you. We long to spend time with you. And seek your guidance in all we do – Amen
‘Praise be to the Lord, to God our savior, who daily bears our burdens’
This morning I went for a walk along the beach. I wasn’t expecting it to be that eventful and it wasn’t really except that I had a heightened sense of God’s creation. It was almost like a scene from a movie. Wherever I looked I was faced by it. “Of course you were”, I hear you say and you’re right, but it was the awareness that was strong and the ‘graphics’ presented to me. I also had this song in my head. Sung with such comfort and peace. Check out the guy on the piano!
Back to my walk (to the sound of the above tune). First there was the sea and the sound it made. The waves crashing on the beach. Then the sand. Hard where the sea had been on it and soft where it hadn’t. The sky with a few clouds but mainly sunshine as the low light reflected on the water. One guy was at work clearing the seaweed that was half way up the beach where the water had stopped. He seemed content in doing his work. There was an elderly couple, probably retired walking on the beach. A middle-aged woman who was momentarily surprised by the water coming so high up the beach to the point where she laughed. A Father with his teenage son and daughters spending some time together. And finally, the most wonderful thing, a young mother walking with her baby strapped to her front. The baby was sleeping and I suggested to the Mother that it was the sound of the sea and the air that made it perfect for the baby. I don’t know where I fitted in but it felt like a cross-section of human creation of all ages in a truly beautiful setting. And everyone seemed happy. Very happy.
There’s no point to this. It’s got nothing to do with commuting or business. It was 30 minutes of pure joy and I’m thankful that I was part of it because I almost didn’t go for the walk in the first place. Looking back, I feel that God prompted me. He wanted me to experience joy!
‘Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’
It’s a cynical question aimed at me. I found myself complaining about my schedule yesterday at London airport. It didn’t help that the plane was delayed 3 hours but I was complaining about all the different places and countries I have to be in and how short a time I’m there before I have to jump on a plane and go somewhere else, and I was also complaining about the time zones. The person I was talking to nodded their head in fake sympathy but just as I was getting carried away I checked myself. What was I saying? What must God have thought? He was not physically there to defend Himself and say “Excuse me Andrew, I could be wrong but I do remember you praying on the train 10 months ago about wanting to do lots of different things rather than be stuck on a train everyday and that you’re a ‘creative person’ and creative people don’t like doing the same thing everyday”.
God directly answered my prayer. The perfect answer of course, And there I was complaining about it. So, I’m here to ask a prayer for forgiveness and to say I am thankful for all that God has provided for myself and my family over the past 3 months. And I’m going to try my very best to enjoy what God has given to me, even if it is Zurich….
Pray with me
Heavenly Father, forgive us when we don’t give thanks for answered prayers and when we selfishly move on to the next want or need – Amen
‘But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you’
You may be wondering why you haven’t received a post during the last few days. It’s because I was in Beijing. I couldn’t access my site to write a post because it was blocked. It made me realize how blessed we are to be able to openly talk about God to anyone we choose to without being persecuted. It doesn’t make it any easier to do so but no one is going to stop us or harm us if we try. It’s simply up to us. It’s a free pass. Because we have that freedom of speech it seems a real shame to not take advantage of it. So, what are we going to do? How are we going to go about it? Getting out of our comfort zone is the place to start. Following God means following him in to places we wouldn’t normally find ourselves. There’s plenty of opportunities that a church offers to reach out. Or talking to people we wouldn’t usually talk to. Or talking to someone we’ve been taking the train with for the past 10 years! Getting your bible out while they’re sitting next to you is a good start. (not allowed in China). That can sometimes lead to conversation. I believe reading the bible on the train is a great way to do it. Or any public places – Parks, at your desk during a break for lunch, libraries or on the bus. Not on your I-Phone, I-Pad or Kindle but a book that actually looks like a bible. Not a bible in disguise. Because people need to know that we’re believers! We need to wear it openly on the outside. Because no one’s going to force us to hide it away. Unlike China, the only way we’ll become closet Christians is if we choose to be that way. What a crime that is!