He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
In the business I’m in everyone talks about simplicity and how to communicate a message in the simplest way no matter how complicated or basic the message is. The skill is to get straight to the point and not let the complicated stuff get in the way.
This past Sunday I listened to a girl sing a hymn. Sophie was her name. I think she’s no more than 8 or 9 years old. It was beautiful. She’s blessed with a wonderful voice and the words were all about ‘Jesus’. Uncomplicated words. In the quietness, the words she sang seemed so simple. Suddenly all the clutter and the stuff that complicates life and gets in the way of my relationship with Jesus blew away in the morning breeze. An image came into my head as the girl was singing. It was of two paths. One all overgrown and thorny and the other clear. Jesus was at the end of both. It was like I had a choice. I could take the tough path to Jesus or the clear one. Children were running down the clear path with Jesus smiling at the other end. The clear one seemed more appealing. It was the simple, less complicated path. Together with the words from the song it all seemed so clear. God can speak to us in any situation. I don’t think I was expecting it to come through an 8 years old girl’s voice! It was like a whisper. We have to be listening carefully and paying attention to when God is speaking to us. Of course, I have to look at all the stuff that gets in the way of my relationship with God but it was a peaceful, satisfying image. I thank God for Sophie, her voice and the moment of clarity. I just wish I could turn back time and film her singing it. Perhaps another time!
Pray with me
Heavenly Father, we give thanks for the children. Fo their pure and peaceful lives among our complicated ones. Help us to simplify our relationship with you so we can come to you like little children – Amen!
‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.’
Most of us get on the same train everyday. It’s a routine that we’re in to. I’m sure we stand on the same part of the track waiting for the train. It’s a necessity really. We know what train and what car to get on to get us to the office in the most efficient way. Efficiency is an important part of our work. Getting the best job done with the just the right amount of effort. But I’m not sure if I ever have enough energy to get everything done. I think it’s because I don’t stop to refuel. The Holy Spirit is a source of energy for us all. It heals. It speaks to us. It gives us strength. But to refuel we need to stop. Not just go slower but come to a complete stop. Praying for The Holy Spirit to help us along can feel like a pointless exercise and sitting down and actually talking through our needs is a discipline and feels like hard work. “I’ll give it a go but it probably won’t work.”or ‘He’s probably not listening anyway.”are thoughts that sometimes cross my mind. But God knows what we need. I know I say that a lot but He does. If you feel exhausted then there’s a very good chance He agrees! If you feel like you just need to cut your workload or have a deadline extended then it’s well worth praying for. God has moved my calendar around on many occasions. Better than I ever could imagine. This isn’t a fantasy faith we have. A nice thing to believe around Easter and Christmas. No, God is 24/7 committed to us even in the times when we’re not committed to Him. So, if you’re on a train now, stop and break the routine. Close your eyes and have a chit-chat with God. Let all your thoughts no matter how random head in His direction. He can take it all. Unlike you, He doesn’t need a break.
Pray with me
Heavenly Father, help us to stop and look to You for energy and encouragement. May we find time to break our routines and spend time with You. Thank You for always listening and knowing what our needs are – Amen!
And he said to them, “Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
With God’s guidance and strength I have written a book based on my posts over the last 12 months. It’s a very quick and easy read with pictures and diagrams. I have inserted a few pictures into this post. If anyone reading this feels like they would like a copy please let me know, whether it be for individuals or church members. I feel it could be of value to a church with a big commuter population. I would just need to cover printing costs and shipping. My plan is to print more either by self-publishing or getting the support of an actual publisher. The more I print via self-publishing the cheaper it is. Also, the more interest I get, the better I’ll know the best way to publish it.
‘And do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for God is pleased with such sacrifices’
It’s okay. We don’t have to become Pastors. But we can take on more responsibility as Christians. Whether it’s more of a mentoring role within a church or applying the skills in our paid work to helping others. When we reflect on our week, did it have the right balance between our time spent earning money and giving our time sacrificially? I have done very little of the latter since I’ve been on the road so it’s something I’m keen to re-balance now I’m home. When I was mentoring at The Bowery Mission in New York a couple of years ago, the last thing I needed on a Wednesday evening was to jump on the subway and head Downtown. But every time I did it I walked away energized. The Holy Spirit at work. Because it was of God. It is difficult to feel that way when we walk out of our office buildings every night. We should feel great but we’re human. We feel worn down by the same things. But a different kind of work can be a good replacement for a non-existent pay rise or promotion. The reason we crave the money and the promotion is because we need to feel better about what we do. Rewarded for the pain. It’s temporary though and the pain comes back. We can never find favor with God but finding other ways to work for Him where we don’t expect anything in return means it’s simply through love. Love for God and for others.
The Bowery Mission, Downtown, New York
Pray with me
Heavenly Father, we give thanks for our careers and our jobs. We know that they are gifts from you. We pray we can find other ways to use our gifts or gifts we didn’t know we had to work for your kingdom and to glorify you – Amen!
‘In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success’
That’s an amazing promise. But how easy is it to put God first?…in everything we do? One of the things I’ve struggled with while being wrapped up in this massive project is continuously having God on my mind. Praying and reading daily scriptures is one thing but always thinking about Him and talking to Him is another. An ongoing conversation that involves Him in our daily challenges, plans and ambitions. This is a continuous theme in these posts, similar to the ‘knocking on our door’ image from last week. What does it mean to put God first? One answer is to not play by the rules of this earth but instead follow the word laid out in The Bible. Easy? Not really. Proverbs 3:9 ‘Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce.’ Even now, I still sometimes struggle to tithe each month, to write that check or click on ‘donate’ especially now that I don’t know where the next check is coming from. God has never stopped providing for us, in good and bad but still I hesitate to put Him first. Proverbs 15:1 ‘A gentle response turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.’And I still occasionally say things I shouldn’t to people I work with when things get pressured and stressed. This isn’t about self-criticism because it’s easy to drag ourselves down with our failures. It’s about being aware of our behavior and actions. It’s actually a good thing! It means we’re closer to God if we have ‘awareness’. And the closer we get the more like Him we become. There’s a million examples of how we don’t put God first but I like to think that He blesses us and shows us His grace anyway, if He knows what’s truly in our hearts. And minds!
Pray with me
Heavenly Father, we know you long to have a relationship with us. We pray that we can have you on our minds in all that we do so we can live a life with you in us through the power of your Holy Spirit – Amen!
I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us
Last week was another week of Andrew fighting his continuous battle to achieve perfection. I sometimes wonder if the image in my head gifted to me from God can actually be achieved on this earth. In fact, I don’t wonder, I know it can’t because I’ve tried to imagine it too many times in too many ways and it’s never realized. There’s too many variables. Too many opinions and personal tastes that can stifle the process and the outcome. It’s not anyone’s fault. God created us as individuals. It’s just the way it is. It’s the same in any job, not just mine. So, as I sit staring at a snowy, slushy, wet and slightly imperfect London I know that I need to strive on with all the patience, kindness, strength, creativity and peace that God can give me. Then at least it will be in His name and of His will regardless of the not so perfect outcome. I’ll perhaps wait to see perfection in heaven.
Pray with me
Heavenly Father, give us patience with those we work with. We pray that we’ll show them respect, kindness and love. For we know that if we love them, we love you – Amen!
‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us’
Can our personal ambitions ever be as ambitious as those that God has for us? I think we sometimes have an image of God as someone who’s ‘been there and done that’. An old guy with long white flowing hair and beard from the ‘old times’. Not someone we can relate to. But He is not separate from us. The Holy Spirit dwells in us (when asked for through prayer) so He is in us. However, if He is not then any ambition we have might be fruitless because its not of Him and maybe not that ambitious at all! Spending 5 years working toward a promotion may seem like a huge ambition, and there’s nothing wrong with working hard to get there but with God’s guidance who knows what ambitious plans he has instead? And that’s the thing. Not knowing. It’s the hardest part because God only lights the path a few steps in front of us, the rest is based on our faith. But when we take into our own hands we have the full beam on. The path clearly lit all the way to the destination where the word SUCCESS! is brightly lit with fireworks going off around it! At least that’s what we see. It may well end spelling something different if it’s not on God’s path. I’m not suggesting it will be a path to destruction. It may well be fine but perhaps an uphill struggle? Against the wind? A feeling that you’re fighting against something? We’ve all felt that. The times that I’ve switched the full beam off it’s felt easier. More freedom with the wind behind me. It can start with a prayer. A simple request to God to guide us in our work and careers, to make the right choices and have the right ambitions. To glorify Him. Then it’s all in his hands. It’s so much easier when you let someone else do the work!
‘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!