A Fantastic Journey

Proverbs 3:5-6

I trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. In all my ways I acknowledge Him and He directs my path

One of the things I’ve become more aware of is what it means to have a relationship with God. I think it is quite easy to get involved in the relationship and to trust God but at the same time not enjoy it. Most journeys should be fun and exciting. Think about the movies. Dorothy was ‘off to see the wizard’ but she had many mini-adventures on her way. So what is it that sometimes makes it a struggle for us on our journey? For me, it’s occasionally not accepting the fact that it’s the way God wants it to be instead of what I want it to be. Even though I am following God’s way, I’m not happy with the way it’s going. I reluctantly follow it. But that’s a waste of my energy and time. Many passages in the Bible talk about being joyful in everything even in the tough times. I sometimes find that hard to grasp but I try to go with it anyway. I have decided to make it simple. Regardless of what happens I will try and be happy that it’s part of God’s plan. And when I do that it by far outweighs the fact that I may not personally be happy with any outcome or situation I find myself in. To put it simply, if I don’t get a promotion I want, I am happier that it’s part of God’s plan then I am unhappy not getting it.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, teach us to be joyful always and to have gratitude for all that You give to us – Amen!

“Be Kind”

Matthew 7:12

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets

My wife will sometimes move closer to me, look me in the eye and says ‘be kind’.

It’s not that I’m necessarily being unkind but I might not be behaving as lovingly or as graciously as I should be. But those words always jolt my conscience and I get myself into a better place. But then I wonder how many other people in my day would want to say those words to me? The ticket collector on the train. The person I brush past because they’re walking too slowly. The work colleague who’s trying their best but I’m somehow making them out to be useless. It can happen to us all occasionally.

If we can’t think about our own actions then maybe we can think about someone’s response to them? If it’s the words ‘be kind’ then maybe we need to check ourselves. In a way, it’s being kind to ourselves.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, shine kindness through us today – Amen!

Wait.

Isaiah 40:31

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not be faint

Yesterday it was about doing nothing. Today it’s about waiting. It must be one of the hardest things for us to do. Waiting. In life, we don’t like it. Waiting in line. Waiting for a plane. We just want to keep moving forwards and not stopping. But a big part of doing nothing is the waiting. That involves a huge amount of discipline and patience. God has a plan for us all but it only plays itself out if we take the time to wait and then listen. It’s a little like walking through a forest and stopping to hear the bird sing. How dreadful is it to think His plan for us never materialized because we never stopped to listen. But it’s not too late. We still have time to wait.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we pray that we can stop and listen to your plan for us. Through faith, may we have the patience to wait – Amen!

Is business…pleasure?

John 1:3

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

I was on a business trip this week to Wisconsin. I drove though Wisconsin several years ago. I found very little of interest. Long straight roads with boredom stretching out for miles either side.

But this time I was taken into the heart of what was either side of that road. I had a glimpse behind the curtain and God revealed to me true beauty. Some soft and gentle. Other beauty, dramatic and exciting. It taught me a lesson. How could I dare think that God had created something boring?  But still He invited me in. God’s beauty is everywhere. Beyond roads. Inside people or just round the corner of the road we are sometimes fearful of going down. And an 8 hour journey from Boston. It was a trek, but God wasn’t going to make it easy. But to answer my question above. Yes, it was a true pleasure.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, as we gaze out of the windows of cars, buses, trains and offices, we give thanks for all that you have created. We ask that you speak to us through the beauty you have made – Amen!

Here’s just a glimpse of what I saw.

dogIMG_6402beessepia housetruck

Here today. Here tomorrow.

Matthew 8:20

‘…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’

Throughout our lives things are continuously coming and going. There’s never any real permanence. Even when it feels like there is, there really isn’t. We may live in the same house all our lives but life within that house changes. Children come. Children go. Our loved ones pass away. Jobs change. Cars change. Brown hair to grey hair! We’re happy with the wallpaper but 2 years later we change it. We plant a tree but 20 years later we cut it down because it’s blocking out light.

As believers in Christ, it’s possible that God comes and goes in our lives. We may think about Him some days more than others. Or even go through periods of weeks and months when we forget He even exists. Amazing that someone who we know in our hearts is incredibly important to us, can disappear from our minds. Our God is a gracious and a forgiving God. And even though we forget Him, He never forgets or stops loving us. He’s waiting for us to connect with Him. There’s many ways we can do that. Opening our Bibles and reading just one verse can re-boot that relationship. Praying a simple prayer for God to guide us. Downloading an app that delivers a verse to your Smartphone. I have  Proverbs and Psalms apps that pop up on my phone 3 times a day. It’s amazing how timely they can be. Making that effort means we are inviting God into our lives and asking Him to speak to us. For any of us in business I highly recommend a few Proverbs verses a day.

So, wherever you are now perhaps stop reading those emails and go to the apps store and download one. There are thousands of them and most of them are free. You won’t always read them but not to worry, there will be one the next day and the next and the next…

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, thank you for always being with us, even when we’re not with you. We pray we can be with you through prayer and scripture. And with faith! – Amen!

Think small.

Luke 12:15

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for ones life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

I watched a documentary a few days back called ‘Tiny’. It was full of a lot of great messages. It’s not a christian film and it doesn’t have christian values as such but it does have in it many things that The Bible teaches us. A tiny house in CT is one of those 3 bedroom capes. In this movie those capes are mansions in comparison. It’s an inspiring film and will for sure get you thinking and maybe wanting. You can find it on i-tunes. Here’s the trailer:

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we give thanks for film makers that get us thinking. And for those films that inspire and move us. May you speak to us through these films – Amen!

Listen.

Proverbs 18:13

If one gives answers before he hears, it is folly and shame

 

The business world is full of talking. People talking over each other. Some of us go into a meeting desperately needing to make a point. Many are so wound up about something that we go into it already frustrated and just need to blurt something out. (especially on Monday mornings). That’s normally when we regret something we say.

Everybody wants to be heard. And, of course, someone has to talk. But listening is a skill. As the song goes ‘Silence is Golden’. Listening for a length of time without talking can work wonders. We’ll be tempted to jump in but we have to stop ourselves. And actually not saying anything can solve it! I have seen so many people talk themselves into a solution or simply run out of steam. Or they get to the point where they have to say “What do you think”? That’s the best place to be then a few and considered and wise words is all that’s needed.

This isn’t a lesson in management, but we all need reminders. Scripture has many verses on the subject of speaking and talking. None of them, as far as I know, tell us to talk and talk without listening. Hear what I’m saying?

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, give us peace today in the work place. May we surrender our instincts to talk so we can let You guide our hearts and ears to listen to our colleagues – Amen!

Is this the happiest day of your life?

John 8:47

‘Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God’

We were recently moving house. One of the men that worked for the moving company seemed particularly happy. After a while he came up to me and said “Today is the happiest day of my life”. Moving us made it the happiest day of his life? No. It turns out the man was going to see his Mother next month. He is from Brasil and his Mother had been granted a visa to visit the USA. He had not seen her in 10 years.

I almost felt like crying. He really did have a reason the be happy. And then it made me think. I am not always at home. I am away from my family a lot. But I can see them as often as I like and I’m not that far away from them. Even my family in the UK are not that far away. And, unlike the moving man, who couldn’t pay his way back to Brasil, we can occasionally afford to go back to the UK and visit. I felt fortunate compared to him. He was probably in his late teens when he left his Mother. God blesses us and shows us grace in abundance but sometimes we need to hear someone else’s story to appreciate how blessed we are.

The man was very happy. He was not sad. Not that day. But I am sure he had many sad days up until then. Praise God for sending his Mother to him and praise God for sending me His message through that man.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we ask that we can be attentive to Your word both through scripture and other other vessels You choose to communicate with. We pray that we will pause and listen carefully to the message You send us – Amen!

 

Is a ‘Mum’ God’s masterpiece?

Proverbs 31:2

‘Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her’

 

Most creators of things have a masterpiece. Da Vinci had the Mona Lisa, Van Gogh his sunflowers. Architects have them so do composers and musicians. But does God have one. I suspect not. There’s too many to mention but, if there was, the ‘Mum’ gets my vote.

Think about what they do. I won’t get into details but I’m sure if you sit down for 5 minutes and give it some thought you will have some kind of realization. And then think about your own Mother whether she’s alive or not. Think about where you are today and then think carefully back to a time when your Mother helped you get to where you are now. Words of encouragement, support and love. Or maybe a financial sacrifice or just a sacrifice of her time. The last one is the big one. Time, that’s what Mum’s give to us most. At the expense of something they may want to do. And they don’t think twice about doing it. Thank God for Mums. His masterpiece.

Usually around Mother’s day a song pops into my head and an early memory of my Mum humming away to it in our kitchen as she listened to the transistor radio. The song and a vague image of her stays with me for a few days and then disappears. But it’s a happy memory and I thank God for it. The song is posted below.

Happy Mother’s day for Sunday.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we give thanks for our Mothers and all that they sacrifice for us – Amen!

 

Are we ‘up to the job’?

Isaiah 48:17

‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’

Rejection. It’s tough. Feeling worthless and incapable of doing something we thought we could do but then being told we’re not ‘up to the job’ is one of the hardest things in the business world.

I have been rejected for very senior jobs in ad agencies that I was fairly confident I could do and it was odd to me that I wasn’t getting them. But after a while, I just said “Okay God, what is that you want me to do”. Just because I hadn’t been given the opportunity I wanted it didn’t mean that God didn’t have something else equally challenging for me. For example, I was filming in Prague this past week, merrily going about my job as a Commercial’s Director. When filming, most of the crew stand behind the Director’s chair and the actors stand in front, obviously. For most of the shoot, I had been comfortably doing the job but I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t give direction because my brain froze. In that moment, the actors were staring at me. (Actors that didn’t speak much English) and when I glanced behind me all the film crew were looking at me as well.  And there was this weird ‘are you up to the job’ silence. They were all looking to me for direction. And I had to act quickly. Something came to me and I shouted out some words and I was back on track. I sensed that God had put me in that place and thankfully given me the words to do my job. I also realized that I was in a very senior position on the set but not the position I had once expected, during those times of rejection. I don’t crave or seek out senior positions any more but God had put me in one. One, that in many ways was more challenging than that of being in an ad agency but I believe it to be a better use of my skills. I also believe that it’s all God’s work. So, ‘are you up to the job’? Maybe not the one  you think you want but God will have something else for you that’s most likely even more challenging or unexpected. Are you up for praying about that?

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we ask that you guide us in our work. We want to follow your path so we do what you have planned for us not what we plan for ourselves. Give us the confidence and strength to believe in you and take that leap of faith when an opportunity arises that we weren’t expecting – Amen!