Vinyl and cricket

Mark 11:24

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours

One of our clients has recently had a complete re-shuffle in it’s management so we’re going through the process of getting to know a whole new bunch of people. It’s never easy. So, they all flew into town and we did an all day meeting sessions and dinner. (Like you do). It can cause some anxiety, so prior to them coming I prayed that I would just simply be able to ‘get on with them’. As the day went on and we got more familiar with each other we started to talk about our personal interests. One of the client’s husbands turns out to be a record player repairer and the other one, who is Australian, a huge fan of cricket. What’s the chances? Collecting records is a passion of mine. (and her and her husband’s)  and, guess what?…my player isn’t working too well. One of the speakers cuts out occasionally. The other client was at the SCG in Sydney in 2003 when I was also down there for the Ashes. (cricket series between England and Australia). I won’t go into details but, needless to say, both topics lead to a lot of conversation and was a good ice-breaker. It was an exhausting day but when I got home I had to pause. I realized that none of what happened was a coincidence. I don’t know how God worked it all out but I do know He did. He had it all under control. A simple prayer was all that was needed.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, help us to turn to You in prayer when we are anxious – Amen!

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“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!

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!

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!

 

Not a failure. A Success!

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding

 

It’s good to know that God loves us all equally.  And that, in His eyes, we are all loved for what we are regardless of our shortfalls. There’s nothing we can do to make Him love us more. No amount of success in the work place is going to make God proud of us either. Or make Him say to himself “Now that’s what I call a successful creation”!

So, when something happens at work that is a disappointment to us like someone else getting a promotion or a position we thought we should have, God probably has us just where He wants us. What we think is a failure is a most likely a success in the eyes of God, as much as we may find that difficult to understand. The Proverbs verse implies we will never understand it. It’s actually a good feeling to know that we’re not meant to. It makes it easier because we can just let it go. Not even someone who is a million times smarter than us can understand it! All we need to do is use out heart and have faith. (notice the Proverbs verse doesn’t say ‘Trust in the Lord with all your brain’!) No, God has better plans for us. As it says in Jeremiah 29:11 – ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope’. 

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, forgive us for planning our own lives and then thinking that any disappointments are failures. Help us to know that you love us and will always want what’s best for us. Allow us to accept that success maybe just be where we are now, not where we think we should be – Amen!

It’s a simple story.

Luke 2:11

Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

I’m working Prague this week. I’m filming a commercial with a complicated story but my job is to make it simple.

In Prague town square there’s a great atmosphere as people get into the Christmas spirit. Everyone is gathered, looking at the tree where there is a large nativity scene. They all look happy. And it makes me happy to see other people happy. But it’s easy to complicate the Christmas story. Or throw sub-plots into it to try and make it more interesting or more like the way we want Christmas to be. In the case of the Jesus story those sub-plots are elaborate Christmas trees, elaborate gifts, Santa Claus and many more things. I don’t dislike those things but what if they didn’t exist? Could we still be joyful and happy? Yes! Our joy comes with the birth of Jesus. “Glad tidings of great joy I bring to you and all mankind”. From the carol ‘While Shepherds watched their flocks by night’.

Only time has turned that joy into a different kind of joy that distracts us from the gift of Jesus. A stark reminder of the story lies about a mile away from Prague town square, on the bridge leading to the castle. It’s in the picture below. Jesus nailed to the cross. The two images – the nativity and the cross are the beginning and the end of Jesus’s life on earth. Nothing complicated in-between really. Amazing but not complicated. Jesus came to earth in a humble way. Born in a not particularly flash place. He humbly walked our earth for 33 or so years. Talking about what believing and having faith means. He performed miracles and educated others on how to live in His way. And recruiting followers that will ultimately recruit others. In the end, as was the plan, He died for us. For our sins. He is our Lord and savior. That’s what we’re joyfully celebrating this season. Anything else is a complication to the story.

Charles bridge, Prague

Charles bridge, Prague

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we thank You for sending Your son to die for us. May the joy of believing in You and having faith in You be enough for us this Christmas – Amen!

Things can get messy.

Numbers 14:11

And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have done among them?”

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt it was no smooth journey. Moses, sent by God to do His work, was constantly moaned at and despised by the people he went to save. Even God got miffed and punished those that went against Him. Messy stuff. Good intentions, that for a while, went wrong. When we put all of our faith in God, things may feel like they’re going wrong or getting worst. And because it feels that way we start to distrust God and do things our way. That’s when it gets messy. In truth, things may seem to get worst because it’s not going to our plan or how we may imagine life to be. That was also true of the Israelites. Because they hadn’t reached the promised land within 30 minutes of leaving Egypt (an exaggeration) they decided that it was a mistake and they actually wanted to go back to Egypt. Back to being ruled over and mistreated by the Pharaoh. God delights in us and will not let us come to harm or forget us. But His plan, is not always our plan. In fact, it’s probably a better plan. But that plan will not come to fruition if we try to do things our way. No, we have to patiently wait on God and not let things get messy.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father,  forgive us for not trusting and putting our faith in You – Amen!

Here we go!

Deuteronomy 31:8

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

For many people, today is the first day back to work after the summer vacation and the first day back to school for the children. The trains will be fuller and the highways thicker with traffic. Even though the summer hasn’t ended it does feel like it’s coming to an end. And there can be anxieties that come with walking back into a building again. Unfinished projects, new environments or problems that we managed to brush under the carpet for a couple of weeks. To some of us, these are daunting things. But the scripture above tells us that we need not worry. God is not only with us but He has gone before us! The command is clear and quite abrupt. ‘DO NOT be afraid’. ‘DO NOT be discouraged’. Not ‘It’s okay, it will be alright’ but ‘DO NOT’. Why so commanding? Because God requires us to have faith and belief in Him. Our all-powerful Heavenly Father. But a simple prayer asking for our burdens to be taken on by God is all it takes. Then we can be at peace. As it says in Psalm 46:10 – ‘Be still and know that I am God’. Now we know that God is with us and we have faith then we can approach our work with vigor, energy and joy. That might be a lot to ask of us on a Monday morning but not too much to ask God for!

Pray with me

‘Heavenly Father, we pray for all of those that are going back to work today. We ask for you to go before us and with us. To give us strength, peace and love for others in the workplace and may we also give thanks for all You do for us today on our journey home tonight’ – Amen!

 

Money makes the ‘word’ go round.

Proverbs 19:17

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed

When we give to God we’re putting our money in His hands. In truth, it was His to begin with. A gift to us, of which we’re giving just a little back to help build His kingdom. If we ever wonder if it’s being put to good use then we just have to spend time in the company of missionaries. These are people who have given up a lot to help spread the word of God around the world. To people who have never heard the word of God and to some places where it’s against the law to read The Bible. But still they persevere. Their perseverance comes through a very strong faith in God. Faith that means they are willing to risk their lives to build the kingdom. Not everyone can be a missionary and not everyone should be. We all have our purpose on this earth which God has assigned to us. And giving is maybe one of them! If you’re in business now and you sometimes wonder how you can contribute to the word of God being spread then giving is a huge part of it. Without it, these missionaries can’t do the work they do. So, God is looking for cheerful givers…..spread the word.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the gifts You give us. Help us to be wise in how we use these gifts and how we use them to build Your Kingdom – Amen!