Sacred Spaces 573 – Praying through the ceiling…

So we watched this clip in church tonight about prayer:

(Only need to watch from 1:50 to 2:40)

I liked the guy’s honesty at 2:34: “I still pray even though I doubt and question a lot of it”

Maybe that’s how a lot of people feel at times?
Do my prayers make it through the ceiling?

BUT… that guy’s statement was powerful:
He still does it.
He still prays!

Maybe, that is how we all should be?

Just pray! Just pray through the ceiling…
God is listening!

I always think in lyrics…

This song by Mat Kearney:

I am not even sure what the song.. is about… but I see “the lifeline” being God… – I believe you can sing this song to God)

“Got you looking for a lifeline
Swimming in the high tide
Waiting for the daylight
To bring you home”

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I then think of a conversation with Mother Teresa:

The interviewer asked, “When you pray, what do you say to God?”
Mother Teresa replied, “I don’t talk, I simply listen.”
Believing he understood what she had just said, the interviewer next asked, “Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?”
Mother Teresa replied, “He also doesn’t talk. He also simply listens.”

I really like that.

And then I think of Brother Lawrence (1614-1619), who was monk who spoke to God whilst washing dishes. He wrote a well-known book called: Practising the Presence of God.

He simply insisted, we could talk to God, all the time.
And that’s true. Prayer can be a simple as talking out loud to God.

And then prayer can be a deeper meditative experience.
Such is the practice of Centering Prayer.

“Centering Prayer is a method of meditation used by Christians placing a strong emphasis on interior silence”

I guess, my main reason for this post was simply to encourage you:

TO KEEP PRAYING

Be creative with it too.
But prayer still works.
Prayer changes people. It changes things.
God hears you. So take heart!

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Sacred Spaces 572 – It’s not my culture…

Embrace different cultures!
It’s fun and interesting to learn about others cultures.

Culture sign isolated on white

Been thinking about culture recently:

Coming from South Africa; the country is dubbed as the “rainbow nation” because of it’s various cultures.

Recently, walking the streets of Amsterdam and London – I am amazed at the various cultures that one can pass by. You can hear an array of accents: German, Italian, Polish, Asian, American, Indian, Dutch, Pakistani, French, Kiwi, and South African. (Just to name a few)

I also often hear that phrase “when in Rome do as the Romans do.”


And after my first few months (again) in the UK, I often hear:

“You’re so South African!”
Or “No ways, we can’t do that; we’re British!”

And some of the differences make me laugh! However, I wondered…
If people can too often hide behind the phrase: “It’s not my culture!”

AND

If we as a Christians, need to ask a new question: What is the Kingdom Culture?

What is the way of Jesus in a particular situation?
How would He react? And want me to react?

Because, as people belonging to God, maybe we listen (obey) our “national” culture too much, which in fact, restricts us.

Maybe God, is calling us to a KINGDOM CULTURE, which would look quite different to what we may be use to.

Unnecessary grumblings in churches have occurred because of cultural stubbornness!

How is your “own” culture restricting you in your faith with God?
What Kingdom Culture aspect do you need to embrace?

Sacred Spaces 571 – The gospel for one another…

As I was walking to work this morning, I was reminded of community.
I was reminded of the people in my life. Friends and family and church family and others.
All part of a the beautiful story called: Life.

(Walking and thinking, such a great things to do.)
I was reminded of the “gospel of one another”

OneAnother-Main

Greet one another (1)
Accept one another (2)
Stop passing judgement on one another(3)
No debt towards one another(4)
Live in harmony with one another(5)
Be devoted to one another(6)
Honour one another(7)
Love one another(8)
Show compassion to one another(9)
Submit to one another(10)

Need I say more?

Which “one another” is convicting you today?

References

1) Romans 16: 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
2) Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
3) Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
4) Romans 13:8 [ Love Fulfills the Law ] Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
5) Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
6 + 7) Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.
8) John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
9) Zechariah 7:9 “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.
10) Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Sacred Spaces 569 – Use a new greeting

I came across this phrase in James 1, the other day:

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

I love it! “Father of Heavenly Lights”

What a greeting!
What a description!
I can imagine, James, writing his gospel, and he penning those words, describing God.

How about using a new greeting this week?
In your prayer time and conversations to God.
Maybe the other ones you’ve been using… are a bit “tired”

Dear Lord,
Dear God,
Father God,
Dear Jesus,
Heavenly Father,
Lord God,
Holy One,

They’ve been used a lot.
Maybe, in your own life, they’ve lost some traction…

Maybe, you need use a new line?

In the ancient scriptures and among the very early followers of God; they believed, the name of God was very holy and sacred – and would not write out the whole thing. Yahweh was YHWH.
And as Rob Bell once taught us (on Nooma 14 – Breathe) maybe the very naming of God is like the very breath we take.

(If you are observant, you will have noticed last week’s SS was number 570 and this one is 569. I skipped a number by accident. Oops!)

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Sacred Space 570 – What would your Psalm be?

After all these years, being a Christian, I still find there is something alluring and inviting and life giving about the scriptures.
(Yes, it can be a difficult book to navigate through at times. Hence, the gift of His Spirit who journeys with us through those pages.)

The other day, I came across these words in Psalm 42:

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers have swept over me”
Psalm 42: 7

Remind me of this beautiful song by Matt Redman:

As I get older, I am riddled with more questions
My life has been enriched by many experiences
Good ones, and oh man there have been tough ones too

But that line reminds me and encourages:

deep calls to deep

In the depth of my core, I call to the depth of His core.
He understands
He strengthens
I understand
I trust

And it got me thinking:

One can visit and revisit the Psalms so often and find something in there
For whatever you’re going through…

The psalms are honest.
You can see that the psalmists go through good moments and well as bad ones too.

If there was a psalm 151…
If you had to write a psalm…
What would the words currently be…

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Maybe that’s a good practical response to today’s post?
Grab your journal (or a Word doc on your PC / or even notes on your phone) and write your own psalm. Let God know where you are at?

And for the sake of community and encouragement, how about posting a line from a Psalm that you like in the comments below…

Have a good week!

Sacred Spaces 568 – Scars and Stories

This picture I posted on Facebook got a few heartfelt reactions:

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This building is in Berlin.
Those marks on the wall are old bullet holes.
Left there on the building as a reminder.

So I sat with it a bit more and some thoughts came to mind:
(Most rooms have four corners, so I will 4 thoughts from different angles)

CORNER 1
We have all been battered and bruised by life in some way.
That’s the reality of it.
Some bruises and scars are bigger than others. They are part of us.
HOWEVER, there is this treasure inside of these “bodies made of clay”
Reminds me of this scripture:

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-11)

CORNER 2
Those bullet holes are a reminder of the past.
We must remember the past. We must remember from where we have come.

But should we stay shackled to the past?
Should we harbour unforgiveness?

I know pain can run very deep.
I know it can be very difficult to forget.

And maybe that’s it. We don’t need to forget. But we can learn forgive…

CORNER 3
Apparently, (to my friends who took me for a walk around the city) that inside this building; a modern renovation has taken place. Things made new, inside.

There is something there. That whole saying “can we judge a book by it’s cover?”

Outside, looks damaged. (Oh, how we write people off, because of the labels on the outside?)

But Inside, there is those most beautiful soul, person, life and story.

CORNER 4
And lastly, I thought of something that happened in South Africa a few years ago (1996 and 1997): Truth and Reconciliation Commission

People, gathered to together, to share stories of their hurt.
Essentially people of all races and cultures had gathered to talk about the past. Unpacking the pain of the Apartheid.

I don’t know all the details…but more info can be found online.

But, I like that idea.

We should gather to listen to people’s stories.
No interfering
No judgement
No “waiting to give the perfect reply.”

Just let them share their story.



Those are my thoughts that come from the image? How about you?

Sacred Spaces 567 – What about the other colours?

“Blue January” is what she called it, Ha! I was telling my cousin, how after the euphoria of my week in Germany over New Years, it feels as if I have post holiday blues.

The lights are down and out from Christmas.
The wallets are emptier
The homes are quieter (some may welcome this)

So, maybe, you might feel similar to me?
The festivity is over.
Your holiday may have ended.

2019, is going to be a good year! (Amen!)

But, one still needs to find motivation to get back into the swing of things.
Get back to work, after leave.

So if this January can be dubbed Blue January; it begs the question: what about the other colours? After all, the rainbow has a full spectrum of them!

Snow Patrol has the song called “Take back the city”
I like that! Likewise, “take back the colour”

GREEN

I was sitting on a bus yesterday peering out the window. As the countryside passed by I noted how GREEN the grass was! (“The grass is greener on the other side” in this case…)
Celebrate that the landscape is often quenched!
Celebrate the countryside! These rolling hills remind you of Psalm 121:
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

ORANGE
I think of the ORANGE of the breast of a Robin.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6: 26
And God often splashes the evening sky with ORANGE as the sun sets…

GREY
What? Why would we celebrate the GREY?
Think about it? In contrast to the GREY other colours appear brighter!
Brilliant! If that’s not an inspiration itself; here is a scripture for you:

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

RED
Or what about RED…

So many! Have you seen that RED glow at DUSK. Even becoming PURPLE.
We think of the RED of wine. (Just as it is, it’s perfect)
But oh the biblical text extends that further:

“Every time you drink of this wine, you remember Me.” You with me?
Or as Isaiah 1: 18 reminds us ““Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like SCARLET, they shall be as WHITE as snow; though they are RED like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

YELLOW
Or how about the YELLOW of candle light? There is something about the light from a candle that fills a whole room. So you’re thinking of a scripture for this colour, need I remind you of two weeks back:

“Light of the World”

Or what about the various YELLOW flowers that one can see, if they look? (Perhaps, seasonal, but you know, they are coming…back!)

BLUE
(I’m claiming back the blue. Because, oh, blue is just a wonderful colour!)

Because BLUE is not just for that (perhaps) morbid January feeling, but rather for the expanse of the expanse. The expanse of the sky.
Or my favourite kind of cold day, when the sky is so blue, the sun shines through, but the air is so cold! (Love it!)

And of course BLUE reminds me of this scripture:

“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.” Psalm 36

So as good ol’ Frank sung “when you’re feeling blue…”
Remember to see the other colours too!

To close, one of my favourites quotes that have stayed with me for a number of years, by Rob Bell, is: “What you look for you, will find?”

Starting 2019, what are you looking for?
If you’re looking for doom and gloom, you can find it.
If you’re looking for joy and life, you can find it.

Where are you setting your sights?

Some of these images below may be a little cheesy. But hey, they’re still good quotes:

(Now, you see, if you visit the actual blog page, you will see different colours in the post. FB groups are limiting, that way.)