Sacred Spaces 596 – We are Storytellers

The next time someone asks me what I do – I hope to answer with:
I am a Storyteller.

I get the privilege of telling the story of God.
From a school lesson, to a youth lesson, to a weekly bible study, to leading a service, to delivering a sermon, to sitting across the table when having coffee with someone, to all of my life… I AM A STORYTELLER.

And so are you!

What sort of story do you tell?
And sometimes that requires words
Other times it is seen by our actions…

What is the story our lives portray?

The Greater Story is:

God created this beautiful world that we get to live in.
Sin has caused brokenness in the world.
The world needs fixing. It needs a Saviour.
The world needs a reminder.
God is alive and well and near.
He is not a mere option.
He is the Life Giver.
He offers us a better way to live and see and be.
He will come again. To restore all things.
We get to be part of the process.

That’s the story we get to tell!

But have you noticed your words?
Have you noticed how others speak or live?

They live in such dread
They live such gloomy lives
They live with “woe is me” chapters

They story they’re telling is rubbish!

Psalm 145: 4 says this:

“One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.”

We need to tell the positive story.
Get rid of negativity!
Get rid of all doom and gloom.

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Yes, life can be tough
Yes, sometimes we’re dealt a tough hand
Yes, we are the sum of our own choices (think about that)

BUT:

Each day is a gift.
Each day we have something to be grateful for.
Each day WE CAN see God doing something.

You and I, we are storytellers.

Let’s tell it right!

Sacred Spaces 595 – Can’t see the wood for the trees

The latest issue of the National Trust magazine is about trees. (There are some interesting things to read in that mag.)

The opening line to one article goes like this: rare is the person who does not like trees!

I liked that! So in the theme of trees, I wanted to pen some thoughts:

Just the other day, I was in Bow Brickhill woods:

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As I stood among the tall trees, seeing the sunshine piercing through the canopy; I was struck by the sheer majesty and joy of the moment. Again, I was reminded of Romans 1: 20 – we are without excuse when we see God’s created world.

I then think of that parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:
“He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

We should be like that tree! A place for birds and other creatures to perch in our branches.

What are you like to be around?

Are people drawn to you?
Are you a “place”/ the type of person that people feel SAFE and COMFORTABLE to “perch” with?
Are you bringing life to situations and others?
Be like that mustard tree!

Then one other thought of when being in the woods in Autumn is this:
God of seasons.

Autumn is wonderful! The colours: brown and orange and yellow and red.
The sounds: the crunching of leaves underfoot. The rustling of the leaves overhead.

I love the seasons of England. (The northern hemisphere.)
One can find a joy to each season we experience.
God is in all our seasons.

The bright ones. The dull ones. The warm ones. The cold ones.
The question we can ask each day… where is God? And you’ll see He is “standing here in the midst of us” (Jesus, we enthrone You. 1995. Don Moen.)


Afterword:
I also realised as I wrote this – that sometimes I use the same verses in these Sacred Spaces. I speak (write) about the same thoughts. (Perhaps, sometimes – just from a different angle.)
I wondered if repeating stuff (thoughts or ideas)… is a bad thing? Shouldn’t my writing/shouldn’t my teaching be fresh?

Hmm, yes and no!
God is constant. He doesn’t change. (He is the same yesterday, today and forever.)
Our understanding of Him, would change over time. That’s maturity in our relationship with Him.

But life is a long journey. Through mountaintops and valleys and open fields.
Maturity in that is the consistency.
We all have a “go to” verses.
We all have our ways we plug in with God.
I am thankful, I have found the main two that God draws me. His created world and song lyrics. (I hear the Father’s song in many other songs.)

Yes, I do ask myself: what is the new thing, God wants to show me?
What is the new thing I can learn about Him?

But as I have got older, I also realise there are CONSTANT themes that I hang onto. They sustain me. They’re the evidence and foundation of who I am.

Sacred Spaces 594 – Boundary lines

God challenges Job in Chapter 38:

‘Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt”?

Imagine, playing rugby where there were no boundary lines?
Likewise, with football?
Imagine both of these sports, with no rules? It would be mayhem! It would be rather futile!

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This Job verse is the one I felt God whisper to me, yesterday when thinking about youth ministry – here.

(Seeing youth work over two decades, I have seen how young people have changed and the issues that they have had to face, have varied over the years.)
Mental Health and social media is a massive thing in the lives of many young people!

Well, I want to celebrate with you here:

Last night, we watched an old school film with the youth; Cool Runnings. (A timeless classic!) JUST before the end of the movie, I paused it – saying to the young people that we were all going to have to tidy up the hall after the film: picking up the litter and the fallen popcorn.

And on the whole, they all got involved and tidied up the hall quite effectively!
I was thrilled! There is growth in the youth group!

Rewind to a few weeks back. I threatened to close the tuckshop because of how much litter there is each week after youth. (Somehow, the young people didn’t throw their rubbish in the bins… but rather on the floor! Grrr, where does that come from?)

So I put my foot down! And cancelled the tuckshop!
The funny thing – is, the young people seem to keep coming back to our Youth.
Even after being “strict” with them.

Boundaries and rules and discipline… are needed!
I am reminded of Hebrews 14: 4 – 12 (Parents look it up!) where the writer speaks of God disciplining the ones he loves.

In a world where “everything goes” and “free speech etc” – young people need some boundary lines.

So kudos to parents who have young people to raise!
And double kudos to parents who do a darn good job of it!

And to those who work with youth: teachers, children’s and youth workers: press on!

Your attention to them
Your discipline to them
Your help to them

All is needed!

Some young people are growing up in rough and broken homes where there is no discipline. Where there is no regard!

Take heart! Put up those boundary lines!
Your youth groups are not just a babysitting club, but a place to help develop young people into decent adults 🙂

Sacred Spaces 593 – Bring back the Selah

I miss the Selah.

A few years back, I wrote this: Where is the Selah? (can’t believe it’s been 5 years already)

The word Selah was taken out of the scriptures. Namely, the Psalms and Habakkuk 3.
(I really don’t understand why? I was under the impression, that we were not supposed to add or take anything from scripture: Deuteronomy 4: 2 & Revelation 22: 18 – 19)

So, who gave these bible translators, the permission?
To remove the Selah?


So what is Selah? (You should read my previous Selah post. Link above. But I will explain again, shortly.)

Here are some samples from scripture:

Habakkuk 3:
“God came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran. SELAH
His glory covered the heavens
and his praise filled the earth.

You uncovered your bow,
you called for many arrows. SELAH
You split the earth with rivers;
the mountains saw you and writhed.”

And then from Psalm 77:
(The Psalms have a lot of them)

I remembered you, O God, and I groaned;
I mused, and my spirit grew faint. SELAH
You kept my eyes from closing.

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The Selah was put in Psalms and other scripture to allow the reader to pause and ponder.

Life in 2019 (in these modern days) is way too fast.
We’re getting more and more efficient.
We’re saving time

But are we really saving time?

We move so fast,
Trying to be so productive.
We take out the word, Selah from the scriptures.
Worst is, we take the Selah out of our lives.

We don’t pause and ponder anymore.

Life is supposed to have a certain cadence to it.
A certain rhythm.
But there is no rhythm if we omit the Selah moments.

How can you add a pause moment?
A wonder moment?
What are you missing with LIVING TOO FAST?

Maybe, you are missing your spouse’s smile?
Maybe, you are missing your child holding your hand.
Maybe, you are missing the colours in the sky.
Maybe, you are not stopping to “smell the roses”
Maybe, you are not hearing the birdsong.
Maybe, you are missing your favourite song?

Bring back the Selah!

Sacred Spaces 592 – For the “but” people

Yesterday, I preached on Peter walking on the water. Jesus had invited him to do so. So Peter stepped out onto the water.
At one point, he loses his focus (Doesn’t look at Jesus anymore) and starts to sink.

The scripture then says:

At Once

or

Immediately

Jesus, reaches out His hand to help Peter out.

Then after preaching that yesterday, I had a thought for the “but” people…

But Darrel, I have been sinking…
I have been calling out to Jesus…

But, He has not come to my rescue…
But, He hasn’t heard me yet…


That got me thinking.
There are life storms. They’re difficult to get through. We call out to Jesus.
And maybe there is no arm extended, to pull us out.
Because maybe He knows we can get through the store. We’re strong enough to endure it. To push through.
THERE IS NO NEED FOR HIM TO PULL US OUT.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed.
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

(2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

Or another scripture you know well: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Sacred Spaces 591 – A Testimony (He held the rain)

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I want to share a testimony of what God did on Friday.

THURSDAY
This is the conversation that went down that afternoon:

Me: There is 80% chance of rain tomorrow. During Holiday Club. We’re going to have to look at moving games inside.
More discussion about this among the team continues.

I pipe up at some point: But I am hoping for the 20%
Paul asks: How are you getting here tomorrow?
I reply: I am going to probably drive. Just in case.
Paul responds cleverly: Where is your faith?
Me: Challenge accepted! I will ride, tomorrow.

FRIDAY
When I got up, it was raining.
The sky was blanketed with clouds.
But I still rode. (I put on my waterproofs) and headed out.
My prayer was that there could be no rain for just the hour and a bit, when the games rotations were happening.
About 35 minutes before games time… the sun broke through.
The ground dried.
And basically, it didn’t rain the rest of that morning. It only started raining a little, later in the afternoon, once the kids had gone home and most of our tidying was done.

I was an am still so thankful!
Yes, it’s just rain!
Yes, there are bigger things to pray about.
Yes, there are questions that people ask: If God can answer that, why would he not answer a request to heal someone?

Yes, I am aware of that…
But, I am not writing today, to dive into a theology debate.
I wanted to share a brief testimony.
Because, I honestly felt so giddy on Friday.
I felt as if God, poked me on the shoulder, and encouraged me “You showed great faith.” 🙂

After the holiday club, I felt I needed to point that out to the team and asked them to also talk about where they say God at work in the week.

I think, its a good question for each of us to ask on a daily basis.
God is up to things. Do you see it? Do you believe it?

After all, these things are a matter of the heart.

Sacred Spaces 590 – That one hour in church…

I was thinking about this hour in church that we have as a community.
The impact is has on some individuals. More than we perhaps realise.

There is a great book with a great title by a great South African minister / worship leader: The hour that changes everything that God reminded me of this morning in church.

There is a lot we can do with that hour.
There is a lot we need to do with that hour.

one hour in church

For some, going to church is like going to the petrol station to be filled up.
That hour, may be the only hour
The only fill up,

They get for that week…
So what we do, what we give, what we express in that hour – is essential!

Yes, we would like people to be more involved.
To serve in the week
To be part of a home group (cell group, bible study group, connect group – there are many names…)

Reality is, not many people are in that space.
That hour is what they get.

So, here is some encouragement for those involved with that hour:

Be creative
Be loving
Be humble
Be genuine
Be concerned (take interest in others)
Be prepared

For those who lead in the music, be prayerful in the song choice. Pray over those songs. (Maybe God uses those words to reach someone, even just one.)

For those preach. Prepare well. God will use your words.
Rely on Him. Not yourself.

Those who serve tea and coffee. Be kind. Smile. Your actions speak louder than words. Your posture in how you serve and talk to those who come get a cup of tea – can really impact someone in a powerful way.

To those who welcome those at the door – be friendly, your welcome is the first impression people get of Jesus.

Those who serve behind the scenes – words, sound, setting up chairs. Serve in excellence. Your work adds to that hour – that God can and will use mightily in many people’s lives.

Don’t underestimate that hour in church!

Lastly, those regular church goers. Notice, the people who sit next to you. Are you welcoming? Are you noticing if they are new. Are you noticing if they have had a good or bad week.

And for crying out loud, if a new person or visitor takes your usual seat – get over it! (I promise, if you sit on another seat, you will still learn about Jesus.)

There is a lot to that hour in church.
God use it well, please.