Sacred Spaces (Mind The Gap)

I just felt it was time to stop writing Sacred Spaces weekly, once I got to the 600th one.

My friend, Joe suggested I should start a podcast.  (Maybe one day…)

By the way, Joe blogs here: https://www.harmonyofgrace.co.za/

Or click HERE for his latest blog.

But in the mean time, I thought of doing YouTube clips.  So here is my first one:

This social distancing #covid19 #coronavirus has allowed some time to do this. 🙂

Sacred Spaces 600 – Built up below the surface…

As part of my advent reading, I came across this passage:

Luke 4:28-30
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

So context. Just before… that… Jesus announces:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

And that His life will fulfil it.

The people get mad!! But like really mad?

Three thoughts on that:

1) Heart check – when did you let these things stay pent up inside of you?

The people hear something they dislike… and they’re willing to throw a man off an edge -off of a hill to his death??
Just like that?
Not willing to hear more about his claim. Get him to unpack it further?

It got me thinking… those religious leaders;
They got so trapped in their religion. That they would kill for it.
That sort of religion… is never ever okay!

And perhaps, not just about those religious leaders and people…
But what has been building up inside of us… (?)
What do we let pent up?
Like those people (from the Luke story)… what would make you drive a man off a hill?

Are there things building up in you – that you need to deal with?

2) When anger drives you to violent actions

Anger is dangerous!
People have thrown stuff!
People have broken stuff!
People have killed…

Anger needs to be dealt with. The best thing is to not water it’s garden…

Talk to someone, wrestle with God (now), get help.  But don’t irrigate that anger!

3) Why are some people just so angry (all the time)?

And I also just think: those people in the bible… really – just got so worked up, so easily!
One thing that I battle with (okay there may be a few)

But here is one (or maybe two):
i) Oversensitive Christians
ii) Self-Righteous Christians

Those types of Christians are always willing to judge and be hurtful in their battles for the truth.  (Jesus, is big enough to defend Himself.)

My favourite learnt quote of 2017 “You don’t need to attend every battle you’re invited to.”

One more thing…

Can you believe, I am going to end this off with a Taylor Swift lyric:

“You need to calm down, you’re being too loud”

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(This may be my last Sacred Space for awhile. Thinking of the next thing.)

Sacred Spaces 599 – Don’t miss it…

With two days before the Advent journey begins…
I implore you… DON’T MISS IT!

Don’t miss the journey to the stable.
Don’t miss the journey to the saviour.

In chapter 2 of Luke… the writer mentions what Mary does… twice.

Why?
Because it’s a big deal!
It’s a way we need to live!

Luke 2: 19 “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Luke 2: 51 “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.”

Mary-pondered

A lot is happening in the life of Mary and she takes stock of her life.
She notices what is going on.
She ponders and treasure those moments in her heart.

What do you need to ponder this Christmas?
As you start the Advent journey on the 1st, what things can you do to help you focus?

There is this great quote about experiences.  Don’t let Christmas 2019 just be another experience.  Rather… reflect on that experience…

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Ponder and treasure these things:

Your family
The joy in Christmas
The grace of Christ
The warmth of love
The kindness of giving
See the Saviour
Jesus
Light of the World

Don’t miss it!

Sacred Spaces 598 – Put yourself inside the stories and do the same with Jesus…

Do you believe God is involved in your life?

I read an interesting piece from one of my daily devotions recently:

In looking at the parable of the Prodigal son, Henri Nouwen said,
“I see myself in all of them – in the wasted life of his youngest son, in the condemning older brother and religious leaders, and in the Father’s heart that’s big enough for anyone and everyone.”

That’s brilliant!
What a practical way of learning and getting more out of the scriptures.
Put yourself in the stories.

Let’s try some:

When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water – put yourself in that boat.
How would you have felt seeing Jesus walking on water?
Would you have had the courage, like Peter to step out?

Or when the disciples had to feed the five thousand – put yourself on that hill.
Imagine it. Only five loaves and two fish.
See yourself handing out the food and realising it’s not running out…
What would that have done for your belief and wonder of the Messiah?

Or put yourself at the foot of the cross – where Jesus dies.
What would you have felt?
How would you have reacted seeing the way He died?
As the roman officer stated after his death: “Surely, this was a righteous man.”
What would your words have been?


See! Using some creativity and imaginaton and asking good questions would add so much more to our bible reading.
And our understanding of the content.

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BUT DON’T STOP THERE…

Now see JESUS in your DAILY LIFE.

See Him as you buy your groceries. Pushing the trolley with you.
See Him as you walk the kids to school. See Him point out the colours of nature around you.
See Him as you drive off to work. He sits beside you, buckles up and turns up the volume to His current favourite song.
See Him as you are sitting anxiously in the hospital waiting room. He’s holding your hand.
See Him as you travel and see things for the first time.
See Him in the mundane usual things.

God is near.
God is involved.
God cares about everyday life.

I will say it again:

God is near.
God is involved.
God cares about everyday life.

And just in case, it hasn’t sunk in yet:

God is near.
God is involved.
God cares about everyday life.

Sacred Spaces 597 – The Esther Effect…(No Jesus Sticker…)

Heard a brilliant sermon last night at church about Esther.
(Hayley presented the story and life if Esther in such an interesting and challenging way.)

Two thoughts to share from that:

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“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther was placed in her fortunate position. There was a time to act, to help save her people. But she still had the choice.

Thankfully, she chose bravery and stepped up to help her people.

For us, in 2019 – what does this mean?

Where have you been placed? Could you see that God placed you there?
What is He asking you to do? If we looked with that lens, we may see things quite differently.

Have that conversation with God.

The next thing which I love about the book of Esther:

God is not mentioned in the whole book.

But He is definitely IN THE STORY!

You don’t need to have the “Christian fish” sticker on your car.
You don’t need to wear Jesus stickers so people can identify who you are.
Jesus is not insecure! He doesn’t need you mentioning Him all the time.

Just live well! Live like Him.

As Francis of Assisi suggested “Preach the gospel, use words if necessary.”

Sometimes, words get in the way…

And the final thought on this second point is:
Maybe “you don’t see God” or “don’t feel Him” – BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN He’s not involved!

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.

The-art-of-storytelling-750x375

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.