Prayer Changes Things

Recently, in Edinburgh, we were on one of those City Bus Tours. Enroute we went past a church with a sign that said: Prayer Changes Everything.

That got me thinking about how true that statement is. I also, wondered, what exactly does it change? And in what way? Here are some of my suggestions:

I first think of a quote by CS Lewis: “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” Isn’t that brilliant?

When we pray, we include God in allows. We involve Him. We allow Him space in our lives. Yes, God is there and doesn’t need our “permission” but in “having a prayer life” (a Christianese phrase) we develop our relationship with God.

So when we pray more often, pray as we go – then it’s does something for our own relationship with God.

There is the prayer of thanks. Being more grateful for many things every day – from the bowl of cereal you had this morning, to the cup of coffee you are having, to the giggling of your children, to the ability to feel the warmth of the sun on your arms. To eating a good meal, to see ing butterflies. The sound of the crunching autumn leaves beneath your feet.

There is the prayer of confession – saying sorry. Oh, how we can make mistakes along the way. We lose our cool! We make a nasty remark! We’re harbour bitterness. We consume negativity. We think hateful thoughts. Oh, how we can pause and say sorry. I often ask God, when I lose my patience: Make me better, Jesus.

There is the prayer of asking. Oh I need wisdom and help to get through things. Yes, I can do some things in Darrel’s strength – but how much better it would be, to do all things with Christ. So with youth ministry – I pray for creativity. I pray for wisdom in going through emails and planning.

There is the praying for others. I pray for health and long life for all my family. A I get older, I am so thankful for my fitness and health and I pray that always for my family. That, and provision.

There are lots of prayers. Prayers of healing, prayers of wonder… what could you add to the list?

So, prayer changes everything.

It changes you and I. We begin to see God in our daily happenings. God is here. Right here and right now. Open your eyes. Just talk to Him,

And don’t forget to listen. Sometimes prayers are made, without words.

Lessons from Running a Marathon

This morning, I got to run a marathon and one of my leaders (Georgy) and I decided to get them outside.  (After all, who doesn’t like church outside?)  And plus, it was a bonus to have the young people and their parents cheering me on at the end!

Thank you, Tom, Judi, Richelle, Michelle, Amelia, Georgy, Ashleigh, Connor, Gracie and Sarah for your support today.  Much appreciated!

At the end, we distributed some verses to the young people.   Verses related to training for a race, etc.

I wanted to expound on those scriptures a bit:

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9: 25)

Running a marathon takes a lot of effort.  One needs to put in the hours and mileage of running on a weekly basis for a few months.  It requires discipline!

Same with anything else in life.  If you want to achieve something, you need to put in the effort.

You need to have discipline to set weekly targets, goals etc.

It works with losing weight.

It works with work goals

It works with studying for example.

See, I love scripture for the practical application for it.  Those who say the bible is irrelevant, probably don’t know it too well.  We follow a practical Jesus!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4: 13)

During the run, I quoted this verse to myself a few times.  Especially during the last 6km (3 miles).

(I know this verse could be one of those that are quoted out of context.)

But it does really motivate me.

When I was training – actually, every time I ride and run, I thank Jesus for my health and for my legs.  That I actually can do this fitness stuff!

With Christ as a motivation and source of strength, He gives perspective and direction for our lives.  Even in the smallest little goals and tasks.

See, I could say, I did this in Darrel’s strength.  But what folly, that would be!  My very breath, my created body… is God given!  How dare, I forget the creator!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  (Hebrews 12: 1)

Firstly, to my two friends who supported me along the way.  Wayne ran the first 21km (13miles) and Sean ran the second half with me.  They were so encouraging.  They motivated me when I was struggling.  They kept me hydrated and helped me keep my desired pace.  Their motivation, their words… were spot on!

Life is like that.  We can spur one another on!  And our motivation and encouragement need to be realistic.  That’s what I appreciated with my friends.  They didn’t smother me.  They called it as it is!  When I was slacking, they told me to pick up the pace.  When I was perhaps going too fast and would tire (at a later stage) they told me to slow down.

The support and advice we give, needs to be like that.

Then, right near the end, having some of the youth and their parents cheering me on, really made me happy.  Seeing them, gave me a boost in my stride!

You see, encouragement, is never a bad thing!  Are you an encourager or a discourager?

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4: 7)

Finishing a race always sound better than saying, I started it, and then just got over it.  😉

In life – if we set out to do something… do we have the stickability!

Same with our faith.  Do we keep it to the end!

Sadly, life seems to have knocked the faith of people… and they walk away… ☹

“If you have raced with men on foot

    and they have worn you out,

    how can you compete with horses? (Jeremiah 12: 5)

So, I am definitely not planning on competing against horses!  But I dig this verse!

We can, always do better!

In running, I can further the distance or I can pick up the pace.  Or I can have weekly distance goals.

In life, the same thing – we have goals.  Go for it!  Then once you’ve achieved it – can you do it again?  Can you do it better?

Oh dear Jesus, thank you for being so practical!!  You’re no fairy-tale out of touch God!

Sacred Spaces – The thing about fear

 

The word I was trying to say – where I stuttered in this clip was:

Envelop

Definition of envelop. transitive verb. 1 : to enclose or enfold completely with or as if with a covering.

I usually would be annoyed by that.
But I am changing

The message from today can still be delivered:

DO NOT BE AFRAID!

It’s all over scripture. Over 360 times in the bible. Almost one for every day of the year!

Always when I write or preach or share a thought I am reminded of Isaiah 55:

“As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

God will use our stuff! Even if we trip over a words.

With this Hof TV (Sacred Spaces) idea, I don’t want things to be “too polished”
I want it to be natural and human.

The verses I used for today:

Joshua 1: 9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!”

AND one of my TOP favourites:

1 John 4: 18: “There is no fear in love, but perfect fear drives out love.”

Now, that’s what I am talking about!

WILL YOU let the PERFECT LOVE of Jesus take away your fear and anxiety?

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”

dua7m8-acbc86f1-502e-46fd-846a-6fd8db9430cf

(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…

john-dewey-reflection-quote-16vbfv9.png

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.

HisStory-TitleScreen

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.