Sacred Spaces 588 – doing vs drenched

Have you ever found yourself just going through the motions?

Have you ever found yourself just “doing” the Christian things we’re called to do.
But the doing has become a self reliant action.

No Spirit, leading us…

The scriptures remind us about the Holy Spirit who was sent for us. To help us:

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
(John 14)

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There is a lot to unpack from those few verses.

But first off, the best thing is how practical Christianity is.
Following Jesus in today’s world is practical.

If it weren’t practical enough, I wouldn’t be interested in it…
People have made Christianity too much of a discussion
Too much of a study
Too much of a theory
Too much of a holy huddle

And worst, people have become too detached from it’s practical message.

The world is a mess
People are hurting
Mental health is confusing
Morals have gone out the window

And a lot of this is because, we have ignored the very practical teaching of the Gospel.
Jesus is practical. And His Holy Spirit will lead you and I.

Back to “doing vs drenched”

Stop just doing with out the emotion and leading of the Spirit.
Become drenched in His Spirit. Let our thoughts, words, actions, planning all be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Most people in ministry would agree with me with this statement: So often, we rely on ourselves in the weekly preparation we need to do. From home groups to preaching to lessons and to conversations.

But God has given us a Helper.
That we need to use, every day. Not just some days. Some moments.

Back to John 14.

Imagine being so in tune with the Spirit!
How different our daily lives would be?

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Sacred Spaces 587 – The ministry of presence

I came across this term when I was working for Hillcrest Methodist Church.
One of our ladies there had the ministry of presence.

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Basically, this is using the gift of one’s presence to add to others’ lives.

So my mom has been visiting my aunt and uncle for a week on the south coast of England.
My uncle shared a very cool testimony yesterday of how his legs (that were previously hurting a lot) – had not been hurting that much in this previous week.

So I thought about how my mom’s presence has brought a sort of healing and joy to them during the week.
I liked that.

When we are around others, what do us our presence do for them?

These two scriptures came to mind:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6)

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 2:15)

Are you words adding life?
Using the “imagery of aromas” what sort of aroma do you contribute?
(Are you a stench or do you add a beautiful smell?)

Who can you serve with the ministry of presence?

Sacred Spaces 586 – Distraction

Here are some questions that I know most of you will answer YES to:

Do you get distracted in church?
Does it sometimes take you two or three songs to realise that you’re singing songs to God?

Every so often there is a blog post that remains with you. My friend Joe wrote THIS ONE about pre-game focus and related it to BEING PREPARED for church.

Do follow the link and enjoy that post.

I guess the main focus to this week’s Sacred Space is to ask:
How do you come to church?
Ready or distracted?
What can you do to be prepared before stepping through those doors?

There really isn’t much to add to this post. But to ask you and myself – to make practical decisions to keep our focus when we get church.

I’d like to end with this passage from Ecclesiastes 5:

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”

So spot on!

What offering are you bringing to Him?

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Sacred Spaces 585 – One word (Okay, maybe two)

I asked God for a word. When I was on holiday. For the next chapter of ministry. Next half of this year. As I continue the work He has set me out to do…
I asked for a focus word. A direction word.

He gave me this:

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One singular word, with a lot of weight.

I have been with St Mary’s (my new family) for 9 months and I love how out-looking and out-pouring it can be. Helping the community around it. From Make Lunch, to Oasis, to Dream Factory and Messy church – to many other ministries.

And then the usual weekly stuff:
The stuff that chips away little by little.
The stuff the builds on little by little.

So the word ALLEVIATE for me is about:

Alleviate hurt
Alleviate loneliness
Alleviate despair
Alleviate anxiety
Alleviate apathy
Alleviate boredom
Alleviate disrespect
Alleviate the lack of imagination
Alleviate anger

In what I do, that’s what I want to help with.
Little by little, week in and week out.
Each encounter with each person. My prayer: “Jesus, what is the thing I need to help alleviate in this person’s life.”

Okay, so there was one other word (more than a singular word) God gave me too. And that is:

God loves you

I will say it over and over till it sinks

God loves you
God loves you
God loves you
God loves you
God loves you
God loves you
God loves you

I pray you would let that truth of His love permeate your very being.

I keep thinking of the young people I work with.

If they really KNEW how much God loved them, oh how their lives and worldview would change…
(Will you pray that prayer with me?)

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Sacred Spaces 584 – We live in a beautiful world

So it may be easier to say that after spending a few days on a tropical island.

But I believe wherever we are… we can declare those apt lyrics from Coldplay “We live in a beautiful world, yeah we do.”

And as the psalmist wrote: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

I have been blessed and had the honour to stand on “many grounds” but in each place I have seen His beauty.

The sheer peaks of the mountains of the Drakensburg. (Looking out over a blanket of clouds from the escarpment.)
The openness of Durban beachfront.
The sea views of Toti.
The crisp mornings of Ladysmith.
The coastline of East London.
(Jumping in the water at Bats Cave.)
The morning sunlight spilling on the pyramids in Cairo.
A beautiful white cliffs of Dover or a beautiful yellow field of rape seed flowers.
The view of white-capped mountains of Tignes valley in the French Alps.
The mist covered and the canopy of trees lining the roads of Hillcrest.
To some incredible sunsets in Secunda (Funny, how God can still draw beauty out of ugly things. For those who don’t know – Petrol is made in Secunda, so the local factory pumps out so much pollution on a daily basis.)
But those dirty skies still made for pretty sunsets. A deep red etched into the evening sky.
The view from Table Mountain.
Sipping delicious white wines in and under the warmth of Somerset West skies.
To hearing a Robin’s song in the early morning or seeing it dart to and fro about the garden.
To see sheep grazing across the lush green meadows and fields of England.
To seeing such stunning colours of fish in the waters of Mauritius with mt niece.
To holding my nephew in my arms as we walk as a family.

I could go on and on…
But I’m sure you get the idea…

“Because what you look for… you will find.” (Rob Bell)

I choose to look for joy.
I choose to look in wonder.
I choose to look with gratitude.
I choose to look to live.

What do you choose?

(Written from the airport in Mauritius.)

CHAPTER 4 – From the Horse’s mouth

I remember that day, quite vividly. I was trotting in the nearby field. Then out came Jeremiah. God always had things to say through him.

He stood on the corner post of my field. It was like he was practising a speech.

He declared:

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”

I stopped trotting…
Wait did he just mention me? In his message?
My kind has made it in his sermon as an illustration?

I’m not being boastful. But God made us strong. He made us fast.

When I’ve pushed myself to a gallop… I feel so alive!
I feel the air rush through my mane.
I hear the klip-klop of my hooves beneath me.

I wonder if people would get to feel our speed one day? Perhaps they could sit on our backs in a saddle?

God had a message for His people. He used Jeremiah as His spokesperson. (Prophet.)

That message would apply not just for the first hearers… but for all people to come.

I was grateful to be used in the analogy…
But it’s really not about me.

But I want to encourage you, dear human:
Don’t quit!
Don’t give in!
You have untold strength in you!

Life will get tough at times.
You may get hard pressed from every side.
But greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world.
Paul, also knew because he wrote: you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Thanks for listening to me neighing my horse whispers…

(Verse from Jeremiah 12: 5)

Sacred Spaces 583 – Our Father who art…

Two nights ago, I was at this combined church event and at the end of the service; we all prayed the Lord’s prayer:

“Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever
Amen.”

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I really liked it. A community of Christians, praying the most incredible prayer.

Sometimes we over complicate things.
And we don’t need to.

Our purpose, our life with God can be found in these lines of this prayer, we have said so many times…
Too casually and too routinely…

Let’s get back into it.
Back into the meaning:

One who is searching for God
One who asking for God’s way (not theirs)
One who is asking for the way of heaven to be here on earth
(We’re done living with our “get out of hell card” approach.)
Bringing heaven to earth, means alleviating the brokenness HERE and NOW.

One who is grateful for their daily provision
One who forgives others
One who is humble enough their realise their own shortcomings, and ask for forgiveness
One who steers clear of temptation…
For one who agrees with Matthew 6: 33
“Seek first His kingdom…”

Then yesterday, I heard this song:

Only a few words, but straight to the point!
Let that song, be the song and prayer and action of our lives!

God, help me for the many times, I fail and stray from the truth and life in that prayer.

Oh our Father….
We love you.