CHAPTER 3 – “I’m not just an ass!” (The Talking Donkey

“No one like’s a smart ass!”
But that day was different. I think my owner appreciated it. (Well, I hoped he did?)
I spared his life. Yes, God used me to help him. To protect him from danger.
Well to be fair, God used me and an angel. We teamed up.

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So, on that day, I set out, ready for what I would usually be doing.
Ready and willing to serve my master. After all, that’s what I am good at.

Now, no one like’s being beaten!! And that stubborn man, beat me three times. Ouch!
But it must have freaked him out when I got to VOICE MY OPINION.

(It freaked me out! But at the same time, it was awesome! I felt God our Creator’s (humans and animals alike) presence with me. Inside of me. Wow!)

The thing I have learnt about my Creator. (Yours too.) Is that He will use and do almost anything to get your attention.
How we (His creation) seem to try and limit Him.

But in Balaam’s case – He used me (not just a silly ass) to get his attention.

So, the application here is – how is God trying to reach you?

(Based on Numbers 22: 21 – 39)

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Sacred Spaces 581 – Today, we have choices (No more despair!)

A few years back, I read this chapter from Max Lucado: The Choice and, over all these years, those words have stayed with me.

It’s Max Lucado who actually inspired me to write. And to write my regular Sacred Spaces. (I was inspired by how, he made Jesus so practical and nearby in his writings.)

So after seeing this street art in London, I was inspired to write my own version of the choice:

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Based on a different scripture: Colossians 3: 12 – 14

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

You and I have a choice as we start each day.
At the start of this day, say tomorrow (Tuesday)

We decide, that despair will end.

Because each day, as God’s chosen people… we should start with a deep sense of WHO WE ARE.

We are holy and dearly loved.
Yes, you reading these words.
You have been set apart (made holy) for a part in His greater story.

It’s no fairy-tale! It’s a reality. So step into it!

As you start your Tuesday (any day, really) – you need chose how you will clothe yourself?

What will you wear? As you physically decide, you can also choose your emotions and stance to the world and life you are part of.

Put on compassion.
The world is a cruel place.
How can you be more compassionate in your daily life?
Who do you need to give the benefit of doubt to?
Who do you need to not rush by and actually engage with?

Wear kindness.
Today, you can choose to be kind in your thoughts, kind in your words, kind in your actions. Choose kindness. Enough said!

Cover yourself with humility.
Do you need to always be right?
Do you need to admit you made a mistake?
Are you teachable?

Button up with gentleness.
Gentleness is not weakness.
Gentleness is a keen observation to noticing the smaller details of life.
Reaching out to the marginalised.

Tighten up with patience.
Maybe your life has intended moments of pause? (You didn’t think about them as intended.)
Instead of getting frustrated. Use those moments to pray.
To think about your life.
Waiting for a train, waiting in line.
Those moments aren’t bad. They breathers! Tune in to your life.

Then use that coat of forgiveness.
Are you holding that grudge for too long?
Who do you need to forgive today?
Remember, how God has forgiven you. Don’t take that for granted!

Then bring that umbrella of love.
Over all these virtues, wear love, choose love, be love, live in love.

Love wins
Love wins
Love wins
Yes it does,

Who said the gospel wasn’t practical?
We want to ask, how do we live better? God, what should we do?
These verses from Colossians 3…. a mere three verses out of 31102 verses – and how we can struggle with those.

Practice makes perfect, as the old adage says.

So thank you God, we have a choice on how we see our lives.
On how we treat people.
How we endure the hardships.

Chapter 2 – “The hope I carried”

I remember that mission that Noah had for me, very clearly. He sent me out to look for land.
The first attempt was unsuccessful. I remember going out and I flew as far as my little wings could take me.
We wanted to leave that Ark. But we had to trust the process. Wait on the right time. His time. (How impatient people can be.)

I was given the task to bring back a sign of dry land. I remember feeling the cool air that hovered above the water.
So thankful the Creator graced me with wings.

I flew on – but there was just water, every direction I went.
I had to head back to the Ark.

I was exhausted when I got back. I remember seeing Noah standing there waiting for me. He held out his hands so that I could perch.
My heart was racing. I almost never made it back. I had flown too far out. But his waiting spurred me on. And I made it.
And as I recovered in his grasp, I felt assured.

He whispered to me: “Thank you. In His time. We will find land.”

I remembered the affection that he spoke with. And I remember that trust that came with those words.

Made me think Noah, had it right. Those words that our Creator spoke:

“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

I, a mere smallish creature felt cared for by that human.
I didn’t feel exploited. (Oh, how I hope that future generations would do the same.)
And then how Noah trusted God.
I admired that. I think some people battle to trust in Him.

So, back to my mission. Seven days later, I was rested, I was ready and as I flew, I felt excited. I felt part of something bigger. I was part of His plan. (Who knows, maybe I get a mention in the years to come?)

Then as I flew, I saw the greenery in the distance.
There was less water. Land had peaked through. The trees and plants looked so vibrant and glistened in the sunlight. It was remarkable!

I landed on an olive tree and caught my breath. I stood on that branch and cooed with excitement. (If I were a person, it would be the equivalent of standing on a mountain edge, shouting at the top of your lungs.)

I then broke off a branch and headed back for the Ark.
I was carrying hope.
I was carrying signs of life.
I was carrying the key to the next chapter.

In His time. (That’s what Noah had said.) Trust the process.

I flew back and I thought about me carrying hope for others.
Perhaps that’s what living is about.
Carrying hope for others.

A white dove carries the olive branch of peace

I thought about the one time when I saw a dandelion dancing in the field. Well, that’s what it looked like? But it was the wind that made it groove. But then I noticed how the dandelion broke apart.

Or did it?
I realise the white fluff that it was made of were seeds. And the wind was part of a created order. A process. And the dandelion didn’t hold on but let go… and the seeds dispersed.

That imagery stayed with me. Maybe that’s what we do with hope.

We let is disperse!

(See Genesis 8: 6 – 12)

Chapter 1 – The biggest animal party ever

Noah was a kind man. I remember that day, we had to “walk the plank.” But it wasn’t to our death. But rather to our safety! The safety of an Ark. I didn’t know the exact dimensions – but all I can tell you, was that boat was huge! (Mind you, to me on my all fours, many things towered over me…)

Ark-Encounter-slider

Speaking of “towering.” What a day of introductions, that day was – when we all arrived on the Ark.

These two creatures with really long necks walked in. (Giraffes, are what you call them.) They were peculiar looking animals. Long legs, weird tufted horns on their heads and they were all spotty. They had to duck their heads to get inside the boat.

Speaking of Duck. They were rather loud. They quacked on about how they could swim alongside the Ark. But that Man – Noah coaxed them inside with these words “Big waters are coming. You won’t be safe alongside the boat.”

It was a remarkable day. Meeting all those creatures of different shapes and sizes. Some with feathers, some with hard skin, some with soft skin, fat legs, thin legs. Fancy hair styles, spots and stripes and different colours. All designed with such love by Him.

It was a celebration of creation in there! And it would go on for 40 days!
(I do remember it getting edgy in there as we neared the end of the 40 days. You see, us animals are not meant to be enclosed.)

It would be ’zoo’per cruel if people if did such a thing. (See, what I did there?)

So I remember at that time, God was among us and He whispered a secret to us. He said we had an important role to play. He said by us, people would have no excuse to see Him.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

He said that He would ask a man named Paul to write those words (Romans 1: 20).
What an honour! Each created thing had a role to play. To point people to our Creator.

I do hope they get it!? And see Him.

(* The picture is not mine.   But, wow, that a replica of the Ark was made – that’s incredible!  Makes me smile at how people are searching for the truth.)

The day they spoke from all four legs…

Foreword:

I once was sent this:

The gospel according to the animals

Rather amusing!

I then wondered what the animals really DO think; if we had the opportunity to read their minds. So after “careful research” this is what I came up with.
Enjoy:

An introduction: a mandate and a motivation

I may be small. But I have a big memory. I still remember that wonderful day He spoke. I remember it as clear as daylight. Speaking of which. On that day, the setting sun filled that valley with a brilliant radiance. An informal meeting of red and purple and orange. All there aglow. We were all there. The larks and robins basked in the hue of the afternoon rays. Others crawled about. The deer frolicked in the tall grass. We could hear the mighty roar of the lions in the distance. There was a fierceness and familiarity in that sound.

I scurried across the meadow to a pile of nearby rocks. I wanted to get a better view. Plus, to confess, I was really proud of my bushy tail that He had made me with. I wanted the others to see it. So I stood there on my hind legs looking out.

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He was walking in the cool of the day.

You could see that He delighted in everything He had made.
I remember; just the day before – He took a a clump of clay and breathed His life into it. A man and a woman were formed.

At the end of the first five days, He looked at all He had created. Absolutely breathtaking! The twinkling of the night time stars. The sheer enormity of the mountains. The wispy-ness of the clouds. And as I said before, all of us, on all fours, and twos and with wings and feathers and gills. Basically, we all looked so beautiful! (He created no junk!) As He looked, He smiled. “This is good!” He declared.

But on that sixth day; He looked with such fondness and love over those two (Human) Beings who stood on two legs. There was something about them. Something, me and my bushy tail couldn’t grasp.

They were His masterpiece. Created anew in Christ Jesus (His Son.) Equipped to do the good things, He had planned for them.

Then He spoke again. He held out his hands, holding theirs. He gave them a task:

Be fruitful and increase in number.
Fill the earth and subdue it.
Rule over all the creatures.
I give you every seed bearing plant. The birds and beasts too.
They’re all food for you.

He paused dramatically; Remember, look after the earth!

Were they to be partners with God? It seemed that way…

Their job sounded important.
I had faith that they would do good things with us. Well, that’s what I hoped.

I may be small. But that was a big moment. And I was glad to have witnessed it. I was begin to feel sleepy… But before I scurried off… I took one look at this incredible garden, we were all in:

“The earth is the Lords and everything it it.”

Sacred Spaces 580 – All the other names fade away…

Last night during the worship set at Spring Harvest they added this song into the set list:

I’ve never heard in sung in any church service I have attended. Or any other Christian gathering for that matter. (And that’s actually kinda cool)

But last night the song worked. it fitted.

It stirred my heart.
(I find it difficult to sing to God. Just not my style of worshipping Him.)

But come on these lyrics:

“And all the other names fade away…”

That is seriously so powerful!

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Our lives are full of names.
Some names conjure up feelings of connections and love and encouragement. Those are the names of our family and friends. Those compliments and kind names we have heard people speak over us.

(Those can stay) – however they would also fade… in the Light of Jesus’ name.
(Although those people, I believe God; in His mercy… has placed in our lives. So celebrate that!)

BUT there are names… that have “landed” in our lives.
Names that we can’t shake off.
Names that hurt.
Names that kill.
Names… that will fade… I promise.

Because, I believe in Jesus, that’s why I can offer you that promise.

Names such as: loneliness, rejection, divorced, broken, mental illness, _____ cancer, fear, despair, depression, lost, unclean, unworthy, forgotten, useless, stupid, coward, used, damaged, disabled… the list is endless…

as yet we cling to those names…

But Jesus’ name triumphs all of them!

Will you let it be so!?
Can I have an, Amen?

Sacred Spaces 579 – …in our Hearts

This week Gmail turned 15:

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It was “born”in 2004… the same year, I started these Sacred Spaces.

My simple prayer to God at that time was:
“When I get an email address, I promise to write, once a week, a thought about You – and send an email of those thoughts to my friends and family.”

It has grown a lot over the years. From email, to a blog site, to a Facebook page and group.
Glad, that God has used these weekly (now, sometimes fortnightly) thoughts to encourage and teach others. “Church on the run”- one person once called it. I liked that.

This is the FIRST EVER Sacred Space

(Reading it tonight, I had to chuckle. Woah!)

I was reminded of this verse the other day:

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Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Did you see it?
That’s big!!!
Can you comprehend it?

There is something BIG in our hearts. Knowing that… it may help explain a few things:

Sometimes, one feels restless. There is a gnawing question at the bottom of our soul. There has to be more than this?
Call it a holy longing. We’re made for more…

As CS Lewis once said: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”


There are times, when perhaps you perceive something quite differently to the others around you. (Perhaps they’re not believers or another reason.)
But you just sense that “something deeper” is going on in a moment. There is a particular weight to a situation. (Is that because He has set eternity in our hearts?)


Or as Paul writes, when life (2 Corinthians 4: 7 – 11) presses us from each side, or we are persecuted, perplexed, struck down…
But somehow God gives us this resilience to push through. Because of this treasure we have in jars of clay (what a great image for our earthly bodies)


Or simply, the honour that God has put a whole lot of His world, His way, His view, His love, Himself… inside of my little heart. Wow!