Sacred Spaces 522 – Same old, same old – familiar verses…

I chuckled to myself recently; realizing that so often with these Sacred Spaces, I use the “same old same old” scriptures and that even my themes (topics) seem to be recurring…

I write about the likes of:
– creation
– the nearness of God
– the practical “ness” of the gospel
– not treating Christianity like a market place

and I use:

– Psalm 46: 10
– Acts 17: 28
– Romans 1: 20
– Psalm 118: 24
– John 15

So, I wondered about that.

Maybe there is comfort in the familiarity?
Maybe it’s the simple truth, that God doesn’t change?
Maybe the topics that I cover, are the basics… and people long to go back to basics? Because maybe following Jesus has got so cluttered lately?
Maybe it’s because creation is still the “loudest” (and quietest) sermon?

I’d like to think it’s one of those.

BUT ALSO… I know that I have not yet arrived…IMG_20170122_090603_837.jpg
I still have lots to discover in my faith journey.

And there are still incredible verses (treasures – How is that for Christianeze?) to be found in God’s word.
When last have you and I delved into His word?

(definition of delve: “reach inside a receptacle and search for something.”)

 

So what do you think about this whole same old same old thing?

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Sacred Spaces 382 – 100 words

 

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Sacred Spaces 382 – 100 words

4 June 2013

 

(I recently wrote three “100 word” short stories for a competition.  I will know the results at a later stage.  But I simply entered to get my creative juices flowing.  In light of that, I write today’s sacred spaces in hundred words, using two words in my opinion that sum up living life with God.  Have a great week ahead!)

100-words 

Listen in, I’ve only been given a hundred words, I know the dwellers of Galatia were given this mandate; ‘it is for freedom that Christ has set you free…do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery’.  Step into that freedom!  What does that look like for us in 2013? We say Jesus has set us free, yet we lived so trapped. Two millenniums ago when the church was born, a founder spoke this truth; ‘in Him we live and move and have our being.’ God is close! Hear and see Him. Now, go and truly live!   

 

LYRICS

“You say all they that follow You; will find comfort and pain, blessings in hard times… were I to leave, where else would I go?” Third Day (Medley)

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Sacred Spaces 340 – Table for Two

Sacred Spaces 340 – Table for Two
10 July 2012

Disclaimer: This Sacred Space requires a response from you. Hope to hear from you. Fellow faith traveller…
This story popped into my head recently:

Table for Two
(Kirsten Burgess)

He sits by himself at a table for two. The uniformed waiter returns to his side and asks, “Would you like to go ahead and order, sir?” The man has, after all, been waiting since seven o’clock–almost half an hour.

“No, thank you,” the man smiles. “I’ll wait for her a while longer.
How about some more coffee?”

“Certainly, sir.”

The man sits, his clear blue eyes gazing straight through the flowered centrepiece. He fingers his napkin, allowing the sounds of light chatter, tinkling silverware, and mellow music to fill his mind. He is dressed in a sport coat and tie. His dark brown hair is neatly combed, but one stray lock insists on dropping to his forehead. The scent of his cologne adds to his clean cut image. He is dressed up enough to make a companion feel important, respected, loved. Yet he is not so formal as to make one uncomfortable. It seems that he has taken every precaution to make others feel at ease with him. Still, he sits alone.

The waiter returns to fill the man’s coffee cup. “Is there anything else I can get for you, sir?”

“No, thank you.”

The waiter remains standing at the table. Something tugs at his curiosity. “I don’t mean to pry, but…” His voice trails off. This line of conversation could jeopardize his tip.

“Go ahead,” the man encourages. His is strong, yet sensitive, inviting conversation.

“Why do you bother waiting for her?” the waiter finally blurts out. This man has been at the restaurant other evenings, always patiently alone.

Says the man quietly, “Because she needs me.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Well, sir, no offense, but assuming that she needs you, she sure isn’t acting much like it. She’s stood you up three times just this week.”

The man winces, and looks down at the table. “Yes, I know.”

“Then why do you still come here and wait?”

“Cassie said that she would be here.”

“She’s said that before,” the waiter protests. “I wouldn’t put up with it. Why do you?”

Now the man looks up, smiles at the waiter, and says simply, “Because I love her.”

The waiter walks away, wondering how one could love a girl who stands him up three times a week. The man must be crazy, he decides. Across the room, he turns to look at the man again. The man slowly pours cream into his coffee. He twirls his spoon between his fingers a few times before stirring sweetener into his cup. After staring for a moment into the liquid, the man brings the cup to his mouth and sips, silently watching those around him.

He doesn’t look crazy, the waiter admits. Maybe the girl has qualities that I don’t know about. Or maybe the man’s love is stronger than most. The waiter shakes himself out of his musings to take an order from a party of five.

The man watches the waiter, wonders if he’s ever been stood up. The man has, many times. But he still can’t get used to it. Each time, it hurts. He’s looked forward to this evening all day. He has many things, exciting things, to tell Cassie. But, more importantly, he wants to hear Cassie’s voice. He wants her to tell him all about her day, her triumphs, her defeats….anything, really. He has tried so many times to show Cassie how much he loves her. He’d just like to know that she cares for him, too. He sips sporadically at the coffee, and loses himself in thought, knowing that Cassie is late, but still hoping that she will arrive.

The clock says nine-thirty when the waiter returns to the man’s table. “Is there anything I can get for you?”

The still empty chair stabs at the man. “No, I think that will be all for tonight. May I have the check please?”

“Yes, sir.”

When the waiter leaves, the man picks up the check. He pulls out his wallet and signs. He has enough money to have given Cassie a feast. But he takes out only enough to pay for his five cups of coffee and the tip. Why do you do this, Cassie, his mind cries as he gets up from the table.

“Good-bye,” the waiter says, as the man walks towards the door.
“Good night. Thank you for your service.”

“You’re welcome, sir,” says the waiter softly, for he sees the hurt in the man’s eyes that his smile doesn’t hide. The man passes a laughing young couple on his way out, and his eyes glisten as he thinks of the good time he and Cassie could have had. He stops at the front and makes reservations for tomorrow. Maybe Cassie will be able to make it, he thinks.

“Seven o’clock tomorrow for party of two?” the hostess confirms.
“That’s right,” the man replies.

“Do you think she’ll come”” asks the hostess. She doesn’t mean to be rude, but she has watched the man many times alone at his table for two.

“Someday, yes. And I will be waiting for her.” The man buttons his overcoat and walks out of the restaurant, alone. His shoulders are hunched, but through the windows the hostess can only guess whether they are hunched against the wind or against the man’s hurt.

As the man turns toward home, Cassie turns into bed. She is tired after an evening out with friends. As she reaches toward her night stand to set the alarm, she sees the note that she scribbled to herself last night. “7:00,” it says. “Spend some time in prayer.” Darn, she thinks. She forgot again. She feels a twinge of guilt, but quickly pushes it aside. She needed that time with her friends. And now she needs her sleep. She can pray tomorrow night. Jesus will forgive her. And she’s sure he doesn’t mind.

It’s a rather sad story but rings a lot of truth for each of us. How many of us don’t “arrive” to meet our wonderful loving Saviour?

Our days rush by and we don’t even spend time with the most important Person in our lives? “He’ll understand, we think” and that’s true.

He understands that we are too busy.
He understands that the source of life is found in Him. And when we are “running dry or running out of steam” (whatever expression you use), it’s because we haven’t started with Him.

It happened to me this morning. I was up early with the idea that I would sit on my sofa with a cup of coffee and my devotional book and my bible and spend time with God.

Yet, I dozed in bed. I got up a bit later and I rushed around doing my “affairs for the day” like checking and replying to email, breakfast, planning etc.

But I did not start in Him!!!
No, I am not trying to “cast upon guilt” on myself or others.

There is truth is Acts 17: 28 “For in Him we live and move and have our being.”
Agreed! Problem is; I don’t think about that too much and don’t live it out as if it were true.

And I can feel so often, I do what I do on “auto pilot” and I do what I do “with my head” and not enough with my heart.

For out of the wellspring of your heart” Jesus preached…

I talk as someone involved in ministry. In a crude sort of way, I get paid to teach and lead people into things of Jesus; AND that does include my own personal devotion and quiet times to Him. YET I do fall short of that. And it’s “my job” (not that I like to see it like that.)

So my question to you (here is where you respond): How do you include Jesus in your day? How do you start with Him?

How do you see Him in your factory?
In your office?
In your car?
In your classroom?

How do you start your day with Him?
Some may do a little bible reading and prayer, does that work? If not, what else do you do?

I ask you, because maybe your answers will inspire me with some fresh ideas.

I think too often so many of His followers act as if “God is up there watching our lives from a distance.” YET, I refuse to see it like that.

“God is right here, right now, involved in all aspects of our lives.”
So if that is true?
Then why don’t we rock up (arrive) at the table for two?

TWITTURGY

Hearing the ting of glasses
The chatter of people
As tangible as that is
So can my time with You be
The hearing of Your softly spoken words
The warmth of Your presence
Across this table
I want to look into Your eyes

Sacred Spaces 324– Rest for the weary

Sacred Spaces 324 – Rest for the weary
7 February 2012

[I write this Sacred Spaces sitting here at a coffee shop called JAVA, here in Durban North. It’s interesting watching the cars drive by and here the general buzz of people out and about. Indeed, a different feeling to sitting in the Eagle & Child pub (Oxford) or some other random coffee shop in the UK, but life is on the move. “Because in Him we live and move and have our being”Acts 17: 28 (How, I pray that verse becomes more and more real for you and I.]

Part 3 our theme of “Looking to Jesus”
We catch up with Him carrying a yoke. Could that be “your” yoke He is helping carry? Or does He offer another sort of yoke?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11: 28 – 30)

Are you like me? Always when I read words from scripture that talk of rest or being restored or giving peace, my heart skips a beat. I want in on that offer. An offer of rest for this busy heart and mind of mine, yes please.

ENTER: Jesus.

He is that rest.
I know a bit about other religions and I have not heard of any of them “offering rest”
Religions throw a “keep working hard to be okay with your god” idea at you. That’s not freedom to me.
Then in Matthew 11, I see and hear of a freedom in Jesus.

Let’s break down the scripture a bit. Jesus invites us to “come” meaning we have to act on our part. Jesus always invites, but so often we can be so stubborn and not “go” to Him. Jesus is not gonna drag us… going to Him, needs to be our choice.

Weary and burdened. I think no one is immune to those. We so often carry burdens. Life here in the world can be hard. Deadlines, bonds, education, health, family, provision, decisions, worry, need for safety… all of it creates stress.

The invitation is for REST. My favourite picture of rest is from the well-known Psalm 23:

“The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not be in want,
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me besides quiet waters,
He restores my soul.”

Can you feel this imagery? How we all want our souls to be restored.

“Take my yoke upon you” What does Jesus mean here?
This is brilliant when we know what a yoke is (because no one wants egg thrown on them):

From the picture we see that a yoke is used for oxen to carry a load.
What is interesting is that it’s for 2 oxen. (NOT one!) This is important for us to remember. Jesus walks with us and helps us with life’s burdens.

That’s brilliant!
Yet I noticed something else; Jesus said to “take my yoke” upon you. Not our own yoke?

So what does that mean?

Is it possible that we “carry” the wrong “load” in life so often? We fret about the wrong things. Where did stress come from? Is it God made? No way!

Stress is man-made. We run around chasing our tails too often! We run after the wrong things. We sponge our worries. Why oh why?

Jesus challenges us at the end of His sermon on WORRY in Matthew 6: 33 to “seek first his kingdom and all his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I believe this! Do you?
And how I do struggle to put Him first…
So I know the solution to doing life well lies in Him, yet I am foolish so often, I forget to seek Him first.

So in taking Jesus’ yoke, we are not “ignoring” our life’s hassles, yet in seeing life through Jesus’ eyes, we gain new perspective, we learn to put our energies in the right things.

This is the gospel, the good news. Believe it, embrace it!

“For I am gentle and humble in heart”

You can’t pretend that doesn’t sound inviting…

Humble? Huh? Well look at all these books that are about “self-help” and “seven ways to living effectively” or whatever other nonsense is out there… how arrogant!

Jesus is humble, that’s what I want in on.
And finally we are told His yolk is easy and His burden is light. Truth is there is still a yoke to carry and a burden to lift. We can’t and should not want to live a life in a “bubble.” (Heck, that wouldn’t be living.)

So life has things to carry, HOWEVER with Jesus we learn to carry the right things, and we are given strength to deal with those “loads” because “you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” (Phil 4: 13)

And at the end of the day, knowing what a yoke looks like, we see as we CARRY things in life that Jesus is by our side. How beautiful!

Hearing His promise “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13: 5


TWITTURGY

Rock of Ages,
Show me how to lean on You
My strength, I give to You
Let me be weak
And yet so strong in You
May I stand firm
Solid foundation

Sacred Spaces 317– Where it all begins

Sacred Spaces 317– Where it all begins
19 December 2011

I wrote this Sacred Space in Ladysmith… where this all began. Back in November 2004, I wrote my first Sacred Space there.

Thinking about beginnings; I think of one place where all of life should begin:

John 1: 1 – 4
“In the beginning was the Word
And the Word was with God and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning
Through Him all things were made.
Without Him nothing was made that has been made.
In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”

All things begin in and with God.

And we should constantly remind ourselves of that.
We need to keep learning and re-learning this truth.

And I like how Colossians puts in chapter 1:

17: “He is before all things and in him all things hold together.”

I see and hear around me and within me, how most of us, don’t start our lives with God.
All the details of life and every breath should begin in Him.

We always try doing life in our own strength.
We make our own plans.
We ran full steam ahead.
We follow our desires and dreams without Him.

A friend of mine is really battling to make one of his dreams come true and he has been working hard on achieving that and everything seems to fall apart. And I just keep thinking (and I am not judging), how different things would have been if he went to God first with that dream?

We are all guilty of leaving God out… and bringing Him in only at a later stage…

I have had this recurring thought in my head for a few weeks now: “lose your identity in Him”

If we did, people wouldn’t recognise us, but recognise Jesus instead.

And please tell me, this is not just ideal?
I crave it to be reality even though I stuff up a thousand times!

Christmas comes at the end of each year, yet can we make it THE BEGINNING this year?

Jesus born into the world; the massive highlight of the Christian year… Jesus in His mercy dares to step into our messed up world and redeem it daily. Such is grace!

Our life began in a stable in Bethlehem many years ago. So this Christmas may fall at the end of the year; however it’s the START for us, as we face and live yet another year.

“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17: 28

——–

THE PS part (I will probably write about this soon):

Please check this book out:

Twitturgies

It has moved me incredibly over the last 2 weeks.
Simple prayers of only 140 characters each
Less is more.
Prayers to help one focus
I start each day, reading a prayer or two.
I want TO BEGIN each day with Him, so often I forget that.

An example of one of the Twitturgies:

Continue Us

We are none of us finished
None done.
We are half-baked
Half-built
Half-beautiful
Creator God, continue us
Craft us to completion