Sacred Spaces 525 – … For this day…

I noted this morning in church when a member was asked to pray for the offering… the gentleman started the prayer with “thank You Lord for this day.”

Now there is nothing wrong with that at all. But in my years in ministry (in the church or out) I’ve noted that people (myself included) when asked to pray out loud: in a service, at a meeting, on a camp or elsewhere…

We pray out that almost automated start: “thank you for this day”

(Am i the only one who has noted that?)

Now there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, i thought past the ‘automation’ of it…

And realised… what a great way. To always start a prayer. To start our every day…

Because each day is a gift. How we take that for granted so often…

This day.
This day that finds you reading this post (perhaps) is a gift.  Are you thankful for it? The very breath we breathe is a gift. All of what we experience daily is a gift. The people in our lives, our work, our victories and challenges, our meals. All of it.

Maybe we need to pause. And say thank You again.

Start off. Carry on in. End off with gratitude.

Thank you dear God for this day. Amen!

Sacred Spaces 515 – Twenty Sixteen

Hi all, this is my last Sacred Space post for 2016.  (And from this side of South Africa too)

If I had to choose my favourite song of 2016; it would have to be The Window by THRICE

“All that I’ve known’s within the walls of this room where there’s a window
Roughly boarded up
It’s true the gaps are patched but even through the tiny cracks, I feel a wind blow
I see a light of strangest hue

And there’s nothing I can say
There’s no way I can prove
That there’s a place
Beyond this room
But still, there’s something in the way
The light comes shining through
And in the way
The curtains move”

the-window

(Click on the image it will take you to the song too)

I preached on this scripture on the weekend:

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.  The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.  Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution
he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.  Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.  Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.  The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. (Isaiah 35)

(It’s teeming with descriptive words that invite you in)  May the encouragement and motivation you need for your relationship with God be found in these verses.

Your story is not done!  Keep keeping on! 🙂

I’ve enjoying capturing life via Instagram.  380 posts ago was my first picture of 2016:

first-insta-2016

(I think the traveling theme of the photo is fitting for our move down to the Cape.)

A new (ish) band for you to check out is The Vocal Few – I think this beautiful song for “those who don’t like Christmas music” is brilliant.  Check it out.  it will move you:

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to The Sanctuary Centre .  This is their slogan:

“join us on the journey to where world and worship meet”

They’re doing great things in their corner of the world. (And beyond) I love what they wrote about Christmas this year:

It’s been a good innings in Secunda but I am very excited for the new job at Pneumatix in Somerset West. The job is going to be great. It’s going to challenge me. Yet I have a very good feeling we will thrive down there. A new era is dawning…

But, if I had to state the most exciting thing for me, about next year; is to be able to go to church with my wife, not as a “staff member” – but to just be. To sit in the background. Unknown, unnoticed. Sounds like bliss! For the first time in 16 years, I won’t be working for the year. The new season sounds so exciting!

Have a blessed and thoughtful Christmas!

See you in the new year!

Sacred Spaces 511 – All are welcome!

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A simple and powerful reminder: All are welcome!

Catherine used this image in her sermon on Sunday. It grabbed my attention.

All are welcome!
Jesus came for all of us
He came for the sinners
He came for you and me
Liars
Gossips
Thieves
Self righteous
Hypocrites
Those who get it right (at times)
Those who seem to not get it right
All are welcome!

And the picture reminded me of this controversial POD song:

A real honest song. With intense lyrics to digest. A sample here:

“I am fake, fraud, phony, I’m a known liar
Anorexic, rejected object of your desire
Suicidal thoughts keep one in the chamber
I’m a turned out streetwalking heroin banger
I am a secret cutter, porn lover, the town drunkard
Next door, neighborhood slut, I’m somebody’s mother
Outcasted, arrogant, bastard son
I’m the talk of the town but this story has just begun”

(Rest of the lyrics are here: I am (POD))

* Yes there is a swear word in the song. The Christian haters may pick up their stones and start casting; but have they really read the lyrics with an open heart and understood why it was written? And from who’s perspective:

The outcasts
The whores
The hurting

Their biggest question: Will God accept me?

(That’s from where the song is sung)

And the answer is: YES!

1 John 3:16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us.”

All are welcome!

Sacred Spaces 487– Air for Free – (Relient K)

Sacred Spaces 487– Air for Free – (Relient K)
18 April 2016

Relient K “I wonder why I put a filter between beauty and my eyes.”

I received some exciting news during the past week.  After 3 years Relient K have announced their new album will be out in July 2016.  I feel so giddy.  I have journeyed and grown up with this band throughout the years.  Their new offering will be called: Air for Free.

download (1)

There is something so profound in that title.  And it hints at some direction that the album is heading.  The first song they have released: Look on Up, also suggests some continued depth in their lyrics.

Check out song here:

And so I guess, the fact that it taken 3 years to present another album is fitting to this first (shared with us) song.  They’ve been living without their devices…

I’ve always liked how Matt Thiessen has put their lyrics together.  Here are some of my favourites:

“I’m getting by with my collapsible lung
And it’s a good time 100% of the time
And I’m like a ladder with a missing rung
And it’s a slow climb headed back to the sky
And I’m feeling’ backwards when I’m trying the most
And I hope haven’t heard the last words from the Holy Ghost
Cause I think that I’m supposed to be
Well on my way by now” (Collapsible Lung)

“I listen to the sirens as they sing me back to sleep
I pray that no one’s seriously hurt
It feels like everything is dying at the pivot point of me
I listen to the sirens tell me things could still be worse” (I don’t need a soul)

“Explore the cave that is my chest
A torch reveals there’s nothing left
Your whispers echo off the walls
And you can hear my distant calls
The voice of who I used to be
Screaming out “someone, someone please”
Please shine a light into the black
Wade through the depths and bring me back” (I need You)

“And there’s just one last thing that I have to say
As we reflect on the mess of all this that I’ve made
It was cowardice that made me push you away
I was so afraid cause you were so much better than me” (The Thief)

“Who I am hates who I’ve been And who I am will take the second chance you gave me.
Who I am hates who I’ve been cause who I’ve been only ever made me…
So sorry for the person I became. So sorry that it took so long for me to change.
I’m ready to be sure I never become that way again” (Who I am hates who I’ve been)

“I’m out here way beyond a shadow of a doubt and i know I’m never falling out of favour with You” (Falling Out)

“You look down on me, but you don’t look down on me at all.
You smile and laugh, and I feel the love you have for me.
I think we’re going somewhere.
We’re on to something good here, and we’re gonna make it after all.” (Pressing on)

Which ones grab your attention?

This morning as I was thinking about this post I came across this verse in my daily devotion reading.  (see below under QUOTED)

King Jehoshaphat put singers in front of the army.  As the story goes… the singing “moves” people.  In the enemy’s case… it confused them and they started attacking each other.  Bizarre and funny story that.
But there is something amazing there.  Music inspires.  Music changes people. And with Relient K, God has often used their album sleeves as scripture to me…And challenged and moved me.

If you don’t know about Relient K, I have compiled links for you to one song from each of their past albums.  Enjoy:

So there is an anatomy of the tongue in cheek.  It starts with a girl asking you to Sadie Hawkins Dance.   Then you realise she will be a ticking time bomb and you would need her to wear Mood Rings so you can work out what she is thinking…Then you’d run away and ask God to Be my (your) Escape. Then you would discover The Best Thing! Ain’t that cool? But don’t forget and not slow down and grab that Boomerang and wait with anticipation for the new album:

(click on the links)

For Facebook followers here is one song link:

(If you believe Me)

For BLOG followers I have put up some more:

(Feel free to share which song you like?)

 NOW WHAT AMAZED ME THE MOST about the news and sharing of Look on Up was this:

i) How amazing is social media? That news can be spread so quickly.

ii) That the theme of the song (Look on Up) seems so fitting to the “struggle the world is currently battling with.

iii) That some blokes from Canton, Ohio can write some songs… and their inspiration can go all over the world.

iv) That a guy (a same age as me) across the world can be going through very similar stuff to me. (I can see it in his lyrics)

v) This piece from their Instagram post… was so moving:

Screenshot_2016-04-15-10-29-47

Thank you God, for incredible bands like this.  My simple prayer with this post is that even one person reading this will discover Relient K, like them, and connect with You through their music.

Quoted:

“After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendour.” 2 Chronicles 20: 21

Sacred Spaces 371– Being thankful

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Sacred Spaces 371– Being thankful
13 March 2013

Life is about learning, right?
Today, I had a lesson on being grateful.
Seriously, I can be such a brat sometimes and act so ungrateful.
And Jesus, in the ordinary convicts me.
Two life examples that happened to me (but you could think about your own examples in your life):

My mom had bought me some chicken out of care and the goodness of her heart.  My first response was to complain about it being the wrong type of chicken.  Seriously, what a selfish punk I can be?!

I then felt that quiet Spirit inside of me stir: “That’s the response one shouldn’t have.”
I then apologised and expressed gratitude to my mom.

Also prior to this occurrence, I had received post from a friend.  She had kindly sent me a new book; one that has been on the market for only a short while. (Crossroads by William P Young, author of The Shack).

Hands holding a gift box isolated on black background

My first message (bbm) to her was… ‘I got your parcel, but unfortunately I got this book already.’

How ungrateful am I? Shucks!

I learnt two lessons today.  I need to be more grateful for the many kind deeds I experience in my life.  I am also thankful that God speaks to me in that still small voice and I actually hear it, at times.  Thank you, Jesus.

Now, I know I could end this post off with some scripture speaking of “gratitude.”
However, right now, I can’t recall an exact reference.
Yet, I know with conviction, a continuous theme from cover to cover of His word is gratitude.

So in this week, in this year 2013, I am still learning in the school of life.

What do you need to be more grateful for?
How is your attitude?
When last have you said thank you?

TWITTURGY
 
Give thanks with
A grateful heart
“Thank you” is more
Than habitual words
Gratitude helps me
Be content
 

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Sacred Spaces 365– Come Home

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Sacred Spaces 365– Come Home
29 January 2013

Recently my Oma fell in church.  Her femur bone broke.  I saw her again yesterday, two weeks after the incident and operation.  She is looking far better.  Turns out the local hospital in Howick was full, so they suggested that my Oma should just stay in that frail-care department in the retirement village (Amberfield) where my Opa and she usually reside.

It’s easier that’s she’s there for the physio treatment that she needs to undergo to strengthen her leg.
What’s nice is that my Opa literally lives about 450 metres from her (as the crow flies.)
So he gets to see her each day and they share quality time together.

Jesus showed me something of Himself as I saw my Opa and Oma talking yesterday.

Their two chairs placed at 45 degrees from each other and my Opa asked her with such simplicity and beauty and longing in his voice:

porch-rocking-chairs

“Don’t you want to come home?”

To put that question in perspective; they were talking about some of the slackness of the caring staff there and how they are leaving some tubes attached to my Oma, which are rather unnecessary.
My Oma being soft natured hasn’t really challenged or asked the caring staff to take them out.
So my Opa went and rectified the situation.

As he was explaining that to her, those loving words spilt from his lips:

“Don’t you want to come home?”

He misses her.
Six simple words carry such love.
It warmed my heart.

Made me think of how Jesus is with us.
We have overheard (and not heard enough) the grace story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.

In the story the Father (representing God) longs for His son to come home.  Dustin Kensrue (from Thrice) captures the emotion in his song: Please Come Home.

“Don’t you know son that I love you,
And I don’t care where you’ve been,
So please come home”

Listen to the song here:
(Hear the emotion behind the words.)

Now I want you to see that “empty chair” in whatever life space you are in right now, and hear our loving Jesus ask you:

“Don’t you want to come home?”

TWITTURGY
 
Words of invitation
Why would I ignore
Details of Your home
I do not know
However I know You
And in Your arms
Is where I want to be

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Sacred Spaces 347 – The 4 Classical Elements (Water & Words)

(This is the last of the classical elements in my Series of these past few Sacred Spaces.  I hope you have found them helpful.)

“I never knew words could be heavy.” (I am the messenger, Markus Zusak)

I have just finished reading the most incredible book I have read thus far in my life.  See more about it, here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Messenger_%28Markus_Zusak_novel%29

I myself am amazed at the power and beauty of words.
Those words I read transported me elsewhere.
They took me to another world and time.
They stirred my heart and emotions.  On one page I was laughing out loud and then the very next page my gut was being pulled out from my skin.

I got thinking about authors.
They are people who write to express a story.  Their stories that they create are entertainment for us, the reader.
What an industry?!  What an art!
They spend a year (if not more) marrying words and imagination and getting them published into a book for people to enjoy.

I love reading.
I am sure many others do too.
So maybe this is promoting the “reading world” and asking you to appreciate the stories that are around us; either in books or even in the lives of the people we see daily.

Jesus taught in stories.  He told parables that went right to the hearts of His listeners.
When someone’s heart is touched; from there they do and change whatever needs to be done or changed.

Last week, most of South Africa had constant rain for about 3 days.
The sky weighed with greyness and the rain seemed to pour from the sky like a tap with an irreparable leak.
I thought of how creation outweighs all the technology that the greatest of minds have managed to come up with.

We have towering skyscrapers, we have incredible cellular technology and we have amazing transport; yet when it rained like last week, we were reminded: God is bigger.

The rain slowed things down.
The rain reminds us, there is something bigger than ourselves.
We can’t contain the wildness of God’s creation.
And we keeping fooling ourselves every now and then that we can, but to no avail.

I wrote about words and I wrote about water and here they both meet in this piece of scripture:

“As the rain and the snow come down from the 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, 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.”
(Isaiah 55: 10-11)

What story are you telling?
What story are you reading?

Know that Jesus offers words that give eternal life:

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from with him.” (John 7: 38)

Know that our words have the power to build and destroy.  Hopefully we use them, to build.

TWITTURGY
 
We throw them casually out
Words without a care
Sometimes we hurt
Sometimes we create
God you always speak
A positive word
A word that brings hope
And truth
Speak now.
Wash over us.
We wait