Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Where the words come from

I'm very happy to be over at the More Than Writers blog today with a post about words - and The Word. I'll be posting there on the 23rd of each month.

Have a read by clicking here: Where the Words Come From.



More Than Writers is the official blog of The Association of Christian Writers (ACW) and I am very proud to be a member and to be contributing to this exciting new venture. 

There's a different post by a different author every day so do come and have a rummage around. 

Find out more about the ACW by visiting the website: 


or visit the Facebook page to find other friendly writers who are surfing the net, making coffee and eating cheesecake instead of writing. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Waterfall

I don't know much about poetry; none of the rules about how it's supposed to be structured or anything like that. Rhythm, rhyme, meter - hmm, not so sure about those things either.  This just came. There wasn't much fiddling around to choose words, and I don't think that the verses (stanzas?) are even the same length, but it sort of says what I want it to say. 

I think God says something too.


I am weary and burdened 
 and I want that rest you speak of.
My burdens are trivial:
daily stuff, detail stuff,
motherhood and marriage,
women and worry.
Who I am and what I'm for;
when to pursue the dream 
and when to stop trying.
Today, too difficult.
I am tired.

I know that burdens come much heavier than mine:
dirt and drought and death,
fear and fighting,
bombs and bloodshed.
Add guilt to my burden
because life is hard right here
And yet I have nothing to complain about.
I am blessed but broken.
I'm feeling small.
Inadequate and fearful.


Still I come.
I come because I know your grace;
You know my dissatisfaction
and you love me anyway.
I come because I'm thirsty 
and the water that you give brings life;
heals and restores
gives energy and hope.
Water to drink and bathe and swim in.
I can stand beneath the waterfall of peace
naked but somehow unashamed.
Washed and nourished.

You see me.
I can't hide from you,
and so I approach;
just as I am; just me.
You are the God who sees.
The darkness and fear.
Every doubt and uncertainty.
My weariness and weakness,
ingratitude and pride 
and instead of anger 
you pour out never ending love.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Who do you say I am?


"Jesus ... asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.''But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?'Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'"
Matthew 16:13-16 NIV
I've read this many times, and I read it again the other day and suddenly it meant something new. Simon Peter spoke up for all the disciples - I wonder what they were about to say or if there was going to be a long, painful silence? Either way, Simon Peter piped up, 'You are the Christ.'  He didn't say, 'We think that you might be the Christ.' or 'Are you the Christ?' He stated it as a fact. 

And then, this amazing bit:

"Jesus replied, Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.'"

Simon Peter knew who Jesus was. I don't know how he came to this realisation, whether it was gradual or sudden, but Jesus tells him that it wasn't a conclusion he was ever going to come to on his own. God had revealed it to him. That's what He does. By His Holy Spirit, He reveals things to people.

Now, God, you are the same these days as you were then, aren't you? You are eternal, unchanging. You don't need to evolve, or learn, or develop in any way. You are the same God. So how is it that I, too, like Peter, can say of your Son, 'You are the Christ'? 

Isn't it amazing? Just as you gave Peter the understanding to grasp who he was, you have given it to me. How else would I know? 

Wow. 

The enormity of this struck me and left me pondering. You are the same God. 
'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.'
Hebrews 13:8
So if you blessed Simon Peter with the realisation that Jesus was the Messiah, and then all the normal everyday people down through history, then you have blessed me too. It therefore follows that just as you had a relationship with each of those people, spoke with them, directed them and spent time with them - you will do all that for me too. Because you don't change. 

AW Tozer summed it up for me, speaking about Peter's revelation and the foundations of the Christian church through him:
'If all of this is true - and everything within me witnesses that it is - we may insist that God is able to do for us all that He did in the days of the apostles. There has been no revocation in our charter!'
Mornings with Tozer
I don't really know why we read the Bible and believe that you did amazing things for and in and through the apostles and all those other Great People of the Old and New Testament, and then we look at our own lives and fail to apply what we've learned. It's as if we somehow think that you had your golden days back then and somehow you are a more distant, watered down sort of God now. Maybe in retirement, feet up, not much energy. Capable of watching over us in a benevolent sort of way but without the dynamism and drama of the Bible. Without the love and the power. 

But here's that little tiny but hugely important thing. Without you, Peter would not have seen who Jesus is.

Without you, neither would I. 

Thankyou, God Almighty. 

God of the Israelites, Father of Jesus Christ, and God of me too. 







Thursday, 26 February 2015

Cans of worms

Well, here's an update. Last week I was bravely announcing that I had a Plan for Lent. 

I was going to work through a list of '40 Things to Give Up for Lent' that I found online, and I was going to journal and pray through each one, telling God what was on my mind when I considered each particular word, and then listen to what God might say back to me. I thought it would be a learning experience, a little soul-searching, a little offloading, then perhaps some word of affirmation and determination.... 

That was the plan. 

You're expecting me to confess that I haven't been doing it, aren't you? That I got to Day 3 and tripped up, or that it's all become a little bit too difficult and I'll finish some other time. 

That's not it. I've done it every day. Thirty-four pages of journal and quite a few hours, actually. That's not the problem.

The problem with my Lent plan is that it seems to be having quite an effect.

The routine of doing it I've found quite easy; it's the things that I'm realising that are making it difficult. I've found that thinking and writing about these words causes stuff in my head to spill out that I either a) thought I'd dealt with years ago or b) didn't realise was there at all. Cans of worms, long shut up tight, and I'm levering the lids off. There's quite a mess. 

My word for this year is 'PEACE', and I am anything but peaceful, and this Lent '40 things' thing isn't helping. How can an examination of my heart on topics such as 'fear of failure', 'comparison' and 'your comfort zone' cohabit comfortably with PEACE?

So, in this short update, I bring you the news that there is work to be done, indeed, and I haven't even got to 'negativity' (day 16) or 'distraction' (day 22) or - gulp - 'worry' (day 30). 

Lots to consider, lots to confess. I'm just struggling to know how to deal with the things that are coming up. Over and over again I'm writing, 'I'll just leave this with you, Jesus.' 

I can't think of any other way of dealing with it. It feels right; some of the bad stuff had leapt back on board over the past few months anyway, and so the opportunity to confront what's going on seemed both necessary and God-led. I suppose that I thought there would be a sense of closure as I skipped through the forty things. And there isn't. No heavenly box ticked, no huge sigh of relief. No feeling of 'Right, that's done with.'

So, I conclude this is closely linked to my word for last year, that I was reluctant to replace as I chose My One Word 2015. My word for last year was TRUST, and as the year went on it became more and more precious to me. I know now that it is really my word for last year, this year and all the years that come until I run out of years down here on earth. 

TRUST is pretty much all there is. 

So, I trust you, Jesus, with my struggle with comparing myself with other people. I trust you with my fear of getting things wrong. I trust you when I put a wary foot outside my comfort zone, and I trust you that you will be there as I think about all the other terrifying things on the list. You haven't ever let me down. 

I trust you, Jesus. That must be the path to peace. There isn't another way. 

Ok, I'm ready. Day 9. What's it to be? 

Oh. 'Guilt'. 

Right. 



Friday, 20 February 2015

Forty things to give up

A quick note on Lent. 

I have done - and attempted not to do - many things for Lent. Giving up chocolate was not particularly difficult for me as it's not my biggest area of temptation in the food department. Biscuits were harder. Coffee would be impossible, though I did once go decaf for the forty days. 

I've given up Facebook, and found on the whole that it was a positive experience with a lasting effect. The time that I found by not grazing on trivia I spent journalling, and that has become something very precious in my life. Social media doesn't have the same hold on me that it once had, though I still have to be careful. No, this year, something different. 

A book? A set of Lent devotions? Hmm - I am swamped by reading at the moment and I'm thoroughly enjoying a pile of new fiction that I tell myself is essential as research as I'm trying to write a novel of my own at the moment. One of the websites with daily suggestions of good things to do and acts of generosity...? Maybe.

And then I saw an article that jumped out at me. A gentleman called Phil Ressler, Pastor of a Church in New Jersey, America, wrote an article entitled 'Forty things to give up for Lent'. The list just grabbed me - it stood out from the page and flashed repeatedly. Almost. Anyway, suddenly I knew what I was going to be doing that was different in the run up to Easter this year. 

So many things on Mr Ressler's list were meant Just For Me. I decided that I would pray through one of his suggestions each day. Maybe aim to devote at least one page in my journal to each topic. That seemed both positive and do-able.

I soon learned that he'd written a book with the same title as this article, and even as my finger twitched towards the Amazon link, (Ooh, there's a book, buy the book!) I had another thought - no, I didn't want this to become another exercise in reading someone's take on each item on the list - I'd read through all forty and identified at least three quarters of them as things that need attention in my life. Probably God would add the other ten to the list as well, and so I wanted it to be my prayers, and His answers. 

So, this is my plan. With just the words and concepts that Mr Ressler listed, I am going to bring each one before God and say what's on my heart, then listen for anything He would like to say to me. Some might say that this is a very inward-looking way of spending Lent, and that might be true, but I think for me, at a point in my life when I feel beset by loads of things that I thought I'd managed to beat, (most of which are on the list) it seems easily as valuable as cutting out crisps or resolving to do twenty sit-ups every day until Bank Holiday Monday. 

Ooh, the horror of sit-ups. 

Here's the list. If you know me even a little you'll see that we got off to a flying start.

  1. Fear of Failure
  2. Your Comfort Zone
  3. Feelings of Unworthiness
  4. Impatience
  5. Retirement
  6. People Pleasing
  7. Comparison
  8. Blame
  9. Guilt
  10. Overcommitment
  11. Lack of Counsel
  12. Impurity
  13. Entitlement
  14. Apathy
  15. Hatred
  16. Negativity
  17. The Spirit of Poverty
  18. Going Through the Motions
  19. Complaint
  20. The Pursuit of Happiness
  21. Bitterness
  22. Distraction
  23. Giving Up
  24. Mediocrity
  25. Destructive Speech
  26. Busyness
  27. Loneliness
  28. Disunity
  29. The Quick Fix
  30. Worry
  31. Idolising
  32. Resistance to Change
  33. Pride
  34. Small View of God
  35. Envy
  36. Ingratitude
  37. Selfish Ambition
  38. Self-Sufficiency
  39. Sorrow
  40. My Life
For each suggestion, there is a sentence explaining what the author means, but I am not making a note of that. I want to take each word and think about it, exploring what comes to mind, and then listen to see if/how God would have me change the way I think, act or speak. I suspect there's much work to be done. 

Time spent with God is never wasted, is it?  My One Word for 2015 is 'PEACE' - and it occurs to me that most - if not all - of these forty things are peace-stealers. Please God, it might be a long road, but I hope to take the first steps to reclaiming each of these bits of my life. 

So, this is my Lent Task. Time in prayer each day around these forty areas of life. I've already found that the first two stretched to multiple journal pages, much heart-searching and unexpected insights, so I'm hoping for real change over the next month and a bit. 
 my life. 

I'll let you know how it goes. 

I may need a new journal before very long. 




Article reference:  40 Things to Give up for Lent: The List by Phil Ressler, Pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Old Bridge, NJ. Published on the Church website 11/2/2015  
http://gs4nj.org/40-things-the-give-up-for-lent-the-list/




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