On Monday the question was about Big Picture thinking and what might be in the years ahead
For me as a positive person who does like to dream big dreams about things that I know that need to be changed I do like to think about what could and should be.
I am also as a practical person and likes to see how the change can happen – what steps need to be put in place – what the route may be.
I also know that the world / family / church / business / whatever … doesn’t follow my plans, it doesn’t read my script of how things need to be for me to fulfil my vision – actually I’m very glad of that! as most people actually are really sensible! as annoying as that is! and that some of my ‘there’ picture might not be that great in reality and I may have to actually work with people to find a much better and solid picture of what needs to be.
So … in my own experience I set out from here to where my ‘there’ might be – identifying the big picture working collaboratively with others discerning and praying as I go. There may be distractions and some of those may have to be jettisoned but there might be things that would be helpful.
These things are important … being adaptable and adventurous stepping out and heading in the direction that will bring us life and call us to something more is really important … yes there might be a slog required, some hurdles to climb over but knowing that we’re heading in the right direction is important … having breaks along the way to enjoy – taking time to take stock and celebrate and have fun … as well as cups of coffee (or whatever you are having yourself!) is really important.
I have found in those cups of coffee with others there is wisdom, there is direction and generally friendship.
It is first of all important to recognise that we see in the Bible that God calls all people:
To a relationship with him (Acts 2:38-40)
To eternal life (1 Peter 5:10)
To obedience (Romans1:5)
To belong to Jesus Christ (Romans 1:6)
And that He calls all Christians specifically:
To holiness (1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Peter 1:15)
To change to be like Jesus (Romans 8:28-30)
To live lives that are worthy of Christ (Ephesians 4:1)
To a great hope (Ephesians 4:4)
To worship Him (Psalm 95:6, 1 Peter 2:9)
To live at peace with others (Colossians 3:15)
To bless those who do evil to you (1 Peter 3:9)
To mission (Matthew 28:18-20)
It’s been my experience that as we go through life doors do unexpectedly open and close – opportunities do arise for all sorts of possibilities and these are taken through prayer and discernment. The amazing gift God gives to us is to use our freedom to say yes and no to things.
In my role as a church leader I have spoken to many people who have discerned calling and people who are searching for what God might be saying to them. One of my key questions What doors might there be open to you?, what might you need to do to get some of the doors to open (i.e. where is the key to the door) ?
Might it be education / Might it be passion / Might it be a conversation with a key person? / Might it be time? / Might it be prayer?
When God does think it is the right time – he’ll usually might it very clear … but also won’t force you – the great gift of freedom is really important.
what do you mean … I don’t know what I want to do today never mind the next few years … don’t you know we’re in the middle of a pandemic! – catch yer self on!
It is very true … but at some point we all do need to have a think of possibilities and working towards those.
In bigger picture week (an idea that we take some time some where in our year … maybe it’s not now but setting aside some time to have a think about where you’d like to be in a few years and looking at the steps that might need to be taken to get there. If there’s not space sometime in the year to do the ‘Big Picture thinking’ it is difficult to get there or work towards those things.
Perhaps this is done on retreat, on a walk along the beach, on your own or with a trusted confidant.
Taking time and maping out something can be helpful.
I don’t know if you’ve had a crazy week or a what are we going to do with the time week
For me it’s been one of those weeks where I’ve been playing catchup all week and this blog is one of those things which I’ve been so close to getting done but never seemed to have got done. Now with 2 weeks to go to Easter day I’m wanting to get caught up with the questions I’ve missed out on.
These questions this week are deep questions and I would have loved to have more time to ponder them
Tuesday – When was the last time I took time to stop and ponder creation?
At the moment we see creation springing into life – One of the amazing things for me is the mix between tending creation and leaving creation alone to get on with it. This week I’ve been struck but the idea of partnership for beauty and thriving. As humans we’re called into partnership but there are things we need to leave alone and let creation get on and not interfere.
I love watching the birds and other wildlife which venture into our garden – and contemplating the eco systems at play here
Wednesday – Who / what do I need to pray for today?
Quite a simple question today. In my experience taking time to think and pray give us links with others needs and takes us to a place where we remember our dependance upon God and also reminds us of the world around us beyond our own front door which for many at this time is vitially important
Thursday – How am I feeling today?
Acknowledging our feelings at the moment is really important. These strange times we’re living in and the stuff we’re experiencing in this lockdown is difficult stuff – And the fact that we’re all experiencing it differently is important. It’s OK not to be OK at the moment and it is OK to be OK at the moment too. Reading lots of articles about how people are experiencing this lockdown in particular which has been going on for such a long time and people being angry, frustrated, concerned … whatever emotions you might want to add to the picture is important. Emotions are not good or bad but help us to process the events that are going on in our life. I’m not a psychologist nor a counsellor but recently I discovered the feelings wheel taking time to think what’s going on is important and realising that all sorts of things lead us to feeling what we are both internally and externally
Friday – Who/What am I grieving at the moment ?
Grief is a natural part of life and helps us process so much when we loose someone / something which we have valued.
The experts tell us that grief can be understood as a process
In my experience it would be wonderful if it were so! … Sometimes it is and that is healthy but many many times it is much more messier than that but it is important to work through and to look at these things and to have people to chat to if we get stuck in one of these places. perhaps a friend, familiy member, pastor. All of us at some point will need this and taking time to understand this is really really important
Saturday – Whose example of life do I most appreciate?
Growing up I had lots of people around me who in their own quiet way have shown me what it means to live as a Christian, to be a good husband, to be a leader, to be a man after God’s heart and also invested time in conversations with me.
Whose example do you most appreciate and why not take time to thank them today … or if you can’t thank them maybe journal about what it is about them that you do appreciate.
Then how about putting those things into your daily life?
The Meaning of the Cross for God the Father- hope and rescue
In his highly acclaimed book, TheGulag Archipeliago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn highlights the plight of humanity. And it is in complete agreement with the Word of God. He writes, “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
The Apostle Paul put it this way in Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all humanity, because all sinned.”
Note these truths from this verse about the nature and plight of humanity. Firstly, all of humanity is sinful, no one is exempt save Jesus. And secondly, the consequences for sin is death.
Death is a separation. Physically we die because of sin. The body will separate from the soul at death. The body to decay. The soul into eternal life or eternal death. Spiritually we have died because of sin, we are separated from the life of God and alienated from him. One of the temporal consequences of sin is that we will all physically die. The eternal consequence of sin is an eternity in hell away from the love, life and presence of God.
The Apostle illustrated these truths in Ephesians 2:1-3. He writes, “You were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live…gratifying the cravings of the sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. We were objects receiving the wrath of God.”
History is filled with tragedy on the sea. Hundreds, thousands of ships and sailors have come to their end through violent storms. They were engulfed in monstrous waves. The ship brakes up and falls to the bottom of the sea. Often, all aboard went to a watery grave, none survived. They were helpless in the wake of the storm in spite of their prowess at sailing, and in spite of their skills.
Spiritually, everyone is born into a raging sea of sin engulfed by its waves. Our destruction is sure. There is no hope we can find in ourselves. We are utterly powerless. Our only hope is help from outside. And that’s the good news of our faith. God our Heavenly Father is not content to leave us in this plight. His deep love moved him to provide a way out of our helpless situation. He reaches into the timeline of humanity and through the cross he provides the only way and the only hope we have to correct this uncorrectable plight.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
For God the Father, the Cross means the rescue and hope out of spiritual and eternal death. The next time you see a cross somewhere, stop, ponder, remind yourself of what it represents. The compassion of our Heavenly Father to rescue us because we cannot rescue ourselves from the impact and penalty of our sin. And then offer your heart to Jesus, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”1 Corinthians 1:18