“What do you bring to the table?”

2020 has been a strange year. It’s been unique. It’s been unprecedented. I think we’ve heard that word an unprecedented amount of times too, which only confirms what a strange year it’s been.

I’ve found 2020 to be beneficial in its own unique way as well. I’ve found it thought provoking. I’ve found it one where perspective has been more useful than normal. I’ve found we’ve been asked to think outside the usual parameters we’re accustomed to.

Individually the same can be said. Like one Sunday morning as i sat there on zoom tuning in to the latest “church on the couch”, as has been for months now this year. We were asked a question. A short one. But it was thought provoking, and in a good way.

What do i bring to the table?

The question is very much also a saying. What is it we can contribute? What is it that we offer? What is it that we know we possess that is of use to others? In this context it is all about what we bring to God, the Father’s table?

For me it starts with a simplicity. I’m simple. I know what I want and I’m going focus on that and only that. I’m not asking for much. I’m simply asking for what I need.

There’s authenticity too. I carry something genuine and real and it is me. It is mine. Friends and acquaintances have often spoken of it. Of how I carry something like the fingerprints of Christ. He’s put that in me, I know so.

But as he’s mentored me he has shown me how to go further. To love, encourage and to show compassion. He’s helped me realise that life isn’t all about me. The need to respect and consider others is of equal importance to that of my own.

He’s given me a desire now to speak that in to others through writing and no doubt through words that I also speak. Being brave enough to be open and honest is a damn hard task. Not least because you essentially expose yourself to others. “ Expose” probably isn’t the greatest word to use because by now i feel it’s less exposed and more offering up what I’ve found to be good for me. In the earlier days it did feel more like exposure.

But in doing this he has shown me the value of doing just so. We humans are meant to co-exist. We’re meant to do life together and the value in community is so high. Perhaps it’s the emotive reaction that connection brings? Or maybe it’s simply that our circumstances feel familiar and empathy is felt? We’ve all been in these places at one point or another

When I think back to that desire the father has given me I don’t just see the desire he’s put in to me but equally the desire he has for me, and wow! When you see that it blows you away. His desire is borne totally out of love. Unconditional love. When I think about this I feel it’s hard for us to fully comprehend how much he loves us. We have an idea, but that idea is based on our own idea. I have a feeling he loves us even deeper than that.

His love for us is a lot like taking a ride somewhere. It’s been a journey. We’ve had to learn and discover the deepness of his love. The journey has taken us places, it’s given us emotions that have changed us and when you look back 10 years, 5 years, 2 years and then today and you see all these parts he has built up within you. They have made you stronger and wiser. They have taught you so much that you are not the same person you were earlier. It’s not possible to be the same person anymore.

If the Father has made us so perfectly in his image then it is our duty to best believe that his design is intentional and the things that make us who we are were truly meant to be. Our identity is something we need to embrace.

That brings me back to the question I’ve been asked a few times lately.

What do I bring to the table?

The saying has been around forever but in the context of our relationship with the Father i wonder if we’re truly aware of what we bring to the table? I’m aware of the things I bring. I mentioned them at the beginning.

Things like authenticity and genuineness were words given to me recently. I’ve seen it and know it to be true. Another word given to me which also sits in line with the others was presence. Presence is not something you practice. Presence is something you carry and if anything it is more of a reflection. It’s what people see.

I think those are three amazing things to bring to the table.

Authenticity

Genuineness

Presence

Each one of those I see mirror the way the Father also was. The beauty in this is that this is what he intended for me. I didn’t really ever work towards this, it just became a part of me as i matured. This is how the Father builds us up. This is how he built me up.

I want to finish with this. The other day I was reading out of Acts chapter 2. Here King David spoke of a Lord who he walks with so intimately. He knows that he is forever side by side with him. He speaks of his praises, his joy and the hope that is so strong.

I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’”

Acts of the Apostles 2:25-28 NLT

It’s my hope that we all find a place where we can each be thankful for his presence, praise him for the joy he has given us and continue to live in such strong hope that he is forever with us on this journey. We will not be shaken. He will not be moved.

Whatever it is that you bring to the table you should have a confidence in it. A confidence within yourself. Your value is found in the things that Christ has given you. And all you bring is all you need to bring. It is all he intended for you. It is all you need…..and it is yours to keep!

Owning your identity

So I’ve been thinking an awful lot lately about our identities and the way that our Father works within them.

Let’s start with the obvious. Our identity, which God has given us – is seen through the ways we use our gifts, which he has also given us. Our gifts become like our authority. God wants us to use that authority so that people may know and literally see our God given identity. He wants us to use it in a way that brings joy to his heart and glory to his name.

I feel such encouragement when I think about the way that my identity is found. I’m so profoundly lifted when I realise that the gifts he has given me are where my identity in Christ is revealed. The gifts are intended for me. They are for me to use in ways in which I can bless those i come across.

God has given us all gifts. Some are unique, others are intended for the right people. But all of us have an immense value that our Father wants us to not just discover, but use.

We find these gifts in so many ways. We find them in the way we serve tirelessly without seeking reward. We find them in the selfless faith we carry each and every day. We find them in the way our hearts desire for things. We find them in the things that make us come alive.

Some of us love like all of us only wish we could. It’s a love that looks easy, it looks like peace as well. It’s amazing! Love and peace feel like the dynamic duo we all seek and when we find it it is THE most brilliant feeling. To have someone shower you with their love and peace is a blessing you invaluably accept.

No matter what our identity entails it is all special and brilliant. After all, it’s God’s craftiness that has been at work, and his workmanship is unlike no other.

It’s so clearly part of his design for us and when i see this it draws me in closer and stronger with each day. He has a path he has set us on, he has us on his fingertips guiding and encouraging us. He walks beside us – forever in control. That right there is a powerful hope to hold on to. He is with us at ALL times so be on the lookout, listen for him.

Our Father has given us so much already. But perhaps the most exciting thing about what he has given us is that we literally have no comprehension of just what he can actually do and the depths that he would go in order to do so.

I was drawn to Ephesians 3:20 earlier and was simply struck in awe. It says

“ God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his spirit gently within us.” (MSG version)

This is amazing! It’s Marvellous! It leaves me sat in awe of just what he could do. What I know is this. You and I, we all have gifts intended for use. And when you see the way he is already using you then you begin to sense a little a tick of the magnitude of his plans for us.

He does this by using us, by living within us. So when we use our gifts it is like God showing us the things we are capable of. But not only that. He’s showing us who we really are intended to be.

It is such an encouragement when we realise that. It’s also an incredible blessing to be entrusted with. He gives us this when we are ready to use it. He equips us with what we can handle. We are a vessel created and crafted for that specific purpose. It’s up to us to discover that purpose and gifting.

As I’ve thought long and hard over the past weeks he’s shown how this all comes together for the good of his kingdom. I’ve seen this in the words spoken over me. I’ve seen this in the way the same things have been confirmed by others. Almost like twins who think the same things. Our Father has confirmed much in recent weeks like that. It’s exciting and empowering when that happens.

But as I finish this “lesson”, if we can call it that. I want to finish by empowering you to step out and use your own gifts. Listen to God. Listen for the finer details which will become the start of something with such great purpose. No gift is too small, insignificant or over used. There’s always a need for more of it.

I’m lucky right now that the sense of my gifting is so strong right now. But rather than make it about me I just want to listen to the things my Father in heaven reveals to me. That friends is what is worth sharing.

Riding the wave

A while ago I found my mind drawn back to a text message sent to me some 14 months ago. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this memory. But i felt that God had placed it there for a reason.

For the first few days I would think back to it but not really take the time to investigate it. Kind of like procrastinating. We know we want to or would like to do something but just never get around to doing it. The thought stays there but it remains a thought, and that’s exactly what happened.

About a week later things had not really progressed but if I knew one thing it was that God has a habit of doing things in his time. So I asked myself why would God bring up the text message in my mind out of the blue? There simply had to be a reason for it and I knew it!

The text was from my pastor Matt. He had been spending time praying for me and during that time had seen a vision that represented God calling me in to a deeper place of intimacy with him. In this vision I had been in the water wanting to catch waves but not having the courage to do so.

I knew full well what that meant, but to be honest, what did that look like? I had no idea.What was i to do? How was I meant to go about it?

The waves represented the Holy Spirit. Essentially I needed to be bolder and catch those waves. Because in the vision the moment I did catch one I was overjoyed. I was ecstatic!

I wanted that SO much! I wanted to know I could do it. I wanted to experience what that reaction was.

So I prayed.

I prayed and meditated on those questions. On what it meant? And how I would go about it? I started looking intentionally for the answers and the truth was I found them right away. They weren’t ground breaking answers. They didn’t change many things at all but what I see now is they got my mind searching deeper and got me in to a routine of doing this.

Almost like my mind was being retrained – to look at things from a slightly different perspective. If I felt curious or unsure on something I began to see that this was my mind expanding.

A lot of what I was writing on in this period was from that initial perspective. A perspective that focused on encouraging and loving. A perspective that knew that in that place of honesty and vulnerability there were people out there who felt the same things or needed those words for themselves.

But as i started searching deeper for God’s intimacy I realised that I had stopped writing. That even though I had a lot on my heart, I wasn’t feeling moved to write things down. Instead I was being called to stop. To listen. To rest. To seek and find these reasons for the pause.

Even as I write this now my latest piece sits unfinished and here now is another piece put together so easily, almost as if God has placed it all on my heart right now, for this moment, this purpose.

The purpose is not just for me. It’s never about me. It may involve me but it’s never about me. It’s about God. It’s for God and it’s done with our Father, God.

What I realised when looking back at this text message was that what was spoken in to me that day is what has indeed happened since then. It’s been gradual and it’s been consistent and it has blessed me time after time again.

I still think about a time when I found it challenging even to write things that provided just a small window in to my thoughts and feelings. As introverted as i can be at times, this was a wild and yet bold step to make.

That feeling quadrupled in intensity when writing about thoughts became writing about deeper, more intimate matters such as what God has been doing in and around me.

But by this point it felt almost a necessity that I stepped in to that place and in some ways was actually an easier step to make because the words almost always come easier than when I write about other matters. Almost like God just laid it all out for me and I just needed to put it together.

The revelation in this experience for me was found in the way God had used that text message to show me what he had been doing since that day. At times we lose sight of some of the things he does for us, so to pull it back in and focus on things in hindsight was amazing! Because I could see HOW much he has done during this time.

I look at the way a COVID world has impacted this too. The routine of a Sunday spent in church, as good as it was, was changed. My focus – shifted, again.

Church has still been a big part of my Sunday just via Zoom and to be honest. I love it! Why? Well funnily enough it feels more intimate, it takes us deeper via the conversations we have. There is openness, vulnerability, honesty, love, kindness and inspiration. But perhaps the one thing that stands out most is that despite a world where isolation is a common theme now, it is community and family that are growing in this space.

Zoom has also challenged me to continue down this road I am on. I get to be Inspired and at the same time hopefully inspire and encourage others.

It’s also a proposition for the future. It’s a bold invitation to continue down this road. That as I step deeper in to him that there is a purpose that I will understand far better on another day.

The challenge today is definitely found in the connection we establish with others. Life has been altered. The opportunities are still there but they look different. They occur differently, none the least they are still there.

However I am so encouraged that I was drawn back to the original message so that I could see what God has done, and I’m eagerly awaiting what he wants to show me next.

The beauty of God is that he crafts us so intricately, so uniquely that we can have no idea what he is about to do next. But we can be safe in the knowledge that he’s always working within us.

I feel like the only thing left to say now is to encourage. We all have our own story. It is unique, it is something worth sharing and you can. But it is our story and what God has planned for each of us is going to be different for each of us. That’s what makes it unique.

But find encouragement even in the little things he does. A thousand small steps is a lot of steps In the right direction. So even if when it feels like he’s doing little, be encouraged that he’s doing something and piece by piece it will all make sense and you too will look back and see HOW much he actually has done.

As for me the shift is obvious. The fork in the road, long past. Those thousand small steps have left me in a place where I am ready for that next thousand steps as the journey continues

Love is spelled Light

Recently i shared a small snippet on what it means to be a light. It was a chance to share one of the things of my life for which I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for it because we live in a world that focuses on “ME”. It focuses on things we can get from life, whether it be wealth, status or just generally our wellbeing. All those things are nice, they are great actually. However there’s more to living than this.

I’ve found that one of the things I do naturally and effectively is to be a light. What does that mean exactly?

The idea of it comes from the book of Matthew in chapter 5:16 where it says;

“So don’t hide your light! Let it shine brightly before others, so that the commendable things you do will shine as light upon them, and then they will give their praise to your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:16 (Passion translation)

In a more general sense of the translation to be a light means to shine or to bring light to people’s lives. It means to encourage, empower and set an example. It means supporting or showing love to those around you.

It’s about shining a light on something, like in the same way a light shone in the darkness reveals the true identity of something.

I’ve found over time that people need other people. We carry burdens, we carry fragments of our past which even though are in our past they still touch, linger and affect our futures. It’s not always easy to see things for what they really are. We see them through the lens we get used to seeing them through. And this affects our ability to look forward.

I’ve found that i have a way with words. Almost always in a context of writing something. But I’ve learned also that sometimes those words need to be spoken. Words have meaning. They impact us.

While words spoken can have an impact, it is examples which impact more. Examples are best set by actions. Our presence can mean a lot to someone, just having someone being there fills a void that can be incredibly beneficial.

What is it we carry that is so beneficial?

We carry a presence which reflects the nature of who we are. It’s partially personality but if anything it’s more than that. It stems from the heart and your deepest desires. My heart seems to carry vast amounts of compassion, empathy and love. It’s hard to know why but it does.

It’s only been recent years that I’ve let that part of me really be seen. Not for fear of what others would think, but honestly? It was that I truly did not understand what it was that i carried within me.

It’s one thing to be nice to someone. I always found that easy. But it’s something far greater to step out and just be there for someone. Sometimes it’s just a message, a conversation. Even just a moment. What counts in that moment is the example. It’s the action which speaks loudest.

It’s like saying;

“Friend, nothing else matters. I support you. I want you to see that i am simply here for you”.

Nothing is expected in return for this isn’t about me. It’s about doing the very thing i believe we are here for. Each other.

We are here for each other.

That is what it means to be a light. I know that at the other end of the spectrum it is people’s words and presence which have encouraged me over time.

Sometimes we know where to go but can’t seem to find our way there. This is where we need other people. I don’t think its coincidence that the people in our lives are who they are. I think they all play a role in shaping who we are meant to become. It is their words, their encouragement, their constant presence and support which helps us find our way.

When I think about my presence I want to know that i made a difference. I want to know that I stopped and helped someone when they needed it.

Why?

Because not everyone will do it. People will be left to fend for themselves, or feel that their circumstances left them unworthy of a good deed. I see people made to pay continuously for their poor decisions. I see people living without belief of better days ahead. Of choosing to believe that hope is something they cannot touch because they feel they don’t deserve it.

But hope is a powerful thing. Hope is a presence that restores the broken, it recharges the defeated and it reminds the lost that you will find that place you desire once more.

That is why shining a light for all to see is so important.

My light is your hope. Light shines for all to see. Your hope shines brightest in the darkest moments, like the sun that rises after the night’s longest hour. I’m reminded of that every time the sun breaks out after a storm.

Friends as Christmas passes and a new year closes in remind yourself to think of those around you. Be encouraged that your presence can be someone else’s light.

Fears

So a few months ago I was asked whether I would like to give a short speech on Sunday at my church. Just a short kind of thing that lasted perhaps 2 minutes.

It was basically an opportunity to speak on what God has been doing within me. The truth is that God has been doing a lot inside me this last 12 months. Not all of it is groundbreaking. Not all of it is even that important to anyone outside of me. But it’s been undeniable that he’s been working on me, ”Project Pete” in this time.

Unfortunately on this chosen Sunday, I was not to be around. I was out of town. I was disappointed to not have a chance to talk about it because I believe the opportunity was a good one to be honest and real with a group of people.

That last line there is a strange one because anyone who knows me would know that I’m far from comfortable with the idea of speaking in front of an audience. Most of us have felt this way. I used to dread, fear, loathe and even hide from the idea of doing so in high school.

My mind goes to places where it thinks about what I could possibly say and how insignificant it would be. How something big for me is simply for me. That my highs aren’t shared in the same light for others.

Even today the idea of sharing or speaking still gets me slightly uneasy but I feel at piece with the idea of doing so now. You learn over time that the reality of anything is never half as bad as the fear of the unknown that you feel beforehand.

Fear is one of, if not THE greatest foe of man of all time. It plays on us like a kid with a nasty streak who just can’t stop. If allowed to continue it will persist.

Fear is something we all feel at different times. Sometimes it comes and goes. Sadly it can often hang around and dictate life if you let it. But what is fear? And why does it have such a powerful effect on us??

The truth may well be that fear is simply nothing more than an illusion but then why is it so hard to sweep it aside? What is it that lets fear dictate the way we feel?

Sure, there is the reality that we do worry about how others perceive us. So that quite often can be a reason not to do something. But the fear of the unknown is probably an even greater reason. If we knew the outcome of doing something then we would do it right away, especially if we knew it could be a good thing.

The fear of the unknown is a funny one. It has the ability to paralyze us because we simply cannot see what will happen next. But why do we automatically assume the outcome will be negative? It’s human nature i guess.

But what would it look like to assume that the outcome will in fact be a positive one? The right one! It comes back to a couple of things for me. First it requires you to believe in yourself and the person you are. You need that quiet confidence in yourself to believe that this next step is one you’re ready to make.

The other step required is to show some faith. Faith not only in yourself but that the direction you’re heading in is the right one. You need to trust that you’re in this position for a reason, that it’s no mistake that you’re in this moment.

I know it’s easier said then done. It’s a hell of a lot easier said actually!

You’ll probably only fight with yourself for longer than you need before convincing yourself you should do it. Why? Because that’s how fear works. Things are always harder than they should be when fear is in the way.

Faith is actually a key component in overcoming fear. Faith is believing in something even when you don’t see it yet. Fear will try block your faith and keep you right where you are. Overcoming those fears is a big part in how we grow as people.

What I’ve learned is there’s no easy way to overcome it. You have to look it in the eye and just do it. You have to be strong enough to look past the things you fear. You have to realise that in order to keep growing you need to be able to believe that you are bigger and greater than what your fear tells you.

Fear will tell you many things. All of them negative. Obstacles though are meant to be overcome. Fear is exactly that. An obstacle.

I saw a great exercise in overcoming your fears a few years ago. The non profit community ”To Write Love On Her Arms” (TWLOHA) launched a campaign back then where people were photographed holding a card which listed their ”Fears vs Dreams”.

On that card they listed a fear and then below it a dream. The idea being that it highlights its okay to have things we fear, we are all human. But that place of fear doesn’t define us. Our dreams are in part what defines us. The things we hope for mean something greater & deeper than any fear could ever be.

Fear is an obstacle. Our dreams are….our dreams, our hopes, our desires. Deep down they are things which mean something to us. They are significant to us. Below is a video which captures the idea of the concept TWLOHA were aiming for.

Fears vs Dreams concept video

TWLOHA – Fears vs Dreamshttps://youtu.be/NAJQttIy_vQ

The idea of promoting people listing their fears and dreams is one that encourages people. It can also empower and show people that what they feel is something others feel too. That they are not alone in feeling this. We all need encouragement to press in to things from time to time because too often we feel as though we’re doing this on our own.

As for me?

Well, fear is always going to be there. But the key is to remember that I am greater and stronger than it. That I’ve already overcome it previously. It doesn’t define me, doesn’t control me and certainly it is not my companion. For the most part I do okay with this.

When I live in this mindset I not only believe that it’s true but I see the evidence of it too.

Friends,

If fear is nothing more than an obstacle created by illusion, the challenge then must be to overcome it like you’re meant for this moment.

Godspeed!

Love is…..

There are few words more powerful than the word Love. It is a word that is essentially overused in the English language. We use it to just about describe anything that comes across our path that we find favour with, we even use it in ironic or sarcastic circumstances too, just to prove we really do overuse the word. But Love isn’t just a word, it is something which carries far more power than we often realise.

Often love is associated with the idea of simply loving someone or something. We show affection towards it. It becomes important to us. We believe that it carries more weight or for a better word……significance, than the things around us. We hold a value in this that far outmatches other things. But the truth is that love means many different things and it’s value to some will be far greater than it is to others.

Sadly love will not always represent what you hope for.  To some it will be a hard place. A bitter memory, a painful loss. But these places remind us of the power of love and what it carries, or did carry and how it doesn’t always work out the way it was intended. People are human, they’re aren’t faultless. People will have their own battles and you may not get a say in it. We as people are far from perfect and sadly people do get hurt inside places where love should’ve existed.

Perhaps Love’s greatest asset is the action and reasoning behind it. As an action it is powerful. It has the ability to connect one person with another where circumstances otherwise may not have done so. It takes only a moment to connect people. As simple as helping a mother lift a pram on to a train, yet the action remains in that mother’s mind for longer. Why? Because you showed something of your heart towards her in helping. To love by action is to commit towards something. You show a focus toward it. You have a reason for which you want to be in that moment. There is a value in giving your time to that moment.

Your friends and family are perhaps your best example of where you can show love like this. Growing up i had plenty of friends but there was always a core group, much smaller in number that were your true friends. You know the ones that you would literally stop for and be there for? This was them. They’re the friends that matter the most. Often, like with family, there isn’t anything you wouldn’t have done for them. Their situation was almost always more important than your own.

It’s a selfless love.

It’s never been about impressing others. Or wondering what you could get back in return. It’s a feeling that comes from within, like an extra sense, that channels you in to acting this way. This kind of relationship goes deeper than most. It means something far more significant than other relationships. You could go long periods of time without connecting with these friends or family and things still don’t seem to change. When you catch up it feels like you never drifted apart. These are bonds that we’re lucky to have. These are the bonds most people wish they could have. These are the bonds you should never take for granted.

But what about the world we live in today? It feels often like everyone is out to look after themselves. It can feel like everything has a price and that in order to step out and give someone your time would be at the expense of your own time.  Our time is precious, perhaps more so than ever? We live in a world now that leaves us short on time. It feels like work takes up 70 % of our lives, that sleep takes up 20%(probably less for some) and that the final 10% gets divvied up among ourselves, our partners, friends and family. Time has almost become like currency. We value it more than perhaps ever before.

What i see in the world today is that it is very important to look after yourself. It’s crucial to develop your path. Whether that be through your career, your family or even simply your future. There’s never been more importance placed on those things than there is today. All of this kind of feels a little out of line though. This type of world focuses a lot on looking out for ourselves and not to worry about the other guy, securing our own futures which in one sense is all well and good.  But is that really what we’re here for? Surely there’s more to life than this?? There has to be!

I think one of the greatest things you can give someone is your time. Earlier this year i felt God telling me that i needed to invest more time in those around me. I’ve always had time for friends and family but i haven’t always been the most open of people. Being introverted doesn’t help. You tend to come out of your quiet little corner every so often. It can feel like an effort to simply invest your time in people. But i’ve tried harder at it this year and its been a valuable experience.

What it’s taught me is that there is value in all of us. We’re all so different. So unique! We think differently. We believe different things. We hold different things closer to our hearts. However when we come together and chat, or listen, We’re not all that different afterall. What i once would’ve considered weird about someone, i now kind of view that as them simply being them and there’s nothing wrong in that. It what makes them unique.

It’s taught me that these experiences we share have a way of growing us.  We open our hearts, we share our stories, but perhaps more importantly we are actually showing value in them by investing our time. We show them that they matter and that who they are means something. It also reminds me that we people need other people. Not just to coexist but to remain sane. Trusted friends or colleagues have a good way of understanding us and keeping us on the right track. They have a way of picking you up if your a little down and pushing you towards the direction you should be heading in.

In all this though the question remains.

Love is…..???

Well, love is still the most powerful force on the planet. Love reaches in to places where others would fear to go. Love casts aside all fears, it breaks down barriers that seem unbreakable. Love is offering coffee and your time to someone. Love is respecting the beliefs of others despite what you may believe yourself. Love is positive action in a situation that cries out for help. It’s stepping in to a place where love is missing and offering exactly that, love.

We’re all in the world together, and it’s no accident. There are lessons to be learned for all of us, not just in love but in life. As much as we navigate this life ourselves we should embrace those around us. Learn from them. Listen to them. Encourage them, encourage each other because that’s how it should be. It really is that simple. Love is what you make it to be. If you invest in something or someone, do it with love. Do it because your heart tells you it’s the right thing to do and remember that acts of love are like gifts of kindness. They’re meant to be received.

 

 

 

Journeys

So I woke up one mid winter Sunday morning here at home. Sunday mornings are generally reserved for church, or for a better word, time with the Lord. On this late July morning it was slightly warmer, In fact the idea of walking the 20 mins to the church was awfully appealing. The sun neither warm, nor cool, a gentle breeze without chill made it beautiful. A walk through the park on the way was worth it alone. The birds chirping, singing, on this most beautiful winter’s morning was something I was instantly thankful for. You see sometimes it’s the little things that remind us of how thankful we are for life. This morning felt like one of those occasions.
A cross of the always humming along Parramatta Road left about 5 mins before i hit the coffee shop. The people in here are generally family, it’s a family run business. They are good people worth a good chat. We chat coffee naturally and how easy it was for me to rid myself of sugar in my coffee. The Barista himself is not so fortunate. Generally 4 cups a day, all with some small amount of sugar. Coffee now in hand i walk the last few mins off to Haberfield Baptist Church further down the road.
After greeting a few of the regulars inside, i sit down at a table where i’ll run the data projection this morning. This basically means i’m the guy in charge for the song words you see on the big screen all morning. For me it’s a small role but an important one. Many will rely on you as you guide their eyes through each song that morning.
With still 15 mins before the morning service i pull away from a conversation with two of the guys to text a good friend. I discover on my coffee cup the phrase
“TALK TO ME AFTER COFFEE”.
I send her a photo of this as a joke. Not really thinking much of the phrase other than it’s a cheeky joke at her expense. The phrase though sticks with me and it’s then that it begins to take on a new meaning. The service is probably now 5 minutes away when i realise i could view the phrase on the coffee cup as something more than a cheeky joke. You see in recent months our Pastor Matt has been encouraging us to seek God in new ways. One of those is in the prophetic. Now call it coincidence perhaps but was something prophetic in the words on that coffee cup? Perhaps?
Here i was, the church service about to start with the phrase “Talk to me after coffee” on my mind. Yes, i was thinking that perhaps God had opened my eyes and mind to the expectation that he would be talking to me this morning and that i should be listening.
Preaching this morning was the always insightful and entertaining Lisa. Lisa has a good way with words which always effectively challenges us each time she speaks. This morning’s sermon is on Grace. Grace is a topic we’ve heard plenty about in 2018 at church, and in a good way of course. For me it’s been an effective tool for my own faith. It’s certainly made a telling difference for me.
Grace is a topic that hasn’t always been easy for me to get my head around. I understood the definition of Grace and why we received it but i could never truly believe that i had earned the right to receive it. Sin has a way of making you feel this way. It can feel like Groundhog Day. Like “why am i back at the same place in life, yet again?”. Have i not learned from the countless previous lessons? Feeling like this would always lead me to inevitable questions about weather or not i was truly receiving Grace the way it was intended.
As the service progressed this morning Lisa would say something which resonated with me. Something that for myself i had learned in my own quest to understand God’s Grace.
“For us to truly understand Grace we can’t define it, we need to experience it.”
This is a lesson I’ve learned myself in the past 12 months. Where previously i would struggle with the idea of whether i was deserving of God’s Grace, I’ve found myself in a position today where I have finally understood and now lived the idea of what it means. I don’t feel weighted down by my sin, i don’t carry it any longer and i feel better for it. There’s no one time i can think of where i can say i finally understood it, but over time i know that i began to truly understand it properly and i have no doubt that the sermons in church in recent months are part of the experience of Grace and understanding it the way it was intended.
It’s crazy, yet very cool to see the way God works in our lives. It not always the way you imagine, or the way that makes most sense but when you see the footprint of him in your life it’s all the evidence i need that he’s still very much in control. This particular Sunday was one of those days where being thankful for God is the very least i could be. For it was a reminder that i am on the right path, with evidence to prove it and encourage me to keep moving in this direction. That’s how journeys are intended. There’s a start and end point. But what happens in between is anyone’s guess, except for God. He’s navigating it moment by moment and none of it is an accident.