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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Like probably many of you I have met people who are fascinated, compelled, or drawn to Jesus, but some question or obstacle keeps them away. They may have heard from a Christian, “This is how it is – end of discussion. The Bible says it, so that settles it.”

Or they might have been taught that to follow Jesus, they had to go down a certain road and believe certain things, some of which they found problematic. What interests me is the power of questioning and the experience of solidarity in finding you’re not alone—of always wondering, “But what about that?” and then finding out, “Oh, other people feel the same way.”

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Rob Bell wrote a book back in March 2011 called Love Wins.  You may have heard of it.  The subtitle – A Book about  Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. If you haven’t read or heard of this book – its not a book about hell, fire and brimstone.  It’s a provocative book that upset lots of fundamentalist Christians.  For me, that was a compelling reason to get myself a copy.

The first chapter of Love Wins poses this interesting question:

If a missionary got a flat tire, and missed meeting with a nearby village, would this really mean that the villagers missed the only opportunity to hear about God, and would not be saved? Would a flat tire mean that they are all destined for hell?

This of course raises a couple of far more disturbing questions like:

Is your future in someone else’ s hands?

And then the next question:

Is someone else’s eternity resting in your hands?

Perhaps Rob’s purpose here is that we get loosened up with the questions – that the questions pull out us out of ourselves and wake us up, like a triple shot flat white coffee. It’s okay. There should be no fear in the questioning and no hesitation in the asking. We can go there. The biblical tradition, particularly the Hebrew tradition, is actually filled with questions, all the way to Jesus on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Many people are afraid to question their faith, having been taught that this is tantamount to either rejecting or losing one’s faith. The best evidence against this line of thought is the Bible itself, in which both God and all the main characters ask many, many troubling questions.

Asking questions is, in fact, a means God often uses to help us rid ourselves of limited and wrongheaded notions about God, so that we catch a larger and expanded vision of who we worship. The bible is full of questions, and full of people who have many doubts and need answers.

By the way – if you’re still stuck or maybe uncomfortable about the two questions following the flat tyre question above then the answers are “most likely no – God has a Plan B.”

Perhaps questions are actually one of the ways we meet the Divine. Somewhere in here we find our own questions and we learn that we are never alone.
And the quest – behind the question is even more interesting and compelling than the questions.

May you, my brothers and sisters remember this week that the questions of life may be more important than the answers. May you recognize your quest behind the questions and may this take you to a place where you can sit in wonder and awe at what the Divine is doing in your life and how much he loves you.

Grace and Peace.

The Quest Behind the Questions

The questions that we ask
Follow the answers the we seek
They riddle the hours of our lives
As our days become our weeks

As we strive to understand
The complexities of life
We miss the here and now
As our worries lead to strife

As we wonder how the past
It teaching us the way
We miss the burning bush
As we rush past it every day

It is not the ‘why’ the matters
As we seek to know the reason
Don’t we just accept the sun
As it moves through every season?

Perhaps the ‘what’
Is the one compelling question
As it grounds us in the present
With it’s beckoning suggestion

That perhaps these questions comfort us
As we seek what keeps us safe
As our present hope is anchored
On our the object of our faith

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Go West

Of all the prayers that rise from human lips on this troubled planet, the vast majority must be some version of, “Help!”. But second place of “most often prayed” has to be, “God—what am I supposed to do?” Guidance, clarity, direction—doesn’t that seem to be one of the main reasons we pray at all?  Should I take this job?  What am I supposed to do with my life?
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When seeking clarity we will almost always ask for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Both are needed. Sometimes, wisdom holds the answer. Other times, we need a revelation from God (as did Ananias, when the situation seemed to shout, “Don’t go near Saul!”).

The key to receiving answers to prayers for guidance is to let go our constant attempt to “figure things out.”

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6 NLT)

God says, “I’ve got this great life planned for you, and surely goodness and mercy will follow you through it. But that’s not all of it. I’ve got something planned at the end!”

David explains how God connects yesterday and today with tomorrow, when he says, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). In effect, David ends his psalm by saying, “We’re going to Heaven!” With God, it just keeps getting better and better; the best is yet to come.

Paul says it like this: “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down — when we die and leave these bodies — we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT).

How long is forever going to last? Forever! Someday your body is going to die, but you aren’t. Your body is going to end, but that’s not going to be the end of you. You’re going to live forever. We were made to last forever, and we will spend eternity in Heaven.

Why are Christians confident about the future? “We are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6, 8 NLT).

 

So, my brothers and sisters, may you this week, recall what is yet to come, and in that space between the now and the not yet, go West when the evil go East.  God wants us to relax into the journey. We need to trust that he will guide us when we have lost our way.  May God remind you that every road you travel leads you back to him. Grace and peace.

Go West

To the true North
I will order your steps
But go West good man
When the evil go East

To the deep South
Delight in my way
But go West good man
When the evil go East

Though you may fall
You will not be cast down
For I will uphold you
With my hand

Set your moral compass
Fix your eyes on me
For your steps are good
And ordered by me

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In three of the four Gospels, the writers record an incident that caused Jesus’ 12 disciples to be astonished and afraid. While crossing the Sea of Galilee, a turbulent storm put them in real peril. Jesus, strangely, was sound asleep. When the disciples awakened Him, He told the storm to stop, and it did.

In the Matthew 8:23-27 account, Jesus and His disciples got into a boat. Being fatigued, Jesus was asleep. It is written that “suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves.” His disciples wakened Him and said, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” His words to them were, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” He then got up and “rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” The disciples were in awe, and said to each other, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Jesus asked His men why they were fearful. The word translated fearful means cowardly or intimidated. They were losing their nerve, panicking, or coming unglued, so to speak. Jesus questioned their faith, and then rebuked the winds. The wind and waves immediately became tranquil.

boat

Jesus spoke to a raging windstorm, and it immediately stopped. He wasn’t afraid or worried about His safety. He knew God’s Word and knew what He was destined to do, how He would ultimately die, and that His life and the lives of His men were not in jeopardy that day on the water. Jesus knew the source of the storm and the adversary’s intent to startle and paralyze with fear. Jesus knew the authority and the power He had and He used it responsibly and with wisdom.

May you this week know that you have the authority to calm the storm in whatever shape or form it comes to you.  Jesus is always in the same boat. While storms may test you faith, may you remember that this testing is for a purpose.  The purpose is to refine you and mould you for the coming Kingdom where boats lie on the tranquil shores, and storms are no more.

In the same boat

White boat I see you
High on the shore
Where waves don’t
Rock you any more

The dash of blue
Upon your side
That mirrors now
The faithful tide

Out in the lake
The storm blows in
Faith and doubt
To sink or swim

You wake and calm
The wildest waves
Our little faith
Has made us brave

Our faith doesn’t
Limit us anymore
Just as the boat wasn’t
Made for shore

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When the storms of life cause you to lose faith, don’t forget who is in your boat.

Have a read of Hebrews 6:13-20

This week I read a great article from In Touch magazine on hope as the anchor of the soul.  Here’s a section of it.

Many people in the world, maybe even you, are facing terrible storms in their lives: broken homes, joblessness, loneliness, loss, world crises. These things slash at the very fabric of our hope in Jesus. It may even seem as though we are lost, adrift at sea in a small boat during a hurricane. How on earth will we be able to reach the shore safely?

The disciples faced this fear as well. While they were crossing a lake in their small ship, the weather took a frightening turn for the worse, endangering the vessel and, the men assumed, their very lives. In desperation, they went to Jesus for help, but were surprised to find Him asleep. They cried out

Lord, save us! We’re going to drown! – Matthew 8:25

When Jesus awoke, He rebuked them for their lack of faith. Then He proceeded to calm the storm. Through this dramatic demonstration of His power, He showed Himself to be Lord over all creation. It was also a clear lesson about where we are to turn when storms arise in our lives.

Sometimes people think their challenging circumstances mean that God isn’t paying attention. That’s what the disciples thought—until Christ rose to calm the turbulent waters. Nothing is beyond the control of our sovereign Lord.

Anchor me, anchor me
As the compass turns
And the glass it falls
Where the storm clouds roll
And the gulls they call

Anchor me, anchor me, anchor me, anchor me
In the middle of your deep blue sea
Anchor me, anchor me
~ Anchor Me by the Mutton Birds (click to listen)

When the world—or even just our own personal “world”—seems out of control, Jesus is still Lord of all. So what should you do when you think He is sleeping? The answer is simple: Thank God that He is in the boat with you. And then look at your situation through eyes of hope and trust.

So this week, may you come to know and understand more deeply the hope that anchors you. May this hope centre you and surround you.  May you walk in this hope, knowing that it goes before you, behind you, is above and beneath you.  May you come to know that the hope is closer to you than breathing, and is the very air that you breathe.

Anchor of the Soul

Anchor me
In the wildimage
And raging sea

Anchor me
Through the storms
In my cup of tea

Anchor me
On the truth
That sets me free

Jesus
Anchor me, anchor me
Anchor me

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Behind the Eyes

Behind your eye there is a place where your optic nerve connects to your retina, called the optic disc. Unlike other cells in your eyes there are no photoreceptor cells on the optic disc, so when an image hits that part of your retina, you just can’t see it.

This is your blind spot. Generally you don’t notice this blind spot in every-day life, because your two eyes work together to cover it up.  Our brain is wired to compensate for the part behind our eye where we just can’t see things.  It’s a fairly impressive part of human design when you think about it. Even more impressive that latest iPad retina display! Actually, not even close.

I’ve heard people say that it’s impossible to believe in something that they cannot see – God, for example.  It takes faith, sometimes a lot of faith to believe in God when you can’t see Him, and also when you can’t really see Him take action when you would expect it, or even not expect it.  For us to believe, we need to have faith, but we also need hope, because faith is what makes more certain and less doubtful.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1

Now I have also heard people say that doubt is the absence of faith or that doubt weakens faith.  I’m not sure that it’s that simple. Doubt can also be useful for us to test faith and to give us hope.

Doubt for me is my blind spot, it’s the one thing that really makes me question my faith.  Sometimes it helps build my faith by making me test and question. Sometimes this gives me more hope and more faith. Other times it erodes all the faith I ever thought I had.  Still it returns, faith, doubt and hope – it is a bit of a cycle really.

I’m glad I’ll only ever need faith as small as a mustard seed.  This is all I’ll ever need to move the mountain of doubts I have sometime.

Knowing I have this blind spot helps me to remember that I need only look to Jesus – the author and perfector of my faith.  In this I have no doubt.  We all have blind spots.  I wonder what yours is? Have you named it?

May you, this week, embrace faith, doubt and hope and rediscover how this cycle helps you to come back to Jesus with your questions, your fears, and your dreams.  May you name and embrace your own blind spots, and by faith, be confident and certain of what you hope for. May the God of hope and glory fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you may abound in this hope.

Behind the Eyes

Behind the eyes
Forgotten by my mindEye
There is a growing doubling doubt
The persistent nagging kind

Behind the eyes
Not known here today
The doubt of many ages past
Light and dark at play

Behind the eyes
The battle lines are drawn
The enemy marches closer
In the darkness before the dawn

Behind the eyes
The war is already won
In the radiance of the sunrise
By the bloodshed of your son

Behind the eyes
God help me clearly see
That though my battle may be lost
Through you I claim the victory

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Beyond Belief

Everybody is following somebody. Everybody has faith in something and somebody. We all believe in something or somebody.  Even atheists believe in something which they call nothing, if indeed that is actually possible. 

Why is it then that we find it so hard to talk about what we believe in or, God forbid, share our beliefs?  What is it about our beliefs that is so personal, so sacred, and so mysterious that we are reluctant to share them with others? Perhaps that is just it.  Our beliefs are personal, unique, our certainty of what we hope for and what we do not see – our faith.

I was chatting to a friend of mine last week about an experience he had a few years ago when he met someone who he didn’t know.  This man said he could see my friend’s aura – a presence around him and that he had a heart problem.  Sure enough, after getting a check up with his doctor, my friend did have a heart problem, went on medication and now lives a normal life. 

My friend asked me how this could be.  I don’t much about auras, but what I did share with him was what I had experienced as giftings that some people have, and how God uses people to speak to and heal them.  This is what I believe and I felt comfortable sharing this.  I felt comfortable because I had built up a relationship with my friend.  He is not a Christian, maybe one day he will look at his beliefs and make a choice, maybe he won’t.

Knowing what we believe and sharing our belief is important and it should be a really natural experience.  It takes courage, and confidence but it is so important.  It also takes a decision and a resolution to decide to believe.

I have decided,
I’m gonna live like a believer,
Turn my back on the deceiver,
I’m gonna live what I believe

And when the world begins to see you change,
Don’t expect them to applaud.
Just keep your eyes on Him and tell yourself,
I’ve become the work of God.
~ Amy Grant

So what can you expect when you decide to believe and then go beyond belief and share them?  You can expect no applause, no standing ovation, and no bouquets of flowers.  You can expect some silence, some hostility, some confusion and some significant discussion.  You can also expect God to call you on your beliefs. 

It’s easy to sing the songs, to pray the prayers, to do the random acts of kindness – these are all important.  However be prepared to be called by God on your beliefs and challenged to believe more.  This will take you deeper into knowing God, loving others and walking together. 

Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their hearts, without anguish in mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe in the God idea, not God himself. ~Miguel de Unamuno

Recently I felt called to re-express my beliefs and have started a Facebook Group – i believe.   It’s really just a place to remind myself of what I believe.  It helps me challenge myself.  I hope that it is useful to others too. Have a look and join if you want.  It was easy to start a group – too easy – now I need to start the conversation – want to help spread the word?

So what about you my friend?  Have you decided that you are going to live like a believer, you may be doing this already.  What is it that you believe, will you share it here or somewhere this week.  You may just help someone to express their own belief.

i believe

You sing your carols
How you believe
In my Son
On Christmas eve

So I called you
On what you believed
Did you hear me
On Christmas eve

I heard you pray
Down on your knees
To my Son
On Easter’s eve

So I called you
On what you believe
Did you hear me
On Easter’s eve.

I know your heart
What you believe
What will you resolve
On New Year’s eve

This year I’ll call you
On what you believe
Learn from my resolve
Seek to receive

Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.  This is the first verse in the poem Hope by Emily Dickinson.  I really like the metaphor of hope as a tiny bird – a thing with feathers.  It’s also a great description of how we can approach faith, through hope and be certain of something that we really cannot see.


Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
~ Hebrews 11:1

Faith and doubt have often be described as two opposites, one cannot exist without the other.  Doubt can build or destroy faith.  This is not a bad thing or something to be ashamed of, it’s just what it is – being human.  We are a mix of doubt and faith, good and bad, light and dark, spirit and flesh.  It is the just the way God made us. 

God did make us different though. He made us spiritual and physical.  In this way I believe we are unique, special, and made in his image.  So what does this mean about our faith?  How should we hope to have faith in what we cannot see?  Maybe, what we cannot see is physical, and what we have hope in is spiritual.  Maybe.

I have the privilege to live in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city.  With the exception of a remote part of Iceland, Wellington is the windiest city in the world.  Yes – even windier than Chicago!  To me, God is like the wind, I cannot see the wind, but I can feel it.  I really don’t know where the wind comes from, but I believe in it.  I have faith that when I fly my racing kite on a windy day, the wind will lift it and it will soar to great heights.  I believe God is in the wind.  It’s what I hope and what I cannot see, but I know it’s true.

Jesus Culture in their song, How He Loves Us describes it this way:

He is jealous for me
Love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy

That image has stuck with me.  That’s my God, my King.  A mighty and powerful wind and, oh my God how he loves us.

So what about you my friend?  What do you hope for through faith?  How are you certain of what you do not see?  This is what faith is all about.  Sometime this week will you share your story here, or somewhere.  Let’s rest a while and soak up this truth.  We may just be able to help someone see a bit further, and release their faith, through hope.

What I Cannot See

Full of questions
At the end of your rope
Stay and rest a while
With faith comes hope

Full of confusion
Just think you can’t cope
Stay and rest a while
With faith comes hope

Full of yourself
Awash in your opera of soap
Stay a rest a while
With faith comes hope

Full of fear and doubt
Just step out of your boat
Walk towards my rest
Your faith – My hope

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Beautiful Mystery

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to get closer to God and understanding more about his nature and character.  To be honest, I haven’t come up with any grand theories, ideas or potential ministry opportunities.  What I did discover though through talking about this with a couple of friends is that it is all about your relationship with God.  Sounds obvious I know.  It’s always the really simple things that tend to escape me.  It’s also about worship (not necessarily singing) and crying out to God. 

It’s about a beautiful mystery.  It’s a very elusive mystery.  I’ve tried to understand it and figure it out, but as soon as I think I have it, it slips through my fingers again.  That sounds like the beautiful mystery of God to me.

 I’ve written a reflection on this which is where my faith and relationship with God is right now.  It’s not where I want to be but it is where I am.  I think it may just be time to get out the guitar and write some music for it too.  I hope you may find something in this that may help you to reflect on this elusive beautiful mystery.

Beautiful Mystery

Take me into your perfect love
The love that never ends
Take me back to your mystery
Where we were forever friends

Take me into you mercy
Where its whiter than the snow
Take me into the beautiful
Where your living waters flow

Take me into your perfect grace
And remind me I am free
Take me back to your mystery
Lift the fog so I may see

Take me into your presence
Here I stand with open arms
Take me into the beautiful
And protect me from all harm

Consume me in your perfect love
The love that casts out all my fear
Take me back to your mystery
With arms wide open I am here

In your beautiful mystery
In faith we walked before
In your beautiful mystery
Lead me back to you once more

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With a career spanning more than 30 years, Amy Grant is one of the best-selling Contemporary Christian music singers to date. Not only is Amy Grant known among Christians, but she’s also a legend in mainstream music as well. In 2006, Amy Grant received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, after selling more than 25 millions records worldwide . 

Somewhere Down the Road is Amy Grant’s 22nd album, released in 2010. It is a unique album featuring six brand new songs, two previously unreleased songs, a new recording of the classic 1982 song “Arms of Love.” The album also includes three previously released songs.

The album title is taken from the title track, Somewhere Down the Road.  The painting featured on the cover of the album is a painting by Amy Grant, with the inscription Somewhere Down the Road.  This part of the song really speaks to me and gives me hope.

Somewhere down the road
There’ll be answers to the questions
Somewhere down the road
Though we cannot see it now
Somewhere down the road
You will find mighty arms reaching for you
And they will hold the answers at the end of the road

I’ve followed Amy’s journey of music for about 25 years.  Her music has been a great source of strength and encouragement to me as I have walked and continue to walk down my own road of faith.  It’s great to know that in my journey of faith, God is always walking beside me and leading me to him (in the good times), and back to him (in the hard times).

So what about you?  Who leads you and who leads you back? 

Lead Me Back

As I walk this road called life
I’m learning something new
Every road I travel
Leads me back to you

Through the darkest valley
From the highest mountain view
Every road I travel
Leads me back to you

Even in the wilderness
Where the travellers are few
Every road I travel
Leads me back to you

So when I think I’ve lost my way
Please lead me back to you
For every road we travel
Teaches something new

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For the last 40 days I have been part of an online group called The Lazarus Experiment.  Each day we share something that has made us feel alive, really alive, just like Lazarus felt when Jesus raised him from the grave.  I have been privileged to share the joys, sorrows, and miracles of all those who have contributed their ‘Lazarus (Laz) moments’.  As our group draws to a close we have been challenged by our group leader to reflect on what it means to live dangerously with God.

This reflection is dedicated to all of you who were part of The Lazarus Experiment.  You have helped my faith come alive.  The experiment has proved a success by our live and alive experiences.  Thank you all.

It can be very dangerous to follow Jesus.  In some places it will get you killed.  In other places you will be persecuted for your faith.  In the Western world you’ll most likely be faced with apathy, indifference and being largely ignored. because of your belief.

The clear and present danger we face as Christians lurks in our mind.  Our logic will tell us that we cannot believe in something that we cannot see.  It also equally dangerous to intellectualise God and bring him out only at Easter and Christmas. This is a very convenient Christianity. 

The ever-present danger is that we start shutting God out of our heart and stop developing and growing our relationship with Him.  Our heart is really the only place where we call experience the relentless love of God.  It takes bravery, trust and a lot of resilience to open our heart to God.  It’s a dangerous place to be, it’s our battlefield of faith.

So what about you?  How dangerous is your faith?  How’s your battle going?  Who has your back? 

A Dangerous Faith

There is danger in our lives
So will we dare to see,
The near misses and close calls
Of our life in reality.

There is danger around the bend
So do we look before we leap,
Have we awakened our seed of faith
Or are we still sound asleep.

Would would Lazarus do
After 40 days alive,
Would he get complacent
And continuously forget to strive.

As for me I’ll walk
The dangerous and narrow way,
With God’s relentless love in my heart
In his presence I will stay.

You have left me with your stories
I treasure each word you say,
May the grace of God be yours
Until we meet again one day.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short,but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. ~ Michelangelo  
 

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The Angel

I read a book recently, The Final Summit, by Andy Andrews.  It’s a story of one man, David Ponder, who meets the Archangel Gabriel and is taken on a journey to a place where he is met by a whole lot of great people from history.  Their task is to come up with the solution that will save humanity from itself.  Throughout the story Gabriel talks with David and it reminded me of how I’ve been talked to and with by Angels and by God.

I believe Angels are messengers from God. I’ve never seen an Angel, but I think I have heard one or two speak to me on a few occasions.  It’s not so much what they said, it’s how they said it.  It reminded me of how God speaks to me, indirectly yet directly, patiently yet urgently, kindly yet with clear instruction.

I was reflecting on faith, hope and love the other day, as you do, and I’m sure I heard a voice just like Gabriel’s.  Here’s what I heard:

 

Step Out

Step out in faith, the Angel said
When you are called to lead,
Just be obedient to the call
And plant your mustard seed.

You will plant hope, the Angel said
In someone’s life today.
Will you take the opportunity
At work, at home, at play?

It’s not too late, the Angel said
To share your heart today,
It will take faith, and then some hope
But love is the only way.

Have you heard from God or from an Angel lately?

What did you hear and what will you do?

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
~1 Corinthians 13:13

For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go.
~ Psalm 91:11

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I’ve decided that it’s time to admit to myself that I am now a writer.  I write poetry.  I have had my poetry published, and now I’m half way through putting a book together, all in the space of about eight months. My writing defines part of who I am, it defines my approach to my life and my faith. I have discovered many other writers that are travelling down this same road.  It’s easy to think we are all alone, but there is great support if you know where to look.

Like most writers I sometimes get writers block.  I get stuck and sometimes I’m not sure if something I’m working on is barely started or  half-finished.  I guess that would depend I whether I see my glass half full or half empty.

Generally I don’t like to do things by half and I get great satisfaction when something is complete.  I’m discovering with writing that a half finished poem is something great to come back to later and rework and look at again through a different lens, change and adapt.
I have a lot of poetry and writing that is finished and I have a lot that’s half done, I have even more that are just at the idea stage and haven’t really progressed much further.  No doubt there is more that I haven’t even thought about yet. I hope so.

I wrote a poem about my half-finished book, the lonely existence of a writer and how sometimes it plays on my mind.  If you’re a writer or someone who just wants to finish something, then some of these words may just resonate with you.  I’d be interested in your thoughts, fully cooked or half-baked. It may just be time to start work on the other half.

Unfinished Business

On my bookshelf
Of half-finished dreams
Lies my hopes and my fears
At least that what it seems

I’ve journaled my faith
Many words I have rhymed
But now I’m stuck fast
In the malaise of time

I’ve toiled with my time
Sweated blood, hopes and fears
My dream remains only half-baked
It brings me to tears

I feel half awake
In my struggle for self
As cobwebs and doubts
Bury my dreams on the shelf

I feel so alone
Isolated and cold
Wondering if anyone cares
As I write and grow old

I have journeyed alone
Taking long leaps of faith
I now need your prayers
As I stray life a waif

You can help me my friend
Pray I wake from my dream
Pray my words see the light
And the lights go all green

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It’s no secret, I am and have been for some time a big fan of Amy Grant.  She seems to be one of those artists that has a song for every occasion, every struggle in life and every celebration. 
 
In a classic song by Amy Grant called ‘All I Ever Have to Be’  there is one verse that does it for me: 
And all I ever have to be
Is what you’ve made me.
Any more or less would be a step
Out of your plan.
I’ve been thinking about God’s plan for my life lately, specifically: (a) if he has one, (b) what is it, (c) am I in step with it, and (d) all of the above.  The answer though may not be multi-choice.   It’s always been comforting for me to know that God is in control and that all I ever have to be is what he made me.  Still, I do keep wondering about the big questions though:
 
  • What am I here to do?
  • What is my ministry?
  • What is my calling?
  • Am I in or out of God’s will?
  • What is the desire that God has placed within my heart?
No doubt some, if not all, of these questions I’ll be working on for most of my life.  I do think I’m starting to get some answers too. I’m starting to realise that dealing with big questions is just a part of life and this is OK and is a helpful thing to do. 
 
This week I read the Old Testament book of Micah.  It just so happened to have a list of three things that God requires of us.  They are reasonably large things, but there are only three.  What are they?  Skip to the end of this post and have a look.  
 
So, I might just have a crack at this over the next few weeks and months and see how I get on.  So what about you?  Have you found what you’re looking for?  What questions and answers are you working on? 
 
Help Required ,  Apply Within.
 
Show me what you require
In my walk with you.
Down the road, the narrow way
Where the travellers are few.
 
Help me to love mercy
As I go about my days.
Let me take the opportunity
To help others on their way.
 
Help me to act justly
In all that say and do.
Broaden my horizons
Lord help me change my view.
 
Help me to be humble
As I walk with you.
Down the road, the narrow way
Where the travellers are few.
 

He has shown all you people what is good.   And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. ~ Micah 6:8.

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I don’t know about you but I struggle a lot with doubt.  In fact having just reviewed my blog for my most used tags, number one is faith, closely followed by number two, doubt.  I write about doubt a lot.

This is really of little surprise to me, but it did confirm that my doubts still really bug me.  Doubts about me, doubts about whether anyone might actually read or understand this, doubts about my future, and of course doubts about God.  Not really about God existing, but more about ‘Why does God let bad stuff happen to good people’ and all those old chestnuts.

I’m not sure I’m much further ahead on the faith journey and I think I may just have even more doubts now than before.  As I get older I’m less certain about a lot of things and have a lot more questions.  Doubts inform my questions, and my questions help me to seek answers, and my answers define my faith.  It’s an interesting connection and in some way I guess my doubts make my faith stronger, just as what doesn’t kill me also makes me stronger.

In Ephesians 6 there is that wonderful image about the amour of God.  In the amour of God, faith is the shield, like the Romans used.  A shield with which we can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16).  I like that image , it works for me.  It does require action. It requires us to ‘take up the shield’ and summon up the courage to defend ourselves.

So through my journey of faith I’m learning.  So what has faith taught you?

By Faith

Grey clouds of doubt
Swirl in my mind,
They chase my thoughts
From time to time.

My faith is so small
Yet is it devout,
My doubts are loud
So I need to shout.

I will not let them
Take my light,
It will not be hidden
In your night.

The clouds they part
Then disappear,
The air is still
I sense you near.

You order my thoughts
To quiet my soul.
You restore my faith
And make me whole.

So by faith, I’m sure
Of what I don’t see
You are my one true hope
In reality.

Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one
~ Ephesians 6:16

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In his last devotion before David Wilkerson passed away last week he focused on belief and faith without sight (James 20:29).   You can read it here.  David summed it up this way

God has never failed to act, but in goodness and love. When all means fail – his love prevails. Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word. There is no other hope in this world

I often get discouraged when God doesn’t seem to answer my prayers.  I think I’m pretty good at believing but I get discouraged when I don’t see the results.  What I do know though is there are lots of things I pray for that are answered that I don’t see or even know about.  Why do I know this?   Simple, I have faith, and it seems like something God would do because it is all really about him extending his kingdom and not really at all about me.

After all, my faith is about being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see (Hebrews 11:1).  

So what are you certain about – what you see or what is unseen?

Beyond Belief

Do you see today
The answers to your long prayers
Do you hope to see

When all hope seems lost
It’s not because you are blind
You trust beyond hope

The enemy will
Make you believe that your God
Has not answered you

Blessed are your prayers
Know that your prayers never fail
When all hope seems lost

For if you don’t hear
The answer to your long prayers
Know this, you are heard

You have believed because you have seen, but blessed are those that do believe and have not seen ~ John 20:29.

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The Narrow Way

You have hidden deep in my heart
A mystery that I’m yet to find,
Dreams that slumber in my soul
Sleepy visions in my mind.

I see the signposts on the road
They whisper in my heart today,
My soul stirs when I hear your voice
As we walk the narrow way.

I know if I saw your final plan
I’d be blinded by your light,
But how it would illuminate my day
By chasing away the night.

Help me to trust in you my Lord
As I step out in faith with you,
You hold my hand, you lead me still
Along the narrow way.

 
 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
~ Matthew 7:14

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Through the wreckage of my life
Let me climb to You,
The one who moved my mountain
To create my faith anew.

For to me You are My Rock
In the rubble of my strife,
Through Your resurrection
By grace, You saved my life.

I believe You came to save me
When You hung at Calvary,
Let us walk this road together
From here to eternity

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
~ John 11:25-26

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Colour my World

Your love
Is like an open rose
Its colour deep purple
As it slowly grows

Your peace
Is like the quietest stream
Its colour royal blue
As it washes me clean

Your hope
Is like a brand new day
Its colour bright yellow
As it lights my way
 
Your joy
Is like the morning sun
Its colour pure white
As the dark is undone

Your rainbow
Is your promise to me
You colour my world
As You set me free

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
~ John 8:36

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Shadows

The sun rises in the morning sky
My shadows fall in behind,
Failure, isolation and regret
They follow me sometimes.

The sun reaches its peak way overhead
My shadows are so small,
They run in and out around me feet
And threaten to make me fall.

As the sun sets at day’s end
My shadows stretch long and thin,
They remind me of my darkened past
They threaten to draw me in.

But I choose to fix my eyes on You
And in Your light I find,
Your perfect love casts out my fear
My shadows fall far behind.

 There is no fear in love, as perfect love casts out fear.
~ 1 John 4:18 (a)

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When my heart is breaking
I cry out to You my Lord,
Do you feel my anguish
As it cuts me like a sword?

When I pour out my heart to you
Does it weigh more or less?
Does it register on your scale
This misery of life’s mess.

In my words do you hear
The unspoken cries of my heart?
Those unheard whispers of my soul
That could tear my life apart.

I hear your heart, I know it well
I feel your pain today.
You know, I hear, a melody
As you cry to me and pray.

To me you are a tapestry
Your mess of life displayed.
The side you see is all tied up
With knots that have all frayed

If you could see the other side
Of how you look to me.
The painted landscape of your life
In vivid reality.

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As I climb this ladder
I sense it’s time to stop.
Is it greed or ambition
That drives me to the top?

A snake slithers up to reach me
He whispers in my ear,
You know you want what’s at the top,
Trust me, it’s very near.

Should I listen to the snake
Will he take me down?
Am I half way up this ladder,
Or am I halfway down?

In this game of snakes and ladders
God help me keep awake,
Help me to remember
You can never trust the snake.

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Perfect my Faith

My faith is far from perfect
It really is quite small,
I have so many doubts
It’s hard to count them all.

Your book is full of wisdom
I read it now and then,
Sometimes I catch an eternal truth
But then let it go again.

If You wrote these words on my heart
Then help me understand,
The mysteries in Your book of life
To guide me through this land.

So set my feet upon Your path
And help me run the race,
Fix my eyes on You the author
And perfecter of my faith.

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. 
~ Hebrews 12:1-2

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By Faith

By faith we hope for certain truth
Things that we do not see,
Jesus shift the veil from my eyes
And set my vision free.

You are my hope of glory
So let me seek you still,
Break and mould my heart today
Please bend me to Your will.

Let my love for them be kind
As people battle still,
And with my faith and hope in You
Please bend them to Your will.

 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen;
 it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
~ Hebrews 11:1

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Shadows of Doubt

As I walk in this cave
The shadows dance on the wall
From Your light behind me
They grow narrow and tall

I stumble in this cave
Through the cobwebs I see
A shadow of my life
Far from Your reality

To turn to the light
Would take a mighty act of will
I’ll need Your living water
To swallow that pill

You reach for my hand
And with You I turn
To face Your pure radiance
I have so much to unlearn

You turn my world upside down
And my thoughts inside out
Let us walk out by faith
Through my shadows of doubt

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Anam Cara

My hope is my old friend
My soul extends to you
You love anchors me
To a faith I always knew

Anam Cara
Walk beside me
From here into the end
To where my soul finds rest
My new hope – my old soul friend

Walk with me by faith
When all hope seems lost today
When your churches crumble
This – with you I pray

Anam Cara
Walk beside me
From here into the end
To where my soul finds rest
My new hope – my old soul friend.

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The Avenue

In the avenue of my mind
An idea parked its car,
Got out and yawned
Then stretched its legs.

It walked past its white picket fence
Up the neatly trimmed garden path,
Unlocked the bright red door
And collected its clichés and junk mail.

The idea and its clichés went inside
Put its shopping bags down,
And decided it would be still
And think about itself.

It poured itself a cup of English Breakfast
And contemplated its original thought,
Where it came from, why it was here,
And if it had found what it was looking for.

With each sip of tea
The idea grew, filed its clichés,
And became a well-developed thought
With good intentions.

The thought went back outside
Locked the bright red door,
And ambled back down the path,
The path paved with good intentions.

The thought jumped in its car
And with tyres squealing,
Raced off back into the avenue
And lay down its rubber in my mind.

The thought left its tracks
In the avenue of my mind,
So that next time maybe
It might just drive action.

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If my mind is a tower of windows
That reaches toward the sky,
Why do I sit at the same one
And hope to wonder why.

If I stare out the same window,
And view the same scene each day,
Will it grow and shape my world,
Or will is set me in my ways?

Shall I step back and turn around
And find a different view,
Another window for my soul
To glance at vistas new.

Through different windows of my soul
I am no longer blind,
Complacency, habit and regret,
I leave them far behind.

So much hangs on my frame of vision
To build Your world, my view,
And with fresh eyes I see Your plan
Your way, Your life, Your truth.

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Your treasure is hidden
Away from my eyes,
If I just glimpsed at Your glory
I at once would be blind.

Your wise words are placed
Far away from my ears,
If I could just listen
In spite of my fears.

My mind can’t conceive
Of what You’ve prepared,
But my heart longs for You
Through all of my years.

Through the years
When we just drifted apart,
How my mind just forgot You
But not my weak heart.

Through the years
When I thought You had left me alone,
You knew I’d come back
Your prodigal son.

Spirit – search my heart
Open my eyes to see You,
Let me hear Your clear voice
And fill my mind with Your truth.

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If rainbows are visions
Then what do you see,
A palette of colour
To paint your reality?

If rainbows are illusions
Then what do you see,
A forgotten empty promise
That may never set you free?

If rainbows surround you
Then what will you see,
A clear miracle of hope
For you and for me?

If you believe in rainbows
As you  look to the sky of blue,
Do you dare to believe
What you hope for will come true?

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From Both Sides

Sometimes you seem so far away
If I’d only turn and walk your way.
Then we’d be closer and I’d see
More of you and less of me.

I want to be so close to you
Forgot the old and make it new.
But I struggle day-to-day
Help me recall you’re the only way.

I’ve looked at you from both sides now
From my side I question where and how.
But from your side it must be so clear
You deep desire is to be so near.

I need to see your truth – your light
To chase away my darkest night.
From your love may I never hide
I run to you with arms so wide.

Show me the signs where you have gone
And I will follow right along.
Hold my hand and walk with me
From here into eternity.

I’ve looked at you from both sides now
From my side I question where and how.
But from your side it must be so clear
You deep desire is to be so near.

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The Sailor

Your face outshines the brightest star
Your eyes search back and forth across the ocean
For the sailor on the stormy sea

Your voice rolls like roaring thunder
Your words crash like mighty waves
For the sailor on the stormy sea

Your arms hold back the raging waves
Your hand stops the spinning compass
For the sailor on the stormy sea

Your heart shines for me like a lighthouse
Your love draws me to the sheltered shore
For a sailor just like me

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Your Haiku

Sometimes it seems that
The mountain is just too high
Far too high to climb

Sometimes it feels that
The road is just far too long
Too long to travel

Sometimes I wonder
Can I get through one more day
With my own chutzpah

Then I turn to you
And I know who carries me
Gives strength to my frame

For you cut my words
And prune my winter right back
So my fruits are yours

For I can do all
Things through Christ who gives me strength
My haiku is yours

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Colour Your Heaven

If you asked me to paint my heaven,
I’d choose colours of red, yellow and blue,
And create a vast vivid landscape,
Of a place I somehow knew.

If you asked me to play my heaven,
I’d use the key of G.
With a minor fall, and a major lift,
To sustain life in harmony.

If you asked my to write my heaven,
I’d use words of depth and rhyme,
To draw you in to my Maker’s world,
Where space departs from time.

If you asked me to share my heaven,
I’d speak the greatest story ever told,
Of Jesus who died for me and you,
So we could walk the streets of gold. 

So what colour is your heaven?
What is the best musical key?
To write and paint your heaven,
For those who need to see?

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A Mustard Seed

How do you share your faith,
In a world that has gone deaf?
With people who march to the same drum,
I may as well be Brezhnev.

I don’t intend to be a pain,
I promise I won’t proselytize,
But perhaps that’s exactly what the world needs,
Instead of blatant compromise.

I’d be happy to keep my mustard seed,
In a small paper cup,
But then who’d move the mountains,
Well – me with any luck.

Because as my faith may be so weak,
And doubts, like autumn leaves, begin to swirl,
My God is bigger than my doubts,
So I’ll share Him with my world.

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Silence

Silence – the space between two sounds,
The gap before the response,
Of the response that never comes.

Silence – the difficult pause in life,
Between the greatest dream and a lack of concern,
Or even acknowledgement.

Silence –  my dreams like tear drops fell,
And echoed loudly in the large empty space,
Between sending and receiving.

Silence – hear my words reaching out to you,
Take my hand and I might teach you,
Of a God far bigger than your words.
Far bigger than your dreams and hopes,
And of a God that joins dots with a thick black pen,
Between time, space, and distance.

Silence – the sound is deafening,
Turn down the volume and listen to your God,
In the quiet of your soul,
And in the silence of your heart.

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Angels

Did you see the angel, with a rainbow in her hair?
She held a flower in her hand, did you see it there?

Did you sense the angel, looking right at you?
Do you have enough faith, to see her too?

And did you feel the angel hold you tight, with green ribbons in her hair?
She held you while you thought too much of troubles that were not even there.

Do you believe – in angels, do you sense them near?
Do you feel them holding you, when no one really cares?

Whether you believe or not, your angels still will care,
And whether your heart is open or shut
They still know you’re there.

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Your Word

Let me hear your words,
So that I might complete your work.
Help me speak them boldly to your people,
And reach those who need to hear.

For your words are living,
They give life to the walking wounded,
And speak direction to the lost.

Give me the words that will unlock their heart,
Help me find the one who needs to know,
Your love, your life, your mystery,
Help me shift their world.

For your words are living,
They breathe life into my soul.
Help me speak your presence,
And let you make me whole.

Let me live your word,
Change my heart today.
Transform my life and renew my mind
Let your truth set me free.

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Faith and Doubt

In a dusty corner of my mind,
There sits a rusty thought,
A recollection of a time gone by,
When my faith was filled with doubt.

My faith, I believe, has shaped my life,
These things that I hold true,
Of Jesus who died to save the world
His life – for me and you.

So why do I doubt when I pray to You?
That maybe You’re just not there,
Or maybe my prayer is just to small,
For my big God to hear.

I guess if I saw a miracle,
Then I’d have faith – no doubt,
But as I see miracles every day
It’s a sign I’d miss – no doubt.

If doubting Thomas was alive today,
I’m sure he’d fill me in
But I fear that other would say,
That his faith defined his sin.

My faith defines my life,
And in the end it matters not,
And if doubt is the price to pay,
Then Jesus paid for it on the cross.

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Sink or Swim

In paradox we learn to live,
and take our first breath,
in a world, that does not really care
if we sink or swim.

In between the now and the not yet,
I struggle to believe and understand,
a God who I cannot really see,
but who I recognise so clearly.

In these words of no use, I long to express
my love for you God.
If you do not read them, or if I do not speak them
will you know anyway?

On the edge of reason, in the waves of my mind
have I glimpsed heaven’s shore?
Where what I see as a dim light in the darkness
will become your house of light – one day.

Content my restless heart, and still my mind,
And use me through this cryptic paradox.
Help me to make my plan in my heart,
But wait for you to set my course.

  

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