Enjoying the Journey

27 06 2013

When I was growing up and I became a Christian one of the pulls for me was having a personal relationship with Jesus or as one put it, walking through life with God by your side at all times.

This year I’ve been ‘walking with God’ for sixteen years.

Has God met my every need? Yes without fail he’s been true to His word.

Has he answered my prayers? Yes, so far he has, there’s some I’m waiting on God for but I know his answer isn’t no.  He’s been true to his word.

Have I been given Grace beyond my wildest dreams? Yes.  I serve him daily in the work he’s given me to do, I live in a nice house that meets all my needs.  I am married to a wonderful woman who I love more and more each day and we now have a beautiful baby boy who’s everything I could have dreamed of.  Has God been true to His Word?  To right he’s been true to His word.  Sixteen years ago when I first took the Lord Jesus hand in mine I would never have expected so much grace and goodness to be sent my way.

Last question, have I enjoyed every minute?  Hmm, no I haven’t.

How could I possibly say such a thing when Jesus has provided my every need and more? How totally ungrateful you may say.

Well maybe, but I hope not because I believe he knows how grateful I am and how much my heart is for Him.  But there are things that have happen on my journey that I’ve not enjoyed and they have acted as a distraction and have a way leading me to frustration that leads to strife that leads to unhappiness and so on and so on.

Picture the scene – you are walking down a long road hand in hand with your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, life and everything it entails is either side of you.  As you progress on your journey, your part in this life also progresses.  Hopes and dreams, relationships and break-ups, disappointments and failure all take place as you progress yet holding on to your hand tightly through it all is Him.  Jesus Christ.  Providing your needs, nudging you in the right direction, urging you to do this and not that, holding on tight to you when you fall, like a parent holds a child’s hand tightly when the child falls.  Brushing off the bruising and giving comfort.  But also He is the overseer of your journey, the one with the map to your destination and the knowledge of how to get there.

Different distractions are competing for your attention all the time, urging your come this way or go that way like living advertisement boards with unspeakable powers of persuasion.  Go this way and that, taste this and sample that, all along the people of life aimlessly going their way without a guide, without a saviour to lead them to safety, some completely stuck in habits and the pit holes that have trapped them.

I sometimes find myself pride fully laughing at how the Israelites took forty years to get somewhere that was a two week walk away.  But am I so different?  I’ve got to a stage in my life that has been entirely down to God’s grace.  Every time I took a wrong turn to go here or there or to sample the pleasures of life or even all the arguments along the way and problems I’ve caused for people.  It was all down to me but God hasn’t blamed me for one bit of it, he’s blamed Jesus.

So yes – I’ve not always enjoyed the journey.  I’ve not always enjoyed it for of a number of reasons – one I’ve taken detours that have affected me negatively that the Lord Jesus has forgiven me for and is still helping me put right.  I’ve not enjoyed how Jesus willingly took the blame for something that wasn’t his fault but mine and then humbly and lovingly tried to help me correct the mess I’ve made.

I would consider myself someone who tries to repay people’s kindness, someone that remembers the good done to me by others and locks it away for a time when I can repay them.

But the good the Lord has done to me is beyond repayment – the continuing debt to love is huge and insurmountable.

One way I can love Him is to let Him lead me in the way I’m supposed to go and not go my own way but to listen to His word and not get distracted.

The more I try and do this the more convinced I am, that meditating on His word, that reading His word, listening to His word and acting on His word is where I’ve been lacking.  It isn’t prayer or even sinfree living.  Its His word, after all – what would I pray if I didn’t know from His word what His will was for any given situation or how far would I get in my quest to live a sinfree life before I realised I am under grace and He is strong when I am weakness.    The map, it’s His word, it’s the one I’m hand in hand with.

Maybe I’ll give His word more attention and respect and shout out it’s importance and maybe, just maybe I’ll begin living what it says, that way I’ll enjoy more of the journey.





I’m starting with the man in the mirror

23 05 2013

We take refuge in pride because we are afraid to tell the truth to ourselvesKakuzo Okakura

Everyday an e-mail lands in my inbox from a Jonathan Lockwood Huie not sure who he is but he sends out three to four quotes per day every day.  Sometimes I read them sometimes I don’t but this morning when reading my e-mails on my phone in bed I noticed the above quote and it got me thinking.

If I’m truly honest there isn’t anything my life that I can’t change for the better.  It just feels easier to blame someone or something else for why it doesn’t change.

I’ve sometimes heard it said that ’ignorance is bliss’ and when faced with confronting the realities of your own inadequacies and shortfalls it’s much easier to take an unhealthy pride in what you are than face up to what you’re not.

Celebrating what we are isn’t all that bad of course but it all goes a bit sour when we become prideful in who we are and what we can do because so often it’s impossible to be prideful without comparing yourself to others and with that comes judging.

Like I said, when thinking about parts of my character, personality, relationships or circumstances, I am the one in control; they flourish or falter by my own choices and any problems that stem from them are my own responsibility and they are not fatal or permanent.

In the past those closest to me have sometimes said, “Ian, don’t beat yourself up” but the way I see it, 95% of all problems I’ve ever had have been down to my own choices and my own reactions to circumstances that are outside my control so there’s no better place to figure out the problem that looking at myself.  I’m the guilty one your honour!!

Unfortunately when the process of looking the mirror begins there’s always an opportunity to take comfort in what I am good at and comparing that to how weak someone else is in the same area and so the cycle of ignorance in our own flaws continue.

For me as a committed Christian my beginning point is found in God’s word.   Gaining knowledge in how God see’s me and then getting understanding in knowing who I am in Him is a good foundation to build upon.  It’s only then I can begin to understand that everything he has done for me already is free and down to His amazing love and grace.  It’s difficult to be prideful in who we are and what we have when we have a full working knowledge that it’s all been down to His grace.

Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

When problems arise, before I pray and seek the Lord’s intervention and before I fall into the trap of being ignorant to it by taking pride in what things are going well for me and before I beat myself up and get down on myself and declare myself a failure, at least in my thoughts.

I need to repent and then continue the quest to hide His word in my heart, for I know that 95% of all problems I face are down to bad choices founded in pride, self and conceit all of which is sin.

Thankfully I have a God that is just and faithful to forgive me but he’s also given me the scripture above to give me my all important start point.

And so I continue … making mistakes … repenting … improving and growing, making more mistakes … repenting again … improving and growing.

I look back to at this cycle in my knowing His grace and love for me in my life is what I owe everything to.

Thank you Lord





Free You’re Mind

21 05 2013

I’ve started today deciding I’ll write something for my long lost blog.   So here I am journaling my thoughts for the day.

Have you ever watched the scene in the Matrix where Morpheus is standing on the rooftop with Neo and before he jumps across the street to another rooftop he encourages Neo to ‘free his mind’!

Neo decides to try, give it a whirl and have a go before falling to the street and seemly failing to free his mind.

Well sometimes I feel like Neo on the roof top being encouraged to take the leap.

On one hand I have the bible telling me, it’s possible, I can do it, never fear.

Luke 1:37 says, “…with God all things are possible”

Philippians 4:13 says “…I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

On the other hand I have feelings of doubt, fear and impossible running through my mind.  Tell me I’m not the only one?!!

Scriptures like the above have almost become clichés in lots of Christian circles and they get branded about for motivation, encouragement to do what Morpheus was trying to do for Neo.

God see’s us as so much more than we see ourselves and for that reason he’s written plenty of encouragement in His Word, plenty of instruction and even documented the life stories of people like Joshua and whenever I read about Joshua I think of scriptures like Numbers 13:30, “we are well able to overcome”

In my mind I think of Joshua and I think, we are well able to overcome.  

So how come with so much evidence of God’s overwhelming love and support for us, so much power and ability to give us the incentive,  we still sometimes feel unable to jump across to the other building and free our mind.

Here’s what I think, I think we are continually jumping from building to building, small gaps at first and getting bigger as we walk with God.  There’s a feeling that God moves the goalposts of course and we are not getting to where we desire in our hearts to be at all.  But then when we look back on the last five, ten or fifteen years of our lives we realise what the Lord has been doing.

We don’t free our minds in one sudden jump and then do the impossible forever.  Spiritually at least I’m sure that’s true but we can only do this on earth according how our minds have been renewed and to do that, it takes a process or a journey.

Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.  Benjamin Disraeli

We have to nurture our minds with the Word of God daily and with perseverance and understanding, learn to enjoy the journey.

Every day if we stay true to His word and remain in faith we’ll quickly begin to see that we are daily freeing our minds.

Here’s to a new day of going further today than I went yesterday.





Proverbs 17:8 “A bribe is a charm to the one who gives it; wherever he turns, he succeeds”

10 09 2012

Proverbs 17:8 “A bribe is a charm to the one who gives it; wherever he turns, he succeeds”

This verse has causes a little debate and conversations in my circles of late and happening upon it has caused me to seek answers and give it some thought time.

The oxford dictionary definition of the word bribe says “to dishonestly persuade (someone) to act in one’s favour by a gift of money or other inducement”

If you stop and ask the average person in the street if they have ever bribed someone, most would say no they most definitely have not and generally speaking the large majority of people would say they never would either.  I’d be one of the people who would give those answers and so after being faced with the above scripture it caused me a problem.

My first reaction was that the verse means something more than what’s literally saying.  But to move away from potential debate or argument about it I kept my thoughts to myself and silently wondered.

When I was a young Christian I was taught that there are no contradictions in the bible only miss-interruptions from the reader and if I was to get the true meaning of any scripture it was always a good idea to cross reference it with other verses throughout the bible to get a better understanding of bible’s teaching on the subject.

So at first I decided to take the scripture literally and believe that it means what it says, purely for the purpose of my studies into it.  Then I decided to find out what else God said about bribes in other verses around the bible and see if any of them back up what above verse says.  Here’s just a little of what I found that summed up the entire theme.

Exodus 23:8, “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent

2 Chronicles 19:7, “Now let the fear of the LORD be on you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”

Job 15:34, “For the company of the godless will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes”

Ecclesiastes 7:7, Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart”

As you’ll see from the verses above there’s a definite theme about the word ‘bribe’ in the bible and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s not good which I already knew and expected.  Although it doesn’t take anything away from what Proverbs 17:8 says there’s definitely a case to look more deeply into the translations of Proverbs 17:8 to bring more clarity.

So looking into the exact translation I found out that the word ‘bribe’ in the Hebrew language is ‘shakh’-ad’ which literal interpretation is better translated as ‘gift’  according to NAS Exhaustive Concordance.

The Hebrew meaning for the word ‘charm’ is interpreted ‘khane’ and ‘eh’-ben’ which in English means ‘precious stone’

Suddenly with a little study you start seeing a clearer picture being painted by God and by filling in the blanks of the Hebrew translation you’d get this.

“A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of he that has it, where ever it turns it prospers”

Now for me that fits, it fits into what God says about ‘gifts’ it fits into the Lord’s nature of how he operates.   “For God so loved the world that he give…” comes to mind along with the verse about the pearl of great price.  To you that have that gift, you are indeed Blessed and prospered.

 





Stuttering

28 05 2011

I’ve just finished watching a documentary about the story behind the movie, “The Kings Speech”

The movie for me presses all kinds of buttons in my emotions, my memories and even my fears.  It causes me to think about a dark time in my life where every day was difficult and each conversation a desperately difficult challenge.

It’s not something I often think about, because like most people, I’ve become quite the expert at pushing deep down inside me all of my past failures and difficulties. In the movie Lionel Loge the Kings Speech therapist explains that every stutterer’s deepest fear is that they go back to the beginning.

One thing I find myself thinking about is how courageous many stutters are but how every time I think about my own stutter I find myself thinking more and more about my past not my present or future, thanks be to God , my saviour and helper

 





Lessons from the cursing of the fig tree

20 02 2011

Matthew 21:18-19

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

I’ve always pondered why Jesus cursed the fig tree, now before you tell me that’s obvious Ian,  and say it didn’t have any fruit.  I get that but in another verse it tells us that it wasn’t the season for figs to grow.  So part of me as thought it’s a bit mean of Jesus to be cursing a fig tree  for not having figs when really speaking, it’s not meant to have figs.  That’s my earlier thoughts on the subject.

So after having this conversation with Tracey today I decided to look into it and find out why?

Well firstly I started reading about the characteristics of fig trees and I found out that they usually have a crop three times during the year, once in the spring and another two crops later on, I also noted that if the climate and conditions are right then the fig tree can have figs for up to sometimes ten months of the year.  Of course they are not always ripe to eat during various times but a fig tree will show signs of fruit during those times none of the less.

So for Jesus and his disciples it wasn’t uncommon to see a fig tree with fruit even out of season.  Also a very important point naturally speaking is that the figs on the fig tree generally appear before the leaves and because the figs are first green they blend in with the leaves right up until it is almost ripe.

I can now imagine Jesus and his disciples walking to the fig tree seeing it had leaves on it and expecting there to be figs.  Of course – why wouldn’t they.  But as we know it didn’t and there spells the end of the fig tree!!

Now a large part of me is satisfied with this explanation until I read another couple of studies on it.  (The internet is a wonderful thing for gaining a start point on understanding)

If we look in Matthew 21, this passage is placed straight after Jesus overturns the tables and cleanses the temple of the moneychangers.  Some believe that the cursing of the fig tree is symbolically linked to the cleansing of the temple and their reasons are this.

The fig tree is often used symbolically to represent Israel in the Scriptures and Jesus’ constantly refers to the Pharisees as hypocrites for their outward spiritual or religious actions but not having any substance or ‘fruit’.  He overturns the tables and cleanses the temple at around the same time as he curses the fig tree.  I’ve discovered that many believe that with the cursing of the fig tree, He was symbolically denouncing Israel as a nation and, in a sense, even denouncing unfruitful “Christians” (that is, people who profess to be Christian but have no evidence of a relationship with Christ)  An interesting thought and worth pondering on.

We are called to bear fruit but many are like the fig tree – all the appearance of fruit but when studied a little closer we find just leaves.  The Pharisees are exactly that and when we forget His love commands we edge ever closer to the same fate.





Psalm 148

18 02 2011

How awesome is this Psalm – He is so worthy of all praise

1 Praise the LORD.[a]

Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for at his command they were created,
6 and he established them for ever and ever—
he issued a decree that will never pass away.

7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
9 you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,[b]
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the LORD.








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