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Did you ever see that movie As Good as it Gets?
The title scene where Jack Nicholson’s character who suffers from OCD goes to the psychiatrist who can’t help him. He walks back into the waiting room and sees the other people waiting to see the doctor. They all have hopeless looks on their faces.
He looks around the room at them and in a defeated voice asks “what if this is good as it gets?”
I have found myself asking God a similar question in the last day or two.
You see over the last 12 months I have become desperate for my faith to be something more profound and effective than just making me feel good. I really want to see some of the power that is promised in the bible become a reality in my life and more importantly, in the lives of those around me.
Now, the rubber has hit the road. Now, when it needs to count, the absence of any power in my faith is completely exposed.
Those things that the bible says that I should be able to do, seem to be so far from my reach.
So, I can only hope that my walk with God is off target because the alternative is unthinkable. That alternative of course being “what if this is good as it gets?”
Well, despite what I see (or don’t see as the case may be), I don’t believe that this is the case. I don’t believe that a Christianity that is for all intents and purposes, powerless is what God has designed for us.
But when we don’t see results, then we get angry at God. Why is he letting this thing happen? Where is he? Why is he not doing anything?
Well friends, I reckon I have found the answer to that one. He has done something. He sent his Son to die on a cross (you may have read about it somewhere).
That leaves the ball squarely in our court. Quite simply, the onus is on us as believers.
We have been given the authority and power to act in Jesus name. And, we have been left the Holy Spirit in order to see that power realised in people’s lives.
Rather than continually asking Jesus to step in and do it for us, let’s actually use the authority he has given us (check out Matthew 10:1) and step out and do it.
This requires a change of thinking and a serious prayer life devoted to spending time with God and growing our relationship with him (as opposed to asking him to make it all better).
But I can tell you, unless we commit to doing this then this is as good as it gets.
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This Rambling is a little bit different to the usual.
I am not getting on my soapbox about anything in particular like I normally do. I am not offering a insight or wisdom (as I hope I normally do).
I just felt that the Lord wanted me to offer a word of encouragement to his children.
It seems that many of us are facing trials and difficulties in our lives. It feels a bit like the devil is trying his best to discourage us and send us to a place of despair.
Stand strong in the fact that God sees our needs, He sees our desires and He has equipped us with the power and the authority to see it through. We simply need to accept that truth now.
I feel as though God is moving us to a place where we are childlike before Him. A place where we can learn to seek Him in spite of life’s curveballs.
Put aside the things that are consuming you and resolve to stand in His presence. Just because we want to spend time with Him. No needs, no wants, no whinges or complaints.
Just hang out with Him because He is God. Because He is your Dad. Spend time with Him away from the troubles of life. He knows them. He sees them. He is well able to look after them. God simply desires your company now.
Seek some quiet time and praise Him without agenda, just because he is God.
Don’t let the life stuff clutter it up. Don’t keep praying for God’s hand in whatever it is that you are facing. That is now a given. Let it go to Him.
All that is left is to spend time Him.
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God has spoken to me recently and it came in the form of a bit of a tongue lashing.
It came when I read an old Sunday School memory verse. It is one of those verses that is so well known and put to so many daggy songs that it almost lost it’s meaning to me.
The verse is found in Psalm 118:24.
This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
I have found myself lately becoming somewhat consumed by my circumstances (despite the fact that I regularly Ramble about not doing that very thing – sorry). I have found that my joy has been stolen as a result.
Strike that, I have found that I gave away my joy as a result.
But when I read this particular verse, I noticed one little word that gave it great meaning to me right now where I am at. That word is “will”. We WILL rejoice.
It could not be written any clearer. The word “will” is a command. It doesn’t say “could” or “should” or “might” or even “if you feel like it”. It says “will”.
I have had more than one crappy day recently (as I am sure most of us have). And let me tell you, I have not rejoiced in them.
Indeed, my version of this verse goes more like “This is the day that the Lord has made and my reactions and attitudes will be based on whether or not I like what He has made for me this day. If I don’t like it, I will act like a petulant child.” (not as poetic as the Psalmist but you get the point).
Or, another version goes “This is the day which the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it if God does what I want Him to.”
This is not how God works. He is not asking us to rejoice if He does as He is told or meets certain KPI’s in our lives. He is flat out telling us to rejoice in that which He has given us. He gave us this day, and if we are in His will and under his protection then that which He brings along (be it good or bad according to our flawed human thinking), we will rejoice and be glad in it.
I know that this is a tough concept. It is the “upside down” world of God in action again. Our human thinking says that we will rejoice when we get what we want and the universe once again exists as me as the epicentre. I will rejoice when I get what I want, after all I know best.
The God thinking is the opposite to that. I will rejoice because my life is in God’s hands and what I have been given by him is sufficient and even abundant – even if the world says it isn’t.
It is one of those situations where our spiritual eyes need to play the leading role because we can’t trust what we see with our human eyes.
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Most of will know of the Israelites and the time they spent in the wilderness on their way to the promised land.
Geographically, the distance between Horeb and Kadesh Barnea (on the border of the Promised Land) is an 11 day journey by foot. Given the fact that they had children and the elderly with them, lets be generous and allow them two weeks to make the trip.
So why they did they stay in the wilderness for 40 years?
Simple, like all humans they didn’t believe in or accept the promises of God because they had not yet been delivered to them.
In the wilderness they escaped through the Red Sea miraculously, they were given the law, manna fell from heaven and they even experienced God in smoke and fire.
Yet despite all of this, they were so focused on their wilderness experience that they could not believe that God was going to keep his promise. These daily miracles to keep them going were not enough proof that God was good and would keep His promise.
A few millennia on, and not a whole lot as changed with the human race. Seeing is still believing and as a result we still spend more time in the wilderness than we should.
Like the Israelites we focus on the promise and not on what God want for us in the moment.
You see the promises of deliverance from our particular wildernesses are not without cost. Yet as humans we want the reward without the cost. This is not how it works. This is not the purpose of a wilderness.
Wilderness is not a barren place that we have to endure until it finally comes to an end. Wilderness is the most fertile place in our lives. Weird statement I know. I will explain.
The wilderness is our learning ground. It is the place in our lives where God teaches us. Moreover, it is the place where he teaches us the important stuff. Things like faith, wisdom, joy, peace, patience and anything else that he thinks we need before we can move into His promises.
Unfortunately, with our eyes fixed on the promise and not on the moment, we act like petulant children and continue in our wilderness for longer than we need to. We want the promise but don’t want to change in order to move into it and we certainly don’t want to trust that God will deliver.
We all have wilderness in our lives. If you want an exit strategy, seek God on what he wants you to learn. Stop looking at it with human eyes and look at it with spiritual eyes. The “upside down” world of God looks at wilderness as opportunity to grow closer to Him, to learn that which he wants us to.
Paul’s considered his trials as “pure joy” for this very reason. God was working in his life in his rather extended wilderness and he was wise enough to see God in it.
Moreover, his priorities were such that he was grateful for it. God was teaching him. Paul recognised the importance of that as being far greater than the trivial things his flesh desired.
Wilderness is tough. But as Christians we need to be equipped to rise above the tough bits and learn why God has us there. Otherwise it could be a long stay in the wilderness.
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The idea of ‘taking victory’ seems to be a popular notion in the Christian church today. Ignoring the fact we always seem to be hoping for it, striving for it and believing for it without ever really achieving it on the scale that God wants us to.
Now I am not trying to be cynical (despite how the above statement sounds). What I am trying to do is make a point.
We as Christians tend to stand on the belief that God will sew a patch or stick a band-aid over our problems. We just think he will make it better like magic.
Let me give you an example of what I am rambling about. If we are in some kind of trouble, let’s say financial strain, we get on our knees and pray to go to fill up our bank accounts.
And we follow it up with the thought that once the bank account is full, I will have had my victory.
On the flip side of that coin, when our bank account does not fill up we begin to question God (as well all of those tools that keep telling me God wants victory in my life).
However, we are forgetting one small detail. God is interested in our heart. He is interested in us releasing the things of the flesh and drawing closer to him.
So, how is it then that we think having victory is the provision of that which we have been praying for (in our example, funds). Indeed, this is just a bi-product of the victory (yes, God will provide it, don’t foam at the mouth!!).
But this is not the victory.
The victory comes in your heart and in your mind when, despite the struggles you are facing, despite the lack of funds (or whatever it is), you are drawing nearer to God and you are acting and reacting in a way that enables God to move in your life.
That is victory.
Then all of these things will be added unto you (I am sure I have read that somewhere).
What we see as victory in the physical will only come after we have taken victory in the spiritual – God’s type of victory.
Now my experience has been that when we are faced with these type of tough times (being it financial, relational or other) we instantly start acting out of doubt, fear, anger or any other reaction that is not of God.
And whilst we are acting this way, we are praying for more money (or whatever it is).
We need to make the focus of our prayer life seeking God for forgiveness for these reactions. Draw closer to him and eliminate them from your situation and your life. When you do this, you will have victory. The other stuff will come after the real victory – the spiritual one.
Take your requests to Him in prayer and leave them at his feet. Focus on the victories that need to take place in your heart and your relationship with Him. He will sort out the other crap.
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We as Christians tend to have a rather limited view of what God’s grace in our lives looks like.
I have asked quite a few people lately what they think God’s grace is, and overwhelmingly the answer is “the forgiveness of my sins”.
Well, that is true enough, but it is by no means an all encompassing view of grace.
Grace might be better defined as God’s desire to see only good things for us.
Now, when I first came to this realisation, my reaction was “yeah well then why does life quite frequently suck for me? Perhaps I have not been apportioned God’s grace.”
But in order to understand this concept of grace, we need to first change our thinking.
That is to say, God’s idea of “good things” substantially differs from mine.
You see, God has the idea that spiritual blessing are more important than physical ones. Yet we as humans seem to struggle with this concept. It is awfully difficult for most of us to get past physical blessing – stuff like money, cars, career, houses etc.
Now, before you all start foaming at the mouth, I am not saying that this stuff is outside of what God wants for us, but I am saying that it is far less important than spiritual blessings in God’s eyes.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The physical stuff falls into the second part of that passage… “and all these things will be given to you as well.”
The first part of that passage is key to moving into God’s grace. Seeking Him first.
It is a matter of casting off the desires of the flesh and seeking the things of God. And, the more that we do that, the closer we draw to God. The closer we draw to God, the greater the apportionment of grace in our lives.
Now, to our earlier question…”if God only wants good for me, then why do things in my life frequently suck?”
I might not have all of the answers, but I can certainly speak from experience.
In my life, there has only ever been one way that the crap in my life that is getting between me and God has been removed – that is off the back of trials.
They hurt at the time, but once I am on the other side of them, I can finally see that it was God cleaning out shop so that I can draw closer to him (irrespective if the trials came through God’s will or my own stupidity – remember, all things work together for good for those who love the Lord).
That is him wanting good things for my life. That is spiritual blessing. That is what grace looks like.
Seek God first, give Him the place of most importance in your life, and as you do you will see that all the ‘other things’ will be added. Indeed, at a point, they will lose importance to you and you will find a joy and satisfaction that those things will never bring.
I urge you to continue to draw closer to God. Cast off the flesh and seek him first. Then watch grace at work in your life.
Filed under: Random Thoughts
Resting well is a challenge that faces most of those who are involved in high paced living. We know know this is a big issue and as much as people don’t want to admit their need for rest, they need rest.
From our perspective, there’s at least two important elements to resting:
– disconnecting from work
– reconnecting with God
Disconnecting from work can be very difficult when there is a genuine love and passion for the things in which we’re engaged. It’s a blessing to be passionate about our work, but the excitement can lead us to forget that too much of a good thing doesn’t always result in staying a good thing. It’s far too easy to get out of balance with the “good thing” and neglect the care of our own soul–which is definitely the “better thing.”
Disconnecting from work also becomes difficult when we place too much of our identity into what we do. It’s not intentional, but when life becomes all about achievements, we slowly become nothing more than the sum of our achievements. When this attitude appears, we believe we must achieve or else we (think) will lose our value.
Here’s the sobering truth, while God uses us to do great things, he doesn’t need us to do great things. The Kingdom of God will still move forward without our efforts. Most people acknowledge this fact, but don’t live as if they believe it. Do you?
It is a tragedy when we spend so much time focused on doing the work of God that we miss out on God’s work in us.
As a Christian it is important–you are making an eternal impact–but the condition of your heart is more important than your efforts.
Please take some time to consider the ugly myth that so many believe: “As long as I’m not working, I’m resting.” That’s just not true–retreating isn’t the same as resting. We settle for less when we seek escape and diversion from work.
Resting well also means reconnecting with God in a way that’s different than when we’re connected to God while we’re working. (Obviously, you can connect with God during your working hours–which is a good thing) A genuine reconnecting with God is a challenge when we’re tired from the busyness of life. It’s so easy to step away from work and say, “I need some ‘me time’ to do whatever I want.” While there’s truth to that statement, “me time” should also include a reconnection with God that is genuine and recharging.
We are not suggesting that either disconnecting or reconnecting is easy when you’re engulfed with life pressures. But, we are suggesting that it’s very important to make apart of your life.