Silence and Solitude

Silence and solitude

Tranquil.

Silence and solitude. Uncomfortable when neglected. Much noise fills our lives already.

Silence and solitude. A friend; far from foe. The friend who makes us focus on where we’re falling short.

Silence, making us aware of thoughts we’ve had but not known we had.

Solitude reminding us there’s a friendship with our own selves we must never neglect.

Silence and solitude, causing us to reflect. On ourselves. Environment… Life…

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On Being “A Child Of God”

When I was little boy one of the biggest fights I had with my friends was not wanting to play outside. I hated the sandpit. I never saw the point of the sandpit. You played with sand and got dirty; why would I want that?!

I made up for it with fascination with other things. I used to steal mom’s wire coat hangers and make car wires and stuff. Other memories; the world through the eyes of a little boy…

on being a child of God

Dad was a giant. Because he could open the ketchup bottles and jam jars mom couldn’t, I’m sure he could stop a car with his pinkie finger. There’s nothing dad couldn’t or wouldn’t buy for me when he promised. He stepped in and ’took care’ of the kids who tried to bully me. Many memories… Mom and dad were / are just the best!

Now that I’m grown up I’m more aware of their limitations. I’m aware of some of their blind spots in their perspectives and worldview. There was a time I was naïve enough to think there was nothing mom and dad couldn’t do for me. I had and still have no doubt they have the best in mind for me.

This includes the times mom and dad had to discipline or correct me. Sometimes I knowingly misbehaved. I got disciplined. There were also times I was let off the hook; mom and dad gave me a hiding by being good to me. I felt bad for being mean to them when they chose kindness.

Being a child was key to unlocking expectation to my parents. It meant that I had the expectation of protection from my parents. I never felt guilty for asking anything of them because, well who else was I going to ask? Though I didn’t appreciate the pain of the hiding I deserved, I knew it was their responsibility to discipline.

I didn’t appreciate the manners they taught me when they did, but now I’m grateful… I was ever aware of my limitations and always leaned on my parents. With time they pushed me, helped me grow… So much…

On Being “A Child Of God”

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. — Matthew 18:3-4

Jesus taught the importance of being a child. In fact, He said that unleashing the power of His kingdom was linked to us being children. Sometimes I want to be stronger than I really am. Yet, the truth is I really am more helpless than I portray. Humility…

Sometimes I’m a brat. I resent being disciplined and taught. Being challenged to grow and take responsibility.

Yet Jesus calls me to be… a child. It is when I am a child that I allow God to truly be the Father. My responsibility is to be a child. To have innocent and expectant faith. To never stop believing in His goodwill and plans for my life. To be ’naive enough’ to take God at His Word.

For God to truly be my father, I have to be a great child.

My Routines Build Me Up And Tear Me Down

I hate mornings. I can hardly get my body and brain to engage. I used to be a morning person. Not so much now. The challenge of falling asleep manifests itself, in an even greater way, in the morning.

As I try to wake up, the first thing I do is reach for my phone, with the hope that my wake up time is still many hours away. Squint-eyed I try to make out the time. I shower, brush my teeth, get dressed… Coffee

I have a routine that is forced. A lot of the things, I just have to do. I have many other routines; recurring things. I have rhythms I’m forced to change sometimes because life just happens. Something unexpected, a fuller diary, crises…

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Sometimes I Wish We All Weren’t So “Christian”

This is a guest post by Wendy van Eyck

I sometimes struggle to talk to people who believe in Jesus.

Sometimes I wish my friends didn’t sound so Christian. Sometimes I wish they’d tell me how they feel instead of telling me what they think I want to hear.

I find it hard because I don’t always feel like we can have a conversation about really matters to them.

Often it feels like we are all trying to sound “Christian” rather than “human”.

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I know from experience how tempting it is to brush people off with a “Christian” sounding, “Yes, what I am going through is hard, but God sustains me.”

I learnt through holding my husband’s hand through two years of cancer treatment, that speaking words that sound “Christian” prevents people from being Jesus’ hands and feet to us.

I think when I read Matthew 5: 3-5 in the Message this really clicked for me:

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can the One dearest to you embrace you.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

Those don’t sound a lot like descriptions of people who have it all together. They read more like descriptions of me on my best days.

It sounds like the kind of person who would be good friends with the biblical Job, the kind of person who understands the despair David wrote of in the Psalms.

It sounds like the kind of person who would just come straight out and say, “I don’t know how I’m going to get out of the mess I’m in.”

It sounds like the kind of person who lives openly with brokenness.

It sounds like the kind of person who isn’t out to impress God, or anyone, with holiness.

It sounds like the kind of person who accepts being a Christian is more about what God does in a person than being perfect.

It sounds like the kind of person I want to be.

And I’m realizing that if I want to have the kind of conversations, with people who believe in Jesus, that go beyond “praise God” and “Amen”, I need to start giving honest answers myself. And as I live with honesty in my brokenness maybe it’ll encourage others to share what’s on their hearts.

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  • As I live with honesty in my brokenness maybe it’ll encourage others to share what’s on their hearts [Click to Tweet]

wendy van eyckCheck out Wendy’s blog here. She writes devotionals about finding God in ordinary moments. In an inspiring way, she also writes about her and her husband, Xylon’s journey as Xylon fought cancer.
Thanks for stopping by Wendy!

The Things I Allow To Fill My Life

This verse speaks into giving the message of Christ permission to “marinate” my life. This just made me think of the things that I allow to fill my life. There are many things I give permission to occupy and fill my life in different ways. I do this by allowing certain things about my character and way of life. There is also the danger of allowing my inner world to go unchecked.

Unchecked by the Word of God. Unchecked by not praying as I ought, as a follower of Christ. More for my good than anyone else’s. Sometimes I’m not intentional enough. At other times I am. The challenge of being consistent. There’s wealth I miss when I don’t let Christ’s message completely affect me.

The message of Christ in all it’s richness means embracing God’s plan for me and through me, for others. The message of Christ is rich. By “the richness of the message of Christ” Scripture also speaks into the access the message of Christ gives me to God’s grace. The grace to become more into His likeness.

Not only that but the grace to grow together with other Christ followers. It means I depend on other Christ followers as much as they depend on me. We become more like Christ as we help each other. The outworking of Christ message not only demands responsibility for working out my salvation -Philippians 2:12-, but also my responsibility to my brothers and sisters.

Thus, the richness of Christ message filling my life helps me become in matters of identity. It affects my behaviour, in the matter of lifestyle. It reminds me of the need of others, lest I get self-absorbed. Being self-absorbed means I have the ability to allow myself to fill my life. Contrary to what Scripture teaches and God wants of me.

I need to be more mindful of the things I allow to fill my life. Attitudes, cares, relationships, hobbies, words, works, everything.

God, may I be filled and consumed with the richness of your Word. Help me see the wonderful things in your law – Psalm 119:18.

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Talking About Nuthin’

I’m a fan of Lecrae’s music. He has a new album, Anomaly, dropping soon. “Nuthin” is one of the songs on the album but has been released as a single. He’s done what no Christ following artist has done in terms of speaking to both the world and Christ follower. By the world in Lecrae’s context, I mean hip hop culture (I’m not saying he only speaks into hip hop culture either).

As a Christ follower one of the things I wrestle with is being overt with my faith in a way that people in the world at large don’t shut down or check out. There are more reasons than I can count why culture, that is the world, in a general sense, doesn’t want to hear anything from followers of Christ. We, as Christ followers, are partly to blame. (That’s for another post…)

I grapple with “earning a voice”, a right to be heard, with the world and at the same time not selling out when it comes to representing Jesus, the Christ. I want to tell the world and at the same time I don’t want to sell out.

In the song “Nuthin” Lecrae speaks about how hip hop culture is talking about nothing. He belittles the things that are celebrated and bragged about in favour of speaking about encouraging people and Jesus. Lecrae has been rapping for at least ten years. He has, in a sense, earned a right (or cred) to speak into the culture the way he does.

He’s been exposed to the hip hop culture and understands it. He speaks the language. His message is the differentiator. Together with Lecrae and all Christ followers I have the unique differentiator: the message of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7 [NIV] )

In speaking the message of Christ to the world I wrestle. How do I earn the “right” (or cred) to be listened to without selling out to the message and Christ Himself. I know it is the Holy Spirit who convicts and not me or how I deliver the message. However, how do I know I have done all I can?

I strive to please Christ and I know it is not by my works I’m saved. But I also know that others are saved, in a sense, by my work. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want to be able to speak into the culture and be given a fair chance (whatever that is) to be heard. We have this treasure in earthen vessels… (2 Corinthians 4:7)

We are ignored, even though we are well known… 2 Corinthians 6:9 (NLT)

Paul says that he, and his colleagues and the message of Christ they preached were ignored despite being well known! It seems Paul’s fame didn’t guarantee a “a fair chance to be heard”. Yet he was one of the most effective preachers and church planters, ever!

Fame is not the goal. Attention on myself isn’t either. I just want to make sure the message of Christ is heard the best way I can. The world is talking about a lot. And I agree with Lecrae; they’re talking about nothing. In representing Christ I want to be effective…

In saying something about Christ and the privilege of following Him I also want to make sure I’m not one of those people who talk about nothing.

Jesus, help me to represent you and represent you well. May I not talk about nothing so many will follow you. Amen.

Consistency And Integrity: What God And Me Want

This blog is a window into my journey in alignment with what God wants me to be and do. Though I’m the one writing this blog, it is easily the story of every Christ follower. We’re all embroiled in a battle of some sort.

There is always what God wants and what I, in my selfishness, want. The thing is, what God wants and or expects of me is ultimately the best for me.

There is one sure way of being and doing what God requires of me / us. One sure, guaranteed way to be consistent and foolproof integrity. And that is doing what God’s ways says. God is consistent, and I am not.

Because He doesn’t change living according to His Word helps me to be consistent. I cannot be anything close to what God wants me to be without a relationship with His Word. Not just any kind of relationship, but an intimate one. Deep, insane, savage, unrestrained love for the Scriptures.

It is in this kind of relationship with God’s Word that what what God and me want is aligned. Not that God gets on the same page as me but the other way round. God’s Word reveals Himself. It uncovers me, who I am and what I’m not (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Not for the sake of it but so that I become more like Him. So that I’m equipped to do what He calls me to (2 Timothy 3:17; Ephesians 2:10).

The words of the Psalmist give me comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one. This gives me courage to pray:

God, help me to love Your Word. I want to want to live according to Your Word. When I compare my life to Your Commands may there be no difference. None at all. Amen

Forgetting How To Pray

I think a lot. A lot about how I live is internal. I’m neither extroverted nor introverted. I’m one of those guys who are half and half. Because I think a lot, a lot of what happens to me is internal.

Sometimes I over think things. I’ve always been this way, as long as my memory serves me. I don’t fight it. I’ve learned how to make that work for me.

(Writing is one of the ways I’ve explored to help me process things.)

forgetting how to pray

This morning, as I took as walk along the coast I realised how much I had redirected some of my ‘prayer energy’ or focus to thinking. I had started thinking about the things I wanted to and should’ve been praying about.

Some people say God hears their thoughts and He should just take their thoughts as prayer. That is is them, not me!

Articulation

I don’t have a comprehensive, theological definition for what prayer is. Neither will I be prescriptive about how you should pray. However, for me, prayer must be articulated. It must be expressed.

Jesus knew that the Father knows us through and through. Every thought, anxiety, aspiration, reservation and passion. Everything. yet, Jesus invites us to ask (Luke 11:2-3; Matthew 7:7 cf. Philippians 4:6).

Prayer is more than thought; it is articulating [Click to Tweet]

I haven’t done a specific study, but as I think about it, there is nowhere in Scripture where prayer is just thought. Then again, it might just be my ‘bias’ toward prayer being articulated.

If most people are honest when they think “prayer”, they think “articulation” and “expression”. Never mind what people think right…

How

Because I grew up in a Christian home prayer was a norm. When I decided I was going to be a Christ follower I did wonder where my parents and others sourced their prayers. There were times I got stuck on the ‘how’.

How do I come up with things to pray? How can I string words and craft sentences in such a way that God understands and I don’t make a fool of myself?

This morning I seemed to find myself at the same place I was as a little boy. Remember, my ‘philosophy’ on prayer being articulated…

Thus I have to articulate my prayer, so that I know that I am praying. Also, I do believe that God knows what we need. He knows our thoughts but prayer is one of the ways we express our faith in Him. Faith in His love for us and willingness to act for and on our behalf.

Somehow I asked myself, “how should I pray?” I pray often. But here I was, asking myself how I should pray. Then I realised something else. What I was asking myself was how was I to articulate or express what I was thinking to God.

Perfect articulation is not the object of prayer; connecting with God is [Click to Tweet]

How could I be so stupid to believe that i had to wax eloquent when it came to prayer? For this moment, at least, how did I start believe that God only hears the eloquent?

After slaying these thoughts I whipped a messy and heartfelt prayer. I’m sure it pleased the Father to hear that snot and tears… I connected with God. He did some things in my heart.

Messy prayers mean and do more than unarticulated and unsaid prayers [Click to Tweet]

God is never surprised or puzzled when our (messy, articulated) prayers reach His ears. Like a parents having pleasure at their children’s attempt to speak, I know God loved hearing from me.

Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Rather the messy prayer than none at all…

What other barriers stop people from praying? Like me, have you had similar experience(s) in your prayer life?

The Cost Of Discipleship

One of the books I’m reading at the moment. It cuts to the heart of translating grace to daily living and what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

Bonhoeffer is candid and explicit. I don’t think it is him really, just that he echoes the implications of being a disciple of Christ as per Christ’s teachings and call, in a practical and easily understood manner.

Bonhoeffer:

Discipleship means adherence to Christ…