I don't know if anyone besides me looked at their calendar at the start of this academic term and saw all the events of this next season and had to fight a little bit of anxiety about how they were going to get through it all? After genuinely feeling the benefit of a good mental break over summer, and having enjoyed relaxed time with friends and family and even some half-decent summer weather, I admit to having to push back the feeling of panic and pressure that was already starting to build inside my mind.
When visiting my old place of work as a chaplain, a regular topic of conversation is why I have moved from working in engineering to being a church minister. The short answer I sometimes give to provoke discussion is that “I’m on a mission from God”. What I’m wanting to stir is a conversation about "Why are we here? What is our purpose? What are we living for?"
This summer, before going on holiday, I did what so many people do, looked at reviews of the place we are staying at online. More often than not it is really helpful. However, it is very easy to read reviews that give a false report which are not accurate and make a decision based on a bad review.
In our English culture, death is something we traditionally don’t talk about. There are times when we really have to, however, what we tend to do is rely on euphemisms from the more comic: “popped his clogs” to the solemn: “didn’t make it” or “no longer with us”. If we have the opportunity to ignore it or bypass it in conversation though, most will try our utmost to do so.
I’ve paused while preparing the last of a series of bible studies in the book of Job to reflect on the resurrection and Job himself. He endured much suffering, the loss of family, fortune and his health. Job’s problems were compounded by three friends who insisted that he must be suffering because he sinned.
When we experience something for the first time it makes a big impression. The first time we heard a piece of music, the first time we visited a place, the first time we met someone. There is a freshness about new experiences and with it is a first flush of enthusiasm and excitement.
Oswald Chambers wrote, "Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work". Over the last year I have found this to be true I have found myself treasuring all the more my time in private speaking to my Heavenly Father. Whilst I have seen God's grace in many answered prayers I have found the communion with God in prayer as precious as the answers.
I wonder when was the last time you witnessed or experienced something which you knew had changed your life forever?
We are currently preaching our way through Exodus, the story of Moses being "called out [of Egypt] to be called in [to God’s presence]". As a leadership, our reason for this was: as we thought and prayed about our next sermon series for Sunday mornings, we became convinced that what we didn't need was more head knowledge, more theology, more things to do… (as helpful/unhelpful some of those are at times). We need God's Presence.
I wonder if there is someone you simply enjoy being around because their very presence just makes things better, happier or more peaceful.
For my daughter, her favourite soft toy is a small rabbit – blanket type thing we call Bunny (highly inventive I know). When she has Bunny she is calmer, more content, in fact, on some nights without Bunny (in the wash) she won’t sleep as well. Bunny clearly has a powerful presence.