FRESH BREW

This should make you thirsty…

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UNEXPECTED GIFT

Last week I was strolling on the beach admiring the natural residue that the sea had left behind. There was the usual amalgam of seaweed and shells, things that you would certainly expect to see. As I was admiring the variety of shapes, I stumbled across something more exquisite.

They were almost marble like pieces of glass. Different shapes. Different levels of transparency. But most of the flat. Most likely they were fragments of discarded glass that had been thrown away as refuse. Possibly sharp as they were initially broken. Useless and maybe even dangerous. Yet tossed around by the waves of the sea they are likely to have ended up totally transformed and far away from where they were discarded.

A journey perhaps not dissimilar to that of a disciple of Christ. Before He meets us we are full of sharp corners that are likely to cut and hurt (ourselves and others). Often regarded as useless and thrown away. Maybe not literally but certainly ignored and isolated by loneliness and seclusion.

Yet once you meet HIM, something happens. It’s a journey full of waves and hardship that pepper that glorious metamorphosis that is slowly taking place. Often unseen from our own vantage point but certainly pretty evident to those around us. His grace and love, slowly and painfully begin to round off the sharp edges.

And what emerges, has an almost natural jewel like quality.

An unexpected gift, in an unexpected place, by an unexpected process.

I am so glad that there has been one day in my life when HE took hold of me and started changing me. putting off the old self and clothing me in HIS righteousness. Ad HE does that every day. Patiently. Graciously. Painfully.

I celebrate that I have the privilege of HIM writing ‘work in progress’ over my life daily.

DAYLONG DEVOTION #3

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Here are my final two suggestions as an alternative to the traditional Quiet Time.

STEAL AWAY

As someone who is pretty easily drawn to social media distractions by regularly checking Twitter, Facebook, blogs, I realise that there are numerous short quiet moments that can be used to steal away time with God, in praise, reflection, reading and intercession. so, just as much as you feel the urge to check your soc. media – turn to Him instead.
I guess it takes discipline stirred by a sense of affection for God and a hunger for intimacy to ignore the siren call of social media or media in order to invest that time vertically.
This should be seen as a relational experience rather than meticulous guilt driven ‘to do’ list. Also, this should not be the only way to connect with God as it could be potentially rushed and superficial.

RELATIONSHIP

For some reason we seem to love systems (quiet time type, daily reading notes) rather than relationship driven devotion. Maybe because it seems more ‘instant’ and requires less concentration, attention and initiative….
I see it as a crucial that we talk about spiritual growth in the context of a relationship with God. A relationship infused with grace, not examined by a check list God. A relationship in which I pursue intimacy with God out of a deep affection for Him.
This will require a deep sense of priority determined by my great hunger and thirst for Him, knowing that as a consequence I myself will be enriched and equipped.

DAYLONG DEVOTION #2

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DOUBLE LISTENINGSome of you were worried I was replacing quiet time with a quiet time. Not so.

Also a disclaimer. this is my own customized way of engaging with God all day long rather than exercising a religious set of practices. I don’t claim that they are the best or always suited for everyone, but I see them as healthier options for my own growth in affection for the Saviour and those around me.

I half borrow the term from John Stott. You learn to live through the ordinariness of a mundane day that involves, study, work, family time and leisure – with an acute awareness of God’s work in your world.
You see people through His eyes. You listen to their questions and think of what Jesus would say to them. You learn to pray for those around you, in the moment.You think of the news items and examine of how they fit in with the Biblical narrative. What s God thinking about ur world? What would God want to change in our world? Talk to God about what you see in our world, praying that His Kingdom comes

Equally, you read the Scriptures and wonder how do they relate to your context as well as the wider cultural mindset.
  • Try not to fill the quiet spots of your day with noise. Converse with God instead. Be honest about frustrations. Tell Him about your longings.
  • If you walk a lot, worship, either aided by an MP 3 player or simply praying praise.
  • When you hear the news, pray for these issues
  • Learn to read the Scripture in crowded as well as secluded places. It will enhance your experience of it.
  • Anticipate opportunities where you can pray with neighbours or colleagues who face difficulties, praying that His kingdom will break out.
  • As you meet people, ask God if He wants you to say or do something for them
  • People or situations often pop in your head for no apparent reason. Turn them to prayer.
  • Make your ordinary mundane encounters/spaces environments where you acknowledge that God is present.

DAYLONG DEVOTION

Following my post yesterday regarding ‘quiet time’, here are some suggestions for developing a lifestyle of daylong devotion.

START WELL
Rather than seeing it as QT that you must do out of guilt, see it as a spiritually healthy way to start the day. You can remind yourself of God’s identity and release your anxiety.

It’s a great way to equipp yourself with His strength to face the opportunities and challenges of the day ahead. It is a healthy way to recognise your inability and to celebrate His sufficiency.

It’s tempting to miss this with the excuse that you might not be a ‘morning person’. Just as much as expert nutritionists(ie your mum) would stress that breakfast is the most important meall of the day, starting your ‘spiritual metabolism’ is essential for your well being.

Wake up earlier. You always have time then. It’s quieter. You are fresher(ish).
Wash. Eat. Brew. Exercise. Do whatever it takes to be fresh.
Start with what’s real to you in that moment, fears and all. Don’t pretend.
Surrender yourself to God’s destiny and mission
Remind yourself of the eternal perspective of your ultimate destination.
Ask the Holy Spirit to make the Scriptures become God’s very breath for you
Ask the Holy Spirit to imprint something of a gift you can take and impart throughout the day
Talk to God about those that are on your mind and heart
Stop reading/talking for a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to remind, convict and encourage you

More suggestion for daylong devotion to follow.

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QUIT THE QUIET TIME

Sounds like a controversial title. We are always encouraged in church settings to have and keep our ‘quiet time’. This is simply a time set aside usually in the morning for a short reading and prayer.

While I have nothing against praying and reading scripture, I have grave concerns about this model. It can potentially breed a false sense of achievement. I have clocked in my 10-30 minutes with God and I’m off the hook. Just one of the ways to appease my conscience and myself feel ritually better. My fear is that it can foster a works-based religious exercise.

And religion isn’t really what I see discipleship with Jesus to be all about… I see it as a relationship. And in a relationship affection creates a desire for greater intimacy. Instead of just checking in every morning in a dutiful way, what about spending all day with an awareness and real engagement with God? Some of probably means praying and reading Scriptures in the morning, but not as the only way of listening and speaking to God.

Self discipline and intentionality are essential to our spiritual growth, yet I’m suspicious of only acknowledging God’s presence in pre-booked slots through the day. This can only deepen the sacred vs. secular divide that has been plaguing our western Christianity through the ages. I do my ‘God slot’ and then I get on with my ‘real’ live…

It all seems akin to ‘guilt offerings’ the males of the species bring to their female counterparts from time to time, just in order to get out of the ‘dog house’. They seem well intended but somehow slightly selfish and insincere.

I remember Paul’s baffling exhortation to the believers in Thessalonica to pray without ceasing. The secret is a life of devotion that is full time and relational, integrating every aspect of our daily existence.

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BAD AD

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Advertising influences us far more than we realize.
The Superbowl is always a prime occasion to showcase the latest ads.

Here is one that seemed to capture the viewer’s attention.

I really found its message troublesome.

…materialism rules ok… if only you had daddy’s luxury car to change your life.
…courage, real courage is about kissing the most attractive girl who is (probably) someone else’s girlfriend.
… oh, and that fuels further courage to seemingly drive very fast in a powerful car, as a novice.

Pity, as this was genial from 2011.