love

A park bench, me and God

morgue

It’s so easy to see God as distant or judge-y, or both. When I’m slogging through a challenging day, it doesn’t feel like He’s nearby, or even very happy with me.

Which is why I enjoyed this verse so much this week:

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:15 NLT

In reality, God is not distant. He is not judge-y.

In reality, He is the best ‘Daddy ‘ (the translation of ‘Abba ‘) that ever existed.

Is that how we really see him? Or do we need to pray that we see him for what he really is?

I listened to speaker Allen Arnold this week, who described a joyful friend of his. This man said every day he pictured a park bench, with both him and God sitting on it.

They didn’t have to talk. He just spent every day, mentally in God’s presence.

I loved that story. It reminded me of my dance floor.

God is here, right now. Next to me. Next to you. Ready to spend some quality time together.

You don’t have to talk. You don’t have to do anything.

You just have to be, and let his love soak in.

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Identity, singleness and how it affects everything else

 

2729_Love.jpg

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into identity lately.

Particularly, how your relationship status affects it.

It’s tempting for me to picture having a boyfriend—or a whole family—and think things like:

  • I just want to have someone to belong to
  • I won’t really feel like a grown-up till I’m in a serious relationship
  • I can’t wait to have someone to introduce to my family.

And well-meaning people can reinforce this. At Aunty Fay’s funeral last week, I had someone make about three or four comments about my singleness. It didn’t matter to them that I have a good job, a budding writing career, and am building my first home. No, they just wanted to know when I’d be getting married.

That can really make you feel like you’re not a whole person until you’ve ‘checked that box’.

But I am more convinced than ever that our identities MUST stand secure, completely separate from our relationship status, career progress, financial situation and anything else that affects how we see ourselves.

Because even if I get the things I want, if I allow them to affect my identity, I open myself up to a whole range of insecurities.

If my identity is affected by my writing, on a day that my sales drop, I’m going to feel like a failure. If my identity is affected by my relationship status, on the day my relationship hits a rocky patch, I’m going to feel like a failure.

The truth is, for me to be the fullest version of myself, I do not need to be a girlfriend or a wife. I don’t need to be a published writer. I don’t need to have financial security.

I just need to remember that I’m a lost person saved by God’s incredible love. The other things will come and go, but that will never change.

Just a Thought: Love Proved Beyond Doubt 

So much HOPE in these verses. We will be made like him!!!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

1 John 3:1‭-‬3 NIV

http://bible.com/111/1jn.3.1-3.NIV
All of life has gotta be viewed through the truth that God proved his lavish love four times over:

  1.  he left HEAVEN to come here,
  2. he DIED for us,
  3. he sent his Spirit to live in our hearts individually so we could have PERSONAL relationship,  and
  4. he is planning a perfect eternity that we can spend with him!  That’s how much he wants to spend time with us!

When I’m feeling distant or mad at him, I always try and remember that he’s already proved his love beyond doubt,  no matter what’s going on in my life.

Just a Thought: Ridiculous Love

These ‘Just a Thought’ posts are just thoughts I have on the verses I read during my quiet time each morning. 🙂 Some days I’ll have a few, some none. I often share them in the Facebook group chat I have with my Life Group, so I thought I’d start sharing some here too!
These posts will just pop up when I have inspiration, and I’ll still do my longer article each week. 🙂

LOVE this reminder that God loves us so much he died for us while we hated him. Incredible love!

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6‭-‬8 NIV
http://bible.com/111/rom.5.6-8.NIV


And…
What an amazing attitude toward suffering. I think when Paul wrote this, he’d already been stoned, whipped, jailed and shipwrecked a few times- he knew what the word ‘suffer’ meant. Awesome to see none of it was experienced in vain!

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:3‭-‬5 NIV
http://bible.com/111/rom.5.3-5.NIV


I love this one. If we want more of God, he promises we will find him.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Luke 11:9‭-‬10 NIV
http://bible.com/111/luk.11.9-10.NIV

Why Writer’s Block Is Good

The blank page is mocking me.

The blank page is mocking me.

I haven’t written any of my novel since December. This is my third version of this blog post. It was a strain just to write my grocery list this week.

This is the most stuck I’ve been with my creative writing in ages. And I think it’s a good thing.

I got a little worn out by the end of last year. Part of it was because I hadn’t had a holiday in a while. The other part was because I put waaaaaay too much pressure on myself to write a perfect novel. So I took a break, and now I can’t get started again.

But surprisingly, as another week ends with me accomplishing nothing besides going to work and burning through half a season of Castle, God does not seem upset with me. No, He keeps telling me He loves me.

And the longer this goes on, the more I realize the only person upset with me was myself.

Though I’ve written plenty of blog posts about significance and identity in the past 15 months of running this blog, I still got sucked into the trap of associating my creative writing accomplishments with my own sense of purpose. I felt that my writing was the only thing that set me apart. And since I don’t do as much youth work volunteering as I used to, my writing was also my form of ‘volunteering’ for God. I was using my gift for His glory, right?

Well, yeah, you can write for God’s glory. But if you actually write to make yourself feel special, that’s not cool.

This bout of writer’s block has made me face that truth.

But, like I said, God doesn’t seem mad. He just keeps telling me, in a bunch of different ways, that He loves me just as I am. I don’t have to do lots of hard work to make Him happy. I can relax, be still, and be confident in my identity in Him.

So, where to with my writing?

At this point, I don’t plan to give it up. I’m slowly gathering ideas and trying to scoop up enough inspiration to get me back at the keyboard again. But, when I finally get to that point, I’ll be more aware than ever that success as a novelist or as a blogger has nothing to do with my success as a person.

How God’s Broken Through My Walls

Copyright Creationswap, by  Joey Sforza.

Copyright Creationswap, by Joey Sforza.

This year has been all about learning about the character of God, and also about the character of me.

Everyone has thinking patterns and world views that need adjusting; the biggest one for me this year has been, “God’s disappointed in me because I’m not working hard enough”.

If you’ve read this blog regularly, you will have seen how God’s been chipping away at that over a number of months. Last week, when I was having a hard time, I had a conversation with a friend. She basically summed up a lot of the points that God’s been teaching me throughout the year.

So here they are, to share with all of you. These are my four favourite life lessons from 2014:

1. God will convict me if I need to change something, but never condemn me.

God isn’t about confusion or guilt. He won’t make me feel bad for the fun of it. If I need to change, He’ll show me, we’ll deal with it, and move on. If I feel paralysed by shame and have a vague notion of rejection, that’s not God.

2. God does not whisper quietly in the corner.

I stress a lot that I’m missing something that God’s trying to tell me. It’s one of the reasons why I find making decisions tricky. And if I were a person absorbed in my own life, not concerned about God, that could be true. But for someone who asks God to reveal His will, I shouldn’t have to stress that He will whisper what He wants in a corner and then watch me strain to hear it. He will tell me, and he will make it clear.

3. If I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve missed something…

then I should take ten minutes, sit down with God and say, “OK, I’m listening.” If nothing comes up, then I should stop stressing. I’m fine. If the stress is hard to shake, go back and read point 2. Then read point 4…

4. God literally loves me more than life itself.

And that’s it!

 

To all my lovely readers, thank-you for a year of support, comments, emails and other interactions. It’s wonderful to know we’re all in this together!

I’m taking the next two weeks off for Christmas, so have a wonderful holiday and I’ll see you all in 2015. 🙂

This Will Make You Smile

I am one of 7,000,000,000 people on the earth. I am one of tens of billions to exist in history.

Original map sourced from Creationswap.com, by Kaitlin McMichael.

Original map sourced from Creationswap.com, by Kaitlin McMichael.

I just pulled a hair from my head, slipped on my Supernatural Glasses of the Unseen (i.e. my imagination) and looked at the tiny, tiny number stamped at the base of the follicle.

#7,651

That’s right, God not only pays attention this little 1/7,000,000,000th of the world’s population, He knows exactly how many hairs are on my head.

Don’t believe me?

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Luke 12:6-8 NIV

That’s straight from the Big Man himself.

He giggled at the funny cartoon I drew at work today. He pondered my next novel idea with me. He heard my silent thoughts, wondering if anything I did today had eternal value. (And the follow-up thought, wondering if I think too much.)

I’ve been studying Experiencing God this week, and I’m up to a section that particularly deals with the church and our roles in it. It struck me anew that EVERY part of God’s ‘body’, the church, is vital.

 A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

1 Corinthians 12:14-18 MSG

Do I treat myself like I am an essential part of my Christian community? (With the community being not just my church, but also my Christian friends, family, and organisations I’m involved in.)

Uh, no.

My default thought has always been that I’m a small toe. Handy, but not that effective or vital.

But there’s another part to this, too. Do I treat everyone else like they’re also the heart and muscle of this body called the church?

No again.

What would be different if I did? I’m not sure. But it’s something for me to ponder this week.

What I do know is, these verses make it clear that God has a very personal interest in my life, and my community. He wants to have relationship with us, work with us, and do life with us.

It’s a thought that makes me smile.