A Few Short Thoughts

He was never in a hurry. In spite of limited time and a world of possibilities he chose his steps carefully and prioritised time with His Father. Maybe that’s why he always had time for those who stood in front of him. Whether they’d come to argue, question, encourage him or bring their requests. He was always focussed on those he was with, not racing ahead to the next thing, or distracted by the equivalent of a 1st century phone in his hand. He was present. I am. And continues walking in that way today. Immanuel. With us. Mark 1 v 35 & 45, Mark 3 v 13, Matthew 14 v 13, Mark 6 v 31-32, Mark 6 v 46, Mark 14 v 32

Like prodigal children limping home day after day, we find our home in the good Father. All our longings, hopes, aspirations, ambitions, best secured in him. The aching of our hearts, the restlessness and thirst best offered to the one with the supply of living water, living hope. And though we may scarper frequently, head for the hills and throw ourselves headlong into so many things, yet the distant call is there, and the lone figure stands waiting, scouring the horizon, armed with an embrace, a clean start and a generous welcome.                               Luke 15 v 22-24

To know you. Not so much as a concept or an idea or a philosophy or debating point. But as a friend, a port in a storm. A shelter, someone who understands. One beside us when all else has failed. One with the strength to help us battle on. One with the keys of life, who has broken the hold of darkest hell. One who has promised to remain with us, whatever the weather or circumstances, to never leave or forsake us. On our side whether we win or lose, succeed or fail,  in triumph and disaster. Not here to yell at us or prove his point, but to strengthen the weak, and help the bruised. A friend. ‘Here is my servant, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him… he will not shout or raise his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or snuff out  a faint candle He will be devoted to justice..’ Isaiah 42 v 1-4

Breathe on the sparks of love and faith within us we ask, rekindle the heartening  fire of hope. With your kindness beckon us closer, to know you and trust you once more, to place our hands in yours, to walk in your steps, to trust in your strength. To know your help and to daily reconnect with you.

Faith is the assurance of things we hope for, trusting in things unseen. Holding onto it is not necessarily easy, like the temperature it wavers, and we all struggle. It’s countercultural and can be misunderstood. Yet so many unexpected heroes are cheering us on. Heroes with checkered pasts. Heroes who fell and got up again. Heroes with dusty hands and blistered feet. ‘Don’t give up, hold on,’  they’re saying, ‘take another step.’ Hebrews 12 v 1-3

Like seeds sown in the patchy field of our being, may the words of life take root and produce fruit in us. Bits of the field may be full of weeds and hard ground, unyielding, baked dry by life’s sun. But other bits are fertile, receptive, ready to  receive the seeds and bear fruit. We offer today the muddle of that field, trusting that the divine farmer can soften the hard ground, and water the parched places. Sowing those seeds of love, changing us and bearing a harvest for others. Luke 8 v 4-8

Pray about the whole darn lot. Every jot and tittle, every breath you take if needs be, every happy thing, every moment of sorry, every decision, every mistake, every harsh word, every piece of encouragement. No particular language, wording, place or position necessary. No qualification needed or the right grasp of theology. Just grab hold of God with your scuffed, mucky, life-scarred hands.  Philippians 4 v 6

The currency of failure is a surprisingly common one. Not easy to deal with, carry or share, and yet we have all handled it. We all carry those coins with us. Terribly painful and lonely, yet we are not alone. Not at all unique. This is common currency. To fail is to be human, to make mistakes and feel foolish is a shared experience. And when, on those appropriate occasions, we share this hard currency with others, it can be money well spent. We carry his precious Presence around in our bumbling and fragile lives. We’re like cracked and stained useful pots, rather than gleaming trophies on display as shiny works of art. 2 Corinthians 4 v 7-9

L o o k . . .

Look at the dawn. The start of another day. The light breaking through the darkness. The sun peeking over the horizon. The fresh start, the clean slate of a new morning. The resurrection light breaking through the gloom of the night hours. The presence of the fresh-start God, the light for the world, with us in the troubles and glories of this day. Knowing and understanding how harsh our times can be. His help offered to us again, a supply never drying up, like each day’s ground-glistening dew, new each morning,

Lamentations 3 v 19-24

A comma in the day, a catching of the breath, a pause, going a little way to derailing the frantic trains of this and that and the other that shunt us along, powering through what it means to be a human made in the image of Another. The calling to pause and catch that divine breath every so often. An invitation to punctuate the paragraphs of driven days with commas. Small but significant. See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth. Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything. Psalm 46 verses 8-10 in The Message version

Some of us are weaker, some of us stronger, some of us wandering, some of us focussed. We are jokers, leaders, followers, rebels, changers, conformers, precious, peacemakers,  wanderers, pioneers, worried, lost, found, adults, children, brothers and sisters. And many more things besides. Help us sow respect among one another, help us look for the best in each other, and save us from the sharp-tongued versions of ourselves which sometimes burst out, those versions we would not like to share a small space with! Let patience and kindness and respect reign today. 1 Thessalonians 5 v 13-15

‘Do not dwell on the past.’ Quite a mountain to climb that, really. So much past to dwell on. So much to feel concerned about. So much to want to sort out. And yet the invitation comes, to grow, to be open to the now. To the new things. Not straightforward when the old things hold so much. Help us dear Lord please, not to dwell. Help us when it is hard to let go and move on. Isaiah 43 v 18-19

Let the shade of your cross fall over this land again. The kindness of your compassion change our hearts and minds and wills. The sacrifice of your spirit melt the mist that clouds our vision. The reality of your presence bring hopeful smiles into our living.

The world in your hands, reflected in your eyes, nurtured in your heart. The pains, the wonders, the people, the whole shebang, known and understood. Not by a distant deity, but a personal, creative friend and leader. A humble king who has known thirst and heat and hunger. Made his way through trouble and pressure, walked in our shoes so he may lift our heads and reach our hearts. Hebrews 4 v 14-16

The Bible might seem an old book at times, but to those well acquainted with it it is always new.

She reaches out, her confidence low, her spirit gasping for breath. Daren’t make a scene, but hope pushes her on. Just one moment of connection, one touch. Her fingers barely millimetres from Life.  What’s the edge of Jesus’s robe for me, for you, for us? What would help us reach out again? What might be the first small move, the next small move, the faltering step to take? Just then a sick woman crept up behind him and touched the hem of his robe, reaching for his help… Matthew 9 v 20

Warm us to you again, please, stir our hearts and quicken our spirits. Remind us that all we long for, all that we are restless for, is found in you. Let us hear your voice, in the bustle of the day and the dark of the night, in the distractions and the must-dos, calling us, reminding us, that we are known and cared for, cherished and valued. Let us discover again that we have a friend, a guide, a confidante and true hero in you. Always with us. On our side.

Encourage each other, my friends, as you battle to be salt and light in this world. And look for the unexpected places where you’ll see my resurrection smile. Be ready  for this good gardener to appear in all kinds of guises and disguises, working quietly in the shadows and the undergrowth. As on that vital Sunday morning, when the son rose with the dawn. John 20 v 1-16

There is a well flowing with living water, the kind of spring that can refresh like no other, and cleanse our saturated hearts, washing away the grime and polluted water for a new day. And there is a Shepherd, a guide, a friend, a true companion, a living hero, a comforter, a rock in the storms. A new, tender, responsive heart, refreshed and cleansed. A new spirit, following one full of Truth and Life.  Ezekiel 36 v 25-27

We run a well-trodden race, in the footsteps of giants, heroes, trailblazers, those who have forged a path for us, through life’s undergrowth, now cheering us on, saying, ‘Don’t give up! Keep going! It’s worth every step. You don’t run this race alone. Look to the one who gave everything for you. The one who is your source of strength, hope, courage and inspiration. Keep going! He is with you today. Close to you. Right beside you.’ Hebrews 12 v 1-2, Deuteronomy 31 v 6

Scrambled Froot VoLe Much sung and talked about, living out a different story, another kind of power, the kindest side of glory.

Gal5:22

Drawing us towards patience and justice, hope, and reality; looking for the signs of good, keeping going, against the wind.

Scrambled Froot oJy

The kind of good humour that enriches and inspires. Picks us up, dusts us down when life drains us and tires. Not so much the choking smoke of a cynical song, But a life-affirming sound that invites us to laugh along. The fresh air of life-affirming laughter, A bubbling spring, a wellspring pointing towards life-ever-after.

Gal5:22

Scrambled Froot ecaPe

God’s land a big country, stretching for eternity, through the roadmap of our hearts. A huge kingdom littered with fresh starts, A bigger land within this small one, a brighter territory within this pale one. A sense of calm as we sail the storms through, Not so much about what’s going on out there, as what is settled inside you.

Gal5:22

Scrambled Froot CaneePit Taking longer to achieve less, forsaking a bag of good for a pinch of best. Waiting, waiting, waiting, how long, how long, how long… ….. … … … … …… …. Not at all the kind of song we thought we’d end up singing. The hunger for the promise a new dawn should be bringing. We wait, we hope, we slow down and take another gentle step for the promised land.

Gal5:22

Scrambled Froot SendsGoo A stranger moving in the neighbourhood, leaving the kind of footprint that only true love could. Sowing counter-cultural seeds to the push and the shove, these brightly coloured blossoms of kindness and love. A tiny revolution is raging if we look, tucked quietly into every cranny, every nook.

Gal5:22

Scrambled Froot sinKdens Changing the world one smile at a time, better than merely being right or looking fine. Turning the tables when the room is full of spite, extinguishing the selfish sparks, putting nastiness to flight.

Gal5:22

Scrambled Froot halFnisestuf Six hours on two bits of wood, staying the course, though three nails could have made him falter and give up, he didn’t turn away from that terrible cup. Instead he drank it for us, so he could say I will stay beside you forever and a day.

Gal5:22

Scrambled Froot LesenGents To be different from the voices that boom and blast, from the images that hit us so thick and fast. To follow the way of the one who came and would not snuff out a faint, fragile flame. Not breaking a bruised reed that struggles to stand, Is to walk in the steps of this Galilee man.

Gal5:22

Scrambled Froot elfScoltron So much easier to give in and lose heart, the pressure can threaten to tear us apart. Too much to bear some days, a confusing, bewildering haze. To have the world now, to have it all, only to discover it’s not worth much at all. Every one of us struggling, all need a hand, with the excesses and potholes littering this land. Help us, please, to choose that other track, The way of life from way way back.

Gal5:22

Doesn’t glower at us in judgement, hasn’t come to kick us when we’re down. He calls us his friends. And asks that we do the same of him. Sharing lives. He carries the strength, the smile, the nourishment, and encouragement of the Creator in his once damaged hands. Not afraid to walk with us through the darkness and the valleys. As close as kindness, on our side. John 3 v 16

On the doorstep, on the threshold of our lives.  No intrusion, no pushing and shoving, no barging in unexpectedly. Waiting for an invitation, to be part of today. Part of our ordinary moments, in the public and private places. In the known and unknown. In our connections with others and our time spent alone. Waiting, hoping. Rev 3 v 20

That ongoing tussle of wills, that daily desire to assert ourselves, prove our point, make our mark. And here comes one who thinks differently, acts differently, loves differently. And invites us into that. So we may find our lives, discover our true selves. Our gaze shifting from the desire to make a name, from spending ourselves on fruitless things, and instead to season the world with hope. One smile, one step at a time. Luke 9 v 23-24

Please,

Give me strength for when the day drains me again,

Give me humour for those moments when I’m struggling to smile,

Give me purpose when I want to throw in the towel,

Give me patience when everything takes too long,

Give me understanding when people don’t get me,

Give me empathy when I need to care about the difficult things,

Give me a sense of your presence when I feel alone.

Amen.

Tomorrow is another land, another country, today is where we live. Today is the day at hand. Help us to appreciate now, to be here now, to find purpose for today. Save us from chasing ahead when we can never catch tomorrow. To find you and your help today. For this day. Bringing our present troubles and torments and fears to you. Matthew 6 v 34

Not so much about trying to be good, clenching  our teeth and balling up our fists and making attempts at a nicer life. We all falter and stumble, wrestle and wrangle and blunder. More about what happens within; because what happens within affects what comes out. How perceive others, how we see the world. Being changed by grace, being fed from another source, another kind of food, fuel for a different kind of living.  Hope from above. Isaiah 55 v 1-2

We bring our troubles to the one who has the right kind of strength, shoulders broad enough to carry our burdens. We need help to carry this load, at times it’s just too much for us. So we lay today before you Lord, we bring all that it holds, your strength is above ours, your ability to cope much greater. Thank you. Psalm 55 v 22

Try not to fret, do your best not to panic. He is with you, beside you, holding your hand. He has a firm and reassuring grip on you in the midst of the day’s buffeting and uncertainty. So don’t give up, don’t give in. Take another step. And he will walk with you. Isaiah 41 v 13

Let your kingdom come. Let peace be the mountain we are climbing. Let kindness be in our eyes and actions. Let justice be the longing of our hearts. Let mercy be a constant, steady trickle growing to a stream. Let the nobodies know they are somebody’s. Let the forgotten know they are remembered. Let the hurting be comforted. Let hope be the song on our lips. Let humility and grace be the steps in our streets. Let prayer be the radical call of change. Let your kingdom come. (Pentecost)

Though it may seem countercultural, don’t give up. Not everything precious can be quantified in the usual way. There is another kind of power, a different kind of strength, immeasurable, worth every ounce of energy, every second of time. Sitting, standing, walking, running, kneeling. Silently or aloud. Bumbling or eloquent. Keep praying. Keep sending up that steady stream of vocal incense, that cry, that calling. Don’t give up. Colossians 4 v 2, Philippians 4 v 6

Words can build up or tear down, can bring life to those crushed. Can inspire and cultivate hope. Can open doors and clear a way to move forward. Can bring light rather than darkness. Our words change us, shape us, soften our hearts, lift the scales from our eyes. Can breathe life, unlock rather than shut down. What potential we hold in our hands today, for the Living word to dwell in our messages and moments.

Gentle words are a tree of life… Proverbs 15 v 4

Intimate and organic, our home in him, his home in us. Our homes may be untidy, disorganised, not quite what we’d like, full of things lying around in the wrong places, speckled with jobs we intend to finish one day. Dusty corners, splodges on the carpet, walls scuffed and scraped. This will never bother him, he’s had a lot of experience of making his home in chaotic places, he is well used to it. He is at home in our lives, we can be at home in his. Revelation 3 v 20, John 15

Show us dear Lord where true strength lies, where true refreshment can be found. When we are tempted to draw consolation from proving others wrong, when we are tempted to justify ourselves by belittling others, please, show us where your living water lies, and save us from drawing from those wells that will only leave us empty, thirsty, and ever more parched. Song of Songs 4 v 15, John 4 v 13-14

Start from where you are not where you’d like to be. You are unique raw material, not a fabricated version of someone else. This place on the map, right here, that is where you are. This is who you are. Begin here. Let your loving God have you, not a waxworks copy. You are enough. So be gentle, take courage, and discover yourself in him today. 1 Peter 2 v 9, Deuteronomy 7 v 6

When it came to Messiahs they’d not seen anything like this. And said so. His boundless energy, compassion, focus, dedication, wisdom, courage, and devotion to truth and justice. There had never been anyone like this. He wouldn’t let up, wouldn’t back down, wouldn’t give up the fight on behalf of those who were voiceless, hurting, overlooked, powerless and side-lined. There was another kind of love in town, and the world was shifting on its axis. Matthew 12 v 18-21, Mark 4 v 41

Broadcast his wonders…

When we live those small moments for him, when we act from a place of hope in him, when we make our choices from a desire to honour, when we bumble along our daily cluttered paths with him in mind… we broadcast his wonders, we speak of his grace and compassion, and we seek his presence in the ordinary and the regular. 1 Chronicles 16 v 8-19

Don’t be afraid. Your God is among you, the one who has lived this difficult life, the one who knows the ups and downs, the laughter and grief, the times of struggle and peace. Our God is among us, on our side, knowing us better than we know ourselves, his heart full of hope towards us, his love able to comfort us and calm our fears. His heart a source of strength and refreshment. Zephaniah 3 v 17

I heard it said once that You are always present, the problem is, I am not. Rushing by, turning life into a problem to be solved, swallowing up the hours, trying to turn this day into a ‘success’. Save us from that if it means missing You, let us not pass by Your kingdom too quickly, in those moments when You are waiting to surprise us, to bump into us, to stop us in our tracks. To remind us that we are known and precious, appreciated and loved. Song of Songs 2 v 14, Hosea 2 v 14-15

Alongside all that is great, all that is fearful, all that is frustrating and wonderful… Amongst the needs and pleasures, the dreaming, dancing and dreary days, the long nights and waiting times… Three things remain, three anchors, three lights in the storms. Faith, hope and love. Faith in our God, which gives us hope to hold onto, and extravagant, uncompromising love. Love that refuses to let us go. Stronger than all this world can throw at us, a love full of meaning, comfort, kindness, and strength. 1 Corinthians 13 v 13

Keeping going. Hanging in there. Not giving up. Walking into the wind. However you put it… it’s not easy. Yet it’s a great theme in the Good Book. So many of the biblical heroes had to battle through. Against doubt, despair, trouble, heartache, unrest, fear, loneliness. The days of the Bible were times of turbulence and the writers of that great songbook, the Psalms, knew that well enough. ‘Trust in the Lord, have faith, don’t despair, let your heart take courage.’ Psalm 27 v 14 

Esther trusting. Ruth living out her prayerful promise. Daniel highly organised. Jesus spontaneous. Paul’s longing for that thorn to be gone. Everybody praising with everything they’ve got in Psalm 150. Troubles poured out in Lamentations 3. Moses longing for God to vindicate himself. A sick woman wordlessly reaching out. All praying, all calling, all reaching beyond themselves. The incense of honest cries. Philippians 4 v 6-7

Let your kindness bring hope, let your kindness open our eyes and soften our hearts, renew our trust and respect. Let your kindness give us strength for these winding potholed roads and light for our darkness, because many of us feel adrift in this world. Let your kindness bring wise peace, and a way through the storms, let it touch our universe once more. Psalm 67 v 1-2

Created to care, created equal, created precious, created unique, created for lives of peace, justice and encouragement.

A refuge, a rock for sheltering when life rages around us. Not merely for escape, but for strength, for plugging back into the source of life. Offering courage and comfort, resources, and  inspiration. The arms of the one who embraces the hurting, the hands of the one who shaped worlds into being, the breath of the one who resurrects the lost and despairing. Psalm 91 v 1-6

So many things take their place in the centre of our lives, so many things put a stranglehold on us, calling the shots, demanding our attention, steering our course. Forcing our thoughts to run away with each other, turning our heads into a cul-de-sac full of litter blasted around by an unforgiving wind. Please displace these tyrants today. Centre us and our world on you. And keep doing this whenever we are held to ransom by our own fears. It’s wonderful what happens when Jesus displaces worry at the centre of your life.’ Philippians 4 v 6 (The Message)

She reaches out, her confidence low, her spirit gasping for breath. Daren’t make a scene, but hope pushes her on. Just one moment of connection, one touch. Her fingers barely millimetres from Life.  What’s the edge of Jesus’s robe for me, for you, for us? What would help us reach out again? What might be the first small move, the next small move, the faltering step to take? Just then a sick woman crept up behind him and touched the hem of his robe, reaching for his help… Matthew 9 v 20

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