Tag Archive: be still



As i have been looking at some aspects of a person’s life that i see as defining them as being a person of good character, the last two posts i did focused on Living out the Words you Speak and Speaking out the Words you LiveI see both of those as powerful indicators of the character you have as a person and both areas that are good to focus on or invite the accountability of others into if you are trying to become a better person.

But a third related aspect comes to mind when it comes to speaking, and that is being able to realise the times and moments when you shouldn’t. Sometimes offering someone the gift of silence can be the very best thing you can do.


Sometimes all that people need is your presence, to know that you showed up and are there for them and if they need to talk and get something off their chest or if they need to share their emotions [be it grief or anger or confusion or despair] that you are there to give them the opportunity to do just that. You aren’t going to challenge or rebuke or give answers or make light of whatever it is they are going through, but you are going to be a someone who cares enough to be around.

i do think, however, that this is not a blanket rule and so it requires a certain amount of wisdom and often a large amount of relationship. Because some people really do want the words in some of the same situations and so this requires a certain amount of knowing to be able to pick the moments when you should speak and when you should listen and also when you should just be.


I used this quote with the last piece in terms of advising us when we need to speak what we live. But they apply equally well here. Sometimes you will take a moment to taste the words you are about to spit out and realise that they taste bitter or foul and so to be a person of good character in that moment is to hold them back, or swallow them and keep the bad taste to yourself.

Sometimes someone realises that they are jerk and don’t need yet another person confirming it to them.

Sometimes someone is painfully aware they have made a mistake and does not need your enthusiastic announcing of the fact.

Sometimes, just keep them to yourself.

Proverbs 18.21 21 The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Or ye olde, ‘If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.’ [which doesn’t necessarily apply always, because sometimes we do need to speak out against injustice and cruelty and more, but it is a good default go-to setting for those times when we are not sure].

A last point to consider is that we live in a world of noise and activity and instant gratification and speed. I believe it can be so helpful and healing for a person to be able to step away from that for a moment, for an hour, for a day or even longer, and embrace the silence. To not need the noise/activity/connection. To be able to switch off and unplug and step away and be still and know and meditate and remember and consider and dream…

Let Silence be something you carry around with you, and bring out when necessary and helpful, both for yourself and for others. 



[For the next post in this series looking at Character, focusing on saying and being “Sorry!” click here]

So these experiments of various disciplines began with tbV and me running a book study of this book called ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ by our friend Mark Scandrette which none of us had actually fully read yet [we’re discovering it as we’re leading it which has proved interesting and fun]. And which i highly recommend that you totally just order and get and work through.

If you are married it’s an excellent book to work through with your spouse and if not then with a group of friends or small group. It is practical and inspirational and challenging and just really helpful. For some of you this will literally change your lives. For others of you there will be some helpful stuff. But yes, so good.

txSo it started off with an experiment of inviting people to slow down the rush and take time every day for a week to be still for ten to fifteen minutes and just be and meditate and pray and observe and listen… and a bunch of people got involved in that and it was really great reading through some of your comments over here.

And then next up was the invitation to keep a Gratitude Log for ten days [i have done 8 so far] and to come back and share some of your reflections with us in the comments section below here [so please do that!]

In the meantime, here are two of my days from this last week or so…

I am grateful for…

an old crazy friend visiting for two fun-filled nights

the opportunity to lead a listening to God exercise at a home group from church

a request met on our behalf that will lead to urgent dental work being covered for Val

an inspiring marriage blog post by Rachel Held Evans

corn/mielies left in the fridge for me by my beautiful wife to eat while she is away

God completely showing up and rocking the house at the home group tonite

I am grateful for…

a repaired bicycle tyre

date nite with my beautiful wife

some great 3D ‘Gravity’ movie action

the likelihood of getting to see my Jhb/Pta friends in January

some fun online connection and silly banter with Re:Generation church okes

what has stood out for me is that it has been so incredibly easy once you actually make the effort to sit down and write things down.

i tried to find a range of things to be grateful for, from simply daily pleasures like a good meal or drink to deeper experiences and realisations.

i found that relationships and people tended to dominate many of my entries as well as awareness of and experience of God moments.

today i sat outside and combined the being still and just taking in everything around me and the meditating on things to be grateful for and found the combination to be completely inspiring and life-giving.

doing this has caused me to want to make time for it more often and to continue to notice and speak and write and relive and above all be grateful for things both large and small that i have in my life and that take place in the world and people around me.

i have two days to go, but it is not too late to start… if you begin today then when you are done come back and share an entry or two of yours with us.

So what do YOU have to be grateful for today?

[For the next part and the challenge to Fast Something you Enjoy, click here]


coffeefastIn the Anderson household [Val is away in Atlanta this week] a variety of yellow post-its have suddenly appeared saying things like ‘No coffee’ and ‘Coffee fast’ as reminders to me of what i have committed myself to.

Who is up for a new challenge?

So by now if you’ve been following this blog you will know that tbV and i are leading a book study of Mark Scandrette’s book, ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ and have been engaging in a variety of experiments which i have been inviting others to join in via this blog and the book of facings.

First up was the invitation to stop rushing and to be still and it was most excellent reading the feedback in the comments section of others who gave it a try with me [so thank you for that gift!]. Next up was the gratitude log, making a note of at least five things every day for ten days that you are thankful for [and the feedback post for that will be coming later this week].

This coming week the chapter we are looking at is titled, ‘Believe you have enough’ and the experiment we have been invited into looks like this:


‘We are challenged to believe that we live in a world of abundance and that our true happiness comes from receiving the lives we’ve been given. As with all of His teachings, Jesus’ instructions about money and wealth point to the heart and invite us into greater freedom. They are designed to help us see accurately that we live in a world where God provides all that we need.

Take a voluntary fast. To experience the freedom of enough requires us to take new risks of action and practice.

For thousands of years the discipline of fasting has helped earnest spiritual seekers to curb the desire for more and to distinguish between needs and wants. Jesus seemed to have assumed that His followers would fast [Matthew 6.16] A fast can also help to reveal our disordered attachments – those things we habitually go to that are not a true or lasting source of comfort. Many people find that abstaining from something they normally us as a coping mechanism brings them face to face with pain, worries or deeper wounds they have been avoiding. Dallas Willard suggests that fasting helps prepare us to do good, because it trains us to say no to bodily desires in favour of intentional choices of obedience.

What do your patterns of spending or consumption reveal about a potential disordered attachment? Is there something that you consume on a daily or regular basis that would be revealing for you to abstain from this week [snacks, coffee, alcohol, media, meat]? As an act of contentment commit to a seven-day fast from something you regularly enjoy… Remember, your fast is something between you and God. Jesus taught that fasting should be done discreetly, in a way that wouldn’t be obvious to others. [Matthew 6.16] 

You may also want to consider the potential benefits of a longer-term fast of some kind. Our friend Melanie has challenged herself to live on $1.50 a day for forty days, giving the money she saves on daily living expenses to an organisation that helps people get access to food or clean water. The next year she tried to live on $1 a day. Each year our friend Darin gives up something he enjoys and will miss as a reminder that his true happiness isn’t dependent on always having more or getting what he wants.  One year he might abstain from meat or caffeine; another year he might abstain from watching movies or buying books. Many people have found it helpful to fast from shopping or buying new clothes for a specified time. To make it more fun, people often make these commitments with a group of friends.’


So i am inviting you to join me in a week’s fasting of something you enjoy. I have chosen to abstain from coffee for the week. And I know there is the line about keeping fasting to yourself but I am going to invite you to share with us what you choose to fast from as a form of accountability. So don’t make it a status and let everyone else know, but if you choose to join us on this, then leave a comment telling us you’re in and letting us know what you will be choosing to abstain from for the next seven days [if you start this late just do seven days from when you begin]

As with the other challenges, i will do a follow up post later and you will also be invited to let us know how it went.

So is anyone with me and what is your thing?

[For the Final Part Summary and Conclusion and Invitation to you to get involved, click here]


this last week, i was still and knew…

So this began with a throw-away line in a sermon and a post titled, ‘If you are always in a rush, are you really following Jesus [who never was]?

Followed by the invitation to do a non-rush experiment which about 15 people took up with me… and which i would highly advise you giving a try from today if you were not one of those people… and an excerpt from the devotional i am working through looking at the place of rest being the source of strength.

and so here is the conclusion or a glimpse into the experience and i am hoping that some of the others who did this will share their experiences in the comments section below… and even if you arrived at this party a little late and decide to do this over the next week, we would love to hear how it went for you so come back and share.

basically the idea was to take between 10 and 20 minutes each day and just stop and be still and intentionally step back from the rush of what life and busyness and work and social networking can become… and to listen and watch and breathe and pray and take it all in.

we have been working at our home this week and so i tried to do my non-rush time around lunchtime each day and went outside and sat in the empty parking space behind our four apartment complex or on the pavement in front and just slowed everything down…

and it was really great.

stepping away from the computer screen for one was a good discipline. turning off from work and social networks and responsibilities and just focusing on God and the surroundings.

one thing i did a lot of was focusing on different sounds… so people and then traffic and then nature – just focusing on an individual sound or collection of sounds within the noise of the day. another was focusing on nature. different types of trees. a lone bird sitting on a rooftop, and another on an electricity wire and a third on a tree.

another thing was letting me mind wander to people i knew who needed prayer. so taking time to lift them up to God and think about them and their situation. by slowing down the day i found that these came flowing towards me with greater ease. who do i know that could use some prayer right now? and then later on taking time to email some of them and encourage them or just let them know they were in my prayers.

taking time to inward reflect a little. about my life in general, what positive changes could be made? about my relationship with tbV and other friends of mine. about responsibilities and things needing to be prioritised. i found that slowing down in many ways helped me to become more focused and hopefully more productive or intentional when i went back to work and life.

it is something i want to continue to do because i see the value for it every day. the irony in the week of doing ‘non-rush’ moments of being still is that it was the Saturday [when i only had one thing on my agenda] that i did’t get around to doing it… only day i missed was my least busiest day… which says to me this is something we can make time for.

how about you? i would love to hear how your time of non-rushingment went…

[To continue to the next post looking at Keeping a Log of Gratitude for a Week, click here]

EPSON scanner image


seems like the message of slowing down seems to be chasing me around these days…

after being inspired by something that my friend at Re:Gen, Albert Lee, preached on Sunday nite [that he told me Dallas Willard said] i wrote this post on rushing, taking special note that Jesus never seemed to.

and today i head into my book reading for the ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ preparation for the book study tbV and i are leading and it is on Time [and slowing down, disconnecting, not rushing, sabbathing] and so i thought it would be a great idea to invite you to join me in my experiment:

part of my homework reads like this:

‘Experiment: Be Still

Try this. Set aside this book for five minutes. [I did, but then i didn’t know what to do next so i had to look back in the book] Close your eyes, breathe deeply and simply sit. What do you notice? What do you hear? What do you smell? How does your body feel? In the absence of activity what are you drawn to think about? What kind of thoughts come to the surface? Can you let go of those thoughts to be still and know that God is here and that you are alive in this moment?

As a way to reset a sense of restful presence, many people find it helpful to have a daily or regular practice of stillness prayer – five, ten, or twenty minutes of focused silence to be aware of God and be present to yourself. As an experiment you may want to practice this kind of stillness for a period of time each day for a week to see how it subtly shifts your sense of time, hurry or anxiety.’

i just did my first time now and it was great – started with just around 8 minutes and will look to hit 20 for the rest of the week. and i will post about how it goes after that.

but i am looking for nine other people who will sign up now [in the comment section below – just your name and i’m in!] and join me in this journey – for the next week putting aside 5, 10 or 20 minutes to be still, to turn off the phone and move away from the technology [i went and sat outside and that was great] and just experience the stillness.

the commitment is to write your name in the comments, say ‘I’m in’ and then report back next week when i post and add some thoughts on how the experience was for you..

the non eternal-optimist realist in me suspects i’ll be lucky to get three people, but i’m hoping i’ll have a full 9… so come on, who is in?

[To read my response after a week of doing this, as well as many others in the comments section, click here]


that photograph you’re taking?

the instagram you’re posting of that photograph you just now took?

the link you just shared to the blog where you store and comment on the instagrams you post of all the photos that you’ve taken?

Be still.

drop your phone on the passenger seat next to you.

turn down the radio.

pull over. stop. turn off the engine.

listen for a minute.

take it all in.

Be still and…

now that I have your attention…

I do have your attention, right?

I do have the whole of you tuning in to the beginning of Me?

no? that’s okay, you’re not used to this.

give yourself a little more time…

I can wait a while longer.

I have been waiting for so long for this.

to be face to face with you

to be sharing this space with you

Be still and know!



Incredible isn’t it?

How the Knowing feels so far out of reach?

How I feel so completely and utterly far off and away?

How any sense of having some kind of concrete ability to reach out and almost touch Me

To really believe that I’m listening when you bother to pray

To really trust that what you signed up for was not some kind of elaborate ruse

But was actually, and genuinely real…

Suddenly becomes so much more easy and unavoidably tangible…

The very moment you really choose to really disconnect and unplug,

to make some time to simply be still, and know.



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