Tag Archive: God


God parts the Red Sea using Moses

“Just part one ocean in front of me, once, God, and i will never doubt you again!”

that’s how i think sometimes. but a huge part of me knows it unlikely to be true. it wasn’t enuff for the Israelites [a day later they were whining about water so God made  it appear out of a rock, then it was food and God made bread appear six days a week, then it was about the fact that it was bread and so God sent meat and then finally when Moses goes up the mountain to meet with God they get tired and ask for an alternative God to worship…  [it doesn’t end well]]

but it’s a nice thought to have anyways – if God just does this big amazing impossible thing then i will believe-Him believe Him for ever and ever.

tonite, in the room of inspiration, i came up with the term ‘Pramnesia’ which i think a lot of us are inflicted with:

Pram.ne.sia

/pramˈnēZHə/

Noun

A partial or total loss of memory linked to matters relating to answered prayer.

we see or experience God answer prayer [in some small or big way] and then the next time we are faced with an obstacle or a difficult person or a huge loss, we forget completely how faithful God has been to us and either rail against Him, or forget about Him completely while we try sort the thing out in our own strength, or just completely fall to pieces.

now this becomes a ‘thing to hold in tension’ or a ‘the mystery of God piece’ when we add it to the fact that God is not a big one-armed-bandit in the sky – say the prayer, pull the leaver and instant win… sometimes God’s very real answer to prayer is “No!” and other times it might be, “Yes, but not now” and even other times it might be, “Absolutely yes, but completely not in the way you are expecting.”

another part to hold on to is this description of God in Ephesians 3.20: ‘to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,’

actually, the Message sums it up pretty well: God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.’

and therein lies the point: God is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than ALL WE CAN HOPE OR IMAGINE.

i say this a lot, but i want to encourage you to start believing that perhaps we need to start hoping or imagining bigger. or at least more consistently.

so if you have been struggling with pramnesia, then my advice is to stop it.

let the answered prayers of the past be the catalysts for the bigger prayers you are going to pray for this day – i’m not talking prosperity doctrine at all but about kingdom doctrine – His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven… or another way to look at it, ‘what this earthly kingdom would look like if God was King here.’

why not try this… for the next week, at the start of each day, pray a simple prayer inviting God to present an opportunity for you to: show Love to someone who is feeling down/speak to someone about something God has done in your life/have a conversation with someone you know by name but whose story you have never heard/highlight a person who you need to forgive or ask forgiveness from… whatever it is doesn’t matter, but pray a prayer inviting God to action in your life… and then be on the look out for the opportunity and take it.

and i’d love it if you returned here and shared some of those answered prayers once they’ve happened…

 

‘For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.’

i mean, that’s quite an intro already, right? and possibly carries a profoundly deep message in terms of really getting our minds around the fact that David, altho he had messed up horribly, still ends up at the feet of God, rather than simply trying to hide or run the other way… where do you end up when you are caught up in the depravity of sin?

‘You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart
You, God, will not despise.’ [vs 16-17]

and there we see that David really gets it – he starts at the point of his brokenness and failure but realises that it is not the outward motions that God is after – it is not about performing the right religious activities or rituals – God wants to know and see that he has truly changed – God is interested in the heart…

‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.’ [vs 1-2]

this is the start of the Psalm – David appeals to what He knows of God, who he knows God to be – He appeals to God’s ‘mercy’ and His ‘unfailing love’ as well as His ‘great compassion’.

Note that David is asking for mercy, not justice. Which is a thing most of us do much of the time i imagine. David knew that calling for justice for his actions would mean his life. But knowing the God he serves, he knows deep down that even though he doesn’t deserve it and possibly might not even feel like he has the right to even ask, that God is all of those things and will likely respond with much mercy and grace and undeserved forgiveness and new life.

and then he speaks those words that Keith Green turned into such a brilliant and haunting song:

‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. [vs 10-12]’

this could be a daily prayer to start the day with… the search for a clean heart, the joy of really knowing God’s salvation and a spirit that is willing for whatever opportunity is placed in front of you…

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

Wow! This is a hectic psalm so grab your Bible or google the passage and read the whole thing. This is God claiming His position in the Universe [‘The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets’ verse 1] and as the Lord of peoples lives [‘“Listen, my people, and I will speak; I will testify against you, Israel: I am God, your God.’ verse 7]. This is God showing a bit of wit or sarcasm [‘If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?’ verse 12, 13] And this is God sending out a warning to those who claim to be followers but who are not living lives that demonstrate that at all [‘“What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. You sit and testify against your brother and slander your own mother’s son. When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly[c] like you. But I now arraign you and set my accusations before you.’ verse 17-21]

i love it! It’s like a “BOOM!” Psalm – God announcing His Presence, majesty and power and reminding us of the relationship and where He stands in it [because how often do we reduce Him to manlike status both in how we treat Him with so much less than the praise and honour He rightfully deserves and also when we treat Him with contempt or suspicion and blame] and what we have been called towards – free gift yes but it comes with a commitment, with a covenant, with a call to lay down everything of us and take on everything of Him and be a part of living in and creating His kingdom [on earth as it is in heaven]

This Psalm conjures up imagery of Aslan the lion from C.S. Lewis ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’

‘If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than me or else just silly.’

‘Then he isn’t safe?’ asked Lucy.

‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver. ‘Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’

man, we have lost this aspect of God so much – with phrases like ‘Jesus is my homeboy’ or ‘i’m dating Jesus’ and comments like ‘Jesus is my dude’ or ‘me and Jesus are like this [indicate the ‘tight’ two fingers together sign] – No, you and Jesus are not like “this” – He is your King! Get down on your face in His presence and worship Him!

Yes, He has brought the gap closer and invited us in as friends and children, but don’t ever mistake that for buddies because that takes something away from who He is. All powerful, majestic, saviour of the world, life-transforming, radiant and until you can claim to be any or all of those things then remember your place and stay respectful and live from the resources of the Love He has poured into your life…

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

i’d love to make this sound like the cool kind of parable Jesus would have used, but i don’t think i can.

a rock

but if it was a fairy-tale type story it would begin with something sounding like ‘Once upon a time…’ and very quickly end up at the place of ‘Brett looked at the path and it was blocked by the giant obstacle. He didn’t know what to do next.’

and depending on your perspective on life and God and big obstacles, Brett might do very different things next.

if you’re a ‘glass half empty’ kind of person, you might see the obstacle as a sign that God placed the obstacle in your path so you wouldn’t choose that particular path. go and find another easier path, Brett. [this could be Balaam’s donkey warning you off the path, it could be Paul being blocked from going to Asia in Acts 16, it could be the angel with the sword keeping Adam and Eve from re-entering the garden]

if you’re a ‘glass half full’ kind of person, you might see the obstacle as a sign that the devil is worried about the work you are doing and is trying to stop you. keep on, Brett, find a way around or through the obstacle because that is the path you are meant to be walking. [this could be the Israelites crossing the sea, Abraham attempting to sacrifice Isaac, Daniel deciding to continue to pray and being thrown in the lion’s den]

the main problem is that in either case the obstacle looks the same. it’s not like obstacles are divided into ‘push through because it’s the enemy placing it there’ kinds of obstacles and ‘turn around because God is trying to tell you to go a different way’ kinds of obstacles… they both simply appear as an obstacle and if you get counsel from wise friends of yours, you might find yourself listening to both opposing pieces of advice [both of which are an understandable reading of the scenario]

and so the key has to be the Holy Spirit – being in touch with and in tune with God so He can reveal to you which one it is? do i stay or do i go?

easy, huh? unless of course you are having a bit of trouble hearing God on the matter and then it goes back to making a hopeful choice…

this is a scenario that plays out often in our lives and happened again this morning [well, over the last few days] as we have had such issues trying to book a flight for Val:

GHE: It’s a sign from God – don’t do this Relational Tithe thing – you are meant to pull out of it and stay here!
GHF: It’s an attack from the enemy – God wants you to push through and defeat the obstacle and He is allowing it to be there to strengthen your faith.

ah okay got it, this could go either way, so which is it God?

[sound of crickets]

and so there lies the dilemma – i do think the solution lies somewhere in making sure we’ve taken enough time to ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ [psalm 46.10] and then also to invite the wisdom [and listening] of Jesus following friends – maybe as we listen together, someone will be able to make out the quiet whisper of God…

if not, though, we will have to make a call and follow the path of whichever one we choose, knowing full well that we serve both a Loving and Faithful God who knows our hearts and gets that we have done everything we thought of to try and ascertain which path it was… a God who, if we get it wrong while honestly trying to get it right, is so much full of Grace and Love and Forgiveness and Compassion that He will not leave us treading water in the after effects of a decision gone wrong…

therein lies a lot of the confidence i have in God… that He is able to make Himself heard when necessary, that He is able to direct and guide and beckon, that He is so quick to rush in and help out when things go wrong, that His bride, the church, has been created with a role of helping to ensure that we don’t fall face first on the ground and lie there, wounded and bleeding, without doing something about it.

and so Brett has some paths, and some obstacles, and a beautiful Valerie alongside him… and he is listening and asking and waiting… trying to figure out which is God and which is the enemy and which is just plain life…

and he is not TOO worried at all.

[i would LOVE to hear your perspective and thoughts on the two ways an obstacle can be looked at and maybe an experience you have had in that]

instead i got to hang out with my buddy Uel Maree for about an hour, catching him up on my story for the last two years and getting to hear some of his.

Uel Maree

Just over a year ago now, Uel Maree, helping out a girls group on an adventure camp, dived into a river in a spot he knew well as one where they launched canoes regularly, but this time something was different. He has dived hands first, but whether it was a rock or a sand bar, something pushed his hands to the side and he took a direct impact to the head. Paralysed from the neck down and lying face down in the water, not able to do anything about it [but fortunately having taken a big breath] he told me he was filled with incredible peace as his friend who was a life guard was 20m away and would soon see what was wrong and come running. He did, and Uel was carefully taken out of the water and later helicoptered to the hospital where he was given a rather negative prognosis that there was like a 1% chance he would not be completely paralysed from the neck down. Uel and his family chose to think differently and with a huge network of support, much prayer and a fair number of miracles along the way, has physically come to a point far exceeding anything the doctors could imagine… and continues to push through for small breakthrough after small breakthrough.

i guess i was a little nervous arriving at the house and being ushered in by his dad [who first pretended i had arrived at the wrong house to really ease my nerves] as i didn’t really know how the visit was going to go. i had camped as a leader with Uel a couple of years before, but only really knew him through the facebook group that was set up after the accident and so had followed updates there and seen some of the progress and been so hugely encouraged by the amazing network and community that exists there. i had witnessed how the group and Uel had been an encouragement to so many other people besides Uel and a place where people and faith and needs had met up regularly.

so in some ways, i was anticipating hanging out with a crippled guy in a bed or maybe a wheelchair. but as i turned the corner, from the moment of laying eyes on Uel, what i encountered was life to the full. Uel was completely animated and positive and full of humour and just so much life, it really was such a joyful encounter. He started off all interested in my journey and what Val and i have been up to and it was a while before i was able to jump in and direct the conversation to him and his journey and some of what he had gone through.

and it was just completely encouraging and uplifting. having spent just an hour or so with Uel i walked away thinking that i know more crippled people than Uel who have full use of their bodies. i got to ask about the bad days and the times of frustration as well and there certainly are those, but for the most part it feels like Uel, faced with a potentially life-ending scenario, absolutely just chose to make the best out of every part of it and has stubbornly refused to accept any restrictions places upon his body by doctors and specialists as to how far he can go to recover.

what impressed me was how he spoke about God and how it took something like this to happen for him to really understand having a need for God and needing to rely on God and so his faith has increased immensely. a lot of people in a situation like this would no doubt end up feeling sorry for themselves, whereas Uel is going to be co-leading the home group that meets at his house every second week, he is working on pushing his wheelchair around [with specially enhanced door stopped bits added around the edges so he can grab hold of the wheels] and he is a machine on his iPad keeping up with his facebook group and the latest news and happenings.

what a legendary time and what an example of the ‘life to the full’ we are called to in Jesus. thank-you Uel Maree for fitting me into your busy schedule and for showing me a vibrant faith and attitude for really embracing life.

[If you want to read the piece Uel wrote on Sharing Dreams, click here]

[For Uel’s piece on Living with Disability where he shares some more of his story, click here]

namrockmountainwords

one of my favourite pics ever!

some friends of mine ran a worship camp in the middle of a farm in Namibia and i was part of helping put the thing together – one of the best aspects was being out of cellphone contact and apart from some electricity for instruments it was amazing to be almost completely ‘unplugged’ for the four days of camping [knowing that hot water could be boiled on the fire for coffee helped]

the last nite of every ‘Namrock’ – as it was called – we would shine the projector with the song words at the mountain-side across the river where we were camping and sing off of the mountain. the idea of facing creation while singing to the Creator [as opposed to singing to God while facing a team of people leading worship] was just so incredibly powerful and a stunning representation to me of the word ‘Illumination.’

the campfire would illuminate the people in the camp, while the words would bring illumination to the songs reflecting the prayers and praise of our hearts… and all of this while God had already created the greatest light show on earth in the stars and planets and moon and shooting stars above…

one of those moments where you just wish the world could be stopped so you could fully appreciate it. altho every year it seemed like that is exactly what happened.

[For the previous Photo Challenge on the theme of ‘Resolved’ click here]

Wow, this is a great little psalm – just a delightful praise-filled mantra, but there were one or two lines which really jumped out at me:

verse 9 reads, ‘Within your temple, O God,  we meditate on your unfailing love.’

if you read the second half of the Bible carefully, you quickly find out that God’s temple is us – the Holy Spirit of Jesus resides in us, guiding and nudging and pointing us back towards God…

and so in that temple [within ourselves] we should be meditating on the Father’s unfailing Love.

we had dinner with friends of ours last night and were talking about some of the things we had loved about our time with the Simple Way in Philadelphia and one of those was the morning prayer times we did monday to friday. we were introduced to a form of liturgy we were not used to and for that reason perhaps really grew to like it as a different expression of worship to God. [you can access some of what we did in the book of Common Prayer on the commonprayer.net website which i was exploring before we went over]

last night we spoke about how a lot of people don’t meditate on God a lot – it’s the ‘be still and KNOW that i am God’ of psalm 46 – and it is a great ongoing reminder that this story is all about Him and not us [how we do like to think it is!] and so creating places to stop and just be still and know and then also to meditate, deeply experience and feel and think upon, on His Love which is unfailing.

i also really enjoyed the ending to this psalm:

Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts,
    view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation.

For this God is our God for ever and ever;
    he will be our guide even to the end.

[verse 12-14]

for me it’s the reminder to talk it all in, to remember, drink it in and soak in the goodness of God right now so that when there is a time when God may not feel so good [and there will be] you will be reminded of times past and be able to continue telling the victorious stories[which are often all that keeps us going when times are hard] – it just feels like such a triumphant victorious and celebrationary ending to this testament of praise.

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

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