Whats the story

This week’s 5 Minute Friday prompt: ‘Story’

Go:
“What’s the story?”

I hate those words.

As a kid it usually meant I was about to be busted for my latest misdemeanor and had to think real fast to generate an explanation both plausible and least incriminating.

Even as an adult the phrase causes anxiety like seeing a police car in the rear view mirror. It causes my failings to surge into my consciousness – can I blame not meeting a deadline on something other than my own incompetence?

Years pass, my story gets longer, murkier, messier. The stuff I’d like to have left behind twenty years ago surfaces at inopportune times and mistakes I should have learned from end up repeated. New chapters are written containing a distressing mix of beauty and weakness, love and lunacy.

It would be nice to live even a short chapter in this life without failing, stumbling or stuffing up. Fortunately the Author and Editor has chosen to expunge the bad bits from the new me He is creating.

Stop

Sorry for having been erratic in writing lately, a good thing about 5 minute Friday is I feel less internal pressure to write well – the point is to just write! Have a good weekend those to get to have one (I have to work 🙁 ).

 

Dance

Five Minute Friday:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt: “Dance” with no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Go:
I am not really given to dancing. Gracefulness is not a description I’d easily wear. At a guess I would probably look like a midget immitation of Peter Garrett if I tried to dance.

The closest I’ve come to being graceful was many years ago when I was a rock climber, control and concentration made something very difficult look easy to others. A faster moving version was skiing, an exhilarating experience of being in the mountains and flowing down their flanks.

Now my moves are less agile, a lot more puffing is involved now as I walk in the freedom of fresh air and only nature’s eyes watching. Still, in such places where no one is watching, my soul still exhalts in God as at least feels like I could dance.

Stop

Expecting God to answer

This week’s 5 minute Friday topic is expectation:
Go

whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.
(Matthew 21:22 ESV)

I should expect answers when I pray. It would be a lie to say I always do.

Perhaps this is why I pray non-specific prayers in front of my kids, prayers which could be answered by imperceptible progress so it is harder to say definitively whether the answer has been given or not?

Why such difficulty in believing that God will give me what I ask for in prayer? Logically I know it doesn’t depend upon how well I pray, whether I select the right words, or even if I get the theology exactly correct. God, the big powerful One, He gives the answers – it all depends on Him, not me.

Jesus told us what we need in order to receive what we ask for: faith.

Faith, the same stuff which got me saved. I have no problem trusting God for my salvation, my ever-present weakness helps me to be always trusting in Christ not myself. Surely this is what He was saying about praying, ask in faith based on who Jesus is and have an expectation that He who knows all I need and ask for will give it to me.

Stop

Check out this great blog post about this very topic:  Why do healings and stuff happen there and not here?

Faith, not sight

The Friday phenomenon, 5 minute Friday in which I uses today’s prompt of see to set me off writing for 5 minutes. Join the link up over at The Gypsy Mama and read what others have written too.
Go:

for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV)

I have already written about the importance of eyesight, both physical and spiritual. Yet there can be times – perhaps extended times – when sight is useless to us. The road ahead is enshrouded in mist and fog. Darkness keeps me from seeing what may be before me.

In these times I have no choice but to trust God, to walk in faith. Being honest, I don’t like that, even if it is good for me. I prefer to be able to see, to know what lies ahead.

But even if I could see the road ahead fully, would I make better choices? Knowing my own fears and weaknesses I am certain I would turn back if I knew whatever difficulties await me.

In this I take courage from Paul stating that he walked by faith rather than by sight. The context is that he is groaning and feeling burdened by this life, longing for glory and being home with Jesus. Yet he continues to walk in obedience.

Lord Jesus, please strengthen me to also walk in obedience.

Stop

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (2 Corinthians 5:4-9 ESV)

Small opportunities

Joining 5 minute Friday when we write for five minutes, link up over at The Gypsy Mama and have fun reading each other’s posts. This week the topic is opportunity, Go:
This is the word I have chosen as my focus for 2012: opportunity. So many years have drifted past in which there were plenty of opportunities that I’ve not used, so this year I want to catch at least some of those that come my way. To harness my life to the opportunities before me and make something worthwhile of what I’m given.

Yet in the nitty gritty tiredness of life grasping hold of of big opportunities seems too hard some days. Still, there are smaller opportunities which I can take.

Such as reading that Bible story to the kids before bed.

Making a cup of tea for my lovely wife who is every bit as tired as I am.

The moments it takes to pray for my children before they go to sleep.

And then, finally, the opportunity to relax!
Stop

Who am I

It is 5 minute Friday in which I write feverishly for five short minutes, find a picture to fit my story and then post without reworking and rewording the entire thing before being brave enough to publish! This week the topic is identity, Go:
There was a time when I identified myself as a rock climber, not any more.

I was young, not any more.

I used to identify myself by the job I did, after over ten jobs that has worn thin.

I even had the audacity to identify myself as being intelligent… until I went to university!

Now I have many roles: husband, father, Poisons officer, son but my identity does not rest in any of these.

Who am I really?

Am I my thoughts, actions, emotions?

Am I what others think or see? Or what I present to the world?

In the end none of these are substantial. They will all crumble. Like earlier this evening when I was putting up gib in our bathroom and felt some identification with my father and brother who are both builders. Then I drilled through a new pipe placed by the plumber only last week and immediately identified myself as a complete idiot!

I want my identity to be in Christ, that I may know Him and be found in Him.

As Paul said, who had so much going for him by some standards yet threw all that away in order to gain Christ:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:7-11 ESV)

Thunder and whispers

It is 5 minute Friday in which I write for five short minutes, fight my urge to edit and re-write the whole thing and just post whatever I’ve got.
The word this week is Loud.

Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
(Psalm 42:7 ESV)

Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.
(Exodus 19:19 ESV)

I hate loud noises, especially sudden ones. I swore at the phone this evening when it rang loudly beside me, giving me a fright. I covet the peaceful quietness once everyone has gone to bed and the TV is off. To read, to think, to just be.

My aversion to loudness causes me to get stressed when multiple people talk at once. I cannot follow what is being said, get confused and flustered.

God isn’t like that. He can follow billions of conversations all at once without stress. He can cope just fine with loudness or with silence. He can communicate through a thunder storm or a torrent of water. He can make Himself known without any sound at all.

He condescends to meet me in my weakness, stopping me in my complaining to whisper, “It is not about you – this life you have, all you are – it is about Me, about My Son. About Jesus.”

Stop

It is odd how thinking about loudness reminded me of what He quietly spoke years ago.

And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
(1 Kings 19:12-13 ESV)

The fullness of empty

It is 5 minute Friday in which I write feverishly for five short minutes, find a picture to fit my story and then post without reworking and rewording the entire thing before being brave enough to publish!
This week the prompt is empty, rather fitting for my Friday evening really, but I am not going to write about being tired today.

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
(Luke 21:1-4 ESV)

Empty sums up the usual state of our bank account. I really like to not be anxious about money and how to pay all the bills.

Jesus wants this for me too, but His way of getting rid of my financial anxieties are very counter-intuitive. He simply tells me not to be anxious about what I will wear or what I will eat because God know I need these things and each day has enough to worry about without adding such considerations into the mix. Then He commends giving away all I have to live on.

Jesus makes it very clear that having stuff is not at all what life is about. We are given life for a purpose. That purpose is not to be comfortable and worry free. It is to worship God and be fully devoted to Christ in every aspect of life.

Emptying out that very last coin in my wallet and giving it to some charity takes away my ability to seek the things of this world for my source of contentment. Being unable to get what I want by spending money forces me to ask of God, who provides all I have anyway.

When my bank account and wallet are empty I still have breath in my lungs and even with an empty stomach I can pray, praise and seek God in His word.

Stop

Grit

Wow, another week gone and it is 5 minute Friday again.
The task – write for 5 minutes based on the prompt grit:

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
(Luke 9:51 ESV)

Grit, immediately makes me think of gravel and the gravel rash from falling off my bike going fast down a hill. That pain and stinging of grit in an open wound, then the additional pain of having all that grit removed so the wound can heal.

The muck which gets into our open wounds from the bumps and scrapes of life does need to be removed so we can heal rather than letting it fester and rot.

But grit can be put to work also – as sandpaper for smoothing wood, in polishing stones to make beautiful gems. Starting with course grit and progressively using finer and finer grit until a sparkling polish results. The abrasiveness that destroys skin can be used to make beauty.

Then there is the other meaning of grit – to be resolute. As Jesus resolutely set His face toward Jerusalem – to meet the awful destiny awaiting Him. He did not shrink back, if He had we would all perish.

So, in the gritty mess and woundedness of life today, I need to resolutely set my face towards God, get back on my bike and pedal fast to meet the destiny God has for me.

The real, real world

That time again: 5 minute Friday. This week’s word is real.
The task: Write for 5 minutes, no fixing and fiddling, just write.

Learning to be real and realistic:

Real: actual, genuine.
Realistic: seeing or accepting things as they really are, practical.

The first eighteen years of my life were based on these ideas. I liked to stick with the facts, to look for truth, be practical; and my parents drummed into me that it is foolhardy to be anything other than realistic – one must accept things as they are.

What is the real world?

But there is more to life than what folks like to call the real world, what we can see and touch. There is One who John and the other apostles saw and touched, who cannot be seen or touched right now but is no less real for it (1 John 1:1-2).

The real real world is much bigger than what we can see and touch here and now. It includes wars, refugees, children and old people hiding in jungles from soldiers who should protect them. The real, real world contains ideas bigger and cleverer and stupider than any I encountered in small town Central Otago, NZ. It includes God – and evil – chariots of fire and legions of angels (see 2 Kings 6:17, Matthew 26:53).

Intangible but really dangerous

In the real, real world there are demons in my head that will do real damage if let loose. There is selfishness in my heart that would destroy my marriage if given free reign. There is frustration and anger in my soul that will destroy my children if released. These things cannot be touched, but they touch me and those I love.

In this world I need the Jesus I cannot see or touch.

Stop

Confession: I did do a little editing after my 5 minutes. The bold and italics, headings and scripture references were all added later.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
(1 John 1:1-4 ESV)