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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Delegate and Invest

As I walked, I prayed. Rather than pray the minutiae as I usually try to do, I decided to just hold each person or situation up to the Lord’s throne of grace, and invite him to bless with that which was most needed in each situation. 

It is liberating to pray like that. Not to get bogged down in the detail but to soar above, to focus on God’s throne of grace and trust that he knows what is needed far more accurately than I do. Imagine going into the doctor’s office and giving him the diagnosis for your ailment. Yet that is what I so often try to do for myself and others.

I got through my list and was still walking, so my mind began to wander to my plans for 2014. I have been toying with a change of plan and began to think that to change to my new course of action would involve delegating some of the responsibility I take on myself, to others. To trusted others. 

And then I heard the whisper in my heart. ‘Delegate to Me’. Tears sprung to my eyes as I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. Of course. Jesus invites us to ‘come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will refresh you.’ He invites us to invite him to share our ‘yoke’ and allow him to take the strain.

Do I trust him enough to do that?

Challenge number one for 2014. Yes, I am going to trust him with that, with his help. Every time I feel myself slipping into the stoop of bearing a burden too heavy for me, I will delegate to Him. Hopefully I’ll do that before I get into a stoop...

A few hundred yards further on and that divine whisper resounded in my heart once more. ‘Invest in me’.

Of course. Nothing we ‘own’ in this world is really ours. We hold everything in trust for the Lord. And He, or circumstances, can empty our bank accounts and strip us of our assets in a flash. There is no point in worrying about our material wealth, our investments. Ultimately they will not yield the results we crave.

But to invest in God – well. Where do I begin? We’ll reap rewards in our own personalities and spirits – become better people, even begin to show evidence that we ‘have the mind of Christ’ perhaps. We’ll reap rewards in the peace we have about whatever is going on in this maelstrom of a world in which we live. While others fret, we will rejoice that God indeed has – and is – the last Word. And the interest we gain in our knowledge of God – our relationship with Him – will carry on out of this world and into the next.

So, 2014 will be a year of trying to live out the freedom which faith in Jesus brings – as I delegate to Him, and invest in Him.

Roots that Reach Deep

So I was walking Dusty round the wet walk at Crathes Castle this morning. The burns (streams) were in spate, raging waters roiling and boiling over rocks and bursting banks. I let Dusty wade into what is usually the bank – no way would I trust her to have the strength to get out of the fast-flowing burns.

We walked on and soon encountered tiger tape (yellow and black stripes) blocking the way forward and directing us on a detour round recent storm damage. In other words, uprooted titans of trees lying desolate and dying across the forest floors, having crashed into and splintered many other giants of the forest. 

We were directed to detour, but of course Dusty skipped neatly below the blockading tape, ignorant of its implications. When she finally found her way blocked, she bounded cross country to meet me on the other path. Her detour was not my detour.

On we went. Past the castle. Past many another dog and his/her walker. Through the car park and plunging back into the moody wood, a gathering of trees which seem both mysterious and gloomy. 

And soon, there was another giant of the forest, down. A wind of unimaginable vicious strength had obviously overcome the web of roots spread just below the surface and toppled this tree, which took its matted roots with it. And that matting of roots stood taller than me – maybe seven or eight feet tall. 

How did that happen? Here was a tree, growing healthy and strong, with a network of roots anchoring it to the soil. Or, apparently anchoring it to the ground, but actually being too shallow to be much good in the onslaught of a major windstorm.

Of course the application is obvious. How many of us look strong, even beautiful, and think that we have an adequate grounding of rootwork – perhaps networks of friends or church family – and we are lacking the taproot firmly sunk into Jesus? 

Ouch – sounds painful for Jesus – but he counsels us to ‘abide’ in him. Outside of him we don’t stand a chance. We’ll be felled one day by a fierce wind, left to wither on the wintry ground.

Happy New Year

The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The godly run into it and they are safe. Lines from a psalm – psalm 18, repeated in a popular worship song about ten or more years ago. 

As we prepare to go into another new year, 2014 – my goodness, is that possible?? – I am preparing myself today. I am asking God to help me be more deliberate and disciplined with my use of that resource we all have the same amount of – time. 

It is so easy to squander time. Benjamin Franklin wrote, ‘Do not squander time, for that is the thing life is made of.’ Yet it is so easy for it to be frittered away, nibbled by social media sites, by surfing on line, by television or mindless magazines, by gossiping in unhelpful ways. 

I want to claw back control of my time during 2014, but I feel pretty powerless to do it. The monster that eats most of my time is just plain work. Work around the house, in the garden, with the laundry, etc. So discipline is required, and for that, I need the help of the Lord.

His name is a strong tower. I plan to hunker down inside that strong tower, and reclaim control of my life, and the time he has granted me.

Happy new year!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Faith or Fear

Beginning of a new year. Thoughts begin to coalesce around resolutions, or at the very least, a few goals and aims for 2014.

You too?

We all face a choice. Step into the new year full of courage and faith, trusting in God, or creep into it apprehensive of what each day might bring.

It sounds like a no-brainer. Who wants to creep through life half-alive? And yet that is the choice we so often make, unconsciously perhaps.

So for me, I'm going to deliberately put my hand into the hand of Jesus every morning and prayerfully step out in faith.

There is no room for fear in love. Perfect love drives fear away, and Jesus is that perfect love.



Christmas has been wonderful. Filled with laughter and love. Food and drink. Family (not all of them though ...) and friends. Music. Dusty barking with excitement. Indy running for cover.

The last word you might use to describe these last few days would be peace. And yet, in the midst of it all, peace reigned. Peace between family members. But most of all, a deep, grateful peace as we all received Jesus Christ afresh into our hearts. 

The Prince of Peace. However much activity and noise might swirl through the rooms of the house, at its core is a deep peace.

Praise Jesus.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas Eve

Weather outside is frightful.

The winds are whipping the trees into convulsive frenzies and driving the clouds through the sky. Occasional snow flurries blacken the day and then pass on to the next location. 

People all over the country are trying to get home for Christmas. In the south of England there are floods, trees on the rail lines and roads. All making for treacherous journeys. 

And I can’t control any of it. The weather will do what it will do, occasionally altered by a fervent prayer which times in with God’s plans, but more usually probably just the result of nature.

I can control the weather inside my head, though. Yesterday was the third anniversary of my dear dad’s passing on, and I was awake in the night remembering that night. I think about my ageing mother, thousands of miles away from me, grieving still. And I recognise I could give way to a raging storm of anxiety and fear for her future.

Or, I could focus on God. Psalm 63 says ‘On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.’

I can choose to think of God in the middle of the night rather than rehearse my anxieties. It isn’t an easy choice. The mind is notoriously rebellious and difficult to control. But again, the Bible declares that believers have ‘the mind of Christ’. He didn’t worry. He spent many of his sleepless nights out on the hills being close to his Father, from whom came his help. That’s why he could sing and worship as he headed towards the cross. He was in the shadow of his father’s wings, and he knew it.

So I have spent some time this morning in my prayer alcove, resting in the shadow of my heavenly Father’s wings. I have waited for his presence to be felt, for his peace to fill my heart. I have held those about whom I have concerns up before the throne of God, and entrusted them to his care.

My soul clings to God. I pray that yours does too. That is the way to perfect peace. Trusting in his faithfulness and love.

Merry Christmas Eve.