Monday, September 29, 2014

Worship the Creator

Crisp, cool, early morning air
Sun rising over the mountains behind
The quiet, stillness of it all
Draws me to my knees in worship

Only a God of masterful creativity
Who desires the grandest of beauty
Who cares deeply about smallest details
Could have created all I see

Greens, oranges, blues, and browns
A vast array of brilliant colours
Highlighting intricate details
Of all I am surrounded by

Worship of the Creator of it all
Seems the only fitting response
Remember He loves me more than these
More than could ever be understood

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Learn to Stop Running so we Can Listen

"I really need to take a break and get away."

"I'd just like a few moments of quiet, but I don't know if I can find it."

"I know it's important to take time to get quiet and listen to God, but I just don't know how to fit it into my day."

"I can't put my phone away for any amount of time. What if someone needs an immediate response form me?"

How often have you said those things? Or though them?

I've noticed that we like to talk about our need for rest from the daily demands of life. We can articulate the reasons why we need it. We can point to Scripture that says we should do it.

But our practice of it doesn't seem to line up with our talk. We don't do well at practicing what we talk about. I don't do well at practicing what I talk about sometimes.

I've been challenged in this area of my walk with God this summer (as many of my recent posts indicate). And as I've learned how to step into this more, I've realized just how much we miss when it's not a regular part of our lives.

It's only when we stop running and silence the noise of our lives that we can hear from God. In the midst of our fast-paced, noisy culture, doing so is difficult. We're conditioned to expect an instant response and to try to do multiple things at once. Putting off the response to that text or email until later and doing only one thing at a time takes practice for us to learn how to do it well.

The danger comes in never learning to do it well or even to do it at all. We try and it feels too hard, so we quit trying. Or, we try it and the interruptions keep coming, whether other people or our own thoughts, so we give up trying.

But, this is something we have to learn because it's counter-cultural. It will take time to learn, because it's counter-cultural. Instead of expecting to do it well the first time, we need to begin expecting we won't do it well, expecting to get distracted.

Then we'll begin to discover the value in taking the time. That's when we'll realize a desire for it. That's when it becomes a regular part of our lives and our actions will begin to match up with our talk.

We can't begin expecting it to be a lengthy time. That's not realistic when we're learning anything. We have to teach the muscles what to do and how to do it repeatedly. We build the strength and endurance slowly over time.

We have to start small when we begin to make it a regular part of our lives. And build it from there.

I've always looked up to people who could take days or a week or longer and spend it with God - having shut off the distractions and noise of the world. I wished it was something I could do. I wanted God to give me the ability to do it right away.

But in the last few years, I've discovered it's something developed over time. It starts with a small chunk of time and it grows as we practice it more. As we develop the muscles and endurance for it.

Where are you at with this?

Is it time to start the regular pattern of time to rest? To start small with lots of grace for yourself as you learn and develop the muscle?

Is it time to take the next step in this? To take more time and stretch yourself? All while still offering yourself grace as you grow?

Monday, September 22, 2014

People Matter

Silly songs. Fun activities. Field games. New friends. Reconnecting with new old friends. Great speakers sharing God's love. Worshipping God. Chapel. Camp fires. Spiritual decisions. A feeling of coming home. Those are the things that come flooding through my mind when I drive on the camp property.

This weekend, I was back at the camp I went to as a kid and then had the privilege of working at for a few summers. It was a celebration of 40 years of ministry in that place. 40 years of lives being changed as people met God - some for the first time and some in a way they never have before. Celebrating 40 years of what is still occurring in that place and will continue to.

As we heard stories of how God had worked to provide for the camp, to protect the camp, to keep the camp moving forward. Provision of people and funds to continue to point people to Jesus. So much of it came down to people who were willing to allow God to use them.

That's what it comes down to for me. The camp is special to me, because of the people I met there. People who cared and gave of their time and energy to pour into my life. People who saw something in me they thought was worth investing in. People who gave me a chance to learn how to lead. People who gave me a safe place to fail and get back up and try again. People who celebrated with me when I succeeded.

So much of what really matters in our lives, the memories that we hold onto for years, are of the people. We might remember some of the place or the things, but it's usually the people who we hold onto in those memories. That's because God created us to be in relationship with others. We were created to need others in our lives. And when someone does take the time with us, we remember them easily. They become a part of who we are today.

As I sat and visited with some of those people in my life this weekend, I was reminded of how they have impacted my life. My response is one of gratitude. Gratitude to God for bringing them into my life. Thankfulness to them for being willing to be used by God in the lives of other people.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I Will Provide

Trust Me
I will provide
Stop and sit awhile
I have something to say to you
Stop your frantic hurry
Lay down your worry
Let go of your fear

Trust Me
I will provide
I have promised you
With Me, you will lack nothing
All your needs will be met
Be still and know
I am God

Be still
And know I am God
Until you stop your running
And learn how to sit quietly with Me
You’ll no know My great provision
I will provide for you
Trust Me

Monday, September 15, 2014

Get Away

Leaves rustling the wind
The only noise to hear
The sky a brilliant blue
Eyes squinting in the sunlight

City noise and hustle
Seems a world away
Nothing screaming for attention
No urgent needs to meet

Space made to listen together
To be fully present with one another
Time to hear God’s thoughts
A place to learn to pray again

Bright greens and orange abound
Trees and brightly-coloured wildflowers
Leaves go silent with no wind
A still small voices speaks

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Being Silent to Listen First

Listening is a forgotten skill in our society. We're so busy thinking about what we're going to say next, that we don't listen very well. We live with so much noise around us, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to really listen.

We don't listen well to each other. And we really don't listen to God. We've stopped listening for His still small voice, or we have so much other noise going on in our lives that we drown it out.

I've been reading a book this summer that has been challenging me. It's called The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan. In the chapter he wrote on stopping to hear God, he shared a question that stopped my reading for a while. I had to think about it for myself: "If people stop to listen to you, to whom are you stopping to listen?"

It's a challenging question because I have places where people listen to (or read) what I have to say. I have to be careful that as long as I'm sharing my words, thoughts, ideas with other people, I'm stopping to listen to God first. Because it's in those quiet moments, that I learn. I have to learn to listen first.

And that's a lesson we all need to learn. Whatever sphere of influence we have, whether large or small, we have to learn to listen to God before we speak.

As Buchanan goes on to say in the chapter, "Silence is the condition for listening." (pg. 178). We have to get quiet and turn off the background noise to hear God speak, to be able to recognize His voice.

"God is always speaking. . . . But we're not always listening. We don't make the effort and so fail to go boldly into his throne room to receive what we need: a word that can pierce, and cut, and heal." (pg. 188). Learning to listen for God's voice is important. God is always speaking, but we're not always listening to what He has to say.

We have to learn to stop talking and silence the noise so we can hear His still small voice.

How are you doing at listening?

Do you need to stop doing all the talking and start listening?

Is there noise you need to silence to hear God's still small voice speaking to you?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Why You Need to Play

When did you last play?

When did you last do something just because it was fun?

Do you think of play as something only children do?

We live in a society that prizes accomplishment. That is always pushing us to do more, to climb the ladder, to get to the next level of success. We're told not to waste time, but to maximize every minute we have.

As a result, we feel guilty when we waste time. We feel like we did something wrong when we did something just for the joy it brought us. Even when we take a vacation, we don't feel like we can really shut off work and enjoy a break.

In the midst of this, we've lost an important part of our relationship with God. We're missing something important.

A look at Jesus' life in the gospels shows us that we took time out to enjoy life. We see Him at weddings and parties with His disciples. He went to people's homes for dinner. Yes, Jesus performed miracles or gave challenging messages in those setting, but those don't seem to His primary plan in those situations. Jesus laughed with His friends. He was on earth one a mission, but He stopped to find joy and do things to enjoy them as He went about that mission.

In Philippians 4:4, Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Romans 12:15 tells us to, "Rejoice with those who rejoice." That means the joy we see Jesus finding is important to us as well.

One of the ways we learn to rejoice is by doing things for fun. By learning to play and to waste time again. If we don't know how to have fun, if we're always focussed on maximizing our productive time, we'll have a hard time rejoicing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Come Away

"Come away with Me -
Leave the phone behind,
Leave the computer behind -
I want to meet with you."

A million reasons I could not
Flooded through my min
Deadlines, to-do lists, phone calls, emails
All the things I had to do.

"Come away with Me -
You will leave refreshed
Full of all you need
No longer overwhelmed."

Remembering times before
I answered this call willingly
Tasks once such urgent needs
Seem to fade away.

"Come away with Me -
I have great plans for you,
I want to reveal what's next
For you and Me to do together."

Monday, September 1, 2014

Escape the Hurry

Sun reflecting off the water
The cool lake below a refreshing retreat
A place to stop, to escape the hurry
Time seems to stop here
Relax, nothing screaming for attention
Finally, a place with no demands
Nothing on the agenda today
No to-do lists to complete
A time away to laugh with friends
A time to hear from God and speak to Him
A time of rest, a time of Sabbath