Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Master's Plan

I have been thinking about 'time' recently. More specifically, how our view of time is pretty warped in comparison to how God views time. Our view is incredibly fixed, limited and two dimensional. His is above history, space and the normal minutes, hours and days that we are confined to.

So often we think that He hasn't answered a prayer because it wasn't done when we wanted it or how we expected it to be done. As if we might have a better view over how things should pan out than He does!?

This morning I had the privilege of praying with a man in my church. This guy has been a Christian for longer than I have been alive, which made me feel very under-qualified for that particular role to be perfectly honest. He had shared moments before of how he has been following Jesus for over three decades, though none of his immediate family have yet to choose that path as well - something that understandably causes him great heartache.

I won't speculate on the hours he must have spent on his knees, crying out to God on behalf of his wife, children and grandchildren - but I'm betting that it's some considerable time.

It must be so easy to become disheartened and embittered towards God, when the journey of prayer has been such a long one - but he must be one of the most faithful and wise blokes I think I have ever met.  

Honestly, you should see this guy's faith and resilience; it's staggering. 

One thing I'm learning more and more - and I'm sure this guy would back me on this - the Lord ALWAYS answers your prayers. Always. If the outcome isn't what you had figured out in your mind's eye, then that's not to say the master plan isn't still being unfolded. Or 'The Master's Plan', more precisely.

The 'Yes', 'No', or 'Not yet' response you will always get from God comes from a 360 degree, eternal, galaxy-shifting point of view. Seconds, seasons, and setbacks to prayer scenarios are so finely tuned by Him that it'd blow your mind if He even revealed a glimpse of the bigger picture to you a fraction ahead of schedule. 

This man may have been fighting for his loved ones in prayer for many, many years - but I know he wouldn't consider a moment of that prayer time as wasted time.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Whistle while you work

Today is a pretty massive day. Today is my wife's last day as a Primary School teacher before school holidays/maternity leave kick in.

Now, my wife has taught me absolutely loads of life lessons in the time that I have known her. And apart from being one of the most joyful and considerate people anyone has ever met, she is also a flippin' amazing teacher. And one such lesson she has taught me is how to glorify God with how you work.

So these few lessons are written out by me - but they were displayed by someone far more talented.

So - what's on your work plate before you (so to speak) - is it college? housework? a tough job with some hardcore working hours involved? No matter what it is, I think these truths are so helpful - each definitely links with the next.

Firstly, put effort into what you do: whether it's cutting out displays or trudging through report after report, do it to the best of your ability. We are to honour God in ALL we do, so doing a half-baked job in full display of the colleagues around you won't be a brilliant example of this.

Secondly, develop a heart for the place that you work in: you'll probably be spending a huge amount of time in that place, so take the opportunity to invest in the people around you - really get to know them, make them cups of tea, give them a lift into work if you share a similar commute - anything you can think of. Who is in your sphere of influence in that place? Is it the guy you share a desk with or the 30 little children running around your feet? You're likely to spend more time around these people than anyone else - it would be such a shame to get to the end of a working day and not have revealed something of the character of Jesus to them (either directly or indirectly). They will notice your work output and the way you speak and act.

And thirdly, pray at work: it WILL impact the two points above and will help you through the stress and strains of the varying tasks at hand. Whether you're seeing success or struggling through a tedious workload, that quick prayer along the way will refocus your attention and encourage you to remain thankful to the God who gave you the gifts and provision in the first place.

Now, this is a tried and tested recipe for getting more out of work and certainly putting more back into it as well - I've been closely watching someone prove that for quite a while now. It can be tough to just shoulder the 9-5 for long periods of time, but when you give even the mundane, routine and tedious tasks over to God throughout the week, you'll find yourself with a heart that's more full and focussed when the alarm goes off at 6am on a Monday morning.

 ...she picked up the role of wife and teacher very naturally - I have no doubt that she's take to this next task with ease as well. That's just the kinda gal she is.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Since waking up this morning, I have been married for four years.

I can't remember if I've ever written about marriage - if I did, then it was a while ago and I'm certainly more experienced to comment on it now than I was then!

While some reading this may have been married for decades, I'm aware that others may be dating/engaged/newlyweds, so I wondered whether a couple of points of wisdom might be helpful at this four year milestone...I guess they'll be applicable if you're at 40 years as well.

1- Pray together everyday: As obvious or not as this sounds, it REALLY makes a difference. It unites and strengthens against all kinds of attacks and arguments, even if you're in a rush and the prayers are short. Do it everyday, no matter how tired you're feeling and you'll find you talk more openly and discuss the important things in life a lot more too.

2 - Be expectant of big things: We're always encouraged to dream big and ask big expectant things from God. Well, I guess it makes sense for that to start at home, first and foremost. Ask Him for a vision for your relationship, no matter how far in you are through the journey. Imagine the amazing things He still has for you and the people He plans to impact with your marriage and then start praying that these people are brought to your home.

3 - Serve: Serve each other, serve others with your marriage, serve at church alongside your wife/husband. Serve, serve, serve. Whether you feel like it, whether you're bogged down with the rest of life, no matter what: make serving the everyday culture of who you are as a couple. You'll find you fight less, love more, worship together, give your money better and enjoy times of chilling out together more. Trying to out-serve the other is something that we've done from the beginning and it really works - it's not false and competitive, it just makes you active and more loving and considerate toward the other person.

4 - Have a date night! Monday nights are normally untouchable. This is when we make nice arrangements, ignore the phonecalls and block out everything else - just for a few hours. Making room for this is one of the most important things I think we do/have ever done. Even if it's just a meal and a DVD, Monday night is the key to setting us up for the rest of the week. Be imaginative, be spontaneous, be silly... I guarantee that this point is as important as the other 3!

There are probably heaps more points that I could mention, but to be honest, I have a date to get ready for, so these are the top four for now.

I'm already punching well above my weight as it is, so I don't want to keep her waiting!