All things #New Year’s Day including first #journal page of the year

This year instead of resolutions, I have decided to go for goals.

The difference may well only be in my head, but it feels much more positive and doable to me.

They are fairly predictable and revolve around my relationship with:

God
Family
Work
Me

But they are all things which feel hopeful.  It has been born out of the middle of a mindfulness course at the moment.

It is helping me take a different approach to life. Instead of fighting the things I want to change, i am instead, learning a more peaceful approach.

For example instead of fighting the temptation to eat my own weight in chocolate, I am learning to walk away and do something more productive instead.

Its how I have been teaching teens to deal with bullies for years.

Anyway, the bible puts it this way:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18

I think that includes living at peace with myself.

To finish, one of my goals is to journal smash book style each week. This is today’s page:

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And if you would like the journal cards I made, here they are:

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Happy New Year x

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What I learnt today

About half of our stuff is still in boxes from the move just before Christmas. And in a box somewhere are my Bible notes. So until I find them again, I have been doing a devotional through the youversion bible app. Today it had this to say:

As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him—to give God “elbow room.” We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never expected Him to come? Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him.

Is it just me that ties myself in knots over hearing from God? And yet in steps Jesus light of foot and heart full of laughter, my worries suddenly dissipated like morning mist.

If only I raise my head to see.

Worry is a terrible thing and when it bows the head we miss the very thing that could have relieved it.

Take for example the conversation I had with God this morning while out with the dog.

Me: wow lord, everything is so beautiful and it’s all here even if no human ever sees it.

HIM: do you think it is here just for humans?

Me: yeah, how can you be so selfish, do you really think it’s all about you?

And in comes worry flooding my heart with concerns of selfishness and conceit.

Thankfully God raises my head again to the sights all around me:

HIM: l made all this and it sings out its praises of me whether any human eye sees it or not. And it is my joy to share it with you today.

Me: oh… Thank you Lord.

So today I learnt that I should worship like creation does, that God steps in when I least expect it, and that his heart is more full of love and faithfulness than my ability to worry would give him credit for.
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A longer thought #1: Law, heaven and freedom

Its funny how we view certain words. They are always loaded, for example the word “interesting”. We can mean, “I really like that and it has my attention” or we can mean “that is weird but I’m trying to be polite”.

Sometimes how we load words can stand between us and the meaning intended by the writer. No more so than in the Bible. How do these words make you feel:

  • Law
  • Decree
  • Precept
  • Statute
  • Word

I bet you feel all tied up and constrained already. Which means the sentence
“your statutes are my heritage for ever, they are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111)
Might not make a whole lot of sense to you.

The problem is, the kind of law givers we are used to, are not always very like God, and because of this we work our thinking back to front.

We say to ourselves, laws mean I have to pay taxes which feel unfair, laws favour others over me… laws constrict my freedom and are a way for people in power to have control over me.

So if God makes laws he must be controlling and unfair.

But this is an “interesting” kind of logic. Lets try doing this the right way round:

God is good, and all that he has created is good, even if a lot of it has been broken by other people.
God always acts in loving, kind ways and his aim is that we will become fully human, in a perfect relationship, through Jesus, with him.

Therefore his laws must be about something else other than unfair control.

Let me tell you a story.

One day, a man went out to the park for his lunch. He did this everyday, and he had his favourite spot on a bench at a local view point. He was particularly looking forward to the view today as he had been stuck in a hot office all morning trying to sort out the problems other people had created.
However as he approached his long awaited peace and quiet, he came across a large sign saying “by decree of the local health and safety board this area is out of bounds”.

Now this story could go one of two ways. The man could say to himself;

“the health and safety board, all the want to do is restrict my freedom, they don’t care that I have been in a hot office all morning, how unfair, how constricting”

At which point he decides to depart from the health and safety board’s decree, by pushing past the sign towards his favourite seat…

And slipping on the loose earth, he falls over the edge and breaks his leg in several places.

Of course, he could have said to himself;

” I know the health and safety board are hard working and conciousness people, they must have put the sign there for a reason”

The man obeys the decree and not only saves himself a broken leg, but in searching for another spot in which to eat his lunch, finds a second view point further on he has never walked far enough to find… and in completely refreshed for his afternoon’s work.

And this is what God is like. Loving, kind, selfless, and on our side. Which is why the psalmist feels free to say: “your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105) and “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey in my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)

God’s laws, are in fact the state lines of heaven. What is inside God’s law is inside heaven, and what is outside God’s law is outside heaven… in the extreme, it is in hell.

For example, love your neighbour as yourself. Isn’t genuine concern, kindness and blessing towards another heavenly? Isn’t meanness, aggression and anger anything but?

So we find ourselves saying with the psalmist: “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me! Psalm 119:133
Father God, may your kingdom of heaven come to us. May we find your laws growing in our hearts so that heaven overflows into our thoughts, words and actions;
In Jesus name, Amen.

  • How much do you know about God’s laws? (Try reading Matthew five, six and seven).
  • What implications do they have for your life right now?
  • What three actions could you take to step inside heaven, rather than outside?
  • Have you ever read all of Psalm 119? (It’s worth a go).

We all go together or we don’t go at all

It has been a hard week for two sets of my friends. Their suffering cannot be underestimated.

In the meantime I continue my journey upwards out of illness and R holds the fort. We are very grateful for the friends and family that we have.

I am reminded that God has made people to live in love and community together – put simply, we all go together or we don’t go at all. You don’t have to look very far in our society to see the consequences of pulling apart.

And I know deeply that if we don’t pull in the direction of Jesus, all will be lost – we just can’t manage without him. This may seem a little “spiritual” but salvation in the Bible was never just about heaven-when-you-die, it is also about true life now. Psalm 18 verse 2 states that:

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my saviour; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.”

And the power that saves is “primarily physical rescue, by God, often with added spiritual idea” (http://biblesuite.com/hebrew/3468.htm)

He has us, body and soul, if we will let him.

solid rock