Reblog: Iceland and Aylan

sandyfaithking:

******

As Christians, who are called to love the weak, to offer shelter to the shelter-less, we must do more. It is not enough to feel sorry for the plight of the refugees. Ask yourself what can I do?

Originally posted on Between Two Seas:

I have had my next post to write here in my mind for the past couple days and had begun working on it this afternoon when I hopped on to facebook for the first time in almost a full day. I don’t know how frequently it is popping up for others, but with the number of friends I now have living here in Turkey, what I was seeing could not be put off. It would be irresponsible of me not to share what I have been seeing.

First of all, the good news. For a few days now, Iceland has been making the headlines and I have to stand up and applaud the kind and generous hearts of so many families there. A little over a week back, the government there announced that is was willing to take fifty Syrian Refugees. The people knew that they could do far batter…

View original 552 more words

Prayer

‘Prayer is the deliberate and steadfast action of the soul’ wrote Julian of Norwich. At its most basic level, prayer is simply talking to God, but the nature of prayer – what it is, how it works, how it benefits us and others – has much greater implications.

Prayer tip #1: God is not a slot machine

There are some common misconceptions about prayer that are rarely spoken of within the Church, which is a huge shame. These misconceptions can lead to a sense of distance between oneself and God, diminished relationships with God and with fellow believers, a sense that God isn’t really listening or, worse, an idea that God is like some kind of heavenly slot machine who will give me what I want if only I can pray the right words, or have enough ‘faith’ (this is not faith – this is superstition, hence the inverted commas), or do the right things (this is living by rules instead of grace – also false). But God has never been a heavenly slot machine!

Right through the bible, from the very beginning, God communicates with His people on His terms – and these terms are always those of love, of relationship, not seaside superstition.

But now thus says the Lord,
    he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1 (NRSVA)

Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe write about Thomas Aquinas’ ideas on prayer in their book ‘Longing for God’. They write that he identified several problems or ‘mistakes’ about the nature and function of prayer:

  1. The world operates independently of God – in which case it would appear that God is utterly disinterested.
  2. Everything is fixed – if it is all already fixed, why bother praying?
  3. God changes His mind. ‘This belief arises out of our temptation to interpret certain passages inadequately, or our egocentric hope that God will soften the consequences we bring into our life by our own actions.’ 

Further, they say:

‘Prayer is not telling God what we think, or simply thanking Him for His provision of food and drink. Rather, it is our active, intentional effort to understand what God is doing and how we can join Him. Thus through prayer we become co-participants with God. God’s will sets everything in motion. Our will, directed by devotion and prayer, allows us to participate in His purposes.’ 

Longing for God, Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe

Prayer is a gift, a wonderful gift.

Poetry and Prayer

My words and thoughts do both express this notion,

That life hath with the sun a double motion.

The first is straight, and our diurnal friend;

The other hid and doth obliquely bend.

One life is wrapt in flesh, and tends to earth;

The other winds t’wards him whose happy birth

Taught me to live here so that still one eye

Should aim and shoot at that which is on high – 

Quitting with daily labour all my pleasure,

To gain at harvest an eternal treasure.

********

George Herbert (1593-1633) ‘Colossians 3:3’

********

My words and thoughts do both express this notion,

That life hath with the sun a double motion.

The first is straight, and our diurnal friend;

The other hid and doth obliquely bend.

One life is wrapt in flesh, and tends to earth;

The other winds t’wards him whose happy birth

Taught me to live here so that still one eye

Should aim and shoot at that which is on high – 

Quitting with daily labour all my pleasure,

To gain at harvest an eternal treasure.

Humility is Strength, not Weakness

Humility… is a result of seeing ourselves properly. It involves recognising that our gifts and abilities need to be developed further. It understands that others have gifts and abilities as well. Humility allows us to see our role in the greater purposes of God’s design without feeling threatened by the achievements of others.

Foster & Beebe, Longing for God

LittlePeople

Happy are those who are humble; 

they will receive what God has promised!

Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; 

God will satisfy them fully!

Matthew 5:5,6 (GNT)

I think humility is always a good place to begin. This is a kind of motto for me, if ever I am confused or befuddled (which happens to us all more readily than we care to admit). In our me-obsessed world, humility is often confused with weakness or lack of confidence. It is neither. On the contrary, humility is not self-degradation at all but a recognition of the true value of myself and others as children of the Most High God. We are one in Him, so there is no requirement for pride. If I belong to God, I don’t have to be ‘better’, and I can never be ‘worse’. Comparison and all its ugly trappings are gone. Humility is freedom to truly be who God made me to be.

Tell what the Lord has Done for You

They came to the other side of the sea… When [Jesus] had come out of the boat, immediately a man… met him out of the tombs. He lived in the tombs. Nobody could bind him any more, not even with chains, because he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him, and the fetters broken in pieces. Nobody had the strength to tame him. Always, night and day, in the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out, and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and bowed down to him…

The people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus, and saw… [the man] sitting, clothed, and in his right mind…

As [Jesus] was entering into the boat… [the man] begged him that he might be with him. [Jesus] didn’t allow him, but said to him, “Go to your house, to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how he had mercy on you.”

extract from Mark 5:1-19 (WEB)

The amazing thing about having experienced suffering, and experienced God’s healing and grace, is that you always have an honest, earnest and utterly compelling testimony. I doubt I would willingly choose the suffering, but I could never not choose the gifts that come as a result of the experiences, and the deeper relationship and understanding of God.

All God

‘…it is God who initiates contact with us, and not our own activity that leads us to God. That being the case, how do we understand our longing for God, and its place in our experience of God’s grace and redemption? Ultimately… we cannot manufacture God’s initiative, but we can prepare for it by orienting our will to Him.’

Foster & Beebe, Longing for God