Be Bold, Be Strong for the Lord our God Is With Us

Faith, Youthwork and Family…


May 2014

Having an “Attitude of Gratitude”

I was watching a program on one of the Christian channels last night, the preacher on the stage was speaking to a congregation that would have filled Wembley and then some! He was talking about “seeing your vision and expecting it to come to fruition“! Now, I can understand, that if you believe that God has told you “you will become a parent” like he said to Abraham and Sarah, having something to remind of that promise every day is a good thing! But one of the examples he gave, was that of a businessman who felt God promise he would own a plane one day!  I watched another program on that channel where four christians were sitting on a sofa, discussing “being rich or poor” When asked the question “would you prefer to be rich or poor?“, All four responded instantly “rich!!” This surprised me, despite the following statement from Jesus’s own lips

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven!”

These “followers of Christ” were wanting be rich!? If you put a group of millionaires in one room and a group of “poor” Christians in another, surveyed each group about their lives, whether they were happy, how strong their faith was, etc. I believe that it wouldn’t be the Millionaires, who would come out as being the happiest!  People with possessions want more possessions and will try to get them by their own wealth even if that means putting it on a credit card!  People without a lot, trust God for what they cannot possibly get for themselves!

Anyone who has been to an African country and spent time living in a “mud hut” or with people in a rural area, who have virtually nothing in comparison to those of us in the western world, will have noticed how happy they appear to be!  The people that I have stayed with are, without doubt, the most hospitable people that I have ever met!  If someone comes to visit one family in the village, their neighbours will come over with food to help bear the load of feeding the guest!  So as you sit, having a cup of tea with your host, their neighbours will be popping round with vegetables, a chicken, (or if you are really lucky) a live goat!!

I believe that one of the things we have lost in the modern world, is the sense of gratitude, I know I blogged a little while ago about not taking things for granted, three quotes come to mind

  • People apparently live in one of two “tents” either ConTENT or disconTENT!
  • The “grass may be greener on the other side” but you don’t know how much work has gone into making it constantly look that way!
  • Tesco ergo sum” is Latin for “I shop, therefore I am

Giving thanks for a meal“, or “saying grace” occurs in a lot of homes especially at Thanksgiving in American homes!  But how sincere are these prayers, or the prayers that we say with our children at bedtime?  It is easy to fall into a routine of saying “Thank you Lord for our food, our friends and family……” and perhaps losing the heartfelt thankfulness of it all!  I vividly remember one Sunday, the church I was in at the time, was having communion and I was “daydreaming” as the cup came round, as soon as the pastor was given the cup back (as it had gone round all of the congregation) he said “I believe that we should take it again as we sometimes don’t take enough time to consider what it is symbolising”  I suddenly realised, that I had drunk the communion wine and not thought about the sacrifice of Jesus or thanked him for what he has done for me!

I truly believe that if we are constantly looking for the “hand of God” in our lives and the world around us, if we are constantly thanking God, then we will happier, we will have trials, we will have bad days, but even when we do we should say:-

  • Thank you Lord for what I have!
  • Thank you Lord for your promises!
  • Thank You Lord for your sacrifice!
  • Thank You Lord for those around me! 
  • Thank You Lord for creating me!
  • Thank You Lord for the trials I face, for I know that you are with me in them!
  • Thank You Lord for the Holy Spirit, who is with me, guides me and helps me!

When we are constantly looking for God, we will find him, we will have experiences that we can tell others about and because they are our experiences we can be confident in sharing them!

Be anxious over nothing!

I recently read this verse in Phillippians, which has come to mind today

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

We all suffer with anxiety from time to time, I can remember an occasion when I was on a trampoline coaching course as part of my role, when I was volunteering at a retreat centre, I started to get anxious about whether or not I would pass or whether I would injure myself or someone else!  Our trainer even told me that I was “the wrong body shape for trampolining”! On the day of the exam, I was sitting, waiting for it to start and a cat jumped on my lap, he/she must have known I needed a little comforting reminder, that whatever happened, life would go on! I suddenly realised that it didn’t matter whether or not I passed! Yes, it would have been useful, but in the bigger scheme of things, no one would die if I didn’t pass! If I failed, I just wouldn’t be left in charge of the trampoline! As it happened I failed, the examiner said to me “The criteria I judge people on is “Would I let you teach my child?” and the answer is NO!” Well it’s funny looking back anyway!

The problem with sufferers of OCD is not just that they like things “their way“, or that they are obsessive about cleaning/touching things a certain number of times, etc. The biggest issue is actually that they get anxious and worry about what will happen if they don’t do those things they do “out of habit“, like the possibility of their house burning down or someone may die due to the fact that they failed to do the repetitive act!  Anyone else may look at that and dismiss it as silly, but to that person, it is a real fear!  I remember watching one program on OCD where this innocent young guy was paranoid that he was gonna stab someone, if he even touched a knife, so he had to go through therapy which began with touching a knife, then on to sitting next to the therapist as he touched the knife, to picking it up, until he was able to hold the knife to the therapists throat without worrying about hurting her!

I believe God wants us all to not panic, not be anxious, Jesus said himself “don’t worry about food or clothes, look at the birds, look at the flowers if God can feed them and clothe them do you not think he will do even more for you!”

I realise for some people trying to not be anxious is easier said than done, and being able to see outside the problem is difficult when you are in it!  But instead of beating ourselves up about a potential lack of faith or allowing others to say “your faith isn’t strong enough” or giving you “helpful” verses which make you feel more condemned or weak.  We should trust in the fact that it is a promise!

IF we pray, giving thanks, submitting our lives and situations to God’s control,:-

  • We will be given peace
  • We can trust that the situation will improve.
  • We can sleep soundly.

Remember three things!

  1. If you feel that are about to “hit rock bottomJesus is the rock he is there waiting for you!
  2. Everything works out in the end, if it hasn’t, it is not the end!
  3. God in the form of Jesus knows what we are going through!- He felt pain, anguish, anger, persecution, temptation and EVERY part of the human experience, He died and rose again to prove not even death has power over him!

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