God Carries the Anxieties of the World

Anxiety is a real problem for many people. According to recent research, 6% of people in the UK suffer with a generalized anxiety disorder¹ and most of the rest of us will have to contend with different levels of anxiety as we navigate our way through life in this stressful world.

Anxiety is only likely to be heightened by depressing and heartbreaking events as people begin to worry about whether those same things might happen to them or their loved ones It is certainly true that we live in very anxious times!

I was reading the Bible today and part of my reading said;

Cast all your anxiety on God because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5.7

As I pondered this verse I found it comforting to be reminded that God cares enough to want us to give him our anxieties; As I thought some more,  I was left in awe at the God who can actually manage to carry the anxieties of the world.

Miraculously, God can hear and see all of our concerns and he is at work in amongst the pain and chaos of this world. So,

If you are feeling anxious today, will you tell God?

If you are feeling anxious today, will you trust God?

If you are feeling anxious today, will you allow God to give you his gift of peace?

If you are feeling anxious today, will you cling to God until you find freedom?

Anxiety is a real problem but God wants to help us to be free from it. God’s gift of peace can mean instant freedom from feelings of anxiety but sometimes a longer process is required to find freedom. The road to peace begins with us giving over our worries and cares to God, after all he is waiting to carry them!

¹ https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#.WUKlypDyvIV

 

Advertisements
Posted in Bible, change, Faith, freedom, Listening to God, peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s time to play together nicely!

It was surprising, and very encouraging!!!, to see Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn walking next to each other laughing in Parliament.

One of the things which I have found especially sad about the recent UK election campaign is the hatred and anger that has been a central part of it for many people.

You know the sort of nonsense and lies that have been spouted:

‘Corbyn is a Jihadi sympathizer’

‘Dianne Abbott is incompetent’

‘The Conservatives are the nasty party’

I hope that one of the consequences of our hung parliament is that our politicians might learn to respect each other and to cooperate again. This is why I was so encouraged by what I saw in Parliament yesterday as the speaker of the house was elected.

It was great to see Theresa May congratulate John Bercrow following his unanimous appointment by joking “At least someone got a landslide.”

Jeremy Corbyn congratulated the Prime Minister and said that “democracy is a wonderful thing and can bring up some very unexpected results.”

A short while later they walked out together smiling and chatting and this was a wonderful picture of what things could be like.

This Parliament could be a real opportunity to discover what it means for politicians from across the political spectrum to learn from each other.

In life we all work and live alongside people and we are all expected to get on and to try to be productive together whether we agree with them or not.

I hope and pray that over these next few years that politicians can travel together down the road of respect, listening and cooperation that the rest of us walk along each day.

If people could have been spared the spin, hatred and accusations then the election would have been so much more constructive.

Instead of hearing ‘Labours sums don’t add up’, it would have been great to debate which parts of their costed manifesto were causing the problem for people and to consider how these areas could be improved before dismissing their plan.

Instead of hearing that ‘the Tories only care for the rich’,  it would have been good to have debated which of their policies appear to favour the rich and to consider how these policies could be modified before stereotyping them.

Instead of focusing almost exclusively on the Labour and Tories shouting at each other, it would have been good to have had a debate about Taxation and the Lib Dems proposal about raising tax by 1p. With the rising costs of the NHS I don’t think it is sustainable to run it without cuts or raised taxes and this needs thinking through rather than juts shouting at each other about it.

I think that the spin and lies ruined the election and they also have potentially .damaged lives

Ironically, the person who was most vilified in the campaign and painted as being unfit to be an MP was also the person who got a record 35000 majority proving that she is in fact an extremely competent and well respected public servant. It is also now emerging that Diane Abbott has type 2 diabetes and the way that the press has hounded her is even more upsetting knowing it was her illness that was causing her problems.

I believe it’s time to put aside party politics and to campaign for what we think is good and important for our country. It is possible that the Government may need votes from opposition MP’s to get laws passed and this provides a real opportunity for people to have some input into shaping the Governments agenda.

For me, I want to see the country run in a financially prudent way. I think that we need to move towards reducing the national debt but I do not want to see us do this at the expense of the poor and vulnerable n our society.

I will be praying that our MP’s would learn what it is to play and work well together as they work for the good of the country rather than the advancement of their own political party.

You may think that this is all wishful thinking but I believe that miracles are possible.

Central to the Christian faith is the command to love one another.
When we love people, even our enemies, it makes it possible to work alongside and cooperate with them.

God, please make Great Britain truly Great again!

Posted in Faith, Loving one another, Miracles, politics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Looking through the lens of life or the lens of God?

Often we look at God through the lens of life.

How different would things be if we looked at life through the lens of God?

Our circumstances and how we are feeling can make a difference to how we view other people and it is no different with God.

So, instead of letting our circumstances dictate our view of God, why don’t we let God dictate our view of our circumstances?

We are living in extraordinary times where there is so much pain and darkness in the world. Will we allow that darkness to skew our view of God or will we allow the light and hope that God embodies to fill us and to spread out to those around us?

Are we doomed to be crushed when things go wrong or do we still believe that God is all powerful and that he is at work in every situation even when we can’t see it clearly?

Is our faith determined by what we see around us or by our view of who God is?

God, help us to look to you and to see who you really are.
I thank you that you are good and that you love the whole world and I pray that you would help us to look to you when everything around us is in chaos.
Thank you God that you do not change. Amen

 

Posted in Faith, God loves us, Listening to God, Relationship with God | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Hopeless or Hope?

It’s possible that following the General Election result in the UK that you are feeling despondent today?

A few weeks ago I produced this design for a prayer card that we are going to circulate to the homes around our church.

The wording on the back says.

We live in a world that can feel confusing and
sad but we believe that God can change things.

I think that I needed to hear these words this morning and perhaps you do as well?

As Christians we can just despair when things seem go wrong or we can cry out to God in faith calling on him to continue to be at work in the midst of the hurt, confusion and disappointment?

Which will it be?

I’m praying for our country today.

Posted in Faith, hope, Life experiences, politics, Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The people who don’t usually vote have the power to win the election

The stats are from the 2010 General election but the principle is the same. Please vote tomorrow, your vote really does make a difference

Honest about my faith

So, if just before the 2010 general election I had started my own political party and if everyone who was eligible to vote but who didn’t on that day had changed their minds and voted for me, then I would have won.

Let that sink in and see why your vote really does matter.

Some people don’t vote because they think it will make no difference, but the numbers show that a huge amount of the population of the UK don’t understand the power that they have.

2010 general election share of vote pie chartLet’s look at the numbers.

The percentage share of the vote from 2010 is shown in this pie chart. (The percentages are taken from the BBC website).

At the last general election the Conservatives got the largest share of votes which was 36%.

The turnout at those same elections was 65.1% which means that 34.9% of people who were eligible to, actually didn’t vote.

View original post 242 more words

Posted in Faith | Leave a comment

Grow Towards the Light

As I prayed with some friends recently I looked out the window (you don’t have to close your eyes to pray you know!) and I noticed the tree in the next door garden.

As the tree has grown, the main trunk has split into two and the two trunks/branches look as though someone has prised them apart.

At the time we were praying about spiritual growth and as I looked at the tree, it occurred to me that growth isn’t always straightforward or even straight.

As I talked with my friend later about why the tree hadn’t grown straight, his theory was that it had grown towards the light.

This seemed like a helpful reminder to us. There is so much uncertainty in the world and at times it is unclear what we should do and how we should respond but if we are growing towards the light then we will be heading in the right direction.

Jesus, light of the world may we be drawn to you and may your light shine on, in and through us. Amen.

Posted in discipleship, Faith, Learning, Life experiences, Listening to God, Prayer, Relationship with God | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why was I annoyed? It isn’t My Woodland!

My family and I went to Hanningfield Reservoir yesterday for a quiet day out but it turned out though that it was the Hanningfield Triathlon and so our walk was far from peaceful!

For the first part of our walk, there was a continual thud, thud, thud as someone ran up behind and past us every few seconds. At first I was annoyed about this, after all our peace had been shattered, but then I remembered that the woodland we were walking in didn’t belong to us.

As I thought about this some more, I suddenly became aware of how polite the runners were being as they thanked us for moving out of their way. Many even said don’t worry as we apologized for not moving out of their way fast enough but their attitude was to try to head around us rather than to complain. As my attitude towards these people changed, I saw more clearly who they really were!

These Triathletes didn’t consider that the woodland was theirs and we didn’t consider it to be ours and so we got along fine.

We have been reading some of Wind in the Willows to our girls at bedtime for the past few weeks and we especially wanted to visit the reservoir because they have statues of the Wind in the Willows characters.

I found the Triathletes strange because they all looked exhausted and yet they kept going and they also didn’t stop to look at the amazing sculptures of Toad and his friends. Although I found it hard to relate to the runners, I was glad that it was their woodland as well.

How do you feel about the world around you?

Do you think or act like it is yours?

Are we willing to share our part of the world with others and to be glad that they can live well in it even if we feel like we can’t relate to them?

I am ashamed of the anti immigration rhetoric in Great Britain today. Personally, I am delighted that people of all cultures and backgrounds can share in the life of the UK.

I think that the key issue that defines how we approach immigration is whether we see ourselves primarily as citizens of our country or of the world?

If we see ourselves first and foremost as world citizens then we should have no real problem with immigration and we should actually welcome people freely of all backgrounds.

The Bible says that ‘God so loved the world’ and if God loves every person in this world (yes, that even involves Triathletes!) then part of following must involve me loving and welcoming them as well. When asked ‘who is my neighbour?’ Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan which shows someone helping a fellow human being in need even though they were from different countries, religions and cultures. Jesus taught that we should love our neighbours and the example he gives of what this looks like involves our attitude towards people who we might not find it easy to identify with. Although we might not relate to them easily, Jesus wants  us to consider them our neighbours who we should love.

Many Christians are fearful of immigration because they worry about people from other religions coming and corrupting our country and leading Christians away from their faith. This attitude has always made me sad because it shows such a lack of confidence in God.

Personally, I am delighted that people from other countries and religions are moving to the UK. In some of these countries it is illegal to promote Christianity but here in the UK they can hear the good news about following Jesus. Rather than being afraid of Christianity being diluted, I am actually grateful for the opportunity that God is giving his church and I pray that God’s kingdom would grow and increase.

How will we treat people today?

Are we angry because we can’t relate to them or perhaps because they are stomping too close to us?

Hopefully we are giving thanks for the people around us each day? Hopefully we want to do what we can to live well alongside them to make the world a better place for all of us to live in together.

Are we willing to accept that God loves the whole world and are we willing to follow his lead by loving the people of the world too?

If you want to think some more about immigration then you might find The one about the illegal immigrant from Peru helpful.

Posted in Blessed to be a blessing, discipleship, Faith, Life experiences, Loving one another | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is it time to make God the focus of our prayer lives again?

I’ve had quite a stressful week and so I was looking forward to homegroup last night as an opportunity to share and to receive prayer.

We had a great conversation about Mark 5 and part of our discussion was about the miracles that Jesus did. We read about a chronically ill woman who touched the edge of Jesus’ robe and was healed and how Jesus raised a young girl from the dead.

If you are interested you can read more of my thoughts about this passage in She was so important but we don’t know her name or Who does Jesus value most, the community leader or the outcast? Mark 5.21-43

As we finished talking about the Bible and got to the prayer bit I found myself saying ‘perhaps we should pray about what we had been reading rather than listing and then praying for the needs that we have’.

Now I need to confess that sometimes when my mouth speaks before my brain is engaged I end up in real trouble but this was a real God moment!!

As we prayed and thanked Jesus for his miracles, for the example of the faith of the woman who reached out to Jesus and that nothing is too difficult for God my faith was lifted.

I was longing to tell people of the burdens that I am carrying but instead I was reminded rationally, spiritually and emotionally that God is greater and more powerful than my burdens.

I could have talked at length and we could have said a quick prayer and I might have felt better in myself but instead I connected with God in a fresh way that enabled me to put my faith in Him afresh for some difficult situations.

The prayer wasn’t about telling God what was the matter, it was about seeing more clearly who he is.

Ironically, I’m left wondering when did our prayer times stop being about God?

When did the emphasis switch from him to us?

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that we shouldn’t ever share and pray for specific needs but I am left wondering whether we need to regain a better balance in our prayer lives.

Is it time to make God the focus of our prayer lives again?

Posted in discipleship, encouragement, Faith, God is powerful, Life experiences, Miracles, Power of God, Prayer, Relationship with God, restoration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Lord is Close to the Brokenhearted

Several times in these past few days I have been reminded of how painful that life can be as I have heard about and seen the struggles faced by others.

As I was praying about this I was reminded of these words from Psalm 34 v18:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

When we are struggling, we might get supportive cards or e-mails but the thing that we often crave is to have someone who will walk with us in our pain.

I love the way that God especially wants us to know that he is close to us when we are feeling brokenhearted. He walks with his followers always but he wants to remind us that he is close when we are feeling low or are in pain.

If you’re struggling, brokenhearted and in pain then I hope and pray that you will know and experience God’s presence that is with you.

Posted in Bible, Faith, God is with us, God loves us, Life experiences, Listening to God, Relationship with God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is Worship about Describing God or Encountering him?

I have been thinking about worship recently and it occurred to me that for some people worship is about describing and focusing on who God is whilst for others it is about meeting with and encountering God.

Sometimes, these two views are talked about like they are opposites that are mutually exclusive but I think that the reality is that we need both elements in worship.

For those who emphasize worship as a description, you need to realize that knowing who God is must lead to the conclusion that he wants to be in a relationship with us. God describes himself as our Father, Jesus says he is with us always and the Holy Spirit lives inside every disciple of Jesus. As we emphasize who God truly is, it should drive us to want to encounter and to have a genuine and real relationship with him.

For those who emphasize worship as an encounter, we need to be sure that we are connecting with who God really is. The church is described as the Bride of Christ, but do we see ourselves in a relationship with God where we are committed ‘for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health’? Do we see our intimacy with God as being in a committed relationship or is it more like a one night stand (or a Sunday morning stand?) where we seek intimacy on or terms to get what we need? Are we willing to encounter the real God rather than just the bits of him that we like?

Jesus said ‘true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way’ (John 4.23).

The Holy Spirit could be simply described as God in relationship with humanity and this relational aspect is half of what Jesus described as true worship.

Focusing on the truth of who God is and also the truth of who we are and how we are in relationship with him is the other half of what Jesus described as true worship.

God wants us to know and encounter him but he wants us to know the real him. He isn’t like Father Christmas who just gives us good stuff once a year, he wants to help us to grow in our faith and as human beings. He isn’t just a divine bodyguard who will always keep us safe from all harm, sickness and suffering. He isn’t a vending machine that we approach to push buttons to get stuff.

God wants us to know who he is. He is a relational God who created humanity to know him but he is also the all powerful creator of the whole universe! He is described as Holy which literally means set apart or different and he lives in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6.16). When we understand how far above us and far removed from us that God is, it makes his relationship with us all the more meaningful and amazing! The God who wants to know us but who was too far removed sent his son into the world to take on flesh. While Jesus was here on humanity sacrificed him on the cross and God used this act of sacrifice and death to destroy the barrier between us an him. We can approach the unapproachable God because of what Jesus has done!

So what is worship for you?

Is it about describing or encountering God?

If it is strongly one or the other, how will we go about becoming true worshipers as we focus on both.

Oh, and in case you think I am just talking about singing in church you can think again. The Bible teaches us that the offering of the whole of our lives is a spiritual act of worship (Romans 12.1). As we live for Jesus in the real world, we need to know who he really is and we also need to know his presence guiding us.

Sometimes Christians get disappointed with God in life because he our experience doesn’t match up with the PR spun god who is sometimes presented to us in worship. As we live life in the world, things go wrong and we feel pain but in these moments we can know that God is still good and that he is with us. In these moments of confusion and disorientation, we need to seek God that he might be at work in and through us more powerfully which is what he wants to do in every situation.

True worshipers encounter God through the Spirit but they also understand the truth of who he is.

 

Posted in Bible, discipleship, Faith, worship | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments