02/06/2013: A Birds Eye View

Today in our church service the sermon was about prayer. As Christians, we are supposed to pray and are taught that it is ‘talking to God’ or ‘asking God for things/thanking Him’ and it is, but sometimes we can ‘pray’ without having any real connection with what we are doing because we have lost the understanding or meaning of what it is. The Pastor talked about how prayer is someone on here on earth inviting God to intervene in our situations as well as the other aspects. I think his sermon was based on this book by Myles Munroe. As the Pastor talked, a particular metaphor came to my mind and I thought it was good so I thought I’d share it – let me know what you think. This metaphor involves one of my favourite things – The Television!

TV! Soaps! Drama! Film! I love watching good dramas on TV, so to the point that I get absorbed and block the world out while I get lost in the story (something which my family hate – they have to literally stand in front of me to get my attention – but why?! and it’s always at the good bit as well! Call me when it’s over!). Do you ever have those time when you are watching a film and you know what is coming and you want to scream at the person “Nooooo! Don’t open that door! There is a zombie behind there!” or “Omg don’t go that way you’re so going to get caught by the bad guy!” or things to that effect. There are always those moments where we wish we could talk to a character (maybe not ‘we’…might just be me..maybe I’m weird, so I’ll say I wish) and tell them what another character had done or what to avoid or do so as to get the best outcome. We have the bird’s-eye view of the situation or what I call the ‘TV view’, where we know all that has happened before and could happen in a situation if certain decisions are made or things are done and if only the characters in the TV could talk to us, we could help them. I think that this is a metaphor for prayer.

We say that God sees everything and knows our lives. Well have you ever thought that God might be watching out lives like a TV drama? He sits down on a Thursday night with His bag of Heavenly Popcorn to watch episode 365 of “The life of Theo” and shouts at the screen “Nooo! Don’t do it!” when we want to make a mistake” or “Yes, take the chance!” when were pondering a new opportunity. He sees the bigger picture. He has seen what the other characters in the story are up to and knows how they will affect your story line. He knows where you should go and what things lead to the best outcome. However, the difference with prayer and normal TV is that we have an added feature – ‘Phone the Audience‘. When you pray, you ‘phone’ (talk to) God (the audience) to get His advice and guidance based on His view of the situation. Of course with you being in that situation you won’t always know the outcome or why it’s better to take one path or another and what the future holds but when you ask God, the audience member, you just have to trust that He knows which path is best because of His point of view. We even believe  that some bad things happen for a reason (although I truly struggle with some like the attack two weeks ago) and this is because He has seen the outcome and says this is the best way to go to get that outcome.

This analogy of what prayer is, helps me to keep in mind a reason for prayer: Asking God to intervene in situations on Earth, providing guidance based on His vantage point. If you had someone everyday who was able to see your relationships, arguments, problems, and successes from an objective view point and give you the inside scoop on the outcomes wouldn’t you take it?

I hope this provides a different perspective from which to approach prayer and hopefully it puts more weight to your next one.

What do you think?

Good thing of the day: A new revelation, a renewed understanding of prayer

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24/02/2013: Heart of Compassion

Last Sunday’s post (see more here) was all about compassion and the instant judgements I can make about people. I was challenged to see things differently… and I guess I’m still dealing with it.

Yesterday on the Tube, I was just casually observing people as you do, when I noticed some really pretty people and some people who…weren’t as pretty. Normally I’d say of the no-so-pretty people “Why would you leave your house looking like that?!” I’d dismiss them then not give it another seconds thought.  Seeing the two sets of people today however, made me think about how much effort it takes to look good every day and how sometimes, I can’t be bothered to put on make up or something happens and I just don’t have the time.  If someone were to see me on that particular day, what judgement would they make of me?

“A bit shabby, looks about 14, not very fashionable… probably never seen makeup in her life, needs to do something with those circle’s under her eyes! Why would you leave your house looking like that?!”

If I someone actually said that to me, I would react and say “You don’t know me, you don’t know that this morning my car broke down and I didn’t have time to put on make up which, by the way, I have in my bag” or  “You don’t know that I’m tired from a late night working on a project and the battered coat I’m wearing is the only one I can wear because the other ripped” or even “You don’t know that I’m really not feeling well today but I’m determined to go to work. You don’t know me. You don’t know anything!” So why do we think it?

We judge people in an instant but we don’t know what people have been through. How often do we stop to think about others? About what’s beyond the superficial – why they appear the way they do or do the things they do? No doubt some people are what we assume they are but we don’t know for sure.

In Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habit of Highly Effective People“,  he tells the story of his encounter with a man and his raucous children on the subway. The subway is fairly peaceful until this man and his children get on board. His children, are yelling, throwing things, grabbing people’s papers and generally disturbing what was a relatively peaceful journey for the passengers. Getting more and more annoyed with the situation and wondering why the man is so insensitive that he doesn’t do anything to stop his children, Stephen decides to tell this man to sort his children out: “Sir your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more”. The man looks up, assesses the situation as if only noticing for the first time and replies “Oh your right.  I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either “

Changes your opinion doesn’t it?

We have been desensitised and our insular nature makes us blind to the world of others. We need to develop a compassionate heart and take the time to find things out without jumping to conclusions or making assumptions – even by somebody’s clothes. It’s something I need to work on and constantly check myself with. I need to be more compassionate and caring to others, not just to the people identified on the other side of the world by large charitable organisations, but people in my own community and on my own street.

Although first impressions count, maybe the second or even third impression would be a better basis to evaluate someone. Don’t judge a book by its cover (maybe wait for page three ;-))

Good thing of the day: Another lesson in compassion

17/02/2013: The ‘Joy’ of the Lord!

Sunday!

My family and I went to Net Church today. We were visiting there in order to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and having come only for the celebration I ended up leaving with whole new perspective.

They had a guest preacher, a man named Rob Joy, who message was based on the story of his life. He talked about the things he used to do, the person he used to be and how he eventually became a Christian.

It was a story of redemption, one you can hear often in the Christian circle; This man used to be very violent – beating people up, fighting etc so consequently, he had many run-ins with the law.

Going to court, spending time in jail and doing drugs became the heartbeat of his life, until one day, in his room alone, surrounded by all the elements that defined his life at the time, he searched for God and found him.

At times, when people tell their story, especially one like that, you hear the words but still don’t get the full impact of what they did but what he did today made an impact on me – he showed us his mug shots.

They were all there from the several times he had been arrested with all the dates they were taken, between 1996-2005. It may not seem like much – maybe scars or gunshot wounds would be more impressive – but seeing just those pictures made it so evident to me that this person, standing here, right in front of us, very eloquent and quite endearing with these little jokes, used to be a thug! A serious, hardcore, cross over to the other side of the road, thug. The kind you would see on the news and the whole community would fear and not want to cross.

He told of how at that time he had a weapons shed (yes, a shed, full of weapons) that he would go to, to pick out something to armour himself with to go out and fight. To look at him now you would never believe that he could have done those things. Here he was, totally changed, a family man (his boys are cute!), walking and talking about Jesus!

I have to admit that I have been guilty of judging. Not people like him now, but people who are in the position he used to be.

When I see the photos of criminals in the paper, I don’t always immediately feel compassion for them the way I should and the way Jesus would. I’d feel anger or disgust, at them for what they have done and I’d see them as a person to be left to rot. “No hope for you!” . There are sayings in the Christian community like: ‘David was an adulterer, Moses was a murderer, Noah was a drunk...’ trying to show us how even the people of the bible weren’t perfect and how anyone can be used by God. I’m not saying the can’t because they can! But sometimes by hearing it so often, you can become de-sensitise to the reality of what it means.

If we say we’re Christians and we truly look at Jesus, we’d see that he wasn’t like that. He had compassion and love for everyone no matter what they had done. He separated the person from what they had done. He would think that each one of those people, although they had done wrong, can turn their lives around and in the present day, Rob Joy was a true example of that.

Today my view changed. Those pictures were supposed to be used to relate to someone in a similar situation to his own, someone who thinks there is no way out of the life they’re living but instead, they were used to convict me of my own short-comings and I’m grateful.

Everyone is loved by God and no matter what they have done he is compassionate to forgive and give them a chance to change. I needed to be reminded of that and need to remind myself of that everyday.

His mum held on to that. She would pray for him everyday and even when he was at his worst, when people saw her, she would say the her son was a good man, a man for God. Now he is. Seeing those pictures today made it so real to me that he had actually done the things he said he had but what was also evident was the fact that this man was changed!

He is a funny, passionate, caring family man. Who knew he used to beat people up to a pulp and take drugs? All that is in the past. The bible says if you believe in God and accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you are a new creation, you’ve become a new person, old things have passed away and all things become new. He has already forgiven us, why not take up the offer?

Good thing of the day: A new perspective, a new compassion.