Sunday, 31 July 2011

Singing with others

An out of tune guitar plays joyfully with the piano, while the singers just try and sing as loud as they can to block out the noise. A lone pianist plays four instruments at once in their imagination, trying to get the congregation to sing with more joy. People clap joyfully and sing a cappella because they can't afford any instruments.

Singing in church today wasn't the greatest thing I ever heard, nor was it that "spiritual" where I felt like God was right in front of me. It was just the same old singing songs to God and Jesus. It was good for me to be reminded by the words of what God has done for me, but I get reminded of that every week.

But, something special happened to me today. For the first time I understood that I wasn't singing alone, or just for the people around me to hear. I was joining in with millions of others, all singing praises to our awesome God. I could imagine everyone in different circumstances, in different languages, different instruments, all singing their hearts out. The persecuted, who continue to sing in severe trials and suffering, and the lonely, who feel like no one cares if they sing or not. Even the angles singing praises to God in heaven.

That really amazed me a bit. Actually, it just blew my mind away!

Worship through song to God became more than just something I had to do, but something I wanted to do. Something that meant the world to me. Imagine not being able to sing. That makes you appreciate worship much more. We can tell God how great he is, (and he is very great)! We can sing to the creator of the universe, that just is indescribably amazing!

Finally, to end my babble about worship, we are joining with the people in the bible too, as they sing praises to God.

This bible verse puts it well "Let them praise your awesome and glorious name-- He is holy" Psalm 99:3

So next time you are in a church service or somewhere boring, remember that you are joining with every Christian, singing praises to the most high in the Universe, our God.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Living in God's plan

I thought it might be a good idea to share with you one of my favourite bible verses. It is one of those verses that is really comforting, and helps you get through the struggles in life.

"'For I know the plans I have for you' declares the LORD, 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'"

It sound nice doesn't it. But in fact, it was actually written in one of the scariest books in the bible. It comes from Jeremiah 29:11, just chapters after God pronounced his judgement on Israel. Just after God sent the Babylonians to capture the Israelites. Israel was plundered by the Babylonians. They were forced to leave to a foreign land. They lost everything, their country was destroyed, their possessions taken, and their traditions ignored.

Then comes this message from God. They still have hope! God has planned all along, taken care of them all the time. He is going to make them prosper! They now have a future to look forward to!

There was actually another story happening in the background. Many Israelites were planning for a revolution. To throw off their oppressors, to make themselves independent again. Imagine what they would have thought once they heard God's message. God was planning for their future! God wanted them to be free! They had God on their side!

Jeremiah steps in then, with another message from God. Don't revolt, but seek peace in Babylon. That is the future God has planned for you. The Israelites must have been surprised. They thought God was supporting their bid for freedom, but no, he wanted them to stay? What kind of plan was that? In fact, God's plan was on a much bigger scale than theirs. The Israelites could still do great things in Babylon. In another book (Daniel) it tells of Babylonian kings who turned to the living God, because of the Israelites. God wanted the Israelites to learn to trust him even in the hard times.

That was really all boring history actually, so what does that have to do with us? Why is it my favourite bible verse?

I used to be in a stage where I loved saying "God is in control". Whenever life was not working out, I thought "God is in control, he will sort things out." I got that from Job, where after he went through intense suffering, he still got all his possessions back and more. But looking at this story, I was totally wrong. Sometimes things just don't turn out at all. We lose something, and never find it again, we lose our job and are forced to go hungry days on end, we become lonely and never seem to find any friends, or we lose a loved one who we know will never be brought back to life.

How do we cope when we lose something we know we will never get back, how do we go on living life? We need to remember that verse, and know that there is a hope far bigger than worldly things we desire so much. We need to trust in God's plans, not to fix our problems completely, but to use our weaknesses to glorify him.

A person I trust put how we should view God's plans very effectively. "As Christians, we do not believe that God is on our side, but that we are graciously allowed to support God's side"

So I want you to remember Jeremiah 29:11, not to charge through all your problems in life, but so that you can lift all your problems to God, to see what he has planned with them.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Delving into the mirror

Mirrors are where people release themselves. Looking at their reflection, experimenting what their face looks like with different emotions, staring at the eyes that stare back as strongly, you gain insight into who you truly are. It is easy enough to deceive the world, and ourselves, but if we look into a mirror long enough, our true emotions will probably surface.

That might be a little far fetched, but for me, looking into a mirror is so calming, and helps me understand my thoughts more clearly. As I delve deeper and deeper into the hazy depths of my eyes, it feels like I delve deeper and deeper into my self.

The mirror is the place where change is discovered. My eyes look more tired, my hair is getting long, I am getting stronger. Although change can be measured through height, weight, in units, for me, it never quite clicks until I look myself in the mirror, and see it for myself. It always surprises me how much I have changed. It is a scary thought, but also comforting.

I have become more stressed, as the dark rims under my eyes show. My eyes seem to be more assertive, more observant, more thoughtful. A faint beard reminds me that I am getting older, (although I definitely do not have any grey hairs yet!) and my lips have become tighter. As I wonder what events brought about the change in my face, it gives me comfort that I got through them, with the help of God. Looking forward to the future, it gives me courage that God will lead me through the trials, like he has done before.

The change I saw in the mirror, however, did not come suddenly. My eyes gradually became darker and darker, and my beard inch by inch became more and more visible. Change is gradual. Not just with body parts though. Spiritually, we grow closer to God through small steps, looking back and seeing the sins and trials God has helped us overcome.

The future holds many things that will change us spiritually and physically, but looking how God has brought me this far, trusting him for the next part seems the best thing to do. Next time I look into a mirror, I hope I can see me even closer to God, as he guides me along his path.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Against The Sun

Blinded by the glare, the man continued to run. His eyes burned from the vicious rays of the sun, as they pierced through his heart. The sun illuminated the world beautifully, but right now, he would've given anything for the sun not be able to catch him running away. He felt exposed. No one could hide from the curiosity of the sun's rays, especially when the person has so much to hide.

His mind was becoming uncontrolled, drifting to where it pleased. Without the man's permission, his mind raced back to when he committed the deed.

Blood was splattered everywhere. Some of it was his own, but he was too scared to tie up the cut on his right hand. Blank eyes stared at his sweating face, accusing him, remembering what he looks like, if they ever were to meet again in the after-life.

The man kept running, away from the guilt, away from the consequences, but the sun kept him from forgetting, the sun kept him from hiding the deed even from himself. Whenever he tried to push it down, it surfaced to the top of his thoughts, impossible to throw away.

He could still feel the shock as the blunt weapon rebounded against the man's skull. Hearing the crack as bone became like shards of glass. The pulsing of the blood as it kept flowing out of the wound. The searing pain as the victim's final attempt of resistance sliced his hand.

Tears streamed down the man's eyes, a combined effort of the suns rays, and the beast inside him. His legs gave way, he hit the ground, and the ground swallowed up his face. He lay there, contemplating the evil he had done. The ground gave him strength, as though he had returned to the earth, was born again, and had a second chance on life.

He got up, and started running again. The sun this time, however, was behind him, supporting his mission. He was running toward his deed, embracing it, accepting it as his own. But he vowed to fix it. He did not want to live life with the guilt weighing him down. His mind worked overtime, forcing himself to remember all the details of the event.

He rounded the corner, entered the house, and stood exactly where he had stood an hour ago. Racing toward the bedroom, he fell upon the unconscious body. He knew he had no time to lose, he ripped his shirt, wrapped the wound, gritted his teeth, and put the man on his shoulders.

Again he went on running. He ran even when his legs were burning, even when sweat blinded his eyes. Still, the sun supported him, urging him to go forwards.

The hospital tower never seemed to get closer, but finally its doors where right in front of him. He laid the man down on the welcome carpet, kissed his forehead, prayed that he would be safe, and left, just as a doctor came around the corridor.

The man continued to run, the sun pushing him along.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Do I look like a weirdo looking up at the sky?

Another scene from the bus stop. I am again waiting for the bus, and since no one is waiting with me, I decide to look into the sky and marvel at God's creation. Anyway, if you think about it, that's what trees do don't they? Look upward to the sky, reaching for it with their leafy banches?

But, why? Why do I look into the cloudless mass of space above? Why does it leave me in awe? Why does it make me feel small? Why, why, why???

Before you know it, the wonderful serenity of the scene is crowded out by these logic missiles, stealing the scene from my heart, and placing it in my brain, dissecting it until there is just a pale shell of what I first experienced. Facts about the sky flood my brain, until all I see is what the textbook tells me what I should see, not what I actually see with my heart.

Society always wants answers. "There must be a reason to everything" I agree with this statement. There is a reason for everything. But sometimes, we don't have to know it. We lose so much when we try and "figure out" the meaning of things. I am so glad we still haven't got a definite "meaning of life", because like in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy it might turn out to be 42, squeezing all the life of a person in such a small number. All their experiences, their relationships, their knowledge, into an understandable little ball. Missing out on so much.

Look up into the sky, what do you see? A mass of air that is blue because blue is the colour most reflected by the water particles? Or an indescribable testimony to God's creativity, glory, and power? Leave the reasons to God, just look at something, and see how you can see God through it. Suddenly, life becomes much more interesting again.