Great idea: Beginner's Guide to Sainthood

Written by Jack Bernard of the Church of the Sojourners, a community based church in the US

Reservations - Jesus Army Life, Day 558

photo by scribeoflight of flickr.com Dear Jesus,
------Please help me to entrust to you my passivity. The passivity that says I will do what I want, when I want to. The passivity that refuses to be obedient to you and so dampens my faith. Please help me to entrust to you my fears and reservations, not so that these fears will be enshrined by you but so that you will put them in their proper place in the light of your glorious love.

Go to your heavenly Father and tell him you are frightened, and he has ways of taking away these fears. For though they may be ridiculous to some, a child’s dreads are never too frivolous for the sympathy of a loving father, but he meets them as if there were some great reality in them and so sets them aside.

Whatever then your need, your woe, your grief, go to your Father and he will give you comfort. Believe from this night forward that God does pity all those who fear him, and whatever he sees of weakness in their nature and of sorrow in their lot he will help them. So may you find it now and evermore, for Christ’s sake.
Charles Spurgeon

photo by scribeoflight of flickr.com


I believe - Jesus Army Life, Day 551

photo by ange's photos of flickr.com
I've been rediscovering belief. It seems to be the logical step on my quest for a deeper conversion. But I don't think I can oversatate how important the exercise of faith must be...

Let's face it, we all have reservations, inner questions, uncertainties, doubts. It's important to be honest about these, and it's useful, as Martyn Joseph says, to "treasure the questions". Personally, I was brought up to question everything, especially things which imposed on my own self autonomy. My Dad still holds that no man (or god) will be his king, and I think that standard has become part of my own personality too.

But I have found Jesus undeniable and unforgettable, his Spirit lives in me, his impact on those close to him is documented historical fact, he gives me hope and makes sense of my world. But still there have been questions... And yet I have experienced the supernatural on a number of occassions... And still my faith has been small... But so was that of the disciples.

While longing for more of the transforming power of God in my life and others', I began to think about what God's power actually meant. I remembered this verse:

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes
Romans 1
I couldn't ignore the emphais on belief, and then i found this in the KJV:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name
John 1
Belief. Belief, belief, belief. Jesus asks me to believe. That's where his power lies - in faith. It's not leaving my brain at the door, the questions remain, but I've got to risk my whole life on this man who is God if I'm ever to know his transforming power. A half cocked faith simply will not do. There's something simply fundamental about belief, without we can't operate. I know that even the simplest child knows this, but it's taken me some while to understand. Faith pleses God. And now having believed beyond reservation I must act...

We must not content ourselves with liberty and consolation and gust in prayer. We must come out from prayer the most rapturous and sweet, only to do harder and ever harder works for God and our neighbours. Otherwise the prayer is not good, and the gusts are not from God.
Saint Teresa of Avila
photo by ange's photos of flickr.com

Understand now?

It's often difficult to describe the difficulty of being part of a minority race...

Understand now? Good.

(A Girl Like Me by bfnmusic of youtube.com)


Intuition - Jesus Army Life, Day 548

This morning, everyone in the house is spending some much needed personal time seeking God. It's a scheduled opportunity to put everything else aside and receive from him. Instead of calling it a retreat we call it an advance.

During prayer this morning I noted the way I work in hearing from God. Sometimes I deliberately try to listen, but today I simply went with the flow. What I realised was the important part intuition plays when following the path God leads you along.

There is a psalm that says this:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.

Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.

Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD's unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him.
Psalm 32

God does not show us how to turn every corner as we follow him, but he does direct us by teaching us how to follow. He gives us his truth and it is left to us to make of it what we will. Our sense of the things God is teaching us is important, it is crucial if we are to find our way forward, for God requires faith, he will not be a helpdesk to our every doubt and concern, he expects us to be faithful and learn.

Intuition then is first reminded of previous instruction/direction from God and then feels its way forward as to what should happen next. God may confirm this in various ways but it will always be in line with the instruction we find through the bible. Hence, when you feel a prompting from God you should pray into it, listen more, reflect, and then turn to God's word to see what it says - allow it to correct you and then pray some more. Find the resolve of God's Spirit rising within you as every part of your spiritual life seems to point in one direction, and follow obediently.

Another small tip for prayer is the use of tongues - if you have this gift, using it in worship for five minutes can you press past the natural distractions towards the throne of God.

Learning lessons - Jesus Army Life

I don't know what to write, but I have to write something. Tonight I feel gutted. It's the familiar feeling of being let down, this night from two directions. Perhaps.

Ultimately it doesn't matter. Disappointment is only unmet hope. Hope is crucial, but it is also plentiful. And if any hope is not based in reality it is not really hope at all.

Meanwhile, and presumably it's no coincidence, I find myself returning to the journey of trusting God. I remembered today that God was trying to teach me something about patience. How easily we forget.

I guess patience is the bedrock of hope. Where hope rushes forward into the promise, patience calmly trusts. Each are elements of faith. Without hope each man is lost, but without patience each man is spent.


Living forever - Jesus Army Life

This morning I was thinking: actually I'd quite like to live forever, even if it was on this earth, in this body - as long as I could cope with a graceful descent into old age! There you go, perhaps I am easily satisfied. I enjoy the friendships photo by underbunny of flickr.comI have and the God who guides my path. But I'm not ignorant of the many injustices in this world, the cruelty of life and man that can sap your zest and drive you to despair, that shadow has passed over me too. It's just that I've found a kind of 'love', and that makes life worth living.

How about you?

photo by underbunny of flickr.com

Easily satisifed - Jesus Army Life, Day 547

Perhaps I'm easily satisfied. This morning in prayer I messed around a fair bit, but poured out my heart too and felt content just to know in my 'inner man' that I was connected with Him.

Last night was cool. A few less people round than we've had in previous weeks, some of those missed I'd have dearly loved to have seen. But it was nice, and the snow's been great!

I've been trying to learn to play At The End Of The Day by Brian Thiessen on guitar. It's a beautiful tune and the lyrics are fairly deep too, so it's the song du jour.


Concerns - Jesus Army Life, Day 546

(not me)photo by malik m.l. williams | photography of flickr.comI find myself analysing the depths to which I truly understand God's grace. There's so much within my own heart I fear has hardened over these past years. It scares me to think of how much I may have misunderstood of God's kindness. And how robotic I can be in doling out God's love to others. Too harsh, too impatient, sometimes I wonder that I ever found saving faith at all! And so I crave conversion at a truer, deeper level within.

Yesterday morning I prayed quickly (!), once again running short of time. But at the end of the day I'm simply grateful that I am his.

photo by malik m.l. williams | photography of flickr.com


Time with God, Jesus Army Life, Day 544

The other evening I was talking to a sister about devotional times - times where you simply want to meet with the God you love.

I thought I'd try to diary my devotional times a little to paint a picture of the different kinds of experience you can have.

photo by premasagar of flickr.comFor example, this morning I entered into a short prayer time with a sense of frustration because I'd used up so much of my alotted time already but with a fairly positive 'feel' in my spirit towards God. I began to pray with a mixture of concerns and thanks spoken to God. It was fairly muddled and I didn't manage to reach a place of repose within my soul, a place of calm where I could simply receive whatever God might want to say to me or give to me at that moment. Nonetheless I finished the time satisfied that I'd brought my soul into some consciousness of God before the day had begun, and I continued with some bible reading and thoughts on the way to work.

This contrasts with yesterday where I spent a longer time with God, about 30 minutes, again the first 10 minutes were fuzzy bit I settled myself to a point where I could be deliberate about the attention I was paying to God, I adjusted my posture, my words were thoughtful, my attitude worshipful. Nonetheless it was a fairly hard push and, still not feeling I'd really got to the point where I could receive from God but at least more quiet within, I pulled out my bible and began to read and wonder and reflect and reread about the resurrection of Jesus. My thoughts began to travel upwards in adoration and, towards the end of the time, I was beginning to know something of God's Spirit in closeness to mine - not much, but enough to know I was returning to my life-source. Still, I ran out of time, but that moment set me up for the day.

I think I'll end at this point with three things I've learnt from my own times with God:
  • Approach God with thanksgiving: if prayer is not flowing think of five things you can thank Him for, prayer usually lifts off after this.

  • It's helpful to have a particular issue that you want to work out with God: invite Him into it, ask for His help, question Him. Doing this helps provide a focus in prayer and makes for a way to deal with more major matters in your or others' lives.

  • Be quick to turn to God's word. My experience is that scripture quickly helps me climb to a spiritual level and leaves me less self-absorbed.

photo by premasagar of flickr.com