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Posts Tagged ‘church attendance’

Jo 17As an introverted writer, there is nothing I like more than sitting at my desk, typing away in perfect peace and quiet. As I do, I can look out my window at the trees and shrubs and beyond them to the sky. I hear birds chirping and the occasional bark of a dog, yet these sounds are pleasant and somehow reassuring. In these moments, I feel so blessed—and spoilt! I have peace, both inside and out—and I am so grateful for God’s gracious hand on my life.

Yes, sometimes that outer peace of mine disappears when little grandchildren arrive and run around excitedly or when we mind them at their house until mum or dad finish work. Sometimes too, we have visitors for meals or for a longer period. Sometimes I venture out to speak at various events or promote my books, which always involves much relating to others. And each week I attend church and happily mix with the family of God there. I also meet with others one-on-one for coffee and truly value these intimate conversations. Yet afterwards, I scuttle back home to my place of peace, where I sit and process everything—and thank God again for my lovely, quiet space where I can reflect and be refreshed in my spirit.

But sometimes that inner peace of mine can also disappear, which is much more alarming. Sometimes I take my eyes off God and refuse to listen to the Spirit’s voice, urging me to be still, to become aware of God’s presence in me and around me, to remember God knows all about my issues and those facing anyone near and dear to me, as well as those in the world at large. Sometimes I choose to worry so much about this and that, instead of handing it all over to God. Sometimes I fret over situations when it is way beyond my ability to sort it all out for those involved. Sometimes I foolishly ignore that peace God is holding out to me with such love and grace and instead decide to cling onto that deep turmoil within.

How important it is in these times to stop and read again Jesus’ words to his disciples—and to me:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

And how important the Apostle Paul’s words are too:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Whatever is happening in your life right now, may you too be able to turn to God, be still and rest in that peace only God can give.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

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It’s not too often I’m challenged on my way into church—but that’s what happened this past Sunday morning. After one of our ministers greeted me as I arrived, we had a brief conversation that, rightly or wrongly, kind of took over my mind during the service itself!

You see, we had talked about how amazing our brains are in that we can be fully engaged in one activity, yet be able to take in something else entirely that is happening at the same time. In the process, I had commented how, on occasions, I have found myself speaking from the heart on an important topic in a church or to a group somewhere else, only to find another section of my brain is busily involved in thinking of practical details that have nothing to do with what I’m sharing. I can be in the midst of trying to connect on a deep level with those present, but somehow my brain can be busy on another parallel track as well. For example, in mid-sentence, I can find myself noting how someone is smiling or looking upset—or, worse still, bored! Or I might realise I am taking too long with my input and begin deciding what I will need to leave out. Or part of my brain might even be sending me little messages such as ‘This isn’t making sense! It’s rubbish! You’re making a fool of yourself!’ And if I then notice someone get up and walk out, for whatever reason, these doubts are very quickly confirmed in my mind!

But the profound question my minister friend then asked and that I carried with me into our service was this: What if we used all our mind in whatever we were attempting to do, particularly speaking? What would the results be then? Hmmmm!

Well, much as I hate to admit it at this point, my immediate response was, ‘Oh, we might change the world!’ It was not so much what I said but the facetious way I said it and what I was thinking as I did that makes me shudder now. I say that because, the more I have reflected on my response, the more I have realised that, if our minds were totally filled with God’s message for those present and totally filled with the Spirit of God as we spoke, then yes, it’s entirely possible we could change the world by the power of God at work in us.

In that same church service, we were reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18-20:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Wouldn’t it be better if, next time I speak, I focus on the One Who is with me forever, the One Who has all authority and can very well deal with any of those extraneous thoughts of mine? Wouldn’t it be better if I were to shut out those destructive messages from the enemy that invade my brain and listen to God’s loving, empowering voice instead?

Yes, in God’s power and by God’s presence within us, I believe we really can change the world!

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