Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Choice



Jeremiah 17:7-8 The Message (MSG) 7-8
But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They're like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers— Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.

By Belinda

We are back from a three day conference at Geneva Park, just north of Orillia. The time away involved early mornings and late nights and hours in between soaking in information that strengthened our leadership on all sorts of levels. I have so much to process and unpack in my working, spiritual, and personal life. But that's not what I meant to write about--that was just to bring you up to date on where I've been!

I led the devotions on Thursday morning and had been praying about what to share for some time. I recruited my colleague Marirose, with her guitar and beautiful voice, to join me at the end in leading a song and what I shared came out of something I wrote about here a couple of weeks ago, starting with the phone call from my friend Frances, a.k.a. "Poppy." Susan asked me for a copy of my notes, so I thought I would  share them here:

The Choice


Thomas E. Reynolds, a professor at the Emmanuel College, and author of the book: Vulnerable Communion:a theology of disability and hospitality, spoke to us about the spirituality of attentiveness: focused on God and attentive to those we serve.

He asked the question, "Where do we get the resources we use?"

We who are leaders have a natural bias towards action; we are initiators. Our great temptation and natural bent is to rely on our own skills, knowledge and personal energy in our work and ministry.

The strategy of the enemy is disconnection from God through any means, especially the trap of busyness.

In the Bible we see that often God chose to use those who were not endowed with great natural gifts. In spiritual leadership there is a counter intuitiveness in which the  pattern is a laying down of strengths; choosing to rely on God through time in prayer and the suspension of a personal agenda. In our work we often come to places in which the job is too big for us, the task or situation overwhelming. It is at those times that we are reminded that giving up our reliance on self and that choosing to trust God is the only real option. We should be grateful for circumstances that drive us to him because then we connect with possibilities beyond anything we could expect from our own strength.

It was a few weeks ago that I checked my voice mail at the office just before meeting with a colleague. There was a personal message from my friend, Poppy:
Hello Dear,I don’t normally leave messages, but I will today, because I want to request of you as my spiritual mother, sister and friend (especially mother;) that the next time you hear me complain of or confess to being prayer-less; that I want you to become as stern as you can; raise yourself up and reprimand me. Tell me that I know better!

I’m so aware now of how being prayer-less is such an awful feeling; forgivable—yes; especially in light of the busyness of life in general, and my life in particular recently; however I realize the importance of praying before all else, as the Lord says and did, and not because we’ve got nothing better to do (Matthew 6:9).
Please, please, remember this for my sake, okay dear? 
Thank you, bye bye.

I listened to the message, thoughtful. She was asking me to hold her true? How unworthy I was of that request.


My colleague arrived for our meeting, and confided that he had been struggling to find time to pray, Then he asked, "How about you?"

"Not good," I confessed and I told him about my first friend's phone message 


He pulled a Bible from his pocket and began ruffling through its pages, looking for Romans 12. When he found it he read the first two verses. "That's what it's about," he said:

Romans 12:1-2

New International Version (NIV)
 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I said to him, "In order to do it I would need to get up at 5.00, how about you?"


"Six," my team member said.


We talked about the arrogance of thinking we could live without the fuel Jesus depended on for each day and every moment.


When I got home I set my alarm for 5.00.

Oswald Chambers ran a Bible College before he died in 1917, during the First World War. His wife, to whom he gave the nickname "Biddy," wrote down his lectures and published them after his death, some in the devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest. The reading for October 19, was from a talk given to the students at the college but the wisdom is relevant to our work today:

The Unheeded Secret—Oswald Chambers

Oct 19 2011
Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world —John 18:36
The great enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ today is the idea of practical work that has no basis in the New Testament but comes from the systems of the world. This work insists upon endless energy and activities, but no private life with God. The emphasis is put on the wrong thing. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation . . . . For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). It is a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life.
We must get rid of the plague of the spirit of this religious age in which we live. In our Lord’s life there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like His Master. The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others.
It is not the practical activities that are the strength of this Bible Training College— its entire strength lies in the fact that here you are immersed in the truths of God to soak in them before Him. You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress and strain is going to be placed on you either at home or abroad. And if you waste your time in overactivity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God’s redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come. But if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.


Finally, I share this reading from  The Valley of Vision:
The Infinite and the Finite

Thou Great I AM,
Fill my mind with elevation and grandeur at the thought of a Being
With whom one day is as a thousand years,
And a thousand years as one day,
A mighty God, who, amidst the lapse of worlds,
And the revolutions of empires,
Feels no variableness,
But is glorious in immortality.
May I rejoice that, while men die, the Lord lives;
That, while all creatures are broken reeds,
Empty cisterns,
Fading flowers,
Withering grass,
He is the Rock of Ages, the Fountain
Of living waters.
Turn my heart from vanity,
From dissatisfactions,
From uncertainties of the present state,
to an eternal interest in Christ.
Let me remember that life is short and unforeseen,
and is only an opportunity for usefuless;
Give me a holy avarice to redeem the time,
to awake at every call to charity and piety,
so that I may feed the hungry,
clothe the naked,
instruct the ignorant,
reclaim the vicious,
forgive the offender,
diffuse the gospel,
show neighbourly love to all,
Let me live a life of self-distrust,
Dependence on thyself,
mortification,
crucifixion,
prayer.

The song Marirose chose to sing was Center, by Charlie Hall:

You’re the center of the universe
Everything was made in You Jesus
Breath of every living thing
Everyone was made for You

:Pre-Chorus:
You hold everything together
You hold everything together

:chorus:
Christ be the center of our lives
Be the place we fix our eyes
Be the center of our lives

We lift our eyes to heaven
We wrap our lives around your life
We lift our eyes to heaven, to You

Charlie Hall


2 comments:

Susan said...

I should read this every day for the rest of my life...

Belinda said...

Me too! :)