Wednesday, 23 June 2010

"He Will Find You" By John Powell

John Powell, A Professor at Loyola University in Chicago writes about a student in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy...


Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith. That was the first day I first saw Tommy. My eyes and my mind both blinked. He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders. It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long. I guess it was just coming into fashion then.

I know in my mind that it isn't what's on your head, but what's in it that counts; but on that day I was unprepared and my emotions flipped. I immediately filed Tommy under "S" for strange . . . very strange.

Tommy turned out to be the "atheist in residence" in my Theology of Faith course. He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father-God. We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit, he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.

When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a slightly cynical tone: "Do you think I'll ever find God?"

I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. "No!" I said very emphatically.

"Oh," he responded, "I thought that was the product you were pushing."

I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then called out, "Tommy! I don't think you'll ever find him, but I am absolutely certain that he will find you!" He shrugged a little and left my class and my life.

I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line: "He will find you!" At least I thought it was clever. Later I heard that Tommy had graduated and I was duly grateful.

Then a sad report, I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer. Before I could search him out, he came to see me. When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted, and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe.


"Tommy, I've thought about you so often. I hear you are sick!" I blurted out.

"Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It's a matter of weeks."

"Can you talk about it, Tom?"

"Sure, what would you like to know?"

"What's it like to be only twenty-four and dying?"

"Well, it could be worse."

"Like what?"

"Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals, like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real 'biggies' in life."

I began to look through my mental file cabinet under "S" where I had filed Tommy as strange. (It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification God sends back into my life to educate me.)

But what I really came to see you about," Tom said, "is something you said to me on the last day of class."

(He remembered!)

He continued, "I asked you if you thought I would ever find God and you said, 'No!' which surprised me. Then you said,

'But he will find you.' I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time.

(My "clever" line. He thought about that a lot!)

But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, then I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven. But God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened.

Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success? You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying. And then you quit. Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit. I decided that I didn't really care ...about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable. I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: 'The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them.' "So I began with the hardest one: my Dad. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him."

"Dad". . . "Yes, what?" he asked without lowering the newspaper. "Dad, I would like to talk with you." "Well, talk."

"I mean. .. . It's really important." The newspaper came down three slow inches. "What is it?" "Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that."

Tom smiled at me and said with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him.

The newspaper fluttered to the floor. "Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before. He cried and he hugged me. And we talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning. It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me. It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years. I was only sorry about one thing, that I had waited so long. Here I was just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.

Then, one day I turned around and God was there.

He didn't come to me when I pleaded with him. I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, 'C'mon, jump through.' 'C'mon, I'll give you three days .. . three weeks.' Apparently God does things in his own way and at his own hour. But the important thing is that he was there. He found me. You were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for him."

"Tommy," I practically gasped, "I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize. To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love. You know, the Apostle John said that. He said God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.

'Tom, could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain. But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now. Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me? If I told them the same thing it wouldn't be half as effective as if you were to tell them."

"Oooh . . . I was ready for you, but I don't know if I'm ready for your class."

"Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call."

In a few days Tommy called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me. So we scheduled a date. However, he never made it. He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined.

Before he died, we talked one last time. "I'm not going to make it to your class," he said.

"I know, Tom."

"Will you tell them for me? Will you. . . tell the whole world for me?"

"I will, Tom. I'll tell them. I'll do my best."



So, to all of you who have been kind enough to read this simple statement about love, thank you for reading. And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven: "I told them, Tommy . ... as best I could."

A true story and is not enhanced for publicity purposes.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Marshmallow Test


There is a personality test, invented by a psychologist named Walter Mischel, called the Marshmallow Test, which was first performed at Stanford University in the '60s. Here's how it works: a series of 4 year olds are given a plate on which sits a marshmallow. They are told that they are allowed to eat the marshmallow, but if they wait 15 minutes, they can have 2.
Tracking these children into adulthood over decades has proved that the ones who can hold out for 15 minutes, and thus get multiple marshmallows rewards, have, in life generally, better educational results, better health, better relationships and better jobs. It seems that self control is the key to success.

What's your thoughts?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The story of 15

Today my husband and I have been married 15 years! (I thought my anniversary was yesterday...but that's a whole other story!) It's been an amazing journey! 15 memories that stick out in my mind...
  1. The night I 'knew' I would marry my best friend after being 'just friends' with him for 5 years.
  2. David having flowers delivered (along with a Cadburys caramel egg) during my final teaching practice.
  3. Our day trips around the countryside and spontaneous overnight stays at B&Bs.
  4. Our wedding day - I cried and laughed at the same time while saying my vows.
  5. The night David played his guitar and sang a song he had written for me.
  6. Telling him we were going to have a baby.
  7. Our first kiss at Belfast Castle.
  8. The day Emily was born - we sat, speechless, staring at her for ages, before contacting family and friends to break the good news.
  9. Our church plant - this really stretched us and caused us to dig deep into God.
  10. Suffering depression, illness, eating disorder and yet have someone who loved me unconditionally.
  11. Watching David lead worship.
  12. Seeing his face light up when I preach.
  13. Late nights, in the conservatory, listening to the rain pelting down, talking about life, future, family, God.
  14. Sitting in M&S carpark, after a season of hurt and disappointment, wondering if we were going to make it - then experiencing a spark of hope and a reassurance that we weren't alone in our marriage.
  15. This morning, kissing his cheek, while he slept.
When I first got married, I couldn't imagine loving my husband more than I did right then. But when you do life with someone, you either go through hard times clinging to each other or you go at it separately. I am so thankful to have a husband who I can cling to. I love him more than I did the day we got married. I know that the years ahead of us hold some difficult times and some amazing times. There is no one I would rather go through life with than David McClenaghan.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Hidden

A few of my gorgeous friends have been sharing Ps 91 - here it is in the Amplified version...I've been meditating on it this morning

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!
For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
[Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.
Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,
There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.
For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].
They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.
Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

My friend Heather said if she had a body part big enough, she would have this tattooed to it!!! Love that! I'd have to agree!!!

Well this has made me think how amazing it is to be hidden in Christ - safe, secure, steadfast.

Ex 33:21, “Behold there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover thee with my hand”. Christ is the rock – God puts us into Jesus and covers us with his hand so that the emotional pain that we’re facing - the inside pain that we have that causes us to sin, without even understanding that we have sinned – doesn’t cause us to be burned up by his presence. He covers us.
It's strange that even when God offers Himself as our refuge, we try to find our own hiding places. God says "there is a place in ME", He is our shield and fortress – the only Rock we’ll need.
Ps 27:5 “In the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling”. There’s a place in God for us but we tend to include our bricks in his building. We tend to build our own walls because we’re insecure. “He will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me upon a rock”.
 
Let the Holy Spirit take you to a safe place – God wants you on the rock and to surround you with himself. Let’s go to that safe place with God, let down our defenses, allowing God to protect our heart and emotions.

You Are What You Speak (Part 2)

We are building, by our words, who we will be. What we speak is what we'll become. The word and the thing are the same. Jesus said by our words will we be justified or condemned. It matters what we say. He made this point earlier in Matt5:37 when he said - "simply let your yes be yes and your no, no; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." There's a responsibility to do what you've spoken out. I can't begin to number the amount of times people have made promises to me and broken them...not just silly stuff like I'll meet you at 4pm, and then not turning up...but life/church/relationship commitments.

'Listen' to this verse...Ps55:20 - "my companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords." Outwardly it's buttery sweet but there's a jab behind the words. Kiss and then kill. Smile and then stab. I’ve discovered that if some people are buttering you up, it’s because they’re getting ready to take a bite out of you!
There are spiritual forces at work on the words that we speak, every time we speak.
In Num 12 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because he had married an Ethiopian woman, and God had said not to. Miriam & Aaron knew the word of the Lord - "hath the Lord indeed spoken only to Moses, hath he not spoken also by us?"

"We have our opinions about how this church should be run Moses!" Valid opinions, but what did God do? "Wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the Lord kindled against then; and He departed." Sobering.
 I have watched people speak against leaders over and over. It starts with a light, negative conversation and yet the damage done can be extensive. If you're looking for faults in your leaders, you're going to find them - we're full of faults.
 
Here's what happens when you speak against, when envy and jealousy is at work;


• Miriam had leprosy - left outside the camp

• The Lord departed

• The glory of God left

• The congregation was brought to a stand still

Find out what your words will do - how they affect your children. If we want a house that will continue, we've got to train our children about the power of words and speak healthy, uplifting words to them. Let the words of our mouths create our destiny - learn the language of faith.
We have the opportunity of creatively naming not only our children, but situations and experiences that confront us each day. There are 365 days in a year – every one of them charged with great potential. Why not name each day creatively and expect God to prosper that day according to your creative speech. Do this tomorrow morning – ‘This is a new day, filled with possibility and opportunity. I name this day STRENGTH etc’.
Speak the language of faith, the language of God. Your tongue is loaded with potential power and positive creativity!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

You Are What You Speak

Sometimes I require speech therapy...I forget the power in my words and am careless about what I release...I forget my mouth is a loaded weapon.

In the beginning God created. There are 2 meanings to the word - 1. created out of nothing (Asaw) & 2. created out of some pre-existing material (Baraw) (like a pot from clay). God operated in number 1. He created out of nothingness. In the beginning, there was an emptiness, a void, the world was without form - there was nothing for God to work with and he created - what were his building materials? His words. Heb 11:3 - by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.

The word for ‘word’ in the Hebrew & Greek (dabar - OT & rhema - NT) is the same word for ‘thing’.


If we read the word - word, in Hebrew or in Greek, within the text it can be equally and accurately translated as word or thing. This is really important. The word - word and thing are exactly the same in the Hebrew and Greek. The only way you can know which interpretation is used within a verse, is by looking at the context of the verse in which the word is written. Sometimes we have to ask if there's a play on the words in a text - a connection between word & thing. If God created the worlds with his words - there's creative power in his words! It was by God's spoken word that all things were created - oceans, heavens, animals, man - they are a direct results of God's spoken words. When God spoke out - let there be light, how quickly do you think that happened? Instantly! He spoke the word light and the thing light came into being. Roms 4:17 - and he calleth those things that are not as though they were. As quick as he said the word, the thing was there. With God, words are things - there is no distinction between them - just like in the Heb &Gk. If God says lollypop - lollypop is. (He could not say “lollypop” without it coming into existence) It exists because the word and thing cannot be separated.

This is so important for us to understand because when God said - let us go down and make man in our image, he gave man the creative power of words! God wanted man working on the same plane as himself. He told Adam to name the animals - Adam creatively named them according to their character. The character of the animal is portrayed in the name. That same power of speech - that ability to create things by the power of a spoken word was given to us!! God chose to share this ability not with birds, dogs, but with man alone!
Is 55:11(Amp) - my word will never come back empty - it will always create, always produce, always prosper whoever I've sent it to.


Think of the words spoken to you by God - healed, prosperous etc - those words came from God and have not gone back to him empty, they are prospering whoever they were sent to!
 
Wow, good news but there's even better! Roms 10:8 - word of God is in our mouth! God's power to create worlds by words is in us! We use our words everyday and we don't really see the power in them or behind them enforcing them. Words have power!! The word that has the power to bring the thing into existence is in our mouth!
 
Chew on that thought...more to follow...

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Father Time


This is one of my favourite pieces of writing...I come back to it regularly...
Imagine there is a bank which credits your account each morning with $86,400, carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day. What would you do?

Draw out every cent, of course!

Everyone has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the records of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the “tomorrow.” You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!

The clock is running. Make the most of today . . .

To realize the value of ONE YEAR:
Ask a student who has failed his final exam.

To realize the value of ONE MONTH:
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of ONE WEEK:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of ONE DAY:
Ask a daily wage laborer who has ten kids to feed.

To realize the value of ONE HOUR:
Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of ONE MINUTE:
Ask a person who has missed the plane.

To realize the value of ONE SECOND:
Ask a person who has just missed an accident.

To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND:
Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.

In reading about the lives of great people, I found that self-discipline came first with all of them. What is self-discipline? The dictionary defines it as bringing oneself under control. The word selfcontrol comes from the Greek root word meaning, “to grip” or “take hold of.” This word describes people who are willing to take hold of their lives and take control of areas that will bring them success or failure. To achieve and accomplish your dreams you must take responsibility for your own self-discipline and personal growth.

Use your time wisely...take hold of every moment and seize the day.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Mama Mia

Hello lovely people - this post is dedicated to the most amazing woman I know...my mum! It's her birthday tomorrow so obviously my thoughts are focused on her at the moment. I know you've heard me say many times I'm a daddy's girl...well that doesn't take away from the admiration and pride I feel for my mum. She is selfless, kind, caring, wise, forgiving, generous, loving...she gives a lot to various charities (not just financially but a piece of her heart as well) although her and dad don't have much. She is totally devoted to my dad. She is a great friend and sister - always offers a shoulder to cry on. She is a brilliant support with my daughter and does an awful lot of practical stuff to help me out.
I love her so much - happy birthday mum!!!