Sound Patterns

Dear God,

What a passage to read on this day when I come before you burdened with my nephew’s situation, not knowing what would be best to pray for him.

In verse 13 of Chapter 1 Paul says to Timothy that he should keep the gospel that he heard from him as the pattern of sound teaching with faith and love in Christ Jesus and to guard the good deposit that was entrusted to him with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Father, these are good things to pray for any believer.  May you keep Hamish soundly patterned after the gospel he first heard and believed with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Please, by your Holy Spirit guard the faith, the salvation that was given to him.  May he stand firm and faithful in your ways.  Father, where others are ashamed to call you their Lord when they are opposed – I thank you that Hamish has been faithful and ask that you will continue to hold him steadily in the face of  Joel’s hostility toward you.  May Joel come to know you also.

Lord, I ask that I will never be ashamed of my faith in you.  May I always be willing to say that I am yours.

Father, please help my family as we start to ask ourselves and each other over the weeks and months ahead where we stand with you because of the boldness that Hamish has shown and Joel’s response to his faith.

May each one turn to you and be saved,

In Jesus name I ask these things

Amen.

Haunting Music

Dear God,

Thank you for a couple of days free from strange and unexpected occurrences.

I expected nothing less that to hear Gina theatricise (is that a word?) about her efforts with the computer today after yesterday’s lesson …

“…and the fingers on my right hand throbbed every time one of them hit the keyboard.  I wanted to spend the day writing things like ‘kill, kill, kill’ & ‘my polo pony’ because they only need you to use your right hand for a while …” grand sweeping gestures of the right hand working the keyboard … “but then – oh my right arm! The muscles just ached! Holding that bow just so …” again she demonstrates, “and manoeuvring it to play … Oh my ..” she stops short and looks at me, “… garden gnomes!”

And that finished me.  I laughed.

“Fine friend and teacher you are. Oh, yes – here’s the picture of sympathy!”

I keep laughing.

” You’ll live.”

But that only takes me back to yesterday ….

For the most part work was unremarkable – but then there’s always Scott.

When they were handing out patience I think Scott thought they were playing cards and decided to pass.  Seriously.  After Bible study (okay, so that was actually remarkable … but it doesn’t fit in the work box properly and I was too nervous to concentrate well) in Graham’s office Scott’s all,

“So what have you got planned for Gina for tonight?”

“A Cello lesson and dinner.”

“Yes, but, come on, an ideal situation for witnessing…”

“Scott, everyday is witnessing.  We witness by being godly and speaking when it is opportune.  But if I’m reading James correctly, if I’m not living righteously then I’m wasting my breath.”

“What’s so wrong about hitting her with the gospel while you’ve got her at your home.”

“She’s coming for a Cello lesson.  She’s invited to dinner, not an evangelistic programme.  She’s not coming for an altar call, Scott.  It’s dishonest to trick someone into a situation they don’t want – do you think it will make her open to listen?  Do you think it reflects how God wants us to come to him?  I’m not going that road.  I’m going to pray for opportunities and openings and boldness – but deception is not an option.  I’m not railroading her, Scott.  She has already said that she doesn’t want to discuss it any further than we have.”

Scott nodded and walked away looking slightly perplexed.

But it’s true.  I mean, I know that James 2 is talking about showing generosity and acting on faith in sacrifice – but its also about demonstrating by what you do that you trust God to be God and be prepared to act accordingly.

So – I will prepare myself to act, to invite, to talk, to comfort, to do whatever is needed to make her way back and be ready to make the most of opportunities, and I will continue to pray.  But I will go about doing as I have promised Gina that I would, and with God’s help I will act in a way that is godly in all I do as his witness that he is trustworthy even though she does not believe that at the moment.  To show that he is real even in the way he opens the way for the sharing of the gospel.

Gina’s lesson went well.  Her aunt’s cello is a beautiful instrument.  I can’t wait until she can play it well.  And she will – if she keeps it up, of course.  Very basic stuff today, but Gina picked up some quickly.  Apparently her Aunt was going to teach her when she was younger, but something interrupted before they got into it.  Still, she was complaining of sore fingers and having trouble holding arm in position to use the bow properly by the end.  She has a nice feel for the instrument and a good ear.  I hope she keeps it up, even if she decides to go to a different teacher after a while.

Dinner was great – as usual.  I hate cooking for just me – so I tend to pull out all stops for a visitor and enjoy myself.  There so much that’s more practical to cook for two or three than for one – even using leftovers.

Gina asked me over dinner what I’d been reading lately.  It was actually a novel that I had found among her books called  Bamboo and Lace.  Reading it now it surprised me that she’d been into that genre of book – I’d have picked her as more of a mystery lover than this book.  But then I’ve only ever met the dark, bruised Gina – not the idealist.  When I told her about the book she smiled at some memory, then let it go following it out through the window with her eyes with a distant expression on her face.

“I used to love that book.  Back when I was thinking of mission and so dedicated to Christ.  I always found the way that she was ready to give up so much of what she wanted – of what the world tells you is important – to do what she was convinced was the only righteous way to respond to her situation so inspiring.  I always hoped that I’d be able to do that if pushed.” She re-entered the room, her voice hardening, “Now look at me,” she added with a brief attempt to laugh at herself.

“Do you ever wish things were different?” I asked

She shrugs here.

“Sometimes.  I haven’t for ages.” she paused. “You can make it look real again sometimes.”

Silence.  I let her look at her own ghosts.  I’m not unsettled.  Now is a time she needs to listen to the Spirit moving moving in her – not to me.

“What?  No words of wisdom?”

“You already know anything I could say,” I grin at her. “You just want an argument so that you can talk yourself out of your thoughts.”

“You’re good.”  She smiles back at me.

“No.  God is good.  But you know that, too.  Coffee?”

Lord, please keep Gina second guessing herself.  Help her to keep questioning you again.  Father, occupy her thoughts – day and night – with your word, your truth, your gospel, your mercy, your hope.  Please bring her back to your fold.

Help me to be wise in how I act and speak, that my deeds will speak of my faith so that you may use me as your mouthpiece be it directly or indirectly.  May I bring honour to my Lord and my God in whom I pray,

Amen

The Family Farm

Dear God,

Thank you for weekends.  I love Saturdays.  I love music lessons with Hamish and Emily, and I can’t wait until Jazzy’s allowed to start with the cello next year.  I couldn’t believe Joel and Karen agreed to let Hamish learn drums!  They’re so proper.  It’s such a privilege to be an aunt … and a sister.  Although it is funny to see Joel with Karen – he was always such a slob until he met her.  Thanks for the special time I get to spend with Joel’s son and Paul’s daughter.  I can’t wait until next week when Emily and Jazz sleep over.  Help me to plan something special for them to show them more about you.  Thanks that Paul is happy for me to teach them how wonderful you are.

Lord in Psalm 1 you say that the one who doesn’t walk in the way of the wicked but delights in the law of the law of the Lord is blessed.  I know from Philippians that it is Jesus who fulfilled the law to whom we now turn and imitate.  David speaks about the one who delights in the law meditating on it day and night.  The result:  like a tree with a constant source of water, flourishing and producing fruit in season.  A promise that the Lord watches over the way of the righteous.

Father, fill my heart and my mind and my will with the thanksgiving and a desire to walk in the way of Christ my Lord.  With the things that you are teaching me day by day.  Help me to reach out to others with your word.
I ask you to bring Joel and Karen to a point where they are more open to your gospel, or are at least willing to let me speak with Hamish about you.  And his brother, Callum – he asks such funny questions.
“Aunty Alciana, why does God only live at your house? You don’t even have a bedroom for Him.”
Please show me the way forward with this and wisdom in how to handle an awkward situation.  Thanks for Paul’s openness and his willingness to talk.  Please comfort him as the scars from Lisa’s death are still so raw.  Help me to be there for him and the girls and to know when to speak and when to wait.  Thank you for Mum’s interest in coming to church with me.  Lord, please may she follow that through.  And Father, please help Dad to stop ignoring or just arguing against your truth and come to saving faith.
Sometimes I think I live on a farm with my family’s responses to you.  Dad’s the pig – because he just keeps on grunting, Joel is the Mule – too stubborn to budge; Mum’s the mother duck, still herding her chicks and making sure they’re safe; and Paul is the ever-faithful working dog, brutally injured and hurting so much he can barely stand it but determined not to let the family side down and so lets me share the wonder that is you.
Please forgive me if that’s disrespectful – I promise I didn’t mean any of it disrespectfully.  Only you know their hearts.  Please open and change them.

Amen.

Can I Be A Star?

Dear God,

Please help me today not to be cranky.  I didn’t sleep very well.  I just kept tossing and turning and feeling really stupid.  I realised after writing it down that I called your gospel “nothing” when Gina asked me what I’d wanted to talk to her about.  Sure, she doesn’t know that – but that’s awful.  Then when I did go to sleep, I kept dreaming that a great herd of angels came down and shook my bed violently all night and I kept waking up feeling seasick and wanting to vomit.  And then something funny happened.  I remembered that you promise to finish what you start and they stopped.  And then I woke up.  Weird, hey.  Did I mention that my hair was purple -and I was wearing a gorilla suit?  Needless to say I’m tired.  Lord, help me keep my temper today and to be patient and to concentrate and still look for opportunities to share your gospel with people – and to be clear if they come up.  Please help me to concentrate this morning for my Bible reading time too.

Wow, God, when I think of Philippians 2, I’m used to just thinking about the bit we sing in that song at Church – but there’s so much more to it.  There’s so much more to that slab of scripture too.

Nothing out of selfish ambition – sounds easy, but I don’t know… When I think about the times I race for the car spot, or push myself forward for the best blocks of time in the conference rooms at work – is that selfish ambition?  Help me to remember to consider others first as better than me – Kylie who has to pick her kids up from school probably needs some of the times I hog. And sure I work short days too, but really it doesn’t matter if I’m five minutes late out the door or have to change my hours back by half and hour to accommodate her picking her kids up.

It says here that my attitude should be the same as Jesus.  Humble, obedient, and he came to serve people – a people who needed salvation.  God, I confess that that kind of scares me.  It’s big.  But help me change my attitude to be like this.  Make me humble and obedient to you, and please help me to be servant hearted because I know that I’m not.  It says that I should live out my salvation in fear and trembling because you work in me to will and to act according to your good purpose.  Lord that’s pretty huge.  I don’t think I’m anywhere near good enough for you to do that with me.  It blows me away that you can and do even though I’m so far short of what Jesus is.

Lord if you are the one working through me for your purpose that’s an honour.  Please change my attitude to thanksgiving.  Help me not to complain and argue at you or others about the things you have for me to do.

Can I really shine like a star in the universe?

Lord, again help me hold out the word of life today.  Please show me with someone with ears to hear who is ready to listen.

Amen