Category Archives: Thought Life

I am only a … when it is only ‘I’ that is involved

It is only a hammer, but for me it is very significant because it reminds me of a time when I was entrusted with a huge responsibility.

I am only … when it is only ‘I’ that is involved

 

My Father had become very unwell and was unable to run our farm for a few months. It was a busy time of the year and I was entrusted with managing the farm. I was only 18 years old.

There were fences to be built and repaired and I needed a new hammer so I went and bought a top quality Estwing hammer.

Now whenever I pick up that hammer I think of my Dad and how he believed in me. I suppose in some ways it was a coming of age type of thing. An entry into manhood from being a child. He believed in me and had faith in me that I would manage his farm well while he recovered.

Have you ever been thrown a challenge that takes you

out of your comfort zone?

A vision we give to others of who and what they could become has power when it echoes what the spirit has already spoken into their souls. Larry Crabb

Someone believes in you, sees your potential, throws you a quest that takes your breathe away. You are given a ring to carry to Mordor but you are only a little Hobbit.

Recently I have been working at a school as part of my Gumboot Gardening business (checkout some photos on my facebook page).

The first job was to build a compost bin and so I enlisted some of the children. As I gave them my special hammer I could see some of them wonder if they could hit that nail. As they did the others cheered them on and belief and confidence grew within themselves.

What would it be like to have a belief in someone, express that confidence and then see them doubt and dispute it. You extend a hand, express an invitation, yet fear washes over their face and they withdraw into their shell of self protective push backs.

You wonder what it will take to see them come out of their cave of complacency. More encouragement? Perhaps another invitation? Perhaps a commitment to walk alongside them as they face the fear.

The prophet Jeremiah was such a person. He records his invitation from God here.

“Before I shaped you in the womb,

I knew all about you.

Before you saw the light of day,

I had holy plans for you:

A prophet to the nations—

that’s what I had in mind for you.”

But I said, “Hold it, Master God! Look at me.

I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!”

God told me, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a boy.’

I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there.

I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it.

Don’t be afraid of a soul.

I’ll be right there, looking after you.”

God’s Decree. Jeremiah 1:4-8 (The Message)

 

I may be reading too much into the text but I sense Gods disappointment, hurt, and possibly mild anger at Jeremiahs response. Do you sense this too?

God knows Jeremiah inside out, back to front, freckles and pimples. He knows Jeremiah intimately like no one else. God knows the fears and misgivings Jeremiah will and does have about the plan. So he confirms his commitment to Jeremiah with a connection to his heart.

He promises that Jeremiah will not go it alone.

  • I’ll tell you where to go
  • I’ll tell you what to say
  • I’ll be right there, looking after you

Jeremiah, like all of us, had the

‘I’m only a …’

thinking pattern.

For him it was ‘I’m only a boy’ but for many of us we also have a self talk that I believe disappoints the heart of God

  • ‘I’m only a girl’
  • ‘I’m only a housewife’
  • ‘I’m only a rubbish collector’
  • ‘I’m only a teacher’
  • ‘I’m only a kitchen hand’
  • ‘I’m only a …. (fill in your own little verse)’

I am tired of hearing discounting sentences come out of the mouths of God’s beautiful creation. 

I will always be held back in my turtle shell of ‘I am only a …’ while I believe that it is only  ‘I’  that is involved.

When I have chosen to believe that its all up to me then truly I am only a …

The promise from this passage is that God is with you. God loves you too much to leave you the way you are, stuck inside you turtle shell of ‘I’m only’

Do you discount God and what God could do in you?

God saw some thing very special in young Jeremiah and he sees something as equally awesome in you.

Some final words from Eugene Peterson

There is an enormous gap between what we think we can do and what God calls us to do. Our ideas of what we can do or want to do are trivial; God’s ideas for us are grand. God’s call to Jeremiah to be a prophet parallels his call to us to be a person. The excuses we make are plausible; often they are statements of fact, but they are excuses all the same and are disallowed by our Lord who says: ‘Do not say, I am only a youth’ Eugene Peterson Run with the Horses

Question to Consider and leave a comment.

  • Why do we discount ourselves?
  • Do you think it disappoints God with our ‘I’m only a …’ responses?

Barry Pearman

Three ‘P’s’ to Help You When a Mental Health Storm Hits

When the winter storms of life hit, are you prepared or prone. Your mental health can take a pounding if you not prepared for the inevitability of crisis.

 

Three ‘P’s’ to Help You When a Mental Health Storm Hits

 A few months ago I was driving over Aucklands harbour bridge when just to the left of me was the mast of a yacht cuddling up to the barrier rail.Now that’s different!Being a island nation, New Zealand quite often has storms hit our shorelines. Winds get high, rain buckets down and life can take an unexpected change of course.

Where I live, my family and I have to be even more prepared than most for the weather bombs. We live in a semi rural area and have to provide for our own water supply.So high winds mean branches fall down on the power wires, which shorts out the electricity flow. With no power we no longer are to drive our water pump that provides water for showering, cooking and … flushing the toilet!When a crisis hits, and it will, you need a plan.

What about your mental health? Surely that needs a plan too.

It is estimated that at anyone time 1:4 people will be experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year. Check out this interesting article here.Just think about that for a moment.You are in a meeting, a mall, a cinema, a church. Look around you, 1:4 people you see will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of the year.

It also means that the likelihood of you experiencing mental unwellness sometime in your lifetime is pretty much a given.

What about those of us that have an existing mental health condition. Depression, Anxiety, Bi-Polar, etc.

Well you need a plan of what to do when the inevitable winter storm rolls in. The storm may well be a sudden death in the family, a redundancy, the credit cards get stolen, car keys get lost, and all of this in one day

Three ‘P’s’ to Help You When a Mental Health Storm Hits.

1. People. ‘Who ya going to call? Ghostbusters!’ Oh dear my brain takes me to some funny places at times. However, you do need a group of people around you that you can go to for support. You probably don’t want the Ghostbuster team, but it will be a list of friends and also the professional types. Friends who can help you, reassure you, keep you focused on what the next step is. Calling the support worker, nurse, doctor will be high on the plan too.

2. Package of insights. I have a little book full of quotes, insights, and just general stuff that I need to tell the self. You might like to have them on cards you can carry about in your wallet or purse. It maybe things like this.

  • Don’t leap out of the train, just because its going through a tunnel
  • Don’t judge the future by the past – the future will be different when new insights and understandings restore hope.
  • This despair will not be permanent. One day I will look back on it.
  • This too will pass.
  • We take steps one at a time, millimetre by millimetre

3. Patience. The crisis may have suddenly happened, and you may still be sitting on the roof while flood waters swirl below but just remember ‘This too will pass’. When the mental health storm hits, we need to take a deep relaxing breath and know that this too will pass. That we need to be patient, do what we can do, and take one millimetre step at a time. Inch by inch its a cinch, yard by yard its too hard.

I have often said that in ministry for people with mental illness its a case of millimetre ministry. A little step, well learned, makes a huge change quite feasible.

How prepared are you for the storms of life?

Questions to consider and leave a comment.

  • Knowing that 1:4 people will experiencing mental unwellness at anyone time raises challenges for all of us as to how we consider mental illness. What challenges does this raise in you? 
  • What insights help you when the mental health crisis hits? Share them here and they just might help others.

Barry Pearman

Image: Alex Gilbert Check out his interesting story on his website
p.s. you may want to consider sharing this post with others so they don’t end up too smashed up when the crisis hits. Use one of the sharing buttons below.

What I had in mind was you

Today, as you go about your daily business, you will encounter people.

Depending on where you live it could be in the thousands of a busy city or the few of a country town.

Regardless, this planet has billions and billions of people of which you are one.

Often I think about this and the fact that God knows every one of us on a deeply intimate level. We are not a commodity product, a resource to managed, a number on a spreadsheet.

You as an individual are of incredible value to God.

Jesus put it this way

“What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. Luke 12: 6, 7 (The Message)

Do you have an internal bully that wants to shut down any sense of personal value and significance?

Our mental health can be storm-swept by both internal and external storms. The internal bully of thoughts that want to intimidate you into insignificance. Maybe it is others, literal bullies, who try to define you according to their insecurities.

Into this the God, who loves canaries, steps in and has a conversation with the son of a priest.

“Before I shaped you in the womb,
    I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
    I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
    that’s what I had in mind for you.” Jeremiah 1:5

What God had in mind, even before Jeremiah was conceived, was Jeremiah, was purpose, was significance.

It is impossible to get our human thinking around this concept of God knowing us before conception. We are so limited in our understanding of time.

What God had in mind was you.

Have a look at this slide share from a recent message I gave on this passage.

What i had in mind from Barry Pearman

In one word what does God knowing you before your conception speak to you of? Leave a comment below.

 

Barry Pearman

Photo Credit: meophamman via Compfight cc
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journaling

Too much Traffic in your Mind? Try Journaling

Sometimes my thinking feels like its in a traffic jam. An impatient traffic jam.

 

Horns tooting, temperatures rising, gridlock. Just too many neurons firing off!

One of favorite artists, Bruce Cockburn, captures it well in his song Five Fifty-One

Knots in my muscles, too much traffic in my mind
traffic in my mind, traffic in my mind
knots in my muscles, too much traffic in my mind
it was five fifty-one, gray light creeping through the blind

Somehow, you’ve got to get those tooting horns under control and regain composure in your mind.

One of the most effective ways of doing this I have found is to write. To pick up a pen and let the words flow. Sometimes its just a pouring out of an alphabet soup in a cathartic deluge. Rage, sadness, joy, anger, fear all flow and free the mind.

Is that all journaling can be?

Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through your finger tips. Dawson Trotman

 

I look at the psalms of David, the songs of Moses, the prophecies of Jeremiah and others, the Revelation of John and wonder it they too were in some way journaling. God using the situation they were in to express his journaled heart to his people.

In my journaling journey I have at times used the ‘Pour it all out’ method but I have also used three other techniques to help me bring some peace to the ‘traffic in my mind’.

3 Journaling Methods

 

1. Exploring your beliefs

I found this process in a course I took from Wisdom for Life. It is C.B.T. based and helps you to trace out core beliefs.

  1. The emotion or reaction or event I am exploring is …
  2. The self talk producing it is … (make sure you write down as much as self talk as you can here)
  3. The belief supporting that must be …
  4. God’s view/ the reality is …
  5. The challenge I face is …

This type of journaling not only helps us find out what we believe, but challenges us to identify reality – what is rational and logical and can be supported by evidence. Then we are invited to dispute our belief with new and superior insights.

2. The P.A.P.A prayer.

This journaling option comes from Dr. Larry Crabbs book The Papa Prayer: The Prayer You’ve Never Prayed

In this method we are invited to write a prayer along these lines

  • Present yourself – Present authentically to God whatever you discover in yourself, whether good or bad. Don’t hold anything back.
  •  Attend to attend to how you are thinking of God –  Attend to who God really is (as revealed in the Bible) versus who you think God is (based on life experience) or who you want Him to be (based on your felt desires).
  • Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God – Purge whatever is blocking your intimacy with God by acknowledging without excuse or explanation the self-obsession staining your motives that the Spirit chooses to reveal.
  • Approach God as the “first thing” in your life – Approach God with confidence that what He loves to give you is what you want the most. Stand before God as a loved child. Rest in His love as a prelude to receiving His best.

Read more about this. Click here …

3. The Cup

I discovered this method from a counselor called Ruth Penny. Cancer took her life a few years back now but this gift lives on. In this journaling method you imagine your life as a cup, you may even like to hold a cup whilst doing the exercise.

You prayerfully explore two questions.

  1. What has filled your cup this last day/ week?
  2. What has drained your cup this last day/ week?

After doing this for a period of time, say a month, you might be able to see trends, themes, areas to explore further.

Read more about this. Click here …

Some quotes to consider …

To change your emotions, first get control of your thoughts. Ruts of the mind become moods of the heart. David Riddell Click to Tweet

Improvement of our lives begins with the renewing of our minds, which is begun in turn by challenging old beliefs and childhood conclusions. David Riddell

Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through your finger tips. Dawson Trotman Click to Tweet

Present yourself – Present authentically to God whatever you discover in yourself, whether good or bad. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t pretend that what’s going on inside you (e.g. hatred) really isn’t happening. Don’t trivialize what’s happening as unimportant, petty, not worth mentioning. Don’t spin whatever you discover that’s disagreeable into something more pleasant. Be who you are, where you are.
Attend to attend to how you are thinking of God –  Attend to who God really is (as revealed in the Bible) versus who you think God is (based on life experience) or who you want Him to be (based on your felt desires). Don’t assume your view of God is correct. Don’t project your experience with authority figures, especially your
father, onto God. Don’t sugar-coat the word God to satisfy your desire for a pleasant experience with Him. Don’t believe everything you hear, except from God Himself in the Bible. Stand before the God of the Bible. You’ll fall to your knees, but you’ll get up a new person.
Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God – Purge whatever is blocking your intimacy with God by acknowledging without excuse or explanation the self-obsession staining your motives that the Spirit chooses to reveal. Don’t simply try hard to be good; don’t merely promise to do better. Don’t criticize others’ faults without first seeing your own equally serious faults. Don’t redefine your self-obsession into understandable mistakes. Don’t assume that your strong passion for what you believe is right is necessarily holy. Stand naked before holiness. The more you see your sin, the more you’ll be amazed by grace.
Approach God as the “first thing” in your life – Approach God with confidence that what He loves to give you is what you want the most. Don’t retreat from God when He seems unresponsive. Don’t negotiate with God. You have no leverage other than His relentless, tender love and your longing to get what He’s giving. Don’t demand anything from God; expect the gift of relationship. Don’t let the desires that you feel dictate your expectations of what He’ll give you. Stand before God as a loved child. Rest in His love as a prelude to receiving His best. – See more at: http://turningthepage.info/subjecting-your-thoughts-to-the-presence-of-p-a-p-a/#sthash.Mq7g5RHM.dpuf
Present yourself – Present authentically to God whatever you discover in yourself, whether good or bad. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t pretend that what’s going on inside you (e.g. hatred) really isn’t happening. Don’t trivialize what’s happening as unimportant, petty, not worth mentioning. Don’t spin whatever you discover that’s disagreeable into something more pleasant. Be who you are, where you are.
Attend to attend to how you are thinking of God –  Attend to who God really is (as revealed in the Bible) versus who you think God is (based on life experience) or who you want Him to be (based on your felt desires). Don’t assume your view of God is correct. Don’t project your experience with authority figures, especially your
father, onto God. Don’t sugar-coat the word God to satisfy your desire for a pleasant experience with Him. Don’t believe everything you hear, except from God Himself in the Bible. Stand before the God of the Bible. You’ll fall to your knees, but you’ll get up a new person.
Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God – Purge whatever is blocking your intimacy with God by acknowledging without excuse or explanation the self-obsession staining your motives that the Spirit chooses to reveal. Don’t simply try hard to be good; don’t merely promise to do better. Don’t criticize others’ faults without first seeing your own equally serious faults. Don’t redefine your self-obsession into understandable mistakes. Don’t assume that your strong passion for what you believe is right is necessarily holy. Stand naked before holiness. The more you see your sin, the more you’ll be amazed by grace.
Approach God as the “first thing” in your life – Approach God with confidence that what He loves to give you is what you want the most. Don’t retreat from God when He seems unresponsive. Don’t negotiate with God. You have no leverage other than His relentless, tender love and your longing to get what He’s giving. Don’t demand anything from God; expect the gift of relationship. Don’t let the desires that you feel dictate your expectations of what He’ll give you. Stand before God as a loved child. Rest in His love as a prelude to receiving His best. – See more at: http://turningthepage.info/subjecting-your-thoughts-to-the-presence-of-p-a-p-a/#sthash.Mq7g5RHM.dpuf
Present yourself – Present authentically to God whatever you discover in yourself, whether good or bad. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t pretend that what’s going on inside you (e.g. hatred) really isn’t happening. Don’t trivialize what’s happening as unimportant, petty, not worth mentioning. Don’t spin whatever you discover that’s disagreeable into something more pleasant. Be who you are, where you are.
Attend to attend to how you are thinking of God –  Attend to who God really is (as revealed in the Bible) versus who you think God is (based on life experience) or who you want Him to be (based on your felt desires). Don’t assume your view of God is correct. Don’t project your experience with authority figures, especially your
father, onto God. Don’t sugar-coat the word God to satisfy your desire for a pleasant experience with Him. Don’t believe everything you hear, except from God Himself in the Bible. Stand before the God of the Bible. You’ll fall to your knees, but you’ll get up a new person.
Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God – Purge whatever is blocking your intimacy with God by acknowledging without excuse or explanation the self-obsession staining your motives that the Spirit chooses to reveal. Don’t simply try hard to be good; don’t merely promise to do better. Don’t criticize others’ faults without first seeing your own equally serious faults. Don’t redefine your self-obsession into understandable mistakes. Don’t assume that your strong passion for what you believe is right is necessarily holy. Stand naked before holiness. The more you see your sin, the more you’ll be amazed by grace.
Approach God as the “first thing” in your life – Approach God with confidence that what He loves to give you is what you want the most. Don’t retreat from God when He seems unresponsive. Don’t negotiate with God. You have no leverage other than His relentless, tender love and your longing to get what He’s giving. Don’t demand anything from God; expect the gift of relationship. Don’t let the desires that you feel dictate your expectations of what He’ll give you. Stand before God as a loved child. Rest in His love as a prelude to receiving His best. – See more at: http://turningthepage.info/subjecting-your-thoughts-to-the-presence-of-p-a-p-a/#sthash.Mq7g5RHM.dpuf
Present yourself

Questions to consider and leave a comment …

  1. Why do you think writing helps to disentangle the traffic in your mind?
  2. What other journaling methods have your used?

Barry Pearman

Photo Credit: Tony Fischer Photography via Compfight cc

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Popularity – Are You Trying To Win Approval?

Earthly popularity wins no angel points with God.

Are you walking on the tightrope of others approval

I like to be liked. I like to be well thought of, admired and respected.

In the Social Media world we can even measure the amount of popularity or influence a person has. The techies have a measuring tool called Klout. I am currently ranked at 45/100.

Pretty average and its something I worry and fret about day and night – not!

On the surface of it all there is nothing wrong in wanting to liked, to have some sense of approval.

The danger is how much weight we put on it and to what ends we will go to achieving it.

So what happens in your world when you feel the cold winds of rejection? Do you feel like the whole world is against you? Has a great hole of emptiness been opened up?

We were crafted by God to have the perfect form of relationship in which each of us pour freely love and respect into each other without any coercion or demand.

Unconditional free flowing love and respect, without bound, or limits.

Yet now, it can so often feel like manipulation rather than ministry.

In the quest for popularity, one risks the loss of ones’ own soul. It is not for others to decide your value or identity, no matter what the result of failing to please.  David Riddell

Seeking approval from others places you in the danger zone of being a puppet to their pulling of the strings.

So, whose tune are you dancing to?

Who are you trying to control and have dance for you?

Jesus walks into the world and instantly becomes a star. Thousands begin to follow him, like him, are even pinned to him. Klout score probably 100.

Doing miracles, preaching up a storm and then calming another storm down. Healing the sick and giving the religious rulers heaps. As he went on though, his popularity dropped off. The cost of being a follower of Christ meant self sacrifice, it meant saying goodbye to comfort, to the markers of popularity.

Jesus said this.

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? Mark 8: 34-37

What good would it do to you to get everything you want – popularity, fame, fortune, respect, approval – and in doing so miss out on discovering the real you. The ‘You’ that God is in love with.

Jesus had an audience of one and that audience gave a big cheer, a shout, a Mexican wave (if that’s possible) and high fives.

After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized. As he was praying, the sky opened up and the Holy Spirit, like a dove descending, came down on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.Luke 3:22, 23; Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5; Mark 1:11; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35; 2 Peter 1:17 (The Message)

Just note how many times this has been recorded. This made a huge impact on those early believers.

That is the same voice that we need to listen to. ‘You are my son/ daughter and I am head over heels in love with you.

Have you heard of the Golden Rule?

The Golden rule is that he who has the gold makes the rules.

Are you living to the rules of others just so you can get the gold, whatever that may be.

Approval, respect, love, popularity.

How do we leave this subtle trap.

  1. Check out your own motives in the relationships you have. In your primary relationships are you desiring to minister or to manipulate. What is the end goal for you? Are your behaviours intended to lead the other to do something pleasing to you or are you giving without any thought of what might be returned.
  2. Focus in on the audience of one. What pleases God? What act of worship are you giving to God? Worship is way more than singing a song. It is creating a life song that they – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – sing with you. What would most please God right here right now?
  3. Be open to receiving love and acceptance not based on merit. Be open to others accepting you without you having to earn it. You can’t be something you’re not. Allow yourself to be loved and valued for who you are. If others have a standard of acceptability that you have to reach before you’re included then do you seriously want to be with people like that? Remember that Jesus ate with the beggars, the lepers and others who were shunned.
  4. Give acceptance to others not based on merit. Do you only accept people who are like you or that have a reached a level of value in your eyes. Love them because they are flawed image bearers just like you.

Some more food for thought

Only a deliberate shift from the subtle commitment to manipulate to the deliberate commitment to minister will shatter that barrier and permit the rich, intimate, fulfilling relationship of Soul Oneness. Larry Crabb (The Marriage Builder)

Beliefs determine goals. Larry Crabb

The essentials for establishing the kind of communication that leads to Soul Oneness are regularly reaffirming that our goal is ministry to our spouses and carefully ensuring that our desire for ministry from our spouses does not become our goal. Larry Crabb

Why are you so vulnerable to manipulation? Their approval is not vital to you, neither should you fear their reaction if you have to say ‘no’. David Riddell

Question to consider and leave a comment. How much does gaining others approval help or hinder you?

Barry Pearman
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I’m So Angry That I’m Going To …

I am angry.

I am so angry that I am going to take up arms and …
This is not a normal feeling for me, or perhaps it is and I have been too P.C. (pastorally correct) to embrace it. 

No more Mr. Nice guy‘ from Alice Cooper storms into my thinking.


What am I angry about?
Let me turn that back on you. What are you angry about?

What stirs a few embers in your soul? What causes you to shift a little in your bed of complacency?

Does 200 girls being kidnapped in Nigeria push your red button?

Fears for the fate of more than 200 Nigerian girls turned even more nightmarish when the leader of the Islamist group that kidnapped them said he’ll sell them. … We have the commitment and capacity to get this done. CNN

What gets you angry? What charges up your heart?

Moving away from the world scene, some thing most likely far far away for you, what is going to change your situation? What are those frustrations you face, the swirl of life pounding at your heart.

Something tipped Jesus over.

There was some little trigger that caused him to take up a whip and act out his inner righteous anger.

Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out of the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right. He told the dove merchants, “Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall!” That’s when his disciples remembered the Scripture, “Zeal for your house consumes me.” John 2:15-17 (The Message)

Jesus let loose because the religious rulers were extorting the poor in their desire to worship.

Fury must have raged through this soul.

I wonder what the disciples thought about this! I wonder what you think about this.

No more Mr. Nice guy‘ from Alice Cooper storms into my thinking.

Paul comes to us says

Be angry but do not sin Ephesians 4:26

Anger is ok, but don’t sin.

Don’t let your anger consume you away from what God is doing.

 Sin is not being far from God, its turning our gaze in the wrong direction. Simone Weil

I don’t want my emotional feelings of anger to shift my gaze away from God. I don’t want to take actions into my own hands.

I want to keep focused on what God is up to and my part in it. I want a Zeal for my God to consume my focus.

So this is what I am going to do.

1. I am so angry that I am going to take up arms and … pray

First of all I am going to pray seeking God’s kingdom come. Their rule, their way, their timing.

This is what I pray

God, help me to see things the way you see them.
Compassion and grace in tension with anger and justice.
Show me the big picture you are working in and my role in it.
Help me never to step out of your dance studio
but always to be listening to your heartbeat.
Show when to act and when to not.
God there is a season for everything.
May I be still enough to sense the changes and patterns,
the whispers and the shouts.
Amen

2. I am so angry that I am going to take up arms and … act.

This what I am going to do. Prayer must lead us to change. Prayer invites a response to do what only you can do.

What is it through prayer that God is calling you to act on.

What goals are you setting that reflect with the communion of prayer you have?


Prayer and action, therefore, can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive.
Prayer without action grows in powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation.
If prayer leads us into a deeper unity with the compassionate Christ, it will always give rise to concrete acts of service.
And if concrete acts of service do indeed lead us to a deeper solidarity with the poor, the hungry, the sick, the dying, and the oppressed, they will always give rise to prayer.
In prayer we meet Christ, and in him all human suffering.
In service we meet people, and in them the suffering Christ.
Henri J. M. Nouwen  Compassion

3. I am so angry that I am going to take up arms and … invite.

This journey is too long and dangerous to go alone. Invite others to go with you. Brothers and sisters that have a zeal for God like your own.

Who are you inviting on the journey with you. Who will hold your arms up when they get tired and whose arms are you going to hold up.

We are pilgrims on a journey.
We are brothers on the road.
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you;
Speak the peace you long to hear.

Servant Song

If you lie down and just let life happen then roadkill will be the outcome. Carpe diem – seize the day!

Question to consider and leave a comment. What stirs your heart up into zeal fired action?

Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: fihu via Compfight cc

With No Dark Corners – an Invitation to Holiness

 

 

Confession – One of my favorite shows is Ice road Truckers.

In a recent show there were mouse droppings scattered all over the floor of the Kenworth truck of Ice Road Trucker Rick. He was unwell and had potentially Hanta Virus.

The truck was quarantined and one serious looking cleanup crew went to work stripping the truck and cleaning every little corner. Every dark corner.

If Rick had kept his truck clean he wouldn’t have a problem. Now both truck and driver were crippled.

Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.

Come, my Life, and revive me from death.

Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.

Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,

kindling my heart with the flame of thy love.

Dimitrii of Rostov

All those little corners where the mice could live and breed.

All unknown to Rick, blithely breathing in illness.

Have you investigated your dark corners?

Probably not. Who wants to dig around in the dark. Who likes cleaning in the internal workings of the soul.

Yet we all have dark corners, things we choose not to want to look at.   Jesus, the surgeon of the Soul says this

“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” Luke 11:34-36

Jesus calls us to a examination. An invitation to holiness.

We don’t hear much about holiness, a call to being virtuous.

Renovaré is an organization that was founded by Richard Foster who defined 6 streams of Christian Spirituality.

  1. Prayer Filled Life
  2. Virtuous Life
  3. Spirit-empowered Life
  4. Compassionate Life
  5. Word-centered Life
  6. Sacramental Life

The Virtuous Life is described in this way

The Holiness Tradition emphasizes the re-formation of our hearts so that we are able to respond appropriately to the challenges of life. The word “holiness” has some negative connotations today, but the original Greek meaning of the word virtue is simply “to function well.”

Virtuous Life is not about rules or judgement, perfectionism, or some kind of merit gained by good deeds. It encourages us to the ultimate goal: not to “get us into heaven, but to get heaven into us.”

It is attentiveness to the source of our actions, to the condition and motives of the heart, and taking on new patterns of life that flow naturally from within.

“We see Jesus consistently doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. We see in him such deeply ingrained “holy habits” that he is always “response-able,” always able to respond appropriately. This is purity of heart. This is the virtuous life.”  Richard J. Foster, Streams of Living Water

I wonder what is hiding in the truck cab of your life. Filth that the Holy Spirit wants to purify and clean out of you for both your sake and the sake of your relationships.

Where do we start?

1. Understand this is not a journey of condemnation
This is a journey of hope and change. This is a journey where the Good Shepherd takes care of his sheep with gentleness and not condemnation. So often we may have been fed messages of try harder and you’re not good enough.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30

2. Embrace that this is a lifetime journey. True deep change doesn’t happen over night. Sanctification happens slowly and is deliberately led by the Holy Spirit. Yes the patient Holy Spirit is at work in you to change you. Gently coaxing and inviting, alluring you to purity.

3. Find someone safe you can journey with. This maybe the most difficult part of the journey. Someone who will not condemn or offer quick advice. Someone who will instead invite you to life of prayer. Perhaps a Spiritual Director, a Pastor or a friend. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you.

Some quotes to consider

  • Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin L King Jr
  • The men and women who are truly filled with light are those who have gazed deeply into the darkness of their own imperfect existence. Brennan Manning
  • So long as we imagine that it is we who have to look for God, we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about; He is looking for us. And so we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from him, in high rebellion against him. And He knows that and has taken it into account. He has followed us into our own darkness; there where we thought finally to escape him, we run straight into his arms. So we do not have to erect a false piety for ourselves, to give us the hope of salvation. Our hope is in his determination to save us, and he will not give in. Simon Tugwell

Questions to consider and leave a comment

  1. What feelings rise up when you consider looking into the ‘Dark Corners’ of your life?
  2. What is like to know that God ‘is looking for us’?
  3. What are the qualities of a ‘safe’ person for you?

Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: i k o via Compfight cc

Do You Have A Circle Of Safety?

They stood beside me.
 
Shoulder to shoulder and when my little shield of faith started to droop under the tiredness of the battle, they came in closer, knowing one day, perhaps the next, I would rise again.
Friends are crucial in this life.

If you have a mental illness then you are in a battle that you cannot face alone.

Who has stood by your side and believed in you?

I am currently reading Simon Sinek’s latest book Leaders Eat Last.

 He writes about the importance of having a Circle of Safety derived from a Fable of Aesop.

 A lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four. —Aesop, sixth century B.C

 Often I have seen people being picked off my the struggles of this life simply because they haven’t had a Circle of safety. A group of others who are looking out for them. More than just friends, but warriors in arms. Ready to make a stand and come to your aid and you doing likewise.

 Sinek goes on to write about the Spartans.

 The Spartans, a warrior society in ancient Greece, were feared and revered for their strength, courage and endurance. The power of the Spartan army did not come from the sharpness of their spears, however; it came from the strength of their shields. Losing one’s shield in battle was considered the single greatest crime a Spartan could commit. “Spartans excuse without penalty the warrior who loses his helmet or breastplate in battle,” writes Steven Pressfield in his account of the Battle of Thermopylae (the battle upon which the movie 300 is based), “but punish the loss of all citizenship rights the man who discards his shield.” And the reason was simple. “A warrior carries helmet and breastplate for his own protection, but his shield for the safety of the whole line.”

 Paul writes to the Christians in the Roman stronghold of Ephesus to ‘take up the shield of faith’ Ephesians 6:13-17. This passage is often seen as an individuals call to spiritual disciplines, but I think Paul was writing not just to individuals but to the corporate grouping, a small group of Christians meeting in a local home.

 They were a ‘Circle of Safety’ for each other. When ones ‘Shield of faith’ drooped and became heavy the others would come around and shield them.

 This is what Church is all about. Its not a building, nor is it a time of the week. Its a relationship we offer to each other, a line of safety.

 Jesus said this

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. Matthew 18:20

 Where a Circle of Safety is created, Christ will be right in the middle of it.

Does this fill you with hope?

 A few years ago I was supporting someone going through a tough phase in their life. I could see that things would change for them if they just persisted a bit longer. The challenge was hard and painful for them and also for those that loved them. Their faith shield was drooping and so I offered for them to borrow some faith from me.

They borrowed some faith and made it through.

 Faith which they couldn’t muster up in themselves they borrowed from others.

 They trusted me and my belief that things would change, and so took some of what I offered and kept on going.

 What does this take?

  1. Time. Relationships of this quality take time to build. Relationships like this don’t just happen overnight but are built day by day, week by week, month by month.
  2. A time. A commitment to meet on a regular basis and checkout how each others shields are looking. It might be for lunch, breakfast or over a cup of coffee, but there is a regular time where we stand shoulder to shoulder and talk about the lions we face.
  3. Trials. In a fight, who would you like standing next to you? A couple of new recruits or a couple of seasoned warriors. Being tested and tried builds muscle. Faith grows through experience, trial by trial.

Questions to Consider and leave a comment

  1. Who is in your ‘Circle of Safety’?
  2. Why is it that we have a tendency to want to face our trials alone?
  3. Have you ever ‘borrowed faith’ from someone else? What was it like?
Barry Pearman

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On Juggling Snow Balls

Disclaimer: I have never juggled snowballs.

On Juggling SnowballsPhoto Credit: shenamt via Compfight cc

Sometimes I get a picture or a story, I believe from God, that needs to be prayerfully thought about.

 I had one of those the other day.

 I was juggling snowballs, and actually I was doing a pretty good job of it too, if I can modestly say for a non juggling Aucklander where it never snows.

For me I want to surrender to the ambiance of God’s love flowing around my juggling snowballs.

  Snowballs were flying high up into the air and I was enjoying the rhythm. I was having a party.

 I, like you most likely, have a busy life. Snowballs symbolising all the various roles I have. Husband, Father, Pastor, Gardener, Trugmaker, Blogger etc.

Keeping all those balls flying requires a certain rhythm, almost a musicality to the movement. Round and round, up and down, flying high up into the air.

There is however a relationship going on here that enables me to juggle. Its unseen, unrecognised and possibly taken for granted.

 The relationship between the snowball and the temperature of the air.

Ambient – relating to the immediate surroundings of something.
Ambiance – the atmosphere of a place

 

For those snowballs to hold their shape, there must be an cold ambient temperature to keep them frozen. A few degrees of warming will cause the solid to turn to mush. Juggling will become more of a slushy mess than entertaining experience.

 

That which is unseen and out of our control does have an effect on us.

 

Scary thought isn’t it. Something beyond your control, manipulation and power, having an influence over you.

The snowball juggler surrenders to the ambient temperatures ability to hold it all together. The juggler can play, do tricks, have fun all because the atmosphere is perfect.

Just try this little exercise for a moment.

Imagine God thinking about you.

What do you assume God feels when you come to mind?

When I ask people to do this, a surprising number of people say that the first thing they assume God feels is disappointment. Others assume that God feels anger. In both cases, these people are convinced that it is their sin that catches God’s attention. I think they are wrong-and i think the consequences of such a view of God are enormous. David Benner

 Honestly, deep down, at a raw emotional level what is the ambient temperature of God for you. Are you trying to appease an assumed angry God? If you are then you will never juggle with joy and spontaneity.

 For me I want to surrender to the ambiance of God’s love flowing around my juggling snowballs.

Gravity may hold planets in orbit and nuclear force may hold the atom together, but only love has the power to transform persons.

Only love can soften a hard heart.

Only love can renew trust after it has been shattered.

Only love can inspire acts of genuine self-sacrifice.

Only love can free us from the tyrannizing effects of fear.

David Benner

 

What will it take for you to surrender more of yourself to that love?

Those who specialize in firm exhortation, think less of enjoying God as “Abba” and more of obeying him as a sergeant. Larry Crabb

 Questions to consider and leave a comment.

  1. What is the ambient atmosphere surrounding your life? Fear? Love?

  2. What do you assume God feels when you come to mind?

  3. How do your assumptions about God affect you?

Barry Pearman

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Lessons Daniel Taught Me About Achieving Goals. Part 5

If we want to see our goals achieved we have to negotiate the plan with those that will influence the outcome.
Do you negotiate your plans?
 
Over the last four posts I have been going through some lessons Daniel, a character from the Bible, has taught me about achieving goals. This is the final post in this series.
In Daniel’s story we find him making a goal of not eating the Kings food. It wasn’t so much the food that was the problem it was the significance of eating this food. It would have meant that Daniel was saying to the whole world that he was aligning himself with the pagan worship of idols of which the food had been offered to.
So Daniel made a plan to achieve his goal.
A goal without a plan is just a wish.― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Daniel couldn’t rely on just wishing that his goal would be achieved. He didn’t sit back and hope and pray that his goals would be achieved. Instead he formed a plan.
I call it his S.TA.N. plan
Simple to understand by all
Timed for a Review
Aimed at a Deep Value
Negotiated with Key Others.
 

5. Lesson Number Five. Your plan needs to be Negotiated with Key Others.

Daniel negotiated the plan with the palace master. If Daniel was going to be successful with this plan and achieve his goal he was going to have to get permission and support from those he was in relationship with.
 
Here is the tricky part. We like to be in control of our lives, we don’t like to have to depend on others views and influences of what we are planning. We have a natural bent towards independence, rather than interdependence, but if we look further at this passage we see that God was at work in the relationship Daniel had with the Palace Master.
 
Now God allowed Daniel to receive favor and compassion from the palace master. Daniel 1:9
 
If we dig a little deeper into the Hebrew of this passage we discover something of the quality of this relationship. The two words used to describe how the palace master viewed Daniel were kindness and tender love.
 
kindness – especially as extended to the lowly, needy and miserable
tender love – a compassion, brotherly feeling, of those born from same womb
 
God was at work in forming the relationship between Daniel and the Palace Master.
 
Because this relationship had already been fostered and developed into something akin to brotherhood, the Palace Master felt secure and was easily able to trust Daniels motives.
 
So God was at work in the relationships that held the power of success or failure.
 

How do we negotiate our plan with others

  1. Pray. Daniels plan was embraced because God was already at work in the relationship. Daniel was a man of prayer, calling on God to help him in everything.
  2. Face your fears and go for it.
  3. List out all those that will be involved in the plan.
  4. Go to the key influencers and discuss your plan. Remember it has to be simple to understand, timed for review, and aimed at something of deep value to you.
  5. Ask them for feedback. What they like, don’t like, ideas to help the plan succeed.
  6. Rewrite the plan, if needed, incorporating their feedback
 
If we want to see our goals achieved we have to negotiate the plan with those that will influence the outcome.
 

Some quotes to consider

Sometimes you just need a ‘big’ person to give you permission to fail, or to quit. We all need a kindly mentor to remind us that not all of our expectations are realistic.” David Riddell
 
During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave personalities out of it, you will be able to see opportunities more objectively.Brian Koslow
 
It is better having one person working with you, than three working for you. Unknown
 
No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it. -Halford E Luccock
 
We will surely get to our destination if we join hands. – Aung San Suu Kyi
 
The momentum in a group can help you progress in a way you can never achieve on your own. To achieve your goal, first link-up with those who are like-minded. David Riddell
 
Do not be someone who does not hear others or God because you only want to make your own point and pursue your own personal goals. Larry Crabb
 
Questions to consider and leave a comment
  • Why do we have a natural bent towards independence rather than interdependence?
  • Who are the key influencers to the success of your plans?
  • What can be gained by involving others?
  • What can be potentially at threat if you involve others?
 
For the previous posts on this topic check out these links
 
Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: Florian SEROUSSI via Compfight cc
Please, don’t be an Unguided Pastoral Missile.
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