Seek First…

I stepped out of my car and looked into the open pouch of my briefcase and realised that I had forgotten to bring my computer to work. I had rushed out of the house and grabbed my bag thinking that everything was there but I failed to check. Frustrated I got back in my car and I drove all the way home, on arriving I searched for my computer and it was not where I thought I left it and so I went back to the car, opened a different section of my briefcase to find that the computer was there all along and I had just wasted 40 minutes in what was already going to be a busy day!   I drove back to the office contemplating my own stupidity (which happens far more often that I would like!).

There are some things that are absolutely necessary in my world: food; shelter; companionship and the need for wifi!

I have found that very little happens without me using a device of some kind to either facilitate or enhance the experience – it is an interesting world in which we live and you don’t realise how dependant you are upon things until they are not available.

For a second I contemplated not heading home to get my computer but I soon realised that I wouldn’t get much work done if I did.

When you think of the things that you are aiming for what appears upon your list?

Is it possessions, family growth, colourful experiences or peace and tranquillity?

All of these can be good to aim at and fun to obtain but striving day after day for them can become a relentless and unsatisfying obsession. We really need to be aiming at something of substance, something lasting that will actually make the ‘chase’ for everything else fall into perspective.

Jesus challenged those who will follow Him to

“seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”                                Matthew 6:33

I realised as I was rushing back to work that I had forgotten this one powerful truth. If I had been a little less in a rush and a little more focussed upon Him I probably would not have made my mistake and my day would have been more centred and more effective.

Maybe it is time for you to stop for a moment and seek Him… allowing Him to adjust your path and set your day on the right track.

P.S. – don’t forget your computer!

Advertisements

Black Salt…

Something was not right but it took a couple of days before somebody worked it out. We were having a big casual family lunch and everyone was loading up their plates ready for a feed. My son asked “Could you pass the salt and pepper” and the required condiments were handed across the bench. After using them, he said “hey, that is not pepper!” “Yes it is” came the reply. “No its not!” repeated the challenge…

It was actually black salt…It looked like pepper, it cracked like pepper…but it was actually salt.

I had never heard of black salt before and it amazed me that a company would market black and white salt in the same brand and shaped bottles and I wondered how many people had made the same mistake as us. We had used this salt and salt (not pepper) for the last week and had not fully registered the problem. If it had been left to me I might not have noticed at all but my arteries may have been worse for wear!

It seems that there are many more varieties of salt available than ever before – Himalayan pink salt is popular and there is of course chicken salt, rock salt and good old Saxa table salt! We are spoiled for choice as entrepreneurs attempt to exploit our passion for change and our desire for something new.

It seems that nothing is straightforward and simple anymore, but layers of complexity are being added to an already confusing life and the pace of change is running away with itself.

The purpose of salt and pepper is to add seasoning and to enhance the flavour of a meal. Too much of one of these will spoil even the finest, best prepared meal available. Too much complexity spoils the flavour of our lives and leaves an aftertaste in our mouths and we are left thirsting for something simpler and easier on the pallet.

I think that ‘black salt’ is an unnecessary addition to my life and I will not be buying it again… I am content with my normal salt…

What are you content with, what are you tired of chasing? What is the latest complexity you realise that you don’t really need?

Maybe its time to stop reaching for the ‘new’ and start celebrating all you already have…

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain.”                                    1 Timothy 6:6

 

“Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”                       Mark 9:50

Christmas in July

Following the theme of “Christmas in July” I recalled an event that made me stop and think.

A while ago I was driving through the Dural area with a friend at the wheel. We were enjoying the sun and the winding roads when we encountered a ‘stoptomotrist’ holding the power over the flow of traffic due to some road works. As we were stopped for maybe a couple of minutes an interesting series of events caught my eye.

I looked out of the window and perused a Christmas Tree farm right near where we were stopped. As I looked over, I realised that smaller trees were at the front near the road and as the ground rose backwards towards the house the trees became larger. Obviously they had been planted with a view to harvesting them in a few months, ready to adorn people’s houses for Christmas. As my gaze reached the house (about 200m away) I saw the owner of the farm step out of his front door with a cup of coffee in his hand and a contented look on his face as he looked at his Christmas trees growing.

In an instant I felt that I knew two things for certain: Number one was that the owner enjoyed doing this every day and; number two, I wanted his job!

Imagine having a role that was so easily measurable that you could see a result each and every day. I know that my job is nothing like that. It is hard to know sometimes if I am achieving anything at all. Being a parent is certainly not like that – you are not sure if you are achieving what you are hoping for. In fact, for a lot of us, there are aspects of our lives that we are not sure how they are really going.

You can spend your life comparing yourself to others (either positively or negatively) “I am not as good as Jim but I am not as bad as Paul!”

but those comparisons are hollow and flawed in many respects – the only real measure is what is happening to us as people on the inside.

So how do you measure yourself – on the inside where it really counts?

The Bible gives me something to aim at and it might help you to think about it and challenge yourself as well. We should keep reaching for growth each day until…

“we all come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;”   Ephesians 4:13

Winter Solstice…

I have noticed a subtle change which has overtaken a few of my close acquaintances in the last few days.

A week ago I had observed that a number people were showing signs of what could only be described as ‘glumness’, but in the last few days that seems to have turned around.

The only explanation I can ‘hang my hat on’ is that the days are finally getting longer. Last week was the winter solstice and we passed that point where the days have reached their shortest point. For a couple of weeks leading up to it, it feels like darkness is rising and the daylight disappears all too quickly. I know for myself I had a couple of days where I went to work in the dark and came home in the dark. It is not a massive thing but it does have an impact on the way you think and on the way you feel. I can only imagine what it is like to live in parts of the world that have to endure months of darkness with no daylight at all.

But with the passing of the solstice come longer days and shorter nights. It is imperceptible at first but soon becomes noticeable. This is what I have observed in my friends and family – just a slight improvement in mood and more of a likelihood to want to get out and do something.

As the days grow longer you see more people out and about, people make efforts to have picnics (even though it is still cold) and they are generally more positive. I think there is a causal link between our attitude and the amount of light we experience.

In Genesis 1 we read the words that Lord spoke “Let there be light”… it is a basic need and a hope generating force. Problems seem worse in the middle of a dark night, fears are larger and obstacles seem more insurmountable – but hope comes with the dawning of a new day and hopefully the light of this morning finds you with enough hope to carry on.

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12

So my question for you today is this – do you have enough ‘light’ in your life or are you still in the darkened winter?

Perhaps it is time to open your eyes and notice that the season has changed!

Ineffective doorbell…

I live in a fairly large house and, whilst I am not complaining about that fact in anyway, it did cause a bit of a problem for me last week.

Actually the problem was caused by the failure of a small piece of equipment and the fact that I was listening for the wrong thing.

Our doorbell is one of those that require batteries to work and whilst it is easy to install, it has the basic fault that when the batteries run out it dies. You don’t actually realise that it is not working until you attempt to use it and it does not ring. The problem is that I rarely ring my own doorbell.

The other day I was waiting for a tradesman to come to the house. It was a scheduled meeting and I saw him arrive early and wait in the car. I went about my business inside but the doorbell didn’t ring. 5 minutes, 10 minutes and the doorbell didn’t ring… at this point I walked to the front of the house to check and realised that the tradesman was standing at my front door and he was knocking. I opened the door and he told me that he had knocked at least 4 times and it was at this point that I realised that my doorbell was inoperable and I had been listening for the wrong thing.

If I had not checked out the window the tradesman would have eventually walked away and I would have missed my appointment because I didn’t hear the knocking because I was listening for something else.

So often in our lives we are listening intently for one thing and so we miss what is actually going on. We believe we know what needs to happen and so we fail to recognise when something different comes along.

We make our plans, we ‘map out’ our future, we set goals and we look for certain outcomes…we listen for the doorbell to ring and we are ready to respond. This is all fine and splendid until something different happens – if we are listening for the doorbell alone we can be missing the knock altogether.

Our plans are one thing, what actually is taking place could be something every different.

Maybe we need to listen for something else?

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”                                    Revelation 3:20

Smoky or a fresh fragrance?

I finally gave in and admitted that I was not as tough as I thought I was – the cold had finally won and I was giving in… I rolled the heater out of the corner in which it had been stored for nine months and turned it on.

It did not take long to realise that I had made a small but lasting mistake… within a few moments my office was filling with smoke and the smell of burning filled the air. The error I had made was that I didn’t check whether the heater was safe to turn on and I hadn’t accounted for the build up of dust on the internal elements. My office has been surrounded by a building site for the last nine months and because of this, there has been much more dust than usual.

Over nine months this heater had been completing only one task and that was to sit there and catch as much dust as possible. Before I turned it on I wiped it over with a damp cloth and removed all of the surface dust but I didn’t even stop to think what might be going on within.

The outcome was that I now have a very clean heater inside and out, I just did it in a way that is not recommended. It is not recommended because it could cause a fire and it is not recommended because it will leave your office smelling like someone has been smoking very cheap cigars.

Truth to tell, it wasn’t ever out of hand but it did leave a lingering effect. It reminded me of two truths: Firstly, we need to look inside to know what is really happening and; Secondly, skills and possessions left dormant gather dust and need attention before they can be effective again.

I wondered at what is really going on inside my heart and life that I have ignored or allowed to gather dust, I also wondered at what skills may need some attention before they can be useful once more – I’m like you, I don’t want to be leaving a trail of smoke behind me or a bad smell in the air.

I want my life to be more like the Apostle Paul describes… “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”   (2 Corinithians 2:14)

Not a dusty old heater blowing smoke but something more useful…

It fits well…

That one is too wide. That one is too narrow. That one is too deep. That one is too thin. That one is too expensive.

I spent a fruitless couple of hours trying to find a replacement cooktop for our kitchen. Our existing cooker had a major breakdown and the quote to repair it was almost the same price as a new one. Normally I would choose to replace it completely but there were none available and the sizing of the cut-out in our stone bench-top limited my choices significantly.

The only cooktop I found that would fit was $12,000 which was just ridiculous…it would have to cook, clean and sing ‘show tunes’ to be worth that!

My problem was that the bench-top would be very difficult to cut, and I couldn’t be certain of the outcome; I could actually find myself in a worse position than I already was in.

So the only option was to get all of the parts replaced, pay the over-inflated cost and hopefully be good-to-go for at least a few more years.

Some things in our lives are easily replaced: clothes become worn or out of fashion (or too small); technology gets superseded; cars begin to rattle and shake.   Other things in our lives take more effort: a career change; a relocation to a new town; or a replacement tooth. Still others can never be replaced: a lost heirloom; the death of someone close; or the loss of trust that comes from betrayal.

When we lose something in our lives it leaves a hole – we automatically try to find a replacement to fill it – but it is not always easy and a suitable substitute is not always available.

Men and women where made for ‘relationship’ – relationship with family, friends and with God.

It has been well said that there is “A God-shaped vaccum” inside every heart. The vacuum or space is there because of innocence lost and understanding misplaced. You can try to fill it with all sorts of other possibilities but, like my cooktop, nothing else really fits the bill.

Jesus put it like this “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me – for my yoke fits well and you will find rest for your soul”.

I have found that nothing ‘fills the gap’ in my life better than who I have found in Him.

So if you would like something that ‘fits well’ into the gap in your life, look no further!