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Prayer is as prayer does

14 Dec

I’d love to properly claim to be religious.  I grew up in church, went to Sunday School, taught Sunday School and sang in the church choir.  When asked, I tell people that I am a Christian, and that I grew up Methodist.  I’m very proud of my Methodist heritage (my father is Jewish and I embrace that too, as I appreciate the Jewish teachings because it is part of the foundations of the Christian faith).  But I sometimes wonder if I am letting God’s light shine through me.

I am blessed because I grew up in a family that prays.  I believe that prayer gives people strength.  To plagiarise Lady Gaga, it doesn’t matter if you love Him, or some other him, I believe that prayer centres an individual.  I am blessed because I grew up in a household largely founded on the Christian faith (and even though my father is still waiting for the Messiah, prayer is a large part of his faith as well and some of the most evocative prayers are Hebrew prayers!) and prayer is an important part of that.  I am blessed because I grew up knowing that I can take my worries to God anytime, anywhere in prayer.

That’s where I go to be brave.  I go to God in prayer for help in times of trouble, for support in challenging times, in times of sadness, in times of success, in times of gratitude and in times of joy, always, always in times of joy.  I love the way prayer centres me and helps me focus.  I love the way it is almost comfort on tap.  God doesn’t always answer you right away, and the answer isn’t always what you want to hear, but knowing that you can take ANYTHING in prayer is a comfort.  Because in these trying times when people feel desperately alone, I know I’m not.  I know that I’ve got a hotline to the Big Guy who always has my back.

Quotable Diana Spencer

30 Nov

Whatever everyone else says about her, I am a firm believer than in her own way, Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, touched lives and in her own way endeavoured to make a difference in the world.  I think she was a product of her environment and coped as well as she could with the emotional equipment she had to work with.

I think it’s apt to post a quote about kindness today.  I’ve been struggling with the firm belief I had about following the Golden Rule – that one should treat people the way one would like to be treated.  I was brought up to treat people with kindness and respect, and I continually hope (and expect) that people will respond in kind; and for the most part, I am being treated in the way that I treat others.  There are frustrations of course, because I keep trying to be kind and respectful of others, but I continually get teased or chided for being “too nice.”  I, however, find it tough to go against what I have grown up believing.  I came across this quote from one of the people who fascinate me.

I think it was divine intervention that I read this today, the day when I felt, strangely, burdened my upbringing more than ever.  It has encouraged me to press on.  Kindness is worth it.  I shouldn’t stop, because somehow, somewhere, what I do will touch someone and make a difference at just the right time.

 

“Carry out a random act of kindness,
with no expectation of reward,
safe in the knowledge that one day
 someone might do the same for you.”
~Diana Spencer (1961-1997), Princess of Wales

I am thankful!

24 Nov

I know I whine a lot about what’s wrong about my day, what’s not right about work, why I don’t have this or why I don’t have that.  I think that it’s important for me to stop doing that today.  While it is, traditionally, an American holiday celebration, I think it has its place in this world.  I think it’s important that today I stop the whinging and the whining.

I am thankful for everything that I have in my life right now.  The good and the bad, the blessings and the challenges.  I’m also thankful for what I don’t have.  God has blessed me with a life that most people would envy and He has continued to bless me with opportunities that a lot of people can only dream about.  I am thankful for every situation, every opportunity and every disappointment because I believe that everything that happens, God has a purpose for bringing me through it.  I know that every situation is a learning opportunity.

I am completely thankful for every single moment.  I am thankful that I am alive.

I am thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Distraction

22 Oct

This post was inspired by my spiritual sister.  She sent out a tweet to ask people a question that would help her write her sermon for Sunday.  She inspires me to write about my faith. 🙂

I am blessed because I work in an environment that values google searches, Twitter, Facebook pages and all sorts of media, traditional or otherwise.  So there is no moratorium on the use of Twitter or the use of the internet to do searches.  We’re allowed to check our personal emails as long as, of course, it is done within reason.

The trouble, sometimes, with all this freedom is that you forget what your limitations are.  You forget that sometimes you’re meant to be looking for something work-related on Twitter  and not at your friends’ status updates.  Or that you go on Facebook to update a client’s page, and not check your own status update comments.  Or that you check your personal email for an email from an application you’re trying out and you end up reading an email from a family member.  The lines do get a bit blurry sometimes.

The wonderful world wide web, such as it is, with all its information can prove to be quite the distraction.  Being “online” all the time is one of this generation’s biggest distractions.  Technology does have a way of keeping you  tap-tapping all the time in front of the computer and letting life pass you by.  I find that most times, when I want to look through bible study notes on specific topics and I punch out a search on Google, I get distracted by what the other search results are.  There are times when I find myself reading something completely different from what I originally planned.  It’s only too easy to lose oneself in the maze of the big triples Ws.

Keeping myself focused on work with the temptation of unlimited access to the internet at work isn’t really difficult because there are too many things to do at work, too many things to tick off the to-do list.  But there are times when you lose focus ever so slightly.  It’s the same thing when it comes to one’s walk in faith.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day concerns, to forget to read the bible, to forget to pray in the morning when you’re running late and need to get ready.

It’s sometimes difficult to do what Proverbs 4:25-27 says, to “[L]et your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”  Sometimes without meaning to, I find myself on one of those side roads that I’m meant to to avoid.  It is worrying for me that I am not always sure-footed in this journey of faith.  I fall by the wayside, or take steps back instead of forward, or I take a side street or I stop at a pit stop a little longer than what’s on God’s itinerary for my walk.

The lovely bit about all this is, God knows that we can be distracted, even with the strongest of our resolves.  In 1 Corinthians 10:13 it says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  He KNOWS this about us, so he will equip us to cope with the distractions.  He won’t put us in situations that we cannot get through without His help.  He uses all the situations where we don’t follow the map to make us more sure-footed in the future.  He makes sure that all the experiences we have strengthen our faith in Him.

God gave us the tools so that we can navigate through life His way.  He gave us prayer and he gave us the bible.  I find this passage from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 very comforting about the Bible (it’s probably why I’ve always felt the need to have an actual bible in the house, and not just in my Kindle!):  “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”  You know that old Sunday School song about reading the bible and praying everyday so we grow?  It rings the truth loud and clear.  He has provided us with the best road map and the best mode of communication.  He has also provided us with a keen sense of direction, of knowing when we are straying from the prescribed path.  We only have to listen to the alarm bells, no matter how faint the sound is.  When we get lost, we can easily find out way back because He made it possible for us to do so!  All we have to do is call on Him and read his directions.

How awesome is that?

My Mini Methodist Pilgrimage

20 Jul

I am proud of my Methodist heritage.  So every chance I get to trace the roots of my faith is a welcome exercise.  I was in London this week and was quite close to the Methodist Museum.  I had to visit Wesley’s Chapel.  I was hoping to catch the Methodist Museum but since it was after 5PM, it would’ve been too late to wander around the Methodist Museum, really.  I promised myself that I would have a proper wander around the next time I’m in London. It is after all a blessing to be in the country where John Wesley began building the foundations of the Methodist faith.

I’ve also promised myself that I would go visit Susannah Wesley’s grave.  There was a marker in the chapel grounds but the actual grave is in the cemetery across the road.  I said to myself that it was safer to look around the cemetery in the morning where there was sunlight, but if I’m completely honest, wandering around a cemetery in near darkness wasn’t really my cup of tea.  For all my I’m-a-brave-girl bravado, I am a scaredy cat!  Haha!

Wesley's Chapel and Methodist Museum

Slowly, slowly

21 Dec

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
—Isaiah 26:3-4

Britain is currently in the grip of another cold snap.  When I looked out the window on Saturday evening, I was reminded of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter.  I was thinking of Laura having to walk to school in the cold and try as I might, I could never imagine the cold that she described in the book.  And then I was reminded of when Almanzo came to fetch Laura in his sled in a blizzard in These Happy Golden Years.  Then, I was probably 11 or 12, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how cold those winters were.

But quite recently, I’ve been able to experience freezing weather.  A few weeks ago, while waiting for the bus, and foolishly wearing just 1 pair of socks to protect my feet, I felt how painful it can be to have your appendages be so cold they were nearly frozen.  I knew how it felt to walk while your feet were numb but each step was agony.  It was also several weeks ago that I slipped on the ice and hurt my thigh muscles and my knee.

I can’t say that I have perfect faith.  I falter, very definitely.  But in these trying, snowy times, I find that a simple “Oh Lord protect me!” murmured under my breath or quickly prayed in silence is a balm to my troubled soul.  I find that I’m deathly afraid of falling.  Only just yesterday, I had to use the overpass to get to the train station.  The steps had slippery ice on them and I will admit to letting out a whimper of fear.  I closed my eyes, whispered my prayer and stepped as carefully as I could on the packed snow and clung to the railings for dear life.  I had visions of me slipping down the steps and doing myself serious damage but I stopped myself from thinking such thoughts.  I trusted God to hold me safe in the palm of His hands.  It was very harrowing but I managed to get up and over the overpass and make it to the train station with minimal scary moments.

Now some people might find it bizarre.  But trusting God with every step you take and every breath you take (every move you make…cue that song from The Police!) is the most basic manifestation of faith.

If I could, I would prefer not to go through the trauma of walking on ice ever again, but that is not possible as I will have to brave the snow to get to work because the Cold Snap is forecasted to last until after Boxing Day!  But like this morning, I woke up dreading the walk to the station.  This morning I chose a different route as God wouldn’t want me to put myself in danger.  When Jesus was tempted a second time, he rebuked the devil by saying that “…you should not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matthew 4:5-7).  But as I got out the door, I whispered my prayer for protection, and for me to make it on the train (as I knew I was going to be quite some time walking to the station because I was taking the longer (but much safer!) route.

And I did!  I made it to the station.  In one piece.  No slips.  No trips.  No falls.

Thank you Lord!

Bible hunt

2 Sep

It took me a while to find a bible to replace the one that I had.  It took me several weeks to find a bible.  I looked at what was available online and what was available in the bookstores that were near me (via their websites online).  I was looking for “the one.”  You might think that it’s just a book, or just a bible, or that I’m simply being fastidious but it seemed key.  I mean, the bible was going to be my faith map.  It was important that it be the right one.

To be honest, I was quite surprised that there weren’t bibles left, right and centre in England.  I didn’t think I was going to have as hard a time as I did.  I honestly thought I was going to be spoilt for choice.  England is where the Methodist faith originated and I thought with that kind of history, people would take their bibles a little more seriously. I was born and raised in a Methodist home (my father is Jewish, however, and while that sounds like a complicated set-up, when one has lived in that kind of an environment, one finds that it enriches one’s faith), I went to church every Sunday, I went to daily vacation church school, I taught Sunday School, I was active in church and I sang in the choir.  So there I was, asking about a bible and it surprised me that I got a surprised look from the store assistant.  I was, apparently, one of the first people, in a long while, who had asked about a bible.

I received another mini-shock when I went to the section I was directed to.  I had expected a “bible section” or at least a section devoted to world religions or something like that.  I found nothing of the sort.  I found the “philosophy” section.  It was suprising (understatement, really!) to discover that the bible was viewed as a piece of philosophical literature.  I guess when one grows up valuing the bible differently, it’s always a little surprising (or shocking, in some cases) that people don’t share your values.  I knew why it was viewed as a piece of philosophical literature, I knew that intellectually, but I couldn’t really wrap my head around it.

That experience doesn’t detract me from my happiness though.  My new faith map feels right in my hands.  Like I was meant to have it.  It was the last one on the shelf.  Like it was placed there for me 🙂

Like Goldilocks after finding Baby Bear’s chair, bowl of porridge, and bed, it was just right.  For me, anyway.