Tag Archives: joy

Keeping Faith: In Celebration

What do I mean keeping faith in celebration? Is it about coping with others who are in a celebratory mood? Holding onto God when you are struggling and all your friends are full of faith, Godly expectations, and stories to support the awesome richness of what the Lord is doing in their lives?

Well I would like us to explore a different idea today.  One that is about keeping faith when faith is easy, when it’s fun and struggle is minimal or non existent. I am not sure we ever settle in those moments, but perhaps we don’t push as hard to deepen our walk with God? Discuss.

I am not saying struggle is good, but that some struggle helps us to strive for more of God, a deeper walk, a greater awareness of the presence of the Lord in our own lives. To be clear, I mostly struggle rather than find being a disciple easy!

You are probably familiar with the story in Luke’s gospel when Jesus heals ten blokes who have leprosy. This was a disease that meant you were socially excluded from your community and ended up living together with other Lepers.

So when Jesus heals them, not only are they physically healed, but also socially healed and reunited with their families. Pretty awesome right, and these ten guys are pretty jubilant, who wouldn’t be. If you have just been healed from a crippling disease and have not seen your family, for who knows how long what would you do next?

Well as the story goes one bloke, yes that’s right one bloke, turns back to Jesus. Perhaps he had no family to see, or no friends, or just no better place to be. But like Mary in the Mary and Martha story, he chose right.  The others chose to be preoccupied with, and understandably so, celebrating with fa
mily and friends and being reintroduced into society.

But this bloke knelt at Jesus’ feet and worshiped, he somehow recognised the enormity of what was happening around him, turning back to worship.  He didn’t sing a few hymns or read scripture, he laid himself out before Jesus, acknowledging who it was who had healed him, who saved him from the incarceration that is this disease.

tebow-2-620x362We have all seen the athlete who takes a moment in a stadium of thousands, kneeling on the ground and point their finger in the air or sign the cross.  There is a need when life is good, when life is amazing, to take a moment, to recognise, to honour God, for the talent, opportunity, air in your lungs, or whatever, that has come your way.

Remember to take a moment in whatever way is comfortable, like the Samaritan in the story of the 10 lepers did. To be vulnerable before God, recognising whilst you might be blessed or honoured or lifted up, there is one who is greater still, creator of all that is and is to come, author and perfecter of all that makes you, well you.

Sometimes we may think we can only speak to God when our chips are down and life sucks? We may think that we can only ask when we are in need, we can only follow Jesus when we are broken.

If we truly believe we are in a relationship with the living God, that is a two way thing. Let’s not be the friend who is always saying what’s wrong or focuses on the darkness, but also speak to the Lord of what lights up your life as well.

Tell Jesus about cherished dreams that get fulfilled, thank him for the prayer that does get answered and ask him to seal it in your hearts and memories, for when we doubt and when faith doesn’t come easy. So when those times come, when we get a little lost and distant from God, we can remember how good God is and can be, and may that light bring us home to a God who knows our name, who we are, and loves us tremendously truly, and eternally. A God who puts things in our way more than we could imagine or ever have hoped for.

Discovering Your Happy Place

If there was a place in the world where you can guarantee  that you would laugh more, feel more content, where happiness and positivity would be your companion more consistently than they are today.

Are you feeling, downcast, oppressed? Is it a struggle to remember the last time you smiled or laughed?

Would you want to discover where that place is and in discovering where that place is, would you move there? Or at least want to  learn from their way of life that would help us be more happy?

img39972-Iguazu-Falls-ParaguayBecause ‘they’ have found the most positive place on the planet, for real! This location is sunny, hot, its people are friendly, content and happy.  To live there does not cost a lot in terms of finances. It has history, ancient monuments beautiful vistas, incredible waterfalls, this place teams with life. It has earned itself the right to call itself the most positive place on the planet.

The most positive place on the planet is the small, beautiful landlocked nation of Paraguay scores and amazing 89/100 in terms of national feeling of positivity and well-being.

The Science Bit:

Let me explain how this has been defined. Questions were asked of people across the globe, simple and basic questions about their general state of well-being and happiness.

The Gallup poll asked such questions like, “did you feel well rested yesterday? Did you learn something it’s interesting or did you smile all laugh yesterday…”

The people of Paraguay are simply happy, their country is not wealthy by any standards, in fact is ranks 111 in global financial rankings a couple of points above Jamaica and next to the Ukraine. Paraguay finds itself 100 points behind the United States of America.

It’s economy is predominantly rural and focused around a mining, it is a fledgeling democracy having endured years of harsh dictatorships and 30-50% of its population are defined as poor.

Yet it’s people are predominantly happy, happier and more positive than its US neighbour in North America which is 10 points behind, the uk is 14 points less happy. Moreover the index tells us the next nine places after Paraguay that are the most positive, are filled with countries from south America.

These are countries that are predominantly Christian, (93%) and these are countries that remind us, that money does not bring happiness.

The Bible tells it to us over and over again, that material wealth does not, cannot, make us happy, earn us true love, or indeed eternal salvation. Lessons that these countries in South America seem to intrinsically understand, they have a wisdom about life that we do well to listen to.

What might we learn from these nations of positivity? I suggest you do that journey, dig deep into their culture and way of life, discover for yourself what it is that makes them tick. And then when you’ve found it, that nuggets of wisdom that offers you peace. Hold on to it, share it if you like, but hold on to it  and allow its light to change you.

 

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