Daily Verse – Three Things on Your To-Do List.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12 NIVUK

We are used to productivity gurus and time-management geniuses giving us the number one rule – have one main thing on your list, have five things, have as many as you can think of but only to the top two, etc. etc.

In this verse, the Apostle Paul puts three things on our to-do list.

Hope. Patience. Prayer.

The same three things every day.

Hope – elpis – to anticipate, to be expectant, to have confidence.

Patience – hupomenó (this is the only occurence) – to endure, to remain, to have fortitude, to persevere.

Prayer – proseuché – to pray, to worship, to be earnest in prayer.

Paul is always quite clever in the way he gives us the ‘big focus’ of our faith but also adds in qualifiers almost without notice.

Not only are we to have Hope, Patience, and Prayer, as central to our days, but we also have rejoicing, affliction, and constancy.

We are to rejoice in our hope – chairó – be glad, cheerful, calmly happy.

We are to be patient in affliction – thlipsis – trouble, burden, under pressure.

We are to be faithful in prayer – proskartereó – to continue, be diligent, to adhere to.

Paul’s to-do list isn’t one to be ticked off and consigned to the ‘completed’ archive or filing cabinet of diaries, it remains our priority everyday. We may not tick the items off everyday, but we still have the chance to do it the following day.

So rejoice in the hope of our lives with God.

Be patient in difficult and troublesome times.

Be faithful in our Prayers to God and he will lead us in both hope and difficulty.

Daily Verse – Struggle.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12 NIVUK

In this verse the Apostle Paul is teaching, and reminding, believers that our world and lives are more complicated than we think.

Before becoming believers we were purely physical beings and existed in a world of physical situations and challenges.

Now, as believers, we have had the spiritual connection, which Adam and Eve originally possessed, put back into place through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

This spiritual ‘refit’ brings us to a new life but a life which also has it’s own unique set of circumstances.

When I read through this verse this morning I got stuck on the ‘struggle’.

The Greek word used is palé and occurs only in this verse in the whole of the New Testament.

Translated mostly as ‘struggle’ it derives from the word ‘pallo’ which means wrestling or to wrestle.

Often our struggles are very much like a wrestling match. We are in the grip of an issue or problem and we are trying to pull away or overpower the ‘thing’.

I am reminded again of the story of Jacob wrestling the Angel of the Lord, mentioned in yesterday’s Daily Verse.

Jacob saw and understood our lives/world is much more complicated than we often care to consider.

We can struggle creatively as well.

Creativity is a mental and physical experience.

Even creatives who are not believers will refer to their practice as often being a spiritual process.

Recognising and making connection with the spiritual can still mean we struggle or wrestle – with doubts, with processes, with realising that physical form of the mental idea.

If we wrestle like Jacob we will become stronger in our spiritual lives and creative practices.

Daily Verse – Matthew 6:6

You Version

This is one of the most quoted passages of Jesus talking about prayer and he highlights the difference between praying in public for the praise of others and praying individually in a close relationship with God.

The Greek Interlinear offers up an interesting translation of part of this passage.

Rather than ‘go into your room’ it reads, eiselthe eis to tameion sou – enter into the room of you.

Tamieon – the word here used for room – has only two occurrences in the N.T. – here and Luke 12:24. In the latter it is translated as ‘storeroom’.

Strong’s informs us that tampon generally refers to the ground floor or an interior room or chamber of an eastern house.

But the final part of the phrase is the room (tamieon) of you (sou) – not ‘your’ indicating is a space of yours.

The inner room of you.

Sou occurs 478 times in the N.T. and is predominantly translated as ‘of you’ and lesser just ‘you’.

My mastery of N.T. Greek is at best simple, and the next part of the verse has the word ‘door’ – thura – used 14 times as door, but it can be in a literal or figurative state.

Whether you physically shut yourself in a room or pray from the inner you, Jesus assures us that God listens.

So pray.

Daily Verse – I Thessalonians 5:17

You Version

Unceasingly Pray.  adialeiptōs proseuchesthe.

God, through Paul’s handwriting, at his minimalist best.

adialeiptōs is an adverb – without ceasing, uninterruptedly, without omission.

proseuchesthe, to make prayer to God. For gratitude, for need of yourself and others.

This is an exhortation and a challenge.

Pray, so it is as automatic as breathing.

There are times when we are very much aware of our breathing, like situations in our lives when we know we need intervention from above.

There are also times when we pay no heed to our breathing.

Let our prayers be like that.

Daily Verse – Psalm 46:10

YouVersion

Be still and know that I am God.

Try it right now.

One minute – sit and be still. No thoughts. Breathing calmly. Close your eyes, but no napping.

If you managed that, well done!

Most people freak out and think of all the things they have to do or should be doing or want to do.

Our society thrives on being busy.

Often times it even tries to fool you by referring to it as being engaged, active, purposeful.

Being in control of your schedule, your day, your work, your free time, is great, but it is always worth while stepping back and checking to see if you are really still in control.

On anxious days, worry and panic easily pervade our thoughts and actions.

God tells us, no matter what our circumstances to be still.

The Hebrew word for ‘still’ is harpū, and this verse is the only place it occurs – how’s that for emphatic?

Cease. Stop what you are doing or thinking.

And know that I am God.

Ūdeū – be sure, acknowledge, take knowledge, investigate, perceive, learn, know.

The word occurs 9 times in the O.T.

Be still and know.

Take time out and be aware that God is with you.

No matter what the circumstances, God is God.

Art for the Day.

#Good Friday

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNHyWdTLgQY/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

This is from my Instagram account.

I’ve always loved art and always bemoaned ‘I can’t draw’.

This self-fufilling prophecy has worked for all of the years following a drawing I did of a Police motorcycle in Primary School, aged about seven!

During this latest lockdown I determined to ‘give’ art a go again and worked on my iPad.

I have loved every minute of it.

Not everything has been great but I am really loving the peace of creating the art, no matter what the outcome is.

I Hope you like it.

The Way After – Day #3

 Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

In Sando’s copy of ‘John Brierley – A Pilgrim’s Gude to the Camino de Santiago’ there is a quick 5-point reference page.

It lists the following points: Travel – a quick guide; Preparation – Outer; Language; Pilgrim Passport, Protocol & Prayer; Preparation – Inner.

Under travel it refers to when and how long. Life questions in themselves.

Both Sando and I grew up in the Cold War, and much has changed in the world within the scope of our lives. We would often joke about when ‘we were lads . . . ‘ knowing full well that when we did so those around us had only a vague notion of what we were referring to. Life moves on quickly.

I used to wonder in amazement, when I was a young boy, at my Great-Grandmother who had been born in 1901. Her life had begun when only birds could fly and encompassed men travelling to the moon.

Sando and I had grown up under the shadow of nuclear weapons and MAD (mutually assured destruction) and was now overshadowed by a virus pandemic. We definitely hadn’t considered that after he first collapsed.

The Camino journey is normally estimated at 33 days of walking and a couple extra added in for rest days when needed.

Sando had the blessing of six years extra than cautioned once he was diagnosed.

In sport and many outdoor adventures we were both mindful of the necessity of preparing well. Despite the advice to travel as light as possible, we both would carry ‘extra’ to help out others.

Travelling light is a concept underpinning many business and personal life coaching.

Jesus was probably the first recorded teacher sharing this message as the disciples were sent out into the surrounding countryside, being told to take nothing but their cloaks and sandals.

Medieval pilgrims were exhorted similarly, teaching them to seek nothing but dependence upon God.

Memories weigh nothing – expect perhaps the emotions they conjure up – so carry as many of those with you as you can.

Plenty of other things can be left behind, or dispensed with when you realise on the Way that they are unnecessary.

Friends often help you out spotting these things ahead of you doing so. Listen to them.

Language. Sando was well accomplished in this department and his mastery of Spanish a definite advantage in the Basque north of Spain.

Learn other languages and try and find ways to practice them. 

The more people and cultures you come into contact with will broaden your horizons dramatically.  

I am good at reading and listening but my speaking of other languages wouldn’t even get me onto the bottom of the grade chart.

If you are the same – get yourself a Sando!

Pilgrim Passport, Protocol and Prayer.

The credencial is a document which you carry with you and show at the various albergues along the Way. In return you will receive a stamp which is conformation in Santiago de Compestella that you have indeed walked el Camino.

Be grateful to your hosts and respect your fellow peregrinos. They will not always look or sound like you.

Maybe we should be given a credencial at birth and collect stamps as we go through our years? It might alter our sense of accomplishment and remind us of events easily forgotten.

Pray always. We always need to be reminded of this.

Preparation. Once you reach Santiago you show your credencial and receive your compostella – your certificate for completing the Way of St. James.

If you state your reason for walking as religious, you will receive a certificate written in Latin. If you state your reason for walking as personal, you receive a certificate in Spanish.

Note how you declare this at the end and not the beginning?

Your answer may have changed in the course of El Camino.

Remember everyone of us is on the ‘Way’ and the ‘Way’ changes us.

Despite our best efforts to ‘carry on’ as we always did, Sando and I both knew things had and would change. 

We made adjustments without mentioning them.

I can’t say with any certainty, however, that I was prepared for the end as it came.

The Return of Super League.

This weekend just gone was the third of the renewed Super League season.

The stadiums may be empty but the players are on the pitch and there certainly seems to be no less intensity in the running and tackling.

The rule changes seem to have been the real talking point, mostly for good I will point out, but this last round appeared to show an adjustment which is pulling us back into the main start of the season.

Let’s face it, Rugby League scrums were a waste of time anyway, but at least they took place a lot quicker than scrums in Union.

As a method of pulling all the forwards into a tiny part of the pitch to allow the backs to do what backs do, it made sense. That is, until a coach realised there was no part of the rule which said it needed to be the forwards in the scrum. So they took a couple of big players out and put them at first or second receiver to run at the backs. So another bright coach decided they would pull a few big guys out of the pack and put them in the defensive line to combat this.

So, scrums out and restarts with a tap and go, puts everyone on their toes in attack and defence. Good.

Set restarts! This has been going on in the NRL since their season restart and it is brilliant!

Scrum infringements such as holding down in the tackle can result in an instant reset of the tackle count, with no stoppage in play.

The pace of the game has been noticeably quicker. Defenders need to be sharper getting back and the attackers need to get on shoulders in support. The increase in speed will favour the teams who are less rigid in attack.

However, this weekend’s games it was noticeable that the set-restarts were thin on the ground and there was a lot more holding down in the tackle, which is a disappointment. With the NRL running with two referee’s on the pitch over the last couple of seasons, the speed of the Aussie game was very noticeable, with Super League looking slow and not much quicker than Union but without having to waste five minutes at a time waiting for a scrum to take place. Having the set-restarts is significant in picking up the speed of our play.

Please referee’s keep being brave and giving those set-restarts – if you think the tacklers are trying to slow the play of the ball down, then they are!

In the fast open game Saint Helen’s have a settled team which thrives on broken play and look in prime position for a run at the title again. James Roby’s 500th game is an outstanding accomplishment and there isn’t a team out there which wouldn’t want him.

Wigan looked tired and sloppy last week, with a very relieved one-point win against Wakefield. This week, they were a completely changed side. A lot of younger players coming through who put on a good display against the experience of Leeds. Jackson Hastings is really starting to control the flow of play and the combination of Liam Farrell, Jake Bibby, and Liam Marshall, looking great down the left side.

There was also a great display of camaraderie and respect from the Wigan side, with all of the player’s shirts being specially embroidered with words the players associated with Rob Burrows, in his battle with MND. These shirts will be auctioned and the money given to Burrow’s charity.

Catalan’s looked a different side with Micky Mac and Sam Tompkins back in the squad, with Wakefield having no answer to the speed of Tompkins in the line and his pass choices.

The previous round’s reminder of the game still being in the grip of a pandemic came with the news that eight of the Hull FC squad had tested positive, and they and Salford were stood down for this weekend. The right thing to do. Thoughts and prayers for all the players, coaching and back room staff, and their families.

The Daily Verse – Matthew 22:37

Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ – The Message

Matthew‬ ‭22:37

Do you love God with all of your passion?

Do you love God with all your intelligence?

As well as teaching those with ‘ears to hear’ in both the Synagogues and in open air gatherings, Jesus was subjected to testing by different groups of the Jewish authorities.

A Rabi being questioned was a natural part of religious teaching and discourse in Judaism.

Jesus was being subjected to something much more rigorous and insidious. They were trying to find ways to catch him out and denounce him as a heretic.

They ignored the effect of his teaching and the miracles taking place.

In this verse, the Sadducees had first tried to catch him out and failed. Now the Pharisees stepped up and sent in an expert in Jewish religious law..

Jesus is asked which of the Commandments is the greatest. This is a fairly simple trick question. All Law and Commandments are from God, so they are, therefore, all equally important.

But remember this was the same Jesus who was in the Temple at the age of twelve debating with the teachers there.

Jesus reminds them of the Shema – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. This was a kind of creed or statement of faith for the Jewish people.

God commanded the people to always have this passage on their minds, to talk about it, to contemplate it, to recite it when they rose in the morning and before they lay down in the evening.

The next verse in the Shema is the one Jesus quotes here, Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’

I love this Message version of the the verse.

If we were asked if we loved God then we would nod our heads and speak out in the affirmative.

Jesus emphasises something which was lacking in those questioning him, but was integral to their lives, temporal and spiritual.

They would all have nodded in agreement that they loved God with all of their passion – indeed, they would claim that trying to proclaim Jesus as a fake was part of their passion for God.

(We see this Passion in Paul before Jesus appears to him on the Damascus road in Acts, and then we read of his passion for God and the ‘Way’ all through his letters in the New Testament.)

They would agree with prayer – the Shema itself was a prayer – but Many of their prayers were formulaic and rooted in their Phariseetic traditions.

The last instruction may be surprising – with intelligence.

Loving God with passion and prayer fit very easily into our spiritual lives. We know we should pray and our faith in God easily brings passion – I’m not suggesting that we don’t need to check the passion-meter every now and again though!

But to love God with our intelligence?

God never intended for us to be blind in our faith in Him.

Certainly to the Jewish nation he gave them many miracles testifying to his love and devotion to them.

Jesus presented many miracles before the people but many of the religious leaders recognised them and then dismissed the person behind them.

They used their intelligence but for their own selfish needs and gains.

We are to use our intelligence to affirm and strengthen our faith and love for God.

We are to read God’s Word, look for Him in our everyday lives, and express our passion through prayer and our interactions with others.

Passion. Prayer. Intelligence.

The Daily Verse – John 15:18

“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you.” – AMP

‭‭John‬ ‭15:16‬ ‭‬‬

What does it feel like to know that you have been chosen?

Do you think it is possible to ‘bear fruit’ even in difficult circumstances?

In this verse, Jesus is talking to his disciples.

He tells them that he has chosen them.

Elsewhere Jesus prays for these same disciples, declaring to God that he hasn’t lost one of them.

Just as the disciples were chosen, so are we.

Jesus’ final sacrifice of himself gave everyone in the world access to the God of the Jewish people.

Remember when God spoke to Moses he said He was, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ – Exodus‬ ‭3:6

‬But to Abraham, God had promised ‘through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.’ Genesis‬ ‭22:18‬ ‭

Jesus continues reminding the disciples that as well as choosing them he had appointed them as Apostles.

They had parables explained to them and saw miracles at first hand.

He tells them that they were placed and purposefully planted.

A gardener plants with with the combination of the right soil and right mix of sunlight and shade for each plant.

Why?

So they might be fruitful. Not just fruitful, but to continually bear fruit.

To this end Jesus leaves them with yet another gift, which will out do all of the others they had received so far – they could approach God in prayer and ask Him for their needs in the name of Jesus.

God would respond as if it was Jesus himself asking.

It is powerful to think that we have been chosen – especially when so many of us probably don’t fell that way most of the time.

God – Jesus – must have got the wrong ‘John or Jane Smith’ when the letter came through the door.

Surely he can’t mean us?

As the disciples were chosen, so were we.

As they had a purpose, so do we.

We have been planted purposefully.

This will again also surprise many of us, as perhaps the current place and position of our lives may seem anything but purposeful.

If we start to view our current circumstances as part of our ‘planting’ we can meaningfully pray for our purpose at this time.

As gardeners know, a plant may get moved around the garden, so don’t despair if the thought of being where you are fills you with dread.

Jesus tells us that we will bear fruit and to continue to bear fruit.

This fruit will be a blessing to ourselves as well as others.

Galatians 5 tells us, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”

If we can exhibit these fruit, God can work through us in our circumstances.

By blessing others we also bless ourselves.

On top of this we have an extra gift.

Jesus tells us that if we ask (pray) for anything we need to God, it will be as if Jesus himself had asked for it.

Remember a ‘need’ probably isn’t a BMW or a holiday in Monaco.

An immediate need will be for ourselves or for others to do the work of God.

You are chosen.

You are planted.

God listens and responds to you.