Friday, 31 October 2014

I pray for your Spiritual Run

I'm praying for your run. Now, not all of us are marathon runners but we are all running a race. So I'm praying for...

Your training - Nobody runs a marathon without training first. Likewise, we need to be training in our spiritual journey, constantly refining our techniques. So I pray that you would retain the scriptures you read (Luke 11:8), that you would look to your Heavenly coach for help (Ps 54:4) and that you would find others to train alongside for accountability (1 Thess 5:11).

Your intervals - In training, these are used to build speed and endurance. In our own lives, we have various seasons of intervals - days and weeks that push our heart rates up, and other days that we use for recovery. I pray these would work as intended - to build you up, and not to discourage you. I pray you would feel strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9) in your uphill journeys and that you would drink living water (John 4:14) to keep you refreshed in your recovery.

Target heart rate - In training this is where you'll receive your maximum benefit. In your spiritual run, this is where you are outpouring from your heart in such a way that you are making the most impact for God's Kingdom. I pray you find your niche, and that you continue to stay in your target zone with God's help, in order to share His heart through you (Colossians 3:16).

Your wall - the point during a race when your muscle glycogen stores become depleted and a feeling of fatigue engulfs you. Spiritually, the enemy wants us to feel burnt out on God, on religion, on serving, on reading our Bible and on anything else that keeps us close to God and on the race path. I pray against this temptation. I prat that when the enemy comes and tries to cut you off (Gal 5:7), that you would cling to the truth and throw off all that is trying to hinder you (Hebrews 12:1).  I pray you would push through the weariness and continue to press forward towards the goal (Philippians 3:14).

Your current mile - I pray that you would be equipped with the right gear, that you would be encouraged in your journey and that you would know in your spirit that you are not running alone, but that God is with you, every step of the way (Matthew 28:20).

Your remaining distance - I pray that wherever God is leading you, you would step forward in obedience (Psalm 119:60).

I pray that wherever you are, from the sidelines to water breaks to hills or long distance stretches, that you would be inspired to keep going, and to do so for the glory of our God!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Talk about Creativity

By Moira Gardener

Usually when we think of creativity we think of fine arts, works of literature, or perhaps a ballet. But take a look at the first chapter of Genesis. If we think about how we are created in God’s image, and God as a creator, we gain a different understanding of creativity. Creativity means more than artistic endeavour, it means to use our imagination to make something unique. It can be physical like art, or abstract like problem solving. If we take a closer look at Genesis 1 we learn a lot from God himself.

The first two things to notice are God begins with problem solving, and Spirit is present. Before He starts he takes a formless void and makes heaven and earth. This solves the problem of what to put his creations on. The second thing we read is “the Spirit of God hovered over the waters” (Genesis 1:2). Spirit is present from the beginning. Creativity is a spiritual act, its anything imagined and unique coming out of us into the world.
But He didn’t stop there, God continued to act. After this preparation of dispelling a void and introducing Spirit, He began the six days of creation starting with something abstract, light. Every individual has something creative in them which needs to come out; nurture it, encourage it. If God did not share creation there would still be a formless void. If Newton didn’t share his thoughts we would not understand gravity. If the entire artistic community kept their work to themselves the world would be a drab place.

Now we come to the days of creation where God continues with: the sky, land, and sea. He added vegetation; complete with seeds and fruit bearing trees. The sun, moon, and stars appeared followed by birds to fill the air and sea creatures to populate the water. It isn’t until day six, after the animals come to move along the land, that He creates mankind.

We are unique, created in God’s own image with not only a body and mind, but a spirit. We have the ability to solve problems and are designed to be creative and as we exercise our creativity it draws us closer to Him.  We’re also given the job of caring for the rest of creation. Now each of these works in the six days built upon the last; until He put everything of himself into the final creation, mankind. Each day He did something unique and at the end of it all God relaxed.

This is a role model for our own creativity. We begin with something formless and external, adding something within ourselves making creativity a spiritual act. And as we proceed with the act of creating things concrete or abstract, with time and perseverance, we have a body of work. And what is imaged becomes something enjoyed by others. 

One key element in creativity often ignored is the seventh day. We must come away from imaging and creating to rest. Rest comes in the form of not simply stopping but in finding recreation or re – creation; anything that fills us up. Creativity is both a filling up and a pouring out. Both must be addressed.          
How does this apply to teaching children about creativity?
1.      Find their unique imagination (concrete or abstract).
2.      Encourage them to act on their creative gift by nurturing and withholding criticism.
3.      Encourage them in an area they enjoy.
4.      Encourage them to persevere.
Basically once the individual’s unique imagination is found nurture it, then; encourage, encourage, encourage. When there is some mastery and the learner is open some structure might be beneficial, with the right mentor.

What: Creativity is anything imaged and unique coming from inside to be shared in community.
When: We create by doing. It is not always something that needs inspiration. We simply act and often it comes out in our action. If we only wait for inspiration, we may never start.
 Where: We create everywhere in our communities. Look around, creativity is in our galleries, our libraries, our buildings, our leaders, our children; especially our children who still have an in tack imagination.
 Who: Everyone who has ever imagined anything.
 How: By finding, nurturing, and encouraging imagination; then acting on it.

 Genesis 1:1 to 2:1 – This is the original acts of God as creator.
 Exodus 1:22 – 2:10 - This is about using imagination to find a solution to a problem.
2 Samuel 23 1-2 - Using imagination to do what it is God created you to do. You are unique.
Matthew 5:14-16 – Using imagination to create more good in the world. You are God’s light.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Talk about Responsibility

By Moira Gardener, Edited by Sarah Davidson

The dictionary definition of responsibility in this article refers to “the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization.” In other words how do we help our children grow up so they are not only independent from us but are a positive influence both towards themselves and others? I believe a large part of this involves ownership of things we actually have control of: our words and actions, and the choices we make. 

      Where do our thoughts and actions come from? They come from the heart. Whatever we plant in our heart will come out our mouth and be reflected in our behaviour. So what we say to our children and how we act around them is what they will absorb and eventually reflect back to us. Therefore it’s important to consider what we wish to plant in those young hearts. What will serve them well?

      A good place to start is reflecting on God’s love, and how He has their best interest at heart. It’s also important they know God doesn’t make junk, and as God breathed beings we are His masterpiece. Each of us is special and has been given talents and gifts to enjoy and share with others. To be created by a loving heavenly father is enough, we are enough right now. God will take us as we are and do great things if we let him. But we have to choose it.

      This brings us to choice. Being responsible is a choice. Choice is the brakes to our thoughts and actions. We may think something unkind for example, but even when we have an unkind thought we choose what we do with it. Teaching the concept of taking every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5) is a tool for life and a way to be responsible with our thoughts. To apply the brakes of choice when the unkind thought pops into our head prevents hurtful actions. This is not an easy one. It means paying attention and often praying to God to take our hurtful thoughts and replace them with His own. 

      Teaching our children to pray is another tool, continuing with our example- when the tongue gets away on us, pray for its taming. The ultimate goal is to make choices for good and choices for God. Look at it this way. Our life is like building a tree house. We can make plans using the materials given to us, find a suitable tree and build a solid house. Or we chose to slap it together any old way using the first tree we see and then play the blame game when it doesn’t work out. (It’s too easy to blame God or others for giving us junky material to build with.) Another choice would be to walk away never building the house at all, claiming it’s not our responsibility. 

      Each one of us is made for a purpose, and we will not have peace until it’s fulfilled. So we can do life the hard way by blaming or giving up; going our own way mistakenly believing we’re junk. Or we can trust God has a master plan for us and chose His way.

One way to be responsible is to believe God wants the best for us, taking the materials of our life and building a solid tree house filled with good thoughts and actions. The result is forward motion. Trust God for He gives us the right materials at the right time for building solid lives. 

      But how do we plant the seed of responsibility in our lives and the lives around us? By acting responsible ourselves, using words to build up, and having clear boundaries about what is acceptable behaviour. Refuse to believe the lies we’re not good enough, have no talent or gift. Decide not to blame God or others.

      Instead step back and try to see what God sees. Then pick up some nails and a hammer and start building. God has the end in mind so leave it to him and choose words that build up, and actions that demonstrate love. The reward for being responsible is trust and freedom. When we do what we say we will do, we earn trust. Trusted individuals are given greater responsibility. In the end you earn the freedom to act independently making your own decisions which hopefully move you forward and bring you closer to God and those around you.


* Responsibility means owning our words and actions and choosing to do the right thing for a positive outcome.

* We become responsible when we do the small things correctly and then earn the trust that we can be responsible for bigger things. In the end responsibility leads to freedom, maturity, and hopefully healthy relationships with God and human kind.

* Responsibility begins in the heart and becomes thoughts and actions. This is why it’s important to hide God’s word in the heart which becomes love in action poured out for building up ourselves and each other.

* We are responsible for ourselves: So own your thoughts, actions, and choices.