Love is a verb.

If I haven’t told you already (and I’m pretty sure I have), I work in a customer services position. Every day myself and my co-workers are hit with a barrage of anger, stress, frustration, and annoyance from the people we speak to. Personally, it tends to drain me pretty badly, mentally and physically, and some nights I fall asleep wondering about the human race and why it thinks it can behave in the way it does.

Before you all tell me to get off my high horse, I don’t mean that I’m perfect, but I do think that, as a Christian, when I see people acting in this way I should do all I can to counteract this attitude.

The world does not love grace and mercy; society calls people to deserve things, the human race believes that nothing should come easily.

But Jesus didn’t die so this attitude could carry on forever:

Luke 4:18
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…”
(NIV)

I’m a firm believer in loving people and not forcing my beliefs on them and I believe that if my life is the only glimpse of Jesus that people ever get in their day to day lives, then it’s important that I just love them. Loving people involves giving up a lot, but most importantly it involves giving up time. Time is precious, as I’m sure you’ve heard said before, and we can’t love people if we’re constantly rushing around doing things for ourselves.

I don’t think we should do this with the hopes of converting people, after all that’s not what we’ve been called to do (1 Cor.3:6-7 “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (NIV)), and is also what offends people so greatly. The most important thing is that we do just what Jesus did, and that we let people know that they’re not alone, but that they are important and worth something, far more than what this world would have them believe.

Grace should be far more freely available to people than it is, it’s as simple as that.

And people should be able to expect this of Christians, they should expect love and forgiveness and time and patience. Not in a demanding, self-righteous way (after all, we’re not door mats), but in the same way that I just know that, when I’m with my Christian friends, they will treat me with great love and respect.

The human race is broken, every single one of us, and we’re all in need of love and forgiveness. I encourage you to love everyone who you come into contact with because, as Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (NIV)

x

Advertisements

Artists

Recently my work mates found out that I sing and play guitar and this has ended in some quite awkward moments for me. I appreciate the compliments and the demands for me to sing in the middle of the office, but as I’m not much of a performer and prefer to sing to my camera for my YouTube channel I’ve been left with quite the red face.

However, this has made me ponder a few things about art and it’s importance today. Don’t worry, I’m not about to go on some big political rant, but what I do wish to do is share the work of some people who I think deserve more recognition. Whether they are musicians, writers, painters, photographers, whatever they do I believe they deserve to be talked about so, I present to you, some wonderfully talented people:

  • My good friend, Jude Lacey, is a brilliant artist and has recently created a Facebook page for her work which you can check out right here.  Keep your eyes peeled for more of her work and also hopefully an Etsy page (right, Jude?!!). At least I’m hoping for an Etsy page…
  • Sunset Electrics hail from Phoenix, AZ and are a mix of country, pop and indie. They’re one of those bands that I’m just waiting to hear more from and can’t wait until their first EP is ready.
  • Gemma Wilson is an abolitionist who blogs right here. Gemma writes beautifully about “modern day slavery and human trafficking with an emphasis on localised counter-trafficking movements.” Her work is not only stunning but important and the blog is definitely worth a follow.
  • Scott Gallagher is a Belfast-based photographer who is able to see art in what the untrained eye would miss. You can check out his work on his website.

I know plenty more talented people but am just waiting for them to get their bums in gear and get their work on line. Until then, please enjoy the talents of those listed above.

x

Seeing the Beauty.

It’s 1:44 am and I’m awake. Not wide awake, just awake.

I don’t often get to stay up this late in the knowledge that I don’t have much to worry about the next day, so this is nice. It’s nice to be able to be myself, to live life how I want, to ponder life while the rest of this part of the planet is, mostly, fast asleep.

I’ve wondered a lot of things this past week. I’ve wondered why people think they can get away with aggressive, negative behaviour, why more people don’t look for the good things in life, I’ve wondered how I can forget all the beauty that I’ve seen while I sit in an office for eight hours a day. I fear that the negativity of society is dragging me down and pulling me away from the truth that I know to be real.

Last summer, on a five hour flight between LA and Pittsburgh, PA, my plane flew over the Grand Canyon; never before have I had a bird’s eye view of something so beautiful and mind-boggling. I only got a quick glimpse at it but the image is still etched in my memory; it’s kind of what I think the moon would look like from above, but in a different colour, of course.

Chris August sings a beautiful song called ‘Canyons (Beautiful Noise)’ that goes a little something like this:

Life is hard, people are awkward, Jesus never said things would be easy. But there is still good and beauty to be found in this world and we just need to look for it. It’s easy to sit in your office thinking, “I shouldn’t be here, I’m too good for this, I deserve better.” But doing that won’t get us any where. What will teach us and grow us is if we can let go of pride, stop wallowing, and find that little bit of good in the situation.

As we sing, as we praise God, as we cry out to Him, He listens and our words of praise and worship bounce off the walls as we stand at the bottom of the deepest canyons, until the echo sounds like a whole choir is creating a joyful noise unto the Lord. As we find the good in life, as we choose each day to have a positive attitude, to love people, to help them, we grow closer to Jesus. We all have struggles but what matters is how we overcome them, and the first step is finding that little bit of light in all the darkness. Once you see it it will never be covered up again.

x

The awkward moment when you realise your job didn’t make you happy after all…

Finally, another Tuesday post! I’m hoping to get back on schedule now that I’m more used to going to work every day. Enjoy!

For a while during my unemployed period after graduation all I could think about was getting a job and how happy it would make me to fill my time and get some cash in my pocket. However, what I didn’t realise was that I might not enjoy my job and that true happiness (which is truly defined as joy in Christ) is not found in anything worldly.

The wise C.S. Lewis once wrote:

“I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.”

Society takes the simple things away from us. When you’re employed your time is no longer your own, your energy is sucked out of you as you drag yourself out of bed every morning to sit in an office for nine hours in front of a computer and be spoken to as if you are worth nothing. If I didn’t know Jesus, if I didn’t know how much worth He saw in me, I might actually believe these people. In work the air conditioning dries out my throat and causes me to spend the day coughing, I feel bad any time I need to take a bathroom break in case I get yelled at, and my breaks are only long enough to shovel my lunch and snacks in before heading straight back to my desk. No time to read or truly rest from the almost three hours I have just spent in a room lit with fluorescent lighting, being treated like a robot. The world makes us think we should be okay with all these things because we’re getting paid minimum wage for it.

But this post isn’t going to be a big complaint about my job. As much as I’d like to bore you all with how much I dread the thought of getting up at 6:30 am tomorrow, I won’t. What this post is about is where true happiness is found, and how I wish, when I was unemployed, that I had truly realised this.

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
(ESV)

You see, we’ll never find true fulfillment in our work, no matter what we do. Whether we’re a missionary or a check out worker, the CEO of a company that makes millions daily or a doctor who saves lives day after day, true fulfillment will not be found in these things. Only Jesus can give us true joy, true peace, and true hope.

Your job might not make you smile, but spending time with Jesus and knowing true peace and fulfillment in being His child does. My favourite part of the day is when I get to come home and spend time with Jesus, reading His word, and listening to Him speak to me and talking with Him. It’s truly a highlight. If your job does make you smile, just remember that it may not be your job forever, and that things may change, whereas God will not.

Malachi 3:6
“I, the LORD, do not change.”
(NIV)

So, fellow 2012 graduates, don’t forget that nothing but Jesus will be enough to bring joy to you.

x

Endurance: Part Two

Tonight, for my second post on endurance, I’m going to write about the beautiful things that you will come to realise when the tough times just seem to keep on going and continually getting tougher.

Upon entering my current job I hoped to be out of it within a few weeks. The last thing I wanted was to be going into week six and still be waiting for responses from other employers inviting me to interviews. However, this is where I am, and where I will be for the next while. But in this time God is growing and changing me more than I ever thought He could.

Today I read some of Psalm 18 and this blew my mind:

Psalm 18:35
“You give me Your shield of victory,
and Your right hand sustains me;
You stoop down to make me great.”
(NIV)

God who created this world, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, stooped down for me, a weak and lowly creature who screws up constantly. When I’m in work and I’m stressed out God gives me His shield of victory, His right hand holds me up, and He stoops down and lifts me out of the worry and the fear. He is always faithful.

Psalm 18:16-19
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
He drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
From my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
But the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me.”
(NIV)

God never leaves us on our own when we’re afraid, He never expects us to get out of bad situations ourselves, but He pulls us out, He reaches down and takes hold of us and holds on to us like we never knew He could. If we trust in Him He will do more for us than we are ever able to imagine.

I don’t just read these truths in the Bible but I see them in my every day life. I see Him constantly pull me out of situations that scare me when I begin to panic, I see Him answer the little, weak prayers that I mumble to Him under my breath, I see Him bless my conversations, I hear Him when I walk outside between the office and the canteen and hear the birds singing, I see Him when I work the early shifts and the morning sun light streams in through the window as I talk to customers.

On Tuesday morning I was listening to Switchfoot and doing some of my Bible reading before I left the house. The song I was listening to is called ‘Your Love is a Song’ and it goes a little something like this:

As I listened to this I read Ephesians 4:16-21 and don’t think I’ve ever smiled so much at 7:15 am:

“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
(NIV)

While praying tonight it hit me that I’m not in this world to be amazing at my job or to have a brilliant education, I’m in this world so God can use me to tell people about Him, so I can take part in the great commission. All these things we do: work, school, university, grocery shopping, buying clothes… we do these things because we can’t completely avoid society, but we don’t do them to please God. First and foremost our identity is found in Christ and what we do for Him.

So because of this, because Christ asks us to follow Him so we can grown and learn, in Him, we must endure, but we can always feel safe and at peace in the knowledge that He is always with us and will always save us. After all, He already did.

x