Hints for Soul Care for those in Ministry, Leadership, Management or Business:
An antidote for the toxicity of life by building a lifestyle comprising winsome spirituality and a healthy soul
10 Keys to a Healthy Soul:
1. FAITH – not Fear. Trusting God implicitly. Something joyful. Something positive. This is the antidote to Worry.
2. CALLING – a vocation, a clear knowledge, a purpose. Knowing. This is the antidote to Questioning.
3. PRESENCE – a sense, a consciousness, a practice. A daily occurrence. This is the antidote to Loneliness.
4. DEPENDENCY – Vulnerability, not independence. Not always knowing. This is the antidote to Strategising.
5. WAITING – on God. Friendship with God. No rushing. Inner peace. This is the antidote to Tension and Stress.
6. LISTENING – A quiet whisper in my spirit. A clear witness in my soul. This is the antidote to Uncertainty.
7. QUIETNESS – Silence. Switching off. Peace. A digital detox. This is the antidote to Societal noise.
8. SPACE – Breathe. Rest. Pray. In openness. Experiencing wonder. This is the antidote to Insignificance.
9. GLORY - Seeing God. Knowing Him. The Shekinah. That sense. A glimpse. This is the antidote to Drudgery.
10. WORSHIP – The ultimate. This is the Chief end of Man. Being caught up. This is the antidote to Self-interest.
These thoughts were originally written and posted on Twitter during May 2013.
God often turns up unexpectedly. The God of surprises delights us by turning events in our favour. If God is for me, who can be against me?
Relax, listen, pray, breathe. Security and planning are the antithesis of faith and trust. Put yourself in God’s hands – and be surprised.
In life, faith is required – and trust. It’s possible to ‘secure’ God out of your life. If you do this, you may miss His quiet intervention.
Today – live just for today. Worry can be all consuming and is ultimately pointless. Not for nothing does the Bible tell us not to worry.
Faith and trust can result in surprises. These would not be possible if you are constantly worrying – and leaving God out of the picture.
Trust in God’s word – not in the word of those in the world. I’d far rather rely on the Divine certainty than on human plans and promises.
Looking back, I regret not listening more frequently to God – and less to people. But it’s never too late and I’m catching up. You can too!
Get to the end of yourself and your plans. Allow God to intervene. He will surprise you. He intervenes when it seems we have nothing left.
If you keep everything beyond the risk of requiring faith, you may never experience His intervention. God will come to you in the moment.
These thoughts were originally written and posted on Twitter during April 2013.
The Old Testament account of Daniel’s life is remarkable and instructive. Dig deeper and you quickly realise that here was a man – a godly man – who served four ruthless and despotic rulers for around 60 years at the highest level in government of the two major empires of the day. Yet apparently he did so without either moral compromise or personal failure, remaining true to God throughout. How was this possible?
Ruling approx. 600 years before Christ, Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar (the Babylonian empire) and Darius and Cyrus (the Medo-Persian empire) were today’s equivalent of Saddam Hussein, Colonel Gaddafi or President Assad. They all did some pretty wicked things to maintain power. So how did Daniel cope and indeed, thrive in such a violent culture?
One reason for his survival was almost certainly that he demonstrated the gift of true prophecy which made him seemingly untouchable and in some strange way, revered by those he served. This clear prophetic gift was centred in Daniel’s unwavering devotional life.
The more you think about his rise to power, the more extraordinary it seems. Did Daniel ever succumb to the insidious pressures of his position? It would seem not. Daniel exemplifies the clear validity of a calling to high political office. Our liberal, secular culture finds it hard, if not impossible, to believe that anyone can live at such towering levels of integrity. Surely he had to have skeletons in the cupboard somewhere? Well, with Daniel it would seem not. In fact, we are clearly told in Daniel chapter 9 that he was ‘highly esteemed’ by God or as other Bible versions put it ‘greatly loved’.
Daniel reminds us of the ongoing tension that always exists between God’s word and the reality of current events – which are we to believe? Ultimately God is sovereign over human affairs and the teaching here is that He uses ungodly, despotic empires to fulfill his promises. Daniel stood against the godless arrogance of these human empires. He demonstrated the importance of a personal devotional life – and of combining the word of God with prayer. Above all, Daniel teaches us that no ultimate harm can come to us when we are living in God’s plan – why fear death when God is clearly for us?
Daniel assists us in an understanding of how to practise faith in a secular, pluralistic society – in his case it was a pagan and hostile world. John’s Gospel requires Christians to be ‘in the world, but not of it’. What does this mean in reality when absolutist claims of Christianity are no longer tolerated by our own supposedly tolerant society?
My own take on what sustained Daniel throughout his life is the importance and significance of the Word of God. It informed all he did. Daniel was gripped by the written promises of God – and he believed them. Chapter 9:2 – 3 ‘I Daniel, understood from the Scriptures … I pleaded with God in prayer’. His reading of the parchments led to his prayer and in verse 23, Gabriel appears to him (the same angel as later came to speak to Mary!) and said ‘As soon as you began to pray an answer was given … for you are highly esteemed’.
Daniel received the endorsement of God, the highest possible authority! In my book, nothing else much matters in life. No doubt, he had faced criticism and accusations about his motives for being in high office but here was God endorsing all that Daniel stood for by answering his prayer in quite a dramatic fashion. A lesson here for us. When we are misunderstood or criticised, what really matters is are we following the voice and direction of God because if so, that’s all that really counts. The accolade of Almighty God should be enough for anyone.
Daniel 9: 18f: ‘We do not make requests of you because we are righteous but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen. Lord, forgive, Lord, hear and act. For your sake my God, do not delay’.
Stephen Hawking opening the 2012 Paralympics in London said: ‘Look up at the stars. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the Universe exist. Be curious’.
G K Chesterton: To those given to behold God’s glory: ‘There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect’.
Exodus 33:14-16: The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?
C S Lewis: ‘Oh Aslan, said Lucy, it was kind of you to come … I’ve been here all the time, said He, but you have just made me visible’.
Dr David Benner: We do not have to do anything to gain access to God’s presence. We must simply recognize Who is already present.
Charlie Cleverley writes about ‘Epiphanies of the Ordinary’, David Benner speaks about ‘Transformation’. Whatever it is, it’s both about seeing and knowing God.
The awareness of the presence of God in our lives today is key. It will determine how we live today and how we respond to those around us.
The Lord is here, His Spirit is with us; an awareness of God’s presence transforms how we respond to ourselves and to those around us.
Consciously practice the presence of God today. It doesn’t come easily or naturally. Other things can dominate and crowd out our intentions.
I notice on a train how people are immersed in their phones – a pointer to how being immersed in God’s presence works; the strength of our desire to connect.
However tough & challenging life is for you today, rest in an awareness of the reality of God’s presence with you. He desires to bless you.
Give yourself space today to be aware of the reality of God’s presence. He IS with you and He loves you. Enjoy the moment. Be blessed!
Find space to experience God today. Don’t wait until you’re next in Church. In fact Church is not always conducive to the experience of God.
Henri Nouwen: The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God.
Our culture of chasing results and targets can adversely affect our relationships. Seek a balance and more especially in finding time with God.
Live in your experience of God for today. Don’t assume it will perhaps happen tomorrow or in the future. Enjoy the moment now. He loves you.
Say this prayer today: For the awareness & reality of your presence with me today, I thank you Lord.
Lord, I’m grateful for my waking hours. Come to me today. Remind me of your love. Immerse me in your Spirit. Jesus, you are with me today.
Never underestimate the blessing of your presence to others; of you just being you. If you were not you, others would be so much the poorer!
These sentences are taken from my Twitter stream describing a growing awareness of the daily presence of God.
Have you ever experienced song lyrics that go round … and round … and round in your head? I have - and it happened again recently with these beautiful and haunting words from Hillsong Church in Australia.
Why not take a few moments to enjoy the photo and then pause for some time with God in these words? Whatever you are facing at the moment, I pray that He may open your eyes to His hand in your life.
May hope rise within you and may God bless you as you seek Him now.
If my heart has grown cold
There Your love will unfold
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand
When I’m blind to my way
There Your Spirit will pray
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand
Oceans will part nations come
At the whisper of Your call
Hope will rise glory shown
In my life Your will be done
Present suffering may pass
Lord Your mercy will last
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand
And my heart will find praise
I’ll delight in Your way
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand
Hillsong Church, Australia
Words: Ben Fielding
© EMI Music Publishing
From Celtic Daily Prayer, the Northumbria Community
‘This Day is a new day that has never been before,
This Year is a new year – the opening door:
Enter Lord Jesus; we have joy in your coming,
You have given us life – and we welcome your coming’
‘For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries’ – from The Bible
Doors in life rarely open without opposition. There is opportunity in every difficulty and often difficulties spring up to hinder opportunities. The door to 2011 is shutting fast behind us and today we look ahead to the open door of 2012.
We are poised on the edge of yet another year: full of opportunities, yes, and certainly difficulties as well. We cannot re-live 2011 so instead it’s best we turn our attention to the New Year ahead.
What will the year hold? None of us know but I’d like to think that we will all experience the following:
A closer walk and deepening fellowship with God plus a time of greater usefulness to the Kingdom.
In Celtic Daily Prayer, Amund Karner writes:
‘I ask not to fly from the world but to be involved with the world. I am in the world but also in the presence of Jesus. I listen for His word to a broken world. He sees my brokenness and the brokenness of the world around me. I stand in God’s presence looking at Him, listening to Him, bringing to Him the things of the world that have filled my vision. I listen for His word. Be Thou my vision, O Lord’.
Truly a new door is opening – may this be a year of great opportunities for you.
Christ is at the very centre of Christmas.
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all people.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Gospel of John, Chapter 1: 1-14 (NIV)
Who paints these skies? Psalm 19 (NIV) tells us;
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.
Driving home last night, we listened (and, as we often do, sang along) to Robin Mark’s fine arrangement of the very old hymn, ‘We have an Anchor’; all about the Christian’s hope in Christ. I love this albeit rather short hymn, partly as it reminds me of my mother and particularly due to the strong imagery it conjures up in my mind of waves and rocks and ropes and anchors – all stirring stuff!
The words were written by Priscilla Jane Owens (1829-1899) and are dated 1874. The tune was composed by William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921) and he provided melodies for many other well-known songs including another moving hymn, ‘He Hideth My Soul” which, as a boy, I remember being sung by Burl Ives on an LP recording!
Here’s the hymn based on words from the New Testament (Hebrews 6:19); ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and steadfast’.
‘We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll. Fastened to the rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life? When the clouds unfold their wings of strife, when the strong tides lift and cables strain, will your anchor drift or firm remain’?
You can listen to Robin Mark singing this hymn either on YouTube or on the Event Hymns 1&2 CD (Worship Experience, Kingsway Music). Either way, I pray that you will be blessed by the wonderful truth of this very old hymn.
It’s just two years since I had a serious accident. During a sunny summer’s day out, I slipped into a lock from a canal boat on the River Wey near Guildford and broke my arm. More drastically, I had badly damaged the radial nerve which left me with no left hand or finger movement for a good while. It took a lot of skill and knowledge on the part of the medics and particularly the physios to restore things back to some kind of normality.
I rarely think about using my arm and fingers now – mostly it all works OK – and I’ve begun to take it a bit for granted. Sometimes when the air is damp I know it’s still not quite back to rights – not just yet anyway. I can vividly remember the time when I seriously wondered if I’d ever be able to use my arm again properly. It didn’t seem to me that it would be possible and yet my surgeon almost called it to the day in terms of the time that would be required for the healing!
I had a lot of faith in him and, I think, even more in God. I knew that in some way or other, something good would come from this. That something for me may have been to develop a better perspective on life. I was/am guilty of rushing on, always onto the next thing - having a full diary etc. This ‘shock’ taught me to treasure each moment and to reflect with ‘awe’ on the wonder of each minute that we are each given.
This morning, as I thought about the events of two years ago, I picked up Brennan Manning’s ‘Reflection for Ragamuffins’ (SPCK) and read this;
Following surgery for prostate cancer, I walked (catheterized) every morning for an hour through our Old Algiers neighbourhood in New Orleans with a new pair of glasses. One vital aspect of the post-mortem life, it seems, is that everything gets piercingly important. You get stabbed by things, by flowers and babies, by the mighty Mississippi and the inner beauty of your wife, by the loveliness of a plethora of things. And, of course, it all slowly fades …… (p163)
I was captivated by this passage and I experienced those same feelings all over again. I don’t want the joy of living and of being alive, of being able to pick things up and move my arm around to ever ‘slowly fade away’. I remain truly grateful and impressed with the body’s ability to heal itself. It’s all so amazing – the miracle for me is that it seems incredible that any of it works at all! We are truly ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.
And I thank God.