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Monday, 31 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Monday 31st March 2014

A harder day to be joyful today. The post holiday, post space, time, rest blues. But I must learn to live beyond my circumstance. Above the rankling of emotions and silly self-pity. Today's rejoicing is truly a joy challenge but it is one modelled after the author and pioneer of our faith who knew with certainty the joy before him, lest he be caught up in the trouble around him. Hebrews 12:2. And in comparison how very little trouble I have to complain of! And so, when joy is weak and cumbersome and seemingly slow to be found, rejoice in the little, in the tangible, in that which we take for granted. In the taste of butter melting into just-popped toast, in a deep, dark sky scattered with stars, in laughing at the way that laughter transforms someone else's face, in people noticing that you were away and wanting to ask how you are, in comfy sofas and comfy company, in knowing that a warm bed awaits. Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. No excuses. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.  

The Joy Challenge: Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th March 2014

Rejoice in actual real life no internet text message phone line needed face to face contact. A strange - slightly ironic - one but in this oh so contactable age of technological advance we must also celebrate those who we can reach out and touch, hug, smile at, whisper in the ears of. Have been signal-less for the whole weekend in the middle of the Dales with both sides of the family and it has been a joy. Evidently I am one who delights in the texting facebooking emailing blogging of our network world and yet as I sit in the car on a long long journey homewards I rejoice in the wordless presence of Hamish as he drives, as this morning I rejoiced in a bear hug from my dad. In whose presence do we have the pleasure of being today? Let us celebrate our touchable communities, the shoulders we knock into, the lives that ours so complacently brush up against, 

The Joy Challenge: Friday 28th March 2014

Rejoice in nature. This room is full of light. Even though today it is raining - as in fact it was yesterday and the day before - and a dull grey shroud cloaks the dales, the light is still almost painfully bright. A vast expanse of boundless sky speckled with birds, flecks of black pepper, stark against its monotony. It is utterly still. A sea of yellow petals, heavy laden with raindrops, remains unstirred, not yet dancing. The birds sparkle with song. They, unlike us, are unperturbed by bad weather spirits, allowing nothing so trivial to distract them from their morning office. Their voices twist and weave into a hymn of praise. This second, like each one before and each after, is in the hands of the potter, sculpted for the enjoyment of the one whose eyes are opened beyond damp and drizzle to see glory. Do we not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19.

The Joy Challenge: Thursday 27th March 2014

"The baptismal call to be with God is an invitation to joy. Christian life i the form of human living that seeks to live fully in and from the life of God. It is lived in the joy in which God lives. We are placed into the divine joy. It is the mutually indwelling joy of the three persons of the Trinity, whose joy in living is the joy of living in and through each other. It is the life of joy that shouts the creation into being...that chooses to form a people and to shape them in joyful ways of living, to inspire them to sing on behalf of all creation...It is a joy that comes to earth to redeem earth, that was burst from the grip of earth's death and causes people to sing...And we are evidence of God's enjoyment in humanity. God enjoys us so much that he shares his gifts with each one of us. We bear the imprints of God. We are those who dare to trust in the enjoyment of God. We trust that God enjoys the praise of his people, that God placed his joy in human beings and seeks to see that joy discovered and released." Christopher Cocksworth.

And so...sing, share, laugh, love, knowing that God longs to for us to be joyful. Release joy today through generosity, kindness, grace, compassion. Reveal who God is by opening your lips to join in creation's celebratory song, declaring the goodness of the ultimate joy giver, the joy bearer, the joy sharer. 

The Joy Challenge: Wednesday 26th March 2014

Today I woke up after dreaming about the 10 lepers of Luke 17. A strange awakening but a powerful reminder. Were not all 10 cleansed? Where are the other 9? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner? We are such foreigners. The gentiles grafted into Israel's great story. We are those who must return and say thank you. Daily. For his death, his resurrection, our new life. Let us be like the one who returned and never cease in praising God in loud voices, throwing ourselves at Jesus' feet and thanking him. For we too have been healed. 

The Joy Challenge: Tuesday 25th March 2014

Rejoice in surrender. Today, as I sat in the quiet musty stillness of the chapel room of St. Cuthbert's House of Prayer I was reminded of an old Celtic meditation...Father, I abandon myself into your hands, do with me as you will, and whatever you do I will thank you. Whatever you do. Whatever you choose for me. Whatever you want for my life. Now that is a hard thing. A hard thing to surrender all, to loosen tightly gripped hands, give in, let go, relinquish agendas, visions, plans, desires, wants. And yet we do so knowing that the hands that catch us are our Father's. The clay trusts the potter with immeasurable trust precisely because of who the potter is. We fall freely into the hands of our father, abba, daddy and in such giving up of self we find that we become those we are meant to be. It is handing over our whole self that sets us free. 

The Joy Challenge: Monday 24th March 2014

The joy of seasons, of expectation, of God preparing, of not quite knowing but thinking there's something on the horizon, of stomachs jittering with anticipation, of uncomfortable birth pangs which deliver beautiful new life. Today we visited Chris and Suzy and their tiny daughter Abigail. So strange to recall that we prayed for her when she was but a bump and now she is here in all her fearful and wonderful madeness. She was knitted and woven and hand-crafted into someone utterly unique. A season of expectation elapsed into one of arrival and celebration. Thus it is with us: sometimes we wait, pregnantly groaning for a new seasons whilst in the midst of pain; sometimes we savour and relish each moment of joy in a time of feeling extra specially blessed. A time for birth. But in each and every season still the opportunity to bring him glory and bless his name through our praises.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd March 2014

A double dose of JOY today, a) because I clean forgot yesterday and b) because today was a day of baptism and that is worthy of a double joy portion. This evening we watched one of our young people get dunked in Ely swimming pool and I was reminded that 11 and a half years ago that was me. 10th November 2002. The beautiful card that Lou Hern made me still rests above my mirror and reminds me that day by day we must press on to acknowledge him. Proverbs 3:5-6 - in all our ways we seek and submit. Such seeking and submitting is the journey of which baptism is but the beginning. More eloquently put by the marvellous Dorothy Day, "To work to increase our love for God and for our fellow man...this is a lifetime job. We are never going to be finished." For that transitional moment of moving from dark to light, death to life is but the first of many myriad moments of moving towards him: day by day, inch by inch, we move closer to becoming like Jesus. He is making perfect forever those who have been made perfect. Hebrews 10:14. We are and we are not yet. And yet in all our notyetness we are still moving - albeit sometimes taking the long way round - towards Him.

The Joy Challenge: Friday 21st March 2014

Let us rejoice in our communities, our families, our households. In those we love so much that we're not just sharing Jesus with them but life as well. 1 Thessalonians 2:8. Life in all its splendour and dailyness, in the extraordinary and the humdrum. In husbands, wives, children, housemates, friends, neighbours, brothers, sisters. In those we share with, eat with, watch stupid films with, worship with, play in the park with, wash up with - those who see us at our worst and our best. Jesus appointed himself a community of underdogs to demonstrate the truth of the gospel: first to be with him; second to work with him. Mark 3:14. Let us celebrate those who we are being with today - sharing life in the Lord together that onlookers might look on and know that we, by our being and loving and sharing, are His. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Thursday 20th March 2014

I thank my God every time I remember you. (Philippians 1:3) I'm not very good at this: either remembering or thanking, but this morning I was reminded of the sheer joy of having friends, of the people who know you and love you and celebrate you. Those who cheer you on, encourage you, believe in you, stand by you, and challenge you when you've got it wrong. The people who tell you straight when you need to be told straight. Thank the Lord for friends, for family, for bringers of joy, and sharers of pain, for laughing so hard your belly hurts, for hugging so hard you can't breathe, for the niggle inside your stomach when you know someone else has got you nailed and that they're right, that you need to listen to them. Thank the Lord for phone calls, for letters, for emails, for spur of the moment texts, for being thought of and prayed for. For being remembered. Who are we that He should be mindful of us? (Psalm 8:4) That anyone should be mindful of us? Yet he is, they are. We are those who are remembered and appreciated, just as we remember and appreciate. That is beautiful. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Wednesday 19th March 2014

In sickness and in health. Not simply a marriage vow commitment but a covenantal one in respect to our relationship to Christ. Today I am sick. It's fairly annoying. I hate being sick. It makes me realise lots of horrible things about myself: that I think I'm pretty important and feel guilty for not being able to be places lest things fall apart when I'm not there, that I overload myself with too many things to do instead of trusting Jesus, that much of my sense of identity is underpinned by being a doer and needing to be active, needing to be needed. But we, beloved, are not defined by what we do; we are defined by who we are: children of God, daughters and sons of the King, lovers of the Almighty, those whose lives are hidden in Christ. "What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29.) A much harder thing altogether perhaps. Not about do do doing but be be believing. Am I believing, trusting, leaning, resting? After all, at heaven's pearly gates, nothing we have done will be our means of admittance; we will fall to our knees with nothing to say but that we believed. He is the one who has done it. Not us. That is pretty sure grounds for rejoicing. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Tuesday 18th March 2014

Thank the Lord for the little. Like when your keys fall out of your back pocket and narrowly miss the toilet; when the cycle ride to work is frustratingly windy but it isn't raining; when you wake up 5 minutes before your alarm and can lie in bed; when an old friend greets you on the stairs to the library and stops - really stops - to check how you're doing even though he's tired and busy and stressed; when there's no one yet in the library and you get to enjoy the peace and the smell of freshly vacuumed carpets; when your computer crashes and you think you've lost all your work and then it miraculously starts itself back up again. Praise be to the God of small things, of near-missed mercies that hide themselves in the most surprising spaces of each day. Earth is crammed with heaven. Don't miss it. 

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Monday 17th March 2014

In peace I will lie down and sleep for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8. On this Monday morning, let us rejoice in our waking, in eyes that open, bodies that move, hearts that beat, in the weak sunlight of morning that presses through curtains. Let our first thought not be the grumble of a new week, of work and the countdown till the weekend, but a welling up of joy in our being here, safe, secure, alive. Where many in the world rest sleeplessly in fear, hunger, persecution, uncertainty, let us be glad that us Brits have so very little to fear, so very much complacency in our own safety. Awake, my heart, my soul, my mind, my strength, and sing of his love and goodness today. His mercies are new this very morning as with ever other. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Sunday March 16th 2014

Pygmy x Toggenburg goatToday has been a slight struggle to be joyful at times. Life seems to conspire against a determination to rejoice. But I remember that this is a discipline of celebration not a do it when you feel like celebration. And so...praise God for sunshine. Seriously. It is good. Very good. For friends and fellowship, for Sam's chocolate pudding, for Lizzie's goat impersonation, for making a 3D human freeze frame of Pompeii mid-eruption with a bunch of teenagers, for Bethany getting to grips with the cross, for me getting to grips with the cross, for Jesus dying for me, for him becoming sin for me, for him beating death for me, for him taking my place so that I could become the righteousness of God. Come on, Soul, bless the Lord. Forget not his benefits. 

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Saturday 15th March 2014

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27) Sundays are normally fairly exhausting, so Saturday is Sabbath Day. Today has been a day of lie ins, of spring sunshine shining through spring-cleaned windows, of sitting on the bench outside our house, of working together, of laughter and silliness, of stopping and sleeping and forgetting what the time is - and then realising that it doesn't matter anyway. Oh for more days like these. And to think that our Father planned it thus, commanded it thus, pre-programmed us with a need for rest and told us that we should do it. And so, whatever day your sabbath is, whatever nook, cranny, minute, second of breathing space you remember that you have be still and know that He is God. He loves us when we're not doing anything. Hallelujah.  

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Friday 14th March 2014

 Christ is us - yes little old insignificant tired fading away us - is the hope of Glory. Colossians 1:27. This is today's mindblowingly joy-bringing truth. We know it and we know nothing of it. It's made it to our head but not to our heart - that Christ died not only to forgive us (although we rejoice in such glorious truth as that) but also so that he could live in us. Christ in us, tabernacling, making his home, living his life through us. We have everything we need (2 Peter 1:3) today to live a radically Christlike, Spirit led existence which transforms us and those around us. We are those who carry the light. Ephesians 5:8. And so, shine, you shiny happy people.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Thursday 13th March 2014

Today's joy is inspired by worshipping with Lizzie and Elaine before cafe this morning. As we strummed and sang, I was struck by the words 'Praise is my warfare.' When we choose joy and thankfulness over self-centred mopping and ingratitude we are waging war against darkness and despair in our lives and the lives of others. That is incredible. The weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of this world...they have divine power to destroy strongholds and take every thought captive to Christ. 2 Corinthians 1-:4-5. Come on! As we sang this morning, the fog lifted and the beginnings of sunlight - slowly, little by little by little (Exodus 23:30)- broke through the church windows. Let us be those who sing songs in dark places today. Acts 16:25. 

File:Fog shadow of GGB.jpg

Praise is my warfare
Praise is my warfare
Praise is my warfare
And as I sing, the darkness lifts.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Wednesday March 12th 2014

FeatherDelight yourself in the Lord. (Psalm 37:4) What a beautifully unusual command: be happy in God's presence, rejoice in spending time with Him, take pleasure in all his myriad displays of goodness. Simply delight. Delight as a child who gurgles with laughter as someone tosses them into the air. Let a big goofy smile plaster itself on your face as you remember that you are his child and he has lavished you with love. (1 John 3:1) You belong to your beloved and his desire is for you uniquely. (Song of Songs 7:10) You are hidden in the cleft of his rock. (Exodus 33:22) Sheltered under the feathers of his wings. (Psalm 91:4) Resting between his shoulder blades. (Deuteronomy 33:12) And so...delight. 

The Joy Challenge: Tuesday 11th March 2014

The glory of God is a human being fully alive. And so, dry and weary bones, LIVE. In your tiredness and disappointment, in the drudgery of early mornings, and amidst an endless to do list, LIVE. Do that today which makes you feel most fully alive that God might be glorified in your living. Today, I will mainly be studying in a library. I don't yet know how to be fully alive in that but I'm praying that I would - that my heart would live in the midst of the mundane and that God would be exalted in me. You who seek God, may your hearts LIVE today. Psalm 69:32

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Monday 10th March 2014

Soon to be oaks of righteousness (Isaiah 61:3)
What could be more joyful than renegade teenagers leaping (literally) down the street and squeaking with excitement about the prospect of giving away two hours of beautifully hand crafted cake baking and decorating? Only perhaps the joy of praying with brothers and sisters this evening and remembering that we are part of a heavenly kingdom that never ends (Psalm 145:13). Those renegade teenagers are the next generation that will go beyond our generation. They are the kingdom builders. The saplings - soon to be oaks - of righteousness displaying His splendour in the most surprising and beautiful of ways. Hallelujah.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Joy Challenge: Sunday March 9th 2014

The beautiful Xanna reminded me of a Barrett Browning poem I texted her recently: 

Earth's crammed with heaven, / And every common bush afire with God, / But only he who sees takes off his shoes;/ The rest sit round and pluck blackberries. Oh that today would be a day of removed shoes. A sabbath day of stopping, seeing, lifting up our eyes. The ridiculously happy daffodils strain their faces upwards to catch the sun and so must we. Stop. Look up. Look round. Breath in. Be changed. For we who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory -n this heaven-crammed earth - are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory. Say what?! Be-ing transformed. Present continuous. Ongoing. Right now is the opportune moment to look to Him and be made new. 

An electric Lent

My friend Phil has dubbed my Lenten behaviour electric. I am enjoying such a label. It is certainly the most exciting and meaningful Lent I have ever known. This year, the 40 Acts Challenge has forced me to consider Lent as a season of preparation not simply sacrifice: as Jesus prepared himself for the cross and resolutely set his face towards Jerusalem so his followers prepare themselves for a life that looks life his. Yes, such a life is one of sacrifice, of choosing to put others first, of in humility honouring others before ourselves but such sacrificial generosity is not drudgery. It is joyful. And thus, alongside my big-hearted ambition to bless others this Lent, I am also undertaking a ferocious pursuit of JOY. 

G.K. Chesterton writes of God's joy like this: "Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

I want to be young this Lent and so each day I have been trying to send a joy abounding text. I've decided that others might want to keep track of my joyful pursuit thus I am also posting these texts here:

Tuesday 4th March 2014:
It is a beautifully crisp, sunn spring morning. The air is cold on my minted teeth and my breath belongs to a dragon. My feet crunch in the most satisfactory way over a thin scattering of frost that hugs itself round blades of grass and spiders' webs. The sky is not quite a peerless blue, its rim still tinted with the early morning haze of sunrise and lifting mist. The birds are alerting the world to the breaking of a new and glorious day, a gift of God for our enjoyment. This lent I am taking up the discipline of celebration, of recognising the reign of God in the ordinary, of being glad. Join me.

Wednesday 5th March 2014:
To continue with my rejoicing theme: what an amazing way to start the day: to get a text from a young person at 6:47am saying that she is praying for me. God. Is. Good. Happy Wednesday.

Thursday 6th March 2014:
The grand joy challenge. Day 3. Today's top joyful tip. God for a run. Stop in the middle of a random field. Check no one's watching and play Dizzy Dinosaurs with your heavenly Dad smiling on as you tip your face up to heaven and remember that you're his kid and he delights in you being just a little bit foolish. Here's to more silliness in our lives as we recognise God's joyful presence in our midst.

Friday 7th March 2014:
Bit more of a struggle to be joyful today as Im tired and grumpy and sweaty after a high speed cycle across a town full of irritating pedestrians! But rejoice. I say it again. Rejoice. Not because I feel but because He says. And so I choose rejoicing. Rejoicing in the pattern of light and shadows dancing upon clouds, in the act of breathing in deep down into my lungs and out again, in the first bite of an apple, in recognition that God's love is such that he cares intimately for each man, woman, child, student, granny. traveller upon this crowded train platform and has oh so much more time and patience for them than I do. I have three chocolate lindt bunnies in my bag bought on an impulse with the intention of giving away. Pray for the right recipients as I pray that I would have oh so much more time and patience for the wonder of God;s intricately created humanity.

Saturday 8th March 2014
What did you have that you did not receive? 1 Corinthians 4:7. This morning as the Derby sky is tinged with tangerine pink and the clouds look like animations from a Disney film, I am rejoicing in what God has given me for use in his Kingdom. Each of us is unique in our giftedness and those precious gifts are given to us that we might give away. To each is given for the good of the other. 1 Corinthians 12:7. And thus my creativity, painting, fincances, baking, dancing, energy, knowledge, speaking, guitaring, my personal storehouse. Not a barn to be expanded and expanded and expanded but a resource to be poured out poured out poured out. Blessed to bless. What can I give cheerfully, joyfully, surprisingly today? For all that is not given is lost.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Minted Teeth on a Dee Dah Day

This morning was an astonishingly beautiful morning. Thanks to a puncture yesterday, I wandered up to McDonalds at a leisurely pace - instead of cycling in a last minute panic - to meet a friend for coffee. I have been reading John Ortberg's rather wonderful book, The Life You've Always Wanted, and have been struck by the way he talks about joy. He tells a story about his daughter Mallory and the way she taught him about deliberately choosing to rejoice, instead of missing the opportunity:

“Sometime ago I was giving a bath to our three children. I had a custom of bathing them together, more to save time than anything else. I knew that eventually I would have to stop the group bathing, but for the time being it seemed efficient.

Johnny was still in the tub, Laura was out and safely in her pajamas, and I was trying to get Mallory dried off. Mallory was out of the water, but was doing what has come to be known in our family as the Dee Dah Day dance. This consists of her running around and around in circles, singing over and over again ‘Dee dah day, dee dah day.’ It is a relatively simple dance expressing great joy. When she is too happy to hold it in any longer, when words are inadequate to give voice to her euphoria, she has to dance to release her joy. So she does the Dee Dah Day.

On this particular occasion, I was irritated. ‘Mallory, hurry!’ I prodded. So she did—she began running in circles faster and faster and chanting ‘dee dah day’ more rapidly. ‘No, Mallory, that’s not what I mean! Stop with the dee dah day stuff, and get over here so I can dry you off. Hurry!’

Then she asked a profound question: ‘Why?’

I had no answer. I had nowhere to go, nothing to do, no meetings to attend, no sermons to write. I was just so used to hurrying, so preoccupied with my own little agenda, so trapped in this rut of moving from one task to another, that here was life, here was joy, here was an invitation to the dance right in front of me—and I was missing it.”

I feel like I have missed many opportunities to dance of late. I've been struggling with some undiagnosed bowel issues for a long time and it's left me down and weary and all together fed up with plodding. But this morning as I felt the cold spring air on my minted teeth, and turned my face up towards the blue sky, still tinged with the haze of dawn and rising mist, I allowed the birds' song to alert me to the presence of God and the sheer joy of a new day. This Lent, instead of giving up, I'm taking up and one of the things I'm taking up is joy - the discipline of choosing to rejoice instead of wallowing. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) An invitation and a challenge - am I going to let myself rejoice today? Am I choosing to rejoice as I am commanded to do? (Philippians 4:4) I'm going to give it a go. 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

It is more blessed to give than to receive

In my bible reading this week I came across these famous words which, interestingly enough, don't really come up where you expect them to. As he leaves the Ephesian church behind in Acts, Paul reminds the brothers and sisters of something he had heard that Jesus once said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ This has become one of those hand me down sayings - much in the way that Paul himself probably received it - but it has lost its radicalism. It has become somewhat twee, a hearsay, a blithe aphorism that doesn't really mean much. The question is, is it true? Is giving good for us? 

I've been challenged of late by Pioneering folks at Ridley and Chris Duffet, a somewhat unlikely, but marvellous, evangelist about what it means to get involved with what God is already doing. It's made me wonder how we managed to make Christianity so mind numbingly dull. If there is a creator God and his love for humanity is such that, not only will he marvel at the beauty of his creation and concoct a ludicrously costly salvation plan to bring them back into relationship with himself, but he will also invite them to partner alongside Him in redeeming the rest of the planet (Romans 8:19-21) and changing the world - how did we manage to narrow that down into a set of rules and structures mostly confined to within church walls? To a one off profession of faith and a lifestyle which - other than missing out on a Sunday morning lie in - looks little different from anybody else's? 

Surely there is more to it than that? The thing is, I think there is. I'm beginning to think that God actually wants us to be involved in what He's doing; that He's actually acting and speaking all the time and we can either tune into it and keep in step (Galatians 5:25), or miss out. This seems to be what Jesus says: "“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working...Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." (John 5:17-19) God the Father is always doing and God the Son listens to him and does; whatever Dad does Son does. Like Father like Son. And now, through the cross, we're the sons. We're the daughters who should be doing what we see our Father doing. But half the time (most of the time) we're missing it. 

What are we doing today, Daddy?

A couple of weeks ago, I went out to do some creative evangelism with another Pioneer at Ridley. As we prayed before hand, I had a picture of a little kid running into his parents' bedroom and jumping onto the bed in excitement shouting, "What are we doing today, Daddy?" The sense of a Dad who has fun plans for a Saturday morning and a little kid who can't wait to find out what they are; who is so excited about the possibility of just doing what his Dad is doing that he's run in at 6am - interrupting his parents' well deserved lit in - and started leaping around. What if following Jesus was a little bit more like this? Like getting excited about what God is doing and asking to be involved with it? Like being a little kid who's willing to get involved with his Dad's crazy plans because he trusts him and knows that - even if those plans seem a little foolish or scary, they're good plans because they're Dad's plans.

That isn't a boring lifestyle. It's an adventure. How could building a kingdom - a kingdom full of peace, and healing, and hope, and transformed lives, and restored relationships - ever be boring?

And so, to bring us back to Jesus' aphorism, giving is better than receiving. Our God is a giving God. He's generous to the extreme and he invites us to partake in that generosity. Not only because it's what we should be doing but because it's good for us - it's joining in with Dad's fun time Saturday plans, not Monday morning's job list. Mike Pilavachi tells a story about paying for the car behind him at a toll booth on a road; about the tingly feeling of doing a totally random act of kindness for a stranger, about the goodness of blessing someone else. This morning, my lovely friend Jax and I went out for a coffee. The cafe was super busy and two of the workers were off sick. The manager was stressed and run ragged - so much so in fact that she brought me a cup of tea with no actual tea in it! What was the Father doing in that situation? What was the ever-giving God up to and wanting Nic and Jax to participate in? I think what God was up to was wanting someone to appreciate this woman - to show that she was noticed and cared for and doing ok even in the middle of a chaotic shift at work and difficult colleagues. And so, we bought her flowers. Nothing spectacular, just a handful of flowers from the conveniently placed florist next door, and she was gobsmacked. I didn't try and make it something deep and meaningful - I just mumbled that she seemed like she was having a bad day and left the flowers on the counter, as she stood there amazed and unsure what to say. And do you know what, it was exciting. Really exciting. That tingly feeling of having given without expecting to receive. Only I was receiving. I was being blessed back in abundance - which perhaps solves Phoebe's age old question of whether or not altruism can ever be truely selfless.

I begin to waffle. But I wonder if life following Jesus was always intended to be more of an adventure than we have made it. Jesus said he could only do what he saw the Father doing, so perhaps we should ask God more often what he's doing, where he's already at work, and what his Saturday funtime plans are, so that we can get involved. Sons and daughters hanging out with their Dad changing the world together. That sounds pretty good.