Wednesday, 26 January 2011


What is it that makes us happy? You might think that it is different for each of us although it might well centre around things like, being healthy, having money, having good friends and family. For some of course it might be emulating the style or life of their favourite  celebrity.

When someone asked George Valliant, the director of the Harvard study on happiness that has been running for decades, what he learned from the study, he responded: "That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people." A Researcher, Joshua Wolf Shenk. spent time trawling the archives of this project trying to find the golden key to happiness - his results can be read on-line.

I was reading the Psalms yesterday and found myself, singing away to myself leading to a pleasantly happy state of mind. There is something quite wonderful about spontaneous praise of our God. God even sings himself when he is pleased with his people as a Pastor I met recently shared with me, God rejoices with singing over those who look to him.

God is pleased, happy, when I rely on him and give him glory. When I am maintaining a fruitful and good relationship with God, it seems to me that I am my most happy. David's Psalm of praise as the Ark came to Jerusalem points to this same phenomenon "Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice".

Seek the Lord, work on your relationship with him and look for those times of spontaneous, happy praise, when your heart will be glad.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Prayer's Place

How often have I heard folks tells me that they find it hard to pray? More times than I can remember. I wonder why so many of us find it so hard to pray and yet all who believe in Christ as Lord and Saviour, know that he is the one who hears us and responds.

But is he expected to hear us when we don't pray? Well my answer is yes and no! Yes because there are times when our world is so dark that we simply cannot pray and Jesus knows all about it and is with us in it helping us to travel through it. No because we cannot and must not take him for granted, assuming that even if in our busy lives we have no time for him he will know what we should have / might have prayed but didn't.

Relationship should not ever be one sided. Finding that  time each day to speak with, listen to and thus grow deeper in relationship with Christ is the bedrock of our faith journey. Without it aren't we simply doing our own things in our own strength and so expecting God to rubber stamp them for us?

John Wesley is quoted as saying "I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.", I would love to say thats me too, but it isn't. However I can say that my daily quiet time produces some of the best and most profitable thoughts, ideas, understandings and corrections as I journey with Christ.

If you are thinking how do I pray? Then remember Christs answer, what is called the Lord's Prayer, use it as a template to frame your prayers rather than as a prayer to recite. If we get our prayer life on a strong footing everything else will follow.

Thursday, 6 January 2011


The New Year heralds our move to a new church in Harlow, Essex and anyone who has moved house will have experienced the process of sorting through our "treasured" possessions" knowing that some of it just has to go!

If you asked my wife she would tell you that I hate throwing stuff away, because you never know when its going to be useful. But lets face it when it has sat in the attic or the garage for years, unused, gathering dust, it is not likely to be used again is it?

Our clearing has resulted in a heap of stuff, that we moved with us three years ago, having to go out. Charity shops, clothes banks and the recycling yard as well as "freecycle" (great for recycling things locally by giving to others for free) all benefit and I am having to learn to be hard on myself to get rid of things. De-cluttering my wife calls it.

Today I have to do the garage which includes boxes of old VHS videos (which don't play), paint pots, boxes of bits and pieces, posters, signs I made for one thing and another, many are things that took me time to make for an occasion or project but no longer have uses. There will be some painful goodbyes, but it has to be done.

In many respects our lives and especially our spiritual lives can become very cluttered with "baggage" and ideas and taboos that we hold on to like an old well worn overcoat that we don't want to let go off for fear of the void that it might leave in us.

The writer of Hebrews tells us to throw off all that "hinders" us or "holds" us back. That is anything that slows down or potentially derails our relationship with God through Christ in our walk of faith. What sorts of things - well I would suggest, personal and / or spiritual habits or attitudes that really don't stack up with scripture. Example - not finding time to for a one on one with God each day; Example - driving when we could walk; Example - holding a grudge against someone when we should forgive and let it go. Our walk with God should be a body, mind and Spirit one, total.

So how about spending a moment or two de-cluttering yourself? Check out what might be hindering or holding you back in your walk with God and getting rid of them, put them out, talk to someone about it if it will help, but don't just ignore them / it and carry the clutter with you.

Go for a less junk filled, de-cluttered walk with God that will fit you better for all that He has planned for you.