Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

by Janet Stobie

Decisions are a part of living. We teach little children to practice the art of decision-making by offering them choices they can handle.

What shirt would you like to wear?

Do you want broccoli or carrots for dinner?

The older we get the more serious our decisions become.

Will I do my homework?

Will we have children?

Is it time to move?

Life changing decisions can be paralyzing for me. My decision-making track record is far from perfect. Yes, I’ve made some great choices in my life time – like answering God’s call to ordained ministry, having my three wonderful children, and choosing Tom as my life partner. I’ve also made enough poor choices – learning to smoke, taking dad’s car down onto Sauble beach when it was forbidden, teenage marriage, to name only a few. That’s why I want desperately to follow God’s will when I am making life choices.

But how do I know what is God’s will? The following are my steps.

1.  Research:

  • talk with professionals in the field.
  • draw from my own experience.
  • consult friends and my spiritual leader (pastor)
  • write down all the pros and cons I can find for both sides of a decision.

2,  Prayer

  • light a candle, Play quiet music, Tell God my dilemma.
  • read relevant scriptures (given me by my pastor).
  • listen in silence for God’s Word.

3.  Make the decision and trust.

TRUST THAT GOD CAN USE YOUR CHOICE OR MINE, WHATEVER IT IS, TO BRING GOOD FOR YOU AND OTHERS.

That’s the secret. I do my very best to make the wisest decision possible and then I trust in God’s power and love.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.       (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

 

 

 

 

The Prayer Professional

The Prayer Professional

I can talk with God, too.
I can talk with God, too.

 

 

When I am at wedding dinners, social dances, group meetings, wherever the leader considers prayer would be a good thing, I get conscripted. Why not ask me? After all, I’m a pastor. When I encourage someone else to lead in prayer, I hear, “Oh no, not me. My prayers aren’t good enough. I’m not prepared. You pray. You’re the professional.” I’m not a professional. I’ve just learned to pray from my heart in all circumstances.

Most of us pray at home. We rattle off quick prayers on the way to work, as we begin a new job or wave good-bye to our teenager. We know how to pray. Why then does leading a group in prayer cause such extreme anxiety?

It can’t be that we’re afraid God will complain about our effort. After all, some of our private prayers are limited to one word like, “help” or “please”.

I believe we see public prayer as performance and the group in front of us, not God, as the audience waiting to criticize when we don’t do it correctly. No wonder we become tongue-tied at the thought of praying out loud in front of people.

Here are my suggestions to follow when leading a group in prayer.

  1. Remember, prayer is a conversation with God. What someone else thinks is not even relevant.
  2. Be assured, God welcomes any and all conversation with us.
  3. There is no right and wrong for prayer. God listens to our heart, not our words.
  4. Focus on caring for the group in front of you, rather than worrying about what they’re thinking about you. What do they need to say to God? Tell God their concerns.
  5. Let go of yourself and how good you are or aren’t. That is irrelevant.

Try these 5 suggestions. Take a deep breath and pray. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to lead your group in prayer or pray with your friend.

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)

 

 

 

How Do We Give Thanks?

I apologize for the erratic nature of my blog posting lately. I was pre-posting blogs and they were automatically being published. At the moment that is not working on my blog. Therefore I will return to posting them each week on Friday morning. Thank you for your patience.

How Do We Give Thanks?

By Janet Stobie

How do we give thanks in a world that:

  • uses poison gas, bombs and guns;
  • condones violence;
  • bases success on greed and competition?

I can give thanks because I know that in the midst of this hell created by human beings, God is active every moment of every day creating good.cropped-rainbow-more-blue-pink.jpg

Creation is God’s gift.

I am grateful for the many people who have hearts that see and contribute to the goodness in this world.

This year, let’s shift our focus. We don’t have to join the darkness and hopelessness that exist in this world.

We can open our eyes to see and be the light that is shining in the darkness.

  1. Soak in the fall beauty that surrounds you. Count the number of beautiful trees and shrubs you encounter each day. Take pictures at least with your mind. Every day describe a moment of natural beauty to a friend and/or family member.
    God's Amazing Beauty
    God’s Amazing Beauty
    It lasts for ten minutes before disappearing.
  2. Be an instrument of goodness. Each day offer a smile, a thank you, a hug, a compliment, a word of praise to at least one person.

    He's my honey!
    He’s my honey!
  3. Add to the light in this world by opening a door, offering to pray, taking time to listen, baking a cake, making a telephone call.

    Care about someone.
    Care about someone.
  4. Collect moments of joy that you have given to an adult, teen or child each day, or even each hour. Put them in the album of your mind.

    Enjoy a child's laughter
    Enjoy a child’s laughter

Changing our world requires an intentional choice. Begin each morning with the famous words, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” End each day giving thanks for the goodness you have seen, you have given and you have received.

 

 

 

Gas for the Journey

Just in case some of you are tired of the last discussion and ready to move on, I offer you this week’s thought for the road.

Gas For the Journey

Self-Serve is essential.
Self-Serve is essential.

Our week at “Soul Feast” in North Carolina, this past summer, gave Tom and me some fuel for the journey of life. We met a crowd of caring, friendly people. Worship each day provided inspiration. Workshops offered valuable learning. Sharing a cottage with dear friends meant free time was special. When the week was over, we were reluctant to return home and dive back into the busy stream that is our lives.

Times of renewal are always too short, yet it is their brevity that makes them special and refreshing. Why? Vacations give us a change of scene, and often a reduction in stress, but not always renewal, not always gas for our journey.  As people of faith, we can forget that retreats, study evenings or days, and workshops provide opportunities for renewed energy and learning. Regularly, Jesus invited his followers to go up on the mountain or down by the lake, to have time apart to focus on his teachings and on God.

Fall is here, vacation over. It’s time to care for yourself. Check out the Internet and the bulletin board at church. Take advantage of at least one opportunity to learn and grow. Choose your renewal experience carefully. This will be a special gift for your faith. I recommend the Canadian Biblical Storytellers Festival on October 18 and 19 at Richmond Hill United Church, 10201 Yonge St. This promises to be one extremely inspirational experience.  Come, listen, learn and grow in your faith.

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:1-2

Thank You

Thank You

By Janet Stobie

 

First of all, thanks to everyone who took the time to comment on my last post. It’s good to know that there are people who read my blog and that they care.

You either agreed with me or solidly did not. There was no middle ground presented. I could try restating my thoughts in hopes that those who thought I was stepping away from Jesus, would see that they have misunderstood. Instead, I think it is better for us to accept that we have different perspectives.

I prayed about that post and this one before I wrote them, while I wrote them and before I posted them. Even though I don’t like to pull scriptures out of context to prove a point,  I offer yet another scripture passage found in Mark 12  (NIV)

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

When we focus on these two commandments, our differences will fade in importance, for we will both be following Jesus.