We are the clay by which God creates his unique pottery.

I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining;

I believe in love, even when I feel it not;

I believe in God, even when he is silent.

I discovered these words many years ago. I think that they were on a plaque of some kind given to me by my friend Ann Cusack. In 1983 I wrote them down and taped them into the book ‘Power in Praise’ by Merlin Carothers and gave the book to Maria in July of that year.

These words capture the very essence of faith. Regardless of what is happening around us, we need to cling to our faith that God is watching over our every move. This is probably one of the hardest concepts for people to believe in, yet I have come to believe that it is so true. Faith is such an unexplainable concept but somehow we know things are true.

I have been blessed by experiences that re enforce my faith. For many years I literally turned away from acknowledging God’s part in my life and I was happy to believe in a materialist interpretation of my existence, yet God kept knocking.

Even as recently as this year, there was an occasion when Maria and I drove past the church where we were married, quite by accident on the day of our wedding anniversary, some 25 years to the day and to the time. At the time we were amazed by this co incidence yet now I acknowledge this differently. God was simply knocking on my door.

Regardless of our qualities as a person, God calls each and every one of us. Some of us recognise the signs and some of us don’t. I know that I have been blessed with a rich Catholic upbringing, and this I am now truly thankful for. Never did I imagine that my years of seminary training would lay a solid foundation for helping me understand things in my later years.

I am continually amazed by my new found discovery. I realise that God accepts us as we are, regardless of our present qualities. Through the eyes of God, we are all equal. We all have the same opportunity for salvation. All we need do is grow in recognising God’s presence in every minute of every day, take up our daily cross with praise and continue to be surprised by the way that God moulds us into new and exciting people.

We are the clay by which God creates his unique pottery.

Hear God out.

In the Catholic church calendar, today is the feast day of Saint Teresa of Avila. Saint Teresa formed a contemplative order and has been remembered over the years for her contributions to church doctrine and understanding of God. The following verse sums up her relationship with God and it inspires me.

“Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing make you afraid.
All things are passing.
God alone never changes.
Patience gains all things.
If you have God, you will want for nothing.
God alone suffices.”

These are powerful words.
What more can be said. The words give so much meaning to everything that happens in our lives.

These words also highlight the intimate relationship that Saint Teresa had with God. It was as if the saints could look into the very soul of God. They intrigue me because they all have an in depth understanding of God and we can learn so much from them.

When I reflect on these things, I know that God is continuing to guide me and communicate with me on all levels. I know that God’s communication is continually happen. God does not communicate one minute and not the next. He never takes time out to attend to something else. Rather, it is us who take the time out. We are the ones who only listen when it suits. In order to understand our earthly existence, we need to understand that God is communicating with us at all times.

Since my rediscovery of this, life has been different. More and more I am aware of this communication. I really believe that we need to open our hearts and minds and witness this intimate communication. Because I am aware of this, I am now on the lookout. It is as if I am stopping to listen to somebody.

Daily frustrations still exist. Fears come and go. Disappointments still hound us, and unexplainable hardships come like a thief in the night, yet God is always there to help guide us through it all. We only need to become better listeners and better observers. Even the most difficult hardships are an opportunity to gain a closer relationship with God. Faith enables us to walk forward without clinging to past disappointments and emotion, and praise is the power which keeps our communication open with God. I have found that when I am praising God for everything in my life, I am more open and receptive to God’s direction for me. We are servants of the Lord, and we need to let God’s ‘will’ be done just as Jesus showed us on the cross.

Today God has led me to Saint Teresa of Avila and I can hear God talking to me.

Praise frees us from human bondage.

I was reading the gospel passage last night about Jesus’ encounter with the devil. Sometimes I think that we underestimate the presence of the devil in our lives. Just as God communicates with us, so too can the devil freely communicate if we allow this. We all have the capacity to dwell on evil thoughts just as we have the capacity to dwell on loving thoughts.

I was reading about a recent conversation that movie director Quentin Tarantino had with the media and he said something that could be common to us all in some ways. He said that he was afraid to create a movie about a serial killer because it would reveal just how sick his mind really is. He touched on something very revealing about the forces of good and evil and this is something that I have been forced to reflect on.

We can all encounter thoughts that can disturb us. Sometimes our thoughts can surprise us and even embarrass us because they can have elements of evil. Therefore if we entertain these thoughts too much, they can lead us astray and cause us to regret decisions and actions. This is where I draw the story of Jesus and the devil into understanding what happens in our lives. Just as Jesus was tempted by the devil, so too are we. Our body needs to be a temple of God, not a temple of the devil. In order to make it this way, we need to always focus on those thoughts and actions that keep the devil out.

Praise is the engine for change. Praise dispels the devil. The action of praise is like a fortress and it strengthens us. So when evil presents itself, just as the devil presented himself to Jesus, praise God for this moment in its perfection and know that God is working through this moment to guide and strengthen us. Confrontation with evil happens and cannot be ignored. Thoughts hit us that we are embarrassed to admit. Actions happen that we wish we could avoid. These occasions are encounters with the devil and we can decide to move forward in either God’s love or the devil’s power. Providing we move forward praising God for this moment in its perfection, we are in safe hands and we are then allowing God an opportunity to influence us and the circumstances around us.

Praising God for this moment in its perfection will ultimately deliver us from the chains of bondage which is the way the devil would want us to live.

God brings about greatness, not us.

I was just reminded of something this morning which bears thinking about.

Five years ago I was struggling to make things work for us as a family. Maria and I had decided some nine months earlier to make a solid go of the Herbalife business. We thought that this was the way to go. We both believed that we could do it with effort and some cash. Nine months later we knew that it was not going to happen for us. I was in a situation that was heartbreaking. I had failed to achieve what I wanted to achieve and I needed to return to work.

By chance I saw a job advert in the paper for PBS. To cut a long story short, I was in training within a week or so. It happened that quickly and five years later I am still going strong.

Only now I look back at that time and see just how fortunate I was. I was being looked after and I did not acknowledge that. I was too busy thinking about my failure with Herbalife and the money that we had spent. But clearly, God was looking after me. At the time I had a faith that everything would work out okay, and it did. Yes it was difficult, yet I pulled through and we moved on.

This story clearly says to me that faith is such an important part of our earthly journey. We must dare to have faith that God is taking care of our every need regardless of the situation. Call it blind faith at times but live it with a joyful heart. Our challenge is not to get caught up in the mechanics of life, but to walk the pathway the best we can but with a faith that we are being taken care of. Miracles happen beyond what we can produce so there is no room for fear and mistrust. God watches over us. It has taken me a little while to really come to terms with this, but I cannot ignore how I have been blessed.

God brings about greatness, not us.

Live with a childlike faith

Whenever I read the book ‘The Power of Praise’ I am amazed by the stories. I can remember the first time I experienced the joy of experiencing this and I thought that I would never alter in my course of action, yet like so many, my faith would alter and I would revert to my old habits. Just like so many of us, we tend to want to be the masters of our own destiny and this course of action will usually lead us to frustrations and disappointments.

Imagine being a servant of a master in the biblical sense that Jesus referred to and being assured that your every need will be taken care of. At times the rationality of the masters choices might not seem obvious to us yet if we believe absolutely in the masters actions, we then know that our every concern will be taken care of. This is faith. This is the sort of faith that Jesus spoke about. This is the kind of childlike faith that God wants us to have. It is not for us to be concerned about the events or the direction; we are only to be concerned about the doing and the giving praise for the comfort and the security that our master has given us. This is childlike faith and this is all that God wants of us.

All we need believe is that the masters plan for us is to protect and give us all that we need; it is not for us to question the events of our lives.

The road map is a spiritual one.

It seems to be no coincidence with the events that are happening around me.

Two days ago was the Feast day of Saint Theresa of Lisieux, the Child of Jesus. This saint came to my attention only a couple of weeks ago. The Pope is a devotee of her and I was drawn to her because of her writings. I feel called to write, so it was of no coincidence that her feast day was just two days ago. Then today my attention was drawn to another saint who passed away this day in 1938. Her name is Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska who lived from 1905 -1938. Just like Saint Theresa of Lisieux, she has been remembered for her writings among other things.

There are a couple of significant things about Saint Faustina that draw me to write about her. Firstly, she knew that it was her task to write down everything that God had made known to her for the benefit of those who read these things. She also knew that this was God’s way of drawing others to him. This is really significant for me because it falls in line with something in my life’s journey. I first started writing because I felt spiritually drawn to do so. Right from the start when I picked up the book ‘Prison to Praise’ and noticed the co incidence of the expiry date of 9 September 1998 on the Dreamworld card some 15 years ago to the day, I knew that God was calling me to respond to the messages within that book. I had no doubts about it. Then without even giving it any thought, I felt compelled to write, and felt compelled to write regularly in my blog. I have felt a strong urge to communicate in writing what God is telling me. I know that this is for my benefit but I also have felt that this might also help somebody else one day in their quest the find union with God.

God works in mysterious ways, and this is one of them.

Furthermore, as strange as it might appear, I believe that we need to be aware of spiritual messages in our day to day life. God is communicating with us all the time; we only need to recognise the signage. Once we begin to see these spiritual signs, then more and more appear. I am beginning to see more and it continues to amaze me. Only today I realise something else which is also significant. Maria’s fathers birthday is today and he was born on the same day as Saint Faustina passed away, some 75 years ago. This is incredible. Maria’s father is such a devoted man to the Catholic faith and to think that he was born on the same day as Saint Faustina’s death is remarkable. Again, I have been drawn to acknowledge this and at the very least, it is God’s way of reassuring me that I am being lead by the Holy Spirit. I cannot ignore such potent spiritual blessings.

God is with us. Some of us choose to ignore God’s presence and we struggle to find meaning. I have been given a second chance. God has gifted me with his presence. It cannot be ignored. It cannot be intellectualised. It only has to be responded to with a child like faith.