Tag Archives: achievements

Discover Your Place In Heaven

As we know the ministry of Jesus reflects the kingdom of God, through that ministry and life we discover numerous metaphors for describing His kingdom, for example mustard seed, treasure in a field, a sheep being found, to name three.

You and I realise, unless we have been living under a rock with nothing else to read apart from scripture. That the world we live in doesn’t reflect such values, the lost coin is rarely found, the treasure in the field, once Un-earthed, isn’t sold to help the poor, but instead lines someones pockets, or stands behind bullet proof glass in some museum somewhere in the world. Moreover, sadly we do not often celebrate the achievements of others no matter how small they’re perceived to be. Which unfortunately stands in contrast to the women’s celebration at finding her lost coin.

This got me thinking, as we know, kingdom values are in contrast to earths, then what might the kingdom be like when we get in? Where would I be placed? What would the place Jesus prepares for me look like? We might be in for a surprise!

 As we cross the threshold of Heaven, and Jesus thanks us for all the amazing things we have done in his name. We might discover that our earthly greatness, wealth and status might count for nothing, perhaps we will be the servants of those who have served us. Moreover perhaps we will be the ones living in the eternal equivalent of a rundown house, a cardboard box, a draughty door way. Whilst they who suffered in one lifetime, are offered an eternity of wonder.

Jesus’ challenge to the rich man was to give all he has to the poor and follow him. because all he had, got in the way of following. We might find that those with least in this world might have most in eternal dimensions, because they lived life light interms of materiality and were rich beyond measure in the things that sustained them, nourish them and help them across the threshold into Gods kingdom and beyond.

Let us live light with what we have, holding what we have in the perspective of Gods kingdom, where the last will be first, and the least get most, the last man that turns up for work gets paid the same as the first, where the thief on the cross gets a pass into eternity. Because it is possible to start over, it is possible for a leopard to change his spots it is possible to be and truly know you are forgiven.

Finally, I Believe that Heaven will be so much more than we can comprehend, when things about hierarchy, And who gets what won’t matter any more. Today let us share more the kingdom values, and honour the least with all have, lift up the brokenhearted with all of the love we have received, find the lost with all of the resources at our fingertips. And celebrate the little wins as much as the big ones.

Heavens Life Lesson

Sometimes success is found by looking back, by looking at the footprints in the sand of life we might just glimpse the Lord at work in the detail, in the narrative of our existence. However this is not how society is wired as we travel in life.

As a child generally we desire to succeed at school, as a grown-up that same desire develops. Each of us finds, that there is always something more, something that is just out of reach, to earn, wether that’s in a relationship, work, or in general life. Sometimes we attain it, sometimes we don’t. For me when I miss my target, I get up and go again, or sometimes my walk with God takes me in a new direction.

The quest for more of everything, has blossomed many industries, such has the self help industry, you only have to walk into a book shop to see how popular that genre is. Furthermore on YouTube the most watched videos are online self help gaming tutorials. Earning the creators of these videos many thousands of pounds, and celebrity status in certain circles. In particular Google has become a worldwide database of self-help solutions. The only problem is there are so many solutions it’s hard to filter out, the good advice from the bad.

In all this striving to get ahead, to know more, to be better, we sometimes forget to look back, sometimes wisdom and personal growth is not found in a book, or youtube clip, but by reflecting on our own story. Sometimes its only when we look back as the poem footprints in the sand suggests, that we can see God at work.

Its these moments that are the subject of today’s post, in recent years I have attended the bedside of a few  people who have been close to crossing over into eternity, people of faith and not.

Of those whom could speak, they spoke of having lived a life of service for others, they didn’t want to tell me how much they had in their bank balance, how big their house was, or the name of their cat or dog. They wanted to tell me, the focus of their life had been outward not inward.

Moreover for those who could not speak, it was evidenced by the number and quality of friends and family they had around them, that they had invested in the important things of their lives, not a financial portfolio, but invested in the lives of others in the love and care they had shown them. 

If we looked back today rather than ahead, if today was our final day, what would we say to the minister who visited? How have we lived our lives? These moments with the dying, a poignant, difficult, and an incredible privilege.  

These brilliant people in their dying breaths, cause us to reflect on our own journeys through life, not that it will always be perfect, or that we will always make the right decisions.

However when all is said and done, I hope I  can say to the Minister at my bedside, that I lead the majority of my days outward looking, caring for others, investing in kindness, Love and forgiving quickly. Then as I cross over from this life into the eternity that Jesus prepares, I’ll count myself as having lived life well, as God intended.

Ultimately death causes us to look ahead, at how we are living our lives outward in the service of others, defined by how much God loves all people both those who have passed through the veil and those who exist around us.

God Bless And have a good week

Last weeks post: The Know It All

Similar Themes: Looking Back And Seeing Jesus

 

Heading Into The Waves

A boat that has never had the waves crash its bow, is in dry dock, or perhaps just a drawing or concept of an engineer. It has not lived as a boat, at all, it has not reached its full potential.

There is a part of me that wishes to be in dry dock, to exist amongst the simplicity of lines on a page or an artists imagination. The page or dry dock, is a safe space to be, unencumbered by the unpredictability of water crashing over the bow, or  traversing the deep swells of the rough seas. But life lived in that way whilst healing for a time, isn’t living! Faith founded and lived in the dry dock is untested, by the storms of doubt and discontent, or the piercing silence of the calm before the storm.

We follow one who walked on water, who calmed the storm, but even peters leap of faith landed him in the waves. So perhaps it is the waves that the Lord is calling us into, out of the dock into open water, it would be lovely if it was allways a flat calm but that’s not how I have experienced life.

More often I experience the lords call into the waves of life, and in those waves i am tested, sometimes battered by the winds, other peoples words and self doubt. Yet I keep going navigating towards the things of God. Attempting to serve him the best I can, seeking to draw people deeper into the things of the lord.

In God the peace we seek is not external but internal, it is that inner assurance that no wave is too big, no sea too rough, that keeps us navigating the seas of life. As we chart a course we do not do that in isolation, but with others and together we reach our destination, of that great harbour in eternity.

Tomorrow each of us heads out into sea, some of us rough seas await and for others its calm perhaps before a storm. May wherever we are, atop the waves or recovering in dry dock, know the grace, healing and love of God, the guidance of the holy spirit and the deep peace of God that keeps our hands unshaken on the ships wheel and our hearts at a steady beat like a propeller on a boat pushing us through lifes waters, bless us, keep us and shape us.

Last Weeks Post:

Offer Hope Not Criticism 

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Kneeling Before My Friend

Where There is Acceptance There Is Peace

A Good Life For who? Prime Minister

During the election campaign we were told that the Conservative party would provide us the good life. Part of me is seduced by the election promise of wealth and materialistic ideals. Indeed our prime minister declared on election day that he will provide for us  “the good life“, of personal wealth, jobs, a funded NHS and so much more.

I have a nagging doubt however that the good life promised for most might come to actually look like the 1970s TV show of the same name, The Good Life! For those that don’t remember, the show centres around two families, Tom has become disenfranchised and disillusioned with his job as a draughtsman and decides to live self-sufficiently so that he can make ends meet. His wife Barbara is fully supportive of this. Their neighbours and good friends Margo and Jerry are a little horrified by what their neighbours and friends I doing! Tom and his wife turn their garden into a small holding, with pigs and chickens and enough methane to generate electricity!

The Good Life is of course a comedy, the good life offered in a recent general election is not comical that serious. More than likely David Cameron will bring the good life for some, for others of us we might need to learn to be more self-sufficient growing our own food so we don’t go hungry, making our own clothes, growing and slaughtering our own chickens, pigs and so on. contrastively for others like Jerry and Margo in the sitcom, the good life will be about financial independence, and live unaware of the cost of the so-called good life has on the many not just financially but psychology.

There is hope however, in the one that can calm the storm, who doesn’t make grandiose statements about a good life for all, but instead willingly goes to across, and steps out of the tomb, that the good life might be redefined, rather than based on economics, materialism and self-sufficiency. Instead built on the foundation of the kingdom of God that is timeless, where lost sheep are found, the sick healed, the bruised traveller is rescued, the widow finds her lost coin,  the farmer his treasure, were all people are valued because all people are made in the image of God.  

Jesus redefines our image of a good life, so the rather than being disappointed and perpetually disillusioned. There is a realism about the current state of things, and optimism that with Gods help and in his strength things can change. Because our focus rather than being on a good life for me we focus on a good life for others, that builds up, affirms, where all can reach there potential in God. 

Finally Mr Cameron’s Conservatives may only succeed setting up a tiered good life for all. Remember that wherever you are in life Jesus turns up regardless, whatever, wherever and however we are. Jesus offers us a different life one based on truth, integrity and love and thats a good life I can take hold of regardless of my financial, and materialistic position, after all is our spirituality that matters in the life after, not our wardrobe or bank balance.

Election 2015: Will the Church Please Stand Up.

The band played loudly, and victoriously, the preacher inspired us, built us up, ready to go out and serve the Lord where ever we might find ourselves. There was an air of optimism and hopefulness in the crowd of worshippers, that nothing was impossible for God.

Except I didn’t connect with the outpouring of the exuberant optimism, I didn’t share the smiles on their faces, or hands held aloft in worship. It wasn’t that I didn’t sense a of the move of the spirit, as everyone else was.

It’s just the spirit was telling me something else. That for me my journey would be a rougher road. Rather than a sense of optimism, I felt I was entering into a season of struggle, instead of feeling hopeful and full of faith, I wondered if my faith was strong enough to overcome.

I was struck by the assumption from the band that everybody would be feeling uplifted and exuberant, I longed to join in, instead fell silent. Seeking God in the midst of the cacophony of beautiful music, seeking God for the road ahead, for the unseen difficulty and struggle. I didn’t know what it meant, or if I had misunderstood what the Lord saying.

It seems to me and within this country there are those, who will be exuberantly rejoicing at the Conservatives being re-elected, and also those for whom such news is perhaps as bad as it gets. There is a need for sensitivity in recognising our neighbour may feel very differently to ourselves.

But also as I sat in that auditorium filled with worship of the living God, there is a need to be reminded, that this living God, understands the human condition, the nature of joy, as well as the long road of suffering. For Gods son, knows these things, experienced these things, and in him we try to trust, even if the road ahead, is smooth or rough.

As brothers and sisters in Christ we are part of the kingdom of God, the kingdom that does not sit idly by. The kingdom that liberates, brings hope, restoration, and resurrection. We are Gods children, and may we see through his eyes, the world around, full of possibility, and aching brokenness, of both a sense of hopefulness in a manifesto and dread at what it might mean for the most vulnerable in society.

We each are children of the living God regardless of our political persuasion, and members of the kingdom of God, that causes us to look out of our box, or worldview, and walk with our neighbour, the destitute, the super rich, the famous, the sinner, and the saint, not that we might be glorified, but that God who sees the beginning and end might be glorified.

Furthermore that people might come to know a different political structure, the structure of the kingdom of God, that outlasts, outlives, and saves completely in every way. And that the values of such a kingdom might underpin who we are, how we live out our personal preferences, desires, ambitions and response to the UK General Election.

Election 2015: Vote as one impoverished and poor. 

Labour says they have a better plan but I’m still not sure what it is, the Conservatives have tackled the deficit on the backs of the poor, scarily UKIP might win more seats,  and I can’t vote for the female version of William Wallace from the film Brave Heart or another words Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP as much as I might want to! Then there’s the DUP, Green party, of whom I know very little.

Chatting with people who understood who there fighting for in World War II this week, they too are as confused as I, on who and what to vote for. It perhaps comes down to experience, my experience under a Labour government, in terms of healthcare and support for the underprivileged at least was excellent. More recently under the conservative government, that help and care has been systematically eroded. But there will be of course those for whom the opposite is true.

A taxi driver the other day in my hometown berated me for not wanting to vote conservative, as he drove me and my little boy home at midnight after having waited in A&E since 8 o’clock that evening! It seems everyone has their opinion. He was arguing it was worse under labour!

To gain a little perspective this election is not a choice between freedom or a dictatorship like in Syria, Zimbabwe, Iran, and so on, is not a choice between corrupt government parties. We don’t even have to worry if the ballots will be tampered with, or whether we will be hassled by armed gunmen as we queue to make a cross in a box like more recently happened in Crimea and the Ukraine.

We in the UK instead will be glued to our TV screens watching the classic swingometer do its thing. Then sometime on Friday onwards we will discover who our new prime minister is, and in a way nothing will change, food will still get delivered to supermarkets, the police will still be there to protect and serve, when I dial 999 there will be someone to help, and of course they will still be taxes to pay bills to find money for.

I hope this election will bring about a change in governmental ethos, in same way that Jesus opened peoples eyes, to the ethos of the kingdom of God, one which is not so much about blind obedience, religious observance, and guilt. The kingdom instead would see the blind healed, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the tax collector make an honest living, the rabbi discovering for himself that religion was more about experience of divine grace and love, than rituals that bankrupt the spiritual seeker.

My hope my dear reader is standing before God, as we put a cross in that box, our conscience is clear, our resolve is resolute, and our choice is rooted in the love of our neighbour, perhaps in the booth next door making his or her own choice.

God bless and go with God

Overcoming The Darkness

There are moments in life where I have felt worthless, and lying in my bed one night as a teenager soon after I came to Christ, I was in one of those moments, where I believed wholeheartedly in my own personal worthlessness, and general depravity. I was in a dorm room and whilst being surrounded by people felt truly alone. This loneliness had been around me for sometime, increasing its intensity and then lessening as was its way.

In the week that I had given my life to Christ, a woman who we shall called Amanda gave me a cassette tape of a christian country singer, Don Francisco. Lying in my bed that night I reached for my Sony Walkman (iPods hadn’t been invented in the early 90s) I inserted the tape and pressed the play button receiving that reassuring click as my music was piped into my ear phones.

There was one song that struck me, there lying in the darkness, it was as though this bloke was singing directly to me, lyrics that fitted with my emotional state. The song Beautiful To Me, is the story of the woman who knelt before Jesus, tear stained and retched seeking Gods grace. As she wiped his feet with her hair, Jesus forgave, restored and renewed her, and she never heard the condemnation of the hosts in her heart, for Gods grace had filled her heart and protected it from the spears and barbs of the human tongue.

The song led me into Gods presence, a feeling of love I will never forget, an awareness that no matter how literally dark the world can be, the light and love of God can will and does break through.

Did this mean my first year as a Christian got easier? Actually no, it got a lot worse. But I had discovered a friend and I listened to that track of music over and over and over, for it sustained me. I didn’t have access to the bible, and so the song became my teaching, my window into the things of God and what I’d discovered was that he loved me, knew me and was my friend, no matter what hell I was about to step into, he would be there.

Could he have stopped my hardship it? Yes, do I blame him for not stopping it? Not now, because I have grown from it, I have a deeper compassion and awareness of personal hell than I would otherwise have done. And I hope can offer the love and grace I received from God to others who do not have a song, let alone awareness of a God in whose image we each are made.

To you, who are in a fight of your life and are lying on the train tracks of life waiting for the train, or you who are in your own private hell. My prayer is for you today, lean not in your own understanding, but in the one who sees the bigger picture, the beginning and end, and loves you, really loves you, so much that no matter what’s happened, wherever you have been or ended up, His grace is always bigger, more expansive more powerful than the darkness.

Paralympics

I have followed the Olympics closely, loved every moment, followed the event via twitter, and it’s apps, as well as followed it on the. I am somewhat disillusioned by the quality of cover I find for the sister to the Olympics, the Paralympics. I can’t say I have watched it before, but I find that the Olympic apps don’t provide coverage but there are separate apps, which don’t seem as easy to navigate.

My mum is disabled as is my father in-law, I myself have an hearing impairment, so I perhaps am sensitive may be overly so, to what as I see as a subtle and not so subtle difference in the response between the Olympics and Paralympics.

After all paralympians have to train as hard as their Olympian counterparts and have to in some sports manage their disability and aides and still focus 100% on competing competitively both individually as well as in a team.

Have you noticed that when a Paralympican is announced so is their disability, Olympians don’t get that experience. Olympians can have wall to wall coverage by British media, their brother and sisters in sport find that there coverage is minimal.

Yet both men and women are apparently valued equally, if this is the case i would love to live in a society that showed it, that didn’t just speak or legislate but live equality. The kind of equality Jesus showed, to young and old men and women, disabled and able bodied he simply called all to follow him and showed then how. Even though the church doesn’t sometimes discriminate, I find that the love of God doesn’t, after all how could God discriminate against his own image, in which we are made.

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