Tag Archives: god

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 

Others Like this:

Kneeling Before My Friend

Where There is Acceptance There Is Peace

How To Pray- Bruce Almighty Style!

For summer break I am reposting some golden old posts, enjoy! Will be back with fresh material in September. Enjoy and have a great summer. 🙂

 

Do take a look at the above link first, its brilliant. It’s from Bruce almighty, the bit where God (Morgan freeman) asks Bruce (Jim Carey) to pray. Bruce prays for world peace, and God encourages him to do more, he encourages him to pray from the heart.

Bruce then prays a brilliant prayer about the women he loves that she will be happy and loved, as he (Bruce) loves her through gods eyes! It’s a powerful and emotional prayer.

Hollywood is making an important distinction here between prayer and prayer, the one that is heart-felt and the one that goes no deeper than vocal cords.

I consider myself a praying man, but I am challenged by Bruce Almighty’s character. I wonder if you pray like he does. For me I am not sure I have regularly prayed that way.

Opening up the deep places of our hearts, the depths of our soul, where the demons lurk, where and the scars are hidden, where the things that trigger tears dwell. Is scary, but also the key to a deepening walk with the living God, as we share our darkness and depths with him, we might find our burdens lifted even just a little.

We might just hear God with a greater clarity, and see the world, the poor the hungry, one another, and perhaps ourselves through Gods eyes and in that we become free, as we speak with our most trusted companion.

 

First published July 2013

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.

Loving God Isn’t Easy!

As promised part two of the valentines post. Sometimes loving God, is sometimes a lot harder than it looks and takes more effort than the sunday service!

I once asked the Rev Paul Jinadu, after he got off the stage having just leading the morning Bible study at Spring Harvest some years ago when I was a teenager. Why it was that God and I felt distant from each other. He responded with the question, did I have a girlfriend! Which in retrospect was perhaps a strange question!

I at the time happened to be madly in love with somebody, who I can’t for the life of me now remember the name off!  Paul followed up his earlier question with, what do you do with her! I said something along the lines of ‘well we hang out and talk and stuff’. Then he asked me if I loved God, I answered with an emphatic yes. Then came the sideswipe, he challenged me to think of my walk with Jesus similar to that of my relationship with the girl. That Just as we had a to and fro conversations and hung out with her I should also hang out with Jesus the same. The challenge of that conversation has never left me and the graciousness of Paul to give his time up for me and the razor sharpness of his wisdom, has been an enduring blessing over the many years since.

But life is busy, frantic and hectic it is hard to spend time, quality time, with those whom you love. The rate of marriage break-ups and relationships crumbling is testimony to that. Perhaps even the rate at which our churches are emptying is yet another example of people falling out with God! A God people sometimes fail to understand, perhaps because they have not spent enough time getting to know him.

Moreover there are those of us who after many years of faithful service, just walk away from God. Because somewhere along the way we lost our faith in God, a God that looks like the church at its worst, and appears to be absent from the world when it is at its most depraved a God who allows the atrocity, brokenness, and evil to prevail. That no matter how hard we try, good just doesn’t seem to win. For those of us that feel and have felt that way we need some kind of intervention.

As Relate works with couples, we need something similar to work between humanity and God to mend broken bridges, to heal the deep wounds, that love might blossom once more, could that be the church at its best, truly emulating its Christo-centric heart, or Jesus centredness. Of course the love between God and humanity is not like Romance, it’s something more and deeper, sustaining and liberating, forgiving and healing. I need to know God loves me from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet, without which I am simply lost.

Let us perhaps use this valentines season, short though it is. To recommit ourselves to our relationship with God, who through Jesus can mend bridges, heal deep wounds, and is the image and example of forgiveness and true love.

Finally 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is that classic passage about love, I have used to dozens of times in weddings, but I find its definition of love falls short of human relationships and perhaps could be rewritten in this way. God is patient; God is kind; God is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. He is not irritable or resentful; He does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Gods love never ends.

Children, God and The Kingdom

cute_kids_cute_play-wideThe Baptism was going well, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed one of the grandparents wrestling (figuratively), with her young grand-daughter trying to keep her quite in church. The child was getting louder and louder, and the Grandma was getting more and more irate. All the young child wanted was to be with its mum, who was one of the God parents of the baby I was baptising.

Earlier in the service we had heard the bible reading from Marks gospel, where Jesus says, “let the little children come to me, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. It appeared no one recalled what had been said or what it might mean, and so I beckoned to the grandma to let the girl go to her mum rather than continue her currently unsuccessful course of action. Of course the child calmed down and was more than happy in her mothers arms.

As I remember the children at the christening and watch my own kids on holiday charging around, deeply committed to the moment and delight of imaginative play. Where sticks become swords,  cracks in pavements are to be jumped over otherwise the monster gets you and where rocks or bits of dirt actually becomes priceless treasure, that no adult could ever comprehend! I began to ponder as to what Jesus might mean by “the Kingdom Of God belongs to such as these”.

Children are messy, whimsy, fanciful, prone to repetitive outbursts like ‘are we there yet,’ and ‘can I get it,’ they are also, fearless in play, insightful, loyal and loving. A child can see new worlds and adventures in their surroundings, they don’t understand cynicism but say whats on their heart in the moment they are feeling it.

Yet can we really take Jesus words seriously and the person who recorded his words into the gospels? Surely to have the keys to the kingdom so to speak, the individual should bare the fruits of the spirit, have the wisdom and theological learning needed to fully appreciate God, and of course be filled with the Holy Spirit and have put their faith fully in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

However could Jesus be actually saying to enter into heaven or see Gods kingdom around us we need to be as imaginative as children, trusting as children, hopeful as children, ready to be guided by someone bigger than ourselves, like children.

Yet perhaps alternatively an image of Gods Kingdom we represent across christian denominations is something instead that is terribly grownup. That at its worse disregards those very attributes Jesus extols. A person who knows they are a child of God and not equal and feels safe with that, someone who want to grow up into the greatness he or she sees in their parent, someone sees possibilities impossibly bigger than their own abilities and skills and is not afraid of asking for help.

Perhaps take a moment today, to look around you to where God might be, allow yourself to be reminded that you are a child of God. Allow God to break you out of your moulded crafted religious lives. Into new possibilities, new ways of looking at life and the Kingdom God is calling is towards and into.

God for it…:)

Why Can’t My Love Be Enough?

Question, could you decide to cease to exist in digital space? Would you be content to not have anyone read your online posts ever? I pondered these and other questions as I listened to a brilliant audio book and movie The Fault In Our Stars.

Hazel and Augustus have a finite amount of time, both living within the frame of their terminal cancer. It’s a moving portrayal of a young couple in love and well worth reading or seeing.

The narrative is understandably poignant and gripping, as well as being, (I presume) an honest portrayal about a world seen through the cancer survivors eye’s. As an aside I found the book the movie is based on by Mark Green, framed and complemented the movie making it more enjoyable.

As the relationship blossoms there is a moment where Augustus and Hazel get into a disagreement.  Augustus is of the opinion and desire that before he dies he wants to be known and loved widely, he wants to be famous. In contrast Hazel is happy and content as she is, and longs for her boyfriend to be content with her love for him and the love of his family and friends, she strongly believes that it should be enough.

I can relate to Augustus’ attitude, it keys into a need in our society and a need that I feel keenly. A need to be noticed, to be known. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and WordPress and their web based cousins feed this desire. Suddenly these posts or digital adverts of our lives matter so much to us, and all too often those who have genuinely invested in us can take second place. Somehow the number of online friends takes a higher priority than the friends who know us, warts and all.

Hazel sees her life differently, she doesn’t know how much time she has and with whatever time is left, she wants to spend it with those most important, not worrying about who or how many people know her, but loving and spending quality time with those who know her now in the window of time she has been given.

Augustusonians amongst us, of which I am one, stop, listen and know the love of those who are committed to you, a close friend or a loved one. Discover in them a beauty and contentment, more life giving and rewarding that a 1000 likes, or 10,000 retweets could ever be.

The Hazelites, thank you for your gift, one that reminds us we are loved with the exact measure we need, and perhaps don’t need to look for it, as it’s often staring us in the face, whether that’s God or a special someone, friend or lover, keep reminding us of it please.

May the love of God who sent his son to die for us be enough, it sounds perhaps a little twee, and intangible. Instead of searching for love in church, or in social media, let Gods love for you fill you up, and if you find it in those other places, well that is a bonus.

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

Where There’s Acceptance There Is Peace.

There are plenty of examples of global unrest and an extreme lack of peace, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq,…Afghanistan, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, to name a few locations. Then there are gang turf wars, divided families and the classic shout of the oppressed child “I hate you!!!” Followed by a door slam and a while later, a request for some money for something or other.

Life is life it has it’s rubbish and it’s gold dust. Well tell me something I don’t know I hear you say! I find peace none existent when I am fighting a 360 degree battle with my schedule, or family commitments, trying to do it all and fit it all in.

I go on the occasional spiritual retreat and as good and refreshing as they are and though they bring be closer to God. I still at some point have to take the junction back on the motorway of life. Today was an example of that, my wife and I were leading 3 separate acts of worship as we do most Sundays. In-between the services I noticed I had some time and so thought I would enjoy some quality time with the family, on the beach with some fish and chips. I am so glad I did it was so relaxing, peaceful and wonderful, watching the kids climb rocks and our dog having the time of his life himself, the sun was out and all was well with the world but ninety minuets later it all ended two soon. As my wife and kids went to their church service, I took a peaceful walk, before going into a cafe to do some work and looked at my diary to discover that the next time I could do this again was 6 weeks away, I had naively hoped that I could have this peaceful moment every week!!!!

Peace is sometimes hard to find and perhaps that’s just life or the cards we are dealt. However I am not ready to accept that quite yet.

I wonder if I worked hard enough at accepting what happens to me, whatever that is. Before reacting to it, took a moment to accept the moment for what it was, could this be away I might experience regular peace?

You see within a moment of acceptance, there is an invitation no matter how brief, for peace. This allows my head to clear and my heightened emotions to mellow. After that moment then there is a decision whether I accept the situation I am in, or choose to struggle against it in some way.

At first this may lead to a brief awkward silence, where people are waiting for a response, and it will no doubt feel weird at first and forced, as I take a breath and ask God for help, but eventually it will become a habit and instinct, a state of being minus the pregnant pauses and I hope I might be a person more at peace not just with the world around me, but myself.

There is so much noise in life and normally I am a jump straight in to the deep end kind of guy, and I enjoy the hustle and bustle of life, in my quiter moments though I do wonder what I accomplish. Perhaps by taking a more peacefully considered approach I might achieve more, get more done and serve my family and the Lord better, and lastly be happier with what I have achieved and the person I have become, a husband, a father and a pastor.

A lesson In Humility

It’s hard to ignore the inner voice wanting us to be noticed to ‘become someone.’ I wonder would I or indeed you, be willing to become socially unknown for a greater good? Would I allow my life to have meaning in something bigger, greater than my own desires wants and dreams?

In scripture we hear of plenty of nameless people, we don’t hear their stories, or their family situation, these people like the woman at the well, the men with leprosy or man who was born blind, are some of the nameless, we know them for two reasons there disease or predicament, and how much Jesus valued them. His valuing of them meant of course, he brought healing and social transformation to there lives.

These life changing moments were, just one of may signs and wonders Jesus displayed to show that the kingdom of God was at hand, literally changing everything. Yet we never learn the names, included in this list are people like, the centurions daughter, woman who had bled for many years or the daemon possessed man. Jesus noticed them, knew who they were and envisioned who they could be, just as he does with us whoever we might be or indeed how popular we might feel we are. For these people it’s there stories that have become important, they have truly become signposts pointing us to Jesus.

If Jesus noticed these people and blessed them regardless of who they were, shouldn’t we do the same regardless of who they are. Let’s not bless others because of what we know about them but simply because they deserve it, everyone deserves justice, an education, a job these are universal human rights.

Back to the question posed at the beginning, what if I become socially nameless like the people in scripture, and instead just known by what Jesus has done, in my life. Would I be ok with people saying about me ” I can’t remember the guys name, but did you hear what Jesus did in his life.” Am I, are you ok, if the only name people remember is Jesus’s, and your identity, achievements are lost to the transitory nature of time?

So should we unplug from social media or just promote groups that point people to Jesus and become nothing more than a signpost briefly looked but crucial to the journey, as the juggernaut of life passes by. A more moderate position would to be somewhere in between and worth aiming for perhaps beautifully summed up in scripture as, being a door keeper in the temple of the lord, now that’s something to aspire too.

The Self Sufficiency Lie

PostImage_VirginHolidays_TropicalIsland-1

My dream island would look something like the picture above, peaceful, with beautiful beaches and the bliss of doing nothing but relax, catch some fish to eat on a log fire and then go back to relaxing not needing anything from anyone, being in two words self sufficient. Something we all work hard at being whether on an island or in an office.

Being self sufficient is so appealing, its more than financial stability, but that outward posture of being “fine”,”great” or as one of my congregation says Champion even when he has quietly had a hospital visit for an operation!

Perhaps you have seen the movie About A Boy where a character played by Hugh Grant believes that man is an island, much like the above picture, calm, knows what he is about. Yet as Hugh’§s character discovers, ultimately he is utterly alone as much as this island is alone, a small dot in an ocean and is a place fairly inaccessible with limited access too outside amenities.

People in all walks of life pressent to the world and God an image of self sufficiency, and if they are inquired upon usually say ” I’m fine”, “great” or “I’m champion.”

How many of us including myself find that if we are unsure of something, like a spelling or a technical question, we don’t ask a human for fear of ridicule or embarrassment. Instead our goto places can be, Apples Siri or google search, they don’t point jokes at our lack of understanding or learning and they can’t knock our fragile egos. So our self sufficient veneer remains intact.

This strategy works to a point, but (dare I say it?) Siri makes mistakes, the IOS dictation software is totally inconsistent and even google makes errors! Within all this God sees us, sees me, trying to waffle my way through, choosing other words in this post because the dictation software is not that great and I cannot spell it, no matter how much I shout the word at the screen.

The song by Mat Redman The Heart Of Worship sums it up, when all is said and done, we come as we are before God, with all pretence and tricks to succeed stripped away. Are you willing to be rather than self sufficient, reliant on God, on the help of good friends and colleagues. Or my wife who checks my mistakes when I write stuff, not because I am insufficient or stupid, but because she loves me and wants to help me in an area of weakness.

Let’s foster an atmosphere wherever we are, whether in our family or work, where we allow each other to admit to when they are not great at something, without ridicule or laughter or causing them personal embarrassment and shame. and find ways to enable that person, rather than forcing them or me to scuttle behind our facade of self sufficiency,

Take a look at this link to the song The Heart Of Worship and spend some time with the Lord on the areas of self sufficiency in your lives.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BvXi1JACxQ&index=18&list=PLFF54yto1k3QUOvEs7zqCX7Zntd9qwJfG

Prayer Time

God, help me to be less self sufficient and more reliant on you, and those you have put in my life to bless me. Finally Lord help me to have the grace to help others in need without judgement but because of love.

Amen

 

 

 

The secret to peace

My daughter is for ever telling on her older brother for is apparent wrongs, no matter how minor, sometimes she will even throw something at him if he annoys her a lot!

When your wronged what would you like to do to the person who hurt you? Seek revenge or seek to forgive? Which I wonder is harder the latter of the former, which brings the most rewards, the most peace, but also perhaps is the most costly?

The act of forgiveness doesn’t so much affect the perpetrator. It doesn’t mean they don’t have to deal with the consequences of their actions or live with their guilt.

Forgiveness releases the victim, brings healing to the one who has been wronged. Forgiveness gives us a choice, to draw a line in the metaphorical sand of experiences. To say to ourselves I will not let him or the situation define me, shape me, cripple me more than it has. I will not let it break me more than it looks like it has done.

So should we forgive someone’s involvement in the the pain of another or indeed ourselves? Not that we allow them to reoffend, but set them and us free to flourish rather than be rooted by the ball and chain of guilt, shame and the realities of there crimes and our sense of victimisation.

There may be situations in our lives that have needed a serious effort to forgive. Not just once or twice, but every day. I find I can’t do this on my own, but Jesus helps me, to such a point that forgiveness over a long period becomes a habit, a line in the sand which I don’t step over, and god stands with me on that line. However if I or we step over into the darkness beyond the line, Jesus takes our hand and gently leads me back to the light.

Forgiveness isn’t cheap, nor is it easy, but it is a journey worth traveling as the best journeys often are. Forgivness enabled Nelson Mandela to work with his former white oppressors, it helped Martin Luther king push the agenda of racial equality. There are so many other examples, and when we look at the issues of Syria, or Ukraine, with the unwillingness to forgive, leads to the hell confusion and human degeneration we see on our TV screens. The unwillingness to forgive in Northern Ireland challenges the future of the peace process. A lack of forgiveness challenges our ability yours and mine to receive healing and move forward free people.

This day this moment, ask the Lord to help you begin the road to forgiveness and ultimately your personal peace and salvation.

 

 

 

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