Tag Archives: hope

Simple Powerful Hope

Hope

NOUN

  • A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.

  • Grounds for believing that something good may happen. ‘he does see some hope for the future’

  • A feeling of trust.

Hope is a vessel where we place our desires, dreams and even our faith in God. It can appear vague, flimsy, incongruent and perhaps illogical. Yet living without hope is like peering into a black hole! Hopelessness is crippling, physically and psychologically. Hope, even the smallest kind against insurmountable odds or just existing in terrible conditions, gives life.

Yet exercising hope that is unrealistic can be crippling and destructive to the person. The best kind of hope is that which you consider to be possible. It is the scent you are following hoping that at the end of the journey you have begun you will find that hope realised. It could be as simple as your favourite dinner or something more meaningful, like social or political change.

Hope is both personal and corporate, it can be held by many or a few. Hope can be contrary to laws, you can have opposing hopes, one who would hope to harm you and one who would hope to survive.

Regardless what you hope in or for, it’s important to have a plan to see that hope fulfilled. The plan may or may not work! Yet looking back through the lens of hindsight the journey for hope can be as just as meaningful as the realisation of hope itself.

At key moments of the year such as getting ready for Christmas or Easter there is always a journey that is made. That journey defines the quality of hope, the emotional connection we have with that which is hoped for. In the journey we discover for ourselves how important that thing is, how much it means to us. Which in turn makes attaining or losing that hope more joyful or more painful.

At this kind of year especially I question my own sense of hope in the resurrection of Jesus and what it means for me, how it completely defines my life and work. How a decision when I was a rebellious, narrow-minded, conflicted, teenager set me on a path I still follow over 25 years later. How this hope has grown with me, and my understanding of this hope has deepened and reshaped my understanding of what God was doing all those thousands of years ago and today in the world. Because of that history it makes it easier for me to answer the question I conclude with:

Would I hold to this hope I have, if I was the only one hoping in all that Jesus offers through his death and resurrection?

I wonder what your answer is and why?

Have a great easter journey and a great Easter 2017.

 

Discarded and Dented

Discarded, dented, abandoned to the elements, not appearing to have any use. Yet it caught my eye, it somehow had its own beauty, that caused me to top consider it and take its photo.

It’s so easy to see the kettle the leaves the blurred bricks in the distance. In amongst all the starkness, and decay it’s easy to miss the green shoots around the base of the kettle. Even when all seems bleak there is still life, new fresh sometimes fragile life to be found.

If you feel like the kettle in the image today, look out for those shoots of new life, and take hold of them. Allow them to take you to somewhere new. Just because you might feel devalued there is always someone or who sees your value and knows your name.

 

 

www.glcphotography.co.uk

Faith When it’s Subzero

Freezing Highland cow

 

 

 

 

 

 

December is here, this Highland cow was shot in subzero temperatures. It is standing in the sun thawing out after a long cold night, and he doesn’t look too impressed at having his picture taken. A reminder perhaps that in life so often, and behind the beauty of this shot as been a long cold and dark ni

A reminder perhaps that in life so often,  as in behind the beauty of this shot, life takes hard work. But it’s worth it to keep going, the sun always rises.

Prayer: God keep us going when the nights are long and cold that we may bask in your beautiful light. Amen

 

 

 

Were Has Jesus Gone?

When we listen to what’s happening in Syria, when we listen to the news stories of mayhem, shattered lives, broken people, communities and nations, you may well ask where is Jesus?  In the midst of church decline, gossip and back biting, we may ask where is Jesus?

The lyrics to the popular christian chorus, I’ve Found Jesus… I love this song, its an old chorus from my teenage years, that brings back memories of when I became a christian back in 1992!

Just for fun you might like to google the where’s Jesus book, its a cheesy version of where’s Wally!

We need to find the Jesus who is more real than words on the pages of Scripture, who is more then the one who raised the dead, healed the sick and rose again on the third day. We need to find a Jesus that is perhaps bigger than our religious proclamations from the pulpit.

For so many where is Jesus is not even a question that occurs to them! Jesus is some renegade from mythical times. Where is Jesus? Who cares, people today have a enough to think about, worry about and to be concerned about. For so many Jesus, never raised their dead, healed their sick, and probably didn’t raise from the dead. That may be the sentiment of people in church as well as outside.

If the church can’t find Jesus, then how can we expect others to find him, know him, listen to him. Perhaps a conversation and journey with the community needs to look at the historical Jesus, leaving to an up-to-date real living experience of Jesus. John Wesley would say of his discipleship groups that you could not tell a testimony, any longer than a week.

So how are you being in communication with Jesus this week?  How have you listened and what have you heard? Certainly the conversation is multifaceted, one of hearing with the spirit and heart as well as with the head, but that doesn’t make it any less real and living.

As we go about our business this week, as we encounter all that life has for us in the days to come,  where do we find Jesus?  From the warm comfort of church worship, to the hardest days where all it seems to do his rain trouble down on you, where do you find Jesus?

If we are really serious about this relationship with Jesus being real and living, let it be more than soundbites and glib phrases. Lets journey with the idea that it is living and real. Listen once again to the stories of Jesus in scripture, and look for what God might be doing in your life and the lives of others. Encounter Jesus in your own discipleship and walk, as well as through the kindness, grace and love of others.

So when we look at the broken world around us, it might not seem so broken, we as a church might hear with fresh understanding, Jesus calling out to us, to go, to be, to do. To become the body of Christ that feeds the least of these, because they’re feeding Jesus, that comforts the most broken because we’re comforting Jesus, who bring healing to hopeless situations, because in doing so like so many actions we might conceive, we are doing it to and for Jesus.

Have a good week.

Does Hope Have A Chance Today?

You turn on the news or read an article in a newspaper hoping to find lots of positive, encouraging stories that communicate the best of humanity, offering a balanced diet of hope rather than overwhelming negativity.

Certainly this would be great to experience, rather than the information diet we get.  The BBC, like other news outlets, argues that essentially it is our fault! Positive news doesn’t sell well for some reason.

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“…newspapers and TV broadcasts are filled with disaster, corruption and incompetence because we’re drawn to depressing stories without realising”, says psychologist Tom Stafford.”

What Hope is Up Against.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for the news corporations, a recent Gallup poll tells us that the world actually is marginally more depressing and has been on an increasing downward slide for the last 9 years! This is especially true for people who live, you guessed it, in the Middle East.

Respondents were asked, “Did you experience the following feelings during much of yesterday? How about physical pain…sadness…stress…anger? 

“People living in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region report the highest negative emotions in the world and have done so since Gallup began tracking this index in 2006”

It’s more than just negative situations.  The tone and narrative of some of that reporting of the way people speak of each other, or indeed presidential candidates speak of other people, seems to be increasingly aggressive, pursuing a negative agenda and fear mongering along with ostracising the outcast.

“The voices of moderation and grace are too often drowned out by the diatribe of misinformed accusations and negativity. “

never_lose_hope_by_cre8art4life-d6btr4r

Even if the information is informed or there is a grain of truth in it, it is said with such venom that you just hear it as an angry rant, from people (sometimes leaders) who frankly should know better.

Grandma Could Tell them About Hope

My Grandma would say in her rich and warm northern accent, whilst wagging her bony finger at you, “If you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all.”

These words have the same truth today. Imagine a world in which people were more thoughtful in what they say to one another, where each syllable was seasoned with grace rather than malice or disinterest and where we were willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

Seek Kingdom Of God

Matthew 6:33 Seek First the Kingdom Of God

The Church Stands For Something More.

If the kingdom of God stands for something, it is the value of upholding the best in each other. As people made in the image of God, it is the place where the widow, orphan, foreigner and sinner are welcomed.

It might be a perception of the church that we are all holy saints that dwell within its walls. Well I am not a saint. Are you? I sin. Sin is defined as whatever separates us from God.  It is less about a list of ‘do nots’, rather it is about what breaks the relationship between you and God, what gets in the way.  Whatever that is, it could be defined as sin.

The hopeful reality that the church can remind society of is beautifully summed up in the lyrics from the song Same Love.

When I was in church, they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
And that Holy Water that you soak in is then poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans, that have had their rights stolen.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Same Love Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Let’s not be a member of the voiceless. The rights of all are at stake so let’s not be ‘OK’ with the status quo, but be willing to stand for something deeper, better and holy.

For a God who calls neighbours to love one another, that justice might be done for all; that people have the right to live, love, and be free; that the only limitation to human life is not what’s in their wallet, but instead the limit of imagination, within the will of a God in whose image we are made, cherished and loved.

I wonder what it takes for news corporations to give us a more balanced diet of news. I wonder what it might take for the Gallup world negativity index to fall.

It begins with us…

Get Your Faith Lift Here!

Has your faith become sanitised, tame, lukewarm? Is church ‘run of the mill’, no more challenging than what you might pick for breakfast in the morning? The video below that reminds us otherwise; the sheer challenge of the gospel, the agony of the early mission leaders to choose Jesus every single time.

Today in ISIS held land Christians are facing the kind of hate these early missionaries experienced. And just see what God does with that. The story is based a long time ago, but it could be a story and narrative that happens today. Not in our comfortable, westernised lives perhaps, but where people live in fear from those who would have them killed for their faith, this story is real and relevant.

Be warned, the story in this video is not for the faith hearted!

Finally, what does your faith mean to you?  How far would you go?  What would you give up for the sake of the gospel?  As you listen to the words, the story alongside blows you away.

A Light To Focus On

For some darkness is scary and foreboding, it certainly is when you’re cycling down an unlit cycle track, with just the beam of your bike light to guide you. On this journey though, there is a view that always delights me. The occasional starry sky, meets the neon glow that surrounds this cities cathedral. That is lit up, like a waypoint or beacon on a hill guiding me home.

Part of our journey through life not least as christians can be through dark times and difficulties. It may seem strange for a christian to speak of difficulty, it’s not that there is a lack of faith, or some unbelief.

Instead my image of God is one who is willing to sit amongst all the grime of life, and doesn’t always make easy answers, the jesus CS lewis, Nicholas WolterstorffDietrich Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa and my mum along with many others knew is one who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty.

But there are those Christians and churches who want a fix all God and subscribe to a constant state of perpetual and sadly unrealistic, happiness. I have attended those types of churches where everyone smiles all of the time and experienced their wonky pastoral care!

Sadly and Unfortunately on one level, I do not think  this side of glory, true equality and understanding of peoples differences can be found within this broken world, in part because, very seldom do people genuinely have the same agenda in life.

But when those agendas converge there are nation changing moments. The fall of the Berlin wall, the end to the apartheid in South Africa, to name two. Of course there are countless moments of grace where people put aside their agendas for the cause of someone or something else.

The couple who decide to have a child or adopt one, the crowds that gather to support the refugees at bus stations, and ports, the two men from Newcastle Upon Tyne, who protected a muslim woman and her family from verbal abuse on the metro. The faithful men and women who truly embody what it means to love your neighbour, littered across our neighbourhoods like stars across the night sky and who remain unsung, and unnoticed, but no less cherished.

All these situations and people remind us that in the darkness can be found light, that even in our broken world with all of its struggles there in lies the audacity of hope which whispers to you and I, life can be better, evil can be over thrown, justice can be found after all.

We need a beacon of light in all of our lives a place or a person who holds us either physically or by their words. In this place we can be known, cherished and loved. I delight in my view because I know home, safety, warmth, family is within my reach. But also as the cathedral looks out across a land scape that has changed so much over its 998 year existence, i am reminded of a God who knows me, as I cycle down dark lanes, through lit streets, over a river to get home.

The psalmist writes ‘Even the darkness is light to God its as though it is day’, to the creator of the world, meaning that wherever we are we can be known by the source of light and love. Known by him who knows our name our coming and going.

Whatever your darkness is, I wonder what might be your beacon, a place, a person or even God? Something or someone which guides you, reminds you of what is important, and true and who holds up the best version of yourself to you like a mirror.

As parents we remind our children when they have a nightmare that they are not alone, that they are safe.  Perhaps as christians when darkness surrounds us like an oppressive fog, we are not as alone as we think we are. May your darkness become less scary, less suffocating, less emotionally wearing. As you look towards your beacon of light, that focuses you on your journey that draws you to your destination.

Have a great week

 Last Weeks Post:

Are You Getting The Whole Picture

Similar Themes:

Heavens Life Lesson

Disappointed In God

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

 

Beautiful To Me

Occasionally if not all the time we need to know that we are special, the lyrics below are a reminder of that, from a song by Don Francisco, called Beautiful To Me. Or if your prefer scroll to the bottom of the post and there is a link to youtube where you can see the song played. May God bless you today and may you come to know how deeply loved you are by the living God. May that love puncture any balloons of negativity or self loathing, and set you free.

The crowds were in the streets that day when Jesus came
to town All the synagogue was there and more from miles around
So I asked him home to dinner just to see what I could
see Of this famous local prophet from here in Galilee

And I don’t know just how that woman got into the room
But you couldn’t miss her gaudy clothes and her strong
and sweet perfume. She went straight to Jesus’ feet and stopped and stood
right there Then cried and wet His feet with tears and dried them
with her hair.

Now of all the women in my town none was more well
known For the flagrant sin she’d lived in and the wickedness
she’d sown. But He didn’t move to stop her — seemed this phophet
couldn’t tell That the woman who was touching Him was the kind they
buy and sell.

And I had no idea just what this Jesus planned to do
When he said “Simon, there’s something I need to say to
you.”So I said “Teacher, if it’s on your mind then tell me
what you will.” But as He began to speak to me the room grew quickly
still

He said “Take a good look at this woman now, in spite
of all her fears She’s kissed me and anointed me and washed my feet with
tears. She’s honoured me and you’ve been only rude to me
instead. You gave no kiss of greeting, no anointing for my
head.”

And her sins were red as scarlet and now they’re washed
away. The love and faith she’s shown is all the price she has
to pay For the depth of God’s forgiveness, it’s more than you
can see And in spite of what you think of her, she’s beautiful
to me

Now my anger flamed to hatred, I wanted nothing more
Than to take this prophet by the throat and throw Him
out the door To act like God, forgiving sins, and then speak so to
me. This itinerant from Nazareth in backwards Galilee.

But instead I sat and trembled, shaken to the core
The woman still was weeping as she knelt there on the
floor Jesus turned to her and said, “Your chains have been
released Your faith has saved you from your sins, rise — walk
in peace.”

Your sins were red as scarlet but now they’re washed
away. The love and faith you’ve shown is all the price you
have to pay For the depth of God’s forgiveness, it’s deeper than
the sea And no matter what the world may think, you’re
beautiful to me.
Lyrics taken from <a href=”http://www.elyrics.net/read/d/don-francisco-lyrics/beautiful-to-me-lyrics.html&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>this page</a>

Previous Post:

There Is A Cure

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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