EASTER REFLECTION

Father, Lord of all creation
We praise you for your goodness and your love
When we turned away you did not reject us
You met us in your Son
Welcomed us as your children
And prepared a table where we might feast with you

In Christ you shared our life
That we might live in Him, and He in us
He opened wide His arms upon the cross
And, with love stronger than death
He made the perfect sacrifice for sin

Father of all, we give you thanks and praise
That when we were still far off
You met us in your Son and brought us home
Dying and living, He declared your love
Gave us grace and opened the gate of Glory

FATHER, YOU GAVE US THE PERFECT GIFT………THE PERFECT GIFT OF YOUR SON!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ST VALENTINE’S DAY!

February 14th, St Valentine’s Day is a point in the year where the sales of cards, flowers and chocolates go through the roof. I am the first to acknowledge that this day is primarily perpetuated by commercial interests and profit margins. It is however worth noting that any reminder of the power of love can have some potential value. Yet, the ultimate expression of love is not expressed in the giving of cards, flowers or chocolates.
If you can take a moment today, reflect on the fact that our Father “IS LOVE,” (1 John 4:8) and, as Paul said, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything in creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 38-39). THANK YOU FATHER,THAT YOUR LOVE IS THE GREATEST MESSAGE OF LOVE!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LIVING in the NOW.

I recently came across a quote on Facebook, which has stayed with me as a key part of what Jesus shared in Matthew 18:3, about the importance of having the heart of a child, living in the now, from a place of childlike dependence, loved and secure in that moment in time.
“Beware of destination addiction – a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job and the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.” (Robert Holston). FATHER WOULD YOU ENABLE US TO LIVE WITH YOU, IN THE NOW, LOVED AND SECURE, SO THAT WE CAN LET GO OF THE IDEA THAT THE NEXT THING WE FIND FOR OURSELVES WILL BE THE BASIS OF OUR HAPPINESS.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THOUGHTS FOR 2018.

For many the end of one year and moving into a new one is a period of reflection on times past while looking forward to a new season. It has become a time when we often make bold proclamations about how we intend to live in times to come.
Some years ago, I discovered a quote from James Jordan which I could embrace as a vision statement for a coming year. To date, it has been the only form of words that feel in harmony with how I am trying to live in childlike dependence. So, I offer it to you again as a possible vision statement as we look forward to 2018.
“I don’t expect to be fruitful. I don’t try to have a “productive life.” Trying to “be productive,” is a lot of pressure. Resting in the Father’s love is a place where He can be productive through you.” (James Jordan).
FATHER ENABLE US TO TAKE DEEPER STEPS IN THE REALITY OF LEARNING TO LIVE LOVED DURING 2018, SO THAT YOUR LOVE CAN OVERFLOW TO TOUCH OTHERS WE MEET.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mary Did You Know

At our November gathering we had an evening of worship, which included a few seasonal songs. Some of the lyrics of one song, “Mary, Did You Know?” really impacted me. I was aware that the song was familiar to me, but on that night the lyrics expressed something of the enormity of the ways in which her life would totally change after giving birth to Jesus:
Mary did you know that one day your baby boy would walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters.
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make all things new?
This child you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.
Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.
Mary did you know, Mary did you know, Mary did you know.
The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.
Mary did you know your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping boy you’re are holding is the great “I Am.”

Unless you are a part of the Catholic, Orthodox, or High Anglican parts of the Christian family, it is likely that Mary’s part in the gospel narrative has been overlooked or virtually airbrushed out of your awareness.
We think Mary was a young girl when she was visited by the angel Gabriel who told her she was going to give birth to a child, despite her being a virgin. She was to call Him Jesus. Gabriel declared, “This child, will be great” and will be called the “Son of the Most High.” And “His Kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1 v: 32&33)
Mary illustrated the ultimate response to God, when she replied to Gabriel, “I am the Lords servant, may it be to me as you have said.” WOW!
FATHER, THANK YOU FOR WONDERFUL EAMPLE WE HAVE IN MARY. WOULD YOU ENABLE US TO RESPOND TO YOU WITH THE SAME CHILDLIKE SIMPLICITY SHE DID?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

OUR WORK ASSIGNMENT – PART TWO.

In a recent blog we looked at a passage from John 6 as the basis of our work assignment. When Jesus was asked,” What must we do to do the work God requires? Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
A few weeks later a friend came across a quote by Henri Nouwen which I felt was helpful in illustrating the point that what we do with our lives does have value, but it is the internal motivation and value we place on such activities that determines their true nature and to what degree they are motivated by love.
“I do not want to suggest that productivity is wrong or needs to be despised. On the contrary, productivity and success can greatly enhance our lives. But when we value the work of our hands and minds, we become victims of the fear tactics of our world. When productivity is our main way of overcoming self-doubt, we are extremely vulnerable to rejection and criticism and prone to inner anxiety and depression. Productivity can never give the deep sense of belonging we crave. The more we produce, the more we realize that success and results cannot give us the experience of “at homeness.” In fact, our productivity often reveals to us that we are driven by fear. In this sense, sterility and productivity are the same: both can be signs that we doubt our ability to live fruitful lives.” (Henri Nouwen)
FATHER WE INVITE YOU TO ENABLE US TO LIVE FRUITFUL AND PRODUCTIVE LIVES SOURCED IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

OUR WORK ASSIGNMENT

In a recent blog, I mentioned my hazy memories of studying physics at school. One of the few things I still remember is that work is defined as happening when, “something is moved.” So, it seems we live in a world that tends to view work as primarily an activity, based upon, effort, and strain.
In John 6, we read that the primary work of the Kingdom is not located in our physical or mental effort, but is rooted in relationships. Jesus told a crowd, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this; to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6: 28-29 NIV).
In Matthew 16, Jesus tells us that HE will build HIS church. So, it looks like our primary task or work, is to get to know Jesus and build relationships with Him and learn to live within the Trinity as He does.
It seems that Father does not require us to wear ourselves out with toil and effort, rather He values the work of us getting to know His Son, who revealed the true nature of the Heart of God. In John 14, Jesus told Phillip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
SO, THIS IS OUR WORK ASSIGNMENT…. GETTING TO KNOW JESUS, WHO IS EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, WHO REVEALS OUR FATHER…. THIS WORK BRINGS LIFE, JOY, PEACE, MEANING AND VALUE TO US.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

God’s First Book

In a recent blog (Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name’) I suggested that our hearts are opened to trust our heavenly Father and receive his love by the revelation, or renewed revelation, of his nature and purposes. That got me thinking about revelation. Just how does Father God reveal himself to his children?
We read in Hebrews 1:1 that God has spoken ‘at many times and in various ways’. I’m going to list briefly a few that have come to my mind. I’d like to explore one in particular in this reflection, and I may come back to some of the others in future months.
First, we find many instances In the Bible of God speaking to individual women and men in a variety of ways – in their thoughts, through dreams and visions, by an audible voice, through angels, even through a donkey! Sometimes the revelation was just for the individual concerned, sometimes it was to be passed on.
Second, we have the writings which the community of God’s people (first Israel, then the church) recognised as inspired by the Holy Spirit and carrying God’s authority for all his people (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). They are contained in what Christians call the Old and New Testaments.
Third, the New Testament writers recognised Jesus as ‘the word made flesh’ (John 1:14), the Son ‘by whom God has spoken to us in these last days…, the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being’ (Hebrews 1:2-3). Jesus revealed the Father to his followers (Matthew 11:27, John 17:26). Following his ascension, the Holy Spirit continues this ministry of revelation (John 16:12-15).
________________________________________
In Romans 1:19-20 Paul refers to a fourth medium of revelation which he clearly thought important, though I’m inclined to think that its significance has been downgraded in some parts of the Christian church today: ‘What can be known about God is plain (to men and women), because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.’ (ESV)
Or, as it is expressed in The Message: ‘The basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.’
A few years ago, at a Fatherheart Ministries gathering in New Zealand, James Jordan encouraged us to spend time in the open air reading what he called ‘God’s First Book’. Having been brought up in a thoroughly (even overly) bibliocentric Christian culture (which, somewhat ironically, failed to give proper weight to Paul’s words in Romans 1) I initially felt a little uneasy (and perhaps a little sceptical) about this invitation, but since that time, through both personal experience and reading in the Psalms and Wisdom books of the Old Testament, I’ve begun to realise that Father himself invites us to read his ‘First Book’ as one of the ways in which he chooses to reveal his nature and purposes.
In the book of Job, for example, it’s very striking that God, unlike Job’s human ‘comforters’, offers no theological, philosophical or moral answers to Job’s agonised questions. Rather he answers with questions of his own, which invite Job to explore the wonders of the world he created and sustains (Job chapters 38-41). As one commentator writes: God enjoys his world, and he wants us to enjoy it with him… Just as Jesus invited us to ‘consider the lilies of the field’, so the Lord is like a friend who asks you to join him in a walk around his garden… Job finds God in the world. ‘Now I’m satisfied’ he exclaims. ‘I’ve seen You with my own eyes’ (Job 42:5). Francis Anderson, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries
(Of course, there’s much more to say about Job’s relationship with God. The point I’m emphasizing here is how God chose to reveal himself to Job through hiss created world.)
________________________________________
The writers of the psalms also ‘found God in the world’. All around them they saw evidence of his goodness and compassion, his power and majesty, his wisdom and understanding, his justice and faithfulness, and their response was worship – reverent, joyful, grateful, trusting, exuberant worship!
O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures. Ps 104:24
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Ps 111:2
God’s splendour is a tale that is told;
His testament is written in the stars.
Space itself speaks his story every day
Through the marvels of the heavens.
His truth is on tour in the starry-vault of the sky,
Showing his skill in creation’s craftsmanship.
Each day gushes out its message to the next,
Night with night whispering its knowledge to all.
Without a sound, without a word,
Without a voice being heard,
Yet all the world can see its story,
Everywhere its gospel
Is clearly read so all may know. Psalm 19:1-4 Passion Translation
I love the way in which so many psalms speak in the same breath of God’s majestic power and tender compassion. For example:
He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.
The Lord sustains the humble. Psalm 147:3-6
The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might,
so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Psalm 145:9-16
________________________________________
A story
A little boy is standing by a flowerbed in the garden. For a long time he looks closely at a beautiful bloom. He smiles. ‘Well done, God!’ he says.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise. Psalm 8:1-2
A Prayer
Father, thank you for the invitation to read your ‘first book’, to explore and enjoy your world with you.
Open our eyes, as you opened Job’s, to the revelation of who you are in the world around us.
Open our hearts and mouths to respond with reverent wonder, humble trust, and exuberant gratitude and praise.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Those Who Know Your Name

Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name
An earlier blog (10 August) posed the question ‘Will you trust?’ and suggested that learning to trust our heavenly Father is the key to experiencing his love.
‘But why should I trust him?’ someone might well answer, ‘and how can I learn to trust him?’
Some years ago, in one of his podcasts, Wayne Jacobsen referred to the tendency of Christian people, when we face difficult situations, to tell one other, and ourselves, just to have more faith. He suggested, somewhat to my initial surprise, that this is pointless, probably counterproductive and perhaps even harmful. He went on to explain that we can’t make ourselves believe by trying harder. We don’t learn to trust by our own efforts. Trust is a response to the revelation of Father’s love. Wayne then revealed that when he found himself in circumstances where he didn’t know what to do, or felt that he couldn’t cope, he no longer tried to screw up his courage or summon up increased faith. Rather, he prayed a prayer like this: ‘Father, please show me what I don’t yet know about you, that I need to know to help me through the problems I am facing.’
I was reminded of this prayer recently when I was reading Psalm 9: Those who know your name trust in you; for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you (Psalm 9:10). When the Bible refers to God’s ‘name’ it means the revelation of who he is, like the revelation Moses received in Exodus 34:4-7: ‘Moses rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”’
Trust in God flows from this ‘knowledge of his name’, but my recent reading in the psalms, and my own experience over the years, have suggested a possible addition to Wayne Jacobsen’s prayer: ‘Father, please show me what I don’t yet know about you, or have forgotten about you, that I need to know to help me through the problems I am facing.’
Psalm 106 summarises the history of Israel from the Exodus to the Exile, with repeated references to Israel’s forgetfulness: ‘They did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love’ (v.7)… ‘they soon forgot his works’ (v.13)… ‘they forgot God, their Saviour, who had done great things in Egypt’ (v.21). (Just to make the point that this is not an isolated example, you can find a detailed account of the same pattern of blessing and forgetting in Psalm 78, and there are shorter references in Judges and 1 Samuel and in other psalms.)
Because they ‘forgot’ how good he is, the people lost their trust in God and had ‘no faith in his promise’ (v.24). In their fearfulness they grumbled and rebelled and repeatedly looked to other gods and/or other kings for comfort and security and protection.
They were deceived. When they rejected God’s protection ‘their enemies oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their power. Many times the Lord delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes and were brought low through their iniquity’ (vv.42-43). Later in Israel’s history the compiler of the book of Proverbs drew the lesson clearly: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil’ (Proverbs 3:5-7).
It is interesting that this passage in Proverbs makes the point positively – ‘trust God and be blessed’ – rather than negatively – ‘go your own way and suffer’ (though there are other places where it gives that warning). Psalm 106 ends on the same positive note. After the miserable history of repeated forgetting and rebellion, comes this glorious statement: ‘The Lord looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry. For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love. Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord!’ (vv.44-45,47-48).
We forget and forget and forget, but Father remembers! He is love, and he will always be true to his name and his nature! He never goes back on his word! When we cry out to him in our failure and need he reveals himself in mercy and compassion.
Those ‘many times’ of deliverance mentioned in Psalm 106 (v.42) culminated in the death of Jesus – the greatest expression of Father’s love for his forgetful and rebellious children. Just before his arrest Jesus prayed that the truth expressed in Psalm 9:10 would be real in the lives of his disciples (present and future): ‘Righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them’ (John 17:25-26).
It is the revelation of God as our loving Father which renews our trust.
‘Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you’ (Psalm‬ ‭33:20-22‬).‬‬‬‬
________________________________________
A prayer
Father, forgive us that we are so quick to forget how good you are. Forgive us that we find it so hard to trust you, and so easy to look elsewhere for comfort and strength and security and wisdom.
Thank you for your faithfulness; for your unchanging love; for your compassion and forgiveness.
May Jesus, who is the radiance of your glory and the exact representation of your being, make your name known to us as he promised, to renew and increase the revelation of your love and goodness in our hearts, and restore and strengthen our trust in you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LOVE FILLS EVERY VOID.

A few weeks ago, students all over the country received their much-anticipated exam results. When my results arrived in the post many years ago I never managed to pass a Physics exam. One of the few things I still remember from my years sitting at the back of a physics lab, was that darkness was defined as the absence of light. When you think about it, this makes sense, light eclipses darkness.
1 John 1:15, tells us that God is light and in Him there is no darkness. This is an important revelation, light and darkness are not equal in power, one consumes the other. When this fact has settled in our hearts it can radically alter the way we look at the world, and change how we pray. Stephen Hill has made an important contribution to this when speaking about prayer when he said:
“The energy of prayer goes into the solution, not the problem. The energy and dynamism of prayer works in the positive, not the negative. Do not pray against the negative, pray IN the positive. Do not seek to diminish what is wrong, but pray for the growth of the positive solution. Do not pray against the darkness, pray rather for the dawning of the light. Sin and evil are not substantial reality, they are the absence of substantial reality. Love fills every void.” (John: A Prophetic Revelation) DARKNESS IS THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT & FATHERS LOVE FILLS EVERY VOID.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment