Archive for the ‘Bible reflecting’ Category

Mums & Jesus

“Mum” is there a name that could mean more, and to so many?  There is hardly a higher compliment or ambition that could be sought, than to be call mum.

“Jesus” is there a name that could mean so many things, and to so many? This name that is misused, abused and honoured. It is called upon, blamed, praised, adored, cursed and feared. Yet there is no name higher than Jesus.

It’s not easy to become a mum, well, you have to give birth! To the unknowing eye the time of labour is not life giving. The sounds, smells and sights not to mention the pain are not the normal conditions for which you expect something beautiful to happen.
And then it does… New life; beautiful.
I cannot grasp the depths of love between a mum and child at that point. When my wife held our children for the first time she uttered tenderly through the tears and exhaustion… “Hello there”. As I reflect on this moment I can think of no better summary for the mystery and love than a line from JJ Heller’s song ‘I get to be the one

“How does someone so small, hold my heart to tightly.
I Don’t even know you; I love you completely.”

Jesus looking lovingly at his disciples said words which echo in a mother’s love.
“This is my body broken for you”
The cross, and the events of the passion week are not the conditions for which you expect something beautiful to happen.
And then it does… New life; beautiful.
The depths of love from God to man are incomprehensible to me, when I think of the new and eternal life God has birthed inside me, when I attempt to think of what it took so that the invite to have this new & eternal life could go out to all the world (inc me) I am left in speechless awe.  What love. I cannot comprehend, I can see a picture of this love as I see how my wife loves our children, it’s a strong love, a sacrificial love, a trusting love, an unconditional love.
God’s love for us is like that but stronger, purer, bigger, completely dependable and absolutely free yet cost the ultimate price.  And why? and how do I know? I can think of no better summary than the song my son was singing this morning.

“Yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.”

Happy Mothers Day!

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King David – The Imperfect.

Sin sin sin, it provides the backdrop to every broken man, every torn woman. It Is the silent tear in each eye, and the heaviness in each conscience and the beginning of everything that is not right with this place.
David is a huge character in our scriptures, more narrative space is given to David than any other character in the Bible and not only do we have his documented life in detail but also a huge catalogue of his inner thoughts and prayers in the Psalms. Yet with all this space, not even the slightest effort is made to present him as admirable in any sense. The man after God’s own heart, is yet far from perfect. The man who didn’t kill Saul when being pursued by him, also murdered Uriah.
As Jesus followers we must run from 2 things, we must run from Sin and Perfectionism both are soul-wrecking germs which will work their way to hardening our hearts.
As we pray in the company of David’s psalms and live in the company of his story we begin to notice that sin is not ours to address, none of the psalms pray to sin asking it to go away, and in none do we hear the phrase ‘I’ll never do that again’.
We begin to learn the we do not deal with sin on our own, we deal with God and he deals with our sin.  The way he does this is to forgive.  He calls it Grace.
God’s business is to deal with sin, so our business is to deal with God as he continually does His work in and with us.
Our praying and God following companion (King David) keeps us mindful that it is God who does His perfect work through us, not us perfecting ourselves.
Do not fall for the lie that we can deal with sin on our own that’s perfectionist talk, not the talk of a forgiven Grace filled follower.
Sin is God’s business, let Him deal with it.

Standing on Grace
david

Grieve Well, With Hope. (for those who mourn Leah Whyte)

Leah Whyte.  I was not close to her, but some of my closest friends were some of her closest friends and family.
Words; people say there’s nothing can be said, and though there are times and places where nothing should be said, (and there will be many of those over the next few weeks), words have power.  Having decided not to, I’ve now decided to carefully and with tears write a blog for those who loved Leah not as a tribute but hopefully as a help and to let you know that many are mourning your lost with you.  

In the words of her mum ‘Leah was ready to die, we were not ready to say goodbye.’  
Though we can barely believe it we must hold on to the truth that God is faithful. By God is faithful we mean that His faithfulness can be depended on.  We can trust in it fully.
God’s is faithful.  Truth is these words go deep, much deeper than we sometimes give them credit for.  This depth is truly realised when death comes and unapologetically interrupts our lives. 

Death is sad, no matter how ready someone is or how ready we know they are, it’s sad.  Friends please grieve, mourn and grieve because this is not the way it should be. 
God can and does work for the good and bring good out of evil.  But God is the one who gives life and it is this fallen world and the enemy who takes it away…
We do great damage to ourselves and our thoughts about God when we look at something wrong/evil and try to call it good. 
As those who mourn we need to be able to say:
“This is not good:
This is not the way it should be
This is a tear in the fabric of God’s good creation
And God weeps over it and rages against it
And one day will defeat this enemy for good and restore all the goodness”

And that’s the thing, this is not good, but we have a good God.  ‘And what then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us.’  Not even death can stand against us.
For like Jesus when faced with Jairus’ daughter or standing at the tomb of His friend Lazarus, He wept.  It was not good yet he did not finish with weeping.  Like Jesus we too can mock the clutch of death and call it sleep.  For we know and we trust that the same man who raised Lazarus has been to the cross, has defeated that final enemy and has rose victorious. CHRIST HAS RISEN, CHRIST HAS RISEN INDEED. 
And it is Him, who now says to Horace’s daughter as He did to Jairus’ daughter ‘young girl, its time to wake up’, let me show you heaven for great is your inheritance here. 
And Leah will do what she loved to do…
Worship. 
She is with her Lord, where those of us who’ve trusted Jesus are going too.
So I ask you to:
Grieve well, but with hope.

This is how the story will end. These words have power, not simply because of how beautiful they are, but because they are a promise from our faithful Father.
Revelation 21:3-5a
“I heard a loud voice from the throne saying. ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said ‘I am making everything new’.”

As those who mourn we’ve a few important choices to make for ourselves…

  • Choose to be better not bitter.
  • Choose to believe the truth not the lies.
  • Choose to rise to Hope not fall to despair.
  • Choose to focus on eternity not the temporary.
  • Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and your heart in eternity.

Leah is alive, in-fact she is happy.  I know this because we can depend on God’s faithfulness.  God is faithful.  Death is no-longer the final enemy but marks the start of eternity an eternity where we will meet Leah and together with everyone praise the God who is good who gives life.  For he has promised; and he is faithful.

Where O death is your victory. 
Grieve well, with hope…

Standing on Grace, Andrew.

 

Jairus daughter story is in Mark 5:21-43

Leah

2 great truths

I wonder do you, like me, often think, man, the Devil is always on my back, always there like this evil influence. Waiting, with a creepy smile that makes your skin crawl for you to walk into temptation. And then, pounce!, he’ll wrestle with your thoughts, make you do something, say something, hurt someone.  

Well, I’ve got quite good news, 1. Satan is not omnipresent! 2. Satan doesn’t know everything about you! 3. Satan is trembling at the thought of the power of the Holy Spirit who’s inside/part-of you.

If we took what we sometimes think the Devil is and flip it, you’ll find a great truth.
The Devil is not with you all the time, wanting to curse you.
But God is always with you, wanting to bless you.

Two great truths.

God is Omnipresent.  There is nowhere where God is not.  God is everywhere.  Think of the darkest most evil place you know, God is there, frustrated with the free-will of people I’m sure, but He is there, seeking to bring home His children, and establish His kingdom and glory.  

God is Love.  There is nothing that we have experienced from God which is outside of love.  Everything, and I write this knowing the suffering life can throw at us, but everything you have experienced and will experience from God is and has been love.

Put these two great truths together and you get one great reassuring confidence, one awesome companioning blessed truth.  

No matter where you are, who your with and what your doing, God is close, and God is always looking on you with love wanting, willing, cheering you in love to become more like His Son.  

“God is Love”
“I will never leave you nor forsake you”

Standing on Grace

Give us our Daily Bread (part-2)

“Give us today our daily bread,” is a prayer that acknowledges our need.
To live the life God gives means we need needs, we need to need. As it means not being in control of what goes on/in our lives. Intentionally needing.

When we think of Eden or Heaven, we think of God giving, and women and men receiving gifts of life.  And we pray ‘Your kingdom come on earth (or if you like, ‘in our lives’)as it is in heaven,’ and then we live trying to supply all our own needs thus dulling, even killing our capacity of receiving.
We prefer to live without needs: 

  • So we buy (consumerism). Buy buy buy. This dulls our awareness of need. By buying what we need, we think we’re in control of our lives. ‘I bought this with my own money,’ is not the language of a daily bread recipient.
  • So we control. We control our health, diaries, other people. This dulls our awareness of need. By controlling our lives, future, health and organisations we replace any sense of need we have in our lives, with the satisfaction of being in control.  ‘I’ve got that sorted,’ is not the language of a daily bread recipient.

We will never have to pray for daily bread as long as our money and management skills hold out.  Yet this is a heavy price to pay, as to care (or pretend to care) for our own need is a refusal to receive life as a gift, and “will dull and finally destroy our capacity for living, feeling, loving, enjoying. And praying.”

Call me simple minded for thinking so much about daily bread, but to ask for bread is to acknowledge our place in creation. We are not in control. We are recipients from a life giving God, we receive from a provider. 
Needs are not limits that deaden or reduce our lives, needs introduce us to a life of receiving and giving, of free grace, to a life that cannot be bought or controlled but can only be received as a gift from God.

Do you want to live without needs?.. Then you want to live without God!
To live without the need of daily bread is to refuse God’s dusty, wholegrain, real life, everyday, basic, earthy and heavenly Grace which is ‘on tap’ through daily faith and trust in an everyday provider God. 

Our daily need for bread is a daily reminder that we are in need. We live in a Grace filled world, may we keep this prayer active on our lips and constant in how we view our lives… “Lord, give us…”

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11

Standing on Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 – Eugene Peterson, The word made flesh, pg. 184

Give us our Daily Bread (part-1)

On Sunday (at Fahan church) we thanked God for the harvest, a service with diminishing relevance in city churches, but one still alive and important in Fahan, a rural, small, 15 family church which my wife and I worship/serve/receive teaching with. 

It’s time for the Harvest Service, and people again are thankful for a year in which God has filled their bellies with good food, food, good and plentiful enough that most of the folk talk about ‘watching their weight’ thus saying that they actually have too much food in front of them.
In a country in which the Devil has so cleverly made living so comfortable, how do we as Jesus followers live out a lifestyle that is dependant, fully reliant on God.

“Give us today our daily bread”, now that’s a prayer.  As it implies that those of us who ask God for a weeks groceries belong to those who have a lack of faith.  Asking daily for your needs, ‘trusting in God day by day,’ as Debbie’s confused yet endearingly wise granny would often say. 
This prayer for daily bread, a lot more than a realization of need (though it is that).  It is a embrace of good creation and our place in it.  
God gives, we receive.
It’s important we don’t forget this fact, we do not produce anything, we simple receive from a God who is consistent in His giving. Consistent on his providence of seasons, measurable and (to an extent) predictable weather, etc. 
Yet.
We want to live without limits, we want to live without the ‘need’ that we so defiantly have. So we pretend to ourselves that we can control the money that comes into our bank account, that I as a farmer can control the profitability of a dairy cow.  We forget the big picture that God has given it all.  

Matt 5:45
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Standing on Grace
part 2 to follow. hope it strikes a chords in you.

for those heading to Uni or College

Mark 6:5f
“He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.”

Life is a series of opportunities and well… Opportunities pass. Time keeps us in step with passing and coming opportunities but Time wont let us go back and re-live them, even if we’d hoped to ‘do better’. 
All those opportunities you had in school or last year at college/uni are gone, whether you were following/trusting Jesus in those conversations and places or ignoring Him.
Anyway.
Jesus isn’t overly interested in your past.

So this year at college/uni know the God who you are following.  Jesus is not tagging along side you in your life. No. You are following Him into your class, friendships, accommodation, CU leadership. You are following Him, so have faith. 
Whatever you do don’t have a ‘lack of faith’. 
I fear too often we repeat this upsetting passage found in Mark 6, when Jesus was in his hometown.
So above all else have faith. follow Him.
That means to trust in His faithfulness!
And He is faithful.

Standing on Grace

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