Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Destroyed? or Rebuilt?

We come close to the end of these Lenten thoughts, ramblings, insights, nonsense?
My thoughts have been stimulated, challenged and even a bit confused at times.  I do pray they may have helped you in your own journey?

But if there is one chapter that I could have studied for the whole of Lent it would probably be this one.

Isaiah 61 offers so much hope.  Yes it was a prophetic call out to Israel but it still resonates so much, well for me it does.

These words stand the test of time
These words still speak afresh this morning
These words are MORE than words
These words are the mantra of our lifes calling
The rallying point in times of challenge, persecution and victory.
These words which best epitomise the paradox of the gospel.....summed up in

to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair

Jesus, the Messiah offered Israel, and us and today a different way. 

An alternative way of being, living... and yet it was birthed within the place of destruction, of ruin!

It is in the believers of God living out these experiences of hope that transformation takes place within communities and cities, desolate places are renewed, rebuilt.   BUT only when the people of God go through the experiences of rebuilding themselves....

To be rebuilt , you need to be knocked down??
To be rebuilt, means to be built better, stronger, more beautiful??

More like the Architect intended??

It in in this rebuilding experience where transformation truly takes place.  Where what was once destruction and chaos come the beauty of God.  Where Gods glory is revealed.

I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations.

This message of hope, helps me understand the brokenness and the despair and the uncertainty and pain.

I thank God for the times when I have been broken down, and rebuilt and for the times to come when it will happen again.

I know that I will become more and more the person God has created me to be, in these experiences, it is for this reason that I rejoice in the the Lord.

If today you are being broken, knocked down, take courage from the paradox of the Gospel of Hope. 

God is doing a new work in you for the display of His Glory, even if you dont feel it.

He makes all things beautiful in HIS TIME.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Holy Week

Just love Holy Week.

We have always sought to celebrate and mark it as a church.  Even though in recent years the Easter holiday has disappeared from the school timetable.  Its now the spring break.

I believe we need to keep Easter in front of people, and not just eggs.

We had a great prayer day on Saturday.
Awesome Palm Sunday worship
Tonight the ladies meet for prayer and reflection
Tomorrow night in Costa for Easter table talk
Wednesday night the Christians in the town all gather together to watch The Passion
Thursday night, ironically the men meet together for a meal
Friday we process through the town and then worship
Saturday we have a family easter egg hunt

You see in the business of work and family life, its very possible that Holy week could pass many by, including ourselves?

We need to keep Jesus at the centre of Easter, and we need to keep Jesus at the centre of our Easters.

The message of Easter is AWESOME, as it demonstrates the magnitude of Gods love, and yet again this year its coming a fresh to me;

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn, Isaiah 60

In the midst of all the darkness, there is and was and will be hope.  

As I said yesterday one thing is certain, it was very dark on Friday but Sunday was always coming!

It often feels dark but be assured Sunday (in Christ) is always coming!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

What a mess.....

So unusual not to be travelling the countryside on a Saturday morning, rushing to a game. My space, my escape, and yes my pleasure.  Rugby has done me good through the years and I believe kept my ministry sharp.  

Its has kept me in but not of the world.
Its helped me not to become spiritually cocooned amongst the pastoral Christians.
It has kept my awareness of salvation and mans need of it firmly at the front of my mind.

But today each of the above happened, but in a very different way.

We are holding a day of prayer in our prayer bunker.  I have a couple of hours this morning, to be still, to listen to God and to chat with him as well.

I have read and re read the Easter Story and been reminded by linking this with my Lent reading for today Isaiah 59, of just how much is going on in the world, and just how much God in Christ has done for us.

What a mess. 

But your iniquities have separated    you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you,  so that he will not hear.  For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely,   and your tongue mutters wicked things.  4No one calls for justice;    no one pleads a case with integrity.  They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.  They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web.  Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. Their cobwebs are useless for clothing;  they cannot cover themselves with what they make.  Their deeds are evil deeds,  and acts of violence are in their hands. Their feet rush into sin;    they are swift to shed innocent blood. They pursue evil schemes; acts of violence mark their ways.  The way of peace they do not know;  there is no justice in their paths.  They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace. So justice is far from us.

The Lord looked and was displeased
    that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no one,
    he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
    and his own righteousness sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
    and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
    and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

How awesome that God loved, loves us so much that he dealt with the mess Himself.

Ive reflected much on my own couple of years and likened it to the story of Holy week, and whilst I get the Friday but Sunday has been coming and indeed thankfully come, it still does not compare to the awesome love of God in Jesus.

God loves us so much that Jesus died to put the world once more back right with Him.  And continues to do this every single day.

Deeply moved, blessed and inspired.  I want to shout Hosanna, blessed is HE who comes in he name of the Lord.....and I also want to shout once more THANK YOU!

The prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Isaiah 58 says it all.

I could not wish to add to it much, other than today to pay tribute to one of our church, who over the years has fought for justice, served with a massive pastoral heart, reached out to the marginalised and prayed so many prayers.  Many of these in the Roots prayer tent.

So I pray these words, giving thanks for Pams life but also I pray them over you today as you read them.

I pray you will stand and fight for justice and that your prayers would unlocck heavens blessings over the earth and your life afresh today.

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,

    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken

Well done Pam, good and faithful servant of Jesus, who sought Justice!

Emmaus Pioneer Journey

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