Sunday, 29 January 2017

A Call (out) to Greatness!

I was travelling yesterday and i heard a piece about Muhammad Ali, a man who was renowned almost as much for his one liners and outrageous poetic statements as his boxing. 
It was indeed tragic to see how his life literally became a shadow of his former self in the later years of his life.   The self declared greatest became tragically little more than a shell of a body in the end.

There has been a lot of rhetoric in recent days, and especially this morning over the whole of the media. 

There's a new man on the block! 
Hes another man who has been shouting out one liners.
Shouting about making his country great! He has done this by making some shocking, in my opinion, statements and signing outrageous executive orders.
What he has said and done adds up in no small way to a statement such as 'we will be a great country again, if we keep everyone else out who is not like us, like me!'.   
Sadly he has masked much of these political views behind a rhetoric of being a devout Christian.

Sorry I see nothing Great or Christian about rejecting the migrant, the poor the people not like me!  

This leads me to another thought. I must confess i personally like the term United Kingdom rather than Great Britain. Great Britain does in so many ways communicate an empirical mindset of greatness, of superiority.  I personally love that we can be a group of countries, with all of our diversity but united around common values and principles.
It will be a sad day if the United Kingdom did dissolve and become separate entities.  
The United Kingdom that I have grown up in demonstrates that we can be diverse, different and yet united.  We have a long way to go, but i pray that we will continue to seek to move forward, not look back!

My final thought is this.  I walked into a room the other day, and was greeted by a group of people.  We were chatting for some time when a lady asked sorry so who are you.  The person who was with me seemed shocked, in fact he almost showed disdain. This is Andrew Vertigan!  He did so in a way that communicated that I was in someway a significant amazing person. 
I smiled back to the lady, and simply said im Andrew and Im trying to help people to engage with people who do not know about Jesus in 2017.  
We then spoke for some time about the challenges that this statement answered.  

I smiled inwardly also. 
I remember singing at my ordination service to be an SA officer the words of John the Baptist i must decrease that He (Jesus) might increase.
You see there is a real danger within the Church, its ME or I ! 
The danger that we forget who we are, from where weve come and that more importantly we are no better, different yes, but no better than anyone we meet on the street etc.  

We do not called to profess greatness but demonstrate humility. To demonstrate love, grace and acceptance of all, it is these actions of mercy that will proclaim who we are
These thoughts were mulling over in my mind as i was reading social media in the early hours of today and then as I listened to the TV news this morning.

The text for today popped up on my phone...

Mark 9:35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

We in the church are called to knock down the walls,
we are called to fling wide the doors of our buildings but more importantly our hearts.
We are called to embrace the broken heart,
to show love to those who are persecuted and to bring a message of hope when there seems to be none.

I long to be part of a country where diversity is truly embraced and where men, women and children are seen as Christ sees them.   To do that I must continually humble myself and serve......
This is what we are called to ...........

So join me will you in knocking down the walls that are barriers to people seeing the love of God and join me in praying this today for all who profess Christian faith
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your Sight O Lord My God.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Do you See what I see?

It's been a crazy couple of weeks post Christmas new year break.  The break was lovely but the catching up on stuff seems to take over.   There's been loads of good new pioneering visions and ideas going on. Its has felt in the midst of all the uncertainty and changes that God is indeed birthing new things.

As part of our own reflection and time out we have just decided to soldier at a corps that has moved out of its hall, relocated into a school surrounded by housing. A massive step for this corps.  It's felt that God has led us here,  which probably will surprise some and certainly surprised us.  But we have been asking and seeking after God's intention for us. Why are we surprised when we ask of God and he answers, maybe not in the may we expected?   Is it because we ask him and think we already know the answers?

The flu bug has hit the household in recent days and reared its head again yesterday.   Its a nasty bug. I was the only one up and about this morning.  It would have been so easy to go to church and just as easy to stay in the house and rest.  However I felt in my spirit I should take the space with the Creator God and go on a long walk through the surrounding countryside, as an act of worship on the Sabbath and allow God to commune with me.  It was a beautiful frosty morning.  A real oasis from the business. 

As I started out I commenced my walk with prayer and I turned to my reading for the day.  I smiled it read...... 
Ask, Seek, Knock ] “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.

This thought came into my mind during the first mile, you have to put yourself in the place where you can listen and or look.  Rowan Williams illustration of the birdwatcher came to mind again, from Essentials of Discipleship.

As I walked, I listened.  I looked to see God in the world about me. I noticed there were times of real quiet and also times of noise, but God spoke in both the silent and the noisy place.  I reflected for miles it seemed on this text.

Andrew you have to keep asking of me.  You have to keep seeking me?  You have to keep putting yourself intentionally in the place where you can have the open conversations with me.  And so in these moments I found my spirit connecting with Gods Spirit.

My spirit has been restless in recent days .  I'm concerned by what I see in the spirit realm over the sa at present.  It has felt like theres been a real heaviness, almost a despondency. People wrestling with change, uncertainty, the unknown. My spirit is sensing that we need to grab hold of this and of God, if not theres a danger it will root itself into our being and show itself through despair, fear, and even bitterness.  As I asked and sort God on this I was reminded of the good pioneering news thats really gaining momentum across the country, even though much of this seems to collide with systems and misunderstanding.  My spirit continued to wrestle,  uneasy as i walked..... 

Then I heard clearly and I saw clearly .  Its clear........we have to be bold and courageous..... Not to fear.... And yet it seems that fear keep colliding with my boldness.  I thought, maybe these are spiritual bedfellows,  for they drove and drive me back continually to God.  This thought emboldened me. 

As I walked I felt God say to me reclaim the fear turn it round use it remind yourself that I, The Creator God, is Almighty God who is able to do more than u can begin to imagine!  I bring beauty out of chaos and mess, do you see it?   Are you looking?  Are you listening?

Simply put i was reminded today to continue to ask, to seek and to be assured when these are expressed in the presence of God we will come to places of discovery where we find, not only answers, only only ourselves but we will also find God is right there.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Love is all around me

New year
New beginnings
A time to reflect.
A time to 'grasp the nettle'.
To seize the moment.
To see, the new thing that God has in store.

Or as it seems to suggest on every magazine and social media site, start a diet!  These headlines are almost as certain as the films which will be on the telly!  (did you watch again Love Actually?  you know the one.....I feel it in my fingers, i feel it in my toes, the love thats all around me......)

Ive not blogged for some time now, but i felt compelled to do so today, based on something I heard afresh this morning.  

Isnt everyday a new day?
Isnt each morning a new opportunity
To think,
and consider?
To seize the opportunities that God puts in front of you?

This morning in worship, we were encouraged to 'Unwrap the Urgent'.  (We are at present members of a church, and its lovely to sit in the congregation with everyone else and be ministered to.  This is not our natural place, we are used to being up the front, or maybe it is!) 

There's no doubt at all that God is allowing us the privilege of 'being'.  Not by our own choosing, but by His leading. Ive been reminded lots over Christmas, as ive walked and been still that God leads us, not to the places we would always choose, but to the places where he can most teach, instruct and guide us.

So as I listened this morning, I wondered what the preacher was going to 'Unwrap for us?' he spoke well and led us to 2 John 1:13, the urgent matter, as John said was to walk in love. 

This message sat with what I felt God told me time and time again last year, to:

Love the Lord your God

Urgency of LOVE, if we lose sight and lose love then we lose everything.

So maybe rather than thinking once a year, we and I mean myself should think this way everyday?  Today I chose to walk the way of love for whoever God puts across my path.

A number of years ago, i sat in a summer school, I was on the staff and the choir/chorus were singing a new song.  It was called above all powers.  As they sang I found tears welling up and spilling over from my heart as i was ministered to by the Holy Spirit, again showing me how much God loves us.

This morning, for the first time for many many years, we sang this song again.  I was reminded of that summer afternoon in Manchester and the gift of love which was unwrapped a fresh for me again.

I pray that no matter where you find yourself, walking or being led this year you will continually be confronted by the God of Love and that your neighbours will experience the same love through you.

Emmaus Pioneer Journey

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