Sunday, 25 February 2018

Victory

It was inevitable.
I feared it.
I even told my friends it would happen!
The supposed invincible England rugby team would lose.
Unlike football we tend to win games regularly in recent years.
Thankfully I was at a game so was unable to watch yesterdays game. 
It was according to many of my Scottish friends never in doubt!
The better team simply won!


There has been a real swagger about the England rugby team in recent months, brought about by a leader who has instilled a real sense of living as winners.
(This has come of a terrible world cup in England where we did not event qualify, despair across the England rugby fans was unbearable)
The new coach has been ruthless in his team selection, dropping players even when they were playing it seemed well.
He has not held back from his stated aim of becoming the best.
I've not heard whats hes said after yesterdays game,  but I have no doubt he will have gone straight back into the changing room yesterday and said, losing is not nice is it!
He will, Im sure have said lets use this defeat to make us better and stronger!


The Scottish, enjoyed their victory with magnificent celebrations.
They tend to beat England at rugby once every team years or so.
But good on them, and indeed this year there are four sides in the 6 nations who are very good sides!  So honestly it wasnt a surprise.



As I've been reading the Nehemiah 52 days of prayer, I've been increasingly challenged by the fact that Nehemiah did not let his circumstances cause him to lose sight of His Victorious God.  Indeed if anything the challenges that He faced caused him to focus even more on who God was and what He could do!


It seems to me that it is easy to live as a defeated person, to allow circumstances to pull us down, to dictate our responses.  Yet as we are told time and time again, 'we are more than conquerors!'  We, the people of God should live as victorious people!
The tomb could not contain, the Lord whom we follow.
What seemed like defeat was in fact victory!
The Redemptive God, can bring about glorious victory even when it seems all there is, is despair.


I believe that we, the people of God,  have spent long enough looking at the ruins, at the hopelessness of our situation, there needs to be a switch in mindset an approach.

Victory is an attitude of the heart and mind.
Christ chose victory, yet it was achieved on the cross!

I think its fair to say
'I chose life, not death'.
'I chose victory not defeat'.
I chose Christ!
These may well have been the words that bounced around Nehemiahs mind when he stated in verse 2;20 'The God of heaven will give us success'.


Yes Im gutted the rugby team lost yesterday (i may bring myself to watch it later, may)
But we will come back stronger and better, of that Im confident.


Today in my own life, even though their are blockages, obstacles, circumstances that can get in the way, I still believe that Victory in Christ is assured.
I believe that we need to keep our eyes focused on the finishing line, and see beyond the here and now.

Nehemiah saw the potential.
He saw what the rebuilt city could look like.
He saw beyond the rubble

What are you seeing beyond the here and now?
Defeat or
Victory?

My pray for you each is that you will see the Victorious Risen Lord at work with you in your here and now, seeking the good of the kingdom in all things.  That you would be reminded that today you serve a Victorious Lord.

Choose life.
Choose victory!



Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Blockage

An old advert came to mind the other day, as I listened to a friend try to speak.
The advert used to say 'you need tunes'

The advert was all about cough sweets for when you were blocked up.
You may well be too young to remember it!

You get what I mean thou dont you, its that time of year when the coughs and colds seem to be about, and you just want to blow you nose so hard to clear it so you can breathe easily.
No matter how often or how hard you blow you just cannot 'unblock', the airways to breathe properly.


My friend and I were laughing, 'shut up' she said as i jestered with her about how she sounded.  'Im all blocked up. I cant breathe!'


I was reflecting last evening on the train about a number of things and meetings over the last few days, and then this morning i read the Nehemiah, Lets Rebuild Together prayers which the Salvation Army Territory is following through the 52 days of lent.



It said, Facing the Blockages.  'Then I moved on towards the Fountain Gate and the Kings Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through.' It went on to say. The wall of Jerusalem used to be an impressive feat of engineering, but by Nehemiah's time its a mess of rubble, blocking the way so no one can get through. When you reflect on your life what blockages do you see?  What is stopping people from moving forward.


I smiled as I read this early today.  It would be fair to say in recent days tiredness has kicked in following three exhausting and demanding weeks.  I have taken time out following these to rest, recuperate and to enjoy some space.  I need to. Just to be home is so nice.  Thats not to say the last few weeks haven't be blessing and challenge filled.  As i read today's reading I reflected on a few things in recent days which to be honest 'have got right up my nose!', but more than that for a few moments I felt like people just dont see things in the way I do, or even maybe are simply blockages to what I believe is the mission of God!


I've really challenged myself about this fact this morning. I believe this was the Spirits prompting.

I was reminded of the young people at TYC last week who in one of their bible studies were encouraged to talk about the things that get in the way and the changes they would make so that their corps and their own lives would flourish.  I was also reminded of a challenging meeting where a friend who had sat next to me had said, wow you were so calm I would have been raising the roof!  

My challenge is maybe Im the obstacle at times, not others.
My challenge is maybe I forget at times that this is Gods mission and he has gone before us.  That he has more invested in this than I do!
Maybe just maybe, I need to look at the plank in my own eye before I look at the spec of dust in anothers?
Maybe I need to ask God to show me, how to remove or lift out of the ways the blockages, so that I can breathe freely in the Spirit!


I wonder, as my dear friend Andrea Harrison says when introducing Godly play, I wonder what are the things that we are putting in the way of God building, rebuilding, the kingdom of God within our lives and communities.

Ive been singing a couple of songs since my performance on stage last Friday at TYC.  The men were to sing a male voice piece in the concert, I had missed all the practises bar one due to my role, i did not know the words, it would have been easier, better to have 'sat that one out', but I was encouraged to sing.  So I spent much of Friday spare time learning the words.  Im glad I did, its really spoken to me.


To be free in the spirit, the blockages need to be moved, pulled down, thrown away.  If we long to be free in the spirit we need to let the Spirit set us free!  Its the Spirit of Jesus that sets the captives free!


It's not conservative or liberal, 
However they're defined; 
It's not about interpretation, 
Or the judgment of the mind; 

It's the opposite of politics, 
Power or prestige; 
It's about a simple message, 
And whether we believe.

Chorus:
It's still the cross, 
It's still the blood of Calvary; 
That cleanses sins, 
And sets the captives free.
It's still the name, 
The name of Jesus, 
That has power to save the lost; 
It's still the cross.

We can water down theology, 
And preach a word to suit our needs; 
We can justify sweet subtle lies, 
That are wrapped in noble deeds; 

We can alter our convictions, 
To adapt to social whims; 
But we cannot change the gospel, 
Or the truth contained within.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Reflections of an Ageing Pioneer

And Jesus went to a quiet place.....
I love this statement....
I love how Jesus recognised the times of demand and expectation, placed upon him.
I love how he knew he had exhausted his human endurance levels.
I love how this shouts out so loud the importance of STOPPING!

(NB This blog may well be longer than usual, but please do read it to the end)

I've just come of two of the most demanding, yet enthralling weeks of the year and my ministry.
Ive come off them at a time or real personal challenges for my family with health and well being concerns.  When you put these two components together, I have had to reach out to God and to others and 'force myself', to the place of deeper reliance of God and other disciples/friends.  A bit like Moses, many have held up my arms.  Thank you.  THIS HAS DONE MY SPIRIT SO MUCH GOOD!


Here are a couple of reflections and learning over the last two weeks.


Firstly at the largest ever Pioneer Gathering the UKT has seen, we were inspired, indeed blown away by those who gathered.
From the first to the last God just spoke into so many peoples lives in such powerful ways.  There were so many highlights from the teaching of some inspirational speakers Roy Searle from the Northumbria Community who spoke right into the heart of so many gathered, to Dave Male who unpacked so helpfully how to Pioneer even when you dont really have a clue.  Both, along with the other guests and speakers were 'top drawer'.  God really used them.
The brand new TCs also joined with us.

God spoke to me powerfully through them.  Lyndon spoke about the four friends who carried their infirm friend to Jesus. At so many points he said they could have given up and laid their friend down, but they persisted and were not put of in any way from getting their friend to the place of meeting with Jesus.
He said this, I want you to picture this, not four men walking away but five, and one had his mat rolled up under his arm!  Before Jesus he couldnt walk, after meeting Jesus he did!
Man, (as they say in NZ) what a brilliant image.
Persistence brings results, amazing results!
In the final worship session, we simply just got out of the way and let God move and minister to ourselves.  
It was one of the most anointed times Ive been in within the SA for many many years.  Prayer, tears, prophecy and encouragement were shared as we all together cried out to God and HE HEARD OUR PRAYERS
Thank you Jesus.


Normally I would take a week after this event, it is full on,to recover but this year I found myself 48 hours later driving to Bournemouth for the Territorial Youth Chorus week.  I was to be the Spiritual Director.
Honestly I was anxious, I was tired, I was emotionally spent.  I was also still anxious about family back at home, but we all knew this was the right thing to do.  Again I found myself, having to trust God, a word I have been hearing lots about recently.  I have never been to Bournemouth before, had no idea where it was, and the journey seemed to take for ever.  I arrived to meet some of the team on the Sunday evening late. What a team!!!
Passionate, energetic, brilliant musicians and many had been before.
I was uncomfortable, I think because I felt inadequate, and tired.
I was going to have to trust God, in a deeper way again!  You see I was the person who was responsible for the spiritual input and well being of the team and students.


I had not realised the week would result in singing, more singing and some more singing.  WITHOUT WORDS in the final concert.
Dancing.....yes dancing.
Actions....yes actions
I simply had no idea what I was doing, but i put my full self into it all and apparently my 'moves', were one off the highlights for many colleague officers who thought i was hysterical.  I was tbh!

The theme for the week revolved around this.  Jesus Loves you.  Yes HE DOES!  First Love.
The young adults, and staff were inspirational.  Amazing.
So many treasured memories.
So many high points of people seeking God.
So many testimonies and encounters with Jesus.
The young people have made a massive impact on my life!  Thank you all.
The staff....well bless them.  They gave of their time and skills relentlessly throughout the week.
They too were deeply touched by God.
This was not a bless the students time, this was encounter time for all who were present.

So thank you Jesus that you graciously met with the Pioneers and the TYC members.
Heres my testimony.
I've had to trust God, in a deeper way.
I've had to time and time again go to a quiet place, to be refreshed, to listen to God and to be challenged by God.
The pictures throughout this blog are of a quiet place early on a couple of mornings at TYC, where I intentionally woke up to see the new day rise.

I took myself to a quiet place to listen to the Father.

Today may you each take time to be still with your Father, who loves you.....Yes He does.

Emmaus Pioneer Journey

Picture the scene. You arrive, on a day off to spend the day with one of your children. To help him out. You're greeted by about 5 t...