Tuesday, 27 March 2012

This is my 250th blog. Fact.

I'm not going to try and pull something out of the bag that attempts to trump anything else I've written on here. I'm not going to waffle on for too long either. I’m just gonna rely on some fairly awesome scripture that somebody gave me today. Having visited a Prayer Clinic at my church (yes – they do exist), a lady read this while she prayed for me:

'Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret — it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.'

And then a bit later on...

'The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing. Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.' (From Psalm 37)

I'll take that kind of prayer any day! I really needed that too :)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

He will blow your mind in order to captivate your heart.

More often than not, I like to blog about the stuff that God is speaking to me about throughout the week. Every so often there is a subject too overwhelming or personal to just stick on a website without a second thought.

Not too long ago I wrote something regarding being stuck in the mist whilst climbing a mountain (basically struggling through a long period of praying for a job). I've been hoping for clarity and direction to come and for that 'mist' to clear, so that I can start enjoying some of the amazing views. Well, some of that mist is now clearing I think.

And no,I haven't found a job yet.

Something far more amazing has happened. Towards the end of last year, and already a couple of months into the job hunt, I clearly felt God tell me that He would bless us with a baby before the year was out! That I was to put trust in Him for that and that trusting for work would later follow. It sounds crazy doesn't it!? Why on Earth would I/we want something so monumentally life-changing to come along, when I've barely made more than a penny for 6 months? The world would scream 'YOU'RE CRAZY!!!!'. God would say 'Trust in me, I know what I am doing.'

So with that promise in mind, we did. And then He did. And now we are (so to speak).

It's easy to turn yourself in knots over an issue like finding employment. But then, when God tells you He's going to bless you with new life, and then He begins hand-crafting that life, almost immediately, it's hard to believe that He won't cover our backs with all the provision we'll need along the way.

I've been praying for specific things that I'm looking for in a job; things that I think will bring me happiness. Instead, His focus was to ensure that my baby's heart started beating. That its fingernails began growing OK.

Most people would be freaking out that a baby was on the way, particularly seeing as the Dad is unemployed.

But 14 weeks in, and I'm actually at far more peace about it all than I have been for 6 months.

I never expected the mist to clear in such a way.

It's currently the size of a lemon by the way.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

An internationally successful and very wealthy young man drops unconsious infront of tens of thousands of people on a football pitch and one of the main images that the media focus on is the scene minutes after he falls. Players and fans alike, praying. Quite a significant number of them too. 

Why is it that when something such as this happens, a common knee-jerk reaction is to pray to a God who is more commonly ignored 99% of the time? When a desperate situation hits, its not uncommon for usually self-sufficient, self-made individuals to cry out to a God who they normally claim they can live without.

I wonder why this is? 

Charles Spurgeon once stated that 'prayer is the slender nerve that moves the arm of omnipotence.' 

90% of the time this country appear to pay little credence to this; or would at least admit to doing so. But when push comes to shove - when pain, crisis or loss come crashing through the door, we'll flee into the arms of a God who is powerfully present 100% of the time. 

If you think I'm talking rubbish, just wait and see. Hopefully a calamity won't befall you, but God will use any means necessary in order to grab your attention to begin a discussion with you. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

'So let’s do it - full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.' (Hebrew 10)

I've found these verses in Hebrews kinda helpful in the last few days. Faith is a fight, and sometimes having faith comes very naturally to me and other times wading through treacle would be easier. 

It's reassuring and incredibly important to find scripture that reminds us of God's unwavering faithfullness to us - it's a medicine that's hard to swallow sometimes but it's total truth nonetheless. So when the author of Hebrews writes: He always keeps to his word; we can be confident that even if we're in 'treacle' moments, He is always going to do what He first promised. Always. Regardless of how long the timescale seems to be and despite the thick fog which clouds our view of the situation (no matter what it might be). 

So I've found in the last couple of weeks that keeping focussed on that big day is tough but very important - digging my heels in deeper to that foundation, serving when I can't be bothered to, holding both hands firmly around scripture and praying when all I would rather do is sleep. I don't think it's some kind of religious ticklist way of thinking - it's keeping my unblinking eyes set on a prize, even when my eyes are stinging like mad. 

Have confidence that the one who said He'll do it, WILL do it - He's totally dependable. (1 Thessalonians 5 v24)

Monday, 5 March 2012

So, yesterday evening a large group of us congregated in a very old church building. The building has recently been given to us by the existing members who recognised that the time was right for a new group to begin a work based there. 

Despite the fact that it's very early days at the moment, it was so exciting to witness different Christians gathering as this adventure launches. 

Without God in the midst, it won't go anywhere - that's almost guaranteed. Without vision, prayers, leadership, finances and people - it won't go far. But last night more people gathered in that 300 year old building than has been seen there for a while, and looking around and listening to the prayers built on such faith, it's hard to not believe that this might just work!! 

With a well established sister-church nearby and mission fields like a night club literally 10 metres from the front door, I'm walking with a spring in my step this morning as I get lost daydreaming of what the community could one day look like. 

What an exciting adventure it most certainly will be.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Most weeks, something happens in church which totally bucks the trend in culture. Groups of people from vastly different backgrounds come together and sing songs and listen to a talk on a Sunday morning. To the regular Joe Bloggs on the high street, that is an odd way to spend a perfectly good Sunday morning. There are many things that Christians do which probably raise eyebrows, but every so often, real radical behaviour breaks out. It's totally counter-intuitive and shows just how relentlessly the Kingdom of God pursues and changes lives.

I've been to many weddings - most are lavish, expensive and the result of much planning.

Today's wedding wasn't.

Though this afternoon's events have been in Heaven's pipeline for an incredibly long time. God's been orchestrating something significant in the life of one family and recently the scale and impact of these plans became slightly more evident. Some of the family have become Christians for the first time, some have come back to God, some were baptised recently, and today God continued to breath truth and purpose over the family as they stood before their friends, family and two teenage children to become husband and wife - showing obedience to God's word and bringing togetherness and submission to God's marriage and family ethics.

So, it wasn't a hugely glamorous setting in front of hundreds of dolled-up guests. After the church meeting a small crowd gathered as they said their vows and made 18 years of being together official in front of God. No traditions in sight; no dress, cake, bouquet or first dance. But as they said their 'I do's' and their 16-year old son handed them the rings, I can safely say that I have never been to a wedding that was more celebrated in Heaven than this one. It's taken some time for God to move the pieces around the board, but when He does, it's impact is felt and is totally amazing.

I love being part of a community of Jesus-hungry men and women who are willing to pursue Him with such obedience and love.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

I've been reading through Mark this week - a book that I have read so many times I've lost count. But this time around, I'm taking my time. It's not a race to the finish like it usually is. Seeing how many chapters I can get through, as if that would somehow make up for the days before that when I've not bothered to read any of it.

But this morning, as I was looking through some study notes, I noticed something that I've never considered before.

When Jesus calls Simon and Andrew from their fishing boats, bidding them to leave the nets and to follow Him immediately - that WASN'T the first time they'd ever seen Him. All this time, I thought that was their first encounter. It doesn't detract from how radical their actions were, or how demanding the call was to follow, but it does show that ground work is often needed when it comes to Jesus calling us to follow Him.

In John 1 v35-42, we see an earlier account of those disciples 'investigating' Jesus - they are starting to recognise that He is the Messiah and allow their intrigue to carry them towards Him - presumably only tentatively to begin with.

So when the day comes for Jesus to call them from their lives on the boat to begin fishing for men instead, a foundation has been laid.

They recognise Him more clearly because of those initial encounters.

I bet in that period between first and second meeting, Jesus was praying for them. Asking God to orchestrate situations and conversations so that He could start revealing the truth to them. He could have won them over, straight away. He chose to let it marinade for a while longer; perhaps for thoughts and concerns to get weighed properly while they were busy fishing or perhaps for them to spend a little while longer gradually becoming more captivated by Him.

The same goes with those people who you've tried to introduce to Jesus. His timing is so spot on for when they will see Him for who He really is. Trust that those small prayers and conversations that you persist in instigating are leading to something significant.

It clearly doesn't need to happen straight away.