Sunday, 28 November 2010

Who Can Know? (I Stand In Awe)

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Deovox - Who me? I don't think so.

Deovox is one of my favourite podcasts. Bible devotionals are brought to life with relevant examples from our our own world and cultures. In this week's episode Moses is compared with Nelson Mandela and his ability to perform miracles gets Merlin a mention. Interesting stuff. Have a listen, or subscribe here.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Skywatch #110

Autumn Sunset, originally uploaded by duopastorale.
It definitely feels like Winter is here! We are told to expect snow here in London at the weekend, that's very early for us. It usually means major disruptions in this city as we're not used to it, but maybe after last year we may not be allowed too many snow days ie. #good excuse to stay at home and pretend it's too dangerous to venture out.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

How To Prepare Yourself

Saskatoon Transit bus stop signImage via Wikipedia
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife.

Observe two more things Naomi taught Ruth, in preparation for meeting Boaz:

1) Make sure you're in the right place. Naomi told Ruth, 'Go down to the threshing floor' (Ruth 3:3 NKJV). Why? Because that's where Boaz was! To receive what God has for you, you must be in the right place spiritually. Satan will tell you you're unworthy. He will try to convince you to stay where you are and to listen to those who'd keep you from where God wants you to be. He will make you feel out of place even when you're in the right place. Don't believe his lies; when God calls you He equips you, empowers you, and uses you for His glory. 

2) Understand the importance of timing. 'Do not make yourself known to the man until...' (Ruth 3:3 NKJV). Ruth had waited a long time for this moment; now she had to learn to be quiet because the person God planned to bless her through was sleeping. It's hard to be all keyed up about something nobody else is excited about; you want to get them excited too. But sometimes God says, 'Wait.' Stop working to make things happen before their time! Don't try to promote yourself. 'The vision is yet for an appointed time...Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come' (Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV). God may not respond when you think He should, but His timing is perfect. He has blessings with your name on them, and no matter how many others want them, when the time is right He will give them to you.

Used with permission from UCB Word for Today. Free issues are available here for the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Monday, 22 November 2010

To Be Known Is To Be Loved

Do you label people? Do you look and define people by what you think they are? Do you feel the weight of a label that others put on you? Do you scream, 'that is not who I am!'.  He doesn't. He knows and He loves.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Nothing But The Blood

Groom, TexasImage via Wikipedia
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ...
Galatians 6:14

I was glad to be reminded this week of this amazing song, so we will sing it at church this morning.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
I have also been sad to see on the web this week, Christians attacking other Christians because of their lifestyles and the way they interpret the Bible. Not only doctrinal disagreements but brothers accusing brothers of being 'the instrument of the devil'. I hope and pray I always remember that it's ALL about the cross. We are ALL in need of it's power and love. Not one of us can stand above anyone else. We ALL come in rags. We are ALL beggars looking for the mercy of God. And He is more than willing to give it to ALL who ask, not just the ones who have the Scriptures and their lives sorted.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Light The Sky - Soul Survivor

After last year's Not Ashamed album, this year's album from Soul Survivor Light The Sky was much anticipated. And it doesn't disappoint! It features Tim Hughes, the beautiful voice of Beth Croft, Tom Field (video below) and a fabulous track with Jamie Rodwell (Ceilo / Saviour King).

One drawback for me is that it doesn't follow the standard progression of worship songs from loud praise to intimate worship, but the songs jump from one to the other. However, the whole album just exudes praise and heartfelt worship. The production is great but it never feels it's taking over from what's really important. 

Look out for some great songs including the Saviour of the World anthem, All Glory by Nikki Fletcher not to mention those wonderful old standards Nothing but the Blood and You are beautiful beyond description. Ceilo / Saviour King is just beautiful. A great CD that will be playing in the car for many weeks to come I suspect.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Never Betray A Confidence

"Consternation" or "When you ta...Image by dhammza via Flickr
...he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter. 
Proverbs 11:13

We all need a shoulder to cry on. When we're battling habits and hang-ups we need a safe place to go, confident we'll be loved, understood, supported and prayed for. If those who are hurting can't find these qualities in church, where are they supposed to go? The betrayal of a confidence is a terrible sin. 'But what I said was true,' you object. So what? 'A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.'(Proverbs 11:13 NKJV) Note the words 'reveals' and 'conceals.' 

The Hippocratic Oath says: 'Whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets.' That oath is taken by physicians and other professionals in positions of trust. But it ought to be binding on every one of us! How would you feel if your doctor, counsellor, minister or a trusted friend violated your confidence and broadcast your holy secrets? Hurt? Betrayed? The longer we live the more we realise there's a severe shortage of people who can be trusted to keep their mouths shut, and the more we value them. If you were asked to define a person of integrity, wouldn't the ability to keep a confidence be close to the top of your list? So here are some ground rules to live by: a) Instead of talking, pray about it; b) Instead of criticising, look for something good; c) Instead of showing anger, show grace. How you handle others determines how God will handle you!

Used with permission from UCB Word for Today. Free issues are available here for the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Big Silence

"A new three-part series for BBC Two, The Big Silence, follows five people who have taken time out of their daily lives in an attempt to understand just why silence is so elusive and hard to attain in modern-day society."

Last week I caught up on this amazing series on BBC Two that challenged our perceptions of the role of silence. These five people, some with faith and others with none, were taken on an 8 day silent retreat in a remote Welsh retreat house run by Jesuits. The results were fascinating. Each person seemed to be utterly transformed by the experience and they were each totally convinced that silence should be an important part of their daily routine, although achieving this was sometimes a challenge! Two of the participants , including one who had started out being antagonistic, reported hearing the physical voice of God, and two decided to make drastic changes to their professional lives. An amazing and life changing encounter.

The programme challenged me to examine my own prayer life. If I am not 'experiencing' something in prayer ie. lots of talking, worship, heightened awareness of Him, then I feel that my time is wasted. But I have come again to realise the importance of just being still. The truth is that God knows all the prayers that are in my heart, and being absolutely silent for a disciplined time is vital to allow my soul to breathe. The physical and mental benefits are also considerable. After doing this this for a few days I noticed that I was calmer, more trusting, more reflective, and less anxious, stressed and worrying.

But this is hard. Last week I was in a large supermarket on Remembrance Day at 11am and it was announced that there would be a 2 minute silence. It struck me how many people were unable to stop. As I stood there, a lady pushed past me to get her tomatoes and others were still pushing their clickety-click trolleys. For our society this is totally alien and strange. Silence is a discipline to be sure but I for one am encouraged to push a bit harder into it and to find those big rewards from big silence.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Legalism Or Grace?

The canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke &...Image via Wikipedia
We are made the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus
Hebrews 10:10

Rigid adherence to a list of do's and don'ts appeals to our pride and self-sufficiency by fostering the myth that if we work hard enough we can earn God's favour. That's fear-based thinking, and '...God has not given us a spirit of fear...' (2 Timothy1:7 NLT). 'There is no fear in love...fear has to do with punishment...' (1 John 4:18 NIV). Legalism is fear that God isn't big enough to forgive your sins, that unless you do the right thing in the right way at the right time-and do it perfectly-you're in trouble. Jon Walker writes: 'That's a lie with the smell of hell all over it! When we fear making mistakes we become timid, and limit ourselves from living abundantly. We let...analysis permeate our decisions as we lead quiet, desperate, anti-faith lives, afraid to move with the bold confidence that grace gives us to walk in uncertainty...unafraid of rejection.' 

Speaking against works-based religion, Martin Luther said, 'Be a sinner and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger...rejoice in Christ...the victor over sin.' No, Luther wasn't excusing sin! He was restoring grace to its rightful place, affirming that nothing can separate us from God's love (Romans 8:38-39). He wasn't downgrading the law, He was upgrading grace. Grace means talking to God and listening for His voice when it would be easier to just consult the rule book. The truth is, when '...[Jesus] appear..before God on our behalf' (Hebrews 9:24 NLT), He freed us to have a relationship with Him without fear of sin separating us.

Used with permission from UCB Word for Today. Free issues are available here for the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Just Worship

Worship AgainImage via Wikipedia
Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God...
Revelation 3:12

I love it when God drops scripture into my spirit and suddenly everything becomes clear. At such times it seems like His Word knocks stuff out of the way, blockages are cleared and stuff starts flowing again. The Psalmist says, "The revelation of Your Word brings light..." Psalm 119:130.

 This is what happened to me last night. I came to God in need of refreshment and strength, and as I gave myself in worship He dropped this scripture from Revelation suddenly and clearly into my spirit. That was all I needed. An assurance that He sees the things I need to overcome, He is with me in them. I was in that "I'm just going to worship" mode, and He showed me that when I have overcome all this stuff that is Christian struggle and sacrifice, He will allow me to stay in that place of worship for ever and ever.

I'm not sure what being a pillar in the temple of God means yet, but I know that a pillar is an important part of a building. It cannot be removed, it is vital, permanent. This world is not our final destination but  we are created to take a place in the temple of God. And that is His promise to us! We are being built into the very temple where joyful worship will continue for ever and ever. Come to Him today and just worship. Let Him show you where you are headed when you are done overcoming. Blessings and encouragement to you all.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Bay Of The Holy Spirit Revival

Church of His Presence This is the first I've heard of this revival. I've been so moved watching many healing testimonies on You Tube. It's sometimes hard not to be sceptical about these movements, especially when they have been so open to abuse, but God will still heal despite our failings, and He will continue to heal to the joy of those who believe. Thank you God!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Skywatch #109

Sheffield Park Gardens, originally uploaded by duopastorale.

Sheffield Park Garden is the most amazing place to visit at this time of year, as you can see. Last week I was particularly lucky with a sunny day and not too much breeze for some nice reflections. Happy skywatching!

Sheffield Park CollageImage by duopastorale via Flickr

Monday, 1 November 2010

Get Up And Go Again

Richmond SkiesImage by duopastorale via Flickr
...Seven times he said, "Go again".'
1 Kings 18:43

'Elijah the prophet told King Ahab that the drought in the land was over and the rains were coming. Then Elijah told his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again." Then it came to pass the seventh time, he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you'"... in the meantime... the sky became black... and there was a heavy rain...' (vv. 43-45). Notice, seven times Elijah said, 'Get up and go again.' You must persist! If you don't, you'll miss what God wants you to have. Furthermore, if you don't recognise and celebrate small miracles 'the size of a man's hand', you'll miss the bigger ones so essential to your future.

Beth Anne DeCiantis had to complete a 26-mile marathon in less than two hours and 45 minutes to qualify for the Olympics. She reached the final straight in 2hours43, with just two minutes left. Two hundred yards from the finish she stumbled and fell. Dazed, she stayed down for 20 seconds. The crowd yelled, 'Get up!' The clock was ticking - less than a minute to go. Beth Anne staggered to her feet and began walking. Five yards short of the finish, with ten seconds to go, she fell again. As the crowd cheered her on, she crossed the finish line on her hands and knees. Her time? Two hours, 44 minutes, 57 seconds. So the word for you today is 'Get up and go again'.

Used with permission from UCB Word for Today. Free issues are available here for the UK and Republic of Ireland.