Afire

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One came baptising in Spirit and fire

Filling you with dynamic power

Purging you of your ways old

Tempering and changing you for missions bold

Transformed to be ablaze yourself

A light brilliant eschewing self

And like the flaming bush of long pasts

Your flame will draw others to God’s path


Padre

Thank you Pastor Vince for the message today.

Serving the Servant

There at the beginning, through Him all things were made

The Light of creation – yet He humility displayed

He came unto His own – they recognised Him not

It was all part of the plan – that He taught

For though rejected – a victory He won

For He opened a way for us to be called “son”

For in His weakness there was power

That has been passed on to you

So you may serve the Great Servant

And be lifted up too


Padre

Thanks to Pastor Vince and his message from John 1 today.

Flames of Fire His Servants

Flying Sparks, Radio, Red, Yellow, Glow, Flame, Blaze
Pixabay

Pastor Vince began a series today on the Holy Spirit. In his message he drew on the image of the temple, of waters and of fire. He noted the power of the Holy Ghost come in the form of fire to transform the Apostles at Pentecost, and the with tongues of fire on their heads had their own tongues empowered to speak languages they had never studied. The fire of the Spirit figuratively set them “on fire” for the Lord, and became His instruments.

All Christians baptised in water and the fire have that same mission and power to change the world and to seek and save the lost. I love that the symbolism of the Spirit is repeated in the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 104. We find wind and flame as in Acts 2, and waters as in Ezekiel 42. “How many are your works, Lord! (Psalm 104:24,” the works of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we too are His craftsmanship (Ephesians 2: 10) and in the power of His Spirit we too can be “flames of fire” – His servants.

Psalm 104 (NIV)

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great;
    you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
    he stretches out the heavens like a tent
    and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
    and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers,
    flames of fire his servants.

He set the earth on its foundations;
    it can never be moved.
You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
    they went down into the valleys,
    to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
    never again will they cover the earth.

10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
    it flows between the mountains.
11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
    they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
    the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
14 He makes grass grow for the cattle,
    and plants for people to cultivate—
    bringing forth food from the earth:
15 wine that gladdens human hearts,
    oil to make their faces shine,
    and bread that sustains their hearts.
16 The trees of the Lord are well watered,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests;
    the stork has its home in the junipers.
18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
    the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

19 He made the moon to mark the seasons,
    and the sun knows when to go down.
20 You bring darkness, it becomes night,
    and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
21 The lions roar for their prey
    and seek their food from God.
22 The sun rises, and they steal away;
    they return and lie down in their dens.
23 Then people go out to their work,
    to their labor until evening.

24 How many are your works, Lord!
    In wisdom you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
    teeming with creatures beyond number—
    living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

27 All creatures look to you
    to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
    they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
    they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
    they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
    they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
    they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    as I rejoice in the Lord.
35 But may sinners vanish from the earth
    and the wicked be no more.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Praise the Lord.


Padre

Praying For The Seeds Sown

Blur, Close-Up, Girl, Woman, Hands

Pixabay

The Guardian/Observer Group published an article today in which it was reported that the Covid-19 outbreak has led to an increase in the number of British adults turning their attention to matters spiritual.  According to a survey a quarter of adults have logged into online worship services, and twenty percent have “begun to pray.”

This is to the backdrop of a 15% drop in attendance in the Church of England in the past decade.  Various sources have noted that in 2018, 11% of the UK population attended church, and only 2 – 5% in the C of E (2018 Statistics For Mission).  Yet, today’s article shows that “One in five of those who have tuned into services in the past few weeks say they have never gone to church.”

Many of us have prayed for revival.  I am not suggesting that the dreadful disease is the “answer to our prayers,” but rather that it is giving we people of faith an opportunity to spread the word of God.

Let us continue in our prayers.  First of all for the health and safety of society.  We also need to pray for the recovery of the sick, and the comforting hand of God for those who mourn.  But we should also hold up the lives and souls of those who are joining us in our online devotions, and that the seeds that we are sowing there will be as those of that fall “on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown (Matthew 13:8).”

Padre

British public turn to prayer as one in four tune in to religious services

 

 

Your Mission

Image result for mission impossible tape recorder

image: Scientific American

Pastor Joe brought us a passionate message this week on mission.  He called us not only to identify our mission in life, but to undertake it as well.  He noted that this was a area of life which had very much been on his heart of late, and enacting his personal mission was now a priority.

He noted that the idea of mission is not new to Christianity.  He said the fact that there is a Christianity at all is because Jesus himself had a mission.  Matthew 18:11 tells us, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”  This very point is repeated again in Luke 19:10, as well.

Jesus’ mission was the reason He came to Earth.  We were a lost and dying world, and God so loved us, that He sent His one and only Son to save us (John 3:16).

But it was a mission that would require sacrifice.  Jesus would not take any short cuts in fulfilling His duty.   In Matthew 4: 1-11, we find Jesus being tempted in the desert.  He is offered two direct shortcuts to His mission.  The first was for Him to cast Himself from the Temple-top.  This would truly get people’s attention.  But He refused quoting scripture.  He then is offered the end result of His quest – the souls of all the world.  But at all too high of a price – the worship of Satan.  This too is rebuffed.  The end result is Jesus would have to die to complete his task.

Ephesians 1: 5-7 tells us,

“In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

Jesus not only came to seek and save us, but in His blood adopted us!  It was and is an ultimate act of love.

It is that love in the form of selfless compassion that was at the heart of Jesus’ mission.

Matthew 9: 35 – 38 reads,

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

But the passage continues in by showing us, as that as Jesus’ adopted siblings we too should show the same compassion and sense of mission.

“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

This is summed up in what is often called the Great Commission. Matthew 28: 18-20 says,

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We are to do this out of love for God, but also because of our compassion for our fellow humans.  If  we open our eyes we will see the needs (see Colossans 3:12).

Seeing the need is not always the “religious” thing to do, but it is the right thing to do.  Look at Luke 10: 33 and following.  A man is robbed and left for dead.  Yet the “religious” figures of a priest and a Levite ignore the man’s need and distress.

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity [compassion] on him. . . .  “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?  The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

And so should we.  “Your mission if you choose to accept it . . . ” is plain to see.

Padre

 

Seeing the Opportunities

Water, Raindrops, Raining, Wet, Liquid, Splashing

Image by Roman Grac from Pixabay 

Last week at our church’s weekly prayer meeting, Pastor Vince noted that he felt the call for the church to take this week’s Monday meeting to the streets.  Several of us stayed at the church building to offer up prayers of protection and support, while the others went out and prayed for the community, even entering into pubs and fast food establishments to pray for those there.

As with many godly acts it didn’t come easily.  The skies opened and the “street team” faced some of the heaviest downpours we have seen in several months.  But their fire was not dampened, and though wet they saw the opportunity to affect the community and took it.

” . . . As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ (Romans 10:15b).”  The beauty was truly there in the obedience and commitment to make a difference!

This attitude of taking all of the available opportunities to serve God was one that Dianne understood.  It is, I am sure, more than coincidence that my perusal today of her testimony journal* contained this passage:

“i have been very aware that 1 Peter 5: 7 instructs us to cast all our anxieties on him, because we know that he cares for us. I know these trials are disguised opportunities, i just need to look for openings. I have been able to share my faith with my gp and now with the hospice workers i have met. Next week i meet the hospice doctor and another opportunity.  At the same time i continue these weekly postings, and talk with friends via im and give and receive encouragement and prayers. Even housebound, i can touch the outside world thanks to modern technology and hopefully give glory to God. For that i am very grateful. I can still serve Him, even now.”

Let us too, look for the opportunities to serve Him!

Padre

*Dianne’s posting 27 April 19

Ursula’s Mission

Castle by Mateusz Michalski

 


She hurried along the path, carrying nothing more than what could hang from her belt or fit in the satchel strapped to her back. She dreaded the long, lonely, and dangerous journey that was surely ahead of her, yet she had no choice. Sighing heavily, she dared to look back one last time at what she was leaving behind. The castle that had been her home looked so beautiful sitting there, perched on a throne of rock and greenery. Such a peaceful scene, with the spring flowers waving to her on a gentle breeze, and the blue of the distant mountains blending into the depths of the sky.

But the serenity of the castle’s surroundings belied the turmoil building within its walls–the ravings of a king slowly succumbing to madness, and the treacherous whisperings of power hungry nobles. There was something else too…a moving shadow that lurked in the bowels of the castle. She had caught glimpses of its movements from the corners of her eyes, and caught whiffs of its scent. Pain…death…malice. Perhaps it was the shadow that was causing the king’s madness, she did not know. She only knew that she had to get away from it–away from him. She hoped one day to return with the power to save him–to save them all. But the road ahead loomed more with uncertainty than promise. Would she survive the journey and find the cure she sought, or would all be lost?

These concerns lingered in Ursula’s mind.  But where should she go first?  Home, her real home, held little prospect for the answers she needed.  After all, it had been twenty-eight years since she left there to become the nurse for the then newborn prince.  They had been happy days when she first arrived, and she found no urge to return to her home city.   Why would she want to, the “Old” king had been kind to her, and Queen Hilda seemed more like a sister than a mistress.  No, her ties with Lintea were too distant for there to be any help there.

It then struck her – Benopor – the ancient centre of her order.  Surely one of the Abbesses or High Sisters would know how to overcome the dark Shadow.  Forty leagues – it was quite a distance for a middle-aged nurse to make on her own.  She had little coin, and no weapons, say for her wits, but it had to be the right destination.

She could not possibly afford the river journey, and the swamp-lands were not practical for her on her own.  The forest path was the only option.  Little did she know that the Shadow too had its eyes on that lonely road, and worse still it was aware of her intentions.

 

Padre

FANTASY ART FRIDAY

The Guardian

Lakshmi Bhat

Photo Credit Lakshmi Bhat

The Guardian Tree stood his post on the edge of the wood.  Oh, how he had envied so many of the other saplings when he was in his youth.  They, with their green foliage and spreading branches.

Ugly, I’m just ugly, he had thought.  He had often repeated those words to himself, as he pondered his dull grey bark and stubby pointed branches.

When he was in his twenties these short branches began to thicken.  While still short, they had begun to harden as well, and the points upon their ends became more pronounced.

He still didn’t see himself as beautiful.  Oak and Maple, they still caught the eye of most passers-by, but Guardian knew he was appreciated by many in the forest.  His unassuming looks, and power of character often drew comments of quiet praise from those who knew him and his purpose.

When he was forty-five, he was proud to take the Guardian’s Oath.  He would stand firm, laying down his own life if necessary, for the “Good of the Wood.”  How many Birches and Willows depended on him?  How many saplings of every kind of bark and leaf stood behind his grey-spined trunk?

So for twenty more years he stood, silent protector on the edge of his community.  Many of the young still marveled at him and his brethren standing in their quiet vigils.  It seemed that the society as a whole, secretly even questioned why they were needed.

Then, un-expectantly the day came.  “Beavers!” the panicked cries rang out.  But there, when others cowered, the Guardians stood firm.

Padre

In tribute to law enforcement, the military, and others that quietly serve.

Sunday Photo Fiction

 

Messengers

300x267 Mailman Clipart Image

Sister Claire brought a wonderful “message” this week which was full of deep truth and coupled with a sincere simple delivery.  It really did serve as the epitome of its content.

She began with presenting the image of a postal messenger.  She noted that they are equipped with uniform (identification), a messenger’s bag (to hold the content), and a duty (to deliver the message).  She then challenged us to consider if we took on such a role, would we not strive to live up to the calling?  She then powerfully reminded that as Christians, we have indeed been so sent.

She continued by presenting Paul’s words to the Romans:

“For, “’Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news’!” (Romans 10: 13-15).

The world is lost.  Sin is in ascendance.  The world needs salvation.   To find it they must believe, but requires being taught.  Those who are the instruments of bringing that saving message are lovely (or at least their feet are). We are those lovely instruments.

We do not start our Christian walk fully prepared.  But we are born again with a commission to teach others.  This can feel daunting at times.  We may well shy away from the task as we see our inadequacies.  But God has given us the excellent example of His servant Isaiah.  Isaiah 6 tells us that in the year of King Uzziah’s death that Isaiah saw the image of God:

“I saw the Lord,high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory'(verses 1-3).”

In the face of this Isaiah panicked.  “How can someone see God and live?”  He was far from prepared to enter upon the mission he was about to receive.

 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty (v. 5).”

Such a response, however, only opened him up to be prepared!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, [See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for’ (v 6-7).”

Thus prepared he was sent!

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I.  Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people . . .  (v. 8-9).”

Sister Claire gave a personal testimony of her and her husband’s early zeal to do the same.  But their efforts were greeted with indifference or even avoidance by others.  But so were the efforts of Isaiah!

Isaiah faced a people with “ears dull and [who] close their eyes.”   But this is no reason to continue with the task at hand.  We too were stiff-necked, but the break-through came. 

Paul reminds us,I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).”  God  is the head gardener, we need to follow our assignments. He is in charge.  He has equipped and sent us.

And yes, He has sent us “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28: 19-20).” To the end of the age!  Peter, James, and John are no longer here among us.   So who shall be the messenger now, and until the age.  Simple: “Go ye” means “go me.”

Padre

 

 

 

Mountain Tops

The Rock 3

We often speak of the outstanding events of our lives as mountain top experiences. We want these experiences to last for ever, and this is understandable.  They often are full of joy and exhilaration.

Often worship lifts us to these heights. We are in the presence of God, and of like minded a d purposed people.  God is in the house, and we explicably want to retain this taste of heaven.

It is interesting therefore that in scripture we find that such mountain top moments are not opportunities to stay put, but clarion calls to move on.

In Exodus 19:20, the “Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain.”  He then called Moses to climb the mountain engulfed in cloud and smoke, and the sounds of thunder and trumpets. Moses was called into God’s very presence! “Then Moses went up on the mountain, which was covered with a cloud.  The shining-greatness of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai. And the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day He called to Moses from the cloud. To the people of Israel, the shining-greatness of the Lord looked like a fire that destroys on the mountain top.  Moses went into the cloud as he went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights (24:1-18).” Yet, he was not called there to remain, but rather to receive a mission. Moses is given God’s commandments, then sent back to lead the people.

Similarly in Matthew 17 we find another mountain top moment,

 “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.  Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified.  But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead (vs 1-9).” [italics mine]

The three disciples are accompanying Jesus on a mountain top.  There they come into the presence of the great men of faith Moses and Elijah. The experience is electrifying for them.  Peter in his zeal wants to make the experience last.  Let’s build shelters her for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.  In a sense he is saying, “Lord, this is great let’s just stay.” But then mission comes into play again.  The voice of the Father interrupts Peter’s planning.  And as a bright cloud falls on the mountain, God’s word, again as at His baptism, affirms Jesus’ identity.  But what’s more the disciples are given a direct command from the Father – “Listen to Him.”  And what are they told? “Get up,” and then led down the mountain.  There was work still to be done.

Should we then shun the mountain top moments? Absolutely not.  They are tastes of things to come for us.  They empower and enrich us. But, they are not the do all and end all of our walk. Once energised we too have a mission (one incidentally given on a mountain top):  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).” This is a mission difficult to complete if we build shelters on the mountain top. We need to go beyond our church doors, and into all the world to help lead others upwards!

Padre