Sunday, 25 April 2010

An important choice...

Choices, choices, choices – we are surrounded by choices; from the brand of goods to buy to the colour of politician to vote for, we are bombarded with competing voices vying for our attention. Which to choose? You may well have become a little jaundiced in your view and feel that it really won’t make much difference which ????? you choose, and you could well be right! But there is once choice that many of us are faced with every day that does make a very big difference to our lives.

You don’t have to look very far in order to see that we live in an increasingly fear-ridden world. For some reason it would appear that deep in our being lies a fear sensor that constantly scans our personal horizon, looking for possible scenarios to be anxious or fearful about. And news editors know this only too well and take great pleasure in capitalizing on this in built attraction. Just look at their favourite words: ‘Catastrophic…’, ‘Disastrous…’, ‘Fallout…’ and so it goes on. As a result, many today are living fearful lives – even if they do dull the reality with pills or Happy Hour.

One of the most frequently used phrases throughout the Bible is the imperative “Fear not!”, and whenever it appears, good reason is given as to why one should not / need not fear:

"Fear not,… I am your shield; your great reward." Gen 15:1
“Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you..” Gen 26:24
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you” Isaiah 41:10

And here’s a favorite: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1

And all of these are promises that every Christian can claim as their own, because they do indeed, belong to God.

It seems to me, as I face some challenges of my own, that we are faced with a crucial choice every day that really does matter: Will we live in fear or in faith?

Henri Nouwen puts it more vividly: Will we choose to live in the house of fear or the house of the Lord? Will we surround ourselves with those fear inducing “what if’s” or will we choose to surround ourselves with God’s presence and promises?

"I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant." - Psalm 34:4

Yes please, that’s my choice!


Monday, 19 April 2010

A father's perspective...

Please allow me a rather personal blog this week on account of the wedding of my daughter Ali at the weekend – and what a weekend it was! The sun was shining, the sky was blue, my daughter looked wonderful and (I’m feeling that this ought to rhyme, but I fear it wont!) she was marrying an excellent guy, Dan, who clearly loves her and God. Perfect! Isn’t that what a father prays for his daughter almost from the day she is born? As I stood there at the ceremony next to Ali singing “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Saviour..” I didn’t really try to hold back tears of great joy!

There are many parallels that I could draw with God’s Father heart for us, but I will focus on just one. I have prayed regularly and passionately for Ali about this day throughout her life, strongly desiring her good and her happiness, and then feeling so delighted to see her so clearly blessed. How much more does our heavenly Father watch over us, plan for our good, and delight in our happiness?!

I think that I caught just a little glimpse more of the Father heart of God towards us this last weekend as I took great delight in my daughter’s happiness!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
- Jeremiah 29:11


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Come with us!

I made a brief visit to Copenhagen at the weekend to witness the opening of Copenhagen Community Church’s new premises. Well, it was outstanding from every point of view – and I’m not just talking about the excellent building that they now have!

Firstly, it was so good to be back amongst friends - with David & Margit Bjerre, and with the whole church family who have become such good friends. I have been very touched by the way that they have prayed for me as I face health challenges, and once again, they insisted on praying for me in the meeting – and God spoke to me very helpfully through that time.
Thank you CCC.

Then the building – it is outstanding! They have changed the layout and refurbished it to a very high standard, and as well as being a meeting place for CCC, it will also serve as an excellent conference facility. It is such a great building to be in – which could not be said for their previous premises!! Although it served them well in days gone by, their place on the 3rd floor above the Irish Pub in the centre of Copenhagen had outlived its usefulness (and the ceiling was falling in – honestly!!).

As we stood in the new place, with the sun streaming through the glass frontage, it was as if the church had come out of hiding, from up there on the 3rd floor, and is now on street level, open, accessible and visible for all to see. And that, of course, is just how it should be – not that the building is anything in itself, but figuratively, the Church of Jesus Christ, His Body, is to be seen and HIS presence felt through us. That is one of the things that I pray most, not just for CCC but for us at Kings as well, that people coming into contact with us will sense that God is with us.

In the words of Moses to his father in law: “Come with us, and we will do good to you, for the LORD has promised good..”



Monday, 5 April 2010

Don't miss it!

I have recently been getting into the routine of visiting the hospital every day, Monday to Friday for a dose of radiotherapy. As one who has never been particularly fond of the inside of hospitals (who is?!), I am none the less grateful for the NHS and the excellent medics who work day in & day out under quite pressing workloads. I am also grateful to a band of excellent friends who I know have been praying for me through this.

What I have become very aware of through this time is that each day gives me a brand new opportunity – an opportunity either for gloomy self pity or alternatively an opportunity for a fresh joyful infusion of the grace and goodness of God.

Which to choose…?! That really ought to be a very easy decision to make, but the strange thing is that for some perverse reason, the temptation (and I use that word deliberately) to opt for the gloomy option continues to have some appeal. Ridiculous! What fool would choose that option?

God’s word for us on this is found in Hebrews 12:15: See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, What this means is that there is ample, fresh grace available for every situation we will ever face. The issue is, will we make sure that we avail ourselves of it? I believe with every fibre of my being that God’s word is true when He says to us "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Let me encourage you to join me in making sure that not one day slips by, not one opportunity is missed to avail yourself of God’s fresh gift of grace to help and transform any and every situation. It’s a battle well worth fighting for!

Don’t miss it!