Monday, 27 September 2010

A larger place?

Firstly, if you are an agrophobic this is probably not going to be a great help - sorry....

A number of years ago there was a song by Wiley Beveridge called 'a larger place' and it struck many chords with me. I always love driving on mountain roads or walking in the mountains and coming to an unexpected ridge or viewing point to be faced with an immense and awesome vista....

I can stand for hours just looking and thinking - for me the scene is full of potential, full of possibilities, you can be taken time and again to the edge of adventure, to the borders of new discoveries...and all you need to do is set off, put one foot in front of the other and the adventure begins.....

Recently, in my reading, God has been calling me to revisit this fascination with the possibilities of being on the verge of that larger place and how it can be such a springboard for a journey of discovery.

Romans 5:1-2
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[ rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Ps 18:19
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Ps 139:5
You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.

I love the paradoxes and non rational lines of thought that scripture so often points us to. There is no place as large as the grace of God - the universe pales compared to that wonderful place - or as Michael Gungor refers to it 'prodigal grace'. The thought, in Psalm 18, of being on a journey with God during which He constantly takes us to the verge , to the crest, onto the ridge and shows us ever more awesome scenes of greatness and vastness and then the paradox of Ps 139 - that to be 'hemmed in' by God is actually to be in the largest, safest place that is full of promise and opportunity, challenge and fulfillment, peace and security.

Is this the journey you are on with God.....letting Him take you to a larger place.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

A place of blessing.....

Sitting outside on a glorious morning in the Pyrenees looking at blue skies, dew on the ground and luscious plants and greenery, reading the 'song of Moses':

Deuteronomy 32:1-4 (NIV)
Listen, O heavens, and I will speak;
hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

What God has created, and continues to create, in the realm of nature, majestic mountains, the vastness of the sky, the beauty of the plants and forest all speaks of His glory, but also of His care and provision. The song from Deut 32 recalls and reminds me of this beauty and fruitfulness and points to the same creative and glorious work in our lives as well as in nature. As we focus on and are shaped by His word and as we honour His name so the effect on our lives is like that of the dew and the rain on plants. He brings out beauty and He produces fruit. He provides in abundance and He does it to perfection.

So, His word and His name are central to fruitfulness and blessing but there is another scripture that adds one further element to this fulness.
The image of dew producing abundance and blessing brings to mind Psalm 133, where the dew that brings blessing is directly linked to the quality of lifestyle of God's people. The particular hallmark of that quality being unity.

The centrality of Gods word, the lifting of His name and the people living in unity. This is where we discover blessing and fruitfulness.

However, perhaps most importantly we are reminded of God's greatness and His utter faithfulness.

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Wednesday, 1 September 2010

It's always the fruit that gets me

Some things in life are so fundamental, so basic to the way things work that they ought to be 'hard wired' into us, genetic 'no brainers'.
Nobody, they say, has a good enough memory to keep telling lies, fabricating the 'truth'. Lies beget more lies and they will catch you up and catch you out. We know this so why on earth would anyone lie?
But we do!
Living with a high barrier in a relationship is an uncomfortable and often unnecessary situation to be in. They are so often begun by a 'sortable' or even a minor issue - but propelled by pride and poor communication into the 'too hard to deal with' category where they fester and become cancerous. We can even reach a point where we are not even sure what caused the barrier or why we keep it there, but by this time it has become part of life and we feed it. We know this is not healthy and we often know very early on in this spiral of despair how we can avert the inevitable 'emotional crash & burn' that will follow. We know that God commands a blessing where there is unity, but, even knowing all of this, we let it happen. Why?

In Matt 3:8 Jesus says 'produce fruit in keeping with repentance' this is so obvious, such a basic principle that it surely must be part of the spiritual genetic make up of all Christians? Well, I must be the single exception as well as being particularly stupid. In Corinthians Paul talks about two types of sorrow, Godly, which is real repentance, and worldly, which is not and which leads to dark places. Basically the latter mouths the words - which may be genuinely meant at the time- but there is no follow through with life change and outward actions, whilst the former results in the 'u turn' of repentance and noticeable changes in life, action and attitude. It's obvious that so often the words are not enough, but how often does worldly sorrow prevail? How often do our repentant words fall short of repentant actions? Our words intend the 180 degree u turn but our pride, selfishness or immaturity keep the momentum going and make it a full 360 degrees! - the right words but the wrong result. A life rather more full of words than righteous works.
Well, in God's strength and by His grace, no more! Let's away with worldly sorrow and reap the benefits of abundant fruit. That is my prayer.

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