Showing posts with label journey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label journey. Show all posts

30 May 2014

Finding Carol

Sometimes Jesus just surprises us. Sometimes we surprise ourselves. Perhaps both of these things happen more often when we are open, and actively so. Something like this happened recently to a couple of friends and, although I came late to the action, I did get to play a small part.


At the Catalyst event
At the Catalyst event
Last Sunday I had driven from St Neots, where I live, with two friends from the group that meets at Caffé Nero (but that's another story). We were day visitors at the New Frontiers' Catalyst event at Stoneleigh in the Midlands.

It was almost time for the evening meeting when Dave Devenish would be speaking.

I'd agreed to meet Kevin and John in the restaurant area just outside the meeting venue, but found them at a picnic table outside chatting with a lady I didn't know.

Her name is Carol and she had seen them there and decided to speak to them. By the time I arrived they were talking about what it means to be a Christian and she was sounding a little anxious and confused. She is a very new follower of Jesus, just beginning her journey and we talked around that idea for a while.

Hearing the call - Jesus' twelve disciples were not Christians when he called them to follow him, yet they followed [Tweet it!]. Something about him was compelling or attractive or especially fascinating. Perhaps it was his simple, yet very stretching way of teaching, or just the fact that he was a rabbi and had invited them to follow him. As humble and unlearned fishermen, tax collectors and other ordinary folk, this offer was as promising as it was unexpected.

At first they followed in ignorance, but they began to learn right away. Not only did Jesus teach them, he also showed them healing and the throwing out of demons and the need to love above all else. And he sent them out to do this work on his behalf in the surrounding towns and villages.

They probably didn't fully believe until after Jesus' death and resurrection, perhaps when the Spirit fell on them in the upper room at Pentecost. But they followed him in partial understanding, and eventually they believed, and they carried on following him and growing in wisdom and grace and love.

How do I know I'm a Christian? - I wanted to explain this to Carol. I wanted her to know that it was OK for now to be just following Jesus without understanding everything. A time will come in her journey when she realises that she believes in him and that she is eternally safe in his hands. And afterwards she will continue to follow him but with a deep understanding of what that means. But it is a journey, a process, and Jesus is both the way and the destination.

He guides us and prepares the way for us - Our time at Catalyst was a good day on many levels, but the icing on the cake (Kevin's words) was meeting Carol and having that conversation with her. Kudos to Kevin and to John who were ready to seize the moment and help Carol through her uncertainty. And thanks be to Papa, who set the situation up. He's so good at that.

As a result, Kevin and John were in the right place at the right time. They meant to arrive earlier and wait for me inside. But they got lost on the way and had to retrace their steps. Being late brought them to the restaurant at the right time. Deciding at the last moment to sit outside put them in the right place. And Papa did what he had intended to do from the beginning!

Carol, wherever you are we bless you. He will guide your steps in the same way, every day of your life. You will follow and follow, and at the right time you will realise that you believe, and you will follow and follow some more. Enjoy your journey in the company of the King!

Questions:

  • Have you noticed how the Almighty prepares things in advance for us?
  • Why is this significant?
  • Can you think of some examples from your own experience?
  • How ready are you to seize the moment as Kevin and John did?

See also:

13 June 2013

True worship

Worship is more than a ceremony and it's more than singing songs, it demands sacrifice, a journey and a lifetime of dedication. Three verses clarify this as we look at the worship of Abraham, the Magi and Anna. Can we offer less than they did? 

Dog daisies in a meadow
My wife works with our friends Roger and Carolyn to lead a Small Group, part of Open Door Church here in St Neots. Although I'm not a member of Open Door, I am part of the Small Group.

I was asked to manage the worship part of yesterday's meeting and felt I should share some thoughts about worship before we began to sing and praise together.

If we won't worship him the very stones will do it, the trees of the fields will clap their hands, the meadow flowers will praise him.

Here's an extended version of my notes. There are three verses I'd thought we should consider on the subject of worship.

Abraham - The first one is Genesis 22:5 - "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."

Here is Abraham, full of faith as he goes to sacrifice his son Isaac, telling the servant that they will both return. But think for a moment about what is happening here. Abram and Sarai are elderly, so old that when they are told they will have a child, they both laugh at the very idea.

Yet here he is, Isaac is their son, impossible in every way yet an undeniable fact. There can be no doubt that Isaac was Abraham's most precious possession. No-one and nothing could be worth more to the old man. Yet he was prepared to give up his own son.

If you want to worship, you must give up the most precious thing you have for the Almighty's use.

What is most precious to you? Think about it carefully.

The wise men - Matthew 2:2 - "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

Having arrived at Jesus' birthplace, how did the Magi worship? Did they perform a ceremony of some kind? Not as far as we know. And how long did they stay?  Possibly quite a short time, perhaps just long enough to present their gifts of gold, fankincense and myrrh.

The account in Matthew tells us very little, however it is clear that these three men had made an extremely long journey to see this new 'King of the Jews'. And having arrived and then quickly left, they had the same journey to do again to get home. They were probably on the road for weeks each way.

The gifts they brought were precious and were a form of worship, but their real worship was the long and arduous journey they had made in order to see the infant king.

Anna - Luke 2:37 - "There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying."

What was her worship? It was her devotion day after day, year after year. She wasted her life on Yahweh. She could have remarried, had a family, and enjoyed a full and successful life. Yet she gave it all up to serve in the place where Yahweh's Presence rested.

And us? - We must worship 'in Spirit and in truth'. (John 4:23) We must give him the most precious thing we have, it's not about a ceremony or singing songs, it demands a long and arduous journey, it means wasting our lives on him.

There is nothing wrong with singing songs together, especially if they're songs that remind us of the Lord and draw us into his presence. But what he wants from us in worship is much more than songs and a reverent heart.

Two stories - And then I shared two short stories. Both were taken from Steve Addison's book 'What Jesus Started' (an excellent read, by the way). I asked everyone to see if they could spot the worship in the two true stories.

The first is about how Steve met a man on a train and shared the good news about Jesus with him. The second is about a stranger in a Muslim country, going to the imam with questions about the Qur'an concerning Isa (Jesus). One of the men listening to the conversation searches out the stranger later to learn more. In both cases the worship involves taking a risk, obedience, and reaching the lost. There is sacrifice here, giving up the safe and comfortable for the unknown.

And finally, we sang some awesome songs, finishing with Christy Nockels and 'Waiting here for you'.

Questions:

  • What is your own understanding of worship? Is it more about praise or obedience?
  • Can you identify areas in your life where you might worship the Almighty more fully?
  • What is the most precious thing you have?

See also:

28 February 2013

Don't miss the dawn

Words from a few years ago now seem to be relevant. These words may be for you, if they are you will know because they will resonate for you. They are words from the Light about the Light. These are words about a journey, about an announcement, and about the glory of the coming day.

Like a new day dawning
Here's something I was given and wrote down a few years ago, but I sense that now is the right time to share it.

If this is for you I'm sure you'll recognise it.

There is a new light shining in the eyes of everyone who is looking for it. It's a new dawn, a new day, a new light yet it's the oldest light in existence, older even than the universe itself. It's the light of Christ shining into a dark world.

But I tell you, unless your eyes are open you will not see this light clearly. Unless you are looking for it you will see dimly and overlook the truth. Here is what the Lord says.

'A new thing is coming but not all will walk through it with me. The light of revival is already glimmering like a new dawn in the hearts of those who've been praying for it and searching for it and hoping for it.'

'Get up now while it's still dark, prepare yourself for a journey, light a lamp so you can see to make a meal and tidy up your affairs, set out the clothes you will wear on the road, get dressed, wash your face, and put on a warm coat. Then put out your lamp, step outside and close the door and begin walking to the place where the sky is bright and the sun is about to rise. Listen, the birds are already singing for the dawn.'

'Many of your neighbours are asleep in bed, they will awake to the full light of day. But you will have experienced the dawning and will be ready to call out as you journey, "Wake up, rise up, come outside for the Light is shining and the darkness is gone. Come out, come and feel the radiance and the warmth, come outside and see the glory of the day."'

'The day is short and there is far to travel.'


Questions:

  • Does this speak to your heart? If so, what is the Spirit saying to you?
  • Can you share this with others who might need to see it?
  • You may have more to add, if so would you be willing to make a comment?

See also:

03 September 2011

FAMILY - Two journeys

< No earlier items | Index | The Coast >

On Saturday 3rd September we set off for a week's holiday in Cornwall. First we travelled to Donna's parents near Poole on the south coast, then we continued to Plymouth and our holiday home in Landrake.

Landrake Church towerThe first part was not a good journey. As we headed south the sat-nav diverted us through Winchester because of heavy traffic congestion on the motorway; the journey to Donna's parents at Broadstone normally takes a little over three hours, but today it took four.

Isobel had made bacon rolls for lunch and it was good to stop travelling, stretch our legs, have a cuppa and eat those rolls. Refreshed, we loaded their luggage in the boot and set off on the second leg of the journey to Cornwall, picking up the M5 and A38 from Exeter. For me these are old and familiar roads from years ago when I lived in the Bristol area. We passed the Buckfastleigh turning and headed through the city of Plymouth. The wooded sides of the A38 hide the city from view but we were soon at the bridge over the river Tamar and into Cornwall.

We quickly found Landrake and our cottage, there was a slightly musty smell in the old building (but it vanished once we opened a window, put the kettle on and began unpacking).

After settling into our little cottage Paul and Vanessa joined us and cooked us an evening meal of spaghetti bolognese. What a treat!

< No earlier items | Index | The Coast >

28 June 2006

Rugby - Hill and pathway

< 21st June 2006 | Index | 25th July 2006 >

This was another wonderful evening together as Father opened up his heart to us again.

HillValerie shared a picture of a green hill with a stream of clear water at the bottom. She understood that we could be there in perfect peace and could drink the cool, refreshing water. And when we asked her what was on top of the hill she told us, 'Just a light'. Later, Val read Psalm 23, and Valerie read out Psalm 27 which also seemed completely relevant.


Chris said that we are walking along a pathway with him, and because we are there with him we are completely safe on the journey. We don't need to worry about where we will be going next, and we don't need to be anxious about what lies ahead, we just need to take the next step. One step, than another one, and then later another one as he shows us the way forward.

PathwayVal became aware of a large hand, then she noticed that the hand was wearing a glove, and finally realised that the Lord is like a policeman directing the traffic with his hands. She explained that without his guidance there would be accidents and injuries and damage, but that because he is in charge everything works together smoothly. One line of traffic has to wait, another line can move forward, then they swap over. It's efficient and it's safe because he guides us as he knows best.

There was also the thought of buds opening up into beautiful flowers. It's a process.

But perhaps the best thing this evening was that he told us through Rachael that when we meet together he is not divided amongst us and made less, but in fact he is magnified so that we each receive more of him, not less! We are so, so blessed by being together in a meeting. He was speaking the truth when he said, 'Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am amongst them' (Matt 18:20).

< 21st June 2006 | Index | 25th July 2006 >

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