Of course this is not a hat, workers wear to keep their head warm! I think many of us know just what it means (in theory) to be a servant. And Most of us, in our best moments think it is good to be a servant, that is up to the time we are treated like one! It is right at that point (a very sharp one) that I have needed and found God to be my greatest role model, deepest comforter and closest friend. Jesus came to be a humble servant - of course He did far more than that - but He was a terrific role model. He not only taught what being a servant means, He actually showed us; He washed the disciples dusty feet, He moved amongst the poor, the sick, the hungry, the damaged, the sinful people of His day and ministered to their needs. Ultimately, servanthood took Him obediently to the Cross to deal with mankind greatest problem - separation from our holy creator. Jesus expects those who are His disciples to do the same, when we do we can expect His love and incredible strength to flow through us. I believe the world is waiting to see what real Christianity looks like. God bless us all and help us to live out what we truly believe.
Suddenly it hit me, not a virus, or a blast of cold air, it was a fresh thought, something I had never contemplated before. It came as I was reading about blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10v46-52). He was sitting in the dirt begging from the pilgrims on their way to worship at an important feast. He found out Jesus Himself was passing and he cried out in desperation ‘Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me’ . Some in the crowd told him to be quiet, others simply told him off! Jesus heard him and that made all the difference! Jesus stopped and said ‘call him’. The message was relayed to him and (this is what hit me) he threw his cloak aside, jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. Jesus had said ‘come’ and that is all he needed, whatever he held at that moment he let it go in order to get to Jesus as fast as he could and grasp whatever Jesus had for him! Sometimes the blessing comes as we use whatever is in our hands to serve Jesus, for Moses it was a staff; for the great Martin Luther it was his pen. Sometimes the blessing comes when we drop something and respond to the call of Jesus to ‘come’. It left we asking a personal question ‘is there anything I am holding onto from my past that is hindering me from experiencing a blessing from Jesus - a greater freedom, a more complete healing from my past, or, a deeper sense of surrender to His service? DROP IT; So simple and yet so liberating.
Loneliness is awful, especially during the hype and 'happiness' of Christmas. Everyone else seemed to be enjoying families, copious quantities of food and huge amounts of stuff they didn't really need. I've been thinking a lot about this over the past few days - not just because the festive decorations are gone and the home looks rather empty; it's because, although I am blessed with so much, I have started to miss my Dad who died several years ago. I miss our conversations, I miss his constant affirmation, I miss his strong embrace when we hugged - even his earthy smell. Harry was most certainly a flawed dad, but he was amazing and he was mine. The psalmist David, knew what it was to be alone, more than that, pursued by violent men! In Psalm 63 (as in many other psalms) he writes about discovering the God who knows, draws near and massages the broken hearted: "You God are my God (he writes) earnestly I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you" (verses 1-3). David's context was dry as a chip, but his relationship with his God wasn't. Today as an act of my will i'm going to look up and praise Him for all I have had, all I have and all I anticipate from the hand of gentle omnipotence.
Have you ever been in a situation where in order to carry what you know is most important you have just got to put something down? It happened to me today; (New Years Eve) I was tinkering (playing) with a Christmas gift and my wife wanted a hand to lift shopping from the car. I might well have justified my focus at that time by arguing I was achieving a most impressive score, but it really would not have impressed Lynne, in fact she might have pomelled me with some handy blunt instrument! As I approach a new year I sense there are things I need to lay aside, not necessarily because they are evil, but maybe they are distractions from that which is most important. I need empty hands in order to lay hold of something that will bless me and ultimately bless others and God. Jesus said "whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" . It is when we appreciate what Jesus let go of (Philippians 2) and why, that we will loosen our grasp on self-interest and take hold of the cross as an all consuming passion. This will not be to earn 'brownie-points' with God but to express our gratitude for all He has already done for us. A Happy New You ~ you will travel well if you travel light!
Well it had to happen one day, and yesterday was it.
The wind was gusting nicely, temperature good for December, so I decided to slip into my wetsuit and take to the Grand Union Canal with my Kayak. Being a seasoned Kayaker I shrugged off any thought of placing my electronic devices in a 'dry bag' - phone, fitbit, etc; silly man! I successfully launched 'Iechyd da' (Welsh for 'good health) and shook out my 42" sail which immediately filled with a dishy bit of wind. I should have released the sail when the next gust came; it proved far too severe and I capsized. Unfortunately, this meant that everything in my non-waterproof bag was 'baptised'. Fortunately, this story does have a good ending: I dried my mobile as well as I could and then cocooned it in a warm place overnight. This morning it works a treat and is cleaner too! Friends say, I am daft and very fortunate; I am sure thay are right, We ignore even conventional wisdom at our peril. God said many times, He sent Jesus as a saving gift and one not to be ignored, or rejected, but embraced and cherished - this Christmas and during 2017, don't do that. I wish you all a Happy and safe one.
It's so easy to imagine that Christmas equals: toys, gismos, wrapping paper, brightly decorated trees and non-stop parties; but actually, at its very heart, there is a Father, from a vastly different 'culture', saying goodbye to his only son, The message in Philippians 2 is incredible; Jesus who had it all, let it all go to become a human being - a humble servant. Why? His obedience to the Father's will meant him ending his earthly life on the Cross. The wonder of this season gets close up and so personal when we look up into the Father's face and thank him for the greatest gift of all ~ Happy Christmas!
"He came to his own, but his own did not receive him, but to as many as did receive him, who believed in his name, to them he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:11-12)
They say if you give a man a fish, you will feed him for a day, but if you give a man a fishing-rod you can get rid of him for the whole weekend! One of the many incredible aspects of Jesus' ministry was the way He not only taught the truth, but He empowered His followers to disciple others. He talked and walked with them and showed them how they needed to 'walk the talk'; this is something we want to do in 'Langley Institute of Ministry'. Theological education should never be to make us more clever, or more informed, it is to shape our lives and inspire us to serve God and His world. Happy fishing! ~ Matthew 4:19 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people."
Do you realise is only takes a very little stone to cause a huge avalanche? Yes it happens usually when something small moves. I wonder what could happen if we all started to believe we could make a difference just by moving in a certain direction. 'Langley Institute of Ministry' wants to provide a bit of momentum so that things - wonderful things - can begin to happen. Jesus said, " follow me, and I will make you fishers of men'. In the right hands our impact could be awesome! We may feel we are very small stones, but just imagine what could happen if we became a 'little boulder!' (my joke!) God bless you.
I like the picture above (pebbles on a beach) partly because I like beaches; always have. I was brought up in Torquay, Devon and I think I could swim before I could walk! I also like this image because of what it conveys: A lot of pebbles; different sizes, shapes, colours. Some round, some sharpe, but all unique and at different stages of being worn smooth. I think we human beings are rather like that. There is no escape from the knitty gritty & knotty grotty of life, but actually I believe in God's purposes it can all work together for Good (Romans 8v28).
God bless you, oh, and I hope you like our new L.I.M., website!