Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Worship Wednesday

Today I want to focus on words written by a great man of God. These words are a prayer, although more recently they have been set to music. In these days, being a person who prays these words and becomes these characteristics is ever more important, in my view.

Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Monday, 14 March 2011

He Meets Your Needs

 “Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries.” Matthew 6:34

God liberated his children from slavery and created a path through the sea. He gave them a cloud to follow in the day and fire to see at night. And he gave them food . . .

Each morning the manna came. Each evening the quail appeared. “Trust me. Trust me and I will give you what you need.” The people were told to take just enough for one day. Their needs would be met, one day at a time.

By Max Lucado

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Love is Patient (1 Corinthians 13:4)

This week must be Max Lucado week, as there have been so many posts from this wonderful man of God. But if ever there was a lesson that I needed to learn one day, this is it, and I am pleased to be able to share it! 

Patience is the red carpet upon which God’s grace approaches us.
The Greek word used here for patience is a descriptive one. It figuratively means “taking a long time to boil.” Think about a pot of boiling water. What factors determine the speed at which it boils? The size of the stove? No. The pot? The utensil may have an influence, but the primary factor is the intensity of the flame. Water boils quickly when the flame is high. It boils slowly when the flame is low. Patience “keeps the burner down.”
Helpful clarification, don’t you think? Patience isn’t naive. It doesn’t ignore misbehavior. It just keeps the flame low. It waits. It listens. It’s slow to boil. This is how God treats us. And, according to Jesus, this is how we should treat others.
He once told a parable about a king who decides to settle his accounts with his debtors. His bookkeeper surfaces a fellow who owes not thousands or hundreds of thousands but millions of dollars. The king summarily declares that the man and his wife and kids are to be sold to pay the debt. Because of his inability to pay, the man is about to lose everything and everyone dear to him. No wonder “the man fell down before the king and begged him, “Oh, sir, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.” (Matt. 18:26–27 NLT, emphasis mine)
The word patience makes a surprise appearance here. The debtor does not plead for mercy or forgiveness; he pleads for patience. Equally curious is this singular appearance of the word. Jesus uses it twice in this story and never again. Jesus reserves the word for one occasion to make one point. Patience is more than a virtue for long lines and slow waiters. Patience is the red carpet upon which God’s grace approaches us.
Had there been no patience, there would have been no mercy. But the king was patient, and the man with the multimillion-dollar debt was forgiven. But then the story takes a left turn. The freshly forgiven fellow makes a beeline from the courthouse to the suburbs. There he searches out a guy who owes him some money.
“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. “Be patient and I will pay it,” he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and jailed until the debt could be paid in full.” (vv. 28–30 NLT, emphasis mine)
The king is stunned. How could the man be so impatient? How dare the man be so impatient! The ink of the CANCELED stamp is still moist on the man’s bills. Wouldn’t you expect a little Mother Teresa–ness out of him? You’d think that a person who’d been forgiven so much would love much. But he didn’t. And his lack of love led to a costly mistake. The unforgiving servant is called back to the castle. “Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny” (Matt. 18:34 NLT).
Whew! we sigh. Glad that story is a parable. It’s a good thing God doesn’t imprison the impatient in real life. Don’t be so sure he doesn’t. Self-absorption and ingratitude make for thick walls and lonely jails.
Impatience still imprisons the soul. For that reason, our God is quick to help us avoid it. He does more than demand patience from us; he offers it to us. Patience is a fruit of his Spirit. It hangs from the tree of Galatians 5:22: “The Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience.” Have you asked God to give you some fruit? Well I did once, but … But what? Did you, h’m, grow impatient? Ask him again and again and again. He won’t grow impatient with your pleading, and you will receive patience in your praying.
A Love Worth GivingAnd while you’re praying, ask for understanding. “Patient people have great understanding” (Prov. 14:29). Why? Because patience always hitches a ride with understanding. The wise man says, “A man of understanding holds his tongue” (Prov. 11:12 NIV). He also says, “A man of understanding is even-tempered” (Prov. 17:27 NIV). Don’t miss the connection between understanding and patience. Before you blow up, listen up. Before you strike out, tune in.
“God is being patient with you” (2 Pet. 3:9). And if God is being patient with you, can’t you pass on some patience to others?

A Love Worth Giving:
Living in the Overflow of God’s Love

Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2002) Max Lucado

Saturday, 12 March 2011

It’s Not What You Do

 “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ.”  Romans 8:1 NIV

There is never a point at which you are any less saved than you were the first moment Christ saved you. Just because you were grumpy at breakfast doesn’t mean you were condemned at breakfast. When you lost your temper yesterday, you didn’t lose your salvation. Your name doesn’t disappear and reappear in the book of life according to your moods and actions . . .

You are saved, not because of what you do, but because of what Christ did.

By Max Lucado

Friday, 11 March 2011

What's Heaven Like?

I received this story in the mail yesterday, and thought I'd share it. What an awesome illustration of such a wonderful truth!

A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, 'Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.'

Very quietly, the doctor said, 'I don't know.'

'You don't know? You're, a Christian man, and don't know what's on the other side?'

The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, 'Did you notice my dog? He's never been in this room before. He didn't know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing ... I know my Master is there and that is enough.'

Thursday, 10 March 2011


Visible View of Pillar and Jets HH 901/902

On Sunday we watched the first episode of Wonders of the Universe. What a great documentary! I absolutely loved all of the graphics, the images, the history, the future history, everything. BUT - and yes, it's a big but - I have one problem: I can't swallow the theory.

It was stated at one point that "we are the cosmos made conscious" (paraphrased) - and furthermore, that life in the cosmos only exists for a very short window in time. Now, while the argument for this is relatively sound, it quite frankly depresses me. To be quite honest, I would probably commit suicide if I believed that this were true. Because to me, this means that our lives are worthless, and that there's no point in being alive. More than that, the mess that us human beings have made of this planet is bad enough without it being completely pointless (which it is anyway, even if, as a Christian, one believes that there is a reason behind the destruction) - which it would be if there was no point in being alive in the first place.

And finally, this still doesn't answer, for me, the question of "Why?" the cosmos exists in the first place, nevermind "How?". Also, why do we, each person on this "pale blue dot", have an inborn sense of right and wrong? I still have those questions running around my head unanswered if I am to believe the theory of the big bang and the final 'cold' of the Universe.

No. I prefer to have hope, placed solely on the person of Jesus Christ, as described in the revelatory Word of God, the Bible. This, in contrast to scientific theory, gives me a reason for living, and a reason for my life. It also answers the "Why?" and the "How?" questions to my satisfaction. And it also tells me why I know right from wrong.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather have hope than depression.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Worship Wednesday

This song is one of my favourites from the current generation of songwriters. How deep is the Father's love for us?

How Deep the Father's Love

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Lyrics by Stuart Townend

Monday, 7 March 2011

God Leads Us

“You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it.” Matthew 6:27

Anxiety is an expensive habit. Of course, it might be worth the cost if it worked. But it doesn’t. Our frets are futile.

Worry has never brightened a day, solved a problem, or cured a disease.

God leads us. God will do the right thing at the right time. And what a difference that makes.

by Max Lucado

Sunday, 6 March 2011

When You Are Low on Hope

by Max Lucado
Water. All Noah can see is water. The evening sun sinks into it. The clouds are reflected in it. His boat is surrounded by it. Water. Water to the north. Water to the south. Water to the east. Water to the west. Water.
He sent a raven on a scouting mission; it never returned. He sent a dove. It came back shivering and spent, having found no place to roost. Then, just this morning, he tried again. With a prayer he let it go and watched until the bird was no bigger than a speck on a window.
All day he looked for the dove’s return.
Now the sun is setting, and the sky is darkening, and he has come to look one final time, but all he sees is water. Water to the north. Water to the south. Water to the east. Water to the …
You know the feeling. You have stood where Noah stood. You’ve known your share of floods. Flooded by sorrow at the cemetery, stress at the office, anger at the disability in your body or the inability of your spouse. You’ve seen the floodwater rise, and you’ve likely seen the sun set on your hopes as well. You’ve been on Noah’s boat.
And you’ve needed what Noah needed; you’ve needed some hope. You’re not asking for a helicopter rescue, but the sound of one would be nice. Hope doesn’t promise an instant solution but rather the possibility of an eventual one. Sometimes all we need is a little hope.
That’s all Noah needed. And that’s all Noah received.
Here is how the Bible describes the moment: “When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!” (Gen. 8:11 NIV).
An olive leaf. Noah would have been happy to have the bird but to have the leaf! This leaf was more than foliage; this was promise. The bird brought more than a piece of a tree; it brought hope. For isn’t that what hope is? Hope is an olive leaf—evidence of dry land after a flood. Proof to the dreamer that dreaming is worth the risk.
To all the Noahs of the world, to all who search the horizon for a fleck of hope, Jesus proclaims, “Yes!” And he comes. He comes as a dove. He comes bearing fruit from a distant land, from our future home. He comes with a leaf of hope.
Have you received yours? Don’t think your ark is too isolated. Don’t think your flood is too wide. Receive his hope, won’t you? Receive it because you need it. Receive it so you can share it. Receive his hope, won’t you? Receive it because you need it. Receive it so you can share it.
What do you suppose Noah did with his? What do you think he did with the leaf? Did he throw it overboard and forget about it? Do you suppose he stuck it in his pocket and saved it for a scrapbook? Or do you think he let out a whoop and assembled the troops and passed it around like the Hope Diamond it was?
Certainly he whooped. That’s what you do with hope. What do you do with olive leaves? You pass them around. You don’t stick them in your pocket. You give them to the ones you love. Love always hopes. “Love … bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4–7 NKJV, emphasis mine).
Love has hope in you.
The aspiring young author was in need of hope. More than one person had told him to give up. “Getting published is impossible,” one mentor said. “Unless you are a national celebrity, publishers won’t talk to you.” Another warned, “Writing takes too much time. Besides, you don’t want all your thoughts on paper.”
Initially he listened. He agreed that writing was a waste of effort and turned his attention to other projects. But somehow the pen and pad were bourbon and Coke to the wordaholic. He’d rather write than read. So he wrote. How many nights did he pass on that couch in the corner of the apartment reshuffling his deck of verbs and nouns? And how many hours did his wife sit with him? He wordsmithing. She cross-stitching. Finally a manuscript was finished. Crude and laden with mistakes but finished.
She gave him the shove. “Send it out. What’s the harm?”
So out it went. Mailed to fifteen different publishers. While the couple waited, he wrote. While he wrote, she stitched. Neither expecting much, both hoping everything. Responses began to fill the mailbox. “I’m sorry, but we don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.” “We must return your work. Best of luck.” “Our catalog doesn’t have room for unpublished authors.”
I still have those letters. Somewhere in a file. Finding them would take some time. Finding Denalyn’s cross-stitch, however, would take none. To see it, all I do is lift my eyes from this monitor and look on the wall. “Of all those arts in which the wise excel, nature’s chief masterpiece is writing well.”
She gave it to me about the time the fifteenth letter arrived. A publisher had said yes. That letter is also framed. Which of the two is more meaningful? The gift from my wife or the letter from the publisher? The gift, hands down. For in giving the gift, Denalyn gave hope.
A Love Worth GivingLove does that. Love extends an olive leaf to the loved one and says, “I have hope in you.”
Love is just as quick to say, “I have hope for you.”
You can say those words. You are a flood survivor. By God’s grace you have found your way to dry land. You know what it’s like to see the waters subside. And since you do, since you passed through a flood and lived to tell about it, you are qualified to give hope to someone else.

A Love Worth Giving:
Living in the Overflow of God’s Love

Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2002) Max Lucado

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Worship Wednesday

I'm running a little later than usual today, but I really wanted to post this song. I've only learnt it in the last two years, and the imagery that it evokes is, to me, certainly reminiscent of the last couple of chapters of Revelation, which in themselves are a vision of the eternal dwelling-place of God; a call to place one's trust in the one who has the power to wipe away all tears, to wash away our sins, and to grant us the gift of eternal life through the Son, Jesus Christ.

There is a Higher Throne

There is a higher throne

Than all this world has known,
Where faithful ones from ev'ry tongue
Will one day come.
Before the Son we'll stand,
Made faultless through the Lamb;
Believing hearts find promised grace—
Salvation comes.

Hear heaven's voices sing;
Their thund'rous anthem rings
Through em'rald courts and sapphire skies.
Their praises rise.
All glory, wisdom, pow'r,
Strength, thanks, and honor are
To God our King, who reigns on high

And there we'll find our home,
Our life before the throne;
We'll honor Him in perfect song
Where we belong.
He'll wipe each tear-stained eye
As thirst and hunger die.
The Lamb becomes our Shepherd King;
We'll reign with Him.

Words by Keith & Kristyn Getty, 2003

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The View From The Window

I was introduced to this poem back when I was 14, and it still touches my heart. I hope that you will each grow to love it as much as I do.

The View From The Window
by R.S Thomas
Like a painting it is set before one,
But less brittle, ageless; these colours
Are renewed daily with variations
Of light and distance that no painter
Achieves or suggests. Then there is movement,
Change, as slowly the cloud bruises
Are healed by sunlight, or snow caps
A black mood; but gold at evening
To cheer the heart.  All through history
The great brush has not rested,
Nor the paint dried; yet what eye,
Looking coolly, or, as we now,
through the tears' lenses, ever saw
This work and it was not finished?