A Christian’s heavenly journey with his feet on the ground. Treasures shared that are discovered along the way.
Please note that this blog has now moved to: "Senior Eagle walking with Father"

Monday, December 31, 2007

Pioneering Unknown Territory

Like many boys, I loved to explore and read adventure stories, but in my early teens I decided to have my own adventure. One day in the depths of winter, I packed a small rucksack with map, compass and food and set out on my own to explore the wild Kinder Scout plateau in our High Peak National Park.

Excitement mounted as I wound my way up the Grindsbrook valley and searched for a route up the sheer craggy escarpment. Once on the top I carefully picked my way over the featureless wilderness with just a frisson of fear and marvelled at the strange beauty of the place. All too soon I had to turn back, but felt elated on the descent, having achieved my goal.

Today, you'll find a well-worn eroded path there, where many thousands have trod since. My pioneering spirit remains, but for years it was half buried and covered over and jaded by life's events. It was only after I became a Christian that I eventually realised that the deep longing and desire was for intimacy with God Himself. He had put it there!

I have found that if we refuse to be squeezed into some respectable Christian mould, but seek to follow the desire God has put within us and find out who we really are and what we are made for, we could be in for a bumpy ride. At times it may feel like we are in unknown territory, going where no one has been before and have to deal with loneliness and the misunderstandings of others. As for God, He has already mapped out our journey, but we may think He has made a mistake when things don't go according to our plan and the going gets tough.

Instead we may opt for a seemingly safe way of subduing the desire, such as church activity or position, voluntary work, a project or hobby or anything that may gratify. These may be good things in themselves, but in reality they are only a mere shadow of the real thing. The desire will still be there deep down and we will be restless and not true to our own heart or God's.

We have been given freedom of choice, but if we want to be pioneers and 'go for gold' why not ask God to heat up our spirit and increase the desire, for it is that which keeps us going.

All God waits for is our Yes!

"Jesus said ..... You--follow me." John 21:22 The Message Bible


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Establishing Our Hearts in Love

My father's middle name was Gardener and he lived up to his name. When I was a boy I loved watching him in the garden. I was fascinated by the whole process of growing vegetables and impatient to see results, so inspected daily for signs of growth. He showed me how to grow the biggest and sweetest marrows by threading wool through the stem and leading it into a jar of sugar and water. The plant fed on this syrupy goodness - I think they call it capillary attraction - and the marrow swelled up until it was ripe for picking. I would proudly carry it inside to my mother who stuffed it and baked it the oven.

God's love for us is bottomless, limitless, it can't be any greater, but we need to open ourselves to Him to receive. Not a mental assent to a spiritual truth, but an experience of His love deep within our hearts. As we spend regular time feeding on His love, our heart swells and we become increasingly aware of God's Presence. When the going gets tough we then have a well of heavenly resource that we can draw upon and have the confidence that Father will see us through.

I have found out to my cost that it is imperative to give priority to this abiding rather than leave it until trouble comes.

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17-19 New International Version


Friday, December 28, 2007

Real Fellowship

I had a long telephone conversation the other evening. What started out as a contact call to a friend, turned into some deep sharing between us. We were being real and 'telling how it is.' Although we are from different backgrounds we are spiritually in tune with one another; there was an understanding and acceptance.

In scriptural terms you could say that we were 'confessing our sins' to each other. The problems and feelings I was sharing involved sin, because I admitted that in one particularly area of my life I was having difficulty living fully as God intends. It's not that we were expecting the other to fix it, only Jesus saves and redeems and heals, but bringing those things into the light resulted in a sense of freedom for both of us.

We all have to be responsible to God for our personal walk with God, but the New Testament particularly refers to the community element of being a Christian. Not a co-dependant people, leaning on one another, propping each other up, but a cohesive body of Christians sold out to God, focussed on Jesus and encouraging one another in the walk of faith. When we are open and real with one another in an atmosphere of love and acceptance, it releases the Holy Spirit to flow in love and healing.

In some Christian circles this may not be experienced - perhaps because faith is seen as a private matter or because any admission of difficulties or negative emotion may be seen as a lack of faith - so we need to choose carefully who we share with. If I am feeling broken inside I would always look for those who themselves have been broken.

"... confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16 New International Version


Monday, December 24, 2007

Anticipation on Christmas Eve

Long ago, when I was a boy, Christmas had a magical quality. I could hardly contain my excitement as the big day drew near. On Christmas Eve we hung the paper chains we had so carefully made and decorated our little artificial tree. As a special treat we were allowed to stay up late and listen to a Disney soundtrack on the wireless, followed by carols from King's College, Cambridge. Once in bed I was ages going off and kept glancing at the pillowcase at the foot of the bed, wondering when Father Christmas was going to fill it with toys. There was something missing though.

I had no sense of Christmas coming this season, until last week, when my wife and I visited a nearby 16th century mansion. It caught us by surprise. As we entered the great hall, we were greeted and handed a song sheet. A large evergreen festive garland was suspended from the rafters and a blazing log fire provided welcome warmth. The place was soon filled to capacity as we sang all the old familiar carols. It was an enjoyable unexpected experience. I could even imagine that we were back in those olden times .... or could I? I was reminded that in 1647 the English Parliament banned Christmas, as Oliver Cromwell said the revelling and making merry was pagan. Thankfully it was reinstated thirteen years later, but I wonder what he would have made of the way Christmas is remembered today? Maybe he thought there was something missing. Perhaps he had a point?

This afternoon we will take our two grandchildren to a crib service in their local church. We can't wait to see their eager faces and catch something of their excitement. We will be ready for surprises though. Like last year when we were with our London granddaughters at a similar service. There was an attempt to make the presentation child-friendly, with two youngsters dressed as a spotted cow - it was a stable! Our youngest wasn't to be put off and in tears asked, "But where is Jesus?" These little ones are our future and we pray and believe they will come to know Jesus personally.

We look forward to being with our family tomorrow and sharing in the festivities. At the same time we will be aware that the day is a celebration of Jesus's birthday. Not a baby in a crib, but alive and 'with us' now in the Spirit - there's nothing missing. However, the anticipation remains, as we look forward to when Jesus comes again as King. Whenever that is, we want to be sure that we are ready.

Christmas Blessings

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23 New International Version


Saturday, December 22, 2007

More Risky Living

In talking with my wife as we started the day together, we debated whether we were afraid of taking risks. Not that the last few years have been easy, far from it. At times it's been real hard and seemingly risky, like living on the edge. We can look back and see how far we have come, but we don't want to get stuck in a rut.

Each time we have stepped out in faith on something God has put on our hearts, we have been amazed at God's provision. Things that have seemed downright impossible have all worked out. It felt like His angels had gone before and prepared the way and removed all the obstacles as we moved forward.

But that was yesterday. God is always moving on to a new thing and if we want God's best for us we have to move with Him! There's a great deal more that I am longing for, desires that I believe God has planted. But moving out on those could be risky. If you are like me you want to have things planned with God's provision in place before you launch out from your position of comfort. But it doesn't work like that. We have to step out first, then God moves in with his provision. Sometimes it feels like stepping into the unknown, without a full map of where we are going - scary! God does things differently to us and it's difficult to understand some times, so we have to stick close to Him and trust.

But where's the risk, when God will move heaven and earth with all His mighty power to make His will happen for us. Nothing and nobody can stand in His way. Yes, there will be many twists and turns on the journey and it will feel scary at times, but that's the excitement of the adventure.

We know we can trust Him - exercising our faith is life itself - so what are we waiting for?

"I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron." Isaiah 45:2 New International Version


Friday, December 21, 2007

Real Contentment

I think there is no more delightful sight than seeing a contented baby snuggled in his/her mother's arms. Having drank to its heart's content, felt the warmth of its mother's love and seen the love and acceptance in its mother's eyes, it lies back with not a care in the world. The infant is at rest within itself, satisfied and secure.

This is a powerful picture and I now that I am neither too old or macho to learn from it. Rather than keep my mind one what is at hand I still have a tendency to let my thoughts roam on projects I have mind or work out what I may be doing the next day or week, even worry about future problems. All this mind clutter uses energy and has the potential to cause stress and anxiety and can get in the way of my relationship with Father.

When we have stilled ourselves and fed from God's Word and digested it inwardly. When we have offered all our fears and doubts and worries to Father. When we have soaked in His loving Presence. Only then, the cares of this world seem to fade and we experience a deep peace that only comes from God. We are content, knowing we can just be ourselves and walk with Father in simple trust, leaving tomorrow to God.

Some may say "Hey, get real man, I am not a baby and anyway I have a life to live!" No, but the principle remains. What is real is that God has made it possible for us to experience His deep peace, His gift to us. It's up to us to enter in. We long for it and need it; we know that deep inside. It remains for us to do something about it.

"But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me." Psalm 131:2 New International Version


Monday, December 17, 2007

Battle Weary?

Are you battle weary,
battered through trying to cope?
Have you wondered how much more
and listened to the Devil's roar,
swayed by his taunts and lies?
Has your faith faltered
and your hope grown dim?
Have you felt like giving up
or looked for illicit solace?
Do you feel forgotten,
and even angry with God?

Then draw near to Father
and yield to His love.
Know that He understands
and feels your anguish.
Receive His peace and
allow Him to refresh, sustain
and give you courage to go on.
He will sharpen your sword
and heal your pain.

Then listen:
You are precious to me
I am with you
Come and stand with Me
Stand tall and face the battle
Feel my arm around your shoulders
The protection of my cloak
Know that I have won
Share in my victory
Let Me take the strain.
Watch what I will do.
Trust Me.

"He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57

"You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great." Psalm 18:35

"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'" 2 Chronicles 20:17 All quotations from New International Version


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Stop Running

My wife and I had an encounter yesterday that left us feeling very concerned. We were talking with a man who was on the run.

He was accomplished and well qualified, but in recent years had fallen on hard times and was using his initiative to do all he could to provide for his family. He was working over eighty hours a week and putting in tremendous physical effort for a relatively small return. He was trying so hard, but we were convinced things could be so much easier for him if he allowed Jesus into his life.

In trying to converse with him however, it was difficult to communicate. There was no eye contact and no real relating. It seemed to us that he was a man who wasn't in touch with his feelings and didn't know what his heart was saying. He had attended church in the past but had no concept what it meant to be a Christian. He had written booklets that encompassed spirituality, but when asked what he believed, he didn't know. He said that he had never had time to stop and consider.

He kept bringing the subject back to his running. He runs everywhere, has done since he was young and runs miles every day. It seemed to us that he was running from himself, running from what he might hear or feel if he stopped. We just prayed inwardly that when God does stop him it won't be too painful for him.

This is only too familiar to me. I had strong legs and was never happier than when I was walking in the wild. Nothing wrong in that, but it was all part of my escape from issues that God wanted to deal with. Even though I was a Christian, there were areas of my life I was keeping from God and was running away from an inner pain that God wanted to heal. It was only when He gave me the grace to recognise the warning signs and cooperate, that He was able to get to work to strengthen me in my weak areas and ensure my strengths were surrendered to Him.

We may work our fingers to the bone, but that in itself just does not please God. When we are really surrendered and put our whole trust in Him we have His power and provision available to us. When we work His way there's no limit to what God can do through us.

"His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." Psalm 147:10-11 New International Version


Friday, December 14, 2007

The Sword

I love watching those very old swashbuckling movies, that always end in a sword-flashing duel. The action keeps me on the edge of my seat as the dashing hero and villain chase each other, leaping from balconies, swinging from chandeliers and crashing through windows. You wonder who will win, but always the villain finally gets his come-uppance, ending up on his knees with the hero's sword pointing at his heart. He's given the choice; death or surrender and meet the consequences.

It reminds me how it is with the Sword of the Spirit - the Word of God.

A couple of years ago my wife and I attended a retreat which involved a long tiring journey from home. I was expectant, but after a teaching session on the first morning, I felt very drowsy and snuggled down in my comfy armchair. It had been decided to slip in an extra unplanned talk before lunch.

Hoping I wouldn't be noticed, I half closed my eyes, but kept an ear cocked just in case there was something for me. The talk drifted over me until suddenly I was alert and wide awake. The speaker referred to something from scripture in a way I hadn't heard before. Startled, I asked her to repeat it and explain. Something stirred within. It felt like God's spotlight was on me and was revealing where I was not. A period of painful soul searching and repentance followed, but eventually resulted in healing and freedom and a new moving forward with God. It was exactly what I needed.

Then there have been those countless times when I've found myself in difficult or seemingly impossible circumstances. Each time I reached out to Father in my desperate need and His answer came with a Word dropped into my mind. His Word that brought light into the darkness, fresh understanding and destroyed the doubts and fears knocking at my door.

The Word of God brings truth and life into every situation. Falsehood and evil cannot stand against it. It is God's gift to us, a very powerful and life-giving weapon.

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 New International Version


Monday, December 10, 2007

Don't Bottle Up Your Anger

Depression appears in many guises and varies from mild to severe or chronic and can have a downright disabling effect upon our lives. No wonder it's called the big 'D' and is reported as one of the main reasons for absenteeism from the workplace.

There seems no simple answer, but I have come to the conclusion that a common cause of depression is repressed and unresolved feelings, especially anger. In our anger we may either verbally hit out to hurt others and spoil relationships or keep it in, bottle it up where it can fester and hurt us, causing emotional and even physical symptoms.

There were things happened to me in childhood that gave me every right to be angry, but I was brought up to be a 'good boy' believing that it was wrong to feel anger. So I grew up to believe the lie, that 'nice men don't get angry!' This impression was even bolstered by what I saw in some churches, as if there was a cardboard cutout image for Christians. But that's just not real, men - and woman too - do get angry. I didn't want to be a 'nice man' I wanted to be a real man, the person God had made me to be, and real men and women do get angry. It's what we do with it that matters.

Over the years I have learned to get in touch with my feelings. To own the anger, take responsibility for it and deal with the root cause with Jesus. There is a tremendous freedom in knowing that it's OK to feel angry and helps us to live with other people's anger. Another thing I found out is that there is a positive side to anger, it can be creative.

Whenever I start to feel down now, I try to look at the 'trigger' to see where it came in and deal with that issue. I don't always get it right and am still learning.

"Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to." Harriet Learner, "The Dance of Anger," 1985

"A vigorous temper is not altogether an evil. Men who are easy as an old shoe are generally of little worth." Charles Spurgeon, British Baptist Preacher

"Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry - but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry." Ephesians 4:26 The Message Bible


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Learning From Our Mistakes

My wife is amazing with plants. She has 'green fingers' and is able to produce growth from just about any little bit of leaf. Her expertise was challenged however, when a friend gave her an orchid. The beauty of the blooms was breathtaking, but when the petals eventually dropped, she had to ask for advice as to what to do next. She cut the growth right back to the base, but unfortunately she removed too much by mistake.

Months went by without any movement, it looked dead, finished. But my wife wasn't going to give up on it. She patiently tended it, spraying the plant with a cooling mist and even whispering encouragement. Another year followed and still no growth, except that more long grey roots appeared at the base. Encouraged, she continued with her loving care until yesterday, after over two years, she noticed two new shoots reaching for the sky. The dormant plant was springing into life with the promise of new blooms.

This experience reminds me that if we make a big mistake or take the wrong decision in something important, we have to live with the consequences. We may feel we have messed up big time or failed beyond recovery, but God is so gracious, He doesn't hold our mistakes against us. He never gives up on us and when the time is right, usually when we have learned from the experience, He gives us another chance. Because we have changed, the promised blessing will be greater.

"If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down." Mary Pickford

“All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.” Winston Churchill

"I am your God ..... I made you and will care for you; I will give you help and rescue you." Isaiah 46:4 Good News Bible


Friday, December 07, 2007

Praying Without Ceasing

At first sight, to pray without ceasing seems a tall order. If it means we are to be vocally praying all the time, surely nothing else would get done?

I have always seen it essential to start the day with a quality time of prayer, but there have been times when I then got on with my business, thinking that was enough for the day. But imagine how it would be if we spent the day with a loved one and we ignored them; no touching, talking or listening, no eye contact, walking together but separate. If we do the same with Jesus, just think how must He feel.

In the little book "The Practice of the Presence of God," it's the humble monk Brother Lawrence who found delight in washing the dishes with Jesus or even just picking a blade of grass to the Glory of God! He had a constant awareness of God's loving presence and enjoyed a continual 'conversation' with Him. We may not be monks or nuns but the principle is the same; we need a prayerful attitude.

An intimate relationship with Jesus is a very personal thing and it's expression will be different for each of us. However it doesn't come naturally at first and needs working at until it becomes almost second nature, effortless. So no matter how busy we are, as we acknowledge that He is with us in all we do, there will be that inner awareness and readiness to obey His whisper.

What if we are just to tired or exhausted to pray? When I first read about the Jesus prayer, where you recite unceasingly "Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy upon me," in tune with your breathing, I thought that's hard work and a bit far-fetched. However there have been times when I have been extremely fatigued and found myself mouthing similar words as I breathed deeply. Rather than succumb to negative feelings, I breathed out my tiredness and breathed in the comforting, strengthening Holy Spirit.

Jesus is our Lover and longs to be involved in all we do, not just in times of need but 24/7.

“Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life” Jonathan Edwards

"Pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. Don't suppress the Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 5:17-19 The Message Bible


Monday, December 03, 2007

I Am the Lord Who Heals You

I find that healing is often a topic for discussion amongst Christians, with far-ranging views expressed. When however, we or a loved one are in need it becomes more personal, even desperate, a matter for action rather than thinking.

It's when we expose our 'wound' and bring it into God's loving presence that He can get to work. I have experienced emotional healing when traumas in my life have been transformed into a blessing and no longer have a hold over me and I have witnessed others enter into such life-changing freedom. I have also known physical healing.

One day I rather foolishly tried to do two things at once. I was carrying our heavy grandson in one arm, while trying to open and close the spring-loaded tailgate of our car with the other. Somehow my hand got in the way as the tailgate came slamming down on my finger, steel edge against bone. I put the boy down and instinctively held my finger up to Father, reaching out to Him in desperation, from the depths of my being. My wife was also praying. It looked ugly and the pain was excruciating, but after ascertaining nothing was broken, I wrapped it round with a wet cloth and tried to stay focussed on Father.

After an hour or so, the pain had eased considerably and when I uncovered the finger, it appeared completely normal as if nothing had happened. Days later there was no sign of bruising. You can imagine my gratitude.

So after all the prayer, why hasn't He healed me of chronic fatigue syndrome (M.E.) for which there is no medical cure? One thing for certain was that He had my attention as never before as I embarked on a journey where I wanted answers. I found there were steps to take, things to relinquish and ways to change. I can look back and apart from being stronger now, there has been a welcome change emotionally, mentally and spiritually, so I can see the benefits. His healing is ongoing and I am expectant for more. I may still have an illness but the illness does not have me.

I believe what God says in His word and have no doubt that Jesus heals today. Healing - emotional, physical, mental and spiritual - is all part of the salvation package, you can't separate it. Whether it's instant or long delayed, He is committed to healing us through and through in His way and in His time.

"I am the LORD, who heals you." Exodus 15:26 New International Version