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, January 28, 2008

Don't Forget the Journey

I always liked to have a project on the go, whether it was a new job, a challenge at work, a house extension to build or just planning a holiday away. I enjoyed the planning, but once I was under way, I was keen to achieve my goal and then move on to something new.

My attitude began to change as God allowed difficult circumstances in my life, that slowed me down. I began to learn first hand that the journey was at least as important as getting there. My legs were stronger then and I took to walking in the hills. I loved conquering the mountain peaks, but also marvelled at the changing scenery of God's creation on the way and took time to reflect during the climb.

One day an acquaintance asked me to join him on one of his regular walks. Although he was older than me, he was fitter and walked at a cracking pace. It was all I could do to keep up with him, as he strode on ahead to take the lead. We stormed past banks of daffodils in full bloom and hardly gave the glistening lake below a second glance. I suggested a break, but within a minute he was off again, without even a glance at the profusion of wild flowers, let alone the opportunity to chat together. It seemed like we had completed the eight-mile trek in no time. He bid me farewell, leaving me breathless. I felt we had missed out on something precious.

I remember an old lady in our village. She always left her visit to the local store until the last minute in the evening. In her headlong rush to get there before closing time, her head was pushed in front of her body. You could say that her head got there before her heart!

We need to be certain of our destiny, but it's the journey that matters. It's the heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus that makes the difference. Sometimes we have to slow down, or be slowed down, in order to move forward.

"It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end." - Ursula LeGuin

"You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God." Psalm 119:1 The Message Bible


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Gossip That Spoils

A friend phoned us recently to say that he had been really hurt by gossip. I felt for them as I know what it feels like.

When we first moved into our present home, a washing machine was included in the transaction. As we already had one, we placed a card in the local store, offering it for sale. It soon got round the village that we were going to move again, as we didn't like the place. That's harmless enough and in a way it's the sort of thing that goes with the territory in a small community. Not the sort of behaviour you would expect from Christians though.

Years ago, I spoke in confidence with a Christian, believing it to be entirely safe and would go no further. However weeks later it came back to me in a rather vindictive way, through someone else. I found this upsetting at the time, but after the initial surprise I wasn't so concerned about what had been said, as to the potential damage to the relationship. Trust had been broken and I wanted to do what I could from my side to restore that if possible.

Unfortunately gossip is still prevalent within the Church in some quarters. I am aware that it is so easy to get drawn into a gossip conversation. There is the temptation to respond in like manner. Perhaps it's because I feel I don't want to be left out and want to air my superior knowledge, to give me some sort of authority. My answer is to refuse to listen to such talk and avoid it like the plague.

Gossip can grow like a destructive cancer and spoil fellowships, groups and communities. Let's be gracious in our relationships and speak to bless.

“He gossips habitually; he lacks the common wisdom to keep still that deadly enemy of man, his own tongue." Mark Twain

“A real Christian is the one who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip” Billy Graham

"Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be." James 3:10 New International Version

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" James 4:1 New International Version


Friday, January 25, 2008

The Secret Garden

My wife had been invited to a friend's house for the evening, to listen to someone talk about missionary work in India. The speaker was Indian and it took me several minutes to tune in with the lilt of his dialect. If you have ever heard a Welshman speak English you will have a little understanding of what I mean. I quickly realised that despite his soft voice and quiet way, he was speaking with power and authority.

He said something to the effect: "You send missionaries from your country to India and they wonder why their ministry does not bear fruit. They think that we are deprived, but let me tell you, that it's you who are deprived!" Whether he meant all western nations, our country or those of us in the room, was immaterial. I knew God was speaking directly to me!

He proceeded to speak on one verse from the Song of Songs. He said that before we 'go out' to work for God, we should spend time in secret in our garden with Father. We should continue doing this until we are so taken over with our Lover, that we have a spring within that cannot be contained. It will flow out to God and others. He illustrated this by saying that he had just stayed with a pastor in the next town. In the evening he invited him to join him in prayer, but was surprised to find that after only ten minutes the pastor was stuck for words. Whereas he could have continued all night if necessary.

His talk impacted upon me, but I confess that I allowed work, busy schedules and activity to get in the way. It was some years before I began to give it a high priority in my life.

I have a love for gardens. There's at least one walled garden that I find special, where I feel especially close to God. As I step into the enclosure I'm immediately aware of a closeness and an intimacy. It feels like coming home and within I say "I'm coming!" I slow right down and take in the heady perfume of the myrtle blossom and the riot of colour in the borders. As I tarry, peace descends. There's no need to speak, but if I do I'm not stuck for words. I feel like staying for hours, but when I do leave, I know something has happened inside.

We can find space anywhere away from wordly distractions, to be with Jesus on a regular basis and enjoy each other. When we eventually leave our 'secret' place, we take our 'garden' with us and just maybe, others may be attracted by the fragrance.

Nurturing this intimacy is essential if we are to flow with Jesus. It makes the difference between us trying to do something for God and allowing God to do something through us. It takes effort to find this time, but inside we know we want to and like a Lover, He meets us in our longing.

"My sweetheart, my bride, is a secret garden, a walled garden, a private spring." Song of Songs 4:12 Good News Bible


Monday, January 21, 2008

Standing In The Gap

I felt challenged this morning and will share my thoughts with you.

All over the world there is strife. In Africa and the Far East hundreds of thousands are being driven from their homes, many are massacred or tortured. Many more are facing starvation, even though there is enough food in the world. Human rights are being ignored or flouted and the environment is being ravaged and destroyed because of ignorance or greed. Despite scientific progress we just have not learned to live with one another.

Closer to home, financial institutions are under strain and there is the ever-present threat of terrorism and the fear that generates. The gap between rich and poor grows greater and the gradual decline of moral values is evident.

The whole world is in desperate need, but God has the answer. He is the answer, but when He sees the inactivity of His people He must weep. Although He is a God of love He must be angry.

What is my response to this? I can't just say it's not my fault or stand idly by as if it's nothing to do with me. I can donate to charity agencies and missions and feel that I have done all I can. I may even join in the prayers at church and help out in money-raising activities. But is that enough?

There is a gap between God and the world in desperate need and He waits for us to fill that gap.

I may not be called to take the Gospel to Outer Mongolia but I can pray. Prayer is extremely powerful. There is a battle going on in the world between good and evil, that cannot be won by military might. Scripture says so and history proves so. The tide was turned in the Second World War in Europe through prayer. The fall of communism in the Soviet Union was brought about through prayer. I have experienced or witnessed remarkable answers to prayer in my life and in others.

In the community at home where I live I may help out where I can and extend the hand of friendship. But do I really pray for change? Am I prepared to spend more time seeking Father's heart for those people? If necessary will I speak of the hope I have within me and will I confront evil? This means I must mean business with God and repent of any half-heartedness and unbelief.

Who is there to stand in the gap and be available to God to make a difference?

"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land - " Ezekiel 22:30 New International Version


Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Three Stones

I was carrying out some clearance in the basement yesterday and found three stones that brought back memories.

It was a time when I was going through a difficult and painful patch. I went down to our beach that day, to try and sort out my feelings with the Lord. Sitting on a rock with my back against a fold in the cliffs, I reached out to God in my devastation. All I was aware of was the healing gentle sound of the surf as it rattled across the shingle. A peaceful scene, except I was far from peaceful inside.

I was just about to return home when I felt He said "Pick up three stones." Without thinking, I chose three at random; one smooth white one, another grey and rough and the third was large, misshapen and brown. He then said, "Choose one stone that represents you!" I know my Scriptures and thought I ought to choose the pure white smooth one. But this was a time to be real and honest, so I replied with trembling lips and feeling a little ashamed, "This large dirty - I used a stronger word than that - one, that's me!"

That's just how I felt at that moment, because I thought I had failed and messed up big time. Father impressed upon me right there and then that He knew how I felt and He accepted me just as I was and wanted me to do the same. In other words, agree with God and love myself in the right way. I frequented that rocky seat in the following weeks, surrounded by His love and let the reality soak in and take root, until I could move on into the new.

Now, I don't want you to think I have some hot line to God, but when you are desperate it sharpens things up, you are more open to receive and God uses the right way of getting through to us. He meets us where we are at and doesn't want us to hide our feelings from Him. When we get real with God, He gets real with us. We experience more of His love and discover who we really are in Him.

"My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely." Song of Songs 2:14 New International Version

"Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life." Isaiah 43:4 New International Version


Friday, January 18, 2008

You Are What You Eat

My wife and I try to eat sensibly, buying fresh fruit and vegetables and keeping fat and sugar to a minimum. We have tried various diets in the past, but they didn't seem to produce the promised results and in any case we found that the rigid regime began to take over our lives.

Others choose to take it more seriously and often quote the phrase, "You are what you eat!" I looked it up and found it originated in the 1800's or earlier in Europe. The German, "Der Mensch ist, was er ißt."translates into English as 'man is what he eats'. Much later in the 1960's, it was adopted by the champions of healthy eating and is currently the title of a popular TV dieting series.

Sometimes food is taken much further. We watched a TV programme the other evening about families who were following an extreme raw food diet, omitting all meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, wheat and flour and certain fruits. The food preparation gave us the impression of being a laboratory, rather than a kitchen. They looked physically healthy, but we were given the impression that it had become the top priority in their lives. A filmed teaching session was shown, that appeared very much like an evangelical Christian service of praise and worship.

It never ceases to amaze me how we will often go to extraordinary lengths to preserve our physical health, but give scant attention to our spiritual lives. Jesus came to give us new life, free and everlasting! We need to eat and drink, but only He can satisfy the spiritual hunger. Furthermore, he did not separate out the physical from the spiritual.

If we feed regularly upon and inwardly digest His Word and drink in His loving presence, we have the potential for an abundant life, which has a positive effect upon our whole being, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

"Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4 New International Version

"Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35 New International Version


Monday, January 14, 2008

God Before Everything

For a few years I had the privilege of helping out on the team of counsellors at a Christian retreat centre. It was situated in a large country mansion surrounded by green fields and woodland. The ideal environment to get away from the pressures of daily life and relax in the presence of God. Every need was catered for and there were those of us on hand to listen and pray with the guests.

Very often, guests would arrive bringing with them their specific problems, whether work, financial or family-related. They were looking for answers and even hoping these would be put right. However, time and time again, as they opened themselves to the Holy Spirit, as they realised what was really important to them, Jesus met with them at their real point of need. By the end of the week their relationship with God had deepened. All the problems may not have been solved, but they had a confidence that they were in God's hands. They left for home with a greater sense of freedom.

As we seek to put God first in our lives and look to Him, everything else falls into place. The things we think important and loom large in our lives begin to shrink. As we open all the areas of our life to God, we get into the flow of His provision and supply.

Sometimes we get out of balance and need to get away to see things from God's perspective.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God
And His righteousness,
And all these things shall be added unto you
Hellelu, hallelujah!
Songs of Fellowship 493

"But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well." Luke 12:31 New International Version


Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Fear of Dying

Sadly, a distant relation of my wife died last month. We were told it was difficult for him in the last days because he was afraid of going to sleep in case he didn't wake up.

I can understand and identify with this. Several years ago, when I was recovering from an operation, I was overcome with anxiety and had extreme difficulty getting off to sleep. I was afraid I might die or more exactly I was afraid of the feelings involved in dying. The thought of being all alone, totally abandoned, filled me with utter dread. I know that when eventually my time comes, I will be with Jesus for ever, but deep down I feared the process. I was hanging onto control by my finger nails. Father knew what was in my heart of course and slowly over the months, as I looked to Him as never before, as I felt the feelings with Him, He melted this fear away with His love.

Seemingly the Christian walk is full of paradoxes. We have a God-given desire to live life to the full, but are asked to hand our lives over to God, so that we may live. If we have a fear of death or dying, we will have difficulty in yielding to God and living a Holy Spirit controlled life. We will miss out on the abundant life.

When we belong to God, we need not fear death, for Jesus came to set us free from the fear of death. If this is an issue for you, then talk to Jesus about it, rather now than later.

"If you're not ready to die, then you're not ready to live. Make certain of your eternal destiny; then you will be free to serve—devoting your life to what really counts, without fear of death." (Life Application Study Bible notes)

"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." Hebrews 2:14-15 New International Version


Friday, January 11, 2008

Real Satisfaction

The January sales are on with a vengeance. The other evening, television news showed scenes outside a large department store. As soon as the doors opened there was a mad headlong stampede towards the bargains, sweeping all aside in it's wake. A fight broke out with one of the attendants who was trying to keep some sort of order. There was a life and death struggle at one of the counters and a woman emerged from the scrum clutching several designer handbags.

We may smile, but could this be an illustration of what it's like in the world today? A headlong hedonistic pursuit of pleasure, trying to find satisfaction in material things and anything else to gratify the inner longing. I'm reminded of the old Rolling Stones smash hit, "I can't get no, I can't get no, I can't get no satisfaction, no satisfaction, no satisfaction, no satisfaction." The truth is, that without Jesus, we will be dissatisfied deep down.

It's often when our dissatisfaction bubbles to the surface, when we've tried everything else, that we turn to Jesus. It's then that we discover there is absolutely nothing to compare with this love relationship that satisfies our deepest need. This is the start of a lifelong relationship where both sides have a growing desire to draw closer to each other. However, it's not long before the world comes knocking at the door of our minds, with the temptation to be taken over with the love of material things and pleasure-seeking that gets in the way of intimacy with Him.

Let us thank God for all the good that we enjoy, but ensure that our real satisfaction always comes from knowing Jesus.

"Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35 Jeremiah 9:23-24 New International Version


Monday, January 07, 2008

The River of Life

Watching our grandchildren cavorting about in the swimming pool or ocean, reminds me how from an early age, water has fascinated me. I was never happier than when I was paddling, fishing, rowing or sailing or just messing about in the water.

I have never been a strong swimmer, so usually keep a toe on the bottom to feel secure. One beautiful sunny day however, I was tempted way out of my depth and was so enjoying myself that I hadn't realised how cold I'd become. Hypothermia began to set in, strength was draining from my limbs and I started to lose consciousness. I felt I was going to drown, so in desperation I called out to God. To this day I can't explain how it happened, but as I surrendered I was somehow carried back to the shore by the currents. He loved me too much to let me drown.

In Ezekiel chapter 47 we hear of the River of Life, the abundant life and blessings that flow from Jesus. In verse 6 we are asked to note and seemingly ponder on what we have been shown, so I offer my considerations:

Shallow water: When we first start to respond to hearing the Gospel we may stick a tentative toe in the water, before making up our mind to enter with both feet. This is the start of a life-changing love relationship, with much splashing around in the shallows, revelling in the delight of belonging to Jesus. It's also a time to drink in the living water of His Word.

Deeper water: Eventually the honeymoon begins to fade. We may try to relive or revive the experience or seek fulfilment in some activity, but it doesn't satisfy the longing for more. God does not force us out of the shallows, but as He sees the desire in our hearts He draws us and beckons us to go deeper. As we respond and move deeper, we are challenged, but also thrilled at the answers we receive from our prayers and so move into a closer walk with God.

Out of our depth: Sooner or later we may find ourselves in a situation where we are completely out of our depth. Perhaps because we have stepped out in faith on some project or because God has allowed circumstances that are beyond our control. Either way we come to en end of our human resources, where we either sink or swim. This can be terrifying, but as we surrender to God we experience absolute succour. This is where He wants us, totally immersed in His love and dependant upon him.

Let's get into the flow for the abundant life.

"- and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. He asked me, "Son of man, do you see this?" Ezekiel 47 but especially verses 3-6 New International Version


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Make Way, Make Way

I was a construction engineer and did my bit to help build one of the most important motorways in the country. It was a mammoth task which involved cutting a way through hills and laying a road over the peaty depths of the plains.

The rock material was removed using massive excavators and explosives, hauled for miles by earthmoving machinery and spread on the valley floor further down the line. More crushed stone was brought in by fleets of trucks and piled on top. Then, after months of waiting for settlement to take place, considerable rolling, grading and checking with surveying instruments, the tarmacadam surface was laid. Finally the whole length of the route was cleaned and checked over before the grand opening.

Today, thousands of motorists flow along the highway every year. As they admire the stunning panoramic views of the countryside, they are probably unaware of the work that had gone into the preparation and building of the project.

Sometimes there are blockages in our lives that stop us moving forward. Such things as unforgiveness or bitterness, deep emotional wounds, unhelpful habits, overly dependant attachments to something or somebody, are just a few examples. These things can disable us and block the flow of God's life and love in our lives. If we really long to be back in God's flow, we can ask God to show us what they are - and I have found that he never confuses us, there's usually just one thing He has his finger on - we can bring it into the light for Him to remove, cleanse and heal.

"Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people." Isaiah 57:14 New International Version


Friday, January 04, 2008

The Wind of the Spirit

We decided to go down to the beach on New Year's Day. In the event the weather had changed and it was cold and windy, so not a day for dawdling.

Families were down on the beach enjoying the holiday atmosphere, but wrapped up against the cold. Several were flying kites, stunt kites, box kites, large curved candy-striped ones, all sorts. We watched one young boy, as his father helped him hold it up to the wind and then let it go to soar ever upwards. Another boy had his attached to a kind of sled with wheels and the kite carried him effortlessly along the ground at speed. It was a delightful dynamic sight and I thought there was something I could learn from it.

I thought about the wind of the Holy Spirit, which can't easily be described or explained. It is something we experience. We cannot control the Holy Spirit, but we can allow Him to control our lives. If we do not know Jesus, but want to become a Christian, all we have to do is hold up our kite of faith and let the wind of the Spirit launch us into the kingdom.

I believe the same principle applies to Christians. I have found it is so easy to become muscular and try to do things in my own strength and that saps my energy. I also used to be a great copier. If I found something worked, I would do it that way again and again, rather than allow myself to be led by the Holy Spirit. God is always doing a new thing, so we have to keep up with Him. It's a bit like going on vacation to the same place year after year. Nothing wrong with that, unless it stops us experiencing fresh pastures and exploring new horizons. If we look at Jesus, He was neither a copier or a people-pleaser and only did what He saw His Father doing. He was really in tune with Him and so it can be for us.

So whatever stage we are at with Jesus in this New Year, let's launch out with faith and throw caution to the winds. Let go of all that we hold onto and soar with Jesus and experience glorious freedom as the Holy Spirit takes control.

May 2008 be the year of God's favour for you.

"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:8 New International Version