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, February 25, 2008

Moving into the New

I have mentioned this before, but there have been further developments.

We live on the Cornish coast, on the side of a narrow valley. The view of the hill opposite is fantastic, with wild gorse, buddleia and hawthorn. At least, it was until a year ago, when the new owner came long and cleared the lot with a large machine. The whole field was raised to the ground and so far as we were concerned it had been desecrated. There were rumours that it was going to be a giant building site and that caused concern, if not anxiety. As the months went by however, the green growth began to regenerate and we were lulled into a sense of false security.

This week there has been more activity, as the owner made preparations to plant vines. A vineyard is to be established, right opposite to our house! A vineyard in Cornwall is a rare thing, but in our village? Of course, with global warming these things become possible, even in our climate. We are now looking forward to our new daily view. What a beautiful and unexpected change!

Isn't this how God works in our lives? We get used to the status quo, even, perhaps getting stuck in a rut, when all the time God is moving on to something new. Things get untidy in our lives. There are unplanned, inconvenient and difficult events that come along to upset us. We pray, looking for answers, but it feels like God has abandoned us and we cannot see a way forward. We sense there may be a new phase in our lives. We may even be tempted to try and make something happen, but there does not seem anything we can do about it.

However, if we put our whole trust in God, and wait upon Him - usually a lot longer than we would like - He has a free hand to do things in our lives that we would never think possible and beyond our wildest belief. Another thing! In the waiting we become changed and prepared for this 'new thing.'

"Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already - you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there." Isaiah 43:19 Good News Bible


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Between Head and Heart

I write this to all those of us who call ourselves Christians.

If we are born again - or however we care to describe that amazing miraculous spiritual awakening - it was not because of our attributes or intellect, but through the grace of God. Perhaps someone was praying for us. It was not a mental assent to a spiritual truth, but a personal response of heart and will to God's love, realising that He gave His only Son 'for me.' That was just a beginning of bringing into being in reality within us, what God has made us to be. Nothing can take away or added to that precious salvation, but it has to worked in us to become evident in our experience.

Years ago when I voiced within a group, that I was feeling particularly bereft and unloved, someone said to me "Jesus, loves you, so what's the problem?" The problem was that I needed more of the reality of God's love for me deep down in my experience and I had a longing for more. I had considerable 'head' knowledge but my heart needed to engage more. The problem also was, for the same reason, that person could not identify where I was at.

Those who are hurting inside - and that goes for most of us at some time or other - are very sensitive to what they would call empty words and will sense if it is real for us. They are looking for the Word with flesh on.

We need to be real because there is a whole hurting world needing this reality. God has made it all possible, but most of us are still on the way. God is committed to finishing what He has started, the question is, do we want more and are we prepared to face the pain in the process. My wife and I were at a large church gathering a few years ago, when we were asked to signify whether we wanted to know more of God's love. Surprisingly few hands were raised.

What do our hearts say?

"Keep on working with fear and trembling to complete your salvation," Philippians 2:12

"Yes, may you come to know his love - although it can never be fully known - and so be completely filled with the very nature of God." Ephesians 3:19

"Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!" Matthew 5:3 All quotes Good News Bible


Friday, February 22, 2008

Are You Thirsty?

One of the golden rules of walking and hiking in the countryside is to take plenty of drink. In fact there are times when you don't feel thirsty, but you have to drink to stave of dehydration. I'm told the absolute minimum to carry is one and a half litres, but on a hot day even more may be needed. In the end you have to strike a balance to avoid a heavy pack.

I was walking in the hills with a group on one of the hottest days of the year. Our leader had misjudged the weather forecast and we were longer on the mountain than he expected. We had used up all our drink and were extremely thirsty. The heat was taking its toll and we were feeling exhausted. He led us down into a side valley where we came across a mountain stream. Without standing on ceremony, we just sank our heads in the clear refreshing liquid and drank to our hearts' content. Afterwards we rested in the shade and felt life flowing back into our weary bodies.

We drink when we are thirsty. It's a natural life-giving function that a baby learns at it's mother's breast. So it is, when we are reborn spiritually. We have a thirst for God's Word, we cannot get enough. But after life's events and pressures take their toll, we may even forget our thirst and rely on third-rate substitutes. God loves us so much to leave us like that and may allow circumstances in our life that increase our longing for Him as never before.

When we give the time to just be with Father and soak in His loving presence, we experience a deep peace within. We discover all over again, that there's nothing to compare. No substitute satisfies us to the inner core of our being and brings healing and life to our very bones.

When we ignore our in-built thirst we begin to suffer, not just spiritually, but mentally, emotionally and physically. But when we return to a discipline of regular drinking at the fountain of life we come alive and find rest for our soul.

"- Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." John 7:37 New International Version

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters," Psalm 23:2 New International Version


Monday, February 18, 2008

A Foot in Both Camps?

Before our children finally flew the nest, we had a last holiday together. We hired a large brand new motor cruiser on the Norfolk Broads, an inland network of rivers, waterways and lakes on the east coast of England. I was in my element as captain of the motley crew, embarking on an adventure into the unknown. Each day we explored new territory and savoured the delights of the scenery and wildlife and enjoyed being together.

It took a while to learn the ropes and get used to handling the craft. One day, after we had spent an hour or so on dry land, our daughter assisted in casting off the moorings, while I took the helm. She had the last rope in her hands and rather than place both feet on the deck, she kept one on the quayside. As the boat slid away from the side she just fell into the water. We promptly fished her out of the mirky shallows and after she had cleaned up we had a good laugh.

The Gospel message is black or white, yes or no, death or life, we are either in the Kingdom of God or out, in the dark or in the light, there is no in between. Christ may be somewhere in our lives, but is he in charge? We cannot have a foot in both camps or we will eventually end up in the mire.

What stops us allowing Jesus to be Lord over our lives? Why do we keep one foot on dry land even though there is an inner longing to be aboard? Do we feel too comfortable where we are, are we fearful of the unknown, afraid of losing friends, is it intellectual pride, the risk of losing too much?

Whatever it is that we are hanging onto, we need to let it go, take Jesus's hand and jump on board with both feet. Then the adventure really begins!

"He who is not with me is against me -" Matthew 12:30 New International Version


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Listening to Others

Before I begin I must make two things clear. Gravy is the brown liquid that's made from meat juices, stock and gravy browning, that you pour onto your roast beef. Custard is that peculiarly British concoction made from yellow powder and milk that you pour onto your pudding or desert. I'm not keen on either.

I found the family Sunday lunch as a boy was usually a stressful time. My mother who had slaved away in the kitchen to produce the feast hovered anxiously, wondering if it would meet with my father's approval and my little sister squirmed in her seat as she wouldn't eat her greens. Once my father had complained about the roast and the knife and had finished carving, he would settle down to tuck in. It was his habit to read the Sunday newspaper, eat and carry on a conversation, all at the same time. This particularly Sunday he was so engrossed in this multi-tasking, that when he reached out for the gravy he took hold of the wrong jug and poured custard on his meat. I was aware of the tension around the table, even thinking it could be my fault and couldn't get down soon enough. Don't worry, I have had prayer for this.

The point of the story is that, when we are listening to someone, they deserve our full attention. That chance meeting may seem inconvenient, but it could be God-arranged. Just for a moment we may need to forget our busy schedule and set aside our own agenda. Nothing else matters except that person in front of us.

I am so aware that I need to put myself out of the frame and avoid the temptation to come in quickly with my own experience. There may be no need to speak or answer, but just listen with my heart and mind. I know that on the occasions when I have been listened to, when what I said was accepted without question and there was a degree of tuning-in and understanding, I left feeling warmed and valued.

This is one of the greatest gifts we can give another. I also believe this is one of the greatest needs within the world, our communities and in the church, but sadly it's also one of the greatest lacks.

Let's give this precious gift today!

“The first duty of love is to listen.” Paul Tillich

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” Ernest Hemingway

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill

"Are you listening to this? Really listening?" Mark 4:23 The Message Bible


Friday, February 15, 2008

Listening to God

There's a friend of ours who, when enquiring how we are, often says "Things may be difficult, but are you moving?" By that he doesn't mean moving house, but moving with God. Are we working with what he is showing us in our circumstances and growing in the heart knowledge of His love and wisdom.

There have been periods in my life when I have felt stuck, when nothing seemed to be happening and the everyday problems and the humdrum loomed large. I wanted to hear from God but nothing came and God seemed to be nowhere.

The problem was with me of course. I had taken the back seat, not God. God was speaking, but I was just not hearing. There could be at least two reasons for this. I was not giving God the priority in my life that He deserves and seeking His heart response to me. Someone once said to me that he knew the Bible through and through and there was nothing new for Him. I felt very sad. He was a very intelligent man and had a tremendous knowledge in his head, but at that time his heart was closed to God. God's Word stands for all time and does not change. But if we are open to hear, He is always saying something new to us, that speaks right into our situation.

Maybe we don't hear because we are not in touch with our own hearts. This could be because we have closed an area of our lives to God or because we are just not in touch with our own feelings. When I have been in this situation I have given the Holy Spirit full permission to move me in those shutdown areas and emotions. His response has often been to heat up my spirit in a way as never before and get me focussed on Him. What I eventually hear may not be what I expect, it may be joyful or challenging, but it's always in love and always agreeing with His Word. This brings life and thrills me to the core.

It's good to be on the move again. It's life-changing.

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says - " Revelation 2:11 New International Version


Monday, February 11, 2008

Intention and Attitude

When I've finished a job, particularly one that is a bit of a chore, I often say, "I've done my best!" Sometimes that really means, 'That will have to do!" so I really haven't done my best. My intentions were good but the end result fell short. I don't want to be hard on myself or get into self-flagellation or perfectionism, but it's come to me that I have something to learn in this area. I know that I am still recovering from fatigue, but I can use tiredness as an excuse and that just will not do. It's not physical effort that's needed here, it's more a question of attitude, a whole-hearted attitude.

So what is my attitude to God like? Is it just take it or leave it? Am I just going through the motions, going with the crowd, or does my relationship with Him match up to my intention: a wholehearted close intimate love relationship? This is what makes the difference.!

If I am enthusiastically devoted in my walk with God, then everything else should fall into place. Whether it's a hidden humdrum task or a centre stage position, I will be doing what God has chosen for me, in God's way. The attitude will be apparent for all to see, but even if that fails to please others, God will be pleased. Following Jesus and living life to the full should be effortless, but it takes effort, everything we've got.

There's no place in the Kingdom for half-heartedness or half-loving.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people." Colossians 3:23 Good News Bible


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Troubles, Strife and Hardship

The last two years have been difficult for my wife and I, having to find a way through accidents, illness, loss and disability. God brings us through one thing and then there is another! This has made me consider how I view suffering, trials and hardship.

Theologically the answer would depend upon what we mean by suffering I suppose. Whether we mean the usual kind of life's events like illness, loss and tragedy or unavoidable suffering because we are Christians or persecution by others. Suffering has been the subject of countless debates and books and I leave the outcome to the experts and theologians.

I will just give my brief offering in what I see to date:

People have told me that it's character-building. Not the sort of thing I would say to someone in the midst of a hard time. But I can look back and see that I am different. I have found out more who I really am and discovered things I couldn't do before. Whether I've changed for the better I leave to others to decide, although I know it has burnt a lot of the pride out of me.

It is always His promise to bring us through to a better place in Him, provided we look to Him. Looking back I know this to be true. It's just the 'going through' that can be tough and rocky. I cannot honestly say when I am in the thick of it, that I readily say, 'count it all joy,' but I would praise God in knowing that He knows what He is doing.

One thing that is absolutely clear is that it has the potential to draw us closer to God and experience more of His love for us. I doubt very much whether I would have discovered what I have so far without the hardships that focussed my attention on God. Also there have been times, when in the midst of hardship I have been surprised by intense blessings from God. For these reasons alone I can honestly say, that although there have been times when I felt like throwing in the towel, I am thankful because of all the benefits. Benefits in the here and now and for all eternity, that far outweigh the trials.

"And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever." 2Corinthians 4:17-18 Good News Bible


Friday, February 08, 2008

God Sees All

My father only took a few photos of my early childhood and most have been mislaid over the years. One that has survived is of an angelic imp. I was standing with my toes pointing inwards - I still have that tendency even now - clutching a crushed flower in both hands. It was obvious I knew I had done something naughty, because my eyes were screwed tight. My reasoning was, nobody would see me because my eyes were closed. I couldn't fool my father though, because at that age he knew me so very well. He must have smiled, even though I had spoiled one of his prize blooms.

Aren't we like this sometimes? We may do or think things in secret, thinking it doesn't really matter as no one knows. Such things as those unhealthy habits that we pass off as common place and harmless. The admiring glance that grows into a lingering covetous look. The critical thoughts we justify because we are convinced we are in the right.

Our heavenly Father has an intense love for us and knows exactly how we feel and think. It must hurt Him to see us hurting ourselves in this way and distancing ourselves from His love. He longs for us to come to Him and experience His total acceptance, cleansing and freedom as He lifts our shame from us.

"There is nothing that can be hid from God; everything in all creation is exposed and lies open before his eyes. And it is to him that we must all give an account of ourselves." Hebrews 4:13 Good News Bible


Monday, February 04, 2008

When You Just Don't Know

Have you ever been in a challenging situation where you just do not know which way to turn and wonder how you will cope? When there does not seem a way forward and it feels like everything could go pear-shaped and out of control?

If you are anything like me you may find it more than a bit scary and feelings of helplessness and fear come knocking at your door. Fear can cripple and paralyse us and stop us hearing from God. That's when all the 'what if's' can come to mind and the worst-case scenarios flash before us. For a moment, we may even forget that God is so close.

I then remind myself of similar occasions in the past and remember how, step by step, God brought us through. This one of course will be quite different, even bigger and scarier and more impossible, but then that's just to stretch our faith. This is no time to copy what went before but to give over everything to God.

This is the time to reach out to Jesus from the heart. It doesn't take much, hardly a word. He gently but firmly takes our hand - note it's the right hand, our action hand, our sword hand - and as He does this the fear begins to fade. We become aware of the resources within us and slowly peace begins to descend.

When we come to the end of our own human resources is the time when God is free to move in with His might. It's the moment He's waiting for and He has out attention as never before. He takes our hand and leads us in ways that previously we thought not possible. As we continue to llok to Him and abide in Him, He will even break down seemingly impossible barriers to enable His will for us. He will never ever let us down.

"For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." Isaiah 41:13 New International Version


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Strike While the Iron's Hot!

I find that God's opportunities for blessings and spiritual growth rarely come according to my planning. They are usually least expected and at times even inconvenient.

Have you ever been woken in the night with feelings of anxiety or worry and had difficulty getting off to sleep again? I went through a period like that. At first I would switch the light on and read for a while or just bury my head in the bedclothes to blot out the feelings. My reasoning was, that I would deal with the matter in the morning. Come the morning and it was never quite the same of course. The moment had gone and the energy dissipated. I would still pray, but often the full potential for blessing had been missed.

I learned the hard way - is there another way? - to seize the moment. If anxiety began to surface, I dealt with it there and then. I would invite Jesus into the situation and feel the feelings with Him. Amazing to see how the fear melts away and no longer has a hold. If I felt I was being oppressed, I'd get out of bed and deal with it in prayer. The enemy doesn't go to bed, but neither does God and His power is awesome. I can't say it always works, but more often than not I sleep better afterwards. More importantly, there's another victory realised.

The other evening, when I was really tired after a hard day, my wife started to share a matter that had come to her. It was really important, God had revealed something to her and I listened the best I could and we talked about it. She asked if we should pray there and then, but I was so tired. I thought we would be more effective in the morning, after a night's sleep. Morning came and the energy was gone, we had missed the moment until next time.

Seize the moment of opportunity, flow with the move of the Holy Spirit and know God's blessing.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:" Ecclesiastes 3:1 New International Version


Friday, February 01, 2008

Don't Keep Me Out

I was brought up to believe that for some things I had to go it alone. This was especially true where strong negative emotions or difficult and scary situations were concerned. The boyhood phrases that come to mind are, 'pull up your socks' and 'put your best foot forward,'or 'grit your teeth and keep smiling.' It led me think at such times, that there was no one there for me.

When I became a Christian my eyes were opened to the reality that I had a real friend in Jesus, who wanted to be involved in my life. More than that, I came to know a loving Father who was much more than an earthly father ever could be. However as the years went by there was an dependant spirit that I needed to be broken from. That 'do-it-yourself' attitude - I had invented DIY long before it was common place - had to change and I needed to be more dependant upon God.

Even though we may be adults, there can be times when we may feel like a hurting child. He want us to come to him with child-like faith and let Him in. He wants to share our grief, even grieve with us and bring us through to a beautiful place. He understand our anger and say it's OK to be angry, let's talk about it. He wants to cry with and laugh with us. He sees how our bottling things up and keeping Him out can hold us back and even disable us. When we are in sticky situations, he wants us to reach out for Him, rather than try and do it all on our own.

He doesn't just want us to cope, He wants us to have big expectations and soar with Him

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Luke 18:17 New International Version

"Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:4 New International Version