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"

Friday, August 29, 2008

Daddy, I'm Scared!

I had the afternoon out with one of our grandaughters. It was to be just the two of us and I was really looking forward to it. As it was hot and sunny we started with large ice creams. She reached up to the counter on tiptoe, and studiously considered each flavour. Next, the play park and a ride on the 'train.' We were the only 'passengers,' so she sat in front and rang the bell. The owner could see the joy on her face, so gave us extra time.

As a special treat, I thought we would visit the "Dome." This is a sort of living museum, vividly illustrating over 400 years of local history. Each scene is faithfully replicated, complete with sounds and smells, leaving nothing to the imagination. It's so realistic, that you feel part of the scene. What I hadn't reckoned on, was it's suitability for a six-year old.

As we started the trail I noticed it was darker than expected and before long I felt a tug at my jacket. Her large brown eyes looked up to me; "Grandad!" I wondered what was coming. "I'm frightened!" My heart went out to her as I took her hand. We returned to reception, where it was suggested we go the opposite way round.

It was brighter the other end. She was fascinated by the exhibits and asked lots of questions. At a mock-up of a prison cell she held my hand tighter, asking, "Why is that man wearing chains round his legs?" Eventually we came to the 'scarier' scenes and she decided that was enough adventure for the day.

I was so proud of her.

Even at my age there have been times when I have felt fearful and have needed extra assurance that God was 'there' for me. Like the time when my wife was rushed to hospital, seemingly near to death. I held Father's hand as tight as I could, in what ever way came to me. Step by step he led me - us - through the following weeks and months, as His loving healing was worked out. Just another opprtunity for me to grow in the knowledge of His love.

Fear is part of our lives, it's how we handle it that counts. I'm sure God doesn't want us to keep it inside to fester, but longs to hear the words, "Daddy I'm scared!" I can imagine His answer, "Are you son. Let's talk about it."

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you;" Isaiah 43:5 New International Version


Monday, August 25, 2008

Going for Gold - 1

After years of painstaking disciplined preparations, involving total commitment, dedication, and expenditure of tens of billions, the 2008 Olympics has finally taken place.

My wife and I watched when we could and have been enthralled as the competitors gave their utmost in the arena. We rejoiced with the winners as they shared their joy in the interviews afterwards. We held our breath as the sailors inched forward at the finish to win gold. It was almost as if we were on board with them. We cheered a local boy when he won through to the diving finals. Our hearts went out to the runner in the relay when he dropped the baton at the crucial moment. And when the athlete front-runner crashed out on the last lap, we really felt his acute devastation, as all his years of sacrificial preparation went down the plughole.

Then I was reminded of the words of Olympic athlete Eric Liddell, as portrayed in the movie "Chariot's of Fire." "You've come to watch a race but - - I want you to take part in it - - Commit yourself to the love of Christ, that's how you run a straight race."

We are invited to be partakers, not just onlookers. We are invited into an eternal love relationship where the prize has been won for us. The medal is waiting and is given freely without cost. The difference is, it's not just a 200 metre dash. We are in it for the long haul and has to be worked out with blood sweat and tears. We are not competing against each other of course, but against our lethargy, empty passions, lusts and addictions, amidst a hail of arrows from the enemy. The difference is, if we mess up and drop the baton we are always given another chance.

The question is, are we going for gold? All the saints in heaven will cheer us on until we stand on the rostrum with Jesus. Imagine the joy!

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." 1Co 9:24-25 New International Version


Friday, August 22, 2008

Keeping Focused

I've always been a keen photographer, but thought I would have a go at digital photography and bought a simple compact to give it a try. I was amazed at what it could do. The colour rendering was brilliant and the images consistently sharp. There was one problem however, the photos were sharp all over. I wanted more control over the focusing.

For my very special birthday last year, I was given a new digital SLR, to replace my very old and trusty 35mm Olympus. Now I can choose between fully automatic or complete control over everything.

I specialise in portraiture. Some like to include lots of background interest, like mountains or historic buildings. Now the scenery may be beautiful and the architecture astounding, but I like to fill the frame with the person, preferably just head and shoulders. I then focus on the eyes, so that the background is well out of focus. That way our attention is taken straight to the subject, without diversion. It isn't always easy to get to get it right. Photography isn't just about 'pressing the button,' but about looking and looking until you know you've got it.

Jesus is our source of life, love and hope and our relationship with Him sustains us. If we want to live life to the full we must focus on Him and keep Him in our sights. It takes perseverance to maintain this sometimes, because of all our involvements. There may be many good and beautiful things around us, but if these became our prime focus, Jesus may become blurred. We may even be in danger of losing our way and it can be hard to get back into focus.

Keep focused and live.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Song: Helen Howarth Lemmel 1922

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith -" Hebrews 12:2 New International Version


Monday, August 18, 2008

Father and Fathering

I have a great love for my father, even though he died years ago. I have some warm memories of him, especially the times spent watching him at work in his woodshed. It was because of him, that I became competent in practical things, such as carpentry, gardening and photography.

However, as I grew out of boyhood I found him distant. I was unable to bond with him physically or emotionally. Just when I needed him most, he wasn't 'there' for me. There were times I needed a comforting arm around my shoulders, as if to stay, "it's all right, I understand." I wanted to know what he was feeling, so I would know what it was like to be a man, but his emotions were locked away. I sensed he was angry inside and at one time, even thought it could be my fault. It was only many years later, that I discovered his heart had been broken and he had covered over his grief.

My father did his very best for me, at times sacrificially. What more can you ask of a man? However, this left me growing up into maturity, with a disabling emotional 'wound.' I buried the feelings, compensated for the lack - as you do - and got on with my life.

Many years later, when facing the challenges of marriage, relationships and parenthood, the pain began to surface. Eventually, with help at first, I moved from denial into facing the pain and feeling the feelings with Jesus. This was a slow process, in which I discovered that Father God longs to father us in the way we need, no matter what kind of upbringing we have had. And in a way I don't understand, He can even show us motherly qualities.

Now, if you identify with any of this and are aware of such pain, then ask the Holy Spirit to bring it to the surface, so that He can take the pain away and replace it with His love. It could help - and this is just a suggestion - to do something like writing a letter as if it was from your father. Write down the things that you would just have loved to have heard him say to you and then look to Father God for His answer.

"My father and mother may abandon me, but the LORD will take care of me." Psalm 27:10 Good News Bible


Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Hidden Life - 2

Of the few photos of my childhood that have survived, one stands out. It's of an angelic three-year old with an impish grin and holding a little stick. I had obviously been up to no good, because my eyes were closed, in the false belief that no one would see me.

I have grown up since of course, but that trait has still lingered on. I'm sure that in my workplace, whilst attending church services or out with friends, there have been some who may have thought, 'what a nice man!' Maybe that's what I wanted them to see? But perhaps that 'nice man' needed to ask himself the questions, "What am I like when there is no one to see? What do I do in secret when I am all alone?"

There is of course One who sees all and sees us as we really are and His name is Jesus. He is always present. He sees the fears and doubts that surface when we are all alone. He sees the unhealthy habits or lingering illicit glances, in the hope of false comfort. He sees the envious desires for another's popularity, achievements or belongings.

It's this hidden life that really counts, not what others may perceive or think of us. It's how we respond that determines our true character. The fact that He sees all is challenging, but if we really believe, it is also a tremendous comfort.

"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." Colossians 3:3 New International Version


Friday, August 15, 2008

The Hidden Life - 1

I used to be centre stage,
on the front line for all to see.
I felt wanted, stimulated, fulfilled
and even, dare I say - successful.
After all, I had letters of thanks and praise
and a lapel badge displaying my role.
So you'd be right in thinking.
I was just a touch proud.

Then came a long painful transition --

I'm still on the front line of battle.
But now I go mainly unnoticed, unseen and
except for the occasional lingering backward glance,
it doesn't matter anymore,
because He sees all.
He is where we belong.
He is where we find satisfaction.
He is all we need.
That's all that matters.
I'm learning that all we need is Him.
Something inside is dying so that I may live.

"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." Colossians 3:3 New International Version


Monday, August 11, 2008

Flight or Fight?

I thought of calling this post "The Great Escape," because when the going got tough I used to get going. When I was faced with a conflict situation, where I felt threatened, I often looked for an escape route.

When things became difficult in our church we tried another one, only to find they had problems of their own. Work was always highly pressured, so it was easy to defer a difficult decision until later and still be seen to be working hard. In relationships, I tended to avoid any clash of opinion or disagreement.

The ultimate was the house move. The situation at home was trying, transport for our children was getting difficult and we seemed to have reached stalemate in our community. We decided therefore, to sell up and move to the next town and make a fresh start. But try as we might, we couldn't make it happen. As our arrangements for sale and purchase kept falling through, I became desperate.

I needed to hear from God. Perhaps there was something we weren't seeing? That's when we realised we would take our problems with us. It would be a different location, but once things had settled down, there would still be the same lessons to learn. It was only after we decided to stay put, that we saw things in a new light and slowly, very slowly, our circumstances began to change, difficulties eased and we saw no reason to move.

So what was I running from? I came to see that it wasn't people or things or even events that I was scared of, but the feelings within myself. I was afraid how I would cope with others' anger or even my own and then there was the fear of failure. Over the years, I faced these ogres with Jesus and began to find freedom, as I saw myself from God's perspective.

It is still a weak area for me and I may still procrastinate from time to time, but I am learning that:

We have a choice to run away or stay and fight.
If we run away we don't grow.
When we take the first step in faith to face the fears/situation/problem, God steps in and we have as good as won.

"David thought to himself, “One of these days I’m going to be swept away by the hand of Saul! There is nothing better for me than to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of searching for me through all the territory of Israel and I will escape from his hand.” 1 Samuel 27:1 New English Translation


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Created or Evolved?

I happen to believe that God made the world. That's what we are told in the Bible. I have little interest in the 'how,' although I accept it may have a fascination for some. You may be surprised therefore, to hear that I have recently watched the first in a major prime time television series on evolution.

The biologist presenter was passionate about Charles Darwin's theory and expounded that it gives a complete explanation and reason for man's existence. He seemed to display an intolerance to those who believe in God. It was unfortunate that he had to resort to what could be seen as mocking those who believed what they are told in the Bible.

The questions that the programme has not addressed, so far, are the "why" and the "who." The Bible is fundamentally about a love relationship with God, an affair of the heart that cannot be analysed scientifically. I read in the Bible that God had me in mind, even before He made the world. That is mind-blowing and is not something that can be understood, but entered into. I, like millions of others, entered into this 'affair,' not because I had been taught or indoctrinated, but because He revealed Himself to me in my need and impacted me with His love.

Whatever we may think about evolution; when our spiritual eyes are opened, the Bible, God's Word comes alive. We do not throw reason out of the window, but our eyes are opened to a life-changing love relationship with Jesus. We and the world desperately need this.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created." John 1:1-3

"For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love." Ephesians 1:4

"Certainly you made my mind and heart; you wove me together in my mother’s womb." Psalm 139:13 All quotes from New English Translation


Friday, August 08, 2008

Where is My Treasure?

I've changed over to a brand new computer and have just completed re-installing all my software, documents and files, configuring the email and making sure everything works. I'm no computer-geek, but I have picked up some expertise along the way and consider myself reasonably confident.

They say that changing computers can be as stressful as moving house. I admit that is has taken up a considerable amount of time and energy over the last few days and I did wake up one night puzzling over an installation problem. But, on the whole I feel satisfied - even smug? - that it has gone so smoothly.

Compared with my old machine, the picture is crystal-sharp and I'm amazed at the speed. I can literally zip through the web pages, whereas before, there were times when I had to wait ages for a page to load. It's a bit like changing from shopping at the local store to finding my way round the new out-of-town mega supermarket. I could play with it all day, exploring all the possibilities -- and there's the rub! I have to remind myself that it is only a tool, a means to a creative end, otherwise it can take over. After all, I'm not in love with my computer - am I?

What is the love of our life? The thoughts that fill our mind for most of our waking hours give a clue. What does our mind flip back to, during a pause at our workplace or driving along the freeway? I am conscious that if our time and energy are centred on following Jesus, there is the potential for the world around us to change!

Jesus longs for that central place in our hearts.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Luke 12:34 New English Translation


Monday, August 04, 2008

Seeing from God's Perspective

Our optician reported that the vision in my left eye was restricted and referred me to a consultant. I was unaware of any problem and couldn't see what the fuss was about, but agreed to an operation to correct the condition. I was a little apprehensive at the prospect of having my eye cut into, but the surgical procedure went well. However, the post operative medication inflamed my eye which was extremely painful. This slowed me right down and catapulted me into a period of restriction and trauma.

I asked a friend to pray with me. Apart for praying for healing, she said that she believed God wanted to "broaden my vision." This wasn't a reference to my physical sight of course, but meant that through the experience, God would reveal me things that I wasn't seeing. In other words God wanted to show me things from His perspective.

I had been a Christian for many years. However, I was so wrapped up in Christian activities, that I was blinkered to what God was really trying to show me. I was blindly following a narrow path of 'ministry' without giving enough time to focus on the 'Minister.' The enforced months of inactivity were like a prolonged 'retreat,' where I had time to refocus. I emerged from this experience, rather like a mole coming out of its hole, blinking in the bright light and wondering, "what on earth is going on around here?"

The process goes on of course, but I offer a few observations coming from this time. Seeing from God's perspective:

1. Means setting aside regular quality time to be alone with Father.

2. Requires being brutally honest and open with God, including taking responsibility for our own feelings and behaviour patterns.

3. Results in seeing ourselves as God sees us.

4. is always in accordance with God's Word in the Bible.

5. is life-changing - we'll never be the same again.

6. gives us the freedom to be ourselves, the person we have been made to be.

7. Means seeing world events in a new light, especially being aware of the conflicting influences of good and evil that abound.

8. and above it enflames the love affair with Him.

You probably could add a lot more --

"One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." John 9:25 English Standard Version


Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Heart Cry

God always answers the cry that comes from the depths of our being. It's almost as if the actual words are unimportant, as He sees what is on our heart.

Sometimes I have found the answer comes immediately, like the time I crushed my thumb. My knee-jerk reaction was to reach out to Him with my damaged hand. There were no words, but everything inside me called out to the Lord and within the hour my thumb was healed. Or the time I nearly drowned in the sea, when my desperate inner cry for rescue was answered in a miraculous way.

There have been occasions when, after wrestling for ages in a difficult and painful situation, I didn't know how to pray anymore. I just cried out - a desperate son to a loving Father - in a mixture of surrender and expectation, with all the faith I could muster. There was no immediate tangible answer, but a definite deep assurance that He had heard my cry and it was all in hand.

I believe God so identifies with our heart cries, that He always answers us.

"O LORD, my defender, I call to you. Listen to my cry! If you do not answer me, I will be among those who go down to the world of the dead. Hear me when I cry to you for help, when I lift my hands toward your holy Temple. - Give praise to the LORD; he has heard my cry for help. The LORD protects and defends me; I trust in him. He gives me help and makes me glad; I praise him with joyful songs." Psalm 28:1-7 Good News Bible


Friday, August 01, 2008

Absolute Care

I was always something of a worrier, so when I became a Christian it was a revelation to learn of a loving Father God, who cared for me personally. I was particularly gripped by the fact that He knew me inside out and had "every hair on my head counted!"

However, anxiety still remained a weak area in my life. I had difficulty trusting God with some things and thought it best to 'help' God out by worrying!

I feel it's not until we come up against circumstances that are out of our control, when we just don't have the answers anymore, when we cannot 'fix it,' that we become desperate and are given the opportunity to receive a deep heart knowledge of God's care. I'm thinking of situations like financial breakdown or illnesses that have no lasting medical solution for example.

Even then, if you are like me, you may stay in denial and pretend everything is still 'normal.' Perhaps, after clutching at straws, by trying anything that might just give a glimmer of hope, we come to an end of our own efforts. That is when, in all humility, we throw ourselves into Father's arms and give it all to Him. It may feel risky. It may change the direction of our lives for ever, but His care will be absolute.

He will never let us down. We can trust Him.

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7 New International Version