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, October 31, 2008

The Apple of His Eye

Our garden is steep and stony. It faces the sea and affords very little shelter against the prevailing salt-laden south westerlies. It can be a hostile environment for all except the right indigenous species. So not the best place for an apple tree, but we have one right outside our kitchen window. The variety is Laxton’s Superb and it’s fruit is crisp, sweet and full of flavour. We feed it and prune it, to keep it healthy and so it doesn’t sprawl too far.

It has surpassed all expectations this year, as the blossom had set well before the strong winds threatened to spoil. Even after the birds, insects and bugs had their fill, there were still plenty for us. We have been harvesting them well into the autumn, until we were left with just one apple, tenaciously clinging on to it’s stem. I decided to leave it until it was ready to drop and each morning as I made my coffee, I regarded it’s delightful rosy globe. It was a real delight to the eye. I came to love that apple, but eventually it’s time was up and yesterday I caught it before it dropped. We had it for lunch. It had reached it’s fruity prime, the best apple we had ever tasted.

If only we would stop what we are doing and give time to stand in Father’s gaze and take in the delight He has in us. When it sinks in deep, that He thinks we are special, when we really see ourselves as he sees us, it is life-changing and sets us up for when the going gets rough.

In other words; to read His Word makes a difference, but to stop and allow God to love us is something else!

“In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye,” Deuteronomy 32:10 New International Version


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Wanna Be The Leader

I wanna be the leader
I wanna be the leader
Can I be the leader?
Can I? I can?
Promise? Promise?
Yippee I'm the leader
I'm the leader

OK what shall we do?

This brilliant poem, “The Leader” by the English poet Roger Joseph McGough, always makes me smile. Perhaps because I identify with it, as ‘I’ve been there?’

In any group situation I often tended to take the lead and perhaps still do to some extent. It seems to come naturally. On the other hand I became aware of my predilection for being ‘centre stage,’ which was more to do with my inner ‘woundedness’ than any innate leadership quality.

During my secular career I have had various positions of leadership and like to think I did a good job. This was especially so when I became the ‘boss’ for a while, although I occasionally wonder how it would have been without the ‘badge’ of office as I do admit that the position did give me a ‘buzz’ at times. There was a danger of liking the position, but not the responsibility.

Some years ago, we were asked to write a profile for a new minister and we included the following just for starters, apart from any specific requirements:

  • To have a dynamic intimate relationship with Jesus.
  • To be still growing as a Christian and be prepared to be vulnerable and share out of this journey.
  • To have a servant heart.
  • To have a vision for the way forward and be able to show it.
  • To have demonstrated good relationship abilities within family and fellow Christians.

The one thing I have learnt is that leadership in the Church is totally different to how it is in the world. In the Kingdom of God, where Jesus is in control, leadership is low key and comes out of being wholly available to God with a love for others, which in time may be recognised. It will also be seen that he or she knows where they are going and people will want to follow. In other words, ‘God anoints and eventually the people of God appoint.’

I believe most of us are called to show a lead in one way or another, according to our own circumstances and gifting - - and this challenges me.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 New International Version


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Will You Go All the Way With Me?

I received a phone call the other day; personal family news that had the potential to send me into anxiety. As I was mulling this over, I felt these words come in a way that I just knew it was from God, “Will you go all the way with me?”

Now my first reaction was to think, “Strange! Why say that at this time? What’s the connection?” But my second reaction was, “Well, yes of course Lord!” I then thought it over. There were implications in this. What am I being asked to do? Does it imply that I am not going all the way and if so, what’s holding me back? I worked all this through, a process that continued for days, until I got the message.

But the real point of this, what I’m getting at, is what came next! Because in my spiritual groping with Father, in desperation I asked, “What should I do Lord? What should my response be?”

Immediately I was arrested. That word “should!” There’s no place in a love relationship for that word. Imagine saying to your loved one, your wife, husband or fiance, whoever, when they ask, “Will you trust me?” and you reply “What should I do?” Jesus is not expecting us to look up a list of rules - “Oh yes, rule 17: I must trust God!” He gives us free will. He doesn’t make us follow Him. Always there is the invitation to go further, deeper and He looks for our love response. He longs for us to respond and say “Yes!” because we really want to trust Him because we love Him.

Peter eventually went ‘all the way’ with Jesus and was led in ways he certainly wouldn’t have chosen, but just look at how God worked through Him and the difference that made to the whole of Christendom! If we go all the way with Jesus, there’s no limit to the miracles that will follow! That stirs my soul!

“The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.” John 21:17-18


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Eye to Eye

We have five delightful grandchildren. Each one is unique and we love them equally.

One of our granddaughters is a beautiful, spirited and adventurous little girl. She started out in life however, with a slight impairment, in that she had ‘muffled’ hearing. Once this was diagnosed as ‘glue ear’ and treated, a whole new world opened up for her. It did however contribute to a communication difficulty. It wasn’t always apparent, but often she would retreat into a world of her own.

Her caring parents did all they could to help her with this. One of the ways they used, was when they needed to talk with her, they would say ‘eyes!’, meaning ‘look at me, look into my eyes!’ They knew then that they would have her attention and would be able to hold a meaningful conversation.

When we look into Father’s eyes, we are immediately arrested by two things. Firstly: we experience a look of total unconditional love and acceptance. Secondly: we feel that He can see right inside us, our heart is laid bare. We cannot hide and we just want to tell it how it is.

I feel shaky inside Father

Not sure about the future
Don’t about tomorrow

or how I will make out

The only thing I’m certain about

is now, right now

just being with you

I feel safe.

You warm my heart my son

Trust me

I’ll work miracles for you

I’ll move heaven and earth for you.

"- open your eyes and see-- how good GOD is. Blessed are you who run to him." Psalm 34:8The Message Bible


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Give Me a Hug

Touch is important. Even simple fingertip contact can often convey far more than many words. I like to touch, but don't do it enough, perhaps because I don't want to offend or give the wrong impression. A neighbour of ours had recently lost his wife. I could see he was crying inside and I felt like crying with him - perhaps I should have? After a few words, I touched him on the shoulder, didn't know what else to do, but I hope it conveyed what I felt.

I like to be touched, but in the right way. I am a six-footer, but there are several larger people I can think of, who can make me flinch. There's a real beefy he-man who sometimes squeezes the living daylights out of me and a large well-endowed woman who held me so tight, I felt smothered and gasped for breath.

It’s a warming thing to share a brotherly or sisterly embrace, but we need to be sensitive to the other and their needs. Sometimes, it's seems like a ritual and can give people the impression that unless you hug you are not a real Christian.

Some years ago in our little village church, the minister decided to introduce a slot in the service where we could greet one another and share the love of Christ. I welcomed this and remember holding out my hand to the church steward. He froze on the spot, as if to say "Shake hands in church? What next?" To the other extreme, we have been in churches when, at the appropriate time, all mayhem is let loose as people clamber over chairs to anyone and everyone.

We can learn from Father. His touch is always just right. He knows what we need. There have been times, when I've have felt in need and have said "Father just hold me" He has done so with such a light touch. Rather like a child sitting on Father's knee. His arm ever-so-lightly around the shoulders, giving the freedom to linger or go.

Lets be bold and sensitive. Perhaps there is just one person waiting for the right Jesus-touch today?

"Greet one another with a holy embrace." 2 Corinthians 13:12


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back from Retreat - 5

After attending a successful conference or retreat, we may leave feeling challenged and thoughtful or really stimulated and blessed by God. This time I have left feeling both.

I have discovered from experience, that there are several things to consider when arriving back home:

  • Be careful what you share! There is always the danger that any sharing of your fragile personal pearls will be rubbished by some careless remark or you may just bore the pants of people. If I am doing this to you, then please forgive me. Better say nothing and wait until the 'blessing' has taken root within you.
  • The enemy will be on the prowl to devalue what you have received and will try any way possible to cast doubts and uncertainties. For example, by harsh words with a spouse, friend or colleague. Hold on to what you have received and doubt your doubts.
  • If we have received a blessing, then sooner or later it will be put to use, usually as a blessing to others. Be open and sensitive to God.
  • Spend time with God to assimilate and pray over what you heard and received.
I promise not to harp on about retreats, silence and listening for a while. I have such a need and a longing and I believe I am not that different to others inside. Jesus certainly needed regular space for solitude with His Father.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On Retreat - 4

We go on retreat for different reasons. Maybe we want to withdraw for a while from the pressures of everyday life, to get things in perspective. Perhaps to find some hideaway, where we can experience peace and quiet, get closer to God and seek new direction. Whatever our reasons, if it is a Christian retreat, then to get the full benefit of course, we need to mean business with God, so in that respect it is serious.

There were certainly important, even pressing and painful issues that surfaced during our retreat. These weren't all solved of course, but I was given fresh purpose and direction, with plenty of stuff to work through with Jesus back home.

We arrived feeling somewhat battered and because I was expectant and eager to push in and get out all I could of the time, I was a little tense. Our retreat guide sensed this and saw my need to relax and just give God the freedom to move. It was even suggested I needed more fun in my life, starting there and then.

I spent an hour or so in the art studio playing with paint. Looking at this piece of work you wouldn't think that I am an accomplished artist. I just let myself go, dipped my fingers in and smudged and smeared and splodged and flicked to my heart's content. It may seem a bit of nonsense, but with hindsight it does make sense. It's all there - pain, tears, joy, laughter and God's creation. I let the child in me come to the fore, allowing myself to break all the rules and walk over the floor with dirty shoes. It was very satisfying and freeing - and God was smiling with me.

Some of you may be thinking that you already have plenty of fun and we need to be more serious. Others may say that as a Christian there's no place for such nonsense, with the world in the state it's in. But I would say that we need to be in touch with this side of us, especially at this time. I'm sure Jesus had His smiley moments!

The sun is out this afternoon and we are going to have some fun.

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Mark 10:15 New International Version


Monday, October 13, 2008

On Retreat - 3

It was the third day of our retreat and I decided to spend some time in the library. I had the room to myself and chose to sit at a large polished mahogany desk right in the window. I was on a journey this week and didn't want to miss out on what God had for me.

As I gazed at the panoramic view before me, I was totally taken in, from the morning sun highlighting the green-topped cliffs, to the inviting sea, to the sky with all the colours of the rainbow. It was breathtakingly beautiful - heart-stopping. It was like having a ringside seat on heaven. I just gazed, transfixed. It was touching something deep inside and I could have stayed there all morning.

In my observation I became aware of two things. Firstly, there was the separateness. I was in the warmth and comfort of the building, but this heavenly vision was outside. I then felt the closeness of Father, almost like He had His hand upon my shoulder, urging me to consider.

It was as if God was reminding me, that although as Christians we are heavenward bound, heaven is also to be experienced in the here and now. That He doesn't just want us to be observers, but partakers of the abundant life and that all we need is within us.

"The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:20-21


Sunday, October 12, 2008

On Retreat - 2

It was the first day of my retreat and I decided there would be just enough time for a short walk before lunch. The sun had broken through the gathering storm clouds, so I decided this was my window of opportunity. The path was tree lined and led to a dramatic viewpoint on the clifftop. It was easy level walking, which I took at a slow pace, to give the opportunity for my thoughts to roam.

As often happens before going away on such events, things occur that seem sent to try and unseat me and threaten my peace. The days before we left home, I received two items of news that had the potential to threaten my health and finances. I had already 'processed' these with Father, but as I strolled along, admiring the beauty all around me, these troublesome thoughts started to surface again. I allowed myself to feel the emotions involved, my vulnerability, even anxiety and offered these feelings up to God.

As I was doing this, the sky darkened and the rain came down in sheets. I was nearly at the viewpoint by then and sought refuge in a stone shelter. This was a rugged solid structure built into the hillside with local stone. Not only did it keep me dry, but I reckoned I would be safe from lightening, thunderbolts and even be bomb-proof. I sat on the bench and leaned against the wall. I had a perfect view of the storm outside, but felt totally safe and secure. It was as if God was reminding me, that whatever happens in my life, so long as I put my trust in Him, I am completely protected and secure with Him.

The rain stopped as suddenly as it started and I went outside to look at the sea view. A large rainbow arced over the sea and stopped me in my tracks. Yet another reminder that Jesus is my hope and He will never ever let me down.

By the time I decided to photograph the rainbow - something I have never tried before - it had started to fade, but I think you get the picture.

"Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings" Psalm 17:8 New International Version


Saturday, October 11, 2008

On Retreat - 1

We've been back again to the Christian retreat and conference centre in Devon, England, that has views-to-die-for. This photo is of a collage created by the youth at their summer camp, about two years ago and is their impression of the old house and grounds leading down to the sea.

This time, we had come for a five-day individual retreat.

The time followed a familiar pattern for me. It started with a 'honeymoon' period, revelling in the expectancy of several days solitude, 'just for me and Jesus!' By the next day feelings were already starting to surface and by the third, things seemed quite messy and I wondered how I would get through. Help was at hand however, as each day we each met individually with our retreat guide, who assisted us on our journeys. By the last day the Lord had brought all the threads together, in time to leave with a new sense of direction and freedom.

I felt revitalised. Life-changing stuff!

"Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:31 New International Version


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Why Do I Write This Blog?

My wife and I are due for some refreshment, relaxation and reflection this week, so I thought it would be an appropriate time to ask myself why I write and why I write this blog in particular.

Why do I write?

  • Basically I write because I just have to, there's a compulsion to do so.
  • I write for me, because it has a healing quality.
  • I keep a prayer journal between myself and God.
  • The creative instinct within me is being unlocked, so even though I have had little teaching, I am learning to paint a picture in words or oil paint or photography.
  • When I was a boy I was very shy and had difficulty expressing myself. It's was only in later years, after I became a Christian - especially when I began to get in touch with my inner feelings - that I began to find a new freedom to express what was on my heart, not just my head. I have a need to express.
  • I want to learn and improve my communication skills. I admire those - like the authors of some of the blogs I read - who have the ability to explain themselves so readily and easily.
Why do I write this blog?

  • I have discovered that being a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, is the biggest adventure I could ever imagine. Much bigger and more beautiful than any mountaineering adventure I have had. There have been times when I have either been so scared and devastated or so stimulated, that it seemed I was the only one like it. But that's not so of course, so I have a compulsion - I believe a God-given compulsion - to share out of this experience.
  • Likewise I have a desire to hear from other's experience and learn.

That's enough for starters, straight off the top of my head. I may have other reasons by the end of this time.

Just in case you feel there's not much 'devotional' content in this post, why not have a look at "I Believe In Miracles" in my other blog.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Trumpet Call

The news over the past week or so has majored upon the global economic crisis. One of the dramatic newspaper front page headlines read, "Staring into the Abyss" and others referred to 'Armageddon.' Scary stuff that has the potential to cause panic and anxiety.

In reality, many of us could be facing the distinct possibility of a much reduced income, what savings we have may at risk and pension funds are dwindling dramatically. On top of that world food and gas prices are rocketing and with global warming, floods, hurricanes and tsunamis are more and more frequent. I don't think that it's dramatic to say, that for many, life could be getting harder, wherever we live.

So what can be done to put the world to rights? I'm sure that there are scientific, environmental, financial and political answers and they will lead to necessary changes. Now I am not a financial expert or a scientist, or a theologian or any other kind of expert for that matter. The only thing that I am sure of is, that practical changes in themselves, necessary and essential as they may be, will not put the world to rights.

Ultimately, I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is in control of the world. Perhaps we should regard what is happening all around us, as a wake up call, a trumpet call and He is waiting for a response. We can wait for governments to take action and we can point the finger, but surely what is needed is for repentance, a turning to God on a worldwide scale?

Christians have a solid foundation, so should have no cause to be anxious, but I don't feel there are grounds for complacency. I believe this 'trumpet call' is firstly for the Church, the Body of Christ.

For starters, the sort of questions that come to mind are: are we, in truth, so rooted in the reality of God's love, that our inner security is unshakeable in these coming days? How does my lifestyle match up to that shown in Jesus's teaching? How am I praying, I mean really praying? Is there such a thing as corporate responsibility for what is happening in the world? Am I walking with Jesus in truth and obedience, in the centre of His will today?

"And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." Matthew 24:31 New International Version


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Getting Connected

I had a list of phone calls to make this morning: car service station, insurance company, power company and the photo processing firm to ask if they had lost my photos, just to mention a few. All in all it took over an hour and wasn't very productive.

One of the calls went something like this: dial and followed instructions - press star key - listen - press 2 - listen - press 1 - "I'm sorry but our advisors are very busy today" - and even later, "we really value your call" and "thank you for your patience"and "why not use the internet?" and finally, after 16 minutes, just as I was about to give up, I got through to a human.

I was so overwhelmed that I struggled to answer her opening question. I tried to put my case, but had difficulty getting answers to my two questions. The operator was very much on the defensive, very efficient in an assertive way. She had all the facts on her screen, but the trouble was that her agenda was different to mine. We were just not compatible, we weren't in tune. She doggedly seemed to refuse to get my point, although did agree to get someone to look into something for me. I chalked it up as half-solved. After all it wasn't all her fault, as I was left with just a niggle, that I could have handled it better?

Now we have a God, whose not a call centre operator, but the CEO who is always on the line, always available and gives us His full attention. He is never too busy and will never hang up on us. We don't have to wait for a connection as we have a hot line straight through. He is just longing to hear what we have to say. In fact He knows what we are going to say before we speak. He looks right into our heart and knows our thoughts and what is going on in there, but He waits for us to express those heart desires in words. The trouble is, he often has to wait a long time, so it's a good thing his patience is endless.

So how do I score? Do I stay connected throughout the day and include Him in everything, or do I trot out my shopping list of prayers and requests and then get on with my life, the way I want to. Do I listen, really listen to my Father? If I really care how my Father feels and thinks, I will give time to connect, heart to Heart. Now there's real powerful connecting!

"From his palace he hears my call; my cry brings me right into his presence -- a private audience!" Psalm 18:6 The Message Bible