Where do we pray?

Prayer
Sometimes my prayer is as I count my blessings
Sometimes my prayer is when I see my child smile
Sometimes my prayer is on bended knee
Sometimes my prayer is as nature whips the wind into my face
Always my prayer is for you

Sometimes we pray when we see that only you can help
Sometimes when the coil has no start of untangling
Sometimes we pray when love is shown to us
Sometimes to ask your love to be shared
Always my prayer is for you

Sometimes just to have someone to share this with
Sometimes because we just want to chat
Sometimes over tea, or netflix, or the radio.
Always my prayer is for you

Its you that I reach for in the small and the large.
Its you that I reach for for company
Its you that I feel in my still and my storm.
Its you that I feel when I need sympathy.

Facebook Wisdom

I have been collating some of the quotes I put up on Facebook relating to Christian thoughts…

Why Evangelise

I see so many people are searching for meaning, internal and external peace, a better way of being, lack of fear about the future and of death. An assurance that we are loved and meant to be loved. A capability to do so a heart can and does go deeper and wider . A loss of loneliness, a viewpoint that we are part of creation and precious not an atom by itself and measured against others.

A well balanced caring collaborative love for your fellow man. A way to a world that works for all creation.

A peace that comes from a constant feeling of being loved.

From all of that, where you see so MUCH of that truly missing, where you see so much pain felt and being caused by the lack of any combination of the above.

You just want to reach out and share that….

He wants to share that

With you.

It’s why I speak about him so much, it’s as if I had endless riches and I can make each one of you rich.

Why wouldn’t I?
Truth is I have no riches.
But I know the man that is rich
Let me share him with you.

Lose your fear, your loss of love internal, and external and share in his richness

The key to happiness is Gratitude

That’s it…

Prayer
Sometimes my prayer is as I count my blessings
Sometimes my prayer is when I see my child smile
Sometimes my prayer is on bended knee
Sometimes my prayer is as nature whips the wind into my face
Always my prayer is for you

I pretty much reject existentialism in all its forms so keirkegard is my least favourite philosopher
But he got this right
The human race stopped fearing God.
After this came its punishment: it began to fear itself, began to crave the phantasmagorical, and now it quakes before this creature of its own imagination.

DOUBT is NOT a SIN
Doubt is not a sin. It’s a sign of intelligence. When you doubt work it through, don’t dismiss it. It’s also Gods classroom. A place where you learn, a place where you progress. Any faith that had no doubt had no examination. Any faith that went unexamined is possibly very far from God.
Doubt is healthy when it’s skepticism, a search for building blocks.
Doubt is unhealthy when you become happy with teaching that simply weaken Jesus place as Lord. Doubt then becomes twinned with pride, the bluster of a weak place that shows itself as meanness and a direct opposition to our Lord as saviour. A satisfaction in the rebellion of doubt.
If you doubt pray, examine your bible , examine the great theologians. Knock and he will answer seek and you will find.
But don’t settle for answers that lower our Lord the servant king.

WHY IS Grace resistable

Mike Tricker If you look at the book of Job and especially Jonah you will see the lord giving us free will, but changing the environment around us.

The end result is as varied as us, but his plans come true in the end.

The lord became human, an object is space to show how we could choose to act, he never called angels down to make us behave, he never took the devils outlet of exercising power. In fact his whole life death and victory was in becoming as powerless as anyone can be with arms spread open on the cross.

Allowing us to come to him.

showing us enough love that we know he died for us.

But in that vulnerability becoming everything he can be…
Manage

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Cara James If Grace was irresistible, Adam couldn’t have fallen.
Manage

QUOTE you cant get to courage without walking through vulnerability

Our lord was born as vulnerable as a baby.
Our lord gave himself to the vulnerable and the marginalised
To come to our lord you have to be humble
Our lord tells us blessed are the meek
The poor in spirit

If you leave yourself vulnerable is the ultimate act of love..

 

Jesus for beginners (and those that need reminding)

As you walk through the main entrance of any church , look up and you will see a statue of a man suffering on a cross, look around and you will see him again and again. We hope one day you will meet him in all manner of ways, times and places.

jesus on a cross

If I might take a few minutes of your time, I would like to introduce you to the core character in Christianity.

The man you can see is our lord Jesus Christ the founder and perfecter of our faith, who endured that agony for you (Hebrews 12-2).  To the reader of this guide, please note he did that very specifically for YOU.

You may wonder how a man, who lived a long time ago, had you in mind, long before you were born. You see that man; Jesus of Nazareth is both man and God…

In Psalm 139 it says “In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed”.  That psalm says just how inescapable the God who made you is.  To truly separate you from God would be like trying to take the milk out of your tea, after it has been poured in. He said “He is in God, You are in Him and He is in you” (John 14:20).

The implications of him being a God and dying a horrible death for specifically you are quite clear. He let that happen to him, he chose that death. He wasn’t guilty of any crime that he had committed, he was paying for yours.    Peter who was one of his disciples said that he never sinned, he never told a lie (1 Peter 2:22).   So that’s an innocent man up there, who chose to die for you.

So why did he decide to do that, and why did he need to do that for you?
The why

The why? Because of love for you, a love that means he wants to be alongside, in you, around you, every step of the way. Not just in this life but for eternity.
Every sin large or small, every time we mess up, every time we hurt each other, are angry, or deceitful, every time we are unkind, uncaring, or just not caring enough.  That man is paying the price for all those moments so that you can join him one day in his kingdom.  Can you see how broken he has allowed himself to be?  How he has allowed himself to become the object of ridicule by those that don’t understand him, or know who he is? That is entirely consistent with who he was in his 33 years on earth.

In his mortal life he kept company with the marginalised, had those most reviled by society as his closest confidants.  He healed the lame from the poorest parts of his society, showed love to the people who society starved or threw stones at. He spoke to those that nobody would speak to. Indeed he often held those same people up as examples, templates etc.

Unforgivable would mean that you are beyond the reach of his love, and nobody is, because you are his creation, and you are in him and he is in you, right now.
He is naked because, the people who did that to him stripped him of everything, drew lots and sold his clothes, then on the way to being put on that cross they pushed a crown made of wicked thorns on his head.
They ridiculed him, and they laughed at him as he died slowly on the cross.

The crown was due to the fact they had come to the conclusion that this man thought he is the messiah, and the world couldn’t imagine that someone who is the messiah, both God and Man would let that happen.  But he did, and he does.   He had committed no crime, and went, willingly.   The crime he was paying for, the punishment he was making atonement for is yours and mine.

He does the same today. He loves you and me, despite any shortcoming you or society may think you or me, ever had or will have. Nobody is beyond his love and he accomplished that by being made as low as you see him on that cross.
The him and you

If you ask him into your life, he will make you the best “you”, you can ever be, he will also change you, and build you,  so that you can become that person, he will live every step, every moment of that journey.  He will forgive every stumble and spur you on again.

Your world will change, maybe only how you think about it, maybe in reality.  His constant love will transform you from the inside out; you can’t stay angry or bitter, or afraid, or scared, or jealous when being given such love, and support and a foundation for your life.

He does ask that you ask him, that you choose him, you have free will. Ask him into your life so that he can transform it by transforming you.  He asks that you believe his words and try to follow them, and he asks that you believe in things you cannot see, but can feel and interact with in your heart and through prayer and see in your life.

In return your life will be transformed by love.  Your life will be truly changed in every possible way for the better. We don’t do the prosperity gospel in this house, so don’t think your bank balance will explode, but your wealth will be in the joy and contentment, the end of searching for the next big thing, or following the herd.  Why, because you have found the biggest, best thing of all.  The things he will give are not destroyed by moths or rust, or indeed anything this world has to offer.

There’s loads of other stuff that he did that you may feel drawn to do,  help the oppressed (Matthew 6:1-34),  share your bread (Matthew 25:37-40),  show love to everyone (Matthew 22:34-40),  clothe the naked (Luke 6:29-30), feed the hungry (Matthew 25:37-40), never lie, let your yes be yes (Matthew 5:37),   don’t be greedy (Luke 12:15), don’t judge others(Matthew 7), etc.

But honestly all those things happen a lot easier with his help, and he helps you lots. Indeed you try willingly because you can see when you share his love, and help those he created he creates a new you, in you outside of you, all around you. He creates in you a joy at seeing these things, a new lens on the world, his lens.

This building is populated in the main by people that try and share that lens, they share his love, and wobble along fallibly trying to be like him, and follow him and they are part of the “body” of Christ. They are Christians, and they are as unique, as precious, as broken and wonderful as you.  The fellowship of that body of Christ is a wonderful, enabling, supporting, aspect of being with him.

Where is he?
This God is with you, alive and helping you right now, every second, every moment.  Not a God to punish, and judge, but to assist and care and help you come to him. Not a God shocked into anger by your sin, and unwilling to help. Not a God cowed by whatever your burden is, or whatever the world has burdened you with.
Not a God who wrote the instruction manual and wandered off.

Albeit, he is shown up on high on a dais in our churches, he with us and all his creation high or low, alongside lifting you up. Not up there, down here, a servant king right he in the mess and muck of life. Wherever it gets the most horrible, sinful, oppressed, messy, nasty, brutal, poor in whatever way you can be poor, angry, etc. That’s where this God is found.
There’s no place in your soul, he can’t lift up through love. His forgiveness becomes yours. You are forgiven, in turn, in time you will forgive.
This is a God who wanted to lift your burden from you 2000 years ago and he wants you to give it to him so that he can carry it. He wanted that SO badly he died to do just that.
An even more amazing thing is that although he is shown clearly dying up there on the cross, he isn’t dead. That is why I keep speaking in the present tense about a man clearly dying an agonising death?

He did die, on that cross, and they brought him down, and covered him with sheets and put him in a tomb and rolled a massive rock over that tomb. Three days after he had died, they looked in that tomb and the man that was dead had gone.

He then showed himself and spoke with his disciples, and when many people had seen him, spoken to him, even examined the wounds inflicted on his body, he rose to join his father in heaven.

The Father had sacrificed his Son on the cross, so that you can be with him today and forever. Jesus is that Son. Death has been defeated, love has conquered evil, your debt is paid and your life however lowly or broken, however wrong it has been or will be is loved by the man you see right up there.

Death will become an illusion, a stage, a transformation, a chance.  All the errors you or others have done in your life can be forgiven; you can start afresh, born again into a new you.

However, as I have said, the essential step in all of the above is asking.

How you ask him to help, is through prayer, he is waiting right now for you to make that prayer, and the second you do he will rush to help. Doesn’t matter where you are, or where you have been. He will rejoice, and bring you close, with a love that has no memory.

Billy Graham had the prayer for the moment that you decide to do this.
If you’re feeling ready sit yourself down in one of those pews, and maybe look up at the man suffering for you, waiting for you right now.  Then say words something like this…

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Saviour. In Your Name.

 

Amen.
I pray that whoever reads this guide to who that man up their does just that.

Join me in the body of Christ. It’s wonderful.

 

References

 

Billy Graham “Sinners Prayer” Various Youtube recordings of him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTX9DctytUk

 

Biblical Quotations and References From

Holy Bible with Apocrypha, New Revised Standard Version [Anglicised edition) (Cambridge University Press 2007, (Reprinted 2015)

When god wants you to do the preposterous.

Don’t know about you but when recurring “themes” occur from random people I tend to take notice and include said theme in prayer?  Also Quite often for me these things happen shortly after prayer. People who are unconnected in any way start a conversation, books you read; scripture all keep saying the same thing.

I became aware of the theme  this weekend for me with Jo speaking about stories and hidden treasure. Jo told the story of a man who went on a great journey looking for his life’s treasure to almost find it where he was looking and then realised it was always at home and under his bed.

This week I randomly picked up the book god of surprises, and the chapter I read was to the effect.


“We pay so little attention to our inner life. However they are key to our behaviour, they Buck and swerve and duck.

We are like riders on the horses of these impulses and all we do is try and keep in the saddle

We never try and befriend the horse and attack the end results of suppressing these impulses with medicine, stress and look down on those that try as unscientific

Why do we ignore it?

Simply because we cannot measure quantitatively it control it.

So these brutalised emotions over time take hideous revenge.

Prayer opens the door and allows God to work with us as he created us.

He allows us to work with our inner selves and discover the “hidden treasure” we all possess and try so hard to suppress.”

The chapter (and the book) is all about locating, understanding, making friends with and reacting sympathetically to our “hidden treasure” as we are made by god and he put it there and meant it to be listened too. He wants to use it for his purpose.
Then a friend on Facebook said randomly “I feel urged to tell you to pray to ask for discernment”

Then I went to see my spiritual director who  started up the subject and we spent the afternoon working on the subject of how to discern gods will? He thought I had good discernment (as I had by then prayed). I realise I was being a little less than brave that day as I suggested all the other things apart from the one thing I kept being urged to do?

Then I read the first line of “faith in the fool” a book I continue to learn from “There is more to life than being useful is its recurring theme. Of no earthly use and of infinite value. It talks about Holy Fools and clowns who do foolish things.

One of the best lines is “One of my favourite holy fools  is the woman of doubtful reputation who interrupted a dinner party and poured a whole jar of expensive perfume over Jesus head (Mark 14 1-9). Some saw this as a foolish act of useless extravagance, a waste of a marketable commodity.

For me all of these things are saying, sometimes we in prayer feel urged to do what seems preposterous, and foolish, beyond us or useless. Others may make us feel like all those things but Jesus see’s the value as he was the ultimate Holy Fool of course.

Myself I had been resisting an idea that seemed preposterous for a long while, others like Matty spoke directly into that very thing today “ I would like to hear you preach” , my Christian friends all have recently. Spoken into that thing I parked as silly, and preposterous for someone who came to the church so late and wasn’t worthy?

Then Jo said in that same talk “what makes you so “£$% special that you cant be forgiven.”

And Matthew was quoted at me (13:44-5) where a treasure is hidden in a field.  I realise I found this treasure when I came back to Jesus, I knew it then but I considered it a silly idea at the time.

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

So I found it , hid it and I think maybe today I realise I have to go buy that field.

Also this week I wrote on Facebook

“You know some days I just want to spend my time sitting and being with him in his house.

All I want to do today is pray.

Make you wonder what does he want me to hear?

 

Other lines where used at me this week  “ he chose fisherman not princes to be his ambassadors”

And “I am not in control but I am deeply loved by one who is”

Overall though I realised that the only time I feel contentment is when I picture myself trying to bring to people the thing I described so well also this week in a conversation. The lead up is important but the ending is my heart’s desire…

Have you felt braver since you found god?

I dont fear death?
I dont worry about my future?
I dont worry if people get angry or react when I speak about Jesus?
I walk into things not worrying if I will get hurt as I know I have his protection and my time is allotted by his grace.
I feel more love towards my fellow man and that calms the waters
I feel his grace every day and that solves, cures, calms, opens, closes, heals and protects whatever he chooses.

All him.

He untangles lives, cures the pain within, offers hope, forgiveness, accepts and loves every single part of you, he doesnt want saints and used fishermen, taxmen, people who hated him and everything he stood for to be his ambassadors.

He knew before I started this journey. I know the  world needs him SO much and when I was just started as a Christian and somebody asked me what do you want I replied “I want others to feel like this”

Then this week I was remnded of how far I had come “Matty’s evensong sermon last week was in the church I was baptised and confirmed and it spoke into my journey so far, how existentialist philosophy took me away, and then it talked about athe trinity as a  single relationship that was now for me so strong and real and active.


So it’s me isn’t it, the blocker, the person that argued with him for 20 years, who see’s himself as unworthy and something preposterous to think and keeps choosing targets that seem more normal, more attainable.

But Ive seen that a collar does open conversations does make people want to speak with you. My first talk to mens breakfast was “Being Visible” and that uniform does indeed do that.
So in the last week I have applied for lay reader and to the church army.
So Mike Tricker – Lay Preacher? Preposterous isn’t it?

Cockney loud, like a beer, like west ham, ribald humour, a man that argued with Jesus and listened to Sartre for so long before I realised Sartre was wrong and Jesus was right.
Also the man that had to Google lent two and a half years ago.  Sometimes short tempered , and not always great at listening.

Lay Preacher, just simply preposterous.  But no less mad than Saul, no more ribald than say a rough fisherman’s humour?

So it isn’t.  I can talk well, I present for a living,  My latest CCS was on the subject of how much of Saul God used in Paul, see when you look God used a LOT of Saul, his passion, his position in life, the pharasee’s zeal for clarity in matters of faith.

So apart from my faith what could god want to use?

I write well and when I am passionate about something I can take people with me on a journey and drop them off where I want.

I do it all the time in sales; people follow me when I speak.  When I believe in a subject I can take you with me when I talk.

That was also I thing I randomly said to Arthur this week.

Where I want to “drop them off” is now right at Jesus feet, at the Calvary bus stop , and let him untangle, forgive, love and renew.

Pray for me?

Footnote I came off this page and the next thing I saw… Oswald Chambers.

We too can be lifted by Him into heavenly places through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, so that He can reveal the teachings of God to us.

The Pics I posted in this piece – ones I posted today
It seems, I think I may have finally listened correctly

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First Sermon 15 04 2018

Reading Luke 24:36b-48

The story today is set just after the road to Emmaus where Jesus walks alongside his disciples, but they don’t recognise him until he decides to reveal himself.
In this instance they know him straight away, and while they are at their most confused.  He shows them his wounds, then he offers them his peace, he asks for lunch….

Then he lets them know what its all been about, Abraham, the prophets, the last 1000 years.

 

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
Most importantly what they are supposed to do next?
that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses[d] of these things.

Chaps your IT, I bet they felt the burden of that when he said it…
I bumped into desert island discs while driving the other day and the philosopher John Gray was on. He said something that really struck me as true, that Humans improve and evolve science, but human nature is cyclical. We as human beings haven’t really evolved anywhere near as fast as our science, if at all?

So on that basis it’s not surprising that we so often find ourselves in our lives where the disciples are in our story today. Amazed at what he has done, but quite often oblivious to the big plan of what was doing while he was doing it?  Maybe even wondering where he has gone?

Daunted perhaps by what he has asked of us next.

Like them maybe we sometimes miss the some of the miracles our lord performs, miss them in the wallpaper of our life, or we don’t understand them, or we aren’t ready to hear them, or we only see them in hindsight.  In our pain sometimes, we just drown him out.

I think however we can if we give ourselves a moment this morning we can see him clearly active as ever in today’s world.

I think he looks like these things

How we pray and then see little things change, how we look back in our lives and see the lord’s footprints, how we feel his presence when times are tough.

Or not

Even if we are angry with him, keep searching for him, pray for him and if he doesn’t answer we keep trying, we spend our days just wondering where he is? Oblivious to the very act of missing him is him calling, and us trying to listen.

Then look around at the people gathered here today?

We see it as normal to be a community that despite the disorienting nature of today’s world that really is in my humble opinion faithful to our lord.

We so often see that, as just the way we are.  As nothing special

That’s very nice, what did you expect and what’s for lunch.
Normal to share his spirit in a million ways so that this little community shares the fragrance of our lord with whoever it meets, whoever it welcomes in.
In simple terms what trying to put Jesus message, his miracle looks like in the everyday miracle of life.  You guys know that, we have been shown that and shown it to each other?

We all see it as quite ordinary that this place, and we all here provide a place for people to enter our community and thrive.

Our little parish has since I have been here given birth to

A bloke who never walked into a church before up here 4 years later J

The bishops chaplain,

#one ordinand, and two LLM’s.

#Meet and make,
who in turn help the homeless

Who in turn help the greatest disease of our time, loneliness

Costa,

Betties,  and Carnivals, where we have fun
The encouragement to help the refugees in Calais, where when we started lots of voices weren’t happy

The ladies refuge, for those in fear, with nothing

children in Kenya,

I think we can take from that, that this little space and place proves that he is very active in us and then shared in our community.

Those are signs of a God made active through our little body of Christ present here today.

Because have been given something to share, our particular, salvation is given to be shared universally.
Rowan Williams said this so much better than me…
‘The gift that we praise when we praise the risen Lord — is the gift now in our hands, our mouths, our voices to share with the world… the apostolic gift given to us comes alive in the transfiguring of the lives we touch by God’s gift, by God’s grace.

All that means that in this mad world, just by being who we are, who he made us, We can and should and do share him with others.

Even when we aren’t quite sure where he might be.

Because he hasn’t gone away, he can’t he is in us, we are in him, he can’t leave us. It would be like asking the milk to leave the tea after its been poured in.

So we can say that the risen Christ is here today, showing us what it means to follow him, we are IN Christ, through grace made part of, capable of sharing, dependent upon and always given his grace.
I think we should hang on to that….

Because maybe just maybe just like the disciples in our story just when he seems most confusing than ever is quite often is just when we get given the gift of understanding, not just for us but to share.

share in his miracle…
And share his miracle

Because I think he has opened our eyes.

Crystals and Hamsters wont do it

Some days you see people on the same hamster wheel I was on.

If I get the house, if I get the car, if I get the job, if I get the XXX or YYY.
The Career, the self help, the bike, the healthy living, the iphone, the thing Amazon tells you , you need,.
Then they realise its something inside, so they dangle crystals, or listen to American Indian stuff, or anything that sounds sincere, or they replace it with the fellowship of football fans, or some hobby, or look to find that thing they can identify with,

Chakras, Witchcraft mediums, spiritualists, Jedi and the force, Harry Potter , you name it.

hamster

I noticed the other day a Billy Graham quote going viral as it was disguised as something said by a red indian (the whatever wolf you feed quote). So you stumble around and get good , or average or fail at any and all of these?

When you get any of these?

Nothing fulfills, Nothing , it feels emptier each time you get wherever the answer was supposed to be, because you know they had your money, your time and they just had you…

Why, because as Mother Julian says that longing you are feeling, is Gods calling and the closer you get to it the more content you feel, the closer you make your life to his the more that longing becomes a feeling of being fulfilled.

When you and him are truly merged into one being, with your life and his indivisible then you find peace.

He is the way the truth and the life.

Search over

So today I doubted.

I have heard it happens to the best Christians, its never happened to me before. I never expected it to happen.  I sort of was “around” and in dialogue with a lot of angry atheists, a lot of people seeking god, or denying him.

Some insulted him, some had well rehearsed statements on all manner of things religious. Some were hurtful, some were looking to anger you so they could say “their you go not so christian after all”.

I wanted to help, I wanted to be the Christian voice on an angry atheist right wing facebook page.

But also I had come a LONG way in my journey in a short space, there were unanswered things from the things I had learnt. In my 2,5 years as a Christian I had read the entire bible, was half way through a two year course on Christian studies, been exposed to traditional and liberal Christianity, had all number of views challenged, read books and books of theology. Got a spiritual adviser to help me draw closer and he was and is a great help .

Overall though I was  “busy”.  Busy trying to be a Christian, busy with family, work, helping my church, the homeless, my courses, my studies.  Busy. Prayer, family, church , social life all had alloted spots.

Then I had a hernia, it went off like a grenade in my life, one minute fine, next minute rushed to emergency surgery (it was a big one) and forced to sit for five weeks. So I spent this summer in a chair, in a bit of pain, in my garden.

I studied, assisi, therese of mavilla, some books on ordination, and reflected on may things, I had some intense spiritual moments where I felt guided, rebuked, loved, mostly loved. Oh and close, very very close. I spent a lot of time speaking to these right wign atheists with all the best intentions. But I see now I should have wiped the sand from my shoes much much earlier. Secular, Angry, aggressive, never moving in any aspect of debate quite corrosive over time, making progress one day, right back to square one the next, any point proven was thown back as a rebuke. Just endless anger.

Then I got better, went back to work and reflected as my life slowly sped up again on that last few weeks, and asked myself some hard questions about how much of all that I had learned did I really believe.  A reflection on my period of reflection sort of revealed a few things I had just never truly resolved.

Second mistake I used my brain, me to try and work it all out, I sort of floundered about and scared myself really by losing track of the basics, and almost tormenting myself  with ideas of doubt.

I slowly over 2-3 emails revealed this doubt to my pastor, who was calmer than I was, and she said “pray and know that you are prayed for”.  Habit at that point kicked in and a strong discipline of prayer I had built up reasserted itself.   A thing she had got me into and was reinforced my my spiritual advisor and my study group. So although in my doubt my prayers were weak, I can assume my pastors prayers were not, or maybe god saw my weakness and bolstered me.

Through two sessions of proper prayer, no liturgical format, just me and some candles and him and looking for and finding help in my bible, and further emails. I found my way back, switched off my brain and looked for the relationship, switched off the part of me that long ago sought him in a repeatable science model and remembered where he always was,  “within” ans ought that place out and asked him to come into my life again and to help me, and lots of long unread passages that formed my faith were given to me, from a gideons bible, from opening his book, from prayer.

I always had a logical idea that there is a “creator”, science in my view and increasingly so as I learn about time, space, the size of it all etc. To me its inescapable that there is a god, my relationship was stronger, and then I had to ask the hard question.

Was Jesus really the son of god? The bible is clearly a divine book, way to clever, intricate , interwoven, remarkable in its deep truths, and explanation of the human condition to be anything BUT a work of god, or inspired by god.  If you read it you will think that, if you havent then you may not because you havent seen the total wonder of it, books thousands of years apart interwoven, such guidance, love, etc. But I had and I knew that

So it was I  said god where DOES it say without doubt from your word , not Paul or peter but from you?? That he is my Saviour and died for me and my sins and was from you?  With my gideons bible in my hands I asked that very question. Where does it say that from YOU god, just from you.

Matthew 1-21. One of the very first verses I ever read, now answered THAT very question.

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins

And that was that,

I could have said when in doubt ask your pastor for help, pray and be still with him, ask him back into your life and admit you have wandered off and want to come back? You didnt mean too in fact you did some of the damage through the very best of intentions.

But I think the longer story may help others.

Shortening it more?

Pray, pray often, pray when your strong an really pray when your weak.

 

Are you feeling useful today?

Are you feeling useful today?

Have you done the washing, the ironing, mowed the lawn? Do you feel like you are contributing? What does your internal dialogue about how you value yourself, what does IT say about you? That voice we all have that “judges” what we say and do and what we think we are?

Does your value depend on what you do?  In France when redundancies occur for any reason they suffer the highest rates of suicide in any developed nation?  What they “do” and what they “are” it seems have become so inseparable from their own self-worth that divorce from your job becomes unbearable.

When I see Kim Kardashian and the media inspired celebrities do something more and more desperate to become the cause celebre of the moment, I wonder what it is that makes them need that, and how and why the fleeting light of peoples ever shrinking attention spans matters so much?

Those are extreme examples but sometimes through parenthood, financial constraints, physical constraints we cannot perform the duties we feel make us “useful”, or the perceived lack of other things that that we use to measure our own worth. Mobility, disablement, isolation, separation, weakness (internal or external), money, skill of some sort that we lack or used to have perhaps?

However these value systems we hold and create and need so badly it seems has very little to do with how God see’s us.  Using this value system the bird’s song that he created is only useful for warning or attracting a mate? A peacocks plumage the same?  Churches with LARGE congregations are successful and those with smaller ones less so.  People who have more of X or Y have or are worth more.

However I think God shows us through scripture repeatedly that his value system is totally at odds with this utilitarian view of the world. His love is not as a result of our usefulness.
We so earnestly try as Christians not to judge others and we can be so harsh on ourselves.

Does God see the single earnest prayer offered up as less than a row full of pews perhaps wondering where tonight’s dinner will be? Even if that entire church is full of people in earnest prayer are they valued less than the single one from a less full church?

If we toil away in his duty, or for others, without success but with our hearts fixed on him? Is this of more or less value?

If we at home cannot contribute anything more than earnest prayer, or love for our children, or advice from wise caring heart? What value do you attach?

But it’s even more than that, lots more.

If nobody comes to hear this advice and all the wisdom we have never gets heard except by our father in prayer and nobody but he can see the goodness he has created? If as in the Beatles song Father Mckenzie is writing a sermon that nobody hears.

If our love is taken for granted, as we wash for others, iron, pray, feed.
Does God see our hearts as lesser?

I think it’s even more than that even if we are unwise, our faith weak, our prayer faltering, he knows our heart and knows that how he made us THAT is our best effort.

When a child brings you a picture so BAD (in utilitarian terms) that everything in it has to be explained by the child, our heart leaps because it’s our child and he thought to bring it to us.  I think that is how God see’s even the worst prayer or thought of him.

In St Andrews at the end of each service the kids bring the pictures they have made during the service up to the front. Generally they are on a theme of the season or Star wars or whatever is occupying our thoughts.  We don’t value those pictures any less or more if they are brilliant or bad. All of them are seen as equal and for most it’s one of the best bits of the service.

Children’s prayers are often simple, and nearly ways from the heart, about home, about love about Sylvester the cat and when included in prayers of intercession always contain some truth that we as adults in our quest to go deeper than the shared love between us and our pet misses. A child see’s that of enough value as to be the thing he brings to the front of the church to show the whole world.

God’s love see’s our grown up prayers, and the child’s prayer for thanks for my home, or for my cat as equal and from the same fallible source. Indeed we are asked to come before him like children and there’s something in that.

Also you don’t play a game or colour a picture with a child to show your superiority. God is like that too he made us infinitely simple creatures (compared to him) and enjoys our company. Takes intense interest in every detail of us, as Jesus says “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered”

In the same way “play” when seen as time taken away from useful time, and the arts are all prone to attack from those who see them as commodities.  We at times see ourselves in the same way; we attach a value system that is of the “world” to ourselves.

Jesus said to the Pharisee’s once “”You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts.”

Psalm 139 says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” That is how well he knows you.  Yet still he loves you.
Someone once asked a prison chaplain “What is the point of loving bad people if loving doesn’t make them change”? God’s answer to that is plain, I think the answer is God loved HIS bad people so much he gave his son to save us from ourselves. As another psalm says “God’s love never fails”.  He Jesus said that he gave us “the way the truth and the life” so that we can come close to him. Jesus gave his very own life for the same reason.

In that case how much of a dichotomy is it that we use a different measuring stick with which to beat ourselves with, when we consider ourselves less than useful, less than worthy,  use the values of a world that sees everything in utilitarian terms to judge ourselves.

God shows us again and again, in his every act that is not how he sees us; his values are NOT attached to what a world that drifts ever further away from him and even we in our sometimes weaker moments perceive as “without use” lesser, weak or unworthy.

In those terms, the world’s terms God made useless beings, and we can do no more for him than a one year old being asked to make dinner.  Yet we as Christians know,  and are told that he loved us so much he gave us his only begotten son, gave us the holy spirit so that we can share those awful childlike drawings of our prayer.

The difference is unlike us who have to “ask” our children sometimes what the drawing is, God knows our hearts and never has to be shown.

So next time you don’t feel of value, of use, if your wisdom is locked away, if you want so much to give but for whatever reason can’t and feel unworthy for that. Remember God’s infinite love and the things he values us for, and ultimately YOUR value in every way that truly matters is neither attached, related or dependant on anything like that.

Its really simple God wants you to offer up whatever you can to him, and he loves you SO much. No matter how broken, no matter how imperfect or how unworthy YOU think you are you are Gods children and he loves that you gave him your imperfect drawing.

Lent Reflection on Sin

This piece was as a result of an experience I had during lent, and the things I learned from it. I felt really quite bad, and then started praying and reading.

When god came into our lives and we gave our hearts into his hands and returned to him his creation. We came home, we came back from the world. Like the prodigal sons that we all are, when we return God’s love enfolds us and we move on.

We aren’t told what happens to the prodigal son after he came home. I think we assume he never left God’s love again and lived in harmony with the father.

Hopefully he did.

But for some old habits and bad ways come back to haunt us, in weak moments, in rash moments, through all the ways we let the devil lead us astray. All the ways we leave the door open for him to take us away from Jesus desires for us.

We feel ashamed, we pray for forgiveness. Myself I wonder how long before I can feel myself to be back from the distance sin creates, that we create by our sin.

However that sadness and guilt we feel, if it has any positives is us learning by bitter experience what sin does to us. Each time we come back and beg him to repair the damage we need to remember.

We have given ourselves to him and we are chosen. While our bad habits might come back, and we should try every day, every minute never to sin again. To pray for support, and to be made inside the way that he wants us.

Repentance with humility is just one way God works through the chaos of our lives and our weakness.

As he says in Psalm 51

My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

He uses our reliance on his grace and our repeated failures to repair us in his image.
So right now, put on the full Armour of God and try your very best, and always repent with a broken and contrite heart.

Remember , whenever and wherever you wander, god is waiting for you to turn back to him in love and utter dependence on his grace. That realization of that dependence is a critical lesson that our lives simply cannot function without his grace and we rely totally on it for any hope of salvation. Our only solace is that he will use that repentance and through his mercy will bring you closer to him once more.