I hate to disagree with Ghandi but..

Ghandi said

“In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” That sounds great until you think about it.

For us as christians we need to always know it is grace that leads to prayer being connected with our lord, not our prayer, not our “quality” of prayer.
Whether we feel our heart isnt in it, or our heads are working against us. Whether stress is in the way, or we are angry with our lord

Nobody would disagree that some of the most fervent prayer can be found in our psalms. However the Psalms of Lament make up quite a large chunk of them. These are psalms written in times of massive disorientation, pain, anger, sadness, jealousy, fear, illness poverty of most kinds.

We in our daily lives when we feel anxious, fearful, lost, angry, jealous, unworthy, distracted etc. We take ourselves away from prayer, we dont want to do “bad prayer”, come before our lord feeling unworthy.

That mistake contains two mistakes. The first is that we require grace at all times, on our best day and on our worst. Our Lord’s love abolished the power of sin and death when we came to him and asked him into our lives. His atonement for our sins borne from love, and a continuing outrageous love means that however worthy or unworthy we may feel we are our Lord brings us close to him with a love that has no memory.

The second mistake is that the power of prayer lies totally with our lord and so even our weakest prayer is heard,because of love. Our lord is self sufficient, he wants us close to him. So whether our prayers are like the most wonderful music and poetry intertwined with a sincerity that comes from our innermost being, or whether to our ears they sound brittle and insincere, fake, unworthy, the power in them comes from our Lord. So head or heart, one or the other or neither. Our lord has the grace to hear them

Do we love our children less as they learn to talk, or try to come to us falteringly across the kitchen, do love them less on their worst days as they try to come close to us when angry, or sad, or bitter? I think we love our children every day, and our love is less perfect than he who gave us the gift of love. The fountainhead of love never falters, the source and the creator of love never runs dry.

What does this mean?

It Means dont “quality control” your prayer. Yes, on the days where we can pray like the angels, enjoy the joy that brings as you draw close to a loving God.

But on the “other” days and they will come, rest assured the power of your prayer rests solely with the Lord your praying too. They rest within his grace, within his boundless love that has wiped out your sin and wants you to heal and draw close. That treasures every step towards him, and calls you home.

Prayer is the Lords gift, the most powerful thing you can do, but the power of prayer is the Lords, and your prayer isnt graded by him. Its simply loved and answered with love.

So mister Ghandi you were correct our Lord see’s what in our heart more than the quality of our words.However to disagree slightly, his grace overflows our weakness, and the power of prayer lies with him and him alone.


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 Talk – Be Visible.

I often write on social media about various musings on God, his word and how he affects those that live in him and he in us. But this was my first time in front of a real audience and my parish and those that I love and worship with every week.

First OFF
Anyone who hears this please remember, This is just MY thoughts, and “a” way of expressing things” not the way, every one is just as valid

You are the first bible people meet.
I joined our Parish two years ago or so now without any idea about who or what the church was and is. It was quite hard for me, I had zero church background and knew nobody from the church (or didn’t know I knew anyone from the church).  I had a relationship with Jesus forged from years before when I was very lonely in a flat down in Bournemouth.

Born into a very noisy active family down in forest gate in among the bad boys I got given the chance to move to Bournemouth through work. I decided this was my chance to get out. Change my perspective Change my life.
Thing is being young and silly I bought a flat in Bere Regis right out the back, with nobody around. Beautiful, isolated, and for a city boy from a 24/7 family a very lonely place. I had zero social life and albeit some very good friends came with me I was at the end of each day, alone.
One day in my bedroom I was so lonely I picked up a Gideon’s bible I was given at school and said “Jesus I really need you, if you’re real please help me”

My room at that point was filled with him, his love and it was SO real I could touch it. From that day to as I stand here now I have had an active relationship with Jesus.

He is right HERE (at that point I pointed to my heart)

The years passed and I never went to a church because I never felt like I needed too.  Then after drifting away for a long time I came back, and this time I really did want to join, but again just never knew HOW to join, what the culture was like, what the people would be like, are they the harsh judgmental souls represented by the American church?
Are they leaping round like the charismatic, are they very serious, are they, are they and so on.
Is it boring?
All sorts of excuses, plus how do you choose?
All religions are the same?
What are you good people Like?
I never knew
Then one day (he asked me to say I was Guided by the lord) I met a very outspoken (in everything actually) Christian called Hugh Southon, and we met through mutual love of all things west ham, I am a bit of a west ham anorak, and quite a good blogger and very good on social media, growing a west ham page to about 5000, but it was the non west ham chat that changed my life.
I was telling him that all religions are the same. I was in the position at that time of having spent 30 years arguing with a Jesus I was either trying to prove existed or didn’t, I spent all my time in philosophy and alternate religions seeking him so I could deny him

I’ve tested you out and really I don’t know.

Hugh and his friend Caroline were arguing that Christianity was “the” religion, because Jesus was alive”.  I said it’s the same as all religions.

Caroline quoted John 14:6 “I am the way the truth and the life and nobody comes to the father except through me”.

She said that if that was not true, then Jesus was a liar.

This ultimatum rather stopped me in my tracks, forced me to make a choice, and forced me to find a way in through the church door, through all the stereotypes, baggage, and cynicism of a world that really is increasingly distant.

I sent a LONG email to Jane and here I am.

But it was very clear the final catalyst was because someone in a public place nailed their colours to the mast and said “I am Christian, this is what I think as a Christian”

As I grew into the body of the church I found the problems we are all aware of.An aging congregation was a problem for the church as was a shrinking one.

That’s really sad because once very soon after I joined while getting my ear healed through prayer (story for another day) I was asked “what do you want”  A very deep truth spilled out of me when I said

“I want others to feel like this”

and I do, Very  badly.

Why because I meet homeless people who so need to forgive or his forgiveness, I meet anger and greed and they so need his love.
The world needs his love, the refugee’s and the disenfranchised all need Christian love.

Assad, Isis, David Cameron, Donald Trump, All the big corporates like Amazon, banks, all need it, all the big countries, all need his love and to follow his example. All of the people, in all of those things.
They all need him.

The world Need’s him

However we can be a bit silent, a bit invisible.
The question is WHY?
•    The ever more secular growth makes us feel unusual.
•    The angry atheist, makes us feel vulnerable
•    The people that think Christians are homophobes, or judgmental make us feel   vulnerable.
•    The news where companies that sack people for wearing a cross, that persecute the church and those that speak out.

The problem is, that in a world ever more moving away from us, a world very much LESS exposed to the bible than people have been for centuries, as someone said the other day.

You are the first bible people meet.

All of you,all of us.

We have to fill that gap, and that means being in plain sight?

We have to speak out.

But with our voice an ever shrinking demographic we must speak and go to meet a world moving away from us.

There are ways to do this, when you’re at work and someone asks “where are you going”, Say “off to Christian studies”.

When in a few weeks’ time someone says “what are you doing over
Easter “ Say I am a Christian and that means Holy Week, so very busy in my church”

In the pub, wear a lapel badge, state who you are, be more visible, be where Christian voices don’t normally go.

On social media chat pages, in work, at football, wherever you go.
Maybe pin a line of proverbs up at your desk (good news bible versions of this are good, the use of normal English makes them easier to use)

“The Lord has given us eye’s to see with and Ears to listen with”

Or

“The Customer always complains the price is too high, but then goes off and brags about the bargain he got” (both in Proverbs 20)

Be the first bible people meet.
So that they know a Christian, and respect that example and can ask you for a way into a culture ever more distant from us, ever more needing us, but like me a long time ago, arguing with him, labeling him,

It’s not enough that we think that being a “good person” is enough of an example because, if they don’t know who you are?

It should also be that they know you’re behaving in a certain way to glorify and follow Jesus.

If you are doing these things I apologise, but really its beholden on all of us to find a little of our inner Jehovah’s witness 

Evangelism can be as a result of direct action, as a result of being a special human being.

But to make a real impact to change the tide?

We have lost a little bit through fear of being exposed or ridiculed or by not being a natural extrovert like me it’s just stating it, in conversation, at work, in the pub, at the football, on social media.

I think also we have a thing that makes us not want to “show off”.
I struggle with this too, because we are told not to show off our good works, because we are supposed to be servants, and not raise our profile.

But we must spread the good news, and by being simply “visible” we can enable others to ask, to come in, to see what we are like and what we can offer, what living with Jesus does to us, and what living with Jesus can offer the world, as a voice.

We can explode myths, and open up, and destroy parodies, and stereotypes.

We can be the first bible people meet, and speak openly about it, with love for and too everyone and make ourselves the sign on the church door, and be gods mouth and heart.

The end result of by doing so is to open the door before they come to the door.

Make the world want share in his real loving care

My experience of this, is that at first when you speak into a place where his voice is less often heard you meet anger, and angry atheists.

“He” doesn’t want you there.

However after a while you find other voices, curious, accepting, loving, and helpful.

But we do live a little in fear of being the first voice, Christianity teaches you last first, don’t pray in the open etc. etc.  We think faith without deeds is nothing and all those things are true.

But in simple terms how in today’s world where I once was, HOW would we the body of the church find ME three years ago?

I didn’t know a single Christian, or so I thought, I found them after, and the first openly Christian voice I met brought me home.

I don’t think I am alone or special in a secular world.

The question is how can we move that voice back into relevance and fill our pews again?

Only by moving our voice into plain view everywhere.

Not only in events, or on our good deeds, but in casual, but fearless conversation with our fellow man.

What we do now in some respects is like “quality time” that idea that when we spend less time with people and our kids that we can achieve just as much because we are focussed.

But truth be told we can’t and our families and friends and kids blurt things out over dinner, over the coffee machine, a pint, before the first goal whenever.

Because that’s when it hits them?

As peter said

1 Peter 3:15
“always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”

If we can be visible and open we can be around when it does.

Then because we can open the bible, simply by our words given by grace, clinging to the foot of the cross and open to him.

We can be the first bible people meet.
As they may not meet another.

Be visible.