Basin of love

A really good word from ODB today.

John 13:1-17

Basin of Love

As soon as I saw the above passage I was reminded of the importance of character.  As we grow increasingly wanting to become more like Jesus and through our trials and tests every right choice we make brings that desire closer.

Peace is the absence of fear

Peace is the opposite of fear. That’s why it is a spiritual weapon. In fact, true peace is the absence of fear and when we walk in peace it declares we are no longer subject to fear and have reclaimed our authority. That is why Jesus can calm the storm.

Guiding Principles and Values

I have come to believe that any church, like any organisation, needs a set of Values and Guiding Principles.  They may take some time to form but they will then be useful to keep coming back to test our decisions and actions.

Put simply:

  • What we put first (our priority) determines what we value.  With a written set of Values we can ask whether we are putting first what God would put first.
  • The way we do things, in particular, the way we get alongside others, our behavior, reflects our character.  Guiding Principles will be useful as Godly benchmark.  For example, think about the fruits of the Spirit

So, here are my (developing) thoughts:

Values

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

It’s more important to be right with God and one another than it is to be right.

As a church we should aim to be a worshiping, connected, connecting, maturing, holy and restoring, supporting and sending people.

  • Worshiping (the life blood of faith, corporately, individually, daily, flowing between our special times of focus, the everyday and vice versa)
  • Connected (praying, being close to God, hosting the Presence, resting in God’s love – carrying our connection with God, being part of the family)
  • Connecting (wanting more of God with inviting hands reaching out to others)
  • Maturing (becoming more like Jesus as seen in our fruit and gifting)
  • Holy and Restoring (Hating sin, pursuing holiness and rooting out the lies of the enemy to become the people God made us to be)
  • Supporting (Allowing God’s love for us to take hold and expressing our response to that love through our love for others – to seek a heart after God’s own heart)
  • Sending (Looking for gifting in others, seeing it, calling it out and sending it to serve God’s purposes with no limits or boundaries)

Guiding Principles are there to direct us in the way we walk.

This is really about character – aspiring to become more and more like Jesus.

For example:

We will walk by:

  • Faith not Fear
  • Fearless Vulnerability
  • Serving others
  • Fruit of the Spirit

 

Treasure

Treasure – that which we value most.

I have come to value the words and pictures God has given me over the years more and more.  That is why I started this blog – as a place to store them.

Here is something I shared with my friend George concerning his words and pictures that he has been kind enough to share with me:

I just read “Learning to Listen” written for Clover Friends in May 2015.  God has spoken to us both about recording what He says to us.  As I shared yesterday I think these are the treasures that we need to dig up, clean and polish.  However, as I was reading I felt God say that the container we store them in is our Treasure Chest.  In your case it’s the folder and for me it’s the blog.  Some of our treasures in the chest may still need some cleaning and polishing before they are ready to give away.  One of the things Bill Johnson says is “You only get to keep what you give away”.  Amazing really.  It’s important because if we want to bring these treasures with us to heaven then we have to find a way to give them away.  That is why we start with digging it up and putting it in a chest.  We then keep working away, cleaning and polishing.  Once each treasure is ready we can then give it away.  Of course, with God, we still have in our possession what we have already given away and can keep on doing so.  Multiplying the value of each treasure as we do so.

The cleaning and polishing is the process of asking God how we can give away the treasures He has given us so we can prepare and re-work each treasure.  Once a treasure is ready it will have its own shine.

So, which of your treasures are ready now and which do you think still need cleaning and polishing?

In addition, we had a lady talk to us in church yesterday from the Bible Society.  She gave examples of people who have really had to work hard to get a bible or have to share and make the most of the little time they have with a bible.  I was contrasting that with the easy access we have now and how we can so easily take it for granted.  Then, given my current thoughts about treasure the following came to mind:

We only value the treasure we have to dig for.

So, dig into your bibles and see what God gives you!

Knocking on the doors of our hearts

Revelation 3:20 New King James Version (NKJV)

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

As covered in earlier posts I have come to realize that this verse is actually written to christians – not to non-christians.  It is an invitation to open up.

There are people I know who I have found it difficult to connect with – to really know what they think and what they feel.  They always hold something back.  These same people also find it difficult to trust as I have seen over the years.  They may also develop a theology that emphasis service more than relationship.  This can often seem like a form of law as opposed to living by the spirit.

I was praying for these people asking God to help me to love them as he loves them as I have let my frustration get the better of me.  This is what I shared with a friend:

I feel God is saying he keeps knocking on their hearts desperate to get in. That is what we experience. They won’t let us in. Our openness to one another reflects our openness to God. We can have knowledge without relationship. I have to choose our words carefully here because I am not saying they don’t know and have faith in God but there are parts of their lives they keep others out of. It’s like there are several doors in our hearts. He knocks on each but only enters in when invited. He loves them and desperately wants to enter in through each door. Do hard hearts = closed doors? Loving them means wanting the best for them, what can we do for them not what could they do for us.

Fearless vulnerability = opening all the doors.

We may turn to God as our hiding place, but if we don’t deal with the thing we are hiding from there will always be a part of heart with closed doors.

An after thought (March 27).  When Jesus enters a closed room in which the disciples are waiting full of fear (for they did not know Christ had risen) the first thing he said was, peace be with you, my peace I leave with you.  Put that together with Rev 3:20.  He knocks on our closed doors, doors closed by fear.  Let Him in, let the peace in and let the peace chase out the fear.

Hope needs Substance (Testimony)

Today I am feeling more positive about myself than I have for quite a few weeks.  On Sunday Feb 12th I went over on my right ankle worse than I have for over 10 years.  I could hardly walk and was deeply upset by how much this is limiting me.  On top of that in the last week I got a throat infection losing my voice on Monday which has gradually been returning since then.  In the previous week I was finding it hard to sleep and last Saturday night, coincidentally having twisted my ankle again, I don’t think I slept at all.  During Saturday I had also had a migraine which started Friday night as a result of being over tired.  I am sure that this is related to the fact that I have effectively been stuck in the house since returning from holiday (5 weeks now).  The whole experience has been difficult.

I was praying constantly through this.  Last Sunday, having been awake overnight, I was praying for peace to be sustained through the day.  I attended a baptism in the morning and then went to a celebration at someone’s house.  In the evening, having been home just over 2 hours, I went to The Gathering which was an amazing experience – and one I need to write up here.  I did not feel tired, but I did lose my voice in the afternoon into the evening and for the rest of the following day.  On Tuesday morning the doctor confirmed I had a throat infection and I have taken sick leave since then.  As I write I am feeling better but not well enough to return to work yet.

All of this followed nearly two years of ankle problems the worst they have ever been.  In February 2017 I had an operation on my ankle and after physio things seemed better.  I then started getting pain down the right hand side of my foot which has meant I have had a permanent limp.  So, going over on my ankle in February this year was the last straw.

It’s not been a great few weeks for my health.

This morning I woke with the usual dryness and pain in my throat but after some warm drinks I was (and am) definitely on the mend .  I still have the throat infection but it’s not as sore, my voice continues to improve and I have more energy – though not enough for the usual work onslaught!

However, I also went to see the Podiatrist that had been recommended to look into orthotics (shoe inserts).  Having given her my history she said she was fully expecting to see feet like mine (short and wide with a high instep).  As well as moving things forward for “made to measure shoe inserts” she told me about something called the Richie Brace.  It is designed not only to provide the support that would prevent me going over on my ankle, but also to allow my ankle to strengthen the more I use it – unlike the usual ankle support.  In other words I will be able to get to the point where I can go walking in the Lake District with my wife.

It has given me new hope.  I am not only feeling better today but also more positive than I have for weeks.  There is a way forward.  It’s a journey and I may be only at the beginning but I now have hope that, like a map, shows the way and the end.

I knew it was hope that had changed my outlook.  And as hope is such an important word in the Christian faith it made me think.  The substantial event (or promise) was hearing about the difference the Richie Brace could make.  It is a credible hope.  It’s not outside of my own experience or knowledge – it simply makes sense.  Therefore, I can trust that over time this is going to make a huge difference.

So, what is it that makes our christian hope have substance?  That is the question that next came to mind.  As I have been thinking about that I have been reminded of some of the times God has clearly moved in my life and made a difference – in other words God has been adding deposits of hope in my bank account of faith.  I do have to go back to look at those deposits from time to time and then remind myself of His character that I know through both experience and what I read in the bible.  I can then look at His promises and look back on His faithfulness and know that the same faithfulness will then deliver on those promises.

Testimony is important.  Our own testimony can serve to remind us of what God has done and point to what He will do.  In addition the testimony of others can do the same.  We need to value testimony much more.

God is more interested in our hearts than our theology

Let’s not worry so much about getting it right but rather simply yearn for more of Him.

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.

Better to be right with God and one another than to be right.

Sing a love song to Heaven.