Live orchestral music has a majesty. The conductor stands with his back to the audience, yet facing the orchestra. He leads the way pulling together the individuals to make a collective beautiful sound. Music that speaks to the heart.
Now imagine the conductor is also the greatest composer. That his music is the best the world has known. That being invited into the orchestra is the greatest privilege for each musician.
What a concert!
We are called to be part of that orchestra. The name of the orchestra is Church. The music is God’s calling, purpose and destiny for the Church. The audience is the world. The composer has some wonderful solo work as seen in creation and yet some of His greatest work is being played out before us right now.
But how is this Church a great orchestra? Surely it often sounds like we are just tuning up?
Outside of the performance in quiet rooms behind closed doors the composer/conductor spends time with each musician, honing their skill and teaching them how to express their heart in the music. When he brings them together their eyes are on Him, not the audience, and as they step into their identity, each playing their different instruments, expressing their heart, so the assembly comes together into a beautiful masterpiece. The composer will at times bring out individuals for solos, or duets or specific arrangements, but all the time he pulls together everyone into a collective whole. It is astounding, captivating and wonderful. The orchestra is seen by the world and when that orchestra come together, keeping their eyes on the conductor/composer, then the world begins to see how wonderful He is.
There is such a great ALIGNMENT in the orchestra it is as though they are one.
His back is to the audience, but the audience wants to see His face.
Members of the audience start to say, can I join the orchestra?
Sitting in the presence of God
Feeling His touch upon my life
Breathing in the breathe of God
His Healing Hand upon my heart
Knowing His eyes watch over me
His compassion and love surround
The gentle whisper guides the way
“I am” is with me His very name continuous
The promise of abiding love
His footsteps go before me
His Spirit lives within me, resting on me
His strength stands behind me
Overwhelming grace carries me
His pleasure bringing joy to my heart
His face lit in Holiness and Glory
He calls me Beloved and draws me in
I know, I know, I know
I am with you in every step
I see the pain and I feel it too
Beloved, I weep as I see the damage done
My heart cries out, it won’t be long
My tears bring healing, refreshing water on each wound
My voice brings peace to calm the fear
I am the way, the truth and the life
Follow me to find your way
Listen to the words I say
Watch as my presence brings life
I speak creation bringing light to darkness,
Healing to suffering and Life to Death
I am the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End
There from the start with my finger prints on all that is good
Trust in me and know I will not stop until it is done
Rest in me
Rest my little one
Rest, Rest, Rest
Be still and KNOW that I am God
Be still …
My friend Lampa (not his real name) has for the last two years gone through a very difficult separation and divorce. In that time he has been forced out of the family home, falsely accused of child abuse and constantly vilified to the powers that be.
None of the false accusations have been proven (as expected) but the legal system does not easily allow you to prove these are false allegations or appeal against injustice – without great cost.
It’s not fair. It is not just. But it is what it is. It is part of a fallen world.
During this difficult time I have been able to walk alongside my friend encouraging him to trust God and also helping him avoid “emotional” or “gut” responses that could lead to trouble. It is this time that encouraged me to write this:
I have seen my friend’s character change – for the better. We have reflected on Psalm 23 and in particular “the valley of the shadow of death”. There have been times when my friend has felt he is deep in that valley. But God’s plans are far greater than ours and indeed I have seen that God has been preparing my friend for his calling. He is shifting course to become a prison minister. There are few people I know that are going to understand the suffering faced by those in prison but if anyone can it will be my friend Lampa.
Indeed, at different points God has given me these for my friend:
Anyway, today I was in court again with my friend. During his time in court I prayed:
This followed something he shared with me this morning. Yesterday, at a retreat set up by his college as part of his pastoral training he went over to speak with a first year student (a man in his 50s) who he had not met before. The man introduced himself. His first name is “Justice”. Lampa shared with him that he was due in court and that he could do with some justice. Justice suggested they pray. After pausing Justice said he had word from the Lord and shared Psalm 37. The words of the psalm so fitted with what Lampa needed to hear. Justice will now be seen to be done.
Justice has walked into Lampa’s life.
Before I wrote this post:
I was thinking about how Jesus would so often give answers or say things that need much deeper exploration. So often it is not a direct answer to the question being asked – but it is always what that person needs to hear. More often than not it is not a long drawn-out statement either. This is a stark contrast to all the “wordy” things that I write! It’s definitely something to learn from.
It got me thinking about counselors. Not the ones who have a job running local government, but rather those who sit and listen to people and help them work through things. I don’t know much about what it takes to be a counselor but I do know there is a lot more listening than talking. That the counselor’s job is not to solve people’s problems for them but rather to help people solve (or work through) their problems themselves. They will often reflect back and then ask a probing question. In doing so a counselor may help increase someone’s self awareness and then provide strategies to work through their issues. A Christian counselor will (hopefully) work hand-in-hand with the Holy Spirit to see what He reveals too.
So why did I connect the way Jesus often helps people with a counselor?
I was building on the idea that we only value the treasure we have to dig for. Jesus’ parables or teaching often required deep thought, prayer and meditation to understand and along with the work of the Holy Spirit we may be given new insights. The very process and act of finding a new “truth” makes us treasure it more. I was wondering if it’s similar for someone working with a counselor. In that the very act of working through something helps the person value what they find more – and take ownership.
In order to achieve this a counselor has to have a very good understanding of different people, their situations and various influences. A build up of experience will add more to this. In doing so they effectively become expert map readers (reading people, situations, cause and effect etc.) and guides (offering ways out) to help people work through things.
So, how can I help people find and grow more in their faith? In some cases what I write here might help, but definitely not all! I need to consider how I can become an expert map reader and guide. Recognizing that I need to know and read the map better so that I can direct people, but also recognizing that people need to find things for themselves and thus the way I guide someone will vary. Of course, the closer I am to the guidance of the Holy Spirit the more I can call on His most awesome map reading and guidance expertise!
So many thoughts this morning …..
This is not the first, but perhaps it needs to come before the others.
In one of my posts I will talk about the help of a councilor. It’s not an area I know much about, but is one I respect. However, my thoughts are rooted in this:
I desire to share what God is giving me. BUT I am finding that not everyone can cope or engage with all the words I write! People communicate in different ways. Less is so often more!
So, I desire to find different ways that will help people with their journey the same way I have been helped with mine. As ever, there is no better way to find the answer than to look at Jesus. How did He share the truth He had? When I look at Jesus and what He said in his preaching and teaching along with His response to others, I see a man who very rarely gives a direct answer. A man that shifts the conversation so that it speaks into what a person needs to hear. Not only that but His answers then invite the listener to dig for more.
So how do I learn to do that?
The answer is so simple that it makes you wonder why it seems so complicated or evasive.
It is this:
Take up the invitation to follow Jesus – daily.
Learn to walk with Jesus in the same way that the disciples did. See what He does. Listen to His words and teaching. Take up the invitation to serve as He directs.
I realized this morning that the disciples, from the moment of their first invitation, were never without the close company and leadership of Jesus (in and through the Holy Spirit) except for two occasions. On both occasions they had to wait. Consider this:
They are called. They follow Jesus for 3 years learning who He is, following His lead, taking on His teaching and listening to His promises.
Jesus is crucified. The disciples’ world is torn apart. For two days they are paralyzed in fear and despair. They can do nothing. But although they don’t know it, they are waiting …..
Jesus is resurrected. His relationship with the disciples is re-established – as though on steroids. The impossible has happened and both His past and current teaching takes on a whole new level of meaning.
Jesus ascends to Heaven. Before He goes He tells the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father – they are to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. They obey – they do seem to get it absolutely right this time. But they don’t do anything except choose someone to replace Judas and then they wait – as instructed. They are not trying to spread the Gospel, preach, teach or heal people. They simply wait. The point being that they could do nothing without this baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The same is true for us.
Consider this though. They knew Jesus. Jesus had said that He and the Father are one. In the same way the Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son. Given this – they recognize Him when He comes! They know His voice – as they have been so close to Jesus in those 3 years. Consider this as well – when Jesus said that whenever 2 or 3 meet in His name then He would be present what did He mean? I believe it means that the presence of Jesus and the Father is somehow found in the presence of the Holy Spirit. I can’t explain it – and I am quite happy with that. I simple believe it because my experience bares it out.
We need to get to know the true nature of God. We can do that through studying the scriptures, receiving teaching and reading books, but only so much. The disciples got to know Jesus through what they did together. His continual challenging and stretching not only changed who they were but also revealed who He was (is) and His heart for them.
The disciples would have been confused and lost when Jesus ascended to Heaven. They knew they could do nothing without Him and yet Jesus had given them a great commission, to go out into the world and make disciples of every nation. How on earth could they do that without Jesus?
However, when the Holy Spirit came in power they did not think, they simply acted. They were compelled to go out into the street, spoke in various tongues and even seemed drunk to some. What’s more they were used powerfully and 3000 people were added to the church that day. From that day on they knew that they could walk day by day close to the Holy Spirit in the same way they had with Jesus for those special 3 years. They realized that they were not alone and would never be alone from that day forward. The teacher was present in every moment of every thing they did. The teacher was still acting and then sending them to act empowered by Himself.
I recognize that I need to do the same. The same invitation is there for me. The same invitation is there for you. We just have to take it up. When we do then we will learn from the best, the Master Himself.
He is the one who will teach me how best to share what He gives me.
I too want to have a continuous walk with God in the same way the disciples did all those years ago!
Loss of Security / Identity
The Battle for Peace
Grace in Weakness reveals God’s Strength
“I SEE YOU. You were lost but I have found you, now stop being lost again and come enter my presence once more.
“Trust me, and keep trusting me for what I will do through you, for you and those you love. Trust and obey for then people will know that you love me and I will know that you love me.”
Today’s ODB pointed me to:
The Insight section says:
Luke records the coming of the Holy Spirit in wonderfully descriptive language. For the disciples, the entire three years of walking with Jesus would have been astounding, but the last two months prior to the day of Pentecost would have been especially intense: the trial, the crucifixion, hiding in fear, the resurrection, the ascension. And it all led to the coming of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the gospel. Luke doesn’t record the reactions of the disciples, but imagine being in their sandals. As you are together with your closest friends, you hear the sound of wind—inside the house! What appears to be fire descends on you. Even with everything you have seen, the temptation to flinch would have been great. God’s presence was both terrifying and empowering. But it’s this fire that sparks the first gospel message, the message of salvation in Jesus.
Love Revelation: “I will pour out …..”. The very act of prophesying will be to give revelation.
God’s identity: He is the ultimate authority and source of revelation (life). He does what He says He will do, “I will …..” He also a God of signs and wonders – demonstrating wonders in the heavens above and signs on earth. There is a glorious day to come.
Our Identity: Note Peter’s identity – He has authority but he really wants people to engage (connect) – “Listen carefully.” This is also preaching (not teaching). For us: God’s Spirit will be poured out and it is expected that we will all prophesy – not some, all. What do we expect? What do we aspire to? Finally, if we have called on the name of the Lord – then part of our identity is – saved!
Security and Authority – Peter is totally secure in what he says. He has great confidence that clearly comes from the covering of the Holy Spirit.
Posture/Church – Clearly the covering of the Holy Spirit (resting on and working through us) is important. We should seek to be a prophetic people.
For further exploration: What is the difference between preaching and teaching – I believe Peter is preaching here.