Tag Archive: New Year


Affirmation & Aspiration

As we call ‘time’ on yet another calendar year and welcome in 2018

I share some lyrics of a song I wrote a couple of years ago,

reflecting the title – Affirmation & Aspiration –

(the tune is for an audience of One)

They’re offered along with a heartfelt prayer

that the coming year will be fragrant with divine favour upon your life

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You are my Source

You are my Centre

You are my Home

Where I belong

Refrain:

Lord, may I know You

So may I grow like You

That I may make You known

Wherever I go

You are my Rock

You are my Refuge

You are my Fortress

Where I am strong

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Go Peaceful

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I was recently impacted by these words, written by Paul Field, which deeply resonate with my heart’s desire as we move into 2017. I hope that you appreciate them, and it’s my heartfelt prayer that you will be richly blessed in the coming 12 months – indeed, may we all be known by love.

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Go peaceful
in gentleness
through the violence of these days.
Give freely.
Show tenderness
in all your ways.

Through darkness,
in troubled times
let holiness be your aim.
Seek wisdom.
Let faithfulness
burn like a flame.

God speed you!
God lead you,
and keep you wrapped around His heart!
May you be known by love.

Be righteous.
Speak truthfully
in a world of greed and lies.
Show kindness.
See everyone
through heaven’s eyes.

God hold you,
enfold you,
and keep you wrapped around His heart.
May you be known by love.

(by Paul Field)

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Here’s a version of the song I found on YouTube, sung by Sarah Hart:

Go Peaceful – A Reflection

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Processed

I’m part of an on-line community where people share information about their beliefs, behaviours and brand preferences. Members are allocated points for expressing opinions through surveys and research projects. I’ve participated in this community for several years, and have enjoyed several pay-outs. Recently I again reached the necessary number of points to claim a most welcome reward of £50. Having requested my reward I received a confirmatory e-mail entitled: “Your redemption is being processed“. Now this made me smile, broadly, since ‘redemption’ is one of my favourite words, and it got me thinking and writing!

Adding to my thoughts, I received a newsletter from a pastor/friend in Lincolnshire. Speaking of the Fall of Adam & Eve he wrote: “Our relationship-loving God immediately set about dealing with this problem (of severed relationship). He wanted friendship back, without compromising His justice.” – sound, orthodox teaching, I thought … but his next sentence jumped off the page into my heart, as he continued: “The process is called redemption and it centred around the voluntary sacrifice of Jesus Christ…” – WOW, I thought – thank you, Lord, for a confirming word !

Of course, you will recognise ‘redemption’ as a major church word … with its variants scattered throughout our English Bible – both old & new testament. I’ve come across at least 166 references in the English Standard Version (other translations use alternative English words, expressing exactly the same idea, for example: deliverance or salvation). I heartily recommend a careful study, especially of the NT references, making use of a good concordance.

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Now the history of mankind is, I believe, God’s story of redemption, which I propose to display through a series of questions/answers:
• What is happening in the Garden of Eden as God promises that the Seed of the woman will bruise the snake’s head – our redemption is being processed
• What is happening as the errant couple are clothed in animal skins (implying the death of an innocent victim) – our redemption is being processed
• What is happening when Abraham is asked to sacrifice his only son, Isaac – our redemption is being processed
• What is happening when Israelites paint their door-posts and lintels with lamb’s blood, freshly spilled, so escaping certain death – our redemption is being processed
• What is happening when psalmists & prophets foretell of God’s suffering Messiah – our redemption is being processed
• What is happening when the Eternal Christ becomes flesh, and is born of the virgin, Mary – our redemption is being processed
• What is happening when Jesus of Nazareth is cruelly executed on a Roman cross – our redemption is being processed
• What is happening when God raises Him from the dead on the third day – our redemption is being processed
• What is happening as the Holy Spirit comes on the day of Pentecost, giving birth to the Church of Christ – our redemption is being processed
• What is happening when that same Spirit touches our hearts with new life – our redemption is being processed
• What is happening through the roller-coaster of life as ‘all things work together’ conforming us to the image of God – our redemption is being processed
• What will happen at the glorious Second Advent of Jesus Christ – our redemption will be complete

There is ample biblical backing for all these statements, and I want to highlight just two brief passages, making it crystal clear that our God is the God who redeems, that Christ’s over-riding purpose was to redeem mankind, and that the Holy Spirit operates to make redemption effective in the here and now, culminating in a ‘day’ when believers will experience the redemption of their bodies (our resurrection is the ultimate ‘step’ in the process, leading to a shared eternity with our Great Redeemer …)

1. Galatians 4:4-7 – Paul writes: “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir, through God.

Whatever the future holds for you either as individuals or as church – do ensure you are holding fast to this truth – WE have been redeemed, WE NOW belong to God as His children – which leads to the second passage:

2. 1 John 3:1,2 – The beloved apostle John wrote: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” – this is utterly mind-blowing to consider, and let’s consider frequently, drawing strength and encouragement from the truth.

But let’s also heed John’s next words, in verse 3: “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies Himself, just as He is pure.” Linking directly with words of our Master in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God“. May we all consider deeply in practical terms, what being ‘pure in heart’ looks like.

I conclude here by drawing attention to that classic song written by Melody Green, and first recorded by her husband, Keith, a matter of weeks before his death in a plane crash:

There is a redeemer,
Jesus, God’s own Son,
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Holy One.

Jesus my redeemer,
Name above all names,
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Oh, for sinners slain.

Chorus:
Thank you, Oh my Father,
For giving us Your Son,
And leaving Your Spirit,
‘Til the work on Earth is done.

When I stand in Glory,
I will see His face,
And there I’ll serve my King forever,
In that Holy Place.

Keith Green on YouTube

Winning Combination

article-2577234-1C2C7EB100000578-223_634x400(VISUALLY-IMPAIRED skier, Kelly Gallagher, with guide Charlotte Evans, made history for Great Britain with a first ever gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi)

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The Hebrew names & titles translated as ‘God’ or ‘Lord’ in our English Bible are fascinating, and deeply instructive – those following occur most frequently:

ELOHIM – One with great power – often abbreviated to EL
ELYON – the Most High
SHADDAI – Almighty
ADONAI – Master/Owner/Sovereign
YHWH – Yahweh or Jehovah – the sacred ‘Covenant’ Name

These names/titles are often seen together, for example:

EL-ELYON = The Most High God – Genesis 14:18
EL-SHADDAI = Almighty God – Genesis 17:1
JEHOVAH ELOHIM – LORD God – Genesis 2:4
ADONAI JEHOVAH – Lord GOD – Genesis 15:2

A fascinating series of ‘combinations’ are known as JEHOVAH TITLES:

JEHOVAH-JIREH – Genesis 22:14 – The Lord provides
JEHOVAH-ROPHEKA – Exodus 15:26 – The Lord heals
JEHOVAH-NISSI – Exodus 17:15 – The Lord protects
JEHOVAH-SHALOM – Judges 6:24 – The Lord sends peace
JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU – Jeremiah 23:6 – The Lord gives righteousness
JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH – Ezekiel 48:35 – The Lord is here
JEHOVAH-ROI – Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is shepherd

Psalm 23 actually brings together the previous 6 combination titles including them in one magnificent anthem. Watch how:

v.1  – I shall not want = Jehovah-Jireh
v.2 – guiding to still/quiet waters = Jehovah-Shalom
v.3 – restoring the soul = Jehovah-Ropheka
v.3 – leading in righteousness = Jehovah-Tsidkenu
v.4 – with me, even in Death Valley = Jehovah-Shammah
v.5 – protecting from enemies = Jehovah-Nissi

Little wonder that when the Lord Jesus Christ appropriated to Himself the title of GOOD SHEPHERD that His listeners were scandalised, and attempted to stone him for the crime of blasphemy – (John 10)

The amazing truth is that the NAME YHWH is given to us in JESUS (Jehovah Saviour) eternally linking His Name with ours in a winning combination, as expressed so vividly in Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome – (The Message Bible: Roman 8:35-39)

” Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins in Scripture…none of these fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

In this New Year may we know the reality of being in a Winning Combination

Sharpen Up

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I received something of a ‘wake-up call’ early in November 2013.

After assisting with worship in a friend’s church, I listened as he taught about ‘fasting’ (in preparation for an evangelistic initiative in 2014). His words were like a ‘delayed-action grenade’ which exploded in my spirit later, convicting me of slippage in personal spiritual discipline since leaving paid ministry. After considerable reflection, a few days later I decided on a course of action, which I’ve found seriously beneficial – quite simply a substantial reduction in my food ‘intake’. Having maintained this regime for 8 weeks, even over Christmas, I feel sharper mentally & spiritually, and so much healthier physically (having shed over 20 pounds in weight – and taken consistently lower blood pressure readings)

Reflecting on this (particularly the ‘feel sharper mentally & spiritually’ bit) I recently read Ecclesiastes 10:10 which says: “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed”.

Wood-cutting prior to the era of ‘power tools’ was a hugely demanding task at the best of times – making a serious call on the labourer’s physical resources. The skilled hewer not only had to be in shape himself, he also needed a keen eye on the condition of his equipment, along with the good sense to maintain it in tip-top condition. Neglect in doing so inevitably resulted in reduction of effectiveness, required further strenuous effort on his part, and could even prove downright dangerous.

What a metaphor of life and ministry !

How pertinent perhaps to those hard (albeit jaded) workers, who keep slogging away with their increasingly blunt instrument:

– believing wrongly that taking time out to get sharpened is time wasted.

– failing to understand that the exertion of excess energy is both unnecessary and counter-productive.

– inviting the onset of burn-out – sadly a phenomenon all too common among those who fulfil a demanding caring role, whether in society or in church – a long trail of serious casualties tells the sorry tale.

Inadvertently, I may have stumbled on yet another sharpening process, that works for me – an add-on to other rhythms of spirit, mind and body (such as Bible reading, prayer & contemplation, corporate worship, writing & regular walking).

Again, partly with those Ecclesiastes words in mind, I’m taking a 2-day retreat in mid-January at a Franciscan Hermitage in the south of Lincolnshire, allowing space to discover and grow more into the person I’m meant to be. I anticipate this bringing a challenge to my very core.

Never ought I forget, too, that vital ‘honer’ of the human heart, enunciated in a piece of Jewish wisdom: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” – which celebrates the positive outcome of human inter-action. Rather, I shall take deliberate steps to build into my routine quality time with those individuals who resource me, as an ongoing ‘must’ for the New Year – hopefully, a new season of effectively ‘being’.

Yes, in 2014 I’ll not just keep swinging & hoping … but make time to sharpen up my axe-head – bearing in mind those insight-ful words of a former US President: abe-lincoln-sharpening-the-axe- inspirational story -motivational story