Blogroll, Theology, writing

“Do You Trust Me?”


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When David Brent repeatedly asked the Swindon lot, ‘do you trust me?’, we laugh because of course they didn’t! Brent is the last person in the world that you would find yourself trusting. The Swindon crew’s resounding silence tells the story:  ‘No, we do not trust you” – even when Brent makes them say that they do.

One particular verse has kept me sane recently from Romans, (15:13). It goes like this:

“May the God of hope FILL you with all JOY and PEACE as you TRUST in Him so that you may OVERFLOW with HOPE by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT”

I love this verse for many reasons. One of them is the flowing exuberance of experience that Paul is writing with and another is the word AS.

This tiny word points to such a crucial principle in our lives of faith – i.e. that actually in the process of trusting we experience the joy and peace and overflowing hope of the God of hope who pours into us to the point of filling up and the point of overflowing. As we trust we are filled by the power of the Holy Spirit with hope, joy and peace.

Again, Isaiah 26:3 – “For You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in You. This steadfastness of mind is to do with the trusting of God’s reality in our lives, by the Holy Spirit, above all other things…all other temptations, trials and difficulties…the things of situations and contexts that press in and flex their muscles around us so that this word AS might be done away with, the very link with the hope we crave.

If we don’t trust we become like the Swindon lot and our God is dishonoured. Even when we say we trust He sees if we truly do. When we choose to trust, despite it all, He is honoured and we know the link to limitless and supernatural joy, peace and hope.

Our great Abba longs, longs, longs for us to experience this hope, joy and peace and to overflow into testimony of it, not just theoretically agree and nod our heads.

“Do you trust me?”

Prayer, Theology

Divine Mitosis


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When the Bible shows us Jesus praying, it’s a big deal. When the Bible gives us a whole chapter of Jesus praying, this is an even bigger deal.

I think we all struggle with prayer to some extent and at different points in our lives. Feelings can rise up in us like: “But I’d really rather watch the football…or I’d rather chill out at the movies or watch x-factor…or have an hour more in bed.” (more…)

Theology, Worship, Music and Song

All Is Grace


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If we really believe the gospel we proclaim, we’ll be honest about our own beauty and brokenness, and the beautiful broken One will make Himself known to our neighbours through the chinks in our armour – and in theirs”

In September I wrote about The Furious Longing of God, by Brennan Manning, whose revelation expresses the mind-bending truth that Abba “loves us as we are not as we should be”. The full truth of course is that none of us are as we should be.

“All Is Grace” is a moving autobiographical account of Manning’s life including his deep struggle with alcohol addiction. The account is so transparent that it served to kindle again the fire of grace in my life. Sometimes this fire might simmer down in all of us to something more resembling a glowing ember, and so it needs the stoking of testimony and of revelation.

There are three absolute gems that I’d like to make a note of from the book and then let you hear/see a song I wrote and recorded earlier this year that gives a voice of worship to these glowing, but ignitable, embers of the fire of grace.

All Is Grace

Gem One – “God Loves Us As We Are Not As We Should Be”

This inexhaustible phrase is a statement of truth that seeps through the human psyche only by faith. When it does, it begins to permeate all of our living as the reality of His unconditional love becomes our felt experience. I have been the kind of Christian who says that I believe in a love like this but who rarely feels it by personal experience. But this is changing – I am ‘Daddy’s little boy’ – period. Let us be aware of this sounding to us like a wooly emotional crutch for the weak or the ‘needy’. This is the gospel and, I’m convinced, the key to all of our living. As Mike Bickle says, “I am loved by God therefore I am profoundly successful”

Gem Two – “Gulping and Sipping”

In the foreward of the book, Philip Yancey refers to Manning’s ‘gulping of grace’ as his way of life. It caught my attention because all too often I know that my drinking (or receiving) of His grace is much more like a sipping. In Jesus, Abba has made provision for our constant gulping of these waters and we honour Him as we do so in every single minute of every hour of every day. We need to and He is glorified as we do. There is a tendency for all of us to default back to a surveying of our ‘track records’ or ‘current performances’ as the true indicator of our standing with God – there is something very strong within us that wants to be justifiable by ourselves not justified by a Saviour. We must resist this to grow in grace.

Gem Three – “Banana Peels and Fairy Tales”

Right at the end of the book, Manning highlights that this kind of grace will be like a ‘banana peel for the orthodox foot‘ and ‘a fairy tale for the grown up sensibility‘ – in other words, something that makes them fall on their butts or something that they reject as a made-up story. This makes me want to be neither orthodox or grown up! Why? Because I don’t want to waste my life sipping nervously or uncertainly from the infinite grace of Abba by labelling it as ‘cheap’ if I fall. Or wasting my life worrying about my weaknesses and all the while not experiencing the fulness of the Father’s love. It’s not cheap grace, says Manning, it’s free grace! Instead of a person who is gulping from grace being called a ‘cop out’ couldn’t we live increasingly with the understanding that when we do sin we have an Advocate in heaven interceding on our behalf and that, regardless, we have an Abba who loves us furiously? But God does mean that our gulping will result in our healing from sin (1 John 2:1).

“It’s Your Grace”

is a response from my life to the reality of being constantly touched and kept by grace every minute of every hour of every day that I’m alive. I’d like to think that if Brennan was to hear it that he’d worship Jesus along with me. I hope you will too.

© Nick Franks 2011


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angels&demons, heaven, writing

“The Heavenlies” – A Peretti Pastiche (Part 2 of 2)


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Three

It was the end of his University life and Paul had decided that it didn’t matter if he got drunk tonight. He stood at the bar again waiting for more drink. Apathy, Deceit and Desire gripped hold of him like toxic leeches, writhing in pleasure as they controlled his mind. Their yellow, bulbous eyes flitted about continually, knowing that at any moment legions of angels could obliterate any attempt they could ever make to influence a human life. Kaalk had returned to the City’s demonic stronghold having achieved his goal, but with his swollen pride well and truly dented. He had a score to settle.

It wasn’t long before Pete and Adie had paired off with girls at the other end of the pub, leaving Paul on his own. He looked around and couldn’t see anyone else he knew, so just stayed by his new refuge at the bar. Paul felt his mind getting weary as he opened his throat and threw down the last of the shots. Looking up for a second, he caught the eye of a girl at the end of the bar near to Adie and Pete. He instinctively looked away back to his drink, but he knew she’d been looking at him. She was stunning. Desire shifted position and delved deeper into Paul’s mind. Paul suddenly felt more alert, more nervous again, and he was excited.

By flashing one of his last notes of the night, he motioned to the barman that he wanted serving again. He deliberately glanced back to where the girl had been standing as he exchanged his money for another drink, but was disappointed to find that she had gone. This beer seemed weaker than his earlier pints, like his tongue was numb; it was easier to drink and as he started to knock it back he thought how good it would be to have a girlfriend, not even a girlfriend, just a girl would do.

His thoughts were interrupted by a waft of perfume as he realised that the girl had come over to stand next to him. She was just standing there, leaning against the bar, playing with her long golden hair. As she turned to say goodbye to one of her friends, Paul’s eyes moved across her body as Desire burrowed deeper. Making sure not to slur, he leaned a little closer as she turned back and offered to buy her a drink.

They were soon sitting down holding each other with temporary confidence, not concerned about the public gaze or the fact that they couldn’t remember each other’s name. As the night drew to a close, Paul remained entirely oblivious to the hive of demonic activity that surrounded him. He had forgotten the boy who now lay in hospital and the Bible that sat by his bed. He had forgotten.

Four

Kaalk sat on the dewy moss of the church steeple as the sun struggled through the clouds in the distance. He was motionless except for the rise and fall of his alien frame. Sulphurous breath streamed from his nostrils as he focused on the house, averting his gaze only in occasional reproach of the demonic minions that sat restlessly behind him. Guilt crouched subserviently next to Kaalk. He knew this was his chance to impress his master.

Aramouth and Guldin were standing once again as mighty warriors. Singing with voices like the sound of many waters they were spearheading the Lord’s army that was rapidly congregating in the heavenly places. They proudly looked across the horizon to see hundreds of thousands of angels covering each other in prayer as they prepared for battle.

Paul stirred groggily in his bed as the physical hangover began to gnaw at his consciousness. He opened his eyes to the world allowing the gradual trickle of fragmented memories to tumble through his damaged mind. Kaalk’s huge membranous wings unfurled as Paul reached for the light and the window became lit. A leathery canopy now surrounded the fiend as he waited for the moment to climb the air, glancing furtively around for any angelic intervention. Kaalk was nervous because this was important.

As though in perfect synchronisation, pairs of orange and green reptilian eyes emerged from the trees ahead and from the cars beneath Kallk  – several more from within the bushes next to Paul’s window. They lit the area like flashing hazard lights from the scene of an accident. Kaalk was tense but he smirked with anticipation. The stench of acid rose from the sulfuric climate intensifying from his flaring nostrils as the demonic fellowship behind him also stood eagerly to attention.

Then came Kaalk’s call like the petrified screaming of lost children. In one blurred movement Guilt leapt with frightening agility and dived into the dome of the tree next to Paul’s house, passing into the roof space. He hurtled downwards at unearthly speeds towards Paul’s bedroom. The downcast child of God sat on the edge of his bed bathed in ice-cold perspiration. He felt sick in his stomach, weakly nauseous and giddy. He gagged at the rush of adrenalin with every hazy memory that returned, and, with them, Apathy, Deceit and Desire all moved to accommodate Guilt who entered the room with merciless force.

Paul instantly remembered his opportunity to leave the pub, the chance to go home. With immaculate precision Guilt sharpened his talons on his armoured back and sank them into his victim’s mind. Paul remembered the girl. Guilt withdrew his talons and began to swing back and forth with his barbed sword, hacking Paul’s heart with insatiable pleasure. Paul collapsed on the floor catching his head in his hands, weeping like a child. He was embarrassed by his fear though no-one was in the room with him, and yet, like the faint blowing of the wind he could hear outside, he recognised a still voice longing for him to call out the name of Jesus. Paul understood the voice instantly and with all the faith he had cried out to his Father in heaven.

A single trumpet sounded and the gates of heaven exploded open. Endless thousands of heavenly warriors raced in majestic silence to Paul’s defense as unimaginable fragrances and indescribable lights appeared in the train of radiance behind the heavenly host. With perfect timing, Guldin and Aramouth were fighting by Paul’s side and, like a spear through water, sent every demon sprawling to the floor. Paul lifted his head and remembered a verse from Romans, and then another from Philippians. Guldin stood before Paul like a mighty pillar of the finest gold while Aramouth prowled like a lion, skillfully disarming the injured demons.

Apathy, Deceit and Desire bowed briefly before the angels as they hissed and fled the room. Guilt had already maneuvered like a snake back behind Guldin who spun to see the spirit dig again into Paul’s heart. Once more Kaalk howled outside commanding the remaining demons to do their worst, and they moved together towards the bedroom like a black cloud.

Paul hesitantly got to his feet and sat again on his bed. He looked at his Bible as Guldin threw a massive blow to the back of Guilt’s deformed head. But Guilt braced himself and stuck obstinately to Paul’s heart. Kaalk’s filthy presence now filled the room as Aramouth turned to what appeared to be a different demon, transfigured. Kaalk had grown in stature and now towered above him filling the room with a putrid stench. Aramouth darted from one side of the room to the other to avoid the blur of Kaalk’s claws and fangs, failing to land any blows of his own attack.

But the demon lord hyper-extended his spine and screamed in horror amidst vomiting episodes as an explosion of pure light momentarily blinded him. Outside, the demonic cloud was seconds from entering Paul’s bedroom when it hit an impenetrable wall of heavenly authority. Demons were snatched and sent flailing into the abyss of hell; shattered wings and bodies showered the area like a grotesque spiritual deluge. Kaalk instinctively knew what had happened as he spat on the floor: his scheme was effectively over and that the Unmentionable’s army had conquered again. But Kaalk remained internally motivated with the prospect of his own glory, with his own triumph over these pathetic spirits that, on their own, were nothing.

The demon clawed at his bleeding eyes and grabbed Aramouth, tossing him aside like a rag doll. He pinned him to the floor with his muscular leg, but reached down too late to see Guilt being decapitated by Guldin and thrown out of the room with unquestionable authority.

Paul picked up his Bible and flicked the pages towards the back. He turned to the book of James and started reading at chapter four. Both angels were instantaneously transformed into figures of incomparable beauty: their faces became ruddy and their eyes burnt with cleansing fire. Guldin looked at Kaalk who now shook uncontrollably with fear as Aramouth snapped the demon’s leg with his mighty arm and stood upright. Without even so much as looking at each other, both angels sprang into glorious action. They circled the principality overhead and with a sovereign act of sword-drawn finality they thundered down through Kaalk’s very being.

Paul had reached verse seven.

Three weeks later Paul talked excitedly with Pete and Adie about his gap-year plans to travel to Africa to help with Christian missionaries there. Paul had seen his friends in the pub as he was passing outside and had decided to go in and join them. After an hour or so of catching up, a couple of beers and a bite to eat later, Paul shook their hands and wished them well for their futures. As Paul left, Pete and Adie talked of how good it was to see him, but couldn’t help but wonder why he hadn’t properly introduced them to his two friends.

The End

© Nick Franks, 2002

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heaven, Uncategorized, writing

“The Heavenlies” – A Peretti Pastiche (Part 1 of 2)


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One

There was an unusual air of excitement in the city of Exeter that hot summer’s evening as the University students began to flood into the local pubs, bars, and Off Licences. In fact, it wasn’t quite evening, still late afternoon, and already the streets were seething with young revellers following the recent culmination of the academic year. The sweet smells of beers and wines fused together and seemed to linger everywhere with the still impressive heat of day. But in and around all of the celebrations, overhanging them all, was a more sober sense of an impending threat.

Paul stood patiently at the bar, waiting. Despite his athletically tall build it always seemed to take an age for him to get served. He was easily over six feet, and, with his striking blonde hair and sharp features, was popular with the girls. For the moment, though, Paul was with his mates. He definitely felt more comfortable when his Christian friends were there. He wasn’t sure why, just that he often felt overwhelmed with the whole drinking thing. He told himself, and the lads, that he wasn’t very good at it; but he knew that he could probably keep up with the likes of Adie and Pete, especially with the amount of practice they had. Paul knew more intuitively than he cared to admit that the sense of being awkward came from somewhere else.

Two other strikingly tall figures stood near to the bar where the group of friends were now gathered. They stood perfectly still and silent, intently watching the group as they laughed and talked together. Paul remained oblivious to their presence as the evening set in and even later when they were standing in the group, towering above and either side of him. Although they showed no intention of using them, both characters were concealing huge, monolithic swords and they were dressed in beautifully plain clothes with no recognisable style or pattern. They stood with perfect poise and posture, impressive in every conceivable way.

It was now dark outside and Paul’s friends were agitating to move on into the City to find more pubs and more fun. A lot of people were out and it seemed as though everyone he knew was either in the pub or roaming the streets. He could see that it was getting raucous.

As the group finished their drinks and moved towards the door, the two strangers moved aside like a vast automatic door, allowing Paul to return his glass to the bar. The barmaid caught Paul’s eye and thanked him, smiling attractively. He responded with a cheeky wink – he was feeling more comfortable now – almost relaxed.

Two

Apathy, Desire and Deceit were perched awkwardly on the corner of the pub’s roof, watching Paul leave from their evil vantage point. An argument had broken out among the three demons as they waited impatiently for a commanding signal to follow Paul.  To avoid any skirmishes with the Lord’s host, Kaalk’s instructions had been for them to remain unseen until his senior command.

Desire was complaining again. Their ambush seemed trivial and insignificant as he fantasised about diving down into the pub with the hoards of other spirits. He prided himself in creating havoc and calamity in the adolescents’ lives – it was his singularly insidious intent. Apathy sat breathing slowly and discontentedly, saying and thinking nothing while Deceit made vain attempts to persuade Desire that it would be better not to wait but to seize the moment right now.

Fortunately for Desire, an eerie cry suddenly resounded throughout the immediate spiritual realm as Kaalk thundered past, wielding a burning sword and screaming obscenities. The other three demons leapt into action, unfolding their leathery wings and brandishing their own swords. They were now in hot pursuit of Paul who was already drinking in the next pub.

As he started another drink, Paul had turned his attention for a moment to a crowd of second-year lads outside the pub. A fight had started. One of them was being badly beaten by another two as several others stared, watched and did nothing. Within moments the crowd vanished as police sirens were heard approaching. Something in Paul’s heart winced as he looked at the boy left lying prostrate on the curb, now unconscious in a pool of his own blood. He wondered how people could be so cruel and his failure to act bothered him.

The two other glorious figures had followed Paul closely into the pub and were now more animated with their hands gently touching his head and chest. They were completely surrounding him. A piercing white light filled the room that emanated from where the two angels stood, shining intensely with palatial majesty as they ministered to him. Aramouth and Guldin knew what approached as they looked at each other in agreement; and they understood why the Lord wanted Paul to stray from their protection.

Between slurps of his pint, Paul continued to stare out of the window, watching the paramedics arrive and the police question others too drunk to talk properly. Adie and Pete were both drunk now and Paul realised that he too was feeling under the influence. He began to think that he should leave when Pete threw a reassuring arm around him. He shouted something in his ear to do with a girl at the bar and handed him another drink, slapping his back as he always did when he was drunk.

Kaalk smashed into the pub as Paul looked at his fresh drink. Aramouth and Guldin rose instantly in billows of air as their wings flexed like a ship’s sail in a storm. They reached for their swords that now shone with heavenly brilliance, bracing themselves for a fight they knew they were not to win. But Aramouth couldn’t resist and defiantly swung his sword in a powerful arch that sent Kaalk flailing to the floor. The other demons had arrived and quickly found Paul still illuminated by the glow of Guldin’s glory. Apathy was first to sink his sharp talons deep into Paul’s mind despite the angelic efforts to prolong his protection. Suddenly, Guldin roared in pain as Deceit bit and clawed into his back. Desire began slashing into Guldin’s wings with his jagged sword, leaving the heavenly warrior crumpled on the floor like an aged cheek. Startled by his friend’s cry, Aramouth instantly spun from his own advance on Kaalk and lifted his companion to safety with his vice-like arm.

Both angels were overwhelmed with grief as they passed through concrete and rafters and steel and rested out of sight, some distance from the city that now echoed with evil laughter. They knew that they had done more than was asked of them and yet every part of them cringed at the thought of their encounter with the kingdom of darkness. All they could do now was wait.

© Nick Franks, 2002

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Blogroll, Uncategorized

Paignton Paparazzi


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Last week-end I went out kayaking in the glorious October summer sun with a friend. It’s called the English Riviera down here for a reason – when the weather is like this it’s like being on the Continent: warmer temps, sparkling ocean, thousands of tourists, flip-flops galore and occasionally decent surf.

View of Preston Beach to Berry Head
Quality little beach where I grew up

I was thinking I’d take my camera out with me on the water to get some spectacular snaps but decided against it because I lost a pair of Oakleys the last time I kayaked. (I’d capsised when trying to retrieve a Tunnocks caramel bar from a million pound luxury craft who’d pulled alongside my kayak to offer the snack. That was the most expensive chocolate I’ve ever eaten).

Out on the water, it wasn’t long before I was wishing I’d taken the risk and brought my camera. Thatchers Rock is about 5 miles out to sea and it was a mission to get there across some (thanks to speed boats) choppy waters. The wild-life out there is pretty unusual too and the whole scene was just luscious.

About 5 hours later, when my friend and I got back to my parked car above Paignton Harbour, I noticed a bit of paper under my wiper saying “Kayak Photos” and  inside was an email address I could use as a contact to get my photos! Turns out that a photographer had spotted us walking down from the car to the beach about 5 hours before and, because of the blue lunch-box I was carrying, recognised me on the water as we kayaked off after that! (My lunch-box was on the front of the kayak).

I was blown away – better photos than I’d ever have taken!

This quirky moment reminded me that someone is probably always watching us and, even if they’re not, Abba always is. He does things like this occasionally just to remind me.

He will for you too.

Generation X, Mental Health, Worship, Music and Song

X Factor – Cattle Market Crush #1


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As a ‘creative type’ I normally love watching X-Factor – it’s often funny, entertaining and occasionally inspiring. But last week I was disgusted by it. I was disgusted by the lie of the devil to a generation of young people who are being treated like ‘talent meat’ while their hearts are puffed up or crushed.

There seems to be this mass hysteria, growing each year, that “if I can just make it then everything will be alright – I’ll get the future that I dream about and that my family deserves “, etc. Sometimes there are contestants that are so deluded about their singing ability that it makes me laugh hard but then there are those who are so genuinely crushed by failure to progress that it breaks my heart. (See below, 2 mins 40 secs).

This is the double-edged lie that is pandemic in our younger millennial and X generations: “If you have what it takes, if you have the xfactor and can win…you will have made it! But if you don’t have the xfactor you won’t have made it, you will have fallen short – it’s all or nothing!”. The reality is, it’s neither. The xfactor, (in this shallow, fickle sense), does not exist.

My concern is that, as important as it is to go after dreams and all that’s in your heart, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world are chasing a mirage. And that’s exactly where the spiritual enemy of Millennials, and Gen Xers, and you and I, wants us….chasing pipe dreams and fantasies that will never, and can never, satisfy.

http://www.unrealitytv.co.uk/x-factor/x-factor-2011-gary-barlow-admits-lots-of-boys-cried-during-judges-houses-spoilers/

I feel so sorry for the devastated ones from the week-end, as I do the others who can’t see the wood of reality for the trees of reason….but I feel equally sorry for the eventual ‘winners’ who take the bait that they really have won. Even Leona Lewis (the most successful Xfactor winner?) really hasn’t won, has she? Has she really got what she wanted? And needed?

“May the God of hope fill you (generations of young people) with ALL joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” – Romans 15:13

Theology

The Furious Longing of God


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Once as kids, my brother and I were in deep trouble with Dad for throwing apples from the garden and breaking some panes of glass in a neighbour’s conservatory. We were naughty boys and Dad was furious. And there are probably occasions you can think of when someone has been furious with you too, maybe when you were naughty.

Because of memories like this, I have always thought of ‘furious’ as a negative word or a ‘fury’ as a negative event or emotion. But this book has taught me otherwise. ‘The Furious Longing of God’ by Brennan Manning is one of those books that got my attention because of its title front-cover picture. It’s always good to pay notice to things like that as they kind of choose you.

‘Furious’ and ‘love’ barely seem to be words that go together at all, but this is what Manning has done in this book. He has shown how the thing we call ‘the love of God’ fits like a glove with the storm-like, tumultuous, irresistible, incomparable force that is the heart of Abba Father for each one of His children.

Tozer is famous for saying that ‘the first thing that comes into your head when you think about God is the most important thing about you”. So, what is that ‘first thing’ for you? Is it a disappointed and slightly irritated God, limited by your weaknesses and short-comings? Is it a distant, aloof God bordering on complacency about your role in life? Is it a sort of sloppy sentimentality relating to an ethereal being that has no real bearing on the choices you make in life? Is it a God who is able but just not likely to come through for you?

Or is it a dancing Father? Is it a picture of a Father who is so indescribably passionate about you that He would do anything, anything, to be with you? Not ‘us’ as a race of human beings. You. Yourself. What if we lived life knowing by experience that our God was first and foremost a dancing Father and that His emotions towards us (Ps.139:17) were like (and only like) the force of the sea as it rages or the heat from the sun as it blazes? The truth is, God is first and foremost a Daddy, to each one of us, whether we want an ‘Abba experience’ or not. But we’re invited to know Him so we can say, “Abba, I belong to You”.

This amazing book that I strongly commend reminded me that,  in all of my desire to be bigger and better and ‘maturer’ and more spiritually fruitful, God wants me to know Him as Abba, as Daddy, and for me to be found as His little boy. This is is the apex of all true spirituality.

Blogroll, Uncategorized

John 21 – (Hoofing) Fish, Beach-Fires and Worship #2


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I’m typing this post with fingers that still have the faint whiff of mackerel – despite several washings – reminding me that yesterday I was pulling fish out of the sea, left right and centre.

The annual Forged in the Fire Fishing Trip was very cool and being at sea for 10 hours filled my mind with snap-shot analogies, parallels, comparisons and pictures relating to the life of faith as a believer in Christ. Here’s just three:

The Boat:

Hoof! There were 12 of us aboard each trawler. Some of the guys were quiet, some were gobby, some were sleeping for hours, some were eating and some couldn’t because they were chundering over the side of the boat. Some seemed to be better and more experienced at fishing than others but, at some point, everyone’s strength came out. Some had all the gear while others had none. But it was a powerful picture of the church as equipment was shared, the sick were accepted & looked after, experience was used and some guys taught others how to catch and gut a fish or sort the tackle out, depending on what type of fish you were going for.

The Camp:

After the return to shore, all of us headed for a stunning natural balcony in the Whitby cliff-face where tents were set up and a fire was built. It was phenomenal to see 24 guys all pitching in, collecting firewood, hauling massive stones for the fire pit, lugging a keg of ale down the cliff-face, sharing tents etc. I’ll never forget it. Within 20 minutes of finding the spot the fire was roaring, (the best bbq I’ve ever seen), and soon after all manner of fish were being amazingly cooked. My friend, Rob, was like an American Bear (chocolate) Grills– cooking the fish with all his trans-Atlantic flare and getting things really going. The scene was like a glimpse of heaven.

The Fishing-Master – John:

The reality is, we might not have caught anything and the fire pit would have been empty if it wasn’t for this guy. He was responsible for taking us out to sea to the right places to drop our lines. Towards the end of the trip I was getting really irritated because the fish had apparently all swam off (we hadn’t caught anything for ages) and all we seemed to be doing is moving around the oceans, getting tossed around, lines up. But John was seeing what I couldn’t see. He had a radar-view of the wrecks that were the hot-spot areas to find fish and so, on his command, we let our lines down and, on his say so, we brought them back up. Sometimes there was only 2 minutes between each descent. It taught me that I had to be ready to ‘drop’. If my line was in a mess I’d miss the window and I’d miss the fish and I’d miss my supper later. John helped us catch 95 fish that day, some as big as 12 lbs! Enough to amply feed 24 hungry men.

Theology

John 21 – Fish, Beach-Fires and Worship


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They were totally knackered and hungry, heart-broken and angry, confused and missing Jesus: The disciples had returned to their grass roots at sea to find the encouragement of a good night’s work…but they caught nothing. Not even one fish.

Like all groups of blokes, there would have been a range of emotions (or at least a range of emotions expressed) as the boat gradually entered the shallows again, but the over-riding feeling would have been tiredness. This was a boat of tired men…tired fishermen, to be exact.

It was dawn when another man, a stranger, called from shore – “didn’t you catch anything?”. Within a few moments John has seen that it was Jesus – a glorified, resurrected Jesus – and within a few more moments still, Peter had put his jacket on and jumped into the sea, striding towards the shore, shells between his toes. This is the first time Peter would have seen Jesus since he betrayed his best Friend, unto death, so he would have been aware of his weakness. The last time Peter jumped out of a boat to meet Jesus he didn’t get wet – he had jumped onto the sea not into it.

Before long there is a fire, a miraculous catch of fish (at least 153 large ones) and a bunch of men strengthening each other just by doing life. There would have been questions galore…there would have been different levels of faith…there would have been shock and awe. But there would have been worship.

What strikes me about this most is that Peter’s reinstatement came after breakfast. Maybe Peter had tried to start the conversation with Jesus immediately (hence jumping into the sea to get ahead of the boat to meet Him) but Jesus clearly wanted the men to sit, eat, rest and enjoy brotherhood. The sense in this is that this aspect of doing life together as men (chilling, eating, sharing, helping, PRAYING) was just as important as raising the dead, preaching the gospel and healing the sick.

Jesus wanted it this way and had planned to be there that morning to refresh and strengthen His company of men.

Today is the same, chaps – Proverbs 17:17