Love and War

It is true to say that the right book in the right hand at the right time can literally save a life. And the power of someone’s testimony in the right hand at the right time is spectacularly powerful, let alone a husband and wife’s.

In “Love and War” John and Stasi Eldredge have ‘bared all’ to give any engaged or married couple an absolute must of a gift when it comes to preparing for and living in happy, glad-hearted marriage. Of course, it is also a must read for single Christian people to prepare their thinking in advance of finding the romance of love and the heart-ache of the relational war that will go hand-in-hand with ‘boy meets girl’.

Love and War combines profound insight, honest and refreshing directness as well as disarming humour that opens up the readers’ heart to better understand, and more deeply love, the one to whom they are betrothed. It is a cool, trendy, relevant exploration of this mysterious thing we call marriage and should be read prayerfully as it will require you to change, big time. Highlights include the chapter on sex, the perfect storm, the greatest gift you can give and a cracking sub-section on opposites do attract.

Thanks to the Eldredge’s for their testimony and not giving up that others might also get to 25years, and way beyond, as happily married Christian men and women.

Get Low

We all know that God likes it when we’re humble and He’s not very happy when we’re proud and arrogant. How is it then that we often struggle to take the last spot in the queue or the smallest bit of pizza from the Domino’s box? Why do we insist on giving ourselves the best shot instead of making room for God to do something far more glorious?

Living in Christian community can be very challenging. Getting on with people can be very challenging. Not taking offense is an on-going challenge. But the call from God is to ‘go low’.

I visited IHOP (see http://www.ihop.org) a couple of years ago and this is where I heard the phrase ‘getting low’. It means that whenever we are tempted to climb higher on the back of our own sense of ‘justice’ or ‘rightness’ or whatever it is that we think is the ‘way’, we need to forget that and place our own agendas down. Jesus said to consider the needs of each other….to prefer others to yourselves. And James talks about bearing with one another in gentleness (James 3: 17-18 MSG) as being a true sign of holiness and wisdom.

So, I am reminded again to ‘get low’, get on the floor, eat carpet, let go of offense and hurts, prefer others, love others, look to the interests of others…and when I see situations on the horizon to ‘get high’ for myself to instead resist and get down low.

Father, I ask you today for a greater anointing of humility on my life and for all who read this.

Amen

Go And Make 2010 Happen

Jeremiah 33:3 –  ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

One of the things I regularly think about is the future. It might be a future week, a future year or even a future decade. It might be that I’m thinking about a significant life event, like my 30th birthday in February. I spend a lot of my time, I’m realising, thinking about the future.

If you’re a futurist like me, Strengths Finders (http://www.strengthsfinder.com/113647/Homepage.aspx) suggests:

“Partner with someone…who can remind you that you do not discover the future, you create it with the actions you take today.”

“Surround yourself with people who are eager to put your vision into motion. They will feel exhilarated by your Futuristic talents, and you can harness their energy to propel the vision toward reality.”

Normally I dislike “self help concepts” or “lead the best life yet” type of teachings, because they are often void of Scriptural foundations or Biblical principles. For instance, Jesus did come to give us abundant life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a certain salary per year, 3 holidays and a caravan. Jesus was mainly referring to the abundance of knowing freedom from condemnation…the abundance of a life being a child of God. Having said that, there  are elements of helping ourselves in our co-working with God ( 1 Cor. 3: 5-9) that have to form part of our devotion – i.e. budgetting wisely, being careful to avoid laziness or slovenly habits that don’t encourage others.

So for us in 2010: I pray that instead of just temporary NY resolutions that fade that we have some new thoughts about how we can improve ourselves this year or some new ventures that will mould our presents into the futures we dream about. Some things are outside of our control but I know I want to get to grips with some things this year that I have God-given control over.

Ask God to help you find your strengths.  Think about them, invest in them, build around them and determine this New Year, with the Lord, to make your future. The God who knows everything, and specifically everything about you, invites you to pray Jeremiah 33:3 that He might help you make your future.


Ginger beards and shell-suits

DSC_9249

 

 

The other day I was running along a canal near to where I live in Bradford and I was praying as I started picking up speed.

 

 

As I was running this particular day, a young chap with a bright ginger beard, a caring face and a full-length shell-suit caught my heightened attention as I noticed him stroll past me as I’d stopped to stretch. My half-hearted attempt to respond to what the Holy Spirit was saying was to ask him for the time, which he didn’t have.

 

“So you’ve just asked him for something you don’t need instead of giving him what you do have and that he desperately needs?”. That was my canal-side conviction.

 

Off I went a few minutes later thinking I might see him again, and I did, coming back towards me. This time I bailed out again – silly thoughts overtaking the Holy Spirit  in me –  ‘what should I say?’ –  knowing full-well that I’d know right in the minute. 

 

I carried on running away from this chap who I’d just passed again. I didn’t get much past a minute down the canal and I had to turn back around. If you want it to, the love of Christ will compel you. Up ahead I saw the guy who I was just about to find out was called Adam. Jesus is awesome and He’s with you – that’s all he needed to hear.

 

The smile that crept across my face after we’d finished talking told me, “that’s it!!”. 

 

When we engage with what God is saying at any given moment we cast ripples across eternity. 

 

I kicked a few stones in the canal and praised God.

 

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No-one Like You God

In Exodus 15:11 the phenomenal prophet, Moses, says,

“”Who among the gods is like you, O LORD ? 

       Who is like you— 
       majestic in holiness, 
       awesome in glory, working wonders?”

 

Today, often in the shadow of Islamic mosques, Jehovah’s Witness call-outs and the world’s obsession with political correctness, the prophetic accuracy of Moses’ song above seems to be a distant Old Testament psalm, and Easter is just another calendar date,

But in reality this truth remains today, Easter 2009, in exactly the same way as it did 4,000 years ago…that there really is no-one, not even close, like the God of the Bible – Jesus Christ.

Who can compare to Jesus Christ? Who is like our Abba of Isa.53 who would desire that His Son be crushed (Isa.53:10), despite the searing pain to the Godhead. Who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross for the pleasure of you and me? (Heb.12:2)

The Easter truth today is that, despite world-wide cultural norms, spiritual strong-holds, fears and Western apathy, Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father of all creation. Even if you struggle to accept Him, even if you struggle to see and savour Him…there is still No-one like the Lord…majestic in His splendour, all-powerful in heaven and earth.

Why not make your prayer today….Jesus, if you are really real, and if you are really the only way to know this peace I’m after,I’ve tried everything else, then please show me yourself now….amen.

 

I pray that for you guys with all my heart.

 

Happy Easter:)

 

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Nations Sing

Have you ever been in the fray of a concert or propping the bar up at a gig and, without warning,  you have felt the hairs on the back of you neck stand tall? Something has happened in the music that has resonated with you deeply and that has caused a physiological response. Or it might be that a tear inexplicably wells up. Music does stuff. It affects us. It moves us.

But more than this, music and song moves the unseen spiritual realm as well as our bodies. In the Bible, David played the harp for his leader and King, and at the stroke of his hands evil spirits left Saul who was being tormented by selfishness and insecurity. Music brought Saul relief from evil. (1 Samuel 16:23)

This is an Old Testament picture of the way that in the 21st Century, in the New Testament blessing that we live in today, music is bringing relief and healing from evil. Music and song, but more specifically praise and worship rooted in love for Jesus, is bringing healing to the Nations and peoples of the world.

Psalm 96 is a prophetic cry for all of creation to sing new songs of praise to our God. Poetically, the psalmist pictures the fields, trees and forests rejoicing in response to the exceedingly eternal worth of Jesus. Prophetically, it is a call for the day when He will make all things new (Revelation 21) and creation will be liberated from its bondage to decay, being brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God, (Romans 8: 20-22).

In our day God is doing a precious and historic thing in worship, music and song within the Nations. There is a call of mission and justice coming from within the worship of the hour too. It is is the cry of the Father that all Nations would know Him as He is and that they would sing praise to Him, giving Him the honour due to Him….”Ascribe to Him…declare among the Nations”.

There is a turning in the songs of the hour that is healing people and the Nations of our world as Jesus is revealed through them.

Sing, O Nations!

Christmas Cheers

Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, as though he needed a ride, was actually a beautiful moment in Scripture when prophecy about the Christ was fulfilled. Isn’t it interesting that the Christ, the Saviour should enter the city to the mass hysteria of the people, sat on the back of a donkey – a common working animal. Perhaps a horse would have been more appropriate or a fleet of chariots, but Jesus came humbly whereupon he was met with the cheers and salutations of the crowds.

This Christmas, how do our lives reflect the King that came on a donkey? Do our lives crave the praises of men or fear the rejection of them? Jesus’ humility on a donkey was securely rooted in His felt sense of acceptance of the Father Yahweh, which is why he didn’t play to the crowd with chariots and why he didn’t run from the crowds days later when the shouted “crucify him! crucify him!”.  Let us explore and discover how truly loved and accepted we are by God this Christmas and revel in this as the real joy of Christmas present.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. He will be called wonderful, counsellor, prince of peace, everlasting Father!

The Prophet Isaiah

 

 

 

 

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John 17:26 – What Is This Love?

26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
The Father's love
The Father's love

Jesus’ words in this section of scripture should be met with a hushed silence as we listen in on His intimate conversations with the Father.

Jesus requests that the love in the Father’s heart for Jesus, His Son, would be the same love that burns in our hearts for Jesus. This is a stunning thought.

I pray that we would come to know this love more and more and that it would be the treasure we cherish above all things. Father, help us to love as you love…not with sentiment or human efforts, but to love in the power of your Name. Amen.

Mount God – part 3

Gday,

So, distractions…..

I want to make this the last entry on Mount God becuase my intention is to encourage you to start ‘climbing’ in your walk with God with new intention, urgency and creativity and to leave you to explore the Holy Noth Face – in new ways!

I am learning that God is continually inviting me to climb higher that I ever have before. If you imagine God up ahead of you waving you through shouting “c’mon!…I can’t wait for you to see this…meet them…do that” – the Creator of the Universe, that we have the incomprehensible privilege of calling Dad, is an excited God. He is like a Child on Christmas eve, anticipating the gifts and treats and festive fun of the next day. And yet His excitement is not centred on Himself, it is centred on our exploration of unchartered territory in spiritual places.

Reading the beginning of Ephesians is like being told about all the Christmas presents that you have waiting for you…except that you already have them. Every spritual blessing is ours in Christ. We are heavenly billionaires with excess and yet we can become overwhelmed witht the prospect that many of the blessings can remain undiscovered – unrealised.

I remember one Christmas as a kid and I got everything I was hoping for. Everything. This included the Optimus Prime figure that I really, really wanted. And I can remember the strange feeling of wanting to give some stuff away because I felt like I had too much stuff to process at once. I needed things in smaller chunks. One present at a time – perhaps one a day for the next week or something. But the mound of presents that I had unwrapped and were sat neatly piled on the carpet in front of me was too much.

I think we read the fact in Ephesians 1 that we have “every spiritual blessing in Christ” and look at it like I looked at my Christmas Mount that day – we don’t know where to start.

God invites us to explore the spiritual realm. He invites us to be more supernatural. He invites us to exercise more spiritual authority and to take risks.

I have a conviction that holiness is the currency of this journey, this ride. Can you commit to the expedition of Mount God, of exploring prayer at new heights and worship as a lifestyle in new depths? Can you relax and allow God to guide you? Can you take steps away from distractions so deadly and yet so subtle?

Just as adverse weather fronts can make natural climbs impossible, so do the distractions of excessive leisure time. We’re obsessed with ‘chilling out’ and ‘relaxing’. Of course this is awesome in its place, but how about getting alone with God for 90 minutes instead of watching a dvd? How about coming before Him with a fresh sense of wonder and excitement and imagination?

Imagine what is up in front of you…imagine what sights…imagine what revelations.

God Himself longs for us to have a holy focus in that place – that’s why Jesus advised going into the secret place and closing the door. What do you and I need to close the door on? I know I need to close the door on voices, thoughts and other desires…maybe it’s ambition at work or perhaps apathy. We all need to close the door on apathy at times. But the reason Jesus advised closing the door and yourself into that place is because there is Someone waiting within.

I find it a stunning reality that every day I can wake up and wait on the One who created all things and yet I find it so difficult sometimes, just to wait patiently.

In climbing Mount God this is the biggest key…waiting on the voice of God…listening. John 15 describes it as ‘abiding’.

I could write on and on about this but perhaps I have been coherent enough to excite you and stir you into exploring this Place with God.

Be persistent at it…that is what I am learning.

Love ya all,

N

Mount God – part 2

Heya

Following on from where I left off earlier regarding Mount God…

The Mountainside was a place that Jesus Himself often frequented as part of His commitment to a spiritually diciplined life-style. You only ever see Jesus with company on a mountain on the occasion when He took Peter, James and John and was transfigured before them as He talked with Moses and Elijah. And on this occasion Jesus set the disciples up to hear the Father’s feelings on solitude, i.e. “This is my Son…listen to Him.” Arguably, listening to Jesus is easier when you’re on your own.

Normally Jesus would withdraw to ‘lonely places’, often in mountainous locations, to pray and be alone with the Father. This is significant. In these times I bet Jesus sang and laughed, cried and asked questions, but first and foremost He would worship. This tells me that I need to do the same – I need to get away from the crowd and be alone with God if I am to climb, as He did. Praying with others is good and important but there is no replacement for the ‘loneliness’ associated with the secret place which is 1:1 – you and God.

I see this 1:1 audience with God as a key to climbing the ‘Holy North Face’. A.W.Tozer writes about the “knowledge of the holy” and to be alone with the Father is the only place we will be empowered to climb Mount God, pursue peace and lives of Christ-exalting holiness.

What are the main distractions from our mountainsides?

We’ll look at this next time.

Think on dudes,

N