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Archive for the ‘God’ Category

God knew our greatest need

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator;

If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist;

If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist;

If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer;

But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Saviour.

 

Source: Unknown

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As we look at the world around us – the pain that so many are suffering – perhaps it’s good to just stop and remind ourselves that we are actually loved by God.   Pain and suffering are not His will for us, healing and wholeness are.  Sometimes though, it is difficult to return that love so freely given to us.   Sometimes we want to rage against God and hold back our love.   It’s always easier to proclaim our love for God when our emotions and circumstances are all in a good place, but when we’ve lost someone so dear to us that it becomes almost unbearable, those are perhaps the times we have to choose to love.

When Christ laid his life down for the world, He demonstrated what real love looked like.  It was a choice, beautiful beyond words. That’s the kind of love Circleslide sing about in their song, “Love Amazing”.

“I’ll rejoice
Though my heart aches
I’ll rejoice 
My God will save
All my needs have been replaced
With Love Amazing
With Love Amazing …”
 

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Today I sat in the homes of several of our members who are going through hard times at the moment.   When I get home after such an intense day, I sometimes look back in amazement at how I have been ministered to by being the presence of people who, despite their life’s circumstances, are not decrying God for what is going on in the lives, but continue to marvel at “how great is our God”.    As I reflected on this yet again, I was humbled to think that while they thank me for my visit and my time “because we know how busy you are”, the reality is that they have encouraged me in my ministry and indeed strengthened my faith.    So imagine my delight as I have thought about all these things, and how like those I have visited today, I continue to believe just how great and faithful our God is, that I receive a link to the video below – quirky “instruments” but the words have always been favourites and for the moment this is my new favourite rendition.    So thank you to one of our worship leaders – John, for forwarding this to me, and also to the Irish Worship Band – Rend Collective Experiment.

 

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I’m sitting preparing the sermon for this coming Sunday; the last of our Summer Series – Wired that Way.   The theme for this week is “Wired to Know” and I’ve been looking at various passages which highlight how down though the ages and in various ways God has spoken to make his existence known … in creation, through the prophets, through Christ, through Scripture.  

As I’ve been reading, the words of the French philosopher Blaise Pascal kept coming back to me “There is a God-shaped hole in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator.” Or in the words of the contemporary Christian singer, Plumb, (Tiffany Lee):

There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us

And the restless soul is searching

There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us

And it’s a void only God can fill.”

I am often amazed at how many feel little or no inclination to follow a particular religion, and yet they are nonetheless conscious of what might be called ‘the God-shaped hole’.  Many seek to nurture the spiritual side of themselves, and yet rather than enter a church they would gladly pay for a course to hear a speaker talk of feel good factors they can embrace in order to have fulfilled lives.   I’ve read articles on ego, meme pools and the selfish gene and frankly none of these make my heart leap or give me a sense of peace and fulfilment.  

The “God-shaped hole” is the innate longing of the human heart for something outside itself, something transcendent, something “other.”  Ecclesiastes 3:11 refers to God’s placing of “eternity in man’s heart.”  And I suppose that given that God is eternal, for in him there is no beginning and no end, then it is only God that can fulfil our desire for eternity; which is found in a relationship with him.

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Over these past couple of weeks there have been several documentaries to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Evacuation of Dunkirk.  This was an event that took place long before I was born, but one of which I have always known, as my Grandmother often told the story of the “ragtag armada of little ships” sailing down the estuaries of England and round the coast of Britain, all responding to the call to help those facing certain death.  And as they met up with others they not only became part of something bigger than any of them imagined, they were also able to achieve more than if they sailed alone.

Troops on the beaches at Dunkirk

The spring of 1940 saw Hitler’s army moving through France and the retreating British and Allied troops found themselves trapped on the coast of France in the channel port of Dunkirk; bottled up in a corridor to the sea, about 60 miles deep and 15–25 miles wide, flanked by two massive German Armies.   Almost a quarter million young British soldiers and over 120,000 allied troops faced certain capture or death.

Vice Admiral Ramsay – who was in charge of Operation Dynamo – had sent destroyers and transport ships to try and evacuate the troops, but they only expected to have time to lift off about 30,000 troops, and the House of Commons was told to brace itself for “hard and heavy tidings.”

Due to war-time censorship and the desire to keep up the morale of the nation, the full extent of the unfolding “disaster” around Dunkirk was not publicised.  However, the grave plight of the troops led King George VI to call for an unprecedented week of prayer.  Throughout the country, people began praying on 26 May for a miraculous delivery.  Then, just as all hope was fading for those on the beaches of Dunkirk, a bizarre fleet of ships appeared on the horizon of the English Channel.  

Open topped fishing boat "Tamzine"

This strange armada was made up of trawlers, tugs, fishing boats including the 18 ft open topped “Tamzine”, lifeboats – the smallest only 15 ft, sailboats, pleasure craft, an island ferry named Gracie Fields, Tom Sopwith’s America’s Cup challenger “Endeavor” , and even the London fire brigade’s fire-float “Massey Shaw”; 861 boats of all shapes and sizes, including a number from as far away as the Isle of Man and Glasgow.   Although a large number of these ships were taken across the channel by navy personnel, many were also taken over by their owners and other civilians.   They sped to the rescue; all eager to help in the unfolding catastrophe.   And because they did, in the nine days from 27 May to 4 June 1940, this ragtag little armada eventually helped rescue more than 338,226 troops, including 139,997 French, Polish and Belgian troops, together with a small number of Dutch soldiers, and took them to the shores of England.   All this unfolded as pilots of the Royal Air Force and the German Luftwaffe fought in the skies above the channel; thousands died but many more thousands lived.    It was one of the most amazing naval operations in history, and at the time the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said it was “a miracle of deliverance”.

The church, likewise, is God’s ragtag armada; a group of flawed individuals of all ages, stages and abilities, on a rescue operation commissioned by God to bring people back to him.  Sometimes it’s good for us to remember not only that we too are being asked to be part of “a miracle of deliverance”, but also if we respond that we become part of something bigger than we ever imagined. 

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It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, I guess because a lot has been happening in my life:  the neighbouring parish is vacant and I am their Interim Moderator (ie I’m taking care of them during their vacancy). 

But in amongst all the busyness I have been reading and talking with God a lot.  And it’s been wonderful because God has filled me with a calming sense of peace.    It’s so good to have an awesome God like that.

I’m studying Ephesians at the moment and I just wanted to share two things – our God is good and our God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  (Eph. 3:20-21)

 I will start writing and blogging soon.   

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I have recently signed up with Thomas Nelson Publishers to do book reviews and post said review on my blog … in return I got to choose a book free of charge to read, review and keep.  Yeah!  

So, what did I chose as my first book, from among authors the majority of whom I had never read before?   Well, I chose a book entitled “Where is God?”  Why did I chose it?   Well basically I was seduced by the description and the promise that it included “powerful stories and practical applications”.   They had me (as they say) at “stories”.   I love stories – after all it’s how we communicate with one another.

Where is God?

The first story in the book is a recounting of a personal experience of the author’s.  And what a story: simple and descriptive in the telling, Townsend shares with us his own spiritual encounters with God during a trip to Antarctica.  Within hours he had felt the elation of a deep awareness of the closeness and awesomeness of God, then confronting his own mortality he asks the age old question “Where are you God? I need help!” and it is then that he slowly begins to experience the deep peace of God as his fears begin to subside.

The whole premise of the book is the recognition that everyone experiences some kind of personal pain and trauma in their life.   As a result of this, many will ask the question – “Where is God?”   Dr. John Townsend a Christian psychologist tries to address that question in his recently published book of the same name.

As he seeks to help us recognise that this is not an uncommon question, and that we are not alone in the asking of it, he gives us various examples of life experiences which will resonate with many.   He also tries to simply and straightforwardly point us towards God who is there in the midst, with us.

Overall I enjoyed the book.   I found it to be easy to read, engaging, and above all – helpful.  It is a book I would recommend to, not only those for whom this question looms large, but also those who come alongside them.  Why?  I felt that although scripture is quoted, the book is not saturated with references, nor is it given over to detailed expositions, which gave it the feel of someone chatting to you; trying to lead you through a critical time – a time of crisis, and for that alone, I loved it.   All too often I have heard people bombarded with scripture and “explanation” at the low periods in their lives, and rather than giving them something to build on, it has crushed them; making them believe that the fault lies with them.  

Anything negative I would have to say is of such a minor nature, that I feel it would be petty to include it.

(Acknowledgement: This is review is done as part of the Thomas Nelson’s, the publisher of this book, Blogger Review Program, http://www.booksneeze.com. In exchange for a free copy of this book that I get to keep, I agreed to read the book and then write a review of the book that is posted to my blog and to a commercial site, of which I use Amazon.co.uk)

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