God loves a sticky wicket.
It seems He loves to stack the odds against Himself, and often, it appears, also against His people.
Think of Gideon’s army- God whittled them down from 32,000 to 300. That’s 0.9% of their original number. He deliberately and openly thwarted their natural strength because He wanted to be their strength.
“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” – Autumn, described famously by John Keats, seems to bring out the poet in all of us. To some, the season of new beginnings, with the start of the academic year, the end of Summer and the onset of everything being suddenly flavoured with pumpkin (blame the Americans!)
It’s been said that the longest journey is the distance from head to heart. Actually I think this is wrong, it’s quite a short distance; but the road only goes one way and it’s in the other direction. Christianity, our faith, is an exploration of the heart not the head. God is love, so how could it be anything else. The head can understand what the heart finds, and it can guide the search, but you just can’t make your heart believe what the mind thinks unless you really find it.
We recently made the decision to re-decorate our dining room. It looked acceptable but just needed a few improvements.
To be honest, I would’ve been happy to simply paint over what was there. Get it out the way quickly so that we can return to normal as soon as possible. Others, however, were more diligent and felt we needed to do a thorough job. The others prevailed.
We need vision. It’s easy to see what’s wrong about a church if you’re around for a while, and we’ve been facing up to a lot of that over recent years. It’s also easy to point the finger at people who may seem to be slacking or backsliding, and blame them for failures.
I love shopping, but if there’s one thing I dislike shopping for, it’s jeans! If you’re female and reading this, you will probably understand where I’m coming from. It is so hard to find the right fit/feel/length and material, at a good price. So when I discovered that my favourite jeans that I’ve pretty much lived in for the last two years had a big hole in them, I was devastated. I sent up a small prayer to heaven that God would give me some new ones and forgot all about it. A few days later someone randomly handed me a pair of Levi jeans which fitted me perfectly!
I was 22 or 23 when I was first asked to move to another community house in 1998. When I moved in there were only five of us living there and it was up to me to make things happen. I wasn’t an evangelist particularly, but I was stirred by a desire to love people and share Jesus with people. In those days, we took a few risks, there were lots of good things that happened but also loads of mistakes. I was learning wisdom, learning to love and win people into the church.
As Christians we are called to be holy (as God is holy), but we also know that we can never match up to God’s standard. We can never be holy in our own right, we can only be made holy by Him. This is another manifestation of the paradox at the heart of the gospel: we are to be like Jesus, to be perfect in love, but we can’t do it. Only He can!
In the book of Judges Gideon heard the call of God to fight. He tested the Lord to make sure the calling was God’s plan and not his own. He started out to fight the Midianites with 32,000 men. The Lord stripped away his men (symbolising Israel’s own resources and natural strength) until he had only 300 men left. The enemy against them “lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance”.
I want to be a part of a movement, not just an organisation.
The point of a movement is that it’s moving. When Jesus talked about his earth-impacting heavenly kingdom (which was most of the time) he often used analogies from nature- mustard seeds, leaven, fishing, a farmer scattering seeds or ploughing, a vine & branches, a vineyard, a bride, an engagement, a wedding, his own body.
Safety is the enemy of God, or you could say God is the enemy of any other safety. Recently God’s been speaking a lot to me, inspiring me, giving me a burden and a deeper love for His church. This is going to be the first of several posts, detailing a few major thoughts which all speak into one growing conviction.