The Knight Of Heaven

I heard recently, I’m not sure where, that a knight in shining armour is not the knight you want fighting for you because the only reason their armour would be so shiny is because they haven’t been tested in battle. I have no idea if that is factually true, I can’t say I know a lot about knights.

The word God brings up images of otherness, perfection, and power. Jesus, who is God, gave up that otherness, perfection, and power so that he could live with all the feebleness that we do. He lived with all the temptations, fears, and weaknesses that we carry. Jesus died for each of us, and was raised to life. Even as he is in Heaven now, the wounds remain. The scars that mark him show that he fought, they show that he suffered, they show that he endured.

A knight in shining armour might be a thing of beauty, but there is another kind of knight that I would rather follow. The knight that gave up safety to go out and fight, the knight that was beaten but never broken, the knight who still carries the marks of the battle he fought for us, the knight who never wavered in his determined cause to bring his family home, the knight who still champions us with every breath, the knight who gave us freely all that he had earned at such huge cost.

Jesus shines in beauty and grace, but, he is also the one that fought for you, the one who is still fighting for you.

God Bless.

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Easter: The Egg and The Cross

Today is Easter, today is the day that our faith hangs on.

Outside of the Church the most visible symbol of Easter is the Easter egg. It is a symbol of new life, a symbol of hope that something new and vital is about to arrive.

Inside the Church the most visible symbol of Easter is the cross. It is a symbol of punishment, a symbol of agony, a symbol of death.

Easter is a perfect picture of the realities of life. The cross is the agony and the cost, the egg is the new life and the new hope. When it comes to living life I’m sure you’d like to have nothing but the new life and the new hope but there are always the really difficult days, they come again and again whether we want them to or not. Jesus – being perfect and sinless – could have rested in his paradise living in life and hope but he didn’t. The rest of us can’t stop the bad days from coming, because we live in a world changed by the evil sinful desires of people, but Jesus could have lived for an eternity of good days. He gave that up to live a life, filled with all the problems we face, which he knew was headed to the most horrific death because he chose to love you.

Without us Jesus would have had nothing but the life and hope of the egg, without him we would have had nothing but the agony and despair of the cross. Because Jesus willingly bore the worst day and the worst punishment we can follow him and move forward into an eternity without pain, without suffering, without loss, without despair, without hatred, without rejection, without the cross that was owing to each one of us.

On Good Friday we celebrate that Jesus died because that choice means we can be washed clean and made right. Today, on Easter Sunday, we celebrate that Jesus lives because that truth means that we too will be raised and live for eternity in perfect unity with God in a place of joy, peace, and love.

 

God Bless

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Choose a Direction – Keep Walking

At what point does a repeated mistake stop being a mistake and become simply how we are choosing to live?

At what point does guilt stop being something we’re feeling because we know we have made a mistake and start being simply something we are pretending to feel so that we can convince ourselves we don’t approve of the things that we continue to choose time after time?

At what point do we stop pretending we’re who we would like to be and begin to get to know and love the person that we are?

How can we begin a journey if we don’t know where we are in the first place? How can we know which way to go if we refuse to accept that we are really where our choices have brought us to?

There is hope, when you know where you are you can begin to see where you should be going. Once we’re facing the right way it’s as simple and as complicated as walking until we get where we’re going.

God bless

 

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Peace In The Middle

Peace in the middle, there’s an idea.

War all around but peace right here.

Peace in the middle, what does that mean?

Walk tall in the onslaught,

stand firm in the fight.

Through searing pain, love is still seen.

Peace in the middle, how can we know?

 Our certain hope, we doubt so well.

He brings peace in our doubting, in our sin and our shame,

Christ, our sacrifice, he came that we might go.

Peace in the middle, now we are sure.

However we’re struck, wherever we wander,

there peace will be.

For now we are broken, soon we’ll have more,

the gates of Heaven swing open, we’ll dance through that door.

———

Nowhere in the Bible does it say God will take us away into some Christian bubble where everything is sunny and joyful, or at least not right away. We’re on our way to Heaven but on the way we have to walk through the same stuff as everyone else. God’s promise is not to remove us from trouble but to walk through it with us so that we might have peace and joy even in the middle of our troubles.

Don’t feel like less of a Christian for a single second if you’re struggling, if you feel like peace and joy are the furthest thing in the world from your heart, just know God has better for you. You can have peace and certainty in God even in the middle of everything.

God Bless.

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Keep Trusting God

After fourteen months of unemployment I now have a job again!

I left my last job because I believed absolutely that God was leading me to leave it. I surprised a few people because I’m usually a risk-averse person but I did it because I trusted God and I believed he wanted the best for me.

There were times when it was very difficult. Times when I looked at my savings diminishing and I felt as though I would never have money coming in again. There were times when I got so stressed at the lack of direction and times after I had some direction that I thought no amount of training would ever get me the job God was leading me to. There were times when I lost faith and applied for other jobs. One of those jobs was almost identical to my old job so I really should have got it but God was barring that way, he knew which way he was sending me and he took me there.

God promises all sorts of things, the Bible is full of them, the lives of his people are full of them. The thing with God’s promises is that we often treat them like human promises, we assume that if it’s been a couple of months and they haven’t happened that they’ve been forgotten. That just isn’t the case. God knows the right timing, God knows the right moment, he can see just when it will be best. Don’t let yourself give up on the promises of God just because you have been waiting a while.

He is the one person we can truly trust. He is the one person who only ever says what he means and has the power to fulfill whatever he has promised. He is the one that saved us at the cost of great personal pain because he adores us, after he did that can we really believe that he will now abandon us?

Keep trusting.

God Bless

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The Worry Trap

Worry builds on worry.

I have no doubt in the truth of that statement. Worry leads to doubt and more worry, it leads to putting time and energy into thinking through every possible thing that could go wrong, which leads to more things that we can worry about.

A little worry is a healthy thing. We get concerned about something, we take action to rectify the concern and we move on. If that is the only kind of worry you have ever experienced then it may be difficult for you to imagine another. For some people worry goes much further: into every remote possibility, every conceivable consequence, every far-fetched explanation.

In trying to explain what I mean I’m reminded of an episode late in the run of The West Wing. The election has arrived, people are voting and the staff of one of the candidates spend the day worrying and writing speeches. They begin with a speech for if they lose and one for if they win: sounds reasonable. Then they add speeches for winning whilst losing their home state and one for winning with their home state, then losing but winning their home state. As the day goes on they write more and more speeches for various possible outcomes until at last the results come in and they can finally stop worrying.

Those characters had a stressful day and then moved on, but what if you lived your whole life like that. What if you weighed every decision like that, what if you analysed every conversation for the dozen different meanings it might have. Some people live like that, worrying about everything, anxious about everything. Trouble is, worry leads to worry, it is a cycle, a trap.

I have spent more time trapped in this particular trap than I can even begin to put a number to but I have learn’t a few things along the way.

  • You will never be in control of everything.
  • You will never know everything.
  • You will never understand everything.
  • God adores you, he will help you if you let him.

You need to learn to accept and even enjoy these four truths.

 

The most helpful book I have ever found on the subject (The Worry Book – Wil van der Hart, Rob Waller) is one written by two authors, a Church leader and a Psychiatrist. It is a book which mixes the teachings of the bible, and, research and understanding from secular sources on how the mind works.

If your life is ruled by worry and anxiety, if you spend energy you don’t have worrying about every remote possibility and taking every conceivable precaution, I want you to know your life can get better. You can know peace and learn to relax and let God be God. It may not be an easy journey but it is one that is so worth taking.

God Bless

 

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Who Is God Today?

 

Who are you today?

Who were you yesterday?

Who will you be tomorrow?

You might have three different answers and that is fine: life is all about change. We are all different people through our lives. We change all the time, sometimes it seems that the only constant of people is that if you take your eyes of them for a minute they won’t be quite the same when you look back. We see it all the time when we repeat an experience and have a different reaction because we just aren’t the same person we were before.

Last week I was in Somerset for a Christian festival called Soul Survivor. In this photo from this year’s event I can see the spot where I became a Christian thirteen years ago.  I remember it so well because the 13th August 2003 was the second time that my entire life changed before me.

Soul Survivor 2016 Ariel

From that day forward I began to know what it was to be loved absolutely by God who endures, unchanging and eternally loving. I have changed so much since that day almost half a lifetime ago, Soul Survivor has changed a fair bit too; but the God we worship has not changed, his love for us has not changed, his incredible devotion to us has not changed, his promise to each of us that follows him has not changed.

Who is God today? The one who loves you.

Who was God yesterday? The one who loved you.

Who will God be tomorrow? The one who loves you.

We will change, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better but he is with us on the journey if we ask him to be: and he doesn’t change. You can rely on him.

God Bless.

 

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