God has a word for us.When Jesus began his public ministry he used Isaiah 61 as a declaration of intent. The Old Testament furnishes many texts about the meaning of Messiah which he might have used: Messiah as King, Judge, Hero, Rescuer…Instead Jesus used a text which perfectly expressed the urgency of his compassion: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…to comfort all who mourn…. A garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”We meet in the anointing of Jesus. We are his body and we are directed into his ministry. And the calling that was upon him is upon us.And as we open our eyes to one another and to the community around us we see a whole world of pain: those with a feeling of inner emptiness or pain, the emotionally hurt or crushed, the broken hearted, those needing inner healing, emotional healing or the healing of memories. Also those struggling with the problem of anger, those needing to forgive others, those needing freedom from the negative affects that anger causes. Also those with mental problems, mental disorders, eating disorders and addictions such as: depression, anorexia, bulimia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, bipolar disorder, nervous breakdown, obsessive thoughts. Also those troubled in mind, suffering from demonisation, the demonised or demon possessed and those who are afflicted or influenced in mind by evil spirits or evil thoughts. When you consider the scale of this pain, we dare not rely upon our own resources, or intellect…. There’s just too much! And so we seek the Holy Spirit and we turn to the Bible.The Bible says, “Guard your heart with all wisdom, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs). The Word of God is full of deep and wonderful truth. Many Christian advise us to “guard our hearts” in friendships. It is indeed wise to guard both our emotions and our expectations. We must be wise, and not needlessly expose ourselves to hurt or disappointment.
Even those of us who have had wonderful families, perhaps Christian families, will know that no parent is perfect. We are always going to get let down or hurt at some point. Those of us who have come from more troubled backgrounds will probably have learnt that really you cannot live with your security based on people. Parents and other friends should be an encouragement to us; loving us and being a positive input into our lives. But when this is not the case, we can be devastated. How ever fortunate or not we are with the people we have around is, our security must be in God. He is the one who made us and who loves us like no one else could. Although it is very normal to look for encouragement and approval from those around us, we must not allow disappointment to devastate us if our hopes are not realised.
In this life, we need human companions as well as God for a companion (Genesis 2:18). If there is no one around you at the moment who is providing this friendship, at least in some way, then actively try to find it. Search for people, If necessary, move church or even where you live, researching where you might go. Life can become a constant test of survival, where you have no real choice apart from just to accept suffering and to stick it out.
God – The Rock, is secure
It can take time to know healing from our hurts and disappointments, and with this to trust God and truly place him as our security. Disappointment is a nasty enemy. We may hope for just simple, basic things in life. Maybe good friends, or a partner to share our live with. But our track record registers disappointment. However, we need not loose hope when we know God. We may not get all we want or hope for, and this is hard to accept when other people seem happy and are enjoying themselves.
With God, all good things are possible. If it is confidence you need, he can bring it, and if it is a miracle you need, he can answer your prayer. Don’t give up or loose hope, and do gain encouragement and help form where ever you can. If there is some sort of a spiritual curse over your life, which stifles you living in freedom and enjoying good things, then he can break it by his power (Colossians 2:13-15)
Grasping to hope
You may be in the depths of pain and disappointment. It may be of some hope to think that Jesus has always been through worse than us. Perhaps it is as if you are finding it hard to breath, such is the fear and depression that chokes you. Jesus must have experienced this and more as he suffered for us on the cross. We at least get to catch our breath, though we suffer.
When we feel very low or isolated, even very basic recognition from other Christians can lift us and bring us hope. It allows us a wonderful glimpse of God and of how life can be for us on earth. Sometimes we feel that we are hanging on for dear life. A friend once used an image to encourage himself. It was of seeing himself in deep waters, drowning. That’s how he felt at the time. He saw a helicopter – which represented Jesus, hovering over the water, and someone reached down to rescue him from the seas. This brings to mind Psalm 18:16:
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me, he drew me out of deep waters”.
Selfless Trust in God
Healing really can take time. However, we find moments of relief and hope, and quickly learn to take every bit of encouragement that we can get. There is so much hope and encouragement in the Word of God. Don’t ever loose hope when you know God, as he can restore and heal, and he will never leave you. If you do miss out in life, and do not get all that you hope for on earth, he will make things up to you in Heaven. Provision and healing will be made complete. God is perfect, and he will richly reward us if we are faithful, he will not deprive us of good things.
We are all on our way home to Heaven, and on the journey we can know the healing and power of Jesus in our lives. We can know comfort, peace and provision, as well as the privilege of serving others and sharing God with those who do not know him. Hold on, and hold fast to God’s hand. He will never let go. In a field of wounded soldiers, try to get up off your feet and help those who are in need around you. Follow the example of Jesus, and in so doing, know him more.
So is this just a Hollywood scam… a publicity stunt in poor taste…. or is the poor girl looking in all the wrong places?
When Jesus said “Come unto me all you who are weary and I will give you rest for your souls” he wasn’t just talking to downtrodden peasants. The real question is: can he deliver on that promise? Rest for my soul is a tall order. It means that all that weariness and confusion…. all that seeking and striving, pushing and shoving to make some sense out of life…. all that rubbish is finally thrown off.
In the end, everyone wants rest for their souls – a solid base for their lives. I just have to make sure I’m leaning on something that will not give way.
I remember meeting a colleague at one of those Vicar-conference- type things whilst some charismatic rumpus was doing the rounds (like a hawk in a dovecote), and he said to me without a trace of irony: “What do we believe about it?”
It’s so easy to toe party-lines… to put your brain into deep-freeze… or even simply to let your thinking follow the line of least resistance. It requires a conscious effort to “love God, with all your… mind”. But the truth is that thinking is allowed. It’s good for you.
OK. So having stated the thesis, let’s test it. Apparently, (Telegraph 16/2) senior Church of England bishops are concerned that last week’s Synod vote to allow the church rather than the Prime Minister to have the final say in choosing diocesan bishops may lead to disestablishment. Church Commissioner Peter Bruinvels said the Church was ‘weakening [its] constitutional place at the heart of decision making’, but Philip Giddings, chairman of the Church’s mission and public affairs council, claimed the Government was still ‘committed to establishment’.
In contrast, a UN report claiming that more than 60% of British people have no religious affiliation has called for the Church of England to be separated from the state as its current privileged position does not reflect ‘the religious demography of the country’.
Bit like the BBC hanging on to the privilege of licence fees?
Next week, (according to Guardian 21/2) a delegation of Islamic academics and theologians are meeting at the Vatican to discuss the open letter A Common Word Between Us and You sent to the Pope in October 2007 which highlighted the similarities between the two faiths. That should solve everything shouldn’t it?
By contrast, it was great to hear (Church Times 22/2) that churches in Bridgend County Borough are responding to the numbers of apparent suicides among 17- to 25-year-olds in the area. The ecumenical ‘street pastor’ initiative works in Bridgend town, where according to the Area Dean of Bridgend, Revd Michael Komor, they are ‘well placed to engage with the young people’. Churches in the deanery will open for a day in the next few weeks, offering a safe space to ‘ask the questions’ and the multi-agency suicide prevention group for the area will include a church representative. However Mr Komor questioned recent press coverage, saying it gave the impression that ‘you’d only got to live in the area’ to feel suicidal.
So where does it start, this thinking business? Apparently, an incredible improvement in behavior and academic progress followes the introduction of a ‘Philosophy for Children’ course in 2004 (BBC Online). A Year 4 teacher from the school in Warsall, Beckton said that the course helped children in her class ‘listen and respond appropriately’, express ‘original thoughts’ and ‘demonstrate judgments based on reason’. The school has now produced a DVD Thinking Allowed to illustrate the success of the course.
If only thinking was allowed for people over the age of 9.
Yes, but what do we believe about it?
NIGHT VISION…… experiencing
God in praise n worship. feb 23rd.
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Interesting to notice in a recent magazine the recent splurge of Hollywood films with a pro-life twist. Juno, described by the CEN reviewer as a ‘beautiful, life-affirming film’, is one of several where the leading character has an unwanted pregnancy but decides to keep her baby. In the case of Juno, she considers abortion but changes her mind when she is intercepted by a classmate on a pro-life vigil. The ‘crass’ and ‘raunchy’ comedy Knocked Up, the romantic fantasy August Rush and the drama Waitress all feature women who either decide to bring their child up or have the baby adopted. Perhaps -as Hollywood observers have been quick to point out- the trend could be as much to do with good storytelling as a change of mind, but affirming the sanctity of life is always good news, isn’t it?On the other hand, Juno’s by-line (“A comedy about growing up and the bumps along the way”) is about as trivialising as you can get.But this is the territory – with Corrie, Eastenders, and the rest (Hollyoaks? Skins?) – this is where our society does its moralising, its decision-making. And if the media makes an occasional plug for what we agree is right behaviour, why gripe?
My thoughts this week have also been with the victims of senseless violence at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., and E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, Calif. In case you missed these stories, on Tuesday, February 12, Lawrence King, an openly gay 15-year-old, was shot in the head by a classmate in Oxnard. Because he wore “feminine accessories” and makeup. Later this past week, on Thursday (the day of St. Valentine himself), five students were gunned down while many others were wounded by a shooter who attacked a lecture hall on the NIU campus. To me, perhaps the most chilling part of the NIU tragedy is this quotation from the university’s public safety chief Donald Grady: “There were no red flags … It’s unlikely that anyone would ever have the ability to stop an incident like this from beginning.” In other words, to sum it up, “these things happen.” Complacency could not be any further removed from the route to social change.
And even whilst acknowledging the tragedy of these shootings, how can one ignore the greater tragedy of those who are dying every day in Africa and the Middle East as political unrest continues to result in violence in places such as Kenya, Sudan, Chad, Afghanistan and Palestine. In Kenya, 1000 people have died and 300,000 have lost their homes in the fallout from a disputed election this past December, with peace-making talks stagnating. In the continued Darfur genocide, experts estimate that 200,000 people have died, while 3.5 million have been displaced from their homes.
So how do you make sense of the senseless?
How do you keep on believing in the justice of and love of Father God in the midst of such atrocities… such folly… such wicked waste?
Well. Let me know what you think. For me it drives me deeper into understanding the death of Jesus on the cross. That too was an atrocity, a wicked waste, the foollish brutal bullying of the innocent by the guilty.
Have you ever heard a quiet voice
deep down within your being,
A voice so soft, still, and calm,
it stops and sends fear fleeing?
It comes in times of trouble,
when things appear most grim.
Other times it comes for no other reason
than to let us know it comes from Him.
God tells us things so simply stated,
it’s hard to misunderstand.
Yet the things He speaks go against the flesh,
but exposes His loving hand.
He sometimes gives us answers,
for which we desperately seek.
Other times, He gives the words
He wants us to earnestly speak.
Have you ever been utterly confused
not knowing which way to go,
Then suddenly the choice becomes so clear,
you wonder how you didn’t know?
Has there ever arisen a crisis,
leaving you anxious with an unresolved need;
Only to have things suddenly go into reverse
and from the crisis you’re freed?
Not only does God speak to us
in His still small voice,
He actively moves to accomplish His will;
giving us reason to rejoice.
That soft calm voice has given me peace,
each time I’ve been overwhelmed by fear.
When I listen closely, He always speaks
the exact words I need to hear.
And when I find myself in trouble,
He always hears my unspoken plea.
He comes in and sets things right,
and His perfect will I’m able to see.
I’m in a crisis as I sit and write this,
and it’s totally beyond my control.
The circumstances are overwhelming.
Yet, there’s peace inside my soul.
No matter what the outcome,
there’s one thing I’m certain of –
I’ve heard the quiet voice of God,
assuring me of His love.From Farida