Thursday, 15 April 2010

Mourning Mpira

I read this just after Mpira died:

Jeremiah 33:10 - 12, NIV "This is what the LORD says: 'You say about this place, "It is a desolate waste, without men or animals." Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither men nor animals, there will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying,
"Give thanks to the LORD Almighty,
for the LORD is good;
his love endures forever."
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,' says the LORD.
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In this place, desolate and without men or animals—in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks.

In the Message it is even more poignant:
"Yes, God's Message: 'You're going to look at this place, these empty and desolate towns of Judah and streets of Jerusalem, and say, "A wasteland. Unlivable. Not even a dog could live here." But the time is coming when you're going to hear laughter and celebration, marriage festivities, people exclaiming, "Thank God-of-the-Angel-Armies. He's so good! His love never quits," as they bring thank offerings into God's Temple. I'll restore everything that was lost in this land. I'll make everything as good as new.' I, God, say so.

"God-of-the-Angel-Armies says: 'This coming desolation, unfit for even a stray dog, is once again going to become a pasture for shepherds who care for their flocks. You'll see flocks everywhere—in the mountains around the towns of the Shephelah and Negev, all over the territory of Benjamin, around Jerusalem and the towns of Judah—flocks under the care of shepherds who keep track of each sheep.' God says so.

And we all know that sheep need a sheepdog and shepherds need a doggy companion... so these verses have given us hope that our broken and desolate hearts will be restored.  Hmmm....doesn't feel like it at the moment but I know God's word is true!

Monday, 12 April 2010

My ideal church

A thought, after reading Ian Morgan Cron’s book ‘Chasing Francis’ about St Francis of Assissi. This wonderful story has a study guide attached to it with thought provoking questions for each chapter. One of the last questions caught my eye: What would I say if I could stand at the front of the church and speak from the heart about anything I wanted related to its mission?

I want church to be like the evening we had at Martyn and Heather Legg’s – dear, dear friends who invited us for dinner last Friday. I didn’t want to go home. Not that there is anything wrong with home, it was just so wonderful to be all together.

I want church to be like that evening.

So warm and welcoming that, when I walk in, I am greeted with loving smiles and words which tell me: I am glad to see you here. You’ve made my day.

So warm and welcoming that, when people come here, they don’t want to go home because they feel total love and acceptance, so comfortable that there is no tension in them whatsoever. A sanctuary.

There will be no place for ignorance of individuals: people who don’t know my name or, if they do, don’t care to use it. There will be no place for folk to walk past me as if I am invisible or, worse, unworthy of recognition.

I don’t want church like that just for me. I want church like that so I can safely bring my friends into a company of friends with Jesus.

How do we get church like this? By being so loved by Jesus that we are filled with happiness and contentment. It’s contagious.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Living the Resurrection

Eugene Peterson subtitles this book ‘The Risen Christ in Everyday Life’ and shows us how to live in the truth of the resurrection. On one level, it is an easy read – after all, Peterson is the man behind the hugely accessible The Message but it goes far deeper. It challenges and encourages .

The book ends with the resurrection stories from The Message. I suggest that this is where we should start, with the Word as the core and backdrop to Peterson’s thoughts. He reflects on three aspects of Christ’s resurrection. Firstly the wonder of the resurrection spurs us on, not just to ‘life after death’ but ‘life in the land of the living’. We need to keep before us that sense of awe and amazement. “Without wonder, we approach spiritual formation as a self-help project.” This perspective, considering Christ’s marvellous defeat of death, reminds us that “our souls are formed by what we cannot work up or take charge of”. It’s up to God, not up to us.

Yet this development of our souls is not done in isolation but in the context of everyday life. The resurrection meal - the familiarity of eating - reflects how Jesus takes whatever we offer him, blesses it, breaks it and gives it back to us to use for his glory.

Finally, we are to live and practise resurrection in the context of the Church: in the company of friends who we are in relationship with because of WHO WE ARE IN JESUS.

A simple formula for the Christian life: repent, simplify, turn our backs on ‘the world, the flesh and the devil’ and follow him who IS the resurrection and the life. Simple.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, 3 April 2010

The Jelly Bean...or Smarties...Prayer

Now learn about the colors,
and know what each one means...
the story of our Father's love,
told by some jelly beans.
And then every morning,
take a bean so yummy...
something for the soul and
something for the tummy!

Orange is for the Heaven so bright. (2 Samuel 22:13-14)
Yellow is for God's perfect light. (Revelation 21:23)
Black is for the sins we've made. (Romans 3:23)
Red is for the blood He gave. (Romans 5:8)
White is for our cleansing from sin. (Psalm 51:1-2)
Green is for our new life in Him. (Colossians 1:10)
Pink is for his free gift to share. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Purple is for the crowns we'll wear! (2 Timothy 4:8)


Red is for the blood he gave,
Green is for the grass he made,
Yellow is for the sun so bright,
Orange is for the edge of night,
Black is for the sin we made,
White is for the grace he gave,
Purple is for the hour of sorrow
Pink is for a new tomorrow.

A bag of jellybeans, colorful and sweet is a prayer, a promise, and a friend's small treat!