Tenants

In the parable of the land owner and the tenants, we can see how Jesus is telling us of the love story of how His Father made Israel His people, and the gorgeous land He gave them. But they rejected Him, His prophets and eventually His Son. But it doesn’t stop there, because we do the same.

The Lord made this amazing place called Earth for us to live in, and look after. Have we taken care of His creation, animals or each other? I would have to say No. We were given authority over the creation and created beings. We have also been called to look after others as we want to be looked after. God gave us His vineyard to tend, not to destroy, or hurt.

Throughout the ages, He also sent many prophets to announce the coming of the most precious and awesome gift we could ever have. His only Son, Jesus. Every person who rejects His Son is one of the tenants from the parable. Every time we reject what the prophets of the Bible tell us about the coming of the Son of God, we are one of the tenants in the parable.

Its not a very good picture of the human race. It doesn’t show our best side. The Word will never show the best or the worst of the human race, neither will it condemn us. We have been given a way to stop becoming one of the tenants. We have been given an exit door, a door of sacrifice and cleansing blood. We don’t make the sacrifice, Jesus does and did for everyone.  

The persistent minstrel

Sat in the lovely cooling breeze blowing through the window thinking about the parable of the Widow and the Judge. Its such a powerful depiction of how we should be praying, and I know its not something that I do in my prayer times.

How many times during a service or prayer meeting do we hear it said that “now its been prayed for we can move on to the next subject”? There are times, especially during a service that we don’t have time to focus on one single subject. What about our personal prayer times. We can dot from one thing to another (in a kind of disjointed shopping list fashion) to fit everything into a certain time limit. Where does persistent prayer come in? Do we feel we can pray for one thing over and over until we hear an answer of “Yes”, “No”, or “Later”.

The widow came back again and again until the Judge gives her justice out of a wanting her to leave him alone. If this is a picture of us and God, then we should be at Him in prayer all the time until we get an answer. There are definitely times when we have prayed for something and we feel it is the right thing to leave what we have prayed for on the alter, for the Lord to look after. When we pray there will be times when we feel that it has been dealt with in the heavenlies, so we don’t need to pray for it again. This is not what the parable is about. Its about totally persisting in prayer on a near constant basis for something we really need answered or given.

Never feel that your Father God, your Abba, will not give you an answer. Never feel that in some way it is rude to keep praying and keep asking for answers to anything. He wants you to keep talking and praying to Him. My son talks away to me whether I am listening or not; he doesn’t really care as long as I murmur a good word every now and again. All he needs to know is it’s OK to start another hour of vague rambling about the new Lego model he has built. God isn’t like me, He keeps listening and never leaves your side. There will never be some little murmur as your answer. If we listen and stop being so busy, He will always answer. Maybe not in the way we want, but He does.

Don’t stop asking; don’t stop thanking; don’t stop magnifying.

Worry Idol

Heard the most amazing phrase the other day. Worry Idol. Where we can allow ourselves to be anxious or to worry where there is no worry, and let it run our lives and decisions. We can say that we care by our worrying. Our kids at school, and we worry the school is going to fall down, a plane will crash, they will hurt themselves in the playground. These can be worries that never come true, and statistically will never become reality. There are obviously things that go wrong in our lives that can cause anxiety or worry, but usually God gives us the knowledge or grace to overcome or to work out those situations.

We can allow anxiety to overtake our lives and to ruin our day to day joy, to the point we make ourselves ill or very stressed. If you feel that there is significant worry or anxiety that seems to be getting worse and worse, maybe it is time to speak to your pastor or elders for prayer, or to speak to your doctor to make sure you are not poorly or something else is not going on, and if needed give you the right medication you need for however long it takes to get you through.

Seeking help for anxiety is never a bad thing. It doesn’t involve stigmas and should never cause you to feel like a failure. Seeking help when you feel helpless, is a very brave thing to do, and I really commend you for it. We are pushed in society to look like we are perfect and have the perfect life. In society there is no real place for help and counselling care. We are left with a growing part of our society that are being pushed to the side lines because they ask for help, and need work and care. They should be loved and nurtured by the Church and by their families, probably more than anyone else. They have been brave talking about how they really feel in the first place.

Is the Church ready for tackling this growing number of people?

I hope so.

Altered images…..

It was one the hottest days so far this year yesterday, and the warmest we have had up in the North so far. A wonderful day to travel to York with my lovely friends to a women’s conference led by Mercy Ministries. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but definitely not what we got.

In the beautiful old Methodist church with near 300 ladies (and the odd brave man!), the 4 speakers set to work on releasing us from some of the distorted images we have of ourselves from childhood onwards. This is something that most of us will suffer during our lifetimes, and has never been just about what is said or done to women alone. When we look in the mirror at ourselves, what do we see? Do we see what others see, or what God see? These are the distorted images, or maybe we are just looking in the wrong mirror? My beautiful friend told me that the full length mirror she has in her bedroom has a sheet over it! Why does society or insensitive role models leave us in the position that we feel the need to hide who we really are?

How many of us have been told that we were a ‘mistake’, maybe a child born later in life or just a surprise. Never a mistake. God does not make mistakes. Ever. Not one person is a mistake. We are all His children, and He loves us from the moment of conception.

We can be free from chains of bondage, cages to keep others from getting close to us and the masks we place over ourselves to feel safer. God is the release, He is the Healer and He is the only one who will never let us down. I can love all, but will at some point let someone down by my actions or by saying the wrong thing. I can be a friend, but Jesus is a closer one.

Aside

The ancient ways

Reflecting back to March, when on a very cold, snowy day, we travelled to Lindisfarne (Holy Island) and the Priory with the kids to show them where Christianity was first lived out in our area. With the weak sunlight desperately trying to push through the freezing clouds which were heavy with unshed snow, we went to the old priory ruins.

As we walked round the old walls, its not hard to wonder what St Aiden or St Cuthbert would think of modern day Christianity. It is so different from the Celtic Christianity, based around fellowship and communion with God throughout the whole of their lives. Their prayer times were near constant as was their love of the poor and needy. The cutting themselves off from anything that would distract them from their Lord, meant that St Cuthbert went to live on an island all by himself. No one to talk to but his Lord, only his Lord to help him make the island liveable for himself, including sowing and reaping vegetables and corn.

How would we cope if everything was taken away from us? Would we know how to live, and to only live for God?

In some ways over time, the old Celtic ways of living and loving God have been watered down and weakened. Was it right in the first place to only live for God, and cut themselves off from everyone? I don’t know, but I do know that in a lot of ways, it would focus our attention and stop the life distractions from stealing the time away that we give to God.

I thank God for all the early Christians who gave their lives for what they believed.

Communion

Beautiful service in the warm, but nice breezy hall. Windows opened to let breeze in, but know that neighbours could hear us praising our Lord with joy. We had communion in both ways today, with our Lord, and by our remembering what He did for us, and what we are grateful for.

I love taking communion. For me, its one of the main reasons I go to church. I want to praise and thank my Father for all He has done for me and for the whole world, past and present. The actual service itself is more given over to Him, than some services. Its very easy to fall into the trap of taking from the service you are in, and God not getting much from it at all. We are there for Him. We were made to worship Him. If we do not worship Him, what do we worship? If we don’t have a life walking with the Lord, then who are we walking with?

Everyone is born with a part of their soul missing. That part was the part that sin took away. The only way to get it back and to feel a whole person is to be with God and to live for and with Him. Nothing we do can fill that hole. Even though we look very hard, nothing can take its place. When we stop looking for other stuff, and come to God, the hole gets filled and we see that it all makes sense now, all we have strived for, fought for, desperatly tried to buy, was the wrong thing. The gift that fills us is free, and always has been. Someone else bought it for us and packaged it up for us. It was bought with a very precious, one of a kind, unique item. Jesus.

Aside

Respect

I have to say that I have the utmost respect for anyone who takes the mantle of leadership in any way within a church setting. James Ch. 3 says that leaders are judged more severely than us pew filling members. There are always those who seek leadership, or want to be at the front of a church, which is slightly worrying that they don’t seem to see how hard these guys work!! Its not an easy job in any way, and all leaders in every denomination don’t have 9 to 5 jobs, where the phone stops ringing or their responsibility ends because the clock hits 5pm. We have had the telephone ringing, and unsociable hospital trips with troubled friends at very unsociable hours, which when you have kids, you are more likely to be awake with the little bundles of snot and poo whatever time the phone or emails go!!

We have always tried to make sure that our home is welcoming at any time, with advice, help and of course oodles of tea and custard creams (which both make everything OK!) Giving time and listening with an open ear and mind, is not a part of leadership, but a part of loving without barriers.

Leadership with love is a gift that can only be given from God, not learnt along the way or by however many degrees you may have, though that is very clever of you and and I take my blonde hat off to you for doing them.

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