when someone moves on.

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Whatever the reason, there’s always a touch of sadness when someone moves on. Even if the change is positive, our kids going off to college or getting their own place, a close friend moving to take advantage of an oppotunity, or a relationship partner seeking love elsewhere. In this case it’s one of our pastors, the one I feel more of a link with.

Our sadness has a selfish tinge. We are happy for them, want the best in their lives, but don’t want to find ourselves without them. It’s hard to let go, we sometimes even fight against it, at least inwardly.

Someone once told me, we are like the planets, when our orbits co-inside we feel a pull an attraction. Sometimes, our appointed paths pull us apart. We feel a wrench, but we continue on our way, knowing other new worlds will cross our path, exciting new pulls of friendship etc.

There is a beautiful song my Chinese pupils sang for me when I left Taiwan, (sung through tears on all our parts). It said how, though one must go away, the times we had together cannot be lost or taken from us. They remain in our hearts forever.

So God speed, faithful shepherd of the flock, may God guide your steps and bring you blessings of fruitfulness. May you find in foreign lands the heart to match your own that evaded you here. God speed, good to have known you.

Return to your rest, oh my soul.

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Being a member of several prayer groups it can sometimes become overwhelming hearing of all the crisis, problems and troubles. It had almost got to the point that I felt I could no longer continue receiving so much “bad news”. I dropped a few hints that folks could also post answers to prayer to keep more of a balance. Some did, God bless them, but it still seems the urgency of need is not always balanced by the sharing of testimonies. To be honest, I’d begun to view receiving prayer requests as an increcing burden which I felt inadiquate to carry, particularly as people begin to look to you rather than the Lord.

I’ve heard a lot of, “but if you pray Jesus answers you” etc. It’s not true of course, He will answer any prayer prayed with faith and conviction, but their expectancy hinged on your prayers, rather than on God’s word, can bring a burden no one should ever carry. Though God gave us the power in Jesus name to heal, do miracles etc. we are not God. Those things are for His shoulders alone.

Then I came upon this verse today, “Return to your rest, oh my soul.”  How? I wondered. I recalled the verse, “They that believe have entered into rest,” so believing is the key to being able to rest. Understanding came like a flash. I long since learned to give my problems/loved ones wholy into Jesus’ keeping, knowing He cared/loved them more than me and had far more power than me to provide/heal/protect etc.

I realised it was just the same with prayer requests – pray confidently, claim the promises and believe. I realised I needed to add one more thing. Having made intercession I needed to then give them to God, letting go of all fear, responsibility and care, and “return to rest,” in that wonderful place under His wings knowing He’s got it all covered.

 

Had some bad news lately?

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“He will not be afraid of evil tidings.”(Ps. 112 – 7) My first thought coming across this verse was “Great! We won’t have evil tidings!” Second thought, but we do, (just listen to the news!) and what about the verse “many are the afflictions of the righteous?” (PS 34:19) The answer lies in the continuation of verse 19, “but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psa. 112 also continues, “His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established. He will not be afraid.”

It becomes clear. It is not we will never get evil tidings, but that, when we do, we need not be afraid if we are truly trusting Jesus as we know He will take care it all.

I’m for the third time reading through the entire Bible (I’ve read the new testament numerous times but parts of the old are heavy going). One thing I’ve noticed is just how many times it says to “be of good courage” or to “not fear”. Fear robs us of our faith and expectancy. How often we suffer needlessly through fear. Was it Mark Twain that said, “I’ve had many troubles in my life, most of which never happened?” It’s a true saying.

There are so many instances in the Bible where “evil tidings” caused God’s children to fear and loose the power and blessing of God. The report of the spies about the promised land being a classic example. They heard about the giants and walled cities and were afraid to go in. Instead they wandered in the wilderness for forty years till a new generation rose that had the faith God would help them claim the land. The spies had not been lying about the giants etc. an evil report is not necessarily untrue, what was wrong was the fear. Joshua saw the giants too but had faith God was bigger.

Sickness and troubles often come double headed. There’s the actual problem, then there’s the accompanying fear. The problem is often real, and we must deal with it with God’s help, but fear is a spirit we must rebuke if it is not to take hold and steal our power and connection with God. Fear is deadly, it brings bondage.

 

Confessions and lessons.

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I just learnt a lesson I’d like to share, humiliating though it is, perhaps it may help someone else.
I should have known better than to get upset, I really should, but the pile of stinky sludge dumped at the side of my allotment plot had seeped through the netting and killed all my kale plants. I could guess what had happened, my “plot neighbour’s” well meaning, but erratic, son had cleaned out her well, so she didn’t have to carry water (she’s been sick).
My frustration boiled. He could so easily have dumped the sludge on the other side where it wouldn’t have been on anyone’s plot. A spark of anger kindled. Thoughts of how I’d just got the plants perfect to trim outer leaves for daily consumption, how I’d come specially to pick them etc. all added fuel to my frustration. I finally gave vent to it in a message to his mum, tactfully worded, but showing my inner indignation. It was in replying to her sad and abject apology that I realised…
Of course she didn’t need to pay me for the plants, replace the plants etc. I said, squirming a little. It was the after thought that brought home the lesson. I’d better warn her I thought…
You see I’d been bitten/stung by some unknown creature and it had been pretty bad, a throbbing swollen thumb and a patchy red line traveling up my arm – it got infected! It was as I wrote the words “it was something between my plot and yours” that it hit me. You see, like everyone, I get my share of afflictions, but they usually don’t take root as this one had. I pray and rebuke them, and they go, almost always. I had been wondering why this bite had become so bad. The penny dropped. No, God was not punishing me, but, because my heart wasn’t right, because it was full of anger and frustration, I lacked the power of the Lord. My defences were down.
It was such a simple parallel when I stopped to think about it. The sting of sin and the infection of myriad negative thoughts had spread. As it could have become life threatening had it not been treated (I’m having to take strong doses of antibiotics and antihistamine) even so, had it continued, it would have had consequences for my spiritual life, making it hard to live the joy of the spirit. Thankfully both are now healing fast and (Rom 8:28) I learnt a good lesson. No matter how frustrating something is my first reaction must be to forgive, Lord help me do better!

sweet repose.

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Just a gentle day with You, without the blaze of glaring sun.
Just a quiet day at home to meditate on all that’s done.
To rest within Your loving arms, while the world goes on its way.
A day of peace, and rest, and calm within Your Holy, shadowed bay.
Your voice heard not in fire and quake, but whispered bliss filled calm.
Let me revel in the silence, still my soul from all alarm.
Here I find You in soft shadow, here I find You in the rain.
Dwelling in the sweet communion, I’d render all of earth to gain.

The really important news – The World won!

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While consoling my football fan daughter over England’s loss to Croasia a thought came to me. Up staging even the world cup has been the drama of the football team stranded in the Tia cave.

Sometimes we can get confused about what’s important and who the real heroes are. While I don’t begrudge the England team their moment of glory and appreciation for their efforts. To call them heroes is a gross injustice to those who daily rick ytheir lives, police, firemen, soldiers, and yes, rescue teams. Let’s leave this terminology for those to whom it truely belongs. There are other words we can use to describe the youngsters who cracked the penalty curse and brough us to the quarter finals.

The men who risked their lives to bring food, oxygen, light etc. who stayed in the cave with them, who got them out. These are the true heroes, and the most wonderful thing of all about the Tai football news is how everyone worked together, pooling talents and resources with a common goal. Those that couldn’t dive cooked, ferried supplies, did laundry etc. So many nations working and praying together – the result? the world won!