Humility, Matthew 6. 6., relationship with God

The Discipline of Secrecy.

we live in a world where secrecy always is portrayed as sinster, but yet Jesus seems to think there is a lot to be said for it.

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”.

But we live in a world where most of our lives -including our dinners- get plastered all over social media, and nothing is secret, nothing is discreet, and nothing is done anonymously.

I love the idea of living for the audience of one (God himself) but our human nature wants to be thanked and appreciated. I love the idea that sometimes people are blessed and no-one knows who the person is that is blessing them, seems to me to be a natural extension of “the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing”.

As I began to think more about this “secret history” of people in the quiet place receiving and encountering God and made me wonder whether the loudest and most flamboyant in our congregation that maybe waves their arms most in the worship time, or the one who dominates Bible studies with an answer for everything may not necessarily be the spiritual giants we might think they are, and the unassuming person in the corner is actually our greatest warrior leading the battle secretly from the hidden place of their prayer closet.

I watched a film once called “Shallow Hal” where a misogynist only saw peoples inward beauty not their external appearances, and his view of the world was transformed. I wonder if we could see one another’s own spiritual lives, the behind closed doors lives, whether we might be surprised, both at those we might have written off actually being great players in the advancement of God’s Kingdom winning those crucial battles on their knees? And perhaps the reverse is true, that people that “talk the talk” aren’t “praying the prayers”.

A discipline of secrecy, living for the audience of one, building that deep relationship with God when no one sees and know one knows just you and God.

If we are to see this nation changed, then probably it wont be through loud events with smoke machines, but rather through ordinary men and women -like you and me- prioritising the unobserved, discreet time spent just with God that no one else knows about.

Bible, Commitment, consumerism, cost, Deep, Discipleship, expectations, Fruit and fruitfulness, Growth, pperseverence, prayer, Presences, relationship with God

Teaspoon hiding Vicars.

I read an article about a Churchy couple that invited the Vicar around for tea, it was all very pleasant and nice, but later that evening the couple noticed a silver teaspoon was missing. It was no where to be found.

A year or so later they had the Vicar around for tea again, this time they asked him why he had taken a teaspoon.

The Vicar said that he didn’t steal it, instead he hid it in their Bible.

One of the things that really worries me is the low level of Biblical literacy in the Churches. I remember a Churchy young person telling me the story of the elder wand (from Harry Potter) thinking it was a Bible story.

This book which cost people their lives to bring to us is barely flicked through by Christians, they key to discipleship is not more Church events or umpteen courses or bacon butties but for the men and women that want to follow Jesus to seek God in prayer, read their Bibles and invest in the most important relationship of all -their personal relationship with Christ Jesus.

The problem with discipleship in the UK, people say about “coming to Church to be fed” -a phrase that shows a complete misunderstanding of what Church or discipleship is actually all about, as though our walk with God has been sub-contracted out to someone else, we -before God- have to take personal responsibility for it, not expecting someone else to spoon feed us.

And perhaps with Bible study if we’ve been in the word ourselves, we can come to the group as a contributor rather than just a receiver.

So, if you’ve had the Vicar around for tea check your Bible for teaspoons.

Audacious, call, Deep, relationship with God

Deep and Audacious

Just got back from an awesome evening on Hanham Mount, which is where John Wesley preached his first open air sermon to the Kingswood Miners, 16’000 of them, and they cried white tears of repentance as they heard the message of the cross.

My fab friend Andy Biddlecombe spoke and his message was really simple, but also really profound.

Firstly it was about encountering God in the hidden place, on our own, just us and God, to learn to hear his voice and drink deep from him. Most of us function on near exhaustion and sometimes we are scraping the barrel of our spiritual lives to share anything of value or worth. Yet I believe that God wants us to find our rest, refreshment, renewing in him and in his presence as we learn to seek his face and hear his voice.

Too often we don’t let our roots go deep down into God, too busy rushing around to really take time to seek God and to sacrifice that most precious commodity -our time-.

Yet, actually its not sacrificing our time on God, but rather it is investing it wisely.

A great verse I love “they knew they were ordinary and unskilled men who had been with Jesus”, when we spent time in Jesus’ presence we not just reflect him, but radiate him.

A challenge for us all to take time to go deeper with God, to be ‘fully charged up’ -rather than almost out of juice.

Yet that wasn’t the end of the message, Bidds shared about “being bold and audacious for the Kingdom of God”.

I was reminded, standing where we are on Hanham Mount, that Wesley nearly didn’t do field preaching thinking it was “vile” and “unseemly” to not preach in a Church, but yet he was obedient and stepped out of his insecurities and pre-conceptions and preached Christ unashamedly to those who had come to hear him.

That brave moment in a conversation could be the turning point for someone’s life.

That offer to pray for someone could be that moment of healing and transformation, Bidds spoke about his hero “Smith Wigglesworth” -an illiterate plumber- who bravely challenged us to be expectant and step out in faith, take the Holy Spirit inspired risk.

Too often in our conversations we talk about nothing, when maybe we should speak about something!

Let’s be bold!

Let’s seize the moment.

Let’s be a Church that seeks God deeply in prayer, and a Church that is audacious in proclaiming Jesus.

Remembering we are the people who hold out the word that gives life.

relationship with God

JESUS: “Have we met?”

At the end of the parable of the talents Jesus says “get away from me, I never knew you!”

I began to think about this, we can do lots of things “for Jesus” but still not actually know him.

I worry that sometimes we can get so busy doing so much stuff, some of really good stuff like great mission or fantastic acts of justice and compassion, that we actually loose sight of our relationship with God himself.

I worry about how often I just pray to God about stuff that I’m doing, or situations that concern me, or people who are on my heart rather than just being with God, talking to him just because I love him without requests or agendas.

Do I seek God’s face, or am I just after the works of his hands?

I worry that maybe I have lost relationship with God and replaced it with religion?

Sometimes I worry that I loose Jesus in the Churchification of life the world and everything where I feel like I am drowning in an institution rather than in a love-relationship with God the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Trinity.

In the 20 years I have worked for Churches, the bombardment of stuff has often threatened the squeeze out the one relationship that really matters above all.

So, let’s take a moment not to ask for anything, and just share your heart with God and listen and let him share his heart with you and then enjoy just being with him -coming to that place beyond words-,

Let’s keep our relationship with God as our highest priority, let us never be in the position where we hear God say “I never knew you”.