Job 14, Renewal, Resurrection, Revival, Risk and Change, the Holy Spirit

The Scent of Water… (Job 14)

The phrase Scent of the water ones from Job 14:7-9:

7 “At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
8 Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.

I heard this image shared at the Fellowship of Parish Evangelists conference, and the image stuck with me, this idea that just the tiniest bit, the smallest morsel, can be enough to cause lasting change and transformation.

From a dead tree, yet new life can sprout from the dead place, not from a flood or a puddle, but rather ‘the scent of water’.

As I thought of the idea of the scent of water my mind wandered to the images of living water within the scriptures:

“ Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn.4.13&14).

Water a picture of the Holy Spirit, able to satisfy that deepest desire at core of our being, that “deep cries out to deep” call towards God which we all crave and are thirsty for. God putting eternity with the hearts of humanity.

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (Jn 7.38).

Just a taste of the real thing is what our heart craves.

Maybe this why scripture urges us not to “despise the day of small things”?

God’s mustard seed can flourish from seemingly nothing to becoming a great tree.

As I thought of the power of light and hope, often it is the smallest glimmer that helps spur us on. I was reminded by the faith of the woman with the issue of blood, who knew she could and would be healed by one touch of the hem of Jesus’ garment.

The tiniest touch of Christ can bring more change in a life than a man made flood of good intentions.

A recent poem had the line : “don’t give me the sky when I ask for the light?” (citation need).

Perhaps sometimes in our evangelistic strategies is “less is more”

Jesus left people to work stuff out rather than give people a neatly packaged “just add water” solution to life, the world and the universe.

Perhaps you are only called to be a small link in a chain of events which sees lives turned around, all God might be-calling you to is to be faithful in your small scene and role rather than the whole production.

Perhaps our keenness to drench people in theological flood had more to do with our desire for instant results and wanting to “give God a hand”.

I wonder whether Spirit Led Evangelism is saying what God wants us to say, no more, and no less.

Sometimes it takes a step of faith to trust the journeys of those we love, pray for, and with who we have sowed seeds, or nurtured green shoots, to the God who makes the seeds bud and the crops grown.

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John Wesley, Renewal, Trinity

The Strangely Warming Trinity…

Today is both Trinity Sunday and also Aldergate Day when John Wesley went to a Moravian Church Service and his heart was ‘strangely warmed’ which transformed his life, his ministry, our nation and this local area of Kingswood.

In this Church in Aldergate Street, the young missionary and Anglican Minister realized he wasn’t saved by his religious piety or good works but by God’s unearned grace towards us.

What of us, what was it when we encountered God that warmed our hearts?

Perhaps some of us long to have our hearts warmed again, afresh.

I was thinking about the Trinity and the Gospel…

I thought about how different Christians talk about the Salvation Message.

The Father, the idea that God is real, he is not remote or distant, he loves all he has made, he himself is good news.

The God who created the Universe allows us to call him Father.

Sometime when think of God in this way, we think awe, reverence, adoration and wonder.

Yet, for some our focus is on preaching Christ, and he crucified. The message is about God’s Holiness and purity, his hatred of sin but his love for humanity, God who came as rescuer to seek and to save that which was lost -in other words ME and You.

All of us have sinned.

All of us have fallen short of the Glory of God.

None of us on our own merit is good enough for a Holy God -how could we be?

Yet God, came in human form, to live and to die, he did nothing wrong, was completely holy, pure and blameless and yet he shouldered the sin of the whole world “he who knew no sin, became sin for us, that we might have the righteousness of God”, because it was “whilst we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. Jesus, God incarnate, died for all our sin on the cross, once and for all, so if we put our trust in him we “wont perish but have everlasting life”.

Others preach about a God who wants to be IN our lives, bring transformation, equip us to live the life we were intend to live, to make us the people we were meant to be, a people who look like Jesus.

A message not just for the mind, but for the heart too, that we can experience and encounter God by his Spirit, that the God of Heaven can come and dwell in us, he can leave our hearts (like Wesley) ‘strangely warmed’ and our lives transformed.

All these Gospel messages are great and I have preached them all myself on numerous occasions, but the wonder and the glory of the Gospel is that it is one message, these mind blowing truths all inter-link and dance together.

These may sound like impressive pieces of theology and doctrine, but, like Wesley, they are not meant to be dissected like some science experiment rather they are meant to be encountered and lives out, as radically different Kingdom people, reflecting the glory of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit… A God who we encounter leaves us like Wesley forever changed and transformed.

 

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Ezekiel 37, justice, Renewal, Salvation

Can these Bones live?

We had a church away day today to Salisbury… So many things buzzing around my head… Hope this rant makes some sense!

We looked at Ezekiel 37, the valley of the dry bones, where God gives the young Ezekiel a vision of dry nines become knitted together and covered in skin, and then the Holy Spirit creation breath of life is breathed into them and they rise and stand.
It is easy to think that this passage is talking about initially the people of Israel or a picture of the Church, but actually Lucy Holt (the New Rector of my Old Church St. James in Poole) reminded us today that this is actually a picture of the whole of creation, God wanting to bring transformation and resurrection life into his world.
Interestingly the idea of looking at the world with Ezekiel eyes and seeing those people who with our human eyes maybe highly successful actually when seen with Gods perspective are actually spiritually dead.
How does God see us?
Our Church and the Communities we are located in?
Where in our community is death and dry bones crying out for resurrection life?
“Why have you stolen this building from the community?” a community missioner once asked a Church Council…
The idea that the Christian community and its resources are given to us to steward to see something of heaven touch the locality where Christ has placed and called us.
My friend Alan Jenner often says “Church should be an outpost of heaven” with her arms open longing to welcome in all who know they need of Christ.
I know it is a cliché but like all  clichés it contains truth “Church is the only organisation which exists for its non members”.
“We are not a Community Centre, rather we are a Centre for the Community” said my old mentor Simon Woodley (Rector of Bemerton, Salisbury)…
It makes me ask the questions as Church why are we here?
And who are we here for?
Ultimately we are here for Christ, but as my friend Chris Harwood (Pioneer Minister in Poole) reminded us today that God thinks that Ŵorship that he counts as pleasing is to look after widows and orphans rather than   empty going through the motions noise and rituals “I hate your festivals…but let justice flow like rivers”…
We serve Christ best by our lives lived out in the service for others, living a life of love because “the love of Christ compelling us”… and in this Worship we (to quote Mother Tersea) “we see Christ in some of his most distressing disguises”.
Yet it is in love, with our sleeves rolled up, sharing our lives, being there and showing love with more than just empty words that we see the Church becoming what God intended us to be.
Not just a building, and institution, or a place that holds a weekly religious ceremony but is Gods plan lived out for the redemption of the world he loved so much that he gave up his life for it.

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