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.

prayer, the Holy Spirit

Seeking the Voice of God.

Do you remember the old logo for HMV of a dog listening to an old grammar-phone? I didn’t realise that HMV stood for his masters’ voice and the ‘story’ of the logo was the dog hearing his owner on the grammar-phone and was confused.

God says “my sheep know my voice”, he also says “whether you turn to the right or to the left you will hear a voice behind you saying this is the way of the Lord walk in it”. We as Christians believe in a God who speaks, yet perhaps we are not people who naturally find listening easy to do.

I have found in the Bible the story of Samuel incredibly challenging when as a Child he was in the temple but didn’t know God’s voice, and kept on mistaking God’s voice for the voice of his Rabbi Eli, until eventually Eli realised that the Lord was calling Samuel and taught him a prayer which was “speak Lord for your servant is listening”. I wonder if this is something the Church of Christ would echo, “speak Lord, for your servants are listening”.

In the book of Revelation there is a refrain at the end of each of the letters to the seven Churches of Asia Minor “he who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying too the Churches”.

Yet to hear God’s voice, we need to have soft hearts, in the book of Hebrews we get the refrain “today if you hear God’s voice do not harden your hearts”.

So, a challenge, are we listening to God?

Are we expectant to hear his voice?

Are we opening scripture?

Are we giving God time and space to talk to us?

Are our hearts open to what he has to say, or are our hearts hardened to what only hear what we want to hear?

Are we sharing with one another, the diversity of the body of Christ, to hear what he has to share through one another?

As I thought about this I began to think about how narrow the people we listen to actually is, how many of our Churches are run by middle class, university educated middle class males?

How much of our reading is from American mega Church pastors (again pre-dominantly white middle class university educated and male)? 

Or if you move in theological circles white Europeans male academics from the 1950’s (Barth, Bonhoeffer, Moltmann, Tillich or Kirkergaard).

Interestingly too, when we read blogs and things on social media, rather than challenging our opinions the computer finds people who will agree with us, do we limit our reading and encounter to find people that confirm what we already think, or challenge out existing thinking?

Do we expect God to speak through people who look and sound like us?

I was talking with a friend today who was speaking about how he had to write an essay using only voices from the developing world, which profoundly challenged him encountering different people from a different world view, and yet enabled him to encounter something different of God.

So, where is God speaking?

Is God stretching us to search and seek him beyond the confines of our comfort zones?

Are we expectant to hear God’s voice from sources we might not have previously engaged with?

Let us live our lives with our hearts, eyes and ears open to encounter more of the revelation of God and wrestling and growing in all that we discover of him becoming more like him.

Journey, Life styles, perspectives, Risk and Change, the Holy Spirit

Misty Eyed Nostalgia.

One of the things I think paralyses us in our Christian life is when we stop looking forward to what God is doing and start looking over our shoulder.

The problem is we start to think the greatest works of God are in our past rather that awaiting them expectantly for our future.
When our eyes are fixed over our shoulder, our progress forward is very slow if not more or less non existent.
Jesus said “anyone who puts their hand to the plough and keeps looking back cannot be my disciple” – strong words.
The past can trap us -an ironically it rarely was as good as we remember, we often look back and often limit our future by rose tinted glasses from the past.

It is nice to reminisce sometimes, a nostalgic moment can be pleasant, yet the truth although we can remember the past fondly, the past is not a location we can live in.

We are called to live in the present and to be architects of the future.

We are called to be people that follow where Christ is going, rather than settling where Christ has been.

I’d rather live where God IS working rather than where he HAS worked.

I want to be someone who relentlessly peruses Jesus, hungry to be where he is going, joining in where he is going.

The past, whether good or bad, can be used as a spur or launch pad into a different future, yet too often I feel that the past can imprison us and restrict us.

Nor do other peoples’ past experiences have to be millstones that we are forced to carry -how often is our predecessors’ memory is

used to beat us over the head? “The last vicar always….”

Yet God calls us to run our own race, without other people or the pasts debris clinging onto our coat-tails.

We are set free to move forward along the path that lies ahead and not that stretching out behind us.

When we think that past experiences cannot be bettered, that is debilitating, crushing potential and clipping the wings of future dreams.

Bad experiences have not laid the rail tracks for the rest of our life, although often this does feel to be true, for the Christian we know that “those who the Son sets free will be free indeed”, “forgetting what is past I press on towards to goal to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has called me” and that “in Christ we are new creations, the old has gone, the new has come”.

Our history (at the cross of Christ) does not have to dictate or lay the rail tracks for our future.

Let’s remember that God has not finished with any of us yet, whilst we have breath in our lungs we are available for his use.

C.S. Lewis once said “you are never too old to chase a new vision, or dream a new dream”.

So lets enjoy the past, but not let it hold us back, distract us from where God is calling us on to, or limit of vision and expectancy of the future.

I’ll close with some words in Habbakkuk… “Behold I am doing a new thing!” -lets pray we grasp this with open hands rather than leave our hands full of the baggage of yesterday.