Dishwashing

I’m sitting here thinking about these words that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees recorded in Matthew 23:25-26:

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.

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We put in an enormous effort into cleaning the outside of the cup. What I mean by this is that our energy is largely spent on trying to get the external aspects of our life right. We want a good job, good relationship, healthy finances, nice home and more. Of course we do! All of those things serve to make life happier and more comfortable. The problem comes when it doesn’t work. We so often find that external solutions can’t fix internal problems. We see this in the bible also.

-Being tall, talented and terrific didn’t stop Saul from becoming a bad king

-The building of the temple didn’t stop Israel’s issues with idolatry.

-Being a prophet didn’t stop Jonah from being angry with God for being too merciful

-Statements of repentance didn’t stop the Babylonians invading Israel and the temple being destroyed

-Peter’s statements of faith didn’t stop him denying Jesus when the pressure came on.

-The spiritual gifts of the Corinthian church didn’t stop them becoming spiritually corrupt

For the Pharisees they didn’t want to be ‘Godly’ as much as they wanted to be seen being ‘Godly.’ Their actions were more about reputation and status than they were about knowing God and making him known. The reality is that we all have mixed motives. Our ego gets in the way often but there’s a deeper motive that’s also at work. This is the motive that stems from us being made in the image of God and of having eternity set in our hearts. This means that the only way to live from our deeper motives is to continually bring our egos to the cross of Christ and die to them there. Dying and rising is not a once and for all event. It is a rhythm of life, an ongoing process and a never-ending prayer.

We see this at work in another story Jesus told in Luke 18:9-14:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

1“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Our prayers often involves asking for external factors to change. This parable is an invitation for our prayers to also involves asking for our hearts, minds and motivations to change. It is to humbly accept that we need God’s mercy all the time. We are asked to die to the pride that causes us to look down on others even as we think of ourselves as righteous in doing so. We are then asked to come alive to the humble life of complete and utter dependence on the life of God in us. May we do so patiently, graciously, kindly, lovingly and hopefully.

Grace and peace.

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Tapestries

Hello everyone. Rob here.

We’re getting some renovations done on our house. For years we have struggled with it being too small in parts, too cold in parts and it not quite working for how we actually live our lives. The renovations will make the house larger but also more efficient and functional. By signing up we will be making our lives more complicated for a short time in order to simplify our lives in the long run. We will spend an uncomfortable amount of money now so that our house can hold its value for longer and save us money in the longer term. It’s a metaphor for life. So often life feels like it’s taking more from us than we can afford to give. Yet, faith asks us to believe that God is in the uncomfortable and the messy and making something that’s beautiful, durable and functional. I love the image presented in the book, The Shack, of the Holy Spirit joyfully weaving messy strands into a glorious tapestry. A song lyric that resonates with me is this one from the Casting Crowns song, Just Be Held;

Your world’s not falling apart

It’s falling into place

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In the spiritual life dying always precedes rising. Dying is a messy business. When you think about how deeply attached we are to our way of doing things then you can start to see why. To start dying to the old, the old has to stop working for us. It gets in the way. I remember a time when my way of living in the world was stopping our marriage from working well. Something had to change. Perfection was not achieved, nor was it the goal, but I died to the old and came alive to a new way of being. It wasn’t a one-off. Dying and rising is how we live when we follow Jesus.

Don’t you want your anger to die? Your fear, stress and anxiety? Your tendency to hide when things get hard? Or, conversely, your desire to control everything and everyone around you? What about your self-righteousness, your self-preservation or your selfishness generally? I’m sure you can name the things you want to get rid of in your life fairly easily. What makes it hard is that we don’t know or can’t imagine what the new looks like. We know how to live with the old.

In our renovations we have handed control to an outside company. They came back with a plan that we would never have thought of if left to our own devices. They were experts and knew better than we did. We will now partner together to bring it to fruition. So it is with our life in God. He knows better. He has a better plan than anything you can imagine. You need to give him free rein so he can truly reign in you. Your life may not make much sense for a while but, trust me on this, the tapestry is being woven, the building is being constructed and the garden is coming to life. God is at work already in you. It works better when our ego is not in his way! Remember Romans 6:10-11,

When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did. (The Message)

Your life’s not falling apart. It’s falling into place. So die to sin and ego. Come alive to God and his Spirit and his wonderful tapestry that is your life in him.

Grace and peace.

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Jesus Made a Path

Hi everyone. Rob here.

If there’s one story that reveals how different Jesus was to the world he entered it’s this one recorded in Mark 9:33-35.

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

3Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’

It was perfectly normal for 1st century Jewish men to be arguing about their status. Status was currency. Every man wanted more status. Status was also a finite commodity. If you gained it then it was the expense of someone else. Hence, you see various authority figures try to take Jesus down a peg or two. They never succeeded and had to resort to sending him to a cross in order to bring him the shame they wanted him to experience. They saw his demonstrations of true authority as undermining their status. They were right but they also never realised that in the loss of status was an invitation to walk the humble path and allow God to be truly Lord and King of their lives.

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Jesus calls out the disciples because the kingdom of God is not built on human status or reputation. It’s built through people who have truly handed their lives over to God. When we become people who have truly made God king over our lives we have surrendered our own desire to be king. God’s kingdom doesn’t grow through our attempts to take the throne. It grows when we lay our crowns down at the foot of the cross and the crucified king, Jesus.

The ironic thing is that God has given us a desire to rule and he’s done it for a reason. He wants us to be rulers in his kingdom. This was the original mandate for humanity and it’s a mandate returned to us after the renewal of all things (see Revelation 22:5). Of course, we can’t be rulers on behalf of God in his kingdom if we’re trying to be rulers against God by building our own. Our desire to rule can only be fulfilled if we have acknowledged the true Ruler, the true Kingdom and bowed the knee in response.

As followers of Jesus then, we start to exercise our God-given mandate of rule now because we belong to God’s kingdom now. We do it by walking the humble path and surrendering our lives over to God every day. We do it by acknowledging our desperate need for Jesus and the life of the Spirit in us every day. I know that God’s kingdom is also built through divine love. I need God’s help to receive God’s love, rest in God’s love and radiate God’s love.

Receive

Rest

Radiate

I can’t do that if I’m status seeking or reputation building. I can only do it by bowing my knee and opening my heart to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

While I’ve always tried to practice a life lived without ego the fact is that being a pastor brought with it an element of status and self-importance. It has been good to let that go and rediscover the humble path where Jesus meets us, walks with us and guides us. You see, it’s his path. He created it and he welcomes those who walk it. Choosing to walk it is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment choice that the Spirit helps us make. I would like to make that choice more and I’d love to walk with you on it.

Grace and peace.

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Enough

Hi everyone. Rob here.

One of the most powerful words we can be using right now is this: Enough. So often we don’t feel that we have enough…

Enough time

Enough money

Enough ability

Enough intelligence

Enough strength (emotional, mental, physical, spiritual)

And so and so on. This feeling of ‘not enough’ is what we call deficit thinking. We all know it far too well. It often leads to people thinking that what’s needed is abundance. An abundance of time, money, ability etc. The pursuit of abundance in turn becomes very difficult and only serves to reinforce deficit thinking. That’s why there are so many people who live in abundance who still feel like they never have enough. Rich people feel poor, intelligent people feel stupid and strong people feel weak.

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Enough isn’t about what you have as much as it’s about what you perceive. With ‘abundance’ you always try to get more but with ‘enough’ you wake up and realise that you already have it. Enough is related to need, but abundance is related to want. We have enough to do what we need to do, and be who we need to be, but it doesn’t help us tick off a wishlist that isn’t based on reality. If we find we don’t have enough maybe it’s because we haven’t based our life on reality.

Paul wrote this in Philippians 4:12

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Paul is writing this in prison and, even there, he discovered that he always had enough.

We have enough because we are in Christ and in Christ there is always enough. In Christ the 5000 can get fed. In Christ the disciples, so hopeless much of the time, can heal people and tell demons where to go. In Christ a prisoner, like Paul, can feel free and those who are weak can be strong. In Christ we remember that we are worth more than many sparrows and the Father feeds the sparrows.

So to gain the perspective of ‘enough’ we have to focus on the reality of ‘in Christ.’ When we remember who we are we discover what we have. We also have to remember that we have enough for ‘right here, right now.’ In Christ we have enough and we are enough for this moment and this place, right now. Now is reality. Now is all that we have and now is eternal when Christ is present. Here is where the kingdom of God is because you are an ambassador of Christ.

So today we can put aside the worry we have for the future. We can bring our deficit thinking to the cross. We can die to our desire for abundance. We can remember that we are in Christ and Christ is in us. In Christ there is enough and in Christ the kingdom of God is present. Right here, right now God is with us, we are his children and as his children, we have enough. Therefore, we, like Paul in his prison cell, can be content.

Grace and peace everyone.

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Big and Small

Hi everyone. Rob here.

I have noticed two things about my faith in Jesus that help me in everyday life. One is that it connects me to a bigger story, the kingdom of God. My faith tells me that I am an ambassador for Christ, a child of God and a citizen of God’s kingdom. I am loved and have a vital role to play in God’s unfolding story on this earth. In turn, that gives me a life of optimistic hope even as life’s circumstances try to testify otherwise. The second thing is that my faith tells me that there is much in life that I don’t need to worry about because I’m not in charge. This helps make my world smaller and more manageable. The things that I’m not in charge of I can give over to the Truly Sovereign One and focus on what I’m responsible for. Faith connects me to a bigger story but it also puts my life into perspective. I belong to God’s kingdom but I’m not responsible for that kingdom. I have responsibilities but I’m not the centre of the story. As I continue to learn how to die to self it is having the effect of building resilience because I have a clearer perspective.

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This is a work in progress so there are still days when I worry too much, get self-obsessed and put my story at the centre. But, increasingly, there are more days when I am surrendered and content.

Paul writes this in Philippians 4:12-13:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Paul is in prison and is writing his most hopeful letter. His external world has shrunk to the size of a prison cell but his sense of being part of something greater has grown. In the previous chapter he wrote this:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him… (Philippians 3:7-9)

Knowing Christ and being found in Christ is what gives us true perspective because he gives us his perspective. He is our blueprint, our forerunner, our ultimate example and by dying with him we become people who rise with him too. We are co-heirs with Christ as Paul reminds us in Romans 6:16-17. His kingdom is our kingdom and as we pay attention to his earthly life we see that he never took on board anything that wasn’t his to take on. He was generous, open-hearted, tender and kind but he also had boundaries, a specific mission and clear discernment about what belonged to God and what did not.

We are to live in the same Spirit; asking God for wisdom about what belongs to us and what does not. Asking the Spirit within us to remind us of the big story that we participate in and our specific role in it. There are battles that aren’t yours to fight, dramas that aren’t your concern and missions that aren’t for you to join. What there is is an invitation to walk with God as friends of Jesus in the power of the Spirit. You will be shown where to go, what to do and, most of all, we will grow in loving intimacy with God.

May we give ourselves to God’s love, God’s mission and God’s kingdom this week. may you know the big story of which you are a part and the relatively small, but beautiful and vital, role you have to play in it.

Grace and peace.

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My Peace I Give You

Hi everyone. Rob here.

Like many of you I have watched with growing concern the escalation of violence in the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Having visited there 18 months ago the concern is more personal. I can see the faces of Palestinian friends in Bethlehem, the bike tour guide who shared his hope for peace with me in Tel Aviv, the cafe worker in the West Bank who just wanted to travel and the tour guides who knew life in both East and West Jerusalem. Many of the places I visited are now filled with protest and discord. Hope for peace is fading, but it must not be allowed to die. Peace is the only way forward.

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Violence is doing harm to all in this current conflict. There are never any winners when violence is the dominant voice. That’s because the saying, “The means justify the ends” is a lie. The truth is that the means become the ends. Violence begets more violence. Just as lies beget more lies, apathy begets apathy and so on. But the fact that the means becomes the ends also has a positive side. Truth begets truth, kindness begets kindness and love begets love. This is why Jesus tells us that the two greatest commandments are…

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.

We need to create a new cycle of love. However, we can only give what we have received. This is why the victims of violence so often become the perpetrators of violence. But again, the opposite is also true. The recipients of peace can become the givers of peace. Those who receive love, give love.

In John 14:27 Jesus says this to his disciples:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

We are given the love of Jesus, the peace of Jesus, the joy of Jesus and the life of Jesus. We are invited, through the Spirit, to take these things to heart. As we take our place as sons and daughters of the Father we can then see ourselves as brothers and sisters of the King, Jesus. We discover the honoured and valuable place we have in the heart of God and in his kingdom. As we take our place the Spirit comes to us and affirms to us that it is true, that we are loved and that we are empowered to live the life that the sons and daughters of God are intended to live.

In this latest conflict the only side I take is the side of Jesus who invites all people, Palestinian and Israeli, into his peace. He invites us all to meet him at his cross and lay down their arms at the feet of the Crucified One. He invites us all to see the image of God in one another as we give our lives to the New Adam. God’s kingdom is one that blesses the peacemakers, rewards the humble, honours those who pursue justice and who show the world how to love in the name of Jesus. This is about more than war and violence. It’s about grudges, bitterness, resentment, hatred, prejudices and any kind of dehumanising thought we have toward others. This is about all of us learning to become more human as we give our lives to the True Human, Jesus.

James 3:17-18 says,

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

May you be blessed as you receive the peace of Jesus this week. May his shalom be yours.

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Diving Into A New Decade

Hi everyone. Rob here.

In less than 3 weeks I turn 50. When I started this blog I was about to turn 40 and excited about a decade mining the riches of the life of the heart I had discovered. Now another new decade beckons with a very different look to it, but a very similar invitation.

In my experience every new decade seems to carry with it a fresh path to walk down so that new discoveries and more growth can be made. My 40’s were about diving into the life of the new heart that Jesus had given more and, thereby, learning to live a more wholehearted life. God gave me travel adventures, rewarding work and a way of living out my faith that made sense and that worked. The decade ended with the new challenge of moving out of pastoring, leaving my old church and letting Jesus lead me into a new season. It hasn’t been easy but it has been good.

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Now as I enter my 50’s it feels like I’ve been in training once again. It seems that God has been teaching me again just how how much I need to trust him and how much I can trust him. He is truly Sovereign and truly Good. I can trust him with my strengths and gifts and I can trust him with my weaknesses and limitations. I can trust with my vocation, my money, my family, my home (including upcoming renovations), my mind and my heart. I can trust him with placing me rightly in his kingdom. I can trust his heart for me. And I can become the kind of person whom God shines through as I truly give myself over to him.

I wasn’t that kind of person this morning. I was grumpy and resistant to critique of how I lived my life. There is still room for growth and that will never change. However, I have mostly been in a place of deep acceptance of where God has me right now. I have been in a place of deep trust and I pray that will continue. I’m increasingly less interested in what God would have me do, but more interested in becoming who he would have me be. I’m becoming less proud and more keen to walk the humble path. I didn’t know how much I needed to walk that path until now. And that’s the point. As we walk with Jesus he leads us where we need to go, not where we think we ought to go. I had one plan and God is tweaking that plan so that it’s his.

I’m happy to enter into my 50’s knowing that God is leading me, Jesus is with me and the Spirit is empowering me. My name may not be in lights but if Jesus is on the humble path then that’s the one I’m going to walk on. Every new decade is an adventure. This one involves teenagers, young adulthood, a new stage of marriage, new workplaces and a growing love for Jesus. It sounds good to me.

As you ponder the decade and stage of life that you’re in, may you know God’s deep invitation into his heart, his joy and his life. He’s on your side and asks that you be on his. He is sovereign and he is good, oh so good.

Grace and peace.

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God is God and I Am Not

Hi everyone. Rob here.

Kiley and I were talking today about our respective journeys in learning to trust that God is in charge. It got me thinking about the fine lines of Christian language. When we say that God is in charge and I’m not, some may hear that as an abdication of responsibility. It sounds fatalistic, like giving up. What it really means is this: I’m going to let God be God and I am going to stop trying to do his job. Instead I’ll do mine, which is to partner with God in being shaped into a truer and more beautiful humanity. I am human and God is God and when we make God human and make us God we mess everything up.

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How do we try and do God’s job for him? In ways that are both obvious and subtle. The most obvious is when we charge into life trying to control everyone and everything around us. There is no prayer, no ‘giving ourselves over to God.’ The underlying belief is, “it’s all up to me.” Another way is a bit more subtle and it stems from that everyday condition known as worry. We worry that things aren’t going to work out well for us and so we intervene. We try and persuade people to our point of view, we send endless reminders, we make detailed lists, we manipulate in little ways, we put on our ‘in control’ voice or our bossy voice and so on. the underlying condition is fear that ‘things will not work out well for me.’

I’ve recently finished a book about a man imprisoned for his faith in a foreign country. Freedom began for him when he realised that God had him in prison for a reason. He witnessed to terrorists, refugees, political prisoners and more about God’s love through Jesus Christ. He finished his time in prison knowing that despite horrific conditions, beatings, corruption and injustice he had participated in the will of God. He stopped fighting, began cooperating, found peace and God’s love sustained and strengthened him. I pray we don’t learn our lesson in the same dramatic way but learn it we must. We embrace our humanity by cooperating with God, not by controlling God.

I have prayed prayers where I’ve told God what his will is. I have worried and fretted and stressed about many situations. I have withdrawn when I needed to step and step in. I have stepped in when I needed to step away. We’ve all been there and done that because that’s the condition we inherited from our first ancestors. But now we’re invited to inherit from Jesus, the new Adam. We are to inherit his life in the Spirit, trust in the Father, faith in the path laid out for him and peace in the face of adversity. We are to inherit his life of prayer, his joy, his compassion and his power. That last one freaks us out a bit, but it’s simply the power to do what God asks of us in any given situation. It’s the power to not give the world, the flesh or the devil victory in that moment, but instead, to trust God and give our lives to him.

The invitation is trust in the goodness, grace and sovereignty of God. He is loving and he is brilliant. His will is perfect and it’s also creative, joyful and a little bit scary! He invites us to risk everything and trust him. When we do we find that his arms are the safest place to be.

Grace and peace everyone.

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Faith, Doubt and Desire

Hi everyone. Rob here.

On Sunday we reflected on the story of Thomas and, in another group I belong to, we’re reflecting on the story of the raising of Lazarus. Both of these stories contain profound interaction between faith, doubt and desire.

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In the story of Lazarus we see this dynamic particularly in Martha. Look at the following dialogue that shows it at work.

 ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.

 Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’

 Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’

Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’

‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’

And then, a bit later on…

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ he said.

‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.’

Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’

Martha believed in the concept of Jesus. She accepted who he was but struggled to trust him in the moment. She questions his decisions while at the same time believing that he was Israel’s saviour. Does that sound familiar? Isn’t that how we often live our lives? It is faith in the moment that so often eludes us. Martha’s pragmatism and tendencies to control her environment act as an obstacle to faith in this situation. She believed that Jesus could have saved her brother, that God will do whatever he asks even now, and yet, in the moment, the fear of a bad smell gets in the way. I love Jesus’ gentleness with her. He knows her heart of faith and reminds her of it. he lets her know that she can see the glory of God right now. Right now Martha; just believe. Let go of your plans and agendas and let God have his way right now.

It is a similar dynamic with Thomas. We see this in John 20.

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’

But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’

He’s called ‘Doubting Thomas’ but I think ‘searching Thomas’ is better. His reaction is one borne out of the drama and trauma of the last few days. He’s a passionate individual. In the Lazarus story we see him say…

 ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

Passion, right there. In the wake of what they have all just been through and in the fear they’re experiencing right now, Thomas will only give his heart away again if he can have a personal, tactile and embodied experience of the risen Jesus. Interestingly, he expected Jesus to have his scars. The scars would be a form of proof to Thomas that new life existed. Does that prompt you to think about your scars in a new way?

Again, Jesus is gentle but full of truth as he comes to Thomas.

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’

Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’

Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’

Thomas’ response to Jesus is beyond anything proclaimed about Jesus to this point – “My Lord and my God.” His faith is deep. It was the doubt that was superficial. Martha was the same. I believe it is the same for us. When we came to faith in Jesus as Lord he planted himself in our hearts. He is not easily dislodged form there. It’s just that we struggle often to get in touch with our new and true hearts. So…

Believe that you believe

Have faith that you have faith

Trust that you trust Jesus with your life and…

Know that Jesus himself has faith in your faith, belief in your beliefs and trust in your trust in him. he knows that you are made for him and so he gently, firmly, truthfully and beautifully keeps leading us back to him. He is our heart’s desire and our heart’s true home.

Grace and peace everyone.

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Easter Is Just Beginning

Easter doesn’t end with Easter Sunday and the Resurrection of Jesus. Really. That may signal the end of the Easter holiday but, in reality, Easter is just beginning. It will culminate with the Ascension of Jesus to the Father’s right hand and then, 10 days later, Pentecost and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the earth and the church of Christ being born. Resurrection is the beginning of the new covenant in Christ being born. So how are you entering into this time? For the 40 days before Easter we have Lent that helps us to die to ourselves in anticipation of the reality of resurrection. But what about for the 50 days after Easter? How will you enter into Jesus’ resurrection, anticipating the hope of the coming Spirit?

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In Acts 1:3 we are told this about Jesus:

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 

I find it fascinating that the priority for the Risen Christ wasn’t to appear to thousands of people offering proof of his victory over death, but instead, to teach his small band of disciples about the kingdom of God. Their lives, their teaching, their witness would be all the evidence needed that Jesus was Lord. As they learnt about how the kingdom of God worked they became transformed and all that Jesus had done and said started to make sense. This gives us an invitation for how we can spend the next 40-50 days…

Ask Jesus to speak to us about the kingdom of God.

For me this is about continually asking God for his help in aligning myself to his rule and his will. It’s asking for his help in showing me where I am trying to be in charge and repenting accordingly. It’s letting go of all the ways I expect God to follow the agenda I have for him instead of surrendering to his agenda. God’s answer is often this:

Look at Jesus and look to Jesus.

Jesus is perfect humanity in action. This is true after the resurrection as well. He is still perfectly human after conquering death. Every time I look at Jesus he isn’t serving his own reputation or status. He’s not at the mercy of crowds or leaders or his disciples. He lives in intimacy with his Father, and, led by the Spirit, he is always exactly where he needs to be, doing what he needs to be doing and revealing the kingdom, the rule, of God as he does so. Wouldn’t you love your life to be like that? I want to point people to God’s kingdom. I want them to die to every false kingdom they’ve ever pledged allegiance to. I want intimacy with God, a Spirit-led life and a friendship with Jesus that echoes through eternity.

So I commit myself to continuing the Easter journey. This next 40 days isn’t so much about dying, but about living. Living for, with and in the power of Jesus to the glory of God. Teach me Jesus. Lead me Spirit. Help me Father. And may you do the same for all my sisters and brothers reading this today.

May your Easter be blessed everyone.

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