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Monday, 30 June 2014

In a room of crying babies ...

In a room of crying babies...

...a mother can always distinguish her baby’s cry. She spends hours on her own with her baby, nursing and caring for him/her, and recognises the timbre of her baby’s voice. Not only that, there is a physical response to a nursing baby’s cry; the mother’s body reacts to a cry of hunger by immediately providing the right nourishment.

In a world of crying humanity, Jesus can always distinguish your voice. Paul writes in his first letter to the people in Corinth that ‘you are the Anointed One’s, and the Anointed One is God’s.’ The Anointed One is, of course, Jesus, and you are his, as am I, as is everyone who calls on his Name. 

He will never leave you nor forsake you, he promises. He is always with you. Even as you raise your voice to call out to him, to petition and beseech him for yourself or someone else, he knows your voice. He recognises your cry, and like a nursing mother, he responds. 

Unlike a nursing mother, though, he always knows what the problem is and why you are crying out. And he always has just the right answer. It is a good answer, an answer to meet your needs, because his plans are always to give you hope and a future.

He always recognises our voices, but we don’t always recognise his. Why is that? We need to get to know him in the quiet, on our own, reading his written word so that we get to know the voice we hear coming through it. We get to know his thoughts, his ways, and become absolutely assured of his love and goodness towards us. We learn to trust his guidance, knowing that it is always designed to bring the best for us. 

Like a person wearing a hearing aid who goes into a crowded and noisy gathering of people, if we go out into the world without being properly tuned to Jesus’ voice, we will be distracted by the cacophony of competing ideas and values. If we haven’t spent time in the quiet with Jesus, in peaceful contemplation and focus, then when the competition comes for our attention we may be diverted from his way. The enemy raises a ruckus, creating a noise of conflicting advice and temptations which may have just enough good in them to masquerade as God’s ideas. 

Unless we are prepared and our hearing is honed so we recognise our Saviour’s voice, we might easily be confused and fall victim to deception. Like the email I received this morning, ostensibly from a friend, relating a sad story of a plight of loss at the hands of thieves and the need for me to send her money. If I didn’t know that friend so well – if I didn’t know where she is right now – if I didn’t know where she might be – if I didn’t know her voice – I might fall prey to this scam and send money to the fraudster.

It happens. It happens everyday, in ordinary worldly situations and in our communion with God. We think we know his voice; we dash off in pursuit of something which has not come from him, because we haven’t taken the time to fully acquaint ourselves with the timbre of his voice and the nature of his communication.

We are the Anointed’s, and the Anointed is God’s.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

It's a Cinch

Speaking to a neighbour a few days ago, she told me about a recent experience she had horse riding. 

An experienced rider, she knew what she needed to do before she got onto the horse’s back. She needed to check that the saddle was properly cinched, because apparently when the saddle is first put on, the horse’s belly can swell and then return to normal after a few minutes, requiring the leather strap which passes underneath to be cinched tighter.

My friend asked the person who had prepared the horse for the ride if it was properly cinched, and rather than check it herself, she took the person’s word for it. Yes, it was ready to go. Off she went on her horse ride when suddenly she was aware that the saddle was slipping and she was going with it, and had to grab hold of the horse’s head to keep herself on until she could rectify the situation.

She knew she should check the leather strap but she didn’t. She took someone else’s word for it.

As a Christian, my relationship with Jesus is up to me and Jesus. He is the one who keeps me safe, who keeps me erect, who supports me. If I let my relationship with him slip; if I depend vicariously on other people’s relationships with Jesus, then I am in danger of slipping. When the going gets tough, when the hills rise or valleys deepen, I am likely to slide off and come to grief. Of course I may be able to cling on to Jesus as she did to the horse’s head, but it’s hardly an ideal way to live my life.

So, every day, first priority for me must be to refresh my relationship with Jesus, to know his will for me each day, to hear his words and let them sink deep into my soul.

Then living life to the full should become a cinch.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


So, there we were, Dusty and I, on our usual route this morning. The Tabernacle Chorus swelling from the treetops, harmonies and melodies dipping and diving as the birds dart and flit here and there. Lovely, inspiring, as I’ve often written.

Dusty is rather an old lady now, (unlike me...), so as I waited for her to catch up I stood still on the path and gradually became aware of movement among the thorny gorse bush on the side of the path. 

A wee brown bird hopped from the thorns onto the barbed wire stretched there between two fence poles. Agile, adept, the indistinct and silent bird danced along the wire and back into the thorny gorse bush, apparently missing every danger of impalement. 

I’d never noticed this kind of bird before, and then I noticed there were two of them in there, popping around in silence, skipping round the barbs and thorns.

There are people in life whose voices or actions or beauty command attention, admiration and respect. But hidden within the thorns are the silent and undistinguished folk who are just getting on with it. Their talents, though considerable, go unnoticed, and yet they may be working in situations of danger and tricky relationships. 

We live in the age of celebrity, where folk are keen to be known for anything rather than be unknown. But nobody is unknown. Jesus tells us that the Father has numbered the hairs of our head, and encourages that we are worth so much to God. 

Though nobody else may notice the way you are skipping around the thorny issues in your life today, handling the prickly people and bringing peace into discordant situations, just getting on with it.... God the Father notices. He notices and loves you for it.

We don’t have to sing with the sweetest voice. We just need to get on with what God has given us talents for, to the best of our ability. And when we do, the angels sing and the Father rejoices over us.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

No Other Name

Global storms sweep the continents. Environmental disasters seem to be on the increase as our profligate use of the planet begins to cost us the earth. Political unrest flares into violence and wars rage in flashpoints round the world. Religious extremism demands that others conform on the pain of death. 

Meriam defied her persecutors and in the moment of decision, she didn’t blink. She faced a wall of hatred and refused to bow to their demands. She stood by Jesus.

He has vindicated her courageous stand. A global outcry on her behalf may be the world’s understanding for the quashing of her sentence and her release from prison, but much of that global outcry was initiated in the name of Jesus. 

Christians round the world, as well as other right-thinking people, stood by Meriam and now she is released. One continues to pray that she and her family will be given asylum in the USA. 

Christians claim that there is no other name by which we might be saved. That the powerful name of Jesus is the way to everlasting life. Believing that does not sanction violence or force of any kind. We are called to love others into the Kingdom. To walk the way of peace, holding on to the powerful name of Jesus.

There is no other name by which we might be saved, than the powerful name of Jesus. May you know his power and compassion and love in your life today.

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Music of Our World

Some birdsong is fluent and tuneful, but I realized as I walked this morning how so many birds sing a staccato song. Playing the cello or any stringed instrument, when you abandon the bow for the finger and pluck the strings, it is called pizzicato, and some birdsong resembles that. A succession of notes played or sung short and sharp and separated by even the briefest of pauses. 

Listening this morning reminded me of the sound of a newborn baby as he or she begins to waken up. When I had newborn babies, I remember thinking it sounded like the motor on a motorboat spluttering into life and finally achieving an uninterrupted wail. Not the most pleasant sound, but one which achieves action and gets a response.

There are pizzicato tunes all around us in the world, picked out like a warm-up to a fully developed sound – whether a melody or the cries of a newborn baby or the cacophony of a lawn mower or a power boat. Not all pizzicato sounds are good. Some lead in the direction of violence or disruption, of tension and discord. It’s up to us to be alert and aware of the ‘music’ of our times, be prayerful and willing to speak out and take action to cut the power before something nasty whirrs into action. 

And able to recognise when the pizzicato is leading to a beautiful tune. 

Ah, that needs divine guidance and wisdom. Live close to God.