La terquedad y la salsa agridulce

sweet and sour sauceRecientemente, ¡tuve un ataque de terquedad!

Cualquiera que me conozca, sabe que la terquedad no suele ser un defecto que esté demasiado presente en mi carácter, pero recientemente fui terco de tal manera que dicha situación inspiró esta nueva página del blog.

En lugar de ir de compras, decidí jugar a “ver cuánto tiempo puedo durar sin comprar nada comer”
El resultado de esto fue que, una noche, estaba hambriento y con poca comida en casa, así que rebusqué en mi despensa… ¡ y sólo encontré un tarro de salsa agridulce! Me encontré comiendo salsa fría y agridulce en una tostada (es cierto, no lo escuchaste incorrectamente, ¡SALSA CHINA FRÍA!)

¡No me juzgues por esta inusual elección! Fue como si Dios me hablara a través de esta experiencia.

Francamente, no disfruté del sabor, pero debido a una mezcla de obstinación, comodidad o inactividad, decidí conformarme con menos de lo que podía tener pues, de haber tenido intención, podría haber salido fácilmente a comprar más comida a pesar de ser bastante de noche.

Aparentemente, esta es una historia tonta, pero creo que es una gran ilustración de cómo son nuestras vidas como cristianos a veces. Nos concentramos en las cosas miserables, las sobras de la mesa del Señor, cuando Dios nos proporcionó riquezas espirituales y una fiesta en Su presencia.

Esta historia tonta nos proporciona un punto realmente profundo.

Muchas veces vivimos con mucho menos de lo que el Señor desea para nosotros, quitamos la Palabra de Dios, vivimos espiritualmente desnutridos cuando la realidad es que Dios tiene un banquete para todos nosotros, ¡una gran fiesta!

“Escúchame, y comerás lo que es bueno”. Disfrutarás de la mejor comida ” Isaías 55:2

Dios realmente quiere bendecir, prosperar y favorecer nuestras vidas como sus hijos. Él realmente tiene grandes planes para nosotros, pero tenemos que aspirar a más en Dios y decidir hacer el esfuerzo adicional de deleitarnos con las riquezas espirituales que Él nos tiene preparadas.

Siempre hay más en Dios de lo que estamos accediendo en este momento; más gracia, más favor, más citas divinas, más revelación de la Biblia, más sabiduría y guía divina, más estallidos del Espíritu que Dios ya quiere que recibamos.

Es como si Dios hubiera organizado una fiesta para nosotros, pero NOSOTROS debemos elegir disfrutarla.

Debemos determinar el aferrarnos a la comida sobrenatural y a los recursos espirituales del cielo si realmente queremos de vivir una VIDA BENDECIDA como discípulos de Jesús.

¡Haz un esfuerzo adicional!

¡Profundiza en Dios!

 

Standard

Selling out for Sweet and Sour sauce

 

 

sweet and sour sauce

 

Recently, I had a bout of stubbornness!

Anyone who knows me, know stubbornness is not usually a character deficiency of mine, but recently I was stubborn in such as way as to inspire this usually titled blog.

Rather than grocery shopping I decided to play a game of ‘see how long I can last without buying more groceries’.

The result of which, meant one night, I was hungry and with little food left in the house so I raided my store cupboards, only to find a jar of sweet and sour sauce!

One night I found myself eating cold sweet and sour sauce on toast, that’s right, you didn’t hear it incorrectly, COLD CHINESE SAUCE!

Don’t judge me for my unusual choice of snack!

It was as if God spoken to me through this experience. 

 

I frankly didn’t enjoy the taste but out of a mix of stubbornness, convenience or idleness, I chose to settle for less than what was availed to me. I could have easily bit the bullet and went out late at night to buy some more groceries had I been so inclined to do so. 

This is indeed a silly story and illustration really, but I think this is like our lives as Christians at times. 

We settle on the measly things, the scrapping from the table of the Lord, when God provided for us spiritual riches and a feast in His presence.

This silly story provides us a really deep and profound point.

We can oftentimes live with much, much less than the Lord desires for us, we can off the scraps of God’s Word, we live spiritually malnourished and underfed, when God has a banquet for us all, a huge feast!

“Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food.” ISAIAH 55V2 

God really does want to bless, prosper and favour our lives as His children. He really does have great plans for us, but we need to climb higher in God and choose to make the extra effort of feasting off the spiritual riches He has waiting for us.

There is always more in God than what we are accessing right now; more grace, more favour, more Divine appointments, more revelation from the Bible, more Divine wisdom and guidance, more outbreaks of the Spirit that God is already wanting us to receive.

It’s like God has laid out a feast for us but WE must chose to eat it.

We must determine to lay ahold of the supernatural food and spiritual resources of heaven if we are truly are to live a BLESSED LIFE as disciples of Jesus.

Go the extra mile!

Dig deeper into God!

Get ready for the feast and TUCK IN!

Standard

Navigating through change

navigation

In our lives as Christians, in church life and those involved in church ministry, the aspect of navigating through change is inevitable.

Change is a constant in our lives, in church and in ministry settings.

If we are to be the fruitful, dynamic, effective people God desires us to be, we must choose to navigate change well.

I see so many churches do this, as well as individuals; making continual major changes on a whim of emotion or in reaction to different circumstances. 

For example, some Christians continually change churches when things don’t go their way, others constantly change relationships (either romantic or friendships) when they don’t suit their needs, etc.

There is a danger of constantly making major and strategic changes as a product of difficult circumstances.

There is tremendous power in God-enabled stickability.

It’s the whole humorous adage that you may have heard; Veni Vidi VELCRO!

TRANSLATION: I came, I saw and I STUCK AROUND!

The future belongs to those who faithfully marched forward in God’s plan amidst the storms and ever-varying climate of a changing world.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain. 1 CORINTHIANS 15V58

But, it is clear there are times when God is the author of change and we must navigate this effectively and graciously to others around us.

This could mean changing jobs, churches and friendship circles, but there is a right and wrong way to do this.

To use a sailing analogy, sailboats (yachts) need to correct their course according to wind directions in order to catch momentum and forward progression, the same is true for us spiritually.

When God is the author of change it is for our blessing, benefit and forward spiritual progression!

Are you open to catching the wind of the Spirit?

Are you ready to change tack to the promptings of God?

Are you tuned into the whispers of the Spirit of God?

 

 

Standard

Musings from an American Diner

american diner

I won’t name the town or name of the restaurant, but I ate out at an American-style diner, here in the UK sometime ago last year.

I love American food (even when my waistline doesn’t!) but whilst dining out, it was clear something was lacking. 

Whilst they had invested a lot of money, time and thought into attempting to re-create the “authentic” American dining experience, with 50’s rock and roll music, greasy burgers, root beer and highly calorific milkshakes, etc.

I found myself arriving at the conclusion that this wasn’t quite right, it wasn’t quite authentic, despite it’s best attempts, this dining experience was an imitation of the real thing.

Having tasted many times, authentic American food whilst on my travels there, I was able to discern the different between a British counterfeit and the real thing.

I thought that this has parallels to our spiritual lives too.

So often in church we use the language of the book of Acts in church today, of miracles and spiritual gifts, of a “book-of-Acts-like” sense of community, of revival and changing society, but if we are honest with ourselves, the reality is very different in experience.

In reality, we have drifted from the Biblical blueprint of New Testament experience.

When we see the New Testament, we see a group of Jesus followers entirely devoted to God’s purposes, devoted to Gospel proclamation, willing to risk even their very lives for the cause of Christ and His eternal kingdom.

Fast forward around 2000 years to a western 21st century church, comparing and contrasting the two and the challenge of the “height from which we have fallen” is very apparent. 

Whilst we see pockets of good things happening these things pale into comparison to the genuine article, the measurement of the book of ACTS.

I appreciate this challenge is somewhat of a pandora’s box being opened, and where it could lead is uncomfortable territory, but we must chose an eternal-perspective over comfort and security.

I think as the church, by and large we have been satisfied with less, constricted by ease and enamoured by a safe, secure, comfortable and consumerist faith experience. 

God wants to shake us up from where we have been and awaken us afresh to the reality of His purposes for your life and for our nation. 

I want to challenge you today there is MORE than what you are currently experiencing in their spiritual life! There are deeper places to go in God’s purposes and deeper experience with the Spirit of God.

Will you allow Him to shake things up in your life, to awaken you and revive you?

We can pray for a Sovereign wave of revival to sweep the land, but it’s important to remember an age old truth and that’s this;

Revival often starts from within!

The New Testament church put the society of the day right side up and made transformational and eternal waves into the greco-roman world. They saw mass salvation, cultural changes and signs from heaven as common place occurrences at the time as the kingdom of God rapidly advanced in 1st century Roman society.

The disciples were first known in Antioch around this period as Christians which originally meant ‘little- Christs’ because they so radiated JESUS they were often mistook for Christ Himself. WOW!

We’re called to be little-Christs not merely copy-cat imitations.

Like the illustration of the American diner, the genuine article is always more effective and powerful than counterfeit imitations…

What are the bold choices and decisions you need to make to live with a renewed sense of a radical, New Testament, authentic faith?

Let God radically stir you for something deeper than you’ve ever known!

#SELAH

 

 

Standard

JESUS won’t unfriend you!

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 10.09.50

The nature of the social media world in which we live, has the propensity to generate a very insecure generation.

People so often are living bound by each Snapchat caption, by every clearly-filtered Instagram photo, Facebook or twitter image in the hope of more likes.

The thought (although never spoken, but implied) is that if more people like my posts, I will be somehow more popular, more accepted, more valued, etc. You get the picture. 

On social media, all you get is the highlight reels of others’ lives, the memorable moments, the fun or noteworthy things that have happened, seldom do we hear of the times of despair, discouragement or even the seemingly mundane or trivial occurrences of our daily lives.

It’s interesting to watch the feeds of other Christians and other churches particularly; they give the impression their churches are in a constant state of revival! Or their lives or perpetually problem-free! 

It is humorous how these posts can often come across to the social media world. In the midst of this however, it is always important to celebrate what God is doing with others than is shown. Perhaps what I am advocating is some kind of balance, even if I have not fully arrived at my own conclusions on this myself yet.

The way information can be presented on social media can oftentimes give a very superficial and inauthentic portrayal of our lives to the world.

The social media world in which we now live, can foster and encourage within us all a deep need to be constantly liked, valued and affirmed.

Whilst this is a basic human need at some level, it can eventually produce something quite unhealthy at times, in our lives.

It can produce a second-guessing, self-doubting and insecure mindset in our lives as a product of our social media footprint. 

A prime example of this is the world of Facebook, which (albeit inadvertently) has created an ‘unfriending’ culture. 

People often live in subtle fear of being ‘unfriended’ and deleted from people’s Facebook world as a produce of saying or doing the wrong thing.

In this world of so many people falling in and out of FACEBOOK FRIENDSHIP with each other and the insecurities this world can perpetuate we NEED to grasp an ageless truth that is relevant for today.

JESUS WON’T UNFRIEND YOU!

The words of the Bible ring true in our 21st century technological world.

Jesus said in Hebrews 13v5, “never will I leave you or forsake you”. 

The beauty of this truth is that, put plainly, Jesus won’t ever get tired of you, bored of you, fall out of love with you, be in a mood with you, emotionally punish you or despise you!

The amazing fact of this truth is that you don’t need to strive to earn Jesus’ acceptance, to fight for His love or “post likes”, to live up to a certain, image-filtered, superficial standard or level of behavioural attainment. But instead, we can live empowered to make right choices from a secure place of acceptance in Him.

This is so totally opposite to a religious, works-based mindset in our relationship with Jesus.

Be encouraged today there is an incredible relationship with can have with Jesus that isn’t dependent on our performance, on our ability to always say right, to always feel right or act right, but because of His amazing grace.

The nature of His unfailing grace means He’s more committed to us than we could ever be committed to Him.

Because of this we can rest secure in His grace knowing He isn’t mad AT us, but mad ABOUT us!

Rest secure today in His amazing grace for your life!

 

Standard

Cut and Paste Christianity

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 10.07.40

We live in a society today where ‘cut and paste’ is king.

We have the ease and comfort of the Internet and other technologies where information is more readily available now at our finger tips more than ever before in history. Some have coined the phrase for this generation, as the ‘fingertips generation’. Gone are the days where it used to take effort for information, digging stuff out of libraries, books, conversations and other sources.

Nowadays, all we need to do is ‘GOOGLE IT’ to find out the latest information at the push of a button within seconds. In an age of fast-speed broadband this information is located quicker than ever, no longer do we need to wait (while we brew a cup of tea and read the newspaper for 10 minutes) for the infamous buzz of the old ‘dial-up’ internet system to sound and us wait to access webpages.

Our ‘cut and paste’ society has meant it has become so easy to claim 2nd or 3rd hand material as our own or merely echo ideas from someone else.

Social media too has created a re-post, re-tweet culture where ideas are quickly swapped in a mishmash of thoughts on social media feeds. I beg the question as to how this could apply to our spiritual lives with this re-post mindset. 

Have we lost our own unique voice and our own unique, God-given identity for our lives?

When these ‘cut and paste’ paradigms are applied to our faith, it can make for weak and lazy disciples!

This statement can sound unduly harsh, but let me explain….

In our faith journey if all we do is live with a ‘re-post’ mindset to the ideas of our local church Pastor, favourite TV Bible teacher or our home group leader, without digging deeper in God’s Word for ourselves, we then rob ourselves for the treasures of God’s Word, piggy-backing off someone else’s friendship with God.

We can’t shake a nation, with second-hand revelation!

This is true collectively at a national level but also locally in your community, amongst your family, friendship circles and work colleagues.

Just think about this concept for a moment….

Don’t get me wrong, it can be a good start spiritually in our Christian journey as God puts others’ in our lives to help father or mother us in the faith, but maturity means moving in a greater posture of personal intimacy with the Lord rather than from others!

There is a profound truth that a spiritual grandmother of mine used to say to me that I’ve learned to be SO TRUE:

God only has children and not Grandchildren.

“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children. ” 1 John 3v1 (NLT)

Put another way, Jesus is looking to reveal His secrets and truth to His friends, not a friend of a friend of a friend, etc.

You get the picture?

Determine to no longer live off 2nd or 3rd hand revelation, get intimately acquainted with God’s Word for yourself and watch what He will do through your life!

As you begin to no longer just know about Biblical truth, parroting the Scriptures and living as a ‘cut and paste’ Christian, but begin to own profound revelation for yourself, you will be amazed at the depth of spirituality God will birth within you!

WORLD WATCH OUT!

Standard

Fires in the darkness

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 10.11.31

Recently I found myself traveling back across the summit of the M62 motorway headed home from Manchester.

This road connects the west to the east of England. It was fairly late and atop this road there was little light, just dimly lit farms, cottages and the occasional house, but most noticeably, no street lights.

Not the things you would expect to see near a busy motorway.

Driving through the darkness for what seemed a lot longer than it actually was, something struck me in the middle of the hilltop darkness of the landscape.

There was a solitary fire burning bright in the darkness for miles around to see.

To me this was a prophetic statement of the church across our nation.

It was a sobering reminder that the church of Jesus Christ really is the light in the darkness of this nation. We see a nation today in desperate need of God.

You don’t need to look far to see a broken, divided, confused and disenchanted cultural climate within our society.

We have witnessed an increased sense of disenfranchisement towards politicians, an apathy towards any idea for a better tomorrow, broken families, levels of addictions and hopelessness on the rise through our nation.

In these days now, more than ever, it’s a sobering reminder that the church needs to be reawakened to its purpose and calling.

We read this charge from the Prophet Isaiah which, I feel, directly applies today to the church in the UK;

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60 v1-2

There is a prophetic call for the church to rise up to new dimensions of passion, faith, hunger and spiritual vitality if we are going to see a nation impacted significantly by the kingdom of God.

Three words within this passage give us guidance as to what this prophetic call, requires of us as individuals and churches:

ARISE

This speaks to me of moving from a posture of inactivity and passivity, to readiness.

We need to have a readiness in our spirits for what God is saying to us. We need to move out of spiritual slumber, apathy and a comfort zone mentality in a stance of taking territory back for the Lord! 

SHINE

An important component of making an impact in the darkness is allowing light to shine. 

More often than not, the problem isn’t the existence of darkness but the absence of true light.

Let’s turn the light on in our communities, may the church be mobilised in really making a greater difference! It’s starts within all of our own hearts and choices.

We mustn’t keep this good news to ourselves!

Determine to shine God to your friends, family members and work colleagues!

LIGHT

To me this conveys the idea of holiness, purity and righteousness.

We can’t allow our fire to burn bright in the darkness, as G. Kendrick once sang, if we don’t live as a people of the light. This sounds obvious, but really is the truth.

The Apostle Paul said, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received”. Ephesians 4v1

Conclusion

In the word of the famous preacher who once travelled this nation setting entire communities ablaze for God, he said “I set myself on fire and the world will come to watch me burn”. 

Are you burning? Are you spiritually alive? Are you awakened to God’s voice? 

This is God’s predetermined plan for all of His children.

“I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning” – LUKE 12V49 (NLT)

As you leave 2017 and enter 2018, give serious thought to the weight of these words.

If we individually as Christians and corporately as The CHURCH across this land allow our fires to dim, then darkness prevails, it really is that simple and it is sad.

What do you need to do in your life or church for this to take place? What could it look like for you to regenerate spiritual desperation for God again?

Get stirred up! Get awakened! Be that fire in the darkness! 

 

 

Standard

How BIG is your God?

download

Some while ago, a group of friends and I decided to sit out in front of a beautiful, moonlit, starry sky at night.

It was freezing cold so we didn’t stay long! But it did get me thinking, as I looked at the brilliance of the moon, all the planets, galaxies, suns and the occasional shooting star, about the enormity of GOD.

It can be so easy as we study the Bible or read the latest Christian commentator devising formulae as to how God works and functions to lose sight of the bigness of our God.

It seems to me that we often ‘box’ God, and God is BIGGER than any box.

I think as Christ followers in the 21st century western world, we need to get a revelation of the sheer vastness and bigness of Elohim, the creator God.

It should give our faith a colossal BOOST when we understand that the same God of the Bible who created and sustains all of the stars, planets and galaxies is the God we can daily have a personal conversation with.

We as Christians can be like the nation of Israel, who countless times in the Old Testament had a bad episode of spiritual forgetfulness.

They did not remember his power the day he redeemed them from the oppressor, the day he displayed his signs in Egypt, His wonders in the region of Zoan. Psalm 78v42-43

Do we limit what God can do in our lives, the dreams we dare to dream for Him or the big prayers we dare not pray because of a faulty picture of who God actually is?

We need to get away in creation and allow ourselves to reminded afresh of God’s bigness and power. This shouldn’t cause us to be afraid of God, but instead should give us a revelation of His vastness, grandeur, greatness and majesty.

An elderly guy back in the church I got saved into in County Durham, got a picture of this. After most Sunday services, he would boom “MIGHTY GOD” in broad Geordie tones.

Although this used to cause some laughter from some, he would always get my respect because he had a revelation of the awesome nature and sheer bigness of Almighty God. He was certainly not afraid about what other people thought of him.

So I want to ask you; how big is you God?

Are you going to allow circumstances, past experiences, disappointments, culture, other people’s opinion or mindsets influence your picture of God?

Chose to get alone with God, out in creation and breathe in afresh the bigness of God? We have an all-powerful, all-mighty God and He wants to powerfully move and work in our lives. Dare to pray the big prayers and dream the big dreams for His fame and glory!

Standard

Stronger, TALLER and deeper

stronger.jpg

I don’t know about you but I love walking through forests, particularly in the autumn/fall time of the year.

Here in England, we have some beautiful, big English Oak trees that stand tall, wide and ardently populating many of our forests. If you’ve ever been to see one of these old, Oak trees sawn in half you can supposedly tell the age of that particular tree by counting the rings or layers within the tree.

Each layer is supposed to denote another year in the life of the tree. As each layer grows year by year, one upon another the tree thickens and expands both in width and stature.

Thinking about this it is so easy to see the parallels between the growth of trees and our spiritual lives. The Bible references trees and plants many different times throughout scripture.

“That they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.” – Isa 61v3

Like Oak trees we are called to grow in spiritual height and stature throughout each layer and chapter of our lives.

God’s plan was never that we plateau spiritually and remain the same, but sadly, I see many Christians who are no further on in their walk after years of following Christ and it is a great tragedy.

There can be many reasons for this, but one key problem is the handling of pain, disappointments and challenges. So many Christians fail to handle these hard yet inevitable seasons of our lives here on earth well.

The challenges we face if handled correctly can be touched by God in getting us to the next level of maturity, spiritual height and stature in the purposes of God.

Yet the sad reality is that for many believers is that certain experiences caused them to either backslide, stunt their spiritual development or cause them to simply go through the motions and hang on in there until eternity, rather than advancing and pressing on.

There are many things that can contribute to this, it could be an offence caused by another brother or leader, it could be the perpetual drain of a lack of fruitfulness in their ministry or the repeated disappointment of not getting spiritual breakthrough in some aspect of their faith journey.

But the truth is, God has so much better planed for our lives!

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. Prov 4v18

God does not want us to merely exist or spiritually stagnate, but to lay ahold of the fullness of His plans and purposes for our lives!

Be determined not just to GO through stuff but GROW through stuff, allowing the Lord to shape you, form you and build stronger foundations in your life. 

Don’t loose your passion but keep trusting, keep believing and keep pressing in!

Be like those Oak tree that get stronger, taller and deeper with each passing season and each passing challenge.

Standard

God’s perspective

aaeaaqaaaaaaaadwaaaajdlimgvlnty1lwu4mjytndbmzc1hyja3lwi1zjdmnjjkmgy0mq

I spent some time away last year in a beautiful little, picturesque village in the Cotswolds (UK). It truly is great at times to get away from the noises and distractions in the chaotic nature of our hurried lives. I sat in a little, quaint, Italian restaurant in this beautiful part of the country, drinking a fresh coffee and eating dessert thinking to myself; ‘this is the life!’. 

Unfortunately though, I found my mind wandering to all the things in my life that could be improved, relationships that could be better, situations and scenarios that were unjust, as well as things I didn’t have, things that were lacking in my life and questions I had without certain answers.

I found myself begin to become captive to a spirit of complaint and a lack of contentment as I pondered these things.

Then the Holy Spirit began to invade those internal conversations and bring a change in perspective.

Isn’t it just like God to help you see things more clearly?

I found myself tearing up to think just how much relative wealth I have, that we have in the western world and even the poorest of us westerners have so incredibly much.

What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now. Luke 6v24

 I found myself becoming thankful for the fact that I could afford to have that lovely fresh coffee, when many in the world walk many miles in the scorching heat daily for water. 

I began to thank God for a relationship with Jesus when millions worldwide are devoid of His love, hope and friendship in their hearts. 

I began to become thankful for an incredible family and friendships circles that God has brought into my life that are such a source of incredible joy and support. 

I realised how we can be in the midst of tremendous busyness but often lose something of God’s perspective. 

We often don’t need more material things, a change in circumstance or an environment that is problem free, but we need to stand from a more correct viewpoint on these different scenarios that life deals us. 

With the help of the Holy Spirit our eyes get anointed to see with more clarity.

When we look at all God is and has done for us it shrinks our life’s problem down into their correct size and priority.

This perspective causes an overflow of thankfulness to fill our hearts. When we get God’s perspective we can truly can ‘it is well with my soul’. 

Is it well with your soul today? 

Standard