Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Manger Boy

Three old men and a horse
Making paths in the sand
You might think they were lost or mad
As they pass in the night.

Old men's nights were troubled by a dream
Visions of a humble deity
Born beneath a star that they could see
He would set them free

Manger Boy
Manger boy

Three old men and a horse
met a proud, jealous king.
tried to tell him about their dream
and the star in the night

Hearing them, his smile became a frown
He would stop at nothing for his crown
ordered that the manger boy be found
and put into the ground

Manger boy
Manger boy

Three old men and a horse
Gentle tears fill their eyes
Dreams could never prepare their hearts
for the one they saw that night

'Round a manger, far from any throne
Shepherds find a shepherd of their own;
King of heaven, resting here below
Finally at home

Manger Boy
Manger Boy
Manger Boy
Manger Boy

Old mens nights were finally at ease;
following the star that they had seen
They beheld the humble deity,
He had set them free


Saturday, August 19, 2017


How many steps does God take?

I’m a GP.
When I see a patient, I listen, ask questions, work out how I think I can help and then give advice, which may include a prescription, a referral letter, instruction on taking medication or getting an X ray, etc.

Sometimes, people need extra help.

Maybe they have a chest infection and need an X-ray. I give them an X-ray form. That may be enough. But for some I would need to explain that the x-rays are taken at the hospital x-ray department, I may need to explain that a phone call needs to be made to book a time, I may need to explain where the hospital is, and check that they are able to get there. Sometimes I make the phone call myself, to make sure they have an appointment, write down the time and draw a map, check that they can read my writing and then re-explain the procedure.
I may even get one of my staff to drive them there if I am really concerned that it may not happen.

But as far as my duty of care is concerned, it would be enough to simply hand the patient a request form for an X-ray and see them out of my office. For many, that would be enough to get the job done. If the person walked out with the form, but had no clue about how to go about it, and I knew that, I would feel as though I had not fulfilled my duty as a GP.

This form of care can be taken advantage of. Some people may like being “spoilt”, having everything done for them, when they are quite capable of doing things themselves.

Sometimes, it is better to let a person take care of themselves. For example, one of my disabled patients prefers to dress themselves after an examination, despite it taking longer.

What of God’s salvation, provided in Jesus?

What, or how much is done by God.

Does he simply make sure we have a bible to read or have an opportunity to “hear” the gospel and leave the rest to us?

Does he make sure it is in our language?

Does he give us just one opportunity in our lives?

Or does he take us by the hand and lead us through experiences and explanations, opening our mind and heart to the truth of his forgiveness, bending our stubborn will by his patient kindness so that we are flooded by repentance and faith, opening the door to fellowship with the right people who will speak kindly to us, explaining with care the truth of Jesus and what he has done for us? Does he wait patiently as we struggle through difficult situations, relationships, poor teaching, as well as our own stubborn refusal to align ourselves with his will?

Maybe this is the difference between “free will” and “predestination”.

The God who walks with us verses the God who watches from afar.


Monday, July 31, 2017

The Church

The Church, The Church, the church, the church
how big and yet so small.
how powerful, and influencial, and untouchable, yet how hypocritical and unworthy.
How can the church boast?
Why would the church wish to look attractive and appealling to the world?
How can it hold up a fist full of polished Jesus?
How can the church justify the unjustifiable
and condemn the innocent?

When Jesus spoke to Peter about the rock and the church upon which it would be built, did he know how ugly it would look?
Did he know how expensive it would look?
Did he know?

And what if there were no buildings, only people, no artwork, only faces, no music only voices, no brochures only bibles, no pulpits only confessionals, no collections only gifts, no congregations, only families, no screens, no announcements, no programmes, no goals, no ladders to climb, no offices to inhabit, no priests, or pastors, only grandfathers and grandmothers, no saints only sinners, no noise, no applause, no grand hymns, only prayers and tears?

What if, for a moment we all had a sense of unworthiness, and beat our chest and cried silently, with heads bowed low, "God forgive me" ?

Would our prayers then be answered, would our sicknesses then be healed, would our enemies love us, would God join in our gatherings and sooth and forgive and recreate?

the church, the church, the people, the sinners,

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

One on One with Jesus

How often do we see Jesus meeting with just one person in the bible?
The woman at the well, Jesus with Satan in the wilderness, the thief on the cross, Nicodemus, who went in the night, secretly (the conversation happens to include the most well known new testament verse, John 3:16 - so much for secrecy!!!). There are many conversations that appear one on one, for example, with Peter and some of the other disciples, but in reality, others are listening, otherwise we would not be privy to these conversations.

Yes, Jesus had some direct personal responses to individuals, lepers, blind men, pharisees, and crippled people, but these messages were in public, with crowds present.

Even the disciples, were mostly as a group with Jesus, he occasionally singled a few out, for example at the transfiguration.

This may have been frustrating to the disciples. Maybe this was part of the reason they sometimes argued over who was the greatest?

I want to suggest that it was difficult to get one on one time with Jesus.

I want to also suggest that when that time comes, that great final day, when Jesus appears, and we also appear with him, that it will be very difficult to get one on one time.

First children get to have one on one time with their parents, unless they are twins. But this time is often short, with the arrival of the next sibling often putting noses out of joint.

At church, I am often hunted for one on one time.
When I am in my office as a GP, I realize that my patients are somewhat spoilt with one on one time with me. They crave it. It's addictive. It can be therapeutic.

But in heaven, I don't think there will be queues of people waiting patiently to have one on one time with Jesus. Or with the Father and the Holy Spirit. And I don't think Jesus is particularly excited by the thought of spending one on one time with any of us. No, not even with Elvis. He has gone to prepare a place for us. Not "us" as in "each single one of us", but "us" as in "all of us".

My understanding of heaven is that it will be communal worship of the most glorious kind.

So if you crave one on one time with Jesus, the only chance you have is right now in personal prayer. (so we'd better get on with it!!)

The other point that relates to this thought is that we will be sharing Jesus with the rest of christendom. This includes the denominations we detest, the people at church we avoid, and every other uncomfortable thought that the Holy Spirit brings.

Yes we really are meant to love one another as Jesus loves us.

And if there is a queue in heaven, the first will be last and the last will be first. Again, Elvis misses out. I am an Elvis fan.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

More Precious With Time

As in faith I grow older, my heart sometimes falters,
Remembering with sadness the things I’ve done wrong.

Though I may be a Christian with years of religion,
I still need His mercy and love.

More precious with time, more precious with time,
That's how God's sweet Gospel grows.
Just to know that he lives, just to know he forgives,
And that one day to Jesus I’ll go.

Now to all who are younger, who for righteousness hunger,
There’s only one Savior who’s food for our soul.
And for all who are laden with guilt's heavy burden;
 It’s Jesus who carries our load.
More precious with time, more precious with time,

That's how God's sweet Gospel grows.
Just to know that he lives, just to know he forgives,
And that one day to Jesus I’ll go.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Propitiation in Genesis 20

Genesis 20:16-18
To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.” Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again, for the Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.

Here is another unusual story from Abraham's life recorded in Genesis.
As Abraham moved from place to place, he seemed to have a particular weakness which made him a likely target from those in power; his wife Sarah.
It is not clearly stated, but Sarah must have been unusually attractive, so much so, that people may have killed Abraham to get to her.
This is a little hard to imagine, knowing that Sarah was in her 90's. However, my only resolution of this seeming incongruous situation, is that in those relatively early days of creation, not only did people live longer, they aged more slowly. Somehow, maybe less UV rays, less chemicals, cleaner food etc,  a woman of 90 then, was able to retain much more  of the beauty of youth.
So for what seems to be self preservation, Abraham and Sarah had a pre-arranged agreement to refer to each other as brother and sister rather than husband and wife. This implied that Sarah was available for marriage, and as had happened earlier in Genesis, the ruler of that region, Abimelek immediately detained Sarah with a view to marriage.
But God visited Abimilek, and strictly warned him that he was on the verge of disaster, as Sarah was in fact, Abraham's wife.
In his defence, Abimilek stated that he was ignorant of this fact, and that he had not "touched" Sarah.
There are a number of implications which can be derived from this passage that surprisingly must hve applied at that time.
Firstly, marriage was honored strictly, even by "relative non-believers" (my terminology).
God was feared by relative non-believers.
God visited and spoke to relative non-believers.
God punished sin.
Ignorance of sin does not clear away guilt. Abimilek was not cleared of his guilt simply by declaring his ignorance.

So Abimilek was given clear instructions on how to clear himself of guilt.
Firstly he was to return Sarah to her husband, Abraham.
Secondly he was to ask Abraham, the great prophet, to pray on his behalf.

But without instruction, so it seems, Abimilek went further. Above and beyond seeking mercy and restoring his mistake, Abimilek gave gifts.

To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”

When we commit sin, apart from the economic cost, the physical damage (and some things can never be replaced), there is also the offense of that sin.

God is offended by our sin. even if we could make right what we have done wrong, that does not clear the offense of our rebellion, and restore a right relationship.

Propitiation is a gift that removes anger or offense.

Abimilek gave beyond the actual cost of his sin. This was propitiation.

Zaccheus promised to repay fourfold anyone he had wronged, once he had been befriended by Jesus.

Jesus suffering and death was not just a payment for our sin, his provision of a pure life given freely was a beautiful propitiation for our sins.
Our sins were not just paid for, the offense was also completely cleared.

We have true and lasting peace with God, through the precious propitiating  blood of Jesus.

Friday, May 26, 2017

That Special Day

I’m not expecting a medal, or a crown,
or to be remembered. I don’t deserve anything like that.
Please don’t burn me to ashes, but let me lie in the cool dark earth
sleeping peacefully as I wait for that special day.
The only place I want to go is where I can meet with the man who died for me.
So that I can shake his hand and say thank you for giving his life.
After that, I don’t mind if I sit on the back row, looking on in wonder and with deep satisfaction, as many are welcomed into his extravagant wedding reception.
Even from the outside, I will sing along, from my heart, with whatever celebration songs are led, in whatever style, and whatever language. If I don’t know the words, I’ll try to hum along, with my hand on my heart and a tear in my eye.
And if there is a job I can do, like trimming the edges, or picking up waste, I will do it gladly. And if not, I’ll stay where I’m told to stay and wait for the next job.