Saturday, June 30, 2012

Jun | 30 | 'Bout a Lazy Farmer That Wouldn't Hoe His Corn

Key Word:- OBEY

Title:- 'Bout a Lazy Farmer That Wouldn't Hoe His Corn

Proverbs 24:30 I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down.

Alison Crouch and Union Station preserve their ‘Bluegrass’ roots very well with their rendering of a traditional balled called ‘The Young Man Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn.’ Songs of tradition contain a message and sometimes, even a few! This particular song opens with the words:

Tell You a little story and it won't take long,
'Bout a lazy farmer who wouldn't hoe his corn.
The reason why I never could tell,
That young man was always well.
Come September there came a big frost
All the young man's corn was lost

In case you didn’t know, hoeing corn was in those days, the consuming but necessary business of weeding. The moral is simple, ATTEND TO YOUR WEEDING ELSE YOU SHALL NOT HAVE A CROP.
Jesus tells us that hearing the Word is not sufficient for Christians. The soil also needs attending to. Some of us, indeed, most of us in the West, have more weeds in our field than corn! The weeds are easy to identify, listen: Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22-23 ) Friends, anything that hinders growth is a weed. Pull it!

If you purpose a good crop, then you must hoe your corn. You must take time to weed out cancerous cares and destructive desires. You must take time! Got it? Spirituality takes time and your spiritual life takes effort. Allow me to challenge you practically today. Are you healthy, are you well? Are you producing corn, you know, food! If not, then you need to get to it friend, get going and get hoeing, else you shall be without a crop. In your life, you can’t do without consistent T & E; do you know what I mean, ‘Time and Effort.’

Listen:- When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest; So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man. Proverbs 24:32-34

Pray:- Lord, so far this proverbial trinity of “little things” has cost me dearly. Help me Lord to hoe my soil diligently, so that I may produce a hundred-fold of what You have planted, for You indeed purpose a full crop in my life. Amen!


Jun | 30 | Reflective Donkeys

Dream Word – SEE

John 12:14-15 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey , sat on it; as it is written: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey's colt.” NKJV

Reflective Donkeys

It’s true! ‘A British-based donkey welfare group has started a campaign to put reflective tags on Namibia's donkeys. The idea is to make the animals easier to see at night, and thus to avoid collisions on main roads.’ Namibia, even at the beginning of the 21st Century has over 150,000 donkeys in its Northern region alone, with each householder owning at least five! The phrase ‘As common as a Namibian donkey’ is obviously well used in the vernacular of North Africa! This makes me giggle profusely!

You see, the problem is that donkeys are and always have been, figures of mirth and even figures of dumb stupidity! Certainly, on the south coast of England, being referred to as ‘a right donkey!’ is no compliment.

So, here in our text for tonight, the King of Kings rides into His earthly capitol on a figure of dumb stupidity. No state coach, no snarling Alexandrian Bucephalus, punching the skies with its strident hooves, nope, just the dope of a donkey quietly carrying the Eternal King of ages. It is a weak and stupid picture and me thinks it is purposefully so, for here the King of Kings comes slowly, steadily, surely, humbly, approachably, easy to be touched, easy to be tagged, and easy to be taken.

I wonder if even today Christian, your King has approached you in the same manner and you have failed to recognize Him, for you expected a right Royal, spotless white unnamed steed, to pound its own way across your waiting horizon in purposeful prepared and glorious redemption, charging down your enemies and trampling the devil under foot! Oh, that particular riding magnificence is coming, one day, make no mistake about it, yes and amen, the tattooed-thighed Saviour is coming to stomp His authority over the heads of the devil and all who follow him, but it wasn’t today! No, today, Jesus was still riding on donkey and maybe you missed Him because of it?

The truth is, O thought to be forgotten friend, Jesus still rides on donkeys. Think about that and from tomorrow, whenever you smell that damp offensive odour, common to all dismal drudging donkeys who have been ridden hard and put away wet, take a better look at the rider, because Jesus might just be smiling right back on at you. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Especially if they are long and furry goofy looking ones! Singing: “Hey ho, away we go, donkey riding, donkey riding, hey ho away we go, riding on a donkey!”

Listen:- Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' Matthew 25:34-40

Pray: -Holy Spirit please do me a favour tomorrow will you? Could you put some reflective tags and number plates on all the donkeys that Jesus shall be riding into my life because the truth is, I am often as a blind as a bat and dumber than a mule. Indeed, give me ears as big as a donkey, that I may hear Your voice. Eee-Aww , Amen, hallelujah and goodnight.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Jun | 29 | The 3rd Hardest Thing

Key Word:- FORGIVE

Title:- The 3rd Hardest Thing

Genesis 50:15-17 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 'Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.”' Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

Let me conclude this little trilogy on forgiveness with the weeping test. It is a common misconception from those outside Christ to look into the confessional and grieving aspects of the repentant sinner and conclude that Christianity is a miserable path to walk. Indeed, the fact that many of us in the church are strangely and wonderfully happy to remain in the ‘wormology’ that the Biblical presentation of original sin seems to present, simply re-enforces that observation. To the astonished outside I say, “Behold the journeying Christian. What a cup of groaning Joy!” To the dour dark and dismal wormologist brethren continually groaning under the burdens of their failings and freakishly enjoying it, I say, “For goodness sake. STOP IT! You’re getting Jesus a bad name. Be that cup of groaning joy you should be!”

The problem here is both simple and profound. It is simply that we have yet to acquiesce and splash around like little children, like kittens fire-cracking in fighting, rolling and biting, kicking and meowing on the soft carpeted floors of the outrageous all forgiving nature of God. It seems that our cultural Christianity has deemd that we should be more humbly thankful and respectfully quiet regarding our forgiveness, than astonishingly vocal and as happy as a hippy on speed and friends, don’t wheel out the old ‘Aunt Sally’s’ of the fixed-in-stone nature of both temperament and culture. We are supposed to be joyful and there is nothing more outrageously joyful than found and felt forgiveness! The problem is, we have failed to possess such forgiveness and the evidence of this is three fold:-

Firstly, our miserable hands in the pockets, 'good grief not this old chorus again', lackadaisical and pathetic excuses for worship celebration services.

Secondly, a distasteful slowness in the forgiveness of others and

Thirdly, a reluctance to forgive ourselves.

This last one is important and no doubt is the cause of the first two problems.

You see, the third hardest thing to do friends is to receive forgiveness. The brothers had already been thoroughly forgiven by Joseph and their concocted story regarding the care of their departed Father was simply an echo of their inability to forgive themselves. They still condemned themselves and feared his retribution. At this, Joseph wept.

Today friends let me ask you this; does Jesus weep for wriggling worms that should be splashing children? What will He do with you eh? You old misery guts! What will He do with you who are still waiting for the non-existant hammer to fall?

Listen:- “……Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Genesis 50:17

Pray:- Let me hear Your gentle words today say to me “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Amen. Luke 12:32-33

Jun | 29 | The Touching & The Turning of Hickory Holler's Tramp

Dream Word– GOODNESS

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. NKJV

The Touching & The Turning of Hickory Holler's Tramp

It was Dallas Frazier, former Cotton Picker from Spiro, Oklahoma that wrote the old country song, ‘The Son of Hickory Holler’s Tramp.’ A beautiful and thought-provoking country ballad first sung by OC Smith and later by Kenny Rogers and then others. Essentially, the song is the story of a mother of fourteen children ‘forced’ into prostitution when deserted by her husband. Don’t you just love country music! One of the verses reads like this:-

When daddy left and destitution came upon our family
Not one neighbour volunteered to give a helpin' hand
So let 'em gossip all they want, she loved us and she raised us
The proof is standin' here, a full grown man

Ah!, wonderful country mush maybe, however, this ballad verse makes a stunning social comment: ‘When no help is at hand, people will do whatever they can to get by!’ God is fully aware of this and even while upholding social justice, allows for some gracious understanding in this when He says, “People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. Yet w/hen he is found, he must restore sevenfold; He may have to give up all the substance of his house.” (Proverbs 6:30-31 NKJV) There is no excuse for sin here, but there is understanding. Jesus understands. Do you see that? I do wonder, if when we stand before our Maker, that it is the maker's of the social climate of sin, more than the practioners of it which might have much more to account for than they realise? I wonder.

It seems to me then, that not only individuals, but whole communities, even vast societies also participate in the laws of sowing, reaping and reciprocation. Suffice to say, that if we do not make provision for people to survive and provide for their own, then we must be prepared for the consequences! No friend, I am not a bleeding heart liberal, I am a follower of Christ, who clearly defines for us what ‘pure religion’ before Him actually is and like it or not, it has a social face as well as a sinless one.

There are of course many mountainous problems to be navigated through and around but even so, this ship of social justice must set sail and as far I read, this ship of social justice is under the command of Christ and His followers, not world government. No sir, this ship is crewed by the church and not the world. I hear some of you cry “Social Gospel! Social Gospel!” and my reply again is, “Well of course it is, go and read your Bible!”

Pure religion is getting involved with and loving the impure. Undefiled religion is touching the terribly defiled and giving them a helping hand. Religion then, pure and undefiled, is found in engaging the mess that is humanity. We have to start doing this better. It is not a cheery thought, but I must tell you that tonight whilst you sleep, tens of thousands in this world will still die of starvation, others will be blasted into eternity and still thousands of others more, shall be robbed of their goods, robbed of their virginity, robbed of their goals, robbed of their families, robbed of their dreams and their loves and consequently, will die in an hapless hopelessness.

We have a lot to be thankful for here in the West, chiefly the gift of possibility. Here we at least have the hope of a better tomorrow. Tonight as you go to sleep then, remember that all things are possible in the touching and changing of other folks who are themselves desperate for help and change. May I challenge you to think on this and on the morrow, maybe look into choosing one social project to get involved in and then, to do it with all your might in the name and with the love of Jesus. Whether it is local or whether it is international, take the Gospel to the poverty stricken and give them a helping hand. Let’s show the world that good neighbours have not disappeared from the face of the earth. Let’s make Jesus proud of us!

When daddy left and destitution came upon our family
Not one neighbour volunteered to give a helpin' hand

Listen:- my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; James 2:5-8 NKJV

Pray: -No doubt Lord many of us tonight shall go to bed filled again with the recipients of Your bounty in all its many forms. Tonight as well, many others shall go to bed hungry and wake to face another day of desperateness. Have mercy upon me O Lord and strengthen me through the night in preparation for the morrow, when according to Your will and abundant mercy, I shall rise with the Son and be the good neighbour I most certainly should be. Amen and amen!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Jun | 28 | The Right Words At The Right Time

Key Word:- FORGIVE

Title:- The Right Words At The Right Time

Jeremiah 3:12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: 'Return, backsliding Israel,' says the LORD; 'I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,' says the 
LORD; 'I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity,

In the United Kingdom it was Ronan Keating of ‘Boyzone’ that popularised the lyrics of the song 'Baby Can I hold You Tonight'. In North America, that job was left to Tracy Chapman.

I truly believe that God is not silent in culture. Maybe the author of the books ‘Peace Child’ and ‘Lords of the Earth’, Don Richardson, had it right many years ago when he postulated that “Every culture is bejeweled by relevant images of redemption and we just have to find them.” I believe he was correct! Much more, I believe that God speaks today and constantly so, both in culture and through culture. You may have to pan the muddy rivers friends, but the good gold of God is shining there. So it is, with the profound lyrics of this song listen:-

Is all that you can't say
Years gone by and still
Words don't come easily
Like sorry, like sorry

Forgive me
Is all that you can't say
Years gone by and still
Words don't come easily
Like forgive me, forgive me

I love you
Is all that you can't say
Years gone by and still
Words don't come easily
Like I love you, I love you

But you can say baby
Baby can I hold you tonight
Maybe if I told you the right words
At the right time you'd be mine

This song tells, even re-enforces two things for us today.

Firstly, that true repentance does not come easily. It really is a work of grace that may sometimes take the years of a lifetime. Sorry, does not come easily.

Secondly, that confession, regret and turning can be encapsulated, indeed, must be encapsulated at the right time, with the right words of ‘sorry, forgive me and I love you.’ When this is done the God who appears to be afar off, will be draw near to us and we shall know that He is ours and we shall know that we are His.

Maybe Elton John was right as well!? For all of us, ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word!’ Never the less, let us seek with tenacity and tears, these true places of repentance so that we may say…

Listen:- I am my beloved's, And my beloved is mine…….S.O.S. 6:3

Pray:- For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight — That You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge. Lord, I am so sorry for my sin. Please forgive me.

Jun | 28 | The Emotion of Motion - “Zoom, Zoom!”

Dream Word -HAPPY

1 Corinthians 15:51,52 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep , but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. NKJV

The Emotion of Motion - “Zoom, Zoom!”

Fat Larry’s Disco Funk band, came out with a great easy listening hit in the 1980’s called ‘Zoom!’ What an interesting word to write a song around!

Webster’s dictionary defines the word ‘Zoom’ in relating to an aircraft, as ‘to climb for a short time at an angle greater than that which can be maintained in steady flight, so that the machine is carried upward at the expense of stored kinetic energy.’ But of course! So now we know and feel much better for the knowing of what it means to ZOOM! What an interesting word to make use of in a disco song and then later in advertising!

Mazda car manufacturers, have profited from their global marketing campaign emphasising ‘exhilarating driving experiences to customers who remember the “emotion of motion” first felt as a child’. ZOOM! It’s the “wind-in-your-hair” feeling you get from horseback riding on a crisp fall day, the sense of freedom from cruising down a wooded country lane in a sleek convertible, or the exhilaration that comes from a roller coaster ride. ZOOM ZOOM! What very clever marketing. Having said that, if all that hype was true, don’t you just wish your life had little more ZOOM ZOOM?

The truth is that tonight, as you lay yourself down into the welcoming embrace of your warm and well sprung mattress and cover yourself with the fluffed feathered duvet, pull the covers over your head, take your last waking breath and pass speedily into the nether world of sleep and dreams, you will be hoping for a little more ‘Zoom Zoom’ in the morning! However, when the alarm clock goes off, the dark room, the spitting rain tapping on your windows, the cold floor that awaits your sleepy feet, all shall be a trio of warning, trying to dissuade you from arising and to stay in bed and keep yourself from the often terrible boredom of the trudge of the ‘yet another day’ which awaits you at your very own glue factory. Never the less, tired, you shall force yourself to meet it, for the bills are a-braying and they always need a-paying! If you are like most people, a warm shower and copious amounts of coffee shall be the only fuel that is able to even turn your morning into coughing and spluttering consciousness. What a pitiful resurrection! ‘Zoom Zoom’ indeed!

Allow me to be nicely morbid and invite you to imagine tonight, that you are laying your very tired and worn out self in your grave. One day you shall do just that and that seemingly long, but actually very short sleep for the body, will only last until the appointed great day, when the lips of Jesus shall kiss your tender cheek and say “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away . For lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away ! (Song of Solomon 2:10-13 NKJV)  Now ther’s a resurrection to look forward to and if I might condense the command of the kissing Jesus for us who sleep tonight, it would simply be this…. “ZOOM ZOOM!”

Hallelujah! When Jesus cries “ZOOM! ZOOM!” The dead asleep in Him shall rise with such vigour in their once decayed bodies, with such joyful screaming energy, pouring and pulsating out of their souls and exploding within their spirits that death and all its shadows of exhaustion, decay and sullen plodding, shall never be seen by us again. For the angel of God shall descend with a shout and we shall ascend with similar and happy scream of the greatest of living ‘Amen’s,’ that hell itself shall rock with the force of such an exultation, and its besieged walls shall crumble in the shouting, whilst at the same time the moon and stars shall come out to play and we, with the moonbeams, shall dance in the late afternoon accompanied by rose-petalled covered, singing angels as the long told and talked of Son-rise now shines high in the once midnight sky. ZOOM ZOOM!

May your tomorrow be animated by these two simple words, ZOOM ZOOM!
Here are Fat Larry’s Lyrics to their Song Zoom. Great Fun!

Zoom! Just one look and then my heart went boom,
Suddenly and we were on the moon,
Flyin' high in a neon sky ohh ohh

Bang! Just one touch and all the church bells rang,
Heaven called and all the angels sang,
Sunrise shine in the midnight sky ohh ohh

OH, ZOOM you chased the day away,
High noon, the moon and stars came out to play,
Then, my whole wide world went zoom
(High as a rainbow as we went flyin' by,
Faster and faster we were higher than high,
For once in my lifetime I was finally free,
And you gave that to me)

Moonbeams dancin' in the afternoon,
Shadows blowin' as the roses bloom,
Lookin down on a wonderland,
Smack just one kiss and I was outta whack,
All at once there was no turnin back,
All so far above the brighter star ohh ohh

Listen: - For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:53-58 NKJV

Pray: -Lord, this night, please come fly with me in my dreams and hold me in Your embrace. With one sweet kiss, remove from me the crippling’s of my heart and fill me with Your energy for the coming day. Zoom Zoom Lord, Zoom Zoom!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jun | 27 | The 2nd Hardest Thing To Do

Key Word:- FORGIVE

Title:- The 2nd Hardest Thing To Do

Luke 15:18-19 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”'

It took a combination of poverty and the pig pen to drive the prodigal home. It took the prophet Nathan and nine months of fear to break the heart and knees of the adulterer and murderer, King David. The passage of time and the death of a loved one, always sink their hooks into the prodigal's heart to help drag the buggers back.

A poem written in Derbyshire dialect, based on a prodigal hurriedly rushing into the local hospital before his father dies, reads:

Avf cumm tu see me fatheh
Is jus cum in todayh
I wint te see im at is aahse
But thid whisked him reet away

Avf cum tu see me fatheh
Cause we avn’t spoken much
An I’ve missed is kindly words
Ave missed is gentle touch

Avf cum tu see me fatheh
Cause I’ve only got but one
And I yam is bloody prodigal
And I yam ‘is loving son

Avf cum tu see me fatheh
Afore he gus away
I’ve come to tell ‘im “sorry dad
I wish that you would stay

I wish I hadn’t let thee dahn
I wish I weren’t reet freetened
I wish me eyes were cool deep pools
I wish me lips were sweetened”

Avf cum tu see me fatheh
Before it’s all too late
To tell ‘im that I love him
That I’ve left the land of hate

Avf cum tu see me fatheh
Ave come to get me ring
I’ve come to hold his old grey head
And hear his strong heart sing

The first hardest thing may be to forgive the persistent ‘pig penner’ but the second hardest thing to do, is to ask for forgiveness from others. Friends, what will it take? What will it take, to gain the gift of a broken heart that only God can fix? If you want to be whole, if you want to be restored, then you must seek forgiveness from those YOU have hurt, offended and let down. Do it today.

Listen:- If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:9-10

Pray: - Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving kindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies. Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Amen and Amen.

Jun | 27 | Jecholia of Jerusalem

Dream Word – PREPARE

2 Kings 15:1, 2 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, became king. He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. NKJV

Jecholia Of Jerusalem

The ancient patronymic naming system of Welsh offspring eventually led to a good number of people all bearing the same name and all living in the same locale, though being totally unrelated by blood! In an aid to distinguish one another, they were later identified by both their name and their occupation. So, Dai the local train driver might have been called, ‘Dai The Steam,’ where as his neighbour the undertaker might have been called ‘Dia The Box!’ The baker, ‘Dai The Bread,’ and so on and so forth. We can surmise from or text tonight that Jecholia was a common name, and persons were distinguished not so much by their occupation but by their local. Enter stage left then, ‘Jecholia of Jerusalem.’

The Bible says very little about this woman, indeed she is only mentioned because of her relation to her most famous husband and here even more famous son. However, I would suggest that her name bears the marks of Royalty and I wonder if it reflected both her demeanour, destiny and her progeny? After all, surely to be called ‘Jecholia of Jerusalem’ was a great honour, for you are named not only after the city of the great King, but your name means the ‘power and perfection of the Lord!’ Now how would you like a name like that to live up to?

'Jecholia of Jerusalem' survived her husband and was a great mother to the young King Uzziah (also known as Azariah). Some have suggested that Uzziah may not have been the first born of Amaziah, yet the people took him and made him King. If this is the case, then Jecholia of Jerusalem had groomed him good, for this King ruled well for 52 years and no doubt the prayers and advice of 'Jecholia of Jerusalem' were always available to him. So Uzziah, son of 'Jecholia of Jerusalem,' pupil of Zechariah, had his prosperity walk hand in hand with his personal piety and were truly blessed. A great general, a wow of a warrior, a fantastic farmer, a brilliant builder, a fellow of great fortifications and even greater fame! Yes, nothing could be greater, nothing could be higher, for the rippling, muscled-torso and square-jawed, King Uzziah.

Now I wonder, and that’s all it is, I wonder if before the great smiting of this great king that 'Jecholia of Jerusalem' had died? I don’t know at all, but I wouldn’t be surprised, for behind every great man, not only is there a surprised woman, but usually a loving one, a long suffering one and a praying one, and oh my friends, when a prayer warrior of love departs the field of grace, it can be a most precarious time indeed, for those who have previously trod on serpents, were able to do so because those serpents had previously been substantially subdued by prayer. Oh! How I long for the persistent prayer of old ladies that can move mountains over a cup of tea.

In any event, Uzziah got a big head. It would appear there was no one left around, with the loving authority to give him the slap he needed. So, he sinned against the Lord by entering the sanctuary of the His Holy Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar. Azariah, the high priest, went in after him with eighty other priests of the Lord, all brave men, confronting Uzziah saying, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is the work of the priests alone, the descendants of Aaron who are set apart for this work. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned. The Lord God will not honour you for this!” But Uzziah, who was holding an incense burner, became furious! And as he was standing there raging at the priests, leprosy, like a raging flesh eating acne, suddenly broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the high priest and all the other priests saw the leprosy, they rushed Uzziah out of the temple. As you can imagine, Uzziah himself was eager to get out as well because the Lord had slapped him. Yup, the Lord had slapped him bad. So, King Uzziah ended up with leprosy until the day he died, living in isolation, excluded from the temple, dying alone and even being buried not with his ancestors, but adjacent to them in a field nearby.

I wonder if the prayers and advice of 'Jecholia of Jerusalem' brought him to the throne, sustained him there and prospered him there as well? I wonder if she gave him a good slap now and again? I wonder if her absence, her lack or prayers and loving slapping, led to the fat bulbousness of his brain, and the subsequent blindness of his eyes and poisoning of his heart? I wonder?

To all the Jecholia’s of Jerusalem I say “Live up to your name and keep praying for your sons.” Oh, and while you are praying for them, please remember me.

Listen: - Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 NKJV

Pray:- Lord, fill our lives with Jecholia’s! In Jesus name we pray, amen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jun | 26 | When 'Ilunga' is not good enough!

Key Word:- FORGIVE

Title:- When 'Ilunga' is not good enough!

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors

The BBC's Oliver Conway reported on a list of 'the hardest words to translate' which was drawn up from a consultation with 1,000 linguists. At the top of the list, from the DR Congo came the word "Ilunga." Ilunga means "a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time but never a third time." Now friends that may be a hard word to translate, but it seems incredibly gracious and realistic to practice. Don’t you think?

Whatever, the sin, if I forgive you once, then to myself and others I can appear to be magnificently magnanimous. It may cost me, it may cost me dearly but I, yes I, have forgiven you. I feel better than you when I do this. Yes, that’s the right thing to do, yes, that’s gracious, yes, that’s reasonable. Should you commit a sin against me for a second time, then I can choose to tolerate it. My forgiveness would be less magnanimous, maybe tainted with a not a little annoyance, but everyone would understand why. Yes ,that’s right, yes, that’s kind of gracious, yes, that’s just about reasonable. Now, sin against me the same sin a third time and I would be a fool to let it go! To let my grace be stomped on, to let my grace toward you be abused, even raped, I would be a fool. Three strikes and your out! That's reasonable friends. Yes, that's very reasonable! Don’t you think? Of course you do.

The hardest thing to do is to forgive the deliberate and persistent sinner! It’s most unreasonable. However, the apostles came to realize that they were not following a reasonable Master. Jesus demanded total obedience, not a reasonable following. Jesus raised the bar far higher than any human could reach by themselves, for Jesus expected His followers in forgiveness, to be like God! To a man, the apostles all baulked at this, for truly, forgiving others their persistent sins against us, is the hardest thing on earth to do and frankly, it cannot be done, I say again, it cannot be done, not without the grace of God o’er flowing our hearts and our trusting totally on Him for help in both the forgiving and the forgetting. You see, ‘Ilunga’ is just not good enough for grace, so you had better get on your knees, for you need more faith!

Listen:- Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him." And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." Luke 17:3-5 

Pray:- And when seven seems leap-able, You raise it to seventy O Lord, and when that is visible, You raise it to seventy times seventy. How can this be done? Except You give wings to my feet and put heaven and eternity in my eyes and grant an openness to my hard heart, and a deep, so very deep, consciousness of all You have forgiven me, I just cannot forgive in the way You want me to. Great God grant it, and increase my faith in doing so, help me to never settle for Ilunga, when Ilunga is not good enough. Amen.

Jun | 26 | Dealing With 'Die Falscher'

Dream WordHOPE

3 John 1:4
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. NKJV

Dealing With ‘Die Falscher’

Former award winning ‘Times’ correspondent, Lawrence Malkin, brought out a book in 2006 called ‘Krueger’s Men,’ the true story of ‘Operation Bernhard.’ Very quickly, the book was turned into a compelling film which competed at the Berlin Film Festival in 2007. The Film was called ‘Die Falsher’ or, ‘The Counterfeiters.’

Major Bernhard Krueger, a conspicuously correct SS engineer, ran a production line of Jewish prisoners in ‘Sachsenhausen’ concentration camp near Berlin. Operation Bernhard was named after him and the intent of the Nazi operation was to destabilise the British economy by flooding the country with counterfeit Bank of England, £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes! From 1942 to 1945, the Nazi’s forged more pound notes than all the reserves in the vaults of the Bank of England, some 132 million pounds equivalent in 2008 to over 3 Billion pounds! The plan was that the German air force would drop the money over Britain, but in the end it was used to finance the failing war machine, pay off many of its spies, bail out its fleeing war criminals and finance their flight to other countries. Much of it eventually ended up in the bottom of Lake Toplitz, but Malkin also suggests that some of it was used by the Israeli underground to finance the founding of Israel in terms of its military, its infrastructure and the return of the Jewish Diaspora.

Despite the German air force being almost destroyed and therefore not being able to drop the counterfeit notes over Britain, the use of them abroad by the Nazis was rife and rampant, so much so, that the Bank of England and Britain, in order to prevent the counterfeits from infecting the economy, imposed a wartime blockade on bringing notes of £5 and above, into the country!

There is of course a methodology of attack here and also a principle of protection for us to take note of. Frankly, in these mad days in which we live, I think we need to put the latter into practice, post haste!

I hope the method of spiritual attack is clear. If you want to disrupt and destroy a spiritual economy then flood the market with counterfeits, fraudulent goods of such high copycat quality, that they themselves even believe they are the ‘real deal.’ This has always happened, this is happening today and I believe, will happen all the more as we approach the end of days.

There is little you can do to stop such a greedy and lying invasion, save to thoroughly examine the source and quality of the goods on offer. This can only be done by blockading the export of such spiritual destructive weevils and discouraging the importing of the same. Please! Don’t go bringing that destructive rubbish back here!

The church is not a totalitarian regime, neither is it a government agency with emergency powers to block and to quarantine! However, the leaders of the church do have the authority, do have the necessity, do have the holy duty even, to both exclude and examine any teaching from the pulpit which might destroy the general economy of the local church, which is fed and nourished, guided and directed through the preached Word. The pulpit needs to be protected and saved from such insidious and fatal infections.

Let’s not be deceived. The devil is out to destroy our spiritual economy. So far, he’s doing a damn good job of it as well. Leaders! You must rise up and protect the pulpit before it is all too late.

Listen: - But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They'll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other — biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They've put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can't tell right from wrong. They give the way of truth a bad name. They're only out for themselves. They'll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you. They won't, of course, get by with it. They'll come to a bad end, for God has never just stood by and let that kind of thing go on. God didn't let the rebel angels off the hook, but jailed them in hell till Judgment Day. (2 Peter 2:1-5 from THE MESSAGE: by Eugene H. Peterson.)

Pray:- Lord, help us be aware of all the tactics of total war and then let us be astute and wise in dealing with ‘Die Fascher, ’ in Jesus name we ask it, amen!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Jun | 25 | Who’s Your Daddy?

Key Word:- VICTORY

Title:- Who’s Your Daddy?

1 Chronicles 12:22 For at that time they came to David day by day to help him, until it was a great army, like the army of God.
You may have heard the old joke of the soldier who instead of receiving a rifle when visiting the quartermaster, is given a stick instead. “It’s no problem” says the quartermaster, “It’s a magic stick, just point it at the target and say “bang” and the enemy will fall” Sure enough, he enters battle with his magic stick and points it the enemy soldiers loudly shouting, “Bang! Bang! Bang!” Astonishingly, with each shout an enemy would fall down dead. All accept one of them that is, who despite not holding a weapon himself, never the less continues to walk steadily towards the soldier bearing the magic stick. As the enemy walks by, his hands held out in front of him as though he is clutching an invisible steering column, he is heard repeating constantly, “Tanka, Tanka, Tanka, Tank!”

Before ‘D Day’, to give the impression that the assault was coming from elsewhere, a great deal of time was spent by the allies in positioning wooden tanks and wooden mock up aircraft in their thousands, at points far away from official loading zones, thus deceiving the enemy as to the Allies true intentions. Indeed, in the darkness and during dire conflict, it has been known for soldiers to take the exhausts off jeeps and drive them slowly up and down, again thus giving the far greater force of the enemy the perception that heavy armor was now maneuvering for position against them. These tactics of deception are not new for humans, animals or insects! Indeed, the insect world is replete with tricky little decoys to stop the smaller and the weaker, from falling into the hands of the bigger and stronger prey.

Enemy deception against the Christian often acts in reverse and so friends, we have been deceived into thinking that we are the puny ones! I am not calling for blind stupidity in the face of the enemy here folks, but I am calling for an open heaven and some open eyes for the people of God to see who they truly are and to see what they have truly got! Honestly, the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of thousands and the Lord is among them. His forces, our forces, are massive and He is the greatest warrior of all!

Today the great King amidst His forces still shouts loudly saying “As I live forever, If I whet My glittering sword, And My hand takes hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to My enemies, And repay those who hate Me. I will make My arrows drunk with blood, And My sword shall devour flesh, With the blood of the slain and the captives, From the heads of the leaders of the enemy.” Deuteronomy 32:40-42. Now let me ask you today Oh wimpering one, “Who’s your Daddy Christian? Who’s your Daddy?”

Unless you want cheese with that whine, I suggest you stop that little pity party the enemy’s deceit has caused you to invite all your friends to, and begin to see things as they really are, for YOU, HAVE BEEN DECEIVED!

Listen:- And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:17-18

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Pray:- Little me, stands in the middle of the Mighty and the Almighty. Let me see it today O Lord. Let me see it today and then let me grow into the warrior You have called me to be. Amen.

Jun | 25 | The Fat Face Of Poverty & The Diet Pill of Practical Possibility

Dream Word – HOPE

Galatians 2:10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do. NKJV

The Fat Face of Poverty & The Diet Pill Of Practical Possibility

The Institute for Fiscal Studies, a research institute which exists to provide top quality economic analysis independent of government, political party or any other vested interest, produced a report in 2008 which showed how household income had substantially changed in the United Kingdom since 1961, indicating, both an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor and the binding and belittling, inescapable trap, that the ever rising underclass of society will find it IMPOSSIBLE to climb out of.

Indeed, a 2008 survey of teenagers in Scotland indicated that their top two concerns when leaving school, were poverty and homelessness! Oh and before some of my dearest far right friends say anything, the world where you could make it by working hard, doing without and saving your pennies, ceased to exist a long, long time ago. Clarification of this sad state of affairs also comes from Mark Easton, home editor of the BBC, who remarked that: “Britain has the unenviable reputation for having the worst social mobility of any industrialised nation. What is more, the chances of a British youngster climbing out of hardship are said to be lower today than they were fifty years ago.”

It was Quaker and Christian Activist, Seebohm Rowntree, who in the 1950’s carried out many social studies, chiefly in his home town of York, where he took the materials received by those in the poor house and defined them as a ‘basket of basic goods.’ Anyone who did not have the means to procure for himself said basket, was considered to be in poverty. In 2008, ‘poverty’ in the United Kingdom was defined as anyone on an income of less than 60% of the national average wage. Then, that figure stood at 20% of people and it was rising!

Truly then, the poor shall always be with us. However, this does not mean we should live with that situation! Christians such as Rowntree and Cadbury, people of wealth, power, vision and chocolate, (thank you Jesus!) made sure that the Gospel impacted and changed society for the better. We Christians, even we Christians of end time apocalyptic fervour, should never the less, also be doing the same. We dare not sacrifice our duty to the poor on the grounds of Christ’s imminent return.

In 2008, it was being suggested that the first two steps on the ladder of escaping the poverty pit, were good education and the good offices of parents. Both are good and both are necessary, however, even now, I think the rungs are rotten. Towards the end of the 20th Century, the murder of the family and all its values, coupled, at the beginning of the 21st Century with the value stripping of many of its assets, has most substantially seen to that dreadful decay, of that first parental rung! As for education, well, there are not too many poverty-stricken households that want to further enslave their children to massive student debt and in any event, good grades, good degrees and professional qualifications are ten a penny nowadays and the problem of poverty is still high and is still rising.

It may have been the first and only nationally recognised indicator of poverty, but never the less, Rowntree’s ration basket failed somewhat in providing correct analyses of the situation in that it did not account for key factors such as, knowledge of what was nutritious food, where to find it, and where to find it at the best prices. Add to this, the ability to go and get it and bring it home and you are presented by gaunt and sickly looking, dirty faced Victorian children. Nowadays of course, poverty has a fat face, for the bad nutrition picture of today, is one of pimply faced MacDonald’s obesity. Yes nowadays, poverty has often a fat face. Today, we need a different and more holistic measure for poverty and with that, a far better possibilities of escape.

Like it or not, problems and opportunities are global in both context and influence. However, such Global Opportunity must be linked to and dealt with, via a National Vision and in turn; such National Vision must be coupled with both Local Investment and Made Opportunity. Made Opportunity, is of course very simply, practical possibility and this my friends, is the best diet pill to deal with fat poverty. I believe that we Christians need to both manufacture and administer this pill, for if this rising problem of fat poverty is not dealt with, then once the opiates of entertainment in all its many and varied forms wears off, then maybe we shall see a rise in the well worn ‘solution’ of revolution and war, even on our own shores, to clear the decks once more.

I am an end time Christian. I am preparing for the return of King Jesus. So, spiritually emotionally and physically, to my society and this generation, I am seeking to provide the pill of the possibility of escape from poverty, yes poverty, in all its malnourished, and bestial belittling forms. Make no mistake about it, it is this local pill possibility, of made opportunity, that shall drive national vision and so enable it to lay hold of global opportunity. We Christians are at the root of the solution.

To that end, I believe the local church should be the best place for family and education, the best place where the released and empowered people of hope, can provide the pill of possibility for the poor. WE NEED TO MAKE OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH, ON EVERY LOCAL LEVEL. I believe that the end time generation shall not cower, but in Christ’s name, shall be filled with power and shall overflow with ‘can do’ practical possibility. Tomorrow then, RISE UP O CHURCH OF GOD! For, mark my words, if we shall not BE THE SOLUTION, then we shall be eaten up in the problem.

Listen: - Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you. Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:1-8NKJV.

Pray:- Lord we look to You, Lord we long for Your coming, we plan for Your arrival. We do this in hope, we do it in redemptive power, we do it in making opportunity and birthing possibility. So prosper us in this our Lord, in Jesus name we pray, amen!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Jun | 24 | Finding Forgiveness

Key Word:- LOVE

Title:- Finding Forgiveness

Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you.

Set in South Carolina in 1964, 'The Secret Life of Bees' by Sue Monk Kidd, tells of a motherless daughter's discovery of 'family.' The main character, young Lily Owens, flees town after springing her ‘coloured’ friend from jail. Taking residence with a trio of black ‘beekeeping sisters’ Lily finds the love of a mother she never had. It is revealed that as a young girl, Lily Owens accidentally killed her momma with a gun and this is the secret shadow that has dogged her, her whole young life.

Sue Monk Kidd, with great insight, presents the scene where Lily finally forms on her lips her crippling confession. As the author puts it, ‘this was the time and place she spilled out her guts and then hoped she wasn't tossed out to sea to wait for her punishment.’ A most devilish scene is then presented to us. Lily, weeping before her friendly confessor, during the discarding of all her sins and hurts, then experiences the most wounding accusation of all against her. The writer describes it again and most magnificently so, saying 'Probably one or two moments in your whole life you will hear a dark whispering spirit, a voice coming from the centre of things. It will have blades for lips and will not stop until it speaks the one secret thing at the heart of it all. Kneeling on the floor unable to stop shuddering I heard it plainly. It said, “You are unlovable Lilly Owen. Unlovable. Who could love you? Who in this world could ever love you?” And friends, there we have it. The one secret thing at the heart of it all, for us all. When all is revealed, when the garbage is dumped on the floor for God to pick through and everyone to see, who in this world could ever love us?
Forgiven in Jesus yet still believing this lie, becomes a cancerous disability; becomes a menaced muteness, a weight too much for anyone to bear, a lie too horrific for anyone to believe. Yet deep in our heart, we clutch this poisoned thought and our ears bleed shut to God's whispers of love. Cut by the bladed lips of dark and deceiving spirits that come to us in our shame and our confession and many times, often well before and long time after such desperate declarations, our tired and tearful eyes are poked out with sharp sticks of condemnation and so, being blinded to God's love and compassion, we are forced to retreat into our sour and sorry dens of self protection and continue to live out the lie, that no one in this world, no one, could ever love us.

The same God that says in our old nature “Dwells no good thing” also says that we are “More precious than the sum of this whole wonderful world and everything in it put together.” WE DON'T BELIEVE IT THOUGH! Not really. Our lives are testimony to that.

I wonder if God were to push a little love note under the door of our heart today that it might say:- “City of God. Dearest Jerusalem. Despite your broken walls, your poisoned waters and your dark, dark streets, I know your name. I know where you live. I love you. I think you're wonderful. You are more precious to me than all the named and shining orbs that hang in My sky. I love you I tell you. I just love you!” Well, there it is friend, next to the doormat of your heart! Read that note. Believe it. It’s true.,

Listen:- The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel. He heals the broken-hearted And binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Psalm 147:2-4

Pray: - Deliver me from the cruel lips of lying spirits, lying books and lying men Oh Lord. Help me to possess my loveliness before You O God my lovely Saviour, O Christ my bleeding sacrifice, O Jesus lover of my scarred and broken soul. Amen.

Jun | 24 | Sticking Around To Taste The Vintage

Dream Word – CONTINUE

Song of Songs 4:10 How fair is your love, my sister, my spouse! How much better than wine is your love, and the scent of your perfumes than all spices! NKJV

Sticking Around To Taste The Vintage

The age of a bottle of wine has an important bearing on its character, that is, its taste, its colour and its bouquet, all of which in turn I find manifest their impact on my tongue in terms of beauty, balance and my bank account! I say my bank account because I have tasted older and sweeter wines that have cost enormous amounts of money, and frankly, they don’t taste as good as some much cheaper varieties. This is not only a subjective observation, but a proved and objective reality. Material cost does not make an older wine taste better, no it is much, much more than that, which goes into making a great vintage wine.

Not all wines of course improve with age, only a comparatively few wines seem to have the capacity to morph into a mature flavour whilst maintaining an inner, tip of the tongue, dancing vigour. You can’t always tell which wines these will be, but providing the harvest was good, it is the combination of time, temperature and the right kind of environmental tools which will allow the Master winemaker the opportunity to soften any harsh wine characteristic into something smoothe, something soft and something velvety on the tongue. To taste it though, listen now, to taste it and enjoy it, you’ve really got to stick around.

You need to know tonight that I do not know a great deal about wine, however, I do know a little about people. In this gained and increasing knowledge which I have accrued over the years, I have observed that when a man has finally begun to drink of a great bottle of wine, then his face bears a subtle and shining, well oiled gladness and that all his life and all his limbs seem to bounce, with re-sprung sinew-ed strength. I tell you, if you're sure of the roots, sure of the fruits and sure of the sunshine of God’s grace, then it’s well worth sticking around to see God finally uncork His vintage!

I wonder if the Scriptures might suggest, that there is nothing better for a bitter old man than some sweet decanter full of rich red, vintage wine? Let me speak clearly. Stick with your spouse, for if the Master Wine Maker has His way, the best is yet to come.

Listen: -
Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart. Proverbs 31:6 NKJV

....And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart. Psalms 104:15 KJV.

Pray:- Lord, if there is one thing needed in our life, it is the removal of stupidity and the infusion of stickability. Give us faith, courage and tenacity today and in all the years to come to stick around and taste the uncorked vintage. In Jesus name we pray, amen.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jun | 23 | Dancing Divinity

Key Word:- HAPPY

Title:- Dancing Divinity

Luke 15:25 Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing

It makes me sweat. You know? Public dancing. Something deadly happened to my rhythm a long while ago, under a disco ball in a church hall somewhere far away and it’s now atrophied. So when it comes to weddings and fun nights that involve dancing….Oh dear, bring on the deodorant.

I am always astonished to find films rooted in their locality doing so well globally, an old film called the ‘Full Monty’ being one of them. I giggled watching it again on T.V. in America for a number of reasons. First, though the film had been censored for the American audience by removing all the expletive ‘F’ bombs, they had left a multitude of even worse words and phrases in the movie! These local curse words obviously were not yet a global commodity! Secondly, I laughed at just how well the film was received and yet how much of the pathos and passion contained therein just had to have been missed. The American common mind set is very, very far removed from Yorkshire. I’ve never been a male stripper, but I have stood in those job lines and sat on those benches under miserable skies wondering where I’m going to get work. ‘Full Monty’ is so true in its portrayal of out of work desperation that it brings back far too many of my own bad and jobless memories and moves me to tears.

In the film, there is one stunning scene in particular that is of interest to us today. The ‘fat’ male dancer called Dave (he went on to act as lead in a CBC comedy, ‘Still Standing’) funnily fights against the lie that ‘fat is a feminist issue’, by being thoroughly ashamed of his own plump proportions. He wonderfully portrays the out of work, overweight man who has lost his dignity, his devotion and his sex drive. In the saddest of scenes, Dave tearfully asks his wife “Who would want to see him, a fat guy dancing?” His wife tenderly, lovingly and longingly looks at him and says “Me. I would Dave. Me.”

Sin, has robbed many of us of our joy, and turned our dancing into mourning. Pharisaic religion has done the same for far too many more of us. However, the extravagant God has a party going on! There is even now rejoicing in the presence of the angels over one sinner who repents. How else would God rejoice, but with laughter, and singing and dancing? I wonder if King David might have asked God one day saying “Who would want to see me a murderer, an adulterer, a deceiver, a liar, a fallen and broken man. Who would want to see me dancing?" And I wonder if God looked tenderly, lovingly and longingly on him and said “Me Dave. I would. Me.”

Listen:- Lee Ann Womack in her song ‘Dance’, maybe nicely sums up a challenge for the atrophied of soul today friends. “Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance. And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. (slight pause) Dance! I hope you dance.”

Pray:- Lord. Truly turn my mourning into dancing before Your gracious triumphant holy and ever rejoicing, oh so happy throne. Amen!

Jun | 23 | Removing The Leper's Squint

Dream Word – RESCUE

Luke 5:12-15 One day in one of the villages there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus he fell down before him in prayer and said, "If you want to, you can cleanse me." Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, "I want to. Be clean." Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone. Jesus instructed him, "Don't talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed self to the priest, along with the offering ordered by Moses. Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done." (THE MESSAGE: by Eugene H. Peterson.)

Removing The Leper’s Squint

The Parish Church of St Peter’s, in the small village of Twineham sits nestled amongst the green trees of England, not far from the base of the South Downs of East Sussex. The first incumbent Rector is listed in the 13th Century and the stone font dates to that same period. Apart from the overgrown area of the graveyard rented by non-conformist Quakers for a peppercorn rent of a few pennies and the last of the wooden bedstead headboards, used as a grave marker instead of a stone, (a practice apparently only seen in Sussex) out of all the other fascinating features of this church I found two holes in the walls of the church the most intriguing of all. The church warden showing me around, told me that at these points, the local lepers would receive the Eucharist and on occasion, through grated bars would be allowed to watch the priestly practice of the Mass.

For Medieval man, the Latin incantated magic of the Eucharist, performed by well robed priests, was a mystery not to be missed! Indeed, magic coupled with superstition was so rife in those days, that even the 13th Century font, still standing tall and cold at St Peter’s Twineham, still bore the marks of having a lock put on the lid, to stop the ‘Holy Water’ being stolen for use in rites of local witchcraft! Even so, with all these passing pictures of lives long gone, yet still set and seen in wood and stone, it is the image of a gnarled and excluded, dirty and stinking leper, standing outside in the cold and the wet, stealing a squint at the magic through  oblique angled holes in the wall and receiving the Eucharist of life through the same, which sticks with me most this night. This small hole in the wall, this only place of access to the unwanted, was known as a ‘Leper’s Squint.’

Some folks, famous sinners all, gangsters, gang leaders, drug dealers, football players, boxers, pop stars and politicians, when they ‘come through for Christ’ (what an odious and self-exalting phrase) are placed by us on pedestal’s for the entire world to see. Indeed, we put these redeemed and famous sinners up there for all the world to see and then shout out to all the gazing, awestruck Christians, “Come see this stinking sinner, now washed made whole, made free! Free that is, apart from his CD, DVD, Book and Biography, all of which are yours for just $14.99, on sale in the lobby after he’s sung and we’ve taken up a love offering.” Yup, we love them famous sinners, coming through for Christ! Yup, get ‘em in, get ‘em up and get’em on the circuit of sinners since redeemed. Yes, put them up the for all the world to see, for isn’t Jesus most powerful and magnificent, to save such a famous wretch as thee?

I say this mockingly tonight for the sole purpose of contrast, for it is only this dark contrast that will allow us to see the white and staring eyes of all the lepers peering through our squints. Yes, I am afraid to say that in our churches of today, we still have a multitude of squinting lepers. Who are they? Why are they there? How did we allow this to happen.

These folks, this most leprous lot, are the once forgiven people who have fallen whilst in harness. Their sin, whatever it was, has become to the Christian community, dastardly inexcusable, abuse-able and totally unusable to the 'once saved and serving, never dare put one foot wrong again' kind of Gospel we are preaching. These modern day lepers are growing in number and surely are some of the saddest folks I have ever seen. They have become to us, ugly, odorous, shunned, separated, excluded, never to be trusted, shut up, cast out in the cold and wet, to be left peering at the magic through a Leper’s Squint. And good riddance to them as well, because they let me down, they let our side down, for above all, they cast a shadow on the keeping power of Christ. Yes, above all, in their bad decision, they moved Him from most desirous in their life, to being the least desirous of all! That’s what we hate the most, the fact that their sin, their deceitful sin, has cast doubt on the efficacy of the message we proclaim and Christ to keep us, as well as casting a most terrible light on the some of the same snakes of doubt and ungodly desires, slithering around in the dark of our own dear lives. Think about that. Be honest with yourselves.

Let us remember tonight, that the greatest story of redemption left to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, is not of a famous stranger finally ‘coming through to Jesus,’ and still making a few bob on the side, but rather of a profligate, a prodigal, a known but long lost SON finally coming home! Yes, the greatest story of redemption is of a SON coming home and still ripe with the smell of pig shit on him and when that happened, yes, when the longed for family member finally returned, he wasn’t stepped down, wasn’t dressed down, he wasn't hosed down, and made to go out in the cold and peer at the magic he once so loved through a cold, low, Leper's squint, but rather ,was clothed upon, ringed up, taken in, embraced and given a hoe down. It’s shocking isn’t it? I reckon Jesus intended it to be so, for grace is nothing short of being just that, ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING! Scandalous really.

It’s going to be very tough, yet until we get rid of every ‘Lepers Squint,’ and welcome home the wounded and stinking prodigals, our communities, though quite respectable, shall never truly bear, the Maker’s mark of grace.

Listen: - "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults — unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole travelling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. (Matthew 7:1-5 THE MESSAGE: by Eugene H. Peterson.)

Pray:- Lord, I have to tell you that I feel really let down by those folks, those fallen leaders, those modern day lepers, now squinting in at magic they once so powerfully proclaimed. They should have known better. But Lord, I suppose we all should have known better. I remember you said to St Peter, that cursing and cowardly denier, that restored repenter, “Feed my lambs.” Surely, every sin against You by a redeemed child is indeed a spit in Your face and a rape of Your grace. We are sorry for our sins O Lord. Now will You release all of us rapers of Your grace and restore to us all the cursing St Peter’s, by re-commissioning again those You have most astonishingly redeemed, that we all may speak again, of Your most outrageously, lavish grace, so wonderfully shown to them. Amen.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Jun | 22 | Singing Kings


Title:- Singing Kings  

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

“Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien...Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn' Ambar-metta!” So sings King Aaragon in Tolkein's 'Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.'

Just in case you cannot speak 'Elvish', (hu hu, hu hu, thank you very much momma) King Aaragon is singing, “ Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world.”

A multitude of thoughts flow out of Tolkein's great and marvellous trilogy; this lake of pictures filled to the full by Tolkein, but what struck me most during these final scenes, is that after the King is crowned, it is only then that he breaks into song! It really took me back. I can understand Royalty having great choirs singing for them, even picked soloists to serenade them, but when the crowned King himself gets up and starts singing, well I can hear the shattering of some boundaries as they fall to the ground in my head.

Imagine now King Jesus. Crowned and surrounded by innumerable beings of light; beings so awesome that current language fails in its descriptive ability! Imagine the noise of the redeemed, each one with a new song in their own hearts. Imagine the cascading clinking of millions of crowns cast before the Lamb on the floor of the crystal sea and then finally, imagine if you will, a silence in heaven, as the Saviour slowly stands and lifts up His voice; and moving through the vast throng of angels towards His awaiting bride , He begins to sing.

This song is prepared and practiced from before the beginning of time. It surpasses in description both the depth and the glories of the songs of the angelic sons of God as they once sang together in the morning light of creation, because each word sung in the Saviour's song settles your soul, salves your wounds, searches out the long questions of your heart and answers them in love and tender compassion.

Have you ever imagined friends, a singing saviour? What a wedding singer eh? What a wedding singer indeed.

Friends, our Savior sings! Do you hear Him today, do you really hear Him?

Listen:- They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.
Revelation 15:3

Pray: - Sing me a lullaby, that Your soft and tender peace would wash o’er my troubled soul. Sing me a marching song, that I may possess the land. Oh Sing me some songs of merry magic, Jesus Lord my Saviour and open up to me the unfathomable depths of who You are O Lord. Sing to me Savior, Oh sing to me today. Amen and amen!