Something weird is happening to me.

Something weird happened to me last Sunday.
As I baptised four people who have recently encountered Jesus & been saved, set free & renewed by him, something new and fresh & quite overwhelming burst inside me.

I JUST LONG TO SEE MORE PEOPLE SAVED!!

The taste of salvation testimonies has given me a craving for more, that’s what real Spirit inspired testimony does to us, it raises our faith.

It’s burning in me, whenever I stop the daily busyness of family & work & pause to listen to my heart, it cries out the same longing to Jesus. “I want more”.

I still want renewal of the church, maturity disciples in St.Chad’s, to see my boys grow up as contributors not consumers & all the other things on my list of things that matter.
But a depth charge of longing for salvation has gripped me and I want it to become infectious.

So will you pray just two things right now?
Let the Holy Spirit do the same to you.
Pray for Romiley, (my community) & your community, that many will encounter Jesus.

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Tender Shoot

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He grew up before us like a tender shoot

Like a root out of dry ground,

 

I’ve meditated on this verse from the start of Isaiah 53 a number of times.  I find the simple vulnerability of a tender shoot to describe Jesus approaching the cross as a very powerful and yet unsettling image.  The more we dig into the depths of Jesus’ amazing vulnerability the more it challenges and realigns our subtle, conscious and subconscious attempts to find power to protect ourselves.

God’s great master plan, was one man dying for the sake of the rest of us.   As Jesus spent his last week in Jerusalem, the rest of the world were totally unaware of him, In the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia tribal people were living their lives on different continents unaware of what was happening. The Egyptians were a developed nation but waning against the might of the Roman empire and Britain was very much a primitive tribal backwater.  Yet God planted a tender shoot in Israel and he planted it into dry ground.  In worldly terms, God’s plan was high risk, tender shoots can be eaten by rabbits, squashed by something bit big feet or crowded out by other bigger plants.  But God protected his plan, he planted Jesus into the right place at the right time and then he caused the growth to happen.

And all this happened like a tender shoot bursting out of dry ground. 

We see the desert, the infertility, the difficulties the dismissal of God’s purposes.  God sees the potential, God knows that in every seed there is all the potential for a vast tree and multiple more trees.

I look at our ‘village’ and I look at the generation of young adults in the UK and I can choose to see desert, tough resistant ground.  But when I hear of stories from around the world of God at work, of renewal, of many coming to know Jesus, of God transforming communities, I’m stirred and challenged that not long ago that place was dry ground, that place could have seemed like a desert.

So I pray Isaiah 35 for where I live and for those places and people God has given me a passion for;

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. 

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” 

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water;”

(Isaiah 35:1–7 ESV)

There is hope for wherever you live and whomever God has given you a love for, because all around us God is planting tender shoots and what seems like a desert to us, is an opportunity for him.

 

 

The Family Business.

Last Sunday night I got home from an amazing Soaking evening at church, to a text from a friend, “Watch Channel 4 now”!’ A few hours had passed, so I checked the TV guide to see what he was texting about. It was a TV documentary about the Liverpool-based jewellers, ‘Boodles’; a family business, with which he has connections. Knowing some of the family who run the business, it reflected well the very special, close relationships they have and how this has led to a flourishing business.

Whilst working on my (hopefully forthcoming) book ‘Release from Hollow Religion’ I became gripped by the metaphor of the kingdom of God as a “family business”.
God’s great purpose is defined in Ephesians 1v10, “to gather all things together under one head, Jesus”. As children of God, younger brothers and sisters of Jesus and co-heirs with Him, our call is to build this family business, to enjoy relationship with God and to labour with Him in growing His kingdom.

In writing about this I had (then anonymously) referenced Boodles as a family business which God showed me models something profound of his kingdom, seeing more of how the family works together reignited my sense that this family models something of God’s family and how we can all flourish as co-heirs and serve as his children.

Co-labouring with Him is about relationship because He’s a relational God and He’s our Father. I know of another family business which reached national recognition a number of years ago but seriously struggled when relationships went sour. I don’t know the details, beyond the lack of trust, which led to secrecy, and eventually siblings no longer spoke to each other, which doesn’t help major decisions.

From what I see of Boodles, I can see honesty and healthy relationships, where mutual trust and justice are maintained. As successive generations grow up into positions of leadership, parents train their children; input is welcomed. One son went off to start a new venture of the business with his father’s backing, far more than just some cash and a blessing, but an open phone line, emails, visits, shared wisdom and encouragement. The father set his son up to thrive and was there to come alongside and encourage, support and empower him. That’s how God sends us out to build his kingdom, he resources us and relates to us.

Wherever you are, whatever your gifts, there is a role for you as part of God’s family business. The Father has gifted us individually, but supports every one of us as his children. On one end of the spectrum is the slave mindset (see the older brother in Luke 15) we slave to try and earn our Father’s favour. On the other end is ingratitude, we take God’s blessings, but do nothing with them for the family business and as a result we don’t grow into maturity. Jesus told lots of parables about putting into use what he gave us, he also modelled & taught grace and unconditional love. Both are true and essential in growing the family business.

As I’ve embraced this truth, its given me greater freedom, ownership and motivated me to serve my Father more wholeheartedly and revealed more of the genius of God’s leadership.

What is the Father asking you to do to grow the family business?