The Word…

The Word

Isaac Wimberly

If there are words for Him, then I don’t have them.
You see my brain has not yet reached the point.
Where it could form a thought that could adequately
describe the greatness of my God
And my lungs have not yet developed the ability to,
release a breathe with enough agility to
breathe out the greatness of His love
And my voice, you see my voice is so inhibited
Restrained by human limits,
that’s hard to even send the praise up
You see if there are words for Him,
I don’t have them.

 

My God, His grace is remarkable
Mercies are innumerable
Strength is impenetrable
He is honourable, accountable
Favourable, He’s unsearchable yet knowable
Indefinable yet approachable
Indescribable yet personal
He is beyond comprehension
Further than imagination
Constant through generations
King of every nation
But if there are words for Him,
Then I don’t have them.

 

You see my words are few
In trying to capture the one true God
Using my vocabulary would never do
But I use words as an expression,
An expression of worship to a Saviour
A Saviour who is both worthy and deserving of my praise
So I use words.

 

My heart extols the Lord. Blesses His name forever.
He has won my heart, Captured my mind
And has bound them both together
He is defeated me in my rebellion
Conquered me in my sin
He has welcomed me into His presence
Completely invited me in
He has made Himself the object of my sight
Flooding me with mercies in the morning
Drowning me with grace in the night.
But if there are words for Him,
Then I don’t have them.

 

But what I do have is, good news
For my God knew that man-made words
Would never do, the words are just tools
That we use to point to the truth
So He sent His son Jesus Christ
As The Word, living proof
He is the image of the invisible God
The first born of all creation
For by Him all things were created
Giving nothingness formation
And by His words He sustains
In the power of His name
For He is before all things
And over all things He reigns
Holy is His name.

 

So praise Him for His life
The way he persevered in strife
The humble son of God becoming the perfect sacrifice
Praise Him for His death
That He willingly stood in our place
That He lovingly endured the grave
That He battled our enemy
And on the third day rose in Victory
He is everything that was promised
Praised as the risen King
Lift your voice and sing
For one day He will return for us
And we will finally be united with our Saviour
For eternity, eternity.

 

So it’s not just words that I proclaim
For my words point to The Word
And The Word has a name
Hope has a name
Joy has a name
Peace has a name
Love has a name
And that name is Jesus Christ
Praise His name FOREVER!

Getting older…

Autumn. A lovely season. Perhaps one of special resonance for many of us, being that we can be said to be in the ‘Autumn’ years of our lives. And Autumn of course drifts seamlessly into Winter – maybe that season is the more applicable! So, apologies to all the ‘bright young things’ – I seem to be having a little muse on getting older!

Funny, isn’t it, that in childhood one longs to be older. Four and three-quarters, for instance, is proudly the age stated by our granddaughter. Every month counts! Whereas in adulthood, we may want to ‘knock off’ even a few years.

Plus or Minus – getting older? A bit of both. On the debit side: the old bones can ache and creak a bit; the teeth may live in a jar overnight; technology may baffle and frustrate; and the only sport left to us may be hunting for our glasses! On the credit side: we no longer have to go to work; when our (grand) children become tiresome and exhausting we can hand them back to their parents; we get a bus pass; and we do find that ‘a nice cup of tea’ solves (or at least eases) most things.

Aside from this flippancy, every time and age of our lives has its ups and downs. What of our Christian lives? When one is a Christian, life is one joyous, happy-clappy reverie – is this the truth? Obviously not. God didn’t promise us skies ever-blue. In fact sometimes as a Christian, we find that extra challenges are put before us. What ‘the world’ doesn’t understand, it sometimes mocks and belittles. That’s a tough one!

But back to the early days – the Spring of our Christian life. There is joy, excitement and anticipation of what is to come. As Autumn and Winter come around, have we perhaps lost some of the joy? Some of the excitement and anticipation? Do we really believe that ‘all things work together for good for those who love the Lord?’ Or do we just let biblical truths wash over us – merely words?

I know that at times I can feel far away from God. I can feel that I am just drifting along in my Christian life. Maybe you’ve felt that too? God knows us, understands us, and above all wants us to have a joy, a comfort, and a peace in Him. He never drifts away from us or tires of helping us. We need not be ashamed or embarrassed about feeling a bit adrift from Him. We just need to come before His throne, in contrition and humility, and He will restore us to the person He created us to be. Nothing in our life is too big for Him. Nothing in our life is too small for Him. If it troubles us, it troubles Him too.

So in closing, may I suggest that whether age-wise or emotion-wise we feel that we are in Spring / Summer or Autumn / Winter, God is always there for us. Each season of our life has its blessings. Yes, and even in those black ‘seasons’ there can be blessings to be found.

My prayer for us all is that God will give us open and wise hearts, to see His goodness and His blessings in all things and in all Seasons.
Until Next Time, Much love,

Linda.

Where are you ?

Were you ever asked the question ‘Where are you?’ Who asked you this question? Was it your wife/husband, children/parent, friends/neighbour? This question gets intense when those who love you can’t locate you in your usual place. This question highlights relationship. However when you are found to be in the wrong place or trapped in bad surroundings their obvious reaction will be one of anger or disappointment followed by love and a resolve to protect you and to get you back again to the safe space.

The Trinity in the Christian faith is a story of a Father who lost His children and His sacred family. In our Bible in the Book of Genesis (3:8-15) we learn of a tragic breakdown of a wonderful godly family in Adam and Eve. When God came to meet His children He found that they had moved from the safe space He had given them. Out of a concern-filled anxiety God shouted loudly ‘Where are you’ Adam and Eve, my children?  The answer was “we are hiding because we are naked and we feel ashamed to come in front of you.”  God’s family was corrupted. Another strong power, called Evil or Satan or the Devil, successfully uprooted this lovely family from their safe, holy and desirable space and led them into dangerous place. This story sets in motion God’s resolve to fight this Devil on earth and to bring His family back home.

The story of the Trinity begins with this messy and broken love relationship between God and the Devil. In this story we learn that it has been a long drawn-out battle where God has to progressively fight the devil as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This battle culminated on the Cross of Jesus. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. And this unending love leads further to the Gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. There is an ongoing battle against the powers and principalities of this world. The difference is that today the battle against evil has to be fought by the believers in the Church.

During the Sundays after Trinity a call to confession is made. In the story of the fall of God’s family, Eve said that she was beguiled by the Devil and Adam said that he was beguiled by Eve.  Neither of them were willing to accept their fall and own it.  Rather they blamed each other.  Instead of blaming each other and hiding themselves they should have cried out like the Psalmist (Psalm 130) ‘Where are you O God’? The Psalmist recalls his human vulnerability and cries out;

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;

Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

The Trinity offers believers the assurance of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness if only we confess our sins. God’s grace through the gift of the Holy Spirit offers hope to God’s children to reconcile with God and also an opportunity to mend broken relationships and the healing of our body, mind and soul. St. Paul’s understanding of the Trinity is helpful for us in realising how important we have become after being redeemed by Jesus Christ and after being nurtured by the Holy Spirit. We are a new creation. The old Adam and Eve in us is dead with Jesus on the Cross.

The Trinity gives new meaning to our life. Paul in 2 Corinthians speaks about Christian life as a plain pottery jar which holds a candle. Our lives may look very ordinary, but we contain the light of Christ. The same God who said at creation ‘let there be light’, has now placed the light of Christ in our hearts. Paul speaks about a confident relationship with his creator (2 Corinthians 4: 13-5:1). The only aspect of Paul’s earthly life which will also be with him in heaven is the Spirit of God within him. The Spirit is God’s down-payment and guarantee – the sign and promise of eternal life.

During the Sundays of the Trinity season we will realise that God has enabled His children (us) to respond to the question ‘Where are you?’ not as old Adam and Eve, filled with Sin and Guilt and Curse and Punishment. Rather as a new creation a new Adam and Eve filled with Grace and Mercy and protected and owned by Unconditional Love and Redemption through Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

With much love

Arun

 

 

The New Year

Hello Everyone,

Well, it is now 2015, or very nearly. What might the New Year bring? We can’t possibly answer that one – so, and of dubious value, I’d like to just share a few little musings with you. So, here goes – in a fairly obvious acronym for the N.E.W. Y.E.A.R.

N for Nourishment.

As ever, we in the West suffer from obesity whilst many parts of the world starve. If we can help in any way, prayerfully or financially, let us be gracious and compassionate enough to do so this year. Food Banks, in our own town, are proving a benefit for many. People’s circumstances differ, we don’t need to know the whys and wherefores as to why someone finds themselves in such a position. We just need to have a simple heart of compassion – so that we continue to support the food bank whenever we can. Another form of nourishment, I feel, is spiritual. I’m going to try to be more open, expectant and humble to accept and heed God’s spiritual nourishment. The nourishment of our souls is even more vital than that of our bodies.

E for Evangelism.

No, unlike Billy Graham, probably none of us will ever hold the rapt attention of the crowd at Anfield! However, in whatever way we can, Jesus urges us to spread the good news of His saving grace. Why keep it to ourselves? Some are called to be ‘up front ‘ in church. Great. But in simpler ways we can all show the difference that Christ within us makes – by our actions, attitudes and words. The Bible tells us that it is by our deeds that we shall be known. We needn’t make it complicated. We can commit our days and our ways to God, and if we truly do so, He will indeed make us ‘fishers of men’ – which is the essence of evangelism.

W for Worship.

We are blessed at St. James with an excellent worship team, and an excellent organ/ organists. Many of our hymns and praise songs are beautifully and profoundly worded, indeed they are prayers in themselves. Perhaps we could conjecture that teaching and prayer are at the heart of our church services, with worship being the lifeblood. Our love for the Lord is shown in singing and music. God loves to hear us worship and praise Him. If, like me, you’re no Kathleen Ferrier, have no fear – your voice to the one who made you sounds as sweet as honey. So, carry on Worshipping!

Y for Yesterday.

Do you ever find yourself thinking about the past, and wishing things had been different? We all probably do it at times, despite knowing that it is useless. As they say “hindsight is a wonderful thing”. In the light of today, we can often feel that we acted wrongly, hastily or foolishly. Our soul’s balm for this is the love of the Lord Jesus. He can calm us and reassure us and help us to move on. Today is very special, it’s a gift – that is why it is called the present. Don’t spoil or waste it by looking backwards.

E for Everyone.

Isn’t it good to spend time with our friends in church. We by and large have our own seating positions – ‘though not actually reserved! A cosy scene. Within this scene, however, we need to remain aware that Christ died for everyone. Not just those who go to church! Prayerfully, let’s hope that God will lead us individually and as a church family to convey this note of inclusion to all those with whom we have contact.

A for Affliction.

In this life we face many and varied afflictions.   God knows.   God cares.   God will see us through. Enough said.

R for Religion.

Wow! Where do I start?  It comforts many.  It inspires many.  It enriches the lives of many.  It puzzles many. It angers many.  It amuses some.  It, in dire mis-use, starts wars.  For some, it’s even a paid job – and not just a Sunday one! You’ll have your own thoughts and definition, I’m sure. For me, it is the outward visible system through which I try to live out my life. However, this outwardness is merely the open expression of the inner peace and joy which I get from knowing Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.  Hope you get that too; and with these things in our hearts, may we all go forward into 2015 with grace and joyous expectation.

Much love, as always,

Linda.

 

Religion…

Religion, its traditions, rituals, and the role of leadership…

A couple of days ago I watched a hugely successful and quite controversial Indian movie. It has met a hostile reaction mainly from the conservative Hindu wing in India and to some extent from Muslim leaders. Angry mobs in different states of India wave saffron-coloured flags and call for the arrest of the movie’s hero, who happens to be a Muslim, for allegedly defaming Hinduism.

However a large part of the Indian population has appreciated the movie. It has turned out to be a blockbuster, breaking all previous records by taking more than 4.82bn rupees (£49.1m) in the first two weeks.

The movie is based on a fiction. An alien is left behind by his spaceship on earth in the desert of Rajasthan in India. He moves without clothes, only wearing a remote control (a device without which he cannot go back to his planet) in his neck. A person encounters this ‘necked’ alien and snatches the shining remote control from his neck and runs away. The alien gets stuck on earth. Though he looks like other human beings he gets quite confused and bewildered by the way people live and move on planet earth.  He wants to adjust to be like others, and starts wearing clothes without being able to differentiate between male and female dress. As he walks wearing clothes in the streets people laugh at his combination of dress and ask him, Are you PK? (PK is a Hindi word for someone who is drunk and has no sense) Hence this alien is called by everyone PK and so the name of the movie is PK.

Now PK has extraordinary powers. When he holds the hands of someone he can come to know about their past and also through such touch he learns their language. He is anxious to go back to his planet but without the remote control he can’t signal his spaceship to take him back. So he starts his search on this earth to find his stolen ‘remote control’.

However a gypsy becomes his friend and after learning about PK’s dilemma suggests that he go to a big city in India, where most of the attractive and expensive stolen things are sold. So PK comes to Delhi, a cosmopolitan city, in the hope of finding his remote control. He contacts many people on the street, in shops and many other places to help him find his remote control. After hearing his story people express their helplessness and say to him only God can help you.

So he goes to the Temples, Mosques, Churches and Guru-Dwaras. He follows all their rituals of prayers, speaks to the religious leaders, the priests and also donates money but fails to meet and speak to God. So he distributes posters in the trains, buses and all over the city showing the pictures of Hindu, Muslim and Christian Gods – reading ‘God is missing – please help me to meet him’. 

My eyes were moist in the theatre after a particular scene in which PK recounts his efforts in convincing “the almighty” to return his remote control. The sequence shows PK bathing in holy rivers, trekking to reach holy temples and painfully beating himself in mourning. He later discovers that such advice doesn’t mean much and most “god-men” use religions to do business and make profits by exploiting people who are in different needs and also those who fear God and want to be on the right side of God for a happy life. The ‘god-men’ also exploit the poor and vulnerable people who come to them for healing from physical and mental illness. A lot of superstitions and rituals are highlighted where people are misguided and exploited for personal gains by ‘god-men’.

A lady journalist comes into contact with PK and finds him interesting. After hearing his story she promises him that she will help him to find out his remote control. This journalist comes from a family which believes in all superstition and is under the influence of a ‘god-man’.  She wants PK to meet this god-man to see if he could help him.   However PK doesn’t find this god-man helpful rather he discovers that he is a hypocrite. The lady journalist agrees with him and uses PK to expose the hypocrisy of this god-man.

The rest of the movie is all about PK’s debate with this powerful “god-man” supported by the local media. PK with the help of this lady journalist attends a public meeting where hundreds of people have come to find solution to their problems from this god-man. While responding to various needs of the people and offering different solutions, PK challenges this god-man and helps people to understand that he is fooling them. He has no connection with God. PK calls him a manager of God without having a right connection with God. This debate is now on air and people are beginning to listen to PK’s arguments with interest against this god-man.

In one of the scenes in this debate, this god-man tells a man to take an arduous journey to a temple in the Himalayas to ensure that one of his sick family members gets well.

PK jumps into the conversation and asks the god-man if it’s true that God considers all humans as his sons and daughters.  Yes, says the god-man.

PK follows up with another question: “Which father would send an already troubled son on an arduous journey?”  Such simple but important questions start to make people think differently about God and god-men.

The god-man is now quite disturbed by PK and suddenly exposes a bright instrument which he claims contains all celestial power and solution to their problems. This happens to be PK’s ‘remote control’ which the god-man had purchased for a good price from the person who stole it from PK.  This remote control had become quite popular and was doing a very good business for the god-man. PK is excited and shouts and runs to grab his remote control but the god-man’s security stops him. Since PK has no evidence that this remote control belongs to him he gets frustrated.

The lady journalists who was exposing this god-man’s hypocrisy is now ostracised by her family for causing public insult to this god-man. PK comforts her and helps her to get her strength back. In the meantime the god-man realises that his business has gone down badly because of PK. In order to recover his credibility the god-man challenges PK to have public debate on religions – its tradition, rituals and role of religious leaders. If PK wins then god-man will hand over this remote control to him.

The debate starts with the god-man highlighting how important the traditions, rituals and their religious role as leaders are for people. People come to God to meet their needs through us. And we are here to help them solve their problems and connect them with God.

PK then questions all their rituals and religious practices. He points out that people unfortunately are more scared of God. They live in fear of God rather than have faith in him.  This god-man finds PK’s argument outrageous.

The god-man considers PK’s comments blasphemous and shouts loudly that we are here to protect our God. People like you can never destroy our traditions and rituals that keep us close to God.  It is at this point that the audience and millions of listeners wait to hear what PK had to say.

After a brief silence PK’s eyes are moist. He asks the god-man, does God require your protection? Contemporary astronomers claim that there are actually 100 billion habitable Earth-like planets in the Milky Way and roughly 500 billion galaxies in the Universe: and God is the creator of this universe: does he need human protection? PK calls the god-man a hypocrite who has no communication with God. The god-man is exploiting people who fear God rather than have faith in God. All that the god-man is doing is for self-gain by misleading and misguiding people through unhelpful rituals and wrong interpretations of traditions.  People applaud PK. He wins the remote control and happily goes back to his planet.

It is a thought provoking movie. I realised that the movie is not simply raising a social debate on God and His presence in the society. Rather it is inviting every religion to have a serious retrospection about its traditions, rituals and the role of priests and leaders of the religions. The movie is inviting both people and leaders of different faiths to reconfigure its traditions and faith practices and particularly the role of religious leadership.  The movie demands from different faiths’ leaders to go beyond from managing and controlling God through their traditional institutional structures to becoming an instrument reflecting through its practices a people friendly God. Religions must believe and describe God both as Human and Divine.

I think the Christian faith has an edge to communicate to the world a People-Friendly God in Jesus. However the Christian faith has its own challenges to get out of its own timidity. People in the world are in search of a God who can become part of their life. Christians profess that God wants us to become His family. How do we communicate this message to our neighbourhood?  Paul is quite apt in describing the relationship between God and people in Romans 8: 15-17: The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba] Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.’

Bina and I wish you a fearless and fruitful journey in 2015.  Let us move in the power of the Spirit of God in us.

Arun