Lewis today: LOVE stormy wild weather. Might have felt differently if I was on the sea instead of looking at it from land. Gutted my phone ran out of battery power so no photographs to share, but I genuinely wish you could all have sat with me in my car looking out as it shook violently from side to side! Magnificent! Downside? Might well be no bread, milk or Looroll!
The magnificent wild seas reminded me of when Sarah was 2 years old and we were living in Orkney. She heard Morag telling me the sea was too wild for me to make the sea journey from Stronsay to Eday for the afternoon service when I was minister of both islands in the 80’s. She stormed in, threw back our bedroom curtains and announced, “ Dad, there are white bits in the sea! You are NOT going on that damn boat!” When 2 women and a boatman gang up together, it is wise to concede a point.
It could be a rough crossing I should add, but the rougher it was the more I enjoyed it. I could be sick on a relatively calm day on the ferry on the Pentland Firth but never felt squeamish going between the islands on a creel boat: a different movement, easier on the stomach! It was however at times just not safe. The boatman, John, who had twice in his life been washed out of his boat and then back into it again, knew when it was not wise to go. I trusted him implicitly. There was one year where the sea between the two islands could not be negotiated for 12 Sundays in a row. By the way, one person from the powers that be in the Church Offices in George Street, Edinburgh, once asked us if we could not just use one church building in one parish and get the other parish to come there!! Mmmm… it is amazing how the lights can be on but there is nobody in…
Just memories, my memories, which warm my heart. I hope reading them might somehow bless you too. That would lift these words from being mere self-indulgence.
If the seas remain rough I will try and get a photograph or two to share with you.
Over the lat few years I have shared in Facebook posts, blogs and vlogs, personal experience of supernatural encounters, signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit- as indeed I did in an earlier post today, which caught the interest of some who read it.
I do that not to draw attention to me, but to bring honour to the God of the Bible, by showing that He does what He has always done and is who He has always been. In the early days of my Christian nurturing it was effectively taught that was not the case at least in some regard and measure.
None of these experiences thrill me as much as opening up my bible day by day as I did this morning. Also, all of them together are not worth comparing with the wonder of this: Jesus was wounded for my transgressions: by what He accomplished through suffering on the cross, He has saved me from the wrath to come. I can more easily get my mind around God transporting me from one place to another or money appearing out of thin air ( I have experienced both and both are biblical) than I can understand His saving love towards me and His warm and joy filled delight in me.
If you pounce on this as though I am writing a post telling you Church without signs and wonders is ok, you will have not read it in the right spirit at all…and you know that, without me spelling it out.
Was aware of the Lord highlighting almost with a sense of fear Paul’s words to Timothy as I read them this morning, as words which should be given to anyone setting out on pastoral ministry with all its encounters with people in situations of vulnerability: “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
The sense of the fear of the Lord stayed with me for hours for reasons I could not understand. Have just heard of the possible fall of another minister through inappropriate behaviour. I say it not in judgment. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls…”
Perhaps you are a pastor who right now are on the border of inappropriate behaviour. You may have crossed the border. Come clean now… you owe it to the Church, yourself, the honour of Christ, and to any people you have wronged and damaged in the process. Don’t let it emerge after your death…it will cause even more devastation to many then than if you come clean now.
If you have not quite crossed the border, stop sailing as close to the wind as you can. Stand back from the fire before you are burned.
Perhaps you need to at true accountability in place for your own safety, not just the formal legal type that may be there in the official structures of the church you are in which tends only to swing into action after an offence is discovered. Some of those I know who have fallen sexually and relationally walked away from accountability just before their fall…
For you perhaps this may fall into the category of “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” I hope so and yet hope not so at the same time, if you know what I mean, and you will if you know me…
Is the Church ignoring your Word from the Lord? Your message to the church is worthless if you are not fully involved in the church, part of that community that submits to one another out of reverence for Christ. There are quite a lot of voices these days telling the church what it should be doing and criticising church leaders for what they are not doing. These voices have no validity if not attached to loving and supportive involvement. They rarely change anything for the better.
Of course, true messengers from God may be ignored or heeded by the majority of God’s people, but they stay as part of the people of God in season and out, be it night or day, setting their hope in the mercies of God. Sticking with the people of God in the face of observable faithfulness or faithlessness around them, whether they are loved or sneered at, they sow seeds of light in tears: seeds that grow into something which one day, whether by them or others in generations still to come, will be harvested with joy. (Psalm 97 verse 11 and Psalm 126)
True “Rejected Prophets” stumble at times, but they live or die among the people of God, sharing in their triumphs and woes . False rejected prophets never stop licking their wounds…
If you have a gift from God be humble enough to learn from others about how to take the first steps in that gift, open to advice, learning, training and even correction. A gift from God can be enhanced by training. Anointing and gifting on the one hand and learning and training on the other are not exclusive. As you submit to that process you will progress in your gifting which according to Paul’s words to Timothy is what is meant to happen. Something unique arises in that process and progress. How your gift is meant to operate healthily through you will emerge in all its uniqueness. To say, “ Well, this is how the gift operates through me!” right at the start is a sure way of never finding the road towards progress and true uniqueness.
My preaching now bears little resemblance to 40 years ago when I took first steps in my calling, but I am so grateful for guiding hands, voices and influences from those days. As long as humanly speaking I have the capacity to preach and the opportunity to do so I still intend to make more progress towards the discovery of the anointing in its full bloom that God intended should grow from the seed He planted for His good will and pleasure.
To learn by helpful rules does not mean fresh adventures beyond previous horizons you had in view are prohibited.
What is the progress I am still pursuing? To be as thin a barrier as possible for an encounter with the Living God to happen for others.
I share these thoughts with you in the hope that you may be able to think them through in relation to your calling and gifting, that “place” where you feel most truly alive in serving God.
Some folk may “tut tut” at this, but this seal I took a photograph of a couple of days ago, is how I feel when I am preaching: I am in my zone, doing what I am made to do, bringing glory to my Creator and Redeemer by doing it! I enjoy it! I have never reached that stage others tell me I should aim for, namely, that one should only preach if it is the last thing in the world you want to do and you should feel like a man being dragged to his own execution and funeral! I feel a great joy in preaching! “Let me get in there and get on with it, Lord” is how I feel waiting to preach! Like a horse in the traps. Great joy in what you are doing can be a sign of death to self! I don’t care what the reaction is to what I preach so long as it is done under the smile of the Lord and honours His word as faithfully as He enables me to do at this stage of knowing Him in part.
Whatever your zone is, GET INTO IT! “ What larks!” Yes, I mean it! That is a prophetic word God gave me for someone not long ago. I questioned it, put on the TV at random and within 2 minutes or less, the phrase was spoken from a production of “Great Expectations.” “What larks,” when you take seriously the doing of the Holy will of the thrice Holy Lord God Almighty, even when hell’s fury is roused against you!