Monthly Archives: March 2012
Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will commence our journey to Spain. I am so excited! However it means that I won’t have access to the wonderful blogs out there whenever I want to read them. Also, I won’t be able to post on a regular basis. So my contact will be “unscheduled.” I have included one of my favourite inspirational Psalms, below.
A post explaining part of our journey can be found here: “Walking”
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Photos and Memories 2I wander through a trail of black and white photos. Recalling the past: Old emotions, family friends and celebrations. Some images are blurry and grey, hidden in the fogs of time, others clear and bright as if today. But none can bring back the people, the time, the days. The decisions and mistakes are still etched in black, white and its many shades. Yet today, the photos are coloured, but even then, at times, the colours seem grey.
The hymn “When Peace Like a River” was born out of tragedy and yet heralds one of the most amazing testaments in Christian hymnody. Horartio Spafford, after an earlier series of tragedies, also lost his four daughters at sea in a shipping accident. While sailing across the Atlantic, he wrote this hymn near the area where his daughters died. For me, as a father who loves his daughters dearly, this story has always resonated strongly. However, it is the chorus I want to highlight. It is one of those songs that only people of faith should sing. “It is well with my soul.” It is a declaration of the power of Jesus Christ – his death and resurrection.
When Peace Like a RiverWhen peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul. Refrain It is well, with my soul, It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul. Refrain My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! Refrain For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul. Refrain But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul! Refrain And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul. Refrain Horatio Spafford
A reflection by Hetty Stok on Mark 6:30-44.
It’s been a busy morning. We started with a debriefing, telling Jesus what’s been going on. The teaching, the healing, the people. Oh, the people! They just keep coming! I was relieved when Jesus suggested going over the lake to a quiet field and just relax for a spell. But from the water we could see the crowds following us along the shoreline. My heart sank; couldn’t we have a moment to ourselves?
As we stepped onto the shore the people caught up with us. Jesus kept walking as if he could shake them off, or perhaps hoping they would realise we wanted some time away from them. I know that’s what the rest of us were hoping.
No he wasn’t walking from them. He was leading them. He wasn’t trying to shake them off. He was gathering them closer. When we reached the quiet green-grassy hill where we should have had our restful afternoon, Jesus directed the crowd to sit. Then he taught them. Not the “rules and regulations” kind of teaching you can usually get from the rabbis, but stories. Stories about ordinary folk – shepherds, widows, arguing brothers and the like. My favourite was the good shepherd one. Imagine leaving 99 sheep and going off after one stupid lamb! I guess it’s like that Psalm King David wrote – the good shepherd will always care for his sheep; even the stupid little ones.
Well, I reckon it’s time to send this lot home. It’s getting onto dinner time and if they’re like us they won’t have had lunch either. Peter is talking to Jesus. I can’t believe it! He wants us to feed everyone!
James is scouting around in case someone’s brought enough food for 5000 people. Well that’s not going to happen. He comes back with a meager 5 loaves and 2 fish, and hands them to Jesus. As if it were a banquet spread out for a king, Jesus holds them up to the sky and thanks God for the bounty.
I’m calculating that every man woman and child might get a crumb each and they’ll probably start a riot to get that much.
Jesus gives me a handful of bread – no, it’s more than an armful. I walk among the people who calmly take what they need. Some take a bit more, and when I get back to Jesus he again fills my arms with provisions. The people have eaten all they want. Now they are lounging in the grass patting their bellies with satisfaction. “No thanks mate,” they say, as we collect the leftovers and bring it back to Jesus.
Jesus, like a shepherd, lead us.
Much we need thy tender care.
In pleasant pastures feed us.
All our sin and grief to bear.
Today I was a stupid little lamb. I started well – focused on Jesus, following him, listening to him. But I wandered: I focused on myself – my need for rest, my hunger, me, me, me. I stopped listening even when He was speaking loudly with His actions. I was hungry even when I had my arms full of food. Lord, forgive me my blind stupidly. Hook your shepherd’s staff around my neck and bring me close to you again. Because that’s where I want to be.
Today’s post is simply a favourite photo.
This photo was taken in the Roskilde Viking Ship Museum. It is a ship built in the C11th and was later filled with rocks to form part of a blockade of a channel. It was recovered in 1962.
Recently I read a book by a Free Church Scottish divine from the turn of the last century. His name, Alexander Whyte. He wrote a book about Teresa of Avila. He called it an “appreciation”. This was a solid Presbyterian writing about a mystic from the Middle ages; two worlds apart, two theologies apart. This is a small portion of what he wrote:The pressing question with me is not the truth or the falsehood, the amount of reality or the amount of imagination in Teresa’s locutions and visions. The pressing question with me is this,—Why it is that I have nothing to show to myself at all like them. I think I could die for the truth of my Lord’s promise that both He and His Father will manifest Themselves to those who love Him and keep His words; but He never manifests Himself, to be called manifestation, to me. I am driven in sheer desperation to believe such testimonies and attainments as those of Teresa, if only to support my failing faith in the words of my Master. I had rather believe every syllable of Teresa’s so-staggering locutions and visions than be left to this, that ever since Paul and John went home to heaven our Lord’s greatest promises have been so many idle words. It is open to any man to scoff and sneer at Teresa’s extraordinary life of prayer, and at the manifestations of the Father and the Son that were made to her in her life of prayer, and some of her biographers and censors among ourselves have made good use of their opportunity. But I cannot any longer sit with them in the seat of the scorner, and I want you all to rise up and leave that evil seat also. Lord, how wilt Thou manifest Thyself in time to come to me? How shall I attain to that faith and to that love and to that obedience which shall secure to me the long-withheld presence and indwelling of the Father and the Son.
(Teresa, of Avila; Whyte, Alexander (2011-03-24). Santa Teresa an Appreciation: with some of the best passages of the Saint’s Writings (pp. 14-15). Kindle Edition.)
What I love about this book is that Whyte, despite his own background and theology, is open to be taught by others and their understanding and relationship with God. He doesn’t recant his own views but adds to them through his study of Teresa. That is an attitude and humility I would like to develop in myself. How often are we bound by denominational and theological fences only to blind ourselves to the wonderful understandings of God and His Word that others can bring.
One of my favourite characters in literature is Don Quixote. He is noble, idealistic and foolish. On his beloved Rocinante he would fight for the honour of his elusive Dulcinea and look for any means to show his chivalry. I would like to suggest that these are great qualities for a Christian. Every Christian should have a large dose of Don Quixote.
Foolishness: It was a trait Jesus had. He didn’t follow the established values and tenets of his era. He was considered foolish at best and dangerous at worst. I see modern churches following business models and strategies which seem wise and savvy. But would Jesus do it this way? I doubt it. He invested in time with His father and with his disciples. He didn’t choose the “high capacity people” as I saw it described recently, (thanks to “A Twisted Crown of Thorns) but he selected ignorant fishermen and social outcasts. As Christians we need to ask ourselves constantly, are we following Christlike methods or worldly methods? Do we and our churches have a spirit of Christ inspired foolishness?
Noble: “Noble” can defined as putting others first and counting ourselves last. This counters everything that the advertising industry throws at us. “You are the most important person in the world.” “You deserve it.” To be noble is to deny oneself for others. It is agape, sacrificial, love. It is another sign too, of our foolishness. Don Quixote was driven by his chivalrous desire to be noble – so should we.
Idealistic. I have often been accused of being idealistic, as though it is a disease or sin. Idealism is that quality where we always aim for that elusive and impossible “best,” particularly in the area of human and spiritual values. That “best” is never achievable in this life, but it is what we are aiming for. This is in direct contrast to the pragmatism of our age. Businesses, politicians and many marriages and families are based on the principle of pragmatism -“whatever works”. If it doesn’t work – we jettison it. This can include husbands, wives, children and employees. Our Lord wants what is best: Sinless children (in Christ) invited into an eternity with Him to serve and praise Him. Our aim, this side of heaven, is to prepare for that.
Are we prepared to be objects of ridicule for God, despised and rejected by others? If your answer is “yes” you are not only like Don Quixote but, more importantly, like Jesus.