Monthly Archives: August 2012

Rivers and Life

I love rivers. Some of the most mesmerising places in the world are rivers. Each has a character of its own: Some passionate and explosive, others calm and sedate and others majestic and regal.

A Paddle Steamer on the Murray

The Murray snakes through a dry country bringing life. Camping on its banks is always a thrill. I also remember sitting perched on the Lorelei rock overlooking the Rhine. It was like being part of a giant train set with trains rocketing along each bank and barges and tourist boats plying their trade. The Mississippi, like so much of the US, is larger larger than life. Near Chester, Illinois, I recall tugs scuttling across the river while my wife and I sat between discarded rusting barges. Mark Twain would have been in his element. I haven’t seen the Nile, Yangtze or Amazon but I am sure I would fall in love with them too.

The Rhine at the Lorelei

Rivers are life giving and sustaining arteries. They connect people, supply power, transport and water. Rivers are a vast metaphor of life and what sustains it.

It is not a surprise then that in the book of Revelation we read, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb …” (Rev 22:1)

Here the river encapsulates much of the world rivers and adds a deeper dimension. The river is a picture of eternal renewal – spiritual and physical. It gives life in abundance. It is the life of God poured upon his children in boundless generosity. This river is at the heart of a new kingdom. So every time I see a river I am reminded that in a time to come God has even more in store for his children – for eternity!

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Strong and Constant

Strong and Constant

One of my favourite Christian songs is “Strong and Constant” by Frank Anderson.

It is a song of encouragement and comfort as Yahweh/ God speaks into the lives of His children. I know many people who have found succour in times of need with these beautiful words. Like any good Christian song it is saturated in Biblical ideas, themes and texts.

I do have a query. Does anyone know of a good recording of it? I have found only one on iTunes and I didn’t find it inspiring. Are there others that I am oblivious to? I would love to know. Also, apart from being Catholic, I have been unable to find out anything about the writer.

I will be Yahweh who walks with you
You will be always in my hand
Take your heart and give it all to me
Strong and constant is my love
Strong and constant is my love
Should you wander far away from me
I will search for you in every land
Should you call then you will truly know
Strong and constant is my love
Strong and constant is my love
When you know sorrow within your life
I will come I will embrace your heart
Through your pain you will discover Me
Strong and constant is my love
Strong and constant is my love
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Christian Friends

Last night we had Christian friends come over for a meal. We talked about all sorts of things both great and small and finished the evening with a word of prayer.

I reflected to my wife later what a privilege it is to have friends like these. I added that it was as though God was speaking to us through our friends. In a real way He was. These friends have known us for a long time. They know us warts and all – the highs and lows. We know their struggles and hopes as well. So when the conversation develops and we look for the Christ in each other, a depth of communication occurs that is beyond the mundane. Despite our human brokenness Christ is a present in a tangible way. He is there in the words of encouragement, challenge, direction and hope.

In these moments we get a glimpse of heaven. We see the small lights of Christ in each other that will one day shine without hindrance. In the meantime, occasions like this are an encouragement to continue to grow and serve and anticipate with eager expectation.

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Family Memories

Minifigs invade the Eiffel Tower

What are your favourite family memories and traditions? Was it a particular Christmas, a trip, a visit by someone special, a particular meal your mum cooked, a tradition your family has – what were they? These moments that warm our heart whenever we think of them are special. A sight, smell or word can often, quite spontaneously, take us back to a time and place.

Positive memories are part of our emotional health. They remind us of important connections, people and values. They anchor us in a family and history. I recognise that some readers don’t have these and I find that incredibly sad. That is all the more reason to build these into our own families.

Muesli and Hot Milk

Our, now grown-up, children often reflect on events and activities from the past that are important to them. Some of these my wife and I planned and others happened by accident. Having pizza on Christmas Eve in which everyone pitched in, just happened. This tradition was so important that even when my wife and I were living in a tiny flat in England, and all the girls came over for a visit, we still had to have pizza on Christmas Eve – or as close to it as possible.

Grover at Conwy Castle

Having an all girl family (apart from me) meant that particular stuffed toys and dolls gained a life all of their own. To this day questions about Muesli, Jessica, Grover and Fiona’s welfare pepper the conversation as though they are real – which, of course, they are!

The camping trips to Canberra and Woodgate, the building of Lego cities and towns and making “continental” s’mores (using Speculaas biscuits and Lindt chocolate instead of Graham crackers and Hershey bars) either around an open fire or over tea lights, are just a few more memories and traditions that I am certain will continue through the generations.

So what memories do you have and what memories are you building? In a fleeting and uncertain world they are more important than you think.

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Loving Your Neighbour

There are only two duties that our Lord requires of us,—the love of God, and the love of our neighbour.  And, in my opinion, the surest sign for discovering our love to God is our love to our neighbour.  And be assured that the further you advance in the love of your neighbour, the further you are advancing in the love of God likewise. 

Teresa of Avila

Santa Teresa an Appreciation: with some of the best passages of the Saint’s Writings. Kindle Edition.
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A Call to Mysticism

In Larry Crabb’s book, Becoming a True Spiritual Community, he quotes A. W. Tozer.

“The word “mystic” refers to that personal spiritual experience common to the saints of Bible times and well known to multitudes of persons in the post-Biblical era. I refer to the evangelical mystic who has been brought by the gospel into intimate fellowship with the Godhead. His theology is no less and no more than is taught in the Christian Scriptures. He differs from the ordinary orthodox Christian only because he experiences his faith down in the depths of his sentient being while the other does not. He is quietly, deeply, and sometimes almost ecstatically aware of the Presence of God in his own nature and in the world around him. His religious experience is something elemental, as old as time and the creation. It is immediate acquaintance with God by union with the Eternal Son. It is to know that which passes knowledge.”

Crabb contrasts this mysticism with “managers”,

Managing Problems

“The road to spiritual community has now reached a fork. We must go one way or another, and we have come to see that we can no longer walk the management path. It doesn’t work. It quenches the Spirit and leaves us handling conflicted community with congeniality, cooperation, consolation, counseling, or conformity. Yet there is no greater determination in our fallen hearts than to manage things. We long to reduce mystery to manageable categories. To turn for help to experts who can figure out what’s wrong with us and apply the appropriate remedy. To come up with a system to follow that does not require profound spiritual depth.”

I have come to the conclusion that I, and I believe too many of my fellow believers, have sold ourselves short in our pursuit of faith. Tozer and Crabb are grappling with a depth of spiritual life that is beyond our imagination. I use the word “grappling’ because they are trying to describe a relationship with God and each other that words struggle to describe. I for one, am listening and reading intently because I yearn for a community like that, and also, I firmly believe that the malaise of faith in the West can only be countered by a Spirit filled people whose relationship with God and each other is a witness that cuts through the hardened hearts and minds of our age.

Reading: Crabb, Larry (2007-07-10). Becoming a True Spiritual Community: A Profound Vision of What the Church Can Be Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
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A Mighty Fortress …


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Growing a Worldview

Growing up
… can shape
the way we see
the world.
Which lenses should we keep
and polish
and which distorting specs
throw away?
To see
as Jesus
wants us to see
and feel as He would feel
and do as he did
for the world in which we live?
Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Poem, poetry, Uncategorized, World Views | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blessed to be …

In Genesis 12:2 God says to Abram,

“I will make you into a great nation, 
    and I will bless you; 
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.”

In Romans we are reminded that he was the father of faith. Abram was a prototype of what would happen in the New Testament. He was one of the few OT people upon whom the Holy Spirit had come.

In the New Testament the Spirit of God is poured out on the church to empower us, like our forefather to be a blessing. If we read through Acts we find that after the coming of the Holy Spirit, persecution multiplied: stoning, beatings, gaolings, killings and the list goes on. And yet the church grew.

In the west our priorities are often the avoidance of pain and the pursuit of pleasure. Just imagine what would have happened to the gospel and our place in the story if that had been the priority of our early brothers and sisters. The likelihood is that we would all be pagans. The gospel would have been stifled.

The challenge is that we too, like Abram and the early Church have been blessed to be a blessing. I don’t know about you but that makes me very uncomfortable.

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Lessons from the Mother Hen

Every creature is the product of a thought of God; hence all created things can serve as emblems of the Divine.

It is not of ourselves that in winged creatures we hail a figurative expression of the Divine life; but Scripture does it, and now, accustomed to it, every devout believer readily acknowledges that this imagery warms the heart and enriches the mind.

In what Jesus said of Jerusalem this comes within every one’s comprehension. The hen with her chickens is a figure of Divine compassion, which moves every one by its beauty and tenderness. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not” (Matt. 23:37).

Yet this word of Jesus has a far deeper meaning than he who merely admires it imagines. Truly it speaks of protection and compassion, for this is the purpose here of the gathering together. But there is more in it than this. It also implies that the chickens belong with the mother-hen; and that nothing else than return to her can render them safe against the dangers of cold, and prowling vermin. Yea, it also contains the striking figure that by nature the chickens are appointed a hiding place close by the mother-hen, and that they find shelter and protection of life only in the immediate nearness of the mother-life, under the outspread wings that will embrace and compass them.

Thus, this striking saying of Jesus is taken bodily from Old Testament imagery and in turn is explained by it.

When in Psalm 91 it is said. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall lodge under the shadow of the Almighty, ” we deal with the selfsame figurative representation.

It is the epitome of what the Psalmist elsewhere expresses (61: 4).. “I will make my refuge in the covert of thy wings.”

It is the same thought that was expressed by the wings of the cherubim over the mercy-seat of the ark of the Covenant.

“It is ever the one idea: God created a fowl that gathers her brood under her wings and with these wings covers and cuddles them; and now this richly suggestive picture is held before us in order that our soul might seek refuge under the shadow of the Almighty and hide in the covert of His wings.

Abraham Kuyper To Be Near Unto God (Courtesy

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