You’ll NEVER walk alone

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This weekend I will join around 20,000 others in a field in West Sussex for Big Church Day Out. If you are anything like me, camping  to ensure you capture all that is going on is a necessary evil. I’m really not into the whole “one with nature” thing – although it does mean that I might get bacon two mornings in a row.

There is something very powerful that happens when God’s people worship together. We feel it in our churches week on week (at least we do in the one I go to). When 20,000 worship together it always gets heavens attention.

There will be music to suit most tastes this weekend (not sure the organisers have the Christian thrash metal scene covered), and Church will get to enjoy this, and spending time with each other as a body of believers from different backgrounds with a common bond.

Apart from the camping, there is one thing I’m not looking forward to so much. Stuck in the middle of nowhere (internet or TV wise) I’ll have no way of watching the champions league final between Liverpool and Real Madrid. Interestingly, the thing that reminded me of this was a song that played as I drove home from work today. It was “Never Once” by Matt Redman. (Who will be at BCDO too). Talking about looking back over the past, with all its ups and downs, trials and tribulations, Matt realises that God has been with him every single step of the way. “Never once did we ever walk alone, never once did you leave us on our own, You are faithful, God you are faithful.”

The astute amongst you will have noticed the link to the Liverpool anthem “you’ll never walk alone”

The essence of the song is the same, (although there is no reference to who is walking with the singer.).

Scripture is littered with promises from God that He will never leave nor forsake those who love Him. Interestingly, often when His people turn from Him they find themselves crying out to Him, asking why He has forsaken or left them.

How often do we feel that we are walking alone only to realise that we are on the wrong road. That we have set off down a path that was not meant for us to follow. Others may be called to follow that path, and we follow blindly after them, rather than asking which road we are to follow. God will be with us on both roads, but our perception of His presence, our awareness of Him at work in our lives will be more acutely recognised if we are on the path designed for us rather than for another.

We need to keep listening for instructions to make sure we stay where we are meant to be. Some of us are too afraid to step on to a new path in case we get the direction wrong.  Some of us have come to a standstill because we can’t see the road ahead.

Helen Keller once said “a bend in the road is not the end of the road – unless you fail to make the turn.”

Are you on the wrong path – and need to turn?  Have you come to a standstill and don’t know which road is next? Have you asked Him?  Whichever path you’re on ask Him to walk with you. He’s there anyway, and walking is far more enjoyable with company.

(……….and come on Liverpool!!)

This is NOT a Royal Wedding post

loveA little over 2000 years ago, a man brought a message of love to the world. The message was revolutionary. “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Luke 6:35)  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. ” (Matthew 5:43)

This message was not what the world was expecting from the Messiah – it confused them, and they sought to find ways to explain it away.

2000 years later, the world heard the same message, at a wedding between a couple who have already challenged the traditional expectations.

Looking at the comments and reports following the message brought to the world in a church in Windsor yesterday – the world is just as confused as it was 2000 years ago. What seems clear is that the world has a very clear picture of what Christianity is about-  and what it means to be a Christian and the message that Bishop Curry brought was a million miles from that picture. It seemed very surprised that it was possible to have fun as a Christian. To speak with passion. To actually have a loving relationship with the one who we read about in the bible.

My question is simple. The church has had over 2000 years to get its message right. Where have we gone so tragically wrong that the world doesn’t understand one of the fundamental cores of our beliefs is that God is LOVE. That the very reason Jesus came was because God SO loved the world……

Have we so watered down the gospel so that it is palatable to the world that we have compromised its core message? It’s time to get back to the roots of Christianity. To start loving people outside the church as well as those inside it. It’s time to start portraying Jesus to the world so when we speak it is no longer confused by our message.

GOD IS LOVE – let’s start loving the world.

You WILL receive POWER

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But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

 

The Archbishop of Canterbury retweeted a post from the “Thy Kingdom come” account today. It quoted this verse from Acts chapter 1 at the beginning.

If I’m honest, I don’t remember what the main point of the tweet was – I just couldn’t get the verse out of my head.

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes.

 We only have to watch one of the many dramas on television to see perfect examples of powerless Christians. Whether they be humorous vicars like Geraldine Granger on the Vicar of Dibley to people like Dot Cotton on Eastenders, Christians are portrayed as being tolerated and pointless, and an easy target for comedy. The thing is, in so many cases these portrayals are not too far from the truth.  Too many of us are walking around blissfully unaware of the power we have inside us.

I have been one of these powerless Christians in the past, if I’m honest, I go through patches of forgetting the power living inside me and desperate to get out.

Different streams of the church believe different things about the Holy Spirit, and when He shows up in people’s lives. Most agree that the Holy Spirit is the part of the Godhead that lives within a person at the point of conversion. Beyond this the different beliefs are almost as vast as the number of denominations.

Whatever your beliefs, take a moment to ponder the implications of the Holy Spirit coming upon you.

Jesus says we will receive Power.

It is time to start using the power we have. Time to stop trudging through life waiting for heaven. Jesus came into the world to destroy the work of the devil. We get to carry on that work. It’s impossible to do it by ourselves. The possibilities are endless, beyond what we could ask, or even imagine. How do you want to change the world around you?

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”