Monday, 23 July 2012

Love

What is love?  I can say that I love chocolate, the chocolate which I am eating and enjoying as I am typing now, but it would be more grammatically correct if I said I really enjoy eating chocolate.  I can say that I love my husband,  when sometimes I might not feel like saying that to him because I have not got my own way in an issue or he might have said or done something which I may not have liked, and vice versa.   The word 'love' tends  to often be used flippantly such as in 'love you' as a gesture when separating from friends or ending a phone or text message, and it is a nice, friendly way of leaving a gathering of friends or ending a phone conversation. 

But what of the Bible's deffinition of love according to 1 corinthians ch.13 vs.4 - 7. 'Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.' If I compare myself against this interpretation of love, how do I fare?   I rejoice in  the fact that these verses are in the Bible because I can keep coming back to use them as my plumbline and judge.  Hopefully I will end up with the best kind of 'love' in me.

The following are some poems that I have written that  reflect the love of God in Jesus and creation to me.


Mirror Image

Lord may we learn from creation may we look to the vast blue sea
to the mountains the fields and the valleys to know how we ought to be
                                                                                      

 May we look to the gentle dolphin as he tries to befriend mankind
and follow this creature's example leaving killing and hatred behind



May we look to the towering mountains
holding fast against tempest and rain
as we struggle with
 sorrow and tradgedy
finding strength
amidst suffering and pain



As we look to the fields and the harvest
all golden and
bursting with grain
may we learn how to share with each other
may our giving replace
all our gain






















Then as in the river's reflection of the blue of the heavens above
so too we will mirror the image of God's totally unselfish love


The Power of Love

There's something about You Jesus
that just escapes my mind
about how You cause the lame to walk
and restore the sight of the blind
and how You can take the lowly
the broken hearted ones
and place them in Your kingdom
to bring them up as sons

There's something about You Jesus
there's something about Your face
though I can't see any features
I see wisdom, compassion and grace
There's something about those eyes Lord
that shed those tears for me
there's something about those healing hands
that they fastened to that tree

What made You say 'Father forgive them
for they know not what they do'
when they saved the life of Barabbas
and they chose to crucify You
I know what that 'something' is Lord
as I look to my Father above
It's the one thing that covers all others
It's Your totally unselfish love


Without You as my Lord

Without You as my Lord, I have no king
Without You as my first love there's no song to sing
Without You as my eagle my spirit can't soar
Without You as my gold I will always be poor
Without You as my life there can only be death
For by Your Holy Spirit I draw every breath
Without You as my Saviour I'm lost and forlorn
So praise God, Hallelujah that I've been reborn


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Light shines in the darkness

The following is part of my testimony of light coming into darkness - of the light of God, through Jesus Christ, coming into the darkness of my world.  There may be areas of darkness that lie hidden in my world still, but the light that has come into my life is a far greater power than that darkness, and is able to rescue me from it.

'In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.'  John ch.1 vs.4,5

It is written out of my deep conviction that God is the only true light, and that He has sent His Son Jesus Christ to bring this true light to a darkened world.   Without this true light I am convinced that no individual will have eternal life, an intimate knowledge of God which enables us to carry on existing with Him in a place that Jesus has prepared for those who believe on Him after our earthly bodies have passed away.  As a believer in Jesus Christ I am commanded by Him to spread His gospel, which I do in any way I can, including my writings.

'And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.'  John ch.17 v.3

Just as the moon has no light of it's own and can only reflect the light of the sun, so too has the church no light of it's own and may only reflect the light of Jesus Christ.

                            The Light shines in the darkness


                                          Oh light of heaven, Holy king                            
                                           of whom the hosts of angels sing
                                           rekindle flame in darkened Earth   
                                           by stirring those of second birth
                                           to speak with boldness of the love
                                           sent by the Father from above

                                                   ***
                                          
                                           When on a night so dark and cold
                                            was prophesy fulfilled of old
                                            A child to maid of no renown
                                            was born to wear man's thorny crown
                                            to bear the shame and take the place
                                            of mankind fallen from God's grace

                                                              ***
                                          
                                           Who now with sin beneath His feet
                                            stands at the side of God's own seat
                                            declaring peace forever more
                                            to those who enter through the door
                                            of righteousness gained by God's Son
                                            the Father's gift to everyone

I believe the fact that we have no light of our own, and that we must only reflect the light of Christ, was emphasized to me through an incident in my life several years ago.

I had been watching a programme on the television called 'Shining Lights - The Illuminator'.  It was about some Catholic monks in America who had commissioned people to produce a hand written, illustrated Bible as close as possible to the original style of Bibles written in the middle ages.  It was to be a Bible commissioned to celebrate the millennium.  Although the main artist-calligrapher was a man who lived in North Wales who did exceptional illuminated lettering and calligraphy as well as illustrations, there were other people who also worked on this Bible.

A few days after I had watched this programme I was given a project at one of the writers' circles I attended.  It was to write on the subject of 'Light'.  I did not think this coincidence.  The next day I had arranged to go to the local reference library to use the internet and met my calligraphy tutor Stephanie there.  An exhibition of our work was on display in the library and she was dropping some packaging off.  I told her I had seen the programme 'Shining lights' and asked her if she had seen it.  She told me she had missed it but had heard it was good and wanted to view it herself.  She said she had rung around several people to enquire if they had recorded it but had been unsuccessful in finding one who had and asked if I had taped it, to which I replied that I had not.

The following day I was thinking it was a pity Stephanie had missed the programme, knowing that she would have thoroughly enjoyed it, so I rang the BBC to enquire whether the programme would be shown again or if there was any way I could get hold of a tape.  The man I was speaking to said that I could write to a lady called 'Clare' who may be able to give me some information.  'That's Clare without the 'i' he said, and proceeded to give me the address where she could be contacted.  I noted the address and sent a letter off to Clare with my request, taking care to spell her name without an i.

That afternoon I started reflecting on the happenings of the previous few days and could hear the voice of God speaking to me through the events of these days.  In the same way that many people were working on this Bible we, as the body of Christ, are many working as one church with the different gifts and ministries that we have been given, to spread the light of the Gospel to the world.  We are to be shining lights before men, shining the light of the gospel into the darkness of this world.  However, just as the man at the BBC had said 'Clare without the 'i', and the name 'Claire' comes from the word meaning 'bright' or if used as an adjective in French can mean 'light', so we must take the ' I ', or self, out of  the light that we shine as God's messengers.  For although we are shining lights, our illuminator can only be Jesus, who is the express image of God. 

Jesus is the light of the world and He is the only light we must reflect to the world, the only light we must work by and the only light we must walk by.  Isaiah ch.50 v.11 says that all those who walk by their own lights will be in torment.  As children of light we have the true light in Jesus the Word of God, and as long as that light is the only light we use to see we shall never walk in darkness and we shall also be free from torment.

A tape of the programme 'Shining Lights-The Illuminator' was sent to me.  Yet another example of the love of God towards all of us, including my calligraphy tutor Steahanie.

A kaleidoscope has always been something that has fascinated me since I was a small child.  It is an optical instrument which has a tube containing two reflecting surfaces inclined to each other at a suitable angle.    These two surfaces are able to exhibit, by reflection, the most incredibly beautiful colours and symmetrical forms from just ordinary pieces of glass. I am reminded by it of the plan of salvation that was brought about when God said in Genesis ch.1 v.26 'Let us make man in our image' ( The word used here for 'man' is a collective, meaning mankind). God and His Son Jesus Christ have the divine ability to transform sinful man into their beautiful image, and we the church have been given the job of spreading this good news.

'But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.'

John ch.1 vs.12,13






Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Onion

I like onions.  They can be used in stir fries, curries, salads, soups and many other meals, and are also medicinal in many ways.  I was looking on the internet for uses for the onion.  One of the comments in answer to the question 'How are onions good for you?' was:- 'Toxins in your body RUN from the onion, leaving your innards nice and clean'.

Why am I talking about onions?   Well, the other day I was reading Matthew chapter 8.   Verse 28  onwards tells of when Jesus and the disciples had crossed the sea of Galilee to the country of the Gardarenes.  While there he cast out demons from two demoniacs, commanding them to enter a herd of swine, which in turn 'rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and perished in the waters'. 

What I noticed as I read on to the end of the chapter was that when the herdsmen fled into the city and told  the people there everything that had happened to the demoniacs, instead of rejoicing the whole of the city came out to meet Jesus and begged Him to leave their neighbourhood.   I asked myself 'Why would they want someone who had brought such a wonderful release to two tormented people to leave their city?' Could they be more concerned about losing the pigs?




Over the following couple of days I read sections of the book of Proverbs, and I started to think about the choices we get.  I thought back to the Gardarenes citizens, and it came into my mind that pigs represent 'the unclean' to the Jewish people.  There is some controversy over whether the Gardarenes were Jews, but whether they were or not is irrelevant because as a christian reading this story it is portraying to me, as part of God's spiritual Israel (the church), the danger of  being more concerned about losing the 'unclean' in my life than gaining the spiritual cleansing.

God gives us choices and sometimes we can tend to treat the good advice given in the word of God in the same way as the Gadarenes thought of Jesus' acts regarding the demoniacs and the swine.  We can prefer to keep  our own human 'wisdom' when the wisdom of God is necessary.  Proverbs ch.26 v12 reads 'Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes, there is more hope for a fool than for him'.  How often this has proved true in my own life.


Sometimes the food that is good for us has an element in it that might appear to cause an upsetting reaction at first.   Onions can make you cry, and maybe have a few other uncomfortable side effects  but can clear your body of toxins, and sometimes the advice in the word of God, brought to our attention by the Holy Spirit at an appropriate time, may cause a little upset at first but it has the power, once applied, to clear our lives of spiritual toxins that may harm us and hinder us in our spiritual walk. 

Our old nature tends sometimes to have a 'keep the peace' side that does not want to entertain the 'rock the boat' side, even when it may be what is necessary to enable us to work out our own salvation or be strengthened spiritually in the Lord.  For example, Proverbs ch.24 v.24,25 reads:-   He who says to the wicked 'You are innocent' will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations; but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will be upon them.'  There may come a time when we know that the Holy Spirit is telling us to correct someone, where 'keep the peace' or 'respect for persons' will try to persuade us to condone what we know to be wrong. 

The Lord might correct me at a time that I see something bad happening to someone who has done something bad to me by showing me Proverbsch.24 v.17 which reads:- 'Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the Lord see it, and be displeased, and turn away His anger from him.'   This proverb shows me that the Lord's correction is not about revenge, and neither should I be revenging.   Just as we must eat the onion to achieve the cleansing so too must we act on the advice spoken to us even if it causes a little discomfort.



Proverbs ch.29 v.19   reads   'By mere words a servant is not disciplined, for though he understands he will not give heed', and sometimes we may be put through trials, as spoken of in James ch.1 v.2.  The Lord understands our weaknesses, and these trials are able to test us on the ability to carry out what we are shown, and know is right, and be strengthened to overcome our spiritual weaknesses, and will sometimes also help others.  The motivation behind correction is always 'repair' when this motivation comes from  God, whether it be for us or for another person in our lives.  The word 'synergy' comes from the Greek word 'synergia' meaning 'joint work and cooperative action', and it is only when we play our part in acting on the word of God spoken to us that we effectively work out our salvation.

Some time ago I wrote a poem called 'The Onion', which portrays to me the fact that what the Holy Spirit speaks to me may appear at first to upset my 'worldly comfort zone' but it can only improve my spiritual life.  When the Lord upsets the apple cart the only thing that comes out of it is fruit.



The Onion

'How pleasant is our garden' the flowers said one day, while basking in the morning sun.  Then they heard the gardener say.    'I think I'll plant an onion, to see if it will grow'.   Then looking round the garden sought a place for it to go.  

'Oh no!' cried out the marigold, 'don't put Onion next to me.  What about beside the pond or under that old tree?' 'And why then should I suffer?' replied the noble oak.
'And neither do we want it here' the frogs began to croak.





And so the gardener scratched his head and said 'What shall I do?'  Somewhere within this garden must be a place for you.'  The onion cried within his heart, the tears began to roll.  He prayed 'Lord, I'm created too, find a place for this poor soul'.  And then the gardener heaved a sigh and said 'The only thing is to put this onion by the fence with the weeds that choke and sting'.


The onion was so happy, at last was found a place. The gardener went and brought his spade,the onion dried its face.  How happy was the little plant once settled in the ground.  He spread his roots and raised his head, began to look around.  A sudden sound of crying began to reach his ears.  'Oh no, what now?' the onion said 'Who's shedding all those tears?'  But mingled with the crying, 'Hip, hip hooray!' was heard.  A sign of hope, and maybe not rejection as he feared.  The sobbing wasn't coming from the marigold or oak, but coming from the nasty weeds, the ones that sting and choke.  By now the weeds were withering, the thistles gasped for breath.  For the presence of the onion could only mean their death.  The flowers now with shouts of glee to the onion did lean and bend, for what was seen as an enemy had now become their friend.  So if in your midst there's an onion, who sometimes makes you cry, put him amongst your thistles and weeds.    Who knows ?........ maybe they'll die.