Saturday, 20 February 2010

Take a pier walk

I went on a retreat (advance?) recently to Southport.

I was walking along the shore line at 9 a.m. and the sea seemed miles away. Just a line along the horizon. On the beach there was evidence that the tide had once been there with pools and channels and small streams. Things had been left behind by the sea.

Some people can look at the 'tide' of God and live as though He's never returning, like He's a distant line on the horizon. They satisfy themselves with the pools that were left behind by the last outpouring but don't expect more than that.

Others think He will come in and flood us again but not in our life-time. It's so far out and so far away that we don't live as though it's ever going to affect us. And so they build castles on the sand thinking they are safe and their 'buildings' will last forever.

Some however take a walk along the pier.

In this year of seeking God and praying to see Him I want us to take a walk along the pier.
At the end of the pier you can see the sea. You can see what it's doing. You realise that things are moving, that the sea that seemed so far away is actually coming in faster than you first thought. You can see the movement and the direction and the force and the awesomeness of what the sea is doing and about to do.

As we walk along the pier this year and reach out for revelation and a vision of what God is doing then we can return with a better understanding of the urgency of our ministry.

The tide is coming in and the direction it's taking is towards us and those we love.

We have a choice to stay at the end of the pier and just watch, or wait on the shore where the rest of the church is waiting and preparing itself for Jesus, or we can turn towards those who don't yet even know there is a sea or a tide or a return.

When the tide comes in it won't stop at the shore-line or be hindered by the barriers or walls or buildings. The Lancashire flood plain will be exactly that and those who thought there was no sea will be drowned by it unless we prepare them.

It tells us in Matthew 9 v36 that Jesus 'saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harrassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.'

Are we ready for the flood? Are those we love and live near ready? Are we on the shore waiting for our redemption or are we spending our time drawing others to the tide of love that God wants many more to experience?

In Organic Church by Neil Coles he says:-
'It is when we are in deep intercession for freedom of souls that we are closest to the heart of God ... Pray first, pray last, and in between pray hard.'

I don't believe we are anywhere near the level of prayer that God is calling us to as a church but I do see hope rising and a stirring of the Spirit in people that creates faith in me.

Lord we 'beseech' (Luke 10 v2) you to raise up and send out the workers, that You may anoint us again to witness to Your name and Your return.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

stop the bus

I was travelling in to Ormskirk by bus this morning. There was a thick mist on either side of the road.
Now and again I caught glimpses of trees and farm machinery but they soon disappeared again behind the mist.

Many say they don't believe in God because they can't see Him.
Some say they can't see God from where they are and so don't believe in Him.

Did the trees not exist because I couldn't see them? Had the fields and landscape left me becuase my vision of them was hidden by the fog I was travelling through?

I could have walked through the mist and eventually seen what was there but I was on a bus heading in a direction I had paid for along a road where there were no stops.

The truth is that God is with us. We may be travelling through a mist at times and yet God is with us. The bus we are on may be travelling in a direction we've paid for but God is there and it's time to press the bell, shout at the driver 'stop!' , and jump off - to get to God.

Why do we worship? Why do we pray together? Why do we bother meeting? Because we are all travelling together and from time to time someone shows us the way that lifts us again.

We need each other's wisdom and encouragement because these are gifts from God that He has invested in others for the sake of us all.

Thank you to the people of OCF who move in those gifts and who care enough to be there and who are brave enough to ring the bell, shout 'stop' and lead the way back, sometimes through the mist, to see God.