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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

An exercise in TRUST !

So, tonight my oldest daughter flies out to India for a 2 week trip with 'World Challenge' and her school. I am immensely proud of her, she has raised all the money for her trip herself (and I know a lot of the others going had parental contributions!) and even raised enough to pay for her jabs and her kit. She is so excited and I am excited for her.

And right now I feel quite peaceful. Not sure how long that will last... The only contact I will have with her for those 2 weeks is 2 text messages from the team leader, one to say they have landed ok, and the other to say they have finished the trek safely. I don't think I have ever gone 2 weeks without seeing her, let alone speaking to her. When on honeymoon we were away for a week without her but we spoke to her every day. So 2 weeks with not so much as a phone call... phew. hard.

And of course there are all the dangers, the diseases, the potential for harm. You know when you have jabs for foreign diseases it really doesn't do, to look up all those diseases! So I have to put my trust in the 3 leaders going with them to keep them safe. To put my trust in my 16 year old to be sensible. And above all, to put my trust in God to watch over her. Before she went God gave me a psalm for her which I scribbled out parts of and hid in her rucksack! and I do feel a sense of peace right now. I have wondered if I am a bit odd in that right now I am not that worried about it, my daughter going off to foreign climes, should I be more worried, should I be concerned, should I be spending the next 2 weeks on my knees praying for her safe return?

But I guess it just shows that I am trusting God with her safety. And that feels like a huge blessing. It's one thing to say we put our trust in God but another to do it when it matters. And right now feels like one of those times. There is absolutely nothing I can do for the next 2 weeks, she will be half way round the world and no way I can contact her, so I just have to trust.

My Dad reminded me yesterday that at 19 I went off to Australia for a year and that India wasn't that far, nor was it as long a trip. At the time I didn't even consider how they felt, I just wanted to get as far away as I could! and I am now feeling rather guilty that I phoned them so infrequently to let them know how I was. In fact it was on that trip that my daughter was conceived, and now here she is, off on her own travels. Time is so fleeting.

Really I know that this is just the start of something. Before long she will be off to college, uni, she will have her own life away from us. And then there will be time for so much more trust!

So for now, my prayer is that the sense of peace I have now, will continue until her return. And that she will have the most amazing, life changing trip.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Prophecy, Bells, The Olympics and GREAT Britain

These are my notes from my talk last night at Burn. They are based on a talk so might not read too well, and also quite lenghthy! but thought it would be good material for the blog and anyone who was at Burn and wants to go over some of the stuff I said might find it useful, includes links to the various speeches and people I mentioned.

So I want to share some thoughts tonight, might be a bit rambly but I want to  bring some threads together. There have been a lot of prophetic words spoken about our nation recently and I want to talk a bit about those but also to share some thoughts I have had and some things I have felt God saying to me.
Basically I believe that the tide is turning for the church and for our nation. I believe God has given various prophetic signs and particularly now as the worlds eyes are upon this country it is a significant time. I believe that a time is coming where we will see more of Gods kingdom right here on earth, but we have to step into it... We, as followers of Jesus have a part to play.

 Olympics opening ceremony: Danny Boyles notes (link here) : read the first and last paras. interesting  and I also want to look at Isaiah 49: 8-9

The restoration of Israel:
8 This is what the Lord says:

“In the time of my favor I will answer you,
and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
9 to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’

and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’

“They will feed beside the roads
and find pasture on every barren hill.

 Quick overview: So Danny Boyles idea of building Jerusalem, yes – but is it that we build it through industry, technology, popular culture – no! Alongside it and using it, yes, but God will build this new Jerusalem and we have to be listening to know our part within that. This is not a new message but I believe that the timing right now is crucial... I will come back to those passages later...

Prophetic Words:
There have been a lot of words spoken about the UK recently and in the run up to the Olympics and the Jubilee year etc. I have been really interested in some of this and also felt God has been showing me some things too. When I watched the opening ceremony it was like things started to come together, so i’ve been thinking about some of those threads and the prophecies and I’d like to share some of that with you. I’ve not really done this before, sharing something I believe is prophetic in this way (words etc yes) so I’m going out on a bit a limb and I would love us to pray through some of this stuff, so do feedback to me. Be really interested to know peoples thoughts.

I believe that the UK is on the verge of something spiritually quite big, and I don’t say that lightly. It’s like the tide is turning, our society has become so dark, so un-Godly and now is the time for it to turn. A few people, me include have been given pictures of a Tsunami during prayer. And the interesting thing is that before a tsunami happens the tide pulls right back, far further than usual, exposing what is underneath. A time a dryness or exposure before the mass of water comes flooding over.

Funny, i’ve been saying for years, even before we had our personal big renewal of faith that I felt that the tide would turn in terms of our social behaviour, society and what is acceptable etc, but I couldn’t really see how that would happen. Well now I do! I believe it is because the church will rise up, there will be a re-awakening of the spirituality of the nation, the desire to see Good, and therefore God, at the heart of our nation,...

Our society now is shaped by the after effects of WW2 (and 1 to a certain extent). Many of our parents and certainly grandparents grew up knowing the awfulness of war, the effects it had on families, on a nation, on communities. The awfulness of grief and loss, not just for the dead but for a way of life, or the normality of living ones lives and daily routine. Some of them will have been evacuated, sent away from their families at such a young age, not to see them for months on end. I recently read some notes on my grandmothers life, who was a teacher and was sent all over to teach and look after evacuees. The hardships that she and her charges put up with were just awful and in case tragic.

It is with these memories, or loss, shortages, changes and uncertainty that our grandparents or parents brought up their children, they and we have been shaped by those experiences and memories. That in turn has shaped society.

We have the throw away culture now – during the war everything was reused, several times over! Food was pickled to last, everyone grew their own veg, people helped out, they got stuck in – because they didn’t have a choice. And then the invention of plastic, something that could be thrown as it was cheap and easy to produce was a revelation.

Then we have the women who this country could not have survived without, who as the men were away did the jobs they had done, helped on farms, with manual work, drove buses, you name it they did it. After the war they wanted some of that freedom to remain (understandably) and with more options – labour saving devices, etc they could.

Then there is the rebellion against authority and austerity. People lived with so many rules and regulations for years and so the result in the aftermath was the 1960s and revolution! Authority was frowned upon, people who had stuck with rules and regulations of the war for years rebelled, the 60s, the sexual revolution, drugs, all history tells us as this was an aftershock from the war. Kids who had grown up surrounded by it, wanted to do things their own way – like a whole nation of teenagers rebelling!!

All this has shaped where we are now and not necessarily for the good. We have better transport, technology that allows us info at the click of a button, and our kids don’t have the responsibilities that our own parents and grandparents did, but at the same time do we have too much freedom?

My Dad (in his 70s) grew up during WW2,and he talks of being taught that they had a responsibility to the nation, it was drummed into him, that they ahd to give something back. Quite a valuable lesson, but possibly quite hard to hear. And yet we almost have the opposite now don’t we, such a self-focussed society.

So I think it’s a bit like a battle not yet won... The war was over in 1945 but the battles continue...just  in a different and spiritual way. Some people do talk about war in terms of spiritual attack and I’m not going to go into all of that, just that I feel there are after effects of a truly awful time in our nations history that still affect us today more than we often realise.

We have better systems etc but at the same time, we see the nation rioting (Last year), continual reports of stabbings and shootings, often with kids – teenagers, the greed of some in the financial world, we are taught we can have what we want now and pay later, and as I said, this sense of self-focus. On top of all that the nation in the biggest recession we have ever seen.

And church numbers continually declining.

Our nation it seems is in dark days, a Godless era.

And yet there is hope. Much of it. And many words being spoken of a new era, a change coming. And I believe as Christians we have a big part to play in that. We have to rise up and take our place in that transformation. We have to be ready and listening to hear what He wants us to do....

God is saying: be ready, be listening.

Prophetic words have spoken by several high profile people including Beni Johnson (Bills wife) from Bethel Church:

Who, in May this year spoke a prophecy at the beginning of one of her talks at Bethel. She referred to words she had been getting over the previous 2 years, of bells being rung out across the UK as a prophetic sign, that seeds of revival that have been sown, will be resurrected. That this will be a significant and strategic time for the UK in bringing about revival. She had been given pictures of bells ringing and then she heard about the bells being run for the jubilee and the barge, and for the Olympics.

She isn’t the only one, here in the UK, Jonathan Bellamyof Cross Rhythms, also talks of a word given to him relating to bells being rung, all before anything was announced this year about the bells being part of our celebrations. His talks of a turning point – time to claim back our Christian identity as a nation, claiming back that which has been robbed from us. I was really interested to see that he referred to the recession being the greatest battle this country has faced since WW2, he also talks a lot about the war and the significance of the bells being run and the timing. 27th July, (when the bells were rung for the Olympics io Friday) was exactly 70 years since the bells were rung across the country as ordered by Winston Churchill, after the battle of El Alamein in Egypt. He requested this as he relieved it was a turning point in the war.

He also talks of the significance of bells, that in this country bells were brought in my Celtic missionaries who carried the gospel in one hand and a bell in the other. That the bells were rung so people would know that the ‘man of God was coming’ and to expect the word of God and healings.
His prophecy mentions these bells specifically:
Bell 1) It has been announced that on June 3rd, as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations a massive flotilla of 1000 boats will go down the Thames. At it's head will be a remarkable floating bell tower featuring 8 specially cast bells. As they are rung by the Ancient Society of College Youths, their peals will be answered by chimes from riverbank churches along the route! The very first boat after these bells will be the 88ft Gloriana.
Bell 2) Then on 27th July at 8am, as described above, on the first day of the Olympics, there will be the ringing of bells right across the land.
Bell 3) It has also been announced that for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games a 27 ton bell, twice the size of Big Ben, and the largest in Europe will form the centrepiece and will ring in the start of London 2012. It will carry a quote from Shakespear's The Tempest: 'Do not be afeard; the isle is full of noises'. Another theme will be the 'cleansing and recovery of poisoned land'.

It’s interesting to note also that the 3 largest churches in London were ringing peals (3 hours of continuous ringing) in the first morning of the Olympics and that Big Ben was rung for the first time out of its usual cycle since the death of King George.

Have you noticed the tide turning? Bellamy also refers to David Cameron speaking at Oxford on KJV of the bible at the end of last year – referring to Britain as a Christian nation. I went back to look at his speech – and its interesting that even he refers to a turning point.

I am a committed – but I have to say vaguely practising – Church of England Christian, who will stand up for the values and principles of my faith…

Second, just as our language and culture is steeped in the Bible, so too is our politics.

From human rights and equality to our constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy…

…from the role of the church in the first forms of welfare provision, to the many modern day faith-led social action projects…

…the Bible has been a spur to action for people of faith throughout history, and it remains so today.

Third, we are a Christian country.

And we should not be afraid to say so.

One of my favourites is the line “For now we see through a glass, darkly.”

It is a brilliant summation of the profound sense that there is more to life, that we are imperfect, that we get things wrong, that we should strive to see beyond our own perspective.

The key word is darkly – profoundly loaded, with many shades of meaning.

The history and existence of a constitutional monarchy owes much to a Bible in which Kings were anointed and sanctified with the authority of God…

I have never really understood the argument some people make about the church not getting involved in politics.

To me, Christianity, faith, religion, the Church and the Bible are all inherently involved in politics because so many political questions are moral questions.

So I don’t think we should be shy or frightened of this.

I believe the Church of England has a unique opportunity to help shape the future of our communities.

But to do so it must keep on the agenda that speaks to the whole country.

The future of our country is at a pivotal moment.

The values we draw from the Bible go to the heart of what it means to belong in this country…

…and you, as the Church of England, can help ensure that it stays that way.

He too refers to an absence of a real accountability or moral code, in relation to the riots and the bankers!

Of course the Queen also mentioned her faith in her Christmas speech in December, so within a month of each other our 2 highest leaders in this country had spoken of faith and Christianity, something perhaps unthinkabl in recent years.

Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: 'Fear not', they urged, 'we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

'For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.'

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed.

God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.

Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love.

In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there's a prayer:

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,

Descend to us we pray.

Cast out our sin

And enter in.

Be born in us today.

It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.

Opening ceremony of the Olympics:

This also had quite a bit of reference to our Christian heritage with at least 3 hymns and the ‘abide with me’ scene being very powerful and poignant – with a dance related to dark and light and what seemed to be resurrection – heading towards the light. Amazingly powerful.

Was the singing of ‘Jerusalem’significant...


And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountain green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

The hymn came from a Blake poem, which has various ideas surrounding it but the most common being the idea that Jesus might visit this nation and create heaven here, contrasting the dark satanic mills of the industrial revolution.

 It. Interestingly Christopher Rowland Oxford Professor of Theology says this:

The words of the poem "stress the importance of people taking responsibility for change and building a better society 'in England's green and pleasant land

So, Saturday morning in after math of opening ceremony and thinking on all of that this was one of my readings for the day: Isaiah 49:8-9. and infact the whole chapter paints a picture of what restoration will look like and then that God has not forsaken us..

This is the message version of a larger portion:
God  also says:

"When the time's ripe, I answer you.
When victory's due, I help you.
I form you and use you
to reconnect the people with me,
To put the land in order,
to resettle families on the ruined properties.
I tell prisoners, 'Come on out. You're free!'
and those huddled in fear, 'It's all right. It's safe now.'
There'll be foodstands along all the roads,
picnics on all the hills—
Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty,
shade from the sun, shelter from the wind,
For the Compassionate One guides them,
takes them to the best springs.
I'll make all my mountains into roads,
turn them into a superhighway.
Look: These coming from far countries,
and those, out of the north,
These streaming in from the west,
and those from all the way down the Nile!"

Heavens, raise the roof! Earth, wake the dead!
Mountains, send up cheers!
God has comforted his people.
He has tenderly nursed his beaten-up, beaten-down people.

So that got me thinking about England as a new Jerusalem and all these threads came together – is this referring to our nation right now? Do all the signs and words point to a time in our nations history, now, when the tide of apathy, the dark age of our nation, will begin to cease? I believe so.

I believe it is time for us to step up and claim back our nation. As Joan of Arc said:  ‘act and God will act...’

Various links for information that I have included:

Kathie Walters, another prophecy relating to the UK (didnt mention this but its interesting)

The Queens Speech full text

David Camerons Speech on the KJV 400th anniversary at Oxofrd, full text

Thursday, 26 July 2012

New Media and the church

I think it's fair to say that most bloggers like the idea of new media (don't all shout at once...). In the Christian Sphere the use of new media is being recognised more and more which, I for one think is rather exciting :)
If you are a blogger/tweeter/Facebooker for your faith, check out the Christian New Media Awards & Conference, coming up in October (which isn't actually that long away...). I have to say I haven't been before, last year I was planning on going but couldn't and I will not miss out again!! So let me know if you are going this year...
If you are up for it, you can enter your blog or website for an award, or there is the conference  which includes the fab Vicky Beeching (hosting), some great speakers and some interesting break out sessions.

Personally I think that the church as a whole cannot fail to interact wholeheartedly with the new media phenomenon and I'd love to encourage more people to look at it seriously. I have just been offered a part time job at my church and part of it will include communication, which I am super excited about. If we want to ineract with people outside the church and not seem like total dweebs from the last century, then new media/social media, call it what you will, it's the way forward....

This vid below is one of last years winners and I love it! So simple but a great message...

edit 5/08/12: sorry have removed the vid as I couldnt stop it automatically playing (infuriating!), but you can see it here...

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Losing my marbles...

'Marbles' photo (c) 2010, John Morgan - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

...or not as the case may be...
So I saw my spiritual director this week and had a rather emmotional and revealing chat about various things.
Anyway at the end we had the usual quiet and prayer time. During this I was sat with my hands open on my lap and I had a sense of God putting a bag in my hands. It was an old white drawstring bag, a bit grubby, looked like it was made of linen or muslin, and was tied with a simple bit of string. When I opened it, it contained lots of marbles. Not just normal marbles. These were big and all different colours. They were beautiful with all different designs. As I looked one was put in my hand. It was clear but inside had the most amazing flower, all red and orange. It was stunning. Then the bag was taken away leaving me this one in my hand.

I asked God was this was for and I felt him saying that every marble represents something that has happened in my life, but more than that, each one was a gift, a gift of understanding and wisdom from God, each marble being what I have learned through my life experiences. The one in my hand represented my friend Nix and what I had and am learning through her. I felt God saying that I needed to contemplate it further and I will do.
What I loved about all of this is the idea of the gifts from God, that what we learn through our experiences whether hard, emotional, or less diffciult to bear, are gifts from him. The bible says that God uses all things for good and sometimes its really hard to see good when there is suffering, but I guess then we just need to look a little harder.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Romans 8:26-28 The Message Version


Friday, 20 July 2012

Don't you realise where you are...?!

Today I was reminded of this passage from the Message version:

Woe to you who turn justice to vinegar
and stomp righteousness into the mud.
Do you realize where you are? You're in a cosmos
star-flung with constellations by God,
A world God wakes up each morning
and puts to bed each night.
God dips water from the ocean
and gives the land a drink.
God, God-revealed, does all this.

Amos 5:7-9

Love this! Just a gentle reminder - do we realise where we are? Half the time it's so easy to just be bogged down in the day to day, but I love getting a fresh reminder of the wonder of God's creation. Love the line about God giving the land a drink.. the land must be particularly thirsty right now ;)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Women Blogger Stats in 'Religion & Belief'

Some time ago, the lovely Lesley, at Lesley's Blog used to publish the stats for women blogging in the religion and belief category via the Wikio rankings. Sadly she is no longer doing this and so I thought it was about time someone did! It's always been an encouragement to me, to know there are other women out there blogging in the same area and I hope others will find it so too.

So here are my first results, which are pretty brief but hopefully by next month I will be up on how to do funky graphics and flow charts...;)

This list is formed from info given to me by Lesley and from the now 'e-buzzing' site (was Wikio). I apologise for anyone I have missed out, so do please let me know if you are a woman blogging in this category and would like to be included in future lists. There are also a few missing from the last list Lesley did in Nov 2011, as they now don't appear on the e-buzzing lists. Again, if you think I have missed you off, do shout!

I've also not iuncluded previous rankings as there has been such a gap since they were done.

So The Top 20 women bloggers in the religion and belief category are:
(actually it's 19 as the other's are not ranked!)

Blog Title July 2012 rating Position
iBenedictines 6 1
Vicky Beeching 14 2
Lay Anglicana 28 3
Dreaming beneath the spires 34 4
Maggi dawn 37 5
LLM Calling 43 6
A Reader in Writing 51 7
Learning from Sophie 52 8
Looking Deeper 53 9
The Vicar's Wife 56 10
Living Stones 58 11
Living To Please God 65 12
Apples of Gold 75 13
Tracing Rainbows 81 14
Seeker 83 15
Significant Truths 84 16
Revising Reform 88 17
RevRuth 96 18
Help I Work with Children 108 19
Currently unrated:
Read through the Bible with Anita
Anchor and Chaplain
Lesley's Blog

Have I found what I am looking for...?

So coming back from holiday on Saturday required a rather long drive, which was not helped by the A303 being shut for hours... but it did enable tme o listen to U2's greatest hits several times! I used to be a massive U2 fan but haven't really listened to their stuff for a while...  Anyway while I was listening to 'I still haven't found what I am looking for' I really felt God speaking to me through the song. I know U2 are heavily influenced by Christian themes and I have heard this song literally hundreds of times but I never really heard it this way before. Now I am sure it is obvious to others and perhaps I have been naiive all these years but this time it seemed to me such a spiritual heart cry. Like he is saying, I've been all these places, done all these things and yet still, I haven't found 'it', or 'who'...

And as I listened, I thought, what is it I am looking for? I am so hungry for more of God, to see his Kingdom coming and I thought, is it here anyway I am just not seeing it? or is it that I never will, until eternity - 'when all the colours will bleed into one....'

And I feel that 'burning desire' - that desire to just be with God, to see him touching peoples lives. Am I going to find that? Have I already?

Sometimes I don't really know what it is I am looking for. I mean in one sense I have found 'it', I have found Jesus and that's all I need... But yet, there is more, there has to be. All this, this broken world, is not what God had planned for us all I am sure, it's not as he originally intended. All that pain, that heartbreak, that suffering... People claming things in Gods name, a wrathful, hurtful, angry God. Someone even claimed last week all these floods were a result of Gods wrath on us. Well, NO! He is a God of love, and I want to see more of that, to see people reacting to each other in love, and not in a lack of understanding, or judgement or hate, or intolerance....

So I guess, then no, I haven't found what I am looking for, because that would be Gods eternal Kingdom and I don't know when I will see that. But I live in the constant search for more of that and I will continue in that, strive for that, because I can't live a life without that, a life dedicated to God, seeking more of Him and desperate to see his love conquer all....

I have climbed highest mountain
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you

I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her fingertips
It burned like fire
This burning desire

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
Well yes I'm still running

You broke the bonds and you
Loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Of my shame
You know I believed it

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for...

just found the vid above - perfect for this post, gives me goosebumps!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Bible in a minute

when my son asked if he could show me something on youtube I was thinking it was probably going tio be a football highlight... yawn... but it was this, which is rather good I think