Friendship is a Verb (in a hurting world) by Stuart Wood - HTML preview

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Twenty-20

I’d never have done it that way

If I knew what I know now.

Or asked such stupid questions,

If you had shown me how.

We’d have arrived much sooner,

If I had known the way.

And we’d still be together

If I’d thrown my pride away.

Our lives would be so different,

If only I had seen,

The way that God was leading

Is not where we have been.

“What?” and “If” and “Maybe”

Are easy when it’s done.

But they’re decisions to be taken

When you’re on the run.

With hindsight it’s so easy,

You know where you went wrong;

You see the steps you’ve taken

As you have gone along.

But life is one long journey.

We need to count the cost.

Experience is learned from good and bad,

Without it you’d be lost.

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Injustice & Abuse

‘The time is always right to do what is right’ (Martin Luther King Jr)

It is often when our unconditional love and friendship are most needed that we choose to make them most conditional. When we do, a healthy relationship can rapidly become abusive.

Then God Stepped In

My friends are my support

Whilst life is good they give me all I need.

We enjoy time together;

Share our deepest thoughts, our souls transparent,

Our lives laid bare to each other.

Silence is security; company and trust are hand in hand.

Smiles and tears weld our hearts.

Until I walk in the shadow of failure,

And confess my weakness and frailty.

Then, as I lie in the dust

You kick me harder.

My bared soul becomes a burning wound.

You remind me daily of my fall.

Will my mistakes haunt me all of my life?

I crave to feel God’s touch and His love!

Yet you rape me of that privilege.

In your quest for justice

You are blind to the needs

Of the person within this egg shell.

God must weep

As another cross is raised in His name.

Empty of love, but full of shame;

I hang there, naked and exposed for all to see.

Will I ever be able to trust again

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When it is my friends who hammer in the nails and thrust the spear, Crown me with thorns and spit in my face?

Yes, friends were my support.

Whilst life was good

They gave me all I needed, until;

Until they left,

And then God stepped in.

This happened to a Christian friend mine at a time when they most needed help and support. Although the abuser walked away, the abused could not.

Partial Impartiality

I am your confidant,

Your rock in times of need.

Make yourself vulnerable;

Freely open your heart to me, because

You are safe.

I am your confidant;

Listening to your deepest sorrows.

Hearing that voice from deep within you

Whispering your fears and uncertainties. But with me

You are safe.

I am your confidant;

Lay your soul bare on my altar;

Feel secure in my arms;

Rest easy in my presence, because

You are safe.

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I am your confidant;

Your darkest secrets are safe with me;

Those thoughts you want hidden from others

Are secure in my trust.

You are safe.

I am your confidant.

Ever willing to give my time freely;

Holding your frail heart in my hands;

Making it easy for you to unburden, because you know

You are safe.

I am your confidant;

My love and friendship are unconditional;

My help and advice are impartial;

I’m here in the good times and in the bad, so

You are safe.

Sadly I cannot carry on.

You haven’t lived-up to my expectations.

I guess my unconditional love and impartiality

Really did have conditions, so I must leave you;

Naked and exposed…

Good-bye!

There are always those people who get involved with helping others for the ‘kick of it’ and for recognition from their peers, rather than out of a real concern for their victim. The end-result is manipulation and abuse.

Mary Mary

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Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How do your guilt-trips grow?

You show me love, say it’s from above;

But really it’s part of the show.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How long will you be my friend?

Will you say ‘Good-bye’ and make me cry?

I’m sure you will win in the end.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How can you be so cruel?

Your words are hushed, they leave me crushed,

And cowering here, feeling like a fool.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How can you be so blind?

I’m here so ill, yet even still

You give me a piece of your mind.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How can you believe such lies?

Your advice is free, but you never ask me!

Then you ignore my pleas and my cries.

Scary Mary, quite contrary,

How do you feel today?

Have you done your good deeds and sown the seeds

Of doubt, and made your victim pay?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How do you sleep at night?

Is your conscience clear? Do you feel God near?

Or does He weep at the battles that you fight?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

Why can’t you please be real?

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No more shallow pretence, climb down off the fence,

And start to admit how you feel.

There are times when our ability to move forward is hindered or prevented by people who insist on reminding us about sins for which we have already repented and for which God has already forgiven us.

Sin In A Box

Hiding quietly in the corner,

Well away from public view,

Sits a box; it’s nothing special,

Really quite dull and bland in hue.

There is no key, there is no lock;

Joints and edges are hard to see.

The lid’s shut tight and never opens

Unless you press the button in me.

Locked inside are life’s cold secrets;

Though I can’t remember what!

All, I thought, have been forgiven,

Though others clearly think they’ve not!

It seems church friends and church leaders,

‘Forget me not’ where sin’s concerned.

Time is frozen at when I’m guilty;

Whatever I do I get my fingers burned.

They even seem to make decisions

On where I stand before Father God.

Decisions based on pure assumption,

A good excuse to use the rod.

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This sin in a box is only opened

When my accusers their lies expound.

From pew to pulpit, they’re all guilty

Of grinding me further into the ground.

Where is love and where’s forgiveness?

I see a vacuum hanging there.

Once more your words betray your actions.

You press the button and leave me bare.

Have you ever felt like this after you’ve been ‘helped’ by so-called friends?

Football

Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!

Up and down I go.

One minute feeling happy,

The next I feel so low.

When life is smiling sweetly

And the sun dries up the rain;

The attackers’ boots come kicking;

Down I go again.

Their timing is perfection;

I’m caught right off my guard.

My heart begins to crumble;

I hit the floor so hard.

I’m lying at the bottom,

Things surely can’t get worse!

Then Boot! Boot! Boot! From nowhere.

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This must be some dark curse.

I feel like some old football,

Kicked from pillar to post.

If friends are doing the kicking,

That’s when it hurts the most.

Some day the game will finish

And I’ll be left alone.

No longer bouncing wildly,

My fighting will be done.

How sad you’re now my attacker,

When once you were my friend.

Oh God! Please blow the whistle

And bring this to an end.

Tin Can

You drank from me until I was empty.

Then, as refuse, you cast me aside.

I lie here, exposed; waiting for the next passer by

To kick me out of the way,

Or crush me and toss me into the bin.

Oh! No! They’ve seen me! A glinting eye;

A smiling face. Good news or bad news?

Holding me gently, exploring what was once

A reason to want me, my label.

They look inside. I see disappointment etched on their face.

Bounce! Ouch! I’m rejected; thrown away; again!

More knocks; more dents; more scratches.

What was once beautiful, desired by many;

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Valuable and sought after.

Now no more than an object of derision.

Keep low! Here comes another, lifting me from the dirt.

Held gently in his hands, I see a deep, a deep, oh! I don’t know!

Concern for my battered state? Compassion? I’m confused!

I’m being lovingly carried, lovingly cared for.

My dents; my scratches; my whole self; slowly being restored.

Dents do not just disappear; scratches do not smooth away by magic.

Pain and helplessness are part of my restoration.

But gradually, I feel new and I feel valued again.

My former beauty eclipsed by something much greater.

A knowledge that I am special and wanted; even needed!

I felt like an old tin can.

But I’m flesh and blood. And this flesh and blood

Has found, at last, purpose and a reason for being.

When a person is repeatedly on the receiving end of injustice or abuse, they find it very hard to trust anyone.

Suddenly

You had no time for me.

I was young; you were free

To do whatever you wanted,

Whilst I sat and listened.

You had no time for me.

As we grew older, separated by miles.

Cultures apart. But you never visited,

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Whilst I sat and waited.

You had no time for me.

Different lives in different spheres.

Grown up, mature, responsible.

Whilst I was still a child inside.

You suddenly have time for me,

On your terms! Compensating for guilt

You’ve stored over the years,

When I was low on your list of priorities.

You suddenly have time for me.

I’m suspicious! Nurtured by neglect.

Matured by the experience

Of being abandoned.

The more sinister side of abuse is that it can be happening right under our noses but we either cannot, or choose not to see it.

No Voice No Choice

Over the years we shared so much;

A special word, a tender touch.

How sad your attitude has always been

Arrogant, confident, with actions unseen

By friends around us, who never heard

The aggressive threat or selfish word.

Not a partnership; you played boss!

What was your gain was often my loss.

My money was never really my own,

As your response has now shown.

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And still you press for more and more;

You’ve thrown me out and locked the door.

Poor health was just another chance

To play your tune, for me to dance.

You chose my weak times to be strong;

I had no chance to challenge your wrong.

You gave me lists of what you’d claim,

When I couldn’t even remember my name.

You push things on at such high speed,

Afraid to stop and admit your need.

How sad, your friends support your case,

But cannot look me in the face.

I’m homeless now, running to hide.

A broken ruin, bleeding inside.

You’ve controlled my life for many years,

Neglected love, cultivated my fears.

You’re so blind, you could not see

The way you were destroying me.

And now we’re left disputing trivia,

Like who owns the toothpaste and who owns the Nivea.

So convince them all you’re in control.

But running away will take its toll.

You cannot hide for all your life

From how you decimated me, your wife.

You left me dumb, without a voice,

As you gave me no chance, gave me no choice.

We need to examine our motives to make sure that we are not guilty of the thoughts, words or actions that we condemn in others.

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Bread And Scorpions

“Please give me bread,” pleads the beggar.

“Why, what have you done to deserve it?”

“What right have you to ask me for bread?”

“Someone else will give you what you need.”

“Please give me bread,” pleads the beggar.

“I’m too busy at the moment, ask me later.”

“I can’t afford to give you any.”

“Shhh! Wait a minute; I’m doing something important!”

“Please give me bread,” pleads the beggar.

“Don’t sit outside our church.”

“Don’t clutter-up our doorway.”

“Go away! You’ll put people off!”

“Please give me bread,” pleads the beggar.

“Who invited you into our service?”

“Sorry, you’ll have to move; that’s my seat!”

“How long is it since you last washed?”

“Please give me bread,” pleads the beggar.

“How long have you been here?” asks Jesus.

“Here, have mine!” says Jesus;

“Only bread?” asks Jesus. “Let’s go for a meal.”

“Please give me bread,” asks Jesus.

“Of course Lord. This is freshly made.”

“It’s Jesus! Come in! Make yourself at home.”

“What a privilege! We’re blessed to have you with us.”

“Please give me bread,” pleads the beggar.

“Is this man with you Jesus?”

“He is? Bring him in. Your friend is our friend!”

“Is there anything else we can do for you both?”

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Jesus wept.

Whose church is it anyway?

My Church

This is my church! Please stay away!

I need my space. Here. Today.

I got here first and staked my claim.

To protect us all, not to blame.

I may be new! But I was quick!

I knew exactly who to pick.

I shared my story, warts and all,

How it wasn’t me that had the fall.

I ruled you out before you came.

Declared your history and your name.

I was safe, the wall built strong.

The innocent party and you were wrong.

I care for you, but that’s easy when

I have support, and even then

Not quite enough for me to move,

To show my love, this ‘care’ to prove.

I’m happy to see you on my terms.

But I don’t want to open a can of worms!

So it’s any time, any place.

Just not in this church. I need my space.

This is my church! Please stay away!

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I need my space, here, today.

Don’t ask me how God’s house can fall

To ticket holders only; not free for all

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CHAPTER 2 God

Introduction

I always think that if you ask three different Christians for their ideas about God, you’ll get four different answers. The subject is so big, and our backgrounds and experiences are so diverse, that we all have a different idea or expression of who we think God is, and what he is able to do. For some of us, God’s powers and abilities are limitless; for others, God is scarcely bigger than our imagination.

Why is this? I believe it can be summed up in the words ‘teaching’,

‘expectation’, ‘experience’ and ‘relevance’. For example, if we have never been taught about God’s power, never read books, heard present-day accounts or seen videos about His miraculous powers, then our perception and expectation of God will be very different from someone who has. If we are perfectly content in life, with no apparent ‘needs’, we are far less likely to acknowledge our need of God.

One fact which never ceases to amaze me is that the Almighty, Creator God who made me actually wants a day-to-day relationship with me, and was prepared to send His own son, Jesus, to die so that this could be possible.

I believe in a God who is so powerful that He only has to speak a word and universes are created, and yet, allows us to have free will to ignore Him and do our own thing. I also believe that He is a God who is so intimately involved with His Creation that if He was to withdraw His hand, everything would fall into chaos, yet He must watch as we, His created beings, mar and destroy His world.

I believe He is a God of total love, but also a God of total judgment. But I also know that He is a God who knows me better than I know myself and accepts me for who I am, not what I do, in spite of all my failings. He made me a human being not a human doing! Let’s investigate God a bit further.

How Big Is God?

When I look out into the vastness of space, realizing that there are galaxies upon galaxies out there, and that the distance to even the nearest star is vast each, I’m

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overwhelmed. I’m told that the edge of space is continually extending at the speed of light (about 186000 miles per second) yet all of this is held within God’s hands! The Bible uses three rather technical words to describe God: omnipresent (He is present everywhere), omniscient (He is knows everything there is to know), omnipotent (He is all powerful). In my mind, this all makes God pretty big!

How Big Is Our God?

This is a different question. As we have already discussed, our perception of God depends on many factors including our background, what we have been taught and how relevant it all is to our situation. How often do we hear the latest theories for the non-existence of God, or receive teaching asking whether an Almighty God could possibly be interested in us? If these are not preached directly, they are often ‘implied’ from the way in which God and His power are diminished. We in the church also introduce standards, or ways of behaving (‘expected conduct’) that people must live up to, in order to make them acceptable. But to whom are we making them acceptable? In reality, it is to us, not God. In so doing, we completely undermine God’s redeeming work which says that we can’t actually do anything to make ourselves acceptable to God, because He has done it all for us through the death of Jesus on the cross. Yes!

The same God who made everything, cared about and loved His Creation so much that he contracted himself to live on earth as a human for little over thirty years. Somehow we lose the significance of this historically proven event. Part of the problem is that as humans, we relate much more easily to the finite (‘Jesus the man’) than we do to the infinite (‘Jesus the Eternal’). It seems that many of our great theological thinkers have experienced this same problem, so they have tried to reduce God to nothing bigger than their understanding or imagination. As a result, many of our churches have become almost embarrassed about expressing the hope that we have in Jesus. They have lost sight of who God really is; they have replaced the sun by a candle. How sad! When people come into our churches looking for direction and hope in their life, they are presented with an impotent God who is barely more powerful than they are. Some clergy and pastors go even further, presenting God as a ‘good idea’, important as something moral to hang on to in these days of uncertainty. Then there are those who would divide the church into ‘true Christians’ and the ‘not true Christians’,

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distinguished not by how they live out their faith, but by which particular denomination they belong to!

I laugh when I hear some of our so-called ‘important’ church leaders and

‘celebrities’ telling us that they will have plenty to say to God about poverty, hunger, injustice, etc., when they see Him. They have made God so ‘human’ that they have no sense of His awesome power and authority. I think they are in for a surprise! The Bible gives us few accounts of people who actually encountered God person-to-person, but we know that those who did and were exposed to only part of His glory were completely overwhelmed and changed. The Bible also tells us that one day everyone will meet God face-to-face, when everyone will all bow the knee, whether they want to or not, and acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.

I believe that it’s time to return to the Bible and take seriously once again what it tells us about God. If we, as individuals and as the church, begin to grasp something of the God who is clearly presented in its pages, we would no longer offer a small, impotent, aloof and perfectionist God. We need to present, through our words and actions, a true and consistent picture of God to our church communities and to those outside. We don’t need to get hung-up about differences in practice or style or organization, as long as they are not heretical.

God is a creative God who made us all different. That was His plan. So why should we believe that there is only one ‘correct’ way to worship and serve Him?

He’s big enough to accept it all! All too often we base our theology, or understanding of God, on our experiences, rather than interpreting our experiences through our theology.

Fact and Fiction

I read one of those circulars on the internet recently which said something like,

‘How come, when someone tells us there are millions of stars and thousands of galaxies out there, we believe them without question, but when they tell us that the paint is wet, we have to touch it to see if they’re telling us the truth?’ We are often like this; on one hand, we accept without question, things that are huge and very difficult to understand, explain or even justify; on the other hand, we choose to doubt, even when we are presented with the evidence. I believe that Science and Medicine are two areas where this happens with alarming regularity. We are presented with ‘facts’ that in reality, are no more than ideas or a theory, and we

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accept them without challenge. However, when we are presented with concrete evidence for God, we choose to challenge or ignore it.

Many of today’s scientists would want me to believe that life and the universe have developed by chance, or through some cosmic accident. This I cannot accept. I have worked in science and medicine for more than twenty years and never cease to be amazed by the complexity, yet order of molecular interactions within the body. For example, the body’s defence mechanisms against invasion by harmful organisms or viruses are incredibly complex, yet structured, as the individual cells communicate with each other through the release of specific chemicals. Whole armies of blood cells are mobilised in response to these chemical signals, resulting in non-specific and then highly specific killing actions. The invading organisms are exterminated, but the body’s own cells are not. I see in this, evidence of loving care and design by a Creator God. Process and reactions don’t just happen to fulfil some laws of science; those laws of science try to explain the way things happen. Many of history’s greatest scientists and physicians were men and women whose knowledge of God spurred them on to look more closely at His Creation. They tried to understand something of what was in God’s mind when He created light, the universe, animals, plants, trees, air, life, etc. Science was about discovering God, not a substitute for Him. We needn’t be too worried by the latest scientific ‘proofs’ for this and that. All through the ages ideas have come and they have gone. They always will. However, we have a God who is constant and unchanging. What a comfort, and what a message to tell a hurting world.

God’s Promises

The amazing thing in all of this is that the Almighty God not only controls the Universe, but also wants an intimate, loving relationship with the people He has created. That means us! Why else would He have died for those He made?

Equally amazing is that He promises to be with us at all times.

“I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13, verse 5b)

“I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28, verse 20b) These words from the Bible may be familiar to some of us, or perhaps new and strange to others. But when we read promises like these, how do we really interpret them? I think we ‘hear’ some of the following:

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“I am with you some of the time.”

“I am with you in your Spirit-filled meetings when you call me down from heaven to be with you.”

“I am with you in the good in the nice places of life, but stop at the door of those bad places.”

“I am with you as long as you’re doing good and not doing wrong.”

“I am with you only when you can feel me.”

I’m certain that Jesus meant exactly what he said and therefore, ‘always’ means

‘always’.

Living in a material world means that we can become conditioned to accept that something only exists if we can see it or feel it. However, the Bible tells us that God is with us by His Holy Spirit. We have been made with a ‘spirit part’ in our life that touches God and through which God can touch us. It is through this spirit part of our life that we can feel or hear God. If our lives are filled with busyness and activity, we must make extra effort to set time aside to be still, listen and know that God is there. Otherwise, we will feel isolated and alone, particularly when difficult times come, and we will end up doubting God’s presence and promises. We will accept the lies that God is only with us when we can feel Him; when we’re doing good; some of the time; when we need Him; when we want Him, etc. In so doing, we receive a message of compromise where the God we serve is relegated to a god who serves us. We lose sight of the true God; often at the time we most need to know that He is close by. Some of you will have seen or read a work called ‘Footprints’ where the writer describes a walk with God along a beach. As the writer encounters hard times, they notice that the two sets of footprints side-by-side, representing the writer and Jesus, become only one. When the writer asks God where He was during that time of need, God gently explains that it was during those hard times that He carried the writer.

I have known some inspiring characters who have faced incredible hardship and loss, during which they not only managed to hold on to God’s promises, but also remained aware of His presence, even at the darkest, most crushing times. When asked about their ‘secret’, they all had a similar reply; “I spend time with God in the good times and know Him spending time with me in my bad times.”

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Some of us actually choose to be busy, particularly in our church lives, as a way to escape from having to hear what God is really saying to us. It is a way of boosting our self-esteem and ego through the praise of others. Our busyness justifies our salvation. In reality, it is a good way to stop us from having enough time to face-up to our insecurities, fears and the truth. We don’t have time to enjoy an intimate relationship with God; we miss-out on receiving the joy and benefits of His promises. However, even when we struggle in this way, Jesus’

promises remain unchanged; He is always with us and will never leave us or forsake us.

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Knowing God

‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’ (John 14: 9b) Intimacy with God is the ultimate experience in life. For many of us it is an all-too-rare occurrence either because of our busyness or through choice. Being aware of God’s presence gives us opportunity to sit and listen, to wait quietly and enjoy being with Him or simply to share with Him the joy of what He has given us. This poem is a tribute to a friend who enjoys intimacy with God as she shares with Him her gift of music.

Notes Of My Soul

When I share your presence

In the stillness of day or night.

When my heart cries to you

And words mean so little,

Or seem so empty.

I engage in speech and praise

Through the notes of my soul!

No symphony orchestra,

Or grand opera can compare

With the music that you play

Through your creation.

A concerto of beauty;

An opus of pure delight;

Far beyond words!

But what a joy and privilege

To share my notes with yours.

An anthem so intimate, yet powerful.

To use those gifts

With which you have blessed me,

To bless others and reach

Deep into the secret places.

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Thank you for the times

When the notes of my soul

Blend with your own,

In harmony and melody.

When our keys, together

Unlock a treasure chest

Of beautiful jewels in others.

Knowing God is sometimes our only source of security in times of trial or personal distress.

Touching Darkness

A screaming silence;

A sense of gloom;

Oppressive thoughts

Fill the room.

It’s only mid-day

But it feels like night.

Demons unknown

Join in the fight.

Tormented souls

Crowd my mind;

There’s no escape

In front or behind.

A restless unease;

No peace; no joy;

No warmth; no love;

Hell bent to destroy.

Tangible darkness,

Iced with fear.

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Even though

God is near.

Come Father, Son,

And Spirit too.

Bring release

As only you can do.

I need your power;

I need your hand

To guide and help

Me understand

That darkness, though real,

Has no hold over light.

Burn bright Spirit

Consume the night.

So wrap me around

With your strong arm.

And keep me safe

From any harm.

Come quickly Lord

And set me free.

I’m glad that I

Cannot see!

One Day Soon

One day soon I’ll hear your voice.

One day soon I’ll make the right choice.

One day soon the clouds will part;

One day soon I’ll make a new start.

One day soon wars will end.

One day soon enemy becomes friend.

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One day soon love will conquer hate.

One day soon won’t be too late.

One day soon I’ll know God near.

One day soon love will banish fear.

One day soon faith’s drum will beat.

One day soon my jigsaw will be complete.

One day soon is spoken in hope.

One day soon gives me strength to cope.

One day soon is not too far away.

One day soon could be today

Many in our churches have come to understand ‘Peace’ as ‘an absence of conflict’. However, this is only part of the truth.

Peace

P is for ‘presence’, I need it each day.

E is for ‘every time’, I get in the way.

A is for ‘anger’, which burns deep inside.

C is for ‘conquer’, to win and divide.

E is for ‘evil’, which we can’t talk about.

Peace is a wholeness, in fear and in doubt.

P is for ‘problems’, we face them each day;

I is for ‘interest’, on the price that we pay.

E is for ‘excellence’, despised by so many.

C is for ‘charity’; I’ll give my last penny.

E is for ‘empty’, a vacuum, a space.

Piece is a part, not the whole of God’s grace.

So aim for the peace

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That is powerful and strong.

Not just a piece,

Or you’ll see it all wrong.

It’s peace that will last,

And peace that will heal.

Then when storms blow and toss you,

Security you’ll feel.

Knowing God opens up many opportunities for surprises.

Who Would You Choose?

Would you choose...

A young girl,

Born in humble surroundings

In some backwater of the country?

A girl, poor, unmarried and unknown

To many but her chosen partner?

He, a craftsman, fashioning beauty from nature;

Building character with sweat and toil.

Would you choose...

A young girl,

With little more to her name

Than purity and the clothes she wore?

A young girl, not even a woman!

Insignificant in the mighty works

Of the occupying army.

Insignificant in the ranks of the local religious elite?

To bear the Son of God?

God did!

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What If?

What If;

God said, “I love you!”

God said, “I care.”

God says, “I’m with you;

Though you don’t know I’m there?”

What If;

God said, “I love you!”

God said, “Love me.”

God says, “I made you;

And I’ll set you free?”

What If;

God says, “I love you.”

God says, “I’m your friend.”

God says, “I’ll never leave you;

I’ll be with you past the end?”

He does!

Sometimes knowing God is honed and refined through life’s experiences.

Living By Numbers

One, two, what shall I do?

Three, four, find out more!

Five, six, I’m in a fix.

Seven, eight, I can’t wait!

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Nine, ten, begin again.

One, two, turn to you.

Three, four, start to explore.

Five, six, still in a fix!

Seven, eight, learn to wait.

Nine, ten, begin again.

One, two, I’m nearly through.

Three, four, I’ve found your door.

Five, six, still in a fix.

Seven, eight, I’ve learned to wait.

Nine, ten, beginning again.

If we knew God better we may be less surprised by His answers to our questions.

What Would Jesus Do?

I’m standing at the eighth tee,

A one iron in my hand.

I wonder, “What would Jesus do?”

I need to understand.

Would he drive straight down the fairway?

Would he swing in from the right?

These answers are so crucial;

I need to win tonight!

I’m shopping in the supermarket,

And looking for my tea.

I wonder, “What would Jesus do?”

Buy one, get one free?

Lord, guide me to the bargains,

Show me the cheapest price

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For sausage, beans and fresh brown bread,

Chicken and long-grain rice.

I’m looking for a new car,

To stand out from the rest.

I wonder, “What would Jesus do?”

No doubt he’d choose the best.

A V-twelve pumping powerhouse,

Flash and easy to see.

After all, I am the pastor;

God wants the best for me!

I’m sat here judging others,

My brain’s dropped out of gear.

I never ask, “What would Jesus do?”

In case I may just hear

His words demanding dignity,

Then I’d have to change my view!

And open up my blinded eyes

To see what Jesus would do.

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Showing God

‘Work to become, not to acquire.’ (Elbert Hubbard) What picture of God do we paint for those who look on from outside our churches?

In The Eyes Of The World

The world looks in from outside these four walls,

Seeing our posters and hearing our calls.

Encountering us, as we live day to day.

Are we attractive to them or do we scare them away?

Our lives are transparent to the people outside,

Who see straight through our pretence and our pride.

Don’t think that it’s easy to show them the way.

They’ve been fooled before and are not ‘easy prey’.

They may not know God, His ways or His voice;

But they recognize falsehood and they can make a choice.

They don’t want trite answers or simplistic rules.

Don’t treat them like second-best and don’t treat them like fools.

For these people have two eyes and two ears too.

They see and they hear all the things that we do.

Their minds are made up and they give honest views,

As we make a difference, living out the ‘Good News’

But why are we ‘we’ and they ‘they’ when we talk?

Together we live and together we walk

Through this world, full of love, rejection and hate.

It’s time to show God rules, not some nebulous ‘fate’.

For the church is God’s bride, a source of true light.

Is this what the world sees? For all have a right

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To experience God’s love through our lives day by day.

In the eyes of the world, are we leading the way?

Church

C is for community, the way we should be.

H is for heaven, where we’re finally free.

U is for unity, not uniform; we’re all different.

R is for reaching, whether called or sent.

C is for compassion, God’s heart for us all.

H is for helping, whoever may call.

I is for integrity, the key to our witness.

S is for saving, God’s work as we’re selfless.

U is for unconditional, which means no strings attached.

S is for starting, God’s power unlatched.

Our God

Our God’s a God of incompetence,

Contracted to a span.

Infinite become finite,

In the mind of man.

No longer a God all-powerful,

Unless it suits our case.

We tie His hands in shackles,

Restrict His time and space.

We grow very uncomfortable;

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When He doesn’t fit in our box.

He’s no bigger than our imagination,

Held captive in our stocks.

What happened to the God of mystery,

Who multiplies the bread;

Controls the forces of nature;

And resurrects the dead?

What about reconciliation,

Between a woman and a man;

Between peoples, tribes and nations?

Surely we’ve lost sight of His plan.

We swap God’s grace for justice;

His love cannot be found.

No room for God’s compassion,

As we take the moral high ground.

So wake-up church, get real!

Put Jesus on His throne.

Stop building empty empires,

And let God’s Kingdom come.

Many of us have replaced dreaming with fatalistic acceptance. Dreams rarely materialize spontaneously. Sometimes we need to dream the impossible and work with God to see the dream realized. George Bernard Shaw wrote, ‘ You see things and say, ‘Why?’ but I dream things that never were and say, ‘Why not? ’’

Dare To Dream

What would happen if we dared to dream;

If we dared to take God at His word;

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Dared to hear His inner voice,

Often talked about, but seldom heard?

What would happen if we dared to dream;

Re-visit the visions laid dormant so long;

Dared to give space for each other to grow,

Rather than worrying about what may go wrong?

What would happen if we dared to dream;

Gave God space in our world every day;

Dared to live-out our faith with our friends;

Got our hands dirty; showed them a new way?

What would happen if we dared to dream;

That the world could be different, not as it is now?

It can! But it must start with you and with me;

Dreams will become reality, as God’s love we show.

Occasionally we meet a real gem; quiet, unassuming, filled with God’s grace, yet unaware of the impact they have on others. Somehow they are eclipsed in our noisy, busy, activity-centered church communities. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate our priorities and learn how to show God to people rather than throw God at people.

Starlight

Flickering faintly on an inky backdrop,

Starlight feebly fights to be seen

Against the gentle blaze of a silver moon.

Light so faint, whispering to be recognized.

Yet close up, a colossal fireball of vast dimensions,

With heat to consume and light to blind.

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How strange that the moon outshines

With a light that is not her own,

But borrowed, reflected from the sun.

From here she looks so large.

In reality, a million moons would not dull

The blazing glory of a single star.

So, just because the starlight battles to be seen,

Do we consider the source to be any less significant?

Do we say that the moon is greater?

A star is an all-consuming fire;

A power infinitely greater than any moon,

Tempered only by distance, time and space.

How often do we miss the stars,

In favor of a moon or sun?

Drawn to those who shout loudest for our attention.

How often is the quietest voice,

The most powerful force to bring change,

Vision, hope and a sense of belonging?

We need more stars; powerhouses, tempered

With maturity, gentleness and the acceptance

That they might not appear to be the brightest,

But against the dark vastness of space,

Their light shines, dependable, constant, sure.

Bringing change in ways unseen, deep inside.

I’m privileged to have known a star.

Gentle; unassuming; timid; unseen.

Frail with doubts; a spider’s web of fears.

Yet a tower of strength for those with eyes to see

Beyond the moons and suns,

And into the heart of someone who brings joy, love and hope.