Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Whole Again - Luke 15:24, Colossians 3:3

A couple of weeks back I lost two important goodies of mine - my iPod and my watch. Now I'm not the type to cry about worldly possessions but these are quite valuable items that I'd misplaced. Without them I felt rather awkward and even a bit uncomfortable; and lets be honest, if something you feel should be there isn't there, then it doesn't feel the same.

Picture a deck of cards without the aces or jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing. It feels odd putting them together and looks odd as well. Perhaps we can relate like that spiritually where we've either come this far without recognising our saviour and all of a sudden feel we personally need His presence, or we've tried to live the Christian life for so long and yet something isn't quite right. Something's missing.

By studying the above verses, I'd like us to consider a few points which can lead us from our current state of confusion to where God would like us to be.

"Your old sinful self has died and your new life is kept with Christ in God" (Col 3:3)

Something was missing but is now retrieved; something was dead but is now alive; something was out of reach but now within reach; something was unholy and worldy but is now blessed and cleansed, pure and whole. You could use all the metaphors in the world but, wth Christ, a spade's a spade and once you've got him, then BLESS YOU because that is for eternity.

"He was lost but now he is found !" (Lk 15:24b)

In my job I get a lot of customers telling me they've lost their credit cards; they call up for it to be stopped and have replacements requested and issued. Some don't even receive their new pieces of plastic either because of how they've managed their account, resulting in no replacement sent out or they've simply been lost in the post. Imagine that being the case with God and faith.
Incidentally, the majority of those customers must be really lost without them! All those finances, all those spending plans and so on. Not to different from the prodigal son featured in this passage in Luke's gospel who took his share of his father's fortune and ended up in a terrible rut.

"My son was dead...." (Lk 15:24a)

This is where one ends up at rock bottom, with nothing or no-one. Can you relate to that? There are people out there in the community that can. As soon as you step out the door, there are and they're there in front of you.

Last year at a meeting held in Parkhead Corps, it was revealed in a survey that the area of Parkhead was in the top three poverty-stricken towns in the UK.

TOP THREE! And there we are sitting in the hall every week, in our seats, in our sections, complaining about the temperature, worrying about whether we'll get tea or coffee after the meeting! The Salvation Army has a motto - heart to God, hand to man. Do you think people out in the community worry about the above? Heck no they don't - because they're not that priviliedged!

People who used to come - former attendees, PRODIGALS - may be in a similar position. I often wonder how many of us take the time to actively consider that.

"...but now he is alive again!" (Lk 15:24a)

That's where we come into the picture with a bit of simple interaction - a simple "Hi/hello/you well?" It works, and it makes all the difference! Through us the people get to see Christ and know Christ; maybe again, maybe for the first time.
Great! Yeah? No?

It means we win more for Heaven! Yeah?........No?........

I wonder if there are any prodigals reading this; anyone who's already lost and has been for sometime. I don't know if there is but He does and He knows what's going on with your right now. Don't even try to hide from it.

Does the word in this blog post apply to you? Do you feel that God has opened your ears to what you need to hear? Do you feel that a piece is missing from you and you need to be made whole once again in Christ?

My prayer is that you've been challenged - because the Lord has spoken to me and says we need to take action in piecing hearts and souls together again. And its not that difficult, friends.

Do what you need to do, and do it quick, before the Lord does otherwise.


Sunday, 1 June 2008

Fish supper

Its Saturday afternoon. East end of Glasgow.

My good friend Jonathan and I meet up for lunch and, in the process, decide to take our food to the nearest park and eat it there as the weather is absolutely immense! Picture this - the sun shining, temperature surely hovering around the 20-degree mark, people hanging out in their summer clothes...the hottest season of the year had well and truly kicked in. It was incredible.

So we go to a hot food bar along Alexandra Parade in Dennistoun. Jonathan gets an omlette and I get a fish supper; here was me trying to be healthy too but I couldn't resist. We walk up the road, cross over and walk into Alexandra Park, a lovely big park that felt a bit like the revelation of the Secret Garden to me - I'd gone past it loads of times before and I'd often heard about it but never til this day actually been in it.

After we sat down on the grass, we opened up our food, gave thanks and tucked in; and I noticed that the two - not one, two - pieces of fish that I'd been given were big beasts of things! Seriously, if I was a veggie, I'd have been worried because they looked more like a pair of battered whales as opposed to cod, and they were delicious too. But, all of a sudden, as I took a bite and was looking at the fish, I heard God speaking to me. I mean, how surreal is that? There I was, sitting in the heart of Dennistoun with my mate on a hot summer's day and the Lord was communicating to me through this piece of fish that I had in my hand and I was eating away at it.

What He said to me was that it must have taken a heck of a man to pull out those two big fish from the water.

But how ironic it is for a city such as Glasgow - or any British city for that matter - associated with fish and chips that the real fishing that needs done is the fishing of men. To go out into the streets, the community, the city with the fishing nets God has equipped us with, bring them in to the house of the Lord and, rather than be fed by the fish, feed the fish ourselves. They are the type of fish that need caught and need fed with the gospel.

After we proceeded to walk around the park for another few minutes, we came to the bridge above the motorway and just stood there for at least 10 minutes while the sun baked down on us and the motorway down below was very busy. People were travelling to and from Glasgow, going at ridiculous speeds; different types cars drove past, I didn't even count the range of age groups or backgrounds but I'm certain they were large. And I asked myself, where are they going? Do they even know where they're going? Do they have any particular reason to be driving today? Are they lost?

The fact is that many of those drivers are like the fish that need caught. That need WON for the Kingdom. As each car drove past - and there were loads of them, by the way - I looked at each one thinking God loves him, God loves her; God loves the dude with the new Mercedes, God loves the chap with the old beat up Austin Metro. No-one was exempt from that.

And how many of them know that?

I just pray that we can make a difference out there and be the fishers of men that God wants us to be. Remember when he chose the disciples? Young men who were were relatively nothing in their society, yet this Rabbi, this teacher, walks over to them and says "Follow me....I will make you fishers of men" - all of a sudden they felt worth something. They had purpose.

My question for you is do you realise how much your calling to go out and extend the Kingdom is?