November 29, 2010

Like me, I am sure you have some words that you just like. Sometimes you can explain why and other times you have to let the words do it themselves.

A word I have appreciated for a couple of years is “Rhythms” and a more recent couple are “Ebb and Flow”. Last week was a tough one. One a couple of occasions I came home after lunch and just slept, thats my way to block the pain not that I am tired!. I dont know if my ‘down’ emotions were because I spent time putting up a spot light to shine on the black and white portrait of Mike, Akila bringing home another excellent portrait of Mike or the time of year. Some times its just darn hard to have lost Mike.

Ebb and flow remind me that there are times and seasons, they are there for a reason. Due to our human limitations we need the ebb as much as we like the flow.  

I dont know why I like ‘rhythms’ but I do. I saw it a couple of years ago when it said “rhythms of His grace” in the Message.

Family Nov 2010

What are we doing with regrets?

November 22, 2010

I met someone recently that told me of the loss of her sister. The sister was HIV, unfortunately via a blood transfusion in the early 90’s when we were still coming to terms with this new disease.  One day her sister phoned and asked her to make some “traditional family cakes”. She didn’t do it and two weeks later her sister was dead.

 The regret had a guilt stranglehold on her until via a dream, she was released. I blogged soon after Mike’s death about Akila and Laura having to work through issues of regret. Fortunately they processed well and were not taken into captivity by regret. The more I have thought about it over the months the more I realize, like worry, it’s a pointless exercise. We were not created to be cooped up in a cage. Regret cages us and the interesting point is that we are the ones that put ourselves in the cage. Both the sister and Mike would be so sad that the girls were feeling guilty and consequently caged. Mike is released from an environment that has restricted him, he is released from a body and personality that had limitations. He would never want his sisters to be weighed down by issues which happened between them in his former life.

But then you may say to me that you regret certain behavior that has lead to separation in a relationship and that person is still alive. That person actually does enjoy the fact that you are feeling bad and that you deserve to be caged. Valid point to the reality but not valid when we understand the complete work of the cross. Romans 1 v 8 says “those who have put their trust in Christ, no longer have to live under a continuous low lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The spirit of life in Christ like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” In other words, in Christ, move on. Make amends were you can but where you cannot…….Don’t miss out on “running in wide open spaces” by putting yourself in a cage.

And guess what, Im not going to say send me a donation of $10 and I will sent you a holly hack saw to cut the cage door off!!!! Just cry out to God like Mel Gibson in Braveheart “FREEDOM IN JESUS NAME” and then walk in it, shout it out as many times as you have to and as often as you have to.

Oh dear, I’m forgetting my Anglican roots!

Italian-French Border. We made it in our trainers!

My Son is dead but alive in Christ

November 19, 2010

My Son is dead, but alive in Christ, you cry with me.

Your Son is alive, but dead spiritually, I cry with you.

God breathed life into man to make him live,  breath stopped when God took Mike. I pray God breaths spiritual breath into your children.

Bless you


He flew away to a better place!

The pain of life and how do we respond.

November 15, 2010

There are so many factors that lead us to respond in a certain way to events that confront us in life. We have all read quotes about whether it “defines us or defeats us”. Some of us choose to kill the pain with alcohol, smoking, food, sleep, drugs, affairs, casual sex, movies, isolation and on and on. Some of us embrace the challenge and thrive on crisis.

I stumbled on these words of Paul on Friday and liked the way Eugene Peterson wrote them….

……..You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss.

 10Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets. 1 Cor 7 :9-10

I suppose it all depends on the depth of our relationship with the Father, I could also say our personality is a factor.  Some people are more inclined to independence than others. Some are more socially inclined. Some are more introverted. In this area I am bewildered. I know of one man who on loosing his son decided to walk away from his wife and his ‘faith’, both had been a part of his life for decades. In my case, I ran to God, why? Certainly not because I am any better than the man I mention.

All I can say is that God has not disappointed me, to the contrary.

I am Free

November 14, 2010

I’m sitting in a conference centre in the north-east of Italy close to the French border. I wanted to wake early to see the sun rise and the mountains. I’m sitting here listening to some music before the light is up and it brings back special memories of Mike.

This week we had the privilege to join John’s family to bury him and then celebrate. As I came out of my sleep I had the words “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed” running through my head. This was the same sentence I came out of my sleep on August the 1st 2010, as we recognised the 1 year mark since Mike left.

I am Free

Mike when he was younger made a short video of himself to the Newsboys song “I am Free”. Take the time to listen to this video. What is a riot is whilst we were in Australia, we were mentioning this story to Lyn and she said, “Oh I know some of the Newsboys, they are Australian and grew up in our church”.

If you have time, read John James honest story of how the success of Newsboys was also his failure. Today he has his life together again.

Are the clothes you wear important?

November 11, 2010

I’ve completed a little study Bible study on ‘clothes’. Yes I know its an odd topic but somehow I noticed God wanted to communicate a lot to us with regard to clothes. 

Yesterday Dale, our Chief Financial Officer and I went to visit our company bank to discuss some business. So on went appropriate clothes. For many years when I was buying the books for the Ships I would wear a suit. Laura does not often see me dressed that way and made several complementary comments. When we were in the supermarket together she said “Dad, do you think people think we are rich when they look at you? I am very scruffy compared to your clothes”. We then had a short discussion on “first impressions”. You never get a second chance for a first impression!

Here are a few bullet point comments from my study:

  • Do the clothes I wear help me to achieve my objectives?
  • Do I use clothes to disguise of hide who I am?
  • Do I use clothes to draw attention to myself or to hide?
  • Do my clothes demonstrate I belong or want to be associated with a particular group, family, lifestyle?
  • What message do people hear when they look at me and the clothes I wear?
  • Adam and Eve tried to cloth themselves after they realised they were naked. God had made Adam perfect and there were no leaves sufficient to do the job! When ever man tries to “cloth” himself it will be insufficient and not satisfy.
  • God killed an animal and clothed Adam and Eve. He did that out of love to hide and deal with their shame.
  • Some clothes are more appropriate for a situation than others. Do we care about that?
  • In the Old Testament, washing of clothes was a ritual not just a daily activity.
  • The quality and style of the clothes is appropriate for a position in society.
  • God gave specific instruction in the O.T. about some clothes.
  • Only the clothes of a Priest or Soldier are given by God in detail.
  • It was not just a person who was called to be ‘Holy’ but his clothes also.
  • God does not want us unequally joked. He gave instruction not to mix two types of cloth.
  • We wear the clothes of righteousness, give the appearance and then behavior with lots of words for a public appearance, but privately we are something very different. In reality we have put those righteous clothes over the top of something else!
  • So many instances of tearing of the clothes in Sorrow. The curtain tore in two when Jesus died. Allowing us to come to the throne of God. Is there a correlation? Did God tear his clothes when Jesus died, when Mike died, When He saw our sorrow?
  • Many instances of their clothes not wearing out. Jesus said not to worry about what you take for the journey. A beautiful word is SATISFY. God satisfies us both physical and spiritual. When we can focus on him, trust him, enjoy his presence, His Satisfaction is complete! The food out of the baskets did not run out, the oil did not run out. The clothes and shoes did not wear out! Satisfaction is complete!
  • God will strip them of their sin-soaked clothes and hang their dirty laundry out for all to see.
  •  Correlation between our sinful actions and our outward appearance.
  • God tells Isaiah to get naked!
  • Here the LORD will strip away the burial clothes that cover the nations. Isaiah 25:6-8 Kathy preparing clothes for Mike. What did she prepare for him. Before God sent Adam and Eve out of His presence he clothed them! He knew what it was like to cloth people in death.
  • We put undue attention on the outward, God looks at the inward.
  • Many verses referring to Put on, more than Put off.
  • The woman shall not wear that which pertained unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
    Deuteronomy 22:4-6 transvestite
  • Put on or covering over hides or disguises or does not reveal the real person. When we take off, we become naked and it’s a choice. We need to take off/put off the flesh and put on the spiritual, but not a show.
  • Put on/put off is an action its not something that just happens, it’s a determined act a conscious decision of the human will.
  • We pick up things on our clothes, either need to wash, repair or pick off things

There is much there to think on but one of the verses that stands out,  “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” Joel 2:12-14 There are so many instances of describing the ripping of clothes in the Bible when there was extremely bad news. God tells us to rip our heart not the clothes, in relation to Joel telling the people of the coming calamity because they have abandoned God.

So one of the questions for myself today is what am I clothed in?

As I go to bed I read a TXT that John passed away that morning.

November 10, 2010

Today I view death very differently than 16 months ago. On returning from Australia I heard at Church that our friend John was not well. I knew John had not been feeling well and had lost a lot of weight and we had quietly prayed together in church.

John had taken and interest in Mike and although Mike did not belong to our church, John knew Mike was on Logos II and wanted to financially support him with a gift. John and I warmed to each other several years ago realising that both of us did not accept the status quo and were not backward in coming forward! Its interesting what impressions we can make on each other by simple observation. John never struck me as a man who was all happy clappy when it came to expressing his Christian Faith, but often I watched him moved when there was a song or hymn that worshipped God for sending Jesus to die for our sins. John was appreciative of his salvation in Christ.

I phoned John a few weeks back and Margret his wife said they would like a visit. I took with me the wonderful portrait painting of Mike. Poor old John was a very unwell man on the couch, but we all enjoyed looking and discussing the painting. I will never forget John’s comment as it was very left field, “I see the love of a father who went to Australia and came back with a painting of his son”.

“Its not what you take when you leave this world behind you its what you leave behind you when you go”. John thanks for the “naughty friendship” we had and thanks that you have left behind encouragement to me to keep moving forward with God and being who God made me to be.

What do I put my trust in?

The unexpected punch in the stomach

November 6, 2010

Several times I have come to the conclusion that all the official paper work to do with Mike’s death has been completed. Its now 15 months so you would have thought we were at that point. A couple of weeks ago an official looking letter was sitting there and on opening I saw it was addressed to the “executor of MG Knights estate”. My heart sank as I looked at all the financial information they required to complete Mike’s tax status for 2009-2010. It took a few days to get the emotional energy to go to his file. When I open it and look through any paperwork relating to Mike, I also open a flood gate of sad emotion.

I am just back from Germany and there is another official looking letter. It now states that I will receive GBP66 in returned tax. On the one hand that is nice but emotionally its not worth the money. An underlying emotion is that as dad I dont want to in anyway profit from my sons hard earned money. We have moved on but these type of issues force us to be dragged back.

Kathy had a little cry yesterday at the memory of Mike and Firework night, which is today. Carlisle annually out on one of the best firework shows you could see. Over 70,000 people come and its been a great event the family have enjoyed for years. Mike was always so excited to see the display and marvel at the bangs and flashes.

We continue in our journey and are stronger each day but some things hit you in the stomach and you lose your breath for a while. In those moments you spiral into confusion, hear lots of voices and have to with the head lead the heart back to stability. Its a constant reminder that we cannot ignore the human story as well as the faith story.

For God so loved the world that He gave……..

November 5, 2010

A word that seems to be used often by some in the Evangelical World is “holistic”. They infer by this that when discussing an individual, community or nation we need to look at their spiritual, physical and emotional realities. If we only look at one facet, we are limited in our effectiveness in helping them. 

The work of the Good Shepherd Ministry in India is seeking to look at all facets of a community and how OM’s gifting, resources and vision can be applied. I endorse the desire to transformation individuals and communities that raise the bar in treating them with dignity, honor and respect. Our Bible is very clear that all humanity is made in the image of God.

Dalat Kids in School

What a powerful experience it was to see the children in school in the morning and then visit them in their village in the afternoon. It brings home the potential opportunity the education they are receiving can dramatically change in a positive way the course of their life and in so doing their families and communities. It also showed the depressing future of those who do not have the opportunity or access to education. I had 10 of these kids around me one time and I asked them what did they want to do when they were older. ‘Doctor’, ‘Pilot’, ‘Policeman”, ‘Pastor’; ‘Teacher’. Isn’t that awesome. A couple of years before they would never of been in a position to dreams, aspirations and access to these possibilities.

School kids at home

Can I make a plea to all of us to consider why we would not sponsor at least one of these children. For just around GBP18, US$30, Euro 25 per month we can change the destiny of one of these gorgeous kids.  

I am stuck that our heavenly father did not just tell us He loved us, no He put it in action and he gave. Concern not expressed is not concern, love not expressed is not love, care not expressed is not care. Whilst I do not want to become unbalanced, a little imbalance at times is not a bad thing! Even being in full time Christian work and the lower levels of finance passing through our bank account, I know we as a family can do more to help these children. There are 20,000 children in the schools. 11,000 were sponsored but due to the financial down turn, 3,000 were dropped. This is so sad. 

You can easily get involved via www.uk.om.org or your own Operation Mobilisation office

God’s presence in a Slum

November 2, 2010

Having been in India before I was not shocked by what I saw, in fact I had quite a different experience in the slum. If you have not watched Slum Dog Millionaire, I recommend you do.

Pastor P and Pastor Gary with new friends in the Slum

In this slum the people where from a muslim background, we were so accepted and made friends very quickly with a number of people. Good Shepherd Teams have been working in there for several months and already have a small school, health clinique and meet with one or two for prayer and praise. The team had brought soap, clothes for kids, nail varnish and bubbles to play with the children. What an awesome sight to see Michael washing so many kids. That may not sound astounding but when you understand that these people have been the lowest of the low for 3000 years. Other castes would not even allow them to cause a shadow across their paths, and here is Michael washing little children with lots of soap before others put new clothes on them. Back home a teacher can hardly put an arm around a pupil today with out getting into trouble.

Michael washing the kids

I could not have done what Michael did. Its so amazing to see the synergy of a team using different gifting. Touch is such a beautiful thing. In the words of the Casting Crowns song “Love her like Jesus”  it says, “Just love them like Jesus…….You dont need the answers to all of lives questions, just stay by their sides“. We can do so much more than we realise and its so simple.

Michelle painting nails.

One family invited us into their humble shack. Several of us sat on the dirt floor and chatted with two couples. One lady has been attending the prayer and praise times from the team and you could see her softness to the Jesus she was slowly discovering. Peter and Gary sang a couple of worship songs in English. I closed my eyes and savoured the moment. Here I was in a slum full of poor people in India worshiping Jesus with two muslim couples. I saw the peace of God on the lady as she enjoyed the worship. The presence of God was so real.

One of the men told us how he and his wife for the past two months had been praying to Jesus morning and night. He said “I feel like a burden has lifted and I have been getting more business riding my rickshaw”. These poor people may earn a few dollars a day.

%d bloggers like this: