Legend of the Forest

As dawn awoke within the Forest glade,
The rising sun broke through the leafy shade;
The song of bird with rapture filled the air,
And wild-life stirred from hidden, secret lair;
The Forest knew, – and thought the day looked fair.

A woodman came, three trees to seek and fell,
The supple ash, a sturdy oak as well;
And from the heights, a strong, tall pine to take.
From each, a Cradle, Bench, and Cross to make;
The Forest knew, – and felt its heart would break.

As darkness fell, where once three trees had stood,
A Stranger knelt. His hands once nailed to wood.
And by those hands, three saplings, small and white
were planted there, throughout that quiet night.
The forest knew, – and waited for the light.

Trude Bedford – 1912-2000

Looking Forward & Backward

Over and over again in life, we stand in the shoes of the disciples in this passage [feeding 5000]: surrounded by human need, faced with a challenge, knowing we do not have the resources, in our own wisdom, wealth, and strength, to meet the need, to stand up to the challenge. This story motivates us to get up out of our comfortable chairs and throw ourselves into offering our resources on behalf of a needy world. It calls us to remember and to anticipate. We are to stand in the story, looking back and looking forward. We are to stand, looking back, re-experiencing who God has been in the past. We are to stand looking ahead with faith in who God will be and what God will do in the future. God’s provision is not a relic of the past, but a reality that under-girds our future.‘ – Alyce McKenzie

It’s Friday – but Sunday’s coming!

It’s Friday
Jesus is praying
Peter’s a sleeping
Judas is betraying
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
Pilate’s struggling
The council is conspiring
The crowd is vilifying
They don’t even know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are running
Like sheep without a shepherd
Mary’s crying
Peter is denying
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s a comin’

It’s Friday
The Romans beat my Jesus
They robe him in scarlet
They crown him with thorns
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
See Jesus walking to Calvary
His blood dripping
His body stumbling
And his spirit’s burdened
But you see, it’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The world’s winning
People are sinning
And evil’s grinning

It’s Friday
The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands
To the cross
They nail my Savior’s feet
To the cross
And then they raise him up
Next to criminals

It’s Friday
But let me tell you something
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are questioning
What has happened to their King
And the Pharisees are celebrating
That their scheming
Has been achieved
But they don’t know
It’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
He’s hanging on the cross
Feeling forsaken by his Father
Left alone and dying
Can nobody save him?
It’s Friday
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The earth trembles
The sky grows dark
My King yields his spirit

It’s Friday
Hope is lost
Death has won
Sin has conquered
and Satan’s just a laughin’

It’s Friday
Jesus is buried
A soldier stands guard
And a rock is rolled into place
But it’s Friday
It is only Friday
Sunday is a comin’!

Heaven’s Gates Swing Wide

Last Friday as  I was doing an 8k training run I was listening to ‘Awakening: Live from Chicago’ by Jesus Culture. The track ‘Break Every Chain’ has a fantastic chorus:

All sufficient sacrifice
So freely given
Such a price
Bought our redemption
Heaven’s gates swing wide

 
The last two lines stuck in my head as the run continued. When I got home I posted the follow on Twitter & Facebook:

 
Over the weekend my brother posted a great, simple question: ‘what does that mean?

I guess it was a bit too abstract to stand on its own. So, in short it means that: redemption is available to all & that the gates of heaven are ready to welcome any & all who have been redeemed.

I know, that needs a bit of explaining too. So here goes, stick with it…

When you’re given a voucher for your birthday for your preferred shop the voucher you’re given is inherently worthless: it’s a piece of plastic & ink with a magnetic strip (remember when they were just paper?). It’s probably worth about 25p max. But when you hand it over the shop will honour the promise which has been made previously (when the voucher was purchased) and will exchange the worthless voucher for something of value.

Think of redemption as the exchange of something which is worthless for something which is expensive (priceless even!).

Sinful man (Romans 3:23) was separated from God (Genesis 3) but God made a way for the relationship to be fully restored (John 3:16 & 1 Peter 3:18). The way was open to everyone to return to a full & rich relationship with God forever (Romans 10:9 & John 3:36)

To massively over-simplify for the sake of brevity: God exchanged His Son, Jesus, to pay for the voucher which anyone can claim for themselves, and which will buy their place in heaven.

Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. [source unknown]

Jesus sacrificed His life through excruciating death on a cross in order that you (yes you) could receive the gift of eternal life, at no cost to yourself.

So you will be saved, if you honestly say, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death. [Romans 10:9]

Here’s the full song from Jesus Culture:

Check out these two Gospel presentations if you want to know more:

Holiness

“Holiness is consecrated closeness to God. Holiness is in essence obeying God, living to God and for God, imitating God, keeping His law, taking His side against sin, doing righteousness, performing good works, following Christ’s teaching and example, worshipping God in the Spirit, loving and serving God and men out of reverence for Christ. In relation to God, holiness takes the form of a single-minded passion to please by love and loyalty, devotion and praise. In relation to sin, it takes the form of a resistance movement, a discipline of not gratifying the desires of the flesh, but of putting to death the deeds of the body. Holiness is, in a word, God-taught, Spirit-wrought Christ-likeness, the sum and substance of committed discipleship, the demonstration of faith working by love, the responsive outflow in righteousness of supernatural life from the hearts of those who are born again.” J. I. Packer

In All Comes From Here*

Last Saturday the second Youthwork Summit took place in Manchester. I attended along with about about 750 other youth workers/ministers, paid & volunteer, full & part time, along with 20+ speakers, the Rend Collective Experiment, Mark Yaconelli, and the amazing team who put the event together and served us on the day. It will take a while to properly reflect on and process all that was said, all that happened, and the conversations which took place. I met some amazing people – some I’ve been chatting with on Twitter for some time and felt I knew them, but met them in person at #yws11, others I met for the first time.

I spent Friday with 150 other youth workers/ministers on a Retreat day led by Mark Yaconelli – that too will take a great deal of processing and putting into practice what was learned.

At the end of the conference we shared the following powerful liturgy which written during the day by one of the attendees, and is shared here with permission:

It all comes from here*

From an extraordinary God,
capable of ALL things.
From His unfailing love
for ALL that we are.

From a purpose and calling
that He placed on our lives.
From a passion and desire
to change young lives.

We give our time, our energy,
We share our ideas, our lives,
We offer our teaching, our advice.

But we give, we share, we offer
Because we do not love alone,
but with the help of God’s heart.
Because we do not stand alone,
but with the strength of God’s Spirit.
Because we do not fight alone,
but with the power of God’s will.

From a God who loves
all which He has created,
From a God who guides
all who seek His face,
From a God who welcomes
all who come in His name.

It all comes from here*

[written by Julia King (@xjewelzx) // used with thanks…]

How to Not Mess Up the Great Commission Too Much

I’m not a Children’s worker: it’s not my particular gifting. But I’m being increasingly challenged about the importance of work (particularly evangelism) with children.  More on that later…but for now my mantra will be:

Aim Lower
Think Smaller
Give Up
Go and have a cup of coffee *

And here’s why:

* to be fair, this has always been part of my personal mantra ;o)

Ten Commandments Rewritten

Just seen this version of the 10 Commandments, rewritten for kids:

  1. Put God First: God is number one, everything else comes second.
  2. Nothing else is more important than God
  3. Don’t say ‘God’ when you don’t mean it
  4. Have a restful day – chillaxing every week
  5. Respect. Treat adults how you would like to be treated.
  6. Don’t hurt anybody
  7. Stick together/look after your friends
  8. Don’t take from anyone without permission
  9. Always tell the truth. Don’t lie
  10. Don’t want something others have got.

There’s another version posted there too.

Letter to the Editor

The following is a letter I’ve written to the Editor of the MK Citizen in response to a recent article regarding concerns at Oakhill Secure Training Centre:

I read with interest your article last week regarding ‘possible abuse’ at Oakhill STC. I am an occasional visitor to Oakhill and have always found it to be an incredibly positive and supportive environment with excellent relationships between trainees and officers.

Your article seems to suggest that an ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted and an increase in physical restraint incidents must be mutually exclusive. I’d like to suggest that perhaps they are complementary.

We must remember that the staff at Oakhill are acutely aware of the reason the trainees are there and what they are capable of. I’m sure that physical restraint is absolutely the last resort. I wonder how many cases of physical harm (to staff & inmates) have been avoided by these physical restraint incidents.

I do not condone physical abuse of trainees and as an allegation has been made it should of course be investigated, but we must not allow the allegation to detract from the outstanding work being done by the Centre as a whole.

Rev. Ricky Rew
Bletchley