Monthly Archives: October 2011

You can’t tell people that they should love. You show them what love looks like.

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Treasure in Tragedy Part 2

Treasure in Tragedy Part 2.

So much treasure in these writings, dig deep, drink long.

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Getting in God’s Way…

I posted this interesting article (link below) as it speaks of a place I believe I have recently been, indeed struggling away from with God’s grace.

Without sensing it, I believe that I had been slowly becoming an obstacle to a thing the God is doing.

Stupid old human relationship issues that I have let steam me up, I have been letting my problems get bigger than God, losing site of the What and Who of my life.

It was an important weekend for me, I am thankful.

I spent Saturday just gone with a wonderful, loving group of people spending time with a man sharpening our hunger and direction as God chasers. I arrived burdened with church-bound relationship issues that had suddenly seemed so big to me that who I am in Christ was becoming lost in a darkening pool of anxiety and anger. I was a bit tentative in chatting to others to start with, but as we started to worship, I found myself setting all else aside as I realised my need of Him was more important, more urgent than anything else.

It wasn’t a big issue only 48 hours before, it was turbulence that I was resolving by reflecting on Philippians 4:8 and Ephesians 4:2-4, in fact it was only a recurring irritation but after seeing my wife become so upset over this issue as she reflected some things said, I guess I just took her hurt upon myself as I sought to understand her hurt by replaying the conversation in my mind but even then, I was able to reflect on the people with who we had spoken and apply a broader knowledge of them as loving people so surely didn’t mean what I thought I heard them say.

The trouble with that last bit is that I think that I was excusing them…I still do this thing of making excuses for people who wrong us to make me feel better which I don’t think is particularly something Jesus would do, so neither should I – it’s a bad habit.

So this “Saturday-man”, who I believe has been made significant to me I also believe God used to speak to me, helping to affirm that the thing I have an ongoing ticker-massage that I have going-on inside me about the Kingdom, “It’s all about the Kingdom of God not about Empire…It’s all about the Kingdom of God not about me…It’s all about the Kingdom of God…”.

This is perhaps something God has set inside of me.

The “Saturday-man” helped me get to a place of picking up the thing God has given me, the main thing I was to keep the main thing.

I found all the promises that I believe God has spoken over me coming back to mind, often spoken through people I have never met nor ever likely to again this side of Heaven, but always with a consistency that suggests more than coincidence.

I will admit that this is something I try to work out but largely on a little, small level, which is not entirely in line with the consistent calling.

But the calling is unlikely, absurd, frightening & impossible but something, at another level,  I feel made for.

The “Saturday-man” asked me what it was I felt God is telling me to be and as I always feel afraid to answer this, I waffled on about equipping & loving people, seeing them released into their potential.

Why am I afraid to give a direct answer?

I think that it’s because I have loved Jesus since 1995 but seem almost further away from the thing I believe God called me to than ever.

I reflect on my life and these ideas seem even more ridiculous as every year passes.

I fear that I am settling for the less of man, rather than the more of God.

But then again, I have a family, I have responsibilities, I have lots of excuses…

I believe that God used the “Saturday-man” to speak significant things to me, it was just SO WONDERFUL to hear someone speaking from the same Kingdom vision, seeming to have the same understanding of His desire for His people, being drawn back to a place of trust and freedom as other stuff melted away.

That is, I believe, the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Sunday that followed the Saturday this “Saturday-man” was speaking at a friend’s fellowship nearby to where I live and I would have loved to have spent a little more time mixing with him and the God’s  Spirit of release & truth that he has been given for God’s people.

I was, however, serving at my own fellowship and as I was unable to swap-out with anyone, my yes had to be yes. I didn’t want to be there though and as my focus became more and more me, and my needs, all that anger stuff about the relationship issue came straight back.

During worship time, like a sulking child, I found it hard to worship. I tried to look to Him but kept coming back to all I thought was wrong.

Much to my surprise though, I did start to get to a place of worshipping Him but as I did so, I believe that God rebuked me by telling me to “get out of His way”.

I had to sit down, wondering what He meant.

Frankly, I felt more confused and just got cross and sulky again.

I was thinking/praying that I don’t understand, I got no further response from Dad and just became more angry.

I really wanted to be anywhere but there.

I tried not to show it after the service, but am not sure as I famously have a “face like glass”.

I don’t like insincerity but sometimes my desire to be real has become something which is not edifying.

I know that I was less than polite to one person. Later in the day, I had a text message from this person and am thankful that I responded with a holding reply as I would have only compounded my sin if I had spoken in my anger.

I do think it odd how some people seek to communicate important, personal, relational issues via text though…

After time to pray and seek Jesus I have been able to release forgiveness, begin to set hurt aside and do this in what I understand to a healthy, Godly manner.

Who am I to point fingers?

God is the judge.

In all this I  have had to laugh (ironically) as I recently spoke at my fellowship about Forgiveness and all of a sudden I find myself facing this down all “up-close-and-personal”.

Is that what the Word meant by teachers will be judged more severely?

Here and now, not just at the judgement seat?

It feels like that.

In fact every time I have spoken I have been smacked in the face with the reality of the words I believe that God gave me to speak.

As for the rebuke to “not get in His way”?

Well, firstly that’s one way of knowing He loves me – being rebuked by Him…

I think that I have been trying to get in His way though, by seriously considering taking certain things into my own hands rather tha trusting Him.

A friend just told me “Appearances can be deceptive. The fact that we can’t see what God is doing doesn’t mean that He is doing nothing. The Lord has His own timetable. It is we who must learn to adjust to it, not vice versa. When God’s time comes, nothing will stand in His way.”

The timing of this is, I think,  another of many confirmations over the last 2 days that I might just be calming my heart before Him and hearing Him speak more clearly.

I think that 1 Peter 5:6-7 applies here: “So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” (the message)

As for me, I’d rather always be on His way, not in His way.

Check out this article:

Human Interference – Getting in God’s Way by Stephen Stillman.

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I should be enjoying the time off but…

I am still at home after two weeks recovering from a further operation on my left eye and now told not to work for the rest of this week, I would value your prayers and or encouragement.My left eye is problematic right now as I seem to have an infection, have been seeing the consultant this week and wants to see me again at Worcester Royal tomorrow to review and undertake a procedure which he “…wants to do there as the theatre is close by in case I need to be taken in there…”My vision isn’t great in the eye right now, but it isn’t terrible either.
It does hurt and is very watery so I guess I am just an attention seeker!
I had expected to be back working (from home) today after negotiating the “fit-note” down to two weeks but annoyingly it seems the consultant seemed to know what he was talking about in suggesting three weeks to start with.

The timing of this is inconvenient as I have a lot to do back in Brum pre-taking up the secondment I was offered. I don’t like periods of illness full stop, but I especially do not like periods of illness  that go on like this as I begin to feel uncomfortably vulnerable.

When these sort of events occur, one is often left wondering about seasonal discernment and God’s purpose in it all.

I will assert that Jesus has never left me, nor ever shall.

Jesus has never forsaken me, nor ever shall.

Jesus has promised this and He does not lie.

I thank God that I can make such declarations of truth and in doing so sense that my soul is lifted to be able to declare that present troubles are as nothing when compared to the incomparable riches that we find in Christ Jesus.

Although we battle against the accuser, praise God that we have His Word, truth and Spirit so that I can join with Paul as he said in Ephesians:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen [us] with power through his Spirit in [our] inner being, so that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith. And I pray that [we], being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that [we] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

May we never lose sight of Him who loves us and leads us forward in His glory.

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When I met Jesus on the 26th February 1995

For some time I was very unhappy, I couldn’t understand why;
there was a hole in me that seemed to be getting bigger. I was full of sadness
for the world, a sadness that could quickly turn to anger or disgust and which
inevitably I turned upon myself as it all seemed so futile.

I felt separated and isolated, even though I had a wife and
two children who loved me in spite of what I felt about myself.

Life was just so hard.

As 1994 went on through autumn towards its sure demise,
Bernie, my wife, had begun to go to an Alpha Group> meeting that a friend of
hers was hosting. Her primary motivation was this:

“Amanda is such a nice person, she rarely complains or
bitches like so many of my friends. There’s something different about her that
I would really like to know more about. Maybe it’s because she’s a Christian or
this Vineyard thing that she goes to, I don’t know, but I’ll do this course
that she’s hosting and I might find out.”

So she started this thing- I wasn’t really interested, “but
fine, I she’s happy then I’m happy…,”.

Bernie started coming home and running through various Bible
passages that they had picked out on a particular evening.

She’d, like, wake me up and we’d find them together to
discuss them. The strange thing was that I would get a “shock” every so often
when reading certain passages. Looking back, I knew that it was God speaking to
me, trying to get my attention. For some reason I would try to shake it off as
one would a mild electrical shock from a badly wired plug.

Sadly, Bernie missed a number of Alpha evenings as we went
on vacation soon after the course had begun.

We had a good holiday, though I didn’t really appreciate a
lot of it because of this hole in me that just seemed to get bigger.

Bernie finished her Alpha course and started on a follow up
program and Christmas came and went.

Buried in there was a car journey to work during which I
switched off the radio and started talking to God. “There’s got to be more to
life than this God, if you can use me then use me, I just can’t go on like

Also buried in this time-frame was a conversation with
Bernie. “Would you like to do an Alpha Course? You seemed quite interested, and
anyway, I sure that you would shake them up a bit!”. I said, “Uhh, OK, sure
whatever…,” and thought no more about it.

The gloom continued, the hole was getting so big that I’m
surprised I didn’t collapse on myself like a human black-hole.

Then one mean and moody afternoon as I sat there grouching
through my work the phone rang.

“Hello, is that Graham Stewart?”, asked a voice.

“Err, yes…”, said I in a kind of non-committal, hard
nosed, ‘push off you over-friendly and unknown telephone salesperson’ sort of

“Good, I’m Paul from the Riverside Vineyard” said Paul.

“Uhh, yeah?”, said I still very much in character.

“Yeah, your coming to my house for the Alpha Course? I just
phoned to check that you were OK” said Paul.

Finally I made the synaptic link, “Oh…, right”, said I,
falling out of character into a sort of stunned and vaguely embarrassed state.
“Yes, I’m fine thanks.”, I sort of mumbled back.

“I just wanted to make contact and make sure that you knew
haw to get to my house and everything was all right. Are you still coming?” ,
asked Paul.

“Oh yes,” I said, “I’ll be there.”, not really sure of when
it was to start.

Anyway, we finished talking, but I felt so good afterwards.
It was so nice to speak to someone that I didn’t know from Adam but who was
actually asking after my well-being without wanting something. Yes, that’s just
how cynical and twisted I had become, I thought of most people like that and my
conversation with Paul was really a shock.

I felt good for the rest of the day, the hole seemed to have
shrunk a little, I wasn’t teetering quite so much on the edge.

I went to Paul and Gena’s place, had dinner, did the worship
thing-that was a bit weird, did the course that night and went home.

Bernie asked me what I thought and I said, “It was OK, we
sang some songs to start with and that was a bit strange, but they seemed like
nice people. Yeah, I’ll go again.”

I went again and got more out of it each week. Each week I
was touched by a song or a reading or something someone said. It was God
speaking to me, but I still wasn’t listening properly.

About 3 or 4 weeks into this, my financial mud hit my
bankers fan in a biggish way and I became sorely worried. I started working out
various options to deal with this, of course, going to my father was not one of
them. You know, it was the pride thing, it was the I’m a big boy and I don’t
need my fathers help thing. The I’m a big man and don’t need anybody’s help

In any case, my father and me had never been particularly
close, we spoke occasionally but that was it really. Since he had been left on
his own because of bereavement, we had got a little closer, but not really Bill
Stewart & Son Ltd. I left that kind of thing to my brother.

Anyway all my big man options were closing up on me, I went
to Alpha that evening and during discussion read the Lost Son (Luke C15). I was
asked to read some of it, but I couldn’t finish because I had started to cry. I
sort of muttered “Sorry, I can’t finish this.”, and sat there sitting on a
volcano while one of the others read the rest.

What was going on? This wasn’t just a mild electric jar,
this was a full blown ten thousand volt thud that hit me. I tried to compose
myself and we talked about it, boy there was some real emotion and charge in
that room between some of us. I could see it in one guys face, just as I felt
everyone could see it in mine.

We wrapped up and I went home dazed and stunned. I didn’t
crash the car and I got home to bed.

The next day my last big man option closed up and I still
hadn’t got the message. Then finally I thought about last night and phoned my
father. I summoned all my courage, sat on my suitcase full of pride and asked
if he would help me. He said sure, how much do you need? There were no strings

When I saw him the next night we both cried and I told him
that I loved him, I am not sure that I had ever said that to him in my life. I
had always loved him, I just didn’t say it or acknowledge it to myself.

Then I began to tumble to the truth, this was just too much
of a coincidence, all that had happened. I was a son who was lost, my
relationship with my father was just like my relation with my Father. God had
been talking to me and I hadn’t heard properly, it seemed that he had got a bit
fed up with my ignorance and bashed my head against a wall to get my attention.

I went out and bought a Bible that was written in plain
English, I read it and enjoyed it. I enjoyed Alpha evenings even more.

Soon after most of the Alpha Group went away for a weekend
to cover some more of the course. We were with Alpha groups from other
Vineyards and we were covering the opposite ends of life, the Devil and the
Holy Spirit.

This weekend changed my life. This weekend I new that I was
a Christian, because this weekend God was going to tell me that I was a

I was taking Vince and Lorainne from my Alpha group to the
weekend as their had transport problems, so we arrived quite late on Friday
evening. This was mostly because we got lost which was mostly because I didn’t
read the signs properly and because those I did read I didn’t entirely trust.

Does that sound familiar, am I talking about driving or

When there were signs I didn’t think they were very good and
when there weren’t any, instead of trusting in those that I had seen I worried
that I wasn’t on the right road and spent too long looking for others.

Anyway, we got there, had food and relaxed a bit. Then we
started the next bit of the course and during worship and reading that Volcano
inside started to rumble again.

It was like that the next morning and I was becoming more
and more phased by it. Plugging this Volcano was really hard.

You see I was scared to let the Holy Spirit to come. Twenty
years ago I had been very involved with a Church in which the Holy Spirit had
moved. I had read “When the Spirit Comes”-it was still in a box in my attic!
Friends I had at that time spoke in tongues, I prayed a lot but never received
Gods gift.

Over the next twenty years I did some good things, I did an
awful lot of bad, bad things. Over those twenty years there were times when God
touched me, I didn’t really know it, because I thought you had to speak in

I moved further away from God and became a bitter man. All
that time he loved me and tried to tell me, but I couldn’t or wouldn’t listen.

So I was scared this weekend because God hadn’t just touched
me, he had got hold of me  and it felt
like he was trying to burst out of my body.

My friends there were really good and kind, I thank them and
thank God for them being there.

Saturday evening we had another session and during worship I
couldn’t sing many songs as the effort of corking the Volcano that was the Holy
Spirit took away my voice.

I was crying to myself during the lesson, then we began

And when God came to me he was kind & forgiving, I was
very afraid that his spirit would tear me in two-I felt as if my heart would
burst – but it didn’t. Instead, he came to me in waves of love, each one giving
and forgiving and I cried out in wonder at how such love could be given so
freely, given so unconditionally, so fully and so mindful of my fears and

All my sins and burdens that had so weighed me down were as
nothing, he peeled them off my shoulders one by one and I cried as he did so. I
was in wonder that anyone could be so good, that anyone could be so forgiving.

Then I began to understand.

He sets no value by the judgements of man, indeed, only man
wrapped in his own worldliness attaches such importance to such judgements-and
the man-made laws upon which they are based. These things are as nothing to God
when we understand his purpose a little more. A stick for us to beat ourselves
with, bringing great sadness to ourselves and to our Lord.

A stick which for all the world may be a forest that
separates the loving father from his dearly loved but lost son. The father may
call and call for his son, but it must be up to his son to fight his way
through the forest to come to his father.

After some time the Holy Spirit’s Flame died down somewhat
and I was left rather stunned and in great awe.

Eventually I went to bed, talked some more with my room-mate,
then fell asleep. I cannot be sure as to the time, but the Lord awake me later
and I began to shake as he touched me again with his Spirit.

It seemed that for most of the night thereon, he spoke to me
of things for the most part I cannot recall, but his presence was real and
tangible. He was, and still is, in the process of repackaging my life, helping
me to regain my perspective. My slate was being wiped clean. The only thing
that I can clearly remember was “Spread the word, for I am coming to save you
all.”. That was just before six a.m. as I heard the clock tower chime the hour.

He let me sleep for a short while, then I was up, washed and
out enjoying a walk and natures beauty soon after seven.

Later that morning we had a service involving worship, communion
and prayer. I couldn’t stop shaking through most of that time. My legs would
tremble and if I tried to still them then the Spirit moved to other parts of my
body that would shake just a vigorously.

Some people were encouraged to speak of prophecies to those
in the room and later still I was very happy to pray for my friends there.

Then the shaking seemed to take a real hold of me and I
couldn’t stop. The Holy Spirit was reshaping my very being and I had to roar
and shake and roar some more.

This all may sound strange and I am sure that some may think
I am simply mad or some-such. This is to again apply men’s laws where they have
no domain. What happened was truly wonderful and beautiful and the work of Gods

Since that time I have continued to grow in God and cannot
recall a time of such happiness and strength. The only problem is that all that
was my life is of lesser importance and I feel that I am in a waiting room,
gathering strength for the work God has planned for me. I struggle to remember
what it is that I should be doing in the meantime.

I shall be grateful to receive his instruction when it is
appropriate, meanwhile I continue the struggle to continue the roads of my life
as before but within Gods law.

It is very difficult as my work now means nothing to me and
I am eager to get on with Gods work.

Praise be to Lord Jesus who has not left me and shall never
leave me. He is all wise and caring and should be feared by those who deride
him. Only by Jesus can we be saved from death. Thank God for his touch of mercy
and I pray that I shall see his word ever more clearly as each hour passes.

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I want to see…

  I want to see Kingdom not empires.
I want to see Unity not assimilation.
I want to see pride set aside for Humility.
I want to see the not-yet become Now.
The Spirit says come and the bride says…
I dunno really…
Jesus loves us just as we are, which is just as well in my case and in knowing that I am loved I respond by not wanting to stay where I am, getting it wrong again and again, repenting again and again, rediscovering that I am loved just the same, again and again but even in the light of all that, I still see the bride and feel embarrassed for her, sometimes feel downright ashamed…
Why is unity so *hard*?
Why can’t we just agree on the core message and stay on that message,  accepting that we all dress our windows differently?
I want to see us stop saying “we do Jesus better than you…”
I want to see us pray for each other, even for the part’s of the body that are blue with cold because the Holy Sprit is but a mere flicker.
I want to prefer Jesus’ voice over my own.
I want to see the bride REALLY respect all the parts of the body.
I want to see individual parts of the Bride no longer thinking that they can be every other part, becoming conceited because surely we can see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
I want to see this understood as this keeps our significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant any part of the Bride maybe, it is only because of what we are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a bride, but a monster.
What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your our body we are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. We give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, we have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If we had to choose, wouldn’t we prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
WE are Christ’s body—that’s who WE are!
We must never forget this.
Only as we accept our part of that body does our “part” mean anything. (1 Cor 12-Msg)
I so want to see us accepting that our Father LOVES diversity, just look around at creation! So then acknowledging and accepting that He really does love diversity, then we can accept that the way “they” worship Him in their liturgy is just as acceptable as the way the “we” worship Him in our liturgy, even if “we” claim not to have a liturgy…
I want to see us stand in unity, preferring each other part of the Bride before ourselves, taking up our cross for then surely and truly we will see the bride-all of her-say that the Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, both physically and spiritually, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
I want to see Him glorified, not me, not the bit of the body that I worship in, not some fabulous worship group from Australia or Holy Trinity Brompton, not some fabulously challenging cross-culturally-crossing prophet who charges for his words of God on some prophets only web-site that offers me cruses in the Caribbean to hear yet even more fabulously challenging cross-culturally-crossing prophetic words as long as I am wealthy enough to afford them …
I want to see Jesus lifted high in my life.
I want to see me walking with integrity.
What do you want to see?

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My Jesus ain’t no intellectual persuit…

Apart from the crowd

“Restless, knowing there is more.
Tired of being tired, pinned to the floor,
by organised religion telling me how to express
my love for Him who gave His all so I live each day afresh.
Bored with man’s religion of intellectual pursuit
as if knowledge equals power and being clever is good fruit
I want to know my Jesus, to sit with Him and eat,
to know that I’ll stand unafraid at the judgement seat.
So challenge me, my Jesus as you did on Peter’s beach
Refresh my call and show me, just how far my faith shall reach.”

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05/10/2011 · 2:48 pm