Posted on: 11th November 2019
“Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.”
In 2018, as a school, we began to sponsor five children in Rwanda. The name of the charity that we work with is called Compassion, and Proverbs 31:8 is a key verse in their vision for the world they wish to impact.
When we considered the gift of freedom last week, we spent some time considering the chains that we were released from, and those chains that still hold us back. This week I would like us to think about the next step: what should we do with our freedom?
The book of Acts of the Apostle is a great read. It tells the story of the early disciples, after Jesus has been taken into heaven. It is full of trials and problems for those apostles, but the overwhelming theme is that the good news that they had to share was far more important than their freedom or comfort.
One such incident happened in a jail in Philippi (Acts 16:25-40). Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown in jail for setting a girl free from a demon that was in her. You would have thought that would have been something to celebrate. Instead, there freeing a girl led to their imprisonment. Now, if I were them, I would probably be grumbling and complaining. But they were in jail at midnight, “Praying and singing hymns to God.” Their freedom had not been taken, even though they were in prison. They were free on the inside. “Suddenly, there was a great earthquake, so the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were open.” At this point, the prisoners really were free, but Paul and the others chose to stay there. This was an act that led to the saving of the jailer and all of his family.
This week, I ask you to consider your position. Are you free? If you are, what can you do with your freedom to show compassion to others. You may decide that you would like to personally sponsor a child through compassion, or give to your local food-bank, or give your time to help others. The challenge for us all is this, “Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.”
Posted on: 9th September 2019
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
What can we trust? What can we learn that will help us in our future? What does it mean to submit to God?
Trust me, I’m a … . What can we use to fill that sentence? Trust requires there to be a truth that you put your faith in. Trust requires faith. Speaking to a colleague recently about faith and facts, we discussed the possibility that something being fact now could possibly not be fact in the future. The changing nature of facts requires us to put a time limit on the fact, or for us to put our faith in the facts.
Gone are the days that I get my AA Roadmap out, or spend hours prior to a trip writing out the directions for my journey. Out comes the mobile phone, google maps (other map services are available) and off we go. I heard of a group of youth workers, heading to help at a school camp in Newtown, Wales. They confidently typed the postcode of the venue into their device and followed the directions. Having never been to Wales by car before, the devices directions as ‘gospel truth’. As they passed signs for Lockerbie (having set off from Oswaldtwistle), they received a call from the camp, asking when they expected to arrive. Unfortunately, the postcode they used was KY16 4AJ not SY16 4AJ. 1 digit changed the course of their journey.
Our school vision, ‘Lord direct us’, is a statement of faith. To trust God to direct us requires us to elevate his word above our own view of our situation. It requires us to self-reflect and admit that our own understanding may be flawed or incomplete. This requires an attitude of humility and submission.
The challenge this week is to consider the direction that God has for us, compare it to our own desires and trust that his way is best for us. We have the choice to go our own way, or ask that God will give us a desire to follow his way.
Posted on: 10th June 2019
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
I love meeting up with people who I have not seen in a long time. Some people hate it, especially if it is a relative who likes to grab your cheeks and squeeze them. The words, “Oh, haven’t you changed!” are regularly used as a recognition that time changes things.
There are other times, when you have been with a certain person or group and it is noticeable by the way you now act or speak. Do you have any of those people in your life who seem to bring out the worst in you? Do others notice it? In 1 Corinthians 15:33, St Paul says, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.””
Are there any relationships that you know that are draining you of your good character? If there are, make a wise choice to change your company.
King Solomon, in Proverbs 27:17 said, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
There are relationships and friendships out there for you that will keep you sharp and focused if you take the time to develop them and allow others to develop you. These mutually beneficial relationships are seen throughout the Bible (Joshua and Caleb, David and Jonathan, Paul and Silas, Paul and Timothy etc…).
But the most life changing relationship you can enter into is with God.
We see from the life of the early apostles that their encounter with the Holy Spirit made a radical change to them. They received POWER. The literal translation is DYNAMITE.
Imagine if your relative turned up to see you and recognised you had received the Holy Spirit in your life! That’s what the early church received and the Holy Spirit is the same now as then.
My challenge for you this week is to read in Acts about the impact the Holy Spirit made to those early disciples.
If you believe in God and have accepted that Jesus died for you, then why not pray, like those early disciples did, for the Holy Spirit’s power to fill you.
What impact do you think that would have on St Wilfrid’s, Blackburn, Lancashire, England, and the ends of the earth?
Posted on: 14th January 2019
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Do you have the gift?
What is your gift? We have just gone through the Christmas season where gifts have been given and received. Did you get what you want? Did you get what you need? Did you get a gift that you thought you needed, but realised that it wasn’t what you thought it was going to be?
My favourite present is still partly unopened on the coffee table in my living room. It is a jar containing 58 pieces of paper. It is the most special gift I have ever received. On each piece of paper there is a statement that begins, “I love you because…” Every time I read one of the statements, I feel like a giant, a hero and a champion. Every word written by my wife and children is an encouragement that I am loved for being me.
In Romans 12:8, Paul describes encouragement as a spiritual gift. This doesn’t mean that only certain people can do it, but it makes it clear that God is into encouragement enough to empower people to do it through his Spirit. As a school, our mission statement acknowledges that the Holy Spirit is inspirer. Do you have the gift of encouragement? Maybe you don’t know the gift that God has entrusted to you. Maybe 2019 is your year of discovery and development.
Proverbs 18:20-21 says, “Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
When we meet up in our houses this week, we are challenged to come together as a team, working together towards a goal. I have been part of enough teams to know that encouraging others is a far better team dynamic than criticism.
This week, take time to encourage others. If you feel it comes naturally to you then maybe you have identified a gift. Gifts are for giving, so give the gift of encouragement this week.
Posted on: 29th January 2018
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
Focusing on the future can be scary, for some thinking about the past can also be a daunting experience. This week’s theme revolves around our focus, like we talked about last week actually framing our world and for some of us it may be easier to think about where our focus is than others but don’t worry, wherever you are at when you are reading this, remember that God has a plan for you, he loves you and wants the best for you (Jeremiah 29v11).
Probably the most famous painting in the world the Mona Lisa (by Leonardo De Vinci) hangs in the Louvre in Paris, France. It is a portrait of a woman called Gherardini and became the topic of conversation due to the women’s expression being indecipherable. Many stories have been suggested as to why her face is painted in such a way, was it her character? Does the image depict how Di Vinci was feeling? Does it show how Di Vinci saw Gherardini?
Whatever the story, Gherardini was the focus of Di Vinci’s painting, ready to be framed.
Your focus frames your world.
If you were to draw an image of what your world looked like now what would you draw? Would it be just as you see it? Would your expression be indecipherable or would you know exactly what you were trying to show? Would you show every unique detail or would your brush stokes make the image fuzzy in some places and blurred in others?
The writer of proverbs reminds us to seek wisdom as our first focus. In fact chapter 4 really goes to town on what we should focus on in verse 25 it says, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
It encourages us not to focus on what is behind, not to look to the left or to the right but to look straight ahead and keep our gaze fixed there.
So where is your focus this week? How does it frame your world?