Trusting in princes? Look, See, Pray

Who’s in charge? Take me to your leader!

It is both humbling and sad to see the state of the “Mother of Parliaments.” Who leads? A good question! Does a job title mean more than a label? Passionate disagreements have split friendships, alliances, and public opinion. Personal ambition and hidden agendas lurk in the dark corners. Who can we trust? Where should we turn?

There is nothing new under the Sun and stars. History is littered with the relics of ideas and ambitions. Some conquer by brute force- but fade away. Some float lofty ideals and aspirations- and are brought back to earth. Playing “piggy in the middle” are the ordinary people caught up in struggles beyond our ability to influence very much.

Relying on human authorities is unwise. Praying for those in positions of authority is required of Christians because there IS a Higher Authority. In Psalm 146 we can read a lovely and realistic expression of a Hope that will not fade. “Don’t put your trust in princes! Put your trust in the Lord your God… Look at what God WILL do…” He reigns as the True Sovereign over heaven and Earth.

Pray today. Pray now. Pray that God will somehow guide and direct so that righteousness, mercy, and justice are the benchmarks of our society: that extremism on all sides will be tempered by calm thinking and peacemaking. Pray that God may do what only He CAN do. Pray for the peace and security of our richly diverse society so that all are valued by the worth God places on them- God who loves the world SO MUCH that He sent Jesus, the Christ, to rescue and redeem us. Pray NOT that God be on “our side” – rather pray that WE might be on God’s side, so that we may be peace makers and peace bringers. Joyful are those who have God as their helper.

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Praise the LORD ! Let all that I am praise the LORD. I will praise the LORD as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath. 

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the LORD their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. 

He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The LORD frees the prisoners. The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are weighed down. The LORD loves the godly. The LORD protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked. The LORD will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations. Praise the LORD !

   Psalm 146

Celtic Summer School, August 2019

I am delighted to recommend this Celtic Summer School in Durham, 7-14 August 2019. We can learn a great deal from our Celtic predecessors in terms of their faith, attitudes, and spirituality.54729255_356667041612375_8255463425413480448_n.jpg

For information, tickets/cost please follow the link below.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cah-celtic-summer-school-tickets-47851986580?fbclid=IwAR1X1u1PxP_pL5Cs5QHAbevqmv4TcD1deIsYNw_JrXzhL9_iubxFq_mQFK0

Being patient- Look, See, Pray

The Reflectionary

Patience is a virtue, they say. Mine is being tested- I am in danger of failing.

Politics is driving me barking. Rudeness and misrepresentation is bringing the political office into sore disrepute. Fancy this- some people disagree with me! How daft can you get. Of course I’m right. I cannot understand why some apparently bright folks are saying and doing crazy things in peculiar ways. I am gradually gaining  insight…  “Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace.” (Proverbs 15:18)

But it is enough to test the patience of a saint.

Note that I am not identifying my preferences or the misled opponents of common sense: that is not my place or purpose. I hope to encourage the ones I agree with and the ones I don’t agree with to join in two things. First, to work at becoming patient; and secondly to share in the most sensible thing we can…

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Frozen Time- Look, See, Pray

The Reflectionary

Tragedy hits. Time seems to stand still. Details of the moment and place are etched on the mind. I vividly remember where I was on 9-11. On the day I heard my Dad had died. We all have personal recollections like that.

I photographed these waves this week as a severe storm lashed parts of the U.K.  Here, on the Channel coast, we were fairly sheltered but the waves came in fast and furious. Using a fast shutter speed, I “froze” the action – and shapes, colours and details were recorded. Looking at them afterwards, I saw much more detail than I had noticed in “real time.”

wave 026230219 Aldwick B edEnergy stored in the waves exploded against shore defences and piles of shingle. It was noisy and relentless. Stones picked up in the fury were thrown up the beach and ricocheted through the air.

It was almost hypnotic – it took a conscious effort…

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Edge of the Storm- Look, See, Pray

Stormy weather- we are on the edge of this storm. To the West and North of us the conditions have been atrocious. Down here, some light damage: roof tiles, tree branches, and localised floods. The bad part is wondering if the storm will get worse.

I suspect quite a lot of people in Britain feel caught on the edge of another huge storm- politics are proving to be exciting (in a bad way). Parliament is ripped apart by the divisive issue of Brexit. Parties are split, the Cabinet is divided, and feelings are running high. The eventual outcome remains unknown, and the way forward is unclear. Trust is being trampled and everyone is blaming “the other lot.”

Fear not! I am not going to launch my political views (as good as they may be, or seem to be to me).

When life has storms, where do we go for help? I hope to encourage you to pray today that God’s will shall be done, here on Earth as it is in heaven.

A little-known prophetic book in the Bible has an author with a name almost as long as the prophecy! Zephaniah means “God has hidden/protected me.” Biblical names, especially in the Old Testament have descriptive meaning. Zephaniah spoke for God in a time where corruption and injustice were rife; and his message is uncompromising. Almighty God stands for justice and integrity, and we are called to stand with Him. Dreadful consequences are spelled out clearly- but at the end there is a comforting hope. Humanity is not left alone- God still cares for us, even though He may need to challenge and correct us. The storm that threatened Zephaniah’s audience became a whirlwind and their troubles became rooted in exile under unfriendly power.

Yet there is still hope. Please read this verse slowly and carefully, and take from it the eternal Truth of God’s Love and mercy. While we still have breath, we can turn to God. Turning to Him lifts the edge of the storm away from our shoulders. The promise in reinforced in the New Testament, where Jesus is titled “God who is with us.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty saviour. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

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Do not fear the storm- trust the Saviour who brings calm. Lord, may Your will be done. Amen.

Stop striving- Look, See, Pray

The Reflectionary

I caught myself staring at the daffodils in silent wonder. Suddenly, sunshine on sticks! My tiredness and aches eased a bit as I enjoyed the free show.

If truth be told, I have possibly overdone it a bit recently.  Hard to learn new tricks and all that. Living with a body that is sub-par gives fresh challenges, one of which is having to pace myself. As an enthusiast, my natural tendency is to jump right in when some (preferably new) possibility comes up. Not a good idea nowadays.

But I am learning.  One thing I am learning is that prayer is about more than words. Silence, meditation, and stopping. Psalm 46 is a song written for people whose life is tough. Outside pressures from those who want you in harm’s way, internal pressures from fading expectations and failures of trust or dreams. It begins by reminding believers that God is…

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Light through the darkness- Look, See, Pray

Ask a photographer “What would make your day?”

Their probable answer?  “Good light.”  Few things are as disappointing as being in a good location but having dull lighting. That often results in “flat” photos without contrast or drama. Ironically, having too much light intensity makes photography equally difficult.

It was early-ish, about 8 o’clock, and the morning was shrouded in heavy mist. There were signs it might lift, so the eternal optimist packed some kit and headed off in search of elusive perfection.

Bognor is blessed with a beautiful park. It seemed a good possibility for pictures. Hardly had I parked and started lurching along, when this happened.

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Glorious sun burnt through the mist, and the trees became scaffolding for drama. As light filtered through the trees, its rays carved a transient sculpture of delight. Just at the right moment, a bloke walking his dog came and stood in a great position, adding a mysterious figure barely visible through the brightness.

Though I was almost blinded by the light, I was no longer alone.

An old hymn has the line ” ‘Tis only the splendour of Light hideth Thee.” When we look for brightest light, we find holiness and glory that exceeds our understanding, but satisfies the ache in our soul.

The verse from the New Testament reminds us that God is Light, that Light overcomes darkness, and that this Divine Light is able to shine even into our innermost darkness. Many Christians can testify that the dawning realisation that Jesus Christ brings the smile of heaven to our lives is a moment of dramatic beauty. In the darkness, suddenly Light is there, blinding and yet welcoming- and revealing the Face that makes us aware of  Love that seeks the lost, rescues the struggling, embraces the lonely, and accepts even me.

Sometimes the world is dark enough to foster despair. All news is bad news… in the words of Private Fraser “We’re doomed. We’re all doomed…” That is when we most need to hear and see hope- and hope shines with unearthly Light. When the darkness is near, remember the Gift that God has given:  2 Corinthians 4:6 (NLT)    For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

May you shine with true Light this day.