‘Learn to rest in Him first, then you are better prepared for the long walk of faith.’
By Andrew Jewell
Running a growing blog such as this as a ministry on top of a normal job has its challenges. Often exhausting Spiritually, emotionally and physically, trying to get the balance right is often like trying to teach a fish to dance.
Only today whilst experiencing a brief moment of slightly overwhelmed panic my partner in her loving and steadying wisdom reminded me to be still. To take the time she knows I need to relax back into the privilege God has called me into, to sit back and let Him take the wheel. To rest in Him first.
I’m sure many of you are susceptible to hurry sickness as I am and its potential to bring us all undone from time to time. But as I note in the opening quote learning to rest first rather than only when we think we need it is vital for the stamina we need to fulfil our calling in Christ.
When we see children on a see-saw (teeter-totter) we understand that balance comes in two ways. The force required to push off the ground and be carried into the air, and the momentary rest whilst we wait for the other side to counterbalance by doing their bit.
Maintaining a ministry is similar. Often we are either cued to commence the journey by God or He commences it for us. As the journey continues He does His bit and we do ours, and so it progresses with many ups and downs but nevertheless with a sense of perpetual satisfaction.
But what of those other times? You remember… when the see-saw gets stuck because the equilibrium is dead centre. Both of you on either end jiggling and bouncing to get movement again. These times are when from a Spiritual perspective we are forced to be patient. Why? Because we cannot move and are forced to do nothing but be content to wait and stare into the eyes of God.
It’s often confronting and a little scary in these times, partly because of what we can see and partly because of what we can’t. Put simply all we can do is wait for Him to move again.
But before we came to that point, that pregnant pause of guidance, we first had to be still. We had to recharge, to re-focus and re-evaluate who’s move it actually was.
It’s in the stillness we learn how more effectively to rest in Him. To allow Him to recharge us and recommence the journey.
‘Learn to rest in Him first, then you are better prepared for the long walk of faith.’
© 2017 Andrew Jewell – wedgetailministries.com
Today is a little different, today I want to talk a little bit about the whimsical nature of God. A God that is not only fascinated by diversity, but moreover loves to be whimsical.. Here are five things that fill me with the joy of the nature of my Creator. Welcome to my search of whimsical God.
Let he who has never mused over the sight of platypus cast the first stone.
At some stage I think most of us have thought, if we believe in a Creator God that He must have sense of humour. A swathe of colour here and a twist to a bone there and we have a new creature. Beautiful and unique in its own way.
We may dare to imagine even still the dialogue in heaven governing the Creator’s brush.
‘Ok… left a bit…right.. a bit, no no that bill looks the same as the last one, twist… yes that’s it, now pull on the neck ..lol yes that’s good.. that’s very good, they’re gonna love that :)’
Let he who has never mused over the sight of platypus cast the first stone.
My God loves variety as we experience every day. He appears to take a whimsical yet purposeful approach even to His own people. A small refinement or removal of a particular muscle shape, pigment or piece of fatty tissue and we each look completely different. A different upbringing, in a different place, each with a different experience of the Father and ‘boom!’ a whole new creation, just for Him, by His hand and by His design.
But did He stop there? Certainly not.. He added language, and height to the shape, different strengths and gifts, different loves and passions, likes and dislikes.. right down to taste and smell. Why we may ask?…Perhaps simply because He can. Because He chooses to be loved by His artwork, these fragile lumps of clay. His people, His creation to fellowship with , to speak to so many so differently and love in many different ways. Such is my whimsical God.
As an artist (or at least this one) part of what makes beauty beautiful is the whimsical nature of it. I love how a few essentially random colours and shapes thrown together can produce something stunning. Likewise I wonder if the Father does the same.
Lets face it a lot of God’s creatures, His mountains, valleys, plants and even natural phenomena are essentially odd to the analytical eye. Who would think that a few rocks, ground covers and vines with a smattering of shrubbery would produce something wondrous.
But time and time again it does, sculpted by the Master’s hand with purpose and perfection. As His creation we are likewise tuned to this Master’s harp, our loving God that loves to delight in all He has done. We understand and appreciate things in a certain form, a curve over a straight line, a kaleidoscope of colour over black and white, and a menagerie of creatures that dance, twist, sing and roar to the vibrance of creation. Such is the whimsy of our beauty-loving God.
Food could have dropped from the heavens at regular intervals, or we may have been created to not need food at all…
Way back in Genesis God appointed humanity to have dominion over the earth (Gen 1:28), which got me thinking. Unless God loved the process, loved diversity, loved the whimsical nature of beauty and loved to give good things to His kids, why grant us creation as we know it at all?
If the Father simply wanted a human playmate and dutiful worshippers He could have left us on an essentially baron piece of land looking nothing like the Earth and the Universe as we know it. Food could have dropped from the heavens at regular intervals, or we may have been created to not need food at all… and lets not even get started on reproduction.
What a boring place it would have been, all be it that we would know no different. No, rather our God decided that we would not only have purpose but moreover rich variety. In Each other, in our dwelling place and in how we come to know Him. God decided that each of us would be unique in Him, that we would have ears to hear, eyes to see and with a simple choice breathe in unison with Him. Such is our whimsical God.
Take this picture of a pigeon for instance
We understand or at least interpret the purpose of many things. But I can’t help but feel that God loves surprises. Take this picture of a pigeon for instance. We know in our human understanding that the magnificent headdress on said pigeon is likely part of their reproductive cycle, they are more eye catching and stand out to a mate. Possible with some kind of species ‘ranking’ process – ‘mine is bigger and better than yours so I am therefore the most suitable mate.’
But the God I believe in goes beyond simple attraction and purpose, in spite of the fact that as humans we may model similar behaviour. No my God considers the beauty of whimsy, the fact that an impressive spray of feathers sets off the whole package. Many of us may ourselves may use highlights and foils for the visually striking impact they have, sometimes simply to make a statement. Why, if we are made in His image should we think God is any different?
What is to be gained you may ask of even exploring the whimsical side of our beloved Creator? Is there a moral to be gleaned at the end of things?
The Moral is simply this, that God is a whimsical God because He loves. He loves to delight in His creation and loves to share in the feeling of our hearts exploding with simple joy. From the relationship we share with His creatures, from the laughter they bring and love that they testify. From the artistic slope of the mountainside to the colour of each grain of sand pressing beneath our feet. This is a God of love, a whimsical God of Grace and purpose that loves to delight His children.
All He asks is that we love in return, that we love Him as He loves us, love one another as He loves us and love and care from the greatest to the meekest in His Creation… and back again.
When will you next love and delight in the whimsy of His creation I wonder…?
© 2017 Andrew Jewell – wedgetailministries.com
Bathe with me in the Glory of the Cross
By Andrew Jewell
Leadership is a funny thing, and in particular Christian leadership. It has the potential to take us to great heights of encouragement and at the same time send us tumbling head over heels like a tumbleweed through the streets of Jerusalem.
It can be isolating or invigorating, pulling us to do our best for those whom we serve whilst simultaneously causing us to question where and who we are ourselves in the overall scheme of things.
lead our people from the wilderness
In this part #4 of the Spiritual Warfare series I wanted to look at how as leaders we can ensure we stay strong against the tide of ever present spiritual opposition. As leaders we often find ourselves walking against the wind, we challenge the tide of everyday expectation and seek to lead our people from the wilderness. Below are five things to bear in mind as we embrace what only we, each to our own particular path has been called to do;
It seems like a statement of the obvious but it is just as easy for Christian leaders to neglect their own Spiritual growth and protection as it is for anyone else. We are after all focused on the well-being of others and we can easily forget that we have a part to play, a responsibility to ourselves also. We cannot point the way to truth and redemption if we have forgotten how to get their ourselves.
To attempt to lead without prayer is like attempting to drive a car without a steering wheel.
In an earlier post I talked about prayer being one of our primary weapons and in leadership it is vital. To attempt to lead without prayer is like attempting to drive a car without a steering wheel. Generally not a good idea, extremely difficult and usually resulting in disaster. We need to not only know that we are right with God first but moreover that we are hearing Him correctly.
Likewise being faithful in the Word serves the same purpose. In the professional world we must continually learn, grow, train and retrain and in our leadership walk this is essential. If we are to do it for God then we should be doing it better than if we did it for a company – so know your stuff and ensure that you stay strong in your Christian identity. Read your bible daily, meditate, learn from other great Christian influencers and constantly challenge yourself to find new ways to engage, commune with and become closer to God. When you’re strong your flock is strong and those around you see a bright beacon that points to the Father.
Leadership is hard, whether that be as parent, a business person or a Minister. One of the things that makes that walk a little easier is by putting the right people around us. We see politicians place cabinets around them, CEO’s have their boards and many in ministry have their councils and committees. But the Christian in leadership also needs those around him or her that support their Spiritual and emotional walk.
Saying we need the right people around us is one thing, being able to find and or place them may be a different challenge altogether. Jesus had His 12, likewise we need a pool of people with different gifts that bring different elements to our lives and are supportive.
choose carefully and moreover choose prayerfully.
Naturally in the first instance this may be your spouse, trusted friends or family. But beyond this think about the Spiritual gifts that you need to help you stay on track. It may be Prayer Warriors, Prophets, Teachers or Evangelists. It may be a collection of mentor’s that are upstanding in their chosen fields, or it may be that one special person that we would trust with our life and Spiritual well-being – choose carefully and moreover choose prayerfully.
Often we may feel our defences are secure. We pray and seek God regularly, go to church regularly and feel we’re in a pretty good place with God. That can all go out the window fairly quickly if our health takes a turn for the worst. I spoke in part one about how subtleties are the things that bring us undone the most, Satan’s most effective weapon being simple distraction to what’s really going on.
It is very easy to fall victim to that distraction when we are unwell, been pushing too hard, eating badly or neglecting sleep. Anyone that has had a bad case of the flu knows that its hard to stay positive, keep focus and maintain Spiritual well-being when we feel like we’ve been run over by a traction engine.
The best offence is a good defence and part of forming a good defence is knowing our limits and knowing what we need to maintain positive mental and physical health. In support of your own well-being strive for good quality sleep and a balanced diet to maintain optimal performance. Listen to your body and your mind and if you need to rest, rest.
Part of our emotional needs is also about maintaining balance, we need time for ourselves for growth and to recharge, time for whimsy, time for family and relationships and time for God. Even though we may be busy we can still find time to do what feeds us and those to whom we have an immediate connection and responsibility. Just as when someone jumps off a see-saw and we hit the ground with a thump, likewise its going to hurt one way or another if we forget to build in balance. Don’t give the Devil a foothold.
Make no mistake, true Godly leadership can be a lonely road. There will be things that only you can understand and revelations that are meant for you only. Moreover there will be times when we feel He has left us, when He seems to have taken His hand off us momentarily in order for us to learn, and it’s tough!
Be prepared to walk alone sometimes because no matter how many people we may have around us we all need to spend our own time in the wilderness, just as Jesus did. On the other side of that journey waits a deeper relationship, phenomenal growth and reward that only God can provide in the most meaningful ways.
As human beings we are raised to be pain adverse, to see anything that is uncomfortable or painful as bad. While this may seem to be truth in the immediate term, the long term is often God’s greatest concern. We are never broken unless He has a plan on how to put us back together again. The hard part is being patient through the breaking and rebuilding process, have Faith.
Faith then is the key, the key that unlocks our unprecedented destiny. Only YOU can accomplish what He has predestined you to do in Jesus Christ. Only you can touch that person with the Grace of God where others have failed, only you can lead your flock from the darkness with the torch of Christ and only you can stand as the example God intended you to be, seated at His right hand with your brother and Saviour.
Hold fast in what you have been taught, what you believe and in where He is leading you. Trust His Word, trust His voice and trust your own ability to listen. It is then that we are walking against the wind with great success! A testament to other believers of what God can do in you.
© Andrew Jewell 2017 – wedgetailministries.com
By Andrew Jewell
Part of being a Christian is fostering our personal faith and walk with Christ. Not only are we part of a wider corporate body of Christ, but more importantly we are a people personally saved.
We all have one… an empty tomb, a place where our earthly ideals have been laid to rest only to find greater peace in a relationship with Christ. We all have an empty tomb where we chose to leave behind those tattered rags of self and step out into the light.
We drop our beliefs and desires on alters of stone and allow God to take such an incomplete, limited life and mould it by His design.
We leave behind an empty tomb not just of corporate desires and universal sins but moreover the very personal twists and turns of our own Journey.
Just as we choose to receive God and believe in the miracle of the resurrection, so to we have chosen to rise from our tomb of suffering. From every dark thing that pulled us down, each moment that drove us to anger and each interlude where we danced with the devil in despair.
We all have an empty tomb… but sometimes we need to make the choice to take a step away from death and toward life. Just as Jesus stepped out of the coldness of the stone so must we.
Which direction will your next step be?
©Andrew Jewell – wedgetailministries.com
Welcome to part #3 of the Spiritual warfare series – Prayer, Power and Persistence. Rather than article as such today’s offering is basically a statement, a reminder of what prayer does, its vitality and its indispensability.
Over recent weeks I have spoken a lot about prayer in dealing with everyday spiritual adversity and in more specific areas including grief and finding solace in difficult times. Moreover prayer is our most valuable, available and effective weapon… When we can do nothing else we can always pray.
Prayer begins where we stop, it is the fountain from which we draw all strength and the very lifeline that connects us to the Father’s heart. In context of Spiritual warfare it not only sustains us, but protects, defends and mounts an assault on the enemy beyond what we could possibly do alone.
‘Prayer begins where we stop, it is the fountain from which we draw all strength and the very lifeline that connects us to the Father’s heart.’
A central element to our prayer life however is not just that it is a means of merely exercising power, but that it teaches us persistence and discipline. It teaches us the importance of always reaching out to God no matter how big or small our problems may be. It teaches us of God’s faithfulness toward His children, of His jealous protection of His people and the immutable faithfulness that holds our relationship with the Godhead in place.
The great preacher and teacher Charles Spurgeon noted simply that;
‘To pray is to enter the treasure-house of God and to gather riches out of an inexhaustible storehouse.’*
*(C.H Spurgeon – https://prayer-coach.com/2010/10/04/prayer-quotes-charles-spurgeon/)
It is in this context that we minister and within this framework that we battle daily with those Spiritual assaults that disguise themselves so cunningly as wrong thinking, broken belief systems, broken down self image and evil self talk. It is in the persistent visitation to this storehouse of heaven that we find our strength and access immutable Grace. For if we do not pray how do we expect to come to know the Father other than as words on a page.
Moreover, whilst the Holy Spirit speaks and guides our interpretation and brings us to God’s presence, without conversation we are mute believers. How do we approach the throne of Grace if we do not ask? And how do we say ‘I love you’ if we never open our heart mind or mouth to speak.
Video courtesy of YouTube – Lion of Judah
© Andrew Jewell – wedgetailministries.com
‘For You have been a shelter and a refuge for me, a strong tower against the adversary. I will dwell in your tabernacle forever; let me find refuge and trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah’ (Ps 61:3-4 AB )
What a wonderful thing it is to dwell. To be able to pause, hover and hesitate in God’s presence. To exist in His time, rather than our own.
Most often we can be guilty of being resentful of God’s timing simply because it doesn’t line up with our own. Our pride gets in the way and says -‘No Father, I know best!’ . How very thankful I am that I am wrong when I start to assume I have the full knowledge of my Father’s plan.
You see all this time in my forty something years I missed it… I have continued to argue about timing and when and how I think things should fall into place. But I missed the point. The point is not that when or how they might fall into place, but rather that the Father is in His Place… and wants us to be there too.
I totally overlooked the fact that as a Christian, the point wasn’t just in the timing of the end result, but in the timing that when I trust Him, I have longer to be able to spend time resting and waiting in His presence.
I have the time to dwell, and allow God to speak intimately, closely, with gentle whispers and grace. To hold my heart in His hands and gently massage it as we would holding a dove in our arms with a calming coo.
This was recently brought to my attention whilst reading II Peter 3:8-9;
‘Nevertheless, do not let this one fact escape you, beloved, that with the Lord one day is a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. [Ps.90:4.] The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.’ (AB)
I am left asking myself how it would look if instead of fighting the things i don’t understand, when they don’t happen when I want, if instead I revelled in the opportunity to rest in his Grace…
May the Father’s blessing rest upon you all,
(credit Christ Eternity – YouTube)
© Andrew Jewell – wedgetailministries.com
By Andrew Jewell
” The Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under Whose wings you have come to take refuge! Then she said, Let me find favor in your sight, my lord. For you have comforted me and have spoken to the heart of your maidservant, though I am not as one of your maidservants” (Rth 2:12-13)
This passage jumped out at me while reflecting on the recent tragic events of Charlottesville. How sad it is that often it takes a tragedy for people to recognise the need to treat one another with the Grace that Boaz afforded Ruth in the above passage.
Ruth was treated with kindness, Grace and respect despite the fact that she was not a member of his household. How often do we extend the same Grace to one another and what does it take for others to embrace an attitude of Grace? Moreover we read that Boaz acknowledges Who that Grace stems from and the comfort and shelter that being under my Father’s wings provide.
It is no accident that birds are used so often in the bible for their imagery. Many of us from young children are fascinated by flight and have wondered what it may be like to fly. Flight implies a sense of freedom, of Grace, of being uplifted, and in the the case of the eagle great power and majesty.
Such is the nature and rewards of being one of God’s Children. We have access to a freedom in Jesus Christ that we cannot attain on our own. Freedom from Sin, freedom of access to the Father, freedom to use and embrace the gifts of the Spirit, unconditional love and unsurpassed power to witness the Glory of God.
Charlottesville serves as a reminder that hate and division is never the answer. No reconciliation or growth ever comes from an attitude concerned with selfish preservation or seeking to secure our own selfish position over and above anyone else. No rather we are taught to reach out to one another in an attitude of Grace that others may know, just as Ruth did the shelter under my Father’s wings.
The story of Boaz and Ruth illustrates why this attitude of grace is so important. Without it Jesus would not have been born into the house He was (Ruth and Boaz’s family line led to David and by consequence onto that of Christ). Jesus would not have been raised by the parents He was nor likely to have been living in the place He was. God’s purposes included where and when Jesus would minister. It is no coincidence that this passage carries God’s message of Grace, as one of many precursors of the Grace that was to come.
Next time I am challenged by my own selfishness or fear I hope that I can recognise it for what it is and respond in Grace, no matter how small or large that situation may be. I hope you will too..
© Andrew Jewell – wedgetailministries.com
Often when we hear or speak about Spiritual warfare we are speaking in context of a fight of sorts. An ongoing battle for the soul waged against the unseen through manifestations or ailments that are very obvious. However this is not always the case, most often what we tackle and deal with daily are those life challenges that bring with them Spiritual challenges. One common area and the subject of this article, part #2 of this seven part series is grief, and grieving and Spiritual warfare.
The Nature of Grief
Grief has many faces
The reality is grief is something that we will all experience at some time during out lives. With loss, sudden or profound change or even psychological attacks on self and self worth (i.e. loss of perceived self or perspective) or another areas of our lives grief comes – and often sets up house.
Grief has many faces and sadly in our human condition it is a matter of when not if. But how often do we tackle this Spiritually? Often I would argue we are too embroiled in our emotions (and that’s OK for a time). We often cannot stop long enough to even consider how we might use prayer and our relationship with God to help us get through it.
More often than not, and as a very normal part of the grieving process we will spend time bargaining, arguing and railing against God for a resolution. A solution that we hope with take away the pain and stop us having to experience something that we are not at all comfortable with. Often times any other sort of prayer for help comes at the end, when we have reached the stage of acceptance and need a hand to pick ourselves up.
This has its own purpose because we realise when we stop fighting that He was there all along, He hadn’t abandoned us but rather was simply waiting for us to be still and come to him in our own time. It is in these times that true transformation and healing often takes place.
But what of the process proper? Where is the Spiritual battle? Is there not some way that we can find the strength to muddle through prayer and find solace in the scarcity of control?
Thankfully yes there is, because when we are out of control is when God is most in control. The Father has the space to act, behind the scenes and keep us moving forward and hold us together. Most often we don’t see because we feel out of control. But that doesn’t mean our Father is.
Proactively seeking the Father
I spoke in part #1 of this series about using prayer as an offensive weapon, that the best defense was a good offense, and in grief this is just as true. We know when disaster strikes that we will be numb, we won’t know what to do or how to feel, little-own how to act. We seek wisdom of our own understanding, looking for answers rather than seek to pray things through.
Ecc. 1:18 notes ‘For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge the more grief.’ (NIV) In other words when we seek wisdom without God we become frustrated, frustration leads to anger and in turn more grief. Such is the process.
However what happens when instead we begin to understand things in light of God’s will? When we pray for wisdom and emotional protection and for Him to bring us through in His will, not our own. All of a sudden our brokenness has become a prayer offensive. A show of force against darkness that is playing on the situation in our lives.
Likewise, when we maintain an active prayer life those lines of communication are already open. Our Spiritual troops and internal Spiritual defenses are already in place and holding the line. The troops are in place because God heard our prayers the first time. All the time through our communication with Him we were together fortifying our defenses.
The Why Question?
Inevitably we are going to ask the question ‘Why?’ . ‘Why did God let it happen?’, ‘Why me’ etc. But maybe, just maybe we are simply not asking the right question. Perhaps what we should really be asking is when and who.
That is, it happened on Golgotha to Jesus Christ. Our access to a loving God, to be able to question the things we don’t understand, to have access to the Father all came about because of Christs sacrifice on the Cross. Likewise, our authority to command angels and intercede against those things that would try to keep us apart from the Father also came about through that single act of Grace.
You may be thinking about now that the above avoids the question, even that God avoids our questions. But when in fact it poses the very question at the core of our concern. Do we trust God, no matter how hard or confused or painful things seem to be acting in our best interest and on our behalf? -Just as He did on the Cross.
When we cry out, we often cry out not just for an answer but for one we are happy with. But many things are and always will remain the mysteries of God, He remains sovereign and in control. Should He give us an honest and direct answer we simply may not in our fallen state be able to comprehend its true meaning.
There is peace to be found in being out of control, knowing there is someone and something bigger than ourselves.
In an earlier piece I wrote about Butterfly-faith and the butterfly effect on our faith. In similarity to the butterfly effect we rarely see the roll on affect of any one event, and certainly not to the extent that God sees it. We are human, we are finite and our extent of understanding to a significant degree is limited to our condition, particularly if viewed from a cosmological and eschatological view-point.
Again in Ecc 1:9 we read ‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again and; there is nothing new under the sun’ (NIV). Although what we are experiencing is devastating for us, for God it is also part what has been and what will be again in His Creation. It often seems of little comfort but it draws a picture of a God well beyond our own understanding of what we see unfolding in front of us and feel happening around us. There is peace to be found in being out of control, knowing there is someone and something bigger than ourselves.
The Prayer Offensive
To look to Spiritual warfare proper in context to grief prayer as in most areas is our greatest weapon. But using a weapon effectively also takes practice, training and building of certain relationship with that weapon until it is an extension of ourselves. Martial artists would regard it as muscle memory- you act out of where your body automatically has trained itself to go.
Acting Spiritually and emotionally is no different. If our first response is prayer, then our first response will remain prayer. Instead of praying because we are in trouble, we have already been praying and therefore better prepared to respond to adversity, more prepared to act and possibly even aware of what is to come. But again it is a relationship and therefore not one-sided. We need to listen for that still small voice of peace that is the Father. We need to be practiced enough to know it when we hear it. And we need to be sure enough in our relationship with God to be obedient to it.
Prayer alone is not our only weapon, nor our only defense as noted in part #1 , but it is nonetheless indispensable in dealing with grief and loss.
© Andrew Jewell – wedgetailministries.com
Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought about what it means to live by design. What a great topic for this weeks #MondayMinistry.
As Christians we all struggle. Struggle to work out what Faith means, how it looks, what we should do. We strive each day seeking to be better. But to be ‘better’ we need to ask ourselves just how that looks.
Life and living by design means that somewhere in our thinking there has to be a map, a plan, a holistic schematic of what we are trying to create. Likewise there also has to be a Creator of that schematic. A Leonardo that has dreamed of our lives as a machine of fantastic wonder.
That Leonardo is the Father and we are by His design.
As human beings we seek satisfaction, to achieve, to love, to be successful and be loved. This is His design. Where we get lost is when our own ideas on who we should be and what we should experience don’t line up with God.
We try to design our own path for the wrong reasons. To be more than the next person, to earn nore than our colleague, to appear happier and surrounded more with trimmings than others. That is often our design, and we have that choice.
The question then becomes ‘is that the choice I really want to take?’
We forget all too often all that glitters isn’t gold. Not just with money but who we model ourselves upon, who we are in relationship with and what we are seeking in that next promotion.
Do you really want to live by your own design without a map? Or by His design, as our design.
If He can hold the stars in the heavens and sustain every nuance of our lives purely out of love – do we really think we know how to do it better?
© Andrew Jewell – Wedgetailministries.com
Welcome to part 1 of a seven part series in discussing Spiritual warfare. Over the coming weeks I will be looking at common issues regarding the nature of Spiritual warfare, and where in this Pastor’s humble opinion things get confusing for believers if not down right scary.
We live in a time where we are surrounded by Spiritual imagery, from movies through to the simple religious items and icons we might pass on our streets. These things are part of who we are as a culture, and as believers have very real meaning and significance. So good, some not so good and others we may simply hold of little consequence.
I want to share a little about the subtleties of the Spiritual. About where myth and misdirection have become common place, often distracting us from the reality of the true nature of the ongoing Spiritual battle around us.
Ignorance is something that we exercise often because its easy. It’s easy to think of demons and angels fighting it out in the heavens- at a distance, not so easy to consider that that fight may be taking place right by our side. Its easy to conjure images of powers beyond our knowledge manifestly fighting for the well-being of man kind. Not so easy to accept that the Father may well have angels fighting for us personally on many different fronts to keep us from emotional harm, help us through a bad day, make sure those creditors are in check, or ensure our children don’t fall over and break themselves.
The fact is the majority of spiritual confrontation takes place beyond our sight. Happening on an ethereal plane that we in our human condition are often not able to view or experience. This by all accounts I imagine is a good thing. We have enough problems trying to understand the deeper musings of God for the most part without witnessing it with our own eyes or hearing it with our own ears.
What we know is limited to what we can draw from Scripture, early Church fathers, widely accepted apocryphal and pseudepigraphal text. The rest is largely subject to personal interpretation and what is revealed by the Holy Spirit. Due to movies and books we have come to expect the evidence of the demonic to be full Exorcist twists accompanied by shaking, screeching and all manner of the unexplained.
‘Let he who has never lost his temper with the coffee machine first thing in the morning cast the first stone.’
Whilst this may have some basis in truth in rare cases of bona fide possession, the ongoing battle with the demonic is far more subtle. In reality to lead even the most devout Christian astray the Devil doesn’t need to work that hard. Let he who has never lost his temper with the coffee machine first thing in the morning cast the first stone.
It is a bitter pill to swallow that we are not as bullet proof Spiritually as we would generally consider ourselves. Whilst we are under God’s protection we still live in a fallen world where things do and will go wrong on a daily basis. The question is how will we choose to deal with it when it comes.
Reality checking is one of those things that I believe we don’t do enough. As broken human beings we are very good at catastrophising. To tempt us or even to make us fall Satan need only que up a number of little things to get a big BANG at the end of it. A sleepless night and a broken cup here, a stubbed toe there and before we know it we are in a well of despair and self pity if not rage.
Sometimes as those formed from dust it is easy to be sucked up in the vacuum. Such is the nature of demons, dust and deception.
On the other side of the coin we can tend to focus too much on these little devils treating us as marionettes prone to madness. We can start to jump at shadows and get trapped into a war of feeling ‘under attack’ or that the devil made me do it.
‘marionettes prone to madness’
Theologically speaking if we trace it right back to Eden, the Devil didn’t make us do anything- We chose. And since then we have been choosing for ourselves moving forward. Whilst the unseen may tempt us to Sin, it is our choice to follow through. Our biggest problem is that it is often all too easy, extremely subtle and difficult to catch, regulate and address. That’s where prayer comes in.
Its a phrase we here a lot around the place with some merit. We often hear sayings analogous with war, but the reality is that we are in battle every day with the spiritual. Our weapons and defense the armour of God.
‘Pray hard daily, for strength, protection and all manner of things’
Ephesians outlines these tools in chapter 6:11ff not the least of which is a shield of Faith, sword of the Spirit – the Word of God and prayer.
Bottom line is that Prayer in an offensive weapon, not just defensive. In procurring a good defense then we need to go on the offensive to keep pesky spiritual critters at bay.
Pray hard daily, for strength, protection and all manner of things as Scripture teaches. Be bold in your walk and your faith as He has always got our back.
Remember that some of the hardest things to fight are the things we don’t see coming. It pays then to know your weak spots so you can address them in prayer and present a good offensive front. Get to know yourself and allow God to show you where the chinks are.
Finally know your Bible. This is one of your primary weapons and how well you use depends on how well you know it. Its no accident that when we see exorcisms in the movies that they have a bible in one hand and recite scripture and scriptural concepts. Life often does immitate art and there is a long tradition of fighting darkness using the Word.
The same is true in everyday life. These are your weapons and by owning your identity as a Christian you are on the front line and need to know how to use them.
Demons, dust (us) and deception are a part of our everyday lives. But our power and authority rests in Jesus Christ.
© Andrew Jewell- wedgetailministries.com
Learning how to manage our thoughts when we are being bombarded daily with images, work and personal demands is no simple task. Add in time for devotions, prayer, meditation, household expectations and exercise and its easy to get overwhelmed.
How do we learn to find solace in the chaos? To remove our thoughts from the global drone and unplug and be with God. If there was an easy answer then I guess there wouldn’t be any need for this article.
So here are a couple of things that can guide us in finding Christ in the silence of a busy world.
First of all let me just say that the title of this piece- finding Christ in the silence of a busy World sounds like a contradiction in terms from the outset. Nevertheless there is silence to be found in a busy World, we just have to know where to look for it.
Stop the World I want to get off
Like the hunt for assumed extinct animals, the trail is hazy at best. What happened to that quiet, still space that I know God occupied within me? What happened to my balance when all around me I hear screams of frustration and cries of desperation for stillness. Stop the World, I want to get off.
In Matthew 26 we hear of Jesus removing Himself to pray, in Luke 6 we read of Jesus going up into a mountain to pray, in Acts 10:9 we read of Peter going up to the roof to pray. In each example we see that even Jesus and His Apostles, without the distractions of the internet, media and ever demanding modern lives – still needed to withdraw.
Moreover, the Bible speaks time and again of God offering a place of stillness and rest. In seeking this our part is to set ourselves apart. To withdraw where we can pray, meditate and push into God without distractions.
Is it easy to find that space? Often not, however we are called to make that space available for God. Find what works and at a time that fits your schedule and be disciplined it it. For when we set that time aside we are better rested, invigorated and have a clearer ‘line’ to our Father God.
Often I hear people say that even though they pray their prayers are not answered or they cannot hear God. Without getting into the finer points of the theology of prayer my first reaction is usually – ‘Have you stopped to listen?’
Its hard to hear God if we simply won’t shut up. We need to allow room to hear His voice, sense His guidance and experience His peace if our prayer life is to be effective and we are to move in His Spirit in our everyday lives.
being still is a skill
Additionally we need to seek His voice in that stillness. Some days may be easier than others but it is difficult to hear the whisperings of our heart if we can’t quiet our mind. This is where meditation becomes important. Whether that be meditating on scripture, focusing on a Christian image such as the Cross or the face of Jesus or simply on breath, being still is a skill.
Do or do not, there is no try.
As with any other skill, learning to be still takes practice and discipline. In part setting the scene and schedule and in part learning to identify when we need it. We all fall out of routine from time to time and it is then that it is hardest to find Christ in the silence of a busy world.
Sometimes the obvious solution is the best solution. To quote Yoda in the Empire Strikes Back – ‘Do or do not, there is no try.’ In other words ‘Be Still’ means just that.
© Andrew Jewell – wedgetailministries.com
by Andrew Jewell
What can I say, Whovians everywhere have been shaken to the core with the recent announcement of the first female Dr. Who! Not since Starbuck was replaced with a girl on the latest incarnation of Battlestar Galactica has there been such a stir. Is this the end of the Sci-fi world as we know it? Is there no end to the travesty as our favorite mainstays are taken over, changed and bent to the will of this changeling millennium?
To many of this dedicated fan-base it might well be early signs of end times and the coming apocalypse. I ask myself ‘what does it all mean?’
Moreover, what does this mean for us in the Church if end times are so near?
Luckily there are always things we as Christians and the Church can learn from changes in the world at large so lets have a good look at 3 Amazing And Powerful Things About Church And The New ‘Dr’
It has been said that the famous last words of the Church may well be – ‘ We never did it that way before’. We are often frightened to change what we know lest we plunge headlong into the abyss.
I wonder if the BBC had thought the same thing in adversity to change would there indeed be anything to discuss about the Galifreyan icon. The reality is the Church is well placed to learn from the competitive media market. One thing that big business, and particularly the media understand is that change, shock and awe is a very effective marketing tactic.
When is the last time the Church did the same- excepting perhaps the radical ideal of the newly born hellinistic Church?
That is not to say that we throw the baby out with the bath water and totally undo how we do things, but there is room to advance. Do we use the Media to its full advantage in advancing the Kingdom of God? And if so are we sending the right messages in the right ways?
Radicalize the Love.
One thing that producers and directors do well is innovate. Likewise we can do the same with our spread of the Gospel. New Themes, new platforms but with the same message of hope, grace and love. Radicalize the Love.
One of the things I hear most from teenagers and even up to younger middle aged adults is that they feel the Church can offer them little. They have lost the message of a radical, life changing, life affirming faith. We need new incarnations of the old message that reaches us where we live. Dr Who is up to incarnation number 13, I wonder then if the Church is brave enough to reinvent itself also?
I would imagine that the release of such ground breaking news to the Whovian population as we witnessed recently was greeted by some with wailing and gnashing of teeth as it shook the Time- lord tradition to its knees. However, boldly venturing forth into the new, the new Dr was born. Heralded as a new beginning, much like the word of the coming Messiah spread through the ancient World over two thousand years ago.
And we are still talking about it today.
Often it seems in an effort to become ‘relevant’, the Church bends to the Spiritual dangers of societal pressure in an effort to be popular among men. However I would argue that the Church’s purpose is not to try and fit in, but rather rattle the cages wildly of the worldly and comfortable. In many ways the Church should be unpopular simply because it stands for everything the World is not. Rather than preaching the importance of being the best above the next person we preach humility. Rather than the glory of money and possessions we focus on the Spiritual riches to be found in Christ. And rather than glorifying the pride of revenge and ‘getting back’ at others we are called to model forgiveness.
Jesus never asked us to go forth and be popular. He simply asked us to go forth and make disciples. And that as many of us know often rattles cages. Why? Because we are contrary… A beautiful conundrum of how living in God’s will brings success in life. Because if we have that love that surpasses all understanding, and that flows through our very lives, we are rich indeed. Successful beyond measure and heirs to the Kingdom.
The new developments to our best loved Sci-Fi series rattles cages, is the Church, and indeed us as individuals brave enough to do the same?
Producers of successful TV and movie franchises understand that change is important to keep things fresh and interesting. Often that may be a gamble, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but they have to take chances. They understand that culture changes with subtlety but you need to stay ahead of it. To ride the wave headlong into where it can take you.
The Church is the same in many ways. In order to stay in the game we need to understand that things change with generations and what is happening in the world. We don’t live in a vacuum. Does that mean we abandon our Christian principles or doctrines? Certainly not. But it does mean that what worked for worshipers as a platform 50 or even 20 years ago may not work as well now. The world is different, more connected, more immediacy, more technology and our communication style has changed. Now we may speak with people all over the world with a few strokes of a key.
The Church could ask itself then what this might mean to how we worship, how we teach others about God and how we commune and come together. Embrace the current wave. Once we work out what that is new experiences new ways and new forms of coming close to God through Jesus Christ will present themselves.
God built Creation to be ever changing, evolving in his Grace so that we might learn and experience as much of Him as possible. Theology even by definition is an active learning about God. Why then do we struggle to embrace new applications for worship, evangelism and Church growth?
A new Dr Who teaches us of the importance of embracing new incarnations. That change is a good thing and that moreover it is important to rock the boat from time to time. The reason we can see 3 amazing and powerful things about church and the new Dr may just be that we still have things to learn about embracing change.
The question remains what to we want to do about it?
Below is a transcript of an interview with Andrew Jewell, founder of Wedgetail Ministries. Have a read and learn more about what Wedgetail is about.
Interviewer (Int.)- ‘Tell me a little more about Wedgetail Ministries, its a relative unknown and I find it helps to know more about where people are coming from in their Ministry..’
Wedgetail Ministries (Wdge.) –‘Wedgetail started out for a number of reasons, I really felt a strong call for a Ministry that was focused on Church unity, providing solid Spiritual food and encouragement to anyone looking for greater communion with God.’
Int – ‘What kind of people do you think use the service the most and visit the blog?’
Wdge- ‘Well, as I said it’s really about encouragement and we all need that from time to time. Often we need more than just what we are getting in the local church. We need to tend our own Spiritual growth in a proactive way also through prayer, reading our bible and so on. Wedgetail I guess adds another layer to that. Those that complete formal ministry training often study from great Christian leaders and the early Church fathers, Wedgetail kind of fits into that category. I’d like to think it provides another avenue to grow, commune and learn.’
‘So those that I would hope seek out the service is anyone looking to learn about God and to be encouraged in their common faith. Hopefully also to find a home if that is what they are looking for..’
Int – ‘Interesting that you use the term find a home, what do you mean by that?’
Wdge – ‘Over the years and particularly since I have started this online Ministry I have noticed an increase in people feeling becoming more and more disillusioned by the traditional church context for a number of reasons.’
Int – ‘What sort of reasons?’
Wdge – ‘How long have you got! (laughing) … In all seriousness though people get disillusioned for many different reasons. I want to stress that this Ministry isn’t about encouraging people away from the traditional setting. But rather providing an alternative for those that don’t feel they fit in. For some it is simply that they don’t like crowds or get self-conscious, for others it is because they have had a bad experience within the congregational setting. One of our biggest challenges in the Church is that we are full of broken people and sometimes they have sharp edges.’
‘Others may be disillusioned with structure, a particular focus or Theology or preaching style and have become a little gun-shy after many failed attempts to feel at home. Wedgetail offers an online alternative to that through pastoral support, articles about Faith and the Hive newsletter.’
Int – ‘So then is Wedgetail a Church?’
Wdge – ‘The answer to that one is both yes and no. No it is not a Church as we traditionally understand it but on the other hand the Greek term for the Church is ‘ecclesia’ which means gathering. To that end Wedgetail is a place for a gathering of believers all seeking the common goal of being closer to Christ in a message of Christian unity. Wedgetail seeks to throw off those robes that divide us if you like to be as one body of Christ. In some ways Wedgetail is an online family.
Int – ‘Ecclesia is an unusual term for a layman, what is your background
Wdge – ‘I studied for the Ministry a number of years ago and so have a Theological degree and Pastoral experience but also various bits and bobs around counselling and other areas with an extensive background in both.’
Int – ‘What are the next steps, where do you see the ministry being taken?’
Wdge – ‘It’s certainly been a steep learning curve and the site and the ministry is evolving all the time. Really Wedgetail is turning into an online congregation of sorts for those looking for rest and growth in the promotion of Christian unity. Much of how the Ministry is delivered will be facilitated through the Hive newsletter and the blog but there’s also a few other ideas on the way. Certainly there is a myriad of possibilities when working with a new medium like online… so it’s really a watch this space moment.’
Int – ‘Say I’m looking for encouragement and maybe I’m feeling a bit tattered around the edges, how can I become involved?’
Wdge – ‘The best way is to sign up to the Hive through the pop up or just go to one of the editions on the site and also following the blog. There’s also a facebook page, twitter and instagram that often has different content. I also regularly accept prayer requests and queries through the site in addition to the articles and newsletter. Even if you are just looking for some general advice or someone to talk to about your Faith walk. In addition to that I also offer online counselling for deeper issues and a Pastoral and Congregational support package which is a fee for service set-up.’
‘As I say there are a lot of changes on the way as to how I Minister through the site including different avenues for worship etc. so my advice would be to follow along and check in regularly’
Int – ‘Is there anything else you would like to add?’
Wdge – ‘Just I guess that it doesn’t really matter too much how you choose to worship or where you feel at home. As long as there is a Cross there somewhere you’re on the right track. Pray carefully, listen and seek good advice and nourishment, we’re all in this for the same goal – to see the Kingdom come in its fullness. I’d urge everyone reading to please make sure they are getting fed somewhere, the Christian walk can be difficult but amazingly satisfying and we all need help sometimes to stay in tune with God.’
‘As I’ve been known to state before – ask yourself how loud the Church could shout if we shouted in one voice.’
© Andrew Jewell – Wedgetail Ministries 2017
by Andrew Jewell
We talk a lot about Grace as a concept within the Church. Usually (and rightly so) in reference to Christ’s redeeming work on the Cross. Not so often however do we discuss the Grace as something we show to one another as an outpouring of the Grace God has shown us.
Often we talk about forgiveness and love as separate entities, however taken together these things are an expression of Grace. We choose to give freely in love, out of the love God has given us and forgive as He forgave us.
..to give on top of forgiveness..
But what about our own expression of Grace- not simply Christian love or choosing to forgive but choosing to look past what may have been done to us to act in a way that will empower, lift up and edify someone else. Not just to forgive, but moreover to give on top of forgiveness.
It’s very easy to say we will be kind and edifying to those that in our opinion deserve it. It is another entirely to edify others for the sole reason that they don’t deserve it- Just as Jesus did.
To clarify, acting in love toward those that seek it or need our Christian love is part of our Christian walk, to be the expression of Christ on Earth. But to go the extra mile, to move beyond ourselves to lift before God those that have hurt us emotionally, physically or spiritually brings us to the foot of the Cross. We experience first hand the greater secrets of Grace that we forget.
Jesus was crucified not because we deserved saving, but solely because we didn’t deserve Salvation. Grace was not simply a response to our need, but an outpouring of Love because the Father chose to act beyond Himself for those that could offer him nothing in return. Instead we offered only human brokenness, frequent unfaithfulness, disobedience and betrayal spattered with a light dusting of love. Often when we feel it is in our interest to seek his relationship and mercy.
The nature of Grace is that which gives beyond forgiveness, moves beyond where we can move ourselves and points always to the Father.
When is the last time you acted in true Grace as the Father has shown us… and when will the next opportunity arise? When can we next build our Philosophy of Grace?
For so long you have nurtured me, fed me, picked me up when I have fallen and loved me even when I have railed against you. You have been there through thick and thin, teaching me along the way, teaching me to trust… over and over again teaching me to trust, I must be a slow learner….
Like an incensed puppy, intent on chewing my way through everything I could touch I have rebelled. I have sought paths that you have encouraged me away from and again and again. And again and again I have found myself floundering face down in my own water bowl. Only for you to lift my head time and again to stop me from drowning in my own curiosity.
Father, when they Crucified my Brother, though your cry shook the earth you still found time to set aside a space for me. A Space in your heart was aligned to me, a place by your side, an inconceivable inheritance always behind your plans for me. What have I done that I should be considered so special? What have I done that no matter all your concerns of the universe you still find it important to find time… for me.
I answer myself knowing that there is nothing that I have done, nothing that I could possibly do to make myself worthy. That only in your Grace and your love is such a position in your heart possible. I cannot force you or anyone else to love me any more than I can hold the wind in my hands.
Every time I reach up I find you reaching down. Every time I cry out, I hear you cry louder at the pain of your beloved child. Yet every time my tears roll your gentle hand is there to brush them away and say ‘be still my child, for I Love you more than the power of a thousand oceans’.
Father you are my rock, my foundation when everything else is slipping away. My potter when I am nothing but ruins and I love you.
I know one day we will meet again face to face but until then I have your voice to carry me . To see me through as you have time and again. Eternal, relentless, pursuing love. Far more than I can offer.. sometimes more than I can cope with, but always a direct chain from my heart to yours.
Say ‘Hi’ to my Brother Yeshua, I’ve missed Him and looking forward to seeing Him again soon.
I Love you Dad,
by Andrew Jewell
I don’t know about you but one of the hardest things I think we experience in our walk is when our will, or more accurately, our wants clash with God’s will.
Even for the most devoted Christian it is easy to get confused between what we consider our needs, and what God does. Arguing with Him even though we often try seems pointless. Not because He doesn’t listen, but because on some level we know He is right.
Throughout James 4 we hear of rebuke toward God’s people that are trying to go off their own way. Wanting and trying to hold tight to prayer but for all the wrong reasons. How often do we fall into the trap of praying out of selfish desire, pride or ambition?
How often do we feel God hasn’t answered us the way we want because what we were driving at and what God was steering us toward was different?
The devil is in the detail
We might say ‘I could never do that’. But the devil is often in the detail. Our motives get confused and clouded. Not just for our own sake but for others. Maybe you don’t feel you are providing for your family or children enough. Maybe you feel that because Mrs Jones down the street has a nicer car, house or clothes that God loves her more, or that you are unworthy. Most certainly not! Why, because God judges each of us by our relationship with Him and acts accordingly.
We may have many children but not all are taught the same lesson at the same time.
Lessons come in many seasons, some are about finances and pride, others about relationships and still others how we respond to the Kingdom and Creation. The hardest lesson to learn in Faith is simply that – Faith. Faith that He knows us better than we know ourselves. Faith that God provides all we need, not us.
Trust that his will for us is better than our own. Trust and expect that society and materialism will always let us down, but the Father won’t. Be all you can be in Faith trusting not in the seen, but the unseen.
It is then we begin to live in his will.
© Andrew Jewell – Wedgetail Ministries 2017
We All have a need, a need to feel that the sins of our past don’t drive us. A need to feel that we have a hand in not repeating old mistakes and are free to make new ones. A sense of freedom that no matter where we are or where we’ve come from that we have a fighting chance.
That’s where Grace comes in. Grace comes because we can’t. Can’t move forward can’t get off a loop of misfortune or bad decisions. Can’t save ourselves in spite of Ourselves. Grace is the reaching down by God to our situation, to lift us up and give us hope.
Grace is given freely, from the Father, through Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit. Grace is where God starts after we have stopped. Grace is the Divine outpouring of love, help and hope for one reason.
That we simply don’t deserve it.
But He chooses to give it anyway. Because we don’t deserve it.
In our brokenness love becomes strong, purely because perfect loves has no motivation other than He can.
How often do you model what you see the Father doing, purely from a point of love? How often do we give to others not only when they don’t deserve it, but rather because they don’t deserve it?
That is the true nature if Grace…
~ Andrew ~ for Wedgetail
Many may ask ‘how do we communicate, how do we really hear God?’ . One answer is certainly through the experience of Creation, another through collective worship and yet another through the voice of Pastors and Teachers. But for myself the most meaningful and intimate way is through simple prayer.
People say to me that they pray, but that they struggle to hear God’s voice, to sense that He is listening, and even more often that they feel a reply never comes. For me that is where contemplative prayer comes in. Not just as a simple one-sided engagement with God but moreover a mindful experience of personal worship that is often visual, experiential and to a degree audible in my mind and heart’s eye.
Recently during my meditative prayer I experienced a story I wish to share, a short sojourn taken with Jesus as we met under the Olive tree…
‘…As we met we began talking as we walked. I would bring up all sorts of things to do with where I was headed? Was I doing the right thing? Was He pleased with me? This pattern of conversation was fairly usual for me, a little worried, often confused and wanting to know more than I probably needed to about the ‘grand plan’. Walking in Faith isn’t easy and we often seek reassurance. But in His usually fashion He would smile that beautiful, peaceful smile, full of joy and laugh out loud – mostly to Himself with a knowing smile.
He always would leave me with that feeling of ‘you worry too much’ and ‘trust me, you’re doing great!’.
As we walked He would speak truth, always encouraging me. Truths about the universe and the impact each step we took had, about the value of each speck of dust and grain of sand when it came to building the Kingdom. We progressed down the road a little further until we reached the outskirts of a town, a town under construction…
As we approached the gates I looked and I could see many houses being built from golden, dusty stone. Wooden scaffolds were everywhere and workers were scurrying from place to place, looking ever busy and engrossed at the task at hand.
Then I looked again and saw that the workers were angels, each taken to its own task, some with trumpets and scrolls to direct the work and others laying foundations, placing stone upon stone, forming roofs and shaping walls.
‘Look’ my Lord said to me. ‘Each time you reach out to another in My name, each time you share My word, each time you acknowledge Me and lift others above yourself and make yourself an instrument of My mercy… this is what you are building’. ‘A great city of My Kingdom, a place paved with Grace through your good works. Now it is small but over years it will be a mighty city..” Never forget what you are building for me when you are obedient and act in love, this is your purpose in Me.. to spread my Word and build the Kingdom.’
Needless to say after this prayer session I felt both humbled and inspired, renewed and strengthened. I felt I had been shown a great Spiritual truth. True we may have heard similar things many times simply from listening to a sermon or someone quoting Scripture, but the reality of meditative practice breathes a new life and connection into a relationship with God. My thoughts on how to achieve a similar experience? An experience of your own personal relationship with God beyond what you have known previously? Get hungry. Search, pray, make time and be still. It is in those quiet moments that we experience a new connection unlike any other.
‘The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me.’ John 10:27 (AB)
©Andrew Jewell – Wedgetail Ministries 2017
Tolkien described The Lord of the Rings as “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.” Is it possible to summarize this dimension of Tolkien’s magnum opus in fewer than 600 words? You better believe it!
The connections between The Lord of the Rings and Christianity are numerous. There is a connection symbolically between the One Ring and Original Sin and, therefore, between Mount Doom and Golgotha. The elvish word for waybread, lembas, means life-bread, or bread of life, connecting it to the Eucharist. Like the Eucharist, lembas feeds the will. The date on which the Ring is destroyed is March 25, the date of both the Annunciation and the Crucifixion, connecting the destruction of the Ring (sin) with the Incarnation, and with the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
Although Tolkien did not write a formal allegory in which characters simply represent historical figures, it is true nonetheless that several members of the fellowship represent, albeit with subtlety, significant Christian typological figures. Frodo, as the Ring-bearer, can be seen as the cross-bearer, and therefore as both a Christ figure and a figure of the Christian who takes up his cross. Sam is, in consequence, a figure of the loyal disciple. Boromir, as the only man in the Fellowship, is the representative of humanity and is therefore an Everyman figure. Aragorn, insofar as he is the true king who descends into the kingdom of the dead, having the power to release the dead themselves from their curse, and insofar as he has, in his capacity as the true king, great and miraculous powers of healing, is clearly a Christ figure. Gandalf, in his death, resurrection and transfiguration is also a Christ figure.
Many of the seven sacraments are represented in The Lord of the Rings. As we have seen, the Eucharist is present symbolically in the depiction of the elvish life-bread or bread of life (lembas). The Sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of Extreme Unction are represented in the manner of the final exchange of words between the dying Boromir and Aragorn, the latter of whom serves in persona Christi as the absolver of Boromir’s sins. The Sacrament of Marriage is depicted beautifully in the marriages of Aragorn and Arwen, Faramir and Eowyn, and, last but not least, Sam and Rosie.
The priesthood is represented insofar as Aragorn acts in persona Christi. The Blessed Virgin is represented insofar as Tolkien said that he put all of his love for the Blessed Virgin into the characterization of Galadriel.
In a panoramic sense the theme of The Lord of the Rings signifies man as homo viator, i.e. journeying man or travelling man or man on a quest. This echoes the Christian understanding of the life of man as being about nothing, ultimately, other than the need to be united with God in Heaven. Failure in this life-quest makes us, well, miserable losers. In order to achieve this quest, we need to embrace a life of love, which means sacrificing ourselves for others, for the “fellowship” of humanity. We need to become Ring-bearers, i.e. cross-bearers, bearing the burden of the evils in the world and their destructive consequences, without becoming Ring-wearers, i.e. servants of evil.
Is The Lord of the Rings, as Tolkien claimed, “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work”? You better believe it.
This post 18 Ways Lord of Rings is Christian Allegory was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Joseph Pearce.
Often when we think of the word mystic the Christian connection is the last thing on our mind. But there is a lot to be gained in the thinking of early Church father’s. Be it from Aesthetics, Priests, Monks or Christian Mystics.
Christian Mysticism from Spiritual statutes, mediations and formalised prayer grant us an avenue to embrace God deeply in news ways. They offer focus and guidance, encouragement and communion. The opportunity for a mystical faith with our loving Father God.
Within them we see three basic principles – Visualise, Internalise and Realise. Visualise by setting our eyes on God, Internalise by listening to God in this quiet sacred space. Finally Realise the reality of what He brings forth in your life through drawing closer to Him.
Here’s a great example from Richard Beck in Experimental Theology of the writings of Saint Bernard.
When We Think of Ourselves We are Perturbed http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2017/05/when-we-think-of-ourselves-we-are.html
A Beautiful piece of writing by Hazel Straub
I AM carries you on eagle’s wings
Soaring on the wind that sings
Gives you a new way to be and see
Troubles vanish, soaring is key
Rest, I AM your shelter and refuge
Protecting you from storm and deluge
Cherishing, comforting presence today
Your help, protection, companion always
Nestled beneath my wings all fears leave
My love stabilizes, no more loss and grief
Comforter, lovingkindness, peace never ceases
Takes all the broken, forlorn, mends the pieces
You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. (Exodus 19:4 ESV)
© Crown of Glory International Ministries. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission, from this blog’s author and/or owner, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Crown of…
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Do you ever get the feeling that no matter what you try, who you speak to or how much you pray Humpty is scratching to put his pieces back together again?
Life and in particular relationships is often difficult, we feel as if we have been pushed, pulled, stomped on, stretched, torn, digested and thrown up again in every conceivable way imaginable. It can be challenging to look down at these broken shards of glass that used to be you and glue them back into some kind of functional human being again. Here are couple a of things to remember..
Glass , although transparent most often has a reflective quality, ironically most often when it is clean and untouched by others. How we see things can easily be a reflection of those around us rather than who we are at our core. It is important then to be mindful of who we have in our lives, around us and who we are listening to.
How we see things can easily be a reflection of those around us rather than who we are at our core
In Times when we are feeling broken we need the right people around us. Steer away from the nay-sayers, the mud-slingers and the spiritually poor and instead seek out those in a position to help you rebuild. Those of strong faith, those who exude kindness and humility and those who are trained or naturally rebuild you. Well adjusted friends and family, counsellors, psychologists, dr’s and pastors are all good people to have around you.
Ok ..so things might have gotten a little hot so you needed to get out of the kitchen. In the first instance it’s great to remember that that’s ok. Everyone has a different tolerance to heated situation for a lots of different reasons, but the journey hasn’t ended here and in fact may have only just begun. One way we can cope with heat and pressure is to use it
..it has been said that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing the same way over and again and expecting a different outcome..
to make us stronger, to redefine who we want to be and to rebuild ourselves a little differently than before- after all it has been said that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing the same way over and again and expecting a different outcome. Glass when it becomes hot enough becomes malleable, able to be shaped, shifted and even joined into something it wasn’t previously- we can too. Our biggest issue is learning to get out of our own way and embrace the process.
Even though the process is tough the end result of what we do and have become with these broken shards, speaks for itself. If we truly want to get to the end it is best not to react when we are still in a heated state, when we are weak and able to be twisted, perhaps by someone with the wrong intentions. Wiser to be patient and wait until your glass is beginning to cool, moulded into something new that has strength in its own shape. It pays to remember we need to keep our eyes on what the end result can be, to trust in the firing process, that it will pass and we will have become a vessel able to withstand more pressure, hold more grace and resonate resilience.
Glass resonates based on the environment and noise around it (who can forget those cartoon opera singers obliterating glassware to a rodent conductor?). Just as we need positive people around us when we are healing, keeping those people around us helps us to resonate, experience, project and amplify their positive energy. When you come out anew use that to resonate the victory you have experienced in coming out the other side. Praise God and pray with thankfulness for it was with the help of his hand and in establishing his final design. If we trust and play-out the process then we are in a position to choose. Moreover we are in position to be the person that someone else reflects when trying to piece together their own broken shards of glass…
©Andrew Jewell- Wedgetail Ministries
About the Author;
Andrew is a Christian Motivational Speaker, Pastor and Counsellor
‘…God’s painting again..’
The other morning was just like any other morning, trying to wake up and glancing nonchalantly at the world waking up. I’m lucky to be live in a place where I can see sunrise over the sea and breathe without thinking I’m inadvertently ingesting half a million dodgy chemicals. As I looked to the crimson streaked sky I could see clearly the dappling of silver grey edging the clouds like blends from a master’s palate, ‘God’s been painting again!’ I thought. It got me to thinking that our Father God must love to create, revel in the sensation of bringing something forth from Himself. It must be similar to the feeling of satiation I receive in placing brush to canvas and the gentle pull of oils like its connected to my soul, although for Him it must be even better… after all He is God and has a much bigger canvas. On that canvas every master stroke has a part to play, be it light or dark, dry brushed or flooded, dragged ,swept or stippled.
‘…The Father’s great mural…’
I am on that canvas, you are on that canvas, each of us bringing to bear a complimentary stroke to the Father’s great Mural. Each and every one of us is a stroke from the artful hand of the Creator, a victory her, a hardship there, a broad wash of Grace across the facing page. Every stroke, every mark has a purpose in the journey to a masterpiece, added to, adjusted , set in the foreground for a time and resting in the background at others.
My point… Have Faith in where the Father has placed you in the great mural. You are exactly where you need to be until the next brush stroke or layer of change is applied.
So here’s the thing… you have this ‘thing’ that you feel you’ve always needed to do. Some have said its impossible or that you’ll never do it , others actually discourage you (usually apparently in your best interests) out of their own belief structure and fear of failure. And so you continue to move through your life just cruising along and you learn to live with the frustration. The constant feeling that there is more, or you are meant to do more. Either way you have become comfortable with this inconvenient ‘thing’ almost to the point that if it somehow moved or began to look different it would throw you off your game. Sound familiar?
So what happens if one day you wake up and can feel yourself losing your last nerve cell clearly hearing it going snap, crackle, pop? The ‘Thing’, this thing that has its rightful place and not only doesn’t move but barely stirs isn’t satisfied with its place anymore but wants to get out, wants to breathe, wants to take you places you’ve never been and
…no matter how much you rock it, soothe it, ignore it, jump up and down on it like a cartoon duck!…
challenge you in ways you never thought impossible.
Now its awake, and it wont go back to sleep no matter how much you rock it, soothe it, ignore it, jump up and down on it like a cartoon duck! Now it drives you, you don’t drive it.
Having now excepted this rather persistent beast as having more say in your life than you would like, what next? All of a sudden you now want to honour it, nurture it, make it grow and satiate the burn. Again having accepted this you are inevitably left with the question.. How the Hell do I do that!?
If anyone has found themselves in a similar situation whether a calling from God, a desire to change the world or just having this one big thing , what we have in common is how we give that wheels. Sometimes that is obvious, sometimes we beat ourselves up because we think it should be obvious, but all too often its not. After all if it was so self explanatory wouldn’t we have done something with it already? And if we haven’t, what’s worse is that we have to face up to the reasons why we refused for so long to let it out of its box.
For me personally it was (and still is to a degree) a bit of both. Ultimately I was left with the question of where I left my vehicle, what that looks like, will I recognise it when I see it and can I even drive it!
I am a lucky man that has been blessed with a lot of different talents from music and artistic endeavors through to empathetic people skills and public speaking. But not one of them ever felt they came together on their own as the ‘right’ one to carry forward the Ministry I was given charge of, at least in what I considered a meaningful way. Instead it was kaleidoscope of employment, ministries, hobbies, blessings and challenges that I
…I was going in circles and each vehicle felt like the steering column was jammed in a permanent right hand turn.
never felt were quite working together properly. Should I focus on one I felt my other gifts were being neglected and so would shift my focus – not without some guilt at times – to that which I felt needed attention. I was going in circles and each vehicle felt like the steering column was jammed in a permanent right hand turn.
.. So jump to the day when all this confusion came together, face-palm day! I’d like to say that this happened with a lightening bolt that shook my being and left me lit up like a Christmas tree but it was more of a coming of age thing. Now the given Ministry I was called to finally made sense and how to get it there was clear- Put simply… It was simply me (cue face-palm).
Everything of who I am and Whose I AM came together in a quiet moment of reason. While I had been chasing my tail trying to find my vehicle God was driving it all the time. All of who I am, what I did, how I turned my hand was the Ministry, the calling I couldn’t figure out how to deliver. The rest wasn’t my problem.
The greatest thing about Grace, something I’ve almost always known is that my purpose isn’t my design but rather one by my Father in Heaven. He chose me, only me, and specifically me long before I was put on this earth to have my ‘thing’.
God’s works with my hands and an obedient heart.
But somewhere that got lost in translation, I was so eager to fulfill my calling that I forgot that where and how it looked wasn’t up to me. I merely needed to follow, communicate, be fearless in Him and let Him do the rest. Therein lay the both the vehicle and the answer. God’s works, with my hands and an obedient heart.
When this moment came suddenly all that anxiety about this ‘Thing’ fell away… It has its vehicle and was being driven by someone much more capable than me. It was like it had been let out on one hand and absorbed with the other. Now it was more fully a part of me than before, now knew it was there by design. The ‘Thing‘ had found its resting place and I had remembered mine.
About the Author;
Andrew is a trained Minister, Counsellor and Mediator
The veil was torn from top to bottom..
This good Friday we remember the greatest sacrifice, our Beloved Jesus Christ dying on the Cross for the sins of humanity. A God so in love with His people that he would die purely to be closer to us.
Many parents out there know what we would do to show our love to our kids. We are deeply in love with them as we have cared for, raised, nurtured and protected them often from the very moment of conception. Likewise our God through His own Son gave himself up for us- He has raised us, nurtured and protected His children sacrificing the very essence of Himself for his kids.
The Bible speaks in Matthew of the tearing of the temple veil from top to bottom.
..Ripples through eternity..
Why? Because it signifies access to God in a previously unknown way, the opening of a way to the Father for all not just the high priesthood of the time.
But for me that image brings much more, to me the imagery of that torn veil brings with it the sound and agony of Jesus final wails of pain on the Cross. A Tearing of not only the veil, but the cleaving of the Father’s own heart as Jesus died. A cleaving that opened His chest that others might dwell I’m the Fathers herbert also.
but surely that Veil was not just heard cleave so many years ago, but ripples through the ages touching the very corners of eternity.
I pray that today in our own way we experience the tearing of our own veils that guard our heart. that we lay bare before God our own chest that we would allow him to dwell with us and in us in ways we have never seen before.
THANKS BE TO GOD
© Andrew Jewell – Wedgetail Ministries
In light of recent events in Egypt we are reminded of the importance of Unity in prayer and across denominations for the Global Christian Church. It is easy in times of great tragedy such as the Coptic bombing to remember our brother and sister Churches overseas, but do we remember and lift before the Father these Churches daily? .. My challenge to the Church is to pray daily for our sister Churches no matter where they may be or our differences in Theology. At the root of it we are all called to follow Christ and do so in the understanding that God has given us individually. Over time our perspective and understanding of Grace and the nature of the Cross change as we seek to move closer to God. Does that mean were were ‘less Christian’ than the next person previously? Certainly not. Rather we were simply in different places with a Theology shaped by our personal experience of the Lord Jesus Christ. Theology by definition is meant to change as part of our Christian growth. How we express that Theology is neither better nor worse than the next but rather an expression of our relationship.
I encourage us all to pray daily for our brothers and sisters in Christ, those experiencing Religious persecution and those experiencing personal persecution for their faith. The husband that is rebuked by his wife for strong beliefs, the daughter that no longer gets along with her parents due to her choice being in Christ, the wife and mother who feels imprisoned in her own home for fear of expressing her love for Jesus and the sons who are daily ridiculed by other young men.
I pray in earnest for the protection and healing for those affected by the Egyptian bombing that they might know the comfort of God’s Grace and the expression of His love. That we all may grow in unity for our Christian brothers and sisters- Coptic, Catholic, Episcopalian, Anglican, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Church of England, Congregational, Uniting or any other expression of God’s Grace in Jesus Christ.
I pray that the Church and Christians everywhere, that whilst condemning acts of hatred and bigotry are wise and measured in how they accept those of other faiths. Rather than preach division and persecution of those outside the Church, instead pray earnestly that they will find truth in the love of Christ.
How often have we wailed ‘why?!’ when things don’t go our way. In my experience this is a cry more often from the lips of believers rather than those rooted in their own philosophy. So why is it so hard as a Christian to understand why we fail? Why isn’t it coming together? Isn’t life supposed to get easier with a Faith and God to guide us? Why don’t we feel the protection and victory of God in our lives that we so often long for and desire?
Many questions such as these provoke many answers from those that mean well, from those who think they have it all sorted out and simply because the nature of humanity is we like to feel better than the other guy. ‘You mean you don’t understand why? Well I’ll tell you why..’ Often whether or not we have actually asked for their opinion. So despite the tongue in cheek irony that writing such an article screams lets examine what are hopefully a few helpful thoughts that come from my meagre musings on psychology, faith, Christianity and life in general seen through the kaleidoscope of our faith. After all who Jesus is to me, may not be who he is to you or anyone else for that matter. Faith is personal and that’s where this article starts..
Just as a Jeweller examines the intricacies of a diamond through a loupe we tend to examine our own faith through a similar lens. The intricacies spring out, the clarity, the flaws, the high notes and depth of the cut. But within this it is very easy to focus on the flaws, after all Jewels are about their flawlessness to determine value so the eye is trained to look for problems. My challenge to you would be to turn that perspective on its head. The value of a Jewel of faith is not in what is simply bright about it but the contrasts between the beauty and the ’ugly bits’, those parts we are somewhat less proud of. Moreover these less attractive parts could be regarded as the most attractive.
It is within these flaws that there is the greatest opportunity to observe Grace. By flipping our perspective we can see not our own failings, but where God has the potential to make something even more beautiful. Indeed when we think God has abandoned us we may simply be looking at it from the wrong angle, for God never sleeps nor stops working. Remember that precious stones are made under great pressure. As Christians we are no different.
There are many musing in the bible about God making the path straight, lifting up his people and so on, but ultimately it is about the walk. Even God can’t make a path straight if there are no bends in it to begin with. He cannot lift us up unless we have first fallen down, and he cannot have a strong, loving, two-way relationship with us unless we communicate, allow ourselves to love, be loved and seek love when we need it most. The Father desires relationship with his children just as any earthly dad does his own.
Sounds like a strange analogy doesn’t it? Particularly in this day and age of digital domination and seemingly less focus on ‘old’ ways. Some time ago I was going through a particularly hard time in my faith and life in general, it felt as if nothing was coming together, that I was failing and I was struggling to see the purpose. It was then that I had the very clear image in my mind of God beating and polishing a suit of armour as preparing for battle. Making it stronger, buffing it, shining it, testing the joints in the plates and the general fit. I was in the Founder’s workshop.
Foundries at their root really require two things to facilitate change and facilitate strength in the metal to which it is applied (at least in the mind of this layman). They require heat in order to be cooled and hardened and they require pressure, to be beaten, worked and moulded until the desired shape or purpose is achieved. To a significant degree we are no different. We are a metal in Christ’s foundry as he gives us the framework to be worked by the Father. As we face hardship we need to reshape ourselves, harden some parts and soften others to adapt to our situation. We allow the Father to work through his Holy Spirit to guide, mould, shape, in effect teach us how to become something new. We are renewed in the Spirit, stronger, more purposeful and with more beauty than ever before.
Ahhh.. pride, the ongoing problem of the human condition. Sometimes the simple fact of the matter is that life’s challenges aren’t just about us. But sadly more often than not we choose to make it so. We get confused in the balance between taking responsibility for what we need to own and taking responsibility for things beyond our control and personalising them. At the root of it all we are simply trying to live a Grace filled life in a fallen world. The best we can do many times is to accept the world for what it is and choose to be part of the solution in whatever way God chooses to guide us. In may ways our biggest mistake is often going rogue and trying to do things on our own. Just because we see an injustice, a problem, an issue that is dragging us down or not aligning with our world view does not mean it is necessarily up to us to be the change agent in the most direct sense. By all means defend the vulnerable, protect those in need and project the Grace of God in all we do, but don’t own what is not ours to own. That’s God’s job and he will stir those to action who He chooses to be on the front line for each specific purpose. Our relationship and being open to hear is the key, it is then we are most effective, feel most fulfilled and find the peace to know we are on the right path.
– Andrew Jewell , Wedgetail Ministries
Ironic but also encouraging that this message by a great Christian voice appears on Islamic Worldview. Perhaps it illustrates the point of free will in that God’s message of love for us is universal. How we come to that knowledge however, that is through Christ is eternal and always in the silhouette of the Cross. Regardless I hope you enjoy this great literary leader’s take on things. I know I did.
Blessings ~ Andrew
This is a fantastic version of an old hymn. To me this captures and speaks to the very heart of worship. It’s a great reminder that it doesn’t matter how old a piece is, done correctly it can open us to recieve His Word, His love and His Grace. ENJOY
Blessings ~ Andrew
If You Want to Live Truly, Learn to Die Daily
This article below by Liz Wann highlights the importance of daily death. The hard yards if you like of staying focused upon self maintenance in our Christian walk. Little negativities creep in and we are reminded of the importance of dying to Sin and faithless to be risen again in Victory with Christ.
I encourage you to give it a read
Blessings ~ Andrew
So just to make your Friday (and mine) interesting, why not give this a listen? I have so much respect for this man’s work and life. Wonderful knowledge and a great understanding of Grace. May you be as blessed by it as I have been ~ Andrew
If you’ve never witnessed dance ministry check the guys out at VTC Dance Crew. Have a gander at their channel and show some love – Blessings, Andrew
by Hazel Straub
Trust Yahweh and you need not fear disaster, personal challenges, or the enemy of your soul. No matter what you face, rest in the Lord and focus on him. He saves, preserves and delivers us, through what looks impossible. Fear not that your challenge, trial or testing, will destroy you. Yahweh’s presence sustains you through your crisis. He knows your name, values, honors and loves you. Fear not!
I, Yahweh, have created and formed you. Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I call you by name, you are mine. When you pass through flood waters, I will be with you, through the rivers, you will not be overwhelmed. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched and the flame will not burn you. For I, Yahweh, am your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give ransom for you and many…
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