In response~~~Day 6

There is an interconnectedness of all the study I do today. For the past week I have been doing four different studies that has a common thread i.e. Christian and three of them had a further common thread of Lent but until today they were distinct and separate, the angle or POV was different and until today took separate energies.

So could I not write one piece and be done with it?

No, I think the importance of today is not about saving time, it is about going deeper into the spiritual discipline of fasting {safely}. I haven’t tested myself since ‘the time’ and maybe I have shied away from the test in case the natural me takes over again.

There is compelling evidence that a one day fast every week helps us in our obedience and our prayer life and I know that fasting for an extended time does bring the experiential manifestation of the Spirit ever so close. So it is not like I am deliberately turning away from that experience, it is to keep self pride and self sufficiency at bay that I have to couch a fast in rules specifically for me. To keep concupiscence from the door of my heart and to keep pride effaced from my mind.

At Lent we hear of people giving something up and there are those who will have a full fast, but the balance of why we do what we do has to be thoroughly thought out, what are our motives behind the fast. A church recently announced a fast and a member jumped at the opportunity not for a closer walk with God but to fit into size 10 jeans. Our motives are everything.

The call placed on our lives explicitly and implicitly tells us of aiming toward Christlikeness, and so the argument of a 40 day fast has to be raised. But look at Jesus and look at ourselves. He was perfect so it took an extreme situation for him to be tested by the temptations of Satan that we could see there was very real temptation and a very real choice made. Think about it – if we has read that Jesus fasted for one day and the devil popped up and started tempting him with bread, knowing he was perfect, we would say that’s no test. But 40 days is extreme even for the perfect one and so we see in that passage of scripture Jesus enduring hardship, doing without sustenance for forty days and nights and then not succumbing to the devil, but being victorious in the spiritual battle.

For us a day is hard enough to bear, in this world of instant gratification, with food stalls at every junction and petrol station. I fasted for just short of six weeks four years ago. People on the outside thought I was doing it to lose weight as I did lose some, but I was in the battle. I physically could not take food, the feel of solids in my mouth was abhorrent, I felt sick all the time and I did try to eat, but it all fell to nothing. Knowing my health could suffer from a prolonged food fast, I drank milk and soup as much as I could bear but solid food turned my stomach. People tried to help by suggesting I ate something I really ordinarily would crave but it didn’t work and made some interesting bathroom visits.

Then one day I got healed from a long term habit, I was in Dublin, and the next meal time I tucked into a slice of pizza, I couldn’t finish it because I was full. But I knew the time of fasting was over. It took time to remember how to eat and when but over the next few months I relearned, with the one rule – I must eat at least once a day. At first the rule was I must eat by six o’clock but as time went by and I trusted myself more it can be nine or ten at night but the rule remains steadfast.

So today I am being encouraged to fast, over the last few days I initially baulked at the idea, thinking myself not strong enough to withstand the temptation of a longer fast. Yesterday I wrote of my intention to join the fast but with the proviso of the rule.

The scripture reading today takes us to Jesus answering some people about fasting (Mark 2:18-22) and he does it by talking about the old and new. He is the fulfilment of the Law, he has come so we can experience life with him. As we move to become more and more like Jesus, as he becomes more at home in our lives and we become more at home in him, then we learn to let go of those hindrances to that closer walk. So I am stepping out in the steadfast faith he has given me and I am embracing the concept of fasting for a time for that deeper walk, deeper prayer life and deeper discipline.

Jesus can reprogram our story about ourselves, not just an intellectual assertion or renewing of our mind but allowing Jesus into our lives in a practical every day way, and with other believers that help us be honed all with the help of the Holy Spirit.


Sermon 34 The Original, Nature, Property, and Use of the Law

“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just,  and good.”

Rom. 7:12

John Wesley makes some excellent points in this sermon that are relevant today. We live in a world that is not interested in keeping laws, we are very good at pointing to others and where they are not keeping to the law but as for us – sure we keep “the important ones.”

If I were to quote from the Bible about “The Law” I would use Psalm 119 and its little sibling Psalm 19. I would talk of light and lamp, of perfection and God’s will. But Wesley covering four huge topics in one sermon starts in Romans and stays for the main firmly in the New Testament.

There are churches who never use the Old Testament, a friend of mine in the States, (we are bound by George) and whom I actually physically know, I have cried in her parlour, buckets, one day. She left our church to go to a “Bible believing church” but she never reads the Old Testament, she has thrown it out of the window with the bath water and is not concerned with the Law of old.

Today I must take a photo of “Covenant” for a UMC/ Rethink church project and as I am known as the “Rainbow Girl” I of course thought of rainbows and moonbows. But God’s covenant is now so much more than a spectrum in the sky, it is in the blood shed by Christ.

Don’t get me wrong I am not leaving the signs and wonders God has strewn across the sky just for me, and I will see more of that I am sure. But as we grow, as aim for Christlikeness the life we had is gone and the new is here and each day we grow, we move closer to the Lord, we come more and more under his discipline. We embrace the Law!

Embrace the Law! What am I talking about?

Wesley argues that God’s Law is as old as his nature. He contends that we  cannot know God’s Law merely by learning it by rote, or hearing it over and over again we cannot comprehend the height and depth, and length, and breadth of it. God alone can reveal this by his Spirit. Do you hear the undertone here?

What word is coming to you now?

Is it LAW?

Why had God given us the Law?

If we look at the law of God from another angle; it is supreme, unchangeable reason; it is unalterable rectitude, it is the everlasting fitness of all things that are or ever were created.

The law of God is a copy or image of the eternal mind, a transcript of His divine nature:  it is a child of the everlasting Father, the brightest outpouring of his essential wisdom, the visible beauty of the Most high. It is the delight and wonder of cherubim and seraphim, and all the company of heaven, and the glory and joy of every wise believer. It is chaste, spotless, eternally and essentially holy, and it leads us to pure, clean, unpolluted worship of God.

We need the Law to help us resolve our sin, but not just the Law, the fulfilment of the Law, we need Jesus in our lives to transform us daily, to do this thing we call Christianity in the ordinary everydayness of our lives and allow his super-extra-ordinariness to transform us.

We are called to not only be transformed by a renewing of our mind but by a transformation of spirit and melting of heart. And we can not do this in our own strength.

It is only through the work of the Spirit and our openness to that work in us that we can embrace the Law.

Because to embrace the Law is to embrace life and to embrace love. I was listening to a video (I know the word is watch but I didn’t watch it I only listened to it) about Why is Christlikeness important, the speakers were church leaders from various denominations and they were clear it is a call placed on our lives to be more and more like Jesus BUT not one person said anything about the Bible, the Law or the Fruit of the Spirit.

To me these are some of the essential ingredients in growth. First Scripture – we must read, meditate, think, listen with our hearts daily the word of God. Secondly the Spirit convicts us on our faith journey in his own time about areas of our life that need more work, this conviction is using the Law to show us our sin and thirdly if we are becoming more and more like Christ – the evidence is in the Fruit of the Spirit in our everydayness, our ordinariness, our normal.

Wesley concludes his sermon by looking briefly at the uses of the Law:

  • to convince the world of sin – quick and powerful, full of life and energy, “and sharper than any two edged sword.”
  • to slay the sinner – to help a person see themselves as they truly are – “wretched, and poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked.”
  • to love us – It is the spirit of love which, by this painful means, tears away our confidence in the flesh, which leaves us no broken reed whereon to trust, and so constrains the sinner, stripped of all, to cry out in the bitterness of his soul, or groan in the depth of his heart,
    I give up every plea beside, —
    Lord, I am damn’d; but Thou hast died.
  • to keep us alive – we are to be alive in Christ and Christ alive in us but if we are actively sinning we are on the broad path that leads to perdition
  • to keep us growing – “O what love have I unto thy law! all the day long is my study in it;” he sees daily, in that divine mirror, more and more of his own sinfulness. He sees more and more clearly, that he is still a sinner in all things, — that neither his heart nor his ways are right before  God; and that every moment sends him to Christ.

Wesley is all about new believers but more than that he is all about discipling people. It is about growth in everyone not just the new believer but those who are a long time in the faith, those who teach and pastor, those in leadership;

Closer and closer let us cleave
To his beloved Embrace;
Expect his fullness to receive,
And grace to answer grace.

hands on bible

Sermon 33~~~Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 13

“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: Depart from me, ye that work iniquity. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: For it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: And great was the fall of it.”

Matt. 7:21–27

Wesley ends his discourses on the Sermon on the Mount by discussing the wise and foolish builders. Every child that has gone through Sunday School knows the actions of the song that covers this parable. This is one version from Marantha music:

Don’t build your house on the sandy-land,
Don’t build it too near the shore,
Well, it may look kind of nice
But you’ll have to build it twice,
Oh, you’ll have to build your house once more.

You better build your house upon the rock,
Make a good foundation on a solid spot.
And though the storms may come and go,
The peace of God you will know.
(Repeat x2)

Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee

Words: Karen Lafferty (b. 1948) Words and Music © 1981 Maranatha! Music

We can do all the good works in the world, preach many sermons, bring many to the foot of the Cross, sing loud and clear …


If we do not have a deep rooted faith to rest the whole weight of our soul upon, we are still walking through the broad gate on that day.

If we cannot say to the Lord of our sin, not just in a vague poetic way but the very real way we sin each day

  • the smart comment to our wife or husband instead of just letting it go. Is it so important to win an argument that we say things like, “Aren’t I so happy to be here,” in a sarcastic mealy mouthed way
  • treating a human as a mere employee as if they have no feelings or emotions
  • shouting at children not particularly that they have done something wrong but because of where we are at.
  • ignoring the auld one that needs a lift just because of an unpleasant body odour
  • talking about someone behind their back not maliciously just because we don’t understand where they are coming from

I could go on and on. Anyone who says they do not do, think or say very REAL sin every single day, they lie. If we are convicted of something that needs changing in our life and we aren’t willing to work on it be it patience or self-control or some other issue, then we are not even attempting to move towards Christ likeness.

What difference has Jesus’ death made to our capacity or desire to sin?

Is there a difference?

We are still capable of sinning as outlined above, the difference is we now have an inner compulsion to avert our eyes from the temptation that is dangling before us.

Are we looking like the Christ we proclaim or damp cardboard cut outs?

Do we empty ourselves out, not for our glory but for His?

As the body of Christ, do we corporately authentic?

So we have personal Christian authenticity?

Sunday school taught me another song:

Like Jesus, like Jesus
I want to be like Jesus
I love him so
And want to grow
More like Jesus every day

Do we even try, anymore?

Wesley says let your religion be the religion of the heart. We have watered down religion to a word that we don’t like to use, so let me rephrase it:

Let your life be the life of the heart

NO more than that

Let your everything be the everything of your heart


In response~~~day 4

EBM reflection – click here

The guy, his favourite passage is Jesus meeting the woman at the well. He tells me of how gobsmacked he is every time he reads it; the Son of God met a woman like that (me & you regardless of gender) and spoke to her – not down to her:

but spoke intelligently to her

He loves this, he loves the openness of Jesus to meeting people where they are at. He loves that Jesus met him and changed him and is changing him day by day.

I love “the guy.”

In the passage today we meet many folk but the two that stick out are Levi and the guy on the mat. Do you know what sticks out more than anything else to me?

They had friends.

When Jesus ate with Levi, there were others there;

many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples

When he healed the guy on the mat;

Some men came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them.

There are no numbers attached to either as regard friends: Some men…carried by four indicates there were more men routing for this guy, hoping with faith that their friend would receive the healing he so desperately needed. At Levi’s home, it is likely every space was filled with more outside.

A friend of Levi sitting with Jesus eating a meal is on the surface a very genteel and civilised act of ordinariness. A meal is a place to get to know people better, to relax and share. I am a bit fed up with surface, surface “weather talking,” surface Christianity, let’s not scratch that itch chatting over tablecloths and butter knives.

It is time to go deeper; deeper individually but deeper with friends too. But it is so hard, people have such defences that they just will not lower and I am not immune. But it is boring to skim across the surface of relationship without delving into the depths.

I can count on one hand my pointy friends, the ones who ask the awkward questions: one lives in a village close by, we say maybe eight or ten words to each other per week but boy do those words count, another lives less than 5km away and we know if we are avoiding each other then there is something that needs to be shared and we hold each other accountable, another lives in a neighbouring county – she knows without me opening my mouth that I am struggling with something and equally I can see her pain as she struggles, distracting herself with project after project never standing still, and then there is Truly – some people are given virtue names for them to live up to but this special person is truly all for Jesus, truly a discipling disciple, truly the person I would want to sit next to on a journey to the moon, truly special. It is good there are sixty or more miles between us because I don’t think we would ever do anything else except disciple each other if we were closer.

Do I need more pointy friends?

Yes, we all do. Not those that sit on high in judgement, pontificating wisdom as if they have all the answers but seldom do. But real honest to goodness sharing and accountability. We just have to imagine the Lord sitting with us, the One who can see right through all our defence mechanisms and into our heart, even those dark hard to reach areas.

Levi’s friends didn’t know they were sitting with the Messiah, but they knew he was a teacher and their knowledge was such that they knew this was a big deal. They knew the other teachers – the ones who looked down at them, the ones who wouldn’t speak to them.

Father God, help us not to judge, not to be defensive, not to hold back, help us jump in with both feet and meet people where they are at. Help us build each other up by challenging and encouraging so that together we might get deeper into You. Lord help us this day when we meet those who do judge us to not retaliate, to not be vengeful but to show Your love, the greatest weapon in the world. Lord help us to extend Your kingdom and invite strangers to sit and eat with us, help us to see beyond the surface, help us see beyond the trappings that bind people, help us love as You first loved us. Amen

Bible reading for today – click here


Sermon 32~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 12

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

Matt. 7:15–20

Another short conversation by John Wesley which hits home in no uncertain way. One of the reasons for its brevity is that it follows on from the broad and narrow gates and as such is tied very much together. Wesley maintains that “wolves” can lead people to the broad much easier than “sheep” can lead to the narrow.

What shall be done if they point out, as the way to eternal life, what is in truth the way to eternal death; and exhort others to walk, as they do themselves, in the broad, not the narrow way?

The problem we have as believers is discerning good, solid, doctrinely sound teaching from wishy washy, please like me, look at me I am a star, lukewarm, people pleasing diatribe. But when we put it like that it is easy, isn’t it.

If someone stood and said, “The message I have for you today will please you and it is wishy washy with no substance to it at all,” then we would know where we stood. But they don’t these people who stand on nothing more than marshmallow clouds and they don’t even know it. That is the crux of the teaching today from John Wesley and although he would love to tell us not to listen to these deluded folk. He says, no, stay, hear it


hear it for what it is, false teaching, the message they are teaching is as Wesley states:

when they who are commissioned to teach men the way to heaven do in fact teach them the way to hell!

To give an example John Wesley says that an effective

sermon is the way of lowliness, mourning, meekness, and holy desire, love of God and of our neighbour, doing good, and suffering evil for Christ’s sake. They are, therefore, false prophets, who teach, as the way to heaven, any other way than this.

If we are told the way to heaven is through any other way then it is false teaching.

And the false teachers and prophets of our day do not come with three heads and horns sticking out, no they come

“in the most mild, inoffensive manner, without any mark or token of enmity. Who can imagine that these quiet creatures would do any hurt to any one?”

They assure you, it is out of mere zeal for God, that they are making God a liar.

They will make large professions of their good-will, of their concern for the danger you are in, and of their earnest desire to preserve you from error, from being entangled in new and mischievous doctrines.

and most troublingly:

Therefore it is that they advise you to keep still, in the plain middle way; and to beware of “being righteous overmuch,” lest you should “destroy yourself.”

Have you heard that? I know I have, many times.

“Don’t rock the boat,”

We are not born again, made new to sit in the middle of the highway, we have been given a zeal to share the gospel, a zeal to help people till we are empty, a zeal to know Jesus more, a zeal to go to the ends of the earth sharing the good news and doing good works.

Not as a reward in itself, not to BIG ourselves up, or sell ourselves but because there is an inner compulsion to do so. When I say God first, family second and church third, I mean that because of my personal relationship with God I cannot stop doing all those things for him first, secondly I take care of my little nest of folk and third I do the “churchy” things of fellowship and work.

Sometimes the zeal I have for something is so great I worry it is not of God and that is when I stop, I check in with a heart & faith check. I could spend all day centreing and going into myself in introspection but that isn’t the main compulsion. That is for times of rest.

Some people will look and say we are doing too much, we will get ill, this is keeping us contained and in the middle ground, keeping our wings clipped when we could be soaring.

Richard Rohr said of the prophets of old: “The Hebrew prophets were free to love their tradition and to criticize it at the same time, which is a very rare art form.”

We cannot be doing church right if people are walking away. We have made people less accountable by watering down liturgy and God’s message. We mix up Christianity with a whole bunch of other things and each time we do it we dilute it that little bit more.

When will Christianity as a whole be on the broad path?

But Wesley says and I concur, we shouldn’t shy away from false prophets, we should hear their message and then use the discernment given to us to determine the God in it.

Only “take heed how you hear:” Beware of them and of their doctrine. Hear with fear and trembling, lest you should be deceived, and given up, like them, to a strong delusion. As they continually mingle truth and lies, how easily may you take in both together!

Wesley concludes his sermon with no doubt a vitriolic, spittle hurling rhetoric to those who are leading people astray, so church leaders, ministers and pastors take heed of this warning:

O ye false prophets! O ye dry bones! hear ye, for once, the word of the Lord! How long will ye lie in the name of God, saying, “God hath spoken;” and God hath not spoken by you? How long will ye pervert the right ways of the Lord, putting darkness for light, and light for darkness? How long will ye teach the way of death, and call it the way of life? How long will ye deliver to Satan the souls whom ye profess to bring unto God?

Always walk on the narrow path of life…and look to the fruit>>> there you will see a good tree.

In response~~~Day 3

EBM Reflection

Mark is not one for flowery language and nonessential phrases. His whole writing is full of action moving continually from one place to another. In this passage Jesus preaches, drives out a demon, heals Peter’s mother-in-law and a guy with leprosy along with many people who were brought to him or came themselves.

In the midst of all this activity Jesus took himself off, to pray, to somewhere solitary early in the morning before first light. Jesus did this often, flurries of activity and then quiet time.

So what can we, in this time of Lent, learn from this pattern?

For me Lent is a time to spend more time in quiet contemplation, a time of heart and faith checks, a time of sharing and accountability, a time of being close to the Lord. Flurries of writing activity and family chores and then taking myself off to be alone with the Lord. It refreshes and revitalises, it focuses my thoughts and heart, it is a special time.

Each year I intend to continue in this vein but so often fall short.

Father God,

just as I am, I can come to You no other way. Search me O Lord and convict me of what I need to change, challenge my thinking when it gets skewed and Lord thank you for the encouragement you give me, You give me courage and strength to share Your gospel. Thank You Lord for the changes already wrought in my life and I look forward to Your next surprise. Amen


tsunami hazard sign reads
go to high ground
get off the beach
what do you do when the tidalwave hits home
out of nowhere doubts and fear arise
resurfacing through counter waves of joy
confusion reigns in the land of Suke
focus, girl, focus
on the one who loves
focus, girl, focus
don’t move your eye off the path
the storm brews in silence
batten down the hatches
keep old nick from the door
let peace descend, fluttering into the chaos
order the thoughts, girl
renew the mind
let the heart fly untethered
all for the greater good.

My sincere thanks to three special ladies that intervened today, and of course the G who arrived just in time.

Father God, thank you for your love that infuses my being and thank you for the love shared today, physically by a hug and a hand on my face and in conversation with two others. Thank you Lord for all the special people in my life, the people you have placed here and I thank you that you take care of me when distracted by doubt. Amen