Tag Archive: god

Letting nostalgia define our vision…

antique2Habakkuk’s cry in his prophecy is a stirring inspiration for prayer, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?”  Those words, “HOW LONG? are deeply emotive. I think God wants them in our peripheral vision.  They are more than nostalgia, they are a cry for God’s intervention.  It is a prayer that God intends to answer.

The church may at times suffer from revival-promise fatigue i and needs gently encouraging. Such lassitude ii is not what you need when it comes to gaining, or strengthening a scripture-honouring vision for God’s purpose for ourselves and for the Church. So what’s the answer?

Mirriam Webster defined Nostalgia as, “a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition”. The New Testament is full of the drama of God. It was an exciting time to live – more so (and perhaps only)if you were one of the disciples.  In the midst of the political, social and economic upheaval of the day living under Roman rule, in the fullness of time, comes the hero of all hero’s in the person of Jesus.

His mission as God rescuing man from God, destroying the works of the evil one and reconciling man to God was a truly phenomenal one.  Accompanying it was audacious, powerful and amazing miracles, signs, wonders, wisdom, expressions of love and grace.   Lavish, infinite grace.

The preaching was crystal clear, unambiguous, challenging and emancipating.  Another good word.   Add to the mix shortly after Jesus’ ministry, the Mensa level teaching, preaching and exhortation of Paul as he inspires the Church with the epistles, gazing without blinking at time and history, interpreting Jesus’ very actions, the agenda of the God-man and the eternal mystery of the trinity.    Without trying too hard.

The teaching, the preaching, the signs and wonders – the very presence of God; and then there are the countless thousands upon thousands of people who came to Christ, these are what forms our ocean-deep nostalgia.

That’s why our stories are profoundly important.  Look back into history and see them there, standing tall in every generation.  Remember, retell – imagine what it was like. The sounds, the smells, the excitement and the astonishment, not forgetting the tears of repentance and uncontainable joy.   Remember Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Whitfield, Wesley, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones,  Stott… The list goes on and on as a tribute to the redemptive glory of Jesus the Christ. No one compares with Him.

If there is a vision we require for the future it has to be one that is borne out of the nostalgia of Biblical and Church history, wrapped carefully, thoughtfully and enthusiastically with the promise of Isaiah 43:19.   Look back at all the old stories of what God did in the past and allow God to begin to impart a fresh, invigorating vision of what He can do with and through you, your family, your Church and for others.

It’s a brilliant day – because it’s full of potential. He is the good of provision, protection goodness, love and breakthrough – and His faithfulness has no frontiers.

  1. The prophetic encouragement to the church, that God is going to send revival and that the church needs to keep praying and seeking God, can be met with dismay, disappointment and disillusionment if after a long period they are still hearing the same message – but not seeing anything significant in their midst  (back)
  2. my favourite new word  (back)

The missing word

finallyI’ve been musing over King David’s brilliant enroute-to-Jerusalem worship lyrics, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133)

It’s a short song, inspiring and contemplative – and based on David’s interpretation of Exodus 30:23-25.

Today, we would probably include 1 Corinthians 13:13 in the song. Love certainly is a good way of understanding what an expression of unity is.  What we need to grasp perhaps is, “fargin” the Yidish word meaning, ‘to glow with pride at the success of others’.  It’s a word that is certainly worthy of being adopted  straight into our Christian vocabulary!

If we are to dwell together in unity then we must be rooting for each other.  It is a ‘grace-imperative’. The unity that it points to in Psalm 133 expresses an assertive hint about collegiate relationship, trust, openness, mutual respect, vision, transparency and vulnerability. And more than anything, humility.

When an Israeli says, “lefargen” it means to not begrudge the success or well-being of someone else, it’s a positive way of expressing the satisfaction one can feel with another’s happiness. It’s what happens when we pray for each other, for other churches that they would have the blessing of the Lord on them (Proverbs 10:22)

The problem is, not only is there no word in modern Hebrew to approximate the fargin of Yiddish, but there is also a lack of this attitude in much of our individualistic society. It’s an unhealthy position and we have to take positive steps to ensure that we avoid the pitfalls.

In developing a culture of honour and preferring one another as we grow together as God’s alternative community we need to intentionally fargin what God is doing – celebrating everything that God is doing in our midst.  It is very easy to focus on what is not happening, and miss the deep, wonderful, life-transforming blessings of God that are happening, and not always announced from the rooftops.

Bless God with an authentic heart-fargin for everything that God is doing in the lives of those around you and in the Churches near you! In so doing you will be like Paul the apostle who was constantly thanking God and praising Him for all that he heard from the Churches that He was working with.

Fargin may be a missing word, but the attitude can be alive in our midst as we work out our salvation together, in fear and trembling. What an awesome God!

    The 9 word sermon you need to hear.

    There is a good deal of controversy as to the exactness of Winston Churchill’s famous maxim, “Never, never, never give up.”  No one is really sure of what Churchill said, or where he said it, but it certainly sounds like something he would have said. He was a man of unwavering conviction and determined action.

    If you are going to act on someone’s words though, it matters what they said and the context in which it was said. If you are going to take action, move, think and do – then you need to know.  Consequences always catch up with you.

    That is why Luke 18:1 is so important to you. Especially you. Think about it, dwell on it, pause for a moment in your busy life and let it wash over you in the way that only Words from God can, refreshing, restoring and reinvigorating.

    Luke takes something that Jesus was telling his disciples by way of a parable, and applies it to the mind of his readers with the heart-gripping exhortation that Jesus gave this teaching for one specific reason, “Men ought always to pray, and never give up“.

    Always | pray | never | give up

    Staggering.

    We are always moments away from the idolatry of our heart, always given to the strange notion that when things get tough, if God hasn’t come through immediately for us that we can muster our own solution and resolve things ourselves. We give up hope so easily. The answer says Luke as he observes Jesus’ teaching and lifestyle, is to listen to the exhortation of Jesus in the parable he gave because we are always to pray and never give up.

    We are tempted to give up. Life sometimes brings seeming insurmountable obstacles. The magnificent towers of vision, destiny and promise frequently fall before us as we experience life in all of its mysteries, leaving us with the rubble of despair,  God is the God of breakthrough, he’s the God of miracles, the God that makes a difference. He intervenes. Often. In His staggering omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence He truly is by all definition, awesome.

    That is why you ought to pray and never give up.

    Be relentless in your pursuit of Him.

    Luke recognised the importance of what Jesus said, saw the implications and putting pen to paper writes directly into scripture his sermon commentary. It’s only 9 words, but it says everything.

    You can hear the whisper coming from Luke; Focus on Jesus, ask for his help, don’t be overwhelmed by what you think you see – here’s the secret to your ministry…

    Now go to Luke 18 and let Jesus light up the darkness that despair and discouragement have brought, and take a stand with Luke in wholehearted agreement to encourage others around you always to pray and never give up.

    Never give up.

    Always praying.