An Orcadian Odyssey

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Utterly out of the blue, Robin, from church, (who in the past I have travelled to France with), rang to invite me at next-to-no-notice to accompany him for a week to Balfour House, a castle on Shapinsay, one of the Orkney islands, that his sister and brother-in-law own. He was taking a friend there with a view to him moving permanently up there and was keen for me to come too. As I was waiting on the Lord to discern if this was a prompt for the Lord, He suddenly impressed on me that He wanted me to take up again for a very brief time the mantle of a watchman from the north praying down into Europe at this pivotal time, just as I had done when organising the Fire from the North intercessory conference in Shetland in 2005. Continue reading

Praying for the heart of France

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There have been many significant infernos in recent years, but few more eye-catching than the sight of France’s most best known edifice and symbol in flames. When the fire broke out in Notre Dame, Linda Entwistle, Tréva Solanki and Linda Clifford Hayes were amongst those who contributed the following thoughts and reminders, beginning with Linda Entwistle.

“In 1793 Notre Dame became a temple dedicated to the cult of Reason. The leaders of the Revolution used it as a warehouse for their wines! Not surprisingly it fell into terrible decline. In 1831 Victor Hugo was involved in a renovation project – but it only went so far . . . Even since then, there have been lots of attempts to renovate the building, but the heart of its original purpose had been stolen from it, even though countless godly people have prayed in it since then. Continue reading

A Brexit Panorama in Prayer

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I woke this morning with a strong sense to read chapters 9-14 of Jeremiah, and felt one verse after another lighting up and standing out. I knew immediately that it would be good to turn this into a prayer for everything related to Brexit: a suitable follow on to Anna’s call yesterday for us all to serve as the Lord’s watchmen and women.

In this uneasy hiatus between the inconclusive indicative votes last night and the next round of this ongoing saga, it feels like the right time to release such a prayer.

This is not a Bible study as such – please read the chapters yourself for that – rather it is an panoramic overview set to stunning music, including powerful pieces by Justin Coldstream and Corelli, along with a further glorious piece by Monteverdi, following the one we released in the Mashal a couple of days ago.

The better the speakers you play this piece through the more you will appreciate it!

It was a great blessing that Colin was free to prepare the recording. And, for the first time, Sally Mowbray joins us as a reader. She has a lovely voice, and it is a delight to hear her.

Because this was an extempore prayer I accidentally said ‘English’ democracy when I should have said ‘British!

May this presentation stir your spirits and bless your hearts.

Making sure we are in pole position with the Lord!

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Making sure we are in pole position with the Lord!
(Anna Forbes, Shetland).

At the beginning of this year I was praying and felt the Lord say to me “I am positioning you!” It was so clear and I started to chew it over – particularly the importance of being rightly positioned by Him in order to be ready and effective for Kingdom initiatives.

The first Scripture that came immediately to mind was Habakkuk 2:1 “I will take my post, I will position myself on the fortress, I will keep watch to see what God says to me’.” Some versions say, “I will stand at my guard post, and station myself on the lookout tower.”

And then it goes, of course, to say, “then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision, and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens towards the goal and will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it. For it will surely come, it will not delay.”

This has really been speaking to me, about the call to be watchman: being obedient in seeking Him and listening to what He has to say about lots of things, the Body of Christ, the nation, specific things to pray for . . ..

As a watchman on his watchtower Habakkuk was in the best position both to ask God questions and to hear His answers. I love the fact that He waits ‘in expectation’. That is such an important part of maintaining a position of actively watching, discerning, and listening – getting a clear view from our high position ‘seated with Christ in heavenly places.’ (Eph. 2:6)

As I was driving the other day it was as though the fence posts at the side of the road suddenly ‘came alive’. I realised that the Lord was showing me that it was the precision of their positioning that made it possible for them to fulfil their purpose. All of them were deliberately driven into the ground one by one, evenly spaced with each one working together to create a boundary.

Boundaries are there for very good reasons of protection. I started reflecting that when a post is missing or broken it affects the whole fence. It leaves a gap – and until that gap is repaired, there is danger, vulnerability and weakness.

God quickened Isaiah 58.12 to me: “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins. You will raise up age old foundations, and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell ” It made me think about Nehemiah rebuilding the city walls.

Then God gave me this scripture which I love and often send to people when they are moving house: Acts 17.26 “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwellings.”  Verse 27 says ” that they should seek God” It is God who determines where we should live. He has a purpose in everything . . . so that people may come to know Him. What unfathomable skill and sovereignty that set the boundaries of the sea so that the waves could not come any further, exactly how far the earth is from the sun and so on and wonderfully on!

The thought of how intentional God is in where He has positioned us, and who we are positioned with, has really gripped me. And how He assigns where we fellowship and worship, where we work, our experiences, our hobbies, yes, even our difficulties and pain (remember Joseph!) He is always acting according to His divine purposes, and has personalised assignments for each one of us – with unique opportunities, to shine His light and reach out to others. We live where we do for a purpose.

We are His workmanship and called to work together for His glory, whether we are called to high position like Daniel (Dan. 52:48, 9) and Nehemiah who used their key positions to such good effect – or whether we are ‘believers in humble circumstances’, who can therefore ‘take pride in their high position.’ (James 1.9)

I have thought about how crucial position is in all parts of life. And how in Him all things hold together. He decides where the waves of the sea;  He determines the dates for the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires – and He knew the moment we would enter the world. Already He sees how we will be with Him in eternity when our time on Earth has run its course!

Everything works smoothly when positioning is correct and there is alignment. Team players have to stick to the boundaries of their position or they make their team vulnerable.

We are praying for the right people to come to Shetland who will belong here – and for those who should be going out from here on mission to have the courage to do so. May people hear from God about what their calling is and how they fit within the body, and willingly embrace that unique role God has for them..

To return to Nehemiah: what I like about him is he didn’t abuse his authority. He used his position to be a powerful and positive influence and he unified the people. He didn’t rush either – he took time to inspect the walls.  As Warren Wiersbe put it, ‘Nehemiah saw more at night than the residents saw in the daylight.’

I really like that! He had a vision and he got on with getting the job done. He was honest, he had humility and he fully trusted God with the task entrusted to him. He had just the right approach too to encourage others to get involved and motivated. Both physically and spiritually he restored people.

Best of all, he used burnt stones to rebuild the walls. I love the fact that He is so willing to use those who have been through fire or failure. May we be quick to recognise the potential in such people rather than to leave them to one side. God delights in using weak things of the world to shame the strong, and the foolish things to confound the wise.

I’m praying for perfect positioning in the wall, so we truly can be living stones in His spiritual house!

God spoke to me again today saying, “Be bold – don’t withhold!” That’s why I am sending this out to you all now. I go through phases when I am inclined to hold back – it’s a confidence thing. I battle the enemy telling me my voice isn’t necessary or that I’m looking for approval. I know it’s a lie but I have to battle it at times all the same! Perhaps you do too?

‘Lord, You alone are my portion and my cup, You make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord who counsels me, even at night my heart instructs me. I will keep my eyes always on the Lord, With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken’ Amen! (Ps. 16:5-8)

This article is by our friend Anna, who moved up to Shetland at the same time that we did. Her daughter and lovely family now live at The Rock, our former home on the island. This delightful short video clip by their daughter and son in law was filmed around the Rock, and can be found on the New Life Facebook page.

Pictures of Shetland

Deo Gratias (1 Cor. 15:57)

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The Prelude:

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor. 15:57-58)

Every morning, a specially appointed brother or sister walked along roamed the corridors of knocking on the doors of monks and nuns to wake them up to greet the day, and the Lord of the day.

As we emerge from our sleep-stupor and jumbled dreams, may we, as within cloistered walls, hear in spirit this summons to bless and praise our Lord: ‘Benedicamus Domino.’

In answer to this invitation we reply: ‘Deo Gratias’ – Thanks be to God: a response that shapes and sets the tone for the day, and which continues the call to unbroken communion.

The exhortation:

When you wake, my very dear friend,
let the clearest Deo Gratias rise unbidden from your lips.

Whether the day bids fair to happy things, or bodes full of weighty strains, may you seize this chance to stay your mind on Christ.

With practised hand, reach for the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation, placing all that preoccupies your mind before the Lord, and all the cares that would wear down upon your soul.

May He give you grace to shape and craft all that you have seen or felt and to turn it into prayer, and so make room for the Lord to move in and through and far beyond.

Firmly fix the belt of truth that sets you apart,
so that by the time you break your fast,
with the sword of the Spirit strapped to your side,
in your footsteps may be left an imprint of peace
that comes from the Prince of Peace Himself.

The Lord has many things that none but you can do, so rise up now in Spirit to do the bidding of your heavenly King.

In His name welcome whatever chances come your way to mentor and be mentored, to praise and to pray, to ponder and perform for love of Him.

This day, may your words ring out in love to comfort and inspire –  and to point people to the Source.

May Jesus give you the wisdom to identify the specific things that He would have you attend to throughout the day:
the issues for which you must contend,
the ones whom He would have you befriend,
any potential dead end that He would have you hold at bay.

May you pray prayers that count in Heaven’s court,
Countering and confounding inner and outer disarray,
scattering fear and shattering strongholds.

May the God of Light confirm and strengthen you in each good habit and in every good way – and lead you over round and past every potential stumbling stone.

May you reach your resting place each night   an undaunted Deo Gratias on your lips and in your heart.

Deo Gratias,  Glory be to God most High
for each project you have laboured in,
whether now complete or as yet half formed.

Deo Gratias to the King of Kings, for every sign of His Kingdom that He has sent and that you have followed.

Deo Gratias to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to His Coming King, who strengthens and delivers you from every threat and snare,
and speeds you on your earthly race,
ever singing in your heart this power-full refrain:
Deo Gratias. Deo Gratias.

Reversing Maastricht and Lisbon – or into a dead end?

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I have been having problems with the brakes on my car. A mechanic assumed it needed nothing more than a new ABS Advanced Braking System sensor. I sensed it was more complex – and so it proved to be. How many people when they voted in the Referendum would have thought we would still be in our present impasse? Further on in this article we will be expressing a strong idea as to why this may have needed to occur.

Meantime we cannot but marvel at how Teresa May, is still standing at all, despite her intense dejection. I bumped into someone from church yesterday who told me that she had had a dream that she was sitting in a taxicab with Theresa May, who was terribly upset and crying. My friend reached over and placed her hand on her shoulder and prayed for her.

Linda Entwistle is among the many who have been spending a lot of time praying for her too. Back in June 2017 this is the prayer that Linda prayed for Theresa. It seems more relevant now than ever! Click here to join in her insightful prayer.

For more on the complexities involved in getting out of European treaties click here.

Of the millions who voted for ‘Leave’ many did so out a passionate conviction that we should never have committed ourselves as fully as we did to the European cause as embodied in the treaties of Maastricht and Lisbon. But leaving is proving to be far more complex than simply replacing one set of treaties and obligations with another.

Click here for a prophetic message about the significant role that Ireland could play in the coming months. If this word is right, it would certainly give an entirely different take on why an extension to Article 50 might prove both strategic and timely, rather than (as many commentators are inclined to see it) just another example of kicking a by-now-very-battered-can still further down the road. Read her insights here.

Japanese Peace

Komorebi: A Japanese Peace Piece

May the Lord open new doors for Jesus in Japan – Omo ga Nihon ni atarashī reitekina tobira o hiraku yō ni!

Operation World describes Japan as being the largest unevangelized nation that is completely open to missionaries – yet due to spiritual, socio-cultural, linguistic and financial difficulties, spreading the gospel there has consistently proved very hard.

I wrote this lovely short piece for flute and piano very much with Japan in mind as a piece to soak in and enjoy – but also as a way of bringing that country into focus. Continue reading

Manna for the Soul: Rich Musings on overcoming distractions and uniting our hearts with God

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Do you find when you set aside time to ‘mullinate,’ (to pray and ponder in the Lord’s presence) that you are bombarded left, right and centre by all sorts of distracting thoughts? The first thing to remember about these inevitable distractions is that we are on our Father’s side, just as He is on ours. But as surely as the Lord loves to slip in precious impressions, the enemy is at pains to plot and plan to see if he can slither in distractions and delusions in order to side-track our focus. He knows that if he can do that, it will diminish our energy and even our incentive to seek the living God.

Some of these disturbances are so intensely directed against us that they can feel all-consuming. It is as important to identify and deal with them as it would be to repel boarders from a ship! Or the powers of darkness simply draw on one of their plentiful supply of little ‘nothings’ in the attempt to fritter away our time.

May the Lord increase our ability to be still in the Lord’s presence – and to be quick to bring ourselves back to the Lord’s presence when our thoughts drift. This is a matter for discernment as well as resolution. With experience we learn to sense when something is a distraction, and when it is rather a sign that we would do better to be more lenient towards ourselves. We cannot possibly hope to get the balance right every time, any more than we can operate at 100% intensity the whole time. Focused meditation, like everything else, benefits from proper breaks.

Whatever it is that we are engaged on, discernment enables us to sense when we need to go the extra mile and push harder, and when we are wiser to take time away from it. Even just a few minutes can leave us feeling renewed and refreshed.

With these things in mind, and drawing extensively on themes that my great uncle, Bishop Frank Weston, addressed in some of his retreat talks and writings, we are offering this meditation to help us to overcome distractions, and to enrich our ponderings with the Lord, so that we can unite our hearts and minds more fully with His.

Lord in the midst of so much inner and outward noise,
I want to still my mind to pay attention to You and to You only.

In You Jesus, I cultivate the gift of internal stillness as well as external silence.
You are the Eternal Power, the ultimate force in the whole Universe –
and You make it possible
for each one who puts their trust in You to dwell with You,
and to walk with You in active partnership.

In Your name, Jesus, I shut out from my mind every distraction.
Deliver me from evil –
and from every fiery dart and flash of flame from the enemy’s magnifying glass that would have me direct my focus on things I don’t need to be steamed up about.

I want there to be more room in my heart for You:
to make it a sanctuary of prayer and worship;
a reflection of Your love,
and a mirror that shines with Your compassion for people.

Forgive me the many times I allow my heart to burn for that which is not of You,
For every time I do this I give You that much less room and opportunity to let Your love triumph in me.

Come deep within and do the work You need to do.
I long to pursue You with vigour and joy –
and the calling that You have spoken over me,

Keep me from sickness and slackness,
and from lingering in guilt over all I fail to do.

In Your holy name, and by Your great grace,
let me spend each coin of time that You give me wisely and well.

More on overcoming distractions

We must let our times of ‘mullinating’ grow their own fruit – but tend the fruit by getting into the habit of talking to the Lord at different times throughout the day.

It is the Father who willed that we, who live in a busy and sinful world, should become His temples. He knows all about the specific difficulties that we face, and He fully intends to renew and redeem our minds so that we can pray and respond to them in the power of the Spirit.

So long as we are prepared to continue the struggle against distractions there is no reason to be worried. We are giving the Father all He expects, and He values our prayer precisely because we are struggling not to succumb to the things that come our way.

I am not speaking of the times when we are lazy, and give up; but when the Lord sees us struggling against the distractions that daunt and dog our steps, we are not to be afraid of them. The Father thrusts us out into a world full of distractions and bids us to redeem it by our prayer. This is what gives prayer true meaning in His sight.

To the end of our lives we will never be completely free from difficulties and distractions, but as our will becomes slowly purer, and our desire stronger, we will find that their power over us is lessened. Little by little, we bring all the details of life into the Lord’s presence, so that all becomes one vast desire in our union with Him, as we fix our heart, mind and will on Him. We are in a great ‘school’ of His Sacred Heart, and it is His delight to teach and lead us, so that prayer becomes all the Father intends it to be as He moves through us to fulfil His will and purposes.

May we not be downhearted about our distractions, therefore. Where they are the result of past sin, the Lord Jesus forgives us as we bring them to Him – and when the devil taunts us with the reminder of them may we be quick to remind him that You have forgiven all that we have confessed to You in the past.

Where distractions come as a discipline that You need us to bear,
enlarge our heart to do so with a willing spirit, Lord!
Where the cares of the world are pressing in hard,
give us grace to turn away from them,
and to trust that You will find a way forward for us, through and beyond them.

But where they stem from the wiles of Satan,
empower us to show great resilience to resist and overcome them in Jesus’ name.

No matter how much we are hurting, may the Lord keep us from looking inwards, and convincing ourselves of our worthlessness. May we not focus our eyes too long either on outward circumstances, lest we find our faith faltering and daunted by the size of the challenge and by the seeming hopelessness of some situation. May we rather look up to His face, and remember the power that He has placed within us. Nothing is too difficult for Him.

It is fear and pride that hold us back from co-operating with His power – that dreary self-sufficiency which causes us to think that everything depends on our own wisdom and resources.

Lord, because You have chosen us, and I have responded to Your call, I open my heart now to meditate on the secret power of Christ at work in me. Your power outweighs all weakness, pain and cowardice, and enables me to keep on walking. That is why You urge us to “Lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Little by little, we find ourselves caring ever more passionately for others, as His concerns become ever increasingly our own. For His sake, we find an ever deepening concern for the well-being of the Church and for whatever other sphere He lays on our heart. His direction will be quite different from one person to the next.

Because we are learning to seek God about everything that comes across our path, prayer itself becomes a profound oneness with Jesus. Grant us the willingness to go whatever extra mile may be required in any situation, as well as to respond to those who have an obvious claim on our time and wherewithal.

Going deeper in the Word of God

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As a young Christian I remember dreaming of the Bible one day being freely available on a computer. I could never have imagined in those days that are at-once-so-close-and-yet-so-far-off that we would one day be blessed to have such extensive Bible resources available at the touch of a button. Praise God for all who had the vision and the wherewithal to make these great resources a reality: may we be hungry, thirsty and determined enough to make good use of them! Continue reading

Mullinating: Anything but boring!

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Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”  (Deut. 33:12)

No need to go reaching for a dictionary: you won’t find ‘mullinating!’ I was looking for a word that would embrace the concept of mulling, musing, marinating, and meditating, so I checked out to see if there was such a word as ‘mulinare’ in Italian. To my delight, I found that there was, and that it means ‘to brandish, spin or twirl’ – and figuratively, ‘to ponder or to ruminate’. So I promptly coined ‘mullinating’ to describe the precious process of pondering the meaning of things!

As ever the first thing we need to do is give ourselves permission to take the time to ‘mullinate.’ But I have found, as I am sure you will have done, that it is often in the course of such ‘down times’ (as opposed to times of feeling down!) that the Lord sows really helpful seeds and insights. Continue reading