“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears. . . . He made darkness His covering, His canopy around Him— the dark rain clouds of the sky.” (Ps. 18:6, 11) Continue reading
Special times of meditation are common in most traditions over the Easter period, so I have put these reflections for Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday together with the help of several friends, including Sally, Harmony and Elizabeth, who reads the text with me.
We have overlaid two of the tracks so that the words and music flow together. The aim has been to draw us right into the centre of certain aspects of the Easter story and to bring the events of Calvary to life in a fresh way this year.
Three different viewpoints are woven into these simple reflections. There is the Lord Jesus Himself, His disciples watching – and then there is us as we both watch events unfolding and, with the benefit of faith and hindsight, receive the power of His grace.
Part 1 – Good Friday: Reflections at the Cross
The second movement of Torelli’s Etienne concerto provides the music for this track.
Imagine yourself in the sandals of a disciple of Jesus, standing on the bare hill outside Jerusalem, watching as your dearest friend is nailed to a tree. You have long walked with Him, and seen Him set His face like flint to follow His Father’s leading into many dangerous situations – but you never imagined it would end like this Continue reading
I looked for the one my heart loves. (Song 3:1) May this be the joy and discovery of many Dutch people!
God of the great and the small, at this time when we are concerned for such very major issues amongst the nations,
we are praying for Your power to burst forth in one of Your smaller countries.
You love to bring life where there is no life; and just as you have reclaimed so much of Holland from below the sea level,
we are asking You to bless these polder lands with seedtime and harvest in the spiritual world.
Make this a place where Jesus is known and Your word is welcome.
Let the Waal (the Rhine), the Maas (The Meuse) and the Scheldt be rivers that bring great blessing rather than being the source of great fear of inundation.
And likewise, Jesus, we ask to You to protect this land and the Dutch people from the weighty flood of wayward ways, beliefs and attitudes; for whilst extreme liberalism on the one hand has swept many far out to sea on currents not of You,
stagnant deadweight traditions have kept many more immured in the past.
We are asking You now Lord Jesus, that You inspire a new trajectory that takes people far from their own self-interests and right into the expression of Your creative love.
Redirect the steps of many to encounter the God of living destiny. Raise up many means and ways by which young and old alike shall come into the fullness of both Your Word and Your Spirit.
Find fresh ways to shape inspire and gather up the Dutch anew in You, so that whether they are finding life cosy or challenging, You may have a people for Your own possession.
In this land of artists and musicians let people recognise the Lord Jesus as the greatest artist of all.
From cradle to grave,
in centres of learning;
in churches and town halls,
in streets and along canals,
may the wind of Your Spirit blow through the land, set windmill sails turning in the heart and make them fit for planting.
You work around and through and despite people’s choices; You know the things in the Dutch psyche that have caused the hearts of many to stray far from You, the living God.
Sift out that purely man-made region that limits Your freedom to work so that many may catch the flow of your living Spirit.
Raise up shepherds after Your own heart,
and give many the eyes to glimpse Your majesty, and the determination not to be deterred from running after You.
Let them chart brave new courses for You, as so many Dutch people have done through the centuries.
Thank You for all who have looked to You and known You as Lord of the rhythms of their life:
Raise up now those who will be outstanding pioneers for You.
In Jesus name and for His sake, Amen.
Pray for Holland
Join with others in praying for the Netherlands at this Prayercast website, where you can also read a few brief paragraphs about the long history of tolerance and acceptance that Dutch culture is renowned for – but where Christians are becoming increasingly afraid of speaking out in case they are regarded as being ‘intolerant’.
Pray that by whatever means the Lord chooses faith will flow freely and joyously in the Netherlands – and with a greater freedom and passion than ever before. It appears that many of the most dynamic expressions of faith today are to be found primarily amongst immigrant churches – especially Indonesian, Antillean, Ghanaian, and Chinese.
God still has much He intends to do in and through the Dutch people!
See also Operationworld.org
God made the nations so they would seek him, perhaps even reach out to him and find him. In fact, God isn’t far away from any of us. (Acts 17:27 CEB Other versions say, ‘feel after Him’, or even ‘grope for Him and find Him’).
Last week I had the joy and privilege of staying for a few days in a friend’s flat in Haarlem while they were away. It was the perfect, secluded place to write and pray and to explore a town I had not been to before. With a population of around 160,000, Haarlem is almost joined with Amsterdam in one of the most densely populated metropolis in Europe. It is a place blessed with a network of lovely canals, and many fine medieval buildings. Continue reading
You are sure to have heard of the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ – it was the second most sought after new word in 2016! The Dutch have their own equivalent: gezelligheid, which means ‘cosy and sociable.’ I was certainly both hygge and gezelligheid in my friend’s flat in Haarlem; it was a perfect place to spend time deep in the Lord’s presence and gaining insights for a variety of writing projects, – as well as for venturing out from some exploring.
The fundamental ambiguity of hygge – the flip side of it if you like – is that it risks blurring boundaries and making us “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God’ (2 Tim. 3:4). Continue reading
One of the highlights of my trip to Haarlem was my visit to the perfectly preserved house where Corrie Ten Boom and her family served as jewellers and watch menders. It is an extraordinary story. Corrie was already into her fifties when her family opened their door to an astonishing number of Jews on the run from the Nazis. Most of the eight hundred plus Jews who came through their doors were passed on to be cared for by others in the Resistance, but some continued as guests of the Ten Booms.
It is nothing short of a miracle that the Ten Booms were able to operate for as long as they did in Continue reading
What can I answer to thee, I who have spoken so freely, that is, so indiscreetly, and so foolishly? I shall put mine hand upon my mouth.
(Job 40:4 WYC)
Think of times when you have ‘sounded off’ and been too insistent about something – only to regret later what you have said. It’s not so easy to withdraw words once we have spoken them – in fact it can be altogether too much like trying to gather up confetti that has scattered to the wind. There are definitely times when it is best to say less – or even nothing at all. Continue reading
Why little things matter
The people I admire most are those whose hearts are constant in their desire to bless the Lord and to honour others, no matter what is going on in their life outwardly. As a result, I am not on edge, worrying about how they will react because I know they will not take things amiss. Nevertheless, it is right to weigh carefully the seemingly “little things” we say and do: they really do have enormous power for either good or harm. Continue reading
Elisha was a great prophet and example to the nation. As I was praying for a friend yesterday to be thus, the Lord gave me three key qualities he would stand in particular need of in the year ahead:
- flexibility (adapting to unexpected or enforced changes)
- lowliness (humility)
- and timeliness (that is, not putting things off!)
Although these words were specifically for one person, I think they will be helpful for us all. To some extent, they overlap, too, with another theme I have been pondering, Continue reading
Cast your bread upon the waters,
for you will find it after many days.
Give a portion to seven, or even to eight,
for you know not what disaster may happen on earth . . .
He who observes the wind will not sow,
and he who regards the clouds will not reap. (Ecc. 11:1-4)
The opening phrase is an attractive thought but what on earth does it actually mean? Continue reading