{April 6, 2013}   Look again at the familiar…

Luke 9:10-17 – Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”

13 He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” 14 (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Luke 9 was part of my Bible reading this morning; I was struck by a familiar story – the telling of the feeding of the five thousand.  It made me think of what God can do with little things, and with situations and I feel a blessing from the story.  It sounds like an implausible/ impossible situation – to be utterly truthful I’m not entirely troubled by the did it actually happen or did it not argument… it’s the deeper meaning of the story that moves me.

What the story (which is told in other Gospels also) conveys to me is that…

  • God can take what is given/ presented to him, however small it may seem and do amazing things with it.
  • God can do the implausible/ impossible – so though it may feel as if something desired/ dreamed about will never happen, if it’s part of God’s plan then it will happen.  (And on this one remember Jeremiah 29.11… “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” The Message)
  • Jesus was practical; he and God were/ are just as concerned about your physical needs as your spiritual ones… but God desires you also to be equally concerned about the spiritual as the physical – a challenging thought as I wonder where the balance is in my life.
  • God expects us to consider/ look for and act on present problems/ needs/ concerns in life – we’re not to go to God wanting a ‘magic wand’ solution… think also about your strengths/ gifts/ abilities which might be useful in the context… just do it!  (Here I think about children in my class pulling a strained face and declaring “Miss, my pen don’t work!” I usually comment on the grammar then ask them, “okay, what do you need to do about it?” – perhaps that’s what God may say when we go to Him in prayer… perhaps I need to listen for that response more!)

Read a story you’re familiar with… what new insights do you find?

Live life


{March 20, 2012}   Grace & love – His story

Cos God’s so passionate about the planet that he donates his one and only Son.  Whoever invests their life in his Son doesn’t die, but gets limitless life.  D’you think God sends his Son to slam people down?  No!  He sends his Son to liberate people. [John 3:16-21, The Street Bible, Rob Lacey]

I have a few differing Bibles, often I find that looking up a passage I know well in a more traditional Bible in a differing one can shed increased light on the passage.  I think most of us raised in the Church are familiar with John’s tagline of “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son”.  On Sunday I was reminded of the fuller meaning of “world” as John wrote.  John’s Gospel was written in Greek, the word in the original being “cosmos” and more accurately might be read, “God so loved EVERYTHING that he gave his only Son.”  That thought kinda pulled me up short, and offered a challenge (as the Bible frequently does!) about my attitude to those I disagree with.  I cannot get my head around those who hold views that I find objectionable, and ultimately I find myself struggling with the graceless way that people (even those within the wider Church family) convey those views that they hold.

This amazing expression of God’s love reminds me and challenges me to get a hold of the bigger picture of divine love.  Yes, I’m sure he loves us in Church, singing and praying, meeting to pray with others all the “holy” stuff… but he loved and loves us completely and utterly… he loves us in the mess of it all…

Newsboys “Rescue” from their THRIVE album

You guys were spiritual corpses murdered by the mess that ran your lives.  You went with the flow; you weren’t going God’s way, so you let the boss of the spiritual underworld dictate your every move like some Mafia godfather.  We all did it: we merged in with the crowd, pumped our bodies with whatever our dark side fancied at the time.  We were as brainwashed as the rest of them and wound God up big time.  But God loves us so passionately he gave us some slack and let the Liberator resuscitate our spiritual side that had been throttled by our mess.  Free, no charge, a gift – God’s OTT generosity is what’s straightened you out, sorted your lives, brought you back to life (like he did with the Liberator), and now were sitting right next to our Liberator Jesus in heaven.  Why?  So that he can brag about our lives, show us off as prime examples of the phenomenal value of his freebies, use us as exhibits A-Z of his generosity to us – just cos we’re connected with the Liberator Jesus.  What’s straightened you out isn’t down to you.  There’s nothing you’ve done that’s sorted your life.  No, it’s all God’s generosity that’s done it; you’ve just taken him at his word and even your ability to do that comes direct and free of charge from him.  If it were linked to how you lived, you’d end up shouting your mouth off about how brilliant you are.  No, we’re God’s masterpiece, his tour de force, his piece de resistance.  Liberator Jesus qualifies us to be made from scratch to make good things happen, things that his planned already for us to get stuck into.  [Street Bible, Ephesians 2:1-22]

I find that Church, God and Jesus are frequently in the press for (what I think) are the wrong reasons… it’s as if the world wants to force us to the point of obscurity by squeezing us into a little box of ‘minor details’.  Grace is the heart of it.  It’s mentioned 4 times in Ephesians 2.1-10 (NIV)!  Grace, love, justice, and mercy are the bestsellers in the Bible, over and above the other stuff!

Ephesians in general is a book that hits a chord with me; loving me in the mess of it all – it takes me back to being at the foot of the cross.  He loved me when I felt I was unlovable.  He found me when I was hiding.  He waited for my return every time that I ran away.  Jesus resuscitated my spiritual side when I was drowning.  Ephesians conjures up an image of myself, pregnant, with no real idea of or hope of a positive future for myself or my unborn child.  Ephesians takes me to a very dark place in myself…

…but it is a glorious and a triumphant story.  A story of hope, and of mended relationships, a story of a new life, new dreams and new opportunities… it is HIS story, it is as if his copyright is stamped all over my life so there’s no doubt, no one can steal the image.  God asserts his right as author, creator and artist.

I try to start each day with a little prayer; sometimes I feel guilty over not being one of those who gets up an hour early to meditate and pray – but this is me, and he’s my dad… so I guess he gets me!  I say a prayer that asks Him to give me the compassion, the attitude and the grace to be like him as the day unfolds.  Sometimes the words change, depending on what the day is likely to bring… but the sentiment remains the same… not my will, but Yours.



et cetera