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RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING ON MY HEAD….



As with many Saturday afternoons I had dropped Isaac in the park to play tennis which meant I now had an hour to spare. This happens most Saturdays so I head to the coffee hut, get a takeaway and spend the time walking around the large London Park. I tend to listen to a podcast, maybe pray a bit and enjoy some music.

Last Saturday I found myself halfway around the park when the heavens opened. It was torrential rain with lightening and as a idiot I’d left my raincoat in the car. I started to hide under trees, but realising this was going to continue for a while I needed to make my way back to Isaac.

Trying to dart between trees I tried to get enough cover to only get a small dampening but as time went on I became increasingly aware that I was getting damper and damper and that now I was at that point of no return. I was getting so wet that there was little point trying to avoid it any longer.

So I stepped out into the downpour and walked right under the heaviest of it. I was soaked.

Dripping from my glasses, hair, and ears all the way down my body.

As I walked along I remembered Hosea 6:3, a verse I’d been reading the day before and it kept coming to mind. “He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that drench the earth”.

Spring rains don’t drizzle, they drench.

I realised something. When it comes to the spirit I’ve been darting back and forth under trees for a while. I want to control how wet I get.

Gods drenching the earth and I’m stood under a tree trying to keep cover.

But as I got wet there was no turning back, I stood there and became drenched. I arrived at the tennis courts to find Isaac stood undercover laughing at me. He’d seen me at a distance and thought how wet I was, was hilarious. In reality it was.

My prayer is that I want my inner life to be as drenched as my outer life was last weekend. I don’t want to dance under trees but enjoy the full drenching that Hosea speaks of.


A THOUGHT ON DISAPPOINTMENTS.


Many of us have this Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde thing going on inside of us. Not that were flipping in and out of split personality but that we struggle with two areas of our Christian belief. I could say between Mr Hope and Mr Disappointment.
We hope that God will do things but at the same time disappointed when we haven’t seen prayer or miracles happen.

There is a danger that our disappointments have a greater effect on our imaginations than we would like to think. I spend so much time talking about God having a more powerful work in and through us but many of us are frozen in our own souls because of doubts and disappointments. We have heard people speak of God being able to do ‘Immeasurably More’ but we are locked in a place of disappointment that is now crippling us in the future work God has for us.

I recently asked a group of Christians ‘who in the room is a little disappointed with God’. The room was filled with hands going up all over the place. You could feel an audible breath as people in the room had that ‘me too’ moment. We aren’t the only ones disappointed, we have all secretly and some not so secretly carried this disappointment in our hearts making us a little bitter, jaded and cynical.

We need to be a real church where we can speak about disappointments, mental health, anxiety and depression. A church that doesn’t brush hard issues under the carpet. There has to be a way for us that is so beautifully Jesus like and can hold the heartache and the expectancy of the resurrection together. Jesus had to die before the resurrection but it is noticeable that too often we rush to the resurrection of Easter Sunday while trying to skip by the sadness of Good Friday.
Christianity is a faith build upon a huge disappointment and then a even larger triumph. You simply cant have the triumph with out the sadness of loss.

We need to be a church with high hopes and high expectations while at the same time not ignoring the pain and rejection felt when it hasn’t worked out?

I believe in the powerful work of God but at the same time struggle with unanswered prayer. The question for the church and its future is can we hold the tension and honesty of our disappointments? There is a danger that our disappointments in fact imprison us in fear. We ask ourselves ‘what if I pray for a miracle and nothing happens’? So we don’t pray, in the hope not to be disappointed.

Sometimes our disappointments can be down to a lack of faith that God is even capable. Essentially the question for us is ‘Does God care’? If he does in fact care then we can ask ‘Do we really trust him? If God doesn’t care then we can’t trust him and if he does care then surely we can trust him.

The reality is rather than focusing on the glorious and powerful work of the Holy Spirit we focus upon the storm, mountain or catastrophe before us. We see the problem as bigger than the God of more. This can and will cripple us as it tells us that God isn’t as powerful as we hoped or dreamt. God isn’t able or capable.
Can I dare us to hold our disappointment and cynicism while at the same time have a growing sense of anticipation for something God could be doing?

As David reminds us time and time again in the Psalms there is only one way of shifting this crippling overload of fear, anxiety, worry and disappointment. Praise, worship and adoration. As we worship we get a bigger view of God and as he grows we are able to fall into his arms realising he is far more powerful than we imagine.


IMMEASURABLY MORE

I’ve been working on a new book which will be the theme for Spring Harvest next year called IMMEASURABLY MORE. Check out our promo film for the event.


PRESENT TO GODS PRESENCE


How often do we end up at the pub or a party and you realise that you’re at the pub but you want to back home in bed. And then, just as you head towards the door to leave, you suddenly spot someone that you didn’t have a clue was there. There was this good friend at the party and you never realised because you were far too preoccupied in who you were with or your mind was working on your exit strategy.

I was on my hands and knees with my 9 year old playing Lego. We were both building a spacecraft for a good while. I have to admit, I think mine was the best Lego spacecraft the cosmos has probably seen in a good 30 years. As we sat there Isaac starts saying to me “Hello are you there?” Of course I was, we were sat nothing more that a couple of feet away. “But Daddy I’ve been talking to you about the Ninja Turtles for 20mins and you’re not listening”. He was right, I was present but I wasn’t present.

It was like I was present yet absent at the same time.

There is this wonderful moment in the Exodus story when God tells Moses to come up onto the mountain and ‘stay on the mountain’. It’s here that God gives Moses the two stones marked with the commandments. What’s interesting with this story is the English translation of the Bible doesn’t do justice to the original language.

Exodus 24:12 should read something like, “come up the mountain and be” but that doesn’t make much sense in English. There is this Hebrew word Heye which in the English translation we render as “stay with me” but would be closer as “BE”.

God tells Moses to come up the mountain and BE with him. Well isn’t that obvious God, if Moses has come up the mountain then surely he’s going to BE with you. The truth of it is God knows best and he knew that he needed to tell Moses something important. God knew that once Moses arrived on the mountaintop he would already be planning his route home. He’d be making lists of jobs, people to see, Birthday cards to send, bills to pay and what he was going to eat next.

We are all too quick to be moving on, heading someplace new and not remaining present in God’s presence.

God wanted Moses to be present in his presence.

Sometimes we say God showed up at church tonight and other times we say God wasn’t in it. What we mean is I showed up tonight or I wasn’t in it. We are the ones who choose to be absent or present.

Often we hope for God to ‘show up’ in our church worship or personal prayer time. Yet, the reality is that God is already present. He is available. More than that, he wants us to rest, be held, meet, recover, recharge, hear and become aware of him! God desires us to experience his presence, his protection, his power, his provision and his peace, not someplace else, but present here.

Like the father of the prodigal son story, he is there simply waiting for us to show up. It is we who must become aware of him. We must become present to the presence of God.

Matthew 11:28 reads “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. Wow, weary, burdened… We fit the criteria don’t we? We are tired and weighed down! But, so often we overlook Jesus’ invitation to make ourselves come into his presence.

Sometimes we are distracted from God’s presence by our preoccupation with things in the world around us that seem more real but aren’t. We can be preoccupied with money, women, mates, the football league tables or the new episode of a baking program. Other times we become engrossed in our own thoughts—responsibilities, worries, irritations and preoccupations. Amidst the distractions of our lives we are absent from the one relationship that can offer us rest and sustenance. Jesus says ‘come’ to all who are weighed down and tired. Come isn’t about God moving, it’s about us moving. It’s about us moving in our awareness of what is already there.

BE still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)

BE still.

BE.

Stop thinking about what you’re doing next, who you need to call or email. Don’t think about where you’re going or what you’re eating. Be present here.

Breathe Deeply.
Sometimes we can’t sense God’s presence because there’s too much of everything else going on.

Too much noise. Too much traffic. Too much confusion. Too many thoughts running rampant in our minds. Too much anxiety. Too much worry.

Be still and focus your mind on Him and start to breathe deeply.

Try it. Exhale the distracting thoughts. Inhale a desire to sense His presence.
Exhale your pre-occupation with yourself.
Inhale a desire to know God more completely.
Exhale the worries of the moment.
Inhale His peace.

Can you begin to sense that you’re in His arms?

BE still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).

Cris Rogers (Nov 2013)

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