Wormbook

For various reasons (including being instructed to by my nephew), I’ve decided to write a book rather than (or possibly as well as) a blog. I have started one or two projects in the past, but I now think I have a genuine direction along with the genuine motivation to see it through. If this is indeed what God wants me to do, and if I follow where He leads… then I’ve absolutely no idea what will happen with it when it is written.

But I know Who does know.

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

[Frances R. Havergal]

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A Thanksgiving Prayer

A Thanksgiving Prayer Letter to Family & Friends
(and anyone else who wants to read it)

[Inspired by Ephesians 3:14-19]

For this reason… [v14a]

The Apostle Paul (author of Ephesians) had a reason for everything that he did. The early part of his life was lived doing all he could to destroy Christianity, and his reason for that was that he thought God wanted Him to destroy Christianity. Trouble is, Paul had not actually met God personally to ask Him. Meeting God personally is essential for all of us – even those of us who think we have been faithful Christians faithfully following God for decades. Are our hard and fast reasons for living the way we do actually based on a face to face meeting with truth, or are we driven by a deadly mixture of truth and lie? Before Paul ‘saw the Light’, he certainly knew a lot about God – more, in fact, than most if not all of us know now. He was a very, very religious person – following the law to the very best of his ability. Does that describe us? Sadly, the best of our ability is worthless before a perfect God, and understanding that was the key that transformed Saul to Paul. He met God on the road to Damascus, and instantly knew that although his reason (God wanted him) had been right, his reasoning (God wanted him to do something) had been deeply flawed.

…I bow my knees before the Father,…[v14b]

God wants US. He doesn’t want or need what we can DO. Yes, after we completely submit our lives to Him, He does indeed give us work to do for Him – something that will continue throughout eternity. But the work that we do for Him has nothing at all to do with meeting His standards and becoming acceptable to Him. That is the fatal mistake Paul was making as he scurried around Judea stoning Christians. Saul desperately wanted to be acceptable to God, and was doing his best to meet God’s approval by smearing this upstart, blasphemous religion into the ground. According to Saul’s Judaism, there is only one God (true), and it is a terrible thing worthy of punishment for anyone who is not God to claim to be God (true). So therefore, this Jesus and his motley crew were all guilty and deserving of death. Saul needed to have his spiritual eyes opened to the fact that ‘this Jesus’ was the ultimate fulfillment of thousands of prophecies that litter the Jewish scriptures (Christian Old Testament). For hundreds and hundreds of years, Jewish prophets had been writing about a Messiah that would come. Well – come He did. But because His first coming was all about defeating the SPIRITUAL rather than PHYSICAL enemy, the Jews rejected Him. All they and Saul were looking for was someone to rally the Jewish troops and slap their Roman oppressors back into the stone age. They thought that they could take care of the spiritual side of things themselves.

…from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,…[v15]

We can’t take care of the spiritual side of things ourselves. We are all part of God’s family. Some of us are estranged and still need to be restored back to being God’s children and heirs, but we are all – like it or not – part of His family. He created us, and He is our Father. Just as every human (imperfect) father should provide his children with boundaries, rules and instructions – a framework around which his children can build a life that is secure and productive and meaningful – so God gave humanity as a whole a framework on which to build. And He also gave humanity the freedom to choose whether to use that framework or not. True love is NEVER forced, and that alone explains why bad things happen. Bad things happen because God truly, deeply, eternally loves us and would never force us to follow Him. He is the perfect Father – leading by perfect example, but never coercing, bribing, demanding or otherwise imposing Himself upon His children in order to gain their submission. And because of His perfect love, He has allowed us to go our own way into brokenness, corruption, despair and death. And once something is broken – it cannot ‘unbreak’ itself. Once we are spiritually dead, we cannot bring ourselves back to life. Our only hope is that our Father loves us enough to forgive our rebellion and find a way to restore us to Himself. We are God’s family, and He wants a relationship WITH us, rather than a religion FROM us.

…that according to the riches of His glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being,…[v16]

This is where the jaw of a bible-believing person starts making its way to the floor. YES, this life on earth can be horrible, painful, brutal… YES we ALL to some extent or another experience things that make (or should make) us cry on a daily basis. We have all struggled with grief, loss, pain and fear. But this Thanksgiving, I for one shout out to God with eternal gratitude that He HAS NOT simply left us to wallow in our own muck, but has reached out to us with the RICHES OF HIS GLORY! He wants to strengthen our inner beings with HIS power through HIS Spirit! Today, if you are running from God, don’t believe in God, or a combination of those two – then no wonder you are finding it hard to be truly thankful. Life is IMPOSSIBLE to bear without God’s strength. Asking for and receiving that strength on a daily basis is one of the countless proofs of the true Christian faith. He gives true JOY in the heart of those of His children who willingly and freely submit their lives to Him. Is that joy visible in your life today? Is it visible in MY life today?

…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith –[v17a]

This is my simple prayer for all those who read this (and of course those who don’t!). May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith. Please, please PLEASE ask God for the GIFT of faith if you have never done so. Faith is not something we conjure up in our mind. It is a GIFT. God reaches out to EVERYONE, offering something that money cannot buy and sweat cannot earn. He is offering the eternally and infinitely precious gift of His Son’s LIFE to you. God incarnate died so that you may live. Ask Him today – right now – for enough faith to believe that. Your life WILL be transformed.

… –that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,…[v18-19a]

God has a perfect sense of humor. He knew that inspiring Paul to pray a prayer for us to know something and then to tell us it is unknowable would make our heads spin. And that is the whole point. If we rely on OUR heads to work this out – we will fall off a mental cliff and spend the rest of our lives trying to work out how the stars we see flying past came into existence. Was there nothing in the beginning, or was there some sort of quantum energy field? If we stretch out time to billions rather than millions of years, will there have been enough time for the first chemical to randomly evolve into a human being and the rest of life as we know it? No. He made the stars also, and He wants us to look at His universe through HIS eyes. Only then can we know the unknowable. Only then can we truly start to be thankful. Only after we have been rooted and grounded in love – and not just any old glandular, feeling driven, selfish love. Rooted and grounded in the love of CHRIST. We need God’s strength in our hearts in order for those roots to sink in. There is no other way.

…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.[v19b]

There is no way round it. This is an insane prayer. Filled with all the fullness of God? If you are a Christian already – are you filled with all the fullness of God? If not, get on your knees and pray. If you are not a Christian already, then you have no idea what this means. Do you want to find out? Pray! In other words, we all need to be praying – all of the time. And we need to be doing so with an attitude of desperate humility and sincere thankfulness for a Father God who loves us so much that He allows us to walk such a painful road along the way to finding Him. There are no strings attached, either to us, or to the gift God wants to give us.

May you all bless God this Thanksgiving.

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To know the unknowable…

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. [Ephesians 3:14-19]

I have decided to memorize these verses and pray them every day. There is NOTHING I want more than for EVERYONE I know (and don’t know for that matter!) to have Christ dwell in their heart through faith. What an enigma! To know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge… Only God working in us can make sense of that. And when we allow Him to work in us, EVERYTHING (even this messed up world we live in) makes sense. He has all the answers for life’s pains and trials, and He wants nothing more than to share those answers with each individual human being. True Christianity is a restored relationship, not a restrictive religion. May everyone who reads this eventually find the Truth and walk in His Light! I ♥ you all.

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Well Done, Good And Faithful Slave!

It is kinda nice to receive something like this in the mail. I started working for ANL in 2001, and spent almost nine years sitting in a room surrounded by rows of computers. I even occasionally pushed a button or walked round a bit and looked at a few things. I haven’t actually gone to work for well over a year now, as my heart can no longer stand the excitement of sitting around doing nothing for 8-12 hours a day. So this certificate should say “In Recognition for your 9 Years of Dedicated Service and 1 Year of Freeloading on our Insurance Plan”, but I guess I’ll accept it the way it is.

One day soon I’m going to be raptured with the rest of the sinners saved by grace. I may die before this happens, but that’s no big deal. And that’s when the best bit of all eternity happens. I am going to see Jesus face to face, I am going to know as I am known, and I am going to be like Him. For 7 or so years we’re going to celebrate in Heaven while those left behind on Earth face God’s righteous wrath against unrepentant sinners, and then we’re going to accompany the King as He returns in power and glory to reign over Earth perfectly for 1,000 years. And then the whole thing gets rolled up like a scroll and there will be a new Heaven and Earth for eternity. Kinda like a divine Ctl/Alt/Delete, I suppose.

All of these truths are clearly presented in the Bible (yes, even the pre-tribulation rapture). They may be difficult to understand or hard to believe, but hey – God is God, and we are not. God’s Word has a 100% track record of absolute accuracy, and that record is going to continue.

So for ~1007 years and then in to eternity I am going to be perfectly serving my perfect King. I will have a specific role to fulfill in His Kingdom, and there will be official duties and tasks to perform. Based on my faithfulness to Christ and His Word (during my worst life now), my reward and position (in my best life then) will be uniquely suited for me.

I get to serve in Christ’s Kingdom for ever, and I won’t receive a paycheck every month. I guess there’ll be plenty of time to hang out by the water fountain and swap stories, but there will be lots of important business to take care of. And when the 10th… 50th… 100,000,000,000th anniversary of my promotion rolls around, I won’t be watching the mailbox outside my mansion for a piece of paper (or a wind up flashlight, which was the gift I chose to go with the piece of paper).

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’
[Matthew 25:23]

Share your master’s joy…

If you’re reading this, and you are a Christian, then those four words should right here and right now be enough to see you through the rest of this life and then through an eternity of the next.

Sometimes (OK, often) it’s hard for us to understand how we are going to ‘feel’ in Heaven. How we are going to keep from being ‘bored’ for all eternity. Perhaps we’re hoping that Jesus will pop by every day and pat us on the back – some sort of continuous recognition for being on His team. Or it could be like an eternal Caribbean cruise, where every once in a while our turn to sit at the Captain’s table for dinner comes around.

Nah.

Here’s the only piece of paper I need on my wall:

But as it is written:
What no eye has seen and no ear has heard,
and what has never come into a man’s heart,
is what God has prepared for those who love Him.

[1 Corinthians 2:9]

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Well, well, well…

Yesterday, I laid a brief foundation for the next series of posts here at blossomsred. We’re going to talk about sheep. Baa-d idea? Am I displaying woolly thinking? No. Because after all – the pen is mightier than the sword.

Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well. Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!” He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Water the sheep and go, pasture them.” But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”
[Genesis 29:1-8]

One of the many reasons why Christianity is in such a dreadful state today is that most of those who call themselves Christians have no deep appreciation for or understanding of the roots of their faith. I’m going to keep this post simple – not because I don’t think people are smart anymore, but because I think we’ve become too smart. We have to get back to a simple, basic understanding of who we, as Christians, are. And then we have to apply that understanding and assess what we, as Christians, have become.

Firstly, Jesus Christ is our Chief Shepherd. [1 Peter 5:4]
Secondly, Jesus

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. [Ephesians 5:25a-27]

In other words, the Chief Shepherd gave His life for His sheep, and washes them with the ‘water’ of His Word. We are saved because He shed His blood and died for us. We are cleansed by His Word. [John 15:3]

There are many Christians today who are saved, but are not going to the well for water any more. And even those sheep who are going to the well find that their shepherds have left the stone rolled away from it, allowing all sorts of pollutants and dirt to get mixed in with the water. Or perhaps the shepherd fiercely guards the well, but only waters the sheep from the surface, rather than dipping down deep for a healthy mixture of warm and cold water. Some shepherds have also given up on part of the flock – the ones who they only see at Easter and Christmas.

Jesus is the Chief Shepherd of all God’s sheep in the Church that God is building. And everyone who is in any leadership position within any church needs to tremble because of that simple fact.

Jacob was a deceiver. Why did he try and get the shepherds to water only some of the sheep rather than wait for all of them to arrive? I don’t know. What I do know is that in the C.O.W. chapter of the Bible (Hebrews 11), Jacob doesn’t really get a rousing “well done, old chap” like his grandad Abraham did. Instead it seems that it was only as he was dying did Jacob really get his shepherding ducks in a row and reverently seek God’s blessing on the sheep. During his younger days, all he seemed able to do well was cheat and steal and deceive. He did not even know when his own family (don’t forget – they were his spiritual sheep, as he was their spiritual leader) were harboring idols in their midst.

Do our spiritual leaders know or care what idols we are clinging to? Do our spiritual leaders get by in life by being deceptive, dishonest or otherwise failing to uphold the standards of the Chief Shepherd? What is really going on in the ‘body’ of people who are saved by the precious blood of Christ? Are we getting our daily watering from the word under the guidance of faithful shepherds? Or are the wild animals lounging around in our midst, sharpening their knives.

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