#fridayfootprints – Friday 10th July 2020

When A Judge does not play Judge, in a court he is not a Judge in – then he is driven up the Via Dolorosa of social media to be crucified.

In my country we have a Judge, in fact a Chief Justice, the pinnacle of our legal system, who dared to bare a Christian truth. “I don’t hate anybody” – the fact that this was coupled to a statement that he loved the Jews and the Palestinians, he loved all nations and that love was part of his Christian belief, not hate.

He dared, because the ‘Son’ shines upon him.

In his own court he applies the rule of law that he is must adhere to as part of our constitution. In God’s court he is not expected to be a ‘judge’ he is required to be a Christian – because the ‘Son’ shines upon him.

Perhaps if more of us were to stand up and hold to the same principle, in that we are not required to be judges. We are not required to hold people to any standard. We are not expecting people to share our same views. But whatever standard they have, whatever views they have, we should love them. We should show them that the ‘Son’ can shine upon them. In fact, by doing so, we show that the ‘Son’ shines upon us.

This does not make us some select group of people above everybody else, but it does make us warmer than those who sit in the shade. If the ‘Son’ has shed its light on us, it should have warmed our hearts to all those who cross our paths and that warmth should be a blanket of comfort to all in need.

If the ‘Son’ shines upon us, we have no court to preside over, rather we have a far weightier task spreaders of love. We are not confined to a court, rather, we are bound to the foundation of God’s law; ‘Love your God and love your neighbour as yourself. Perhaps mankind has lost the ability to know themselves and without being able to know themselves cannot love themselves. And if they cannot love themselves, they cannot love their neighbour. What they do love is the image of what society tells them they should be. And society has become used to judging everything, to the extent that we have even started to judge ourselves.

If the ‘Son’ really shines upon us, we should welcome those key figures in society who are brave enough to stand up and we should stand by them because the ‘Son’ shines upon us and we have heard His Whispers in the Wilderness and His greatest commandments!

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#fridayfootprints – Friday 3rd July 2020

One day when the mankind takes stock of what has transpired over the last 100 or so years they will perhaps think back to the times they could have spent in quiet communion with God instead of gathering in hordes for whatever reason.

The hordes inevitably become a feeding frenzy!

It just depends what the people have gathered for as to what the feeding entails. Sometimes, it can be relatively innocent; a music festival, sport and dare I say it, church. The feeding is on excitement – the need to be entertained at all costs. Then again at the other end of the scale, the frenzy is about ‘protest’, social or moral indignation and even war and then the feeding is on the souls of man. In between lie a myriad of different forms of the need to satisfy the gnawing emptiness in the pit of our stomachs.

It has taken a ‘lockdown’ to show some of mankind that the real value in life is being in direct contact with someone, one-on-one. Sometimes this is with our Lord, but mostly it is with those near and dear. It is only in these instances of fellowship that we can built a deeper understanding of ourselves and those around us. It is only in contemplative connection with God and man that we build a better person and so doing a better society.

So yes, the frenzied feeding continues around the world, but deep in our hearts I’m sure much of what we see spread across the media is a result of a population who have not learnt how to make meaningful contact with God and caring contact with mankind. If we were to do this, not only would we be fulfilled and fully at peace with the world, the world, and God would be fully at peace with us!

“The peace of God which passes all understanding, …” is not in the gathered crowd. It lies waiting in a stranger, a loved one, the tired, the sick and the lonely. It resides in conversations of words spoken through a touch or a whisper in the wilderness.

“Go in Peace and serve the Lord.”

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#fridayfootprints – Friday 26th June 2020

Our new normal is a place totally unfamiliar to most us.

Like ballet dancers, or musicians, or performers of any ilk, the final product of what we produce on stage, is only a fraction of the time, effort and dedication that has gone into honing the art of what we do. And for most performers it is the ambiance of the stage and the audience that gives validity to their craft.

Take away this final step, and the performer is left negotiating a lonely existence that echoes in the halls of their consciousness.

Life under lockdown is like that for millions of people around the world. Our life’s work, ambition, drive, and formative thought have been conditioned to respond to an audience in our daily appearances on the stages that litter our reasons for being. Take this away and we are left floundering like fish out of water.

So great is the need for human interaction and affirmation, that we completely miss the chance to spend this ‘gifted’ alone time with the Trinity. We are so conditioned to human contact that we have sometimes lost the art of making contact with God. We are so busy shouting out our indignation to the world that we miss the chance to speak of the Holy Spirit to the crowd that has gathered.

We build our false indignation to the extent that it rages inside us threatening to destroy society as we know it. And we do this in the knowledge that it has been done before, to Christ, as we prepare to sacrifice Him again!

When the sound of a silent orchestra is so loud it drowns out the crashing, thundershower drumming of teardrops falling from Heaven as they see what we become when we crave a platform, any soapbox, that we will call our stage.

And when the wilderness whispers in an empty auditorium, who will hear Him? Who will care, that when we craved an audience – any audience will do! Whilst the audience that matters, that special moment just between God and man, will be left to gather up the feathers of the Holy Dove that lie plucked and scattered in the numbered seats.

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#fridayfootprints – Friday 19th June 2020

As the night deepens and sleep continues to evade me, I try to take my focus away from the sound of the frogs nightly chorus and then the sudden pauses of silence that I know are due to a stray predator stalking the garden paths.

As the frogs resume their ‘Opera of the Night’ my thoughts dwell on the pages of my existence in the world as it is and as it was. There are a few things that I have done right and there are many that are still left to be accomplished. I also have thoughts of family, both here and departed, and thoughts of friends; some dear, some estranged and some forgotten.

The common factor in this nightly dance of the sleepless, is love. A love for life and all that it has given, but above all, a love for a Father who has lightened my burden over all the years. I also cast my thoughts to my own father and know how much he must be enjoying time spent with his Saviour. I mourn him still, as I do others who have gone before, yet, there is joy in the knowledge that he has gone ‘Home’ to his love.

Love is a ‘Fellowship of Life’ that we celebrate throughout the spectrum of our emotions. Love is the Grace that we have been given and that we pass on to those we encounter along the way.

Love is a way of taking the leaves from His Book and throwing then to the wind. That they may be carried to the far corners of the earth and into the hearts of those we meet along the way.

I have two fathers, one biological and one spiritual and both are in Heaven. The one thing that binds them together and that binds me to my faith, is love.

‘Love Thy God’ – could it be simpler. Be love: That all may know that the leaves taken from His Book, filled with the inscriptions of His Word, have a place in a union that binds us completely to the source of all light!

Happy Father’s Day to both of you.

Scattered leaves are Whispers in the Wilderness blown through our lives by the Holy Spirit as a physical expression of his presence.

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#fridayfootprints – Friday 12th June 2020

People around the world are grappling with the concept of a new normal whilst at the same time yearning for many of the aspects of the old tried and tested recipes of their pre Covid-19 social existence.

Yet the new normal is not as new as we might think. The newness is the fact that it was forced upon us so abruptly. For many, a life that revolves around social media has for years slowly been ingrained into society.

After nearly three months of ‘lockdown’; the craving for closer contact with those near and dear.  The need for family, friends, intellectual sound boards and naturally, our Christian fellowship ring exceeds any other craving real or imagined.

This social network of real-life contacts has been torn apart. Conventional pathways to reach each other have been cut off and the tools to build new routes to reach the core of our relationships are unfamiliar and at times threatening to us.

Where does this leave us in our connection with the world and more importantly in our spiritual connection with the Trinity?

The silk thread that binds us together, the thread that weaves closed the holes created by humanity is exuded through His word. It is through our daily communion with Him that we can set about re-socialising our web of influence that we want in our lives.

Certainly, some things will be strange and new, but isn’t that what we have been promised, (2 Corinthians 5:17). Whilst His Word is spinning the silk needed, the work needs to be done by us. New work, new tasks, a new way of doing things, a new way of reaching across the voids of culture and understanding. All we need to know is that we can trust His promise and know with unfailing certainty that He can use any situation towards an end where He is the sculptor in a wilderness of whispers!

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#fridayfootprints – Friday 17th April 2020

There are place in my head that are scary places to visit when my imagination goes into overdrive.

Our imagination is also what feeds all the fake news we find on every platform. Fake news relies on the plausible, plays on the emotions, disguises reality and reason, balancing fact with fiction to make a believable story.

Something we want to believe in, even when the rest of our logic is screaming: “Watch out!”

I remember a time when a Sunday School teacher was one of my best customers for the ‘Fairy Stories’ I wrote. The reasoning being; if we can get children to believe in a ‘unseen’ fairy – we can get them to believe in an unseen God. This at a time when children readily believed in anything from the tooth mouse to Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny.

For the disciples, a Living Christ was just as far from the truth as the bunny, the mouse or a sleigh full of gifts until, suddenly, He was there in their midst. And even then, believing did not come instantly.

Pity the poor journalist who had to write that story without it being branded as fake news! A Risen Christ indeed?

Fear and uncertainty are the breeding grounds of fiction laced with fact. An environment where the rumourmongers flourish. I’m sure that stories of the resurrection were changed to suit every political, cultural and social agenda that the respective leaders in society wanted.

Covid 19 is testimony to that.

Take this corona virus plant as an example: 

It grows in the deep shade of the undergrowth. Cultivated by fairies and gnomes of lesser stature, it lies in wait. The bright red tips prove that it has recently fed. But it hungers for more.

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#fridayfootprints – Friday 10th April 2020

A glance at the world today shows that many lives are literally ‘hanging on a thread.’

Not just their lives, but also their Faith!

Faith in humanity, faith in political leadership, faith in technology and faith in God. In the absence of faith, fear begins to tighten its hold, squeezing any remaining life out of the globe.

Strange, when today we look at the crucifixion of Christ. His life was also hanging on a thread. That gossamer silk thread for Him would break. Yet, it was a death with a purpose.

For all of us who face death, it will never be ‘death with a purpose’ if we did not have life with a purpose. For Christ it was ordained. It was necessary for us, for our sins and for our salvation.

Without His death we could not have ‘life with a purpose.’ Without His death there was no reason for us to live. To exist, yes, but not to live!

Not only did He have to die, but the inhumanity of the events of the day leading up to His death, should have died with Him.

If we are to live with a purpose, we must know that the same gossamer thread of silk that we hold onto so dearly, must be that His death was not in vain. That the purpose we have, is; to love as He loved, to care as He cared, to teach as He taught, to share as He shared and to forgive as He forgave.

Our purpose is to be what He wanted us to be – otherwise everything He went through on that fateful Friday was in vain.

We all cry at the foot of His cross. We shout praises for His empty grave. But in between; are we living with a purpose? His shout at the 12th hour, is now but a murmur – a whisper in the wilderness that can only be heard because the world has been forced into quieter times and the noises of the hustle and bustle are stilled.

Listen, He calls you to a life with a purpose!

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#fridayfootprints – Friday 3rd April 2020

“Lonely looking sky, lonely sky, lonely looking sky. And being lonely makes you wonder why.” (Words from the lyrics of a Neil Diamond song of the same name.)

But what of the bench?

A lonely bench placed to watch a lonely sky! But is the bench lonely?

Perhaps the bench has a chance, in this time of crisis, to process all the thoughts and prayers that have been placed on ‘it’ over the years.

But is the bench empty?

The image that forms in my head is of a bench with three figures sitting and enjoying the peacefulness of creation for the first time in years. Diminished pollution and clearer skies and less noise.

And their conversation …? In this time of crisis, what would the Trinity be saying to each other?

Is the Holy Spirit (on the left) talking about the necessity for another breath of wind, or perhaps a flame or two, this time directed where it would do the most good.

Perhaps Jesus (on the right) is concerned about that ‘Heaven is at hand’ bit, and how to get people to understand the real meaning our ‘death to self’.

The central figure is one of calmness and patience. One of absorbing all of life and all the living in absolute and unhurried authority.

‘Gentlemen let us take a walk on the “Wild” side. Let us see how long it takes to get there and back. Let us eat the flesh of the world’s disillusionment, and drink in the blood of compassion. And when we have walked awhile with them, they will have heard that the Wilderness Whispers. They will realise that it is the breath of God that comes, not from a lonely sky, but from a bench with three figures sitting on it waiting for their call to arms.’

Glory looking day
Glory day, glory looking day
And all it’s glory
Told a simple way
Behold it if you may
Glory looking day
Glory looking day

(Neil Diamond – Lonely looking sky)

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#fridayfootprints – Friday 20th March 2020

Social Distancing!

A concept forced upon us by the COVID19 pandemic but something that Christians should be doing every Lent. That 40 day journey into the wilderness that makes up our spiritual core.

Social distancing is a chance to get away from the distractions that the world offers. Social distancing is alone time. Social distancing is heading out for the ‘Son’. A chance to feel His warmth on your skin. An opportunity to smell the ozone in the air. The rise and fall of the swell beneath you like the steady pulse of God, breathing in as the swell forms beneath us and breathing out as it passes.

In ‘social distancing’ there is a difference between loneliness and alone. Alone is when we are with God in thought, word and deed, bound up in His boundless Grace and Love. Loneliness …. When we have nothing.

That is also the difference between heaven on earth and hell. One we can survive in, flourish actually! The other …. Let us rather not go there!

The pandemic that we face in every continent, country and culture is an opportunity to spend some alone time with God. A chance to do some real ‘Soul’ searching. There are so many positives to be found. Let us dig them out and present them to the world.

Stay safe! Stay alone and head out for the ‘Son’.

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#fridayfootprints – Friday 6th March 2020

Sunrise and sunset.

Two of the most beautiful scenes enjoyed by mankind all over the world.

Yet at the same time, both scenes show the sky in colour and the world in silhouette form. The detail is lost against a God inspired backdrop.

For us to see all the nuances and shapes around us we must wait for the sun be a little higher than just behind the horizon.

Lent is like that!

We cannot just view our faith against the glorious backdrop delivered daily on our doorsteps, because then we see only the darkened version of the reality that faith is supposed to be. Even though the background is really impressive!

When we allow the “Son” to rise a little higher on our horizons, we discover the full beauty of what He has to offer us. Suddenly the backdrop comes into perspective and takes on depth and meaning. What was hidden in the silhouette becomes valley behind valleys and hills behind hills, generating an excitement of discovery.

Lent is a chance to see the Trinity on full display – from the time the “Son” rises in the east, we await a deeper understanding as He rises overhead and allows the Holy Spirit to blow His illuminating wind through the valleys of our sorrows and over the peaks of our happiness, giving the reality of our belief a complete landscape to be filled with all His glory.

A walk in the wilderness is to discover ALL there is about Him, not just a silhouette on a painted sky. Faith, like nature, needs to be seen from all the angles and under different light to be experienced as it is supposed to be. It is then that we get to praise Him for more than ‘just’ the sunrises and sunsets in our lives.

May the “Son” rise before you this Lent as you discover parts of Him you never knew existed

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