..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Woman, Where Are Your Accusers?

Woman, where are those accusers of yours?
Has no one condemned you? (John 8:10).

Guilty as sin. Yes, she was. Caught in the
very act, everyone had turned upon her,
everyone that is, except Jesus. It was the
ultimate “everyone is against me”, the
ultimate humiliation, the ultimate place
to know of God: ‘I am entirely at Your mercy.’

How often we feel the stones of accusation
being hurled at us. Accusation can come
from all sides: from our sin being found
out, from being misunderstood, even from
standing in obedience to God. However it
comes, it hurts. Whenever it comes, it is
meant to drive us deeper into our Lord.

Who can know the inclinations of our
hearts? So many reasons, so many
explanations, so many motives. The
woman, taken in adultery, had reasons
and explanations, of that you can be
sure. Now they all painfully caught
in her throat and in her deepest belly,
in this her darkest hour.

Why had it all come to this? Why had
things ended up the way they did? Why.
Why. Why. Jesus knew all about it. He
knew all about the others, also.

He knows about everyone. “He that is
without the first sin among you, let
him cast the first stone” (John 8:7).
Jesus begins to write on the ground:
names, places, events, no doubt. Coded
so that only the recipient it was meant
for would understand what was being
said: the graciousness of Jesus is
like that.

The oldest turns away first, the
oldest knowing, best of all, that
sin takes down even the most hopefully
pious of us. Each man turns away until
there is no-one. No one is left but
Jesus and the woman. Christ stops
scratching names, dates, places in
the dirt and looks up. He looks
straight into her soul, knows every
broken place, every sin, every hurt,
every pain, every promise gone bad,
every excuse.

“Woman, where are your accusers?
Is there no-one left to condemn you?”

If you are reading along with me in the
spirit of this, feel His gaze with me.
It is here that we are all undone. It is
at this point that we are all naked before
God: alone before Him, at His mercy: wretched
wreckages, thrown down in the sand to die.
Our accusers have done their job, pummelled
our souls, ripped the flesh from the bone,
left us for dead. They could have cared
less; our Lord, however, cares more. It
is here that we encounter the mercy of Christ.

“Woman, where are your accusers?
Has no-one condemned you?”

It is now that Jesus comes to us, without
accusation, only an admonition born of love:

“Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”

It is on the pointed end of accusation
that we learn of the mercy of God. It is
when we are thrown down and trampled that
Jesus holds out His hand to us, not to
slap us, not to stone us, not to accuse
further, but to give us a hand up. When
no-one understands, when no-one takes our
side, when all stand in accusation, even
when we have been dead wrong, there is
still One who stands with us. He does
not condone the wrong. He calls us to
“sin no more.” When others misunderstand
us, He understand and stands with us.

Neither do I condemn you.”

When our obedience to God causes a
painful division, He soothes the
pain of human rejection. With Him is
understanding, and forgiveness and an
extended hand to come up higher. There
is no accusation in the heart of our
Lord. Thank God. May we believe how
easy it is to return to God if we
simply have a repentant heart.

May we know how accepted we are in
the Beloved, no matter what our
accusers say, no matter what we
have done or not done. So let us
swiftly rise up, return to Jesus,
and go and sin no more.

Our God is a God of infinite mercy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Know Thy God

Believe and know that I AM: The God of all goodness,
all kindness, all grace & mercy, yet infinitely
higher than what the human mind can conceive.

All proceedeth from Me and shall flow back to
Me for the purpose of My good pleasure.
Immerse yourself in knowing Me and allow
every dark thing to flee, for in
My Presence every dark thing must leave.

Let every dark thing that is not of life flee
at My Word, for all darkness can do is weigh
your heart down: so low that it could sink
all the way into hell! Love shall bring you up
from darkness and death for it cannot be conquered
nor comprehended by darkness. My Word creates,
sanctifies, transforms, renews. My Word
accomplishes all I send it forth to do. Let My
Word conquer you!

Walk on from here. Know thy God. Know Me in
perfect beauty, in righteousness, in holiness,
in all that is praiseworthy, for I do all
things well. I perfect all that concerns you
with an exceeding perfection.

photograph taken near Wales, UK

Monday, February 18, 2008

How Your Beauty Astounds Me!

How Your Beauty Astounds me,
O King of Heaven Glorious,
You who reign within us, reign forever over us!

No heart without your Spirit,
can ever see Your Face.
nor know Your sweet communion,
nor touch Your endless grace.

In darkest nights You linger,
brooding over our deeps,
Your endless forgiveness heals us,
Your heart no ledger keeps.

Endless poured out passion:
Your redeeming Love,
Raging like a river, gentle as a dove.

With a heart of adoration,
my love to You I raise,
to You alone all Glory,
to You alone all praise!

How Your Beauty Astounds Me,
O King of Heaven Glorious,
You who reign within us,
reign in victory over us!

photo taken at Hanbury Church, near Droitwich, England

Friday, February 15, 2008

How Do We Learn Who God Is?

The tumultuous events of the last year
have once again revealed to me that God’s
ways and His thoughts are immeasurably
higher than ours, and not just higher
in stature, but infinitely more tender
in love, lovelier in beauty, and wiser
in foreknowledge, besting human wisdom
in every good thing that concerns us.

“Oh, the depths of the riches, both of
the wisdom and the knowledge of God, how
unsearchable are His judgments and His
ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).

Not meaning to sound overly spiritual or
proud, but merely as a point of reference,
I know that I have spent a good deal of
my life actively pursuing God. I know I
have. I know, equally well, however, that
all of my pursuit of God is to no avail,
amounts to trying to find a lost needle
on the face of the entire earth, unless
He reveals Himself to me.

God must show Himself to us or we will
not see Him or know Him (John 6:44).
This revelation can come in large blasts,
or, more often, line upon line, point
upon point. We can have an Isaiah
experience (a vision of God’s holiness
--Isaiah 6) or we can have an Elijah
experience (God in the still, small voice
-–I Kings 19:12) or even a Daniel experience
(where all the strength drains from our body
at the sight of Him --Daniel 10:9 & 10).

However He reveals Himself, God wants to
reveal Himself to YOU and not have you
read of Him secondhand. How God reveals Himself
is up to Him, but it is ours to pursue Him
avidly and with abandon, none-the-less. The
knowledge of God is like the treasure that
we find hidden in a field and are so
overjoyed to find it that we spend every
penny that we have to buy the field (Matt.13:44).

The fact is, that in my own life, a large
wave of life has washed me up on a distant
shore, a shore I could not have not swum
too, and it is the shore of a God that I
know and love, but one, I now see, that I
have barely met. Does this sound familiar
to you?

Dearly beloved, we do not know our own
hearts, cannot see our own brokenness, do
not know our spiritual state, and yet, we
are known and loved by our Heavenly Father,
a Father with a heart so gentle, pure, and
kind, so full of compassion, that to know
Him is to know more than life itself: to
be known of Him, is joy forevermore.
He sees us far differently than we see

I have caught God looking at me, lately.
Do you, in any way, know what I mean?
The tender gaze of God seems to have taken
the pressure off of a journey too long,
grievous, and arduous to bear alone. I
cannot carry myself. You cannot carry
yourself. We do not know what we need,
nor could we provide it for ourselves if
we did. We must let ourselves be found
of God and in that being found, find all
we need as we lay tenderly against His

How shall we be found of God? How shall
we journey to His bosom?

When Paul preached at Mars Hills, to the
Greek philosophers, he told them that
they should seek the Lord, in the hope
that they might feel after Him, and find
Him, though He is not far from each one
of us (Acts 17:27). How shall we feel after
an invisible God? What kind of counsel
is that? Feel after God? It is the
counsel that will bring down the haughty
and cause the lowly to enter into the
Kingdom of God. We must put our hearts
outside the doors that we use to protect
ourselves within and, with the deepest
part of ourselves, grope our way to God.

We must feel our need and our helplessness,
feel our pain at being alienated from Him,
feel how far the gulf lays between us and
our Creator, an impassable gulf, but for
Jesus! Most importantly,after all is said
and done, or before all is said and done,
we must feel His love for us.

If you do not know this already, discovering
it is only for the poor in Spirit, those
desperate to keep feeling after Him until
they are found of Him.

“Feeling after” or as the King James say,
“groping” does not seem too precise. How
shall we know if we have felt our way correctly,
how do we know whether we have found our
way to the bosom of God or the gates of the
Evil One? If you have not launched very far
out to “feel after God” there is little doubt
in my mind that the fear of going the wrong
way or the daunting idea at the task of
“looking for God” has contributed to it.

We humans are such creatures of habit. We
would rather cling to our misery, live in
our hovels, rather than strike out for the
New World called the Kingdom of God and there
find the King of All Glory. I assure you
that sitting in a small, cramped space
is not what we are made for. Trust me.

The apostle John probably knew Jesus as well
or better than anyone on earth. At the end of
his life, he writes an epistle that has much
to do with feeling after God. He starts
the epistle by saying these glorious words,
“That which was from the beginning, which we
have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked upon, and our
hands have handled, concerning the Word of
life (I John 1:1).

John knew what it was like to “feel after
God” and yet he does not leave us with
just a an undecipherable, good inner
feeling or a blissful blast of interior
euphoria. He says this, “By this we know Him,
if we keep His commandments. He who says “I
know Him” and does not keep His commandments
is a liar and the truth is not in Him”
(I John 1:3 & 4).

Knowing God is not just about inner goose-bumps.
Not at all. It is about obedience and holiness.
It is not just feeling good on the same level
that we humans feel good about a lot of pleasurable
things. Not at all. Obeying God produces knowledge
of Him for He reveals Himself to those who obey
Him (John 15:14 & 15). Obedience results in
knowing the True God and in knowing Him we are
changed into His image.

How does this work? Within ourselves we cannot
know God, God leads us toward Himself, at least
early in our experience of Him, by rewarding
our obedience to Him with a sense of His Presence.
This obedience leads us to begin to see and know
God for who He is. Then, the natural attraction
to the loveliness of God starts to do the rest.

We are drawn toward Him and obey Him not because
we “should” but because we find joy in doing so.
Even when our journey becomes difficult, and even
the tangible sense of His Presence with us
disappears, and there does not seem to be joy in
anything, we still have the spiritual imprint of
the joy that comes from intimacy with and obedience
to God. The memory of it, however faint, keeps
drawing us toward Him, no matter what. The sweetness
of His Presence lingers, even in the dark. Even when
the time comes that we can only “hope against hope’
something strong, ovely and good: the fruit of
our obedience to God, rises up and goes toward God.
His Spirit within us keeps calling out, deep calling
to deep, toward our Good Father in Heaven.

How do we learn who God is? There is no set
method, only the sweet path of
the intimate, open, obedient heart. A heart
in which the Spirit of God lives, and
a heart that instinctively knows how to return
to its Source and Exceeding Joy. The
best thing you can do to put yourself in the
right place is to open your heart toward
God, feel after Him, and most of all, obey
what He has spoken. You shall not
be disappointed.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Sunset in Worcester

Evening sky on fire, how very like my heart
Jesus, come and visit me, grace and light impart,

less of me, and more of You,
let the darkness flee,

'til all that burns within my soul
is an image, Christ, of Thee.

photos taken from my bedroom window, Worcester, England

The Lord is Good, a Stronghold in the Day of Trouble

The LORD is good,
a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him.
But with an overflowing flood
He will make a complete end of the adversaries,
and will pursue his enemies into darkness.
What do you plot against the LORD?
He will make a complete end;
trouble will not rise up a second time.
(Nahum 1:7-9)

photo taken near Abergavenny, Wales

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Devotions from the Heart: What Are We Feeding On?

by Pastor Derek Gitsham

What Are We Feeding On?

Joshua 5:12 “And the manna ceased on
the morrow after they had eaten of
the old corn of the land.”

Israel had lived for 40 years on the
manna in the wilderness supplied by
the Lord. But the moment they entered
the Promised Land, the manna ceased and
a new provision was made. The wilderness
and the Promised Land both had their
foods: manna in the wilderness, the
old corn in the Promised Land.

Jesus later referred to the manna as
not being the “bread from heaven.” The
Pharisees, however, had believed it was
bread from heaven. Jesus said, “Moses
gave you not the bread of heaven, but
My Father giveth you the true bread from
heaven.” Jesus Himself was the true bread.

Israel’s presence in the wilderness was
never God’s perfect will. Though He met
their needs there, His will was to advance
them to the Promised Land. The delay was
of their own making, through unbelief and
doubt. They were turned back into the
wilderness because of unbelief. God still
provides for His people during these times,
but it is not His perfect will for them.
Hence, the name of manna, “What is it?”
They did not know what it was, but God
fed them with it.

A saint cannot eat this bread and not
know who it is that he eats. Jesus said,
“Except you eat of the flesh of the Son
of Man and drink of His blood you shall
not have life in you.” Again, He said,
“You search the Scriptures, for in them
you think you have life, but you do not
come to me.”

The enemy of our souls will do everything
to keep us from the true Bread. The Promised
Land, the place of our inheritance, is that
place where we will eat the true bread. We
are brought out to be brought in. Let it
suffice us to eat of that eternal life in
this new year lest we find ourselves
feeding on lesser things that can only
minister death to our souls.

Almost Springtime in England

If we are to follow Christ, it must
be in our common way of spending
every day. If we are to live unto
God at any time or in any place, we
are to live unto him in all times
and in all places. If we are to use
anything as the gift of God, we are
to use everything as his gift.
- William Law

photos taken in Worcester, England
thank God for the beautiful weather

Monday, February 11, 2008

Home By Another Way

How carefully and tenderly God watched
over Jesus during his journey on earth.
Already in danger, even though just a
young child, the life of Jesus was
threatened by the evil plot of Herod.
God made sure His Dear Son went safely
home by another way.

You and I, too, safe in the Father’s
gaze, shall go home by another way: I
know it deep in my heart. It shall not
be what we have planned for ourselves,
or what others have planned for us, but
what our loving, Heavenly Father has
decreed. Kept from danger, guided by
God’s providence, held in our Father’s
hand, we shall arrive safely
home, but not by the path we had imagined.

The mystery of our lives as believers
is that we are not our own, and our
story and history is not our own. We
belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God
and our stories are not just individual
stories about our families, our lives, our
accomplishments, but are micromovements
in a great symphony that is being
composed for principalities and powers to
watch (Eph. 3:10).

This symphony is the story of God’s love
for Christ, and Christ’s love for us.
Do not think you are the center
of the universe and have accomplished much:
your whole life is a mere note in the
grand symphony of God. On the other hand,
never think you are unimportant or
forgotten to God.

It is He who has written and destined
our lives and it is He who shall perform
and keep them, whether we be allowed to
live one second or one hundred years. We
have all been written into His grand story,
given a place that God has ordained,
that will bring all glory to Him. Live unto
Him, dear brothers and sisters, live wide
open to His great and matchless love for you.
Even when fear assails you and your life
does not seem to make sense, His love is
still creating that unseen and as yet,
unfinished symphony entitled, “In Praise
of Christ.” I assure you, you have your
part in it.

Our lives do not unfold haphazardly. Nothing
happens by chance. While we often wait with
bated breath to see how the events of our
lives will unfold, the truth is, the scripts
of our lives were written into one Grand
Script outside of time and it is already
being played out through and for God. We
surely have free will, but some things are
ordained as surely as the sun rises each day
and sets each night. Such things are too
wonderful for us to comprehend. Such is the
sovereignty of God. Much of our lives we
spend waiting to see, in a way, what will
happen next. The truth is we are already
hid with Christ in God. We are both onlookers
and participants in this great story that God
is spinning.

Perhaps our hearts fear that we will be
left behind, not included, not have a place.
Children easily feel these difficult
emotions but adults tend to be embarrassed
and and ashamed of their need to be loved
and have a place of acceptance. The fact
that we can even feel these feelings means
that there is a place for us. God has promised
it. He is not cruel. He does not implant deep
longings to be called forth only to rebuff us.
His Love calls to us, calls us to life, calls
us to know how utterly accepted we are in the
Beloved. While other tables may reject us,
other people may exclude us from their love,
even our families may not want us or understand
us, there is always a place set for us at God’s
table. May His Name be praised forever!

I find it comforting that Jesus chooses these
words as part of the last few important words
He leaves us with: “Let not your hearts be
troubled, you believe in God, believe also
in Me. In My Father’s House are many mansions:
if it were not so, I would have told you. I
go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1,2).

He is giving us something to hold onto when
we feel alone and afraid of not having a sure
place. And who does not feel this at one
time or another? Friends come and go.
Institutions, even churches,rise and fall.
Jobs end. Marriages fail. Sureness and certainty
are not given to us in our outward lives. Yet,
His promise to us IS certain. He said, “I have
a place for you, I would not have told you if
it were not so.” How full of tenderness, how
well aware of human need and frailty,
are Jesus words of comfort and assurance to
us. How can we ever love Him enough?

We are never out of God’s reach, never
shielded from His sight, never ever given
over to the whims of man, never forgotten
or rejected or ridiculed by God.
All is of God (2 Cor 5:18). All, somehow,
comes by God’s hand and all, somehow,
flows back to Him, and is restored by Him.

What we become in the process of life
is all part of what will bring God
pleasure and glory. Your life is in
order and on track if you will just
surrender yourself to where He will
take you. Dance with God, but let Him
lead. He will dance you all the way
from here to eternity. He, no doubt,
will dance you home by another way.
Let go of your expectations. You are
safe. Enjoy the symphony. Love God.
You are most certainly loved by Him.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

What We Don't Know About the Goodness of God!

What We Don’t Know about the Goodness of God

So much of our life is plagued with doubts,
fears, darkness and unbelief. What we don’t
know about the goodness of God, in our deepest
heart of hearts, is what fosters all dis-ease of
the soul.

The fear that still lives in our hearts causes us
to imagine ourselves to be unprotected,
unwatched over, in danger, and without aid.
We see the world to be a frightening place—
full of uncertainty and danger, both within and
without. What we don’t really know about the
goodness of God is that we are watched over and
guarded with an eternal love. What we don’t know
about the goodness of God is that He truly is
good and does not leave us as orphans. What we
don’t know about the goodness of God is what
Goodness, after all, truly is.

We are safer than the Crown jewels, and hid in the
hollow of God’s hand. Who can snatch us
from His Hand? In all truth, there is no-one.
For the goodness of God does not throw His
loved ones away or allow them to be lost.
We are a present from God to Christ (Ephesians
1:9, 10) and God does not give cheap or
paltry gifts. Nor can anything be stolen from Him.
Tell me again, O Good Lord, how safe I am!
Again and again until I know…
in my deepest heart of hearts.

In our darkness, we are afraid to open our eyes
to the True Light: afraid to believe for all we are
meant to become. We are afraid or unaware of
what God has deigned and designed us to be.
God asks that we invest the substance of faith as the
evidence, the downpayment, of things we dare
not imagine becoming, yet have already been conceived
in the good heart of God. In our fear we have faith,
instead, that there is something about the
goodness of God that would not bring our goodly
hope to fruition. Do not tell me you have not
mistrusted Him! I cry for both of us, all of us!
We are so sorry, Good Father!

I ask you, in Whom have you believed? Is His
Goodness tainted? Is it the mere goodness of
mortal man—indeed, not good at all? What folly
has filled our minds? Look up and behold Him:
O King of Holy Goodness!

In all our of soul’s dark nights, is it not the goodness
of God that both sustains and worries us? Is it not a
comfort and yet, in our vexed and confused state, a
source of fear, creating a mental plague tempting us
that we believe in Someone too Good to be true?
And what if Goodness chooses for me something
that I do not seem to want? even something painful?

Jesus rebuffs a man coming to Him for
calling Him “good.” Does He imply that
our understanding of good does not do God
justice? Does it imply that we invent God
in our own estimations and image? Does it
imply a tainted notion of Goodness that is
born of sitting on the beach of life watching
what washes up on the shore, rather than being
drowned in the ocean of God, an ocean that can
be fairly called The Great Sea of Goodness?
Drown me, indeed, O Lord! It only shall
hurt for a second!

So cautiously we cling to our small gains, our
little gifts, our tiny happinesses. So
jealously we guard that which brings us
only a modicum of joy. We guard joy, or is it
our small happinesses, only to
prevent real Joy from overtaking us.

God, I have not really known Your goodness even
though I am immersed in it. I have failed to
see it a trillion times over You have saved
me from myself, protected me in my weakness,
buoyed me up when despair would have taken
me under. You believe in Your estimation of who
You have made to be when I am yet covered with
the mud of my own strivings and the blinding
fog of my own limited vision of Your Goodness.
You who sing over Me in the darkness,
calling me Home by Your Voice, why do I mistrust
Your perfectly Good essence?

Sing louder, Great Good God! It is sometimes
difficult to hear you over the frightful din of
my own dirges.

You come to me in a million disguises, asking
me to buy “new lamps for old”. You smile at
me with a love that I cannot fathom. Yet, I
fail to recognize You and cling to my burned
out lamp, in my dimly lit heart, which barely
casts enough light to illumine Your Face or my own.
Overtake me in Your Goodness! Light my inmost heart
with a blaze of Your Good Fire!

Great, Good God, you ask me to dance and I
cannot find my feet and fear they are both left.
You call me from my bed of sorrow and I am not
sure enough of Your Goodness that I would eagerly
spring up and find You: You, You who
are Joy itself. I am sorry. Please do not leave
me here. Shake me up and route this madness out,
even if I yell at You to stop, do not!

Your Goodness paints the sky of the universe,
puts the song in the heart of every creature
who praises You. You, You, You who explode with
Goodness--unnoticed in a myriad of ways, in a
myriad of nuances, without measure each day.
If only I could see it! What I don’t know about
Your goodness is killing me. Yet, Your Goodness
is all that will bring me life.

I fall down and worship you forever. Forever! Forever!

What I don’t know about the goodness of God is
that it is absolutely Good, mindblowingly Good,
never to be extinguished Good, incorruptible,
eternal and everlasting Good. It is a Good that
upholds and sustains the universe. I had better
get started knowing it, deep within my heart.
So should you!

Dear Holy Father, I believe in Your goodness,
help my unbelief!

“How great is Your goodness and how great is
Your beauty (Zeph. 9:17)."

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Strangers on the Earth

We are Christians and strangers
on this earth. Let none of us
be frightened; our native land
is not this world.
-- St. Augustine of Hippo

photograph taken at Hanbury Woods with a view of Hanbury Church,
Worcestershire, England

A Heart Free for God

Keep yourself as a pilgrim and
a stranger here in this world, as
one to whom the world's business
counts but little. Keep your
heart free, and always lift it
up to God. -- Thomas à Kempis

photo taken at Hanbury Church (St.
Mary the Virgin) cemetary, WOrcestershire