He Knows My Name!

access to god

Have you ever been in one of those situations where you need to resolve a Customer Services problem….online?

On the screen, you find a list of generic options.  Is your query about: a, b, c or d?

Well actually…it’s not really about any of the above.  You scroll around, searching for more information. Aren’t there any other options…?  Like Option e?  Or f?

Ok, you think…I’ll give them a call instead.  I need to speak to an ‘actual’ person about my own particular, unique situation.

So you scroll through every inch of the website, with a magnifying glass, only to find that there is no mention of a telephone number anywhere.  Strange that.  There’s just a tab that says: “Need help?  Click Here.”

So you click on the tab..and you’re instantly pinged back to EXACTLY THE SAME LIST OF GENERIC OPTIONS YOU STARTED WITH! 

I know, I’m writing in capitals, and that’s bad ‘netiquette’.  But, this sort of thing makes me want to tear out the tresses from mine very own head!

But it also makes me really, really glad about this verse in Hebrews:

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need – Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

Wow! Even though God, the Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth, dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim 6:16), I have complete access into His presence. 

I do not need a customer reference number.  I dont need to register before I can talk to Him. I’ll never be put on hold or locked out because I can’t remember my password! 

He is not some indifferent, unsympathetic bod on the end of a phone, whose attitude towards me is: “hey, don’t ask me, I just work here!”

I have a Great High Priest who is able to sympathise with my weaknesses (Hebrews 4:14-15). He is for me, and not against me. He’s on my side. He knows me inside out and upside down, as an individual. 

He knows me by name! (John 10:3)

He formed me. He knows when I sit down and when I rise up. He knows my thoughts from afar and is familiar with all my ways. (Psalm 139)

Matthew 10:30 tells me: “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” 

It’s staggering. 

God doesn’t keep us at arms length, He says come to me!  Come if you’re thirsty.  Come if you’re weak.  Come if you’re weary and heavy laden. Come BOLDLY before the throne of Grace, to obtain mercy and help in time of need. 

hebrews 4

Praise God, by the blood of Jesus, I have 24-7 access to my Father in heaven. 

Soar!

wallpapersite.com

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit…

Romans 8:3-4

The law is a tyrant,

A ball and a chain,

That reads out my failures

Again and again,

Relentlessly tells me I should have done better,

Hounds me with guilt,

Til regret is my fetter,

Watches me stumble,

Beneath its great load,

Adding heavier rocks

As I trudge down the road.

And if I progress

And begin to take heart,

The arm of the law,

Drags me back to the start!

Your grace finds me there,

By the side of the road,

Breaks off my shackles, and carries my load,

Cancels my debts,

And calls me by name,

Gives me beauty for ashes,

A crown, for my shame.

Wraps me in robes,

And anoints me with gladness,

Washes away all the strife and the sadness.


Run girl, run!

The law demands,

But gives me neither feet nor hands,

Far better news the gospel brings,

It bids me fly and gives me wings.

(Inspired by one of my favourite John Bunyan quotes)

A Visit To St. Paul’s

Recently, on John Piper’s Desiring God website, we came across a recommended reading list, which includes many great classics by authors such as A.W Pink, R.C. Sproul and J.I. Packer. Feeling inspired, Nathan ordered a selection of them for us to read – including this little beauty.

A couple of pages into The Cross of Christ, in a chapter entitled: The Centrality of the Cross, I came across the following excerpt:

Imagine a stranger visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Having been brought up in a non-Christian culture, he knows next to nothing about Christianity. Yet he is more than a tourist; he is personally interested and keen to learn. Walking along Fleet Street, he is impressed by the grandeur of the building’s proportions, and marvels that Sir Christopher Wren could have conceived such an edifice after the Great Fire of London in 1666. As his eyes attempt to take it in, he cannot help noticing the huge golden cross which dominates its dome.

He enters the cathedral and stands at its central point under the dome. Trying to grasp the size and shape of the building, he becomes aware that its ground plan, consisting of nave and transepts, is cruciform. He walks round and observes that each side chapel contains what looks to him like a table, on which prominently, there stands a cross. He goes downstairs into the crypt to see the tombs of famous men such as Sir Christopher Wren himself, Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington: a cross is engraved on each.

John Stott – The Cross of Christ

I found myself greatly intrigued by this description of the grand old Cathedral that graces the skyline of our beloved Capital City. So on 28th December, 2018, Emily and I set off on a grand adventure to visit St. Paul’s.

We emerged out of Blackfriars Railway station, not too sure which way to go. We needn’t have worried, however – There in the distance, we soon caught sight of the iconic dome and spires. A stroll up Ludgate Hill, offered us a wonderful vantage point from which to take in the splendour of the Cathedral. And there, right at the top was that Golden Cross.

Unfortunately, as it’s a place of worship, visitors are asked to refrain from taking photographs in the main part of the cathedral. It’s a shame, as the interior is just as stunning as the exterior. However, I couldn’t resist a quick snap of the Nativity, after all, it’s only there once a year.

I settled on buying a guidebook, and some postcards, which I hope will give you a glimpse into the Cathedrals’ astonsishing vaulted ceilings, adorned with their ornate carvings, and mosaics.

The black and white tiled floor, the chandeliers giving off their soft glow, the intricacy of the mosaics and vaulted chambers overhead- it was difficult to know where to look first! Such a spectacular work of architecture, all built to the glory of God, triggered an unexpected wave of emotion.

Standing beneath that central dome, I gazed upwards, taking in the sheer brilliance and significance of the architect’s plan. The epicentre of the entire building, famous the world over, situated right in the middle of a cross.

After a lovely browse in the Cathedral Gift Shop, and a refreshing stop in the cafe, our adventure led us 259 steps up into the fascinating Whispering Gallery, where legend has it that due to the amazing acoustics of the dome, you can hear the slightest whisper from the opposite side of the circular balcony.

A further 376 steps brought us out onto the Stone Gallery, with glimpses of London’s skyline seen through stone ballestrades.

And then – not for the faint hearted – another 528 spiral steps, and we had made it to the Golden Gallery, 85 metres above the Cathedral Floor. God had blessed us with the clearest of days. The climb was well worth it. The views were extraordiary.

This extraordinary Cathedral, built out of the ashes of a Great Fire, is definitely one of the most special places I have ever set foot in.

Here are a few thoughts I came away with:

  • How can I make the cross central in my life, this coming year?
  • How, as a Temple of the Holy Spirit, can I glorify God more?
  • Sir Christopher Wren’s Cathedral, built in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London, in my opinion, is greater than the original. This stirs my faith that God can redeem the worst situation and turn it around for His glory!


Happy New Year!

Ring out the old and ring in the new,

Another year passes – yet one thing is true,

A thousand small blessings have slipped through my hands,

Moments uncountable, vast as the sands,

Ordinary days, that have come and then gone,

A sunrise, a sunset, a whisper, a song.

Times spent with family, long summer days,

Here for a moment, then gone in a haze,

I wish I could hold all these moments forever,

Time marches onward, but love ceases never.

So I’m thankful, so thankful, for all that has been,

For the highs and the lows and the bits in between,

This journey of life with it’s ups and its downs,

The trials the triumphs, the smiles and the frowns,

This life I’ve been given, I long to embrace,

To cherish each moment, each dear, precious face,

Yet to live in surrender, not grasping too tight,

To live for eternity, to walk in the light,

Knowing this life is a gift from above,

That it all comes from You, Oh great Father of Love.





Redeeming Christmas

Ten years ago, I cooked an unforgettable Christmas dinner.

Now, I would love to tell you that it was my perfectly cooked roast potatoes (crispy on the outside and soft in the middle) that my family have retained in their memories…

Or the satisfying blend of sweet and savoury, in each mouthful of the home-made Sausagemeat and Apple stuffing, that I had so lovingly prepared…

Or the tangy, vibrancy of the Braised Red Cabbage https://everydayencounters.blog/2019/12/26/braised-red-cabbage/ that accompanied the meal so perfectly.

But no. It was none of these things.

What was truly, TRULY unforgettable, to everyone present, was the fact that I completely and utterly ruined the turkey. I cooked it low and slow….And then I cooked it some more…And then I got distracted watching my kids open their presents, and completely forgot about dinner…until….the glorious Christmas Bird, that had been so kindly and proudly presented to us by my Mother-in-Law, was almost burnt-to-a-crisp! Oh, my goose was well and truly cooked! In fact it was a dried-out disaster!

Fortunately, my folks, who were also joining us for dinner, had a spare Ham, hanging around in their fridge. So, against the odds, we tucked into all that we could salvage of the dry turkey, with slices of succulent ham, and gallons of gravy! And after the initial embarrassment – once we’d all had a glass of wine or two- the jokes about the burnt turkey began to fly! Ten years later and I’ve never lived it down.

I’ll never forget the sight of my husband, kicking the shrivelled carcass up the garden, gaffawing about the fact that even the foxes wouldn’t touch it with a barge-pole.

So this year…I’m so very pleased to report, that my turkey cooking was on the money! I mean, I had something to prove! I bought the poshest, most organic, (blinking expensive) Free Range Turkey that I could find…one that came with IDIOT-PROOF COOKING INSTRUCTIONS and a little thermometer thingamy-jig, that the butcher promised would ‘pop up’ when the turkey reached the correct temperature. I watched that thing like a hawk..until, “It’s popped!” – came my gleeful cry- at which point the turkey was whisked out of that oven quicker than you could say boo to a goose!

Christmas. I absolutely LOVE Christmas. To me, it’s definitely the most wonderful time of the year. But just like that turkey, sometimes I worry that we’ve well and truly ‘overdone it!’ Sometimes I wonder why we eat so much, and drink so much, and spend so much…and yet somehow completely lose sight of what it’s all about. Sometimes, I find that I am far too prone to get distracted by the fanciful and just forget…

And so, today, I want to say thank you! I want to take a moment, right here, right now, to stop and be mindful of the things that really matter.

Over the Festive Season, I have had the joy of spending quality time with the people I love. I spent a golden day with my wonderful mum, Christmas shopping in London. I have had the opportunity to welcome friends and family, into my home, and to be welcomed into the homes of others. I have enjoyed delicious food, and I’ve had time to relax and unwind. I’ve known the fun of giving and receiving gifts. I’ve revelled in the cosiness of home. And I’ve reflected about the birth of a baby, 2000 years ago, born to redeem us. These things are just too precious to be taken for granted. And today, I am so grateful.

Merry Christmas one and all.


Burlington Arcade, between Picadilly & Bond Street

FAITH!

  • Happy…Sad
  • Rich…Poor
  • Big…Little
  • Bad…good
  • Faith…

Up until yesterday, my natural inclination would probably have been to fill in the blank with the word ‘FEAR’.  But my Greek Bible taught me something which totally stopped me in my tracks.  The most appropriate antonym for the word Faith, is not fear…

It’s SIGHT!

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things NOT SEEN

Hebrews 11:1

By faith, Noah, being warned by God about things NOT YET SEEN, in reverence, prepared an ark for the salvation of his household

Hebrews 11:7

For we walk by faith, NOT SIGHT – 2 Corinthians 5:7

2 Corinthians 5:7


In the absence of sight, faith gives me flight!

Seeing is NOT believing!  Oh no my friend, it’s quite the other way around!  

Image from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Faith is going, not knowing.  It steps out in the dark.  It leaps into the unknown.  It gets out of the boat and walks on water.  It says yes when everyone else is saying no.  It can part the red sea, it can move the mountains, it pleases God, it really, really pleases Him.  It turns the worrier into a warrior, the barren into the fruitful, the weak into the strong!  It’s the currency of heaven and it only operates in the absence of sight!

Then he said to Thomas, “reach here with your finger and see My hands, and reach here with your hand and put it into My side, and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Because you have SEEN me have you believed?  Blessed are they who did not SEE, yet believed!”

John 20:27-29

Oh, Lord increase my faith!



Autumn Glory


It’s Autumn once more,

What a sight to behold,

Streets lined with  crimson

And laden with gold.

Moon like a saucer,

Days getting shorter,

As Summer lays down

To make way for the cold.

Warm woolen knits, crackling fires,

Wild geese fly over,

Through pink, sunset skies,

Off with a flap of migratory wings,

The earth gives birth, Creation sings!

Season of beauty, nature’s last fling,

Before winter makes bare,

And the earth sleeps till Spring,

Emblazoned in Scarlet,

You take your last breath,

Your most glorious hour,

Was found at your death.

Broken Pieces

broken pieces

Last week, Nathan and I shared Holy Communion with two others during our church service.

Our dear friend, Matt, brought a fairly conservative chunk of bread over to serve us and carefully broke it into pieces.  One of the pieces that lay on the plate was somewhat larger than the rest.  When offered the bread, our awkward Englishness seemed to take over, and each one of us avoided taking it – I mean, that would just seem rude and greedy, right?

As we bowed our heads to pray, it began to dawn on us – this bread represents the Lord’s body, broken for us.  When we eat of the bread, it’s in remembrance of Jesus’ death on the cross in our place.  Why wouldn’t we want the largest piece?!

Nathan began to pray:  “Lord, I thank you that you don’t give us little pieces of yourself!  When you died on the cross, you gave it ALL!  You gave up everything, and gave your entire self to us!  And You said: “It is finished!”  You paid the price in full!”

It was a real moment of clarity – Jesus didn’t somehow share Himself out, giving each believer a little chunk of Himself.  No!  He gave to each one of us His all.  A real sense of holy joy came over us.

Then Matt, reaching for the wine, accidentally knocked over the communion plate, which somehow slipped through the gap in the chairs and smashed.  Rather embarrassed, Matt started to collect up the broken pieces…all but one…which I will come to later….

The sharp crack of the breaking plate, instantly reminded me of the veil in the temple being torn in two.  Was God saying something here?

My ears were drawn to the song that the worship leader was quietly strumming in the background…it was something to do with bringing our broken pieces to Jesus!  This was a God moment.

Nathan reached down to retrieve the last piece of broken china. For some reason, rather than just gathering the broken pieces into a pile, which is what I would have done, Matt and Nathan attempted to put them back together on an empty chair.  And when the last piece of china was set in its place, we were completely and utterly staggered by what we saw:

Broken Plate (2)

“For He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes, we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

Psalms and Hymns and Teacups

-For a few years now, my sister Kerry has dreamt of opening up a tea-shop, serving delicious cream teas, coffee and cakes on vintage china.  This dream has become so vividly etched in her mind, that some time ago she began visiting auction houses and charity shops and collecting tea-sets.

Kerry has boxes and drawers literally crammed with all manner of teacups and saucers and side plates.  She has scoured the internet, and most of South East London, searching for that particular teacup to complete a set, and has become something of an expert on vintage china.  She has a natural eye for colour and interior design, as this photograph shows:,

Vintage Tea set

But the trouble with dreams such as this, is that so often they are very easy to carry in our hearts, but not quite so easy to carry out in reality.  They come with a cost.  So often, they require our time, our energy, our money and our committment – not to mention a fair amount of risk-taking.

But this is not the only dream that Kerry carries.  There is one that has lingered within her, in embryonic form, since she was a little girl.   Not only is Kerry mad about teacups, she is also a gifted musician and singer.   She learnt to play the piano and flute as a young child and for as long as I can remember has always had the most beautiful, pitch-perfect singing voice.

Around 10 years ago, a visiting speaker who had never met Kerry before, spoke a prophetic word over her, that she would be used by God to lead worship and write anointed worship songs.

The trouble with giftings and promises such as this, is that so often they require our courage and faith to step out and walk in them.  Kerry, although clearly gifted and called, constantly struggles to find the boldness to step into this anointing, particularly when it comes to leading worship.

Isn’t it interesting that God so often chooses people, like Gideon, hiding in the winepress, and Moses, a man slow of speech, for callings that seem so much bigger than themselves?

A few days ago, Kerry was out walking her two boisterous Beagles, Poppy and Daisy, in the local park.  As she walked, she poured her heart out to to Lord.  All these dreams – tea-shops and worship songs – lay heavily upon her heart.  She needed guidance and confirmation about her future.  Questions and doubts went round and round in her mind…Was her dream of opening a teashop ok with God, or was it just becoming a huge distraction?  Was she really called to write worship songs?  Was she even any good at writing songs?   She certainly didn’t feel spiritual enough to lead worship.  Surely she should be reading her bible and praying a whole lot more. ( I wonder how many people can relate to thoughts like these?!)

All of a sudden, her eyes were drawn to what looked like shredded paper strewn all over the grass ahead of her.  She went over to investigate.  On closer inspection, she realised that the shredded paper was in fact pages from a bible that must have been caught by a lawn-mower.

She reached down and picked up the most intact piece that she could find.

Kerry's Psalm

Of all the pages, in all the bible, she happens to stumble across a Psalm – a song written by the biblical King David, arguably the bible’s most well-known worshipper!  Coincidence?…I don’t think so.

“Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee!  

How amazing and wonderful is our heavenly Father?  How swiftly and amazingly He hears and answers our heart-felt prayers!  How lovingly He confirms His word to us – sometimes even in tangible ways: with a piece of shredded bible that you can literally pick up and read!

Okay, so Kerry still doesn’t know all the answers to all her questions concerning her future.  But she does know this:  God loves her enough to speak to her in such a personal way.  And even though she feels unqualified, He really does want her to write those worship songs!

If you’re in any doubt today that God has plans and purposes for your life – then I hope this story encourages you!  We have a wonderful, intimate Father, who knows each and every one of His children by name – who has good works that He has prepared for us in advance to walk in.  Life can be confusing at times – dreams and hopes can seem to lie dormant within us for years.  But at the right time, God is able to come along and breathe His life over these buried desires and fan into flame the gifts that He has placed within us!

Praise His Name!

.

Garden Song

An hour of toil in the garden,

Is always time well-spent,

Tugging out those stubborn old weeds,

Which year upon year won’t relent.

An hour spent tending the garden,

Is never wasted time,

Lungs full of wonderful, fresh Spring air,

Hands caked in dirt and grime.

It’s hard to feel glum in the garden,

Birds chirping high in the trees,

Potting up Pansies so cheery and bright,

Hair tugged about on the breeze.

Cutting the deadwood, and turning the earth,

Allowing the sun to get through,

Seems to clear my cluttered mind,

And lifts my spirits too.

Thank you Lord for my garden,

Humble and small though it be,

It’s a place where so often I’ve felt You are near,

And Your joy surrounding me.

Once You knelt down in a garden,

And in terrible anguish You cried,

“Thy will, not mine be done, Oh Lord!”

Abandoned. Betrayed. Denied.

One Sunday morn in a garden,

The Son of God rose from the grave,

Bringing redemption and mercy and grace,

To the ones He came to save!