Sermon: Thoughts on Spring


Sometimes I have the privilege and joy to do a small sermon at the Anthony Wilding Retirement Village. Last month I was invited to come and do that again and I shared some thoughts on the Spring Season.

Anthony Wilding Retirement Village 16 September 2015.

This morning I would like to talk about Spring. I know; we are already in our third week but, hey Spring did not exactly come in time this year. Or let me rephrase that: Spring did not come in the expected way at the expected time. To me Spring is a miracle, not just because it is so beautiful, but first and foremost because it is so glorious!  Scientists may be able to explain that Spring has to do with the angle of the earth axis and how it influences the angle with which the sunbeams hit the Earth, and as a result produce enough light and warmth for nature to respond to it. While that may explain what is happening in scientific terms it does not explain to me why Spring is so glorious. That to me is the true beauty of Spring and in that sense Spring is like a miracle. Spring brings forth the promise of a resurrected nature, an explosion of new life that in my view can only have been created by an awesome God, a master painter, architect, gardener, sculptor, poet and musician that brings forth an overwhelmingly beautiful creation.

I did not notice the gradual movement of the earth, the lengthening of days, the small rises in temperatures (although I did notice that having a coffee in the sun in the morning became an option again). What I did notice though was that all of a sudden the lawn needed mowing again, the splash of young green in some of the trees and the appearance of  tiny colored buds and blossoms seemingly there from out of nowhere. Nature picks up more sensitively than me where is comes to responding to the wake-up call as I seem to be missing a lot. And nature, in a non-staged, uninhibited way displays something that catches my eye, waking me up for what I seem to have been missing, the new life, the sounds and fragrances.

 

Spring is a miracle that displays the beauty of God.

084 (1 of 1)Compared to the other seasons Spring has a unique beauty in terms of delicacy and display. It has this sparkle of new life unknown to the other seasons that makes you fall in love with everything. In a way it is comparable to when my children were born: in objective terms a just born baby may not be the most beautiful but when it is your baby you cannot help but falling in love with it, on first sight. There is something special that I cannot explain other than it being a miracle.

Such a beauty that it can come from God only.  God being the artist, the master musician the creator of glorious beauty and a symphony of sounds and fresh fragrances promising new life and a harvest, to be seen and heard and smelled  in Spring. Spring is simply beautiful.

Remembering art history there was a painting by an Italian master Botticelli. It is probably not for nothing that Botticelli when he wanted to symbolise Spring, made use of a beautiful girl with blossoms around her neck and in her hair. Beauty and promise in one symbolic work of art.  

Spring is a miracle of power.

The earth sort of dies every winter (and in all honesty it very often seems me with it). It is lying stiff and cold, motionless, silent and with no other than the rotting smell of death as remnants of fallen leaves rot away. I seem to be more and more responding to this season of death, the wet, the cold and most of all the lack of light. Is that not symbolic in itself? When there is not enough light death is following.

We as humans are able to manipulate great forces and powers to do many incredible things. We can fly things into outer space, we are able to manipulate harvests or vegetables and weeds, we are able to heal diseases and at the same time we are able to wipe out our planet. But we are not able to make Spring happen in winter. Only God can bring what is dead back to life.

When Lazarus was in His tomb, he did not respond to the weeping of Martha or to Mary’s appeal. It took the voice of Christ to tell him to to come forth to make Him rise again!

Every Spring we are reminded of the voice of the Almighty that makes dead things rise up again in their full glory. In a way, Spring is the Angel of the Resurrection.

 

Spring is a revelation of God’s love.

Spring is a beautiful reminder of God’s endless generosity.

“for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5: 45”

These phenomena of the natural world are in my view very symbolic for the breath of God’s eternal grace. Spring more than any other season reminds us all that God is not a respecter of persons and that He has a generous heart.

He pours out Spring over all of us.

You can drive through the red zones and parts of town that are still unrecovered and you will find Spring there in equal glory to the neatly trimmed and maintained gardens of Hagley Park or Merivale front yards.  Spring and the miracle of resurrection it symbolizes visits the rich and the poor, the successful and the unsuccessful, the saint and the lost alike. No one is so poor, humble or fallen of the track that he or she cannot enjoy the colours, sounds and fragrances of Spring. May this also be a reminder for us in our daily lives. No one is too lost to not get a dose of God’s love and resurrection power in his or her life, and in Christ we can all make this a reality for everyone around us that will ultimately leave this world a better place. A better place one step at a time.  

 

Spring paints a picture of God’s unchanging love.

Some of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpieces like the Last Supper or the Mona Lisa are a wreck and in decay. So is Titian’s Assumption or Correggio’s Holy Night or closer to my Dutch home the Night Watch by Rembrandt as well as the Botticelli painting mentioned before.  Colors are fading or changing to darker complections. Some of the cloudy skies of the Dutch masters are becoming more and more yellowish in their complections.

Yet, the colours, sounds and fragrances of God’s masterpiece do not fade, they are as fresh and beautiful this year as they have been throughout eternity! From everlasting to everlasting, God is God, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

 

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Spring is prophecy of harvest.

Spring is full of promise, nature prophesies a harvest of fruit! Again I say rejoice as this prophecy is God’s symbolic multi-dimensional artwork that reminds us that all of our spiritual powers resulting from life in Christ are going to lead to fruit and more fruit, we will go from glory to glory.
Yet I believe that ultimately our Summer Glory will be reached elsewhere, in Heaven.

 

They have risen.

In Matthew 28:6, we read:

“He is not here for He has risen”

I noticed the last time I was here that there was a substantial difference in size and make up of attendees, only to find out that some people had died. 

Theocritus, a Greek poet from around 3 BC wrote that “hopes are for the living, the dead are hopeless”.

It is good to remind us that that is not the Christian hope. Our hope rests on the resurrection. We believe that Jesus died and rose again (1 Corinthians 15: 3-11). Paul’s reassurance is that death is not the end of the story and that all who are in Christ will live forever. But it gets better: my body will not just be resurrected but in the process thereof I will be transformed.

Our bodies may wither but our spirits live forever!

I love spring, the lambs, the birds, the new fresh flowers. But ultimately they will wither just like us. But what is perishable cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. So, we as believers must be transformed into the likeness of Christ. Just like Jesus was transformed with a new body so as to deal with the reality of eternal life so will we be transformed (1 Corinthians 15). And once transformed it will be for eternity. So, looking at those who may have left us here on earth: they went to an eternal summer season! We can carefully remind ourselves of the words found in Matthew 28:6.

“He is not there. For He has risen”.

They are not there anymore for they have risen. And with that we are reminded that death has been conquered for those who are in Christ. Is not God amazing!

Love you all and until a next time.

Book review: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman


The DovekeepersThe Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the most mesmerizing reads ever. What an amazing story lines and how they come together. The characters are full of depth, the way they relate to God and the plots are simply beautiful! When some men like to think they are the stronger gender: think again as it is not that clear cut actually. One of my favorite books of all times. Other than the Bible, this was the first book that made me cry ever.

More info can be found at the author’s website>>>

View all my reviews

Grace & Glory 2014 and a flat battery


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This weekend we celebrated Grace & Glory 2014 at Harmony Church, with speakers Rob Rufus and Chad Mansbridge. What an amazing weekend it was AGAIN: beautiful teachings, a Spirit filled atmosphere in which God grew yet bigger again,  the importance of the local church and how not to mix up living under law and under grace, how important the difference between religion and relation. I was carefully reminded that your life doesn’t get changed by who you believe in but by who believes in you and that each walks his or her own journey. 

Here I was with my son after the movies last night. Left the lights of the car on and so sure enough we had a flat battery. And while I was trying to get the car going a thought entered my mind: this is sort of like religious Christianity without Christ.

It is very easy to mix up being religious with being a Christian, so many find themselves like my car last night as a result of leaving their personal lights shine too long instead of His everlasting light. Everything in my car was as it should be, all things mechanical were in place, it had fuel, but it lacked power, and without it nothing was going to happen, it was not going to move, it was not even going to start. You may have your mechanics right (belief system), you may have been fueled up (Bible) but without a battery (the Holy Spirit) it is all still a dead thing (a car with a flat battery). We were created such that the presence of God within us is a vital requirement to our humanity. Christ  gave His life for us to give Himself to us. His presence puts God back into man, so that we might have life; God’s life! Thanks for the recharge of the batteries.

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Grace and Glory 2014: see you there!


Next weekend Harmony Church hosts the Grace and Glory Conference again. I am sure it is going to be every bit as amazing as the previous years.  If there is one event you do not want to miss out on this year let it be Grace and Glory 2014. Amazing teaching that liberates, encourages and makes the “Good News”, the Best News. If you’re in for a weekend that sees Jesus becoming even more amazing, God even greater, touched by the Holy Spirit, and celebrate the best news you can ever get from  the greatest God, I hope you’ll find your way to Harmony on 30, 31 May and 1 June to close it off. More information here >>>

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Come and see Rob and Glenda Rufus and Chad and Jay Mansbridge and be amazed by the profound teachings. It’s been a highlight in my year every time!

 

Grace and Glory @ Harmony Church 5 and 6 April: See you there!


What an amazing time the past months have: Chris Gore and Chuck Parry, Sean Feucht and Aaron Walsh November 2012, James Maloney in December, The Family Fun Day in February this year,  The Prophetic and Fatherheart Seminar by Vicky Trustrum in March, Chad Dedmon in March, Easter Service in the Park and Harmony, my home church. And now coming weekend the Grace and Glory Conference with speakers Rob Rufus and Chad Mansbridge.

Last year the Grace and Glory conference was amazing. I remember well the incredible responses from people attending and the breakthrough moments for so many.
I HOPE YOU ALL COME (AGAIN).

While looking forward to this conference again, I am also aware that there appears to be some confusion what exactly it is that Rob Rufus and Chad Mansbridge are teaching. Last year a generous amount of time was set aside to answer some of these questions and to address some of the concerns. For those who may have doubts or questions or those of you that may be curious what this is all about. The complete recordings of last year’s Grace and Glory conference can be listened to and downloaded here >>> (search by church Harmony and the conference including the Leaders Lunch talk can be found there page 2). Since there is some confusion and hearsay as to what Rob is preaching and since there are some questions regarding what the grace message is all about: I recommend reading your Bible as the message is literally in there (Ephesians is a good place to start) and a large part of the questions and concerns that are brought up have been eloquently addressed in a special Q&A session during the conference which can be listened to here >>>.

Again I look forward to seeing you there.

For those interested here are the links to all of last years conference session by session (that saves you looking for them)

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I know You are here


To and From  Hamner

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

Today the Daily Bible Verse I got in my mailbox consisted of the verse quoted above, from probably one of the most famous of all Psalms.

Dave Whitehead reminds us how we have all known places of despair and subsequently how we can find comfort in his presence. For me what jumped out was the wording of the first part of this verse.

It does not say “I will fear no evil if/when your are with me”; it clearly states “for you are with me.” It is the certainty with which David speaks to us about God‘s presence. We all may go through times of spiritual dryness, cry out to God but it seems almost as if He is not there.

Our natural inclination may well be to give into this feeling and subsequently rely on our own strength and cope with the anxieties and stress that follows. David shows us a different way: there is no doubt in his mind that God is with him. And thus he walks through the valley of death boldly, sure of God’s presence.

I can’t but keep wondering. If I was a sure as David, that God was present all the time, what would that valley of death really look like? Would it still be as desolate and scary if we were absolutely sure, like David seemed to be that God was right there by our side? I think that it would actually light of the place substantially and as Christians we’d be enabled to walk boldly into those places/situations we so easily like to avoid because they seem dark and desolate and actually be the salt and light.

My heart or His voice?


The other day I stumbled upon this quote:

If there ever was one concept that would never steer you wrong, it would be: “Follow Your Heart” True, at times following your heart may seem reckless and may result in some embarrassing or uncomfortable situations. However, following your heart is not about being comfortable and not about getting approval. It’s about achieving all your dreams and fantasies. It’s about finding and living in your life’s passion. It’s about truly feeling alive and courageous.
Source: http://www.wakundama.com/FollowTheHeart.html

Yet the Bible says amongst others :

“The heart is deceitful above all things ,and desperately wicked: who can know it ?” Jeremiah 17:12

“He that trusts in his own heart is a FOOL : but whosoever walks wisely, he shall be delivered.” Proverbs 28:26

“Just follow your heart, follow where your heart leads you, trust your gut.”
It seems almost like common wisdom and it is what we are taught so very often. And in all fairness, I have probably lived most of my life like this.  Some will try to make it more convincing and make the heart the place in your body associated with “love”. And hey, the Golden Rule will probably indicate that love  (and compassion) are worthy pursuits.  Is it not amazing how such a common place wisdom seems to be set aside when you read the Bible.

Yet, it is when we see what Jesus said that things start to fall in place:

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22 NIV

When we are made to believe that we should follow our heart it is from a New Age, Law of Attraction type of perspective that still places us as individuals in the center of the universe.

People who follow their heart’s desire are the most successful. When you follow your heart’s desire, it is not a matter of whether you will have it, it is only a matter of time. You will always have what you want when you follow your heart’s desire. When you follow your true heart’s desires, you will live a life where everything you ever wanted will be available to you, and you will be loving every minute of it as you’re on the path towards them. Your true heart’s desires will also inspire you to take the right action whenever it will serve to bring the fulfillment of your desires….
Our emotions are what activates the law of attraction. Your heart’s desire creates the most powerful emotions that you can experience and therefore has the most emotional and magnetic attracting power, which can overcome any and all obstacles to make it a reality. When your heart’s desire is driving you, nothing or no one is able to stop you.When your heart and mind is set on something, you will never give up. You will do whatever it takes to achieve it.
http://www.mindreality.com/you-can-always-get-what-your-heart-desires-most

But that changes dramatically when your heart is focused on something else: on God. Yet in all fairness, very often our hearts (my heart) are not focused on God, on the Godly but on the very carnal, hence the warning. I find myself often wondering and waiting as a result: Is this what I want for God or what God wants for me and if all fails, is it actually what I want for me. I guess more than once it is the last but not least. Things started to change when I got a grasp of
Psalm 37: 4:

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

As I delight myself in the Lord, He give me His desires. He creates and places within my  heart new and holy desires. And with that  I begin to delight in the things that He delights in. I start to want what He wants. Following him becomes a joy. Some will say effortless, but for me it is more than once a harsh reality check. I try to set of my heart against His voice. And in all fairness they often do not match, but hey I am a new and learning Christian as if this really makes a difference.  But God has His own word on it:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5-6

I guess for me the most important message in this proverb is to let Him direct my paths. More than once His paths do not make immediate sense to me. But then again those occasions where I  managed to get of get of my high horse I have found that He knows better. It is too easy almost to ignore that gentle voice  directing you in directions you actually do not want to go. But as said time and time He appears to be the better lead to follow.  It is in that realization, that following your heart is dangerous – unless your heart and God’s  heart are aligned perfectly – that I (you will) find myself (yourself) staying on course for the better. It is when my hearts desires are no longer mine but God’s desires for me pressed upon my heart, and me (trying hard to be) being ready to follow up on that that things work out for the better.

So what are you going to follow? Your own heart or His voice?