Category Archives: experience

Born a second time?

Born a second time? 

There is no doubt that approaching the things of God in a cold theological way is not enough when it comes to being convinced that you should give your life over to The Son of God, – done so – through prayer.

But what’s the difference between studying presented truth, perhaps presented in some book of theology from whatever source and coming into a Living relationship with The Christ of God?

There is no fixed way that a person must adhere to, when it comes to experiencing the born again experience. No fixed way in the sense that every personality is different and must discover God’s working in their life, as it lines up with His Word.

The term ‘born again’ is found in the gospel of John 1/1:

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

So Jesus is calling all, to an experience that He calls ‘being born again’.

Unless one is born again…..

Well – unless one is – we cannot see, – experience, – understand – know the things of God as God intended us to know them.

However many have started their born again journey in the very way I have suggested at the beginning – namely: in a cold theological way.

The reason for this is that such a person may be genuinely looking for the answer or answers regarding this born again experience.

And as I have stated before a number of times – the door of truth must be gone through or initially sought before this born again experience can take place.

Buy the truth and do not sell it—

    wisdom, instruction and insight as well.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free

Notice I have clumped these few verses together without even giving the references – simply to say these verses could be the start of the search that will bring you to the born again experience.

Rather than elaborating on the ‘how to’ – let this be the start of your own search of the scriptures, if as yet you have not been born again.

Acts 17/11

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

Paul’s Race

PAUL’S RACE

Acts 9/

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

This is possibly the last thing we would expect to hear when encountering Jesus for the first time.

We who rejoice in the Wondrous Grace of God – so glad that He (The Lord Jesus) did it all for us. All our efforts to be good, righteous, pure etc. etc. – were imperfect and not enough to obtain salvation and peace with God through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Until Jesus came along with the offer of Salvation through faith in Him, – giving His life for ours, we were left incomplete through our own efforts.

Now He lives in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure, if we have had the born again experience.

But in light of all the blessings of God’s love and acceptance, how would we respond to such a word as this – the word given to Paul the Apostle:

How much he must suffer for my name…!

Did Ananias pass on directly and verbally, the words quoted above, concerning how he (Paul) would suffer?

We do not know if Paul was shown right away, supernaturally, all that he would suffer, or whether God is referring to the ongoing experience that Paul would discover day by day as He communed with God.

Either way whether God spoke into his spirit to prepare him for what was ahead in suffering, or whether he affirmed him daily in the fact that his suffering was for the progression of the gospel, he who had persecuted the church and caused it to suffer, would go on to lose his life in service to Jesus Christ The Lord.

Here are the things he suffered:

…in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

2Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

We are inclined to judge whether something is worthwhile if we sense the Presence of God in/on it. And of course this is correct.

However the whole realm of human feeling, and/or spiritual sensing – at times, as in the life of Paul, will include outward circumstances that bring pain. 

Reminding us that God will always be in our storms, regardless of the whole realm of feeling or sensing – 

 – the ever-present faith-sense (for those who believe) of ‘Emmanuel’ – God with us – always!

Oh to be so anointed that the overwhelming strength of God in every experience of life, would be our portion, and that He would enable us to endure all things, through the inner awareness of His love.

Love (of God)…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things

Lord have mercy!

Conforming?

CONFORMING?

I wonder if it were possible to make a survey of the world’s population – how many folks would fit into the ‘ordinary’ category?

Ordinary people. Only ordinary in the sense that they are married with children, working perhaps an 8-5 job or some variation on that theme, have a few holidays a year, and use their leisure time in pursuit of some ‘hobby’ (never liked that word). 🤔

‘Ordinary’ people who have some semblance of humanity, and morality, and hold no extreme views, politically or otherwise.

We might add: ‘having a typical suburban western society outlook’.

I think you get the picture, and if you, like me, consider yourself to be part of such a slightly suspect categorisation, you pay your taxes, decorate your home, love your wife and kids, and want to provide for them. Stated as a male person of course, but equally true of a female.

Covid has been released upon the world, it knows no class barriers, is no respecter of persons, and devastates many families. It has been an unwelcome motivation for change. And we need to ask ‘what kind of change?’ – for the better or the worse? But disease is another subject, not for this post.

The older one gets, the more one is able to look back on how things have changed.

And can form the opinion that the changes – are not for the better.

But this may be too sweeping a statement. (?)

[Depends on the subject matter of our conversation]

After all technology has given us an improved existence with all the positive things it has provided.

Conversely it has given us greater headaches.

Are we, the ‘ordinaries’, holding society together? While the ‘misfits’ (Dict.: a person whose behaviour or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way:) are forcing us to accept the abnormal as the new normal?

Back in the day (my pre-Christian days) I had no intention of conforming to society’s norms, if it hindered my creative ability. After all I was an artist! I was unique!

And then I woke up.

And Jesus slowly but surely renewed me in the spirit of my mind.

Now normality for me is to be spiritually natural and naturally spiritual.

I still don’t conform – but in an entirely different way.

My goal is not to conform to the abnormalities all around me, and which are being increasingly promoted as normal.

Likewise my goal is to not conform to dead religion, which can have a ritual-like involvement by adherents but with no life of God in it.

II Timothy 3/

having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!  

Rather I desire to live in spiritual awareness and escape the corruption that is in the world through evil desire.

2 Peter 1:3-5

as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Romans 12/

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Caned

Caned

(Fiction)

I don’t know what happened but he fell and careered across the floor like a motorcycle down a hill

I don’t know what happened but he upended and

ended up – on his head as though he were dead

I don’t know what happened but he slowly came round again as though resuscitated from a dormant state

I don’t know what happened but he gathered himself and left

I do know – what happened – I struggled to hold back the laughter at this serious event

How strange that we want to laugh in the empathy we feel – as though it’s a safety mechanism to escape nightmare recollections of a traumatic event

Like – when – back in the day – we got caned at school – three on each hand and rather than cry, we laughed – our nerve ends and thoughts in turmoil at the unjust punishment.

NB: Non-fiction: (6 of the best for getting arithmetic wrong)

Grandmother I

GRANDMOTHER I

My grandmother was a Christian lady. When I was a little boy (pre-teens) I used to visit with her, along with my mum and her son (my dad).

Her husband, my grandfather, died before I was born, so I never knew him.

How easy it is, when we start to write about relatives, to lose ourselves and those listening, with the necessary jargon needed, when explaining.

[e.g. My uncle’s grandmother’s son, and my cousin’s grandchild on their daughter’s side, or my mum’s mum’s brother – crazy!

Not amazing – just a maze].

So – my grandmother was my father’s mum. That’s simple enough. If you still don’t follow please ask a practicing historian.

She was probably in her eighties at the time of my visits, and was cared for by her daughter, who later became a missionary in Japan, and remained a spinster, until she went to be with Jesus in 2008.

My paternal grandmother would sit very still in her chair. And would ask: ‘if we were never going to make a cup of tea’? She asked this every ten minutes or so.

She would sit with me by her side, looking straight ahead. She couldn’t see very well.

As though unbeknown to everyone else, she would move her arm slowly across to me, and slip a sum of money into my little hand.

The large sum of one penny.

I would sense by the way she did so, that it was top secret, and I fought the smile that would try to break forth on my face, afraid of betraying her act of kindness, and exposing  this great secret.

She would sing a song from her younger days and I always remember the chorus: I did a painting based on the song, it is long gone. I forget who has it.

(As with many paintings a great curiosity comes to me at times regarding where a painting is. Lost in the world somewhere, like a long lost child.)

Here is the chorus, I searched it of course, and found it on the internet. ‘Riding on a load of hay’ (author unknown).

Oh someone stole my heart away

Riding on a load of hay

I looked up and he looked down

Handsome sunburnt Johnny Brown

She told me of her extremely naughty youthful antics. Extreme things like banging on people’s front doors and running away.

Hiding, while she and her co-conspirators, observed the reaction of the house owner, as he or she looked up and down the street, baffled as to the invisible visitor.

And that was about the sum total of her reported naughtiness. (Naughtiness? – My! – how times have changed).

I remember nothing of her passing. I was twelve years old at the time.

As she sang the song, her voice was still as sweet, as when she graced the platforms of Christian Meetings, being the invited soloist.

In Northern Ireland we designate some church buildings as Gospel Halls. And they still exist.

Her daughter went to be a missionary in Japan, as previously stated, and I often reflect on my aunt’s faithfulness in prayer for me.

Indeed I often query with The Lord, just how much a part my grandmother’s prayers, played in my mighty encounter with The Living God, seven years after her passing!

When my dad, was nearing his journey into eternity, though that is for another blog post, I remember him telling me, that his mother taught him how to pray.

How important that young lives are taught the Word of God, at an early age. It will impact them fully or partially – it all depends on how they respond to it as they journey through life.

The bible describes it this way:

Cast your bread upon the waters,

For you will find it after many days.

I’m sure everyone has the experience of failing to ask enough questions regarding their family history, and suddenly it is too late. Those able to furnish us with details are gone, we didn’t ask them.

Nevertheless we can cherish what we do know. And I can still see plainly my grandmother’s facial expression as she sat – ever so still – in her armchair.

I think I must have spent the pennies.

From this dark world

FROM THIS DARK WORLD 2021

This dark world offers itself to me

And into it’s grasp I fell in times past

But still it is all around

[In the forest clearing like

Robin and his merry men]

Ready to seize me

as though I was rich

                  …

Passing through like you

It took me a long while

to have my eyes opened

To the deceptive tug of

The bands of wickedness

                    …

You think I’m writing poetry

But there is a kink in my exposition

You can’t grasp it –

and quickly turn away

It’s a language I could enter into

That would send you reeling back

Far away into your own shell of unbelief

                   …

You will not respond to this

My plate of wholesomeness

It’s a foreign language as you puzzle

What’s he getting at –

and where did he get it?

                   …

New life comes with the Christ

To deliver you from the darkness

But it is unfamiliar language…

                   … 

It is a must – but you just can’t see

‘Please return to ‘normal’ poetry’

That’s your plea to me

‘Don’t be getting all religious now’

But it’s the freedom you cannot see

                    …

I too was held

as blind as blind could be

But His hand was mightily on me

So thankfully my dirge turned into joy

As from the chains of bondage

He rescued this boy

                  …

So turn while you can

Before tomorrow says goodbye

And you have no more tomorrows

From which to say goodbye 

Ambition…

Ambition

Any great ambition I had to sell my paintings, and perhaps earn a living from doing so, got lost along the way somewhere over the years.

The ambition wasn’t big enough in the first place, to drive me to do all that was necessary to achieve such a goal.

Borland’s outbuildings (wax crayon)

The bible talks about seeking first the kingdom of God. And as far as I was concerned there was no other option, than to gladly do so. So spiritual ministry priorities were put first.

Consequently an 8 to 5 job in a newspaper office took the place of these ambitions as the responsibility of raising a family also came first.

So to sell a painting now is the result of some kind of connection with other human beings.

Whereby they see some of my work and would like to have it.

I do not spread the work around as e.g. in galleries etc. like I used to do. So I’m pretty much, an unknown – sliding into ‘oblivion’, in the background somewhere.

If someone through this blog wanted to buy a piece of work, this would entail individual email communications and financial arrangements. And gladly the forming of some kind of relationship.

I have in other words no selling mechanism of pay pal and all the rest of it, necessary, if you are running a business.

Multi-talented (inks)

Sometimes my mind wanders to Van Gogh – a man who was on a spiritual quest and through the rocky road of life with its hurts and rejections – eventually found solace in his art.

As far as I can discern he lost his way spiritually, because in biblical language he sought God by works and not by faith.

It isn’t my intention to elaborate on such a statement in this post. I realise it is more complicated than my thesis might suggest.

But I do see in his life and can understand, why painting became his passion and means of self-absorption, and quest for achievement.

Even in his art he did not find the acceptance and praise he justly deserved.

I see life in that way, and am so thankful that I have found in Christ what I was looking for.

In the old hymn Be Thou My Vision we read these words:

Riches I need not, nor man’s empty praise

Thou mine inheritance through all of my days

Thou and Thou only though first in my heart

High king of heaven my treasure Thou art

That succinctly sums up how the loss of ambition doesn’t matter, when it is replaced by the Riches of Christ. It is Christ who satisfies, not only in this world but in the one to come.

There is a place for doing things well, for creativity, and for enjoying the communication of life through the arts.

A place for someone to have goals and resolutely set out to achieve them (provided others do not get trampled-on along the way.)

But there is a fine line between seeking man’s empty praise and appreciating the love that others give, that makes us feel worthwhile and satisfied that we have something to give, through our expressed talent.

Life poses the question: ‘Are you ultimately empty?’

Funny question?

Perhaps – but there is a spiritual vacuum inside each one of us. That can only be filled through a relationship with Christ. 

Realised ambitions will not take this vacuum away.

Apple Gluttons (w/colour/acrylic)

Foolish

FOOLISH 2021

Galatians 3:

v1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so [c]many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain

Paul the Apostle is addressing this Galatian group of believers.

But of course it is ordained of God that, when one of His Specially Chosen Early Apostolic leaders, writes to a particular ‘branch’ of God’s church – it is more than meant for, or sent to – just them.

It is sent to all believers throughout history who follow on, by inheritance, from the early formed church/churches.

The Word of God will never pass away. Anything that the Holy Spirit  has placed His indelible fingerprint upon – will remain as His Word forever.

Jesus said:

Matt. 24/

34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Paul, saddened, grieved and a little perplexed, is addressing a fundamental problem pervading the Galatian church.

This problem can, or has, pervaded the lives of believers ever since, and indeed at one time – knocked me off-course for a couple of years in my Christian life.

Paul is very straight with them, out of love and concern, trying to wake them up to spiritual reality. Wake them up to the completeness of Christ’s Salvation.

“O Foolish Galatians…” – exclamation mark!

“Who has bewitched you…”?

Without even going into the original meaning of the Greek etc. as we can do, when seeking to expound some aspect of God’s New Testament. Let me instead pass on what the dictionary means by the word ‘bewitched’:

to attract or interest someone a lot so that you have the power to influence them:

to put a magicspell on someone or something in order to control him, her, or it

Either definition will do – First – attracted and therefore distracted. Distracted from the real wonderful message, into their own ideas. (Manmade gospel)

Second – (bewitched)  – Coming under the control of something, someone, or a spirit not of God.

That was how Paul found these believers. They got away from the wonderful New Testament message of Salvation by Faith – through God’s Amazing Grace – and their whole focus was on themselves and their own performance.

He spends most of the rest of the epistle addressing and correcting this legalistic distraction, in order that the Galatians will become re-focused on Christ.

We must look to Christ in prayer for everything to do with the spiritual life.

The following is a spiritual seeing:

25 For David says concerning Him:

‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face,

For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.

26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;

Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.

This was the spoken spiritual reality of someone staying on course by faith – seeing the invisible God – (see also e.g. Heb. 11/27) so as to walk pleasing to Him, without wrongly, losing sight of Him completely and then trying to live like Him. It doesn’t work. The Galatians were trying it and failing.

Paul put them right.

Are your eyes on God in prayer? Will you respond (by the hearing of this encouragement) – in faith? (see verse 2).

Outside of it

OUTSIDE OF IT

And if I was in the way of all fleshly culture

Accolades would come and offer themselves

I see through the mist of words coming my way

And look to the heart of the wordsmith supply

The mouth and the pen speaking the abundance of the heart

                             …

And they have their own secular priests in poetry’s halls of fame

And they applaud and visit the award ceremonies

And give them their time of day

And exult in their devises and words – great and swelling

And hanging on every word – they like their controversy

                            …

All give appearances of humility and ‘I don’t know’

But all think they do – in some held mystery

Best piano performers – as they press the keys of words

Their daily practice others perceive is a place too high

For mere mortal men – they miss how the ‘magicians’ do it

                             …

On the pedestal of applause they must get their fix

Who is in it for the money and the fame?

                             …

Yet words – as far as words go –

Oft find some harmony and balance

As the poets scratch their lines in the sands of time

I wonder at – all this jiving around – 

                              …

For selling the soul – all is offered

In prison [through time and shackles worn]

Adulation or the promise of exclusivity and

Man’s empty praise

                             …

But I can only be an observer

When I take the time to look

A sideways glance at the vying for position

I am not a friend of this world

And need not their kingly throne

                            …

So says the man who wants to write a poem

So says the man

who hasn’t completely thought this through

Tendencies

TENDENCIES

I recently found myself agreeing with a Christian Radio host when he said that some believers in Christ tend towards the emotional and some towards the cerebral.

How true – and usually we look next, for some label to differentiate the two.

* The obvious one that comes to mind are the labels Pentecostal or charismatic and evangelical/theological or liberal.

Much as I like the one label for all (Christian), – in reality we are all influenced by these labels*, in forming a ‘picture’ of what different Christian folks are like and what they believe or major on.

This labelling of course is in flux – as everyone searches for a name to crystallise what they believe in, or stand for. So new ones emerge through time.

Spiritual experiences – as in experiencing the Holy Spirit – is not synonymous with emotionalism.

Deep theological thought is not synonymous with no experience of The Holy Spirit.

Someone has put it this way – (speaking metaphorically) too much emphasis on the power of God and we blow up. Too much emphasis on The Word of God and we dry up – but the Spirit and the Word and we grow up.

Paul the apostle had great intellectual ability, but he was first to admit how limited and insufficient this was when it came to spiritual matters.

Philippians 3:

though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

I Corinthians 2/11

…Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

Galatians 1/

12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual discernment is not emotionalism. Nevertheless when God moves in power you can be sure your emotions will give great response.

As we refrain from leaning on our own understanding and ask God for His enabling Holy Spirit – let’s not limit what He can do, by knowledge uninspired by God Himself.

Don’t allow or use theological knowledge to limit or direct God to fit into our understanding about what He must and must not do.

Conversely when God meets with us in a powerful way – don’t drift into trying to reproduce such a wonderful experience by soulish imitation.

The narrow way leads to life.

Lord help us.

Frustration

FRUSTRATION

Frustration – a common experience to all – in all walks of life.

Frustration occurs in different contexts.

Waiting on a shop to open – twenty minutes past it’s official opening time. A feeling of frustration.

The repeated bad habit of someone else, that effects you adversely – but which they seem to constantly repeat when in your presence. A feeling of frustration.

People telling you they will do something – which they repeatedly fail to do. A feeling of frustration.

A person you have hired to do a job and they keep postponing to another day. When the day comes – they postpone again. A feeling of frustration.

Someone in a car in front of you – who dilly-dally’s – at 20 miles an hour in a forty mile zone. A feeling of frustration.

When a flea – yes a flea – you know those things you rarely get but expose their presence when that itch starts and the lump appears – you want to get that flea out into the open to end it’s life. (Do they still exist? 😊)

So we need to get those thoughts of frustration out into the open and…

Regardless of the problem that causes frustration – often it has a devil on it’s back.

So trace and destroy. Really know what it is that is causing the frustration and take God’s remedy for it.

For the Christian it is turning to the Word of God and

letting… 

Colossians 2/

5 …this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…

We are called to constantly give way to God The Holy Spirit as we appropriate His mind found in His Word. His thoughts kill frustration. Back in the day when people dropped ‘acid’. It was a common exhortation from Christian to Christian – ‘hey man drop some Matthew, Mark Luke or John’.

That takes care of your woes!

Job tells us…

Job 23/

12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Frustration is an emotion, but commonly besets us all. It is having the presence of mind to draw upon The One who supplies all our need through His life-giving, frustration-destroying Word.

Philippians 4/

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Spiritual Attributes

SPIRITUAL ATTRIBUTES

I Corinthians 16/

13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.

To the unbeliever the words of this verse from the Bible may as well be in a foreign language.

They probably could make something of it. But within the confines of their own natural experience of life.

Firstly – all words in scripture are given by God – in that He is inspiring and influencing and empowering the person who is penning the Word(s) – and they are not describing natural experience(s) but spiritual.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

And if you have not had the spiritual experience of encountering The Living God – then the words can only be interpreted with the natural mind and in reference to common-to-man experiences.

For instance: ‘stand fast in…faith’ (leaving God out of the equation) could be wrongly interpreted as simply ‘don’t give up’.

Everyone knows they shouldn’t ‘give up – but rather – see-the-thing-through’. Whatever the ‘thing’, or exercise is, in which they are engaged.

That is natural ‘faith’, faith in yourself, stickability, natural empowerment and so on. Same with the other words, – brave, strong, love.

But it isn’t the faith spoken of here. It isn’t the strength spoken of here. It isn’t the courage spoken of here. And it isn’t the love spoken of here.

In simple terms it refers to faith in Christ Jesus. Kind of obvious right? When the whole bible is an exhortation to believe in God.

He, if we truly know Him, supplies the enablement necessary to maintain these attributes in our lives.

Of course we can all, (with self-effort), be strong, brave, have self-belief, and have loving feelings, Christian or non-Christian.

But the difference is – the existence of a relationship with God.

So the question is – What or who is the source of our strength? Is it natural or spiritual?

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Paul clearly knew the source of his strength, clearly stated in the above verse. And perhaps like no one else in the New Testament apart from The Saviour Himself, Paul needed that strength to see him through the hardships he suffered as an apostle.

Christ is the source and supply of all the Godly attributes we need in our lives, appropriated by faith and supplied by the supernatural enhancement of The Holy Spirit.

Some know of this. Many don’t. Comprehending or accepting what I speak of – is not the result of philosophical argument-winning or convincing, but rather is the result of encountering God.

I Corinthians 2/

…5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.