Tuesday, 31 December 2013

OUR NEW YEAR NEWS AND THINGS

I am writing this on New Year's eve from the base of Fatherheart Ministries at the Eden Centre in New Zealand.  It's not my usual blog style but it is something we recently sent out to our friends around the world.

We have been home in NZ since early November.  This started with four weeks at the Inheriting the Nations School on Great Barrier Island.  It was excellent being there at the end of a full year.  I love doing the teaching there on Church History but also connecting with so many people that we  encounter during the course of our year.  

The last year has been full and very satisfying. 

It has been brilliant meeting many friends in their home locations and we are truly grateful for the hospitality extended to us that we have enjoyed.  Sadly, we still count different beds!!  It was 86 this year.

Recently we were asked what was the best thing in 2013 for us.  Without hesitation it is the week when we had all three of our children and their families with us here in New Zealand in January.  It was the first time we had all been together in 5 years.  We don't know when we will all be together like that again.  We feel very proud of them all and to see the grandchildren all growing up as lovely talented kids is wonderful. See the blog in January 2013.

We are very thankful for the support we have received from people this last year.  It has been a major source of encouragement to us. We have been able to go to places that would have been impossible without this, especially in Africa.  We were able to lead two week long schools in Uganda and Tanzania without being a burden on the local resources.    You know we receive donations for these missions situation at the Schools we teach and these have been the primary way that we are able to do these things in Africa. So thank you for your partnership with us.  

In the coming year we are going back to Africa to lead more schools and this time it will be a B School, which is the second teaching week that FHM runs.  This will be the first one where I am the main speaker so that will be a challenge.  These B Schools are entitled Growing in Sonship, which is the follow on from the A Schools, Encountering Father's love.  We are also conducting A Schools and conferences in East Europe this year which are also mission situations that we fund ourselves.  If you would like to donate towards these mission trips please see the page on the website.To donate visit here

The coming year is looking pretty hectic too!  Our  itinerary can be found on the Comings and Goings page.
If we are going to be in your part of the world let us know because we would love to see you.

We are currently working on some new resources.  Our existing ones can be found on our website.  As the year unfolds we hope to add some more titles to the CDs.  The book I wrote this last year has gone well.  We are in the final stages of getting this ready to be launched as an E-book.  Many of you who have read this will be relieved to know it has undergone a very thorough revision that has hopefully nailed all the typos. I does help if you send the right version to the printers in the first place!!!  

Anyway, we are hoping to launch another book in the early part of year.  I am in the final stages of this now with copy going to editors and designers. It is totally different from the first one and focuses on Jesus' revelation of his Father in the Gospels. It looks at this through the experiences  and memories of Jesus' family and friends who were eyewitnesses.  I've really enjoyed researching it and writing it.

We are often asked what are our needs are for 2014?  I guess they are:  safety and health in the travelling; financial resources to keep the show on the road; places to rest from time to time; fresh oil for the furnace of teaching, preaching and ministry; renewed youthfulness and energy; more joy, more fun, more faith, more hope and more love.  Not much really!   

We are so thankful to our Father who has so wonderfully provided through the last year, and for you our family and friends.   

We pray that this finds you well, and that your year ahead will be filled with joy, fun, faith, hope and love too.

Here are a few pictures of the last year.

Not in any order because I haven't figured out how to do that yet!
A Team at State College PA
Plymouth Mass. 
Bear in the Rockies
Dartmoor, Devon, UK


Cloistered in Vaalbeek, Belgium
Sunrise in Zanzibar
Catch of the Day, Great Barrier Island, NZ

Affogato and a huge cappucino, Germany 
Vermont in the Fall
Resting beside the river, VT


Brugge by night 
Under the palms, Zanzibar
Charleston S. Carolina.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

DIPPING IN THE RHINE


This week I have been speaking at a Fatherheart School at Rheinfelden in Germany. This small town sits on the north bank of the river Rhine opposite the Swiss town of the same name. The School was held in the old castle on the banks of the river called Schloss Beuggen. It is a beautiful old castle that is now used by the Lutheran Church of Germany as a conference centre. Each day we gathered in a room in the old part of the castle for the sessions of the School.  The 14th Century casement windows looked out on three sides down to the dark waters of the Rhine that flowed below.  This section of the river flows fast and deep.

The old gate house of the castle has the date 1543 carved over the door way.  The castle has seen many events over the centuries.  In the 16th Century the area of Rheinfelden was a hotbed of reformation zeal and the new teaching of Martin Luther that it was only possible to know God through a personal relationship with his son Jesus.  They taught that Jesus came into our world because the Father loved us so much and wanted relationship with us. Our broken and sinful natures had made it impossible to know him and we were lost and separated from his love. So Jesus came and opened the way up to know God as Father by dying on the cross and restoring the lost connection between us.  

This message was taken up by many people in the area of Rheinfelden in those days.  Large numbers of them wanted to worship God free from the restrains of state churches and the control of religious legalism. They became known as Anabaptists because amongst other things, they rejected infant baptism and taught that faith required a personal response evidenced by baptism as believers. This is when a person by their own choice is baptised in water rather than as a choice of their parents for them as babies. They are plunged or dipped completely into the baptismal waters.

In the horrific wars of religion in the 17th Century hundreds of Anabaptists in the Rheinfelden refused to give up their beliefs and as a result were tortured and executed by drowning in the River Rhine near Schloss Beuggen.  They called it the 'Dippers dipped!' 

As the river flowed past the castle where we were holding the Fatherheart School I was conscious that a new reformation is in progress.  This reformation is a fresh realisation of God who wants to draw us all into his inclusive relationship of love that he shares as Father, Son and Spirit and with us a his sons and daughters.

I didn't fancy getting dipped into the Rhine either for my beliefs or for a swim but I am plunging into this wonderful fresh revelation and love swimming totally out of my depth.


Monday, 22 April 2013

THE AMISH AND LIVING IN THE PAST

There is something romantic about the thought of living a simpler life.   For the last week we have been in Pennsylvania.  This American state has one of the largest Amish communities in it. The Amish are the decendants of some of the most radical reformers of the Sixteenth century, the Anabaptists. These groups were on the cutting edge of what God was doing back then. They refused to settle for the status quo, to be subjected to the restrictions imposed by the State churches of Europe.  Large numbers fled to the USA in search of a place to practice their faith in freedom and without state interference.  Now there are many Amish communities across the States.  Their radical cutting edge beginnings have locked them in a time warp of the past rather than in the 21st century.


Today they are living in the past and resisting change and fighting to keep the modern world at a distance.  This expresses itself by dressing in an old fashioned way, refusing modern conveyances such as motorised transport and resisting the introduction of electricity.  They have become a distinct group of people who are considered a tourist attraction. They can be seen on the country roads of Pennsylvania riding their horse drawn buggies, working their farms and fields with horse drawn ploughs and carts.  This is very romantic and picturesque.

However, their desire to be separate and to keep apart from the contamination of the modern world comes at a price.  Amish young people who want to move on from this traditionalism find themselves shunned by their families and neighbours. This is all couched in religious terminology and seems very distant from the zeal and radicalism of their beginnings. They often quote 2 Corinthians 6 verse  17 "... come out from them and be separate" to justify this behaviour.

This is a common issue for all Christians.  A longing for the so called good old days.  Christianity is populated by Amish like groups who having discovered something radical and cutting edge in the past have institutionalised it and preserved it. We call them denominations!  They don't drive horse drawn buggies but to some level they live in the revelation of what God was doing in the past.


We settle because the familiarity of the past feels comfortable.  We settle into our comfort zones and struggle when God starts to do something new and fresh in each generation. Today we are being challenged and called to start living in the Father's comfort zone which is the new; the now of  his presence, where we are the object and focus of his love. Surprisingly this can be threatening and fearful if we do not know him as Father or are living in the past of what was before.  His heart is for us to embrace the new thing that he is doing.  The passage in 2 Corinthians 6 in context is about the God the Father living and walking among us. He says he will be our God, our Father, and we will be his people.  Coming out and being separate is more about leaving behind the past and embracing the new thing that he is doing.  Paul goes on to say, "I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters."  This is a gracious invitation to live in his comfort zone of the present and not the past.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Wm PAUL YOUNG AT THE CROSSROADS

Last year I had the privilege to meet Paul Young, the author of 'The Shack'.  I particularly enjoyed hearing how he came to write the book and to learn that other books were in the pipeline.  'Crossroads', which came out a while ago, was the first of these. The hint he gave me last year was that there were more planned too.  So it was with some degree of anticipation that I bought a copy of the new book and began reading it. I wondered if it would come up to the level that The Shack did.  Well, I've finished it now. I enjoyed it and should have remembered not to have read it on a plane because here and their it made my eyes leak a little.  Thankfully not as much as reading his first book. I think the flight crew thought I was having a complete emotional breakdown when I read The Shack on a flight from New Zealand.

This book was good in many ways.  In places it reached almost the same level of inspiration and dare I say revelation, as his first book, but those places were fewer and not so magnificent as in The Shack but very profound nonetheless.  There were some delightful moments, and some very funny ones too.  I loved the meeting with Jack.  So clever the clues to his identity.  I won't spoil it for you by saying anything more at this point.  It was in those sections that the book soared the most and made some stunning observations about the nature of things.  Other parts felt that it had drifted into the realm of science fantasy. There is nothing wrong with that but it left me feeling a bit bemused.  It was okay and in the end it drew me in, but it is hard to top a masterpiece. I could tell that Paul Young and Baxter Kruger have been hanging out too which was a joy.  If there are more books coming out of his pen and heart I'll look forward to them.

Paul gave me some real insights into writing that I have benefitted from as I have strayed into this area recently. He told me he wrote his book for his children to explain who their father had become and the man he now is. That spurred me on to write also. So my book is done and I have published it.  It's a strange experience putting it out there!  It's somewhat scary and the opposite of being voyeuristic on one level but I had a strong sense that I should write the book and see what happened.  For me it is really all about the amazing love of the Father who has held me and loved me through all the ups and downs of my life and brought me to this place where I am today.  I guess some will focus on the trauma and the treatment we have received at times but my heart's desire is for people to read it and come to meet the Father as I have done.  

So it's out there. You can buy it directly by going to the page above called 'Here's my book' or you can find it on Amazon.co.uk. Here is the link to the book. Also a friend is helping me do a Kindle version. This is all rather new uncharted waters.  I have discovered like Paul Young that there is more than one book in me and I'm really enjoying working on my next one, which will definitely not be science fantasy.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

HAPPY FAMILIES

Three months in New Zealand is coming to an end. It has been a very enjoyable time for us both. It started with a month on Great Barrier Island teaching at the Inheriting the Nations School that is run by Fatherheart Ministries. After a fairly hectic few months it was very good to be able to be in one place for a whole month and enjoy the slower pace of life this afforded.  Then came Christmas and the whirl of family, friends and feasting.

The next few weeks were taken up with the wonderful joy of having all of our three children and their spouses and all seven of the grandchildren together in New Zealand. This was the first time some had been together as the twins were meeting their Aussie cousins for the first time.  It was a really good time.  We played together and feasted, enjoyed the sunshine and just being all in the same place for a short time.

Family is such a high value for us and it so reflects the heart of God for us all. He made us to be in families. In his heart before the creation of the world Father, Son and Spirit purposed to have sons and daughters whom they could enjoy and share together the incredible love that they experience together in the Trinity.  A total sharing of joy, love, acceptance and favour. It is amazing that this was always God's intention for humanity. To know him and be known by him. To enjoy him and to be a joy to him. To relax in his comforting loving embrace knowing that we are loved and totally accepted.

Sadly mankind chose to turn its back on him and reject this amazing love.  But God knew our fickle hearts and sent his son Jesus to come and live in our world and experience the brokenness and pain of this life without rejecting him as God and Father.  Instead he came to live among us and show us the way back to the Father and take us to be where he is, in that place of loving acceptance.  He died  for us, in our place and cancelled the devastating effect that our rejection of God has caused.  Separation from him and a deep fear of him that gives rise to a feeling of shame and loneliness where we end up hiding from him.  He effectively redeemed us, that is bought us back, so we could be brought back to the Father and placed us in the relationship of sons and daughters.   This means we are his family. He longs for us to be back in that place of his love.  Acknowledging our need to be reconciled to him as Father is the first step on that journey home. It is not forced on us. Instead he invites us and woos us to come home to him.

As I have enjoyed being with my family, sharing in their joys and challenges of bring up children in this world, I have sensed a little of the Father's love for us in his desire to know him.  I am so proud of my grown up children and their spouses. They are all such great parents.  I am thrilled to see them and their children and love them all very much. But in that I am different from God, (what an understatement!) God does not have grandchildren, he only has sons and daughters.  He wants to have a first hand connection with each of us, not one step removed.  Just another amazing thing about God our Father. What a wonderful Father he is!