Category Archives: Walking with Jesus

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Street Encounters

(A two minute read)

My friend Dominic and I waded through the miasma of this world the other day. We found light in the darkness, and also gave light.

The Bible says we are overcomers.1 We are also overflowers.2

In all our street evangelism, there was nothing dramatic.

No one was saved (that we know of).

No one was healed (that we know of).

But, the gospel of Jesus Christ was shared to many people.

And, the gospel of Jesus Christ was rejected by several people.

Many heard this message: ‘Jesus loves you.’

It’s our prayer that this small phrase is the pebble that begins a mighty avalanche in many lives.

We ministered to Alina, who is trapped on the streets in a nation where she doesn’t speak the language. She is trapped today, but who knows about tomorrow. With God, all things are possible! 3

Just as we began to pray for the Lord to encounter Alina and provide for her, JUST THEN, Maria, appeared out of nowhere and gave Alina food, hope, information about local resources, and prayer. Maria admitted when I asked her, that she was led to Alina by Holy Spirit. This is a miracle and a spotlight on God’s love, mercy and abundance. May this be the first pebble in Alina’s avalanche! How many times in Scripture does God show up, just then?

Dominic had a pair of women highlighted to him and he walked with them down the pavement. They thought that because they were sinners God would not love them. He explained the truth to them, that God loves them and welcomes them to him through Jesus. They were nice to him, and he could see God was on their case!

Our prayer Lord, is that Dominic’s love for them – stopping for the ‘one’ (or in this case, ‘two’) is the pebble that begins the avalanche toward life with Christ.

I saw a teenage girl escorting an elderly lady down the pavement for shopping. We had made eye contact while I was engaged with someone else. I ran along and stopped her and was able to celebrate her love for her Gran. To tell her that God made her that way: full of love. I told her that Jesus loved her for this full expression of her loving identity.

As I was extolling her beautiful heart, JUST THEN I heard a voice behind me thanking me – it was her mum. So, three generations were impacted.

Lord, I did not catch any of their names, but you know them. May this brief encounter in your love be a pebble that begins an avalanche of salvation.

Be encouraged, sisters and brothers. Whenever and wherever you share the love of Christ, he shows up IN POWER. Sometimes that power is soft. Sometimes it is quiet. Sometimes it is invisible.

Even though we only see in part, we thank you, Jesus that you see in full, and let us share in leading people toward your goodness!

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 4

1. Romans 8:37 ‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.’
2. Ephesians 4:18 ‘Do not be drunk with wine, for that is reckless living, but be filled with the Spirit.’
3. Matthew 19:25-26 ‘When His disciples heard this they were greatly amazed, saying “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’
4. 2 Corinthians 4:6

relay race

Run the Race

(a three minute read)

I’ve just come off a long weekend with 50 other men. It was called Returning Sons, clearly a reference to Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son, who returned to his father after a period of, well, let’s just call it ‘questionable living.’

Anyway, these types of Christian retreats are always uplifting, inspirational, meaningful and memorable. We cook meat. We burn stuff. We camp out. We sing and pray together. We prophesy over one another. We cover old ground and dig up new. Long-time friendships are rekindled and new ones are born. We breathe in fresh life and leave renewed because we take much time to praise God and reverence Him.

But then what?

As I write this, it’s now Wednesday – the third day. And one of our tribe, Jake, just posted this on the group chat:

‘This is about the time whether to choose to keep the momentum going or to drop back in to cruise mode and make it “just another conference”.’

Oh, ain’t that the truth! Thanks Jake, for shaking my tree. I attended Returning Sons for exactly that reason – to get out of cruise mode. In modern Britain, living a middle-class life, it’s way too easy to cruise.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul makes an observation, followed by indispensable advice:

‘Do you not know that all those who run in a race run, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain it. Everyone who strives for the prize exercises self-control in all things…’ 1

Keep your eye on the finish line, but know you get there in part by exercising self-control. It’s hard to do that alone.

A simple reading of these verses suggests a sprint, where one runner finishes first and gets the gold. But life (like Scripture) is deeper and more nuanced than this.

In my school years I was a long-distance runner, part of a cross-country team. Sure, we all wanted to finish first in our six-mile (now 10,000 meter) race. We worked and worked to get our times down. But more important than getting the trophy was helping the team win.

Cross-country works like this: The lowest scoring team wins. The first runner across the line gets one point, the second two points, and so on, through the first five runners on a team. If I’m the sixth or seventh finisher on my team I don’t score points, but I can keep my adversary from scoring points by displacing him to a lower finishing position.

You can see there is individual strategy here as well as team strategy.

Like my Christian life, I run the race, but I run with multiple outcomes in mind. I have to manage my own race (with self-discipline) and be aware of what my body is doing and what it’s capable of doing.

At the same time, I need to encourage my brothers as I run. My teammate Scott and I were well-matched in ability, so we’d run as a pair, egging one another on, keeping one another going, and pacing ourselves.

Finally, I need to keep an eye on my position in the pack. Where am I in the overall group – am I top five? Was I top five on my team? Was I ahead of the top runners on other teams?

I can’t win a team race alone. I need my brothers. Our relationships are valuable and vital. Some are ahead of me and some behind, but we are together.

It’s the same in the Christian life. We run the race, but we are only victorious together. You’ve heard the folk wisdom: if you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together.

Again, the apostle Paul refers to this teamwork in his letter to the Romans: ‘I always thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all…2 ‘For I long to see you…so that you may be strengthened…’ 3 This is so that I may be encouraged together with you by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.’ 4

So back to Jake’s question: Do I ‘keep the momentum going or drop back in to cruise mode?’

This is set against a larger backdrop, namely whether I am a producer of Godly relationships and encouragement, or merely a consumer of them. This investment – to be a producer – is vital to my growth and success. I need to keep after it and stay stuck in. If I invest in a weekend away for a transformational experience, I must allow God to change me through it. And keep changing me. Otherwise it’s merely transitory.

The choice is mine to keep the momentum going. I’m the one who is running the race. When I look back I lose. I must press on.

‘Brothers…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’ 5

To successfully reach forward, I have to regard where I am with all honesty, and find men to share that with. Iron sharpens iron5 it’s true, and it’s also true that iron left to itself will rust and become useless.

Thanks and honor go to all the men in my life who help keep me sharp and rust-free. You know who you are, and you know that I love you.

1. 1 Corinthians 9:24
2. Romans 1:8
3. Romans 1:11
4. Romans 1:12
5. Philippians 3:13-14
6. Proverbs 27:17

Image by Snapwire via Pexels

Alan from behind looking into the distance

Finding Myself Again

(A two minute read)

I have people in my life who will say that I ‘found Jesus.’ Others will say that I ‘came to faith.’ They misunderstand. The opposite is true. God came to me. I wasn’t looking for Him. But He was looking for me. Endlessly. And when my time came, I couldn’t ignore Him.

He approached me first, then I found Him. Then I came to find faith in Him. Only then could I hear Him say ‘Follow Me’. Only then could I follow Him.

In that faith that I found, I now know that there are great things in store for me. I’m God’s masterpiece, ‘created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that (I) should walk in them.’ *

Here’s the deal: I was His masterpiece before I followed Him in faith. I was His masterpiece when I was still His enemy and hated Him. I was His masterpiece when I was broken. That’s why He came after me, because I was broken and had thrown myself in the trash. I was like Forky in Toy Story 4. Because I lived in the trash, I thought I was trash.

God disagreed, and tracked me down. What artist paints a masterpiece and throws it in the trash? Or, in my case, if the masterwork is thrown in the trash, doesn’t the artist go to retrieve it? To redeem it?

It’s by God’s grace that I was pulled from the scrap heap, saved from my own destruction. Now, I may finally ‘walk out those good works that God prepared beforehand.’

I do this successfully only through complete surrender. Surrender is difficult sometimes, but it renders the Christian life very simple. The simple answer to every question is to turn to Jesus, who tracks me down no matter how far I wander. And when He reaches me again, He says ‘Follow Me’. And I do, because He’s the one worth following, and I find myself again.

* Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

Photo by Rachel Richards