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May 31st, 2016

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Isaiah’s Call

June 1st, 2013

Becoming ISAIAH 58 People

Isaiah was a guy we read about in the old testament, he lived in 8th century BC in Israel.  Isaiah was frustrated by the underlying hypocrisy and uncaring attitudes which characterised so many who counted themselves as believers in his time.

Genuine faith, contends Isaiah, finds its expression in right attitude and right action towards those who find themselves broken and oppressed within life’s realities.

He calls for people of faith to be and to become Oppression Breakers. Oppression comes from poverty, lack of education, weakness of character, racism and tyranny. Oppression causes the human spirit to despair and hope to be lost. We are called to break the power of oppression wherever we encounter it in people’s lives. Lifting the burden off those who have fallen under oppression’s ruthlessness is our calling, our responsibility, our privilege and our joy.

Isaiah highlights the sharing of food with those who are hungry as being important to God. Sharing food with those who are hungry gives them so much more than a simple meal; it gives people dignity, value, worth and self esteem. It elevates people to a place of basic human respect. Isaiah’s call for us to become Food Sharers earths our faith in everyday reality.

Homelessness is a sad feature of modern life but is not new by any means. Isaiah speaks into this social problem advocating that people of faith become Shelter Providers, because housing the homeless, making room for those who have nowhere to live, providing space for those who would otherwise be forced to find shelter under cardboard or disused buildings is a reflection of God’s heart. Jesus said that his Father’s house has many rooms; and there’s room for everyone in the Father’s house.

As Isaiah surveys society he sees acute need and deprivation but because of his deep faith in God he cannot simply focus on religious observance and ignore the plight of some within society. So becoming Clothing Resourcers for the ill-clad is another indispensible expression of faith in action for Isaiah.

Understanding what deprivation does to the human spirit Isaiah addresses the unseen but devastating effect of blame and accusation in people’s lives. Removing the voice of accusation and blame will create the opportunity for grace and hope to reach people’s hearts and minds. Becoming Accusation Stoppers is part of bringing community transformation.

Expressing faith through such actions begins to repair the foundations of society. Poverty and deprivation contribute massively to the breakdown of the fabric of society but Isaiah’s call to us to become Foundation Repairers has great relevance to us today in our context. Repairing the family is high on God’s agenda because it is the building block of society. Let us love, protect and serve our families as foundational in repairing our society.

Finally Isaiah calls for people of faith to become Community Restorers, or restorers of streets with dwellings, as he puts it. Rebuilding and raising up what has been broken down contributes to community transformation. Some 800 years or so later Jesus would speak of such people as being salt and light within society.

The call and challenge to live such lives brings such blessing to people of faith. Isaiah is quick to inform and encourage his hearers and readers that those who live such lives can be assured of God’s favour on them.

“Your light will break forth like the dawn, your healing will quickly appear, your righteousness will go before you, the glory of God will be upon you. When you call, God will answer, your light will rise in the darkness, the Lord himself will guide you and satisfy your needs, he will strengthen you and you will be like a well watered garden; a fountain spring that will never fail.”

At Acts let us become ISAIAH 58 people.

Posted in Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Jesus the teacher

May 4th, 2012

I was sat watching an old movie recently called “Dead Poets Society”, a film where Robin Williams plays an inspiring teacher, and I was left thinking about my school days.  After quickly recognising that I was never really that bothered by school, that I was more than happy to do the bare minimum to get by, I started to think about my teachers: the strict ones, the funny ones, the ones for whom I played up.  A memory of one of my English teachers came to mind, and of one moment in particular.  Now this moment is very simple and may not seem significant to many, but it spoke to me then and it still does now.

We had previously been told we were going to start studying a new book and had been given a copy.  We were expected to read the book ourselves so that we could then discuss the book as a class and draw out any important or interesting points. I remember reading the book on my own in preparation.  It was one of only two that I actually read from the six that we were meant to within the two year course.  As it happens, I only read the other because the same teacher caught me out for having not read it and told me I would be tested on it.

After reading the book I went into the lesson ready to start.  We were asked to give our impressions of the main characters and I duly gave my opinion.  I can remember what I said but I won’t bore you with the details.  At this point the teacher picked up a brand new book out of the box, cracked it down the seam and proceeded to write in the margin the comment that I had made.

Reflecting back this teacher would have known the text inside out, would have had his own annotated copy and been able to think about it at a much higher level than me. He may have thought that my opinion was only partly right, or it may have been a viewpoint that he had heard and taught a hundred times before.  But in that simple moment he made me feel that what I had to say was valued.  I felt like he would be going through the text with us, with fresh eyes, ready to learn and excited by the discussion.

As I was thinking about my English teacher and pondering on Robin Williams’ portrayal of a teacher, my thoughts moved to an even greater example of a teacher. In the Bible Jesus is often referred to as ‘Teacher,’ and that is very much my experience of him. When I read the Bible, I read about people who are basically the same as me; the same failings, the same hopes and dreams. And I read about Jesus the teacher, who walked alongside them, asking questions and listening to their responses, encouraging them, guiding them, making them feel valued. The more familiar I become with Jesus the teacher, the more I want to know and understand what he is teaching.

And finally to quote a line from the film mentioned earlier, “The powerful play (of life) goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

Posted in Blog Posts, Blog Posts

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