Amanda and Esther met up with Judith and travelled to the Cherish Women’s conference in Leeds. I’m going to ask them to write something for this blog so they can share what it was like. It’s always fun and they come back to the church refreshed, empowered by the Spirit and full of enthusiasm. I knew it was going well when I got the message at work, “Congratulations, it’s a boy!” I’ve been married to Amanda long enough to have learned to expect anything. I guessed before she even confirmed it that this would be related to the work of Compassion. Sure enough Amanda had decided along with 999 others to sponsor a child from Kenya. A thousand children finding sponsors in just one Christian event is pretty amazing.
Amanda and Ian led today’s service and Ray Richardson brought us the Word. Ray was described by some in the congregation as an old friend… a really old friend. He’s having trouble getting over this, but we hope he’ll come to terms with it eventually (Ray, there’s a reason why the Church calls them Elders!!).
We set aside part of our service to pray for a lady called Melissa who will be undergoing surgery tomorrow (4 June). She’s in need of a miracle and we also sang a song called Miracles as part of the service. The song was chosen before the request for prayer was received. God’s timing is always perfect. I’ve included a link to the song at the end of this blog if you’ve not heard it before.
Ray brought today’s message in his own unique style. It is fair to say that both the children and those who are slightly older learnt a lot from today’s Children’s talk about remembering the first five of the Ten Commandments. Ray is a shrewd operator. If we want to hear the last five, we have to ask him back again. Ray started his talk with his new Bible, a bible that really let the light of God shine. You have to see it to realise how fun it is for the kids. “How did he do that?” was the most common question. Ray taught the kids to remember the first five commandments by holding up fingers to represent each of the commandments. I’ll now never forget that the fourth commandment is about keeping the Sabbath day holy, simply by the fact that when holding up 4 fingers, the thumb is resting!.
Yvette read Luke 10 verses 25 to 37 for us.
Ray highlighted the fact that only the first four of the ten commandments were about God. The remaining six were about our relationships with each other. Ray highlighted the fact it is a good job he didn’t make the rules. If Ray were God he’d have made nine about himself and only one about relationships. The expert in the law in the Scripture Yvette read should have known the answers but he didn’t.
Ray shared the story of the two people who were going to recite Psalm 23. One was a trained speaker the other a young man simply reciting the words that meant something to his heart. The young man went first, and he stumbled and hesitated as he shared in a low voice the words that meant so, so much to him. He finished to an awestruck silence. The professional speaker declined to recite the Psalm. He said simply “I know the words, but he knows the Saviour!”
The expert in the law in the passage from Luke was in a similar position. He knew the words of the law and indeed we all can know this if we study the first five books of the Bible. But, importantly, he did not know the author of the law.
If we really love God we must give him our attention and keep his name holy. Ray suggested that we should all look at the differences in the emphasis of the Ten Commandments between Exodus and Deuteronomy.
One of the key points is not to do your neighbours any harm. This is equally true in business. Do not be fraudulent, in fact be generous. Ray highlighted his own experience at Matty’s garage, where Matty on learning that Ray needed two new tyres paid for them himself.
Ray also shared his recent experience outside his own home. His wife alerted him to the fact that there was a man leaning oddly against the wall outside their house. Ray looked out and recognised that lean. He’d seen it amongst his own colleagues in the Merchant Navy once they had a bit too much to drink. Ray recalled once pulling a double shift to cover for someone he’d found leaning against the wall in exactly that way. Rather than get him into bother he’d packed him off to bed and done his shift for him.
The man outside Ray’s house seemed to have left, but when they went out to check they found him unconscious in the road. Despite not knowing the man, a blanket was brought, assistance given and the emergency services were called. Ray, Kathleen and their neighbours did not choose to walk by on the other side of the road. Imagine if you can what would happen if we live the commandments. Society would look so different.
Ray highlighted that we need to love God passionately, We need to be sharing lives with Him and God wants to be personal with us. Ray asked us all to think on the passage about Adam and Eve and in particular how they walked with God in friendship, without shame or fear.
Ray referred to how long he’d been married. He still remembered the first time him and Kathleen met. He recalled the silly grin everyone would see that showed he was in love. He also highlighted how his mother had taught him that she loved all her children equally and that Ray in turn found this himself in raising his own family.
Ray used the questioning between Tevye and Golde in the musical”Fiddler on the roof.” as an example. Getting confirmation that they love each other after 25 years “is nice to know”.
We need to laugh out loud with God, and sometimes we need to cry with God, it speaks of who we are and what we are.
Ray asked us “Do you bare your soul with a stranger?” The answer of course is probably not. However Ray said that there is nothing he wouldn’t share with God.
John 3:16 demonstrates the strength of character of God. Ray stated I know god loves me because of what
He did on Calvary. He used as a way to illustrate this the words of one of Matty’s favourite singers, Paul Wheater from North Yorkshire. Paul when asked the question “How much does God love us says “God stretched out his arm this wide and then he died!” (Imagine Jesus on the cross and you’ll get the picture.)
Do things for other people without asking permission, don’t wait just do the right thing.
Ray illustrated the story of the Samaritan as a man who’s returning with his shopping. Mrs Samaritan has sent him for a bottle of wine for their guests and some oil to finish the cooking. He’s returning feeling smug, he’s got the bottle of wine, oil and even some change in his pocket. He hasn’t spent all the money so he’s going to be in her good books. He does not realise he’s going to come across a victim of crime. Imagine our own pastor walking on the other side of the road, imagine the educated man walking on the other side. It wouldn’t happen.
Half a bottle of wine, half a bottle of oil, change given. Fast forward to after he’s used the wine and oil to treat the wounds and the change to pay the innkeeper.
Imagine the scene, the angry wife asking “Where have you been! What have you done with the oil and the wine? Where’s the change?” But she doesn’t .., she waits for the story because she knows her husband.
The expert in the Laws realised he didn’t love God as much as he should. Did he recognise himself as one that would walk past?
It’s not easy to help someone in distress. It’s not easy to choose not to walk past on the other side of the road. Ray recalled a lady who collapsed at a bus stop. A nurse was giving CPR assistance and asked Ray to do mouth to mouth. Not nice but still did it. The old lady survived and was taken to hospital. She lasted long enough to say goodbye to her family. That has to be worth a little discomfort.
Miracles by Jesus Culture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vUvi-A75BU