Friday, 31 July 2015
My journeying has now taken me to France to meet up with more family in their delightful summer home in Brittany.
Yesterday we made an outing to a local attraction, the Carnac alignments, which is described as an exceptional Neolithic site. The information sheet tells of 6000 year old megaliths that were erected between the fifth and third Millenia BC. The stone constructions comprise alignments (rows of standing stones) - stretching for a number of kilometres
and consisting of menhirs (a Breton word meaning "long stone")
and enclosures (a space closed off by adjoining or close megaliths).
Occasionally one sees a dolmen ("stone table" in Breton - comprising a chamber, sometimes with a burial passage, bounded by horizontal stones).
Different hypotheses have been put forward regarding the purpose and function of these Neolithic structures. They may represent sacred burial architecture. They might have served as ceremonial places, territorial markers or even emblems of the collective identity of the group that built them. Perhaps one of the first thoughts one gets is: how were all these immense stones put into the positions they occupy? Certainly a lasting thought is: just what do these remarkable structures represent?
As I ponder on what I have seen, and take in my sensing that here is a most wonderful memorial - but of, or to, what? I am challenged to consider what sort of "memorial" could I leave behind, and how easily might it be recognised and received.
I am, once again, struck by Jesus' words " Follow me". Yes, I hope I can be remembered as a follower of Jesus, and clearly identified as one who shared Jesus In his life and living. For the present, however, I simply give myself to Him, and ask His leading.
I thank You for this present reflection. Just what sort of "memorial" will I leave behind? I feel I must leave this to You. You have asked me, quite simply, to follow You. I give myself to this. I do not know how well I will go, I simply say - here I am. Take me and make me Yours, in Your precious name I ask. Amen.
Sunday, 26 July 2015
My stay in Winchester has allowed me to catch up with a number of family members. On Friday I re-connected with three cousins, two of whom I hadn't seen for well over forty years. It was so good to share news, both current and past, and recall happy times from days gone by.
Yesterday, a pleasant drive in the sun through several counties got us to Totnes in Devon, and lunch with another cousin. This amazing Christian lady runs a charity organisation which works with young people (and their families) who experience a range of real, and often severe, difficulties. They have some truly amazing results, all of which she attributes, in faith, to God's leading, provision and guidance.
As we shared, she of her work in Britain, and me of my ministry in Australia, distance and time disappeared and we were together in wonderful connection and harmony.
I am mindful, again, of the vast spiritual family God has blessed me with in Australia. In these recent days of re-connecting with so many members of my natural family I have also, through them, been able to meet members of their spiritual families, and to know the unity that exists between us all.
When I scan the statistics attaching to this blog, I am surprised at the people, all over the world, who "tune in" and, hopefully, connect as part of God's wonderful family. So often I hear God say, "I've only got one church!" I feel the same applies to family - God has only one family. I feel most privileged to belong to it. I pray rich blessing on all my brothers and sisters in Him.
I give You heartfelt thanks for these recent days when I have re-connected with so many of my natural family and, through some of them, met up with members of their spiritual families.
I see our unity in You. I give You thanks. I pray Your peace and blessing on all who will read this. May they be strengthened in You, and blessed to go forward in hope. Bring healing and wholeness, peace and contentment. Protect and provide for the whole of Your family, in Jesus' name I ask. Amen.
Thursday, 23 July 2015
Yesterday I was "on the go". I travelled from Aberdeen to Winchester via Edinburgh and London. I particularly wanted to re-visit Edinburgh because it was here -many years ago - that history first became real and meaningful to me.
As I wandered about Edinburgh castle several decades ago, the atmosphere seemed so heavy with history that I expected Mary, Queen of Scots, to appear at any moment.
Today I left the railway station and wandered through the gardens adjacent to Princes Street.
As I looked up to the roadway above, I glimpsed an advert on the side of a bus for, I think, a new release film. All I saw was the words "The Gift". Later in the day, I saw the ad more clearly, and it seemed that the film was not of the most pleasant variety. However, as the bus passed above me,the words "The Gift" instantly touched me with the realisation of the wonderful gift I have received from God. This gift, the gift of salvation, I regard as the greatest miracle of all. I am truly blessed to have received it.
No sooner had the bus passed when, adjacent to the path I was walking through the gardens, I came across a memorial. This was entitled "The Call" and it was a tribute from a Scots of the New World to those of the old country who had given their lives in the Great War.
Again, a different thought came to me. Am I honouring the call that God has given me? I hope so! Maybe this simple journal entry is part of my response. My dear desire is to be open to Him, and willing to respond in eagerness and fullness to whatever He may ask of me.
Most Holy Father,
I thank You for guiding me to, and through, Edinburgh. You have met me here and given me the most powerful alerts and insights.
I thank You for all that You do for me, and for all that You enable me to do.
I give myself afresh into Your service. Use me as You will, in Jesus' precious name I ask. Amen.
Monday, 20 July 2015
Today I have been walking in the Cairngorms. Just after lunch yesterday we set out from Foot-Dee village in Aberdeen. We drove through delightful Deeside in sunny weather, stopping briefly at Balmoral and Braemar before arriving at Aviemore.
This morning we set out to walk. We drove from Aviemore to Rothiemurchus where we began the walk. We made a circuit walk utilising the Lairig Ghru track.
The overcast sky provided a fitting covering to the rugged country beneath.
The natural vistas were quite wonderful.
I marvelled at the grandeur and scope of creation, while my thoughts travelled to the Creator.
As I walked, I recalled memories of another "highland" walk of some years ago when I traversed La Meseta in Spain during my walk of the Camino Frances. The scenery then comprised a bright blue sky with a wonderfully warm sun shining down on the greenest fields swaying blissfully in the gentle breeze. I felt as if I was walking, literally, on top of the world.
Today the warm, sunny sky is replaced by rain clouds that threaten to burst at any moment (though we completed our walk with just a few sparse drops). The ground beneath this menacing sky is not even and lush as was the Meseta. Rather it is mountainous and rugged with quite a different vegetation. The two scenes compete in stark contrast. Yet both remind me of God's awesome creation. As I write this, I think of yet another, different expression of amazing creation - that of the coastline and outback of my adopted home country of Australia.
I am lost in the joy of being part of His wonderful work. I praise my Maker, my God, my Friend.
I lift the whole of my being to You in grateful thanks. I thank You for the opportunities You give me to experience and appreciate so many different aspects of Your creation. I thank You for creating me as part of this amazing world.
I pray a cosmic peace to cover us all. May the various parts of Your creation join together in harmony and true well-being. Thank You. Amen.
Thursday, 16 July 2015
Today I visited the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.
From the time I began to plan this trip some weeks ago, this particular visit has been a source of excitement for me and a highlight I have looked forward to. I have not been disappointed.
One of the first places I visited was the parish church of St. Mary the Virgin.
As I sat in the sanctuary, I reflected on the lives of those precious early saints, Aidan and Cuthbert.
I quietly read the prayer of St Aidan of Lindisfarne:
Leave me alone with God
as much as may be.
As the tide draws the waters
close in upon the shore
make me an island, set apart,
alone with you, God, holy to you.
Then with the turning of the tide
prepare me to carry your presence
to the busy world beyond,
the world that rushes in on me
till the waters come again
and fold me back to you.
As I reflected on these words, I recalled how God led me, some years ago, to the practice of starting my day in complete surrender to Him, rather like an island, set apart, alone with my Maker and my God. Then, refreshed in His presence and renewed in the Holy Spirit, I was ready to take His presence into the busy world beyond. And when the day was done, He folded me back into Himself.
Jesus has been speaking to me throughout this day. He has been reminding me that I, too, am a holy island. First, He brought to my mind the words from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians reminding me that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6.19). The Holy Spirit within me affirms me as a Holy Island. Jesus then reminded me of an old adage: No man is an island unto himself. This brings me back to Aidan's words of carrying God's presence into a busy world.
So let me start the day centering myself in Him. Let me take His Holy presence into the busy world beyond. And may He be honoured and glorified in all things.
Most Precious God,
I thank You for the most wonderful day. I have truly walked on holy ground today. I have surely experienced Your presence with me.
My humble prayer is that I may journey each and every day in company with You. Let me take the sweet aroma of Your presence with me wherever I go.
I praise and glorify You in Jesus' name. Amen.
Wednesday, 15 July 2015
During a special visit to a cousin living on the Gower peninsula in South Wales, I was privileged to visit several local churches with her. These relatively small houses of God have been places of worship for many centuries.
13th Century church of St. Madoc at Llanmadoc
14th Century church of St. Cadoc at Cheriton
12th Century church of St. Cenydd again Llangenith
Whenever I enter a sanctified building of some age, I am instantly aware of the faith that has inhabited the very stones of the structure down through the centuries. This faith has carried the light of the Gospel of Christ through times both fair and foul. The faith and the light shine forth from these buildings today, where modern pilgrims join with "the faith of their fathers" in glorious praise and worship of a most mighty and loving God. I pay my respects to the saints of earlier times who kept the flame burning and handed it down through the ages.
Back in eastern South Wales I saw twenty-first century faith in action when, on Sunday, I attended morning service with my brother (at Pontypridd), and in the evening went to church with my sister (at Barry). On both occasions I joined with wonderful brothers and sisters who were truly, and fully, alive in the Lord.
In the handful of visits I made last weekend, I could say that"the Church", in Wales, was truly alive. My prayer is for this life to extend to the whole of God's church, in Wales and to the ends of the earth.
Our Saviour Jesus promised that He would build His church. I have seen parts of the church that are soundly and securely built. I pray that these remain so.
I pray also for those parts of the church that do not seem to be so healthy. Please, Jesus, bring health to Your church, to every part of it worldwide.
I ask also that You bring the lost out from their present darkness and into the Gospel light. Shine forth, Lord, in Your people and through Your people. Let the world see the reality of lives lived in You. Thank You. Amen.
Sunday, 12 July 2015
Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Matt. 9. 37,38)
Jesus was following His "everyday" ministry, what He was called in God to do. He went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. (v 35) As He went, as He observed the crowds He saw their helplessness. They were harassed like sheep without a shepherd. He had compassion for them.
He also took action against their helplessness. When He spoke to the disciples, I believe He did so with enthusiasm. I can see Him urging His followers to cry out to the Lord to send His workers out into the vast fields of harvest.
I don't think the scene has changed. As I look about me today, I see so many harassed and helpless in the many harvest fields of this world. I also think the action is the same, to cry out, passionately, to God to send His workers into the fields. I can go - of course, I can go, but there is an almighty difference if I am sent by God.
I can respond to God -whether or not I sense His calling of me. Like Isaiah, I can say to the Almighty, "Here I am, Lord. Send me."
Most Powerful God,
I see the vast harvest fields that extend across the whole of the earth today. I see countless numbers who are helpless and harassed. Many are unaware of this state.
My prayer is to cry out to You in sincere urging and to ask You to send workers out into these many fields, to bring a message of hope and salvation.
I offer myself to be used by You in whatever capacity You choose for me. As we go, show us Your way and enable us with Your means. Let the compassion of Christ bring the harvest into the Father's fold
Let this be an everyday happening for me. Amen.
Friday, 10 July 2015
I have now been in the Land of My Fathers for several days. Surprisingly, whilst rain greeted me at Heathrow, the sun was shining as we drove into Wales.
It is an absolute joy to meet up with family. The connection is instant, and it is as if no time has elapsed since our last meeting. My diary, even in this short time, has been filled with names, catch-ups, and fun times.
As in Australia so in Wales, I am blessed with a precious spiritual family as well as a natural family. I have caught up with some old friends while, already, I have made new friends. God is good.
Whilst talking of God. I am reminded yet again of the long existence of the Christian faith in this land. On Wednesday, sister Liz took me to St. Fagan's, and the fascinating folk museum of Wales. Twenty years ago, St. Teilo's Church was re-erected, stone by stone, in the museum acreage. St. Teilo's was originally built, in stages, between 1100 and 1520. During its removal and re-erection at St. Fagan's, the most amazing wall murals were discovered under layers of whitewash. This amazing structure and its decoration is a wonderful testament to the faith of this ancient land.
I thank You for Your every blessing to me. It is wonderful to re-connect with this land of my birth, to see and enjoy family - both natural and spiritual, and to share with friends, old and new.
I thank You for the reminders of the long-standing practice of faith in this place. I thank You for drawing me into that faith. I love You, and thank You. Amen
Saturday, 4 July 2015
“I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” John 13.20
The chain is unbroken, and it leads directly to God. Anyone who is sent by Jesus is connected through Jesus to God. And those who accept the one sent by Jesus and the message that they bring, are instantly connected to God.
I believe I have been sent by Jesus. Indeed, I don’t hold this distinction uniquely, for Jesus’ words through Matthew are, I truly believe, directed to every believer to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28.19,20)
Every saint is on a mission. I pray for the rising up of the saints in glorious Jesus ministry, to do as they have been commanded. I pray that no part of this globe will be left untouched by the Gospel. I take hold of Paul’s words that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. I pray that God’s righteousness will be revealed and believers will be blessed with the utmost of faith.
Holy Father, Loving God,
I say again, please send me. Let me be Your emissary. May I speak for You, not in words of my making, but with the words that You put into my mouth.
I pray also for the body of saints everywhere. Loving Lord, raise up an army to take Your message of love and spread it throughout the world. I ask for opportunities to speak lovingly, but boldly, into lives that are lost and that desperately need Jesus, yet don’t know it.
I pray for Your kingdom to come here on earth as it is in heaven. I pray for Holy Spirit power and strength to fill the saints such that they overcome every obstacle and obstruction.
And I say again, Send me, please! Amen.
My book “God Talk” is available through major Internet booksellers.
A taste of the book's content can be seen in the You Tube clip (Search: Peter Francis - "God Talk").
Thursday, 2 July 2015
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” John 13.8b
What does it mean to be washed by Jesus? One word that comes quickly to my mind in answer is: clean!
Jesus cleanses me and He purifies me. Jesus is the sinless One and, as He washes me, streams of living water flow all over me. I am released of sin and set free of what might inhibit me and prevent me from having part with Jesus.
From his washing, I can go forward in Him, with Him and for Him. To have part with Jesus tells me I am enabled to share with Him the wonderful love of the Father and I can join with Him in the Kingdom work of spreading that love and leading others, more and more, into the Body of Christ and the family of God.
To have part with Jesus in this, I picture Him alongside me, ever there to strengthen, encourage and love me in a common task I have with Him towards the glorious goal of the Kingdom of Heaven.
I may need Jesus to wash me from time to time. I pray this is allowable. I gladly ask for it.
I thank You for the privilege and opportunity to be washed by You. I offer myself. I lay my sins before You and ask You to cleanse me. I ask You to wash out all that I need to be released of, and I ask You to wash in equipping, empowerment and enabling.
I pray that You might give me those gifts from the Father and of the Spirit that will allow me, and lead me, to work in partnership with You to give out the gospel message of love and salvation.
I pray for a washing in love. Show me, please, the things I may do in truly following You. Let me see people as You see them. Let me see their needs – not as they see them but as You see them, and lead me to minister to these needs. I ask this in Your precious name. Amen.