Help us sinners

We know what sinners we are.
(Isaiah 59:1; NLT).

1. Father,
Help us sinners
To trust in you today,
So none of us will grieve:
My hope is gone!

2. Mary,
Help us sinners
To turn to God and pray,
So none of us will sigh:
I am alone!

3. Jesus,
Help us sinners
To find your narrow way,
So none of us will weep:
There is no gate!

4. Spirit,
Help us sinners
Each time we start to stray,
So none of us will cry:
I am too late!

References

1. We have become old, dry bones – all hope is gone (Ezekiel 7:11; NLT).

2. I am alone and in deep distress (Psalm 25:16; NLT).

3. The gateway to life is very narrow and the road difficult, and only a few ever find it (Matthew 7:13-14; NLT).

4. When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late (Luke 13:25; NLT).

Lent for life

1. Thank you for my body, Lord,
Lent by you, for life –
For all the pain and stress
It undergoes.

2. Thank you for my mind, Lord,
Lent by you, for life –
For all that’s shaped it,
Everything it knows.

3. Thank you for my heart, Lord,
Lent by you for life –
For all the love it’s given
And received.

4. Thank you for my soul, Lord,
For this alone is ‘me’
From long before my body
Was conceived.

References

1. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).

4. I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5; NLT).

Follow Christ

1. Lord,
Give us love for everyone,
And patience, each new day,
And faithfulness, so we may follow Christ,
Who is the Way.

2. Lord,
Give us joy, whatever comes,
And kindness, from our youth,
And gentleness, so we may follow Christ,
Who is the Truth.

3. Lord,
Give us peace within our hearts,
And goodness, free from strife,
And self-control, so we may follow Christ,
Who is the Life.

4. Lord,
Pour your Spirit on us all,
So we bear fruit, like Christ,
For then we will grow more like him,
The perfect sacrifice.

References

1. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them (Romans 12.9; NLT).

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-3; NLT).

Follow me and be my disciple (Matthew 9:9; NLT).

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6; NLT).

4. I will pour out my Spirit upon all people (Joel 2:28; NLT).

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

By the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:14; NLT).

A dream: 16.8.18.


I dreamed I was looking up at a beautiful late-evening sky, filled with stars. As I gazed, I could see that behind them, much further away, there were countless millions of fainter, smaller stars.

As I watched, the stars parted, like clouds, revealing hundreds of small brightly-shining white shapes, rather like crosses.

For a few moments, I thought they too were stars. But then I realised they were moving: great flocks of birds, like swans, some black, some white, wheeling together and filling the sky above me.

And as I watched, all these things began to fade away, and I woke up. 

References

I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at my command (Isaiah 45:12; NLT).

The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born (Psalm 33:6; NLT).

God is more glorious than the moon; he shines brighter than the stars (Job 25:5; NLT).

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge (Psalm 19:1-2; NIV).

Ash Wednesday 2019

On Ash Wednesday 2019, I had a very unusual experience. I’d been unwell with a virus for several days, although I had still been able to potter around the house.

At about 9.30 in the morning that day, I was suddenly overtaken by a sharp, stabbing pain in my right side, just below the ribcage. It came again and again, with growing intensity, until, within a minute or two, it was continuous, and I couldn’t speak or move. My breathing became very shallow, and my lips, face, hands and arms began to tingle.

My husband immediately phoned for an ambulance, whilst I wailed and panted like an animal. I wasn’t afraid, just utterly overwhelmed by the intensity of the pain. I was sitting down, bent over the kitchen table, with my head turned to one side, so I could see the shopping bag he put beside me, into which he was quickly throwing everything I might need in hospital. I was fully aware that I could be dying, and saw how my soul would simply slip away, leaving behind the bag, my husband, the room, and everything I had ever imagined would make me happy.

The ambulance arrived quickly, and the staff were wonderful. They helped me to slow my breathing, and ran through various tests. All my vital signs were completely normal, although my pulse and respiration rates had been very high when they first arrived.

Gradually, the pain retreated, and I could speak again. They said it was a panic attack, but this didn’t ring true for me at all, as I have had countless panic attacks, and none of them in any way resembled what happened that day. After some discussion, we all agreed I could stay at home, as long as I saw my doctor in the afternoon.

The GP diagnosed an acute attack of pleurodynia (also known as Bornholm Syndrome, or Devil’s Grip), a chronic condition I have had for the last 25 years. Acute attacks are generally triggered by respiratory infections. However, even at its very worst, it has never remotely resembled what happened that morning. A second doctor thought it sounded more like a pleural rub, highly characteristic of pleurisy.

After two weeks of rest, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and steroids, I’m slowly starting to resume my normal activities. However, a troubling question persists at the back of my mind, though I hardly dare express it. The strange attack, which lasted three hours, felt exactly as if I were experiencing the moment when the spear pierced Christ’s side to ensure he was dead. So, was it a symptom of a physical illness, a spiritual experience, or perhaps a combination of both?

References

The soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out (John 19:32-4; NLT).

If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT).

Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often (Luke 2:19; NLT).

Self is an illusion

My old self has been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me
(Galatians 2:20; NLT).

1. Self, Lord, is a shadow,
Created by the sun;
Self is an illusion,
When we forget we’re one.

2. Self, Lord, is a daydream,
A temporary state;
Self is what we leave behind
When we seek heaven’s gate.

3. Self, Lord, is a mirage,
Created by the sun;
Self is a delusion,
When we forget we’re one.

4. Self, Lord, is a bubble,
An unimportant loss;
Self is what we leave behind
When we take up our cross.

References

1. For we were born but yesterday and know nothing. Our days on earth are as fleeting as a shadow (Job 8:9; NLT).
Common people are only a vapour; important people, an illusion (Psalm 62:9; CSB).
You are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NLT).

2. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace (1 Chronicles 29:15; NLT).
You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13; NLT).

3. They are all a delusion; their works are nothing (Isaiah 41:29; ESV).

4. Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ (Philippians 3:8; NLT).
If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23; NLT).

All one

1. How I wish my friends were here
Before you, much-loved Son;
My family, neighbours, enemies –
For then we would be one.

2. I wish all prisoners were here,
No matter what they’ve done;
All refugees and homeless, Lord –
For then we would be one.

3. I wish the suffering were here,
The poor, the old, the young;
And those, Lord, who have lost their faith –
For then we would be one.

4. But now I see that all are here
The dead, and those to come,
And we, who are in exile –
For your Spirit makes us one.

References

1. This is my beloved Son (Luke 9:35; NKJV).

Though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body (1 Corinthians 10:17; NLT).

2. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favour has come (Luke 4:18-19; NLT).

I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one (John 17:22; NLT).

3. Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28; NLT).

Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).

4. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose – to be Lord both of the living and of the dead (Romans 14:9; NLT).

I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile (Ezekiel 11:16; NLT).

You are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NLT).