DOVES, TURTLEDOVES AND PIGEONS

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:13-17



Have you ever noticed how, at times, you can be reading the Bible, siting in a sermon listening to the message on a very familiar passage or even just musing on things to do about God and suddenly, something strikes you. Oftentimes its in a passage that you thought you knew, and have probably read dozens and dozens of times and then suddenly a word or a single aspect of it jumps out at you? Often it can seem to be a quite insignificant detail, but as one preacher once said many, many years ago, every word is in The Bible for a reason. When you think about this, this is a major miracle in itself as the Bible has been translated into many many languages over the course of the past several hundred years or so. But back to the passage above.

We were in our Sunday morning service and Pastor Mike was preaching on the last part of the above passage. Launching a new series of messages on our passion for The Word, The Churc,h Christ, Our Faith, time will tell…………. But this morning it struck me that as Mike made reference to the fact that Jesus took time to form a whip from cords the passage above mentions another matter of detail. One that had been lost on me before.

After Jesus drove out the traders along with the animals, after he overturned the tables of the money lenders and poured out their coins the passage tells us that he told those who sold pigeons “Take these things away; do not make my Fathers house a house of trade.”

Now I remember this story from my Sunday School days and from the scene in Jesus of Nazareth, the mid 1970′ TV series that depicted the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in some meticulous if in places somewhat slightly inaccurate details, and I do not recall the specific mention that it was those who sold pigeons that Jesus told not to turn the Temple into a place of trade or as Matthew puts it much more dramatically a den of robbers. Ironically, (maybe), it is only Luke that does not make reference to the sellers of pigeons. Three of the four Gospel writers, consider this point important enough to include this detail in their narrative.

Neither, can I recall, in my entire Christian life have I heard a sermon on this point. So here goes…….

So what of it? (I imagine I hear you asking yourself). Well if it is in there, it has some significance. If it is in there more than once, it has some important significance and if you ask me, that both two of the synoptic Gospels and John make the point means its has some significance. (John in a sense is much more likely to concentrate on the spiritual rather then practical things and so to my mind is likely to omit this point more so than the Synoptics, but I would bow to greater authorities than myself on this point).

So who were these merchants in the Temple? Well for those of you who are unaware I will give. A very brief explanation.
The Levitical Law of sacrifice was still been practiced in Jesus day. This required, inter alia, every year a sacrifice be offered for the forgiveness of sins and the place that this sacrifice was to be made was the Temple in Jerusalem.

Quite simply, nowhere else would do.

So if you lived some distance away and had to journey to Jerusalem to make your sacrifice, it would be a bit of a pain to have to drag your sacrificial animal all the way over the Judean countryside to Jerusalem and so this system whereby you did the “pilgrimage” and when you arrived at Jerusalem, you purchased a suitable animal to offer as your sacrifice evolved or was set-up by some enterprising first century Del-Boy type character.

Very practical, but this practice in itself has all sorts of connotations and lessons for us to learn from regarding what true sacrifice is, laziness, legalism, responsibility and I suspect if I took the time to think about it lots of other things as well. But for now take it as read that this was an acceptable practice to the Jews of the day.

The only problem was, these traders tended to rip off the people selling them overpriced animals and/or sub-standard animals. The Levitical Law is very particular about the quality of the animal that was to be offered for a sacrifice and in particular that it was to be on the whole of a certain age and that it was to be without blemish. This last point is important for the Christian because Jesus who is our Passover Lamb was/is perfect and this requirement for the animal to be unblemished was, amongst other things, a forerunner to the perfect sacrifice that Jesus would make for all of us on the Cross.

But the Levitical Law, whilst particular was also practical in that Yahweh knew that within the Jewish society established through the ministry of Moses, that there would be some people less well off than others. Therefore the Levitical Law allowed for a sacrifice to be made that was less expensive than the ideal which was usually an ‘expensive’ animal such as a sheep or bull depending on the reason for the sacrifice. And in particular in relation to the sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin the law allowed birds to be used, which from a reading of the Levitical Law shows, would appear to cost less than a sheep or bull. The birds used were inevitably turtle doves or pigeons.
This allowance is important because it shows that one does not have to be rich, famous or even important to gain the forgiveness of sins, but that the forgiveness of sin was available to every strata of person in society. (There is even a grain offering, but for the purposes of this post I am going to concentrate on the birds).

The law of the Old Testament makes it clear that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins, because the life of the sacrificial animal is found in the blood, and so this ‘consession’ to allow birds to be used fulfilled both that requirement and allowed the poor to seek forgiveness of their sins.

The use of birds however was no less stringent in its requirements for the bird to be without blemish than if a more expensive animal was sacrificed, and so quality not quantity is what God was looking for, again a whole study could be done on this aspect, but again, this is not the point of this post and I encourage you to go away and explore that aspect yourself.

So what do we have, we have the Levitical Law that allows those less well off to participate through the use of birds as the sacrifice, and we have Jesus clearing the temple with specific reference made in the Gospel accounts that he rebuked the sellers of pigeons about turning His Fathers house into a den of thieves.

Why then is it not recorded that he told the sellers of lambs? Sheep? Bulls? Or any of the ‘more expensive’ animals that were on offer not to do the same thing. Maybe He did, by its absence we can not conclude conclusively that this did not happen, but what we do know is that it was important that the pigeon sellers were told very specifically.
To be honest I do not know the answer to the question that I am posing, but I have an idea and I think that the reason this is highlighted is because it is God’s subtle way of including everyone in His plan of salvation. The society that Jesus lived in was influenced in varying degrees by the Roman occupation and they suffered from a very strong honour culture. The Jews especially the leaders and religious authorities were described often as a stiff necked people, that is proud and full of self-sufficiency. Jesus challenged the sellers of birds, I think, because it was possibly the lowest common denominator. In deed, Jesus ministry was in the main more inclusive of the outcast, the poor, the sick, the lame, the destitute those that on the whole would only be able to afford a pigeon or dove to sacrifice at Passover. This tiny little detail is consistent with the rest of Jesus ministry and harkens back over hundreds of years to the giving of the law, and projecting forward 2,000 years, teaching us even today that God’s plan of salvation was all inclusive from even before the foundation of the earth. That it is fair and for all, that it is obtainable by all, that it is offered to all.

In addition, for us as believers I think it speaks to us about exploitation. The traders exploited the ‘pilgrims’ by providing over-priced below par animals for the sacrificial practices. This is abhorrent at whatever level it was practiced. But Jesus has a heart for the poor. To know that the poor were being exploited, to know that the meek and mild were been ripped off would rightfully anger Him and it did, we have the record of the clearing of the temple in all four Gospel accounts. That this practice was endorsed by the religious leaders of the day would ‘rub salt in the wound’. The very people who should be protecting the vulnerable of society from such practices were at best turning a blind eye and in some cases probably profiting from it themselves. We as Christian need to take this warning on board. Do we, Do I seek to help, protect the vulnerable people that I come across? Or do I turn an Convenient ‘blind eye’ to their situation, simply because it is easier to do nothing than to do something?

We were challenged this morning about this very thing. How do we see other people, do we see problems? Do we see hassle? Do we see an opportunity to exploit them (heaven forbid)? Or do we see a world that is heading headlong towards hell because it is inconvenient for us to make a guest urge or take an action to help?

Remember from tiny acorns might oaks grow and that small actions no matter how insignificant they might seem can, and do, change peoples lives. We might not all be preachers or teachers of God’s word, we might not all be trained evangelists or think we have the skills to lead someone to Christ, but we all have a heart and mind and through the prompting and leading of the Holy Spirit I believe we can make an impact and instigate change for the better.

So as I challenge myself I challenge you too, when you walk down the road and see beggars or see someone struggling with something , when you speak to your neighbour, work colleague or non-Christian friend, seek God and how He would use you in that situation. In this way I am sure we can all fan the flames of that passion of our first love for Jesus into a roaring fire.

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Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday.

The beginning of Holy Week. Probably the most important week in the Christian calendar. Nay, the most important week in the Christian Calendar. This week we, as believers, should focus our attentions on the things that Christ did for us both on the run up to the events of Maundy Thursday and the events thereafter.

They are events that changed the world forever. Events that to all intents and purposes started on what we call Christmas Day. The day that God became incarnate and was born of Mary. Without Christmas there is no Easter. Without Easter there is no hope. It is through the events of that Passover festival that you and I can become Sons and Daughters of the Most High God. Can I challenge you, and myself, to meditate on that over the coming days.

God, the only God that created the heavens, the starry hosts, the whole of the material world and set the time machine in motion allows us to become Sons and Daughters of Yahweh.

If I am honest it blows my mind. Especially if I think hard about it. “For God so loved the world…………..”

Me a sinner not even aware of my state of sinfulness to begin with until God in His grace shone the light of His Holy Spirit on my sinful nature and showed me my rebellious nature. A nature that I still struggle with today, but one that I have the confidence in Him to know that through His love and grace is changing slowly, maybe, and much slower than it should be changing, but changing it is.

And why?

All because of what Jesus His one and only Son did on the Cross. But even more than that, not only what He did on the cross but what, through His righteousness he was able to do on that Resurrection Sunday morning and rise from the dead. The Passover began to “pass over” on that day because no longer was the blood of lambs required to solve the sin question. Jesus had done it and all we have to do is accept His free gift of salvation by trusting in Him and becoming Sons and Daughters of the Most High God!

Thank God for this time that we erroneously call Easter. It’s not Easter it is the true Passover. It is Resurrection Sunday It is after all salvation for all of mankind!

The Bible Project

Do you get loads of emails from various sites that you may have visited on;y once or twice and you end up entering your email to register with them and either inadvertently or knowingly end up subscribing to a regular email drop? They come daily, weekly, sometimes just irregularly and when these drop into your in-box you think “ah I haven’t seen anything from you for a while”, or, “err, what’s that?” 

I find these things at times a little irrritating, but then I suspect that me just growing up into a grumpy old man.

Anyway, most too the time I end up just going through my emails, because I have dozens of these things landing in my in-box, mostly from American Christian organisations but a few British ones too, and I find I have become de-sensitised to their message or the reason I originally signed up to receive the emails in the first place.

Even those from extremely well respected organisations such as Ravi Zacharias International Ministries or William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith site two excellent sources of apologetics material and probably the world two leading Christian Applogisits alive (heavy hint here, if you want to learn more about why you believe what you believe click on those two links). I still suffer from the syndrome of “familiarity breeding contempt”.

Sometimes it’s just that I don’t have time in my rush here rush there life. The emails come in, and invariably they get ignored or deleted. There is also an issue I have (not a big one mind you, but an issue all the same), with the way that some of these emails ape the world titles like 

  • “the best five ways to keep your congregation engaged”, 
  • “the top seven things pastors should avoid” or 
  • “5 Emotional Intelligence Hacks That Can Immediately Improve Your Leadership”, 

It is all a bit worldy and it’s all a bit “how to win friends and influence people” for my liking, but hey, I digress!
So why this post? I don’t want to come accross as though I am just having a bit of a moan (grumpy old man style) .

What I have realised is that amongst the things that I assign to the dross file, there are a few gems and I think I found one today! Some of you might already have found this but for those of you like me who pretty much live with their proverbial heads in the ground I encourage you to take a look at “The Bible Project”.

Now those astute users of the internet will have realised that that last bit is not a link, which would have been the sensible thing for me to give you given I am encouraging you to take a look at their work. They do have a website and I provide that link for you at the bottom of the page. However the Bible Project is predominantly on YouTube And you can get to their video’s here; The Bible Project. I checked out thir Job video and it is good. There is other stuff on there too that I will let you explore on your own but let me encourage you to take a look and perhaps share with friends, family and people who you are talking to about your faith and about Jesus.

I hope you enjoy!

Homepage of The Bible Project

Embryonic Christians

How do you view the unsaved?

If I am honest, I have a variety of responses to them and the response that I have very much depends upon the judgment that I make when I see them or as I get to know them. Sometimes I have to admit that my reaction is not the best or indeed the most ‘Christian’ response that it should be. You see to varying degrees we all make value judgements about others, and not only the unsaved, but also our brothers and sisters in Christ. I am a long long way from having that attitude of Christ who accepts everyone even the unlovely and I can only pray that day by day I allow Him to give me the grace that I need to be more like Him.

Anyway, the reason why I am writing this is because at the men’s Bible study on Saturday morning (30th April 2016), we did a study based on the story in Mark’s gospel regarding Christ accepting the little children when the disciples was trying to ‘protect Him from them’. It was a good study, contrasting that story with the story of the rich young man that comes immediately After it. It is amazing how through studying in this manner you get really get into the meat of the word and feel really really fed. And it all just adds to the validity and continuity and deep understanding of the Bible and what an amazing book this varying collection of books, letters and oracles really is.

But back to my reason for this post, the un-saved.

As we were closing the study I had this image come to mind that I would like to share and hope that it helps you, if like me you sometimes judge the un-saved thinking them uninterested, un-saveable (how arrogant does that make me?) or simply un-worthy of attention.

The image was one of the un-saved as embryonic Christians. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a believer in the universal salvation of all of mankind, I believe that in order to be saved one has to have a personal living relationship with Christ, and that as a consequence there are those who will choose not to enter into that relationship with Christ and will choose by default the alternative which is an eternity without God.

But there is a sense where everyone born is an embryonic Christian, in that we all have the potential to become Christian’s because God has given us all the opportunity to respond to Him in faith. But as in the natural world of child birth, not all embryonic babies mange to come full term, sad as that is when it happens.

But what of this image? Well those of us who are parents will know and fully understand how protective you are of your un-born child, nestled in the safest place that they can be, it takes 9 months for the baby to grow and develop all of the organs necessary for life outside of the womb. So it is with un-saved people. Remember they are on a journey and we should not repent of any input into their embryonic development that we might have. When you come across a person who is unsaved and they scorn or reject the things you say, it could be that they are right at the beginning of that journey in finding Christ.

I look back on my journey and at the age of 15 my best friend with whom I had held many many discussions and debates with about his faith pretty much admitted that whilst he still prayed for me, he had given up. Not long after my 16th Birthday I came to know Christ myself understanding the input that my friend had given me was a key part of my rationalising and coming to the decision to become a Christian. There were of course other influences and inputs, but you see we can also carry out the smallest act of kindness towards an un-believer and that will stay with them and speak volumes over and above debates and ‘arguments’ about our faith.

So what do I think God was trying to teach me in this picture that was in my mind?

I think it was that my attitude ought to be that of a protective parent, seeking their re-birth, seeking their spiritual birth being nurturing and caring until that day that they are at their full term and are born into His kingdom. And even then it does not stop, because just as new born babies need careful attention, feeding and loving to develop into well balanced adults eventually, so our new-born brothers and sisters need that careful nurturing and loving so that they too can grow spiritually and become mature believers sharing their faith with other people who need to come into the faith.

So rather than looking at the varying mass of people that I come into contact with as un-lovely, un-saveable and even unsavoury, I think I need to adjust my mind-set and see them as vulnerable un-born Christians

Lessons from Speed Cameras

I was driving home the other day, I forget where from but that piece of information is irrelevant to this post so if you agree not to worry about it neither will I. Anyway, I passed one of those yellow boxy speed cameras and thought how many times have I being in the situation where upon approaching such a speed camera I have had need to put my foot on the brake to slow the car down to the regulation speed limit so that I don’t run the risk of seeing that dreaded double flash in my rear view mirror that tells me I will have a £60.00 bill to look forward to in a couple of weeks.

Actually the last time that did happen I was in the car with Karen and we were on our way back from a wedding reception late one Saturday evening. And heading towards Huddersfield town centre from the Wakefield road end, you know that bit where it widens out to a four lane mega highway? I was doing around 40mph and the flash of a speed camera went off. Not that I am making excuses here, but it seems that they have dropped the speed limit to 30mph on that stretch of road and I had not seen the signs or realised that they had dropped the speed limit, so anyway a lovely night out was suddenly marred by those two bright flashes of light! I need not of worried though because unbeknown to me, either the camera was empty of film, or it had just been set to trigger to send any wary speedsters into a rush for their brake pedal to slow the vehicle down (funny how we instantly react to try and put something right the moment we have being caught isn’t it?),

Anyway, turning from my digression to what I originally intended to write about, I passed this particular speed camera, you know that one I mentioned I passed whilst on my way home the other day and it got me thinking when we know the route we are taking we oftentimes, or maybe it’s just me and if so then this is my confession, know where things like the speed cameras are positioned and we adjust our driving so that as we approach them we either let the car slow down till we have passed the danger of the white markings that allow the enforcing authority to work out exactly what speed we were travelling at, or as is the case on the steep road connecting Halifax to Huddersfield, we apply the brake to purposely slow down till danger has passed.

I then got to thinking that the effectiveness of such speeding deterrent looses some of its clout through the aspect of familiarity. You become familiar with a route and you can break the speed limit with aplomb knowing just the right time to slow things down a little.

I have often thought that the speed deterrents used on the motorway through road works is a much more effective way of managing speed control than the isolated speed cameras that are ubiquitously deployed on our road network. You see as you are approaching the road works, there is more often than not a sign that declares not only that there are speed restrictions up ahead but that those speed restrictions are been monitored by “average speed, cameras”. I am sure most of you know what those are, but indulge me whilst I explain. You see unlike the isolated yellow boxy things that are the usual speed deterrence the deployed on our roads, that cover an isolated section of road and catch you out if you drive through above the designated speed limits, the type used on the motorways are much cleverer and they actually measure how long it takes you to get from one set of cameras to the next, then the next, then the next until the last camera where you usually see the national speed limit sign and everyone puts their foot down on the accelerator and speeds up, naturally to the maximum of 70mph. (Ahem).

The point is, that these cameras are spaced out so that if you get to the second one in an earlier time span than the reduced speed limit would allow you too, then you must have broken the speed limit to do so. The vehicle registration recognition software tracks every car that passes through the beady eye of the camera and when you plate is flagged up the system issues a penalty notice and three points on your licence. It all very clever stuff and the health and safety of the workers implementing the road improvements in the road works and the nature of reduced lane widths and the protection of other drivers and their passengers are all good reasons why during road works such speed restrictions are more rigorously enforced.

You see entire stretches of road are protected using this type of speed camera and it prevents the pattern of speeding up, then sudden slowing down that the other form of speed cameras would tend to encourage if they were used. I’m sure like me, you have sat in lines of traffic cruising at a steady 50mph on the motorway because this very clever type of speed camera is present. It makes me wonder why some people don’t get it. I have at time seen other drivers treat these cameras in the same way as the other camera types and they slow down as they approach the average speed camera installation, only to speed up again till the next one. I wonder how many tickets they get doing that?

So what’s the point? Well I’m glad you asked me that!

It got me thinking. How do we as Christians live our lives at times? Are we living our lives like the fist type of camera where we know that Sunday is Gods day and so he will be watching, so we put on our Sunday best, behave, go to church and even do nice things for others, but the rest of the week we, with maybe the odd exception for the evening when there is a small group meeting or other meeting at church, live our lives pretty much they way we want to not paying God much if any regard?

Or do we live our lives like the second speed camera example, where we know that our God is always there, always watching and so we do our best to please Him 24/7?

Of course this analogy breaks down at this point because the presence of the speed cameras in both examples is to catch us doing something wrong and ultimatum to penalise us for getting caught. Thank God, that His presence in our lives is nothing like that at all. Instead He wants to be there 24/7 to encourage us, the help us in times of trouble or pain, to show His continuing love for us, not to berate us or condemn us or to issue the equivalent of a spiritual fixed penalty notice and three points on our licence!

But we can and we do sometimes forget that He is there and we go off and do our own thing, putting our foot down on the accelerator of our lives with scant or no regard to God and it’s then that we run the risk of loosing control and crashing in a spectacular way.

Lessons from a fuel pump

A few days ago I was driving to work on a sunny Monday morning, which was unusual because I usually catch the bus or go into Leeds on the train. But occasionally when Karen is on holiday I get the luxury of a lift into work. On this particular day it had not been planned until the afternoon before. You see West Yorkshire metro have recently introduced a new ticketing system whereby, in theory at least, you can go to a selection of local shops and update your shiny new electronic pass with either a week pass for the bus and train or a month’s worth. Due to Karen and I having been to south Wales on the Friday and Saturday previously I had not had chance to renew my pass over the weekend, but thought nothing of it. I thought it won’t be a problem I’ll pop to one of these local shops to get my top up on the Sunday after church.

Best laid plans and all that, I walked into the local shop and asked for a week’s bus pass on my shiny new electronic pass only to be faced with a blank look by the lad behind the counter.
“Err, I’m not sure how to do that, they haven’t told me how to do it.” Was his stuttered response.
Undeterred I handed him the pass which he duly scanned and from the question he asked it was obvious that had I been trying to top up my electricity or gas meter I would not have had a problem, but the bus pass was just a top-up too far. Deciding that discretion is the better part of valour, and not wanting to loose £22.50 on a transaction that might go pear shaped I retrieved my pass and thought I’ll try somewhere else.

Getting back in the car and explained to Karen my dilemma, she made the suggestion that she take me into work and then I could go to the bus station in Leeds where at least I know what they are doing when it comes to this new-fangled electronic bus and train passes. That seemed like a good idea to me and it meant that I could steal and extra hours kip on that morning as I would not have to get up at silly o’clock to get the 07:02 bus, Always a bonus.

So there we were, something like 9:20 in the morning myself, Karen and Chris and John just pulling onto the M62 at junction 26 hurtling headlong towards Leeds when the engine died on the car!

I thank God that we had left a little later than normal (one of the benefits of flexi-time) and whilst busy, the M62 was not as busy as it would have been had we been an hour earlier. I had to quickly check my rear view mirror and the passenger side door mirror, indicate to the left and pull over to what used to be the hard shoulder, but now with this new multi speed controlled motorway was just another lane, albeit the nearside lane. Again another reason to be grateful to God, there was an ERA (Emergency Rescue Area) near to where the car had decided that it was going to go on strike, so I was able to coast the car into that and we were thankfully able to park up clear of the carriageway.

I have gone into this detail because over the past few days or so I have reflected on the events that led up to this incident and the incident itself and have concluded that God had his hand on us even in this ‘ordinary’ situation. You see, Karen and I had done a 475 mile round trip the previous weekend and what we found out had gone wrong with the car could have gone wrong during our sojourn to South Wales!

Anyway to cut an otherwise longer story than this has already been a little shorter, we were eventually rescued by a Green Flag man, who by the way was of a most generous disposition, offering us chocolate, tuna sandwiches and juice as a form of comfort and refreshment for us (a modern day Samaritan type maybe?), and we were transported eventually to the repair garage where we had purchased the car from earlier this year for it to be repaired.

What our knight in shiny green armour discovered was that we had a major fuel leak somewhere around the fuel pump which of course was not going to be fixable by the road side. So our engine starved of one of its essential nutrients, namely diesel, had taken us as far as it could on fresh air then just died.

There are two analogies which have been wrestling for attention in my mind over this situation (not including the picture of the modern day Good Samaritan, which has just come to mind as I type this). I have not known which one it most relevant or which one to run with for the purposes of this blog post, so I am going to share both with you, and I simply pray and hope that they speak to you in some small way.
Firstly, the engine dying and being starved of diesel is a little like our lives when we stifle the work of The Holy Spirit. I don’t know about you but I suspect if you are anything like me there are cracks in your life, after all none of us are perfect are we? Like our fuel pump which we discovered had developed a crack, the diesel leaked out until there was nothing left. Cracks in our life can be a bit like that with The Holy Spirit. Those cracks are usually identified by sin in our lives, not necessarily those that we are as of yet unaware of, but those that we keep perpetuating through our own force of will. If we keep perpetuating sin in our lives, cracks form and The Holy Spirit is not as effective as He would be otherwise.

The crack in our fuel pump on the car developed because the pump was under pressure. Our lives are under constant pressure and sometimes we crack and when we do we sin. This is something I think we need to guard against and I know in this that I am talking to myself as much as anyone who might read this. I want Jesus to fill me with His Holy Spirit and for the out working of the Holy Spirit to be powerful. You see, if we had realised it, we would have thought something was wrong with the car before it got to the stage of cutting out on us. Why? Because in retrospect we realised that there was not the same power there that there should have been. The right amount of fuel was not getting into the combustion chamber because some of it was leaking out and falling to the floor or evaporating off into the atmosphere. Now, with a new fuel pump on the car we can feel the full benefit of the 149bhp engine that is under the bonnet. I wonder is it like that with the Holy Spirit? Is my walk with God and the influence for good that I have on other people thwarted by the cracks in my life and the Holy Spirt not being allowed to be as effective as would otherwise be the case? Do I project outwards as much of The Holy Spirit that in His Grace, God endows me with? I find myself challenged by that thought.

The second idea that has been swimming around in the maelstrom that is my mind is the thought that something so small could bring such a large powerful vehicle to a standstill and stop it working completely so easily. Now in this I defer to St Paul who in in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 14-31said this:
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honourable we bestow the greater honour, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honour to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way.
Now this passage is often talked about in terms of the local church and rightly so, it gives good advice on the different functions needed to run a local congregation and to encourage everyone in the local congregation to play an active and vital role in sustaining that local congregation. But I think this passage can be applied to the church universal too. We all have a role to play, some are big noisy and obvious roles, many are quiet, sometimes mundane roles, but whatever our role it is vital. Our fuel pump played a vital role in getting fuel in the right quantity and at the right time into the combustion chamber of our car. When it failed to do that, the car stopped!
So my question is what role do you play and if you are not fulfilling that role are you making the car of the Church underperform or in more drastic situations stop altogether? I need to ask myself regularly am I underperforming. I’m afraid to have to admit that often the answer to that question is yes if I am brutally honest with myself, the next question that I should also ask myself is that underperformance due to the first issue I have talked about in this blog. Have I got cracks, are they due to unresolved sin in my life? These questions are painful and difficult to ask and to answer honestly, but if I want God to work powerfully in my life then they are questions that I need to ask and probably ask repeatedly.