Posts Tagged ‘prophetic vision’

The Shepherd’s Rod

May 14, 2013

The Bible wonderfully connects the big picture and the detail. God has given us instruction on personal salvation and society. In a Man with  a stickmoment we can be reading about personal choices while gaining insight into the prophetic big picture of the end times!

11 years ago in Alabama I was given a symbolic painted shepherd’s rod. This colourful and not very straight myrtle stick has the 23rd Psalm in pictures and words. Being given this 5 foot pole was not at all on my list of ambitions but God challenged me to take it on my travels around the world. Carrying the colourful rod brings plenty of attention and a good deal of embarrassment. It certainly drove me to focusing on what Psalm 23 actually says in relation to different situations. The image of our Great Shepherd with a mighty Rod seems to me to apply to our personal relationship with him, and also God’s great plan for the nations.

Much of my life is absorbed with the whole matter of church unity and Christians coming together with different perspectives. In Psalm 133 God ‘commands’ a blessing where there is true unity. This now reads to me as an authoritative decree from this strong shepherd with his uncompromising rod of authority. Surely the rod is actually a symbol of the unbending word of God? As I prayed and sang with 32,000 people at the National Day of Prayer and Worship at Wembley Stadium in 2012 I had an awesome sense that the Lord, our Shepherd, was holding his rod over His flock and revealing the Kingdom a little more in our nation. The Shepherd was not looking at denominations, he was looking at his Body!

The first song in the Bible in Genesis 2 is the love song that the first man burst out with when he saw the first woman – perhaps the first wedding song! This personal expression of love is intimate and universal. The last song in the Bible sings of the ultimate fulfilment of God’s plans in the celebration of the Bride being ready for the Groom. At a personal level these songs capture the human story from the natural to eternal salvation for each of us. On a national and social level the fact that God’s plan ends with a wedding should alert us to see that as we approach the end of days, the very issue of marriage is destined to be attacked and distorted.

Another theme which seems to speak to the person and the cosmos at the same time is the idea of ‘crisis and glory’. Psalm 23 reminds us that we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but with no fear, because he is with us. The truth of walking with Jesus is that he is right with us, with His Rod, as we pass through the shadow of death. His glory is present in the crisis. This translates to the global scene in 2013 with the nations in turmoil. Most developed economies are almost overwhelmed with debt and social crisis. Developing nations are battling with poverty and disease. The answer everywhere is to turn to the comfort of the Shepherd and his rod!God's Rod of Authority

The calling of Jesus is personal and intimate. He wants to be the shepherd of each of us on an individual and moment by moment basis. At the same time He is guiding His body to be all that He has called us to be – united, purposeful, strong and faithful. Under His authority we have authority – to deliver individuals from demons, or to speak into our society and national government with the wisdom of the Shepherd.

This article first appeared in Harvest magazine, a publication of Together for the Harvest.

William Roscoe – Good to Great?

May 26, 2011

William Roscoe - looking to the future

Three powerful features link William Roscoe from Liverpool in 1811 to Liverpool in 2011: He had a passion for Liverpool to rise to be the cultural capital of Europe. He was determined to see the end of the slave trade, and he understood the value of communication, arts and business in making a difference in society.

Roscoe came from a humble background, his father a pub owner and market gardener. He started out helping his father but life changed when he was twelve and he bought his first book. This led him on a journey of self education and awareness of the arts. He qualified as a lawyer, wrote poetry and fell in love with the classic arts and in particular Italian art and culture.

Although he became a successful banker and lawyer he held onto his beliefs and values. While he was collecting Italian art he was writing moving poetry and used his poems to challenge the educated classes to think differently. In one poem he saw through the ages to a time when Liverpool might suffer hard times:

“The time may come – O distant be the year – When desolation spreads her empire here, When Trade’s uncertain triumph shall be o’er, And the wave roll neglected on the shore . . . and not one trace of former pride remain”

His passion and determination to see the transatlantic slave trade ended was captured in a 10,000 word poem called ‘The Wrongs of Africa’ captured in these few lines of challenge to British society and Christians:

 Blush ye not,
To boast your equal laws, your just restraints,
Your rights defin’d, your liberties secur’d,
Whilst with an iron hand ye crush to earth
The helpless African; and bid him drink
That cup of sorrow, which yourselves have dash’d
Indignant, from oppression’s fainting grasp?

Roscoe directed his vision and values on many fronts. He was successful in business, promoted the value of parks and the countryside, championed the arts and was active in politics on behalf of the poor and oppressed. He was elected as an MP and spoke for the bill abolishing the slave trade in 1807.

This man sets an example for leadership in 21st century: He was a man of conviction and values, who demonstrated determination in his own education and business development. He was a campaigner for human rights and environmental concerns. He was not afraid to venture into politics and risk making enemies by challenging the status quo. Roscoe understood that greed and abuse of fellow human beings will ultimately be judged by God, and that there is much in this life to enjoy, much more than mere material gain.