Also available as a paperback at feedaread.com and a free ebook on smashwords. "This short story will help us to engage with our own inner voice and to find the courage to find expression for our convictions. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was left with much to ponder. Do actions really speak louder than fine sounding words?" (Mark Hadfield) "Culloden, Scotland, April 1746 All around was the awful sound of moaning. It was not just mournful, but the sound of immense suffering, the cries of dying men. The battle had waged on, and the day was far spent. In dirt and blood, the soldiers waded on. Horizontal rain, snow, and wind made the normal battle conditions much worse. Near the edge of the field I stood holding a gun, pointing it at the lad who had once been my best friend. He was dressed in the red coat of a government soldier; I was not." Angelos opens on the field of Culloden, Scotland, as the legendary battle of 1746 has ended and the wounded Jacobites are being shot or clubbed to death. Davy MacLeod holds a gun to the head of his former friend, Paul Cope, his hands shaking, ready to pull the trigger on this man who betrayed him and delivered his family to death. This man who took even his beloved from him. Revenge seems a foregone conclusion. The trouble is that Davy is a radical, one who does not believe in violence and who has eschewed any form of warfare in the name of God, man, or society. In a Europe torn by religious wars, he identifies with the Anabaptists, the Radical Reformation, people whose teachings spread through ratty pamphlets and stands taken for love and allegiance to the Prince of Peace.
Though the phrase alone gives images of a lonely saviour on a tree, being alone can also be good.
Jesus often was alone in prayer: “At once the Spirit sent [Jesus] out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.”
(Mark 1:12-13) “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
(Mark 1:35) “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
(Luke 5:16) “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them.”
George Fox the founder of the Society of Friends is an example from history of a man who spent alone time. “I fasted much,” Fox says, “walked about in solitary places many days, and often took my Bible, and sat in hollow trees and lonesome places till night came on; and frequently in the night walked mournfully about by myself; for I was a man of sorrows in the time of the first workings of the Lord in me…
Though my exercises and troubles were very great… I was sometimes brought into such
a heavenly joy that I thought I had been in Abraham’s bosom…” For instance, one day when he was walking in solitary prayer he writes, “I was taken up in the love of God… it was opened to me by the eternal light and power and I… clearly saw that all was done and to be done in and by Christ, and how He conquers and destroys this tempter the devil, and all his works…and that all these troubles were good for me.” Scripture says “Be still and know that I am God.”
Let us withdraw at times to pray alone, and remember to be still, and know Him as God.
By David Timothy Holdsworth. The Greatest of These:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (New Testament Community Bible Experience (2011) NIV p26)
In Luke it says a teacher asked how to get eternal life. The answer is put forth: Love God and Love others. Jesus says “do this and you will live”. John says elsewhere “whosoever believeth in Him shall have everlasting life.” So it seems trusting in Jesus and loving Him (and others) are joined to each other. You can’t love Him without true faith in Him and you can’t have true faith in Him without loving Him (and inevitably others and even yourself – all made in His image). Without faith you can’t see God and faith (as James says) without works is dead. If one has true faith there must be evidence. There will be fruit and that fruit is primarily love. We are not saved by works (writes Paul). It is all of Grace through faith but we are saved to do good and demonstrate our love for God. 1 John 4 speaks of the importance of love and how without loving others one can’t say they love God. So not only is faith and love to God connected, but love to God and others is connected also. Love is so important to our faith, indeed all the fruits of the spirit are important…. (Gal 5:22,23 NIV UK)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” So let us draw nigh to God in faith and live life full of love!
Recorded in 2020 by David Timothy Holdsworth. John 1:5 (ESV)
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
Some much needed perspective: Even if there is darkness there is also light. At times we can go from a sense of being optimistic about our species to a complete loss of faith in humanity. Even those we view as good leaders or heroes can and often do fall. Some to a terrible extent inflicting horrible disappointment on many. Yet at the same time I sometimes also share thoughts on original goodness, the divine image. The way we were meant to be before Eden gate. Effectively that of God within us and around us. In truth we need only open our eyes. Disappointed? Consider this the 'good' are also 'bad', but even the 'bad' are sometimes 'good'. A song from years ago also came to mind, Outrageous Grace by Robin Mark. The words are powerful. Definitely worth a look.
A final thought is if you feel your faith in humanity fail, put your faith in God. Because it was never about us anyway. His light never goes out.
At the start of Lent I started reading Tearfund's lent devotional, Alive. The first message spoke into the heart of a sadness I had at the time over humanity being so broken. The message spoke of original goodness, of being made in the divine image and the need to reconnect with the divine vision. Two verses were shared that express much needed hope for humanity.
Genesis 1:27 (ESV)
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." John 1:5 (ESV)
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." Amen and Amen.
Recorded in 2020 By David Timothy Holdsworth. "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." - John 14:1,2 (KJV)
Not being troubled, especially in the middle of a pandemic, seems virtually impossible. But, Christ can comfort us.
I read somewhere that our fear should be an invitation to faith.
A Christian, recently told me of a conversation they had with another Christian about what sounded like a panic attack of sorts. In the midst of this attack of anxiety (which was in reference to the pandemic and fear of death) this other Christian calmly said to them they didn't feel they would get the virus or die, but if that did happen they would enter the prescence of God. A place of perfect peace. Now that is faith!
One thing I will say is that the shadow of death should encourage us all to examine ourselves, to make our calling and election sure. "Am I in Christ?" "Am I following Him well?" If the answer is no to either or both of these then now is the appointed time, now is the day of salvation. Accept Him as Lord and Savior and bear good fruit. Do not delay!
I'm not going to lie, I have struggled with thoughts in relation to death, this pandemic and all kinds of other anxiety. In fact I have a feeling I may have a social anxiety disorder, but still need to confirm that with a professional. So the bottom line is I am no stranger to anxiety. I do get it and understand others who do.
Yet, I recently rediscovered a verse that was so dear to me as a child and as a newly converted soul. The verse says, "Do not let your heart be troubled." It was on the cover of a small tract that I think belonged to my Mum's Granny originally. I still own the tract to this day. I find the words less like a demand, and more like an encouragement. Almost as if Abba is saying, "Come what may I have got you and I have got this. Be still my child, fear not."
I close with another verse:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (v27)
A devotion by David Timothy Holdsworth. One of my favourite superhero quotes is "I hear everything. You wrote that the world doesn't need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one." - Superman in Superman Returns (2006)
Some people say that if bad things happen there is no God. But, bad things happening is exactly the reason there needs to be a God. Someone to redress the balance. There needs to be hope, light and good amidst defeat, darkness and evil.
For Christians this global crisis is as good a time as any to re-acknowledge both our need of, as broken and fallen people who sin, and our hope in, the child born in a manger. Such a humble beginning for the King of Kings. Years after the stable birth His death would be brutal yet redemptive, His resurrection triumphant and hope giving. Soon His return will prove both inevitable and welcome. He is our hope. Blessed be His name!
By David Timothy Holdsworth - Children of Abba: "But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 19:14):
Children of Abba lift your eyes to Him.
He knows our hearts. He is Father. We are sons. Heirs of His grace.
He knows we work hard in trying times. He has known days of toil. Days of labour.
He knows we get burntout at times. He wept over Jerusalem and in the garden. Jesus wept.
He knows our tiny mustard seed faith faulters at times. He knows what it is to be tempted. Yet He endured.
Our childlike hands must join His as He guides us to safety.
Become childlike not childish.
Our weakness will fade like mist as His strength becomes our strength.
Become childlike not childish.
Our Abba, Our Father.
Lift your eyes to Him.
Still Waters by David Timothy Holdsworth (Written during the lockdown of 2020 and recorded in the lockdown of 2021).
One of my favourite verses of recent years has been "Be Still and Know that I Am God." Although it doesn't specifically mention silence I sense that it is implied. How can we hear from God if we never shut up, if we never close out the noise of life, if we never even Sabbath for a few minutes?
We joke that lockdown is a bit like a month of Sabbaths. However, home life is not very silent in general, let alone in lockdown, with one baby and one toddler and the blessing or challenge of demands for attention. I would not change that for the world. I love my wee family and they deserve a Father or Husband who gives them good attention. There is also now a demand for TV from our toddler (which as Wilkerson put it can seem like a sewer running through your living room, I wonder what that makes smart phones for us adults). Then my job as a Support Worker is hardly silent and certainly not that of calm solitude at times. Again it is an essential role and I am grateful to God that I have the provision of a job in such uncertain times. The opportunity to be a keyworker is both anxiety inducing and at the same time an honour.
The church I go to is fairly upbeat, even while online. I love lively Christianity as it is very in keeping with the word Hallelujah, which my wife often reminds me means effectively to make a loud shout unto the Lord. So, again I am greatful for the style of church I'm in.
However, I also deeply love the still, the calm, the silence. This is the place where I find God best as both a contemplative and introvert sort. In a fast paced loud world finding time for silence is a worthwhile challenge. I pray God guides me and all who thirst for it to his still waters.
Even if only for one minute take a moment to be still and know Him as God.