Pascal’s encounter with God

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In the seventeenth century, Blaise Pascal was the genius of his age — mathematician, philosopher, inventor (of the first mechanical calculator), his intellectual contributions are still studied and celebrated today.

When he died, a piece of parchment was discovered, sewn into the breast of his doublet, over his heart. It was his treasure – not gold sovereigns, but a golden experience from which he would never recover.

He had had an encounter with God so profound that the words describing it tumble out like babbling bubbling lovers’ language, not the precise prose of a philosopher and mathematician.

Year of grace 1654, Monday 23 November, feast of St. Clement . . . from about half past ten at night to about half an hour after midnight, FIRE. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude, heartfelt joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ. God of Jesus Christ. ‘My God and .your God.’ . . . Joy, Joy, Joy, tears of joy . . . Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. May I never be separated from him

Simon Ponsonby

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From the book "Amazed by Jesus"

Available on amazon.co.uk*

Available on amazon.com*

Available on amazon.com.au*


Eureka!

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The Greek word is eureka, which conveys immediate joy. Joy is the “emotion of the kingdom ” – joy is the fruit of the Spirit, joy is the overflow of those who find Jesus. When the angels announced Jesus’ birth, they declared ‘joy to the world’ — to truly meet Jesus, to receive his gifts, is to know joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Life is full of hard knocks for most and no one sails through it without stormy seas. For many, life is spent more like Eeyore than in awe, as if we have mistaken haemorrhoid cream for toothpaste.

The medieval mastermind, Thomas Aquinas, once wrote

“Man cannot live without joy — therefore when he is deprived of true spiritual joys, it is necessary that he become addicted to carnal pleasures.”

Simon Ponsonby

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From the book "Amazed by Jesus"

Available on amazon.co.uk*

Available on amazon.com*

Available on amazon.com.au*


Stop wallowing in the shallows

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Tiffany and my boys went to feed the giant koi carp fish in the large pond at the bottom of the garden.

Suddenly Tiffany’s voice interrupted my thoughts, ‘Simon, come quick, there’s a fish in trouble!’ I got up and rushed to the end of the garden and there, stranded in the mud, in a few inches of water, was a massive orange, black and silver carp, gasping for breath, fighting for life. Why it had swum into the shallow end I don’t know; perhaps it had followed some tasty morsel, or perhaps this was a favourite spot in the cool of the day. Whatever the reason, the heatwave and the low water table resulted in drying up the pond to half its usual depth and this noble fish, beached in the shallows, was dying. Trying to wriggle back towards deeper water, this fish only embedded itself in the mud, it was stuck, gills part submerged, for a slow death.

Tiffany and my boys stood appalled at this pathetic sight. I told the boys to quickly bring a dustbin lid and a watering can both of which we had used and were by the gite back door. They ran off and quickly returned with them. Joel poured water on the fish offering it momentary relief, and I stepped into the muddy pond, gently put both my hands under the huge but listless fish, and lifted it onto the dustbin lid. Joel constantly watering it, I carried it on the lid to the deeper end of the pond, where I lowered it back into the water. On the bank, Tiffany and the boys held their breath. The fish lay in the water momentarily motionless, and then suddenly it lunged to life and with a swipe of its tail and a swaggering flash of orange, black and grey, it turned and swam for the deep end. I climbed out, a hero, my family cheering.

Immediately as we headed back to the cottage, the Lord spoke to me.

“The church is like that carp: mature, distinguished, and impressive. But she has left the deep waters. And she is stuck in the mud and slowly suffocating. Momentary relief from the odd Spiritual, watering can of a renewal conference cannot save her. Her only hope is to get back to deep water.”

This was the revelation the Lord had told me in the morning he was going to give me. The church is out of the deep and in the shallows – the river has become a pond and the pond a puddle. And she is straining to breathe, fighting for life.

Simon Ponsonby

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From the book "Amazed by Jesus"

Available on amazon.co.uk*

Available on amazon.com*

Available on amazon.com.au*


The judge’s choice

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Charles Finney, lawyer and evangelist, was speaking in a New York church in the 1830s. At the end of each evening, he gave people the opportunity to come to the front of the room and commit their life to Jesus. A great many lawyers came to hear him. One night, the Chief Justice of New York was sitting way up in the gallery. As he listened to Finney proclaiming the gospel he became convinced it was true.

Then this question came into his mind: ‘Will you go forward like the other ordinary people?’ Something within him made him think that it would be inappropriate to do so, because of his prestigious social position (at the top of the legal hierarchy of New York State). He sat there pondering the choice he had to make. Then he thought, ‘Why not? I am convinced of the truth… why should I not do it like any other person?’

He got up from his seat in the gallery, went down the staircase and came up the stairs at the back to where Finney was preaching. Finney, in the middle of his sermon, felt someone tugging at his jacket. He turned around. The Chief Justice said, ‘Mr Finney, if you will call people forward I will come.’ Finney stopped his talk and said, ‘The Chief Justice says that if I call people forward he will come. I ask you to come forward now.’

The Chief Justice went forward. Almost every lawyer in Rochester, New York, followed him! It is said that 100,000 people were converted in the next twelve months in that area. One person’s choice affected the lives of numerous others.

Life is full of choices. We make choices every day of our lives. You can make bad choices or you can make good choices. Your choices matter. Some choices have life-changing consequences.

Nicky Gumbel - UK Vicar, Alpha Course (1955- )

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Website: https://bibleinoneyear.org/bioy/commentary/4030

The shock of Judges

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Entering the book of Judges is quite a shock. We find a mix of violence, rape, massacre, brutality, deceit and mayhem. We see how the people failed to get a grip on idolatry and sin when they settled in the promised land. Despite God’s warnings, they compromised with the religious and ethical practices of the people around them (2:1–2). Who then became ‘thorns in [their] sides and… a snare to [them]’ (v.3).

Nicky Gumbel - UK Vicar, Alpha Course (1955- )

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Website: https://bibleinoneyear.org/bioy/commentary/4031