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I’m on the toilet – Please advise

July 26, 2014

An older couple finally learned how to send and receive texts on their mobile phones.

The wife, being a romantic at heart, decided one day that she’d send her husband a text while she was out having coffee with a friend. She texted:

If you are sleeping, send me your dreams.
If you are laughing, send me your smile.
If you are eating, send me a bite.
If you are drinking, send me a sip.
If you are crying, send me your tears. I love you.

The husband, being a no-nonsense sort of guy, texted back:

I’m on the toilet.
Please advise.

Thanks Grove Books (

Now, I’ve been teaching about the Holy Spirit, and last Monday I organised a very special Holy Spirit day led by Ian Bentley from St. Mark’s, Oulton Broad, that was informative, challenging, and inspiring. So I obviously wanted to speak about the Holy Spirit today. Then I read that wonderful passage from the end of Romans 8 (Romans 8.26-end). So my prayers up to God, in the Spirit of course, felt very like those lovely verses sent by that wife to her husband: Poetic, warm and full of love.

And what seemed to come back felt more like the husband’s reply – I felt the Spirit saying, ‘Yes – talk about me’ but no great inspiration about what to say!

Then I realised why – he’d already answered. I just had to look back to Romans 8.26: The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. The Spirit had already given me the answer, but in my defence I wasn’t expecting the answer to be almost 2000 years old.

The Holy Spirit wasn’t going to give me nice words to write down. The Spirit wanted me, in my weakness, to spend time with him and let him speak for me. But in my pride, I wanted to say my nice words to my God, my nice words to you, so I was resisting. What a change when I stopped fighting and let the Spirit speak for me with sighs too deep for words. These are perhaps very poor words, but hopefully that of the Spirit will shine through.

That’s what I needed to remember. I needed to know that the Spirit is working in and through me. When I’m not so sure about all that ‘Holy Spirit stuff’, and I’m not being too thick and too stubborn to stop for a moment, then I look for the signs: the signs of the Holy Spirit are simple; even if I feel weak and useless I know that the Spirit is working in me, if: I’m becoming more loving, more forgiving, more patient, kind, with more self-control, when I don’t judge people. That’s what the Spirit of God does in me. That’s what Paul says the Spirit does in anyone that will let him (1 Corinthians 13). The sign of a Spirit filled church is God’s love – shared. Then special gifts and healing and prophecy and all the rest can come. But, to nick Paul’s words again, “without love I am nothing” and without love we are nothing.

I learn that with Love we are ready to receive more from God. With his love in us we are ready to receive gifts of healing, or prophecy or wisdom; we are ready to receive the whole variety of gifts that the Holy Spirit can give.

Then I see the love, and I’m comforted. But, I have a terrible memory and I keep forgetting. So pretty soon I don’t feel good enough again, or I’m afraid. For those times I have made myself memorise Romans 8.28: We know that all things work together for good for those who love God and Romans 3.38-39: I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I read those workds and smile. I read those words and remember that the Spirit seems to cope with me being forgetful. The Holy Spirit reminds me that he will help when I don’t feel good enough. I remember and I give thanks and I try harder: then, especially then, I need the Spirits help again. I’ll explain with a story:

A man dies and goes to heaven. St. Peter meets him says, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”

“Okay,” the man says, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her and loved her deep in my heart.”

“That’s wonderful,” says St.Peter, “that’s worth two points.”

“Two points!?” he says. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my money and service.”

“Terrific!” says St.Peter. “That”s certainly worth a point.”

“One point!?!! Well, I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for the homeless.”

“Fantastic, that”s good for two more points,” he says.

“Two points!?!! Exasperated, the man cries, “I’ll never be good enough to get into heaven.”

“Bingo! 100 points! Come on in!”

Thanks again to Grove Books (

I told that joke against myself. As I said, the Spirit will help when I don’t feel good enough, the Spirit will help me when things get hard. I remember and I give thanks and then I try harder. The Spirit helps and I try harder; I try to take over again. It’s not possible, when I try I get nowhere. I need to let the Spirit help, then surrender more to him. Then things get better and only then.

I need to remember, and surrender to God. To help me remember I prayer a simple prayer which goes something like this: Father, fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit, do what you need to do to make me more like your Son Jesus – Father, help me to let you fill me with your Spirit, in Jesus name. Amen.

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