The refining and smoothing process

img_1512The smoothing and refining process

If you have ever stood on sharp glass you know just how painful it is. It really has no use or function at all, yet when it has been smoothed and tumbled in the sea for many years it becomes a translucent thing of beauty. Sea glass is a beautiful, rare, sought after treasure which sometimes you come across on our beaches.

I have a beautiful friend who has a very tough health journey. She has lost several people whom she loved deeply and has known the deepest of sorrow. When she found Jesus several years ago he took her on a journey of restoration, because like many of us, she was broken by life and sadness.

Part of her healing journey has been to take long walks along our beautiful coastline. There she started to find small pieces of ‘sea glass’ – glass that has somehow ended up in the sea and has been broken and smoothed down by the constant grinding motion of the tides.  She has started to build up quite a collection of these sea treasures and her story inspired me to write about the painful but also healing process of being refined.

When I became a Christian there were many sharp edges to me. I was prickly, critical, resentful and carried a giant chip on my shoulder. Life had done me wrong and it was everybody else’s fault (or so I thought) I just could not accept that some of my pain was due to my own stupid choices and selfishness.

Ah, but then along came Jesus. And just like that sea glass, he tenderly picked me up and placed me into the tumbler of circumstances. Giant waves, huge rocks and king tides of great strength began to toss me around. But slowly the miracle happened. As the sharpness was chipped away, and as I was tumbled along in the sand along with other sharp and prickly believers, I started to become softer and more mellow. He started a process in order to smooth me out so that I could be a person with a beautiful and refined soul, a treasure in his kingdom.

And like the treasures that my friend picks up on her daily walks, these smooth and refined believers are often quite hard to find. Why? Because it hurts and sometimes it costs you much pain as that protective shell that you have built up in order to cope with your life situation is painfully eroded away. Ouch! Some believers give up and walk away from the process because at times it can be so very  painful. Most of us who are a little smoother and clearer these days can attest that it hurt at times, but oh my dear friends, in retrospect it was worth it.

Ah, but the beauty of that translucent piece of sea glass. Hold it up to the light streaming down from the sky and you will see the softest of glows. Hold it in your hand and it will feel smooth and lovely, a beautiful thing to hold, and something that brings joy to your heart. It has value, it has endured the process and now it is a thing to inspire and bring light into your life.

Are you in the process of being refined and smoothed? If you are, then it is a time to trust in the tide and the sea. It is a time to know that although it is painful and abrasive and at times overwhelming, you are never out of the master craft man’s sight because you are his treasure, his joy and his loved one. He paid so much for you,  you are of great value and worth to him, but as a refined treasure, you are worth even more.

Tenderly he watches and nurtures you through the process of refining you. 1 Peter 5:10 states “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore you, secure you, strengthen you, and establish you.”

And Romans 5: 1 – 5  We have been made right with God because of our faith. So we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through our faith, Christ has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy. And we are very happy because of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory. And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. And this hope will never disappoint us. We know this because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts through the Holy Spirit he gave us.”

So dear friends there is a purpose to the refining and smoothing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We can be held up to the light and be blameless in the eyes of the world because we are emulating our saviour Jesus. We can be soft and gentle in a challenging situation because our sharp edges are smoothed away. And we can rest as an ornament in the heavenly crown of God because of the thing of beauty he has created in us – the reflection of his entire being. We are not refined to become a more beautiful version of ourselves,  but to be carriers of that heavenly light that comes from knowing his heart and responding to that love.

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You’ve been so, so good to me…

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You’ve been so, so good to me

Sometimes you hear a song and it just fully expresses exactly how you feel. That happened to me the other day when by accident I heard Hillsong’s new song ‘Remembrance’. The chorus line is “You’ve been so, so good to me” repeated over several verses. Something inside of me just leapt for joy as I remembered once again what my loving father has bought me though. I cried and as the tears ran down my cheeks they were tears of joy and gratitude that he could take a completely broken down and damaged woman and recreate her brokenness into something beautiful and of eternal value.

As I looked over the past few years of my life I rejoiced as I realised just how much he has repaired and restored me. It is often only in retrospect that we realise what God has done in our lives. Whilst we are going through the hell that we are in, it is sometimes hard to keep perspective, and indeed even to put one foot in front of another, but as the saying goes “when your’e in hell, don’t stay there –  keep walking until you come out the other side”. And the other side is waiting for you. It is.

Today in this very short blog I just want to encourage you that you are loved by him. It might not feel like it, but you are. His word which is complete and utter truth says so.  Just one of the many scriptures confirming this fact is John 3:16 which tells us with great emphasis. “For God SO LOVED the world that he gave his only son, that all who should believe in him would not die, but have eternal life” Say it slowly. Don’t rush over it. God allowed his own child, his own boy,  to die a hellish death because of his love for you. He saw the bigger picture of your eternity with him. He saw the Old Testament pattern of blood sacrifice was not working so he took the person of most value to him – his son, and laid all the sin of the world, past present and future, all of the suffering, the sickness and the misery and his son took it. Jesus took it and all for love of you. You are valued. You are loved. Please don’t forget it.

So, listen to this beautiful song and reflect on how good he is to you. So very, very good to you. He keeps you safe, blesses you, and loves you with a love you cannot fathom He has a home for you in heaven that far surpasses anything you will ever know here on earth. So be blessed, be grateful and move out of the sadness and heaviness you are in. Allow the atmosphere and presence of the Holy Spirit to permeate you with joy and peace today.

turn off that toxic talk

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I have just powerfully been ‘re’ reminded of the huge impact that our words have upon our bodies, our relationships, our destinies and our current circumstances. Toxic talk brings death. There is a reason that the bible says: “out of the abundance of your heart your mouth speaks” Matthew 12:24. Our hearts are where our emotions come from, and fearful circumstances can cause us to speak out loud our fear into the atmosphere. This creates enormous damage into our lives, because we are speaking out death instead of life. “Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21. We then walk around reaping the fruit of those death filled words. Luke 6:45 emphatically states: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” James 3:6 reminds us “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” These are heavy words, but we need to realise the impact of our words before we speak death into our lives and the lives of others.

But we love to talk. We love to talk about our problems, our diagnosis, our relationships, our poverty, our challenges.  We love sympathy and agreements about our problems. And yes, there is a place for sharing our burdens. A faithful friend can be a comfort in times of huge stress, but when we continually focus on what the issue is, then we empower it to such an extent that it becomes bigger than Ben Hur. What we need to do instead, is empower ourselves from a place of hope into a place of faith by putting our trust in the word of God instead. We need to not agree with the enemy and empower him by speaking death, we need to agree with what God says about us and speak his promises instead. By doing this, toxic talk turns into faith talk.


The word of God is power. It is strength. It has the capacity to completely tear down the lies of how you see yourself in your present circumstances. Speaking the word of God over your current circumstances has the ability to completely change the negative outcome of what we are facing. 1 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” We need to equip ourselves with that Ephesians 6 Sword of the spirit which is the word of God. It is our weapon to tear down the words that the world would speak over us.

When we gave our lives to Jesus a transformation took place. We stepped out of one identity of sin that would lead us to death, into a completely new life where we took on the identity and future of Jesus Christ. With his life in us, we became a new creation, and with his spirit living in us, a transformed mind and mouth must speak only what comes from him. If we are truly living and abiding in him, then our words would reflect who he says we are in the situation. We in fact should be his mouthpiece.

However, and its a big however,  I myself have many times had to challenge, it is often easier to slide back into the default mode of self, self pity, self diagnosis and self proclamation when our circumstances are raising their loud and ugly heads, it is easier to agree with the facts but by doing so, we then ignore the truth which supersedes a fact every time. In fact, the spoken word of God is the truth. John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth”. If God’s word is truth, then what he says over our situation trumps whatever our flesh will want to tell us.

It is easier to want the pity of friends, the comfort of your tissues on the couch, the self examination and self recriminations. I have always been one to reach out to people rather than to reach out to him. I/we need to change our tactics. We have always tried to fix ourselves and our circumstances. What would happen if we truly let God take over and frame our status and identity with what is in the word of God

I hear you say, what about that healing that never happened, that marriage that ended, that financial collapse that shattered our lives. I say, because I have been through many of those things, that somehow it made me stronger. It is often in retrospect that we see what God did in our lives in those times of tragedy and pain. The person I am now is a person who has been re crafted and re modelled somewhat by what has happened in my life over the last few years. It is only now that I am seeing growth from the losses and sorrows I have known. Weeping may last for a night, but hey, joy has come bursting through in my morning.

I have known sickness, doubt, loss and family concerns. I have known financial insecurity and deep depression, but a realisation a few years ago that my future lay within the words I spoke has wrought a huge change in my life and circumstances. That does not mean that my life is easy and that there is no stress or pain, it means that I reframe and refocus how I handle things. Will I do it the Karen way or will I do it the Jesus/Karen way? I can tell you now that the Jesus way works best.

Last week I had a big challenge. I was recalled from a mammogram to have further tests. Most of us have an innate fear of cancer and I know that I have. I dug out a little book which has scriptures on healing that you recite three times a day like taking medicine.

I did just that, and each time, my faith grew from the hope I have in him. It is a fact that faith comes by hearing the word of God. My faith grew as I went for the tests. I was still a little nervous, but I felt his peace. I had many friends and my family praying for me. I felt that love. And the result was that I had nothing to worry about. There was no cancer.

Now, I could have spent those days in fear and negative confession, but speaking out the word of God changed the atmosphere within my own being. I felt lighter, more confident and assured of God’s love for me.

I challenge you as I still challenge myself every day. When I say something, am i speaking doubt and death, or am I speaking faith and truth? We do have a choice. Eg. I can look at my bank account. I can say “eek, that is terrible, there is not enough money” or I can say, “thankyou God that you provided all of my needs so abundantly last week, and I know you are going to do the same again this week”. We let it go, we stay in expectation and he provides. He has never let me down yet and he never will. I am confident in that truth because he is a good good father and he loves me, and he loves you more than you will ever comprehend.

This has been a bit of a long blog, but I trust it will help you to reframe, re focus and re think the words you let out of your mouth. Let your words be sweet water and not bitter. Let your words be fuelled by faith and not by fear. Weigh up what your say before you let another toxic word out of your mouth. Let what the word of God says about your identity be the launch pad from which you utter every word you speak.

Get back on your bike!

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It’s the morning of Boxing day 2017. I am walking along the beach and then along the paved area along the seafront. Lots of small children are riding their new scooters and bikes. Dads and mums are holding on, pushing, encouraging, mopping up tears and kissing scraped knees better. But there is a common theme. Even when the child is struggling to balance and stay upright, the parent encourages them to keep trying until they get it – and ‘get it’ they do. Hurtling toward me at a hectic pace I step out of the way as they come at me with increasing velocity. Now full of confidence after the initial tumbles and wobbles, the bike/scooter has become an extension of them and they know how to handle it. They know how to get on, ride it and then stop. It made me think about ourselves. It helps if there is a smooth surface to ride on, and that there are no obstacles in your way to crash into. But once you get your spiritual stride, find your fit and understand your ‘place’ then you have the confidence to soar.

Many of us have had the ‘spiritual wobbles’. I know I have when father God handed me some of the gifts I have in my life. Faith for instance, initially full of confidence and ballast I sailed off on my bike only to come crashing down and lost my confidence. I didn’t want to try again, failing and falling hurt,  but my father God, just like my own dad did when I was little, helped me back up and ran along side me until I was upright and steady – and then he let go  – and suddenly I was soaring, the wind rushing past my ears and my feet pounding the pedals as I surged forward to where I wanted to go. The bike became an extension of me, it got me to where I needed to go and I knew that I could rely on it. It was my tool to achieve what I needed to do.

Likewise our faith, or hope, or any of the spiritual gifts that we are given takes time to become firmly embedded in our spiritual repertoire. I sometimes have very clear ‘word pictures’ which are a word of knowledge or encouragement for others, or perhaps I might move in the gift of prophecy. To do this, I have had to grow in confidence that I am sharing what has been given to me from my heavenly father. I have to know that it is being watered by Holy Spirit and that it is going to encourage the person on the receiving end. But it is something that at times I had the ‘spiritual wobbles’ over. I had lost confidence, was scared I would say the wrong thing, that I was being presumptuous or just ‘making it up’ so doubts made me close it down.

But now, with renewed confidence that God is pushing me along until I have the wind at my back and a smooth surface to ride on, I am starting to step up and out in my role and function as a follower of Jesus. So many of us have been knocked down by ‘friendly fire’ or become collateral damage in the kingdom wars that so often rage against us. But the father, our heavenly father is saying “its time to get back on your bike” Stand up, brush yourself down, take ahold of the handle bars, step over the bike and get up on that seat. Now start peddling until you get your rhythm, Don’t worry about being a bit wobbly, just focus on knowing that you are not alone and as father God lets you go, Holy Spirit will flow alongside you as the wind in your hair and as the speed in your legs. Carry that message, speak that word, encourage that person, make that phone call, hand that person you’re worrying about over to God, take that journey and grow in confidence that he whom you carry close to your heart will guide you every step of the way. You are his beloved. He is your daddy, just like those very human dads I saw this morning. And if they want to love, guide, protect and encourage their children, how much more does your heavenly dad want to do so much more for you.

Matthew 7: 11 “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Joshua 1: 19 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

and

Phillipians 4: 19 “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me”

Now. Where did I park my bike?

Photograph from Google images. Photographer Annie Liebovitz

A year in review

img_0781Looking back on the year 2017

Heavenlyjava readers, I have been very remiss in my blog postings. There are many reasons, and the main one is, I used to stick to a weekly schedule which was quite stressful at times as I felt like I was just writing ‘stuff’ for the sake of it. I’ve had a crazy year of ups and downs, but will resume more regular postings in 2018 which will continue to have that authentic Heavenlyjava vibe, but still be inspired by what God has and is  still teaching me on this journey we all share called – life.

At the beginning of the year I received a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. This was scary as my older sister has it. She actually died earlier this year from complications from RA. However, I decided I was going to fight it with all that is in me, and that I have done, with drastic dietary changes which have benefitted me by reducing the inflammatory markers in my body and healing my gut health. I also lost a large amount of weight, but I also gave up coffee, ironic really when this blog is named after that heavenly beverage. God is on this healing journey with me too, his son died to bring us healing so I am constantly thanking him for the positive changes.

There were challenging moments in my family life too, my grown children faced things that I could only help with motherly support and lots of prayer. There were trips to hospital and other issues to face. My grandchildren thrived, bringing me lots of joy and smiles. My friendships blossomed and I learned once again that a girlfriend’s listening ear in a moment of crisis was like a healing balm.

There were times when I was close to being almost broke and God came through with all sorts of financial blessings. At this very moment I have a very small but thriving cottage industry selling homemade kombucha to friends. I have found money around the house that I have had no idea where it came from. I’ve been taken away on a resort holiday that cost me nothing. God has blessed me through caring friends and family.

I also found a new spiritual home in a smaller church that has a focus I can identify with and become involved in. I still maintain friendships from my old church which continues to flourish and grow. This has bought even more people into my life, so although I live alone with my cat Grace and Jesus, I am still very busy and have a full life. There are morning beach walks, my voluntary job, my part time job, family and friends so I have a very full and busy life – I don’t know how I ever had the time to work full time.

I have been saddened by recent political events which will eventually erode our democracy and religious freedoms in the future. This is a sobering note in what has been a happy and contented year, but I believe that there will be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our broken world. Only this  morning I was reading in the book of Joel that there “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the LORD will soon arrive.”Joel 3:24. So don’t despair my friends. If you have  Jesus in your life you future is assured. If you are still in that valley of indecision, then decide here and now how you will stand. With secular humanism rampant and social and political changes affecting even the babies in our wombs and the infants in our schools, we must be vigilant to stand up for what is right.

So, Heavenlyjava readers across the world. I see in my stats that my blog travels far and wide across our globe. As 2017 draws to a close, I am reminded that we live in amazing times. Even FaceTime on my iPhone means I can see my granddaughter showing me her ballet dancing whilst I’m kilometres away down the road. We hear news, wars and rumours of wars. We hear news that is fake and manufactured. But, if we hold close to the truth that is Jesus, then we will be able to live in discernment and he will keep us safe.

God Bless, Have a joyful Christ focused Christmas and I will see you again in 2018.

Karen

Its time to spring clean your soul

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Its time to spring clean your soul

The weather has really heated up lately, we need rain as the ground is very dry. I’m feeling a lot better after the many winter colds I had so I started to spring clean. I am expecting my little sister for a visit soon, so that was a good reason to tidy up and get rid of the clutter.

As I got stuck into the scrubbing, polishing, dusting and washing, I also gathered up large piles of stuff I was no longer needing in my life. Some went to the bin as it was all broken, other stuff went in a pile to go to the local op shop and some of the better quality stuff I managed to sell on a local sell site.

Looking around my newly tidy space, and as the sun shone upon newly clean and tidy surfaces,  I felt calm and relaxed. With a sense of accomplishment I felt like I could really enjoy the freshness of my living space. And then a heavenlyjava lightbulb moment. Was my soul as tidy as my house? Did it need a bit of a spring clean as well?

Well of course it did. Spring is a season of light and new life. It comes after winter which for many of us, can also symbolise a season of darkness and things standing still. We can feel stale, cluttered in our soul which is the place where our emotions spring from. We may need to clean up and toss out some resentments, forgive some people who have hurt us. We may need to put some attitudes into the bin and wash away some of the grief and feelings of loss we may have when things have not gone the way we planned.

Pull up the blinds. Let the Sonlight in. Let Jesus into your soul. Let him wash away the crustiness, the hurt, the misery and the resentment. Let him help you to carry out that junk to the bin. Let he and the Holy Spirit dance with you around the bonfire as you burn up the piles of stuff you just don’t need.  See those attitudes and harsh old ways of thinking go up in flames. Let go of the self doubt, the judgemental attitudes towards others and the feelings of helplessness.

As you cleanse your soul you will feel a sense of calm and newness. Nothing new agey about it, but asking Jesus and the Holy Spirit in to help you do a spring clean will  give you a renewed sense of purpose and hope towards the future. It will clear the decks for a new beginning.

Now fill up those gleaming empty spaces with joy and purpose. Read the first chapter of Ephesians every morning for a whole week. Speak out those words to yourself as you look in the mirror. Remind yourself of WHO you are and WHOSE you are. Keep on filling yourself up with his word. Throughout the day, keep the dust of resentment or unforgiveness from re-accumulating by speaking out his word. Take Jesus with you. To the shops, to work, in the car and in everything you do. He will help you to stay fresh and full of joy as you abide in him. Because when you abide in him, he abides in you.

For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2: 11-12

Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone. Zechariah 10:1

And as that gentle rain nourishes the seeds of hope you have planted, a new harvest of joy will arise instead of that parched and dry old field of winter. God in his mercy and grace will water the word that you read, his ear will be inclined towards your prayers and he will bring you into a new season of peace and assurance that he is with you in everything that you do.

So what are you waiting for, get out those buckets, mops and brooms and get stuck in right away.

I’ll be happy when…..

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I’ll be happy ‘when’…

How many of us have said those words. “I’ll be happy when…” when I loose weight, when I get well, when I can go to Paris, when I get married, when I have a baby, when I get a job, when I get some money in the bank, when I get a house, when I…well you fill in the gaps. Over the last few years I have written posts like ‘Have you got all your ducks in a row?’ (in the heavenlyjava archives). In it I ask the same question. What is happiness, how  do we get it and more importantly, how do we keep it?

These are big questions, and ones that have no easy answer. A wise man once said “happiness is an illusion, only suffering is real”. What he is saying is that happiness per se is in itself an ephemeral state. It comes lightly and sometimes only stays for  a moment. Think of a butterfly brushing your cheek, the smile of a  baby and the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Our response is a surge of happiness. It’s a buzz. It feels good and we respond with lightness and hope. However, happiness is a bit like that butterfly. It is beautiful, but it may be gone in the next puff of wind. It is something that is not created to last for long so we must enjoy it whilst we can. Happiness is by it’s very nature a transient thing.

Now don’t get put off by this post seeming to be pessimistic and sad. It wont be I promise. I have personally had a winter of great discontent. Illness that would not go away, children and grandchildren all really sick with colds and flu. My oldest sister passed away. My grandson spent a long period of time in hospital. There was a bit of financial hardship and some days seemed quite bleak and dark. That is when I had to draw on my remembrance of a God who loves me personally and passionately. I had to see beyond the walls of my bedroom.

Feeling flat, worn out and exhausted, God seemed far off. Brief stints of happiness would come and go, I had several weekends away and God provided for all of my needs abundantly, but somehow in my pursuit of the transient butterfly of happiness, I had forgotten the deep and abiding joy that comes from sensing the presence of God. Sickness and worry had temporarily blocked the joy input I usually sensed in knowing God was present and personal. Reading the bible became a drag. Praying between bouts of coughing seemed to reach no higher than my cobwebby ceiling. I felt disconnected and discombobulated. I felt bereft and abandoned. I filled the blank spaces with mindless scrolling on social media and between the pages of books about other people’s fictional lives. However nothing seemed to distract be or give me an answer.

Then as I was once again reading the word of God,  I read this. “weeping may last for the night but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). I lay there with my bible open and remembered all of the times God had been faithful and blessed me. I remembered prayers that he had answered, instead of the prayers he is still yet to answer. I made a decision. I was going to change my attitude, not look at the world around me, including the despot with the bad haircut who is wanting to blow up the world, I was going to look beyond prayer that had not been answered in the timing that suited me, beyond sickness and want, beyond struggling relationships and disappointment and I was going to go back to the wells of joy that God had planted in me years before. In fact I was going to lift the lids right off those wells and get those suckers working again.

The wells the world offers are temporary. Like happiness they dry up or move on according to mood and circumstance. But Godly joy is like a rock. It is permanent and abiding. It is the big sister of happiness. It is happiness grown up and being responsible and reliable. It is deep and it is abiding. But we have to search for it and hold onto in spite of circumstances that threaten us. Its is the stillness and the peace after the bubbles of happiness have popped. It is what remains in the aftermath. Kay Warren has written a book called “Choose joy, because happiness is not enough”. She and her husband Rick lost a son to suicide, and being high profile pastors, were under public scrutiny as they grieved. But their deep abiding joy is what has pulled them through this tragedy.

Joy is a decision. It goes beyond feeling and emotions. Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”. It grows us up, toughens us up and helps us to be real in a world going to hell.

Habakuk 3:17

“Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Yes, even when it looks like you’ve lost everything, you still haven’t lost ‘him’ because he said that he will never ever leave us, forsake us or leave us bereft and alone. And God does not lie.

Joy puts iron in our souls. It is a decision, not a whim. It is the result in a deep and abiding  confidence that God has our lives firmly in his grasp, even when the evidence is to the contrary. I choose joy over happiness. Happiness is welcome to visit me as my toes are washed by the waves in my morning walk. I will welcome birds and butterflies into my life as visitors but I will not rely on the for my spiritual wellbeing. Instead I will dig deeply into the wells of my salvation, I will ponder and ponder anew the blessings he has bought me in the past and I will feast on his word in anticipation of it becoming my guidance.

Dear child…a letter from God

IMG_9080You’ve come this far child, and I know it seems that I am far away from you, but I am here right beside you. I never left you and I never will. In fact I love you so much that you are constantly in my thoughts. I see the tears streaming down your cheeks. I feel the anxious and heavy weight of your heart. I see the fear for those you love and I hear your whisper “why won’t this situation change?” I see you with your head in your hands and your faith candle burning low. I see you looking at the situation through heart broken eyes as it worsens and you feel so helpless because you have done all that you can to fix it.

You have prayed, wept, sought counsel and cried out to me. You thought that I was not listening but I was and I still am. You see my little daughter, I can see a far bigger picture than you can. You can only see the situation framed through the lens of your circumstance. This lens is clouded with fear, anxiety and stress because you cannot change the situation. You have striven to do this, so much human effort that you yourself have become the bearer of the burdens, and not given them to me. It takes time to learn that lesson my child, but learn it you must, because I know the beginning from the end and your future and the future of those you love is being closely watched over by myself.

So today precious daughter, precious son, kneel down before me. Not just to worship or to praise as you often do, but allow me to lift that burden off your shoulders. Your future and that of those you love is in my hands and change and transformation is closer than you think, but it begins in your mouth and in your words so that it can grow it in your heart garden of faith. Faith and fear are deadly opposites. You know my enemy well as you have seen him ravage those you love, but he is on a leash my child, and that leash is strangling him and negating his power. I am all powerful and as you resist the fear and speak from faith the situation will change, for I am and always have been, a God of miracles and wonder.

So dry your eyes my little one. Look in the mirror and instead of a child with a tear stained face, see yourself garbed in armour. You look fierce and beautiful my child. You are a warrior woman, a wielder of great and awesome power weaponry. The limbs of evil and the weapons of destruction lie severed at your feet. See that sword? It is my words. Read them, remember them and think on them so they sink deep into your spirit. Speak them out into the darkness and the light will surely come. See that shield? It looks heavy, and it is in your own strength, but because you have been growing your faith in the manure of circumstances it is really strong and mighty in your resistance against the foes of darkness. In fact it is so impregnated with your growing faith that the flaming darts that the enemy sends against you are immediately extinguished.

See that breastplate? It’s your righteousness that comes from you being my own daughter. It is perfectly tailored to your identity. You have my heavenly DNA from being a child of God. See that belt of truth? It’s your inherent knowledge that you are a child of the kingdom of God and that I God am your father. My son Jesus paid a huge price for that truth, and now it is yours, just as he is yours. You are my family and I roar over you like the lion of Judah. When you know the truth it has the power to set you free.  See that helmet? It’s to protect your mind as you realise your true identity as a daughter of the kingdom. Don’t ever take it off, even at night, because you have an enemy that will try to attack you when you are resting and off guard. But never fear, my son Jesus and I are always with you watching over you, as is the third part of my trinity, the gentle and all powerful Holy Spirit.

So daughter, dry you tear stained cheeks and leave it with me once and for all. Do what you can do in your own capacity and then walk away from it. Allow me to work. Know that  I am beside you and within you. I cannot leave you alone because I love you too much. My heartbeat is your heartbeat because I live inside of you. I am your strength. I am your capacity, your burden bearer, your future and I am your hope. Take your eyes off what you can see in front of you and lift them up to me.  I am here. I am not going anywhere and I have collected those tears in a bottle, and your future is already changing for good. I know the plans I have for you, and they are good plans, plans for good and not for evil, and to give you a future and a hope. So call on me, and I will be found because you have searched for me with all of your tender heart.

Love from your Father

Help!!! I’ve lost my password !!!

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I’m sure we have all done it. Gazed dumbly at a computer screen which has those words ‘please enter your password’ after we have logged in, and as much as you try to remember, it just doesn’t come to mind. Then a feeling of panic rises, and you realise that you just cannot access the information you need. You are restricted in accessing your account. Recently I was helping a young man set up his computer, and we needed to also get his iPad set up. Now, I’m an Apple girl these days and usually find it pretty straightforward, because my iTunes password is firmly embedded in my brain – so it works well. However, this young man had multiple variations of passwords, and we ended up locking him out of his account after many tries. Then, I rang the help line (not sure why they call it ‘help’) and I had to know answers to  personal questions which neither he nor I knew. Eek. After many hours of fruitless effort, googling, loss of sleep and deep pondering, I had a brainwave. Ask his father! So I did. He knew it, and almost immediately the iPad was up and functioning as it should be.

It was then that I had a brilliant revelation. Just ask the father. Ask our father in heaven. Ask God. How many times, and I count myself in the number, have we just worked away at things thinking we can sort it out, that we should know what we are doing, and that we should be capable of sorting out or ‘fixing’ something either small or major in our lives. Often only one small piece of information is missing, and so we wander around totally perplexed in our self effort. We don’t seem to have the key or password to get us out to the other side of the situation we are in. So, let’s remember that we do have an answer, someone who knows us so intimately that he has a password for every situation and circumstance. Every situation is different, we are all different, so one size does not always fit all. So we need to ask someone who is so deeply invested in our welfare that we can walk away confident that we will get the answer or breakthrough we need.

Each password for each person and each situation may be different, but we just need to ask our Father “Daddy God what is the password or key for this situation” and he will show us if we have a listening ear. Perhaps it is praise or worship, a particular scripture verse or a revelation of a behaviour we have been indulging in which we need to repent from, or a bad attitude to somebody. But the answer is there. Instead of resorting to good old human effort and human thinking, we have access to all wisdom and knowledge – the father himself. He knows the answer for every situation and circumstance and if we listen intently for his still small voice we will hear him – when we drown out the voices of the world and self effort.

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.  Jeremiah 33:3 (like lost passwords 🙂 )

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119: 105 (he turns the light on)

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8: 32 (freedom comes from his truth)

So it’s an end to striving and self effort. It’s an end to feeling abandoned and alone. It is knowing completely that you are loved by your father in heaven. He is intimately acquainted  with who you are and what your life challenges are.  He’s right there right now and has the key or password for whatever situation you are in at the moment. So take the time to ask him for the answer, he is more than ready to listen because he loves you more than you will ever know. So ask him for the passwords you need at the moment to access your freedom. Selah.

when my heart is overwhelmed

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I’ve been waiting to ‘feel’ super holy and spiritual so that I could post an encouraging blog for you all, but recently at times the word ‘overwhelm’ has been the only hanger I could drape my feelings on. Even through a complete change of diet has helped ease many of the symptoms of this autoimmune disease, the residual fatigue is still horrible. Too tired to do the housework or clean cupboards, I’ve just had to sometimes lie down to rest. And I have a funny relationship with rest. It has always been something you only deserve when you’ve completed your busy schedule.  And here I am literally having to lie down and rest because my body is screaming at me. There is a perfect word for it, and it is ‘Over whelm’. And to tie this to a spiritual context, it is in the bible. My whelm was well and truly ‘overed’. What does it mean? Well it means to completely bury or drown beneath. Like an avalanche or a flood, it swamps you, rendering you pretty much useless, so, I’ve had to become friends with the dust on my blinds and rest.

Ok, what to do about it all. Well, I have to do what you would do if you have a broken leg. You have to rest with plaster on till you can walk again. Then you limp before you walk, so, I am learning to rest. Not just physical rest, but spiritual and emotional rest as well. I have to sometimes lie in bed past six o’clock in the morning and gently ease myself into the day without the power of caffeine which used to be my seductive but evil friend. I have to do most of my busy stuff in the mornings and rest in the afternoons. It is a routine I have developed that I am not going to feel guilty about any more, because it is in rest that we find healing and restoration.

I eat nourishing food to heal my body and do some exercise. I spend time talking to God when I go for a walk and I read his word as often as I can. I realise I am in the enviable position of not having to get up and hold down a job anymore, but it is in learning to switch off the ‘have too’s and should’s’ that pepper our days with unwanted stress and I have to learn to say no to what is not essential and yet still make spaces for the important things. God, self, family and friends.

Psalm 61: 2 puts it so perfectly “From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety,” (NLT) Jesus is our rock, he is our towering rock of safety. Though life and human frailty bring many storms which can so easily overwhelm us, Jesus remains our rock – we can cling to him and know we are safe no matter what life throws at us. The prior verse reminds us that David has made a decision, that he would wait quietly before God because his victory is in him. Not in human power, wealth or political strength but in God alone. If we have our foundations right, then we can confidently rely on God to be our strength in every situation and circumstance. It’s like getting your navigation sorted – the way becomes clearer once you’ve made the decision to rely on God, even in the fog of fear or when the waves of anxiety are towering over us. We know who we are, and ‘whose’ we are, therefore our security is rock solid as we cling to that rock in serenity and peace.

So, overwhelm. I want to be overwhelmed with God’s love and peace. I’m trusting this blog will become more regular as it was in the old days, but I’ll do what I can. I know from talking to friends and family that many of you are going through what seems like hell on earth at times. Others are worn out from the battle, and just want to rest and restore back at the barracks. Others are questioning the amount of ‘busy’ in their lives, being diagnosed with serious health conditions, weeping over collateral damage or painful losses,  or holding together severely fractured relationships. If I can tell you any one thing, it is this. LET IT GO!! Give it back to God as he has massive shoulders to carry your sorrow. Release it, leave it continually with him each time it come back to bite you on the bum. Spend time with God early, as you wake up fill your spirit with an awareness of his beautiful presence so that you can have him orient you throughout your day. And leave it with him. Even if you have to let it go over and over. You will learn. 

Let go of the ‘over whelm’. Let it go and find your place of rest. Cosy up in the arms of your loving father, high on that towering rock be locked into his love for you, and his commitment to your wellbeing. Just trust God, he is far bigger than anything you will ever comprehend this side of eternity. 

Silent heaven

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I was just eating some of my freshly gathered mung bean sprouts for breakfast when I realised something once again. Even when things seem to be dead and lifeless, even when there seems to be no sign of hope, and even when heaven is silent, there is still something happening – even though we do not see it. Hebrews 11 verse one is imprinted on my brain – FAITH is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things NOT SEEN. Faith is a solid thing, full of promise. Take the mung beans for example. They are hard little round beans which I buy from the health food shop, they cannot be consumed in that state – but add the right elements and put them in the right conditions, and they will come to life, to fulfil their purpose, which is to provide life giving enzymes to my body.

Jesus spoke much about the life of the farmer, his parables were effective in using every day things to illustrate the Christian life. John 12:24 reminds us that if a seed does not fall to the ground and be buried, it cannot produce life. Is that happening to you? Are you feeling like a barren wasteland? Is heaven silent to you, though you scream to the skies? Are you feeling like all that you have known is now just still and silent? If the answer is yes, then you are not alone. There is still a kernel of life within you, it is just growing in the darkness, ready to spring up in the right season. Please don’t give up, the spring is closer than you think.

But what can you do in the meantime? The answer is to provide the right conditions for the seeds to grow. Diligently water them when the heat is on, even if it is hard to do so – read the word of God even when it seems like just empty words on a page. It is still nourishing you, even when you feel nothing. Pray, bring in the Son light. Plants need sunshine to flourish, so we need to keep up communication with our sunshine, the Son of God who is Jesus. Maintaining a dialogue even when you cant hear anything keeps the lines of communication open. I include him in everything, even when I don’t hear a word. He has promised that he will never leave me or forsake me, so I just accept that he’s allowing me to be here in this season, and that one day it will end and I will hear his voice once again.

Faith grows in the manure of ‘letting go’. Faith grows when we don’t have to know the reason, hear the voice or see the evidence immediately. When we let go, even though the heavens seem silent, we can still hear the heavens roar out in praise of our wonderful creative father. Go out into nature, hear the seas foam and waves shout, trees will still shelter us with their branches and the skies are still full of the glorious wonder of sunset and sunrise. God is not really silent, the heavens are not really made of steel. He is still there, because he is incapable of abandoning his children. He’s just allowing things to grow, so take a lesson from the humble mung bean, good things come out of silent seasons. New life will come, hope will blossom and joy will once again dance in your spirit. Never give up. He never has and never will. The heavens will not remain silent forever.

There is a beautiful song about God being a good father “your’e a good good father, and I’m loved by you, its who I am”.

Listen to it, and feel his arms around you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HUhBi-XpTI

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Changing the way you think

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We are all given an allotted number of years to live upon this planet. Throughout these years, we are often placed into situations which require us to judge that situation and then make an immediate choice in how we respond. Sometimes there are only a few seconds before we choose how we will process that thought, and then how we will react with words and actions.

Much of my Christian life has been as a victim, not that I really thought I was. However, I would have a thought (usually negative and pessimistic) and that would be it. It would live in my head, affect my thinking, cloud my judgement and eventually affect my words and actions. But I would like to challenge you my dear friends, just because you have a thought, you don’t have to own it, claim it and allow it to occupy mental real estate in your head. You have a choice, I have a choice. We need to challenge every thought that we have and judge whether it is helpful or destructive. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us it can be done as we “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”.

But how do we do that? By reading the word of God and allowing it to permeate into our mental real estate. The word of God has the power to completely transform our thinking (and ultimately our words and actions) if we will allow it to. As we read, allow it to sink in and become part of us. It literally washes our mind clean. Romans 12:2 reminds us to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds by changing the way that we think”, and we can help that to happen by reading what God has told us about that process. Phillipians 4: 8 is very helpful. We need to be aware of what we think about “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” So, if we think of good things, then that will affect our mood, words and actions. But if we think of bad things, that will do the opposite.

Colossians 3:2 advises us to set our minds on things above. When we have a heavenly perspective, then it changes our lens and attitude to everything. Life happens, bad things happen and things we sometimes don’t even understand happen, but we have a choice in how we react. The wonderful thing about having a transformed and renewed mind, is that our reactions to these situations and challenges are influenced in a positive way by what God has for us in that situation. A negative reaction can make us feel flustered, depressed or anxious. The focus has gone from God being there for us with his wisdom and grace, back to us trying to work it out in our own strength.

I’m not writing from the top of my head, I’m still learning every day to make the right choice in how I think. Realising that God loves me, that Jesus died for me, that he will never abandon me and that he has given me wisdom to deal with everything life throws at me is so important. In that spilt second before I decide to plunge into the negative “what if, oh no, I can’t handle this” mental plummet down to despair, I have to quickly remind myself of what I have been equipped with by the word of God. Instead, a thought like “ I can do this because I can do ALL things through Christ, I have his wisdom, I have his peace and I am confident and have full assurance that he will cause all things to work together for good in this situation.” It doesn’t have to be that long winded, even a quick “Help God, help me get your perspective on this” and he will. Because he loves you, and he loves me.

The devil can have access to our thought life if we allow him too, so I would encourage you to put on the full armour of God, and be equipped to challenge negative thinking and confession. I have written much over the years as God has taken me on a long and hard journey to overcome negative thinking. I am not fully there yet, but am well on my way. Having Rheumatoid Arthritis has given me full opportunity to slow down and take stock of my life. I’ve had more time to challenge long held (but wrong) beliefs, and to re work them into a healthier God given way of thinking and speaking. It hasn’t been easy and there is always room for improvement, but I am well on my way. And you can be too, take some time and talk to Jesus today, he is always listening.

I’ve included a recipe for Turmeric Latte

img_1244Make a paste of 2 tsp turmeric powder (organic if possible), a grind of black pepper and a tsp coconut oil. Mix this in with a cup of either milk, (cow, almond milk or coconut milk) and bring to nearly a boil on the stove. Let it quietly simmer and serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon. You might like to add some honey. Really yum, helps me to sleep and is a good inflammation buster.

Are you going through it or GROWing through it?

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Three months ago I said goodbye to Heavenlyjava – my beloved weekly blog of the last two years. I had faithfully posted every week during that time, but somehow my life had come to a full stop. My body was in such pain that performing everyday tasks was difficult. I couldn’t even cuddle my grand babies without pain. Dressing myself made me cry and everyday tasks were very hard. Initially diagnosed with Ross River Virus I was happy knowing that it would end, as it had a shelf life. Then, further investigation revealed that in truth, I had an autoimmune disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disease that had crippled my older sister many years ago. It was at that moment, I had to decide. Would I go through it, or would I GROW through it? Although a hard decision, it was the only decision, I had to GROW through it. I had to find out what it was I was up against, find out what God had to say and find out what I could do about it.

I am a big fan of research so I researched the internet, finding out that certain conditions like a leaky gut and stress could exacerbate this disease. My immune system had gone into hyperdrive and was fighting itself and resulting in swollen painful joints, so I prayed for God’s wisdom in how to go about tackling this mighty challenge. I got myself into God’s presence and just worshipped him. I praised him for his presence and purpose in my life and asked him to heal me and guide me as I read his word and spent time with him. Knowing that he will heal me, I set about finding out what I could do to help myself.

Although a moderately healthy eater, my body was in an acidic state, which means it does not resist disease as well as it should. Add to that the stress of my past years of my working life, and the food choices I was making, no wonder my body was not in an optimal alkaline state – that is, one which resists disease. I love learning and research, so made myself into a detective for my cause. Reading my blood status meant that I could follow the course of the disease going into remission. Much research and information later, I decided to couple the scary drugs I am on along with a gut healing, alkaline producing, probiotic loving eating program to heal my body.

Imagine if you will, a beautiful new car which is treated with contempt. Irregular or non existent servicing, poor quality motor oil, cheap and dirty petrol and a toxic environment. It is not long till your shiny new motor is wrecked and it limps along with no power. Basically that was me. Years of unresolved stress, sugar fixes, cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, bread and cakes had taken its toll. But could the master mechanic do a miracle? Yes He can and he is. I undertook a vegan diet (mostly) and yes it is hard, but decided that I had to kick start my immune system and get my ravaged gut health back into working order. The heavy medication has taken away much of the pain, so I can move more easily and that is such a joy. However my long term goal is to get off that medication as the side effects are worse than the diagnosis.

If you visit me you will see on my verandah bottles of kombucha tea and water kefir brewing and fermenting away. They are easy to make and maintain, and provide a cheap and effective source of probiotics to reline my gut with healthy gut bacteria. I am fermenting my own veggies also. This is easy and it is also cheap. If you have ever bought a course of Inner Health Plus to get rid of the ravages of a course of antibiotics, then you will know how expensive they can be. Also I have added mainly plant food into my diet for its prebiotic effects. Meat has gone bye bye for a while, as has milk,  cheese (weep) and gluten. Whole grains, seeds, nuts and fruit and veggies provide a healthy and non acidic way to heal the body. Ive lost a few kilos, my stomach does not bloat any more and I feel light and energetic (mostly). I do, however still have one cup of coffee a day and am working on getting rid of that too for a while.

Is this forever? I’m not sure, but I know that I want to live to a long and healthy old age. I am scared of Rest homes (they don’t look restful to me) and I want to be fit and functioning to play with my gorgeous grandkids, dig in the garden, swim in the sea and hang with my friends and family. I strongly believe that God gives us keys to order our lives, and reveals ways to look after ourselves. So, I am choosing to GROW through this challenge, and to share my throughts, recipes and challenges with you. I have noticed in recent years that many in our church are getting cancer and others are facing other health challenges. I do not have all the answers, but God certainly has. He’s shown me techniques and information through his wisdom and kindness, and I fully intend to share this on Heavenlyjava. Therefore my blog will start to encompass a few recipes, remedies and health tips as I live and learn and GROW through this challenge. Of course, my love for Jesus, my reliance on the Holy Spirit and my trust in my Heavenly Father God will still be the cornerstone of my writing. Remember what John said in 3 John 1: 2 “Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.” Health, both physically and spiritually is part of who we can be in Christ. So, please join me on my weekly posts and comment, question, suggest and grow. I’d love to see you.

and its ‘Goodbye’ from heavenlyjava

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Hi heavenlyjava readers. I’m going to take a break from writing this blog. It may be for a few weeks, a few months or for good. Every friday for 130 weeks I have posted something to hopefully bless, inspire or encourage you. But right now I am taking some time out to rest while I dig deeper into God whilst I am on the journey I am now on. I’m taking time to rest, recuperate and repair – and I believe I will come out stronger and with even better God inspired words to share with you. It may still be in the heavenlyjava format or it may be completely different. However there are one hundred and thirty posts that will remain on here so you can always go back in and check them out if you need a heavenlyjava fix. So, to the very few friends who have supported and encouraged me, thank you – you know who you are. Its not over till its over.

God Bless.

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16

Karen

The mystery of faith

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Faith is defined as ‘complete trust or confidence in someone or something’. It is both a verb and a noun. It is the name that we give to our actions when we relinquish our own finite source of strength and give it over in complete abandonment to someone who has infinite power and grace. Faith is called ‘the substance’ of things hoped for. Its is called the ‘evidence’ of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) The action of faith is believing and trusting.

We all have some faith in our lives. In spite of whatever drama or issue we are facing, or even if life is just on an even keel, we still believe that the sun will rise and the sun will set every day. America just woke up to a new president and the sun still rose and set. Brexit was supposed to be the end of the world as we know it, but life still went on. We have faith that the air we breathe will fill our lungs and keep us alive. We have faith that if we put a seed in the ground it will grow. Recently when in an aeroplane, I had complete faith that the plane would lift off the ground, and that it would carry me through the sky safely to my destination. I could not tell you how it happens, what the structure of the engine was or how the instrument panel worked, I just relaxed and knew that it would happen. And it did. I arrived safely.

So if having faith is so much part of our ‘normal’ lives, why is it that having faith in God can sometimes be so much of a challenge. We have the certainty of seasons, of night and day and every other event in the world of nature to trust in. It always has been and it always will be till the end of time. Because of the evidence of what we have seen and experienced, then we can be completely confident in the rhythms of our natural world. But aren’t there rhythms of faith?

With God it is a little different. Our total identity and belief in him is initiated by faith. Its a stepping out and forward process.  Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” therefore we see that when we came to Christ and admitted that we needed him, we had enough of a measure of faith to accept that he was bringing us into a transformation. It was a period of transition. And once we know we have him in our lives, the practice of growing in faith helps us to change and to become more like him. We could not manipulate or buy our way into God’s love, we could not do it by ‘works’ or effort. We had to just trust that it was happening and that was the birth of our faith.

We can grow our faith by reading the word of God. Romans 10:17 reminds us that: “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” The Bible is the good news about Jesus. As we read his word and absorb it into our spirits it has the power to transform us. Ephesians 4:23 confirms this “and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds…” As we read the word in faith that it ‘is’ the living word of God, then it washes over us and brings much needed change. It is not something we achieve by reciting a mantra, but by being in ‘faith’ that we are being changed. We may not feel it, we may not have immediate evidence of it – but remember that ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for, THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN’. Therefore we need to be assured that even though the concrete and visible evidence may not be in our here and now, that it is indeed happening. In fact, that is why I have called this blog ‘The mystery of faith’ because faith is pretty much unexplainable and undefinable. It is a trust thing.

This beautiful song by Doxa Theo has the hauntingly beautiful lyrics “we place our hope in things we do not see’ give it a listen and be blessed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY9kMdttrGs

No matter where you are in your faith journey, (because it is a journey) you can be assured that you are being kept as you trust in him. Every tentative step forward, every hesitant footprint placed on the pavement. Every soaring leap and every mile gained. Yes there may be no evidence of him being there, but can you see the air, can you see the wind? Although you cannot see them, you are breathing and you can feel that breeze on your skin. Your’e not working out why and how it happens, you just abandon yourself into accepting that it is there. So with faith in God – it is a mystery because we cannot work it out, manipulate it, put our timing and agenda on it, tweak it, boss it around and demand of it. It’s a relationship and love thing. 2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us “For we live by faith, not by sight” If I know that he loves me and that his promises are true, then I can relax by faith into moving forward.

This is a great quote

“Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, And looks to God alone; Laughs at impossibilities, And cries it shall be done.” ~ Charles Wesley

Well hello there Mrs Crankypants!

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I know it will be hard for you to believe, but over the last week I have been cranky. Yes I know. CRANKY!! In fact I was thinking I should change my name to Mrs Crankypants by deed poll. why? because since returning from holiday my senior status body has been aching all over and I am not sure why. Because I am honest on this blog, yes transparent little old me, and in the quest for authenticity, I am telling all. It’s my blog and if you don’t like it you can lump it as my dear old mum used to say when she gave us stewed liver. My conclusion is, that even Christians get cranky, and as I am even more human than most, then I am feeling cranky. However,  it is not a frivolous whim, my life is fine, its just that my poor old body has packed it in and I am not used to being in pain with every movement. I’ve yelled mean things at the cat, I’ve given slow drivers what could only be called ‘the finger’, I was slightly mean to a young waiter who got my order wrong and I was cranky. I’ve muttered and eye rolled at the telly and I’ve even been a little abrupt with God. Yes cranky. I am ashamed to admit it, I thought I had almost made it to sanctified status but now I’m back on the lower slopes of perfection and still yet to reach the summit. Will I ever get there?

Now I know the “don’t confess negative words” lobby will be boo hooing me in the wings, and the “confess God’s word, don’t admit to the  pain” right wing group will be frowning at me in a positive and constructive way, but hey – it hurts and it makes me feel cranky!!! So how do Christians deal with pain? Do we limp along and grin and bear it and simper sweetly “by Jesus stripes I am healed” at people as we hobble along at a snails pace and drop our purse because it is too heavy and lifting shopping off the shelf makes us wince with pain?  After all we are grace filled, holy spirit anointed and God connected. So how come I’ve lost that lovin’ feelin and its gone gone gone.

That said, I’m on to it, with a good massage from the wonderful Kerry G which left me limping the next day, and with various supplements and stretches and keeping an eye on my diet, I believe I will be OK eventually. However, not sleeping due to pain, not being able to open jars or turn on the coffee machine steam wand and struggling to turn the steering wheel is not much fun. So how do Christians deal with pain? I realise mine will only be temporary, but I know so many people who are in chronic pain – either physical, emotional or spiritually. And I do believe that part of the Salvation package was for us to access healing – so why isn’t it instant? Why do I know people with such chronic illnesses that they are dying, or just unable to function. They love God, they serve him to their best ability. They found him at the cross of Calvary, their lives belong to him – so why lord why?

And the answer is – I don’t know. So I come back to the cross, and all that I do know that is Jesus has never ever left me or abandoned me. In my darkest hours, in my agonised hurts and bawling out to him, somehow he has come in sweetly and mended me again. I look back in humility at what he has done in my life, and sometimes my heart felt appreciation of him only comes from the retrospective realisation that he was there all the time. I’ve never been exempt from suffering and I know most of my readers have not been exempt either. My friend Nina is going through hell nursing her husband through cancer whilst in the most extreme physical pain herself. But although she is the first to admit to the severity of pain, she will always be the first to remember your birthday and to support you in any way she can. She is one of the most loving and non judgemental people I have met. And she is only one of many. So many of my friends suffer with Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and more. And to my selfless friend Jenny who has so much pain in her body, but will drop anything to help me and others when we need her. And how do they do it? Why do they do it? Because of the God love inside them which comes through in their actions to others. It makes me humble It makes me want to apologise for having a whinge as I trust this pain is only temporary, and for many of them, for reasons known to God alone, it is not. And they don’t know why, and I don’t know why, and I wont speculate but this I do declare. That God is faithful, he is good always, he is full of love, he cares for us, he gave his son to die for us, he promises us healing – body, soul and spirit – it is just that for many of us, that is still part of the process and it is still happening. I do know and I profoundly believe, that when we are with him in eternity, all pain will be gone forever. So healing will come. And here my dears is the promise

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelations 21:4

It’s all part of the process

img_7532Process. “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end”

I’m rather jet lagged as I write this blog, so pray it will be relevant and readable. I was thinking about process. Lots of things are processed. Food is often over processed and sadly looses it’s nutrients and becomes like cardboard. Life is a process. We are all in a process to live out our lives. Living has processes, we are processed in queues, we go through processes every day in our life. They are a system, a way of producing/manufacturing or working on something or someone to get a desired result. I think God does that in the nicest possible way.

While in New Zealand, I went to my old church home for the Sunday morning service. I was blessed enough to catch up with the beautiful elderly couple who were my pastors when I was a young eighteen year old coming into the church during a revival. This very ‘straight’ couple at the time embraced the move of God, welcoming all the crazy hippie kids who came in and turned things upside down. They loved us with pure ‘God’ love. They fed us, found us homes to live in, prayed for us, nurtured us and tended to our spiritual growth tenderly and with deep and non judgemental love. They prayed Holy Spirit sanity and healing into drug addled brains. They went into bat for us. And they lost their church for us because the very straight congregation found this huge intake of unruly hippies too hard to handle. Part of their process was that God moved them on into another church where the truth could be taught. These people were part of my process of faith growth.

How amazing it was to sit down and have a cuppa and go down memory lane with them and laugh and reminisce about that very important time in our lives – nearly forty five  years ago. They were a majorly important part of my spiritual process to become the woman I am now, and I am grateful that when I needed a family,  (my parents had thrown me out as they thought I had joined a cult) they embraced me and became like a mother and father to me – complete with roast beef and yorkshire puddings. And nearly half a century later I then sat down with their wonderful daughter who is my contemporary and together we  shared our painful but perfection making memories. Process.

We are all in a state of process. We are born, we live and we die. We do not stand still. Life is not static. From the very moment of conception God has instigated process in our lives. He has created us in his own image and he wants to be part of our lives. Not a great puppet master in the sky pulling the strings, but a loving father who nurtures, guides, encourages and yes – sometimes chastises. Our process is to be found, to identify with him and to discover our meaning and live out our days. Our process floats on gossamer wings when we soar in worship into his presence. Out process also drags its feet and sometimes feels abandoned, isolated and adrift. Our process can feel bleak at times, and at others pulse with such joy that we may feel that we are being called out of our earthly bodies into his presence.

Meeting up with the people who were significant milestone makers in my life made me realise once again how important our mentors and our shepherds are. I was also reminded of how far I had come in my own process, which has gone on in spite of me sometimes fighting the process and walking away from my God and his people for a time. But that choice was even lovingly worked into my ‘process’ as God cleverly and intricately wrought good out of that time of darkness. You see he takes broken and damaged people and restores them to life. The path they are on may seem to be the opposite direction to what you think they need, but they are in their own ‘process’. God is refining and confining us all to be more like him. Not a harsh, dictatorial regime where we become mini despots, but a process where he reveals what is sin and self and then lovingly shows us how to be abandoned to this part of our own process so we can be like him.

Yes process can be painful, but it will ‘perfect’ us. Polished, bevelled edges, satin smooth parts of our life can be instrumental in us encouraging ‘process’ in others, as can the rough and unfinished parts. But process will not end this side of eternity. Whilst we live in our human bodies, there will always be more of the ‘process’ to go through. Finally, the best part of process is that the more he works on us, the more we become like him. Through the refiner’s fire to be his forever.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

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Whenever I am away on holiday, I seem to see things from a slightly different perspective.As my sister drives me around to visit some of our old haunts, I am once again struck by how much we change. We are not confined to our pasts, but they are the places and events that either shaped and nurtured us to get us ready to face our future lives, or they are the places that we could not wait to leave. Thankfully I can look on most of my childhood without regret, because it is what made me the person that I am.

Many of us live in the past, seeing it through rose coloured glasses, yes some things were better then. Food was less complicated and had less nasty stuff done to it. Traffic was slower as the greed of our current society for consuming and ‘owning stuff’ was not so rampant. Yes people stuck in one job for most of their lives, marriages seemed to stay together and kids grew up in one family. However, human nature being what it is, this did not mean that life was totally idyllic, just that the more distasteful or less easily discussed issues were hidden or swept under the carpet. They existed, but were not talked about and you just accepted your lot and got on with it. It is only today that society encourages us to ‘get out our long buried trauma’ and then examine it so we can hopefully move on.

The present is where we all live right now, yet I realise some of us still linger in our ‘past’ but for all intents and purposes we are right here living in this moment of time. This day, this hour, this minute, this milli second will never come again. How am I spending this moment? Am I regretting my past, or am I projecting into my future my belief system for today. I guess what I am trying to say is that we need to be accepting that the moment we live in now needs to be savored and enjoyed. If we can change our response or attitude to negative events or people, then what we project into our ‘tomorrow’ will bring attached blessings and hope.

Growing up shapes our lives, small children become grown adults reflecting what has been planted into their lives. We reap what has been sown. Hebrews 13:8 reminds me of the unchangeable nature of God. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. He is the same, so it is his unchanging nature that provides stability into our lives. He is reliable. Our circumstances may change but we can rely on him being a permanent fixture as he will never ever leave us. Deuteronomy 31:6 is most emphatic about this. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” We can be strong and courageous because he is with us. It is his strength we can rely on. We don’t have to nut it out, get all the answers and over complicate our lives with too many plans.

As I took off in the plane the other day I realised that faith is like being in an aeroplane. You are strapped in, and you don’t really understand how it works, but something unseen and mighty powerful thrusts you into the air from off the ground. The engine provides the power, and we have the engine of faith. We just sit there; not overthinking it, not understanding it, but believing it will happen and it does. We arrive at our destination.  Our world is an uncertain place at times, but the realisation that God was there when we were formed in our mother’s womb, that he was there in our childhood, our teenage years and now in our adult years and he will also be there in our future brings such comfort. He is unchanging. Yesterday, today and tomorrow we can rely on him. He was in our yesterday, he is here right now beside you in your present and he will be with you in all of your tomorrows. Believe him, trust him, not your circumstance and not your fear.

 

 

 

 

 

Going home

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Next week I am going home for a visit. By ‘home’ I mean that I am visiting my childhood homeland of New Zealand for a family wedding. I always think of Christchurch New Zealand as  ‘home’ yet my home is also very much here in Australia.  Trips back to Christchurch always involved certain amounts of nostalgia as I would wander around places that captured certain memories. Hokey Pokey ice cream, lolly cake, the kiwi accent of the people on the street, acres of spring daffodils in Hagley Park, the smell of rain on wet cement and the picture of willow trees drooping their leafy branches into the Avon River while ducks swim past. Yet the memories of my childhood home now remain mostly in my head or in childhood photos as many of the buildings I lived in as a child no longer resemble the homes I grew up in, and other parts of my childhood landscape were obliterated in the Christchurch earthquake. So home is carried in the heart.

As always, when it nears the end of the week I think about what my heavenlyjava blog will be about. I might get a bit of an inkling, a glimmer of words and inspiration or it might be directly sent from heaven. This week I thought about my future home in heaven and it made me ponder on why we all need to have a place that embraces us and accepts us here on earth. It all comes down to being a human need, and also a spiritual one. We all need a place where we fit in, feel safe, where we are accepted and where our identity is embraced as part of a family structure. As small children, when we are born, we generally live in a home which is the place where our parents if we are lucky will nurture us and grow us into good human beings. But this does not always happen.

Sadly, on our planet, many children, teenagers and adults do not have a home. They have been cut adrift from a family structure because of war, poverty, abuse, violence or rejection and must survive with no place to actually belong. I think of the little children living on railway platforms in Agra India. Their daily lives are not about leaving home and performing tasks such as work or learning and then returning to a loving environment that accepts them, but instead they are either forced to, or choose to live the perilous life of being on the street. Homelessness is a huge problem in our society because sadly, the home that is available may not be a place of safety, nurturing and belonging, but instead may be a place of the potential danger of sexual abuse or physical violence.

Home to me is the place where I go to relax and revive. My little home here in Australia is small, but it is filled with my stuff and I feel safe and comfortable here. There is my bed, my books, my mementos, my cat and my coffee machine. All creatures need to have a home. Birds, insects and animals all return somewhere at night (or day if they are nocturnal)  if they can. It’s their place to rest and restore. Its where they breed their young and where they return after a night of hunting. But what of our spiritual home?

Having had many changes of address in my younger years, I used to yearn for somewhere that would be my ‘forever home’. I realise now that I’m a grandma, that home for me is the place where my children are nearby and now also my grandchildren. We were created to live in communities, and so the church is also a place of family and belonging as we are children of God in the family of God. Yet we have also an eternal home to look forward to and I love to think of it. The place where God dwells and we will be with him forever. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2. I love to think that even those who have had no safe home or dwelling upon this earth can still look forward to living in eternity with Father God. He is willing to adopt any person who is an orphan to become part of his family and live with him forever.img_1029

A few years ago a very wealthy woman was boasting of her multi million dollar real estate portfolio which she had amassed through hard work and going without luxuries. When she asked me about my portfolio, I thought of my little rented granny flat and then the answer came “I have heavenly real estate, I have a home in heaven which is waiting for me”. I don’t think she answered.

My point is, that we as a world are in a state of flux and turmoil. Elections, wars, terrorism, changing moral codes, secular humanism and so much more. But we need to remember who our father is, who and where our family are, and where our forever home is. We may live in a mansion here on earth, or in a caravan down at the holiday park – but when Jesus came and told us that he “was going to prepare a place for us, and that he would return to get us” that brings such hope to me. And there are many rooms. There is even one for you.

images from Pinterest

A Psalm for the 21st Century

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I know many Christians get a lot of comfort from the Psalms. One hundred and fifty different expressions of the human experience. For David, he work shopped his pain, depression, loneliness, emotions, fears, abandonment issues, sin and worries through music and poetry. He also wrote songs of praise, worship and thankfulness that still resonate with us today. We are all human but we belong to God – here is my psalm.

A Twenty first Century Psalm

Why God why, when God when…

I look to the skies but there is no light

instead the clouds obscure the sun

The firmament hides you God

… any evidence of your love has gone.

Instead the world is full of guns and hate

and children suffer the undeserved horror of sin.

Why God why, when God when…

Will you bring a revolution of love to this toxic planet?

long have I sought you on my knees and in the darkness of the night

I breath your name and weep for my loved ones.

Are your ears deaf and are your eyes shut to our lament?

When will the cries of your people reach you?

We hear of wars and rumours of wars,

Bomb blasts, black masked men flying flags of death.

The earth shudders and pants out her pain

as greedy men plunder her wealth.

They prosper and smirk as children are exploited and

stricken men go to bed hungry while their children’s bellies bloat with hunger.

The pain is real. I cannot look at their faces.

Social media taunts me. Where is our power? Where is our voice?

Why God why? When God when…

Rich men prosper and exploit the poor.

Corruption empowers kings with hate

and agendas and war deals are fought in the corridors of state.

The third world goes to sleep with an empty belly

and children are trafficked for unloving sex

exposed to disease and despair

and toxic chemicals taint the water they must drink.

Yet the plastic discards of a world of plenty

suffocate the oceans and the land

where once your creation flourished to be our meat and bread.

Why God why? When God when…

But then I remember the words that you spoke

in promises of love and eternity.

The instructions you gave which your people ignored,

over and over again,

yet…

a remnant wept and plead for your grace. And you heard them.

An aching earth cries out for redemption, not just for themselves

but for the countless lost, because only you Oh God

can re write their histories into the book of life.

Because they matter God, and you are Love.

In the steel blue silence of my morning I remember my God

I look beyond the perimeter of the world’s pain and suffering

and I remember that there will  once  more be love

and light returning to our world.

All because of that promise, drenched in blood

and won in the bowels of the earth

snatched from the father of all lies. His power will end.

And then I see the measures of your grace eked out in people’s lives

the newborn baby intricate in pattern, perfected from love

and the growing child nestled safely in your arms. Her hands a flower.

Then there is the knowledge that your army of people is arising

from the east and the west

armed with weapons of a warfare that will bring certain victory

Because we are your warriors God. Equipped. 

It is then that I whisper, I don’t know why, God why…

and I don’t know when God when…

World systems may flourish for a moment, dictators may command death

False Gods may reign for a season,

but God has already penned their destruction.

For he will rise again in terrible power to reign in the world he created for good

So God I leave the why and the when to you,

as media images flash across my screens

as my heart weeps for the world. I turn my tears into prayer words

that ascend to you in the heavens. Like insense.

For you know our beginning and our end.

All power is yours Oh God, your path is clear to those who seek it

and Victory belongs to God alone.

Selah

I give up

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I give up. Today I put my human effort on notice. Today I am going to give up. Today when I am faced with the seemingly insurmountable needs of those I love (and my own) and the crazy state of the world, I am going to deflect every problem, wearying worry, complex issue, impossible person, terrifying situation, massive need, negative whinge, burden of care, unrealistic expectation, passive aggressive comment, unexpected drama and challenging concern. I’m giving them up. I’m relinquishing any grip or hold that they have on me. I’m saying “Sayonara, Hasta La Vista, Adieu, Goodbye, farewell and ta ta” to you all. I give up the role of being Mrs Fixit over my life and the lives of others. I’m giving up taking on, wearing, crying, not sleeping and stewing over the problems of others. I never came into the world to take on people’s problems and to give them a new life. I’m not able to climb on that cross and take on the needs of the world. I cannot and will not bleed and die for you. I don’t need to, because it’s already been done. So I’m going to point you to the one and only solution.  I’m going to hand them over to he who has already done it once and for all. And I will encourage you to do the same. And it was done once and for all and for all time and for people, yesterday today and forever. John 3:16 is the power of pure love. Check it out, soak it in, meditate on it and make it your anthem.

But what I will do is listen. I will listen to you, cry with you, empathise with you, hug you, identify with you, pray with you and believe with  you. But I will not shoulder your burden, because I am only a person and it is not within my power to solve your problems. My strength is finite. My human advice is flawed by worldly logic and past experience. I will help in any way that is practical. I will feed you if I have food and will happily give you my spare coat if I have one. I’ll take you out for a coffee or walk the beach with you. But I will not take on your seemingly impossible life dramas and wear myself out trying to solve them. My life has enough challenges, but I will come along side you and offer you the advice that I give myself. I will point you in the direction of Jesus. And that advice is that we have to give everything, and I mean EVERYTHING back to God to work out in our lives. And that takes practice. So much practice but it is not impossible.

I will encourage you to learn who you are by the reading of his word. Yes I know you are too busy, but stop watching television or zoning out on social media for a moment and do a bible study on who you are in Christ. If  God the father loved you enough to allow his only son to go through the horror of a shocking death on the cross to purchase your freedom, don’t you think you owe him the time to find our how he sees you? He sees you as beloved, chosen, forgiven, perfect and precious. You are SO loved, it’s all there in that precious book called the Bible. I will challenge you to take ten minutes to go through the first chapter of the book of Ephesians and jot down who you really are – not that tired face in the mirror but a beloved child of the living God. Talk back to the problem, remind it who you are and ‘whose you are’. You will find strength I promise.

I will commit to pray for you, but I will not take on your burdens and problems and try to solve them. I am not Jesus. But he will take them on if you pray about them. But once you’ve prayed about them, you have to leave them with him. Relinquish and release. That is how your faith grows my dears. First day you may need to hand them back over to him a hundred times, but by the end of the week, it might only be ten. We learn by perseverance, and as our faith grows, so do our spiritual muscles. It’s a learned process. It’s a discipline but it is doable. Know that if you have shared your challenges, pains or concerns with me, that I will surely also pray for you that God will bring you the result that is needed in your life. I am convinced that everything that I pray for (and that you pray for) is heard by our father in heaven. He’s our daddy after all. His ear is always listening to us so we can be confident that he will hear us. He’s not a monster God who likes to watch us squirm in pain. We need to realise that once we’ve handed the ‘thing’ over, we need to keep doing it until we find peace. I will pray that you find that peace and resolution in your life as I do in mine when we pray in faith and sincere expectation.

So, I give up. Give up trying to fix others and my own situations. I give up the heavy burden of trying to be the wisdom, the solution and the guidance in my own finite strength. God may choose to use me in his goodness to offer good advice or give you a word of knowledge to comfort you, but in the end, we are only people with human solutions. I’ll leave you with two wonderful scriptures that have bought me comfort more times than I can remember. I trust it they will comfort you too as you also ‘give up’ and ‘give it over’ to God.

1 Peter 5: 7 “casting ALL of your care upon him as he CARES for you” (see you’re not meant to carry them)

and

Phillipians 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will KEEP YOUR HEARTS and minds in Christ Jesus”

I’m getting rid of my goat

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I’ve been getting the odd butt from my goat recently. Instead of him being tethered far away in the back paddock minding his own goaty business and keeping the grass short, he’s been hanging around me, getting under my feet, taking up space, tripping me up and  annoying me. No, I’m not loosing the plot and there is no real goat in my back yard, but years ago I heard a sermon, the main guts of it being, “If someone or something is getting on your goat, then you have a goat to be got on”. I’ve had a few recurring skirmishes with the visiting goat, and he’s been hanging around a lot lately, and I’m keen to get rid of him completely. Basically, if there are people, issues or situations that are causing you to loose your peace, that bring stress and disquiet, and clutter up your thinking with negativity and hopelessness, then maybe it is time to get rid of that goat for good.

Things that can get on our goat are expectations, that is, the ones we have placed on others, and the ones that are sometimes placed or forced on us. Expectations to provide material goods or a service or time. There are those which we unwittingly place on others, the expectation of a phone call, a catch up, acknowledgement or some other commitment. When these we place on others are not met, then that can get on our goat. And those that others’ place unwanted on us can really get our goat. Others are bad attitudes, damaged emotions, unforgiveness and you can probably fill in the rest.


But should Christians who are filled with God’s love, washed in the blood of Jesus and filled with the peace of the Holy Spirt even have a goat hanging around. Shouldn’t the goat be goat stew by now? Shouldn’t the horns be a trophy on the wall and the skin be a mat under our feet? Ah no, sadly, even though our old nature is crucified with Christ and we are made new the day we meet him, we still have to walk out our salvation and change of nature as it does not happen overnight. The plan and the blueprint is there – we just have to build the thing. Think of the Israelites in the desert taking forty years to complete an eleven day journey. Remember Rachel Hunter’s iconic 1990’s ad about Pantene shampoo “ it wont happen overnight, but it will happen.” She convinced us with a flick of her shiny well managed tresses. And it’s the same with us, the  promise is there. We just have to persist with the spiritual shampoo. We got born again, but we have to grow up. We have to walk it out, goat and all.

I’ve been a Christian a very long time. Some days I feel that I am flying high in my Christian walk. The birds are singing, the sun is shining and there is a bounce in my step. The bills are paid, the coffee is great and life if filled with purpose and meaning. My ducks are all in a row and I can take on the world and win. But other days I crawl out from under my rock with a sense of dread. I’m irritated by others, tempted to be unkind and judgemental and what is worse, to justify myself by saying that I am only speaking the truth when someone or something gets on my goat. There is the goat, grinning with his yellow teeth and bloodshot eyes and I’m letting it get to me. I’m getting angry, bothered, annoyed, negative, stressed and grumpy. Suddenly there is no awareness of God in the picture, it is instead all ‘self’ – me myself and I. I’ve temporarily severed my lifeline to heaven by taking my eyes off God and placing them onto the situation instead. For this little moment in time the goat has won. I’ve  let down my guard, got angry, bitter, cranky, nasty, judgemental and  worse – I’ve justified it. The goat smirks back and I slink away wondering where all of my holiness has gone. But then I remember…its not all over. I can crawl my way back.

I’m so grateful that the word of God has an answer for everything. Paul was an amazing man – yet he wrestled with his human, sinful nature. He was aware of it, repented of it and did not let it win – although he had stuff getting on with his own personal goat, he did not let the goat win. He describes his wrestle with the goat:

Romans 7: 21 “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” His answer is in verse 25.

But then there is Romans 8. He took on the goat and won. So can we.

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” Romans 8: 1 – 4

And that is it in a nutshell folks. No condemnation. None whatsoever. The goat cannot and will not win. He might annoy, try to upset and make us feel bad. But he is not the boss of us. We can’t do it on our own, but we can with Jesus on our side. The goat will always lurk around to try to convince us that we have not changed, that we are rotten through and through, but we know different. Just look at the above scripture again – verse 3. God DECLARED an END to sin’s control over us by giving us his son Jesus as a sacrifice for us. Take comfort in your wholeness, in his forgiveness and the truth of his powerful word as you return that goat to the back paddock. Re tether him to his post, remind him who is boss, and walk away knowing that every time you put him back in his place, you’re growing stronger in your God walk and the goat’s power is diminishing. No iffs or ‘butts’, get rid of your goat today.

Why we need Connect Groups

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I am sitting on my leafy verandah on a warm spring day with three other women enjoying a beautiful lunch together. We all have different backgrounds, one of us is an African woman who is a mother, grandmother and nurse. We have two Australian women, one who used to be a colleague of mine and who is the mother of four boys, and another woman who is a mother and grandmother and is now retired. I am a Kiwi, and you know my story. We are all different, but something unites us, and it is the love of Jesus. Because of him we each have a story to tell, a testimony of our finding him and how he transformed our lives. We are a connect group, and connect groups are the lifeblood of any church. Why? Because it is a long seven days from Sunday to Sunday. We need that connection with others to help us grow in our faith, share and pray about our challenges, study the Word of God together, and to just have each other’s backs. Connect groups are an antidote to isolation and loneliness. 

I personally am passionate about connect groups.People need people. Nobody dwells successfully in an isolated vacuum. I’ve proven to myself that isolating myself because of offence is pointless. No man is an island. We are all part of community whether we like it or not. God created us to live in community, because community supports, instructs, encourages and loves. There is strength in community. Because we are all so different and are at different stages of our God walk, we can encourage each other, share our challenges, knock a few edges off some of our attitudes and just hang out together.  Something wonderful happens when we get together to pray, chat, read the word and study the word. It is called growth.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”Hebrews 10: 24-25.

Galatians 6:2 reminds us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Many has been the time when I have sat with my connect group and poured out my troubled heart and had them pray for the situation myself or my family were facing. I have had the confidence that they will continue to pray for my need just as I prayerfully lift them up to God in my daily prayer time. I also know that they will not gossip about me, and that what is shared in connect group stays in connect group. Its that confidence in knowing that they have your back, that they care and they are committed to you. A small community of faith that loves and cares for each other. A connect group can be like a family.

Connect groups come in all shapes and sizes, there is a connect group that suits everybody, from adventurous men who want to climb mountains in a group, to young mothers, students, older people, and any mixture in between. Because there are no labels in Christ, the only label we have is that we are his. People may try several groups until they find their fit. Young parents may practically hang with other young parents because it is child friendly. Business people may find a weekly lunch catch up in a cafe suits them best. Others may meet at dawn and pray together on a beach walk. One size does not fit all, and a perfect fit is the connect group where you feel relaxed, spiritually fed, accepted and loved.

Connect groups are not exclusive. They are welcoming, considerate, generous and hospitable. Friendships are formed. You have someone whom you can ring and have coffee with during the week. They are a safe place that is somewhat less challenging than a sunday church meeting to bring a friend who does not know Jesus. They can see that we are normal people, the only difference is that we have Christ living in us, and they can see that they need him too.

Matthew 22: 27 states: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If the world sees the church as just a Sunday thing, and not as a community of believers who are living real lives, then we are not presenting the gospel in a relevant way. That is why when we as a Christian community are vocal, active and pro active members of our society, we can be seen as salt and  light. Real and relevant.  Approachable and human.

I’ve had my connect group in a shopping centre, in a coffee shop and in a home. People may wonder why the women at the table in the cafe are earnestly discussing a bible verse and have their heads bowed in prayer – but hey, it is being a witness, it is stirring a heart and it is showing that we can be public in our worship of Jesus.

If you are not in a connect group, I encourage you to get into one as soon as possible. You are not alone. We as a Christian community are Jesus to one another. We are his hands and his feet. One of my connect group women has bought me around meals when I have been too sick to cook. That is practical love. I know that I can text message them and ask them to pray for a need and they will. And I will do it for them. That is our commitment to one another.  Remember, it is a long seven days from Sunday to Sunday. Find your perfect fit this week and see how being part of a community of believers can help you to grow. 

Are you God’s favourite?

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When I was a little girl I was one of four sisters. Although there were quite a few years between us, we all strived to be the ‘favourite’. That would ensure that we got extra dessert, missed out on jobs like doing the washing up and were basically in mum and dad’s ‘good books’. Sadly I was the one that was seldom the favourite because I was rather naughty (apparently). The only way I could gain favour was to ‘dob in’ a sister, by ensuring that any misdemeanour done by them was always reported very quickly to the highest authority (Dad) and his runner up in authority “just wait till your father gets home,” Mum. No matter what I did, I seemed to fall short of being the temporary favourite. The other girls would preen and gloat, making it an even more bitter pill to swallow.

Indeed I never thought I would be anybody’s favourite. I grew up always feeling insignificant and that I would never be ‘special’ to anyone. In my relationships with men I might feel like the favourite for a while, but because their love source was fallible, I could never truly relax into the belief and knowledge that I was completely loved, adored, accepted and that this would be for ever. It would only last till somebody prettier, funnier and with better legs came along. But that all changed when I met God. It took a long time to actually accept that I was his favourite, but when I finally did, and the penny completely dropped, my sense of trust in him, of belonging and intimate dependance on his love broke down every barrier to believing I was worth loving. For the first time I was loved completely, utterly and without reservation. I didn’t have to earn it, look good, be thin or be perfect to maintain it or ‘dob in’ anyone to get it. It was given freely and completely. To myself and anyone who reached out for it.

You might ask how can ‘everyone’ be God’s favourite? How can he have multiple favourites? Thats a good question, and its simple. Because he is God, that is why. He gives us favour out of a vast and bottomless reservoir of selfless love. A dictionary definition would say it means preference, approval, recommendation, approbation and more. If he can create a huge universe that is still more or less unexplored, then he has the capacity and ability to favour each one of us individually, even to knowing how many hairs are growing on our scalp and that a seemingly insignificant little brown bird called a sparrow has fallen out of it’s nest and died. (Matthew 10: 19-21).

When we take that huge step from our old life and march on through the gates of repentance toward eternity and into our new lives, we arrive brand new because of the transaction of leaving sin and death and all that old stuff that clung to us like stinky rags – we leave it all behind. Suddenly we are special, clean, unique, named, chosen, important, loved and cherished completely and individually on totally different terms from what becoming a favourite in the world entailed. There is no toadying, grasping, big noting or self praise. It is not needed. That John 3:16 transaction cost God plenty, the horrendous drawn out agonising suffering of his only son as he bled out his life as a sacrifice for sin. Thats a whole lot of love there, and it means we have value, we have worth – and all because we cost so much to purchase. That is why we are each and every one his favourite. Its proven by Romans 5:8 “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

So where does that leave us? Feeling smug, loved up, forgiven, bullet proof and super special? Well, yes maybe to a degree. But going deeper it makes me feel cherished and accepted to a depth that I have never known in any human relationship. It makes me know that I really do matter, that nothing I do will cut me off and put me in the bad books, I don’t have to live in fear that making a mistake will leave me rejected, that although my humanity and fallibility will often cause me to stumble my father always has his forgiving arms reaching out to me, I do not have to strive to make amends, that all of my needs will be met, that I am listened to, protected and most of all ‘loved’ unconditionally. I don’t know any human being that can do that. It is just not possible, but God can and does. Do you know deep down inside that you are his ‘favourite?’  Ask him to show you and he will.

Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” I believe he is dancing and singing over us in heaven. Join in the celebration of your favour.

spring cleaning ‘me’

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Spring arrived so sweetly a few days ago. The air is softer and warmer, there is the smell of flowers on the breeze and our native wild life is stirring to life. I always love spring, because it means that the long cold winter is over, and life is starting to stir again. It’s a second chance. Its all fresh, new and invigorating. Hope arrises and I feel the urge to get out and about, fill my home with sunshine, flowers and fresh air, and to get rid of the dust, gloom and smells accumulated over winter. I’m sure that God allows the natural seasons to help us attain our own spiritual rhythm. Summer is the time to get out into the sunlight, swim in the oceans and to walk along our golden beaches.  Autumn sees us harvesting and storing for the long winter months when we batten down the hatches, stay cosy and warm and hibernate for a while. It’s a time to ruminate, ponder and rest. But then along comes spring. Like a beautiful young girl in a floral frock with a bunch of wildflowers in her hands, spring comes bounding across the world. Glorious spring. From the first fragrant spring bulbs peeking through the soil, to the butterflies and bees going crazy amongst the proliferation of spring growth. Spring means life always comes after the cold and darkness of winter.

The Song of Soloman says it beautifully. “For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” Song of Soloman 12: 11 – 12

Spring makes me think of spring cleaning. Getting rid of the clutter and junk that accumulates in dark and hidden corners. Attitudes, fears and hurts. Swishing away the spider webs, mopping up the dust and washing the grime off the windows with the dusters of the Holy Spirit inspired word of God. Cleaning our spiritual windows helps us to see more clearly the road we must take. It makes me think of allowing the light into the dark corners of our lives, exposing our hidden places to the sanitising effect of the ‘Son’ light of Jesus. The light of exposure can hurt a little, our eyes blink unaccustomed to the light, but it also purifies and cleanses, making us more useful to the kingdom of light.

Thoughtfully examining and re examining the useless clutter of sadness, resentments and unforgiveness. Sorting the junk into piles and taking it off to the tip of forgiveness and forgetting to be buried forever under the blood of Jesus. Then there is the dust that accumulates on our unused gifts and abilities. Maybe you have a God given gift or talent that you know you could be sharing with others, but you’ve let it grow dusty and dull from lack of use. You’ve stashed it away in a corner where it quietly reproaches you. Get it out now, clean it up and start using it. Let your light shine. There is somebody out there waiting for the song only you can sing. Sing it for them.

“Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain, from the Lord who makes the storm clouds, and he will give them showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field. “Zechariah 10:1

Spring is a time to make lists, set goals, create a routine and just get up and get going. Get out into the sunlight and soft warm air. Time to learn lessons from the God given parables of nature. Seeing the birds build nests, the snake slither through the grass, the baby animals in the fields, it all reminds me that God is in his heaven, in spite of the destruction mankind is wrecking on our planet. Spring is renewal. The seasons always come around time and time again. There is a cycle abounding on our planet whereby nature survives and restarts in spring. We can also leave behind the hollow where we hibernated and get out into our God given purpose. The lessons of nature show us clearly that there is hope, there is renewal and there is new life. Let spring start to spring forth in your own life this week. Fling wide the curtains, open up the windows, get out into the air and the light. Be Gods garden of joy. Be the fragrance. Be the song and be the bringer of new life.

“For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.” Isaiah 61: 11

where’s my breakthrough?

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So you have prayed and prayed and prayed. You have stayed in faith, you have quoted the right verses, you have smashed negative thoughts, you have dutifully handed it all over daily to your heavenly Father. All of it, all of them – your husband/wife/child/parent/sibling/friend/work situation/finances/physical health challenges/emotional and mental health challenges/your ministry (or lack of)/your lonliness/your isolation/your lack of purpose/your quest for re assurance and for confirmation that it will all be OK in the end. Yet every day you plod wearily through your hours with the burden unresolved. The husband not yet saved, the critically ill child, the rattle in the car’s gearbox, the bills in the mailbox and that sinking feeling in your heart. Where are you God, where is my breakthrough? I have prayed that my husband/wife/child will follow you. I have prayed that my test results will be negative. I prayed for a home for my family and a job to provide for us all. So why isn’t it happening?  Where are you God, and where is the breakthrough you promised me?

I think we have all had those thoughts if we are brutally honest, I know I have battled with a number of them at times, and I have called out to an apparently deaf God, ‘where are you? where is my breakthrough? I need it right now?’ and there has been nothing but a deathly silence. I have now learned in those times, that my impatience, my timing and my human reasoning is not going to sway God to be my personal ‘gofer’. He is God, and his timing is perfect, however that is often not seen until we look backwards after the issue has been dealt with, and the results seen retrospectively.

For me, I have to come back to my faith facts. God loves me, he sent his son Jesus to die for me. I carry the kingdom of God with me, and he could not possibly love me anymore than he does right now. I know that the Holy Spirit is within me, guiding me, comforting me and bringing me into peace. I know that my future is in his hands, and that his promises are true. He cannot and will not lie. He can be trusted. I have also learned that his timing is not my timing, yet it is perfect.  It does not fit in with my plans or agendas. I have prayed the prayer of faith for my unsaved family, and I know that God is faithful and hears and answers prayers. My faith facts are fed by reading and meditating on the word of God, on his promises and on the knowledge that he is faithful. Always and forever, because he loves me – and he loves you too. Its his nature. It is who he is to you and to me.

Breakthrough is overcoming an obstacle. That obstacle may be fear, doubt or just circumstances that look really dire. We can nourish our future breakthrough as I already said by staying in faith, and feeding our faith as we read the word of God and meditating on his promises. I look back at my life, and see that breakthrough has come when I have praised him in spite of my circumstances. Praise builds us up as we spontaneously worship him, confident that he will prevail in our situation. I of my self cannot save my family. I cannot coerce them, bribe them, reason with them or force them. But I can pray. I can speak the word of God over their lives. I can refuse to let negative thoughts take control when circumstances don’t line up with my faith. I can believe even when belief seems impossible.

Psalm 37:4 reminds me to “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” So, be fully engaged in your love walk with him. Talk to him freely, confide in him, give it all over to him – relax in him, abide in him and constantly speak to him especially when the ‘what ifs’ and frightening circumstances come against you. Remind yourself that he is for you, and he is working on your behalf to answer your prayers for your loved ones and you circumstances. Mark 11: 24 is a reminder. “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” However this is conditional as we need to make sure that we are not holding unforgiveness towards others in our hearts.

I think of Hannah in the Old Testament who poured her heart out to God and finally had a son, as did Sarah and Abraham, even when it seemed totally unlikely. God was their breakthrough. Joseph at the bottom of a well, and then in a prison went on the rule Egypt. Daniel, isolated from his people group and faith put God first and his breakthrough into power shook a kingdom. And there are so many more. Paul was a killer and yet he had a breakthrough to become an amazing Apostle of faith. Peter was bound up with religion and questions yet God mightily used him. And the common denominator was God was in their breakthrough. It was HIS timing, it was according to HIS perfect plan for their lives and it resulted in a world changing, people changing gospel that has dynamically been the salt and the light that our world needs so desperately.

So don’t give up on your breakthrough. God already knows, you’ve certainly talked to him enough about it. Don’t give up, stay in faith, keep your confession aligned to the word of God and not your circumstance, realise that it takes time, stay in forgiveness and purity of heart and above all – trust him for his perfect timing, his perfect breaking through and his perfect outcome. He loves you, he couldn’t love you any more and he tenderly cherishes your prayers, he gathers your tears in a bottle and his arms are alway outstretched to comfort and support you as you wait. In your weakness he is your strength.

Help God!

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Some days I feel that I am less than adequate. I don’t have the right advice for someone, I make mistakes, I bumble tasks and don’t complete others. But is being ‘adequate’ the right way to measure my efforts. And for what? and again, for whom? After all I am a grown up, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a sister, a citizen and above all, a Christian. I function well in some situations, but in others I am totally clueless. Perhaps it is a job I have to complete, or a person I want to help which reminds me that I personally don’t have the answer or the ability.  It can be a simple task which is baffling, or dealing with an unknown circumstance where I feel completely out of my depth. Its then that I have to look up and say  “Help God” and do you know what – he is there listening. It doesn’t have to be a long winded prayer, or have lots of free flowing spiritual cadences, it just needs to be heart felt and prayed in faith that God is listening, because he actually is. Proverbs 15: 29 states that God is always listening to us. There are so many bible verses that speak of God’s father heart and his attentive listening ear.

We say: “Please help me God” when we reach the end of our human reasoning, our ability to solve, our ability to help or be wise, our ability to create, control, mend, manipulate, function, think or just to put another step forward in our own human capacity. I am realising that I don’t have to be right, bright, perfect, have the best answer, the wisest solution or even the ‘most spiritual’ bible based answer. I wonder if in being helpless in a situation is actually more supportive or practical when the ‘self ‘ leaves the control tower and the “please help me God” mayday signal is beamed up and outwards to an ever listening God. Because then we are getting the ‘God answer’ and that one, without self, agenda or human reasoning influencing it, is always the perfect answer.

I once wrote a post on here a while ago called ‘No more Mrs Fixit’, because I always felt that if I saw a broken person, relationship or issue then I had to have the perfect answer or solution to fix it. Sometimes I do have some good helpful advice, and other times I have absolutely zilch to offer. Its at times like that I admit that I don’t know what to do, but suggest that we ask for help from heaven, because that is where all the best answers come from.

The Psalmist David was always asking for help. He made a lot of mistakes, he committed adultery and even had an inconvenient person murdered. But he knew that God loved him, and his relationship with God was so sweet, powerful, intimate and immediate, that every Psalm which David wrote echoes with the profound faith that God was there listening and ready to help him in every situation. He was and still is, only a prayer away.

Psalms 38: 21-22  When David was surrounded by his enemies “Do not abandon me, O Lord Do not stand at a distance, my God. Come quickly to help me…” and God did come quickly.

Psalm 86: 6-7  When David  urgently needed help from God, he cried out, confident that when he was in trouble (which was often) God would answer him. “Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry. I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.” David  expected God to hear him, and we can expect God to hear and answer us too.  

We need to nurture and grow that same confidence that we too, even in our own inadequacy and  human weakness can be assured that when we cry out (or even whisper’ “help God”, that immediately God is setting his intervention into motion. We may not see it immediately, but it is a handing over or relinquishing of our ability (or lack of it) and just accepting that it is now in God’s hands as we move on with our day. It may be only later that we realise in retrospect that God did intervene, that by admitting our own lack of ability to fix a situation or to be wise allowed God to do something greater and of deeper spiritual impact. 

So I am grateful that I am inadequate, because my God is more than adequate in every situation, circumstance and life. There is less reliance on self wisdom and knowledge, but a deeper reliance on God imparting his wisdom into our lives. My ‘inadequate’ opportunity reveals his ‘more than adequate’ response. 

The Anxious Christian: Part Two

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I was a little uncertain last week if my blog post ‘The Anxious Christian’ would be well received. Well, it was more than ‘well received’ I was personally thanked by so many for being honest and open. You see there are so many who suffer with Anxiety Disorder out there, and yes – many are Christians. We are not exempt. I received an enormous amount of positive feedback and words of appreciation, so I decided that perhaps there was still more to say on the subject of Anxiety and the Christian. Throughout the week, I jotted down even more strategies that I find effective in dealing with the bouts of Generalised Anxiety Order (GAD) which I still occasionally suffer. Why occasionally? Well, with God’s healing power I am becoming increasingly well and cope a lot better with stress and life. Being a Christ follower has been the major reason for my continuing recovery.

  • Last week I spoke about routine. I love routine. Much of life cannot be controlled, so controlling what you can with routine is helpful to the anxiety sufferer. Routine is great, because it brings some personal control into your life and circumstance. When all is chaos around me, I find that my mind turns to mush and my emotions escalate and I am overwhelmed with panic. To counteract that, I create order and control in small areas of my life. My little home is calm and serene. I feel safe and peaceful there, however if it is messy and full of junk, I feel overwhelmed and anxious until it is all sorted out. There is a spiritual analogy to that. When I feel chaotic with God, detached and distracted, it means I also need to come aside with him and get him to help me take out the garbage and reestablish our relationship. The Holy Spirit likes to be in a calm spiritual atmosphere, he brings calmness and peace with him if we make room for him. A morning routine of a cuppa with bible reading and prayer is a good routine to establish.
  • Next, dealing with the feeling of  ‘overwhelm’. Overwhelm is when its all too much, the noise, the chaos, the din and the ‘have too’s and shoulds’. Once again it is a practice of spiritually distancing yourself from the noise, talking yourself down and filling that chaos with the calming power of the Word of God. Even a short verse like 2 Timothy 1: 7 “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind” silently repeated and mediated upon can still the storm inside. Repeat it ten times, silently if you are in a room full of people, and sense the calm getting rid of the noise. The Holy Spirit is the bringer of peace. Allow him to conquer ‘overwhelm’.
  • Don’t let anxious thoughts spiral out of control. Take them down before they escalate. I have often had visits from the ‘what if’  style anxious thought which is close friends with the ‘catastrophic thinking’ anxious thought. As with all spiritual warfare (because this is warfare, just read Ephesians six) insidious mental sniper attacks can come at any moment when your guard is let down, even momentarily. I would hear an ambulance and think ‘what if that is my son/daughter/grandkids in there, it probably is them, they were out driving, its awful weather, I’m sure its them, oh no, I feel sick, stomach churning, paralysed by fear, I had better ring them…they’re not answering…its gone to message bank…’ you get my drift. I would then believe that it was them, descend into the mental horror of arranging funerals and then get a phone call from them having no idea of what mental hell I had just been too. Thankfully through the sweet and loving Grace of God, I have learned to sternly talk back to the robber of my peace and remind him “my children and grandchildren are protected and safe because they are carried by Grace, bathed in prayer and loved by God”. Of course, things can happen, but being in a state of constant catastrophic thinking is destructive physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.  Im reminded of 2 Corinthians 10:5 where the weapons of our particular warfare are not flesh and blood, but are spiritual and powerful and EFFECTIVE (the Word of God and the Holy Spirit) they are perfect for tearing down false imaginations (fears and worries which escalate out of control) and bringing every thought that is racing, raging and riddled with anxiety into submission, control and obedience to the peaceful sovereignty of Christ. It’s letting our mind know who is boss, allowing our emotional panic to subside and realising that the destructive nature of catastrophic and panic thinking can be managed with consistent practice and prayer.
  • Lastly, a simple one. When feeling anxious, panicked and stressed. When overwhelmed with expectations, concerns, commitments and people, make a list. It sounds over simple, but it works. When your mind is mush because of anxiety, it gives you a practical focus. Make a list of what you need to do. Look at it and decide what is important and methodically work at it, crossing off each task as it is accomplished. I find this works wonderfully with ‘overwhelm’ and ‘have too and should’ situations. I say yes to what can be done, and offer a realistic time frame. I don’t cram myself into other’s expectations. Even small jobs like phone calls can cause the Anxious Christian to waste precious energy and peace struggling with how to manage it all. There is something immediately calming and satisfying when you cross a few things off that list each day.

I trust that what I am writing is helping. I’d love you to check out a man of God who overcame a severe bout of depression and anxiety that left him paralysed on the couch for almost a year. Kris Vallotton from Bethel Church in California has a great word here. It will encourage you.

https://www.facebook.com/kvministries/videos/10153892527158741/

The Anxious Christian

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Now that is a headline that will cause you to stop and think. Can the word ‘Christian’ and the word ‘anxious’ be linked in one sentence? Isn’t it a paradox, a misprint, a misnomer? Aren’t Christians set free from anxiety the moment that they are established into a Kingdom relationship with Jesus?  Aren’t they set free from PTSD, OCDC, depression and every other mental health issue? Aren’t they also set free from addiction to drugs, alcohol and porn? Aren’t they healed from cancer, diabetes, heart disease and every other disease that afflicts mankind? When you look around your church, do you see everybody as robust, healthy, slim, emotionally and mentally well balanced? Probably not, and if not, why not? If Jesus came to set us free from the power of sin and death, and to heal us body soul and spirit, then why are some of the church still suffering from illnesses like anxiety?

Oh, that is such a big question, and one I have asked many times. All I know is that we are saved from sin and our salvation continues body, soul and spirit from there. We are flesh and blood in a spirit filled body. It is a process of transformation. I personally have suffered from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) for the last decade of my life. I have since spoken to and prayed with many other women who are middle aged and beyond, who also suffer this illness. And because it can be an illness that we endeavour to control, keep on top of, hide from others, then it is often not dealt with. So, I’m admitting that I have Anxiety Disorder, but it does not completely have me. Why, because even though it attempts to derail my life, I have found steps and keys to help me grow through it, move past it, partially overcome it and to wrestle it to the ground when it sneaks up behind me and backhands me I can turn around, stare it in the face and tell it to leave me alone, and it does.

Anxiety can come at any time in your life when you are in trauma. I won’t relate mine here, but when you are emotionally, spiritually and physically vulnerable, when you don’t have your spiritual armour on, when your’e disconnected from the body of Christ, when your’e spiritually adrift, or even none of these things, then certain circumstances can cause something inside you to be broken. I am not a medical person, and this is only a short blog, but I want to talk about how I manage anxiety, and not have it ‘manage’ me.

  • Do not feel condemned, weak or useless. Damaged mental health is like any other health issue. It is an illness, and therefore can be treated by medicine and God.
  • Get help. Do not do this on your own. Pray about who to speak to. See your GP and you may need medication or cognitive therapy. Pray with some trusted Christian friends, do NOT isolate yourself. Accept help.
  • Realise you are not weak, and that when well meaning friends roll their eyes and say “snap out of it”  realise that they have no idea of what you are going through. Would they say to you “snap out of your cancer?” No, of course not.
  • Try to maintain a routine. Walk as much as you can in the sunshine, eat healthy food to keep your body well nourished, try not to overdose on caffeine, sugar, cigarettes or alcohol.
  • And trust in the goodness of God. Realise that God loves you, and that he can and will restore you to good health. Maintain your walk with him, pray, read and study his word. Anxiety, like any mental health issue can be in a range from mild and manageable to so severe that you are paralysed with fear. For many years I have had a range of beautiful scriptures from the bible which I have memorised by heart (and carry around written in a notebook for when I am so anxious I cannot think)
  • Avoid possible triggers, or at least prepare for them. Make sure the car has petrol, give yourself plenty of time, look at a map before hand, make a list, take a friend, be prepared, if you tend to ‘catastrophise’ think about what is the worst possible scenario, and talk yourself back from there. Take Jesus with you on that journey.

I will ask Jesus to come into the situation with a simple prayer like this

“My Jesus I am feeling completely paralysed by anxiety right now. I feel fearful and stressed, heart pounding, stomach knotted, ears ringing, I cant think straight, but right now I bring you into this situation (name it) as I have so many times before. You heard me then, and you hear me now. I bring your Holy Spirit Peace right into my body now, I feel it cascading over me, washing this anxiety off me. I feel your peace settling my mind and my heart. My breathing is becoming normal. My heart rate is slowing down, my stomach is unknotting now. Thank you Jesus that you never leave me, or forsake me and you never will”

When you feel calmer, mediate on some scriptures that you have memorised or that you carry with you on your phone or in a notebook: These are just some examples from King David who also suffered anxiety, stress and depression.

Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid I will put my trust in you”

Psalm 94:19 “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

Psalm 32:7 “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

There are so many scriptures on God protecting us from anxiety, fear and worry. Make your own list. Speak them, learn them and carry them around inside you. Polish them up as effective swords to pierce the heart of the enemy. Talk back to the anxiety when it happens. This is only a short blog post, but I want to encourage you that anxiety in my life has lessened (though not completely gone). I rely strongly and completely on God to protect me and guide me through my life. Stresses, triggers and world events will continue to happen, but there is something happening inside of me that has helped me to cope better with these. I rely totally upon my God and my Saviour Jesus. He made me, and as he walks beside me through life, I have the awareness that he is with me in the events that cause anxiety. In quietness, in stillness, in bringing him into your full blown anxiety attack, your reliance on him becomes stronger, deeper and all consuming. Trust in him, he will help you – his nature is love. He will see you through.

All you need is love

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The power of true authentic love trumps hate every time. Yet we have an entire planet which is being assaulted by an ever increasing onslaught of hate. Detestable crimes against the innocent, cruel and heartless wars, hateful religious mania resulting in random acts of terrorism, selfish greed, evil manipulation and control. All are motivated by hate and not by love. Hate is the absence of love. Hate is the direct antitheses of love. Hate spawns hate and haters compelled to destroy love. Love does the direct opposite. Love gives birth to love which creates lovers who desire to restore relationship and nurture beauty. But how do we gain access to the true source of love so we can be lovers and not haters? How do we wrestle that darkness out of our hearts?

We have to first recognise that we need to find out how to love and then go directly to that source of love, God himself for he is love. “But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8. God is love and he is motivated by love. Of course any human being is capable of a type of love, parents generally love their children, couples usually love each other. Friends love each other and this regard is the basis of our society encompassing values like consideration, kindness, generosity, compassion and many more. Love is like sunshine, it warms and comforts, befriends and protects. Yet human love in its own capacity is finite. We can only love others if our we have a genuine love for ourselves. I  do not mean of course selfish egocentric love, but a valid self respect and fondness for the person that we are – warts and all, because of course none of us is perfect, we have that realisation that the ability to love is affected by tiredness, emotions and stress. When we are connected into the love of God, it is a growing outworking of that perfect love that transforms us, it cannot be created or maintained by human will alone.

When people chose to be cut off from the source of all love, they need to be anchored back into the family of God, as Romans 5:8 puts it so well, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” therefore, because Jesus made that way possible by the cross, we have full access to forgiveness and the love of God can and will abide in us. Nurturing and growing that love, walking in it and acting in it is entirely possible because as Galatians 2:20 states  “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” we are not on our own with an impossible task ahead, as we identify our need for God’s love, and resist our hate filled natures through his strength, our faith grows and the more room we give God to live in us and through us, the more we are able to love others. We are exchanging weakness for strength, darkness for light and hate into love as we walk out our salvation.

So what do we do with the love that God gives us? Do we hoard it up and be selfish with whomever we choose to dole it out to? Can we be exclusive and only love loveable people? No, that would be easier but the real test is when we can love those we would not be able to love with our own love. Love isn’t given to us to make us feel cosy and loved up. No, love is given to us so we can love others. All others! It is an action plan which has great benefits for those who do it. John 13:34-35  reminds us “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” So there you have it. We are so deeply loved by God that he chose to overlook our sin and misdemeanours and make his own son Jesus to be the forever available scapegoat sacrifice for all time, so that all men and women throughout the ages right until the dawn of eternity can know the transforming power of that love and therefore love others because of it. We will be known as his disciples, as carriers of perfect love when we show that love to those who need it most. In a world which is soaking in misery and pain, where secular humanism and political correctness hold reign, let us as Christians be the carriers of light and life and love into the darkness.

“the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” John 1:5

So…do not take offence

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I woke up to a gorgeous sunny morning in the middle of winter with birds singing and Julie Andrews scampering up a daisy strewn hillside in her sparkling white apron and bowl haircut to sing ‘the hills are alive’. I made my coffee and cooked some porridge after I had spent time reading my Bible and chatting to God. Every thing was good. I had a productive day planned and it was all going well until I opened a message on my phone. Suddenly my gut was churning, I felt tense and anxious, irritated, indignant and upset. I was being asked to lessen my input into a particular task that I had fought hard to become part of. Instantly I had a choice. To get angry, let my blood boil, become self righteous and indignant, have a self indulgent pity party and then invite some friends to commiserate, or, and it is a mighty big OR, I could decide to immediately give it to God and not take offence. It was my choice. I had to choose.

Why? Because offence taken is one of the biggest reasons that churches split or lose members, why friendships disintegrate or relationships shatter. Offences, both imagined and real chip away at our self hood, our identity, our pride  and our self esteem. We sometimes base our identity on how we are perceived and known in the communities in which we live. But is this healthy? No, because offence wounds the ‘self’ it upsets emotions and the repercussions can make us isolate ourselves from those who ‘don’t’ get us’ or those ‘who hurt us’. We need to be repaired so offences do not hurt us, we cannot grow whilst that chink in our armour harbours a potentially weeping wound.

I am glad to say I eventually chose to let it go, even though it took a lot of praying. Throughout my morning it kept nipping at my heels like a snappy little sharp toothed terrier. But having wrestled my hurt emotions and bruised dignity down in my spirit, it finally filtered down into my emotions and eventually I found peace. I forgave the people concerned who probably did not even realise that their request would upset sensitive little old me, and moved on with my day. But it took some doing – me initially being willing to forgive and get God’s help to let it go, and then allowing God to mend something that in me still occasionally has the potential to react from offences given.

The word of God has a lot to say about offence. Basically it tells us to not hold onto it, and not to give it. Proverb 18: 9 makes me smile. “A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city…” Offended people get a grim look about them. Ruffled feathers reflect a ruffled demeanour. They are just waiting for others to commiserate with “poor you, how dare they”. Likewise Proverbs 19:12 “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offence.” It takes maturity and spiritual growth to look past agendas, personalities, egos and self promotion.

My conclusion? Offences will come. We are all human. I probably offend others sometime and I pray that if that is so, I will learn to hold my tongue and keep my thoughts to myself. Likewise, the possibility exists that I will get offended again, sooner rather than later. What I really love is that this time,  I gained a small victory in that I did not allow the self pitying stewing time to be prolonged. I felt the pain and the rejection, spent ten minutes having a bit of a spew about it, and then decided that I was not going to let it ruin my day. I immediately prayed and forgave the person, who as I said probably had no idea that I would be hurt and they were probably following orders, I sang and praised God even as I still felt my feathers were ruffled, but I did not give up. I sang and praised God in my car, much to the amusement of the people mending my road, and within an hour or so, my spiritual equilibrium was fully restored. It tried to resist several times and I just ignored it and it finally went off with it’s little forked tail between it’s legs. Hasta la Vista baby.

Self examination is critical when offended. My best advice is  God advice. Forgive, forget and move on. Wounded, bitter, offended Christians gather in enclaves and rehash old wounds and offences. That is not the bible way. As Queen Elsa sings “let it go, let it go…” and get your peace back.

Pokemon Go, terrorist attacks and ‘the death to life’ plan

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Sitting in the sunshine after a cold winter’s night, watching people more engaged in the imaginary world of Pokemon Go than the reality of the world that they are actually existing in, others pushing baby strollers loaded up with the generation of the future and yet others doing the fitness thing to make themselves live longer made me ponder. What is life and living all about? How can we be confident that we even have a ‘tomorrow’ to move forward into?

Then walking along our local marina which was badly damaged in a recent storm, made me think about the idea of certainty, and what things we can be certain of.  In the nearly two years that I have written this blog, much water has passed under many bridges. Some doors have opened wide and some have slammed shut very loudly. Babies have been born, friends have died, and others are still involved in every part of the living process that happens in between. Even today, there is news of yet another terrorist attack with many people killed, people like you and I who were just out doing their daily routine. They thought they would be going home tonight, but some wont be. And they probably never said goodbye to those they love. Maybe they left feeling angry or with unresolved issues. Now the words of reconciliation will never be said.

Living on this planet is a risky business. I personally have contents insurance because I once lost most of my belongings in a flood. I have car insurance so that I can be confident that I will have my vehicle repaired or replaced if it is damaged. Many have life insurance, so that if they die they will leave their loved ones provided for. But what insurance policy do you need to assure yourself of eternal life when your inevitable future departure from this planet happens.  Is knowing your eternity is assured worth a pricey annual premium or is it a one off payment? Being insured for eternity is a sensible option in my eyes. Our body can be destroyed in a moment, but our spirit will live on forever. That is why I have invested in the ‘Death to life’ plan of John 5:25. I was offered the chance to live forever. It cost me nothing except an exchange, my old life for a new eternal life, underwritten by the solid promise made by the great ‘I am’. He implemented his perfect rescue plan with his son Jesus, for the peoples who inhabit this planet. Have you taken him up on it?

Jesus said in John 5:25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” This is our future. This is our hope. This is why even though there are cataclysmic weather events, nations at war, terrorism, disease and political turmoil, we can hope in a God who will not abandon us to death, but will usher us into his ‘death to life’ plan. A bomb can blow up our body but nothing and I mean nothing can destroy our spirits as we join him in eternity.

Jesus spoke to a women who was stressed by the death of her brother, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, (John 11:25) The woman, Martha, took his promise into her heart, believed it and saw her brother walk out of his tomb fully alive.  Death to life here on earth, and death to life in heaven.

Life is uncertain, the world is fed on fear fed by media bias,  conspiracy theories, political unrest and uncertainty. But we have not been cast aside to try and make it on our own. We are not here to just survive. We are here to live a life that is so abundant in Godly joy that those around us are attracted to our light. Let us who have a certain hope, the assurance of salvation and the promise of dwelling forever in the heavens where our God resides, let us be salt and light. Let us throw out ropes of salvation, let us be anchors of hope.

And don’t lose your peace for you are his beloved children. Remember John 16:33 ”I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

You truly belong

imageHasn’t every parent cried out to God when they have seen their little ones really ill. Who as a parent has not cried  “let it be me instead, I’ll take it on, just let them get better, I don’t want to see them suffer!” I realised a lot this week about the love a parent has for their children. It is all encompassing. It was seeing my little grandchild weak, lethargic and listless – sick with a chest infection and then taken to hospital because she was dehydrated, plus her tired mother about to give birth any moment and her father also worried about his girls. It was seeing her big brother cuddling her and stroking her hair and trying to distract her from her pain. Being a grandmother, the love is different, not lesser, just different. You are seeing your children parent and you want to be there to support both them and their own children. It made me think a lot about the parenting of God, about his love, his provision, his guidance and his occasional discipline. It is all about belonging to a family. The family of God.

I am thinking about the love of God as a parent who loved us so much in our spiritually distanced isolation from him, that he declared:  “I have a plan, a plan to take away that sickness, that disconnection from your family, that loss, that suffering. I have a plan and it involves my son Jesus.” And so the plan was bought into being, a plan to reconnect us into our God family, a plan to help us find genuine peace, health and a sense of belonging.  He makes sure that we ‘truly belong’ in the family of God.

2 Corinthians 6:18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. Also, Galatians 3:26 “For you are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” The Hebrew or Aramaic word for father is ‘Abba’ and it is commonly used to address our father God. I have heard some call him Papa, or ‘daddy God’ but that personally doesn’t sit so well with me. Although he is loving and tender hearted, having willingly adopted us as his own sons and daughters, he is also entitled to the respect and awe due to a mighty and supreme spiritual being who created both the heavens and the earth. Our adoption certainly gives us the right to petition and to ask for our needs to be met, indeed he longs for us to do that.  Philippians 4:7 reminds us that God longs to meet all of our needs through his son Jesus. And yes at times it is good to feel you can curl up in his lap and tell him all that is worrying you and knowing that he is there to take it on and get you through it all.

To me it all comes back to the cross, the carefully orchestrated plan of our Father God and his son Jesus to give all of us a chance to be adopted into his family. The law had not worked, in fact Jesus came not to abolish the law, but to fulfil it. One horrific blood spilling sacrifice for all time. One cross cancelling all sin, sickness and sorrow and one family that any human on this planet can belong to if they call upon God to adopt them.

So do you feel that you belong to the family of God? Is your earthly family fragmented and distant from you? When you become part of the family of God you have a heavenly father who loves you so much that he knows how many hairs are on your head. You have a Saviour who reconnects you to the presence of God. You have access to the Holy Spirit who will bring you peace and security. And you have  brothers and sisters here on the planet who immediately become part of your family. You are loved. You are not alone. You can truly belong.

the #simplecontentment challenge

image A few weeks ago myself and others heard a sermon on how we use our money – not just to pay for the things we need and use, but sometimes to fill up our empty spaces with things and stuff just to bring us short term gratification. I admit I have done this, and who hasn’t. I’ve bought that new handbag/dress/boots/chocolate etc to make me feel good, and it does for a short while, until it is all gone, or has lost its’ shine and it is time to look for the next ‘fix’ to fill the empty gap.

But our life is more than ‘filling gaps’, and filling our empty spaces should not depend on stuff, things or people. It needs to be simpler. It needs to be cost free, available to all and a permanent way of thinking. And it needs to focus on bringing us closer to God. And so the #simplecontentment challenge was begun. My friend Lindy discovered that by posting and sharing her #simplecontentment photos on Instagram caused her serotonin levels to rise as she became more both more aware and grateful for all of the simple blessings in her day.  Others had positive changes too. I personally felt that I became more grateful for the small and simple blessings in my life – and that awareness spilled over into my prayer life and I started to really thank God for all of the small, medium and large blessings which sometimes I have taken for granted.

My #simplecontentment awareness covered so much – from family and friends, good food, my feline friend Grace, reading books and writing reviews, walking near the sea and so much more. No matter how mundane a thing can seem, no matter how simple, it is a blessing given to us by our heavenly father. I became even more aware of his love and provision as my spirit became aware of the enormous scope of his passion for me. The fragrance of flowers, sunshine on your back, the first freshly brewed coffee of the day, the smell of the baby’s skin, rain on the tin roof, the softness of my cats fur, the pleasure of opening a new book, the comfort of a bible verse that cuts through sadness, the hugs of your friends, clean sheets on the bed, a parcel in the mail, a child’s hand in yours, a call from a friend, the song of a bird….and so the list goes on.You will have your own list.

It is so easy to just take nice things for granted, but when we are truly thankful, a sense of contentment can grow where once discontent was. What is contentment? The dictionary describes it as a ‘state of happiness and satisfaction’ . The apostle Paul stated that he had learned to be content in every situation (Phil 4:11) and he certainly did as his life was often very hard. He maintained his joy, his contentment and his spiritual equilibrium.  1 Timothy 6 – 7 also reminds us  “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” I have met people who have great wealth and prosperity, yet they are hollow and empty, devoid of peace and contentment. They strive constantly and never seem to be at rest. The bible warns against letting ‘things’ be our God. We arrive naked and tiny with nothing and when we leave the world, we cannot take anything with us, except what we have achieved in our growth as children of God. Our true wealth and riches lie in our foundation upon which we have built  our spiritual lives – gold, silver and precious gems – not the temporary joys of wood, hay and stubble which will not be permanent.

I would challenge my heavenlyjava readers to create a new habit  and take on their own #simplecontentment challenge. Just by being aware of what you are thinking and being content with what your world contains, can bring you into a sweet and gently place with Jesus as you quietly share your joy and thankfulness with him. He smiles when we are happy. It is our joy and contentment which shows others whom our trust is in. Let it be in God, and not in things. It takes 21 days to change a habit. Make #simplecontentment your new habit.

Where’s your head at?

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The above picture of a little girl with a bird’s nest on her head and birds flying around it is on my kitchen wall. I really like it and what it says underneath – because the words ‘today is a good day’ reflect the results of the choices that we make and ultimately the thoughts we choose to think. I was thinking of the Basement Jaxx song ‘ Where’s your head at’ as I was walking this morning. Why? Because our head contains our brain, which is where our mind lives and where our thoughts are formulated, accepted or rejected, then mediated upon and ultimately accepted as the ‘truth’ by which we live our lives

So what is floating around in your mind at any one time? What are the birds that flit by and come to visit? Some are benign little creatures like sparrows or finches, the inconsequential thoughts like “what can I cook for dinner?” or “where did I put the TV remote?” kind of thoughts. Others are the less benign ones where we hold small conversations in our heads like “I wonder what the parking will be like in town, and if my friend will be on time, she probably won’t be, she was late last time and it made me really cranky, she obviously doesn’t value our relationship, she’s selfish and I don’t think I’ll bother with her again…” you get my drift. What started as a simple thought has escalated into an angry thought, so your bird is now darker and more menacing. Why? Because the bird has come and instead of a fleeting visit, you’ve entertained it, feathered its nest and asked it to stick around and become a lodger in your head space. You’ve decided that in this example, the person is a waste of time and space and you’ve negatively tainted the flavour of your whole day. But how could you have done it better?

Well,  you could have recognised that moment when the thought became negative. The tone and the atmosphere changed. You bought in judgement and yet you don’t even know why your friend was late last time. Did you listen to her explanation or apology? Do you remember that she said she had a flat tyre and had to change it? Perhaps some ‘thought capturing’ would have been beneficial. We will move onto that in a moment. The technique to transform our thoughts is simple and powerful. With it we can remove the malevolent birds of anger, resentment, depression, anger, fear, worry, judgement, criticism and more. Those great heavy dark winged raven like birds can be taken down with the most powerful and effective of tools. The mighty word of God.

The bible is the Word of God, and Ephesians 6 is the place where we find out about the armour of God, especially designed to protect us against what Satan tries to use against us. He loves to get into our thoughts, and sometimes we unwittingly give him full access. The bible is called ‘the sword of the spirit’,  and here in 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 is one of the most powerful, dynamic weapons we can use. “ For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” This is a mighty powerful weapon, as it leaves the onus up to us. We have the power to invite the thought to lodge in our minds and become an attitude or feeling or we can put it to immediate flight by telling it to leave be swinging the mighty sword of the spirit at it. The right sort of verse can dispel the darkness the enemy brings. I have done it time and time again. Sometimes I have to repeat it over and over until the mood or feeling leaves – but it always does, and if it returns, I just do it again. And again until I win the victory over it. I want to choose my thoughts. I want them to be joyful, powerful, encouraging and full of God’s love. Why? Because the thoughts I entertain will ultimately flavour the words that come out of my mouth. And the words we speak need to bless others and not to curse them.

So how are the nests in your hair? What sort of birds are visiting? Are they cheery bright little finches and willy wagtails or are they dark and menacing crows and ravens. Open up your bible, check out your God credentials won for you by Jesus and your weaponry he has provided. Remember who you are and ‘whose’ you are. Put on your Ephesians 6 armour, write out a list of scriptures on overcoming negative thoughts and memorise them. Bring out the big guns, capture those thoughts before they lodge and take up residence and poison both your thoughts and words. You can do it. Let me know your testimonies of overcoming negative thinking.

Live Large

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It is so easy isn’t it, when times are lean and the future uncertain, to hold onto what you have. After all, you may need it sometime. Yes it might be sitting in the cupboard gathering dust, but its yours isn’t it? You worked hard for it, it was important enough at one time for you to plan on acquiring it, and to spend your hard earned dollars on it. But maybe there is a bigger picture, maybe in the giving of it, you are releasing yourself into a place of living large. And I don’t mean a larger bottom or waistline, but a state of being and awareness where you give not only out of your surplus, but also at times, out of your greatest need.

But what does that mean? Does it mean we live out of our car if we are lucky enough to have one, or sleep under a hedge? No, of course not, I’m talking about an attitude, a way of thinking that stems from the very essence of the grace of God. A recognition of how we as Christians are not only God’s voice to the world, but also his hands and feet. When we relinquish our lives to God it is in response to a gift that was selflessly given, and given at great cost. A gift wrought with pain and bloodshed. A gift that cost a life so that we could gain our life.

Most of my regular readers know that at the beginning of the year I gave up the so called security of my job in order to get my health back on the right track. This has been a time of great blessing, and also of great learning. Why? Because I am earning less, but living more. What I would have once spent frivolously just to give me the energy and motivation to keep working in a challenging job, was fuelled by spending for example on chocolate, coffee and new handbags. It is now no longer available – yet somehow I have all that I need, and needs are not just wants. Needs are a roof over your head, food to eat, clothes to wear and a community to be part of. Wants are the icing on the cake – holidays, new clothes, new cars, new toys and gadgets.

After listening to a sermon at church on consumerism being a temporary and false ‘joy’ giver, I realised that in the last few of months of earning less, I have been living large. How you might ask? By being large in your attitude – having time to listen and care and walk with your friends through their valleys. By seeing a practical need and deciding that you have the ability to meet it, perhaps not with money, but with what you do have sitting there in your cupboard. By loosening the ties to things and possessions, by sometimes even giving something that you love to someone who will love it even more. And the power of this act is that it does indeed break the chains of ‘me, myself and I’ because it is making your heart larger and your dependence on things less.  Because being a Christian can be buried in so much religiosity. Because at it’s very basis the message of love is raw, elemental and practical. It is being the Samaritan on the road, and not crossing to the other side because you might get your hands dirty, put blood on your coat or perhaps cost you some time and commitment.

Believe me I am not there yet, not even half way there yet – but I’m learning. Learning to give out of my ‘less’ is somehow making me ‘more’ in Christ. I feel a lightness, and expectation of his care, an interest in going further and deeper. I’m realising that ‘things’ are nice, money in the bank is ‘security’, but living large is not being defined by your current circumstances but knowing as a solid core belief that all you have, all you are, and all you will ever need to be is from the Father heart of God who loves extravagantly and gave without counting the cost. And it is somehow in letting go, that the security I have tried to gain from the world is now in my focus on knowing God – because when I am acting out of his love for me, then my ‘wants’ become what he wants.

Hebrews 13: 5 ESV “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” this wonderful verse does not mean that you should not work, or study or achieve, it means that we need to learn to live light – not for what the money will offer us, but for the opportunity to be used for God’s kingdom work. And finally 1 Timothy 6:6 NLT “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” And I believe that this is what I have been learning. After a lifetime of thinking that wealth and things would buffer me from poverty, I am finally realising that an impoverished spirit is far worse – so I challenge you – live large and sense the change for yourself.

Relationship is ‘doing life together’

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We are created to ‘be doing life together’. When you have suffered great sorrow or loss, how warm is the hand that comes alongside and takes yours. How soft and strong is the shoulder that you cry on and how strong are the arms that enfold you in love. How precious is the friend that weeps with you and hands you a clean tissue for your snotty nose and takes you out for a coffee. Loneliness and isolation erode the human spirit. We weren’t created to live in isolation. We were created to live in community. We are creatures that thrive and survive in  groups like families and community. So what happens when there is no community or family for those who are isolated and alone? Isolated souls become withered up and impoverished souls in desperate need of love and relationship – and the world is full of them. Fragmented families, lost kids, severed marriages – the list goes on.  They are diagnosed, medicated, counselled and placed into artifically created communities which are meant to glue them back together. Some do, and some don’t –  and so we see the lost remnant who are adrift, mentally, socially and emotionally. How do we provide a safe harbour to bring them home to God? 

We do it the God way. God gave us the blueprint for family structure in the church. The church can and should be both family and community.  When we are welcomed into relationship with our heavenly father we become part of a thriving community or family modelled on the word of God. And because God is love,  we do it in love and fuelled by his love. 1 John 4:7 explains our mandate brilliantly “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” Therefore if we know God, are born of God and filled with his love, we are fully equipped to provide a shelter of love to the world. With his love we can father the orphans and care for the widows. We are his hands and feet.

The dynamic book of Acts 2:47 demonstrates the outworking of this. It is practical and it is relevant. It is providing comfort, shelter, food, support, healing, education and community. “…and all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, …” God our Father provided for their needs as they provided for others. Being together as a community they then reached out in a powerful and relevant way with the truth of Salvation – and practical help as well. They put their money where their mouth was – they did life together.

Jesus also demonstrated relationship when he was busy preaching to the lost and was told his mother and brothers were looking for him  in Mathew 12: 49-50 when “…and stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” I don’t believe Jesus was being disrespectful to his mum and brothers, she possible had cooked a lamb roast, but he was showing how we must love and care for the world as our brothers and sisters. It’s a love thing. It’s being both salt and light and it all comes from being in a family based on God’s love. We do love God’s way.

I love being part of a church that reaches out to the community. From a practical place of loving community we create a haven for those who have lost their way. Relationships are birthed in connect groups and become steady and loving friendships. Relationships birthed from doing life together the God way – of love and caring towards others. A relevant church sees the needs of the community around them and asks  “how do we reach them? what do we need to do?” and after seeking the heart of their Father God through prayer and listening to the whisper of the Holy Spirit,  ways are made to create opportunity to open the door into the church. Through reaching out to kids, families, single parents, elderly people – all those in distress, and even those who seem to have it all together – the church opens it’s doors wide to welcome the lost back home. Like the prodigal son returning to his Father, we provide the food , the clothing and the shelter so that broken soul can be nurtured and nourished back into his or her God identity – and they too can fulfil their God given destiny of bringing other broken souls to the peace of God’s love through Jesus.

So it’s all about relationship – both physical families and spiritual families. We all belong to the family of God. We are the children of God and so we can demonstrate God’s love in our relationships. We are, in fact ‘doing life together’, supporting each other through challenges, picking each other up when we stumble and dusting each other off when we fall. We are rejoicing when we see each other blessed and succeeding and encouraged when we see each other grow and give from a heart of love and grace. Who are you doing life together with?

Just be kind

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Why do we sometimes find it so hard to just be kind? Looking inside my own complex overthinking of things, I believe it’s when you’re focused inwardly on your own busyness, problems and commitments – basically your own self imposed or other people imposed agenda. There are twenty seven things to do before you go to bed, so you better start ticking them off the list or life as you know it will derail and go off into orbit. I realised recently that I was so hell ( or heaven?) bent on my own stuff that I felt like a little machine puttering along like ‘Mr Busy’ in the Roger Hargreaves kids books. But it leaves so little time for spontaneity and the bringing of joy by doing little acts of kindness. So I wanted to be kinder to others.

And what types of kindness you may ask? Well, for a start, there are many that don’t cost you a thing. Letting someone in when there is  busy traffic, stopping so a mum with kids and a pram can safely cross the road, telling an elderly lady that she looks really nice in the colours she is wearing, complementing a busy mum on a trolly full of healthy looking shopping, clearing out your closet of things you love but don’t fit and giving them to someone who would love them, making someone a cup of tea and listening to their sad stuff, buying a big bag of avocados and sharing them with an avo loving friend, giving away books to someone who loves to read, putting out your pretty china for a friend who loves vintage things, smiling at dogs and saying hi, patting strange but artistically arranged cats you may meet on your travels in op shops and cafes, replacing your trolly in the carpark, and so the list goes on.

I have a friends who are kind to me. One made me lots of hot dinners and bought them around to my house when I was sick last year. She recently phoned me on a Saturday night whilst picking up her son from work and asked if I wanted anything. Of course I did – chocolate. That night kindness was a Mars bar delivered to my couch. Another friend gives me a constant supply of lemons and she prays for my family. If I need her, she drops everything. She managed to pull out the stuff that was blocking my vacuum cleaner and that was kind. She waited on the side of the road to pick me up off a bus at 5am after I had an operation in Sydney. That was kind. There are others too numerous to mention. Ones who take me out for dinner and listen to my woes. You know who you are. Others who ring to check that I am ok and bring cake when they visit. They are kind.

I’m going to blow my daughter Hannah’s trumpet now. She is one of the kindest people I know. Seven years ago we were both in a big flood which came through our homes, we were out buying plastic crates to put our rescued stuff in when an elderly gentleman in front of us went to buy a chocolate bar and didn’t have enough money. She quickly bought it for him and ran out and gave it to him. He was shocked but blessed. One day we were driving and another old chap dropped a big bag of oranges as he was crossing the road. She was out of the car as quick as a flash to help him whilst I was still thinking about it.  I’ve been known to pick up elderly ladies in heat waves and drive them home, and you know what? its five minutes out of your day,  and if Jesus had a Holden, then its what Jesus would do I believe. In those days he would have used a donkey.

Why is kindness important? Because life is often hard and challenging. Struggles can be relentless and having someone let you in when traffic is heavy and smiles at you can be just what you need to stop you tipping over the edge after the previous nine things that went wrong. Kindness can change the day of the person on the receiving end, and it can change you whilst you are dispensing it. You see kindness releases a kind of joy in you, not goody two shoes pat yourself on your own back stuff, but it makes you feel glad and in a good place. And it is a good place because its motivated from love and that love comes from God our father who gives us unconditional love so we can reciprocate and show kindness to others.

The bible has a lot to say about kindness. Galatians 5:22 mentions kindness as one of the fruits of the spirit. Ephesians 4: 22 reminds us to “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” and Proverbs 3:3 “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.” Kindness to others should flow out from us because God has been outrageously and selflessly kind to us. Allowing your own child to die so the world could be saved is the ultimate act of kindness. So can we emulate God’s example and just try to fit a little kindness into our day. Just think about how much kindness Jesus showed. You will be blessed by how happy it makes you feel – and it may even bring opportunity to share Salvation with people whose hearts have been softened by kindness.

Hey there #instaGod

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Hey there #instaGod, how are you today? Don’t bother with a big long answer cos I haven’t got time to listen to you, but I have a lot to do and so I have a big list for you to get working on. Have you got a pen handy because there’s quite a list. Firstly I would like some sunshine by the time I get up, and could you please do a miracle and make sure there is coffee and milk for my espresso machine. Yep, I know it was low last night but hey you did that bread and fish thing way back so this should be super easy for you. Hey God, I’m about to go online and I trust you’ve made an overnight deposit in my bank account cos remember you said you would supply all of my needs, and I’ve got a need to go and buy some fancy new clothes to wear. Pray? I’m too busy – I’ve got to check my Facebook and Instagram feed, and twitter as well. Yes I know I should go to work, but I’ve decided to throw a sickie and live by faith so don’t worry about healing me even though I know you could and you would. What was that? I shouldn’t lie about being sick, well I am sick – sick of my job and I’m going to go and live by faith because your’e my #instaGod – just like two minute noodles in the microwave, I put you in bowl, put a generous dollop of cold water prayer and put you in the faith microwave and within two minutes – there you are with my wants and needs served on a plate – you even supplied the fork I need to eat them. And there is no MSG added to keep me awake – my conscience was dulled a long time ago.

I like my #instaGod. Instant gratification, instant prayer results, look at me – I’m instantly holy with no trials whatsoever The old way sucked big time. I know the bible says that trials make us strong and resilient, but that growing in faith was just too hard.  I wanted an easier, pain free way with no sacrifice required. Hey, since I’ve realised that I can have everything I want, then I remain sweet and happy because I’ve got nobody bothering me, cos they know I won’t go out of  my way to help anybody.  Even that annoying guy the devil who used to hassle me heaps has gone – I guess he doesn’t have to try to take my mind off God anymore because I now only let my mind think of you #instaGod when I need something.  I love you #instaGod, as long as it does not require me to get embarrassed by telling someone about you – you know I hate that stress. I look like an idiot and I cant have that because I’m cool man. I love you because you give me everything I want and need. It’s great not going and doing all that stuff I used to do at church – man that made me tired. Now I’ve got time to play computer games and eat all of that nice food your’e provided for me.  #InstaGod, you’re my daddy. My daddy in heaven. Your’e the coolest father ever – no discipline any more, and no stretching my faith to make it grow. You’re my twenty-first century, culturally sensitive, gender non specific non religious sin free #instaGod. Accessible to all who want an easy ride with no expectations. No wonder the easy going, shallow thinking world loves you – you don’t ask for anything back like the old God who wanted us to love him unconditionally. Boy that was hard – it meant I had to give stuff up, and think about other people and spend time reading about him and talking to him – so stressful. Sometimes I even was  expected to give money to people when they were poor and needy. They need to get wise and get in touch with their own #instaGod. Hey lets get a selfie? Shove over, I’m not in the centre. Now smile.

Its funny though, even though I’m really happy with our cosy little relationship, there is a little empty  part of me that I just cant seem to fill up with all that instant gratification. No amount of food, fun or shopping, or even other stuff can make it go away. Its’ like a little niggle, the other night I saw a little kid on TV who lived in one of those countries where there is not much food, and his eyes looked so hungry and sad. I felt bad for a moment, but then I thought, it’s ok, somebody else will take care of him – I’m too busy taking care of me – thank you #instaGod. I just changed the channel onto something funny and shut it out. So much easier. Now where are those cheezels? Third world problems are not my problems. I’ts not my fault.

Luke 9:23 “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

Matthew 25:13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

Matthew 28: 18 – 20  “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Living a life without the ‘dis’

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You’ll have to read all of this to fully understand. Don’t worry, its not very long. Words like ‘ease, able, ability, like, enchant, harmony, agree, connect, member, taste and qualify’ are just some of the power packed, enabling words that describe us when we are basking in our full Godly potential. But put a nasty ‘dis’ in front of them and you have the polar opposite, the negative aspect when all of the positives has been stripped away – words like ‘disease, disable, dislike, disenchant, disharmony, disagree, disoblige, disinfect, disconnect, dismember,  distaste and disqualify’. Have you been ‘dissed’ lately? And if yes, by whom?

It’s much more pleasant to live in ‘ease’ than in ‘disease’. What happens to take us from that ease? Indeed, when we loose all connection and ‘dis’ connect, then relationship is broken. Harmony is wonderful, but when there is ‘dis’ harmony – well then all hell breaks loose. When ‘like’ is turned into ‘dis’like then there is sadness and loss of what once was a positive feeling. When I worked in disabilities, one of the campaigns we were  part of was ‘don’t “dis” my ability’ – and that has remained with me. We all have qualities and talents which can bring joy and fulfilment to our lives. We may not fit into a box – I have no ability to start a lawnmower, but I do have the ability to cook a meal.

However, the analogy cannot be carried too far – Am I ‘gruntled’ because I am now disgruntled?  Can I ‘rupt’ a meeting, no, but I can ‘disrupt’ a meeting.Yet, discord, disadvantage, disaffiliate all bring to mind the sense that something wonderful has been ruined by the negative addition of the prefix ‘dis’. Something that was once good has been taken away. But how? We were robbed.

As Christians we have some major contenders who are very happy to put the ‘dis’ onto us. Condemnation, negativity, poor self esteem, lack of empowerment and more rob us of our ‘ease, ability, harmony etc’ In fact Satan, the father of lies is the greatest ‘disser’ of all, running around with that  prefix just waiting for an opportunity to steal, rob and destroy our peace and connectedness with God and others. John 10:10 reminds us: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” So he comes to ‘dis’ and to take away, but Jesus has come to take all of the ‘disses’ away from our lives – wanting us to have not only life, but to have a fully abundant life full of his power.

So how do the ‘disses’ sneak in? You can be feeling fully empowered in your God walk, blessed to the max, functioning in grace, when it can be one negative word from another that will ‘dis’ empower you. You look inward, feel that you have now been ‘dis’connected from grace and subsequently ‘dis’qualified from your walk.

So how do we avoid the ‘disses’ and focus on our full worth and ability in Christ Jesus. When Jesus was being tempted by the father of lies, he responded with a lightning bolt of power – the word of God “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4.  So we need to stay in the word. Likewise, we need to build on our relationship with God and his son Jesus, walking in his Holy Spirit and being constantly in connection. Prayer is talking to God. We are in a ‘dis’connected state when we are not talking to him and listening to what he tells us to do.  And it’s our identity. At the cross of Jesus, he actually took every ‘dis’ from our lives and openly and once for all time qualified us as children of the Living God. He did it once, and forever, and we can live from the inside out, knowing that we are qualified, not ‘dis’qualified because there is no more need for us to keep repenting – the price has been paid. The ‘disses’ have been done for.The liar has been exposed.

I’d encourage you to examine your own ‘dis’ words this week. Are you ‘dis’heartened when once you were full of confidence? Have you allowed others to put the ‘dis’ word upon you. Have you accepted ‘dis’ease into your body without rejecting it as a usurper? Have you willingly ‘dis’connected from fellowship because of being hurt by others? Have you lost your sense of ‘place’ and belonging and become isolated and ‘dis’placed because of your own lack of connection. Something to think about  and to pray about. Get rid of the ‘dis’ prefix and regain your right standing in Christ.

Find peace through meditation

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I had to smile as I was thinking about today’s blog post – its all about achieving stillness and peace through meditation the ‘God’ way – however whilst I was doing it, I had chooks visiting the back veranda to poo, three texts, a phone call and I dribbled my hot coffee down my front whilst listening to my neighbour talking to himself (thin walls) about how #@%&** cold it was – oh and I got a knock on the door that I had a parcel to get from the letter box. All very tranquil, peaceful, serene, unhurried, quiet and lovely – lily pads, doves  and rainbows – not! But I still persevered because it is a process that takes some time to get through to achieve the desired result – an inner peace and calm that is less inclined to be ruffled as we sail the daily sea of life’s changing circumstances.

The psalmist David often mentioned the practice of meditation. In fact, he used his times of musing and pondering on the greatness of God to achieve his most  poetic writing and to be assured of God’s power being demonstrated in his life. He depended on his heavenly father for wisdom, protection and provision – and was constantly in tune with him. By being in constant communion he was (and you can be too) in the sweet spot where you just know that you have God’s listening ear and his heart is beating close to yours. Psalm 19:14 for instance – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”  and Psalm 1: 1 – 3 “… But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” Because David had this assurance, this confidence, this delight in being kept in God, he could be confident, even in his darkest hours and biggest battles that God was always in step with him always. I want to be a leafy green, fruit bearing  tree, in season and out of season and I want to prosper in everything I do – who wouldn’t? 

These verses speak of the transformational power of meditation. It is commonly known that what you think about is what you become. Think on darkness, sorrow and bitterness and that is what you will produce, but think upon the precepts of God and his perfect word and that is what you will produce. I know what I would rather have. Do you? Remember, what you think about is what you become, but the mind is a bit of a random beast, it goes where it wants unless we tether it to the mind of Christ.

Meditation has had a bit of a bad rap within the Christian faith. Because it is closely associated with  Buddhism and some New Age beliefs, Christian’s feel that it will turn them into mindless zombie sponges who will go around chanting OM and nurturing their water lilies. However, it is a Godly practice which has been practiced for centuries in monasteries and by those who have chosen to live the contemplative life. I myself was wary of it, as I didn’t want to open my mind or spirit to anything that was not Christ/God based. However I was fully aware that when I meditated on a particular scripture and mulled it over, getting every bit of revelation out of it, that it had an effect on me – building my spiritual muscle and feeding my faith – it also left me feeling at peace.

I was blessed to find one day, some enlightening information from a wonderful Christian woman from C3 Church in Sydney called Leah Bulfin. She had herself gone a bit of journey to rediscover peace through meditation the Christian way and she then put her findings and easy to follow tips on a website which I will provide a link to at the end of this post. I had read these posts on and off and then decided that now my mornings are less rushed, that I would commit myself to it as a daily practice.

This is what I have found:

  • Find a quiet spot, for most of us, it would have to be very early in the morning. No distractions.
  • You choose a worship song and listen to it. Leah gives a list of downloadable songs. I chose Hillsong’s ‘Young and Free’s’  Sinking Deep.
  • I play it several times, focusing on the words, and when it finishes, I find the phrases that mean the most to be, – for e.g. “all fear removed, I lean into your love” and as I quietly focus on every word of that line, I feel a tremendous sense of peace and rest.
  • My mind does wander – but I just keep quietly returning to the verse – whatever lines that have spoken to my heart. As our minds are always busy and easily distracted, I might have to do this several times – or over and over. I find I return to stillness more quickly each time.
  • I then found throughout the day when I was confronted with challenges, issues, problems and hassles, if I thought of the particular words I had meditated on in the morning, it would bring my attention back to God’s love and his peace.

The words might be different every day, different songs, and of course verses from the bible are great to meditate on because they are God’s food for us. It might last for ten minutes or more – whatever you can do. No condemnation and no beating yourself up. You will have interruptions but just brush them off and return to your discipline – because that is what it is. And being disciplined will bring it’s own reward. What we feed our minds will influence our spirits and outwork in our daily lives.

Here is the link to Leah’s website. It is called ‘God Centred Meditation’ and she provides excellent information and easy to follow steps should you wish to give this wonderful practice a go. You can subscribe to receive emails from her, and it is free. I hope you do.

http://godcentredmeditation.com/

Prophetic walking

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Hello heavenlyjava followers. Last week I talked about walking out in warfare, where we do a prayer assault upon the spiritual realms which affect many lives so negatively. We do warfare over principalities and powers which are affecting the lives of ourselves and those we love. I have done this for weeks as I walk for fitness most days. In the silence and the beauty of nature I find that I can storm heaven on behalf of those I love.This is a part of the process of prayer which gives a notice of intent if you like to the strongholds over people’s lives. Whether you believe in Jesus and the message of salvation or not, you would see that people have addictions, behavioural problems, mental health issues, emotion damage and even things like poverty, sickness and more affecting them in a negative way. Many have no way out, but Jesus came to bring us life and freedom, whereas Satan, the father of lies, will do all he can to seduce the Christian believer into thinking that the battles they fight daily will never be won. However that is just one more of the devil’s lies, easy for him to do as lying is what he does and who he is. It is his persona, his identity. It is easy to believe in the symptom, the empty bank account, the damaged relation ship or the lost job. It is harder to believe at times that God is doing something better for us, because it takes faith and patience to actually bring it to pass – that is where prophetic walking comes in.

Most of us exercise in some way, and as I’ve mentioned before, walking is what sits well with me at the moment. I use this time to reconnect with my heavenly father who is just waiting to hear from me.  But the prayer process has changed somewhat. I knew I had stormed heaven to lay my requests for myself and those I love before the throne of grace. I knew Jesus had heard me, and that he and his father were working on making these prayers get answered. But I needed to see that there was another step to take, and as I strode along the empty beach I started to speak aloud and declare that the battle was now won. “We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap. The trap is broken, and we are free!I “ Psalm 124:7. I started to speak words of victory and breakthrough over the issues I had been praying for, not contending any more with the powers of darkness, but seeing the issues and people prayed for walking out their answers. As I walked out in my own promised land I started seeing that the battle is now won – we just have to walk it out, claiming every step of ground as our own. I saw the addicted totally free. I saw those I have been praying for for salvation standing in front of the throne of God with their hands lifted in worship and praise. I saw the sick walking around and filled with energy. I saw the poor and struggling walking around in excitement as their provision came and their needs were met. As I spoke out loud over each need and each person I saw the end result and spoke it out with excitement and joy. I saw the battles over come and the broken restored. I felt so excited and happy for them. I saw it as an integral part of the process of prayer.

I was thinking of the unjust judge and the persistent widow in Luke 18 “ One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 2 “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’ 6 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

So its pray and never give up. Pray it out but don’t keep saying, for example “Oh please save my son” – believe that Jesus wishes that none should perish and all have eternal life. Yes pray for the person you want to return to Jesus (or find him in the first place) and do that until you find something in the word that is your promise of an answer. In this situation it is 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” So I speak this out over my son who is yet to return to the Lord. Instead of seeing him in his life of sin, I see him praising God with his hands lifted high and his life completely turned around and restored. I see him happy and content and blessed. I see him healed. I see his breakthrough lined up with the word of God which is unfailing and mighty. So I start to speak this out, speak it out and see it in my spirit, I build up my faith by speaking out God’s word and reminding myself that his promises are ‘yes and amen’ and that he is not a man who will lie. He is truth and he is love. In that way I prophecy life and salvation and restoration instead of constantly reminding God that my son needs to be saved. In this atmosphere miracles can and will happen. And I walk out that truth with new energy, commitment and rejoicing.

What we speak out and what we think has such power in our lives. We all know that if we walk around saying that we feel bad or that we are poor or sick, if we say it enough it will become part of our current reality. That is when we need to speak out the opposite – acknowledge that things are a bit tough, or that your’e feeling sick, but then find your antidote in God’s word and start speaking it out over your own life or the lives of others. Take authority over what is happening by a counterattack of the word of God, specifically targeting the situation or person. Life and death are in the power of the tongue, Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” I am the first to admit that when I throw a full blown self pity party for me myself and I that the more I focus and speak out of a negative and angry heart, the worse I will feel. I sink deeper in the mud. But, If I counterattack immediately with a prayer assault of praise, If I send in the troops with the spoken out loud word of God, if I speak it out and thank God for what is already accomplished in the heavens, then I sense a change, as I prophecy a godly outcome, one that is full of blessing and provision.

I’d encourage you this week to move your  prayer forward from warfare to prophecy. Take authority over situations and people, but then see the situation or person transformed and speak it out, prophesy it, expect it and just wait for that knock on the door, that phone call, that blessing…because God wants to give you the desires of your heart. Walk out in prophecy this week.

walking out in warfare

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I’m learning a powerful new way of taking back ground which I thought I had lost forever. Through recent skirmishes with the enemy which left my physical, mental  and emotional health compromised I was feeling pretty defeated. But now like a warrior princess (think Xena) I am engaged in the war of bringing down strongholds, of striding into new spiritual territory, defeating giants of past failures  and subsequently taking into captivity  the insidious thoughts which undermine and destroy self esteem and identity. Those  things that try to get into our thinking and then try to bring us crashing down. It’s called walking out in  warfare, and I do it every day. I’m not dressed in combat fatigues and my weapon is not an assault rifle, though I am fully armed and dressed in a body armour which keeps me strong  and protected in my resolve. I’m in shorts t shirt and running shoes and as I power down the beaches, over the bush paths or just around the suburban block, my mind is in another place and my spirit is engaged in the miraculous process of communicating with God and being miraculously changed in the process.  In this hour or more of physical and spiritual exercise, not only is my body becoming fitter, but my spirit is getting fitter too and I am feeling the benefits in body, soul and spirit.

Walking along the edge of this amazing planet that God gifted to us is so restorative. I love the nearby sea and beaches, so I walk along clifftops and headlands. Along beaches and around the nearby creek which flows into the sea and is surrounded by bush. God’s beautiful creation and the sunshine and breeze just seem to completely restore tiredness and dark moods. And as I walk I start to talk to him, thanking him for the beauty that I am walking in. I meditate on his love letter to me and mull over certain verses that come to me. My spirit is lightened as I look at the cloudscapes, distant horizons and also listen to the roar and sigh of the sea. My feet may paddle in the shallows. The shells, the sea birds and the sky accompany me as I sing and pray. I move into worship and just focus on his amazing beauty and power.

And then from a place of stillness and faith I pray for whatever comes to my mind. And that is when the warfare begins. Confident that I am a daughter of a living and loving God who hears and answers prayer, I assail the heavens for those I love. My children, my grandchildren, my friends, my family, my church and my community. I will get little reminders dropped into my spirit and I will pray for people I have worked with, our government, our world and the lost. And I speak out in faith and declare answers to prayer for those I know who are struggling. I take on the authority that was given to me (and you too) when Jesus died on the cross and then rose again to empower us with a new identity – that of grace and forgiveness. I intercede through the Holy Spirit as I sense him hovering over me. I acknowledge that although at times the enemy is running interference in the lives of the saints, I remind him of the authority of the blood of Jesus.  Although Satan is a defeated foe, he still has a mission to steal, kill and destroy. Being the father of lies, he can whisper, insinuate and undermine with his sulphur tainted tongue. But the arsenal that we have been given to dethrone him is forged from the breath of God himself, his holy word which shatters every evil that lies in its path.

I love our God inspired mandate from 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 in the message version.

“The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.”

And that is what I pray for in the lives of myself, of friends and family – that my prayer will “clear the ground of every obstruction and then start building lives of obedience and maturity.” The tools of our trade are the word of God which is the sword of the spirit from Ephesians 6 and also faith which is the mighty shield which we wield to protect ourselves against counter sniper attacks from the enemy.  I declare God’s word sovereign over poverty, sickness, divorce, discouragement, mental health challenges, unemployment and more. When we speak and declare out the powerful word of God, then kingdoms, principalities and demonic strongholds are torn down in the heavenly’s and we can expect to see that follow through into the lives of the people we are praying for. I can sense when I have accomplished what I came for, so then I just quietly thank him and praise him and tell him once again that he is my father and I love him.

When I finish my walk, my body is tired but relaxed and I feel empowered and energised as I get fitter and stronger. But that is just a pleasant side effect, the surge in my faith and the joy I get from these anointed prayer times when I assail the gates of heaven and march right up to the throne room of my father in heaven and tell him and his wonderful son the requests that I am making in the name of Jesus, and I leave them with him to work on and to bring to fruition in his perfect timing and grace. I feel tired, but restored by mediating on the powerful word of God which brings peace to my spirit and nourishes my spiritual growth. I feel at peace with the prayers I have left at the throne of God as I know he is working on them. And I feel joy that my body, soul and spirit have been immersed in the beauty of nature and creation which is his handiwork. Off come the running shoes but I am aware of a peace and assurance that I have walked through warfare and into a place of victory because I am on the side of he who will win the war against sin and death – my Jesus.

Oh why are we waiting?

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What do you do while you are waiting for God to answer your prayers? Sit there and do nothing or be pro active? Your prayers for healing, a restored relationship or the promise of a new one, financial breakthrough, a job, ministry, direction for the future, breaking down of strongholds…or just a reason to keep on getting up in the morning? Do you twiddle your thumbs and pace up and down remonstrating with God’s timing or the fact that you think he’s ignoring your prayers? Do you struggle with doubt, fear, anxiety, worry or concern as you see nothing on your horizon, not even one little cloud to bring that promised drop of rain. Do you feel lost and alone when you see nothing happening, and you feel like God’s not listening to you. You sowed in faith into that dark cold ground your seeds of dreams to be dreamt and joys to come. You watered in faith, you showered sunshine and rain as you waited for your answer to come.

Do you wait in faith or fear? How do you fill your days and nights as you wait for what you need from God? I can tell you, because it’s a lesson I’m always learning – and that is that God is never late, he is always on time – it is just that his timing is not always the same as that on our own calendar or agenda. What we sow into the ground of  faith is our seed of prayer. But like all things that grow, there is a time period, a process of development whilst that seed appears to wither, then it sheds it’s outer shell, and then the magic happens, a small kernel of life bursts forth and reaches towards the sunshine above the soil, that is into your life and circumstances. And each seed is different, that of waiting for a child to return to the Lord might be a different timing to that of praying and believing for a partner to marry. Likewise, finding  a new job or being thrust into your ministry might come quickly and unexpectedly. That is when we need to trust that we are loved and that God’s timing for us as individuals is perfect for us alone.

But how do we wait? We have a choice. We can create an atmosphere of expectation and faith by speaking out God’s promises and making sure that what we speak from our mouths and from out of our hearts is in alignment with God’s word. He wants the best for us because he loves us more than we can ever know. Or, we can wait grudgingly, with negative words and fist shaking at God. We can also create an atmosphere of fear and negativity with our mouths also, so the choice dear reader is up to us. It’s obvious what type of garden God will raise a harvest from.

Its all about patience. “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD”  Psalm 27:14. I think of so many people in the bible who waited and ended up with the desire of their hearts. Psalm 37:4 reminds us of this “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. …” Patience and waiting go hand in hand. And in the waiting is the resting. I have been listening to a wonderful series by Graham Cooke and its all about finding rest no matter what your circumstances are. Its called The Practice of Rest, its a great teaching series, and it emphasises that whatever you are going through, if you can establish rest in your spirit, then basically what happens around you is unable to affect you in a negative way, because you distance yourself from it and see it with a God perspective, and you know that you are kept in him, his timing is perfect, his love is sure and his motivation is for you to have your best life in him – with him co-partnering in all you do. Once again, its a trust thing.

Ive written before about God’s waiting room, and it can be a lonely and isolated place, but I  challenge you to look for the joy, the promises and the intentionality of our loving Father God towards you. We can’t hurry him, but by nurturing and growing our faith whilst we are waiting, then even the waiting becomes a time of joy as you live from the inside out.

Who’s your daddy?

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Just recently I was thinking about, praying and meditating upon the power of the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6:9 and as I pondered on each line, I learned something new and fresh – he is as the first line tells us “Our Father in heaven,” but he is also our father here on earth with us right now. He is not an absentee dad. Here in our challenges, here in our fears, here in our circumstance and here in our hearts. As Jesus modelled an intimacy with his father, in doing his will here on earth, so we can learn from that amazingly beautiful relationship. We can learn that we are loved, cherished, wanted, cared for, provided for, protected and needed. In fact, all he wants is for us to love him back. He doesn’t go around loving himself, he needs us to do it. He doesn’t want ostentatious gifts or long wordy prayers. He just wants your devotion and your attention. He wants your love.

Who’s ‘your’ daddy? Do you have a close and loving relationship with your father or is he a shadowy or remote figure from whom you feel distant and abandoned? Was/is he kind, loving, generous, firm, protective and always there with a listening ear? Can you run to him for comfort and support, or is your experience of a manipulative  or violent man? I realise even remembering your father can be so painful for some, yet others have quite the opposite experience. Whatever you have known in the fatherhood stakes, from sexual abuse or having no experience at all from an absent father, it is possible to rethink and re imagine your ‘father’ experience as you get to know God, who is our heavenly father.  When we are part of God’s family, we can re-define our status as loved and cherished sons and daughters of a Father God who is always available, always good and always loving. In fact, collectively he is ‘Our’ Father. You will never be abandoned or orphaned again. You belong to him. He’s your daddy.

Just as good Dads here on earth discipline and correct children, so does our father God. Just as good Dads here on earth love giving gifts and making their kids happy, so does our father God. The theme of fatherhood is very strong throughout the New Testament where Jesus constantly refers to his dependance upon his father for guidance and wisdom. He had come on a mission to give humankind the promised new way to re-connect with the fatherhood of God. The Old Testament portrayed a stern and remote God who was also kind and forgiving, but having a close relationship with him depended on a lot of ritual and ceremony. As he is such a loving father, he wanted his children to love him back for his own sake. We all want to be loved with no agenda or selfish motives, and Father God is just the same. Yes, he may do things in a way we don’t like, he may have plans we haven’t got used to yet, but just as a little baby trusts her daddy holding her, we just have to learn to trust the daddy God who is holding us so securely.

Because we can be so secure in the love our heavenly Father has for us, we can then love those who are not loved by the world. His love in us makes us capable of doing this in his strength alone. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.…” In other words, as God comforts us, we can then reach out to others to show that the loving fatherhood of God is available to all who reach out for it – and there is a fatherless world out there, we already know that.

Our loving father wants to bless us, he wants us to pray (or talk to him) in complete confidence and belief that he wants to give us what we need. In fact, Matthew 7 tells us that if a child asks his father for a fish, he won’t give him a snake, or if he asks for bread, he won’t give him a stone. Why would he? God is love and “so If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11) We don’t have to beg, co-erce, nag or whinge to God, but basically tell him what we need and just let him do the rest. Matthew 6 also reminds us that God knows about the birds of the air and indeed all of nature, and if he is aware when a bird drops out of a tree, or knows how many hairs are on your head, then he’ s got the important stuff (us) covered. Now that’s a relief.

I’d challenge you to rethink your ‘daddy’ relationship today. Do you see God as a cold, remote and punishing nit picking unforgiving tyrant, or is he some kind of benign sugar daddy who is there to spoil you rotten? He is neither. He can be defined as ‘love’ as John 4:16 reminds us so powerfully “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” it is kind of a cause and effect thing – we are loved, so we can love. His love, if we allow it can break down barriers, restore lives and relationship and bring us into a balance of being confident in our own identity of belonging as his darling child. So, I would challenge you to rethink and once again redefine… who’s your daddy?

Have you got all your ducks in a row?

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Have you ever thought…when I’ve lost ten kilograms I will be happy, or when I own a new house I will be happy, or when I get married I will be happy, or when I get divorced I will be happy,  or when I have a baby…or when the kids leave home…or when I get a new job…or when I move to a new city…or when I am healthy, or when I’ve got a ministry or leadership, or when I win lotto and have lots of money in the bank…the list goes on, and most people have their own particular line up of what they would see as “their happy and content” standard. In other words, do you think that when you have all of your ducks in a row, that then you can relax and just enjoy life? When everything is going really well and you’re healthy, in a good relationship, financially secure, in a great job, doing what you love etc etc etc?

Now none of those things are bad, but do we set ourselves up for failure by measuring our success or ‘happiness’ by our own particular line up of ducks in a row? What happens if one of those quackers goes, “hell no” and turns around and goes waddling off in its own ducky direction. How do you react, and what effect does it  have on your spiritual equilibrium when you have your plans, dreams, ideas or life re arranged (or perhaps even shattered) ?

Its all about having some control  but then being willing to do some letting go. Something which my dear Heavenlyjava followers will be well aware of here on my public spill my guts for God forum.Yes the truth is I love it when all of my ducks are in a row, all a matching yellow and all of a uniform size with perky beaks facing in the direction I want them to go on a perfect blue pond. But hey, life is  a bit of shooting gallery and circumstances and just being an obedient follower of Jesus can certainly stuff up your row of ducks. Things like sickness, unemployment, relationship struggles, loneliness and financial worries can certainly mess with your ducks, and no matter how hard you try to get those duck bills facing in the direction you want,  one of those suckers will still quack off to do its own thing. And that is just life. But its how we grow.

The Christian walk is seldom linear and straightforward. It is an uphill struggle which  makes us stronger, it is despair of soul that makes us cry out for help from our saviour and it is fear of the darkness within and without that makes us run to the arms of Jesus for rescue and protection. In other words, having your ducks in a row may look pretty and ordered, it may make you feel confident and assured of your own abilities but the bottom line is, if we didn’t need Jesus like a plant needs water and sunshine to grow, then we would be a poor stunted and small human being. We need Jesus to bring order into our chaos, we need him to straighten up our lives, and to lead us on mountain paths which will bring us into the closest and most rewarding journeys with him.

Proverbs 16: 9  speaks of our human condition. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” So It’s ok to make plans, and to seek order and to live life in a way that suits your personality. I dislike chaos and mess, but there are times I have to live in it so that I can get tougher and more resilient in a particular area of trust and reliance. I can make a plan for my life, and I should as an adult human being, but I need to invite the Holy Spirit to lead me in the right direction and be open to him changing my plans. It’s a trust thing. I love where Psalm 37:5 in the NLT version reminds us to “Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.” That is, show him your ducks in a row, talk to him about them but don’t get upset if he rearranges them to bring you closer to depending on him. That particular Psalm is a reminder not to get stressed about people who’s ducks are not only in a row, but are polished, healthy and  quacking in a pristine pond. In other words, don’t compare your ducks, but be happy and content, in fact delight yourself in the Lord, the previous verse reminds us and he will give you the desires of YOUR heart – not a bad exchange for a messed up duck arrangement.

Your’e probably well and truly over the duck analogy by now, but that phrase has been rolling around and soaking in my creative juices all week. As my followers know, I’ve had a few changes lately, and have tentatively lined up my own ducks in a very neat row, but have asked that that Lord makes sure that it is ‘his’ row and that it is ‘his’ direction that my ducks go quacking off in, in other words – turning over the control and worry of your life and circumstances and allowing him to do what he needs to do for your optimal growth in him.

You’ll grow into it

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Do you remember when you were a child and your mother would buy you something that was just a little bit too big? ”You’ll grow into it” she would say. By the time I did, I was heartily sick of the offending item. I  can remember school uniforms that came down to my calves and shoes that took two years to grow into, and in the mean time I would trip and shuffle along because they were too loose. I was the third of two girls in an era where kids wore hand me downs, so I often wore things that were not exactly made for me. I longed for brand new things that fitted and had not been worn by my big sisters. By the time I got them they were faded and shabby and mum would add lace to cover let down hems or unpick and reknit cardigans to get more wear out of them. We wore clothes that were mended and repaired and slept on sheets which were recycled by cutting the worn middle out and resewing the sides as the new middle. Anyway, I digress, your eyes are probably glazing over at my childhood memories, I wont go into the recycled refurbished dolls and bicycles we got for Christmas as you might loose interest and not read the next bit – the good bit.

I think God in all of his wisdom allows us to wear things that are ‘too big’ for us. He tells us we will ‘grow into it’ as we stretch and exercise our faith to achieve the desired fit. Being a Christian is never static. We never can really stand still (or lie down and say its all over, we have made it, lets have a nice rest) because he wants us to grow into who and what we are in him. He has a design for us, a pattern which is perfect. Being a follower of Jesus means he won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting upon us. That means that what he clothes us with is tailor made for us, perfect for us in every season, but still with room to grow into.

He has perfectly designed and personalised  a heavenly wardrobe for us and us alone. Nothing bought cheap in a sale, no hand me downs because each of us are unique and so we require garments designed for our spiritual shape, but with a relaxed fit. Being in him, we can learn those unforced rhythms of grace from the Message paraphrase : “… Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30. So whatever he lays upon us will be perfect for us, whatever garment he choses for us to wear will be our best fit.


Then there is the garment of praise, a practical one size fits all garment from Isaiah 61:3 which he has promised to “provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” How  wonderful – a beautiful crown instead of the bonfires and ashes of our old lives and redundant thinking, the lubricating and moistening oil of boundless joy instead of the terror and fear of despair and then also a luminous shining robe of praise as we worship and praise him and our old sad rags just drop away. The clothing that he replaces for us is perfectly designed, eternal and well fitted to every time and stage of our lives. We don’t have to replace it, we don’t have to get zips replaced and hems let down. Imagine tossing your shabby old clothes of sin, defeat and despair into the bin and replacing them with a God given garment tailored for you and you alone. And then there are the garments of salvation and righteousness of Isaiah 61:10 “For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness”. How wonderful to be wrapped up in his righteousness and salvation instead of our old rags of sin and self. Sort of divine Dior instead of 50% off at Best and Less.

The word of God is very specific in mentioning different types of clothing for different spiritual needs. We all know of the wonderfully  protective specifically designed armour of God described in Ephesians 6. Each piece designed to protect us in spiritual warfare against the enemy of our souls. But we have to remember to put it on and use it. And then there are our heavenly garments in Revelation 7:10 “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,” can you just picture the multitudes of saints dressed in shining white robes that will never wrinkle, stain or grow old. And we will be there too, no packing, just come as you are, clothed in righteousness.

When we give our lives to Jesus, we exchange our old filthy ill fitting shabby clothes tainted with sadness and sin memories for our garments of righteousness. These are a gift, his salvation to us. When we put on those garments of righteousness, they grow along with us, as we mature in our faith. If we stain them with our failures they will still be washed clean by his forgiveness. They won’t go out of fashion, or grow old and shabby, but they will mark us as his beloved, his children and his precious ones. So what are you waiting for, check out what you are wearing and toss those rags in the bin. Look behind the wardrobe door, your new wardrobe is waiting.

Three days in hell

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Most of us have our own mental image of Jesus on the Cross, that grotesque and horrific dance of death upon those two crossed beams. His tortured face, the blood, the nails, the crown of thorns and the twisted limbs. The crucifixion is the very essence of our Christian faith and is universally symbolised by the cross – a simple but profoundly powerful image which has been the bedrock of our faith for just over two centuries. We’ve seen the movies, read the stories and seen the passion plays. We’ve read the different versions in the Word of God. But something eternal, something seismic and completely life changing happened when Jesus descended down into the depths of hell for the three days between his death and his subsequent resurrection.  So what was Jesus doing in those three days between his death and his resurrection, and why did he take three days to rise again?

Many Old Testament prophecies foretold this event and it was confirmed in the New Testament. Isaiah 53 is an amazing chapter to read and meditate upon today. Matthew 12:40 (ESV) states  ‘for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’  Also 1 Peter 3:18-20  (NLT)  ‘Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.” That is, Jesus went to Hell for the three days to bring eternal victory to the believer who would never need to sacrifice to find forgiveness ever again.  Colossians 2:14 – 15 clarifies  this: ‘having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them.’ Because he triumphed over them, and we have the fullness of him living in us, then we can also triumph over them. Always. He fulfilled his Isaiah 53 commission.

It was the Devil’s plan to destroy Jesus because he knew his own days were numbered and he was about to lose what limited power he had. However it was a plan that never worked, because Jesus threw open the gates of the prison that held people captive, and proclaimed freedom to all the captives. He said  “it is finished” as he breathed his last, and so he became victorious over sin, death and sickness. The Devil who is a thief, a liar and a usurper was dethroned and divested of his power – but with the limited power left to him, he has made it his hateful mandate to distract anyone he can from the redemptive power of the cross with his lies.

And why the cross? Throughout the Old Testament God’s people were bound to the law, but it was clearly only a fallible stop gap until the Messiah (Jesus) came to be a permeant sacrifice once and for all, for all people for all time. No longer would animals be sacrificed to atone for the sins of the people, no longer would there ceremonies, ritual cleansing, or separation from God, the law was a temporary or imperfect shadow of what was to come – the Son of God as the sacrificial lamb. Jesus himself said in John 3:14 “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up”. And so Jesus was lifted up on a cross to take on our sin as a once and forever sacrifice for all time “ Right from the time of the first Passover when the angel of death crossed over Egypt, it was the blood of the sacrificial lamb splashed upon the lintels of the doors that covered the families and kept them safe from death before leaving Egypt forever. Likewise, Jesus became our sacrificial lamb, the one time and forever sacrifice who provides us with that same covering of grace and protection, without the rituals and sacrifices of the Old Testament

At this time of year when chocolate Easter eggs, fluffy yellow chickens and china bunny eggcups cover the shelves of the supermarket, it is easy for us to gloss over the true reason and impact of  the Easter season. Although most the symbolism of bunnies, eggs and chickens is deeply rooted in paganism, the Christian meaning is also about new life and resurrection after death. Perhaps take some time to ponder on the impact of Jesus in that dark and fiery pit, not as a victim, but as a victor – there to declare his blood won victory to those imprisoned in hell. On the cross he had taken on every sin and horror and evil known to mankind, and he killed the power of it stone dead – he took away the sting of sin and death and went down into the pit of hell to bring total victory to the believer. Please do not become blasé about the power of the cross and those three days in hell. Ponder anew, and reconsider this act of love and supreme sacrifice to understand what the cross means to you.

Brainwashed? yes I am

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Brainwashing has some pretty negative connotations – usually within the context of people who are indoctrinated into cults or subversive political systems. Here, the people are systematically exposed to a barrage of doctrines or beliefs which ultimately are taken on and then become the thoughts of the brainwashed ones. Often these people have little or no choice about being brainwashed and after many years of this technique they are unable to even remember a time when their thoughts were their own. The brainwashers are motivated by wanting complete power and control so that they can manipulate the lives and actions of those they have brainwashed. Think North Korea. Think Jim Jones. But, I am proud to be brainwashed. Yes you heard me right. I am happy that the unwelcome thoughts that often try to take over my brain or influence my mind are washed away and replaced with better thoughts which enhance my life in a positive way.

For the sake of this blog  post, I want you to understand that I am using the term ‘brainwashed’ loosely. We cannot literally have our brains washed, as they are physical parts of our anatomy. Slicing open your skull, whipping out your brain and washing it under the tap is not an option. However, our brains house our minds, so a more relevant term would be to say we are ‘mind washed’ when we allow the  powerful, cleansing and comforting word of God to literally sluice away the debris of our random negative thoughts and to bring them back into alignment with our status in Jesus.

It is almost impossible to walk through a day without picking up random thoughts from the environment which we are in. We are not robots and because we are creatures of free will, we often don’t think to challenge or reject the thoughts which try to come in. It can be so subtle Circumstances, attitudes of others, negative environments, stressful situations, hostile people, worry or concern, overwork and tiredness can all cause us to unwittingly jettison the engrafted word of God which we have welcomed into our lives and to become privy to thoughts and feelings that we don’t even recognise as our own. And they are not our own. They are usurpers spawned in the pit of hell which need to be ejected quick smart. Negative angry thoughts should not be welcomed in for a cuppa and a chat. Do not entertain them. No, they need to be shown the door quick smart so your God given thoughts can bring you back into peace.

When sin entered the world, our enemy Satan took on the mandate to kill, steal and destroy. Jesus told us in John 10:10 that the thief has come to rob us, but he (Jesus) came to bring us life, but not just life – super abundant life. Satan wants us to focus on self, to ruminate on negative and destructive things. What we feed our minds with will eventually outwork in our lives. Feed a lonely teenage boy videos of hate and destruction, deprive him of love and emotional nurturing and what he feeds on will eventually result in darkness. The antidote? Feed our minds with good things, as it is stated in Phillipians 4:8 ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things’ and our actions will echo our thought life, because it has bloomed from a heavenly source. Likewise we are reminded in 1 Peter 5:8 ‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’ He’s hungry, but you don’t need to be his next meal.

Ephesians 5;26 exhorts us (we the church) to be cleansed by the washing of the word because it makes us holy, that is, we start to take on the attributes of Jesus because it is the God inspired word which washes us. Every time we make the effort to quietly read and mediate upon something from the Bible, we absorb it into our mind. As we read about God’s love, it washes away what the voices of the world might be whispering to us, and re-connects us back into the right way of thinking and living, that is – the God way.

2 Corinthians 10:5 is powerful. ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’. Being mind cleansed is pro active. It requires effort and energy on our parts. An unguarded, undisciplined mind is the devil’s playgound. Unchallenged thoughts simmer and fester, hurts and slights are magnified, emotions and physical urges are mediated upon until as the Message version of James 1:15 so graphically puts it ‘Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.’ That scripture is a real doozy in that particular translation, but we get the point. What we feed on, look at, ponder on eventually influences our actions for evil or for good. Heavy stuff. But we have access to the antidote. We have the word of God

I challenge you this week to do some pre emptive strikes when the enemy attacks your mind. Take control with the weapons of warfare in Ephesians 6. Ponder on who you are in God, remember he dwells in you. Feast on his presence and his word, and let it wash away every taint of sin and the world. Get brainwashed today.

Rest

imageIts Friday afternoon, 5:30 PM and I haven’t written my blog yet. Eek.I’ve been feeling mildly anxious because I just haven’t had any clear leading on what to write, and was so busy going to my new walking group, then swimming in the ocean and going to see “The Lady in the Van” (which was wonderful) that I was going to let Heavenlyjava have a break –  but I have consistently posted a weekly blog post since I started nearly two years ago, and so I will just put together some random holy thoughts that I trust will encourage and bless you. I don’t want skipping a week to become the thin end of the wedge.

As many of you  know, I left my job to have some time out and get well just over a month ago. It is ironic perhaps that whilst I was trotting off to hurl my bod into the breakers at the beach, that I saw some of the people I used to work with having a BBQ. I stopped and had a chat, and realised that they all looked even more stressed and miserable than when I left, so I left feeling grateful that I had made the decision which I did make.  I thought I would have oodles of time to do nothing, but find myself busy getting out and about. The only difference is, that I am enjoying most of it, and finding that time out is making me feel a lot better. I’m even being quite productive. Who knew that rest, recreation and time out would be so NICE. Yes I will have to find an income soon, but so far God has kept me out of the red and I’m becoming addicted to just hanging out and drifting through the days, rather than dragging myself through them.

I love this scripture from the Message version and I keep thinking about it. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28 – 30. Now I know that we cannot all just walk away from our jobs or our lifestyles, but rest is a principle that anyone and everyone needs to somehow put into their lives. I think of Jesus being constantly surrounded by crowds wanting something from him, or just his disciples. He was seldom alone, and would attempt to get away at times to have time out just to hang with his father. This time, even though it was frequently interrupted by people’s needs, replenished him and reminded him of his mission – which was to bring salvation to us all.

We all get 24 hours in a day, that is 1440 minutes or  86,400 seconds in a day. Thank you Mr Google. Some of those hours are spent sleeping if we are lucky, others are spent working (if you have a job) and yet others are spent doing the boring things like cooking, studying, cleaning, driving, shopping, caring for others and if you are lucky, relaxing. I look at busy, tired people who are trying to fit so much into their days. I realise being busy is a pre requisite for our 21 Century lives, but we need to learn to put moments of rest into our schedule whenever we can. A quiet cuppa somewhere, whilst gazing at nature. Dipping into a book you’ve been wanting to read. A quick paddle in the ocean. A walk around the block, an early night, a DVD you’d love to see with your feet up, an hour or so away from your kids if you’re a mum, a coffee and quick window shop with your girlfriends, a swim at the river. Taking a break, time out, whatever we want to call it – it is essential to restore our souls and to our revive our spirits. It is learning the “unforced rhythms of grace.”

Now I guess I have some residual Catholic childhood guilt rearing it’s ugly head as I do often feel a bit wicked for taking it easy. But then I thought again about Jesus when he said to his disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” (Mark 6:31) Most busy people know about getting indigestion from rushing meals, and that general feeling of being strung out when over committed and under pressure. Even sleeping seems to be something that has to be rushed and completed quickly as it seems to be wasting time.

But then I remember God, who when he had busily finished creating our amazing universe over a period of six days, took the seventh to rest and restore and replenish. So it’s ok, time out can be ten minutes or a few months, but it is a biblical principle. If its something that was good enough for God, and his son Jesus, then it is good enough for you  and me my busy friends and family. Pray about how you can be disciplined enough to find time to just be. I promise that it will do you good. Whatever your life, or lifestyle. Whatever your commitments, make it a priority to fit in rest and lets learn to live “lightly and freely”.