The Journey so far….

•March 1, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Well, it’s been a LONG while since I’ve been anywhere near this blog. Needed time to stretch out a bit, to recap, to heal, to grow, to move on.

My roles in the past several years have changed enormously, and I guess I have too, in many respects. I’m still passionate about God, still passionate to see people come to know how real He is, and how much He loves them. Less passionate about some of the other stuff, which in some ways is good, others not so good, depending on whose opinion you’re weighing in on 🙂

The truth is, regardless of what I go through, my God never changes, never wavers, never disappoints, never lets go and never backs down. He loves me the same regardless of how I act, react, think or do. Which can be both comforting and discomforting. He always puts the onus on us to maintain our own character, lifestyle and relationships, knowing that outside restrictions only lead to legalistic thinking and eventual rebellion. I love how God will let us go as far as we need to go, and allow us to learn and grow from our mistakes. Still loving and nurturing us, still with his arms wide to welcome us home. But sometimes I don’t love that just as much. It is too easy at times to go with the flow and slowly move away, especially in times of defeat and/or loss. Some people tend to cling to God more in rough times, others in good times. I think for me the hard times are much more of an effort as my natural inclination is to withdraw into myself. As a result the more stressed I am, the smaller the circle of relationships become around me.  Over the past couple of years, that circle has steadily decreased. Not by design. Not on purpose. Not because of deliberation on my part. Not because of any feeling on my part that I no longer cared for or about people. I guess I just that I haven’t had the emotional energy to continue the way I was. I guess that’s why it’s called burn out. 🙂

But now is a time of new beginnings. The time of the battening down of the hatches is at last coming to an end, the time to begin to re-emerge has come. The storm is waning, the winds are calming and that amazing sense of awe that remains at the end of a hurricane is here.

I have no idea what the future holds, but I know there’s good things in it. I have no idea what particular part of my path I’m on, but I know it’s going to lead me where I need to go. I’ve got no idea of where I’ll be in one, two, five or ten years. But what I do know is that God knows, God cares, and God’s got it all under control. So life is good. It is what is is, and it always has been.

It’s funny how God has a way of bringing some of the things back into your life that you laid down in obedience to him at his call. It’s like the time of sanctification has passed and now the world expands again. The key throughout is your heart, your mind and your actions. In tough times it can be hard to shut your mouth and wait for God. Especially if those tough times are extended past a few days, to a few months, to years. That’s when faith kicks in. Because with true faith, it’s impossible to believe that goodness WON’T come. It’s impossible to believe that grace WON’T prevail. And it’s impossible to believe that God has lost control.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Rom 8:28

So.. for the last few years God… thanks. Thanks for the trials you have sheltered me within, and the many more you have protected me from.  Thanks for allowing me to feel the resistance I’ve needed to grow. Thanks for allowing me to be revealed. Because who I am is so much more important to you than what I am.

 

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. 1 Peter 1:3-7 MSG

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The simplicity of simplicity

•May 9, 2011 • 2 Comments

In times of personal challenge and adversity it can be easy to become bound up in the maelstrom of emotions, indecision & change. It’s difficult to hear that ‘still small voice’ of God, challenging to just sit tight & wait it out, when everything in you just wants answers, structure and to fix it! In the midst of the turmoil, it goes against the grain to be still. We want to act, to react, to respond, to control. We just want to DO something, anything that will make it all stop, sometimes even to our detriment. Through recent times of stretching, God has reminded me of the truth of 1kings 19:11-12 (NKJV)” Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” The interesting point to note was that all of these great displays of power WERE God – all Powerful God revealing His majesty and dominion over all created things – but even Elijah did not HEAR God until after the furore had finished. I can’t tell you how many people have told me to ‘be still and know He is God’. At times it’s implied that if you can’t be still, or you can’t hear His voice, then something is wrong with you. Yes, there is a time to be still, there is a time to wait it out. But in that time, you’re not expected to walk into the storm unprotected. When God called Elijah out on that mountain, His glory passed BY Elijah, it did not surround him, whipping him from all sides, it was a display BEFORE him, to demonstrate God’s might. Not to destroy him. Not to confuse him. Not to blind him and cause him to step away from God. It was a demonstration of God’s dominion, a moment to help Elijah remeber who he was, and just who His God was! It was a renewing of vision, a sharpening of faith. But even then, God was not IN the storm, He was not IN the earthquake, He was not IN the fire, He came AFTER. Too many people expose themselves to the fury of the torment, expecting God to shield them as they enter into things God has never asked them to, trying to discern God within it, then feel abandoned and broken when they cannot find that stillness within the storm. Sure, there is a place in every storm, provided by God, to take refuge in. God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and His promise is true. He doesn’t run to our timeline, or bow to our humanity, even though in His compassion He often cushions us. But he also doesn’t say that in the midst of a storm, He will whisper quietly, and if we can’t hear it, then tough for us. That’s just not His style. At all.
It’s worthwhile to also remember that in this passage in 1kings, Elijah had literally run away from God. He was hiding out from Jezebel in the mountains, frightened for his life feeling lost and sorry for himself. In reality, God had every right to be mad at him, but instead, His love had pursued him, fed him, and allowed him to rest before confronting him with a reminder of just Who He was. And even then, God waited until Elijah’s understanding was restored before He gave him his next instructions.
When you’re going through life’s storms, don’t feel dismayed if you cannot hear God’s voice in the midst of the fury. Protect yourself, wait it out and listen for the still small voice that comes after. Don’t allow the lie of religion tell you that you must be able to hear him in the midst of every storm. Don’t allow other people’s discomfort with your seeming lack of decision or direction cause you to make hasty decisions that you’ll regret later. Dig yourself in, keep your heart tuned to God, wait it out and then know that in the stillness after, God will guide you, as faithfully as He always has. He loves His children and pursues us even when we’re actively running away. He wants us close, He desires us to hear His voice, and to that end, does everything to ensure that we are able to. So, if you can’t hear him today – rest, wait, keep going the way you have been, and know that the torment WILL end, and He WILL be revealed.

Get grateful and live the goodlife

•May 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

No matter how good or bad your day is, no matter what happens within it, no matter what pressures come your way, your attitude, your thinking and your subsequent decisions become the barometer that governs your emotions.
Some days, life sucks. There’s no doubt about it. It’s just plain hard work, nothing feels like it’s easy, everything that could go wrong seems to and we feel like we’re in the middle of a hurricane of negative emotions, helpless. On days like these, I’ve found by experience its wise to dust off your grateful list.. because what you focus on, is where you end up. If I’m having a bad day, I’d rather not make it worse by dwelling on it. Instead… I consciously stop that train of thought, and start a new one. I start thinking about all the ways I’m blessed. All the great things I have had and experienced in my life, and the good things yet to come. Once I start, I find the more I think on it, the more I discover, until I find my mood lifting more and more and more. It takes discipline.. the truth is, sometimes we just like to wallow – and so, wallow if you will, but don’t expect anyone to join you for long. Once you’re over your wallowing, start writing a list… of things that mean something to you… this is how I usually start…

* I’m thankful that my worst day nowdays is nothing compared to what it was 10-15 or more years ago
* I’m thankful I live a life blessed beyond compare
* I’m thankful I have a family I love to bits who love me too
* I’m thankful for a church family that is simply amazing
* I’m thankful for children that continually make me proud to be their Mum
* I’m thankful for a purpose in life worth getting out of bed for
* I’m thankful that i have a roof over my head, clean drinking water, opportunity to prosper and safety
* I’m thankful that I live in a country where I can believe what I like without fear, where my belief in God is mainstream not a fringe group
* I’m thankful I have eyes that see (even though they need new glasses) and ears that hear
* I’m thankful that tonight my children go to bed with full bellies, knowing that they are safe in their homes, not worrying about war or famine
* I’m thankful that I have free access to knowledge, without censorship, and have the privilege of the internet, computers, libraries, bookshops etc – something a large portion of the world does not
* I’m thankful that I have freedom and choices and am free to make either good or bad decisions for my life

I could go on and on… and on.. because there is just so much to be grateful for!
My life is two polar opposites consisting of before and after. One day, one opportunity to make one heartfelt decision, one commitment that made an impact in my life that changed it instantly, and will resound throught eternity. And for that opportunity, I’ll be forever grateful. Grateful that the God who loves us so much He gave us everything, was willing to give me that opportunity. Eternity… beautiful one day, perfect the next… and the next… and the next… and.. well you get the picture 🙂 So glad Christianity is about relationship not religious rules and mumbo jumbo. God is good!

Grace – Get Acquainted, You’re Going 2B Friends 4 A While!

•June 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Why is it so hard for us as humans to operate in grace? I believe it is because naturally in and of ourselves, it is an entirely foreign concept. We want people to pay. We want people to earn their right to forgiveness, heck, we even want to earn our own much of the time. When someone has done something we find appalling, or something that affects us personally, how often is grace our first response?

I think if you’re honest, you, like me, find that your first response is often NOT grace – unless you have learned to temper your soul very well already. I think most of us would admit to at least one decidedly UN-graceful response during their day. That doesn’t mean we put that response into action, just that we recognize our human weakness in this area. Yet, as believers, we called to show great grace to all.

So, why is it so necessary? Why is it something we must come to an understanding of? What is grace anyway? Merriam Webster’s dictionary puts it this way:

1grace

1 a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification

b : a virtue coming from God

c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace

2 a : APPROVAL, FAVOR

b archaic : MERCY, PARDON

c : a special favor : PRIVILEGE

d : disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency

e : a temporary exemption : REPRIEVE

©1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. All rights reserved.

My Bible tells me that I have been saved by faith, that it is a gift from God… in other words it is a gift of grace (unmerited favour). Boy oh boy was the favour I received from God unmerited! I didn’t deserve it, I surely didn’t earn it, and if I had – it would be worth nothing. I was busy making a huge mess of my life – yet God loved me even then. In fact He loved me as much as He does right now, and as much as He will love me in the future if I fall or if I fly. His love is not dependent on who I am – it’s dependent on who He is! His character is on the chopping block – not mine – that’s grace for you!

Why then, as soon as we accept our sinful state and hand ourselves over to God, do we suddenly begin this struggle with religion and legalism? It comes to suck the very life out of us – and that is exactly what happens if we do not continue to grow in grace. It’s what happened to the Pharisees and other religious leaders. They were so focused on rules and regulations they were totally blinded to the fact that the very Son of God walked amongst them. His grace infuriated them so much they wanted Him dead and they were willing to do whatever it takes to ensure it happened.

Something to remember here – these were HOLY men – they were men who had dedicated their lives to serving God – they were not fools; they were amongst the most highly educated of their day. They were serious about God, deadly serious. Yet somehow they had come so far away from God’s heart that murder was acceptable to ensure the rules and regulations weren’t broken.

How many times has your own lack of grace with a similar hardness of heart harmed someone else? It’s a challenging question, but one we need to ask. I know there are countless times where I have been so focused on what I believed was righteousness, that I have been blinded by the law to grace. The Bible says we need to grow in grace , that it’s a daily thing – but we can’t grow in something we never choose to embrace.

Whenever we are struggling with stuff in our own lives, the temptation is to look outward instead of dealing with ourselves. To compare ourselves with others – after all – if they’re doing THAT and I’m not – then I’m so much better right? No! Wrong perspective entirely.

We were never created to be in competition – we’re created to be in relationship! You can’t have both. In competition, someone always wins and someone always loses. In relationship we all win, because we do life together. When one stumbles, the other supports and vice versa.

In Jonah 2:8 it says “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Legalism is a worthless idol. Religion is a worthless idol. Pride is another. Christian (yep – that’s you) let’s grab hold of grace and wield IT as the weapon of war it’s been given to us for. Let’s not forfeit the grace that can be ours because we get so bound up with who should be doing what. Let’s come back to the perspective that we’re all in this together – so how can we walk together, in unity and live the very best lives that shine the awesomeness of our wonderful God into our world. Because when we do that – the world WILL sit up and take notice. The Bible says they’ll know we are Christians by our love – grace really is one of the highest forms of love there is. Let’s live it!

Those who wait upon the Lord…

•June 16, 2009 • 1 Comment

But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isa 40:31 NKJV

Wait – “qavah” – to expect, gather, look , patiently tarry

renew – Hebrew “calaph” – to pass on, spring up, go on forward, grow up, be over.

mount – to rise up, ascend up at once, exalt, excel, recover, restore

faint – to tire, as if from wearisome flight

How many times have you had someone say to you, “I’m just waiting on God?I hear it all the time, and frequently there’s a real lasse faire attitude accompanying .  The above verse gets trotted out and the passivity renders any initiative useless. So many people think to wait means sitting idly by, passively waiting for God to just appear like some kind of Genie and give us that “ah-ha” moment – and until that happens.. well, I’m just waiting on God 🙂

How different it is when we dig deeper and discover how active this waiting is supposed to be. As we wait – we should be waiting with such an expectancy of heart that if God doesn’t come looking for us, we are moved to go looking for Him.

As I was praying this morning God showed me a picture of this – I saw a group of people sitting on a huge rock. All were passively waiting for Him, looking bored and complacent. They just waited and waited and waited – and if the truth be told, some will probably still be waiting when Jesus returns – not having really done anything. As they waited, some grew more and more despondent, but some began to come alive. As they built expectancy in their hearts, God came. The saddest part was that those who were expecting Him were ready to greet him and they were refreshed and restored.  Those who sat there waiting for a magic wand to fix all their problems were so self absorbed that they did not even look up when He arrived. They just sat there complaining .

If in our waiting we are so expectant to see Him, who we are will be transformed; as he renews us, he “passes on” His strength which rises up within us, replacing our heart, replacing our passion and vision. It’s an exchange that only happens when we actively seek God. And with that renewal comes the strength to not grow weary, to not tire from doing the hard work by ourselves. The renewal is not only the physical equipping to get through our day, it’s the total restoration of our wounded hearts so that we are made whole.  Proverbs 17:22 says A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. A cheerful heart is not only beneficial to us, it’s good medicine to those around us also.

The time of waiting is a time of expecting God to make those attitude adjustments and ideas & plans we so desperately need. When we wait the expectancy of great faith, God will show up. Feeling tired today? Feeling like it’s all too hard? Can I encourage you – wait on God – put yourself in that place where you expectantly wait on Him, fully expecting Him to exchange your weaknesses for His strength. Activate your faith.

Keep smiling 🙂

Hallmarked – Quality Assured

•June 14, 2009 • 1 Comment

Hallmark - you Guarantee