In pursuit of rest as a lifestyle

writing icon

chollywell:

Because it needs to be pondered on more…

Originally posted on Claire Hollywell :

It has occurred to me that after about 7 years of writing and blogging thousands of thoughts and reflections, I have recently become very quiet indeed, especially this past year. No doubt it is because 2011 was for many, including myself, a particularly tough year. It has its struggles, its challenges and most painfully, its disappointments. But I rather feel that the true reason for my lack of blogging was that each of those things create within us an unwanted place of vulnerability that is most raw and we strive to keep most hidden and definitely not write about. It is the vulnerability of uncertainty.

I could speak about Rob Bell’s incredibly empowering approach to the place of suffering and hardship and the creativity that blossoms from it, maybe someday soon I shall. I could quickly turn and recognise that this past year has in fact been so blessed and…

View original 749 more words

Disposable camera project

R1-04217-022A copy

http://www.internationalcameraproject.wordpress.com

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

About

During 2011 and 2012, a collaborative project was born working with children who live in extreme poverty and war zones in Europe, Asia, and sub Saharan Africa. It started in Romania where aid workers shared how children are very aware of their poverty and are “ashamed of their parents and their homes” and emerged out of a project that was designed to bring opportunities for creative expression to children who had limited resources.

Instead of the typical media images often used to elicit funding for children from deprived situations, the participants wanted the children to take photos of things they thought were beautiful in their lives as an opportunity to express their views of their world. It is a small ethnographic study attempting to portray a fresh insight into the lives of children who are often portrayed as being in need of being ‘saved’ (Hart 2006) and attempts to give them some agency, in order to discover a child’s eye view of the world they inhabit.

This project aimed to give the child the freedom to show what they see as beautiful without direction and asks the question; what does a child from an extreme background see as beautiful? In each location adult participants were asked to give ten children aged 5-10 a disposable camera (or access to a digital camera where it was a very remote or war-torn location) and asked each child to take up to 30 photographs of what they see as beautiful. The adults were instructed to simply give this instruction and a brief demonstration of how to use the camera but no further direction at all.

In each of the locations, the children’s responses to the activity were very positive and a wealth of photographs have been collected and shared with the children.  The adults involved believed the children’s self-worth grew from participating as they had the opportunity to share their lives with interested others. The pictures they took were a unique insight into their world, and analysis of the picture content indicate some emerging patterns and themes occurring in the children’s’ lives that may relate to their specific environments and cultures.

The synonymity of freedom and rest

P1010308

So the revelation is coming far faster than my ability to write it which always seems to be the way! I love when God sweeps you up in a whirlwind of His heart. It is like He has been waiting with baited breath for us to finally be quiet and ask “so how does it work?” or “what is your way of doing things?”. At that moment of questioning, of finally wanting simply to learn, God pours forth revelation, ideas, new insight, fresh perspectives and things we never thoughts possible. An upside down kingdom.

If we would just remain learners, not people with agendas, maybe we would experience the overflowing bubbly excited teaching of God more often…I know I would. As soon as I really started asking the question about a rest lifestyle and gave God room to actually speak about it, I have been finding keys everywhere! The keys of freedom, sovereignty, grace and listening. And the fact that every key to a rest lifestyle is exactly the same as the one for a life of freedom in Him.

Whatever binds us and makes us captive, whether it be thought, perspective or behaviour, instantly pulls us from the place of rest and peace. How can you be at rest when your thoughts shout their expectations at you? When you are trying to live a certain way, be a certain way, fight a certain thing or are governed by behaviour, other people or your circumstances? However tiny the infringement may be, anything that has crept in and taken even the tiniest piece of your freedom…has by natural extension, also stolen your rest.

This Sunday one of our church leaders spoke on God’s goodness, on the message of grace, on freedom and identity. It was stupendous and worth a listen (http://www.citylife.org.uk/Groups/92536/City_Life_Church/Downloads/Audio/Audio.aspx) but basically she was speaking about what we believe determining how we live. Everything and anything we believe about ourselves from the huge (I’m worthless, I am a control freak, I am ugly) to what could be viewed as the smaller (I am afraid of spiders, I am not good at speaking, I am a terrible cook) etc ALL are us defining ourselves, our identities based on labels and values and perceptions of others and ourselves we have built up over the years.

We carry so much of this that we probably don’t even notice most of them. Most of them, if not all…are lies.

Maybe we have thought we are sinners, that we have to earn our way out, that our self effort is necessary, that our identity labels are well earned and that this is “just who I am”. Read this next bit slowly and carefully…it is important:

“Contrary to what we often think – our beliefs affect our feelings, thoughts and actions. If we believe wrong, we will feel wrong, think wrong and do wrong! Many of us have believed the Good News is something to live up to and not something to live by. Many of us have believed our actions can destroy our relationship with God. But we are either children of God through Jesus or we are sinners, we cannot be both! There is no such thing as a sinful child of God (although there are children of God who sometimes sin because they’ve forgotten who they are!) We can either live by grace or by self-effort, but not by both (although this unfortunately is what I and many others have tried to do). We can either believe God wants to reward us and bless us as his children or believe that he only rewards our best efforts and withholds blessing from us if we fail to meet the standard, we cannot do both. Which will we choose today? When we see and believe that Jesus loves us so much that he went to the cross to make us sinless and righteous like him – we will live like it and sin no more. We will be the happiest people on the planet, and we will have a great reputation with others.” – B.Webb

In true freedom there is true rest. Jesus said on the cross “It is finished” and He said to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 When Jesus came to this earth, two incredible gifts He gave us were; total freedom and total peace.

There is a reason that every tormented, broken, injured person He healed He sent away with the words “go in peace”. His gift to us, the sign of our true freedom…

…is peace…and the ability to rest.

Definitions

Peace

of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is

Rest

1) to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labour in order to recover and collect his strength

2) to give rest, refresh, to give one’s self rest, take rest

3) to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation

Key one: Rest in the sovereignty of God.

writing icon

This morning as I continue to pray and pursue God’s presence and His rest, I came across a question and answer session recorded at Holy Give school in Mozambique back in 2007. During this session Rolland Baker is asked about the sovereignty of God, a question often discussed with regards to control and free choice. What he replied so summed it up for me that I have transcribed it below. Here is our first key to the question of rest…

“Once you find out what kind of a God He is, I realise He is much better than me, He knows what is good and what to do with the rest of my life and how best to do things, who I should be with, where I should go, what gifts i need, what i should be doing.

Some people like the idea of changing Gods mind and taking control and taking hold of their destiny etc…but my point of view is that the less independent we are from God, the more assured we are that He is going to be with us. The less confident we are, the less at peace we are, the more concerned we are whether or not He is going going to be with us next and be interested in what we are doing and support us. The more confident we are that we are in His will instead of ours, the more confident we are that He will be with us and will be interested and want to help us.

And since He knows us better than we know ourselves, He knows better what we should be doing. So I am just finding out that at that point where I am feeling most secure, the safest, the most Holy and the most free and doing the absolutely best thing that I could be doing, absolutely freely, the most freely possible, that is exactly the point t which theHoly Spirit is most in control.

Because His control is not the kind of control we have. Our kind of control forces people to do things they don’t wanna do, makes them feel controlled. But His control is the opposite, His control sets us free – where the Holy Spirit is there is freedom. So when He is in control, He has greater relationship within us with Him that makes us the most totally free, so we experience total free choice. That is the dichotomy, the paradox.

The point at which we feel the most free is the SAME point at which He is in most control.

The farther away we get from this control the less free we feel because we start to get controlled again by our own doubts and issues. So sovereignty to me does not mean that I feel more controlled, more constricted and less free, sovereignty means to me that if I desire God and have hunger for Him and am repentant, He has the power to finish what He began in us and I can be confident that He is going to complete His workmanship in me and that is where I will find rest and peace. Without the sovereignty of God I am concerned about whether I am going to make the right choices, whether or not I have what it takes, have the right stuff etc and lots of things are much more in doubt.

So it is the only way I can rest, trusting His ability to fix me and save me from my self. ”

The only way we can rest is to embrace God’s sovereignty, make room for it in our lives, in fact to direct our lives so that we need Him to be sovereign in every area. The less self sufficient, the less altogether that we have things, the less in control and sorted and without need we are…the less place of true rest we can accomplish.

Oh the upside down kingdom! I love that heaven is full of paradoxes, this one is my most favourite yet. Here I have been spending all my energy trying to sort and clear up doubts and put together schedules and plans and finance etc and all along God has been asking me to:

“Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you”

Rest looks like letting go of control and recognising that God is sovereign, allowing Him to be Lord.

No wonder Jesus said:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”

Update Summer 2012

Visiting youth pray and worship in the temporary prayer space summer 2011

Hey guys,

Sorry for the lack of updates on here, I strongly suggest you follow me on Facebook and twitter where you can keep up with me daily! Also, I have a vimeo channel and here is one of my weekly video logs (vlogs) which come out every single Monday letting you know where I am at around the world and our progress!

I will be moving to Romania and opening the prayer and creative arts centre July 3rd and here is some updates from when I visited a couple of weeks ago…

https://vimeo.com/42757177

Could this be the way?

writing icon

This morning I continue my journey to explore rest, to ask afresh the question of how Jesus modelled life, what He demonstrated to His disciples not just through words but through His actions. I am astounded again as I read the gospels, trying hard to take off my culture filtering glasses for a moment and simply read.

He did not appear to walk obsessed by destination. Nor was He fixated on finding specific people to heal, deliver or meet with. He and His disciples walked when hey wanted to walk, ate when they were hungry and found somewhere to rest when they were tired. People followed Him as He sat and told stories, proclaimed the news of the kingdom and healed the sick. The thing that strikes me the most as I read chapter after chapter of Jesus’ life,

is how laid back it all is.

Now I know some of this is because of the culture He was in, but God knew what He was doing in choosing Israel 2000 years ago for Him to be born rather than a technologically obsessive work driven, financially motivated, media centric world to bring Him to. Just because something is different in circumstance or time frame, does not make it irrelevant to us.

He walked. People followed
He sat. People sat
He taught, some listened, some did not
He healed
He rested
He prayed
He walked some more.

Aside from getting pretty heated about the temple being used by money changers and the pharisees living hypocritically to what they were teaching the people, Jesus doesn’t appear to raise His voice, get irate, be worried about getting anywhere on time, have a schedule in mind, be worried about missing opportune moments or even be bothered about His public appearance.

He carried a message of the kingdom that He shared with everyone, regardless of who or where they were. He healed everyone who asked (and, I would imagine, a few who didn’t). He walked and taught and spent time with His friends, mentoring and sharing life with them and taking them away for rest when they had been working hard. He often made time to get away alone and pray and spend time with the Father. He spoke of peace, love and faith. He gave God all the credit and looked to Him for every move He made.

I don’t see any stress here, or striving, or scheduling.

Was this just “for a season”? or could it be this is actually how we are meant to live our lives?

In pursuit of rest as a lifestyle

DSC02232

It has occurred to me that after about 7 years of writing and blogging thousands of thoughts and reflections, I have recently become very quiet indeed, especially this past year. No doubt it is because 2011 was for many, including myself, a particularly tough year. It has its struggles, its challenges and most painfully, its disappointments. But I rather feel that the true reason for my lack of blogging was that each of those things create within us an unwanted place of vulnerability that is most raw and we strive to keep most hidden and definitely not write about. It is the vulnerability of uncertainty.

I could speak about Rob Bell’s incredibly empowering approach to the place of suffering and hardship and the creativity that blossoms from it, maybe someday soon I shall. I could quickly turn and recognise that this past year has in fact been so blessed and full of incredible provision and God’s faithfulness that to even acknowledge minor troubles is fruitless and somehow dishonouring. I could even quote Job and recognise with fear and trembling that God is all powerful and I should neither question Him nor recognise “struggles” with communing with Him through these times.

I am going to do none of those. There is only one thing I think I can do in response to this past year and the year ahead (of which I have NO IDEA what it holds) and that is…

To simply begin to write again and write the truth. Whatever that may be.

Today the truth is that it feels ironic that someone who is beginning a house of prayer finds sitting with the Lord in the quiet place sometimes so hard.

This past year has rendered my devotional life tried at best. Scurrying from one thing to another, trying to juggle five jobs and international travel every month or two as well as numerous house moves have all given rise to very viable excuses to why my body (especially my brain) has no time to be truly quiet and rested.

So that is where this years blogs are going to begin. I am truly passionate about one question at this moment, it is a question I have been pursuing since the Romania dream began and it is one that I will hot foot after for years to come.

“What does a life of rest look like within the context of full time ministry/ missions (or work for that matter?)?”

Instead of being hung up on rest looking like sleep and soaking and hours of meditation or scripture study or any other number of things, my question is far more about a rest lifestyle. We are meant to ask WWJD right? Look at what He modelled and showed us and emulate it?

Well, Jesus chose to rest, all the time in fact. He travelled and spoke and healed and preached for hours and days and weeks. Yet, in places where yet another incredible miracle story could have been told, the gospels again and again repeat to us, demonstrate what Jesus was doing during His life of ministry:

And in the morning, long before daylight, He got up and went out to a deserted place, and there He prayed.Mark 1:35

And after He had taken leave of them, He went off into the hills to pray.Mark 6:46

But He Himself withdrew [in retirement] to the wilderness (desert) and prayed. Luke 5:16

Now in those days it occurred that He went up into a mountain to pray, and spent the whole night in prayer to God.Luke 6:12

He took Himself away, He rested, He made time. When things seemed the most ideal, opportune, needy etc, He was getting into a boat, going up a mountainside, hiding (unsuccessfully) in a house. I am in no way saying that one trumps the other, that we should sacrifice our love for the poor to be reclusive in search of a monastic prayer life, in fact Jesus’ life and message is quite the opposite. What I am saying is that the pendulum has swung too far the other way, we have determined our lives and our schedules by the things we need to do rather than by His priorities. We are being driven by the wrong thing.

I have no idea what true rest in the midst of great suffering, need, uncertainty, financial crisis, hundreds of children, war zones and disasters could possibly look like, practically, tangibly. I don’t know within those moments how to continue to truly sit and have regular dedicated time with Him without my mind wandering a million places or ending up praying for a list of things worrying me. All I know is that discovering that answer means that we need to be honest first. If all the focused attention I manage today is a moment with Him, if we just catch a glance of each other…I know that His promise remains…

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]” – Matthew 11:28

Jesus, teach me how to rest so that as I walk into this broken, work driven, desperate world, I will be full of enough of your rest and peace that others lives will be transformed and brought to you, the only one with the answer. Amen.

Progressions and goings on :)

writing icon

So it has been a few months since I properly blogged (my apologies) but so much has been happening! A growing interest in Romania and the prayer house has resulted in the forming of a possible long term team, meetings with Iris and 24/7 prayer have resulted in us being a part of them both and really equipped us with family and helpful models and frameworks to build on and help us establish the prayer house full time next year.

2012 is looming fast and I am getting ridiculously excited about all that is coming in it! The current plan is to take a team in April and by JUNE to be there full time (Lord willing) and launch the 24/7 prayer house, inviting everyone we know from every nation, background, denomination and charity to come and join with us! Man I am excited :)

Between now and then I am praying in partners so that by April we have the pledged monthly (or yearly support) of 1000 pounds a month to be able to rent and run the house which is no mean feat! But God can and will do it!

So yeah, I suppose that is all I can update on so far. It may be taking a while but things are moving at an incredible rate and God’s timing is so perfect and so awesome. Can’t wait to see what He does next :)

Writing

writing icon

I miss writing, which is odd considering that all I have to show for it is a handful of unfinished stories filled with nuances hanging in mid air, waiting, willing me to write them in their completion and yet there they hang, unfinished and forgotten. It is like I know how to start, my fingers type furiously at the keyboard as though this is their first opportunity to get free and yet they never finish, never know where to end as they have begun.

So I am left with piles of paper, of stories and thoughts and pondering. I am left with a pile of blogs and journals and outspoken observations about life and the desire to find some sort of an editor that can make sense of the mess that they have become. So many people tell me to write a book about my life, about travels and journeys and stories and people I have met. About going to Africa and asia and America and Europe. They tell me to write about miracles and funny stories, touching and upsetting stories, nail biting adventure stories and stories of inspiration and star filled nights in the bush looking at the milky way. But I don’t know where to start nor what to say. All I know is what I know today. Romania is calling me home. However much I long to be back under that star filled African night as though the milky way is blown powdered sugar against a black frosting backdrop with the cool wind in my air and the small hands of the village children pressed tightly into mine, Romania is calling my heart.

I definitely need an editor.

Solitude, communion and worship

piano
I miss playing Mozart. I miss the ripple of music that flowing from my fingers, the feeling of dancing as my hands glided up and down the keys. I am not saying I was necessarily much good, but there is something about sitting infront of a grand piano that is more than just about being good. Its about disappearing. There is something within music that has a power like no other I have found on earth. The power to take your emotions and pull and push them. The power to entirely lose yourself, be taken into raptures or brought to somber despair within the same piece simply by the cadence, the harmony and the partnership of notes, timbre and tempos.

I miss the piano. I miss music.

I am excited about this next team coming. I mean, I don’t exactly have a grand piano to hand (boo) but they are coming to worship and pray and sing and worship. There is something glorious about worship whether it be classical beauty or an african warrior drumbeat and everything in between. I think it is that when I worship with others, with the excellence of music and the creative nature of tune and song. When people go spontaneous and the harmonies rise unprompted and unexpected, twisting and curling around each other…it is like for that second, I am abel to offer to God so much more than I physically have.

Surely that is true worship, being taken above and beyond oneself, offering the best that one can be and laying every cell of that magnified, elated person at the feet of Jesus. I don’t just want to give Him this, even though He loves me just like this. I want to give Him every cell. I want to meditate like the mystics did when they were in caves thousands of years ago, undistracted by the world, so focused on Him that they could offer Him every single bit of themselves.

I read a devotion the other day that said this:

“The problem is: how to remain in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off centre; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel. The answer? There is no easy answer; no complete answer. I have only clues…shells from the sea.

One answer, and perhaps a first step, is the simplification of life; in cutting out some of the distractions. But how? Total retirement is not possible. I cannot permanently inhabit a desert island. I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life. I would not want to be. The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return. In my periods of retreat, perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life.

One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few; and they are more beautiful if they are few; My life at home, I begin to realise, lacks the quality of significance and therefore beauty, because there is so little empty space. The space is scribbled on; the time has been filled. There are so few empty pages on my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, interesting people and valuable things. For it is not merely the trivial that clutters our lives, but the important as well. We can have a surfeit of treasures and excess of shells – where one or two would be significant”.

Let us strive to find His rest, make room, force it if we must, within our lives to just be. To get the true balance between solitude and communion. Jesus took Himself away at the moments that often appeared the most important or harvestable. We must learn to do the same.

Yesterday confirmed what I had long been suspecting. Romania is everything and nothing that I expected.

If I have learned one thing this past five days it is this: I have to unlearn everything I have ever thought, researched, assumed or been told about Romania.

Now don’t get me wrong, the stereotypes are here, so much of what i expected is here and I also realise that there is much hidden that still exists, the poverty, orphanages, street children..the known list goes on. But as we drove around this incredible country yesterday and met more of its people and saw its natural wonders. As we laughed and allowed the wind to blow in our faces as we drove up mountains, past waterfalls and listened to glorious raucous worship by a lakeside. I realised once again that all the facts in the world do not define the nature or treasure of a place. Yesterday I saw a glimpse of the real Romania, the place where I live, the people that I now live alongside. And I realised that God was right, again :) It is easy to hold stats and figures and facts in your hand and go on a witch hunt. To see derelict buildings, poverty and a history that was challenging at best and build your expectations on that. But the people I am meeting, the place I am seeing is one of beauty, of joy, of great treasure, of adventure. It is a people with their own quirks and culture and ingenuity. It is a place that reminds me of Africa and Israel and England and America all rolled into one and yet like none on them!

I remember what Heidi and Lesley taught us over and over about being incarnational. And I finally get it. I came here foolishly believing I had something to give when, at the end of the day, I come a learner, empty handed, learning from scratch a culture that is uniquely different and beautiful not so that I can bring a solution or any form of answer or better way to do things. But so that I can serve the best I can, so that as we pray for them we pray WITH them, for the things on the hearts of those whose country this is, not for fixes and solutions we think necessary.

Would I never ever forget that I am here to learn from the great wealth that this country has to offer in tutorship.
One of the greatest differences between rules and relationship is that rules cause stagnation. They establish a series of laws of guidelines; within which is absolute right and outside of which is absolute wrong. They create a box or a standard that takes something organic, a process, a journey and make it black and white, requiring no grace, only stamina, perseverance and death to self continuously.

Rules are not easy to keep, they keep every record of wrong, they judge and point out flaws, they are merciless in the clarity of the mirror they hold up and they condemn

every

single

time.

We know this. We know that they suck because of this. But I put forward another thought…

Rules – when kept – tell that individual that they are now ok. That where they are is acceptable and a picture of all that is right. They tell them that they are now good, that they have achieved their goal. The person moves from a place of process and condemnation…

…to a place of maintenance.

This is almost more detrimental than the condemning, unachievable standards that rules instill. Why? Because we settle. We stop. We maintain. We have no more reason to pursue the more because we have achieved our goal with our measure of perfection.

Relationship, however, does not judge wrong and right in the same way. Love and grace cover everything, they do not call out something as despicable, unforgivable or unworthy. Relationship simply loves on, walks with and calls out the truth knowing that somewhere along the line, love always will out that which is tormenting and trialling.

Relationship applauds the process

and love motivates a desire to pursue even better.

I have been struggling in many areas over a long enough time that sometimes I find myself wondering “well, if I am not giving into temptation in this area, which is therefore not a sin, am I now ok? is this ok? this is obviously “just part of me” and always will be”.

The rules that say “don’t give into temptation” say yes, this is fine, stay in these rules and you are good. Maintain this position and you will be holy and continue as a good person. with stamina, checking and religious rule keeping you will find that the maintenance program will keep you in the “right” and not straying into the “wrong”. Black and white.

It is only love, relationship, grace, that says “it is not ok” but not out of judgement or because its a sin or its wrong or anything like that. It is not the black and white of “you are wrong because this is wrong”. No. I believe that love says that it is not ok to get to this point and just avoid temptation and class it as always being part of you,

because… it is not ok to settle.

More importantly than anything you might be facing, dealing with, feel is part of you and you don’t want it to be, sin stuff, whatever. More importantly than the black and white of whether its right or wrong, where the boundaries are, how close to perfection you are yet. More important than all of that is learning that love celebrates the process, applauds you on the journey and calls you through love to press in deeper, higher, nearer. It calls out your destiny, that there is more, that there will always be more. It does not call you to a goal, to an achievement, to a place of maintenance. But love calls you to the pursuit.

Destiny is not a destination

It is a pursuit.

May we never, ever get in the trap of condemnation through falling short of a perceived goal that in our black and whiteness needed to achieve to be able to stay in God’s good books.

Would we realise that the privelidge is in the pursuit of destiny in the midst of our failings, pressing upwards purely because of the love we have for the one who cheers us the loudest and will always love us, regardless of anything we do or feel. Would we, the most, start to celebrate our journeys, other people’s journeys.

It is not either or; black and white, right and wrong, in or out, achieved or failed.

It is and and more – love covers everything and does not judge, does not care whether you passed or failed.

But loves every single step of every single journey.
The Joy of the Lord is our strength

Abraham and Sarah laughed
Isaac means laughter

It was for the JOY set before Him Jesus was able to do the impossible

The disciples at pentecost were filled with the Holy spirit AND JOY

How did I never notice that before? I don’t mean the joy is our strength bit, I mean the pentecost. The fact that even though it is part of the Holy Spirit, Joy is the one highlighted extra, crucial, CENTRAL to pentecost, to the foundations of the first church. CELEBRATION, JOY!!! Man o man o man o man o man

not to mention when Kevin Dedmon before dropping that gloriousness talks about how we are holy as we start singing holy holy and THEN points out that orderliness has nothing to do with aesthetics and perpendicular 90 degree angles, the earth is chaotic looking yet perfectly in order, so’s the universe! BUT that a father with children who are laughing knows that laughter is a sign of things BEING IN ORDER, being right, in alignment, all is well.

We need to get used to laughter in the church again, in just a HUGE way!!!

Sound simple? maybe I’m just slow.

But today’s blown me away.
Rightly or (mostly) wrongly, I find that inadvertently I have structured and live my life by a set of self-defined rules known only to me which govern everything that I decide or do. These rules, or more accurately “permissions” are determined by everything from preferences to social expectations to bases of sheer fear or unknowing. But regardless of their source, I am finding more and more that unconsciously I, and maybe we, live so much of our life constrained by invisible lines, unseen red tape, waiting to be given permission both for the radical stuff like knowing whether its “ok” (permissible) to approach and pray for a total stranger in a shopping mall…to the more mundane and tiny things like how we feel.
It is in light of this weakness that I feel it necessary to release a few permissions out there today, to release myself and maybe you from the invisible lines you have been waiting for permission to cross. It is by no means exhaustive but it is definitely necessary.
It is ok to be sad once in a while, and even more than that if necessary
It is ok to identify that the world is changing and you might not like what you see
It is ok to grieve relationships and friendships that have moved on without you
It is ok to feel lonely
It is ok to want something more
It is ok to not have the answers
It is ok to want to be in control
It is ok to need your space
It is ok to need a friend
It is ok to cry without reason
It is ok to be brutally honest with God
It is ok to have no clue whats going on
It is ok to ask the taboo questions
It is ok to feel scared
It is ok to not meet the mark
It is ok to dance and sing and shout and throw control to the wind
It is ok to sit and do nothing
It is ok to be productive and dream dreams in every direction
It is ok to wish there was someone dreaming with you
It is ok to get to the end of the day and have no idea what you have accomplished
It is ok to need to talk even if you don’t know what about
It is ok to miss hugs
It is ok to admit you are wrong
It is ok to want to stop the world and get off
It is ok to be real and honest and true and to allow that moment to hang in the air. Unresolved. Unanswered. A part of life so vital and yet so often disallowed by the feeling that to admit such feelings would be to disbelieve in God.
Could it be that the very recognition and admiral of such feelings is not only what makes us fundamentally human, but is what God loves about us more than anything else?
He has given me permission so that He can join me there.
And then I had a picture.

The giant is dead.

Lying on the ground slain, me standing on his enormous belly, rejoicing in the victory and yet I’m scared.

Terrified that he isn’t really dead. That at some unsuspecting moment a giant hand will grab my ankle, his hands and body engulfing mine with ease, crushing.

Either side there are demons pushing and pulling the arms and legs, jerking it so as to startle me, to make my jump and panic as though my fears were true, I’m gonna die

and yet

The giant

is dead.



There are things that we deal with, in the past, in the present, issues that have defined us, named us and that have become background noise in the interference of our minds. These issues are not the ones we are currently sinning in, nor those that we are battling and warring through. These are the ones we were delivered of, forgiven of, processed through and come through the other side. These are the things that were a part of us for so long but in His mercy the Lord restored, healed, dealt with and loved us out of. These are our giants that now lay slain below us, a goliath slain by the stone of a boy with a great big God behind him.

And yet there are times when the body jerks, when the anxiety returns or the wobbles come. That has been my realisation as i chewed over this picture, processing it, realising the great truth that the giant is dead, that I am not in imminent threat of death and suffocation, that what was done is done and will always be done because the one who authored all, who closes and opens doors with definitive finality, killed the giant dead. However, as I wobble and jump still, I start to wonder….

…what am I still doing standing on the giant?

Rob Bell wonderfully puts it when he explains that being ‘out of the box’ is great but the only problem is that that phrase is flawed, by its very nature that phrase suggests that the box still defines you, who you are and where you are. In the same way, standing victorious over a dead giant is amazingly great, a glorious victory, but whilst still standing on him, body twitching and being able to be shaken, my stability, my groundedness, my assurance is still determined IN RELATION TO the giant. My world is still defined by the giant, dead or alive.

And the I was reminded of a story that was beginning to echo through mine…

50So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck down the Philistine and slew him. But no sword was in David’s hand 51So he ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath, and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their mighty champion was dead, they fled.

57When David returned from killing Goliath the Philistine, Abner brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58And Saul said to him, Whose son are you, young man? And David answered, I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.

4And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, even his sword, his bow, and his girdle. 5And David went out wherever Saul sent him, and he prospered and behaved himself wisely; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was satisfactory both to the people and to Saul’s servants.

He also killed the giant

He also stood on the giant

But

then he cut off the giants head

Took it as testimony

and then LEFT IT THERE

and walked into favour, blessing, provision and his rightful, royal position.

He did not remain in the victorious place standing over a dead thing and allowing that to forever define him

but he allowed that victory to be a testimony to what God had done

and be a stepping stone to POSITION him to where he was meant to be and was created for.


Does Goliath get mentioned again?


YUP but only once

1 samuel 21

David is now running for his life, he is in a totally different situation, years have past and now a prophet hands him the sword of the one he killed that was the greatest sword there was, to use to protect himself.

It is not the giant he is ever defined by again, but that experience and victory so positions him in the right place, that he even comes to a point where he is able to redeem and wield the very same sword that once threatened his life, to walk in an authority over the very thing that should have taken him out. But even then, the giant, his name, his grave, his descendants, any fear or reputation attached to him…none of it is mentioned. His sword was a useful one for a season so is used,

but the giant is dead.

Time to find a way to cut off its head

step off its stomach

and walk into the God-ordained position that victory has created.
Psalm 139

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You know me

You discern my going out and my lying down; 
you are familiar with all my ways.

You know every tiny inane thing about me, every decision, every thought, every wondering, every quirk, every move.

Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

You know me. You know even things I cannot express, the words that don’t even make it to speech. You know everything I think and everything I say. Good and bad.

You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.

And yet, you still hug me, still touch me, cover me, give me a dignity I do not deserve, still surround me and protect me and are everywhere I go.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there….even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

You rescue me, know where I am, I cannot hide, cannot run, cannot exist without you being there, waiting, in your great knowing, and your great loving.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…

How can I say that I am lesser than you say I am. Your creation is magnificent, inspired, unmatchable, unique and you love each piece completely. You know me. And yet you love me. That is why I praise you.

…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

You had a plan for me, have a plan for me, and in your great knowing you already knew what I would choose, who I would be, who I would grow into. You knew me at the beginning of time.

You know me inside and out, utterly and completely, you know every beautiful thing but you also have heard every vile thought, godless word, bad decision, poor reasoning, wicked intent and heartless deed. Nothing is hidden in darkness, squirrelled away, out of your sight.

You know my imperfection

and yet

You have chosen me

You have adopted me

You have given me every blessing in heaven

You have filled me with your fulness, the fulness that created galaxies and commanded universes in a cosmic dance

You have covered me in a grace immeasurable

A love eternal

A mercy unimaginable

You know me

And you still chose me

In unfathomable abundance.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding….Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Dear diary

I think I have inadvertently forgotten to be grateful. I mean, I honestly am, I say it all the time, I appreciate the life that I have, the things that I am able to afford, the country I live in and the community God has given me. I am grateful without measure for Gods grace and love and generosity towards me that He would call me His daughter and lavish His love upon me.

And yet.

I have forgotten how to be truly grateful, so overwhelmed with gratitude that I must give it out, bless others, do whatever it takes to love on another, include them in what I feel and know and am grateful for. I have forgotten that it is easy to be grateful for what I have and am given but that a true demonstration of such gratitude must surely come in a drive to find another who does not know in their lives the reason for gratefulness I have in mine. It is the compulsion to touch another, share a heart, give an ear, extend a hug in circumstances within which gratitude seems impossible. It is loving the unlovely, the hurting, the desperately hopeless.

Silver and gold I do not have. But I am grateful for all I have, and that cannot stop at feeling good, thanking God and appreciating how blessed I am. It must overflow to those around me, it has to. This is why we were created, this is why God has poured out His goodness. He has given us the ability to include and gift the things we take as standard in our lives, community, belonging, a cup of coffee, the desire to listen, the time to care, the contacts to make an impossible situation escapable, the education and training to find a solution and make a strategy, the God to provide the healing and adoption. He has given us these things that we, even without a dime, can radically and irreparably impact someones life for the better.

I don’t care how cheesy it sounds. It really does simply boil down to Love.

There are some nights that you never forget.

Ever.

This was one of them. We were walking down the dark dirt street illuminated by temperamental street lamps, the ocean brushing with the sand rhythmically to our right. Only five or so minutes from the base it definitely was not bush bush, incomparable to the adventures of the previous nights, in fact we were on a break. Every member of our team was a white westerner, not that it matters except to prove that very point, it doesn’t matter, miracles happen with white people too, not just in Africa. The evening in its dusky glow was warm to the the touch with a cool breath of breeze on our faces. Perfect. Truly a perfect, star studded african night. We were a motley crew of visitors to the site for various reasons. Two leaders of another base, myself and my mother, three girls that we met in Pemba from all over the world and a 13 year old boy named Gary and his mothers friend who had brought him.

So anyways…

We got to the restaurant and sat at the back left at a wooden table with our backs to the incredible beach, the sounds of the ocean in our ears. The perfect night. I don’t even remember what I ordered, tell the truth, but I know this much. Gary ordered the fish. Not that this was a new thing, he had had fish many times before being from Alaska and all so the following events don’t make much sense. But I know what happened.

I was a recently qualified nurse. As a result, every cell of my brain was still ringing with the “warning signs” and “things to watch for” that had been brainwashed into us during training. I was two months into my acute nursing job on a break to do a missions trip. Every nurse in the world knows an anaphylactic shock when they see one. The tongue starts to swell, the throat also, closing up and then the lungs and all airways swell closed. Caused by a million different things but all causing one reaction – a fatal one. The only difference is the amount of grace time you have to do one of two things. 1) Get them to take a lot of antihistamine and hope it works quick enough (usually a rubbish plan) 2) Stab an adrenalin filled epi pen into their leg to reduce the swelling instantly. Without either of these options? 100% fatality rate. Every time.

So when my friend leant over and asked “do you have any antihistamine?” and i looked up, everything in me screamed and froze at the same time. Diagonally across from me, Gary was not only demonstrating a severe fish allergy, but it was happening at an alarming rate. Tongue swelling up we could already hear his windpipe closing. Rasping terrified breaths coming from his throat. I did the math, this was rapid onset, he had about 3 mins. The base was five mins away, I have no epi pen, he is already too swollen to swallow any pills.

This boy was going to die.

Right then, right there at the idyllic beach side restaurant, on a missions trip and yet not even in the machete wielding bush bush. By all accounts afterwards, none of them heard my instantaneous inner monologue but could read it as my face drained of all conceivable color as I realised what I was looking at. Years of nurse training for every eventuality had led me to this moment. There was nothing I could do. Nothing.

“Pray!” My friend yelled and we all started praying in tongues furiously and loudly, caring not about whether the waiters of another faith would be bothered or not. At the top of our lungs we commanded this thing to reverse, Gary now terrified unable to gasp a single lungful of air, me watching every scenario we had played out at nurse school panning out in front of me. This was not how it was meant to go. I was meant to be able to do something. This boy was not meant to die.

And then.

Gary sucked in a huge lungful of air and then another, sucking at the air like a fish out of water. He stuck his tongue out and infront of our eyes the swelling reduced and then went to nothing. The three minute mark had been reached. ‘Three minutes and he will be dead’. Three minutes and…sitting infront of us was a perfectly normal, healthy, breathing 13yr old, looking slightly stunned but alive none the less. “I don’t think I am going to have the rest of the fish” he chuckled sheepishly before leaving the table to wash his face. My friend turned to me. Until that moment I hadn’t realised how frozen I had been “how bad was that?” I shook my adrenalin filled head “he should have been dead…he should have been dead…”

Three years of nursing had taught me one thing.

God’s world is a gloriously upside down one.

It was excitement more than anything that filled my head as I bought the paints and plastic handled brushes that would serve as the tools of the evening. The thought that some may never have held a brush, never been asked to express what they were feeling with no restraint except the borders of a page, never received a gift created just for them.

I was asked to come to the homeless cafe that runs every week where swathes of people come in off the street and get a cooked meal, clothes and a roof over their head. It was a bustling melee of people surrounded too by the beautiful, raw youth of the YMCA who regularly come to help their new found church friends. I had a good idea of what I had planned, we had discussed it at length; don’t be too long, just show one or two paintings, there will likely be disturbances. But as worship started in the little back room and I set up the tables and finally my own small canvas, I had no idea whether I was walking into a dream or a soon to be carnage of paint and distraction.

As the musicians played I began to settle my heart, to focus the eyes of my heart and mind back on the one I love, on the God who has asked me to run after Him in this upside down world, the one to whom it is a delight to give everything and do anything. As I began to centre of Him, the paint flowed and my brush eased over canvas, blue and white, smooth and rippled, a hand coming and touching the surface of water. People were starting to drift in now, curiosity getting the better of them, asking me intermittently what I was painting and why. I didn’t really know, I often don’t until it is done. By the time I had finished and looked up again there were almost 35 people in the room, a great mixture of volunteers, youth from the YMCA and those from all walks of lives who had found themselves with no place to live. I looked again at what I painted and heard His still small voice whisper “turn it on its end”. As I turned the painting around I saw what it was, not simply a hand stilling water, but now a hand calling calm to the vertical, distorted, rippling mirror of untruths and beliefs long held about identity and who they were. God was bringing His truth and calm to the lies once believed.

I shared about the painting and people were listening intently. I then took out a canvas, explained it and showed it round and people were enwrapped ‘show us another one’! and another, and another, until six canvases had made the rounds and yet still, their attention was focused on me, the paintings, the paint. I explained the plan for the evening. Everyone had been given the name of another in the room, they were to paint a picture of what they felt God was saying to that person. Simple.

Warily I pointed people to the paint, realising full well that there were not enough brushes for this many people. It was going to be finger paint carnage, I thought in my orderly brain. But each person took their place, a paper and busily, studiously started to create, paint, express their hearts. Not one drop of paint hit the floor, not one person caused a scene or was distracted from the task in hand. I am unsure whether I or the weekly volunteers were more stunned. As I walked round the room I began to see. Pictures of water, rivers, trees, hearts, stars. Pictures showing love and friendship, breakthrough and bright color. Pictures of destiny and dreams and hope. Regardless of skill and ability, what was emerging from fingers covered with rainbows of paint was outstanding. God was on the move.

Before long we called it to order and invited people to explain what they had painted if they wanted to. Reluctant at first, one came up to share and then sheepishly gave her painting to her designated partner who beamed in the corner. Another volunteered and explained his painting of a mountain surrounded by darkness with a bright light crashing in from above. More eager now, people began to volunteer, each explaining what they had created before delighting in giving it to the recipient. Each recipient treasuring their gift and looking more valued and focused than they did when they arrived. More paintings came, trees growing by a river of peace and calm. Hearts and stars, how much God loves them and what He thinks of them. Pictures depicting the war of life and all the struggles and a hand coming in from heaven pulling them out of it. Before long the entire room, almost, had received their pictures and the atmosphere was awesome.

It was then that one of the leaders realised a couple of people were without paintings. “Quick, whisk one up for them” I was told. Pressure on, three seconds to pull one together in I pull a piece of paper and literally draw two squiggles. A kindergartener could have done better, and I am not being modest. I apologetically went over to the lady I had painted it for and explained. “This is a tornado (pointing to a squiggle) and this here is a path (yet another squiggle). The bible says that God works all things together for good for those who love Him. Some things in your life feel like storms or tornados but I see them carving a path and that God is using them to help determine a good path with Him into your future and destiny”. I step back and the woman and her nephew start freaking out. “Oh my gosh!!! We have been saying all week how my life is like a tornado! How it all feels like a tornado! Oh my gosh this is going in the living room in the centre of the room to remind us!”

Stunned I go to paint for the other girl, the final person in the room with no painting.

This beautiful one is about 16, pregnant and with a pretty short attention span, sitting looking curiously at me as I paint. Her painting was similar to one I had done before, a blue back ground with a person, arms outstretched at the base and a dove descending. As I asked Holy Spirit what it was all about I heard Him say “explain to her about jewish adoption”. Seriously?? I went over and tried to explain as quickly as I could before i lost her attention but no need, her ears were fixed on me. “Children born to their parents are those parents kids. But in Jewish culture, that child goes through all their growing up, matures and learns everything the parents have to teach them. At the point where the parent feels they are ready, they have learned and represent the family, the parent legally adopts them into the family. This is a picture of when Jesus was baptised, when God adopted His son into His family, showing the world He was not only HIs natural son but that He chose Him too.” She took the picture looking perplexed and I was concerned she had no idea what I had just said and then she left. Two minutes later the leader came running over to me “do you understand what you just said to her?” I was worried I had said something wrong but before i had chance to reply the girl was back, eyes bright and waving the painting “I was adopted!” she cried excitedly “When you told me that…I was adopted…God was adopted!!!”

Needless to say I was undone.

Needless to say God has just proved His strategy for Romania with me. Bring it on Jesus!

There was a sacred moment today. One of those moments that only comes when you least expect and lasts for an instant and yet, it rings in your ears long after the revelation hits your spirit…

Understated

yet violently loud,

Maybe obvious

& yet

like understanding a 語言 {language} for the first time.

As I stood at the altar of a beautiful tiny church that I call one of my homes, I was readying myself to receive the communion and then…there it was.

A week or so ago during a Sunday morning sermon I heard the scripture where Jesus said that we need to eat His flesh and drink His blood.

He doesn’t even just say it once,

He says it repeatedly,

over

and

over

and

over.

No other explanation was offered, no expounding, no apology, no watering down, no explaining why He appeared to be asking them to do the most extreme opposite thing to every moral fiber and thing He had so far seemed to stand for.

Nothing.

Just a simple statement – from which so many walked away.

John 6 “48 I am the bread of life….If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”

53 Then Jesus said to them, “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him…”

60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”

61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?”…….From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

There is something about that scene that so disturbed me to the core, the question arises of what I would have done in their shoes.

Cannibalism?

Seriously?

I mean, we know the end of the story, but they didn’t.

What were they thinking, wondering…were their dreams and hopes being flushed away with this one impossible statement that made no sense and offended every cell within them? No wonder they walked. But oh how I wish they had stayed. I find myself wishing I could cry out to Jesus, ask Him to explain just this one, right then and there. We deal so badly with offense even in the face of what we know to be trustworthy, which we can lean on in the face of uncertain presentations of reality that are offending us.

And then the last 12 disciples were left standing there.

Bemused,

perplexed,

bewildered,

confused no doubt

and yet,

they had nowhere else to go.

They did not understand any better than the others what He was asking or why He was asking it. All they knew is that they were out of options, there was nowhere else to go.

This was the answer,

HE was the answer,

they KNEW Him so well that He could have asked anything, said anything and they would have followed not because of their ability but because they trusted Him and it was as black and white as that. He was the only messiah, He was the only answer. Whatever.

67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

So,

I am standing at the altar after a week of this scene niggling in the back of my mind and all of a sudden the familiar passage is read and boom.

There it was.

“And Jesus took bread and He broke it, saying this is my body, broken for you”

And I got it.

It was like I was hearing it for the first time. Was like I was sitting round that table with the disciples, following Him for Him, unable to reconcile everything I have heard and yet knowing that all that was needed was that HE knew. And then He lifted the bread… and explained.

I wanted to shout:

oh my gosh, I CAN do that! I can eat bread and remember and… that is what you meant?!”

I felt like dancing and singing and laughing. I felt the weight of an impossible ask lift from my shoulders, the explanation freeing me from the burden of misunderstanding and confusion. I knew in that instant that He knows what He is asking, and He also knows that though He sounds like He is asking us the world, like He might offend us, confuse us, stretch us and baffle us at times with the magnanimity of what He asks…

He also knows what He means and that we will be more than able to do what He has before us.

Itll seem as huge as being asked to eat flesh

but will be as easy & life giving as eating bread.

We have just got to trust and follow the person that we know rather than the doctrines we find easy to do.

I know Him.

I trust Him.

I will go anywhere for & with Him.

Where else would I go?

He is the only one with the words of eternal life, He is the only one I love more than life itself.

I have just clicked. It’s about love. JUST about love, not about figuring it out, or trying to measure and judge and wonder and balance and get people sussed. It’s about loving them in their frailty, in their fullness, in who they are not what they are walking under the burden of. It’s about doing the ONLY thing God commanded us to do and letting HIM do the rest. It’s about learning to LOVE WELL, extending a grace and an unconditional love that is so radical and so beautiful and so safe and accepting that it creates a place for God to break through with His love in the places that need healing. It’s about love love love. May religion, theology, judgement, cynicism, logic and all else die in me and leave only one prayer…Jesus…teach me how to love well.


Isaiah 55

An Invitation to Abundant Life

Oh what an invitation!!! I so desire the place of abundant life, the place where Jesus dwells and I have been made welcome and invited to come, not to just sip, not to glance longingly as though through a shop window. But oh I accept a thousand times accept the invitation to come and be and drink and twirl and rest and curl up in the arms of the one I love, the one who calls my name and leads me to the place of abundance. 

 1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
      Come to the waters; 
      And you who have no money, 
      Come, buy and eat. 
      Yes, come, buy wine and milk 
      Without money and without price. 
       
2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, 
      And your wages for 
what does not satisfy? 
      Listen carefully to Me, and eat 
what is good, 
      And let your soul delight itself in abundance. 


I am parched and thirsty, oh so deeply thirsty, for that fresh touch of God, for the abiding presence that is the moment when we enter the place that He dwells. Without price, without cost, without striving, without all the frills and spills of life’s achievement focused mentality. Oh I drink so so deeply of the sweetness of His Word and presence. I long for more, I long to know how to feast only on the riches that He lays on the table before me. Oh that my ignorant mind would be enlightened and my flesh crucified that I could fully and completely give everything I have to the one I love!

       
3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. 
      Hear, and your soul shall live; 
      And I will make an everlasting covenant with you— 
      The sure mercies of David. 
       
4 Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people, 
      A leader and commander for the people. 
       
5 Surely you shall call a nation you do not know, 
      And nations 
who do not know you shall run to you, 
      Because of the LORD your God, 
      And the Holy One of Israel; 
      For He has glorified you.” 

SHABA!!!!

       8 “ For My thoughts are not your thoughts, 
      Nor 
are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. 
       
9 “ For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
      So are My ways higher than your ways, 
      And My thoughts than your thoughts. 

Almighty God, forgive me for the times that I have created my image of you from my perfected image of humanity. Thank you that you are so incredibly more and unimaginably greater and are full of divine contradictions that we can never get our head around so that we can never ever put you in a box. 

       10 “ For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, 
      And do not return there, 
      But water the earth, 
      And make it bring forth and bud, 
      That it may give seed to the sower 
      And bread to the eater, 
       
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; 
      It shall not return to Me void, 
      But it shall accomplish what I please, 
      And it shall prosper 
in the thing for which I sent it. 

OH MY GOSH this has come up so much today!!! And as we were spoken into being, WE are words of God as well and we will accomplish what He has set out for us. Every promise, every word, every desire…they will not return to HIm void empty or fruitless. I cling and rejoice in that truth and remind myself daily of the words from His mouth. 

       12 “ For you shall go out with joy, 
      And be led out with peace; 
      The mountains and the hills 
      Shall break forth into singing before you, 
      And all the trees of the field shall clap 
their hands. 
       
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, 
      And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; 
      And it shall be to the LORD for a name, 
      For an everlasting sign 
that shall not be cut off.”

Jesus i love you, you bless my heart beyond measure and satisfy and refresh my soul beyond what I could imagine possible. Thank you for your love, your grace, your living water which never runs dry. I love you

Its upside down, the whole thing is upside down. We speak of a kingdom that is on its head, we know that Jesus did things so contrary to logic and expectations, and yet this truth rarely permeates throughout every aspect of our lives. I had a further revelation of this this morning. Doesn’t sound too profound but sometimes the most simple truths that move into our hearts, are the ones that are keys to so much of Him. 


We feel tired/sick and so we wait to get prayer before we pray for people. We contend for months and years in church to see healings breakout, so we wait until we see them there before we go out onto the streets. We think this is logical, rational…not running before we can walk etc etc. Surely the pure use of those words should ring alarm bells! As I have prayed out of my weakness when I thought I needed prayer the most, healings bust out and my problems just disappear, my perspective is changed and joy fills me from head to foot. Sometimes we don’t need to “deal with issues”, we just need to change our perspective and remember quite who God is, how real He is and just how much He loves us…the rest sorts itself out without any further effort. 


The biggest thing that dawned on me though, was that as we start praying for people on the streets after months of reasonably unsuccessfully praying for healings in the church, that healings bust out on the streets effortlessly and then what happened?….3 healings in two minutes this morning at church! come ON!!!!!


When will we realise that EVERYTHING about the kingdom of God is on its head, completely irrational, illogical, impossible and therefore 100% glorifying to GOD!!!! 


Jesus would you continue and never stop turning my world on its head, removing my rationalisations and sweeping me up in a dance, running on this great adventure. God thank you that you always show up! that all you ask us to be are taps, faucets of your Spirit. Whatever we keep in the church will die in the church….thank you that as we are running and skipping and dancing on the streets and inviting people to your kingdom, you are breaking out at church.


COME ON JESUS!!!!!!!