Dropping the Defences

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“A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.”
― Percy Bysshe Shelley

It would be wonderful if we could drop our defences completely with one another. Be free to bare our souls, our cracks, our joys unhindered by fear or experiences of reproach. It takes a lot of mental energy to maintain those defences, valuable energy which wastes away in the process, forfeiting the opportunity to channel itself into something holy and beautiful.

Jesus had no defences; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter and breathed not one word of justification. Jesus knew what was in man, He had no need for anyone to remind Him of the fickleness of human nature, yet He lived His life boldly in the face of exposure to mockery, jealous backlashes and the attention of hungry crowds.

Maybe we could let down our defences and let ourselves be seen as God sees us. When we live before Him we live transparently regardless of our attempts to be otherwise. God sees past our defences and loves us deeper still.

Why do we need to justify our stories? Every person’s encounter with Christ looks different. Every person’s experience of God is different. Every person’s understanding of how He moves in our lives is different.

Yes, there are always fundamental principles and truths… but no set of fingerprints are the same, no snowflake that falls replicates another.

If we laid down our defences I am convinced others would more clearly see Christ formed in us. If we uncovered the treasure within these earthen vessels and admitted once and for all that it’s Christ in us who is our hope of glory.

How liberatingly beautiful it would be to join Paul, to be unafraid and unashamed to say:

‘My experience of the law is that when I want to do good, only evil is within my reach. For I am in hearty agreement with God’s law so far as my inner self is concerned. But then I find another law in my bodily members, which is in continual conflict with the law which my mind approves, and makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is inherent in my mortal body. For left to myself, I serve the law of God with my mind, but in my unspiritual nature I serve the law of sin. It is an agonising situation, and who can set me free from the prison of this mortal body? I thank God there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 7 v 21-25

Maybe it is no coincidence that Paul was one of the most influential men in the early church. He was aware of himself, but better still- he was acutely aware of God.

Monday Prayers

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Father God,

Empower us to love one another

For love comes from You

You are love in every form

When we love we are truly born of You

When we love

We are conformed and transformed

Into Your image

We honour You for how You showed Your love to us

For sending Your one and only Son

To this wicked and desperate Earth

That we might live through Him

This is love

Not that we loved You

But that You loved us

And made a way out of sin

Into wholeness and righteousness

Help us to love each other until we see Christ

Until His love is made complete in us

Let Your perfect love drive out fear

Make us perfect in the knowledge of Your love

We can love

Because You first loved us

We long to know and rely

On the love You have for us

Amen.

1 John 4 v 7-19

 

 

Stumbling into the Light

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I celebrate those moments in my walk with Christ when it all seems to fall into place. When I have vision and passion, and where my focus is firmly on Him. At these times I can sense destiny in the air, His word seems to speak directly to my heart and a lifestyle of worship is the norm. It feels safe to be in this place, safe and good. In those moments there is clarity in my life.

But those other moments, in between the experiences of clarity… feel like I am stumbling around in the dark, weighed down with a shattered heart, deep disappointment and far off dreams.

The stumbling feels unsafe, dangerous. I feel guilty before God for my emotional state, as though by acknowledging the wounds in my life I am somehow betraying the goodness of God.

The thing is, in the midst of it all, way way down in my heart, I know God is faithful. I know He is good. It’s just that my human experience in this season briefly eclipsed the light of His purpose and plan for a time.

So what do we do when we are stumbling? How do we regain hope when it has been dashed against the rocks? We continue. Continue stumbling down the path of righteousness. As Eugene Peterson so aptly phrased; it’s a long obedience in the same direction.

We sit before God and weep. We read the word and meditate on truth, even as our minds are racing with thought after thought of loss and pain. We sing to God songs of praise, believing in our hearts that its authenticity is in our choosing to do so in spite of the sadness we feel.

This is truly a sacrifice of praise.

This is where my journey has led me recently. I have wrestled with hurt, guilt and sadness. I have revisited old wounds and fought off bitterness and anger. I have arrived at a place of process in God. He is more than able to handle our process;

‘For He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.’– Psalm 103 v 14

Even so, these 3 remain… faith, hope and love. I learned in this season that without hope, faith and love fall flat. Without hope, faith is a burden and a struggle to maintain. Hope brings joy to our journey of faith and ignites love within us.

Hope is springing back slowly but surely. It always does given enough time.

So don’t quit. Don’t look back in anger. A season of clarity is coming once again; though the vision tarries it will surely come.

Stumbling into the light is better than losing the light altogether. It’s definitely humbling, but I know which route I need to take.

“I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly.”
― Madeleine L’Engle

Monday Prayers

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Father God,

We turn away from the practice

 Of honouring You with our words

But not with our lives.

We turn away from declaring “Lord, Lord”

While not doing what You say.

We honour Your words as precious and vital

Life-building material.

Show us how to incorporate Your word into our lives

And our lives into Your word.

May our lives reveal a deep and beautiful foundation

A testimony to all we meet.

That Christ is the only firm foundation upon which to build

Always has been, always will be.

All other ground is

Sinking sand.

-Luke 6 v 46- 49

 

Impossible For Who?

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‘Keep lifting up to God the impossibility until He speaks’– Bill Johnson

God has been reminding me lately about open doors and the favour He has given to walk through them. He specialises in opening doors, making a way where there appears to be no way, providing streams in the desert.

He created the door, He initiated the way, and He is familiar with the desert. He is not intimidated by the ‘impossible’.

Maybe we ask the wrong questions. We ask ‘is this possible?’ sometimes without even realising it. We may not verbalise it with words, but our decisions, attitudes and actions reveal the unspoken question.

God asks us questions too;

‘Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?’

‘Have you ever given orders to the morning or shown the dawn its place?’

‘What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?’

‘Who can tip over the water jars of heaven?’

‘Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like His?’

Job ch 38- 41

God is making a point here. He wants a response from our hearts like Job’s, to exclaim in humility ‘I know that You can do all things. No purpose of Yours can be thwarted….Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.’ (Job 42 v 1-3)

To accept we cannot limit God takes humility. To embrace knowing what is impossible with man, is possible with God.

He creates and calls into being with the words of His mouth. At His command the Earth was formed, He created light and separated it from the darkness. He created something significant out of nothing worth mentioning. God has not changed; He is still speaking forth and creating life. He will speak life into our dead situations. He will speak life into the lost and abandoned dreams, endeavours and hopes hidden in our hearts for ourselves and others.

One word from God changes everything. Keep bringing Him the ‘impossibilities’ until He speaks.

The lyrics to this song sustained me and spurred me on during a time of intense ministry to the homeless and addicted on the streets of my City;

You can shine light into the darkness
And You can set every prisoner free
You can make streams flow in the desert
This is what we are longing to see

Because we know
And we believe

Nothing, nothing is impossible for You
Anything, anything can happen
When Your power breaks through
Hear our cry for Your supernatural touch
God of Miracles, come and visit us

Vicky Beeching- ‘Nothing is Impossible’

‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ was a question asked by a wise disciple of Christ.

The answer?

‘Believe in the one He has sent’ ( John 6 v 28-29).

And God said “Let there be light”, and there was light- Genesis 1

Journey of a Lifetime

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Over the mountains, over the sea
Here You come running, my Lover to me
Oh, through the valleys, through the dark of night
Here You come running, to hold me till it’s light’- ‘Song of Solomon’ Jesus Culture

The love that our God personifies is limitless. It is tenacious in its pursuit, fearless in controversy and steadfast through the worst of times.

We will be discovering it for the rest of our lives, both now and in eternity. Psalm 63 v 3 makes a bold declaration;

‘Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.’

Better than life…. Imagine that.

I know I have a long way to go before I even touch the surface of that awareness, the knowledge deep within that His love is better than life itself.

This means His love is better than any aspect and domain of life on this Earth. This is huge; hard for my finite mind to fully understand.

Life is precious, life is a gift and life is uniquely beautiful- But the Psalmist makes it clear that despite all of that, it does not compare to the love of our Almighty God.

We are not there yet; we have not yet experienced the depths of His love. This should not be discouraging or frustrating to us but rather compelling. Compelling us to continue on the journey with God, knowing there is rich treasure awaiting us.

Do those in our lives who are yet to know Jesus see the journey we are on? Have we shared about the discoveries along the way? Have we spoken in awe of the depths of His love? The glimpses we experience along the way?

I believe we should. They need to know we have not yet arrived at our destination, to stir up curiosity in their souls and provoke them to seek out this beautiful mystery.

We must tell them His love is all consuming; that they could get lost in the depths if they wanted to.

It takes the power of God in our lives to grasp how high and wide and long and deep the love of Christ is (Ephesians 3 v 18). When we come to a place of really knowing the love that surpasses knowledge… We will have arrived.

We will be filled with all the fullness of God.

‘Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us…’

Where are you on your journey? 

Following the Way

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‘This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls”.’- Jeremiah 6 v 16

We will encounter crossroads every year of our lives, without exception. The question is- will we know what to do when faced with one? Do we know what questions to ask?

A wise person once said that it is not the answer but asking the right question that matters. Ask the wrong question and we are liable to get the wrong answer.

This passage exhorts us to look, ask and then walk.

Looking at what is before us; can we see the way clearly? Can we discern one way from another? Taking time to look before us is an art perfected by time and experience.

We also need to ask; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is.

What is the good way? I love how the Bible speaks of Christ followers as followers of ‘The Way’, The Apostle Paul states;

‘..However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect’- Acts 24 v 14

The Way… it suggests a route, a path, a journey. It is indicative of following a set way marked out for us. I believe this means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. To follow in the path he has already laid out for us. The Apostle Paul, who had previously persecuted followers of the ‘Way’ to their death (Acts 22 v 4), now identifies himself as one. What had he discovered?

Maybe it was something similar to what Simon Peter realised;

‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that You are the Holy one of God’- John 6 v 68-69

The ancient paths are the paths that Jesus trod. The way that He lived His life, the direction He headed in, the purposes He intentionally fulfilled on the Earth.

Walking in the ancient paths, the good way, may leave us labelled as old-fashioned and narrow minded. Regardless of the reaction we must cling to the Way, knowing that the word of God stands forever. As He has purposed so it shall stand.

Truth does not change or evolve with the times.

Our understanding and comprehension of truth may change, but the truth itself remains firm. Heaven and Earth may pass away, but His words never will.

Look for Jesus at the crossroads,

Ask Him for the ancient paths- the good way,

Walk in it,

Discover rest for your souls.

Are you facing a crossroad in your life?