Saint, Where Is Your Home?

Dear holy ones,

For the longest time I’ve wanted to sing this song to all of you out there loud and strong, clearly and powerfully. The recording is posted below. My voice won’t do it justice but that doesn’t matter. The Spirit of God is able to speak through a donkey so He is able to use my voice :-).

This song is three things.

1. This song is a call to all saints to truly enter into Christ our Promised Land, through the gathering of believers under His Headship

It is a call for saints all over the world to leave, deny and forsake their natural lives and even geographical locations if necessary (i.e. comforts of this world system, home and religious practises) to come in to a true local expression of Christ in, and as Head of, His Body. Let the deciding factor of where we live geographically no longer be based on employment, preference of weather, family, friends, schools, our children’s needs and so on but be based on where the Lord wants us and where He has a local expression among our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s cast off the religious trappings that bind us and the comforts of our flesh that prevent the living Christ from having full reign and expression (there’s more of Him folks, always more!). From wherever we have been spiritually, scattered to this wind of doctrine and that, let’s come home to Jesus Christ as Head of His church.

…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ Himself, who is the head.…(Eph 4:14)

Let’s take up our cross, give Him first place in all things. Let’s take up our pilgrimage back to the Ancient Pathways, back to the Beginning, who is Christ. Back to the One by whom, through whom and to whom all things have been created. Back to the headship of the One whom God the Father calls His beloved Son and says ‘Listen to Him’. Back to the One whom God has given all things, the One in whom The Fullness dwells. The One who has the preeminence in all things. He who is the Beginning and the End. He who IS the Church. He in whom God will sum up all things in the fullness of time.

And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead, so that in all things He may have preeminence. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross.…(Colossians 1:19)

There is so much noise out there today. Our world has become so small – as in, we are informed and exposed to things that are going on around the globe that wouldn’t ordinarily affect our daily lives.  The chaos that is taking place in other nations has entered many other nations via social media and the television. Of-course we’ve now got a global pandemic and almost all of humanity alive is aware of its impact across the world.

In the midst of fear and turmoil, rebellion, anarchy, hatred, violence, protests, confusion, pain, suffering, rising power, the overthrowing of power and deep fractures there are nations crying out to protect and save their own ideals and cling on to yesteryear. And God knows, there are multitudes of christians getting swept up in the fray and losing sight of our True King and Country.

Saints! Christ is our King! Christ is our Nation! Christ is our Country! He is our Promised Land! He is the Promise of God that God has brought us into. We have been brought out from captivity just like the Israelites were delivered out from Egypt. Let’s not be like those Israelites who set up camp in the wilderness, who got comfortable in alien lands and idol worship of various kinds, and find that we cannot enter in! Did you know that we can indeed set up the country we live in/were born in to be an idol? Did you know that we can make our version of politics an idol? Social justice and causes can also easily become idols or distractions that can take that place in our thoughts & focus that belongs to Christ!

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, WHO IS YOUR LIFE, appears, then you also will appear with Him. (Colossians 3:4).

2. This song is a shout out to all God’s people living in America and Australia right now in 2020

Here in Australia we are privy to a great deal of the goings on in America but are also influenced by that. Many ‘Australian’ christians are caught up in American politics and cultural happenings, way beyond just being informed.

For this song, I have borrowed Neil Diamond’s song called “America” and have re-written the lyrics to express what is in my heart and spirit. Neil Diamond wrote his song as a tale of Jews being called from all over the globe to freedom found in the United States. Just a shadow, folks! Just a shadow! Just a shadow of THE REALITY! Forget the ‘great American dream’ and pursue God’s dream! Yes, God has a dream and His dream is His Son, the living Christ, the Son of God. And to see Him expressed, magnified and glorified in His people, the church LOCAL. (Please click on this link to read more on this).

Beloved, let me just say, the United States are not united.  That is not the nation of freedom. Neither is Australia the ‘lucky country’ or ‘God’s country’ as it is so often called. No, Christ is God’s country!  Christ is our Fortune!  Christ is our Freedom and Promise, and when we His people, are united IN HIM, when we gather together UNDER CHRIST, when we forsake allegiance to earthly country to take up allegiance to the KINGDOM OF GOD, we find TRUE LIBERTY! Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

So, as the Holy Spirit says;

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways’. So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.””

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said;

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion”

Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:7-29, NIV)

…so long as it is called Today! Christ is the New Day and Christ IS Today.

3. This song is the call of the Ekklessia (assembly of Christ’s body members) to her embrace

Far….

We’ve been travelling far

Towards His home

Towards His Morning Star

Free

He wants us to be free

We huddle close

Hang on to His dream

In the cars and on the planes

We’re coming to the Promised Land

Never looking back again

We’ve come into the Promised Land

Home, doesn’t seem so far away

He’s our living Light Today

He’s the eye of the storm

He’s the eye of the storm

Home, it is a new and shiny place

He lays His Head and pours out His grace

Freedom’s Light burning warm

Freedom’s Light burning warm

Everywhere around the world

They’re coming to the Promised Land

Everywhere His flag’s unfurled

They’ve come into the Promised Land

Got a dream to take them there

They’re coming to the Promised Land

Got a dream they’ve come to share

They’ve come into the Promised Land

We’ve come into the Promised Land

We’ve come into the Promised Land

We’ve come into the Promised Land

We’ve come into the Promised Land

Today, Today, Today, Today, Today

Our country ’tis of Thee

(Today)

Sweet Land of liberty

Of  Thee we sing

(Today)

of Thee we sing

(Today)

Can you see them coming? Can you see the saints leaving the world behind and making their pilgrimage once and for all back to their Homeland? Back to the Headship and Life of Christ? Can you see the multitudes? Can you see them in their gatherings all over the world? Can you see their faces radiant with the Light of Christ shining out of them? If you aren’t already, will you be among them?

*Other posts that echo this same call ;

Listening To The Call

Haystacks and Harvest

* The original song was written and recorded by Neil Diamond. These above lyrics have been made up to reflect the message of my post and my heart. I claim no ownership to the song and will not be professionally recording my version 😄

 

What I Didn’t Expect To Find In Body Life – Part 1

My mum has dementia – alzheimers.  As part of her condition she also suffers from sundowner syndrome. If you know anything about these conditions you’ll know they’re pretty awful. They’re distressing for the patient and distressing for their loved ones and carers.

Derek and I had been married only two years before moving into the garage of my mum and dad’s house in 2010. Two years later in 2012 dad passed away and Derek and I moved with my mum to another house. The three of us lived together from early 2013 to December of 2016 while I became her full time carer. Since then she has been living in a cabin where my sister is now her full time carer.

Initially she wasn’t too bad. She was only showing signs of cognitive impairment. You know, forgetting where her wardrobe was for a few days before getting used to a new house and getting a surprise every time she saw she had ice cream in her freezer, not recollecting how it got there. That was in the beginning. By early to mid 2016 she was repeating her stories, asking the same question over again, was weepy and emotionally fragile any time of the day, couldn’t remember how to use the microwave or how to turn on the oven. But she could still feed her dog, make a cup of tea, tidy her room, do cross-words, read magazines and play free-cell on the computer.

I found it very hard living with her, not only because of her condition but because I just didn’t want to be living with my mum. But mum’s worsening conditions made it very hard and I would get very frustrated with having to deal with it. I would often be in tears and feeling like I was losing my own mind! When I look back, I was more frustrated and burdened because I was resisting it. Mum’s deterioration as difficult and sad as it was, wasn’t really the major problem for me. The major problem was my resistance to my circumstances. And it was God who put me in those circumstances. Anyway, as you know, we moved away for 3 years and have recently returned.  Now that we’re back in NSW , I get to visit mum every week.  She’s much worse of-course but I am so grateful the Lord has mercifully allowed me to be in her life again before He should take her home.

Living in Perth, WA, I was blessed to be part of body life with a certain sister called Elsa. Elsa worked with the elderly and was familiar with alzheimers, dementia and various other conditions that the elderly can suffer from so she was very helpful to me in coming to terms with my mother’s changing ways.  Elsa had a way of seeing people that was different to mine. What I would see as frustrating,  irritating, sad, distressing, annoying, disappointing, worth complaining about, Elsa would see as sweet, loving, joyous, light hearted, worth celebrating and/or in a positive light that just didn’t come naturally to me. Sometimes I was almost frustrated because I would want her to just join me in my complaining! But that wasn’t Elsa. She always had a positive spin that she would share with a thrill in her voice and a smile on her face! Best of all, this was genuine. It was just Elsa.

Elsa also became a grandmother during the time I was there, even though she seems like a very young grandmother at that! I observed her arrange a beautiful baby shower for her daughter and smother her daughter with so much love and grace, spoiling her and nurturing her and rallying support around her. I  watched her welcome her little grandson into their lives and love him with as much love as anyone could.  Elsa also got a kick out of making pretty settings for the sisters – warmly surrounding us with welcoming table settings and an atmosphere that would just embrace you with the warmest hug. I spent just under three years doing body life with Elsa and then God called us back to NSW and back into my mother’s life.

Recently, I had the opportunity to have my mum come and stay with us for two nights. It was going to be a risk as far as disorienting her and potentially causing a whole bunch of confusion for her whilst staying with us and then also when going back to her house. But I was keen to have her come and stay for a couple of reasons. One was so that we could trial run giving my sister some much needed respite. (Of-course, I can empathise with her since she is now mum’s full time carer). The second reason was because I just simply wanted to have my mum come and visit. I was actually so excited to have her come and stay.

I had made up a spare room for her. I’d bought her a new doona cover and brought in some of her own familiar furniture, made it all pretty and pink and set up a little computer for Netflix. That meant she would be able to watch her favourite detective shows which would normalise things.  She wouldn’t know how to use a different TV remote anyway, so it didn’t matter that we didn’t have a spare TV, the computer did the trick. I cleaned the house and made it all lovely and cosy for her. I cooked dinner both nights and we all ate at the table together.  I even cooked a slice. I made her breakfast in bed and cups of tea, I took her dog Buddy for walks and enjoyed watching him play with our little bloke, Rocky. I made sure she took her pills and I continued to reassure her throughout the day and nights where she was and that she was just visiting and reminded her where she lived and so on. I gave her hugs and cuddles and told her I loved her, I affirmed her as my mum and as a woman and as a Christian.  I had resigned myself to the likely fact that I would get no sleep at all on both nights because of her late night confusion and wanderings due to sundowners and so prepared by setting myself up on the couch at night so that Derek could hopefully get undisturbed sleep locked away in our bedroom.

I was thrilled to have her. I was so full of love for her. I wanted to serve her, care for her, make her feel special, be kind and gentle with her and I felt truly honoured to love her this way. Nothing was too much trouble. Nothing was annoying or grating on me. I wasn’t frustrated or rolling my eyes when she wasn’t looking or talking under my breath. All things I had done in the past. I even found her sarcastic tones and digs that come out at night time due to her condition to be quite amusing. Not in a derogatory way but in a light hearted and tender way. I found her inoffensive and I felt nothing but compassion for her even when I had to speak to her sternly the night that she unlocked the front door and let her dog out into the unfenced yard on the street, telling her to get to bed and stay there. I found myself seeing her as Christ sees her. Dear and precious, dependent, helpless and of great worth.

This wasn’t me. I’m a complainer you see, by nature (even genetically perhaps?). God had been showing me over recent years just how much of a complainer I am in my old man, my flesh. So what was going on? Why was I so different to how I’d been in the past? In the midst of these three days with my mum, something became apparent to me. Something surprising, amazing and beautiful. I felt like Elsa.

I was behaving like I’d observed Elsa behave. I wasn’t even putting it on. I wasn’t pretending or trying, it was genuine. I wasn’t even thinking of Elsa. It was coming out from inside of me. It was clearly the love of God for my mum, which is so beautiful. It is beautiful to feel His love for her. Once I realised this, all I could think of was Elsa. In my thoughts I could see her smiling and laughing and making light of things that would ordinarily have driven me crazy but now didn’t. And you know what else? I wasn’t feeling burdened in any way. The Lord sustained me through the days without sleep, or lack of. He kept my heart filled with love. Oh, I was tired for sure but it was OK. He kept me going. His burden is indeed light, and His yoke indeed is easy.

There’s allot to be said for acceptance. Resistance is painful and burdensome, endless and only deepens the angst of a situation. But acceptance is light, much easier and we can breathe, adjust and carry on.

Elsa had rubbed off on me. Or should I say that Christ in Elsa, had rubbed off on me. That portion of Christ that is uniquely expressed in her had gotten in to me by osmosis. The definition of the word osmosis is quite complicated for one who isn’t a good science student and so I have my own understanding of what it means (I don’t know if you’re allowed to have your own version of what a word means but I do??) However, I did find one definition to fit my understanding.

Dictionary.com gives this alternative definition;  Osmosis – a subtle or gradual absorption or mingling:

To me, osmosis is when something is unconsciously changed to the likeness of something else as a result of being in the company of that something else over a long period of time.  In my experience this osmosis type process occurs in authentic body life. And that ‘something else’ is Christ in another brother or sister.  Just take a look at this beautiful image of the butterflies.

Image by Muhammad Ridha from Pixabay

The two butterflies (which are actually twins apparently) reflect one another. They are both living from the same Vine – a picture of us living from Christ together. They are facing one another -i.e. face-to-face community. They are both transparent with one another and the Light of the world is shining through them to one another.

Knowing Elsa, in her humility I’m sure she would be quick to point out her flaws and weaknesses, she would be the first to say that she’s not perfect (though in Christ, she is perfect). The point is, that Christ in Elsa, had gotten in to me without anyone trying or being aware of it. And isn’t that just how body life is supposed to work? Each member in the body of Christ supplying the other members? What a perfect instrument the Lord has created in His body. His body absolutely carries His life to its members. Here are a few different translations of Ephesians 4:16 that explain this fascinating and beautiful process in the body of Christ.

He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (NLT) 

from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (NAS)

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (KJV)

The members of the Lord’s body supply one another in a variety of ways of course. It might be through their testimony, something they share at a church meeting, a sighting of the Lord or in a song. It might be in their hospitality for weekly dinners or get togethers, their humility, their gentle spirit. Or through their encouragements and exhortation. It may occur practically through financial giving, practical helps in community life. Even through offering godly sound counsel or correction, as the Spirit leads. Some of these things will be obvious in the moment but other things are by osmosis as in my example of beautiful Elsa.

An important point to highlight here is that this authentic body life in which the life of Christ can supply each member as described in Ephesians 4:16, can’t happen one day a week for a couple of hours. We are called to body life, not body meetings. And its within the context of body life (community/family/being in one another’s lives) that we are changed. There is the ebb and flow of Christ’s life among the saints, as their lives are shared openly with one another.  In that environment, as it says in the Ephesians verse, the whole body grows up healthy and full of love. In other words, the whole body becomes a larger expression of our Lord in our geographical locality. This is a reflection or expression of the community of the Godhead. As each member of the Godhead supplies one another, God (three in one) builds Himself up in love, because He is love! And it’s out of His love that we the church have come into existence.

The Lord’s life is eternal. Therefore, it makes sense that even though I now live 5,000 kms away from the saints there in Perth, the portion of the Lord that has been expressed through one or each saint that I have been built with over 3 years, lives on. His life is a continual flow.  I can’t predict how I will be next time I have my mum come visit, though I do know I’m looking forward to it again. I do pray that the Lord is doing a deep and permanent work in me in this regard for His sake, for her sake and for mine. It feels that way so far. All I know is that it’s not my life, its His life in me, that is loving her. And that has been imparted to me through body life. And this experience has become life to me and subsequently for my mum. My mum has been loved by Christ all the way from Perth without her ever knowing. God is so gracious and merciful.

On a practical level, sure, I’m not living with mum full time. It’s definitely easier to cope with her deterioration when I only see her once a week or for a short stay. I’m certain that if she was living with us full time I would be most tempted to return to complaining and grumbling and to resistance. Though I hope not. I would rather like to imagine that though I would find it hard no doubt, I would have been so changed by Christ that I would find a place of rest and acceptance. However, where and what the future looks like concerning me and my mum isn’t the point of this post. My failings and weaknesses also aren’t the point of this post or we’d be here all week, but rather the amazing surprises that come from authentic body life.

There is indeed a Life that is living in the body of the Lord that changes us, that lives on and reaches out beyond ourselves to touch others around us. It is the life of Christ in His body. It is His characteristics. It is Him. He is in His saints. In each and very member. A face-to-face community of believers learning to live together by His indwelling life is a hot house for His life to be released to the world as well as to one another. I’m sure He loves it when we finally see what He’s been up to, like me seeing Him revealed in Elsa, in having my mum visit.

Be blessed saints, God is working in ways we don’t always see at the time. And if you’re in an authentic community of believers learning to live together by Christ’s life indwelling you, you are blessed beyond measure. And I encourage and exhort you to continue to bear the cross with one another, continue to give your lives for one another, lay down your preferences and opinions, open your hearts, lives and homes to one another and hold fast The Head at all times. He is in His body.

And if you’re not in such a community can I encourage you to seek the Lord on whether or not to relocate if need be, to be part of one if there’s not one where you live. You can contact the guys over at 3rdrace.org at contactthesaints@gmail.com to find out where there are communities of saints living out true authentic body life in the United States and other countries including the two existing ones we know of in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can God Use Anything? – Stuntmen, Manta Rays & Accidents

When I was a kid there was an ad on television advertising some frozen seafood – fish fingers or something of that nature.  It involved a man dressed in a chef’s uniform, frantically swimming around in a large fish tank holding out in front of him a frying pan of fish, whilst being followed by a shark. The idea was that the fish in the pan was so fresh that the shark was wanting it.  I’ve tried looking for the ad on the web but unfortunately couldn’t find it. It was quite funny really. Well years later in my early adult life my sister and I met this man who was a stuntman and he told us a funny story about the film shoot. His name is Claude.

Apparently, the TV crew had to do a great number of takes to get the ad just right. He recalled to us how cold it was and that he was in the fish tank almost the whole day.  He wasn’t allowed to wear oxygen tanks for the sake of authenticity. Each time they had to do another shoot he would have to start swimming around in one direction in his chef’s uniform in the hope of getting in front of the shark. The timing of this was imperative to capture the image for the commercial and to keep him alive without tanks! One can only imagine how many takes it must have taken to get this timing right. Obviously the shark wasn’t a danger to him – I think?

However, they kept running into a specific problem. This problem was a giant female manta ray who took a liking to Claude! Each time he would start on his swim around the tank she would glide over and gradually lower herself onto him, pinning him to the bottom of the tank! A diver would have to jump in and lift her large wing to get some oxygen to Claude who would be almost flattened under her weight, eventually lift her off and get him out of there. And then they’d have to start again. This went on all day until they finally got it right.  Wow. How bizarre. She was apparently quite smitten with him!

Now, I hadn’t thought of that story for, I reckon about over 20 years atleast. But the strangest thing happened to me in September last year, 9 months ago. I was in a car accident. A bad one at that. Our car was written off. It wasn’t my fault and the other driver didn’t sustain any injuries. I got a fractured thumb, sore wrist, bruising, a lump on my head, concussion and some post traumatic stress which I am still getting through by God’s grace. It happened on the way to work the very day I was going to resign in order to return to NSW from our time in WA, on the word of the Lord to our hearts.  The timing was uncanny (yet not, if you know what I mean). The car! We needed that car to drive nearly 5,000 kms back across the desert, across the country! Ouch. She was trashed.

Backtracking just a little…as I was sitting at the lights at the intersection before the accident and waiting for the green right arrow, I switched on some music and started listening to an old Chuck Girard song called “Slow Down”.  Here are the words;

In the midst of my confusion
In the time of desperate need
When I am thinking not too clearly
A gentle voice does intercede

Slow down, slow down, be still
Be still and wait, on the Spirit of….the Lord
Slow down and hear His voice
And know that He….is….God

In the time of tribulation
When I’m feeling so unsure
When things are pressing in about me
Comes a gentle voice so still, so pure

Slow down, slow down, be still
Be still and wait, on the Spirit of the Lord
Slow down and hear His voice
And know that He………is God
And know that He….is…God

I think the track was into the second line of the first chorus “Be still and wait..” when the car hit. Crash.  A 90 km an hour hit on my side of the car.  As I spun 360 degrees, repeatedly banging my head on the drivers’ window until eventually it shattered… “…on the Spirit of the Lord, Slow down and hear His voice and know that He is God…In the time of tribulation…” and so on. It was quite surreal. I called out loudly on the name of Jesus over and over as I spun and although not conscious of it at the time, was clearly being ministered to by the Lord through this song, deep, deep into my spirit in a very supernatural way.

When I lay in the ambulance at the scene all I could think of was that manta ray. All I could feel was that I had this big, gigantic warm blanket of the presence of God that had pressed me down and held me, covered, protected, shielded me. All I could feel was love. So much love. So much peace.  Again, it was most surreal. I just lay there thanking God for this incredible experience. My heart was filled with peace and a deep, deep joy.  I can’t say I’ve ever experienced such peace. Even now as I recollect, I can sense it again.

The ambulance officer told me I was a very lucky lady. Looking at the car wreck it was obvious that had I been just one second faster, the impact would have been directly into my door and I don’t think I’d be here today. Certainly not without serious injury. Perhaps those words ‘slow down’ reached much deeper than just my ears at the time that I drove forward on the green arrow. I’m certain of it.

There were many times driving across the country 3 months later that I was afraid and experiencing traumatic images etc as we passed road train after road train. However, from time to time we would pass an RV and notice it’s brand was none other than “Manta Ray”, with a small picture of a manta ray as part of it’s logo. As Derek would drive past the RV in our left hand lane, I would gaze out the passenger’s window at the picture and words as they went right by my eye level. In that quiet moment between the Lord and I, I would be reminded of that moment of immense peace of God that absolutely surpassed all understanding.  He was always gently reminding me of His big love on that road trip. His big, giant manta ray Love.

Who would think that the Spirit of God would sing ‘Slow Down’ to me while I waited at the lights and continue to sing to me as I spun a 360. Who would think He would connect His grace, mercy, protection and love to a story of a stuntman in a chef’s uniform being held down by an infatuated manta ray whilst filming a commercial for fish almost 35-40 years ago! Can God use anything? You bet He can.

Our God is an extraordinary God folks. He never ceases to amaze me.

Psalm 91 reads;

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge[b]
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

 

Johnny Cash and The Song of Songs

Recently Derek and I re-watched the 2005 movie Walk The Line – starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon in the true story of Johnny Cash and June Carter.  It’s an old favourite of ours and full of wonderful songs that we love.

In the story of the movie, Johnny was besotted with June from the second he laid eyes on her.  After then, he only had eyes for her and he continually pursued her. He was never going to give up until she finally said yes to marrying him. Johnny Cash’ life was messy and the romance between the two was also messy to start with before they finally got it together and the rest is a pleasant history.

The morning after watching the movie, my darling husband had woken with one of the songs they sang together in his heart. The song is called “It Ain’t Me, Babe” although Derek had a sense of new words for the song. In the movie Derek had ‘seen’ that despite all the portrayed mess and brokenness of Johnny Cash’ life and his relationship with June, there was a beautiful love story and through it the Lord was revealing His very own relentless love and pursuit of His own Bride, the Church.  My darling man was deeply touched by this shadow/type of the Lord’s love for His Church. (Isn’t that just like the Lord, to make something beautiful out of something broken?)

So we sat down together and changed some of the words to reflect the Reality, the Truest Lover pursuing His Beloved. After doing this, we noticed that the words now reflected in some small way, the call of the Lord to the Church found in The Song of Songs where the King calls His lover to come out from behind the lattice, to go with Him, that He is the One she is looking for. He even brings her flowers.

“Listen! My beloved! Behold, he is coming, Climbing on the mountains, leaping on the hills! My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he is standing behind our wall, He is looking through the windows, He is peering through the lattice. My beloved responded and said to me, ‘Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come along…The flowers have already appeared in the land….the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land…Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come along!…(Song of Songs 2:8-13)

I must arise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares I must seek him who my soul loves….Have you seen him whom my soul loves?…I held on to him and would not let him go…(Song of Songs 3:2-4)

I searched for him but I did not find him, I called him but he did not answer me…I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, as to what you will tell him: For I am lovesick”..(Song of songs 5:6b-8)

We decided to record ourselves singing these new words to a backing track we found on the web, to send it to some saints and well, I feel to post it here along with the lyrics the Lord gave us. There is no image on the music player so you can read the lyrics while listening.

” It Is Me Church”
It Ain’t Me Babe (original Song Title)
Johnny Cash and June Carter
(Written and first recorded by Bob Dylan)

Come away from your window.
Leave it with all due speed
I am the one you want, babe
I am the one you need
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who’s never weak but always strong
To protect you and defend you
Who will never do you wrong
Someone to open each and every door

Yes it is You, Lord
Yes, yes, yes it is You, Lord
It is You were looking’ for, Lord

Come lightly from the ledge, Love.
Go lightly on the ground
I am the one you want, Love
I’ll never let you down
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
To pick you up each time you fall
To gather flowers constantly
And to come each time you call
And will love you for your life forever more

Well it is Me, Love
Yes, yes, yes it is Me, Love
It is Me you’re lookin’ for, Love

You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who’ll promise to never part
Someone to gaze your eyes upon
Someone to share His heart
Someone to die for you forever more

Yes it is Me, Church
Yes, yes, yes it is Me, Church
I’m the Life you’re lookin’ for, Church

Disclaimer

The original song was written by Bob Dylan and appeared on his fourth album in 1964.  We claim no ownership to the song and will not be professionally recording our version 😄

 

 

Nothing’s Changed in 2020

Saints, nothing’s changed.

God is still God.

Jesus is still The Christ.

Jesus Christ is still the Light of the world.

The Holy Spirit is still moving.

God is still on the throne.

Christ is still seated at the right hand of the Father.

Christ is still the Overcomer. He is still risen, He is still living in His people.  He is still doing the will of the Father.

The Father is still loving The Son.

The Spirit is still speaking of The Son.

The Son is still glorifying the Father.

Christ is still the Rock.

Christ is still the Bread of Heaven.

Christ is still our real food and our real drink.

Christ’s blood is still speaking.

Our position hasn’t changed.

We are still in Christ.

God is still loving us with His eternal Love.

The Holy Spirit is still interceding for us with groans too deep for words.

We are still more than conquerors.

We are still holy ones.

We are still the salt of the earth, the light of the world.

The Lord still lives in us.

We still live and move and have our being in Christ.

We are still a new race, a new creation.

We are still called to know Him.

We are still called to the good works that God prepared for us before creation.

We are still called to take up our cross daily.

We are still called to exhort and encourage one another daily.

We are still called to walk by faith in the Son of God.

We are still called to be led by His Spirit.

We are still in His rest.

He is still the Vine.

We are still the branches.

He is still the Wine.

We are still the new wineskin.

He is still the Bridegroom.

We are still His betrothed.

His banner over us is still love.

He is still our Beloved and we are still His.

God is still Good.

God is still faithful.

God is still Love.

Jesus Christ is still the image of the invisible God.

We are still His dwelling place.

The ekklessia is still the display of His manifold wisdom to powers and principalities in the heavenly realms.

Nothing has changed.

Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Be of good cheer.

God is still God.

 

Love you Saints. x

 

 

Journal #4 – Life Over Death

 

<a href="http://Image by halef_ from Pixabay“>

One of the schemes of the devil is to make us believe that the weight of evil, opposition, trial that we are feeling is so heavy that God can’t lift it. The devil makes us feel that way and therefore we can end up thinking and believing that way. The devil is all about deceit and his deceit is multilayered – it is deceit within deceit within deceit. Sometimes we find ourselves so bogged down under the weight of what he has dumped on us, as if stuck in a thick muddy bog, that the pull of it seems far too great in comparison to the pull of the free air above us. But this is deceit. It’s simply not true.

The air has life in it but the thick muddy bog has no life in it, it is dead. And we know that Jesus’ life has conquered death, therefore Life is greater than death!

Remember, when the weight of evil is present in whatever form it presents itself, e.g. depression, suppression, illness, pain, suffering, opposition, confusion and so on, it is not and cannot be weightier than the Life of Jesus Christ. By faith given to you in Christ Jesus, believe in the conquering of His Life over death in all circumstances and do not let yourself be deceived. Turn to Jesus and take Him as your life in every situation.

Jesus is the Resurrection and The Life. He has overcome death. We walk by faith and not by sight.

Journal #3 – How Do We Have Abundant Life?

Jesus said “… I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10)

He also said “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (John 11:25)

Again He said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6).

Elsewhere, He told us “Do not store up for yourselves, treasures on earth…but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”(Matt 6:19-20)

And further, “…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”(Matt 6:21). 

He told the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and give the money to the poor and follow Him (Luke 18:21-23).

Jesus’ abundant life is He, Himself. The abundant life He came to give is His Resurrection Life given to us in our being crucified with Him – being dead, yet shall we live! His abundant life is found in our denial of our own life in the flesh – Having been crucified with Christ… it is no longer I who lives but Christ living in me (Galatians 2:20).

Jesus is clearly not telling us that the abundant life He came to give is related to anything earthly! The abundant life is His life in us! What life can be more abundant than His life?? What can exceed in value, the life of Christ?

So how do we have abundant life? We reckon ourselves as dead that He might live through us!

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:11)

We can join with Paul in saying that “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

That death is now and that abundant life is now!

Journal #2 – When God Pours In His Precious Oil

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Cor 4:7)

The Lord wants us to hold dearly in our hearts the things that He whispers to us, the revelations He gives, the insights and understandings – keep them treasured and secretly held in our hearts – as precious oil.

But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:19)

Don’t be too quick to give them away – let them be worked into us first…. let them become us….then they are given by God to others through our lives – His Life in us, not our words.

Our own words can’t carry the precious oil, only an empty vessel can carry the Oil.

 

10.10.2014

 

To Compromise Or Not To Compromise, Is That Even A Question?

Compromise.  There’s just no place for it in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, there’s no place for it in the lives of believers.  Yet, it’s easy for compromise to sneak in even unnoticed at times. So here’s some examples in my life of how this has occured very recently and what I’ve learned from it, to pass on to you.

Example 1

Derek and I felt in our hearts that the Lord wanted us to move to a suburb of Newcastle called Mayfield. So we set off in this direction. We were staying with family for over three months while we looked for rentals in the Mayfield area.  We had certain requirements as in price, car spaces,  number of bedrooms and approval for a dog, that needed to be included in our search. However, we also had preferences such as natural gas, air con, two toilets, outdoor area and so on.  Now, this was before the COVID-19 restrictions and there was only a handful of rental properties coming up on the real estate websites that fitted the above description in Mayfield.  We looked at a few but they were on the main road and were very old and run down,  let alone over the top in price.

Things were getting a bit tight at the family’s house with literal dog fights (there were four dogs living in the house) and so eventually we took this as a sign that it was time to hightail it out of there and so our search became a bit more urgent. We applied and got accepted for a place in a suburb called Waratah that had the 2 car spaces we needed and all the preferences and was only a 2 minute drive from Mayfield. Mayfield was the very next suburb just over the railway track at the end of our street. In fact, Mayfield used to be officially called North Waratah.

The place was only 2 years old, fresh and modern and it was actually a duplex. We’d lived in a villa whilst in Perth and so had gotten used to a smaller space and the sound of neighbours quite close when you’re sitting outside. This duplex wasn’t joined by the garages, it was joined by the internal wall. After a day or two we came to realise that the internal wall hadn’t been adequately soundproofed when it was built. After 3 days, we had spent the entire first weekend listening to the constant drone of the neighbouring tenant’s TV and stereo through the wall. It went all day on the weekend & subsequently then went every night after she returned home from work. Our living room was up against her living room and we couldn’t even hear our TV! (First world dilema, I know :-))

Long story short, after some prayer, we ended up breaking our newly signed 6 month lease, which cost us money to do so (although the Lord gave us favour with the landlord even in this – His grace). After putting in our 14 days notice to terminate the lease, Derek and I asked the Lord to show us what had happened. What had we done wrong, if anything? What was He wanting to teach us in this? It was such an upheaval, we were in for our third move in 4 months.

An hour or two after asking the Lord these questions it became apparent to both of us that the problem was……you guessed it,  it wasn’t Mayfield. We had missed the mark. We knew in our hearts all along that He was calling us to Mayfield. We moved into Waratah. (Just so you know, with COVID-19 there were suddenly many more houses in Mayfield up for rent and the Lord quickly provided a house in Mayfield, 2.1kms away on the other side of the railway, right on time and that has everything we needed and wanted and we’re extremely settled and happy here!)

The point is, we compromised. We didn’t want to, we didn’t mean to, it wasn’t intentional, we just missed the mark. How? We were more focused on ‘our house’ than HIS house. Selah.  It was in fact, God Himself getting us out of that house.  It wasn’t the building and it wasn’t the neighbour, but God Himself – His grace to get us back on track for what He wants.

Example 2

A fair while back, Derek and I stopped drinking tea, as in black caffinated tea and made the switch over to lemon & ginger tea (which isn’t really tea anyway). One day I may share the reason but that’s not important right now. Suffice to say, it was a God thing. Ever since, whenever I’ve drunk real tea, (which I haven’t for ages)  it hasn’t brought me the same joy it used to. (I think I’ve even included my love for tea in previous posts, lol!)

Well, just this very morning I went to make myself a ‘real’ tea.  Now, I only had some in the house for my mum when she comes to visit. This morning I just felt like a little bit of ‘kick’ (oooh, I didn’t even realise that ‘kick’ is what I was after until I literally just typed that out right now!) and some comfort (more on that another time).

You know what? I just couldn’t bring myself to drink it. I stood there with it steaming in my cup, cup to lips just to smell it even, and couldn’t drink it.  I was having this conversation with God in my head, going “Oh, this is ridiculous. Is it You? Is it me? Is this really such a big deal? I can’t drink it if I don’t have faith, and I feel so guilty?! I’m trying to defy all the sense of false guilt I have over this, by now trying to make myself drink it….”. I stood at the kitchen bench with my hands cupped around the mug on the counter.

“Resident Boss” I heard in my spirit. I recalled Watchman Nee sharing a story about ‘Resident Boss’ as the government of the Holy Spirit within us.

When eventually the man was able to visit Shanghai he told me the story. Using an
expression familiar in Chinese: `Brother Nee’, he said, `Resident Boss[14] wouldn’t let
me have that drink!’ `Very good, brother’, I said. `You always listen to Resident Boss!’
Many of us know that Christ is our life. We believe that the Spirit of God is resident in
us, but this fact has little effect upon our behaviour. The question is, do we know Him as
a living Person, and do we know Him as `Boss’? (Nee, The Normal Christian Life)

And then to my thoughts came a list of things that I had recently started to take up again, just this week. A few chocolates at night time, a glass of wine 2 nights this week (I usually have a glass of wine two or three times in a year!) and I’d bought margarine instead of butter. Now, these things are not a big deal in themselves but the Lord, Resident Boss, was showing me where I had begun to compromise on the good health habits He’d graced me with. This was His story with me, personally. Now I began to see how I was about to let black tea sneak in again.

[Can I just say something a little odd right now in the middle of all this? For the past week I have had Paul Simon’s song ‘Slip Slidin’ Away’playing in my head. I’d listened to it on Spotify whilst driving last week, and was struck by that line “You know, the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip slidin’away”.  The tighter we are staying in the will of God towards what He’s asked of us, just one little slip and we can be gradually sliding away. There you go. Resident Boss].

Back to the story. I poured the tea down the sink. And it wasn’t even hard to do so. In fact, I almost did it without consciousness that I was doing it. The Lord’s grace had stepped in. That grace that is the power to say no to sin or temptation   The Lord is wanting to keep me in His grace, in the good health habits, in the obedience, in the tight place of ownership that He as Resident Boss has and needs to have in my life. If He can’t have first place and ownership in the little seemingly insignificant things, how can He in the bigger more important things? If he can’t trust me with little, how can He trust me with much?

These are enormous lessons to me.  They seem like almost nothing, but they are hugely important.

Don’t compromise folks. Even on the tiniest little thing.  A little compromise here, a little there and before we know it we’re right off track. Right off target.  Listen to that still small voice. It is His voice. He is caring for you and Shepherding you through the testing of your faith to see if He has a faithful servant who will work with Him for His purpose. He never leaves us, He is there to guide us and encourage us in His paths of Righteousness for His Name’s sake. We belong to Him. He is our Resident Boss. He lives in us. He calls the shots now. We don’t belong to ourselves or anyone else for that matter. We can’t compromise.

Praise God that Jesus never compromised. Jesus never even took the tiniest piece of the bread that Satan offered Him whilst in the wilderness of temptation, though He was very, very hungry. Jesus never did a thing to jeopardise the Life of His Father in Him.  He was a man without sin. He had all the temptations that we have and yet never sinned.

What if He had sinned? What if He had given in to one little temptation? What if He’d just chosen His own comfort over the Father’s government, just for one moment? I shudder to think. I really do. By the grace of God, go I. Go we. The grace of God protects and keeps us.

Press on saints, stay the course, hesitate before you do that thing you sense no peace about, take the time to put your flesh, comforts, and preferences aside to wait on and listen to Him. He will tell you. He will make His mind known to you. And if you get it wrong unintentionally, and humble yourself before Him, His grace to correct your course will come.  He won’t leave you hanging. But He must be Resident Boss. His church must be His and wholly His. She can’t compromise.

There is a church that compromises. That’s the church that has let the ways of the world into her midst, she is like Israel was in the old testament (who is still lost and suffers for this by the way). That church has let in the values of the spirit of this world ever so subtlely, so quietly, so slowly, so gradually, so that that church hasn’t even noticed. That church can’t even see or recall where she got off track. Like Derek and I moving into the wrong suburb, we didn’t even see what we were doing until we’d done it.

But there is a church that doesn’t compromise. She is the true church. She is the strong warrior Bride of our Lord Jesus Christ. She takes heaven by force (Matthew 11:12). She doesn’t muck around, she’s not playing games, she’s not concerned with the opinions or approval of this world, she is sold out to Jesus. He is her lover, her Lord, her King, Her Resident Boss. He lives in her and she will not be moved.

What church are you in?

Journal #1 – Are Thoughts of Others Getting In The Way of Your Prayer Times?

Sometimes we can be almost obsessed in our prayer times and thoughts with another brother or sister, who we feel something negative about. It may even be a genuine and godly concern for this person but even our concerns for our brethren in this way can become too heavy a burden and even a blockage or distraction to being able to sit and rest in the Lord’s presence. What we have done unwittingly, is fixed our gaze upon this brother or sister.

All that is needed in this situation is to say to the Lord,  “I give that brother/sister to You” and each time they return to our thoughts,  we only need turn from them and fix our gaze back upon the Lord Jesus. We can do this by thanking Him for who He is, declaring and proclaiming who He is, or just focusing our thoughts on His splendour and glory. Miraculously, we are then relieved from this burdening obsession and we return to a place of peace and joy in the Lord’s presence and are more able to hear from Him and enjoy Him again.

Glory to God for showing us the way out of even these matters!