I read a line from Milt Rodriguez’ book New Day today, that has stopped me in my tracks.
In the recent children’s animation movie ‘Moana’ there are a number of very powerful scenes that if you look behind what you’re seeing on the screen, you can see something of the Spirit realm to which you and I belong. Of-course, these are only shadows & types.
One scene that really spoke to me was concerning Moana’s ancestors. Her ancestors were voyagers, you see. However, over time her people had decided to remain safe and no longer would venture out past the reef where all the best fish could be found for food. This reminded me of how the church has lost it’s way, she has lost her heart. The church was once a vibrant spiritual organism growing in her ongoing discovery into the Son of God as she lived out of His life that indwelt her. You’ve only got to read the book of Acts to see that. But she has become insular, self-protective and has lost her desire to know Him beyond what she is spoon-fed. She has shrunk back.
She has become afraid of the reef – the cross. In ignorance and spiritual immaturity, she hides from the pain and suffering of the cross that Jesus told us to take up and carry daily. She only desires comfort, knowledge, familiarity, knowledge without experience. She has settled for stories of Jesus instead of living His Resurrection Life that lies beyond the cross.
As the story goes on,Moana ventures out past the reef and things happen which is a great picture of portions of Christ’s body/church today. Yes folks, be encouraged for many saints all over the world are embracing the cross in its various and perfectly fashioned forms by the Father, venturing out past the spiritual reef and breakers, so to speak, in search of knowing a greater Christ than they’ve ever known before. Brothers and sisters in Christ are rising up in a growing desperate pursuit of Christ who is our real food, our real drink, the food that satisfies, the drink that quenches all thirst forevermore.
Coming back to Moana – Typically, once she has faced her fears and trials she eventually achieves the goal she set sail for. When this happens, the animators give the viewers a climactic explosion of life in a glorious scene of Moana sailing on the wild seas and watching with wide eyes of wonder, her ancestors on their boats riding the waves all around, passing her on their journey. The two realms of time & eternity are revealed simultaneously.
This scene spoke me to me of that great cloud of witnesses that we read about in Hebrews Chapter 12, verse 1;
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…
I was reminded of our roots – that we as believers are sojourners, voyagers in our discovery of Christ and all that He is. He is the mighty ocean. He is the reef (the cross) and all that is beyond the reef yet to be discovered. He is the resurrection and the life! Our lives are meant to be lived out as an adventure in knowing Him through our trials and tribulations for the glory that lies before us – truly knowing Him!
Those trials and tribulations can come in all shapes and sizes. Yet, in all peril, we are travelling a path well trod by those who went before us – like Moana’s ancestors who forged on past the reef and through storms and danger carrying their adventurous spirit to find richer food and a richer existence as a result. So we can do the same in our journey in knowing Christ with hearts of faith.
Those saints who have walked the ancient paths of knowing God through all their trials and tribulations, perseverance and endurance, can really be thought of as our spiritual ancestors. I’m not talking about spiritual ancestors such as some indigenous tribal communities or new agers hold to that are not of Christ. I’m talking about spiritual ancestory in light of the reality that those of us who are in Christ, are called the children of Abraham – not in the flesh but in the spirit.
For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are Abraham’s descendants are they all his children. On the contrary, “Through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned.” So it is not the children of the flesh who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as offspring.…(Romans 9:6-8)
We are the children of the promise because we have believed in the One who was sent, the Seed of Abraham, who was in the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – that is Christ Jesus. We have now been made one with Him by His Spirit.
Let’s get one thing straight. The journey of the believer is a spiritual one. That means it is not of this realm. It is not an external journey of a type of ‘godly’ behaviour, rules and appearances. It is a life lived by another realm, the realm of the Spirit.
…It is the only place in you that comes from the other realm, the heavenly realm, the external realm…It is the place where I (Christ) live as the connection between heaven and earth….(New Day, Milt Rodriguez, 2013).
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes… (Ezekiel 36:26)
God causing us to walk in His statutes (measure, ruling, commandment, covenant, proclamation) is a spiritual act on His behalf, done by God Himself Brothers and sisters, if you are in Christ God is causing you to walk in His statutes as He has caused countless other saints to walk there before us. Thousands upon thousands of saints have lived and died before us, having carried their cross daily as they walked the same paths of knowing Christ beyond the reef.
Is the Lord calling you to venture out from the comfort and conformity of life on an ‘island’ and go beyond the ‘reef’ to travel the ancient pathways trod by thousands of saints who’ve gone before? Do you feel in your spirit that there is much more to discover and explore of and in Christ than you’ve ever known before? Do you sense that He is worth the desperate pursuit? Do you believe there is Life awaiting you on the other side of the reef?
Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Once we were slaves to sin and to this world. We were born into sin. We were enslaved, in bondage, held as captives and unable to free ourselves. But 2000 years ago a man who was both Son of Man and Son of God, came to us and set us free.
He loosed our chains, they fell off. He broke off our shackles. He washed us clean and healed our wounds. He removed the veil from our eyes. Then He said to us “It is for freedom’s sake that I set you free” and “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed”.
Captivated by Him, His beauty, His glory, His splendour, His love, His compassion, His kindness – we knew that to have freedom apart from Him would be no freedom at all. We saw the kindness and mercy of the Good Master and we willingly gave up our freedom which was no real freedom at all, to make ourselves His bond-servants. We wanted to be with Him forever. We dedicated our lives to Him. Where else could we go? Where else would we go? For He held and still holds the words of Life.
“Thou hast set us free, Master. Now we belong to Thee”.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool (Isaiah 1:18, NIV).
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished in His glorious presence, with great joy–(Jude 1:24 Berean version).
Let us rejoice and celebrate and give Him the glory. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. She was given clothing of fine linen,” linen bright and pure. For the linen she wears is the righteous acts of the saints(Rev 19:7-8).
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV).
…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith (Philippians 3:9, NIV).
The scriptures often use pictures as shadows or types to point to a heavenly reality such as “wool” or “snow” to represent the pure righteousness we have now been given through faith in Christ.
During my sleep a few nights back, a picture entered my mind of a pure white giant glacier and these words came to mind…”Solid Righteousness”.
This image of a glacier all pure white and unblemished, untainted by humanity or any being and so incredibly solid, spoke to me of these things; the completeness, permanency, the unfathomable depth, power and strength of the righteousness we now have in Christ.
Christ’s work in saving, redeeming and sanctifying us is as solid as solid can be. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been made ‘solidly’ righteous.
For some of us, our life decisions can lead us down a path we didn’t really want to go and to a destination we didn’t want. A decision to take that job, move to that area, date that person, eat that kind of food, live that kind of lifestyle, hang out with those kind of people – these decisions can take us on a path that can leave us feeling lost or confused, disappointed or frustrated or much worse. We can find ourselves traveling on a really rough road that can take us a long time to ‘get back on track’. Even years sometimes!
Chatting with a dear friend the other day, we were talking about how God seems to always lead us back onto the right path in our lives, in spite of our mistakes. You know how sometimes we make silly decisions? Or maybe that was just me 🙂
I use a GPS a fair bit these days, to find my way around the streets that are all unfamiliar to me here in Perth. However, sometimes I still take a wrong turn or think I know better and find that I’ve gone off the path the GPS was sending me on. Sometimes I’m just not paying attention or listening properly. Selah.
When this happens with the GPS, it has a momentary brain spasm to work out where I’ve gone and then it adjusts my route to re-direct me back toward the destination. You see, the destination doesn’t change, and just like the GPS, God too, will always steer me back toward His purpose in my life. This beautiful verse in Romans 8:28 says it all;
And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
The thing is, that in God our destination never changes. Our destination is always toward God’s Purpose. Christ being known, revealed and expressed is always our destination. And God has this remarkable way through Christ who is our life, of always leading us towards that purpose, yes, even in spite of our mistakes along the way.
God is like our own spiritual GPS ( ‘God’s Perfect Shepherding’). Christ is our Google Maps! He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the way to the Father. So next time you use your GPS, perhaps you can see the Lord as your Perfect Shepherd in a new way. Using your GPS you can reflect on how in His mercy and love toward us, He is always leading us back onto the right path, toward His glorious purpose of seeing Christ formed in us.
Sorry I’ve been quiet for a couple of weeks but we’ve had two different families from NSW staying with us over the last two long weekends for Easter and now Anzac Day. We’ve had an awesome time and have been kept very busy with site-seeing, hanging out, walking the dog and entertaining the kids, and lots of eating!
However, I wanted to post my final contribution to the 3rdrace.org series on the Lord’s Eternal Purpose, which for the month of April has been focusing on The Bride. There are some beautiful realities posted there by the other contributors to the site and as usual, I recommend checking it out.
Anyhoo, please click on this link to read my post there on Christ Our Bridegroom.
“TO THE SAINTS” Conference 2017! If you have a real hunger and desire for a more biblical and life-giving expression of the church of Jesus Christ then this event is for you!
“TO THE SAINTS” Conference’ focus is spiritual depth, the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ, the ministry of LIFE rather than information, an emphasis on knowing Christ practically and expressing Him with others in close-knit community, connecting with others of like mind and vision, and equipping God’s people to fulfill His grand mission and eternal purpose in the earth.
Click on the link below which will lead you to the event website!
(Click here for Part 1 Is God Sometimes Invisible? if you missed it)
For many months I had experienced a real sense of the Lord’s life in and around me. It seemed He was definitely active in teaching me things, showing me more of Himself, speaking to me through others, through creation or things I read. My times of communion with Him had been rich and fruitful. Even through trials and challenges I sensed His life and purpose in it all. It seemed like it had become a new way of living and it felt solid and dependable.
But in this particular season He was all but gone. Or so it seemed.
I continued my walk through the park to sit down on the park bench. The bench was facing a large pond with a fountain in its centre. The water was reaching high into the air, gushing and flowing as it had been every day that I’d been there to walk Rocky.
As I sat there still ruminating on how the Lord had just spoken to me of His hiddenness in the picture of the camouflage tree (see Part 1) I was startled by the abrupt silence of the fountain stopping its flow. Suddenly everything was deathly quiet and I realised that I hadn’t even noticed how loud it had been until it stopped.
It came quickly to me in that moment that I had been pining for the noisy and active flow of the Lord’s life that I had known in recent months and that now, as with this fountain in front of me, it seemed all flow had ceased and all had gone quiet, if not silent.
Just as quickly, I sensed the Lord speak this into my spirit;
I am in the noisy flow of life and I am in the silence also. The noise and the silence are both aspects of Me. Don’t wish any part of Me away.
I was astonished.
Lord, cause me to accept Your apparent silences and to not lose heart or faith that even that is part of who You are. You are in all things. You have so many expressions of who You are that even eternity cannot contain them. Help me to hear You and recognise You in the silence, that I might know You more. You will never be put in a box Lord. You are always far beyond how we have known You in the past, even the recent past. You are enormous and Oh! how You want us to know You in all of Your expressions.
…For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)
Recently I saw the movie titled “Hidden Figures”. (Picture provided by Google Images). The synopsis as described on google reads;
Three female African-American mathematicians provide crucial calculations for NASA’s space race against the Soviets, all while dealing with the racist and sexist assumptions of their white co-workers.
It is a truly moving and inspiring account of the achievements that each of these three ladies made against incredible opposition and injustice. Although the story is essentially about Katherine and her friends’ hidden mathematical genius that is ignored by NASA for a great deal of their story, it is also the story of them being ‘hidden figures’ themselves.The three women were considered to be less than nobody’s firstly because of racism and secondly because of gender inequality – i.e. they were black and they were women.
The main character Katherine Johnson was disregarded, shunned and undervalued yet she was the smartest person in the room. And she knew it! In fact, each of these ladies knew the value of their skill and expertise, if only the powers-that-be would put aside their prejudices and pay attention.
Eventually of-course, those powers-that-be did start to notice how smart Katherine was. And her friends equally in their different departments. It was their unequaled skill that shone through above all their colleagues and superiors that got them noticed eventually and saw NASA achieve the goals it was after. Even the life of an astronaut was saved solely because of Katherine’s God-given mathematical talents.
What really stuck out to me in this story was the balance displayed in each of these mistreated and under-appreciated ladies, of a quiet confidence in their abilities coupled with humility.
Although these ladies each had outstanding talent that placed them above their peers in respect of skill, it was only ever for the greater good that they wished to be noticed. They each had a quiet, confident assurance that if they were free to function then the whole of NASA would benefit.
This reminded me of who we are in Christ. When we are free to function in who and how God has made us the whole body of Christ benefits.
Though the world will never see it, we as members of Christ’s body, beloved of God, ought to always be confident of our reality as priests and kings in the Lord’s Kingdom. Sure, the world may and will mock us, ridicule us, shun and reject us and even persecute us but this should not, will not and cannot take away from who we are.
We must know that we are sons of the living God, set apart to be made by Him holy and righteous in His sight. We are favoured and blessed by God to be members of His family, His royal household and to share in His inheritance. This is who we are. Herein lies our confidence.
Yet, coupled with this confidence that is ours to enter the throne room of God with all our prayers, petitions and praise and to face a world and an enemy that despises us, we have also been given the humility of Christ.
Though it is tempting sometimes, we have no need to put ourselves forward, to speak up for and defend ourselves, even when the world persecutes us. Nor do we seek promotion in the house of God, we seek only to minister unto the Lord Himself and to Him in one another. We needn’t bring attention to ourselves, our ministry, our talents or gifts. Should God ever choose to use us for anything at all, He alone will bring it about for His glory, not for ours.
So can I encourage you today dear brother or sister, to remember always who you are in Christ Jesus. You are a branch in that Vine. God the Vine-dresser, our Husbandman, cares for the branches in the very same way He cares for that Vine! Wow! You are part of His beloved Son. You will always be in that Vine because it is the Father’s work that has placed you there. You are there to bear much fruit for His pleasure and HE will see to it that this is accomplished in you by the life of that glorious Vine in you, who is Christ.
Christ in us, the hope of glory.
In the knowledge, peace and rest of our place in Christ and in the heart of God, we can with confidence and humility serve Him and wait on Him. We needn’t struggle, strive or push. Everything, even our very lives, belong to Him.
…therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time…(1 Peter 5:6)
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)
During the first couple of weeks living in a new state, no home of our own, new folk, new places, new streets, (i.e. nothing familiar), I admit I felt a little lost at times.
Not only was I in a very unfamiliar place but it also seemed like God had all but removed Himself from the experience. And God was the very reason for our move!
One day when I took Rocky for a walk I really poured my heart out to God. “Help me to find you in this place Lord” I cried with tears. “But if I’m to be here and still not see you, give me Your faith to go on regardless”.
As I walked around the side of a pond I came to three trees. I instinctively felt the Lord was drawing my attention to the trees ( He hadn’t really left :-)).
As I walked up to one of the trees which at the time was heavy with luscious life, I stroked the trunk. I noticed it’s bark was coming off in little square-like patches, yet each piece that was lifting wasn’t loose. If I had pulled at a lifting piece I may have torn at the tree itself so I just studied it and ran my hand over it.
It had patches of different stages of the peeling bark so it was rather multicoloured- a patch of light green new tree trunk here, a patch of old darker brown bark there, a patch of pale grey bark in other places and patches of cream in yet other places.
“What is it You’re showing me Lord?” I asked through gentle tears and a downcast soul.
So I stood back a few paces from the tree and observed at a slight distance what I had just been examining up close.
The tree looked like the Australian Military camouflage uniform. In fact it was almost identical! One could be forgiven for believing the design for the uniform was actually fashioned from this type of tree. It’s camouflage pattern and colouring was perfect.
Then it came. ” I am alive and well in this place but I am hidden. It will take a trained eye to see Me”.
Sigh. “Train my eyes Lord”.
God brought Derek and I to this new place to learn Christ more in the body of believers here. We had known Christ a certain way before, yes in many different ways. However, we sensed that God wanted us to learn Christ afresh and in a way we never had before. This was calling for a ‘trained eye’ (of-course Christ is our Teacher) and a desperate heart to seek after Him where we are.
And so we have ’embarked’ on a new subject in this school of Christ, which is knowing Christ in His Body.
Stay tuned for Part 2…..