How To Use Your GPS

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.

 

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What’s Inside That Sticky Situation?

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This morning I was watching an Australian Minor bird on our back porch.  There is a pergola out back where I sit in the mornings, and he often flutters about jumping from rafter to rafter under its roof. He is always alone and he is very intriguing to observe. While the magpies mooch around on the grass looking for a meal amongst the grass and dirt, this little fella is up in the rafters looking for a meal, only he seems to go for the insects that are caught in the spider webs under the roof.

When I first started watching him I thought how on earth does he do that? How does he get his beak inside all the web and not get stuck? There are so many trees around here and that means many, many spider webs. And the roof of the pergola is a pitched roof, you know, a triangle shape. So in order to get right up to where the spiders have tucked away their meals by way of beetles, moths and other insects, he actually has to flutter in mid-air sometimes. Other times he’s getting in tight corners from rafters and getting his bright yellow beak right in the corners to extract the insects from all the sticky web.

I watched him today as he snatched a live insect from inside one of the webs. I marvelled at how clever and quick he was to do that. Then I saw him do a very clever thing. He landed on a rafter and proceeded to wipe his yellow beak across one side of the rafter, and then the other side. He did this over and over, like a chef sharpening his knife on a strap. Of-course this little guy wasn’t sharpening his beak, he was cleaning it from the web.

As I watched this, I asked “Lord, what can I see of You in this?” And the thought gradually came to me about the ‘treasures found inside of sticky situations’. Wow. How cool is that?

This little feathered friend isn’t afraid of sticky situations. He actually embraces them! He instinctively knows that within those very sticky situations are something of great worth. And he’s prepared to go in there, boots and all, and alone if he has to, to take that treasure that is on offer. But he has to go through a fair bit of yucky stuff to get it. He’s not afraid or put off by the obstacles or the threat of getting his yellow beak glued shut! He goes in, grabs the meal and proceeds to wipe his beak clear of the sticky web. Done and dusted!

So, are we like this? Do we see a hidden treasure inside a sticky situation? Do we recognise that inside some of the difficulties (if not all of them) that we face, there is something of great value to be had ? It might be a lesson learned, a blessing, a reward greater than we could have imagined, something the Lord really wants for us. And if we do recognise the opportunity inside that sticky situation do we go in boots and all, with full confidence and faith to get it or do we stand back and avoid it because of the risks?

Prior to this little guys’ visit this morning, I was meditating on Proverbs 3:5-6 which reads;

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

I can see what the Lord was saying to me in the correlation between the minor bird and the scripture.  If I lean on my own understanding, I’ll avoid the sticky situation. But if I acknowledge Him in ALL my ways, He will make my path straight. He’ll cause my life to succeed according to His plan and purpose in my life and to His glory. I will find great joy and pleasure inside the situation. But I am to trust in Him with ALL my heart. I’m to face the sticky situations and trust that He’s got my back. I’m to ignore my own wisdom, which is no wisdom at all, and trust fully in Him. And as a result, I will find great reward in knowing Him more.

I also see this as a lesson in relation to the call of God to all His people. Paul was faithful to the heavenly vision God gave Him when Jesus revealed Himself to him on the road to Damascus and revealed His oneness with His body, the church.

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord? Saul asked. “(I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”… Acts 9:4-5.

When Paul met Jesus after He had ascended to the Father, Paul was blinded and forever changed. He never looked back. He went through many a sticky situation being faithful to the vision He’d been given. And we are all called to be the same, to have that one-eyed devotion to the Lord’s purpose. The Lord is our true food and is worth going in and after, regardless of the obstacles and difficulties that we might have to endure in order to be faithful to Him and His purpose.

I was never very fussed on Australian Minor birds before. They’re noisy and they dominate the bird life at times, and they’re not particularly attractive in my opinion. I suppose they’re more like me than I imagined. I’m quite fond of them after this encounter this morning. 🙂

Lord, teach us Your ways that we might walk with You and know You more. Give us courage to trust You when we face a sticky situation, to believe Your promises to us that You will make our paths straight if we acknowledge You in all our ways and trust in You with all our heart.

Do You Have A Nose For Discernment? 

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Song of Songs 7:4 Watchman Nee

Thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus…

“The nose has not been spoken of until now. The faculty of smell is found only with the mature ones. In spiritual matters, many have bright eyes and sensitive ears. But not many have a nose that can smell. This sense does not come from spoken words or visible things; it is an inward ability that reaches beyond senses and words, which enables a person to differentiate good and bad smells. This is a kind of spiritual intuition that enables a person to identify the things that are of God. It is not by reason or logic, but by a spontaneous and inwardly accurate feeling, which enables a person to discern spiritual matters. At the same time, this olfactory sense enables a person to identify bad smells as well. Many teachings cannot be considered wrong, and many people have nothing that others can find fault with, yet you sense that something is off. This sense is what the nose is all about. “Thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus.” This speaks of its height and sharpness. Today there are too many Christians with a flat nose.” (End Watchman Nee)

Dogs have got really good noses. They use their noses to detect whether or not something is good or not. I’m often amazed at how their sense of smell is so acute. In observing our dogs the other day I couldn’t help but notice the correlation between their sense of smell and our spiritual sense of smell in learning discernment.

Our dogs really make me laugh.  Rocky is almost 8 years old. Buddy (who belongs to my mother) is about 3. Their age difference really shows in their different behaviours.

Rocky is all about smooches, one-on-one time, even if playing with the ball he’d prefer it was just him and me playing. You might say he has two love languages – quality time and physical affection 🙂

Buddy is all about activity! If it looks like a smooch, it’s really a wrestle. If it looks like one-on-one time, it’s really just to get to play ball. Perhaps his love language is …acts of service! – or maybe quality time aswell.

Typical of the age difference, when Buddy came along he was completely ready to attach to Rocky and pal up with him. But Rocky was stand-offish and preferred to observe from a distance, lol. But now, after a few years together, they’re really good mates. Looking at their differences as a pup and an adult dog, just prompted me the other day in seeing how we  grow and mature in the Lord.

For example, I picked up a mandarin and the two dogs were looking at me with great interest. Rocky cries a lot to communicate all sorts of things and Buddy just follows and copies Rocky a lot. So, although they were standing at the door to go out, I figured they were now side tracked with the interest of the mandarin. So I lowered it in my hand to their level for them to check it out and realise that it wasn’t really a food they would be interested in since it had a tough skin all over it.

Typical of Rocky as the older dog, he gave it a little sniff and then looked away. This meant “Ok, nuh, not interested, you can have it back now”. But not Buddy! He took one look at it and wrapped his mouth around it to grab and chew it – clearly thinking it was a ball! After a few teeth squeezes and squeals from me, he backed off but then came back for another go. It took him a few tries before he realised “Ok, it’s really not a ball? Really??” Then I said “Go! Go and get your ball!” And off he went, and grabbed the real ball.

This made me think of us as God’s family. We start off as pups just like Buddy in the way that we don’t often test things. We kind of take whatever is offered us as young or immature Christians (regardless of age) and just assume it’s good for us and what we want and that it’ll be just totally awesome.  Mostly, because we trust the person who’s handing it to us. Selah. Even after a few goes, even when it doesn’t feel quite right to us, we’ll still just blindly assume that it’s just still gotta be totally awesome and we’ll put up with it or persist with it until hopefully, we finally get the message that it really isn’t as it appears.

I’ve seen this in my own life. Critical thinking was something I was afraid of once. In the culture I was brought up in, one doesn’t question, does one? So I blindly took on many things that really weren’t truth, or complete truth, without question. But get this….even if they didn’t feel quite right.  So there’s the Spirit of God residing in me, encouraging and enabling me to test all things, but the paradigm of my culture would squash Him down and ignore Him, assuming blindly in my spiritual immaturity that because someone I look up to ‘said’, or because it looks similar to something else, that it just simply has to be totally awesome. And it wasn’t always.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).

So then there’s Rocky. Dear old Rocky. Wise and learned, been there, done that. He just took his time, sniffed that mandarin (mind you, it only took one sniff, not a dozen) and knew instinctively that it was not a ball and not anything he was going to have success with or be interested in. This reminded me of the more mature believer.  God’s word says to test all things, test the spirit behind them. We’re called to be wise and discerning, in Christ.  Paul says we are not ignorant to the enemy’s schemes – one of them of-course, being deception.

…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Rocky didn’t argue, he didn’t have to think about it twice. So there’s the picture of the Holy Spirit in us again. The more we mature in the Lord (and the maturing is the work of the Spirit in us, we can’t mature ourselves), the quicker we are able to discern the spirit behind a thing. Subsequently, having done so, if we find it is a deception, not what it appeared to be at first glance, we easily walk away. We don’t even have to give it a second thought.

The other thing I liked about this little example, is the fact that the same tests are put before all believers, no matter the level of spiritual maturity. A more mature believer is not exempt from testing permitted or orchestrated by our sovereign Lord for our growing up deeper into Him, nor is he or she exempt from being tempted by the devil. But a mature believer will weigh up all things.

So, that’s my lesson today from the lives of dogs. Here’s a little video clip just to share a giggle.:-)

Christ As Our View

FullSizeRenderThis is the view from the patio out back of our place. The mulberry tree has lost its leaves at present so that’s it looking all yellow. 

Most mornings when I get out of bed I make my breakfast and go and sit outside. I’ve always done this. Even if it’s raining, so long as it’s not cold and windy. At the very least, I need a window by which to sit and stare outside. There’s just something about being outside and starting my day with a long, slow, gaze into the openness of the outdoors.

Some mornings I will sit there literally for hours, reading, talking with God, singing, receiving and sending encouragements in the Lord with the saints here via ‘whatsapp’ on my phone. Rocky is usually sprawled across my lap which makes supping on my cup of tea a little difficult but it’s a special time and it really sets off the tone of my day.

This past week our church group decided to focus on the theme of Beholding The Lord. So this morning a sister sent through this definition;

Behold – verb. see or observe someone or something, especially of remarkable or impressive nature. Synonyms: view, watch, survey, gaze at, gaze upon, stare at, witness, regard, contemplate, inspect, catch sight of, discern, pay heed to, lay eyes on…

As I meditated on those words – contemplate, survey….view…..I was reminded of how important it is to me to have a view to look at.  Every house I’ve ever lived in as an adult, I have sought the Lord’s provision of a view. It hasn’t had to be a magnificent ocean front or mountain ranges, though He has spoiled me with these at times. Even just a couple of trees will do and some open sky.  I just have to have somewhere to sit outside where I can look off unto something.

This got me thinking. What am I looking for? Why is having a ‘view’ so important to me?

Well, it gives me a perspective that is outside of myself. When it’s dark and dingy inside the house because of either the way it is built without natural light or because of the weather, I can look outside and see openness. I’m comforted and consoled somehow, that there is something bigger and greater than my interior world inside of the house.FullSizeRender (1)

This of-course applies to my internal world. Having a perspective of something outside of, greater and more vast than me, is an enormous soothing comfort. And of-course, that something is a Someone. It is Jesus Christ.

I feel that if I were to live in a house without a view, something in me would die. I feel I couldn’t do it. 

I see that as a picture of my growing desperation and need to behold the Lord.  I need to be able to see Him every morning. I need to look and gaze into His face, His vastness, His endlessness. I need to contemplate His bigness, His openness, His enormity.  When I do that, I am comforted, strengthened, rested – simply because I see Him!  If I cannot see Him, I feel something inside me will die. I feel I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go on. Life would become dark and dingy, internal and introspective with no Light.

Since Derek and I are moving to the other side of the country in December, I am already praying for a house with a view. 

However, I have to realise that Christ is my view regardless of where I may live physically. He is the eternal vastness and wide open space that my soul longs for in the darkness of the winter seasons. He is the far reaching heights up into an eternal sky where I can soar on His heights. He is the greenery, the oxygen, the shade, the colour, the breeze, the Life of Creation all around me. He is the wideness, the depth, the enormity of God.

Wherever we live brothers and sisters, whether it’s in a humpy, in a 1 bedroom studio blocked in by tall apartment complexes and no natural sunlight coming in, or on a mountain top with views that go on forever, Christ is our View. He is our perspective. He is our vantage point. He is the One we gaze upon and survey. In Him we roam a vast land, flowing with milk and honey. Our boundaries have fallen in pleasant places in Christ and no man can adjust our view or take that away from us. Christ is our All.

So I pray you will enjoy the View that is Christ in your life today dear brother and sister. Behold Him all the day long. On the train, in the car, boxed in your office, running after your kids or while out on the tractor –  behold Him, gaze at Him, stare at Him, watch Him, contemplate Him, inspect Him, survey Him, lay your eyes upon Him. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Tea and Toast

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Yesterday, I was so greatly encouraged by a dear sister in Christ.  She encouraged me to simplify my spiritual diet when going through a spiritual storm/sickness, just as we simplify our diet when we are physically unwell.  So this morning, as I sat and ate my regular breakfast, I shared the moment with the Lord and this poem is what resulted.  You would be very blessed by going to this sister’s blog and listening to the Lord’s words of wisdom, encouragement and blessing through what she shares in her 9 minute video called Episode #10 “Spiritual Storms & Sickness” by clicking on this link Love, Bridget. It was Life to me. 🙂

Every morning as I eat toast and drink tea

I’m reminded of ‘Christ in me’.

I remember the brokenness of His body

the Covenant of His blood

The promise of His Kingdom come.

My daily bread with melting butter

Peanut butter and vegemite

Reminds me how He has melted my heart

And set things right.

He has made me the salt of the earth

and has smothered me

in His warm love

just like the tea.

With every sip that I drink down

I’m reminded of that Kingly crown.

That King of kings and Lord of lords

That One who died for us all.

His promise of return

To embrace His bride.

That blood that flowed out

from His side.

My daily bread

My daily drink.

Of His sufferings will I partake.

Of His joy and resurrected life

I share in these

My great delight.

Enjoy a simple day with the Lord folks! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

8 Ways We Can See The Lord In Menopause

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Male members of the species do not be alarmed at this post! Even men can appreciate the ways in which we can see the Lord through this strange and peculiar phenomenon that occurs in a female’s body when she’s….well …getting tired.

Following along the theme of my last post 9 Ways Every Pizza Eating Believer Can See Christ, I want to share with you just how even in the experience of menopause, we can see the Lord. (I don’t have to mention that shadows and types are limited do I?)

Again, I was inspired by that wonderful sister in our group, whose name is Jena, who after I mentioned some issues I was having physiologically, asked me if I could see the Lord in it?

Great question! I got to thinking….

Hormones. Arggh. They’re annoying coming in and annoying going out. And on both accounts, the balance is out.

1. Menopause can speak to us about Christ as our balance. One of the most successful treatments in menopause is Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT. This involves replacing the hormones that are lacking in order to bring about the right balance. That means playing with two hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.

So it is with the Lord. We constantly need to be re-balanced and He is our balance. Just like looking through a telescope at the stars we have to keep readjusting our view. If we are too attached to this earth, this planet, we lose sight of the heavenly realities that are ours. So this requires a constant renewal of the mind which only God can do for us, through Christ. So in some ways, Christ is our hormone replacement if you like because He keeps us balanced. It’s no longer us who live but it’s Christ living in us. As a result of us living by His life, we are kept in right relationship with God the Father.

2. Menopause can speak to us of the ascendency of the spirit. Oestrogen is apparently meant to just do its thing and progesterone is meant to control the oestrogen so it doesn’t go berserk. So if there’s too much of one and not enough of the other, the balance is out. This reminded me of the soul and the spirit. Let’s say the oestrogen represents the soul and the progesterone represents the spirit. In Christ, we are no longer dominated by the soul, but by the spirit. When the soul is left to its own devices, it causes havoc so the spirit keeps the soul in check.

3. Menopause can show us the dangers of imbalance. Now, if there’s too much oestrogen going on, a woman can become physically bloated, retain fluid, get headaches, suffer insomnia, experience hot flushes (or flashes if you’re American), crave sugar and sweet things, have an increased appetite, gain weight, and suffer mood swings and anxiety. (Brothers, this may explain a few things :-)). If there’s too much soul going on, a believer can become spiritually puffed up, self-righteous and all that. A believer can retain too much of the wrong stuff, let’s call it religion. A believer can lose peace and rest, becoming anxious. A believer can get fat on self, become self-centred instead of Christ-centred. A believer can crave things that are harmful, turning to the world and old habits for comfort. A believer can become a bit prickly and not a very nice person to be around.

4. Menopause can speak to us about identity. Oestrogen is more the female side of things, right? So during menopause a woman is in some ways losing her ‘female’ stuff. You know, stops being able to procreate etc. Now some ladies can get a bit thingy about this, feeling that they’re perhaps losing their feminine identity in a way. However, this reminded me that in Christ, there is no longer male and female, but all are equal. And we have a new identity in Christ. We are a new creation, the things of the old man, of Adam, of the flesh, have gone and we are created anew in Christ.

5. Menopause can speak to us about the authentic Christian life. Now HRT can be biologically identical or synthetic. There has been concern over the years that the synthetic HRT has been linked to breast cancer. Some say this view is founded on research and others say there is no definitive conclusion. Fortunately, the treatment I am on is called ‘bio-identicals’ which means it is extracted from plants and is as biologically close to natural human hormones as possible.

This speaks to me of the fake (synthetic) and the ‘almost genuine’ (bio-identical) versus the authentic. We know that Satan is all about counterfeit. He sets things up to look like Christ but it’s not Christ. And we know that along with his counterfeit comes pain, confusion, and suffering. He even tries to do a ‘fake’ work in us, convincing us that we have what it takes, that we are all sufficient in and of ourselves and we become a synthetic Christian – self-made, plastic and infectious, all the while appearing godly.

Many of us have experienced the ‘almost genuine’ type of Christianity and church life. It looks like Christ, sounds like Him, kind of feels like Him but it’s not really all Him. Sure, there’ve been aspects of Him but that’s all. This traditional institutional way of living as a Christian within the confines of hierarchy, individualism, religious practises and programs just isn’t the same as the authentic, original, organic expression of Christ.

6. Menopause is a type of death. It is the wrapping up of a type of biological life that will live no more. For some women, its symptoms never end (eek!) So it is that when we are saved we leave behind the old life and enter into a life that is in many ways full of death. We are called to take up our cross daily. We are called to join with Christ in the fellowship of His sufferings. We are promised suffering, trials and tribulation. But all of this is leading us to a final place of glory – being resurrected not only in spirit but in body too. Now, though we still are alive in the body, we are dead to sin but alive to God.

7. Menopause is a sign of the end being near. The immaturity and concerns of youth are over and older age is here. It means change. It means that we are not called to stay the same. Just as we experienced hormonal changes in our early teens, we now experience hormonal changes as we come to the latter years of our life (men experience hormonal changes too!) It speaks of a cycle, above and beyond all the other cycles. It is the bigger scheme of things. It is finishing what has been started. It is about completion.

God’s story starts in Genesis 1 & 2 with God freely inhabiting the garden with mankind, with a bride for the first Adam. God’s story closes in Revelations 21 & 22 with God freely inhabiting the city with mankind and the Bride for the Second Adam (Christ).  There are many minor shadows and types of God’s eternal purpose throughout scripture and throughout our every-day lives but these are all summed up in His one grand completing act which we read about in the Book of Revelation.

I sent my draft of this post to that sister in our group, Jena, since she was the one who inspired me to write it. And I was rapt that she contributed some additional insights the Lord gave her and so I would like to share those also. By Jena seeing something more and contributing to this post, we see a shadow/type of how no one person has the full revelation of Christ, but when we share Him together we get to see something more and different of Him through one another.

8. From Jena: “They say that a woman’s life is made up of three cycles…the maiden, mother and wise woman. This could reflect our journey with Christ…first we give our lives to Him: we are born the baby Christian, the maiden, the young bride. The next season is when we have cycles; blood is spilled and every month it seems a frustration, an anger, or an issue emerges that we have the chance to take to the cross – to honour the blood that Jesus spilled, which is reflected in our bodies.  After many years of that monthly journey, we become a wise woman! This phase is perhaps reflected in us becoming truly one with Christ”.

What more you can see?

 

 

 

9 Ways Every Pizza Eating Believer Can See The Lord

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“Can you see the Lord in it, sister?” This is my favourite question of late.

There is one particular wonderful sister that we do life with in our little community of believers here, and she is forever asking this question. Whatever matters are coming up in our lives, she asks me “Can you see the Lord in it, sister?” When she talks about matters in her own life she says “And I was really wondering how I could see the Lord in it…”

Looking for the Lord in everything, was a really strange and new concept to me a few years back, and for this sister also. In fact, when I was introduced to the ‘concept’ (of-course now it’s life to me, no longer a concept) I thought it was a little OTT (Over the top :-)). I thought it was something we were trying to do in our own strength and was a bit silly. (Go, you good religious thing Donna!)

Even though initially I was sceptical and it seemed to be only an intellectual exercise, when I heard other saints doing this, I truly sensed some life in it and joining in, was fun. Ironically, the more I ‘had a go’, the more I could actually see! Of-course it was the Lord Himself that was the life in the exercises because I began to see Him everywhere! If we’re looking for Him, surely He is found!

Let me give you an example of what some of the discussions were like. Here’s one about pizza for example – that is, looking for the Lord in pizza. What? Yep, in pizza! I know, right? Ok, it went something like this (and I’m going to ad some extra toppings to it!);

  1. Well, the base is like Christ as our foundation. There has to be a foundation of Christ and nothing else. And God talks about not mixing the dough with yeast, so there’s no mixture in the foundation, it’s Christ alone.
  2. The sauce represents the blood of Christ that was shed for the whole world. It covers the entire pizza and without it, nothing else would stick to the base. So the sauce is like the blood of Jesus that saves us.
  3. The cheese is really sticky and glues everything together. It’s like the Holy Spirit. He lives in each believer and joins us altogether as one with God.
  4. The toppings are all so different and spread out all over the place. They’re all different colours and different flavours. That’s like the body of Christ. We’re made up of different nationalities, personalities, backgrounds and each with something different to contribute. There is diversity in the body of Christ but together we are one. Together we are the beautiful bride of Christ. If there was only one topping it would be boring and taste the same every bite. By being diverse, we see the priesthood of all believers! (C’mon!)
  5. The pizza is round so it is like the wedding ring that is in a circle, it goes on for eternity, there’s no beginning and no end to Christ! His riches are unsearchable, without end.
  6. Before a pizza is of any use it has to be cooked – this is like the body of Christ, and also like Christ Himself. He had to suffer by going into death before being resurrected. And we were crucified with Him and now we stand with Him in His resurrected life, changed and transformed. We are a new creation in Christ, the old has gone. Only then are we acceptable before God. Also, we are refined in the furnace of suffering so that the life of Christ (the taste) comes forth!
  7. Through the process of being cooked, we are like the toppings that are no longer sitting as separate individuals but are now joined together, melted in the cheese which is like the Holy Spirit, and have become blended together. We are more like a community now than isolated individuals. We have become part of the body of Christ.
  8. When the pizza is cut into slices, they’re all 3 sided – this represents the Godhead – 3 in 1!
  9. All slices are pointing to the centre! This is how the church is, Christ is Central, our eyes are fixed upon Him as our centre at all times.

Go on, have a go, ad your own flavour. It might seem silly at first, but what have we got to lose and what have we to gain? If we look for Christ everywhere, even in what might seem the strangest place, we will still find Him even there (Ps 139). He is not a ‘figurative’ God, He is everywhere to be found and to look for Him is a life-begetting-life experience. The more we look for Him, the more we’ll see Him.

Christ is the image of the invisible God.

Jesus said that if we seek Him, we will find Him.

Jesus said to come unto Him as little children.

Would love to hear of your experiences….

 

7 Indicators of Religious Bondage & 7 Ways Out

On my walk today I noticed with new eyes, all the barbed wire lying around the place, that has been cut down from the many fences that were used to separate all the land into paddocks. IMG_1507 Now the barbed wire has been pulled down and in some places you can see it rolled up and pinned to a pole here and there. In some cases, there are coils of it lying in the grass where it’s been left. In another place, along the path, there is about 2 feet of barbed wire standing up out of the dirt as if it has grown there. It isn’t even in the paddock or attached to a pole, it is literally under the pathway and sticking through ready to catch anything that brushes past it. It is quite out of place.  There are traces of it everywhere.IMG_1508

All this reminded me of religion. One might ask of another “What barbed wire are you wrapped in?” and they might reply “Oh, I’m Pentecostal” or “Good works and bible study”. Another might answer “Oh yes, I’m all caught up (entangled) in what other people think of me”, “I’m ensnared in keeping up appearances” or “I’m always trying to make sure that I’m living the right way and avoiding the wrong way”.

Religion is bondage. It is binding just like barbed wire. When one is caught on, in or by barbed wire, it is very difficult to escape and to do so really hurts. To be free of barbed wire once caught, generally means you’re in for a bit of agony, at the very least some torn clothes if not torn flesh to some degree. If you’ve ever experienced this you know what I’m talking about. Getting yourself free from religion is just like that.

But how do you know if you’re bound by religion?

  1. You’ll feel a separation between you and other Christian brothers & sisters
  2. You’ll be concerned with what others think of you on a spiritual level
  3. You’ll see yourself as different to other believers  (usually, more spiritual than them)
  4. You won’t have a genuine sense of freedom
  5. You’ll be bound to some expectation of performance
  6. You’ll be crushed with disappointment in yourself when you sin in front of others
  7. If you do recognise any of these religious ways in your own life, even hating them, you feel powerless to change

So on this land where I walk every day, I was reminded by seeing these traces of barbed wire, how the Lord Jesus has removed the separation, the division, the fences if you like, amongst His people, His body.

Paul says ;

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

14For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.…(Ephesians 2:14-16)

He has made us One New Man just as this land here is one lot of land, far and wide and no longer divided and separated by barbed wire.

The Lord wants us to be free of religion, remember it wasn’t the sinners but the religious leaders of His day that Jesus continually rebuked. However, it is a very real challenge to get ourselves free of it once we’ve been caught by it and to do so is often a very long and painstaking process.IMG_1512

Yet, our Lord Jesus is always cutting down the barbed wire of religion that has seized many a heart. One of the nastiest aspects of religion is that we never realise how deep it goes. It has been described by many who have gone through and are still going through this process, as a rabbit hole.

Jesus often frees us by connecting us with others who have been freed also, who can then help us.Only a free person can help free a person. So if you sense that you have been caught in the barbed wire of religion and you want to get free so you can roam and explore the entire land that is Jesus Christ Himself, I’d like to encourage you to ask the Lord to help you find others who have been freed. From their place of freedom in learning to live by His indwelling life and not by religious strongholds, just sharing life with them will support you greatly in your journey toward freedom. I know it has been paramount to my ‘losing my religion’ which is ongoing.

Ways in which being with Christ centered believers who are free from religion, can help;

  1. We learn Christ
  2. Christ is revealed in us
  3. We begin to know for the first time what freedom really is
  4. We learn for the first time what God’s greatest purpose is
  5. We begin to understand who the church is
  6. We begin to love the church and see Christ expressed in every member
  7. The gifts of Jesus to the church become apparent and free-flowing

Jesus said “I have come to give you life abundant.” Paul said “It is for freedom’s sake that Christ came to set us free”.

As T. Austin-Sparks writes, “How did Paul come out of his narrow Jewish conceptions about the Messiah? Simply by the revelation of Christ in him, and as that revelation grew his liberation increased…it was the revelation of Christ which was emancipating him, leading him out, freeing him all the time” (By T. Austin-Sparks from: All Things in Christ – Chapter 1).

Are you free today friend?

 

Jesus Revealed in a Bread & Butter Plate!

 

Sesame Street plate

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15).

Even though I’m 47 years of age, I love this plate and I use it almost daily. I bought it myself a while back because being plastic, it doesn’t let my toast go cold! I bought it from the children’s products in the supermarket aisle……… yes, there is definitely a child in me who is alive and well!  🙂

This morning however, as I looked at it, I could hardly believe my eyes! This is what I saw in a children’s plastic Sesame Street bread and butter plate;

Around the edge of the plate is the great cloud of witnesses (the saints who have gone before us) rejoicing in the freedom of Christ that is theirs and rejoicing over us who have not yet gone to sleep but are also in Christ.  They, like us, are all wearing their helmet of Salvation which is Christ who has given them access to the glory of God which is seen in Jesus Christ as represented by the suns in the picture.

This great cloud of witnesses are lifted above and outside of time, this planet Earth, the Kosmos or world system which is represented by the ‘jungle’ in the centre of the plate. The world is currently a jungle fraught with dangers and deception as under the prince of this world, Satan. Yet those who are in Christ are not part of this world.

The whole body of Christ, those gone before and those of us who are still alive, even though in this world that is a jungle indeed, experience the joy of knowing the Lord, as represented by the word ‘fun’.  Even though we may be in the middle of dark times and earthly circumstances, we as believers unto Christ can have fun! The joy of the Lord is our strength! What is the joy of the Lord? Jesus! Jesus is the joy of the Father and Jesus is our strength! And He came to give us life abundant and that abundant life is Christ Himself!!

Just like the Sesame Street puppets, we all have one Master, we are each created and of one Creator. We are all so different from one another, some are grouchy, some eat too much (I fit into too many of these descriptions!), some are young, some old, some simple, some complicated. Yet we are all accepted in the Beloved. And Sesame Street is for children! We are the children of God! We are heirs of the Father with Jesus Christ His begotten Son!

Finally, the bread and butter plate is a perfect fit for this analogy as Jesus is real food and real drink. He now lives through us and feeds the world through His body.  We ‘serve’ the Lord Jesus as He served the Father and through us His body, the Lord Jesus continues to present Himself to the world today.

Thank You Jesus!!!

 

 

 

In Painting Doors & Delayed Property Settlements

Recently a dear friend of mine started on a project around her house. She had all the internal doors in the house replaced due to many having been worn and damaged. Once the new doors were installed, it was up to her to prime and paint each one.

She told me how it took 5 hours one day to prime only 4 of the doors. She told me that although she would have wanted to have the job finished rather quickly, she had come to accept that she could only continue on her flexi-days from work so this would make the project take a lot longer.  A job that was expected to take only days is now going to span over weeks.  Sound familiar? Israelites wandering in the desert? Joseph waiting for his dreams to be fulfilled?

Can’t we just see the ways of the Lord in this?

I’ve seen that often the Lord will put a burden or a dream or a vision in our heart. He starts off showing us a need that is there, (e.g. the damaged doors). Then He gives us a vision of that need having been met and transformation having taken place (e.g. a desire to see new, clean doors). He then equips us with the know-how and tools to start working on this project (e.g. knowing about priming and obtaining the necessary tools, primer material, brushes, paint).

I look at my life and realise that for me, often from this point, I want to hurry the job along because I prefer instant transformation and I haven’t always liked the personal effort involved in co-labouring with Him in His transforming me!

My family and I have been waiting for 2 years for a property settlement matter to conclude, following the death of my father.  It has been an enormous lesson in waiting and trusting the Lord, and putting our hand to the plough with all that is required of us on our part while being powerless to determine the outcome. Waiting….waiting…waiting…..yet all the time the Lord has been transforming us in areas of finance, letting go of sentimentality and learning dependency on God alone. Priceless lessons.

How often the Lord MAKES us wait. If we fight Him, hopefully we will eventually come to the end of ourselves and give up. Then like my friend, we can learn to accept that it’s going to take time for the best result and there’s nothing we can do about that, in fact it is in our best interest that it takes the time it does take! The end result is better! That’s the process of transformation. Jesus is not only the author of our faith but the perfector of our faith! He is!

Seeing Jesus in the every day things really thrills me and I pray that our eyes are open to see more and more of Him this way. God can use anything, even painting doors and delaying property settlements to teach us something of Himself and to forge something of His character into us.

  • Patience – He is patience!
  • Humbling – He is humility!
  • A quiet, gentle spirit – He is gentleness!
  • Intimate time with Him – He wants this!
  • Trust – He is trustworthiness!
  • Being faithful to the task in His call against all opposition – He is faithfulness!
  • Being able to give testimony to His faithfulness to us – He is faithfulness!
  • Learning more about who Christ is, as we get to know Him along the way – He wants this!
  • Learning to co-labour with him – We are in Christ and Christ is in us!
  • Putting His agenda before ours – He is Wisdom!
  • Concerning ourselves more with the getting to know Him than getting an ‘end result’ of our preference and in our time – He is selflessness!