Haystacks and Harvest

img_1697bThis is a photo I took on our recent road trip. I took the photo because it reminded me of a dream I had once.  In my dream I saw something similar to this, in that it was a field full of gathered hay stacks, wound with string, ready for collection.

After I had the dream I felt that the Lord was showing me that the hay stacks represented small bodies of saints that were beginning to gather and meet all over the world.  The small groups of saints were ones who are abandoned to Christ and are pursuing Him with all their hearts.  They are embodying His life and are a living testimony of the manifold wisdom of God, to all the powers and principalities of the heavenly realms. Whereas the physical hay has been cut, raked, dried and bailed, these small bodies of saints all over the world have been tested, tried and found true and are being made ready for His works – much like the Bride being prepared and ready for the return of her Bridegroom.

I was encouraged by that dream and this view on our drive in being reminded that there is a ‘spiritual’ church being built together by God. He is building His church and getting her ready.

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Christ Our All

carWell folks, it’s been a few weeks since I posted a blog. That’s because Derek and I have been packing, packing, selling, cleaning, moving out, moving my mother, visiting family, and more packing! We have moved out of our rental house, we’ve moved mum to my sister’s place into a new little portable granny flat which she is renting, and Derek and I have been sleeping at my sister’s place for a week, with Rocky the shitzu of-course!

Tomorrow we head off in our white chariot (1996 Toyota Corolla) loaded to the hilt with all our earthly possessions, to drive across the country to our destination of Perth, Western Australia where we intend to live until the Lord would say otherwise. We will be staying with beautiful friends until we both find work and can afford our own rental. For those of you that don’t know Australia very well, it’s about 5,000 kilometres or just over 3,000 miles I think.

Derek and I are making this move in response to the Lord’s call on our lives to be part of the body of believers over in Perth at this time in our walk with Him, so we can learn Christ more amongst the body there. As we have set our eyes upon His Kingdom first, He has truly taken care of everything else for us. I have so much to share about the Lord’s faithfulness to us both over these past couple of months. He has undertaken in miraculous ways – so mightily – I would definitely not do Him justice to rush it all into this post -not even in one post. So I intend to write again once we are settled interstate. I am really looking forward to sharing with you all, the Lord’s goodness to us and our family.

Until then, hope you all had a Merry Christmas and wishing you all a safe and purposeful 2017 in the purpose of God. May we all learn Him more, know Him more richly, and the power of His resurrection life.

Signing off from New South Wales Australia……. 🙂

 

Living A Simple Life In Christ

target-1414788_1280There seems to be a recurring theme coming up and staring at me lately and its the theme of simplifying our lives for Jesus. Now, that might sound like some kind of ‘Jesus People’ slogan (what’s wrong that anyway?) but it is really quite a profound call to God’s people, in my opinion. It’s a call for the church to let go of the materialism and pull of the spirit of this world and to live simpler lives that are devoted to Christ.

I’ve read blogs on this topic on 3rd Race 🙂 . Milt Rodriguez is doing a series of blog posts on the subject, (which I thoroughly recommend reading). It is also an ongoing theme of casual discussion amongst the saints here in NSW Oz, and it is an ongoing reality in my life.

A year or so ago, some of the saints here, organically, just started de-cluttering their own homes. Some were even reading books and blogs for tips on how to declutter, while at the same time Derek and I were working toward a garage sale to get rid of more stuff. This energy seems to have continued in our individual lives and even this week I have thankfully, managed to sell a few more items.  Just today I’ve finally completed that dreaded task of culling all my sentimental papers such as letters, cards, what-nots from my childhood. Time to go! Why? Because I’ve changed and they’ve lost meaning.

Getting rid of stuff really feels great. It’s really freeing. Seeing the pile in the garage getting smaller and smaller is great. Throwing out things that don’t relate to who I am in Christ anymore is wonderful! It’s almost like there is a physical sense of having offloaded something spiritually and I genuinely feel lighter. And of-course it’s an awesome physical representation of what the Lord is doing internally in His church.

I believe God is calling us, His church, to declutter from the religious things that have taken away our simplicity of living by faith out of the indwelling life of Christ. God Himself, when Jesus was being transfigured on the mount as He stood with Elijah and Moses, was decluttering the religious practises of all believers for all time by saying “Here is My Son, listen to Him”.  Right there, God was telling us to listen to Jesus. In that very moment, God cast His dart right onto the centre target for all of us to see and take note.  The centre of His target is Christ. Christ is God’s one obsession.

Since we are seeing and learning deeper God’s Eternal Purpose, His Magnificent Obsession, His Greatest Desire, His Eternal Goal, our lives are becoming more sharpened to His one purpose and we don’t need the traditions and rituals, of the institutional church, the law, man-made religion. And we don’t need so much material stuff to lug around with us. When Christ is our focus, we really don’t need to dance to the tune of this world by filling up our houses or wardrobes with the latest trend in furnishings or clothes. What are these things to Christ?

I love that God has a purpose, don’t you?  I just love it. I love that He’s not an aimless God, just going with the flow and changing with the tide, just waiting for the next thing to happen. I love His focus isn’t on a million different things. I love that He’s a very simple God.  Simple doesn’t mean not smart, oh no! Simple IS smart!

It’s like looking at that target symbol. Having time, focus and energy taken up with all the other things that just clutter our life such as works, ministries, religious practises, theologies, consumerism, entertainment, education, climbing the corporate ladder etc., is like focusing on all the red swirls on a target symbol. But God has revealed His One Purpose, His One Goal, His Target, and so we are able to focus on that Centre of the target symbol, which is Christ our Lord.  As a result,  everything becomes lighter, sharper, easier, simpler – because there’s only one goal – Christ! God only has one goal for Himself and so definitely has only one goal for us and it’s the same one!

How refreshing, replenishing, rewarding, satisfying, joyful, pleasant and wonderful it is to have only one thing to focus on in this life! When we focus only on Christ, as God’s Magnificent Obsession, everything else takes a back seat, loses it’s pull, its significance, it’s appeal. I know this to be true because it’s an increasing reality in my life and it’s actually bringing me joy. I can hardly believe it myself!

That’s not to say that we don’t go through hardship, trials, testing and difficulties. Rather, the fact is that when we do face those times we know exactly what the goal is in each one. The target is the same, it is Christ. More of Him. We don’t have to wander aimlessly through our trials anymore.

Christ becomes our All and in all. In other words, He becomes our everything in everything! And ultimately, this is the call to the church and the reality of the church all at the same time. He actually IS ALL in all of us!

Christ fulfils and satisfies EVERY desire in our hearts. He Himself fulfils every purpose and ambition that ever could be in us. He fills our cup to overflowing with His very own life. To simplify our physical lives is just a picture of what it is to simplify our Christian lives.

So let’s de-clutter, saints! In more ways than one.  Let’s declutter from all the physical old junk in our lives, the things that don’t relate to who we are anymore since we are now a new creation, and all the stuff we’ve held on to for years for ‘just-in-case’.

Let’s get rid of the old religious ways, the old traditions, the old ways of thought, the programs, the burdens, the expectations, the spiritual junk we’ve lugged around for years, the myriad of things that draw our attention and focus away from the Centre of God’s heart.

Let’s get with God’s program and live a simpler life in Christ who has done it all and achieved it all and completed everything in Himself! Let Christ alone be our focus. Let us listen to Him.

May Christ be our Central and Only focus and may He transform our lives into simplicity of faith in Him who is becoming and who already is, our All in all.

The Stone of Destiny

This is a wonderful little movie which is based on true events concerning the history of Scotland and England. So because this is based on historical events, this post is not a spoiler alert and I would thoroughly recommend watching the movie. It is available on Netflix and youtube.

Basically, in the 1200’s Scotland had a large and heavy stone they used in or as a coronation chair for Scotland’s monarchs. There are legends surrounding the origin of the stone but whatever it’s origin, it held great political significance to the Scots and was symbolic of their being an independent country.

According to Wikipedia;

In 1296, the stone was captured by Edward I as spoils of war and taken to Westminster Abbey, where it was fitted into a wooden chair—known as King Edward’s Chair—on which most subsequent English sovereigns have been crowned. Edward I sought to claim his status as the “Lord Paramount” of Scotland, with the right to oversee its King.[11]

In 1950, a group of four students from Scotland stole the stone from Westminster Abbey and returned it to Scotland.  The movie ‘Stone of Destiny’ is based on this story.

As seen in the film, Scotland appears to have lost it’s sense of identity and has become apathetic in any political move toward standing alone as her own country. A political activist among the students finds he is unable to shake the call to capture the stone and return it to Scotland as a means of restoring the sense of identity to its people in order to rally them towards coming out from under English rule.

After the capture of the stone hits the headlines, all of Scotland rejoices.  There is dancing and cheering in the streets and a sense of national pride returns. The student decide to rest the stone on the grounds of Arbroath Abbey in safe keeping of the Church of Scotland.

With all the publicity and uproar in London, the students realise the stone will be seized by London authorities and they will be arrested. So facing the inevitable, they wait there on the grounds with the Stone of Destiny, preparing for the imminent arrival of the London Police.  In this scene, the main character looks to his fellow-students and with a big smile on his face, confidently says “Well, we might as well go down in flames”.  This is where a magnificent picture of the Lord is unveiled.

Christ is our Stone of Destiny. He’s the Cornerstone. He is described as a stumbling block to many. He is the stone that was rejected. Yet He is our Foundational Stone. He is the Rock of our Salvation. He is the Stone of our identity.

This Stone of Destiny of Scotland had been stolen/taken captive and given to the man-made church to be used as a footnote to their traditions and religious ceremonies – just as Christ has been smothered by the religious institutions of man and become merely a footnote, a watered-down gospel, something hidden under the pomp and ceremony of religious practises.

But these students were like the remnant of God’s people. Just ordinary folk, despised, rejected, of no significance. God has a remnant, a people of Nehemiah’s, who are rebuilding the wall. God the Father is  returning the Stone, the Rock, the Christ, and Foundation and Cornerstone, the Capstone to His rightful place amongst His people. And God is building again with living stones!  And oh! How this nation of believers, the Church, the Bride, rejoices when Christ our Rock is elevated to His rightful place! This nation of believers is given back her true identity, to remember and know who she truly is – holy, blameless, having been given all spiritual blessings in Christ, forgiven, redeemed, reconciled, justified – when Christ is given His rightful place the Church sees her reflection in Him and is strengthened to be who she is made to be in His image.

These students rallied together, not as one independent lone-ranger but all depending on one another as we in the body of Christ are dependent upon one another to display Christ to the world for who He truly is. They were prepared to be persecuted for the sake of returning the stone to it’s rightful place.

As the London Police came running across the lawn toward them, they stood there in confidence and boldness, yet meek and un-offensive. They were proud to have restored the stone to it’s rightful place and were prepared to accept the ramifications – loss of freedom, loss of reputation, loss of life as they’d known it.

So we, as believers called to rebuild the wall, to return to the original Way as it is called in the gospels and the book of Acts, are called to risk all for Christ’s sake, not loving our lives even unto death. And like Christ, who for the joy set before Him endured all His sufferings and even death on a cross, we too can rejoice in God’s wonderful plan and purpose of all time, to have Christ as Head, central and pre-eminent. Only then can we the church function in our true identity as Christ’s body, His Bride, God’s children, His family, God’s house.

Having then come out from under the ruler of this world and the spirit of this world, we see who we really are.  Though the foreign authorities of the air may fuss about and try to contain us, we will never lose our Identity and we are sure of our Destiny.

Christ is our Stone of Destiny!

 

 

What’s wrong with Rocky?

 

Rocky on bed

Some months back while we were living at the old house, our little dog Rocky, started some odd behaviour. It started happening quite out of the blue. He’s always been a smoocher and a lapdog. But all of a sudden, he would get up from off the lounge or off the bed or wherever he was sitting/lying at the time, and start pacing around in a rather hunched over way – you know, tail tucked down, ears back, back arched. He would walk behind curtains, under tables, up against the lounge. He’d sit down or stand still for a moment and then be on the move again. He would start slapping his gums as though over-salivating although there wasn’t any druel. Sometimes he would end up shaking, as though he was cold and that would last up to half an hour before he’d go back to normal.

I took him to the vet and they took blood tests which showed he was in perfect health. Fantastic. They said it must be behavioural because he has an anxious temperament anyway and if it doesn’t change in a fortnight to take him back for further tests and to see what they could do behaviourally for him. So after a few days things settled down and it seemed he was ok. Until recently.

In the last 10 days or so, the same behaviour has started up again. However, it has become more intense. When he starts, he has become extremely clingy and lies all over me or Derek or my mum, across our belly, legs, up against us, along our backs and heads if we’re in bed, over our feet, over our chest, as though he almost wants to get inside us! He doesn’t stay still, he’s up and moving to another spot in just seconds. This has been incredibly difficult when it happens during the night because it means both of us or one of us can’t sleep. Yes, we could put him out of our bedroom but then he would cry and we would feel too concerned for him, he is our baby after all :-). Following this manic behaviour, he starts shaking and this might last up to 15 minutes or so. Following that, he pants profusely for another ten minutes or so and then collapses, exhausted.

Now, based on this information, it may be obvious to you what’s wrong with Rocky. You may be a vet and know exactly what these symptoms indicate. But for me and Derek we didn’t have a clue. We weren’t sure if it was behavioural because he was upset that there’s two other dogs living here or because after 2 months or so he’s feeling anxious about living in the new house, or what.

However, with the growing distress of the situation for him, last week in the middle of the night as he lay in my arms panting and then finally collapsed, I prayed to the Lord and said “If You’re going to take him home, please don’t let him suffer and just take him quickly”. The next day, Derek told me he had prayed the same thing that night.

You see, Derek and I are finally coming to realise that we can’t hold on to anything in ‘this life’. Even the dearest little innocent loves of our lives that bring us such joy and comfort. Even these little ones, we cannot hold onto. Everything in ‘this life’ comes to an end. Nothing here, lasts forever.

We also understand that sometimes God needs to remove things that we would hold onto in such a way that we may neglect or reject His calling in our lives. For example, if God wanted Derek and I to move to another state or were in a situation where we could only live in a unit or a caravan, our love for our little Rocky just might be the very thing that would prevent us from following in obedience.  I’m just talking hypothetically here, but you get the picture.

The thing is, God knows what it is in ‘this life’ that will hold us back from following Him wholeheartedly and with full abandonment.  Just look at the rich young ruler in Luke. Of-course, it will be different for each one of us. But Jesus said;

“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life…(Mark 10:29, 30)

And in Mark 8:35-36 we read;

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?…

Well, to continue with my story on Rocky, as I’m sure you’re worried and upset now, wondering what’s happening with him! That very night that I prayed that as he lay in my arms, completely passed out, I heard a voice. A calm, definite voice rose from within my spirit, saying “they’re seizures”. I knew this was the voice of the Lord, my God, who cares for the animals so evidently seen in the Psalms.

So the next day I called the vet and told her his symptoms again and that I was certain he was having seizures. She instructed me to bring him in immediately and as a result she put him on epilepsy medication. It’s only been four days since he started his morning and night medication, but he’s been 3 days without a turn. He is playing with his favourite red ball and is sleeping soundly and is almost back to his old chipper self. Great news huh? Thank You Lord. 🙂

The thing is, everything in this earth is temporal. Jobs, houses, relationships, health, possessions, riches, Rocky’s little body and my body and your body, the bodies of all we love and those we don’t even know, are all temporal. They are mortal. That is how it is here. However, for us who are in Christ, the Word tells us that  one day, the mortal shall put on immortality. The corruptible shall put on the incorruptible.

This is because Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Jesus, having been resurrected, and the first-born from among the dead, is now in His incorruptible form and we too, will take on an incorruptible form as He has. Though we are not and will never be divine, we share in His Divine Life.  We live today as believers, by His Divine Life in us.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die (John 11:25,26)

…and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead (Rev 1:5)

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.…(1Corinth 15:20,22)

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power (1 Corinth 15:42,43)

I know the day will come when God will take Rocky home. He will take my mum home, my husband home, my sister, etc, just as He took my dad home. It’s painful. It’s going to be painful. Perhaps you’re going through that same pain right now. Or perhaps you’re being asked to give something up that stands in the way of God’s call on your life. Only you know. But I pray that all of us, God’s people, the church, will learn to not hold on to the temporal, but enjoy what we have while we have it, treat it well, love it well, and let it go when we’re called to, for Jesus’ sake and the sake of His gospel.

 

 

 

 

When Jesus Says, Do We Believe Him?

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Dear Fellow-Believer,

When Jesus says “He is our life, joy, peace, love, compassion, grace, truth, strength……(fill in the blank), do we believe Him?

For example, Jesus is the Prince of Peace, right? So if we have Jesus Christ living and dwelling inside of us, do we not have the Prince of Peace living inside of us and therefore have peace dwelling in us?  Or do we hear/read the words that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and then because of our circumstances feel that we have no peace and begin to pray for peace in our lives and for the Lord to change our circumstances so we can cope?

Let’s face it. Sometimes our environment is anything BUT peaceful, that is for certain. When that is the case, do we become overwhelmed with the chaos around us and forget altogether that we already have the Prince of Peace living inside of us in that very moment? If Jesus is the Prince of Peace (and He is) and He lives in us (which He does) what should that look like for us? Does it mean that we are in a bubble of peace 24/7 in the midst of chaos, war, violence, annoyance, arguments, abuse, tragedy, our own or someone else’s mental breakdown? (Would we even have a mental breakdown?)

Jesus said to His disciples “…Peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives…” John 14:27.

I know that for me, someone who has experienced mental breakdowns in the past, long bouts of depression and anxiety, I have not always felt at peace and at times I have had little if any peace in my mind. Also, when the environment around me is chaotic, sometimes if not all of the time having been orchestrated by the subtle movements of the enemy, I have felt as though I am going to go crazy and cannot cope. I have become desperate for ‘peace’, as though it is something external for me to grasp after.

But if Peace is a person, the Person of Jesus Christ the risen Son of God, and He dwells in me, then peace is not an external thing for me to grasp after.  I am not called to live by feelings but by faith in God, who indwells me through Christ Jesus! There is no longer any room for being led by feelings for the child of God who is led by the Spirit. For those who are led by the Spirit shall be called the sons of God (Romans 8:14).

Let’s go through the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25 reads;

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”.

Who is the Spirit? The Spirit of God of-course. Who is God? God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit – the three are One.  That being said, what does that mean for us to keep in step with the Spirit? Jesus said in John 15:4;

“Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me”.

Just prior to this, in John 14:23 Jesus said;

“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him”.

So clearly, if we love Jesus, He, His Father and The Spirit all dwell inside of us for they are not separate from one another, they are One.  Therefore, all the fruit of the Spirit dwells inside of us also, to be an expression of Him through us. Therefore, Jesus as love, Jesus as joy, Jesus as peace, Jesus as patience, Jesus as kindness, Jesus as gentleness, Jesus as goodness, Jesus as faithfulness and Jesus as self-control, dwells inside of us. Did you get that? How incredible is this Jesus?

But here’s the thing…..Jesus said; “Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me”. So I would say, that remaining in Him is the ‘keeping in step with the Spirit’ mentioned in verse 25 of Galatians chapter 5.

So in light of the above scriptures, if I’m not remaining in Christ, therefore not keeping in step with the Spirit, I am going to be overcome by circumstances and my environment and find myself grasping for peace, joy, patience etc., as in the past. However, if I am remaining in Christ and therefore keeping in step with the Spirit, in spite of my environment and circumstances I will remain in love, joy, peace, patience etc.

Therefore, God’s word, and Jesus is the Word, is true when Jesus says to us that He is our peace etc. These are not things to grasp, but they are characteristics of Christ, the Christ who indwells us. So to draw upon Him in those times of turmoil and havoc, is where we will find peace, joy and so on. But we can only draw upon Him if we are remaining and abiding in Him.

The fact that Christ calls us to remain, makes it very apparent that we are prone to leave. Personal experience confirms that for me. It is my human Adamic nature to leave and return to my own resources which fail me and therefore I am overcome at times by the circumstances of life. However, if I am to believe all that the Lord Jesus tells me, I am assured that my Adamic nature has been crucified and that I live by another life now, that is the life of the Lord Jesus Himself (Galatians 2:20).

So therefore, I am in reality (the true reality of the Spirit) not overcome at all! If I believe I am overcome, I have believed a lie! Christ is the overcomer and in Him, I am more than a conqueror, because of Christ who lives in me (Romans 8:14).  For in me, dwells the Lord’s life, that life that is peace itself and all those other aspects of Him that we have mentioned.

The enemy might throw all kinds of distractions and seemingly natural events my way to convince me that I have no peace and that I have no joy in these circumstances, etc. But the very opposite of that is true. Whilst noise, distraction, arguments, mayhem and even hurt goes on around me, my spirit is at peace. Not because of me and my ability to practise breathing exercises and quote scriptures and mantras, but because of He who indwells me and who He is.

It seems at times however, that circumstances are too big, too loud, too overwhelming and it is an impossible task to draw upon the Lord’s peace in those moments. But is it? If that were so, would that not mean that His grace is actually not sufficient for us? If circumstances were too big, bigger than Christ, wouldn’t that mean that our faith is pointless and in vain? So we come to that question at the beginning of this post….when Jesus says He is our (fill in the blank), do we really believe Him?

If we don’t believe His words are true about Himself, then we will be overcome because then we are not by faith remaining in Him and not keeping in step with the Spirit. We are in fact being hoodwinked into living again by that Adamic nature that has already been crucified. Basically, we’re being deceived. But if we do believe Him, by faith, we abide in who He is. We are safe there, He is our hiding place, our fortress, our mighty strong tower into whom we run and we find we are abiding in Him who is the Prince of Peace.

So, all that I have written so far has been on an individual level. What if we take all this and put it on a corporate level? Let’s change all the references to an individual’s experience and make it about the corporate body of Christ, which of-course it is anyway, but for so long we have lived and interpreted scripture according to an individualistic Christianity. Let’s look at the circumstances and events that surround and impose themselves upon the corporate body of Christ. This might be the local ecclesia or the wider body of Christ all over the world. Let’s look at He who indwells us – all of us – together! What an incredible Christ we have!

As the corporate body of Christ we are facing all kinds of trials, tribulations, persecution, harassment, distractions, suffering, hurt, pain, sacrifice, torment, pressures and so on. And the world we live in but don’t belong to, is going through perilous times of unrest, no peace, war, fighting, terror, fear, poverty, displacement. But let’s look at this mighty Lord who indwells us corporately and just meditate for a moment on what He brings to the world and the witness He is to the powers and principalities of the air, through His Church! – This Lord who is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GENTLENESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, SELF-CONTROL – this Lord whose grace is sufficient for us. This Lord whose life we corporately live by. This Lord who is Head of this body we exist in.

May the church abide and remain in her Lord, as the branch remains in the vine, that He by His Spirit will be free to express Himself who is all these things and more, to the glory of the Father.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8).

Christ our Ever-Rest

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Well, I went to see the movie “Everest” last week and in 3D. Wow. I really recommend the 3D version on the big screen.

It’s the true story of a team of hikers on their trek to the summit of Mount Everest. Pretty soon into the film, I began to see and hear the Lord in it and this progressed throughout the film.

For us believers, Christ is our summit. Like the summit of Mount Everest to these hikers, Christ is our ultimate, He is the glory and majesty of the mountain of God. There is nothing as glorious than to know Him, to stand with Him in the heavenly places, to be one with Him. As on that mountain, in Christ, we view the world like never before and our breath is taken away. Just as the individual hikers in this story were driven to reach the summit, we too are driven to know Him as our greatest reality.

And Christ is not only the summit but He is our Ever-Rest. Christ is the Eternal Rest of God that we enter into. He is the Sabbath of God. He is the Seventh Day. He is the completeness. In Him, it is finished. In Him, God has now ceased from His labours. Wow! What a mountain! What a summit!

The main crux of the story is about a team of individual climbers that come together under the supervision and expertise of an exploration group that climbers pay to help them fulfil their ultimate dream of reaching the summit. The group was headed up by a man named Rob. As the team met for the briefing in the beginning of the story, Rob pointed to a picture of the mountain. Pointing to a certain height which was lower than the summit, he said to them “Human beings simply aren’t meant to function at the cruising altitude of a 747. Our bodies will be literally dying”.

I instantly thought of us in our ‘trek’ into Christ our summit. Of-course we don’t ascend and reach greater heights as perhaps some of us in previous religious environments may have thought. We realise that Christ lives in us, He is not external to us. We as believers into Christ, are not like the Tibetan monks and those of similar persuasions who believe they are to attain to a certain level or height in their ‘spiritual’ journey. No, for us it is the ‘knowing Him more deeply’ that is our summit. As Paul said “That I might know Him”.

However, this knowing Him requires a sacrifice, a dying to our self-life. Our flesh has in fact, already been crucified on the cross with Christ, because God knows our flesh cannot withstand His glory. Our flesh cannot pass from this life into the next for our flesh (physical and soulical) is unregenerated but our spirit is alive in Christ. Now, having been crucified with Christ and raised with Him in His resurrected life, we are born again by the spirit and able to enter in.

Rob’s role was to brief all climbers prior to the climb, to prepare them in practical training, to go ahead of them by making sure safety elements were in place before they got there such as ropes, oxygen tanks and supplies, to encourage them and spur them on along the way, to guide where they place their feet and to keep them heading in the right direction against the risk of snow-blindness, to watch out for their physical and mental conditions on the climb, to send them back down to base camp for rest and medical attention if they were at too great a risk, and ultimately to get them to the top of the summit. He was with them every step of the way.

This guy reminded me of the Holy Spirit. Our counsellor, the Spirit of God that goes before us and prepares the way. The one who comforts us, prepares us, looks out for us, spurs us on and takes us deeper into Christ. The one whose hand is always on our shoulder, and who speaks words of encouragement into our hearts. The one who equips us for the journey into knowing Him. The one who leads us and points us to Christ, our summit, encouraging us always to keep our eyes fixed on the prize.  How beautiful.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead I press on toward the goal for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV).

As the climbers reached higher in altitude, breathing became extremely difficult as the air thinned to a point of there being almost no oxygen at all. In a way, the oxygen tanks supplied for the journey up the steep slopes of Mount Everest, resemble the Spirit of God in us. It is only by His Spirit that we are able to survive the journey, to enter into the depths of knowing Christ. It is a spiritual life, not one lived out in the capacities of the flesh, human ambition or intellect. He is the air that we breathe and without Him we cannot go on.

The hike up the mountain was and always will be a fierce one. It is a stumbling block for many, and many do not survive the journey. It is a narrow and dangerous path and few will make it to the top.

 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it”. Matthew 7:14 (NIV)

Christ was often described in scriptures as the stumbling block by which many would fall, because they look for something else, something more in line with their own faulty expectations of who the Messiah would and should be.

For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NIV)

But like Mount Everest, Christ is not predictable. As Rob states in the movie “the mountain has it’s own weather patterns”, so it is with Christ. His Kingdom is not of this world’s ‘weather patterns’. And so for many, it is a journey that seems to ask too much of them just as the rich young ruler unable to give up all his possessions to follow Jesus (see  Matthew 19:16-24). Christ, like the mountain, requires us to give our all, our very lives, as He Himself gave His life for us.

As you can imagine, the hikers climbed this mountain in extreme conditions of snow, sleet, high speed winds, descending black clouds filled with thunder and lightening, extreme below zero temperatures, incredibly narrow cliff ledges and on ridiculously steep slopes in high altitudes. I was not surprised that so many lost their lives.  At one point two of the climbers after a day’s climbing, speak to each other in their tent of the suffering and their acceptance and surrender to the fact of it, all for the glory of reaching the summit.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him … I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11 (NIV).

When we read through the old testament, we read the lives of the prophets and those sent by God. In the New Testament we read the lives of the apostles and those called by God to follow Him. We see their lives are ones of great human loss and sacrifice, for the glory of knowing Him.  Of-course we read of Christ, the sacrificial lamb, the one who was slain for all mankind. We are told that no servant is greater than his master. So we come to understand that a life lived for the glory of knowing Christ, is also a life of suffering, trials and tribulations whilst on this earth. But we are also given exhortation in that our current sufferings cannot compare with the glory that awaits us.

…Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV).

As already mentioned, Rob is a shadow and type of the Holy Spirit in many ways throughout this story. He is a constant source of strength and hope. However, he is also a shadow and type of Christ. He goes the extra mile for the sake of keeping one climber safe who loses his way and this ultimately costs Rob his life. Yet, He did not die before leaving new life as his pregnant wife later gave birth to a baby girl. Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd. He goes after the one that is lost. He lays down His life for His friends. He gave His life up for all. But He did this in order that the Father would have offspring and His family would multiply and grow, increasing His expression on the earth through His body of believers.

We also see the body of Christ at work in this film. Rob does not choose to work as a lone wolf. Rob works as head of a team of many. As Christ is the Head of His Church, He has constrained Himself to His church and the Head is not separate from the body. The team of climbers was made up of experienced climbers, sherpas and amateurs. It was one team but many parts, and all functioned according to Rob’s direction.

So it is with the body of Christ.  One Head, one body.  One Spirit. One goal. One Purpose. One glory. One mountain. One Summit. Christ.

 

 

 

 

Do You Struggle With Beholding The Lord? This Might Help…

 

Eastern Water Dragon Sitting in the Sun by bigwavephoto on flickr

Eastern Water Dragon Sitting in the Sun by bigwavephoto on flickr

Long before we knew the dangers of sun-baking, like thousands of other Aussies, I used to love sun-baking. I grew up in the 70’s living on the waterfront with a private jetty and that was one of our favourite spots as kids. The back concrete path behind the retaining wall was also a good spot because it was so private. Many Summers, mum, my sister and I would lie out there on our bamboo mats or towels, listening to the transistor radio, hardly speaking but just soaking in the sun and inhaling the smell of the coconut oil.

When I grew old enough to drive myself places, I would venture on down to the beach on my own and do the same thing. I’d lie there for hours going in and out of sleep, to the sound of the local radio station over the surf club’s loud speakers. It was bliss.

These days I enjoy sitting in the sun, fully clothed mind you, at the side of the house in the rocking chair, with my eyes closed listening to the quiet and the bird life. I find some magical kind of refreshing and life penetrating my soul all the way in to my spirit, when I sit in the sun like that. Especially first thing in the morning.

As I was relishing in the utter joy of this the other morning, it took me back to those days of sun-baking. The sensation was essentially the same. I could almost smell the coconut oil. And then, as gentle as a breeze, it came to me….

Son – baking. I used to sun-bake, now I Son – bake. Similarly, to how I used to behold the sun, I now behold The Son. I realised that sun-baking is a shadow and type of beholding the Lord. When we sun-bake we are intentionally turning our entire being and attention to be absorbed by the sun. We shuffle around to make sure we are as exposed to the sun as much as we possibly can be. We stay there for hours at a time, and the sun is our highest priority for that time. Even though our thoughts may wander in and out, and we may even fall in and out of sleep in its warmth, we are utterly surrendered to it. We are practically drugged by it. We’re even changed by it, as our skin changes colour.

I’ve learnt that beholding the Lord is similar. It is an intentional turning to the Lord. It is abandoning everything else, for this allotted length of time devoted wholly to gazing into Him and basking in His glory and light. We seek nothing else but to be as exposed to Him as we possibly can be and we cast everything else aside to do so. Our thoughts may wander in and out but we soak Him in and His glorious rays of light penetrate our heart as He communes with us in the seat of our spirit. And we are changed by this experience, only on the inside. Although we can recall Moses’ face being so radiant with light after being in the presence of the Lord, that he had to veil his face so others wouldn’t be blinded. Wow! That’s crazy!

This word ‘behold’ was foreign to me a few years back. I’d only ever heard it in old hymns and I thought it was some old English word we didn’t really use anymore. Oh, it is so much more than that! It has become such a precious verb in the vocabulary of so many saints these days. Those gone before us really knew something of the Lord by using the word ‘behold’.  It’s like, when we behold Him, there’s no words necessary, we’re not praying or bringing petitions before the Lord, we are just sitting and looking into Him, not ‘out’ or ‘up’ there but inward to where He resides. We’re not even imagining what He looks like but somehow, by intentionally being present as when we sun-bake, we are able to close our eyes and fix our internal gaze on Him, fixing our eyes on Jesus.

Wisemen's Ferry by Julia on flickr

Wisemen’s Ferry by Julia on flickr

Beholding is something we can do at any time day or night as I talk about in my post titled You Can Find Rest Even When It Seems Impossible.

Imagine yourself at work, its Winter and you’re on your lunch or coffee break. You look for a spot outside the warehouse or office out of the wind, and in the sun, or maybe you grab a spot at the park. You pull up a chair or milk crate, and with your steaming hot cup of tea in your hands, you sit there in the sun with your eyes closed. You’ll often see even those who don’t know the Lord, doing this. It’s a moment of quiet, time to rest, time to draw aside from the goings on. It is a moment to behold the Lord. Take just a few minutes, 2 or 5 if you’re able, and without striving (this takes practise), just enter into His rest and fix your internal gaze upon Him.  It’s as simple as sitting in the sun.

I say it is simple, but not necessarily easy since we always have an opponent setting out to distract us from our time in communing with our Lord. This is something addressed in a beautiful book on beholding the Lord written by Milt Rodriguez called The Temple Within. (Just click on the link).

If the concept of beholding the Lord is new to you, like it was to me, or if you just want further understanding and encouragement in this area of your life, I really recommend reading this book. It was an enormous help to me and I found it very easy to read.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

We are that temple brothers and sisters! So enjoy your Son-baking experience today 🙂

You Can Find Rest Even When It Seems Impossible

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;

my hope comes from him.

Truly he is my rock and my salvation;

he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

My salvation and my honor depend on God ;

he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in him at all times, you people;

pour out your hearts to him,

for God is our refuge.

(Psalm 62:5-8)

Sometimes my soul is very noisy. It is sometimes easily rattled. I can always tell because I get this gnawing feeling that something has disturbed my inner peace and there’s no obvious reason for it. At that time I have to stop what I’m doing and turn my spiritual eyes to the Lord Jesus and behold Him in my spirit as gazing into a mirror.

I don’t want to be easily rattled, I want to remain in the ascendency of the spirit with my soul submitted to the Spirit of God at all times, don’t you? It’s so much better there.

I thank You Lord that at any moment of any day or night, I can turn inward to You, seek Your face and there find rest and quietness for my soul.

You are ever available to me. You have made Yourself truly as a spring of living water that bubbles up inside of me. You speak from within, Your word rises within me and washes over me, refreshing and cleansing.

Your Word is life to me, for Jesus, You are the Word and You are the Life. Your life never ends in me, it begets life again and again. Your stream is endless and has no limit to its depths. It truly is as a fountain.

You are deeper than the oceans and higher than the highest of heights above heights. O Lord, one glance toward You and I am returned to rest.

Exalting the Lord is a powerful thing. When we exalt Him by proclaiming out loud who He is to all the powers of the air, that Spring of Living Water comes bursting forth.

One thing that always encourages my heart toward the Lord and enables me to exalt Him, is to hear it through others. This happened for me recently. I was reading through some comments made on another believer’s blog and the reader went from commenting on the content to exalting the Lord! Oh how my spirit was lifted and my gaze turned toward Christ! And right there I was washed in His spring and my soul was rested.

I pray that your spirit is lifted today friend and that your soul finds rest in Him alone 🙂

Come, glorify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together (Ps 34:3)

American Sniper movie – Forever changed – Ruined for Anything else

Taken from google images

Taken from google images

Dear brother or sister,

Firstly, let me say, in this post I am not condoning war, killing, murder, racism, other religions and I am not in any way glorifying war. I am not pro any country over another.

Having said that – American Sniper, what a movie. What a story. What a spectacle of the reality for the believer who has seen the Eternal Purpose of God and is ruined for anything else.

In a nutshell and be it right or wrong, the true story goes that Chris Kyle signed up to serve his country with a deep heart conviction that he was called to protect his fellow-Americans in this way. This led him to the war zones as a sniper where he served four Tours of Duty, saved many American soldiers’ lives, killed 160 enemies as a sniper, became a legend in the eyes of many of his countrymen and comrades and returned home a tormented man, damaged and changed, trying to re-connect with family and society. He was never the same again.

It is common knowledge that young men in particular, can be taken up with some fantasy of war and being solders, being convinced there is much glory and honour in serving country.  For the young soldier there can be a sense of calling, duty, pride, bravery, excitement, hope, destiny, purpose and meaning. There is generally an expectation of victory, glory, wonder, certainly comradery and even adventure and sight-seeing. However, one thing is true of any I have heard speak after the event of being at war, and that is, that except for the comradery, it was none of those things. And this is my point.

Those to whom the Lord has given a glimpse of His Eternal Purpose, can be likened to such a young person. We leave the safety and familiarity of the traditional or institutional church environment and habits and we walk into this ‘organic’ church life expecting some hard times and challenges for sure. You know, we’ve read the books, we’ve heard the testimonies, we know it’s not going to be easy. However, we have heard the call and we can’t help ourselves now. We are compelled to go!

We ‘enter in’ so to speak, this ‘organic’ body life, in order to seek this glorious experience of the Lord’s Bride expressing Christ in all His wonder and love, power and light – to fellowship with brothers and sisters who have also heard the call and who have given their lives up for Him – and we intend to walk this path together with that same sense of calling, duty, courage,  excitement, hope and purpose, believing we will see glory, wonder, adventure and experience a similar type of comradery.

What does such a one find? Just like the young soldier, this one finds the journey into organic life in Christ, is more about death than anything else!! – pain, suffering, loss – losing ones’ life (self-life) in the sense that he is no longer an individual accountable only to self but now moves as part of a corporate body, loses his individual status or spiritual reputation, risks his life (self-life) for the corporate body and its purpose (to let Jesus win!). This one risks his life all day every day in community life of the body.  He thought training was hard! – like Chris Kyle training to be a navy seal on the beaches, even that didn’t compare with what faced him. But now that he’s living it, he’s on the front, he’s on the ground, he’s functioning with other soldiers alongside him who are also functioning, he is getting used to death. Death is now becoming a way of life. So it is for those in true organic body-life, under the headship of Jesus Christ. It was the way of Jesus, why wouldn’t it be the way of His followers? 

If we’ve seen the Lord’s Eternal Purpose, we have no alternative but to keep dying and giving up our lives. We know it’s worth it. We have no life of our own, no personal status or value. We are members of a corporate body and live only for the purpose of that corporate body, which is to let Jesus win on every occasion so He is seen in the earth. Our personal lives have no individual value. We risk our lives every day and die new deaths every day for the sake of the purpose of this body. Even though we may live physically, still have jobs, families and regular every day commitments, we are ruined for this life (self-life). We are never going to be the same. We can’t return to who we used to be.   People might look at us from the outside and think we’re the same person we used to be but we are not. Not ever. And there is no going back.

The young soldier deployed for war doesn’t have a clue what he is signing up for.  When we enter into ‘organic’ church life, neither do we.

But!!  The glory! Yes! There is glory there! A far greater glory than what any young soldier might be hoping for. A richer glory than we have ever experienced before. The glory of the Lord Jesus truly freely functioning as the Head of His Church, that He is. It is the sweetest and most consuming wonderous glory that ever there can be here on earth – to see and know with our spiritual senses, the wonders of the Lord Jesus getting what He wants.

Having been given a glimpse of this purpose, a glimpse of this glory, what choice is there? It’s like when Simon Peter said to Jesus “Lord, to whom shall we go? For You hold the words of life”. 

We have no-where else to go Jesus. Just a glimpse of You in Your bride has ruined us for anything else.