I have enjoyed listening to RSG (Afrikaans) radio for many years, and got to appreciate the input of senior radio producer and journalist, Suna Venter, whose body was discovered in her flat in Fairland, Johannesburg, very recently. Just thirty two, she had been diagnosed with a cardiac condition known as Stress Cardio-Myography or ‘Broken […]
Sorry I’ve been quiet for a couple of weeks but we’ve had two different families from NSW staying with us over the last two long weekends for Easter and now Anzac Day. We’ve had an awesome time and have been kept very busy with site-seeing, hanging out, walking the dog and entertaining the kids, and lots of eating!
However, I wanted to post my final contribution to the 3rdrace.org series on the Lord’s Eternal Purpose, which for the month of April has been focusing on The Bride. There are some beautiful realities posted there by the other contributors to the site and as usual, I recommend checking it out.
Anyhoo, please click on this link to read my post there on Christ Our Bridegroom.
Someone recently asked this question on Facebook. I thought it was a good question because there’s so many different types of gatherings that are calling themselves ‘organic’ which clearly are not. And so this was my reply with some added thoughts based on my experience and understanding.
To me, true and authentic organic church is simply, Christ. In ‘organic’ church, Christ is the Head and the life of the church. That’s what organic church is – His life.
It is the expression of Christ moving and expressing Himself, revealing the Father, the Father revealing the Son, the Holy Spirit administering the gifts amongst the priesthood of all believers as they are each functioning and being built together by the Lord Himself. It is a community of believers learning to live by Christ’s indwelling life. A community whose love for one another astounds the world and reveals Jesus Christ as God’s Son.
Any kind of structure that exists is there to support the body, not the body supporting the structure.
It is birthed by the Spirit and has God’s DNA in it because it is Christ in His body.
To me, it is The Way, as the believers in the New Testament called it. As believers lay down their soul lives for Him and one another Christ is being expressed in and through His body as He pleases – the most beautiful bride ever to exist!
It is simply, Christ as one with His own body.
Sometimes when I imagine what the gospel sounds like to someone who’s never heard it before, I imagine it would sound a little like a comic book, like science fiction. Accepting that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into time from outside of time, Eternity, and saved the human race sounds like a science fiction movie, doesn’t it? An awesome one, at that. But do we realise that it is the true original and authentic historical and eternal reality from which all science fiction stories (and love stories, actually) have been derived?
But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to understand them, because spiritually they are discerned.(1 Corinthians 2:14, Berean Literal Bible)
It seems like throughout the history of story-making, writing, film & television, that old Devil has weaved an almost perfect plan by blinding us with creative and entertaining science fiction stories to make the reality of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done, appear somewhat ‘comical’ and ridiculous to the ‘natural’ minds. To those minds, that do not have the Spirit of God in them, what we as Christians believe concerning Christ can be likened to believing in Thor, Superman, Batman and so on.
In the 80’s & 90’s there was an Aussie band called Divinyls who had a hit song called “Science Fiction”. Here are some of the lyrics;
I thought that love was science fiction
Until I saw you today
Now that love is my addiction
I’ve thrown all my books away
When I was young I was so naive
I didn’t believe no I didn’t believe
I didn’t believe
Never thought that we’d last this long…….
When I was young I was, so naive
I didn’t believe no di didn’t believe
I didn’t believe
I’ve been waiting for a man from space
To come to earth to meet the human race……….
In a way, a man from outer space did come to earth to meet the human race, didn’t He? We can look at those corny words to that corny song and see something of Christ in it can’t we? Of-course, He didn’t come from outer space, He came into time from outside of time, from Eternity.
Please bear with me now as I express a little bit of poetic license of my own, to build on my point;
In a land far, far away….. imagine a time when human beings exist but are filled with somebody else’s life instead of their own. Their own actual life died years ago. One person had reached right into every individual and took their life out of them and killed it and replaced it with His own life. And this one person’s life is the very same life inside every human – they’re all living by the same one person’s life from then-on.
This One person let individual’s personalities and uniqueness remain because He wanted as many variants as possible to express His own life and He loved their individual personalities and uniqueness. So each person remained an individual but living by the one life that they shared with every other human being, expressing that one shared life in many different ways. Each would think as He thought, each would do as He would do, each would express His characteristics, but differently according to their own personality and uniqueness. So in essence, all of humanity had become one man but with many expressions through the individuals, with the appearance of male and female, black and white, etc.
Why did this One person do this? Because He actually created them in the first place to live by His life, knowing that His own life was the One True Life and nothing could compare with it’s glory and power. But by their own naïve choice and independent nature, all their lives had been hijacked by a darkness from which He knew there was no return. He saw that they were all heading down a spiral of death and there was no way out for them. He actually loved them so much that He couldn’t bear to see them disintegrate and the only way He could save them was to give them His life in place of their own, as He always intended. The only way He could do this was to become one of them and die for them, giving His life to them. That way, He knew that they would have abundant Life to live by forever and ever because His Life was an Eternal Life, which overcame death.
So there’s a lot more to the story than that, I know. But in essence, did you know that the true and normal Christian life is that of Christ’s life being lived out in us? Did you realise that this is what happened when Jesus was crucified? Did you realise that’s when He took our old lives as fallen human beings and killed them, crucifying them with Him on the cross? And that when He was resurrected He became a life giving Spirit, placing His very own Life inside of us for us to live by from there-on-in? This all took place outside of time in Eternity and inside of time at Calvary. And it takes place on an individual level inside of time every time one of us human beings comes to believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and make Him Lord of our life.
It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him!… (Romans 5:7-9)
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20)
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13)
Although I imagine an awesome science fiction movie could be made to represent this story, this amazing love of God’s which is given to us through Jesus Christ, is not science-fiction at all. It is our reality!
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)
Now, we who are in Christ, through faith in Him as the Son of God, by the grace given to us to believe, live by the life of another. What does this mean for us? It means so much that I could never cover it in all my life, let alone in one post!
However, simply in some practical terms, it means that His dream has become our dream. His purpose and vision has become our purpose and vision. His desires have become our desires. We have become one with Him, and one with His Father, and so Christ has become our All.
It means we can draw from His life on all occasions. When we are tired, we can draw from Him as our strength and energy. When we are afraid, we can draw from Him as our courage and comfort. When we are uncertain, we can draw from Him for His confidence and guidance. When we are hungry, we can draw from Him as our food! When we are tempted, we can draw from His well of Life as our way out. When we feel weak in faith, we can draw from His faith to believe. When we are tested, we can draw from His life to stand and persevere in hardship. When we feel we cannot go on, we can draw from Him as our endurance. In other words, Christ is All.
We are never left to our own wisdom, devices, resources. We no longer have to rely on ourselves or the world, to meet our needs in any way. We don’t have to work hard to be a better person, to improve ourselves, or to achieve great things for Him or for anyone else. We don’t have to come up with the answers on how to live this life or how to help others. We have another life living within us which is all the resource of Heaven. In other words, Christ is All.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms…(Ephesians 1:3)
Our own wisdom, devices and resources are useless. Since we like Paul, have been crucified with Christ, there is nothing of us that can attain to anything of any value in this life. In other words, Christ is All.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
But as for me, may I never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything. What counts is a new creation.…(Galatians 6:14)
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.(John 10:10)
Perhaps now we, just like in that silly song by the Divinyls’, can declare that once we were naïve and we didn’t believe that the gospel was true. Perhaps we thought it was only science fiction?
He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (John 6:65)
But now, since we have been born of the Spirit, and no longer living by the capacity of our own natural man which cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit, we see that this blinding love of God through Christ Jesus, is real. We have now thrown away all our ‘books’ (to speak of our human reasoning, philosophies and human wisdom) that feed our natural mind that has no Life of Christ in it, and we are now led by the Spirit of God as the Father has enabled us.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. ……(Romans 8:14).
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that was made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it. ….the True light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. ……..The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1)
And that’s a love, that is not science-fiction.
In case you don’t follow the blog of Milt Rodriguez, I want to share with you this brother’s latest post. This post is part of a series called “Is Christ Enough?”. I pray that we are reminded over and again, how big and all sufficient our Lord is.
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. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
(1 Corinthians 1:22-25)
Here, in this passage, Paul sums up the gospel that he preached in the face of insurmountable odds and extreme opposition. It is a gospel that is so radical and so extreme that it called down unbelievable persecution upon his head everywhere he went. This persecution was not only dished out by the heathen but more so by the religious folks, namely the Jewish nation. It is a gospel that is so different and so outrageous that you can really only tag it…
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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.
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!
Hi brothers and sisters,
There’s so much attention and media time given these days to singing and the worship and elevation of those who sing. Our televisions are filled with shows like American/Australian Idol, Australia/Brittain’s Got Talent and The Voice. I must admit, I’m pretty sick of it. But there is a different kind of singing that thrills me and it clearly delights the Lord’s heart immensely.
I’ve just been reflecting on some words some saints put to the old familiar tune of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and I see something beautiful of the Lord’s oneness with His church, His bride, come through in the words. Sometimes it helps us to capture the Spirit in the words of a song if we actually remove the tune so if you’re not familiar with the tune thats ok!
The words are addressed to a corporate gathering of saints and go like this…..
Holy ones (that’s us), do you hear when we’re singing it’s the voice of the Lord we are bringing?
He gave us His life that we might be His wife
And as she is singing she hears His reply…..
“Oh what a beautiful woman”!
Read it a couple more times.
What I saw in these words is the oneness of the Bride with her Bridegroom. That as she (corporate expression of His life) sings His praises, it is His life that indwells her and sings through her! The Lord is actually glorifying Himself through the praises of His people! Wow! And to the shame of the powers and authorities in heavenly realms.
As if thats not enough to meditate on for weeks! But what really caught the attention of my spirit in these words is that as we, the corporate body and bride of Christ, sing His praises together something wonderful happens. With our spiritual sense of hearing, that is in our spirit, we hear the Lord loving and adoring His bride! We hear Him singing “Oh! What a beautiful woman!”
Now isn’t that just the most wonderful and the closest relationship anyone could ever imagine?
“…He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17.
Oh! What a wonderful Lord!! He’s The Voice! He’s Eternity’s Idol!
What’s ‘church-hopping’ all about?
“Don’t be a church-hopper” I was always hearing. “Oh you know them, they’re church-hoppers, they never stay in the one place for long….”people would say. “They’re not stayers….they’re always moving around”.
*By the word ‘church’ in this context, I am referring to the building/denomination where you attend a Sunday or Saturday service to hear a sermon and sing worship and praise songs etc, in the company of a congregation where there are positions of authority and programs and man-made traditions.
I realise there’s a myriad of reasons why people ‘leave’ or ‘change churches’ and many of those reasons are let’s say, less than Christ-like. Things like, not liking the music or some of the people there or there’s not enough activity for the children or there’s a disagreement with someone and so on. Jesus and His apostles teach us in the Word of God to love our enemies, to daily encourage one another in the brethren, to bear with one another in patience and forgiveness, and to love others as Christ has loved us and we could go on. I myself, am guilty of ‘changing’ churches for such reasons. But is there a right reason to leave church?
In my humble opinion, the best reason to leave church is because you are dissatisfied with your spiritual growth. Brother or sister, do you feel like you need to leave church for good because no matter how many different churches you ‘check out’ or ‘sow into’, as they say, you remain spiritually dissatisfied? Are you at your “this is my last try” and find you have not experienced any significant spiritual growth?
A lack of personal spiritual growth might be interpreted through not finding the sermons meaty enough, finding the worship shallow, feeling controlled by the leadership, feeling stifled in being able to move freely in the Spirit, feeling unable to contribute, feeling you just don’t fit in, having a sense that all is not well in the church but feeling it must just be you with the problem. All these things can be indicators that you are not growing spiritually and would leave you feeling that this church thing just isn’t working. At that point, many up and go and look for another church congregation to see if they offer something more (note the emphasis on ‘my’ needs) and hence the term ‘church-hopping’.
However, if you are of the conviction that you are not growing spiritually in church life as you’ve known it and have a deepening holy dissatisfaction, and if you are sensing that it is in fact the Lord who is calling you out, (though many you fellowship with would contend this – especially those in leadership) then I’m excited for you! I am excited for the Lord and for the whole body of Christ! Because that calling out will ultimately lead to a calling in! And the ‘calling in’ will be into the Life of the Body of Christ that fulfils the Father’s deepest desire – the full expression of His Son through the Church!
Well 13 years ago I was called out too! And after some years in the ‘wilderness’ (ie not going to or being part of any church fellowship yet deeply desiring to know God more) and then being called in to an organic expression of Jesus Christ amongst other believers, man, things have changed for me. Or should I say, ‘in’ me.
Someone asked me the other day, has my view of Jesus changed since leaving the organized or institutional church system 13 years ago. My answer was an unequivocal and resounding yes!
So here are just four ways I see Christ differently now, since He called me out to call me in.
1.I used to see Jesus as external to me.
I saw Him as the Son of God, my invisible friend and I loved Him because He was God’s Son and I loved God.
Now I see Jesus as this Christ who lives in me and through me. He expresses His own life through me and He fills my being. He lives and breathes through every believer! So I have millions and millions of brothers and sisters who He lives in and through as well! He is no longer external but has become this Life giving spirit who indwells all believers, His church, His body of which I am just one member. I see Him as enormous and filling all things with Himself, and whose life, peace and government will continue to increase throughout all eternity! (Isaiah 9:6-7) He is huge!!
2. I used to see Jesus as a figure
Now I see Jesus as a person, the Son of Man as well as the Son of God, and a person whom I know very well but am still getting to know and to whom there is no end. We are in relationship with one another. He is closer to me than anybody could ever be and we are intricately connected as one! We can’t get any closer than that! He knows me completely and because He dwells in me, He knows me from the inside out! I now see that this person Jesus Christ, is my purpose, my whole heart and my whole reason for existence.
3. I used to see Jesus as God’s Son but not much more to God than that
Now I see that Jesus is God’s obsession! He is God the Father’s consuming passion and desire! The Father is captivated by His Son and wants all things for Him. The Son is equally captivated with the Father and wants all things for Him! The two are inseparable! They are completely one – as Jesus has now made me (and you, believer) one with Him! (John 17…)
4. I used to see Jesus as the middle ranking member of the Godhead
Now I see how the Godhead dwells inside Christ! It pleased the fullness to dwell in Him! Christ contains the Father and the Holy Spirit, they are both inside of Him and it is their pleasure to have it this way. I see now that they are not separate from one another, there is no hierarchy because their relationship is love and this love is giving their lives for one another. There is no jealousy within the Godhead, they love to dwell inside the Son and the Son loves to dwell inside them – just the same way that Paul describes us as being in Christ and Christ in us! The whole of the fullness of God dwells inside the Son and the Son dwells inside the fullness – they are One!
Brother or sister, I share this with you to encourage you. If it is the Lord who is calling you out, you can be assured that it is to call you in. He will take you through a wilderness experience more than likely (it seems to be the way of every believer I know who has walked this path) and He will eventually but in His good time, bring you in. What will He bring you into?
Just like the Israelites, which are a shadow and type of the church, they were brought out of Egypt through the wilderness and into the Promised Land (though only two of them remained faithful and received the Promised Land – yes, the Wilderness is a time of testing our faithfulness). This place the Lord is calling you into is the Promised Land of His Son Jesus Christ.
Whilst you and many others you may be ‘in church’ with, are already in this Christ since you are born again, there is a mystery that is this gospel we live by and that mystery revealed is Christ in you (that word ‘you’ is plural, it’s corporate), the hope of glory! We have a Promised Land to inherit, the mystery of God revealed to us by the Holy Spirit of God the Father, Christ indwelling His body, His church, and we therefore can live by His indwelling life. This is more than attending church services and singing 3 fast songs and 3 slow ones! This is an indwelling Lord living in and through His church! Now, that’s a vast expanse of land flowing with milk and honey!
A holy dissatisfaction with where you are should lead to a desperate heart and intentional pursuit of the Lord, to seek to see Him and know Him more. There has to be a ‘seeing’ before there is a ‘knowing’. This desperation will delight the heart of the Father because it is His desperation in you. It is the Father’s heart-cry! God the Father, wants more than anything (it is His ultimate intention and His eternal purpose) to have you, me and everyone who is called, see and know Christ the Son of God, the Son of His love in His fullness and this life of Christ in His Church. In fact the scriptures tell us that the church IS the fullness of Christ!
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything FOR the church, which is his body, the FULLNESS OF HIM who fills EVERYTHING in EVERY way (Ephesians 1:23).
Wow!! Is that our experience of the church?
So once again, may I encourage you brother or sister, that if you sense the Lord is calling you out of church as you’ve known it, with its hierarchy, traditions and programs, He has put a cry in your heart for the very thing that is the obsession of His own heart and that is for you to see and know Christ Jesus in His fullness.
There is a holy exodus, people, and those who thirst and hunger for the Promised Land, remaining in Him, will find it because it is the Father’s good pleasure to reveal His Son in us. It is not about us, it is about CHRIST IN us. Amen.
Be bold and courageous!
Please go to this link to read more on this same exciting subject with great richness of insight from a sister in the United States at 3rd Race.
This post is a little more lengthy and detailed than normal because I want to highlight how Derek and I have experienced an aspect of the Lord we had not understood before – that is God as a God of completion – down to the final hour of the final day. So if you’ve got the time to read through, I hope you can appreciate the fullness of this testimony.
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll recall that my family and I were given notice to move out of the rental property we lived in by Friday 27th November. We had been given 3 months’ notice (plenty of time right?) to find somewhere else but the 27th was our absolute final date to be out by, although we had permission from our landlords to take the weekend, that would be the 28th and 29th to clean the old house and hand the keys in.
Having unique needs to house my mother, my step- daughter, Derek and I and three inside dogs, the challenges were great whilst looking for a new place. In order to give greater glory to God, let me share what was on our hearts to believe for…
- Close proximity to my sister
- Close proximity to the rest of the saints we fellowship with
- Separate living area for mum
- Room for mum to keep her baby grand piano
- Mum to have her own bathroom
- Mum to have her own external access
- Preferably an ensuite for us
- Single level and flat block to allow easy access and safety for mum
- Fenced yard for dogs
- Approval for dogs to be inside house
- Parking for 3 cars
- Preferably not straight out suburbia since mum has lived on acres since 1989
Just a small order, right? But we have a great God, right?
Now, with our last move 2.5 years ago I had distinctly heard the Lord’s whisper calling me to come and ask Him for what I wanted for our move. I told Him all the things I felt in my heart that we really needed, especially in taking mum with us from her family home less than a year after my dad had passed away. The very next day I drove past a real estate I’d never called into before and felt to do a u-turn and go inside. They had one rental that had just come up and wasn’t on their list yet. It was the house we lived in for the last 2.5 years, just around the corner from my dad’s grave at a christian camp facility called Bethshan, where he had given his life to Jesus at age 14. The house met beautifully, all of our needs on a practical sense and the Lord taught us many precious things while living there.
Derek and I both felt strongly that this time, the Lord would do a different thing. We had no doubt He would provide for our needs but we had a strong conviction that the Lord doesn’t always do the same thing in the same way. Just because He did something a certain way once before, doesn’t mean we can hold Him to a formula for every similar event in our lives. We knew this time would be different.
We’d also come to understand the value of losing our preferences in order for Him to get what He wants in us. So whilst we would pray for and believe for the Lord to meet all our needs, we knew that He was the only one who truly knew our needs. We went through all the ups and downs of surrendering our preferences whilst holding onto faith that He would provide what He knew was best.
Somewhere in those last 3 months, we applied for 3 houses that really didn’t float our boat. However, as time was running out we were beginning to realise that we might just have to take something that wasn’t all we had hoped for and make the most of it, believing that it would be the Lord’s choice for us and He would have much to teach us through such an exercise. And so with each of these applications, there was a resignation in our hearts to the point of giving up and being prepared to take whatever He had in mind.
In fact, each time our application was rejected, there was a sense of disappointment for us, particularly for me. With each house I had gone through the process of disappointment, then acceptance and learning to embrace whatever it was and then mentally I would imagine living there and how it would work until faith entered my heart to be happy about it. So when we were knocked back, there was a little episode of grief each time as I had already gone through the process of embracing it as our new home.
Well, we got down to the final three weeks, still not having found anything that ticked all the boxes, and not approved for anything that even ticked some of the boxes. Derek had said at one point that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Lord took us right down to the 27th November, so that we would truly take the current land for all it’s worth, as He had told us to do, in April of this year (2015).
Personally, I was horrified at that thought! He suggested a few times that I book the removalists but I said I couldn’t book them because I didn’t have an address for them and they will need to quote on where we have to travel to and consider the access to the new place. However, with just over two weeks to go, I decided to get some removalists quotes and eventually booked one for the 27th without an address. I simply told them the general whereabouts we intended to end up!
I also booked the carpets to be cleaned and the lawns to be done the week before the 27th. I made a list of things to do and Derek and I worked off that list. The list included a garage sale (as we had felt the Lord tell us to hold one), packing last minute things, cleaning and undoing furniture the night of the 26th in preparation to move on the 27th.
Well, on Sunday night the 14th, I received a real estate alert email with a new listing. It was in the suburb of Narara and it provided the following; (Hint: it’s the same list…)
- Close proximity to my sister
- Close proximity to the rest of the saints we fellowship with
- Separate living area for mum
- Room for mum to keep her baby grand piano
- Mum to have her own bathroom
- Mum to have her own external access
- Ensuite for us
- Single level and flat block to allow easy access and safety for mum
- Fenced yard for dogs
- Approval for dogs to be inside house
- Parking for 3 cars
- Rural/suburbia on large private block
It also had a pool and air conditioning and it was only $50 per week more than what we had been paying. And it’s availability date? You guessed it …Friday the 27th November. So toot sweet, I got hold of the agency to arrange an inspection.
For a myriad of reasons that I won’t bother you with, we were unable to view the property until Friday 20th. This would mean that the real estate wouldn’t even begin to look at our application until Monday the 23rd, , in turn meaning, that we wouldn’t have an answer until at least the 25th. What if the application was rejected? How would we find somewhere within 2 days, knowing how lengthy the application process is? Still, with boxes packed, garage sale complete, carpets cleaned, lawns mown and removalist booked, we felt sure that God would provide in time.
On the afternoon of Wednesday the 25th, the real estate called and said “Well, I have good news, I’ve put your application to the landlord and you’ve been approved but on one condition….that you can move in this Friday”. What? Who says that? I worked in property management in real estate for 12 years and I’ve never heard of such a thing!
What a glorious God! So through all these weeks the Lord has been walking us through learning to live by faith and not by sight, to cast our cares upon the Lord, to not be anxious, and to trust Him right up to the last minute, and to find joy in Him no matter how impossible circumstances might appear.
So, we moved out and moved in on Friday 27th November. J My mother and step daughter hadn’t even seen the place. I was so impressed with their trust. On Saturday and Sunday the 28th and 29th, Derek and I went back and cleaned the old house to hand in the keys to the landlords on the Sunday.
Now, if you recall, the Lord had shown us much of Himself and His Eternal purpose whilst living at the old place over the last 2 years, through the actual land we were living on. He did a lot of work in me and Derek during that time and we needed Him to! He still is of-course and we still need Him to! And during those years, we as a little group of saints that are being built together, have really walked through some body-life and experienced the Lord in increasingly beautiful and meaningful ways.
After walking together with these precious brothers and sisters for a good time now, and experiencing the Lord’s leading and teaching in my own life and in my life together with Derek, I can see how each of us walk through things in our personal lives, that reflect the life of the corporate church but on a smaller, individual scale. It’s become a fascinating exercise for me to reflect on personal circumstances and see what it is the Lord is showing us through them, concerning His church. What we have walked through as a little ekklesia seems to have given more room for the Lord and we are certainly seeing His life increased in and amongst us.
So it was interesting, that a few weeks prior to us moving out, one of the sisters enquired as to why Derek and I were planning on cleaning the house when we moved out, since it was supposed to be pulled down for development. I then informed her that we had only recently been informed that the old landlord’s son was intending to move in there while he used the place as a site office, for selling off the vacant blocks for the development.
However, it wasn’t until Derek and I were pushing the mop across the dining room floor and working our way down the hallway to back out the front door, (our final task to the big clean-up), that it hit us both. We were in essence, preparing a place, where the son could lay his head.
How can the Lord be so intimately and intricately involved right up to the last half hour of the last day? How could He reveal such an intensely and breathtakingly beautiful insight? Needless to say, we both stopped the mopping and wept, praising our Lord who had opened His heart to us to reveal the condition of this little group we are being built with – that as a tiny ekklesia here on the Central Coast, NSW, Australia, the Lord has finally got a place to lay His head.
Even reading this again, I find I have to pause and reflect on what the Lord has done. He has taken our breath away.
So. What we have learned and experienced of the Lord, is that when He speaks, there is Life in His words. When the Lord said in April to take this land for all it’s worth before He moves us on, He sure meant it. And in following His instructions, He has more than satisfied and fulfilled our hearts with more of Himself in ways we could not imagine and in even more ways than I have shared.
There is not a minute or even a second wasted in God’s economy. He is the God who fills every breath, every moment, every season, to the full. He is the God of around the corner, and the God of right here and now. And yet somehow, everything He does and says has to do with His Son. His obsession is His Son – Christ.
We didn’t come to the last hour of cleaning and find the Lord reveal something to us about our future, jobs, or finances, or goals, or anything else, but He revealed more to us about His Son Jesus Christ. He revealed the heart of the Father, which is for His Son.
I think God is often the God of the eleventh hour so that He can display Himself in more glory. And now, He has brought us to a land covered in shade, fruit trees, a well and a pool for refreshment, yet coupled with its own unique challenges. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that this too, is a reflection of His Son yet to unfold. 🙂
Being a Christ one, is all about a surrendered life, isn’t it? And so there are costs we never even knew of. Sometimes I sense the Lord doing something in me and I can’t even really tell what it is. I’m generally experiencing some kind of discomfort, pain or suffering in a way that I can’t put into words. It’s not necessarily that my external circumstances have changed and by anyone’s account my life appears to be going along swimmingly. But there is an apprehension that something is being pulled at, perhaps pulled out, or prodded, deep within me. Perhaps it’s another death of some kind, more learning to let go of my own soul-life on a deeper or further level.
However, I’m learning that during these times I can remain confident and assured that He is right beside me and is in fact leading me in it all because it’s as though I can hear the craftsman busy at work. Chiselling, bang- bang! with the hammer. I can just imagine Him there covered in dust from the stone He is carving into, sawdust from the timber He is sanding. I can even imagine power tools grinding away at times and all the while not knowing what He’s up to. But He is working away diligently without telling me anything.
He might be breaking things apart in order to change the shape or chiselling away at a better design. He might be hammering in nails to connect pieces to other pieces. He might be sawing off sections that need to be discarded. He might be sanding and polishing. Whatever He’s up to, He’s working to a plan. And that plan is ‘Him’. HE is the plan. God the Father, by His Spirit, through the life of His Son in us, is always conforming us more and more into the likeness of His Son Jesus, the Christ.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (Romans 8:29)
He has one goal in mind and that is to see His Son gloriously expressed as head over all things.
And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Ephesians 1:9-10)
God has already achieved this outside of time, since He is not subject to time and dates, though we may not yet see it manifested with our earthly sight. This is why the scripture above says “when the times will have reached their fulfilment”. This is also why we must live by faith and not by sight. We remember the words Jesus spoke on the cross when He breathed His final breath, “It is finished”. How has God done this already? What did Jesus mean when He said “It is finished”?
…by setting aside in his (Christ’s) flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two (Jews & Gentiles) thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross… (Ephesians 2:15)
God has created this one body, this new humanity, this one new man in His Son, through Jesus’ death on the cross. There Christ conquered the power of sin and death thereby making the way open for all who believe in Him as God’s Son, to be reconciled with God the Father. This new humanity is the body of believers, i.e. the church – whether Jews or Gentiles i.e. Greek, Chinese, Australian, Italian, Lebanese, African etc, male or female. This is a new race in which Christ dwells as it’s head.
And in Him you (plural) too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22).
We see and experience with our physical senses a fallen world all around us that is rapidly increasing in darkness. So one could ask just how is Christ manifested as head over all things in the heavens and the earth?
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:10-11).
It is through the church that God displays His manifold wisdom to all powers and dominions, and this has been accomplished in Christ because it’s only in Christ that the church exists. As members of His Church, His body, this one new man, this new race – we are the bearers of Christ’s image. This is the plan. Christ is God’s plan. And God, through Christ, is having each one of us, each member of this one new man, being conformed more and more into His image so that Christ is expressed for who He is, head over all things.
Now Christ is the head and no head exists without a body just as no body exists without a head. So the head and the body are one. Just as your head and your body are all part of you, so Christ’s head and his body are all part of Him. So He is in fact both the head and the body. So it stands to reason that we, who collectively are also His body, are being conformed into His likeness.
This means ongoing work inside of us as individuals. Is it any wonder Jesus’ earthly vocation before going into ministry was as a craftsman? Some say He was a carpenter, some say a stone mason, but either way He was a craftsman, a builder. It was a reflection of His spiritual ministry. Jesus created new things while working as a young man for his earthly adopted-father Joseph. In Jesus the Christ, the resurrected son of God, we have been made a new creation.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:7, ESV)
Our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ are all about being conformed into His image. This means being spiritually chiselled, broken, repaired, refined, re-shaped, hammered, sanded and polished so that His church becomes a glorious masterpiece. Not displaying us, but displaying Him!
…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10)
Jesus showed us the way of the Christian. He worked as a skilled craftsman. He ministered as a skilled craftsman and He still does. What is He building? He is building a dwelling place in which He and His Father can live and He can express Himself as Head, to the glory of the Father.
Lord, build Your dwelling place. Help us to both corporately and individually, live a surrendered life in the hands of the Great Craftsman, that we the church might be Your masterpiece so that Your manifold wisdom is displayed to all the heavens and all the earth. Amen.