Are You Really Vulnerable? 

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Have you ever seen a movie where a submarine is submersed in the ocean and the enemy above is dropping depth chargers? I saw this in a movie the other week and Derek explained to me how the depth chargers worked and what they were intended to do. Basically, the closer they explode to the sub the more damage they will do. But it’s all about creating pressure. When the charger explodes it creates incredible pressure on the sub so that eventually there’s enough pressure that it starts to split, generally starting in its centre which is the prime place for damage.

Sound familiar?

Well over the last ten days or more I’ve had various things happening and changes occurring in my life – death of a friend, substantial financial adjustments and emotional issues – things that have been impacting my internal world. You might say my ‘centre’ has seemed somewhat vulnerable?

 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26)

I had a picture of those depth charges come to mind yesterday and subsequently I realised there is some enemy activity trying to sink me with building pressure. Have you ever felt all that pressure pressing so hard against you that your head actually physically hurts? Looking at the submarine picture again, it’s like a tin can being gradually crushed. Have you felt like that? child-1439468_1280

So something else I realised about this kind of enemy activity of creating and building pressure in order to break us, is that it is all external. That’s right, it’s all outside of us. It’s not us, and its definitely not from within.  It doesn’t mean the situations and circumstances aren’t real and valid, but there’s a pressure that is so strong and powerful, and not of this world. It ‘feels’ and ‘appears’ to be beyond our capacity to cope with. That’s something else folks. That’s external.

But you know what? Christ isn’t vulnerable. Christ doesn’t succumb to pressure. He’s completely solid and secure. He’s not in any danger of any pressure or of drowning or of any type of enemy activity. Christ is the overcomer!

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

That world that Jesus is talking about there, is the spirit of this world.

And guess what else? I’m in Christ! And you’re in Christ, if you are a follower of Him.

For in him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)

That means we are inside of Him and so if Christ is not vulnerable (and He’s not!), then neither are we!

Abide in me, and I will abide in you…” (John 15:4)

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What if I’m Scared? 

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I have a friend who packed up from Australia and went to live in Ireland with his new wife at the time. I have another friend who has recently left Australia to live in the United States to be with her new husband. I know others who left homeland and family in South Africa to live in Australia. I have an Uncle & Aunty who left Australia on many occasions throughout their lives to live in other countries, as missionaries. I have cousins who left Australia to live overseas for different lengths of time and who eventually have landed living in different states of Australia from where the rest of their family still lives. Other cousins have also moved interstate.  Even my own mother lived in Canada for two years. All these moves have been for different reasons – careers, relationships, adventure, education, opportunity, even mission work etc. That all seems very acceptable, courageous and very exciting, doesn’t it?

But what about me and Derek? Why are we moving interstate, and to the one furthest from where all our family live? There’s nothing wrong with our lives here in New South Wales. Derek has a steady job. I am on a carer’s pension. My widowed mum is cared for, I don’t have to worry about who will look after her and if she’s safe and happy. We rent a reasonable home. Our kids are here, only an hour away. Our first grandson is on his way into the world. My only blood-sister and brother-in-law are only 15 minutes away.  Friends I’ve had for years, all live here. My Dad’s grave is here. All my old haunts are here. Everything is familiar.

What’s more, the body of believers we do life with as part of an organic expression of Jesus Christ, is awesome.  Many times over the last almost 4 years, I think each one of us could have given up and walked away.  It has been a long, hard road learning to live together out of Christ’s indwelling life and meet under His Headship instead of the old ways of religion and man-made tradition. Yet, God has been so faithful in teaching us and growing us together that now we have really come into a season of newness in the Lord and every time we are together it’s like going for an awesome ride in God’s River! We long to be together, we are sharing Him together almost daily and He is increasing in our lives both individually and corporately. It’s what each of us have been wanting for so long. (Of-course we understand the church goes through seasons and things will change again, but for now it is the season of Spring!)

So why on earth would we be leaving to live on the other side of the country?

I guess sometimes God puts something in our heart that on some level, that is the level of faith, the one level that matters, is undeniably from Him.

We wait, we test it with time to see if it diminishes or grows. We see if He confirms it through others. And once it is proven to be Him and not out of ourselves, we align our will to His and make our plans accordingly.

Then on other levels, or should I say times of doubt and fear, the same thing doesn’t make sense at all and we get all ‘earthly’ about the matter.

We’re not leaving for another 19 weeks and I’m already homesick.

Derek and I believe God wants us to move to Western Australia to be part of the body of believers there, that have been planted as an organic expression of Christ in Perth.  Are the believers there any more special than the body of believers here? No. Are they more special to us than our own blood? No. But we believe God has called us to go there for a time, and so go there we must. Just exactly what is the full purpose of this in our lives we expect will unfold in due course. But for now, this is all we know.

I’m caught between faith and fear at the moment. Faith and sentiment. Faith and dependence. Faith and familiarity. Faith and obligation. Faith and comfort. Everyone and most everything around me is starting to look and feel different as my heart is preparing itself for separation.

I know that as a human, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, as a step-mum and as a step-grandmother, I will be homesick. The grieving has already started and it is all very unfamiliar territory up ahead. But I have the absolute assurance in my heart, thankfully also confirmed by the saints we fellowship with, that this is God’s call for us at this time.

The thing is, we as believers, are called not to live as though we are citizens of this world. We are called to have our eyes set on things above and not below. Does this mean we don’t love, care for and enjoy the people in our lives? Not at all. We are called to love! But we are called to love God above everything else. Sometimes we are even called to leave our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, land, houses, for His sake. We are called to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.

Have you ever felt God has asked you to leave family and home for His sake? I know some of you have, and have stepped out in faith and obedience to that call and I am greatly encouraged by your journey. I pray that mine and Derek’s journey will be a strength and encouragement to others in time.

Please pray for us and our loved ones during this time of transition, that the Lord in all His faithfulness and goodness will bring forth fruit for His glory.

 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

In closing this post, I have a song clip and lyrics to share.

I rarely turn on the radio when I’m driving but yesterday I did for some reason. This song started playing that I’d not heard before and it spoke into the very state that I’m in right now, as described above. The song is called ‘The Fighter’ by Keith Urban and featuring vocals by Carrie Underwood.

In the song, I pray you’ll hear the voice and heart of the Lord as He answers the cries of His Bride’s heart. I am always amazed how the Lord touches us and speaks to us through so many different ways.

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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).

We’re Still Eagles

 

Today I saw a wedge-tailed eagle flying not far from where I live. I see them often around these parts.

As is common, this eagle was being pestered by two smaller birds. I’m not sure what type of bird they were – perhaps a magpie and crow as captured here in this photo on flickr –  but it seems these pestering birds so often go hand-in-hand with eagles flying around here. It’s very rare for me to spot a flying eagle without it being pecked at and harassed by smaller birds.

However, I do love it when the eagle catches the thermals and begins to rise up higher and then so high, that the little pesty birds can’t get to him or her anymore. Gradually, the harassing smaller birds lose the battle.

Today it really reminded me of us as believers into Christ.  When I saw the eagle today, I was driving home, and had been praying for someone very dear to me who is going through a really tough time.  This person is a sister in Christ, and has really endured some emotional upheaval lately, only to now be faced with it all over again. I had been asking the Lord to teach me how to pray for her.

When I saw this eagle, it was such a picture of our lives as genuine surrendered believers. It was such a picture of this precious sister of mine.  It was as though the Lord was saying loud and clear – “Look at that eagle. See how he is tormented. But also see how he is not swayed or perturbed. See how he is so much more beautiful, strong, courageous and nothing is distracting him from his path as an eagle. Those little birds that are pecking at him, cannot compete. Look at his confidence. He is so sure of who he is. As long as you’re alive, you will always be harassed, pestered and pecked at but you will always be the eagles”.

So I pray for my sister in Christ, that she will see herself as an eagle. Strong, courageous, majestic, beautiful and confident in who she is in Christ and that in spite of the pests that peck at her, she will continue to soar with You Jesus – as with the wings of an eagle.

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31