Beyond the Reef – In ‘Moana’

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In the recent children’s animation movie ‘Moana’ there are a number of very powerful scenes that if you look behind what you’re seeing on the screen, you can see something of the Spirit realm to which you and I belong. Of-course, these are only shadows & types.

One scene that really spoke to me was concerning Moana’s ancestors. Her ancestors were voyagers, you see. However, over time her people had decided to remain safe and no longer would venture out past the reef where all the best fish could be found for food. This reminded me of how the church has lost it’s way, she has lost her heart. The church was once a vibrant spiritual organism growing in her ongoing discovery into the Son of God as she lived out of His life that indwelt her. You’ve only got to read the book of Acts to see that. But she has become insular, self-protective and has lost her desire to know Him beyond what she is spoon-fed. She has shrunk back.

She has become afraid of the reef – the cross. In ignorance and spiritual immaturity, she hides from the pain and suffering of the cross that Jesus told us to take up and carry daily. She only desires comfort, knowledge, familiarity, knowledge without experience. She has settled for stories of Jesus instead of living His Resurrection Life that lies beyond the cross.

As the story goes on,Moana ventures out past the reef and things happen which is a great picture of portions of Christ’s body/church today. Yes folks, be encouraged for many saints all over the world are embracing the cross in its various and perfectly fashioned forms by the Father, venturing out past the spiritual reef and breakers, so to speak, in search of knowing a greater Christ than they’ve ever known before. Brothers and sisters in Christ are rising up in a growing desperate pursuit of Christ who is our real food, our real drink, the food that satisfies, the drink that quenches all thirst forevermore.

Coming back to Moana – Typically, once she has faced her fears and trials she eventually achieves the goal she set sail for. When this happens, the animators give the viewers a climactic explosion of life in a glorious scene of Moana sailing on the wild seas and watching with wide eyes of wonder, her ancestors on their boats riding the waves all around, passing her on their journey. The two realms of time & eternity are revealed simultaneously.

This scene spoke me to me of that great cloud of witnesses that we read about in Hebrews Chapter 12, verse 1;

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

I was reminded of our roots – that we as believers are sojourners, voyagers in our discovery of Christ and all that He is. He is the mighty ocean. He is the reef (the cross) and all that is beyond the reef yet to be discovered. He is the resurrection and the life! Our lives are meant to be lived out as an adventure in knowing Him through our trials and tribulations for the glory that lies before us – truly knowing Him!

Those trials and tribulations can come in all shapes and sizes. Yet, in all peril, we are travelling a path well trod by those who went before us – like Moana’s ancestors who forged on past the reef and through storms and danger carrying their adventurous spirit to find richer food and a richer existence as a result. So we can do the same in our journey in knowing Christ with hearts of faith.

Those saints who have walked the ancient paths of knowing God through all their trials and tribulations, perseverance and endurance, can really be thought of as our spiritual ancestors. I’m not talking about spiritual ancestors such as some indigenous tribal communities or new agers hold to that are not of Christ. I’m talking about spiritual ancestory in light of the reality that those of us who are in Christ, are called the children of Abraham – not in the flesh but in the spirit.

For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are Abraham’s descendants are they all his children. On the contrary, “Through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned.” So it is not the children of the flesh who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as offspring.…(Romans 9:6-8)

We are the children of the promise because we have believed in the One who was sent, the Seed of Abraham, who was in the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – that is Christ Jesus. We have now been made one with Him by His Spirit.

Let’s get one thing straight. The journey of the believer is a spiritual one. That means it is not of this realm. It is not an external journey of a type of ‘godly’ behaviour, rules and appearances. It is a life lived by another realm, the realm of the Spirit.

…It is the only place in you that comes from the other realm, the heavenly realm, the external realm…It is the place where I (Christ) live as the connection between heaven and earth….(New Day, Milt Rodriguez, 2013).

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes… (Ezekiel 36:26)

God causing us to walk in His statutes (measure, ruling, commandment, covenant, proclamation) is a spiritual act on His behalf, done by God Himself Brothers and sisters, if you are in Christ God is causing you to walk in His statutes as He has caused countless other saints to walk there before us. Thousands upon thousands of saints have lived and died before us, having carried their cross daily as they walked the same paths of knowing Christ beyond the reef.

Is the Lord calling you to venture out from the comfort and conformity of life on an ‘island’ and go beyond the ‘reef’ to travel the ancient pathways trod by thousands of saints who’ve gone before?  Do you feel in your spirit that there is much more to discover and explore of and in Christ than you’ve ever known before? Do you sense that He is worth the desperate pursuit? Do you believe there is Life awaiting you on the other side of the reef?

Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

 

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Are You Tired of Searching And Striving?

mountains-1284691_1920“…but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

I’m very conscious that many Christians are weary and tired. Many are in fact exhausted. I mean this in a spiritual sense, hence the need for a place to sit down and draw fresh water to revive a weary soul. And many who don’t know Christ at all are equally spiritually exhausted in their search for truth and life, amidst a myriad of voices and choices, all of which have failed to deliver.

So here is a prayer poem for every one of you precious folk;

Today though you are tired

And your soul is heavy

whilst your burdens are many

and confusion reigns

may you be led to the trickling

of the streams that are running

flowing from the rivers

from the mountain’s terrains

As you sit by the streams

may you breathe in the air

that is fresh and sweet

to sweep away your cares

May you swish your feet

in the cool water flow

and be washed from the world

and it’s heavy, muddy blow

May your heart be quickened

to follow the streams

to search with tranquillity

the source of their beams

as the sunlight splashes

and shows you the way

may you not strive but rather

delay

the cares of the world

and it’s push and its shove

the lies of self-effort

to live by your own love

May you find yourself walking

ever so calmly

toward the river

in an atomosphere balmy

with a spring in your step

and a song in your heart

find yourself walking

in Someone else’s love

May you feel His hand

resting light on your shoulder

May you sense His warmth

permeate you and smoulder

the shame of your past

and the fears of your future

in the light of Him

in His perfect character.

May you find yourself lifted

your shoulders lightened

your legs at rest

and no longer frightened

May you know that within

you are being beckoned

Beckoned and called by

the One who has reckoned

Who’s reckoned all things

in His blood that has done it

That’s settled the matter

though you’ve not even earned it

Drink from that stream,

bathe in that river

Let your head fall back

and be carried hither

by the Arms of His Love

in the River of Life

May you come to know Him

As His Bride, His wife.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come, and the one who desires the water of life drink freely. (Revelation 22:17)

Look, I am coming soon! (Rev 22:7)

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).

“If I Were a Christian Now” – A Cry From The Old Testament Believers

Please listen to this video before reading….(men the clip will apply to you too so hang in there)…

 

At first I thought there was something just naturally beautiful about this clip. Initially I liked it because the ladies in it, all different ages, have grey hair. I love that they’ve accepted their grey hair because although I am only 48, I am learning to accept mine. So I thought wow, that’s cool, maybe there’ll be a revolution among Western women to let their hair be its natural colour, now that’d be something!

I noticed more women were ‘liking’ the video which I ended up sharing on my Facebook timeline so I watched it a few more times. It seemed to really resonate with the cry of so many women’s hearts in this Western society. It seemed to reach right into the core of our beings as women including mine.

Now, I’ve never considered myself to be any kind of ‘women’s lib’ advocate. To be honest, and please don’t be offended, it’s just never concerned me that much. Call me naïve, ignorant, lazy, call me whatever, it’s just not an issue I’ve bothered with. So I was kind of surprised at this deep reaction inside of me to the cry of the women in this video. Then it hit me.

It’s the cry for the church! I began to hear the words of these women and see the expression in their faces, as that of the Lord in and for His bride! I could hear the plea of the Lord’s heart for her to stop agonising over works and exhausting herself with self-effort as though she can be anything or do anything at all in her own strength. I began to hear how ludicrous it is for the church to let herself come under bondage again to the law. Try hard, try harder, fail, give up, try again, try hard, try harder…Oh! It’s painful and sad just to think about it.

I began to hear the soft gentle whisper of our Lord, saying “Come unto Me! All you who are weary, and heavy laden…I will give you rest for your souls…my burden is light! My yoke is easy!” I began to hear the word of the Lord to His very own body, to His very own bride, to His very own family.

I think these women can be representing the voice of the church, the bride of Christ, calling out to all her members, to say come out from ‘works’ and just ‘rest’ in Jesus. If we listen and watch this video through the eyes of what the Lord is saying to us, His church, I think we’ll be relieved to once again be reminded that “It is finished”.

I can hear the saints of the Old Testament crying out to us saying that now they understand the freedom of Christ, why are we living like they used to? They’re saying that if they were us living here in our time, they would embrace this incredible Christ and the freedom Christ died for and not return to being bound by the law with all it’s works – serving on the committee, having to prepare a sermon every week, be on the visiting team, run a new discipleship class, attend the conferences, run the youth group, play the drums in the ‘worship’ band, be early for every ‘service’, attend the prayer meetings, contribute to the building fund, join the street witnessing team, bring people to church, go to bible college, become a strong church leader…and so on. You know how it goes.

After beginning with the Spirit are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? asks Paul of the Galatian church (Galatians 3:3).

When Christ came and set us free from the law by fulfilling it for us, He took away the danger of us burning out from religion.

Some quotes from the video:

…Pressure to be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect friend….to be successful, a boss, a leader…

…If I had my time again I wouldn’t create a To-Do’ list, I’d create a ‘To-Don’t Do-list…

…I’d give myself the time to indulge myself in the things I now understand are the most important…

Christian, the most important is Christ Himself. Let’s indulge in Him and Him alone. Let’s give up on the expectations of the world and the law of religion that do not belong to us.  Let’s stop concerning ourselves with ‘doing’ and just ‘be’. Let’s ‘be’ the church, the bride, the beloved of our Lord. Let’s indulge in Him and in doing so find our identity, our purpose, our joy and our rest.

41But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:41-42.

Now, listen to the video again, with your spirit.

Help! I can’t seem to unload my burdens!

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I don’t mean to carry burdens. Sometimes I don’t even see them coming and its not until weeks later I realise I’ve been labouring under them. Burdens are cares, right? They’re worries, anxieties, concerns. They are matters that weigh heavy upon our minds and hearts.

But Jesus said to cast ALL our cares upon Him for He cares for us. He said to come unto Him all who are weary and heavy laden, to learn from Him, that He would give us rest because HIS yoke is easy and HIS burden is light.

Obviously, the Lord knows we have burdens, He knows we carry them. But He has a burden of His own that He wants us to carry which is the matter of His own heart and His own mind. (I’ll post about this another time). His burden and my burdens are very, very different. In fact, they are literally ‘worlds’ apart. His burden is of His Father’s heart and the Kingdom of God whereas my burdens are of my flesh/soul and this earthly kingdom. My burdens are loaded with care, concern, anxiety, worry, fear but His burden is light!  So clearly, there’s an exchange of burdens that’s meant to take place.

Now I’m not talking about having problems. We all have problems. Problems are a part of life and very often they are the very means by which the Lord changes us. What I’m talking about here, is the ‘burden’ and the ‘carrying’ of that heaviness that weighs us down to the point of despair.

In the same way that I am called to exchange my burden for His and therefore clearly can’t carry both His burden and my own at the same time, I am reminded that I can’t live in His Kingdom while I’m living in the cares and burdens of the kingdom of this world. How can I live in the Kingdom of God, in which I belong, while I’m carrying cares and anxieties that belong to the world? That’s right, they belong to the world, which means they do not belong to me for I am a citizen of another Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven. If I’m carrying burdens of this world, it’s a good sign of my attachment to the place, of my being bound to it in some way, and there’s something wrong with that picture. Sounds like I’ve been hoodwinked!

This introduces the word ‘yoke’ that Jesus talked about. What is a yoke? It is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plough or cart that they are to pull”. We see this referenced in 2 Corinthians 6:14, where the Lord tells us to not being unequally yoked. So if I’m all loaded up with burdens and cares of this world, I am clearly yoked to this world, I am fastened to it and it’s ways, its cares, its burdens and I’m going to end up walking around in circles or standing still. But I don’t want to be like this and neither does the Lord want me to be.

So here’s the thing. How can I cast my cares upon the Lord? How do I unburden myself and take on His burden instead? I’ve come to the conclusion after years of practice, that I can’t. Oh yes, I’ve even wrangled and wrestled many weeks at a time with this overwhelming reality that I cannot unburden myself no matter how much I want to. It seems at times that no matter how much praying, resting, escaping, I cannot unburden myself. Yes, even my prayers are filled with anxiety and doubt and I feel I am wasting my time because I can’t stop myself. So what is the answer?

In Christ! I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me! What incredible news! What is impossible for man, is possible with God, through Christ! He has taken all my cares and burdens and placed them on Himself and took them to the cross! If only I could see this as the truth! But that would require faith!

So in faith, in living by the Kingdom of God of which I am a part, I can turn to the Lord Jesus who lives in me, and ask Him to hand my burdens over to the Father for me. In my flesh I can do nothing but in Christ, I can do all that He asks of me. He asks me to come unto Him, learn from Him, find rest in Him. He asks me to cast my cares upon Him. I can do this only in Him!

Now Christ is in me and He is in you believer! So you and I both, can turn to Him who lives and dwells in us and ask that in Him, we would hand over our burdens to the Father, the God of all comfort, the Father of compassion, to the One who cares for us.

Remember, we cannot but He can. Flesh cannot deal with the things of the spirit, only spirit can deal with spirit. Anxieties, worries, concerns, fears, doubts and burdens are matters of the spirit of this world, not the spirit of the Kingdom of God. We who are led by the Spirit are unequally yoked if we are being burdened by the things of this world. So it is by the Spirit of God, that we are called to live by faith. It is by faith we turn to our Lord and say “I cannot but You can”. “I cannot hand over these burdens but Christ in me can”!

No matter what burdens you are carrying in your heart and mind today dear brother or sister, I encourage you by faith, to turn to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to enable you by His life which indwells you, to hand them over to God. He is willing, He is able and He is waiting.  I can guarantee, as is my testimony, that the word of the Lord is true and that you will find rest for your soul.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28 -30, NIV).

In Christ! Again, I say, in Christ!

 

 

 

 

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)

Planted, Not Potbound!

The other day a sister shared with us in our group, what she saw of the Lord whilst planting some trees with her two little boys in tow. She explained the process of digging the hole and filling it with water and then removing the potted tree from its pot. She explained how because the tree had been growing in a pot, its roots had grown long over time, but they went round and round in circles and were all tangled and bound up.

She said it reminded her of being a believer within the church system or institutional church. As was her experience, in that environment, although a believer and growing in one’s relationship with the Lord, as represented by the roots being long, the experience of a Christian life just goes round and round in circles. Although having the appearance of a healthy tree, its growth is truly stunted.

She talked about her experience when she was a baby Christian in a mega-church.  She was so excited when a women’s conference was being organised and she loved it! After some time there was a winter conference and she loved that too. Later that year there was another event of some kind that she also really loved.  She said how exciting it all was.

The next year, to her surprise, another women’s conference was happening and she was thrilled. Following that, there was a winter conference and after that, the same event as the previous year. She thought this was pretty cool, because it was all so great last year.  However, the following year, it all happened again.  She said to herself “Oh, I get it, so we just do this all the time, there’s nothing new, we just go round and round in circles” and she wasn’t as excited anymore.

This sister had seen such a great example of this, with those circled and tangled long roots from inside the pot.

A tree is often used in scripture to represent believers;

…But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:2, 3, NIV).

… They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3, NIV).

…The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God (Psalm 92:12-13, NIV).

Hmmm. Planted in the house of the Lord – not potbound.  This sister then shared how she had to manually untangle those roots. I imagined her pulling at them with her fingers, to set them free so that when she planted them, they could stretch out far and wide and go deep into the rich soil, letting the tree grow tall and strong, enabling it to flourish.

She likened this to the untangling that needs to occur in our lives when we come out from the church system or institutional church, having been potbound for so long. How we need this untangling! Our roots may have grown long, having an appearance of health, but how bound and tangled they can be! The longer they are, the more tangled they are and the harder they are to untangle!

Lord, we are Your trees of righteousness, not your potted palms! Untangle our roots Lord, though it is a painful and lengthy process, that we would be planted by You, in Your rich soil, for You are that rich soil.  We want to be planted in the courts of our God, and Jesus, You are those courts. Cause our roots to go deep that we will grow like an Oak tree, to display Your splendour!

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