Are We Hidden Figures?

…For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)

Recently I saw the movie titled “Hidden Figures”. (Picture provided by Google Images). The synopsis as described on google reads;

Three female African-American mathematicians provide crucial calculations for NASA’s space race against the Soviets, all while dealing with the racist and sexist assumptions of their white co-workers.

It is a truly moving and inspiring account of the achievements that each of these three ladies made against incredible opposition and injustice. Although the story is essentially about Katherine and her friends’ hidden mathematical genius that is ignored by NASA for a great deal of their story, it is also the story of them being ‘hidden figures’ themselves.The three women were considered to be less than nobody’s  firstly because of racism and secondly because of gender inequality – i.e. they were black and they were women.

The main character Katherine Johnson was disregarded, shunned and undervalued yet she was the smartest person in the room. And she knew it! In fact, each of these ladies knew the value of their skill and expertise, if only the powers-that-be would put aside their prejudices and pay attention.

Eventually of-course, those powers-that-be did start to notice how smart Katherine was. And her friends equally in their different departments. It was their unequaled skill that shone through above all their colleagues and superiors that got them noticed eventually and saw NASA achieve the goals it was after. Even the life of an astronaut was saved solely because of Katherine’s God-given mathematical talents.

What really stuck out to me in this story was the balance displayed in each of these mistreated and under-appreciated ladies, of a quiet confidence in their abilities coupled with humility.

Although these ladies each had outstanding talent that placed them above their peers in respect of skill, it was only ever for the greater good that they wished to be noticed. They each had a quiet, confident assurance that if they were free to function then the whole of NASA would benefit.

This reminded me of who we are in Christ. When we are free to function in who and how God has made us the whole body of Christ benefits.

Though the world will never see it, we as members of Christ’s body, beloved of God, ought to always be confident of our reality as priests and kings in the Lord’s Kingdom.  Sure, the world may and will mock us, ridicule us, shun and reject us and even persecute us but this should not, will not and cannot take away from who we are.

We must know that we are sons of the living God, set apart to be made by Him holy and righteous in His sight. We are favoured and blessed by God to be members of His family, His royal household and to share in His inheritance. This is who we are. Herein lies our confidence.

Yet, coupled with this confidence that is ours to enter the throne room of God with all our prayers, petitions and praise and to face a world and an enemy that despises us, we have also been given the humility of Christ.

Though it is tempting sometimes, we have no need to put ourselves forward, to speak up for and defend ourselves, even when the world persecutes us. Nor do we seek promotion in the house of God, we seek only to minister unto the Lord Himself and to Him in one another. We needn’t bring attention to ourselves, our ministry, our talents or gifts. Should God ever choose to use us for anything at all, He alone will bring it about for His glory, not for ours.

So can I encourage you today dear brother or sister, to remember always who you are in Christ Jesus. You are a branch in that Vine. God the Vine-dresser, our Husbandman, cares for the branches in the very same way He cares for that Vine! Wow! You are part of His beloved Son. You will always be in that Vine because it is the Father’s work that has placed you there. You are there to bear much fruit for His pleasure and HE will see to it that this is accomplished in you by the life of that glorious Vine in you, who is Christ.

Christ in us, the hope of glory.

In the knowledge, peace and rest of our place in Christ and in the heart of God, we can with confidence and humility serve Him and wait on Him. We needn’t struggle, strive or push. Everything, even our very lives, belong to Him.

…therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time…(1 Peter 5:6)

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)

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How Can One Have Peace In This?

hands-1209337_1920How can one have peace when facing cancer?
How can one have peace when a loved one is hurting?
How can one have peace when alone and isolated?
How can one have peace when homeless?
How can one have peace when separated from loved ones?
How can one have peace when misunderstood?
How can one have peace when all seems lost and overwhelming?
How can one have peace when all capacity to meet one’s needs are removed?
How can one have peace in this situation?

Because of who YOU are, Lord.

Your peace is beyond understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

Your peace is not as the world gives. (John 14:27) – it’s not psychology, counselling, meditation, mindfulness…

Your peace is You Yourself,  for Prince of Peace is one of Your many names. (Isaiah 9:6)

My hands are not my own Lord. They are Your hands.

My feet are not my own Lord. They are Your feet.

My life is not my own Lord. It is Your life.

For I have been crucified to this world and this world has been crucified to me. (Galatians 6:14).

I must decrease that You would increase. (John 3:30)

Your life in me is the source of all peace for God has given me all spiritual blessings of the heavenly realms, in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:3) and I can do all things through You, Christ, who strengthen me. (Philippians 4:13).

And all of this is not wishful thinking or positive talk – all of this is my reality, our reality in Christ Jesus today. No matter what the situation, I am continually astounded at this peace that is Jesus Christ, that reigns supreme in every circumstance.

Where fear and anxiety are present, Peace reigns.

Where sadness and heaviness are present, Peace reigns.

Where it would seem absurdity and ignorance in the eyes of the world to have peace, Peace reigns.

Peace reigns and rules in our hearts…

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.… (Philippians 4:6-8).

Since Christ is now our life, Christ is our source of all spiritual blessing.  It is not only possible but it is our reality that in ALL THINGS the peace of God which IS CHRIST, will guard our hearts and minds.

As we continually turn our gaze toward Jesus Christ and come to the Father through Him, and by faith we take CHRIST as our peace we find these scriptures are alive and real in our experience.

The Word of God is LIVING and ACTIVE.  JESUS is the Word of God. JESUS is Peace. JESUS is our life.

 

 

When Jesus Speaks Through Little Children

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Today I was sitting in a waiting room and out from the doctor’s surgery came a young dad and his little girl who must have only been about 3 years old. She was wearing fairy wings. She looked very similar to the little girl in this picture from Pixabay so I was thrilled when I found this photo to compliment this post. Just look into those eyes!

Being a girl myself, though much older than 3,  I could relate to how special she would have been feeling as she walked around this mundane machine of human society, full of serious, busy and pan-faced adults, adorned with her beautiful fairy wings.

It seemed to me that in her little mind, she was a fairy and she was ever so attuned to her ‘specialness’ as she walked about unashamedly displaying her wings. There was no arrogance or pride about her having wings but rather an air of simplicity, grace and beauty, with a quiet confidence in who she really was, unperturbed, untouched or drawn into the earthly world of human adults she walked among. She knew that she was in this beige and grey world but that she did not belong to it. She carried her tiny self as though she knew that she was a different life-form to the rest of us.

As she walked past, she locked eyes with me and gave me the most beautiful smile. Her big deep beautiful brown eyes were very much like those of the little girl in this photo. Suddenly, it was as though she and I were the only two in the room, as though time stood still for a moment as we gazed into each other’s soul and ‘saw’ each other.

Capturing the quiet childlike confidence that she held in her ‘true identity’ as a fairy, set off a little spark of fire-works in my heart. It was as though in that moment as our eyes locked, she was reminding me that I too, was in this world but not part of it. I don’t belong here either. Of-course it was the Spirit of God whispering to me and then I became attuned to my ‘specialness’. No, I’m not a fairy, I don’t have wings, but I can soar as high as the eagles, in Christ as I am already seated in heavenly places.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, …(Ephesians 2:6).

 

 

 

The Stone of Destiny

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

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

According to Wikipedia;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christ is our Stone of Destiny!

 

 

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.

8 Ways We Can See The Lord In Menopause

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

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

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

Great question! I got to thinking….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What more you can see?

 

 

 

How the Lord Gave Me A New Take On Past Sin

Sometimes Jesus turns up in the most amazing ways and places. This morning I was trying desperately to have some time beholding the Lord in quietness. With 3 little dogs vying for attention and racing around incessantly for me to take them for a walk, it was near impossible. I started off sitting in the sun outside, that was no good. So I went into my office and that wasn’t much better. Finally I had to lock them out which only led to them barking in frustration. Argghhh. But I persisted as much as I could… I really should get up earlier.

Anyway I sat down to start my reading of Proverbs and in only the first 3 chapters I received a number of new insights from the Lord. Most amazingly though, I was reminded of past sin.

However, I saw it in the light of the Lord’s saving grace and mercy.  As a result I was filled with gratitude, humility and wonder. I had never experienced such a thing and pondered this for a time until I couldn’t stand the dogs barking any longer and finally took them for a walk.

On my walk, I found I was hurrying because I wanted to get back to spending time with God. The poor dogs, they were wanting to stop and sniff every blade of grass along the way and I started yelling ‘come on! hurry up!’.  Paw things 🙂 When I realised what I was doing I decided to slow down, stand still and wait for them.

As I stood and waited I started to relax and a song began to rise in my heart. It was the chorus from the song Edelweiss from The Sound of Music but with different words put together by some other believers. They had changed the words of the chorus as follows and this is what I found myself singing;

Over and over I’ll spread the news

There’s no greater story

Once You came, bearing shame

Soon You’ll come in Your glory

I then began speaking with the Lord about what I’d ‘seen’ in Proverbs concerning my past sin.

“Lord, I know Your word says that You remember our sins no more, so I don’t really know what’s going on here right now but I feel as though it is You that is reminding me of my past sin. All I feel is joy and gratitude for seeing who I am without You so that I can now see what it is to be ‘in Christ’! You’ve shown me with new eyes, the joy of my salvation that comes from You. If it was the Devil reminding me of past sin wouldn’t I feel condemnation?  I feel nothing but joy and I don’t feel any shame at all……because You put it on Your son“.

…Once You came, bearing shame…

Right then at that moment I looked up and realised I was standing in front of a power pole that has become an almost sacred spot for me on my walks. You see, all the other power poles are in a T-shape but this one bears the shape of a cross. Many times I have stood at the foot of this cross and imagined being physically present at the crucifixion of my Lord and wept. Amazingly, so that this pole can service two directions from the ‘cross-roads’ where it stands, additional beams bear the shape of a second horizontal cross on top. I had become oblivious to where I was standing until that moment that I was reflecting on Christ bearing my shame on the cross. I could hardly believe it, but then it seemed typical of my Lord to lead me this way.Cross Pole

As I have done many times before, I stood at the foot of that pole/cross and as I looked up I imagined Jesus there. I thought to myself Here I am today, standing at the foot of the cross in complete righteousness and cleanliness because Jesus was on the cross bearing my shame. There He was, my perfect atonement. He took my shame and now He is my glory and the lifter of my head.

The same is true of you my friend. The Lord Jesus has already borne your shame. If you are in Christ, you needn’t look back on past sin with any burden because Christ has made you shameless and blameless.  Let any reflection on your wayward past only bring you joy and praise to the Lord to see what it is He has saved you from, to see who you are now in Christ, to see the value of what He has done.

21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because ofg your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven… (Colossians 1:21-13)

The Prophetic Gifts of the Magi – Part 3 

For Part 1 & 2 of this post discussing the gifts of gold and frankincense, look under Shadows & Types of Christ and His Church on the Menu Bar.

We have already discussed how the gift of gold brought to Jesus in the manager by the Magi revealed Jesus as King and divine, and how it revealed the existence of the Bride of Christ (us!) talked about in the Book of Revelation.  We have also discussed how the gift of frankincense revealed the sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross. Now let’s take a look at the gift of myrrh.

Myrrh was also taken from a tree by the same manner.

Myrrh is a red gum-like resin taken from a thorny tree that to be harvested must be wounded repeatedly until it bleeds its resin. Gosh. Can’t we just see in this, the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head, continually wounding Him and causing blood to flow from His brow.

Myrrh is a bitter spice often mixed with wine and we know that at Golgotha, on His way to being crucified, Jesus was offered a bitter wine mixed with gall (another name for myrrh). We see here, the Lord’s suffering and affliction, represented by the bitterness of the myrrh. This mix of bitterness with the wine, as Jesus is the New Wine of the Second Covenant, can also reveal the life of the church. The church is called to join in the fellowship of His suffering. There is a bittersweet relationship of myrrh mixed with wine.

Not only is myrrh bitter but it is also used as anointing oil and for embalming. It is associated to the Balm of Gilead mentioned in Genesis 37:25 and Jeremiah 8:22 and 46:11).  Jesus is our balm for healing and anointing, as we read in these verses for the healing of God’s people, Israel, which we as the church, have now become.

So in the gift of myrrh, the wise men unwittingly symbolically announced not only the suffering of Christ by bearing the crown of thorns, the life of the church in the fellowship of His suffering but also Christ as healer, our Saviour, by His sacrifice we are saved! The myrrh was brought by the Magi to point all humanity to Christ as the healer of the nations!

The Prophetic Gifts of the Magi – Part 2

For Part 1 of this post on the gift of GOLD, look under Shadows & Types of Christ and His Church on the Menu Bar.

We have already read how the gift of gold brought to Jesus in the manager by the Magi revealed Jesus as King and divine, and how it revealed the existence of the Bride of Christ (us!).  Let’s take a look at the gift of Frankincense.

Frankincense was a very valuable and key ingredient used in incense. Incense was used by the priests in the temple as they prayed on behalf of the nation of Israel. It speaks of the sacrificial prayers of the saints and the burning of frankincense in the tabernacle which was to continue day and night, never ceasing. So here we see the eternal sacrifice of Jesus as our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, on behalf of all mankind. We see the sacrifice of Jesus as the pleasing aroma unto God, the “once and for all” eternal, sacrifice.

Keeping the word ‘sacrifice’ in mind, it is amazing to know that the means by which Frankincense was obtained is an astounding announcement of the Lord Jesus’ death. “Frankincense is a white resin or gum. It is obtained from a tree by making incisions in the bark and allowing the gum to flow out…” (http://www.gotquestions.org/gold-frankincense-myrrh.html).

Here we see Jesus (the Tree of Life) on a tree, the cross, being pierced for our transgressions. His hands, feet and his side being pierced until water and blood flowed from His side. Wow. The Tree of Life being pierced, incisions into His body on the cross, allowing this sacrificial, sweet smelling fragrance of His life, to flow out.

And what was born out of His side at this time? What came from Adam’s side? A wife! The Bride! The church! We are a sweet smelling aroma unto God! The birth of the church, was announced at Jesus’ birth by the wise men in the gift of frankincense!