What I Didn’t Expect To Find In Body Life – Part 1

My mum has dementia – alzheimers.  As part of her condition she also suffers from sundowner syndrome. If you know anything about these conditions you’ll know they’re pretty awful. They’re distressing for the patient and distressing for their loved ones and carers.

Derek and I had been married only two years before moving into the garage of my mum and dad’s house in 2010. Two years later in 2012 dad passed away and Derek and I moved with my mum to another house. The three of us lived together from early 2013 to December of 2016 while I became her full time carer. Since then she has been living in a cabin where my sister is now her full time carer.

Initially she wasn’t too bad. She was only showing signs of cognitive impairment. You know, forgetting where her wardrobe was for a few days before getting used to a new house and getting a surprise every time she saw she had ice cream in her freezer, not recollecting how it got there. That was in the beginning. By early to mid 2016 she was repeating her stories, asking the same question over again, was weepy and emotionally fragile any time of the day, couldn’t remember how to use the microwave or how to turn on the oven. But she could still feed her dog, make a cup of tea, tidy her room, do cross-words, read magazines and play free-cell on the computer.

I found it very hard living with her, not only because of her condition but because I just didn’t want to be living with my mum. But mum’s worsening conditions made it very hard and I would get very frustrated with having to deal with it. I would often be in tears and feeling like I was losing my own mind! When I look back, I was more frustrated and burdened because I was resisting it. Mum’s deterioration as difficult and sad as it was, wasn’t really the major problem for me. The major problem was my resistance to my circumstances. And it was God who put me in those circumstances. Anyway, as you know, we moved away for 3 years and have recently returned.  Now that we’re back in NSW , I get to visit mum every week.  She’s much worse of-course but I am so grateful the Lord has mercifully allowed me to be in her life again before He should take her home.

Living in Perth, WA, I was blessed to be part of body life with a certain sister called Elsa. Elsa worked with the elderly and was familiar with alzheimers, dementia and various other conditions that the elderly can suffer from so she was very helpful to me in coming to terms with my mother’s changing ways.  Elsa had a way of seeing people that was different to mine. What I would see as frustrating,  irritating, sad, distressing, annoying, disappointing, worth complaining about, Elsa would see as sweet, loving, joyous, light hearted, worth celebrating and/or in a positive light that just didn’t come naturally to me. Sometimes I was almost frustrated because I would want her to just join me in my complaining! But that wasn’t Elsa. She always had a positive spin that she would share with a thrill in her voice and a smile on her face! Best of all, this was genuine. It was just Elsa.

Elsa also became a grandmother during the time I was there, even though she seems like a very young grandmother at that! I observed her arrange a beautiful baby shower for her daughter and smother her daughter with so much love and grace, spoiling her and nurturing her and rallying support around her. I  watched her welcome her little grandson into their lives and love him with as much love as anyone could.  Elsa also got a kick out of making pretty settings for the sisters – warmly surrounding us with welcoming table settings and an atmosphere that would just embrace you with the warmest hug. I spent just under three years doing body life with Elsa and then God called us back to NSW and back into my mother’s life.

Recently, I had the opportunity to have my mum come and stay with us for two nights. It was going to be a risk as far as disorienting her and potentially causing a whole bunch of confusion for her whilst staying with us and then also when going back to her house. But I was keen to have her come and stay for a couple of reasons. One was so that we could trial run giving my sister some much needed respite. (Of-course, I can empathise with her since she is now mum’s full time carer). The second reason was because I just simply wanted to have my mum come and visit. I was actually so excited to have her come and stay.

I had made up a spare room for her. I’d bought her a new doona cover and brought in some of her own familiar furniture, made it all pretty and pink and set up a little computer for Netflix. That meant she would be able to watch her favourite detective shows which would normalise things.  She wouldn’t know how to use a different TV remote anyway, so it didn’t matter that we didn’t have a spare TV, the computer did the trick. I cleaned the house and made it all lovely and cosy for her. I cooked dinner both nights and we all ate at the table together.  I even cooked a slice. I made her breakfast in bed and cups of tea, I took her dog Buddy for walks and enjoyed watching him play with our little bloke, Rocky. I made sure she took her pills and I continued to reassure her throughout the day and nights where she was and that she was just visiting and reminded her where she lived and so on. I gave her hugs and cuddles and told her I loved her, I affirmed her as my mum and as a woman and as a Christian.  I had resigned myself to the likely fact that I would get no sleep at all on both nights because of her late night confusion and wanderings due to sundowners and so prepared by setting myself up on the couch at night so that Derek could hopefully get undisturbed sleep locked away in our bedroom.

I was thrilled to have her. I was so full of love for her. I wanted to serve her, care for her, make her feel special, be kind and gentle with her and I felt truly honoured to love her this way. Nothing was too much trouble. Nothing was annoying or grating on me. I wasn’t frustrated or rolling my eyes when she wasn’t looking or talking under my breath. All things I had done in the past. I even found her sarcastic tones and digs that come out at night time due to her condition to be quite amusing. Not in a derogatory way but in a light hearted and tender way. I found her inoffensive and I felt nothing but compassion for her even when I had to speak to her sternly the night that she unlocked the front door and let her dog out into the unfenced yard on the street, telling her to get to bed and stay there. I found myself seeing her as Christ sees her. Dear and precious, dependent, helpless and of great worth.

This wasn’t me. I’m a complainer you see, by nature (even genetically perhaps?). God had been showing me over recent years just how much of a complainer I am in my old man, my flesh. So what was going on? Why was I so different to how I’d been in the past? In the midst of these three days with my mum, something became apparent to me. Something surprising, amazing and beautiful. I felt like Elsa.

I was behaving like I’d observed Elsa behave. I wasn’t even putting it on. I wasn’t pretending or trying, it was genuine. I wasn’t even thinking of Elsa. It was coming out from inside of me. It was clearly the love of God for my mum, which is so beautiful. It is beautiful to feel His love for her. Once I realised this, all I could think of was Elsa. In my thoughts I could see her smiling and laughing and making light of things that would ordinarily have driven me crazy but now didn’t. And you know what else? I wasn’t feeling burdened in any way. The Lord sustained me through the days without sleep, or lack of. He kept my heart filled with love. Oh, I was tired for sure but it was OK. He kept me going. His burden is indeed light, and His yoke indeed is easy.

There’s allot to be said for acceptance. Resistance is painful and burdensome, endless and only deepens the angst of a situation. But acceptance is light, much easier and we can breathe, adjust and carry on.

Elsa had rubbed off on me. Or should I say that Christ in Elsa, had rubbed off on me. That portion of Christ that is uniquely expressed in her had gotten in to me by osmosis. The definition of the word osmosis is quite complicated for one who isn’t a good science student and so I have my own understanding of what it means (I don’t know if you’re allowed to have your own version of what a word means but I do??) However, I did find one definition to fit my understanding.

Dictionary.com gives this alternative definition;  Osmosis – a subtle or gradual absorption or mingling:

To me, osmosis is when something is unconsciously changed to the likeness of something else as a result of being in the company of that something else over a long period of time.  In my experience this osmosis type process occurs in authentic body life. And that ‘something else’ is Christ in another brother or sister.  Just take a look at this beautiful image of the butterflies.

Image by Muhammad Ridha from Pixabay

The two butterflies (which are actually twins apparently) reflect one another. They are both living from the same Vine – a picture of us living from Christ together. They are facing one another -i.e. face-to-face community. They are both transparent with one another and the Light of the world is shining through them to one another.

Knowing Elsa, in her humility I’m sure she would be quick to point out her flaws and weaknesses, she would be the first to say that she’s not perfect (though in Christ, she is perfect). The point is, that Christ in Elsa, had gotten in to me without anyone trying or being aware of it. And isn’t that just how body life is supposed to work? Each member in the body of Christ supplying the other members? What a perfect instrument the Lord has created in His body. His body absolutely carries His life to its members. Here are a few different translations of Ephesians 4:16 that explain this fascinating and beautiful process in the body of Christ.

He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (NLT) 

from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (NAS)

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (KJV)

The members of the Lord’s body supply one another in a variety of ways of course. It might be through their testimony, something they share at a church meeting, a sighting of the Lord or in a song. It might be in their hospitality for weekly dinners or get togethers, their humility, their gentle spirit. Or through their encouragements and exhortation. It may occur practically through financial giving, practical helps in community life. Even through offering godly sound counsel or correction, as the Spirit leads. Some of these things will be obvious in the moment but other things are by osmosis as in my example of beautiful Elsa.

An important point to highlight here is that this authentic body life in which the life of Christ can supply each member as described in Ephesians 4:16, can’t happen one day a week for a couple of hours. We are called to body life, not body meetings. And its within the context of body life (community/family/being in one another’s lives) that we are changed. There is the ebb and flow of Christ’s life among the saints, as their lives are shared openly with one another.  In that environment, as it says in the Ephesians verse, the whole body grows up healthy and full of love. In other words, the whole body becomes a larger expression of our Lord in our geographical locality. This is a reflection or expression of the community of the Godhead. As each member of the Godhead supplies one another, God (three in one) builds Himself up in love, because He is love! And it’s out of His love that we the church have come into existence.

The Lord’s life is eternal. Therefore, it makes sense that even though I now live 5,000 kms away from the saints there in Perth, the portion of the Lord that has been expressed through one or each saint that I have been built with over 3 years, lives on. His life is a continual flow.  I can’t predict how I will be next time I have my mum come visit, though I do know I’m looking forward to it again. I do pray that the Lord is doing a deep and permanent work in me in this regard for His sake, for her sake and for mine. It feels that way so far. All I know is that it’s not my life, its His life in me, that is loving her. And that has been imparted to me through body life. And this experience has become life to me and subsequently for my mum. My mum has been loved by Christ all the way from Perth without her ever knowing. God is so gracious and merciful.

On a practical level, sure, I’m not living with mum full time. It’s definitely easier to cope with her deterioration when I only see her once a week or for a short stay. I’m certain that if she was living with us full time I would be most tempted to return to complaining and grumbling and to resistance. Though I hope not. I would rather like to imagine that though I would find it hard no doubt, I would have been so changed by Christ that I would find a place of rest and acceptance. However, where and what the future looks like concerning me and my mum isn’t the point of this post. My failings and weaknesses also aren’t the point of this post or we’d be here all week, but rather the amazing surprises that come from authentic body life.

There is indeed a Life that is living in the body of the Lord that changes us, that lives on and reaches out beyond ourselves to touch others around us. It is the life of Christ in His body. It is His characteristics. It is Him. He is in His saints. In each and very member. A face-to-face community of believers learning to live together by His indwelling life is a hot house for His life to be released to the world as well as to one another. I’m sure He loves it when we finally see what He’s been up to, like me seeing Him revealed in Elsa, in having my mum visit.

Be blessed saints, God is working in ways we don’t always see at the time. And if you’re in an authentic community of believers learning to live together by Christ’s life indwelling you, you are blessed beyond measure. And I encourage and exhort you to continue to bear the cross with one another, continue to give your lives for one another, lay down your preferences and opinions, open your hearts, lives and homes to one another and hold fast The Head at all times. He is in His body.

And if you’re not in such a community can I encourage you to seek the Lord on whether or not to relocate if need be, to be part of one if there’s not one where you live. You can contact the guys over at 3rdrace.org at contactthesaints@gmail.com to find out where there are communities of saints living out true authentic body life in the United States and other countries including the two existing ones we know of in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Is God?

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Recently I was having a conversation with somebody who has walked with the Lord for over 70 years. He shared how he had recently been asked by a fellow in Albania, one of the greatest and most important questions of all time…”Who is God?”

It got me thinking of how would I answer that question? And what would my response say of me and my relationship with Him?

Well, I believe I would say something like this …

God is the air that you breathe.

God is the reason you have breath in your lungs, it is His breath.

God is the purpose of existence.

God is your purpose.

God is the Creator of everything that has been created.

God is revealed in creation, His hidden qualities are seen in nature.

God is love.

God is a community, a community of three – God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

God is the Father of Compassion.

God is the God of all comfort.

God is a father to the fatherless.

God is holiness.

God is justice.

God is Spirit.

God is good.

God is sovereign over all realms.

God is eternal.

God is outside and inside of time, time is held in His hands.

God is always.

God is the “I Am”.

God is the beginning and the end.

great i am Jesus unashamed ofjesus

This exercise reminded me that I’d recently heard a brother say that God had been revealing to him, what is not God. So I got to thinking…..

God is not religious.

God is not a feeling.

God is not a concept.

God is not an ideal.

God is not a crutch.

God is not limited to man’s imagination.

God is not without mercy.

God is not a cranky old man.

God is not a man.

God is not for only a few.

God is not moody.

God is not easily angered.

God is not unkind.

God is not impatient.

God is not nostalgic.

God is not sentimental.

God is not weak.

God is not limited.

God is not hatred.

God is not dead.

So, how would you describe who God is and who God is not?

Is God Preparing You To Move On?

snail-189917_1280

Hi folks.

This morning as I was doing my usual thing of sitting outside in the sun to spend some quiet time, I was feeling considerably harassed by the fact that only metres from me, was our landlord and his son. They were right there at the wire fence, yet again, measuring out and hammering posts into the ground. They have been doing this with great diligence on a daily basis now, in preparation for developing the large acreage.  There’s little white sticks with bright pink ribbons on them, all over the land. Alas, we have finally been given notice and have to be out in 8 weeks time.IMG_1524

Over the past couple of weeks, their presence has been really felt by my mother and me, as we are home all day most days. Also, the dogs are constantly on guard and rearing to go, yap yap yap, all day long. Since the landlords don’t actually come on to the block where our house is, they’re not required to give us any notice so they come and go right at the fences on all sides, any time of the day.

However, on the occasions when they do need to come onto our block, they generally just grab my attention over the fence or yell out at the front door “Anyone there?” and subsequently say something like “We’ve just gotta put some posts in, that alright? We won’t be long”.

Sigh.

So I sat there this morning with dogs barking at them right at the fence and caught my temptation to grumble and complain….again. I decided instead, to do something other than get cranky and asked the Lord to show me Himself in this situation.

Instantly, the beautiful Holy Spirit reminded me of what the Lord had shown me concerning the landlord and his son, some months back. (See my previous post The Land Where I Live) .

Working all round the four boundaries of where I live, I can observe them daily. It’s almost like they are here to provide a daily reminder that God the Father and His Son are relentlessly labouring together in their eternal purpose and it is their one obsession. It reminds me that God has a purpose and He has graciously and lovingly permitted me to see it.

While the old man stands still holding the roll of string the young man takes the string, and walks some metres, measuring it out as he goes, much like the use of a plumbline. Then he hammers the post into the ground. The two of them are together all the time, for they are a team.

This is like our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ working together on the one purpose. Together they labour in the intention of their heart. And if I remain in Him and look through God’s eyes, I can observe their beautiful relationship. It actually comforts me as I write this, to see it this way. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

The fact that they don’t always give me notice of their arrival or it’s a last minute thing, can really urk me if I let it. I could go on about the rights I have as a tenant, but then that’s law isn’t it? I could quote the law to them in some kind of misguided perspective that I can hold onto this place which isn’t even mine to hold onto. So I’m reminded, that as a Christian I don’t have any rights to hold onto. I don’t belong to myself, I belong to God. And when God says “I’m here”, well, He’s just here. He doesn’t have to give me notice.

Nevertheless, the mere presence of the landlords around the place makes me feel a little ‘pushed’. I don’t feel very comfortable living here anymore. In fact, with this ‘gentle’ push I am more inclined than ever to get out of here. There’s a greater sense of urgency in me to move, whilst at the same time a sense of rest in the fact that I still have plenty of time up my sleeve. Funny how God can cause an agreement in our hearts with His movements.

Yup, I’m being prepared. He’s getting me ready. I’m getting uncomfortable. I can feel His movements, He’s here on the doorstep telling me it’s time and not to delay in getting ready. Yet He’s gentle, merciful and full of grace and patience. He’s doing it just right. It’s His land. His house. My life is His life to do with as He pleases and I know I can trust Him. He’s God the Father and God the Son, He’s the true Landlord. He’s the one that moves me on. He’s the one that prepares the way. And He’ll be the one to provide the next place.

A few months back God had clearly said to me “Take this land for all its worth before I move you on” (see The Land Where I Live). So I guess this is the ‘moving on’ bit. I’ll look forward to sharing with you what He teaches me through this season of change and where He takes us to from here. Instead of feeling a bit put-out, now I feel excited.

Thanks Lord for reminding me of Your ways, Your words and Your purpose. There you are every day right in front of me, never relenting from securing your purpose is being fulfilled. And as a result, I am at peace.

 

God Is Love

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What can you see in this tree?

What you see, is it Me?

Do you see I am more than one,

I am three?

Do you see in the centre

what there resides?

Do you see it is a sacrifice?

A trunk burned by lightening

from heavens I made

to ensure that our love

in this tree is displayed.

Our giving over

again and again

the Father to the Spirit

and back again

The Father to the Son

and the Son to the Father

The Spirit to the Son

flowing one to the other.

This is our dance

seen here in this tree,

our dance of love

flowing and free.

This is Love

a picture of Me

I must have an object

to give to you see.

I cannot exist

as one individual

I must pour out my life

this tree is a visual.

Look with intent

and see who I am

that I would give My life

to you –  man.

Psalm 116

Sun Shining over Earth and Moon by Kevin Gill

Sun Shining over Earth and Moon by Kevin Gill

Psalm 116

I love the Lord for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

Imagine far above the heavens, above the universe…the fullness – God- dwelling and pulsating with Spirit life in Jesus Christ.

Imagine Him – God. The Community of the Godhead, Spirit, – communing and dwelling together inside of Christ, as one being – the Almighty Ancient of Days, the Lord God Almighty.

In the holy darkness of His sanctuary, which is as light to Him, He reigns above all dominions, powers and authorities.

He hears the voice of a child. Turning His ear, He looks inside Himself, into Christ.

Everything falls into silence, a silence that is louder than anyone could imagine – a silence so deep that in all of God’s rule and over all of heaven and earth, the voice of this little 6 year old girl, is all that is heard.

As the Almighty God turns His ear, He hears the little voice say “Dear Lord Jesus, I ask You to be Lord of my life, to forgive me all my sins, thank you for dying for me. Please be my king forever. I love you Jesus, I give my life to you today”.

Inside the Spirit of God, inside of Jesus Christ, this little girl comes forth into the illuminating light that is Jesus Himself. She has stepped into Life, as one who has always been there. In fact she was. She was hidden in Christ since before creation.

Ten thousand times ten thousand angels burst into rejoicing at her spirit birth into the Kingdom of Heaven and she is given her place, seated with Christ Himself. She joins the multitudes that have been born before her.

Forever, she will call on Him and her voice will be heard by God as she, having been chosen in Christ since before creation, has now come into His Kingdom of glorious Light. She has been born again.

Ephesians 1:3-5

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,…

 

One But Three in The Australian Redgum Tree

Three in One - The Godhead revealed in the Australian Redgum

Three in One – The Godhead revealed in the Australian Redgum

 I saw this tree the other day – this beautiful Australian Redgum.

It has three trunks in the one.

What an incredible and simple explanation of the community of the Godhead.

One but yet three.

Three distinctly different but of the same life, the same origin, the same purpose.

Never before have I seen so clearly in nature, the revealing of this Holy Community, that is our God.

Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

No morphing of one into the other, no swapping and changing, no ending of the one and becoming the other.

You are so beautifully revealed Lord, in a tree.

Of-course You have revealed Your community in a tree. A Tree. A tree of life. A tree of death and holy sacrifice. A tree of which we are the branches. A tree on which You bear the fruit. A tree with leaves for the healing of the nations. A tree that shelters the birds of the air. A red tree. Stained with blood of love’s sacrifice. A tree in which the blood-sap pumps strong and pure through every vein and tiny sinew. A community of Life. A tree in which we have been grafted. A full and majestic, gigantic tree.

You Oh Lord, blow me away. Truly, You have revealed Yourself in the earth so that man is without excuse.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20