Just Because God Can Be Silent Sometimes…

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“Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have been false to me, and have neither remembered me nor pondered this in your hearts? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me?”  Isaiah 57:11

Wow. Them’s scary words. In other words, God is saying “Who have you honoured and revered more than me? Is it simply because I have been silent that you think you can forget about me and put someone else above me? No!”

Again. Scary words.

I remember when I was at a cross roads in my life and was confronted with a choice to choose my friends or God. I remember considering my circle of friends at that time and thinking to myself “Who of you have ever died for me? None of you have ever died for me, none of you have sacrificed anything for me and you never would. Why am I choosing to follow you over Jesus who has actually already died on the cross for me?” It was a poignant moment in my life.

As I shared this memory with my mother today, 18 year later, she said to me “that was the Lord speaking to you”. She’s right. That was the Lord speaking to me. He talks to us in amazing ways. Not all our thoughts are ours . That was one of those thoughts that really wasn’t mine. It wasn’t in my capacity to think that way. That was the Lord in me, revealing Himself in me, calling me home.

As I read through the Old Testament (and I’m reading through the book of Isaiah at the moment) I’m astounded at the resounding story of God’s love, mercy and faithfulness to a rebellious nation/people whose natural inclination was always toward sin and against God. Yet He was forever restoring them, longing to lavish them with all that He was and still is and always will be. He was forever restoring them, drawing them back to Himself, redeeming them, with eternal compassion.

Just look at these verses;

Isaiah 54:7,8 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.

Isaiah 30:18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.

Isaiah 16:5  In love, a throne will be established…

Isaiah 1:16-20 “Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! “…”Come now, let us reason together” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 43:4 “Since you are precious and honoured in my sight, and because I love you, …”

I see the Lord’s unquenchable compassionate and loving heart in all these scriptures.

If ever there was a time on this planet that people needed to know of a God that loves, it’s now.

Let these words spoken by God be shouted from the roof tops –

“…Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no saviour. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed – I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses, ” declares the Lord, “that I am God. Yes, and from the ancient days I am he…” (Isaiah 43:10-13)

I pray that today dear friend, the eyes of all our hearts are enlightened to know Him more, that is the One who loves us and longs to be gracious to us, always willing to forgive us and pour out His kindness upon us.

He is God, the Lord Almighty!

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How I Saw God’s Love In “Catch Me If You Can”

Catch me if you can from google imagesThis is an amazingly true story of a young man in his late teens called Frank Abagnale Jnr (played by Leonardo De Caprio) and FBI agent Carl Hanratty (played by Tom Hanks).  The way I see it, it’s also the true story of the rebellious heart that is found in each one of us and a loving God who never gives up. Having learned wayward ways from his financially struggling father, Frank takes up a life of fraud, forgery and false identities to escape his painful realites of his parents’ divorce. In a bid to restore what financial loss was incurred by his family through his father’s actions, Frank sets out on an adventurous life, taking risk after risk, all the while dumbfounding the powers that be with his incredible forgery skills. The movie is titled “Catch Me If You Can” because of the cat-and-mouse game running throughout the story between Frank and Carl. Carl volunteers to chase down and bring in this young man who is essentially stealing millions of dollars from American banks through fraudulent cheques, parading as an airline pilot, a lawyer and a doctor. Even though Frank is continually on the run from Carl and the authorities, every Christmas Carl receives a call from Frank. It becomes evident to Carl, that Frank is lonely and Carl has in many ways become his only friend.  As the chase goes on, there appears to be a mutual respect and genuine liking of one another that grows. Although Frank is living a life of criminal activity, as a young man there is still a level of childhood innocence that seems to come through and for which Carl seems to care very much. So in some respects, Carl looks out for Frank’s safety and well being when he is in the hands of the French police. In the end Carl catches Frank and brings him to justice with a 12 year prison sentence, yet chooses to visit Carl during his prison time. Upon one visit Carl brings to Frank, one of the latest forged cheques that he has come across from another fraudulent source. He seeks Frank’s expertise in order to identify possible leads on who is forging the cheques. Recognising Frank’s incredible skill, he then introduces a superior FBI agent to Frank on another visit. Carl volunteers to act as Frank’s custodian and Frank becomes employed by the FBI to assist them in cracking down on fraud. Before the closing credits start rolling it is noted that Frank continues to work for the FBI in this capacity, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and that he and Carl have remained very good friends. It is a truly remarkable story of redemption. Frank Abagnale Jnr is like us when we are lost in our sin before meeting Christ. Even though there may not have been evil intent in our hearts initially, we were drawn to sin, self and deception, even unwittingly. Before we knew it, we were caught up and made prisoner to sin and unable to get our way out of it. The further we ran, the more we lost, and the less control we had over our destiny. Carl Hanratty is like Christ. Christ is always ‘after us’. He is always there, following us, knowing our whereabouts, and looking out for us, calling us to righteousness, even as we continue in our sin and rebellion. Like Carl was always encouraging Frank to give up, Christ never tires of wanting to bring us into righteousness. Christ wants to restore our innocence and He knows it can only be done through Him. Frank had to give in, surrender, give up, admit defeat. It was only by doing this, that Carl could restore Frank into society as a respectable human being contributing to Carl’s cause of upholding the law. We are the same. It is only when we finally give ourselves up and over to Christ that our lives can make sense and we find purpose,  integrity, a future and a hope, awaiting us in Him. Frank was always running from Carl and yet had a longing to be his friend. At one point, he asked Carl to stop chasing him because he was obviously tired of running. We too, even though living in sin and rebellion from God, can have a sense that we actually need Him. We have an aching in our heart for relationship with this God who is always calling and drawing us to Him, even if we try to ignore it. Frank was safer and better off in the custody of Carl than having his own freedom. His own freedom was a threat to himself, he was unable to deliver himself from his past and he was unable to stop his wayward ways. By agreeing to be placed in Carl’s custody, Frank actually found freedom and blessing, which was undeserved. It is like this for us. When we accept the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, we become a bond-slave to Him. We understand that living life by our own independence is really a life of slavery to sin but a life surrendered to Christ, where He is now our Master and friend, is a life of abundance and liberty which we could never create for ourselves. And of-course, all of this is a marvellous story of grace – unmerited, undeserved favour. It is by grace we have been saved, through faith, and not that of ourselves, but it is a gift from God…lest we should boast…    

Home – He is ours and We are His

Hopefully anyone reading this blog post, understands the term ‘bride of Christ’ is not referring to an Australian ABC series on nuns that was aired in the 1980’s! It is not even referring to the Catholic church, or any denomination or church building. If you’re not sure who the Bride of Christ is, I can tell you right now, that the Bride of Christ is the same as the Body of Christ  – it is the collective body of believers who are in Him – those who have received salvation and have become part of Him – in other words, The Church.  Although there are a few lyrics that don’t fit with the picture, to me, this song is an awesome dialogue in song between the Lord Jesus and His beloved Bride.

Have you ever been so at ease and in love with your partner that you have said to him or her “I’m at home when I’m with you”? This is an expression of feeling safe, comfortable, secure, completely free to be self, and having a sense of absolute belonging from eternity past.

So, this song called ‘Home’ is about a guy named Alexander (representing Christ) and a sheila named Jade (representing the church) and they sing to eachother about how they are eachothers’ home.

One can hear Jesus saying to his Beloved Bride that His home is within her, His home is her (We the church are called the temple of the Holy Spirit, He has made us His dwelling place and in the words of Frank Viola, we have become His Bethany,-His favourite place on earth,a place He can call home).

We can hear the church represented by Jade, singing back to Jesus about the fact that He is her home, that wherever Christ is, she is home. The two sing of how nothing compares to the love they have for one another.

Toward the end of the song, Alexander confesses to Jade that when they first met and she fell out a window, he was falling in love with her as he took care of her. This spoke to me of Jesus, in love with us the church, picking up His Bride-to-be when she was in a sorry state with no salvation, brushing her off, healing her, making her sins of scarlet white as snow, when she had no idea of His love for her. As it says in Romans 5:8  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

I do hope anyone who listens to this song as part of this blog post and follows the words, can receive a little bit of the Lord’s fun and life in His love toward His cherished one….us.

Enjoy…..(but be warned….it’s hard to get this tune out of your head!! – but that might be a good thing!)

The All-ness of the Cross

https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/8018427237

 All the world knows the shape of Your cross Lord.

So simple.

Two beams crossing.

One beam pointing direct North and direct South.

One beam pointing direct East and direct West.

Your cross reaches in every direction.

How far & wide, how deep & high is Your love expressed by Your cross.

Your arms on Your cross stretched from the East to the West.

Your Headship is from heaven and You are our True North.

Your blood flowed southward into the earth.

As You were already with God in the beginning,

and chose to confine Your glory to the limitations

of a man –

so speaks Your cross of humility and plainness in the sight of mankind

yet gloriously and magnificently extravagant in its reach.

Your cross has no bounds.

 Your blood sacrifice, You – the  sacrificial Lamb –

the eternal atonement for all mankind.

There is no measure to Your cross Jesus.

There is no measure to You.

Photo details:  http://www.flickr.com/4ThGlryOfGod/sets – File name – P9210770 Church Cross – combined shot with clouds – highlight NR – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

The Earth Is The Lord’s and Everything In It

Psalm 24, verse one.  “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”(NIV).

What a comfort this is to me.

Yesterday, here in Australia, 3 people died as a result of a siege in Martin Place Sydney, up 18 innocent people held hostage for 16 hours by a religious extremist gunman.

As the last couple of days have unfolded, television and social media has given 24/7 coverage of events, with live footage around the clock including traumatised hostages escaping the building periodically and the final shoot-out. It was no Bruce Willis movie, it was real. Right before our eyes.

I don’t know about any others here in the state of New South Wales and in our country, but for me, I feel somewhat traumatised myself.  I’ve not been one in recent times to engage much in media coverage of so-called news because I have found the information and visual images to serve nothing other than rob me of the peace of Jesus over my mind and heart. “Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee” is a scripture that comes to mind. Another is the scripture in Philippians Chapter 4 which reads “Be anxious for nothing, but by everything in prayer with thanks giving, make known your needs to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus”.

However, I have felt relatively drawn in to switching on the news over these last few days, almost as if some inner part of me was deeply connected to these suffering Australians.  When I say “suffering Australians” I’m referring to not only the innocent hostages but the people reporting, the people who are trained to intervene and rescue (police special forces), the people who have to give account to and comfort the nation (politicians and heads of police and security departments), the average bloke standing at the now enormous memorial site, crying. All people. My people.

Although on a comparative scale of acts of terror across the world in the last decade or two and the suffering and murderous evil activities in other countries, this event may not have been enormous, in our little country it was.  And for the average person like me sitting at home in the living room there is a strange sensation of national pride, the famous Aussie mate-ship, love for and unity with my fellow-man.

It’s amazing what persecution of the innocent, joint-suffering and shared grief can do.  The power of joining in the ‘fellowship of suffering’ is truly something of a spiritual nature. There is almost a beauty that comes to life through it. How can that be?

Well, the ones who know Jesus understand this phenomenon because we understand the body of Christ. We understand that as the body of Christ, we are one – many parts, but one body.  God has also given us a oneness with all mankind, whether believers unto Christ or not. Jesus clearly had a love for His fellow-man as we read of His life in the gospels of the New Testament. Jesus wept. Jesus felt compassion for the masses. Jesus ate with the tax collectors and talked with the outcast. Jesus un-shamed the socially shamed and showed affection for the down-trodden. Jesus upheld the rights of the innocent. Jesus gave His life for the sinners – that’s all the world, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Christ’s commandment to us was and still is to “love others as I have loved you”.

All these burdens and cares that are completely out of my control, can weigh me down. They can weigh us all down. In a way, this is good because it is evidence of a bond the Lord has for us. We share in His suffering over these events as much as we share in oneanothers’ suffering.

Still, in all the complexities of a world I do not understand and do not truly belong to, because I belong to another kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, I take enormous comfort in knowing that Christ is supreme and sovereign over ALL realms.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,the world, and all who live in it.

Jesus is In Love With You

Christ & His Bride

Dear Member of the Bride,

Do you know that you are holy and righteous in God’s sight? Did you know you are a saint? Did you know you, a believer in the Lord Jesus, are already seated with Him in heavenly places? It’s true! You have already been made holy, spotless and blameless! Well, isn’t that a thing!

I hope this song touches you like it does me.  All I can hear is Jesus singing this to us, His church, His most beloved Bride.

Jesus Christ is the ultimate Bridgeroom who is madly in love with His blushing bride, she is His girl, she makes Him weak at the knees.

I pray the Lord Jesus reveals to you through this song, the abounding love that He has for you, as you are part of her, and she is most glorious to behold.