Category Archives: Uncategorized

If You’re Gonna Do It…

Do it right!

I am studying an Old Testament story that has influenced how I think about the presence of God. I have seen how some people seem to just shine with the presence of Jesus.  I have long asked for God’s presence and glory to increasingly be made manifest in my life.

God is ever present – omnipresent if you want the big word, and He promises to never leave or forsake us.  But it seems His presence rests on some in greater measure than others, and I want to understand why.

In Israel’s early days, the Lord was displeased with the hypocrisy of those who ministered in His house and double minded worship of His people.  As a result, the Philistines began to oppress them. As Israel neared defeat, some genius had the idea to bring the Ark of God to the battle front.

But rather than winning them the victory, Israel was decimated and the Ark of God was captured by their enemies.  God brought plagues on the Philistines until they sent it back to the border of Israel where it blessed the house where it rested.

Sadly, it was years before the Ark of the Presence was brought back to Jerusalem by David.  But the man after God’s own heart learned a powerful lesson about obedience and God’s presence.

Bringing the Ark back on an ox cart, a man touched it when it began to tip, and was instantly killed by the glory of God.  David, grieved, went about learning how God said His Presence must be carried.  On the shoulders of His priests.

I have often taken the presence of God for granted, and rather than pressing in to find out what God actually wants in my life, I do what I think is “the good Christian thing”.

God doesn’t want sacrifice, He wants obedience from relationship, and it may not look reasonable or makes sense to our human minds, but it creates a place where the presence of God can rest.

You see, the presence and glory of God doesn’t rest on things.  Not on programs or church services, or even good works.  It rests on us.  Jesus re-established us as a Kingdom of priests (Revelation 1:6), a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). We are to carry the presence of God in our lives.

In the wilderness God told Israel:

Now, if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure…And you will be my kingdom of priests, a holy nation.

Unfortunately, Israel didn’t want to know God – they wanted a liaison so they needn’t get close to the awesome glory of God, so God ordained priests as go betweens.

Sometimes I wonder if we miss out on the relationship God longs for, relying on our pastor or our church to be a liaison, rather than intimately knowing and obeying God Himself.  The deeper we know him, the more of His presence and glory we carry into the world.

So, NO MORE OX CARTS!

Daniel on Justin Trudeau

During his time in office, Justin Trudeau has garnered differing opinions, many of them negative.  So far I would do most things differently than he has, but reading Daniel, I am convicted by how little I pray for my country’s leader. Perhaps I can learn something from Daniel on how to respond to our government.

Regardless of beliefs, policies or new bills,  our leaders are humans who God loves and is committed to redeeming should they turn to Him.

Daniel would have read this from the prophet Jeremiah:

And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”

King Nebuchadnezzer would arguably have won the most vain, violent and unreasonable ruler in his day.  History records some of his conquests, and we know from the Bible that he put people to death who refused to bow and worship the image of himself (I know – talk about conceited eh?)

Yet Daniel worked and prayed diligently for the wellbeing of this king who had dragged him into captivity and God used him mightily in the story of the Hebrew people.

Daniel is relentless in prayer.  Three times a day. Every day. Under his watch, both gentile rulers Nebuchadnezzer and Darius come to recognize Daniel’s God as “God most High.”

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.  This is good and pleases God our Saviour,  who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.  For there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. (1 Timothy 2:1-6)

We live in a democratic society and I am among the first to encourage people to work for and petition the government for positive change, and thankfully, when we do, we won’t have our heads removed.

But working for change doesn’t excuse me from petitioning the Ultimate Authority on behalf of the one making the policies I see as destructive.  I would argue Divine petition is more effective anyway. What if I begin praying for God’s protection over his mind, and a spirit of wisdom and revelation.  For a heart that turns to Jesus for help and salvation.  For people to come into government who unwaveringly stand for justice and righteousness.

Who knows how the faithful prayers of one person might change the course of a nation’s history or the life of its leader.  If thousands of  people would commit to pray for their government perhaps righteousness and peace would rise up and transform the landscape of a barren country and the heart of the leader.

Daniel did.  The question is; will I?

Trust On Reserve

It happened.  One way or another, the baby always comes. Raphael Geoffrey announced his arrival in our lives with a wail before he was even fully born.
I have been told babies teach you a lot about the character of God, and already I am impacted by the way a completely unaware baby can provide such profound windows into spiritual truth.

Unti I held little Raphael, I don’t know if anyone has trusted me so implicitly.

One of the things I have been challenged on lately is my trust level.  Perhaps it is because our season of suffering is so fresh in my mind, perhaps it is human propensity, but I am realizing there are places in the fabric of my soul that are “on reserve.”

Just in case.  Just in case I have to take care of myself if Jesus doesn’t come through. In case He leaves me stranded when I take a step faith or leaves a need unprovided for.  There is a level of rest a baby enters into – often with a parent – where they completely relax.  Little arms and legs hang completely limp, small head, still unable to hold itself, resting in your hand.  Utterly unconcerned with the troubles of the world or the worries of the day; just content to study your face and rest in your arms.

This is the picture I now have when I feel Jesus asking me if I trust Him.  It is easy for me to say “Of course I trust you” and still have a part of me on reserve.  I suppose this is something that must be cultivated throughout our lives.

As we grow, there is a  depth that enters the relationship as we learn obedience, responding to Jesus, no longer as infants, but in maturity.  But that same picture of trust should still be there.  I ponder the dichotomy of faith that takes responsibility and walks in radical obedience, but is still completely dependant on Jesus for every provision, for peace, and for His power to bring about His will in our obedience.

We spend great effort and time teaching children to grow up and be independent adults in the natural world.  Raphael will not stay an infant for long.  But in the Kingdom, Jesus takes time and great effort to help us become like children; completely dependant on Him, trusting Him in every circumstance.

Recovery for me from Raphael’s birth has not been easy. Being on bed rest without the strength to fully care for my baby has driven me back to giving every moment to Jesus, trusting He loves Raphael and will provide everything that is needed.  So in my mind, I think of Raphael; splayed out, completely at rest in his Dad’s hands and in my heart I choose to do the same.

I pray today you know the rest that comes from completely entrusting your soul, body and spirit to the One who loves you endlessly!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding… Pro 3:5

The Centre of Everything

Sometimes our world rocks, or turns right upside down and we find ourselves mulling questions over and over like; “Why did God let this happen? Does God actually care? Why can’t I see God’s hand in this?” without seeming to receive any answers.

Lately I have met a number of people who walked away from God, and the church because of unanswered questions. My heart aches for their pain, and the missing element that allowed their hearts to turn away from the Source of Life.

I have wrestled those unanswered questions too.  Struggled with what seemed an impervious and aloof lack of response from a God who seems far away and silent in the asking.

But what if we are revolving our understanding of life around the wrong questions?  The moment I question the character of God, I have lost a bearing that is critical to the very existence of faith, and peace moves out of reach.  When things happen causing me to doubt God’s goodness and kind intentions toward me, rather than entertaining the why question, my first response must be to firmly establish what the Word says about the character of God.

Looking back, the enemy’s first strategy (and it worked, I might add), was to question the character of God.  The Creator, the friend who walked with them in the garden.  The One who provided for Adam’s greatest need with Eve.  The perfect gift giver.

“Did God really say…?  He knows when you eat of the fruit, you will be wise like Him.”

Seeds of doubt or accusation toward God are so easily planted in the fertile soil of unanswered questions.  This is the critical point of the road.

It is for these times I believe Jesus reserves His deepest peace and assurance.  The question of His character has been unequivocally answered both in His word and through history, proving His peace that passes understanding takes the believer much farther than a simply answers to the why.

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for He speaks peace to His faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways.  Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, so our land will be filled with His glory.  Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed. (Psalm 87:8-11)

The choice to rest in the goodness of Jesus; relinquishing the need to understand in order to embrace the right Jesus has given to access peace, turns the tide and shows the world a different way.   It orders our inner world and rather than flinging irrelevant questions upward, the gifts of heaven are able to come down into our circumstances.  It is only then we have the still and quiet spirit to see the love and power of God at work on our behalf.

What verses or memories do you return to when God is not easily seen in your circumstances?  May you embrace a still and quiet spirit to receive what Jesus has for you today!

Please Check You Passport

When planning to spend time in another country, a few things are recommended for a successful sojourn. One is a passport. You cannot travel these days without one.  I would also highly encourage studying the culture so you can behave appropriately.

We Christians can become too comfortable living in a kingdom from which our citizenship has been revoked. Its called earth, and sometimes its easy to forget we no longer carry citizenship here.   If you are born again into the family of Christ, your passport reads Kingdom of Heaven.  Although we remain in the realm of the physical world, there is the constant tension of being called to live in the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.  He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to His people who live in the light.  For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness, and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (Colossians 1:12-14).

Perhaps the magnitude of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross is often lost because it is so beyond understanding, and yet it is also beautifully simple and it turns everything upside down.  Things that are natural in our old kingdom become completely inappropriate in the new.

We have been given an inheritance and citizenship to a Kingdom with unlimited resources. He has enabled.  Past tense.  Done deal.  We are enabled to live in the reality of the Kingdom, our job is to learn the customs and laws of that Kingdom to live appropriately.

I remember stepping out of the airport in New Delhi.  A completely different world assailed every sensory preceptor, at once overpowering and intriguing.  The colour, the noise, the language was all so foreign, and I learned quickly that you must think and behave differently in India.  While there, I soaked up as much as I could, but it would take years to master the subtle nuances and unspoken rules that guide away from offence and misunderstanding.

The Kingdom of Heaven is no different – we can maintain a Kingdom citizenship without ever learning her laws, ethics and ways of thinking and in the process, turn people away from what they perceive to be Jesus.

As I look at Jesus’ time on earth, I am struck by the way He lived; ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven wherever He went.  Approaching the cross, He knew that in the greatest clash of Kingdoms, He was securing citizenship for all who would join in His resurrection, enabling this new culture to be established on earth.

As we approach Good Friday and Easter Sunday, I want to keep firmly in mind the citizenship I hold, and its cost.  I want to soak up Kingdom culture and its ways of thinking so that I too can bring the Kingdom to earth.

This Easter may you be encouraged to spend time learning from the King of our Kingdom and experience the wholeness He brings for its citizens!

 

Mission Impossible

Have you ever felt Jesus calling you to do something you know is impossible for you?  I have often heard people say;

“Don’t worry – God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

It is well meaning, but missing a key element.  “God will never give you more than you and He together can’t handle”  would be more accurate.

At the moment, I am looking ahead at two ‘impossible without Jesus’ adventures and I would like to invite you into them with me! The first is the invitation to record a music CD.

It does fit our relationship for Jesus to invite me to travel to Alberta to record a CD when I am almost 7 months pregnant, can’t breath like I used to and have about as much energy as a geriatric sloth.  If you have read our Easter story (Under “Our Journey”), you know the miraculous healing on Easter Sunday occurred after we said yes to an impossible invitation from Jesus as well.

I don’t mind – it means He gets all the glory, and it leaves wide open space for Him to do supernatural things in answer to His invitation.  Generally I can do one thing every other day without my body shutting down and this is 12 days of intense activity to get the recording done.  I am looking forward to seeing how God does it and would sure appreciate your prayers!

My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would infuse this music with hope and healing to touch the people who listen to it. Every song was written from the journey through death valley and the hope Jesus planted throughout the years.

The second ‘impossible without Jesus,’ calling is Parenthood.  I am told no one feels prepared to raise small humans, and we are no different I suppose.  I am filled with awe that Jesus would entrust one of His little ones to us, and, like any parent, desire more than anything to raise them as He would!  I often think of the sword that pierced Mary’s heart as she raised the only perfect child to walk the earth.

Approaching this next season, I would like to invite you to join me:  I will likely only be blogging one post per week as the baby’s arrival gets closer, and I would be honoured to have your interaction to explore together thoughts and questions you might have on life, being light in this culture, the Word, community, God, growth, etc.  If you e-mail or write through the comments a topic you want to engage with, I would be thrilled to  respond and invite the community into it! I have learned so much through writing and am so thankful for each one of you who read it!

Is there something Jesus is inviting you into that seems impossible? Have you and Jesus come through impossible situations in the past? What are some promises that He has given you that you can claim when you are in the middle of it?

Don’t Stay In The Manger

As wrapping paper is put away, presents relegated to their places and the Christmas glow fades, I am made aware this morning of the journey of growth from cradle to cross.

With His life, Jesus set an example of what is possible when filled with the Spirit, walking in oneness with the Father.  But the peaceful creche fails to depict the development Jesus underwent as God’s rescue mission unfolded. Scripture tells us Jesus grew in wisdom, and favour with God and man.

From the helpless babe in the manger, grew the Saviour of the world.  From the obscure carpenter who faced down Satan in the wilderness and overcame, to the One who vanquished every force of hell and rose from the dead. From the One just learning to speak to the One  who uttered a word and stilled seas, touched disease and created wholeness.

As the New Year approaches at breakneck speed, a question hangs in the balance: will we press into growth to fill out the clothes God has designed for us, or will we settle back into 2016’s routine , merely replacing the 6 with a 7?

This morning, my Beloved shared how Elijah went from the brook of Cherith (meaning “obscure”), where God provided supernaturally, into the region of Zarephath which means “crucible.”

God tells Elijah He will provide a widow to feed him through the drought, but when Elijah asks the widow for food, he is told there is none.  Elijah goes from being a passive receiver, to an active participant in God’s plan and work, telling the widow to collect and fill countless jars with her one portion of oil.  Each segment of life was a call to a new level of authority, confidence, and responsibility as his relationship with God matured and deepened.

We too are called to be continually growing in spiritual authority, confidence and intimacy with God.  He will always give us opportunity to stretch the faith we possess to grow into the role He has for us next if we are willing to engage the uncomfortable growth.

I wonder if one of God’s greatest delights is seeing His children learn to overcome?  To help us develop in spiritual authority to set others free as we ourselves are healed and set free.  If we are to walk with Jesus, we cannot stay where we are.  We must go from asking God to provide our needs to working together with Him in faith for the means of provision.  We must travel with Him from the manger to the resurrection.

To follow Jesus is to sprout new growth in places of obscurity and the crucibles God allows into our lives.

I have nothing against resolutions and goals, but this year, I am going to sit with Jesus awhile and ask what His goals are for me.  What does He want me to develop in 2017 that will enable me to live with more freedom, joy, and authority than last year?

Are you in a Cherith or a Zarepath in your life? What has God been developing in you in the last year, and what do you hear Him calling you to strengthen this year?

 

 

 

Should I Boycott Halloween?

I have long been conflicted over this holiday of witches, ghouls, pumpkins and fairies. Growing up we gave out boxes of raisins and cassette tapes (I know – that dates me) of Bible stories. My parents figured we didn’t need to be out collecting teeth rot, and somehow it seemed to redeem the night – at least for our family.

In college we collected food for the food bank, figuring that would at least be doing some one some good. The last few years, having little energy, we shut the blinds and enjoyed a quiet night.

Yesterday the news was awash with knifings, shootings and violence. It hit awfully close to home. Two of the victims were teenage girls in our town, simply going to school. People are asking why is all this senseless violence taking place at the same time.

I know why. When Satan is worshipped, his calling cards shows up in spades. The same can be seen on nights when covens and Satanic groups concentrate their curses, spells and worship of Satan.

It is also noted when believers come together to worship and  intercede for a city, crime rates plummet.

If we could pull back the curtain and gaze into the realm of angels and demons (I know, I’m leaving the comfort zone of most North American Christians, but frankly – I don’t care), we would see a battle for our cities that we are losing right now. Why are we losing? Because we aren’t fighting.

Our churches host cute little pumpkin parties that give out poison (yes, sugar is poison) while neglecting what would actually make a difference on that night – worship and prayer. Maybe because we don’t know how to pray with authority in the Spirit like Jesus told us to.

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, powers, the world forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the full armour of God so you will be able to resist in the evil day, having done everything to stand firm. Ephesians 6:12)

Do we not care? Do we not know that we can turn the tide of violence and demonic influence on our city?  What if it was my daughter – would I begin to fight?  Do we have no investment in the communities in which we live? Are we so apathetic and weak that we can’t even stand together and forbid the enemy to take ground – even for one night?  I too am guilty.

This is the day the Lord has made. Satan can make no days. He can illegitimately claim them, but they are not his. My heart is hurting for the families who lost daughters, sons, loved ones, and yes, it is senseless, but damn it, it is preventable if Christians would follow Jesus and take authority over the darkness like He told us to.

So you ask:  “Should I boycott Halloween?”

No! Abdication is not the answer!  Don’t boycott Halloween, engage it.  Ask the Holy Spirit how to pray to take back a night the enemy has stolen.  Worship and lift high the name above all names that pierces the darkness with Light.  Command the Host of Heaven to tear down strongholds and fill the streets with the light and glory of Jesus Christ who conquered death!

Please, don’t boycott Halloween – Overthrow its ruler, standing with other believers who are willing to stand for their cities, exalting the true Ruler of Life!  When the worship of Jesus exceeds the worship of Satan, Halloween and its ruler will lose their power.

Its all over when the snow flies!

The ranch in Saskatchewan always brings back fond memories of days spent in the saddle fixing fences, haying acres of alfalfa for winter feed and cattle round ups.

Going back this fall, I was struck by the seasons of change.  It reminded me of what Jesus told us of the harvest being ripe, but not enough workers to bring it all in. (Matthew 9:36) 

Summer consists of cultivating and watering, followed by the push for harvest;  getting ready for the long cold winter.  If you prepared well, you could rest easy that everything was done and everyone would be fed.  If not, it was going to be a long hard winter.

We work with the understanding that “It’s all over when the snow flies.”

I wonder if I transferred that image to life on earth if a greater sense of urgency would result.  I long to go home some days.  Through the worst of Lyme Disease, I begged to go home.  What kept me here were unfulfilled promises and inheritance in the Kingdom.

Once we are called home, the work is over.  Our opportunity to obey, sacrifice and even suffer for Jesus is finished.  There is much to be done before the “snow flies. ”  There are unreached people groups around the globe, languages still to receive the gospel, and many yet to come into the fold before winter.

Fall comes too quickly, and cold winds push in, turning everything brown, then white.  When all is said and done, we have little time in which to harvest.  80 years, 90 years, then, when the snow flies, and we are taken up to enjoy the harvest, the fruit of our labour becomes apparent.

While bringing in every last bit of harvest on the ranch, we never missed out on having fun.  There was often a handy dugout to jump into to cool off or a rodeo to compete in, but the never ending knowledge of limited time and work to do kept us relentlessly coming back to the harvest.

Each of us were created by God with a destiny and things for us to do before we are called home.  (Ephesians 2:10) I find it easy to get carried away with the concerns of living until I lose sight of the fact that its all over when the snow flies.

At the same time, we are dealing with people, not projects and people are to be handled with love, understanding, compassion and deep respect.  Whatever I am doing, whether business, play, or tasks of the day, I am called to keep the harvest in mind.  The tools for our harvest are unconditional love and understanding powered by the Holy Spirit.

The thing is, we don’t know what day the snow will fly.  Only the Father knows that, but the work stretches before us, and there is much to do!

 

A Bad use of”I Can’t”

The crippled man at the pool of Bethesda didn’t have the personal development books we have to tell him the words “I can’t” should be kicked out of his vocabulary.

I suspect there are always better words to use than “I can’t,” but especially when Jesus is talking to you, these are perhaps not the best two words to pull out.

This man had been by the pool for 38 years! That’s enough time to become disheartened waiting for your miracle. I can identify with him in some ways.  Waiting for my chance to jump in the pool – to receive what I have been longing for for so long.  Growing weary and discouraged with the obstacles that hit like unending waves on the beach.

“Would you like to get well?”  Jesus asks our man.  Rather than answering the question, he begins to tell Jesus why he can’t.

I see myself in this crippled man.  “Jesus, I can’t because…”

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! 

Not only did our crippled friend not know self help lingo – he apparently didn’t know who Jesus was either.

I have often thought; Jesus delights in calling us to impossible things so He can enter our situation and show His kindness, power, and glory when we are not enough. But the feeling of not being enough can be a discouraging, frustrating one if Jesus is not in the picture!

The world is pretty good at telling us what we can and cannot do and past experience can dictate our perception of possibility, but what if Jesus Himself is the only boundary of possibility.

Some things are obviously God’s will, but when God gives you an invitation that is impossible – just like our pal at the pool – perhaps it would be better to look up into His eyes, and say instead:

“How can I?”

Jesus offered the healing power, but He still expected the man to get up, pick up his mat and walk.    Walking was something he hadn’t done in presumably 38 years!  That takes some faith.  Sometimes the first step is the hardest!

With faith the size of a mustard seed, you can take the first step, and then the second and then reach down and pick up your mat.

Jesus didn’t turn away from the invalid when he responded badly – He looked past to the little bit of faith and told him to get up!

It is human to doubt at times and to respond wrongly – I have found myself there many times – but don’t stay there!  Instead, look up at Jesus and say:

“How can we?”  and stand up.

What is your pool of Bethesda?  Has Jesus been inviting you to stand up on legs accustomed to sitting?  What is your response?