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?

Who Watches The Neighbourhood?

After seeing God at work in central Asia, I wanted to be part of what He was doing here at home!  I began using the Lord’s prayer as a foundation.

Our Father who is in heaven, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven… (Matt 6:9-10)

I met a large tattooed man with a big German Shepherd while walking and praying in the neighbourhood we were housesitting in last year.  He shared how this neighbourhood was notorious for crime and theft.  He had a guard dog, video surveillance and state of the art alarm systems and still had been broken into numerous times.  He paused, “but you know, the last 10 months, there’s been NOTHING. Its a nice change.”  He said shaking his head in wonderment.

As I walked on, I wondered if I should have told him that since we moved there 10 months ago, I had been taking authority over the spiritual atmosphere, inviting the Host of Heaven to patrol it and the glory of Jesus to overshadow it.  Taking dominion and binding every evil spirit attempting to operate there, I entreated Jesus to reveal Himself to people.

Jesus is broadening my understanding of authority and, like a freshman, gazing ahead at a doctorate, I am realizing how little I know; how much I have to learn.

Jesus stood out among the religious rulers because He taught with the authority of God.  He wasn’t just a skilled orator; He healed the sick set free the oppressed, and taught the Word of God with power and authority.

In a church culture heavy on doctrine and theology where supernatural works of God are rare, I wonder if we too have lost some of the heart of the gospel in attempting to keep God safe, comfortable and understandable. I am beginning to understand God is far beyond understanding, and  if my life is comfortable for long stretches, I am likely not in step with God.

I often feel I am on the Kingdom slow track, and am realizing there is only one way to the fast tract.  Intimacy with Jesus and God’s Holy Spirit.  It is not until I know Jesus not just as God, but as friend, that His character and power become more commonplace in my life.

How does one declare with confidence what one is unsure of?  When I am not in intimate relationship with Jesus, I have no reason to expect Him to trust me with His authority.  I cannot help but misuse it if I do not understand His purposes and am not controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Everything Jesus did was for the restoration of His creation and furthering the Kingdom. I am appalled when the Spirit reveals the selfishness, insecurity and greed residing in me, and realize it is not compatible with the call of my Saviour.  I long to become more trustworthy to Him who heals and changes willing hearts.

Where have you seen the authority of Jesus in your life, or those around you?  What bring you closer in your relationship with Jesus?

The Mountain Where The Battle Was Won

As I learn about spiritual authority, the following memory comes to mind:

The Central Asian landscape seems to reflect the spiritual hardness of the valley we camped in.  Alcoholism, sexual/physical abuse, spiritual darkness and shamanism were only the beginning of resistance we felt toward the gospel message we longed to share with the nomadic people we met in this valley.

Every time we attempted to share the gospel, a distraction from the herds, arriving travellers and countless other interruptions arose and people seemed completely disinterested.  As usual, there was a spiritual dynamic contributing to the closed doors we felt whenever we began to share.  There was a battle to be fought and won before there would be any open doors in this place.

But this morning,  Jesus was inviting my beloved and I up the mountain overlooking the entire valley and the homes scattered through it. Believing God had more for these people than simply lending a hand shearing their sheep and helping with their herds, we began the trek up the mountain.

Surveying the valley below, we worshipped and proclaimed the authority and sovereignty of God over it.  Speaking promises from His Word over our friends, we declared the gospel would take root here before we left. As a symbolic gesture of faith, we planted a small gospel of John under a a rock on the mountain.

We took captive and silenced every unclean ruler, authority, and spirit that Ephesians 6 talks about, forbidding them to operate or influence the minds of the people. We invited the Holy Spirit to fill the valley with the presence and peace of Jesus, and to soften hearts and minds to the beauty of Christ and His gospel of reconciliation.

When we felt peace that the battle was over, we picked our way back down into the valley where our team had been helping a family shear sheep. They had disappeared into the tent for milk tea, and as we ducked inside, to our surprise and delight, we found our team leading the entire family minus one teenage boy to Jesus. Their faces shone as we joined in teaching them how to pray, study the Bible, and resist the demonic attacks we knew would come to test their newfound faith.

Looking back, I see how easy it is to miss what God is saying in the “doing” of every day. It would have been natural to feel badly about not joining in the hot, sweaty work of shearing, and miss the soft voice of Jesus, inviting us up the mountain.

So often, the battle is not won in immersing ourselves in the “work” of the day to day. It is won in listening and obeying the Master. Jesus went off into the wilderness alone to be with the Father continually throughout His ministry. I believe that is where His intimacy and power were rooted, allowing Him to do the things He did.

What would happen if I went into the wilderness alone with Jesus on a daily basis. If I want to see the results of people encountering Jesus through my life, I must first be saturated with His presence and learn to first win the battle in the spiritual realm.

Have you had battles on the mountains? What does time in the wilderness with Jesus look like for you? Do you long for more of the presence and authority of Jesus in your life?

Ruination and Redemption of Authority

Many people see authority as negative. For some who have been hurt by people in authority, the very idea of it can be like a thorn in the flesh. There is even a train of thought that Jesus was not very concerned with authority.

I was a bit taken aback when I heard it.   Everything Jesus did was a blatant statement and assertion of authority!  If we miss the display of perfect authority displayed in the life of Jesus, we miss the heart of the gospel!

In the garden God gave man and women the gift of godly authority.  They abdicated this authority in the fall, and the enemy of God has since been convincing people to desecrate it, stealing and perverting it when he can.

Without authority, there is no hope for the world. Let me explain.  Jesus did not come to earth, die and rise again to regain authority for Himself.  He did it to restore His children to their place of authority in the earth.  Everything we do, we are either walking in His authority or abdicating it.

Jesus took authority over the elements, the highest levels of the spiritual realm, and demonstrated how authority in its purity, advocates, elevates and empowers those under it.  Then He gave His followers His authority saying they would do greater things than Him.  Without understanding authority, we will never truly see the Kingdom of God.

In Christ lives the fullness of God in a human body.  So you are also complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority! (Col 2:9-10)

Rulers in this world lord over people, and flaunt their authority over those under them.  But among you it will be different.  Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.  Even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.   (Matt 20:25)

The mark of godly authority is that those under it are empowered, protected, elevated and given room to move in their strengths. When this happens, those under godly authority will often outshine those in authority.

We are to walk in authority over darkness, and the strange dichotomy of walking under human authority – even when ungodly – but taking authority over the spiritual realities that shape it, is not taught in many churches.

The crazy thing is, because all authority is under Christ, when we submit to human authority, we come under the authority of Jesus which empowers and protects, and enables us to rule with authority over the spiritual realm while submitting in the physical.

When communities of sons and daughters walk in their God given authority, empowering one another to do greater things than Jesus did, it reaches the world.  May God show us the way!

Do you walk in your spiritual authority?  Do you have issues with human authority? How does understanding the authority of God change that?

Turn Your Lamp On

Light versus darkness, good versus evil. We see it played out across our channels daily as a few struggle valiantly to turn back the seemingly endless tide of violence, malice and darkness.

Most of us desperately want Light to win. John 1 says of Jesus:

The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.

Further in John, Jesus declares that HE is the Light of the world. Then, He tells His followers that THEY are the Light of the world.

The clash of two kingdoms is a reality we live in, whether we realize it or not. Once we were citizens of the kingdom of darkness, but Paul tells us when we accept Jesus, we are transferred to the Kingdom of Light. But that is the beginning, not the end. That is merely where Gandalf tells Frodo he must embark on his journey.

If we are to become the Light of the world, we too must embark on a journey.

Your eye is the lamp of the body. When your eye is good, your whole body is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
(Matt 6:22)

It is said the eye is the window to the soul. If people could see marks on our souls from every time we took in darkness, would we be be more careful to guard our eyes?  Our souls do reflect what we consume: when we take in light, our whole life becomes filled with light.  Often when we consume darkness, we don’t realize the lives we think are filled with light are actually darkened. Our culture is awash with darkness; if I fit into the culture, I must seriously question if I am consuming enough light to shine in a depraved culture.  We cannot be the light of the world if our lives are full of darkness.

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path. (Ps 119:105)

I am the Light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness. (John 8:12)

Following Jesus has become a term to say we identify as a Christian and maybe go to church. This is not what Jesus meant when He said “follow me.” To follow Jesus is to pursue the things of God, and eradicate from our lives things that take us away from His presence.

What we consume builds the environment of our soul.  Light or darkness.  When we consume things that oppose the Kingdom of Light we invite the kingdom of darkness to create our environment.

Do I turn off media that portrays sexual impurity, violence, irreverence for others or worldview opposed to the Kingdom of God? Do I actively challenge the mentality of the world around me and walk in the opposite spirit?  Do I live to fit in, or do I live to shine like a beacon in the darkness?  So often the Church mimics the culture, not the One who calls us.

Who are you following?  What are you consuming? Light or darkness?

Out of the Classroom, Into the Streets

Has it ever struck you, how little of what you learned in High School you remember?  For most, the information once regurgitated has largely been lost.  I am learning God has a very different teaching philosophy than we were trained by in school.  He is the greatest teacher, and He always knows how we will best learn what He wants to teach us!  It seems 99% of the time, He uses hands on learning styles.

When He is teaching us to have more faith, we can expect situations to arise that stretch our faith to the utmost.  When teaching about authority, He kindly provides opportunities for the Holy Spirit to teach with practical application! When provision… well you get the idea.

We joke about not asking for more patience because God will give us things that test and require patience, but I am learning it is not just with patience He inserts application to the lesson.

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, He Himself will be with you to teach you.  You will see your teacher with your own eyes.  You will hear Him say behind you, “this is the way you should go,” whether you turn to the right or the left. (Isaiah 20-21)

Not all learning is gruelling and difficult – yes, it is in the hard times we seem to send down the deepest roots, but I have also seen God delight in having fun together; enjoying the reward of the lesson learned, teaching us as a Father does His child.

There is a method used in Traditional Chinese Medicine training where a student watches the teacher operate once, then the student performs the operation under the eye of the instructor, next the student teaches some one else to operate and the cycle continues. I can only imagine the pressure of knowing the next operation, you will be holding the scalpel, and yet, in my experience, that is often How God teaches us.

If you know God is working on a particular area, don’t be surprised, but rejoice as the circumstances come – God is providing rich ground for seeds to germinate and take hold in our souls.  If God is teaching you something, expect Him to hold out the scalpel to you and guide you through it, and then share what you are learning with some one else so they too can learn and be blessed!

What is God teaching you right now?  How has He been guiding you through it and who can you share what you are learning with?

Share it with us in the comments below if you are willing!  😀

Is Your Investment Portfolio Balanced?

Growing up with limited resources, then moving into full and part time mission work, I cultivated what I like to term as a “frugal” mindset.   The “I can’t afford that” line of reasoning.  These days, with energy being tight, it can be easy to use the same mindset on things I can and can’t do.

Reading the Bible after some growth, I am realizing in so doing, I put God in my box of possibilities.

I am not saying we should spend resources wantonly, but maybe its time we believers looked at them differently.

Jesus’ whole life was invested in eternal asset multiplication.  He tells the story of three servants who were given 5, 3, and 1 talents to steward.  I’m sure you know the story.

The servant who received the 5 bags of silver invested the money and earned five more.  The servant with 2 bags of silver also went to work and earned 2 more.  But the servant with 1 bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and buried the master’s money. (Matt 25:18)

When investing, choosing different avenues that build toward a common goal is important.  We the Church could take some eternal advice from something the secular world has figured out, but we must view asset creation from a Kingdom standpoint.

What are our resources?

God gives each of us gifts/assets to produce income to live and leverage toward advancing the Kingdom.  If your gift is multiplying money to invest eternally, do it with joy.

What is that thing you come alive in and are passionate about? Where do your creativity and vision bring multiplication, excellence and results? Invest it there!

We are given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit.  Many believers don’t even know what inventory the Master has given them in this regard, much less how to invest it. Discover and multiply them.

Time is an asset we are given in equal but limited measure.  How we invest it influences every area of investment.  Investing in a person versus a tv program will bring about vastly different results.  Sometimes the wisest investment is to steal away and be with Jesus alone.  This area of the portfolio is very important, and although money and ability can come and go, time, once gone, cannot be regained.

What we build, invest, and surrender determines what we are left with when we face eternity.  In Kingdom investments, without the Holy Spirit advising, great returns are impossible.  Jesus communicated constantly with His Father and was led by the Spirit; we too only multiply effectively when we are listening.

What assets has God entrusted you with to multiply in the short span you are on earth? When was the last time you sat down with the Holy Spirit and assessed your portfolio?  Where are you wasting assets you could be investing eternally?

Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and time do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19) 

The Reflection of Faithfulness

I sit looking out the hotel window at the mountains, rising like majestic sentinels reflected downward on the still lake. I ponder the 6 years of marriage this getaway commemorates and marvel at the difference from when we vowed with idealistic gaze, to love each other through thick and thin.

We have loved each other through hell and back, and are building something far richer than those rose coloured wedding glasses could ever calibrate.  As I watch the glistening mirror of the peaks answer back from the water, I am reminded of reflections God created for us to learn from.

Our covenant reflects the covenant between Jesus and His bride, and we are each to reflect the image of Christ Himself.

So we who have had the veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.  And the Lord makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image. (2 Corinthians 3:18) 

Our marriage has not been without tumult, nor have the years that have passed, but as thankfulness fills my heart today, I realize something profound:

One of the main ways I knew Jesus still loved and remembered me through the long years of sickness and suffering was the day by day steadfast faithfulness of my beloved David.

As years went by and the stormy gales did their chiseling work, I saw  the image of Jesus in my Beloved more every day.  I pray the same can be said of me.

Psalm 25:10 says:

The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep His covenant and obey His commands.

As Jesus led us faithfully through the sinister labyrinth of Lyme Disease, the covenants we made strengthened in depth.  I can only imagine how difficult it was for my Love; the strain of keeping his wife alive moment by moment, juggling all that needed doing under the heavy weight of an uncertain future, overshadowed constantly by pain.  Many men have walked away under less pressure.

Yet now, 6 years later should you ask me to describe my Love, the first words that come to mind are “steadfast love and faithfulness.” The image of the One he loves has been chiseled more deeply in his character until the reflection is clear, unmistakable and beautiful.

The reflection in the water, as beautiful as it is serves to lift the eyes to the mountains that instilled the reflection.  I look at my life and ask myself what I reflect.  Sometimes I see hardness and disillusionment born of weariness and long deferred hope.  Sometimes I see cascades of grace that flood life with greater compassion.   As I look at my Beloved, it renews my desire to reflect Jesus, knowing sometimes the only image of Jesus people in pain can see is the one we reflect.

What aspect of Jesus do you most naturally reflect?  What aspects do you want people to see more clearly?  How is Jesus working in your life to wear away the things that mar His reflection in you?

 

Don’t Give Up In Transition

In anticipation of the little one arriving this spring, my Beloved and I are taking a natural childbirth course.  Transition is something the teachers particularly want to prepare you for.  It is the point where a woman, resolute on a natural birth may give up.  She will beg and plead for all the drugs known to modern man, a C-section, an epidural – anything.  One women even got out of the birthing tub, threw on her coat and tried to walk out on her own birth.  But what she needs to be reminded of is that this agonizing stretch signifies the beginning of the end.  Or, better put, the beginning.  After hours of travail, her body will tell her to push, and she will receive the baby she has has eagerly awaited.

Tonight I resonate deeply with this picture of the inner man’s journey, walked out in the physical sphere of life, sweat, pain and blessing.

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. (John 16:21)

It seems fitting to dwell on new birth as a new year opens before us, full of promise, uncertainty, and renewed hope.  No birth is easy, whether the birth of a child, a ministry, a dream, a calling, a labour of love or service.  Silent construction in obscurity is followed by the travail of giving birth to what God has planted within us, but before overcoming, there is often a transition period.  When our weary mind and discouraged soul tell us we are getting nowhere, it is too hard, and we cannot complete what we have been called to. We enter transition where the rubber of faith meets the road of tribulation.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Revelation tells us those who persevere until the end are blessed and rewarded.  The Bible’s pages are full of stories of those who gave birth to the greatness of God’s calling on their life.  Those who stretched out their tent lines during difficulty.

But it is also filled with stories of those who gave birth to the wind.  Who succumbed to the transition period and fell back, an example of why we should not give up when in transition.

As 2017 brings new callings, challenges and transitions of new birth, my prayer for you and me is that we surround ourselves with those who tell us the push is nearly over, and we can do it with the strength Jesus gives.  I pray we look ahead to the joy of a birth fulfilled, and the reward that comes when labour is over.

What is Jesus calling to life in you this year?  Are you in a transition period, waiting for pain to give way to joy, or have you given birth to something Jesus planted long ago that you can celebrate and give thanks for?