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April 2016

21 April- Do not fear!

Fear! An unpleasant emotion caused by exposure to danger, and expectation of pain. Dread, terror, panic, fright, alarm and anxiety.

Fear is the opposite of faith, believing and love. Fear prevents us from living a full life, and living a life of faith and love. Fear is an obstacle in our way, and robs people of everything good in life. Fear is a thief.

The first time fear is mentioned in the bible is in Genesis 30:10 “But the Lord God called to the man, where are you and he answered, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid.” Guess who was in the middle of that event. The devil. He orchestrated it, he deceived and he caused fear to enter the world.

The devil loves for us to be bound by fear. He whispers there is so much to be afraid of. Aren’t you worried and afraid? “Look at all the terrible things happening”. Sickness, financial lack, disaster, pain, death, war, being injured and hurt, failure, loss, messing up, letting others down.

We can often feel harassed at every turn, with conflicts on the outside and fears within.What we think about is very powerful, and the devil wants us to be thinking fear! . What happens when we are fearful? We visualize fear, worry, disaster and loss. Our body tenses up, and it disrupts our normal breathing and psycho- physicality as we prepare ourselves for loss and failure.

However Jesus has a different vision for us. A vision of hope, love, peace and freedom from fear. He wants us to visualize and prepare for success, hope and goodness.

The bible says “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind”. (2 Timothy 1:7).

Part of the gift Jesus offers us in knowing Him is freedom from fear, anxiety, and worry. Jesus died to give us that freedom.

He encourages us over 365 times in the bible to “fear not”. We can take steps to overcoming fear and the destructive cycle fear by changing our focus:

Spend time in God’s presence. Psalm 91:1 says “He who dwells in the shelter of the most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty“. Shelter is the place where God’s presence is. We can find shelter in Him as we worship and pray and spend time with Jesus.

Acknowledge God – Who He is, His character and how He relates to us. Psalm 91:14-15 “acknowledge my name”. To acknowledge means to recognise, accept, admit the truth of.

God wants us to know Him and His character. That He is our peace, our healer, our provider, our shepherd, our righteousness. When you understand more of who He is, you’ll know what He is able to do for you.

When fear rises up, face it head on with what God says about your fear. He has given us authority and the ability to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Know what God says. What does it say in the bible about not being afraid? Find out in His word. He doesn’t promise and say things just for the sake of it. Know what your promises are. Know what you can stand firm on. God has given us the victory but we have to use it. Jesus disarmed the rulers and authorities of darkness, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them by the Cross. (Colossians 2:15).

The devil and his lot will try and trick us into being afraid, to make us tremble at sickness, disease, lack, war and every other stinking thing he can think up. But take heart, strengthen your faith in God, know what He has done for you and stand firm. Jesus says, sickness must flee, tumors dissolve, rashes disappear, asthma vanish, cancer disappear, death give way to life, fear give way to trust and faith, and blessings flow.

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, My God is with you, He will not fail you or forsake you.” (2 Corinthians 28:20)

Trust what God says about your life, more than the lies of the devil who only comes to steal from you. Don’t listen to Him for another second. Resist the devil with what God says about your life, and that liar must flee. (James 4:7)

I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears”. (Psalm 34:4)

Have a vision for the future. What is God’s plan for your life?

God says you can change. You can live out your vision, instead of your memories.

You can tie yourself to your limitless potential instead of your limiting past.

The most drastic, and usually the most effective remedy for fear is action. Overcome your fears today by knowing who God is, what He had done for you, what He promises in His word, and what He says about your future.

Helen Keller, a remarkable women who overcame many obstacles said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38)

Fear not!

Prayer: Thank you Lord for your great love for me, that rescues me from all my fear and troubles. I choose to live trusting you, to know your word and your promises and to resist fear in the name of Jesus. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 April – Which Key?

For the second time this week I’ve heard about or been involved in the inconvenience of being locked out.  We’ve all no doubt imagined walking outside in our pj’s only to hear the dreaded sound behind us of the door closing, locking us out. “Ahh I’m locked out, in my oldest, slightly see through pj’s, with no keys or phone.”

What to do now? Do you jump the fence risking inpaling yourself on the pickets, rattle every window and door to soon realise you have terrible break in skills, pray someone comes, or try the neighbors and call a locksmith, hoping they don’t notice your pj’s.

Its amazing when you think of it, how many locks and keys we are faced with opening everyday.  Cars locks, bike locks, houses and door locks, places of employment, lockers, security codes, computers, phones, the list goes on.

In actual fact life is full of locks and keys. There are keys to unlock equations in maths and science, keys to language and the written word,  keys and combinations which help us reach our health and fitness goals. Keys to happy, healthy relationships, keys to parenting, keys to good communication, etc etc etc.

The thing is to have the wisdom to know which key opens which door.  As a friend of mine says, “small keys open big doors”. It is often the small keys in life that open the door to the greatest possibilities and opportunities.  I’m discovering that God will lead us to the right key to enable us to step through the correct doors. Unlike our “locked out” scenario’ we don’t have to climb fences, stand freezing in the rain, or risk injury and humiliation to access keys to our future.

Jesus simply says, “Come and sit with me; read my words found in my book the bible, wait, and listen, and I’ll show you which key opens the right door. No stressing, no striving; just trust, rest and then doing what He says.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” (Psalm 32:8)

“This is what the LORD says– your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go” (Isaiah 48:17)

Next time you aren’t sure which way to go, or you feel like no matter which way you turn there is only locked doors, don’t go running around in a panic. Stop, and ask Jesus what key you should use to unlock the correct door. Sometimes that can be a spiritual key like prayer, praise, giving, and forgiveness. Or it can be a very practical key, like study this, or take that, or go and see such and such. Usually our keys are found both in the spiritual and the physical.

However the key I have discovered that seems to open many doors is to stop worrying and getting into a fluster, seek after God, and then go and do what He says. As my wise friend said “small keys open big doors”.

19 April -What are you hoarding?

Today our eldest daughter came to visit and we decided to have a clean out of some boxes. The boxes held clothes, toys and lots of memories from our 6 children. There was lots of “Ohh, this is what you came home from the hospital in” and “such and such looked so cute in this”.

Lots of memories, and a little bit of sadness that they are all growing up on me. But that is life and like it or not we all must transition with the season of life we are in.

It got me thinking that life is full of times when we have to have a clean up. If we traveled through our whole lives without ever getting rid of, or sorting though anything we would have a serious hoarding issue.

Some people say the best way to de-clutter is to take everything out of the room you are sorting and lay it all out on the backyard. Then only take back inside what you really want to move forward with into the future.

Our inner world is much the same. To stay healthy God encourages us to have regular sorting and de-cluttering sessions. To simply surrender everything over to Jesus as we say, “You can have everything, I surrender all, so that you can fill my life with only what you want”. That’s a scary thought, but a very liberating experience if we will have the courage to trust Jesus enough to “go there”.

I think we can move through life gathering knowledge and experiences as we journey along. But there are times when God asks us to give everything we know and have learnt over to Him, and simply let Him lead the way; where we let go so that we might take hold of Him. Paul in the bible experienced this when he wrote  “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him”. (Philippians 3:8).

Sometimes God even wants to dismantle some things in our lives, even if they have been good, so that He might build something better in us to carry us forward into the future.

Clean out’s, de-cluttering and allowing God to lead and build in whatever manner He sees fit, can and is challenging. But the reward is that we gain space in our hearts and minds to move forward. We all need to learn to interpret the seasons and times we are in. If we continue to try and live in the past, however good it may have been, we run the risk of missing the new season and blessing that God wants to release in our lives. It takes courage and trust to move forward, but we can trust that God has gone before us and has prepared the way.

Allow God to speak and bring revelation of what season you are in. It’s an exciting time to be walking with Jesus, and there is so much more to come. Take courage and make room in your life for Him.

“However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him-For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Prayer: Lord I thank you that you lead and guide me. Help me to see where I need to make room in my life for what you are wanting to do in and through me. I surrender all, that you might be all to me. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

18 April – What’s the best thing that happened today?

Whats the best thing that happened today?

That’s the question we ask everyone around the table at our evening meal together. It’s become a bit of a family tradition, and helps us stay connected.

I’ve discovered some additional benefits to asking “what’s the best thing that happened today”? Psychological studies have proven there is great social, psychological, and physical health benefits that come from giving thanks and thinking about what we have to be grateful about in our everyday lives.

Studies have revealed a range of impressive benefits to having an “attitude of gratitude”, especially when we take recounting our gratitude a step further and start to keep a “gratitude journal”. The simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful has been shown to have even greater benefits than happier dinner time and closer relationships. (as great as they are)—benefits include better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike.

As with anything in life our “attitude of gratitude” needs to be from the heart. We can’t just go through the motions of being grateful. Gratitude first has to be a conscious decision to be happier, to look for the blessing, and to be more grateful. As I regularly remind myself and my kids  “your’s is a first world problem”, change your perspective and look for what you do have, not what you don’t. We have so much, and yet we are often not content or happy.

One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than just tallying up all those good things. Ask yourself, “what would life be like without that experience, person, ability, relationship, etc”? Savor surprises. Try to think on, talk about and record events that were unexpected or surprising, that made your day a little brighter.  Just take some time to write them down occasionally (once or twice per week). The benefit of writing things down is that it helps us to organize our thoughts, and see the events which are bringing meaning in our life.

It’s really about focusing our thoughts so that we pay attention to the good things in our life; the things we see as a blessing or a “gift”; that we’d otherwise take for granted. Simply recording five things we have experienced in the past week for which we’re grateful in just a single sentence is all it takes. The result is a change of perspective. Instead of seeing a  glass “half empty”, we start to see how it is  “half full”.

Start paying attention to those everyday occurrences which cause you to feel grateful; to look for what you do have, and what God has done and is doing already.  Then pause, make a memory, write it down; and most importantly give thanks!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20)

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” ( Psalm 118:24)

17 April – Burden busting!

Jesus wants to lift every burden off of us. He says Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28)

He has what I call a ” burden busting anointing”. His presence comes and breaks every yoke, burden, chain and weight that we can get ourselves under.

I’ve learnt we can get under this “burden busting anointing” by “lifting up Jesus’  name. When we sing, praise, and remember who He is and who we are in Him, then His presence comes and breaks every yoke off us”

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation“. (Psalm 68:19)

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Too often we carry far too heavy a loads; like carrying massive suitcases in our hands. We try to journey through life carrying weights Jesus never planned or designed for us to carry, and then we wonder why we feel so drained and tired, lacking spiritual zeal and excitement for life.

You can’t run with great big suitcases, even if they do have wheels. Jesus says let go of those “suitcases” and just carry the load I ask you too. It’s light and easy.

Today if you realise you’ve been carrying heavy burdens, take the opportunity to offload them, and take up only what Jesus asks you to carry. He’ll make sure you’ve got the essentials, and everything you need for your journey.

There’s a song for most occasions in life I think. Here is a great one by United pursuit and Will Reagan that says it all.

Take a moment to remember
Who God is and who I am
There You go lifting my load again
Take a moment to remember
Who God is and who I am
There You go lifting my load again

No longer am I held by the yoke of this world
Come upon you the yoke of Jesus
His yoke is easy and His burden is so light, His burden is so light

You’re lifting my load. You’re lifting my load
No longer am I held by the yoke of this world
Come upon you the yoke of Jesus
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Let Jesus lighten your load today!

Prayer: Lord thank you that you lift my burdens, and that your yoke is light and easy. I want to be able to run through this life, so please  remind me when I’m loading up my “suitcase”, and picking up unnecessary weights again. In Jesus name Amen

 

 

 

 

 

16 April – Carpe Diem

I’ve made a discovery. When we don’t do the things we know to do it increases our stress levels. We procrastinate. We may look like we are relaxing in the midst of our procrastination, but are we really fully at rest, relaxed or even comfortable?  Our mind keeps flicking from one task to the next that we procrastinated over. We push these thought to the side saying, “I’ll do that later, but later never comes”. .

Recently the Lord spoke to me and said, “Just do the things you know to do, and don’t keep putting them off. “You’ll be far less stressed if you do”.

Procrastinating is a major detriment to organizing and keeping balance and peace in our lives. Instead of putting things off, get them done.

I know a man who illustrates the problem with procrastination.  His wife had been asking him to fix her broken music stand for months. He’d nod and say, “yes dear I’ll get to it”. Months went by and still no mended music stand. This very patient wife was going away for the weekend and decided she’d really press home the point she wanted her music stand fixed while she was away. Making the bed she popped the stand under the blankets on her side of the bed, in the hope her procrastinating husband would finally get the message, on seeing it lying next to him. Alas, the husband on going to bed, took one look at the stand lying next to him and shook his head, wondering what on earth a music stand was doing in his bed. Jumping out from under the covers he picked it up and put it in the corner of the room, promptly forgetting about it.
Needless to say his wife was not happy.

How often do we put things off that we intended to “get to?” How often do we allow ourselves to become stressed by a mounting list of things we procrastinate over. How many times have we put off helping or doing something for someone, only to forget.?

How many exercise or healthy lifestyle changes have we planned to do, only to keep procrastinating, so they never ever happen.
The world is full of  people who say, “I was gonna do that, or” I could have done that”.
Meanwhile life passes us by, tasks are left undone, loved ones are disappointed, kids give up asking, and we never change.

Jesus says that “we can do all things because He gives us strength”. (Philippians 4:13)  We just have to make quality decisions to do what we say we’ll do, and not put off for tomorrow what we can do today.

Every day is a gift from God, full of opportunity, growth, and blessing. The saying ,”Seize the day” or Carpe diem, is a good reminder to not keep putting off life. If we are faithful with a little, God says He will give us much.

The bible tells us to make the most of all that we have been given. “The one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.'”And his master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:22-23)

What are you doing with what you have been entrusted with already? What is your attitude towards your relationships, gifts, talents, health, intellect, experience and skills?

Here are some keys to help you quit procrastinating, and make the most of what you have now!

Start your day right – Get up, get dressed, and ready yourself for the day. If you get ready you have set yourself up to succeed for whatever the day holds. I’m all for pajama days, but maybe not everyday.

Write things down – Whenever you have an important thought, remember something you don’t want to forget, or are reminded of something to do, write it down. This can be done in your planner or in another generalized notebook that you keep with you.

Don’t overwhelm yourself –  If you find that your time is short and schedule is full, consider dropping less important things from your daily plans. If you are doing too many things at once, you will feel unorganized and anxiety-prone.
Cancel plans when necessary to give your head a little more thinking space.
Learn to delegate projects to others.
We don’t have to agree to everything we are asked to do if we simply don’t have time.

Don’t be a perfectionist – . If you only feel that you’ve completed a task when it is “perfect,” you will be leaving a lot of tasks unfinished to clutter up your life.
Ask God to give you wisdom and confidence to know when a project is adequately finished and can be left alone. When you reach a point where it is “good enough,” settle for less and move on to your next item.If you have certain projects that you can’t seem to perfect and can’t seem to finish, take a set break and then come back with a fresh perspective.

Remove your distractions, whatever they are. Often it is the internet, your phone, sleep, or even a good book. Know your weaknesses and ask God to help you put plans in place to prevent you slipping back into them.

“Carpe diem”  Don’t procrastinate another day.

Prayer: Lord I thank you for the gifts, abilities, strength and people you have placed in my life. Help me to be the best I can be, to seize every day, and glorify you with my life. In Jesus name amen.

 

 

15 April -What’s on your schedule?

I was thinking today about schedules, and that its okay and necessary to deliberately schedule time for Jesus, your partner, children, friends and others; to make lists of what’s important and to clarify what we spend time doing.

There always seems to be a lot going on, and not enough time to do it. If we don’t purposely plan and schedule time for what’s really important in our lives it often just doesn’t happen. Our intentions may be good, but in a busy life and household instead of working together  and making time for common goals and values we can end up mis-communicating, and ultimately clashing.

I think God wants us to focus our efforts and schedules on those things that really matter and that we value most. Too often people don’t figure  what’s really important out until someone dies, they face a life threatening illness or some other tragedy.  How sad it is that we wait until something awful happens before we spend our lives in the pursuit of what truely matters to us.

Jesus said “I give you life, full, abundant and overflowing”. (John 10:10) But what does that look like for you?

Is it to have close, meaningful relationships with people that you love, to know God more deeply; that you’re using your talents and experiences to do things that have meaning.

If we want a different life from the one we have; if we want a different result, we actually have to do something different.

Here are 5 Steps to help declutter your schedule and live a more purposeful life.

1. Acknowledge the fact that you can’t do everything.

We can only do so much. We have to make important decisions to eliminate some things. We have to choose to remove the clutter from our schedules.

Clutter is the stuff that interferes with the life God planned for us to live. It slows us down from doing the things we value most. Clutter can be activity, mindsets, habits (I’ve always done this”) etc. Ask yourself why am I doing this? Did God ask me to? Can I use my time better?

2. Clarify what’s most important…to you!

The things that are important to you will affect how you make decisions and how you spend your days. Don’t rush into things, take some time and ask God for the “blueprint”, what are you aiming and planning towards? What is important?

Ask yourself, “What kind of person do I want to be? What relationships are most important to me? What do I want to accomplish?”

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.…” (Ephesians 5:16)

3. Determine what you have to do to live for those things.

Once you’ve identified what’s meaningful, you can begin to think about how you’ll get there.

Ask God to give you wisdom and clarity on how to map out a route to your destination. Figure out the best way to be and do what you want to be and do.
If we don’t, we run the risk of just wandering around through life wishing it could be different, but never living the life we long for.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

4. Learn to say no!
We all have to make choices about how we spend our time. We will have to say “no” to some things so we can say “yes” to others. Schedule and do the important, and not the urgent or what others say you should!

5. Find what motivates you and use it.

Think about what inspires you. What makes you come alive? What reminds you of the things you value most?
Schedule and spend your time doing things, and being with those you love. If you don’t know what you like doing, or you are in a bit of a “rut”, take a day regularly to try something new until you find out.

Don’t allow things of lesser importance, or a schedule that is “full” but lacks meaning, to rob you of the life God wants you to be living.

Take a good look at your life and be honest. Pray, seek God. Make the time and effort to declutter your life; schedule in those people and things that matter to you, and start living your best life now!

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:1-3)

Prayer: Lord help me to be honest about how I spend my time, and what my schedule looks like. Help me to live more focused and purposeful, making the most of the day and every opportunity.  In Jesus name amen.

14 April -The power of Creativity

Today I took the opportunity to sit down and sketch. Its something I admittedly should do more of. It quiets my heart and mind and is edifying to my spirit.

There’s been times in my life such as when my younger brother was killed at 24 years old that my ability to be create felt like a lid was slammed down on it. Grief and loss can shut down parts of us. I had to allow God’s presence into those places that felt the bleakest and darkest. He kept on gently coaching me to come back “out of hiding”, and see that the world was still a beautiful place, and the sun was still shining.  Eventually it started shining on the inside of me again. I started to tinker on the piano again, picked up a paintbrush, and wrote words down in my journal. In creativity I discovered healing and Jesus’ gentle affirming presence and words of comfort.

It made me realize that any form of creativity is God’s gift to us. It’s often his way of renewing, restoring and strengthening us.

When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: when we don’t seek to be creative it is counter to our true nature. We are created in the image of God the creator. Within each of us is creativity far more than we imagine.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them”. (Genesis 1:27)

In a world filled with stereotypes, we often find ourselves labeling people. “Sporty,” “intellectual,” “academic,” and “artistic,”, etc.  It’s as if only certain types of people are capable of being one thing. But we are multi faceted creatures, and we often are far more capable and have within us gifts we haven’t even discovered yet.

Not all of us are going to be published authors and artists, earning millions. Not all of us will go down in history for what we create. But is that the only reason we create?

Look at any of the great creative minds throughout history. Most did not seek to create to impress others, it was simply an extension of who they were.

When we think about being creative its both helpful to remember that:
We don’t create for others.
We don’t create to impress or be the best.
We create, because we can.

What if you don’t know what your gift is — what you’re supposed to create? The answer is simple: Just try something!

A great way to unleash our creativity is to make an artist date.  A time set apart to explore and play. Creativity is coaxed not forced from within us, and we need to give ourselves permission to stop “working” and to take an adventure.

Pick up some paper and a pencil and draw. Sit down at a computer and write. Grab a camera and start shooting. Make a short film. Tinker away at something. Build something. All you have to do to get started is engage. Go and enjoy your surroundings, the outdoors. Anything that will cause you to cease work, unleash joy and the desire to simply play at something.

We so need to give  ourselves space to breathe, to flourish and grow. Keep experimenting until you find something you enjoy, something you love — and then keep doing it.

It doesn’t have to be world-class or a work of genius. It doesn’t even have to be “artistic” — because creativity can be found anywhere. It just has to matter to you.

We suffer as individuals, and as a society when we don’t honor creativity within ourselves.  If we don’t engage with our creative spark, we’ll deny a part of who we are. There will be a piece of you that’s missing, and that others will never get to experience.

Maybe only two or three people will ever see what you create. Maybe only you will. But through the process you’ll discover something about yourself, about how God has created you. How great it would be if you discovered something you never knew about yourself, another piece of your identity, simply by taking time out for an adventure and allowing yourself to “play”

One only need observe the natural world to see that God revels in adventure: cliffs, jungles, waterfalls,  deserts,  mountains, seas. When we take time for discovery we put ourselves in the presence of the Great Adventurer.  As we are outward bound, we sense an inward grace.” (Julie Cameron).

Be blessed as you take some time out this week to make contact with your inner adventurer.

And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze” (Exodus 35:30)

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; (Psalm 139:13-16)

 

13 April – I Hate Church??

I hate church. What the??? But if I am completely honest I do hate a lot of what we call Church, and what I’ve put myself through for more than two decades of my life.

I am a pastor, and have been most of my adult life in some capacity. I love people, most of the time. I’ve studied and shown myself approved,  and sacrificed to some degree financially, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.

So why do I hate church? I love Jesus, I love my heavenly Father, I love Holy spirit, I love angels, heavenly bodies. I love the cloud of witnesses, and the whole family in heavenly places. I love His presence; getting so whacked in Jesus I can hardly move, let alone speak. I love praying together in the spirit and hanging out with others in that space. I love the bible and reading and studying it. I love worship in all its forms. I love to praise Him, and I love eating and laughing together as one big family. I love seeing people being introduced and enjoying Jesus, the love of the Father, and the presence of Holy spirit. That is awesome!

I love baptisms; both of them. I love being part of people’s lives being changed, and people growing to be all they were created to be. I love and see it as a privilege, and not my right that I am able to share both one on one, and corporately God’s word and the treasures of heaven. I love answered prayer, healings, miracles and the wonder and majesty of our magnificent God. I love that I get to serve Him, and that He rescued me, and set my feet on a solid foundation in Him. I love that I have a family bigger than my natural one.

But there is another side to church I don’t love. Actually I’ve grown to dislike it intensely. I see it regularly, both up close and further afield.  I’ve been wounded and burnt by it more times than I’d like to admit.

I’m a mum of six children; and now I have a little grand daughter, and a fantastic son-in-law. I’m married to quite frankly a spectacular, talented called by God, very intelligent, witty, big hearted, loving, courageous, tough, with a faith that moves mountains, man of God. I have no hesitation in saying he is very very special, and the world is a far better place for having him in it.
And I want better for them! I want church to be better for them, for their children and their children’s children!  We have to do better!

I hate the pressure I too often feel and have felt as a pastor to perform; to come under people’s expectations. I hate the toil and striving that I too often have bowed to. The rushing about, the stress. I know God desires us to have more freedom than that. More joy, more peace; less toil.

I’ll say it, people can be exhausting and when they come at you accusing you of all sorts, I can’t retaliate. I’ve been busy every weekend for decades, on no or low pay, and made an effort to do my best with people; listened, prayed, counselled, spent sleepless nights battling against principalities and powers on their behalf, for them to often get offended, cut you, and leave anyway.

All this just leads to having trust issues. In church do we really have to watch our backs, and all too frequently pull the knife out when someone sticks it to you? Do people really think they can spout off because they are just feeling upset, and it won’t get around and eventually back to you, causing havoc you have to clean up in the wake of their hissy fit! Aren’t people tired of that yet??

How is any of that different to the kingdom of darkness? Church has taken in the world’s system; the Babylonian system of dog eat dog, my rights, self focused way of looking at life. Instead of family there has crept in hierarchy and position, and the attitude of look at me and my title. When did we need position and title to serve freely, and to know we have value in God’s and others eyes?

So I’ve come to the decision. I am done with the Babylonian institution that too often is identified by Jesus followers, and onlookers, as “Church”. I don’t think church as many people know it is what Jesus has in mind.

God is dismantling that in me. Is it painful? Yes it is; but my identity is not in an institution, or a building; in a name or a title. It is found in Jesus. I am in Him and He is in me.

Even if it means letting go of everything I have learnt and known, I want better! I see better. I see lives on mass being changed, renewed, and blessed. I see family, not hierarchy. I see joy and bliss, not stress and toil. I see music, art, colour and life. I see children, and adults, young and old. But most of all I see Jesus central to it all.

We can do “Church”  better!

 

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