Saturday, 30 January 2010

understanding things when you call them by their right names!

January 25, 2010

On my way home from work I was listening to CBC radio, and I heard a statement to this effect: You only begin to understand things when you begin to call them by their right names.

They were talking about “inukshuks” which, by the way, do NOT have arms and legs, despite what the Olympic planning committee seem to thing. The rock piles with arms and legs came later, and were originally a sign to European whaling ships that Inuit were in the area and available as plots. Inukshuks are more like signs, and take the place of a person giving a signal or direction.

So… hmmm…. “church” … need to really do a word study on that word… get back to the Greek… maybe we need to start calling all the things we refer to as “church” by THEIR right names, eh?

about churches working together...

January 25, 2010

About churches working together: it seems like most have one or two people who have a heart to do this or that – but so much more can happen when people pull together – like a rope woven with multiple strands is so much stronger and can lift so much heavier loads. And it’s not just incremental. Two people teamed up can accomplish the same amount of work in just 2/3 of the time it would take one person to do it. Three people working together can accomplish as much as 5 or 6 people working individually. So why do so many churches insist on having “their own” little program, when if they worked together with others, they could accomplish so much more for the kingdom of God?

spiritual life vs days and places and stuff; dead word or You the Living Word; the enemy trying to destroy our love

January 25, 2010

Oh dear God, I am distressed. We are so concerned about days and places and even what we will serve up for morning coffee and/or breakfast at street church…

But after reading in Jeremiah this morning, I am again most concerned about people’s hearts. Following You is first of all about spiritual life! We seem to pray less than we used to, and our “services” are far too often far from You word (although maybe that is a result of trying to follow YOU – THE WORD – rather than just following a “manual” … not to say that the Scriptures themselves are “just a manual” … rather, fear that “study” and “theologizing” have too often taken Your powerful and mighty word, and turned it into a “dead letter” … but oh, Papa, when I go for even a very few days without Your word – the “scriptures” through which You have chosen to speak – I very quickly begin to thirst and starve.

You are “the Word” … and restored relationship with You is the ultimate purpose, but Your word, recorded and written, from Your very mouth as Jesus visited mankind, and also spoken through prophets and judges and apostles, and through the very lives of Your people – not to mention Your speaking through the beauty of creation, and Your over-riding, on-going interactions with humanity through all time – Your written word is a key way You chose and designed to bring us into that relationship with You. We cannot neglect it – but at the same time, we must approach it with our hearts and living, walking, in tune with You – through Your Spirit – the Spirit of Christ, Whom You place within us who believe.

We can foolishly avoid “too much study” out of fear that the study itself will become the end rather than a means (or that we will make it the only means…) of knowing You. We do need Your written word – in relationship with You, with Your Spirit!

One thing M said yesterday really stuck to me. He said there ARE churches where the people really DO love You and love each other – in all aspects of their lives.

And that is true. The “form” of “a church” is not a big deal – IF You are truly among Your people, and they truly love You with all their heart and strength and soul and mind, and love their neighbor as themselves.

But that is what the enemy does every moment: tries to strike at that love. It really doesn’t matter at all the “place” and the “worship style/ liturgy” and the “form” and so on… he, the enemy, knows those (beyond the basics of prayer and sharing the word and praise) are simply creative outlets and cultural adaptations and so on, neither right nor wrong in themselves, so long as they are fully committed to the purpose of loving God totally, and loving one’s neighbor as well. That’s why pride is so deadly – in glorifying “self” (or even “ourselves” as in “our church, our denomination, our worship form, our building, our outreaches, our programs, our lifestyles, etc) we no longer love God and others! The enemy only cares to destroy that, and then the rest won’t even matter.

God may call us, or allow us, even encourage us, to different styles, methods, groups of people, whatever – but in the end it is all for His overriding purpose: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17). And… “God is love, and the one who abides in love, abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16) … And Ephesians chapter 1, too! Check it out!

And without that love: Jeremiah 5:13 “The prophets are as wind, and the word is not in them… 30. An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. 31. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?” … and … Jeremiah 6:10 “To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Behold, their eyes are closed and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the LORD has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it…. 14. They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace…. 19. Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their plans, because they have not listened to My words… 28. All of them are stubbornly rebellious, going about as a talebearer.

okay! street church - inside AND out!

January 24, 2010

Woke up about 1 am, thinking and thinking (and beginning to worry…) – and had to turn it over to Papa and ask for rest!

Didn’t wake again till 5:25 am or so (the batteries died in my alarm clock) so rushed to make boiled eggs, pull stuff from the freezer, bring milk and cereal and stuff to street church breakfast, arriving slightly late at 6:20 am!

Pastor P says we will have coffee times in the church basement when we can, while the weather is cold, especially because one of our wonderful volunteers is elderly and can’t be outside in the cold… and when we can’t use the building, we’ll have it just up the street in that yard that’s been offered for our use, and we’ll just put a sign on the church fence pointing folks up the street.

We’ll have full breakfasts and “service” on Sundays, and coffee and light breakfasts Monday through Friday, as there are enough volunteers now to do it every day (except Saturdays). As I understand it, the Wednesdays and Thursdays will always be outdoors, and any other days when the building isn’t available. And once the weather warms up, we’ll probably move back outside altogether, unless we can have a real mission space.

I told Pastor P I can come Sunday through Thursday mornings (my hubby is generous with my time, because I know he likes me to be home for breakfast!). And I did tell him I will need time away when my grandchildren are born, and when hubby and I go away on our holiday in the summer. I have to honor my husband and care for my family, of course! 

street church ... inside or out? It's up to You, Father! Your adventure!

January 23, 2010

Normally the local street church meets for breakfast/coffee in the basement hall of a local church building, where the church there has generously donated use of their kitchen and dining space free of charge! But of course, they do have events of their own as well. On Friday, they were setting up for a dinner, and told us they would need the space. So we decided to meet anyway, outside, on the sidewalk. It was a chilly morning, a bit below freezing, lots of frost, slippery roads – and cold toes! At 7:15 am or so we were there with a big thermos of coffee, doughnuts and muffins from Tim Hortons, a couple dozen hard boiled eggs, and a bowl of orange slices. But only half a dozen people turned up (instead of the 30 or more that usually turn up on a Friday morning), and the food was quickly freezing!

Now as I mentioned the last time I blogged here, coffee time has been pretty on-again, off-again, due to a variety of factors like the hall being needed for other functions, Pastor P (the street pastor) being away on a very much-needed holiday/ rest, and so on. And we quickly noticed that numbers turning up for street church breakfasts/ coffee times, were falling off, because people would turn up to find the gates closed too often.

We had noticed that a nearby storefront was available to rent. We contacted the agent and explained we wanted a small mission site where we could serve breakfasts, have drop-in conversation/ community time, make sure people on the street have access to warm clothes and other basic needs, and overall share our love of Jesus with them. The agent was quite excited, and told us the building was set up in such a way that there were 4 sections; we could rent all or just as much as we need/can afford. One area had a kitchen area and an open area where people could sit, visit, etc. “Perfect!” we thought. He set up an appointment for Friday morning, right after our out-on-the-street-corner coffee time. Pastor P was so happy to think we might very well finally have a place to meet consistently, a base from which to go out into the streets (although of course he has been literally out on the streets for the past 4 to 5 years with no “base”).

But just minutes before the appointment, the agent called to say that the owner didn’t want to rent it out unless the whole building was rented – and there was no way the street church can afford that. Otherwise, the owner would rather just have it sit empty. Wow! What a letdown, right?

Or maybe not! Right then, the sun which had been slowly rising over the hill-top, yet muffled by a few clouds, suddenly was fully risen, and the clouds parted, and the warm bright glorious sunshine burst forth, warming us inside and out! It was awesome, uplifting, a gift from Creator God to a small group of cold, and momentarily kind of let-down people!

Now, instead of feeling sad, we cheerfully began to exclaim that God surely has a better plan, because this mission is His, after all. We also had already been expressing our feeling, even before the phone call and the sun-rise, that despite how chilly it was, and how few people turned up, that this was the best gathering we’d had since the decision had been made over a year ago to “borrow facilities” and meet indoors. For the past 4 or 5 years, Pastor P had faithfully provided breakfast to street people at “church in the park” all year round, no matter the weather or the numbers. Now, here we were outside again, on a chilly mid-January morning, with frozen breakfast, cold toes and fingers – and wonderful fellowship, awesome conversation, great sense of community – and a clear sense that this was truly “the church” even out here on a sidewalk corner – and that God was here in the midst of His people!

So instead of feeling sad and let-down, we were excitedly looking forward to whatever new adventure our Papa is leading us into!

We had found, more and more, that our “comfortable building” was somehow taking away from the close-knit togetherness that had existed when we were truly out on the streets where the people were, whom we knew Papa wants us to reach out to. And we had also found that there were people out there who hesitated to come inside a building that was so obviously a “church building.”

Where to go? We don’t know. Back to the grassy spot beside the courthouse on Sunday mornings? The open “square” on the main street in the heart of downtown Maybe one of the empty lots scattered here and there in the area? Or a front or back yard of a private residence or business in the area? Papa???

Later that day, Pastor P was talking to a business owner, whose shop is an old, former residence, in the downtown area. And she told him he is welcome to use her front or back yard, a washroom that has a direct entrance outdoors, and her electrical hookups for the coffee urn and toaster. Will this be our new “base”? We don’t know for sure… but we were reminded of Jesus who said to someone who wanted to follow Him, that foxes had dens and birds had nests, but He had no place to lay His head.

Are we willing to follow Him like that? His disciples did. The apostles and early believers often did as they went out into the world (often pushed out by persecution, even) to spread the good news. Surely they would approve of our outdoor mission! They, after all, turned the world upside-down! We want to reach out to those who may themselves have no house, no roof over their head, often no food and lack of clothing… We want to be family with them. We want to be the church together.

Perhaps Papa wants us to really “walk in their shoes” with them for a few miles along the journey. To follow Him, wherever, however, He leads. To be His church, according to His plans and purposes, not ours.

(Interesting… believers often pay huge amounts of money and resources to “go on mission” for a couple weeks to some “foreign land” to learn what poverty and pain is really about… when maybe we could be gaining that experience, that understanding, right here at home in our own streets, a few blocks from our own comfortable homes. And then maybe we’d be able to make better use of those resources, that money… hmmm?)

street church... moving forward?

January 19, 2010

Only a few people at street church coffee time this morning – mostly because people never know if it’s happening or not. Pastor P was away last week on holidays, then we had breakfast on Sunday, then couldn’t have coffee yesterday because the church hall was being set up for a funeral tea, the coffee today. At coffee, Pastor P told everybody to come for coffee on Friday, and then after every one left, he was informed that street church couldn’t use the space on Friday because they’ll be setting up for a dinner. So Pastor P says he’ll just serve coffee outside on the street corner, because it is better to do that than to be so on again – off again.

But this has really convinced him to push forward to try and get a new building, a real space to set up a mission, instead of “borrowing” space from others if and when it is available. So he asked me to phone the agent for a storefront building that is empty and has a “for rent” sign on it. Suddenly he is asking me to take on admin type things. Interesting – just yesterday I started researching “missions” (as in street missions). Oh yes, a church just gave him a cheque; he was going to use it to buy supplies for the breakfasts and such, but wonders if perhaps it is meant to be used for rent for a space. And a couple of days ago, a friend who directs a mission in another city asked me to contact Pastor P for him; a couple hours later Pastor P asked me to contact my friend for him (they both want to meet each other).

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

missing "institutional church" ???

January 18, 2010

Job 1:1 … blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil… 5. …. Would send and consecrate [his children] … offering burnt offerings… “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually…. 20. Then [after he lost all his belongings and all his children] Job arose and tore his robes and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed by the name of the LORD.” 22. Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

God was confident of His child, Job! (see v 12). Father, I want to walk with You like Job did… but I have so far to go…..

And I do keep wishing for more time together with You and Your people… I find I’m kind of confused these days… There are many things about “institutionalized church” that trouble me, that just do not seem to line up with Your word (??)… and yet, I also find myself missing a lot of it… especially the time with people…. It seems like if you stop attending a church, many of your “best friends” aren’t your friends anymore. (Well, I shouldn’t be surprised; the same thing seems to happen when one leaves any “institution” – school, work, organizations…). (But you’d think it would be different with church – if it really is the “family” of God…)

Oh Papa, what’s up? (Maybe You want me to be the friend who doesn’t let go of my “church friends,” in spite of their concern (or hurt, or frustration) over me no longer being part of the “church organization” – maybe you want me to care and to lead people into healthy fellowship, real love relationship, with You and Your church – outside the “organizational structure” …)

Jer 3:15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.

Gal 6:2. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ… 4. But each one must examine his own work…. 6. The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him…. 8… the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith…. 14. But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

coincidence or God-incidents re our street ministry?

January 18, 2010

Saturday morning I was chatting with C, an old friend who is now director of a street mission in a city not far from here. He asked me to put him in contact with Pastor P, the director of the street mission here. And then, just a couple hours later, Pastor P dropped by to ask me to put him in contact with C! So I’ve given them each other’s contact info. Coincidence that they should both contact me the same day for the same thing? I don’t think so! God-incident, more likely!

January 19, 2010

Only a few people at Another Chance Street Ministry morning coffee time this morning – mostly because a lot of people didn’t know it was on. Pastor P was away last week (he really, really needed a rest), so the Monday, Tuesday, Friday coffee times were cancelled (though the previous Sunday breakfast went ahead). Then we had Sunday breakfast again this past weekend – but then we had to cancel Monday coffee because the church fellowship hall we “borrow” was being set up for a funeral tea. Quite a few people turned up for coffee, and finding it was cancelled, thought it must be cancelled again for the rest of the week. So Pastor P went out on the streets this morning, and told everyone that for sure it is open on Friday – and then he got a cell phone call that it wouldn’t be available on Friday because the church is setting up for their annual “Bobbie Burns Dinner.” So Pastor Psays he will just serve coffee on the street corner, from his van – which is what he did anyway for 4 or 5 years until this “church facility” was offered. They are very generous to allow us to use it for free – but it is hard to be consistent when it is not available for a variety of reasons… and because of the nature of the ministry, reaching out to people whose lives are often very fragile, consistency is so important.

So this has Pastor P really convinced that we need to push forward to somehow get a building that can serve as a mission center (there is nothing like this, in a town with a population of about 35,000 – and which doubles in the summer months, with the numbers of needy doubling at the same time). There is an empty storefront in the downtown area with a “for rent” sign in the window, and Pastor P asked me to check it out (he has a family emergency he has to deal with… ). I have wondered why Papa kept us here, and even had us buy a house here, when we totally expected to move on now that our kids have graduated high school. But I’m beginning to think maybe it has to do with this “ministry” thing… A lot of little details seem to be coming together for this street ministry, more than coincidental for sure!

teach theology or tell stories? ... and more thoughts on tithing/ giving...

January 17, 2010

Lately, I’ve been thinking and thinking about participating in the “service” we have after breakfast at Another Chance Street Ministry. I know Pastor P wants everybody to participate in the discussion, but sometimes I feel like my “contributions” get too “theological” or that I use too much “Christian lingo” … and then I was talking about this with Papa this morning, and clear as a bell, His answer came: rather than “teaching theology” just tell your stories of your walk with Me (as they relate to the topic at hand). That is so simple! And right on! Pastor P himself has said more than once that the Bible really is peoples’ stories – and in that sense our own stories of our journey with God are also “biblical” I suppose! And of course, Jesus was a master storyteller!

And after I thought about that, I started thinking about the whole “tithing/ giving” thing again: So I wonder…. If I give my writing (and oral story-telling too) back to the Lord – especially seeing as how it comes from Him in the first place – giving it out freely, instead of “charging” for it (because every now and then people encourage me to publish and “make a living” from it) – is that like handing over my paycheque (tithing it) (if I was charging for it)? How far does that concept extend? To volunteering? Hospitality? Charity work? Mission work? Friendship? “Good deeds”? Etc?

Well, some people might have a problem with that, because my freely given efforts aren’t creating “cash flow” that is apparently “necessary” to “support the Lord’s work/ support the church” (buildings, salaries, programs, supplies, equipment…). Does cash rather than freely given effort please God more? No!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Freedom in Christ - freed from Law!

January 15, 2010.

Luke 9:23 If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it… 26. For whoever is ashamed of Me and My word, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory…

Okay… I’ve heard people preach this over and over, all my life, and I always tended to assume that if they were preaching it they must really feel that way (unashamed… happily ready to lose their life)… and of course in their sermons they would illustrate it with stories… like the one I heard as a little girl, and could never forget, about this woman in some communist country who refused to deny Christ, and they dug a grave for her while she was still alive, and sat her down on the edge of it while she nursed her baby one last time, and then they brought the edge of the shovel down hard on her head and her brains gushed out and she tumbled into the grave… and I guess those stories were supposed to encouraged us to be faithful and happy to lose our lives for Christ’s sake, and to not be ashamed of Him…

But, to be honest, as a child I would find myself trying to think of things I could say (or do) in a circumstance like that, in order to avoid persecution and death, and save my life…. And later, when I became a teenager, of course I wanted to be cool and accepted by my friends… and boy oh boy, I have to admit that sometimes I really was “ashamed of You and Your words” (as my actions and words clearly indicated, though I would probably have tried to excuse myself if confronted about it…) because I did not like being labeled as a “holy roller” or whatever… and I’ll be honest, all my life, I’ve struggled with this whole thing, to one degree or another.

It’s been a lot easier, in some ways, to accept it since I’ve really understood that You really love me and that truly I am Your child, but even now it hovers around the edges of my thoughts… and I do often “lack boldness” to speak up for You – especially among those who are my friends and family, those, I suppose, who would be hardest for me to “lose” if my stand for You turned them away from me!

Maybe that’s one reason why “mass evangelistic meetings” have been a popular way of spreading Your word, along with “churches in buildings on Sundays” … vs each of us actually taking the “great commission” personally in every moment, every aspect, of our lives… it’s perhaps “safer,” somehow, to “preach” to the strangers, to the crowds, than to stand strong for You among those we know and look to personally for love and/or companionship and/or approval.

It’s easier to “rock the boat” more or less anonymously than face-to-face, one-on-one, fearing the “loss” of those we love, depend upon, seek approval from… and yet…

Luke 9:48 … whoever is least among all of you, this is the one who is great

(but Papa, it’s hard to be “least” …) … and..

Luke 9:62 … No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

(I so often feel like a total failure in these respects… I wonder if this is a common struggle? I bet it is – but not one we’re encouraged to admit to! If we admit to struggles like these, of course, there’s always the fear that “the church/ other believers” (even the world) will look down on/ disapprove of/ judge us… and yes, fear that You Yourself will not find us “fit” … as if not admitting these things could hide the fact of them from You! …)

**** And then… the moment after I wrote all that, I turn to the next “reading for today” and the first verse I read is (surely You speaking to me! Wow! Thank You!):

Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

You never meant for our walk with You… and the joy of inviting others into Your kingdom… to be a “yoke of slavery!” I have to say… when I have struggled with these issues over the years (since I was small), I have always felt like I was being “constantly watched and judged” and “under orders – obligation, compulsion – to preach the gospel” – although, oddly enough, when I have shared You with other just because I’m excited by You, it’s always been a thing of joy!!! 

Okay, I so often felt like I was under pressure to “build the numbers and success and popularity of the organization” (church, Christian club, organization, etc) – always “in the name of Jesus” of course… - and/or to be “under judgment” if I didn’t hop to it (especially if I had feeling of fear or embarrassment or whatever)…

But there have also been times – especially since I really have come to understand Your love for me, and have been walking close with You, hearing Your voice… that I have, finally, “stood firm” – FREELY!!!! Joyfully! Happy, dancing with joy, with You!!! And, without a doubt, that’s what You desire, that’s Your plan and purpose, that’s what You died for, to destroy the fear and slavery of sin, and of “Law” – You came to bring freedom! In Yourself!

Look! I often, in my early years, heard many, many sermons warning about “falling from grace” – backsliding! – and the solution was apparently (as I understood it…) to repent (be shamed, sorrowful, beg forgiveness… and turn… and obey… well, obey the “rule” … be “good” and “serious” and so on… And while there is some truth in there, there was, it seems to me, also a lot of bondage…

Galatians 5:3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision [or any believer who “receives obligation” to any teaching or belief-system which is, at heart, “law-bound”], that he is under obligation to keep the whole law. 4. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by Law; you have fallen from grace. 5. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision [or anything else one does to “earn” God’s love, forgiveness, etc] means anything… but faith working through love. 7. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? … 9. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.

Ha! See? Anything – even things that are “good,” that are meant to be a joyful part of life with You, can be “twisted” into slavery, into rules and regulations, that drag us out of freedom in relationship with You: hmmmm… “standing firm” is not about following “goods rules and regulations” that will supposedly make you – or prove that you are – a “good Christian” … its about BEING, constantly, in the freedom of Love relationship with You, who IS – ARE! – LOVE!

BUT, BUT, BUT…. I hear voices ringing in my ears… what if you fall? You need rules and regulations and creeds, without them you aren’t strong enough to stand; and if you aren’t following rules and regulations, how will the world see Jesus in you? and so on and so forth….

True, I myself am not strong enough to stand… even with all the possible rules and regulations! But oh, I have YOU! Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit… and YOU are ALL STRENGTH! And ALL LOVE! And ALL GOODNESS! Ha!

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren… through love serve one another. 14. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word… “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” … 16. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh… 18. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law… 22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23. gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Yes! I am free! Oh Papa, Jesus, Holy Spirit – please keep me standing firm in the freedom You have given me! In the power of Your Spirit, by the sacrifice of Jesus, and the love of Father! Amen!!

Freedom!!! (Thank You! Amen!)


January 15, 2010

Luke 9:4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. (Whatever happened to good old hospitality? It is, after all, a gift of the Spirit… and a manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness… etc… all aspects of hospitality…). If we were all hospitable to visiting evangelists etc, and to church members (leaders and others alike; every member of the body) … not to mention to the world around us… boy, our churches – and our world – would surely be changed for the better (turned upside down!), wouldn’t it? Papa?

(I’m still feeling kind of stunned by a conversation I overheard in which having a “church building” instead of meeting in homes, was defended, because supposedly our homes are our, well, “private sanctuaries” …. Oh Papa, may I never say or feel that about my home… please…) (oh dear, am I being judgmental???) (Papa?)

denying Your power...

January 15, 2010

Luke 9:1 And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases, 2. and He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing.

Papa, what is with people who say they believe in You, but they deny Your power and authority…and Jesus’ commands? If we don’t have Your call and Your power and authority upon us through Your Spirit, are we even Your children? (Some would say that such power and authority was only given to the apostles, those who Jesus called and spent time with here on earth; and that it was just for the birthing of the church… but where is the biblical – or even historical – evidence of that?)

(Seems to me like an “excuse” made up by those who don’t have – or have denied – the power of Your Holy Spirit in their own lives… Or those who want to have “power” (political, ecclesiastical, etc) centered in their own hands, and who thus fear the “threat” of those through whom Your power is displayed… as was the case of the religious politicos, and their civic politico counterparts, even in Jesus’ own day on earth…)


January 15, 2010

Boy oh boy… we sure need to be so careful about judging our brothers and sisters in the Lord (or anyone else, for that matter), for as we judge, certainly so will we be judged. We forget that.

(This morning I was watching the news. Pat Robertson was at it again, saying that this horrendous earthquake in Haiti is a result of the pact they made with the devil a little over 100 years ago…) (I just noticed that the majority of “calamities of judgment” in the Bible seem to have been peoples afflicting other peoples… other than the plagues on Egypt and events related to the exodus and the conquering of the Promised Land)… Papa??

Jeremiah 2:13 For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water… 19. Your own wickedness will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you: know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the LORD your God, and the dread of Me is not in you, declares the Lord GOD of hosts.

Proverbs 5:21 For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He watches all his paths. 22. His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin.

Bible studies... book studies... doing... being...

13 January 2010

Prov 4:13 Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life… 18. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day…. 27. Do not turn to the right or to the left: turn your foot from evil.

Papa, I don’t want to be led astray. I want to know You and understand Your word. Sometimes I SO long to be in a good Bible-study group… But at the same time I’m kind of nervous of “theological interpretations” … I just see so much disunity caused by those who consider their particular (very narrow) theological viewpoint to be sacrosanct, while considering all others to be wrong, even hell-bound! I do believe, of course, that there are “orthodox” core principles, values, beliefs to be found in Your word… but that they must be guided and taught by Your Holy Spirit, not just by the intellect of man, which is always influenced by worldly (including “religious”) perspectives.

Which is why knowing You – not just knowing about You – is so crucial, key, important. Every study group needs to be centered first of all in knowing You, listening for Your voice, praying and seeking the guidance of Your Spirit. And studying Your Word… not the words and interpretations written by men. It is interesting to read and consider other books, too… but it is always crucial to come back to the “whole word of God” to see if those “interesting, even inspirational, ideas” in other books, line up with Your word.

“Book studies” for their own sake make me nervous! And I would certainly hope that anyone who reads what I write would always take it with a grain of salt, and always go back to Your word and to Your Spirit for questioning, direction, confirmation, understanding… When I look at my writings through time, I see so many changes… and side-tracks sometimes… and development… it’s a reflection of my own journey…

Understanding, knowledge, wisdom in all mankind is a developing thing… and if it is not grounded “if the fear of the Lord” it will inevitably take some very seriously wrong turns. There is of course “absolute wisdom”: and it is found only in You. You are not only the source of wisdom, You ARE wisdom, just as You are love and goodness and justice and righteousness and so on.

Luke 8:15 But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.

Papa? Am I bearing any fruit? At all?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve gone from one extreme – studying and studying – to another extreme – doing and doing… Everybody (okay, certainly not everybody, but a lot of people lately) say, “Just BE” and you’ll attract people to the Lord as they see Him in you… but I’m thinking that there is still need for Godly teaching! (And not just because I enjoy studying and even teaching!)

v.18 So take care how you listen; for whoever has to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him…. 21. My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.

See? Learning AND doing! Papa??

YOU were a teacher, Jesus (and learner – always listening to Papa)! A lot! As well as One who did a lot of “good deeds!” 

Monday, 11 January 2010


January 6, 2010

Tithing… hmmmm…. Last year we really didn’t do much in the way of formal “tithing” and I have to admit that from time to time it really worried me, as it has always been a regular part of our finances/ giving in the past. Well, I did give quite a lot of “time,” and maybe some “talent” but not a whole lot of “treasure,” as least formally keeping track.

I feel like maybe I was “de-tithing” in a similar way to how folks “de-school” when they decide to take up home-schooling, or how a lot of folks lately have been “de-churching.” I seem to be having a tough time getting the “institutionalization” out of me…..

I did not “give regularly” this past year to any “church” (organization/ institution) for sure. In the past, we practiced 10%-of-gross-income tithing faithfully (and sometimes, painfully and worriedly, I’m afraid – but always, surprisingly enough, quite joyfully). In the past year we have given to individuals and various “ministries/ charities” as we have felt led (without getting income-tax receipts) and we have also finally signed up to sponsor a third-world child. For sure You led in that latter “giving,” after I considered it for years, and even signed up one time, but they didn’t respond! And we gave in other ways, too, this year, as I very regularly baked for and otherwise helped out people in need, and shared the bounty of my garden, and did free babysitting and haircutting and things. Oh yes, and we gave away a huge pile of our “stuff” – but to be honest, that was for our “simplication” rather than for You…

And yet, without formal tithing, You have totally poured out blessings upon us! Blessings of many different kinds! Which of course from time to time made me feel kind of “guilty” about my “lack of giving” (okay, actually quite guilty!) … So what was with that? Papa?

I’m feeling like I do want to give more intentionally and generously and joyfully than in the past year. I know that a lot of churches “preach the tithe” and that in a sense it is a kind of simple benchmark to aim for (at least as a starting place in giving…). But I do NOT want to be “caught” in it. And I do “fear” getting caught up in “laws/ rules and regulations/ institutionalization” … though at the same time I’m not so freaked and so rigid about it as I was previously. Which, I suppose, kind of fits the “de-___-ing” pattern!

So I’ve been wondering what Your answer is about all this “tithing” and “giving” business… And of course the answer has come from You in Your word:

2 Cor 9:6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
(I just thought… No! You just spoke to me! … that, really, “giving” is part of every aspect of life. So when I build relationships with people and am being kind and helpful and listening and all; and when I practice hospitality; and when I do things and spend time with my husband when I’d rather do my own thing (!); and when I listen to my kids and offer comfort and advice when they ask; and so on and so forth; that is all part of giving too. Thank You! And giving time, focused time, to You, too! And aiming to walk with You all the time… You know I am trying, am desiring that… Papa!!!)

9:7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver
(I think that in the past I have given cheerfully, not grudgingly, because I did love You and want to please You and to support Your work generously – BUT that very set goal of the tithe was sometimes extremely difficult to achieve, and so sometimes I did feel “under compulsion” in relation to that “requirement” …. And then got stressed out, and “felt guilty” when I couldn’t attain it, and even went into debt (credit cards) in order to pay the tithe, sometimes (because sometimes, at least, I really couldn’t even feed the family otherwise… though sometimes I was “guilty” of spending on “wants” instead of needs) (and, yes, it was hard when my family had so many wants/ needs … and I often wasn’t sure which it was… and I know they sometimes resented how “cheap” I was, when I was trying so hard to “obey and tithe” ...)

(Wow, Papa, thank You for this time of allowing me to sit down and pour out all my questions, and excuses, and feelings of guilt, and so on… thank You! What a relief! All of this stuff has been rattling around in me for months… for all the past year… and even longer, even when I was “faithfully tithing” … and sometimes not so faithfully… and sometimes even just “guiltily”… sorry…) (I do love You)

9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 9. as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, his righteousness endures forever.”
(See… You give “abundance for every good deed.” That, I guess, is one of the things that worried me. We would give thousands every year to the “church”… and it would be gobbled up in salaries and building overhead, and programs, and bulletins and newsletters and other paper-wasters (IMHO)… while I longed to help out missionaries, and “foster” third-world children and families, and give to the poor, and practice hospitality… longed to “give in good deeds” … and it hurt me to see the money go to things I didn’t even agree with, things that I really could not find in the New Testament examples of the early church…) (And this year, I’ve had more “good deed” opportunities … though I have to admit that even there I’ve “held back” …. partly because we’ve perhaps “overspent” like in furnishing our new home (though a lot of people seem to think we’ve underspent! … Papa?) … and I’ve kept on trying to “hold back some money for tithe,” feeling guilty for “not tithing” … and then the money I’ve held back has just tended to get swallowed up by other things… Papa????)

9:10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; 11. You will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. 12. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.
(See, the blessings of/ from giving is really about You… not about making us rich in this world! … seems to be a different type of blessings in the New Testament relative to giving, than that promised in the Old Testament in relation to tithing… in the OT they didn’t have a strong understanding of the eternal hope You would offer in Jesus… so theirs was a much more “here and now” viewpoint in terms of the blessings of giving).

1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come…
(See: collecting for the real church, the needs of the body: not the needs of buildings and programs! And “as he may prosper” – not a set percentage of income) (not to mention that tithing in the OT was generally “in kind” – first fruits of crops, livestock, etc…)

Galatians 6:6 The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. 7. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
(Hmmm… “share all good things” … sounds like more than a “salary” … like sharing from the garden, inviting him/her/them for meals, providing a place to stay, helping with practical needs – like haircuts, lol!, and so on and so forth. I remember when I was young, there were many traveling evangelists and missionaries, and we would put them up in our home and feed them; and provide free accommodation for missionary children when they needed to return to Canada for education; and when we canned the fall fruit and vegetable harvest, we’d always give a share of the canning to our pastor’s family; and I remember helping make quilts, and helping sew dresses for the bridesmaids when our pastor’s daughter got married… Seems like now-a-days, visiting evangelists and missionaries are put up in hotels and fed in restaurants, and we just give salaries to the workers… well, it also seems like a lot of them don’t want “home-made” caring and “sharing all good things” … is something wrong here? I wonder? Papa?)

Acts 2:43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 45 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple [well, at least as long as they were allowed!] and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47. praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
(Can you imagine?!?!!!! ) (I can! )

Sitting in a Circle!

January 5, 2010

R told me that at their church now, on Sundays, they sit in a circle and talk and share. No more sitting in rows staring at the back of each others’ heads. I thought that is so cool. It made me want to attend there and check it out!