Saturday 27 February 2010

Words from Amos to the church

February 26, 2010

I just read the entire prophecy of Amos. Oh Father, please, please, please reach into Your peoples’ hearts. I fear that we have so earned Your judgment … and yet I also trust in Your love and compassion… even if, especially if, punishment should have to come to us.

(Oh Papa, I just don’t know if I should stand up and proclaim the foolishness I am seeing… can You call in someone of Your body who can mediate among Your people, before they end up dragged into the courts of the world… oh dear God…) (or maybe I just need to wait and let YOU sort it all out!...)

(Amos tried to beg Your compassion, repeatedly, but in the end they fell… but You also promised to bring them back from exile…)

(I remember that Abraham tried to stand in the breach, so to speak, for Sodom… because Lot, a “righteous man,” was there… but the best that could be done for him in the end was for angels to bring him out before the total destruction of the city (and he sure wasn’t eager to leave, oh dear…) (and oh Father, Lot’s life was pretty awful thereafter…)…

Amos 3:10 But they do not know how to do right, declares the LORD….
(Oh Father… it just looks to me like they all really do think they are doing right… and when things go so wrong, it seems they all blame each other, but assume themselves to be righteous… over and over… why, oh why, can’t they come to You together, repent together, forgive together? I keep thinking maybe I should stand up and yell at them, ring a big bell or gong, somehow catch their attention! … but You have been sending Your word to them through Your servants, over and over… and they hear it and say, “Yes, yes,” but Father, they really don’t seem to get it! They really don’t seem to “know how to do right.” … Would another voice, one more time, possibly be heard? Father?? Oh dear God, please, please, please soften their hearts, turn them to Yourself, open their eyes and ears (and if You really do have a word for them through me… one last word, perhaps… please, dear God, let it be YOUR WORD ALONE!!!) (Please!?!)

Amos 4:6,8,9,10,11 (repeated 5 times!) Yet you have not returned to Me, declares the LORD.
(Father, over and over You did things to get the attention of Your people Israel – famine, drought, insect devastation and bad weather, plagues and wars… and of course countless prophets speaking Your word, Your warnings – and still they did not return – turn, repent! – to You…)

4:12 Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel. 13. For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the LORD God of hosts is His name…

5:4 For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel, Seek me that you may live, 5. But do not resort to Bethel… to Gilgal… to Beersheba [all places that were originally places of worship to God, but became centers of worship to false gods…]… 6. Seek the LORD that you may live, or He will break forth like a fire… And it will consume with none to quench it…
12. For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great. 13. Therefore at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time [but Papa, is it always a good thing to be thus “prudent” … when one sees a people whirling, spiraling downward??]
14. Seek good and not evil, that you may live… 15. Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of hosts may be gracious to the remnant of Joseph…
18. Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD, for what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you? It will be darkness and not light…
21. I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. 22. Even though you offer up to me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them… 23. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. 24. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

6:6 Yet they have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph. 7. Therefore, they will now go into exile… [Oh Father, teach us to grieve… among ourselves, but also for others of Your family who have turned from You and fallen into Your punishment and destruction… Instead of self-righteously calling them down, and then turning our backs – on them – and on You, also, in our self-righteousness, so that we end up also falling into the trap of evil – just as Judah ended up following the 10 tribes of Israel into evil… and exile… Oh my goodness!!! Father, shouldn’t the different parts of Your body be closely enough united that they see when there is trouble and pain and sorrow, and yes, even evil, in other parts, and be prepared to grieve for them, and mediate, and help, and pray?!?! Oh, my goodness…]

6:11 For behold, the LORD is going to command that the great house be smashed to pieces and the small house to fragments.
12. … you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood (bitterness) [Papa, that is what I see… poison and bitterness… but is it possible that Your body, Your church, could be – surely inadvertently, surely believing themselves to be in the right, surely even “piously” … oh my goodness, oh dear… - could they be doing things just as opposed to You (as evil…), as Israel and Judah did way back then? … as your word says:
5:14 Seek good and not evil, that you may live and thus may the LORD God of hosts be with you just as you have said! [oh, the irony…][oh Father, please, open our hearts!! Please!!]

7:7 Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. 8. the LORD said to me, What do you see, Amos? And I said, A plumb line. Then the LORD said, Behold I am about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel; I will spare them no longer…

8:11 Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord GOD, When I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD. [Oh dear God – may it be so – that we would truly thirst, as in a great drought, for Your word! Soon! Now, dear God! …]

[But You do promise compassion after destruction, don’t You?] 9:11 In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches… 14. Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel… 15… And they will not again be rooted out from their land… [But why would we want it, let it, go that far, let it go to destruction? Why would we not return to You, dear Father?? Papa?? !!!]

A crazy day... with an important message

February 26, 2010

Yesterday was quite a day. After rushing around getting dressed, doing dishes, and generally getting ready to go, I walked quickly (pulling my trusty granny cart loaded with eggs and pigs-in-blankets and a big thermos of hot water etc) to outdoor street church coffee time. It was probably around freezing (0 C) but felt warm as for once there was no wind (till the last few minutes – brrrrrr!) and the sun was actually peeking over the hilltops, drying up the world. Much warmer than the previous morning with its wet snow!

(Did I mention how much fun I had the previous morning, in the wind and wet snow, digging little channels in the dirt to drain away the big puddle beside the serving table at the outdoor breakfast? Made my inner child very happy! And one of the guys helped me! It was great!)

Anyway, yesterday after coffee/ breakfast I went to work. I was determined to finish some minutes from a meeting a week previous. Of course I had already typed up my own notes, but the meeting was important, so I had to “fill in the blanks” in my notes, from a recording that had been made… I think it could turn out to be a really positive (mostly!) landmark kind of meeting, if only people will really pay attention to what each one said. So many good – Godly! – thoughts presented… but oh my goodness, a few chaotic minutes at the end, which, if people choose to dwell on that part, could threaten to block out all the wisdom which came before. Oh Father, let them focus on the Godly words!

Well, maybe I could have finished on time if I had no interruptions. So many days I am there all alone, very quiet… but of course on a “deadline” day things got a bit crazy. Many emails, phone calls, other people coming in to also work in the office, and being asked to look through old files to find information.

About 10 a.m. a lady came in, all frantic, crying and apparently having an asthma attack, and even upchucking a bit, saying she’d been raped and her legs broken and such… I tried to phone the street pastor, but couldn’t find his number, and by the time I found it, she’d gone back out into the street…

Anyway, when 1 pm came, which is supposed to be the end of my work day, I wasn’t anywhere near finished the minutes, never mind that I also had not started the weekly bulletin which also had to be done, so another lady who was in the office with me, offered to stay for a few minutes till I finished up, and give me a ride home.

But then the street woman came back, and she was really frantic. She said she was a crack addict, and needed to talk to an addictions counselor right away. I phoned the addictions counseling office up the street, and told them I would be walking her up to their office. But then she collapsed on the floor, and apparently was having a severe asthma attack, and seemed to become unconscious. So then I phoned 9-1-1 and they sent the ambulance. By the time the ambulance arrived, the woman on the floor seemed to be back to semi-consciousness, and they were trying to help her, but when one of the ambulance attendants, a man, touched her, she totally freaked out and was yelling, rolling around, swearing. Then a lady attendant tried to help and got an even worse reaction. So then they phoned the police, and we had to step out of the office for our own safety. Finally the lady got up and stumbled out the front door just as the police arrived. The ambulance people told us to lock the door, which we did, and I went back into the office to finish the minutes and bulletin – which took till 3 pm! Meanwhile the police were outside dealing with the woman for probably close to an hour.

My friend who was in the office with me stayed, and drove me home; her car was parked right outside the office door, and she didn’t want to see me take a chance walking home in case that woman was still out on the street and recognized me. We were chatting about the incident, and remarking that incidents like this show how important it is that the church of Christ has a strong presence in the streets of our cities, especially in the downtown areas where many street people live their lives. The street pastor in our community will not let us women work alone in street ministry without a strong, trained man or men alongside us, because of these kinds of dangerous situations. But at the same time, there really is a need for Godly women also reaching out to those in the streets. The family needs to be family, working together, reaching out and bringing God’s family to the lost and lonely, bringing them into the family too.

Has the world really changed that much?

February 25, 2010

So I was thinking about writing, and memories, and the way the world has changed in my lifetime (you can check out that line of thought at my Pen ‘n Paper Mama blog under the topic “Getting Back to Writing – From my Memories)… and then I was thinking…

Hmmmm… maybe that’s a problem with our Christian walks, too. Maybe we just quickly “react” to all the little surface annoyances (hence, turning small disagreements into world war 3 in our church gatherings) rather than really spending serious quality and quantity time both with God, and with His people; if we did spend that time surely we would more quickly and deeply grow in His love, grace, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, faith… all the things that are really important, foundational – that make Christ’s body a building of “living stones.” Then the proverbial “color of the carpets” and the “he said, she said” stuff that often causes so much trouble and dissension and disunity would be seen for what it is – wisps in the wind.

But I wonder – have things really changed so much? Sure, we live in a TV, video game, speedy quick world – but our forebears lived in a world in which most waking hours were taken up with hard labor… and always so much of humanity has been distracted by poverty and wars and prejudice and hardships of all kinds (how the enemy must love sin and its effects on us… and of course he has worked hard to keep it multiplying and developing ever since his first coup in his successful effort to deceive Eve!).

It does seem to me, upon reflection, that it has for much of time, in most, if not all places, been left to “the few” to keep the light of thought, of knowledge, wisdom, understanding – especially Godly wisdom and light – burning… often just barely flickering…

And even then, how often those torch-bearers (or just birthday-candle bearers) have been scorned as “elitest,” or as upper-class parasites riding on the backs of the poor (and yes, they may have too often deserved those classifications)… and often have even become the hunted in efforts to destroy them – and to destroy the light they carry…

In a PC world, I suppose this line of thought could be – will be! – construed by many as, well, un-PC! But truly, history – and wisdom! (and anything that involves the battle between good and evil, which in our world is everything) – is deep and complex… and we cannot afford to gloss over or ignore any of the viewpoints, memories, etc…

Staying joyful - or weeping and mourning before You? - and obeying, acting upon Your word!

February 24, 2010

Daniel 4:37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.

Father, I’ve been told in the past few days to stay in Your joy, even in the midst of sadness and sorrow over what is going on among Your people… but I wonder – are there not times when the best response is to weep and mourn before You?

Joel 1:12… Indeed, rejoicing dries up from the sons of men. 13. Gird yourselves with sackcloth, and lament… Come, spend the night in sackcloth O ministers of my God …. 14. Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. 15. Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and it will come as destruction from he Almighty. 16. Has not food been cut off before our eyes, gladness and joy from the house of our God? … 19. To You, O LORD, I cry…

2:12 Yet even now, declares the LORD, Return to me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13. And rend your heart and not just your garments. Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil. 14. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him…

28. It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind… 32. and it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered.

Luke 22:25 And He said to them, The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ 26. But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. 27. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves….
45.When he rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46. and said to them, Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.

Colossians 3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God…
8. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10. and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him – 11… Christ is all, and in all.
12. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13. bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful. 16. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
…. 23. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for man, 24. knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

Moving on???

February 24, 2010

Today I felt so sad that I broke down and cried. The stuff that is going back and forth between people I care about – people You care about even more, Father ! -… it feels like a downward spiral, a spiraling out of control… a whirlpool whirling faster and faster, growing wider and wider, sucking everything down with it.

How can people do this to each other?

I was asked to make phone calls about some things – and I felt sick doing it. (I was also asked to do something that I just had to say “No!” to…)

But one of the calls I made, the person called me back and prayed for me (because they could tell just listening to my voice on the message that I left, that I was feeling so sad)… and FOUR people today encouraged me, said I’m doing a good job – and one person even said, “Oh! You’re on mission!!!” (And I said, yes, I know that… it’s just hard,,,)

And another person who doesn’t even go there and has no idea what is going on, phoned me at home, and said they are praying for me…

And then I looked on face book, and a friend has posted a new status: “We must seek to know that we are where we are because God has put us there in the interest of His Son, and hen it must be God who just as definitely moves us when the time has come.”

And that’s true…. Anyway, Papa… You know I am ready and willing to move on too – when Your time has come!

(Papa, everybody seems to just be “doing their own thing” with no regard to what anyone else is doing about the same things… and everyone seems to have a totally different viewpoint than everyone else…

And yet they are all sure that You have spoken to them and that they are right….

Should ___ even be offering to come in and save the situation? Should it even be saved? (I sure don’t know… I guess only You know, eh! Thank goodness You do know all things and have them under control even though it doesn’t really look like it to us!)

The tongue is a fire...

February 24, 2010

Proverbs 18:2 A fool does not delight in understanding but only in revealing his own mind…. 4. The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook…. 7. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are the snare of his soul. 8. The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels; and they go down into the innermost part of the body…

Father, I “whispered” once yesterday… I thought, “Oh, it’s important she understands this” … but I didn’t ask You… and afterwards, almost as soon as I said it, I realized I was probably just causing more trouble… please forgive me, Lord… and if possible, please circumvent any trouble my “whispers” could start…. Please??? Boy – we sure can’t take back our words, can we?

James 5:2 … If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well… 6. And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell… 8. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way…

(Father, you didn’t put me in this place because of my wisdom and understanding – You put me there to force me to keep quiet – and thus to learn Your wisdom… and gain Your understanding…. by being forced to listen and observe – with minimal chance to react or mouth off myself! And yet – I know that even a couple years ago I would not have been ready to stay a bit quiet and to not worry too much… so it is also a new step in the continuing journey… Your have prepared me for it in the past… through hard times… and now You are building on that even more!! It isn’t about me at all!!! It’s Your work in my little life – a work I could never do by myself! Thank You! I love You, Lord! Praise the Lord! Amen!)

James 5:13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart [oh Father… right now I feel so sad for these people in their hurt and pain and disagreements and anger and such… but it was really only a very short time ago that I was in that same place, and I, myself, was bound up in “remembering the past” with bitterness and unforgiveness and self-righteousness… and gossip, and angry self-righteous words, repeated over and over and over to anyone who would listen…

… all those years I was angry at my dad for “ruining my life” when I was 13 and he got angry at me for… well, for being 13 and no longer thinking he was perfect, I guess, oh my! And I held grudges against him almost till he died! Terrible! I did come to love him – though for many years I refused even that… but then, in Your grace, You first allowed me to see how much he loved his grandchildren… and through that I realized how much he really did love us, his children… and that really softened up my heart.. and then You gave me that last, final summer with him when he was dying of cancer, at my hoe… and I realized that hanging onto the “past” … and to unforgiveness… was just useless, a huge waste, stupid… evil! … and we learned to just love and accept each other before he was gone, before You took him home (though afterward, there were still moments – You know, issues with the estate – where the old anger/ hurt/ etc threatened to kick up again and overwhelm… but You graciously brought me through that, too, and forgave me yet again! Wow! Thank You!!!...

… and there was my anger at T for “ruining my teaching career” and that other guy for “refusing to hire me” … but ha! You knew I needed to be home with my kids during those teen years!!! … and that incident at that church with “that man” who was so opposed to my participation in the “church worship/ music” …

…. and oh Father; there were times when I was so upset even in our own family, and hurt, angry, hopeless… and badmouthed them, too – those in my own family who I really did, at the very same time, love the most!!!

So I see, upon reflection (from You!! Fro Your word, guided and taught by Your Spirit!) that what is going on at this moment, among this part of Your family, is not unusual (or even hopeless, in You – hurrah!) – it is part of the “human condition,” part of the fleshly, carnal, sinful nature of all people… and it is only You, because of Jesus’ blood, and Your love for us, Your washing, cleansing, growing and maturing us, bringing us into Your love, wisdom, understanding, into the fruit of Your Spirit, that we can change at all!

And then – we can change – fully! – as You draw us along… It’s a process, it’s a journey… it takes time… but You are doing it… even among these people, in this group… because they do want to walk with You!!! It is not hopeless! You put shepherds in place, those who’ve already walked the treacherous path with You, and have learned a bit, who are a little bit more mature in You, to guide the lambs who are still stumbling, still growing (like toddlers learning to crawl and walk… and run! )….

Oh Father, I’ve longed to be a “shepherd” in some way… thinking I can’t because I’m a woman etc… and here You have put me in a kind of shepherding place… alongside several others… maybe even all of them… who are also shepherding, each in their area of understanding and grace… and I didn’t even realize it until You showed me just now! Wow! That is awesome! (And a bit scary… and humbling… but it is also wonderful – because it is all about You – Your plan, Your way!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes…

James 5:14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15. This wisdom is not that which comes from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16. For when jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe…. 12… humility goes before honor. 13. He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him. 14. The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but as for a broken spirit who can bear it? …. 19. A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city and contentions are like the bars of a citadel…. 21. Death and life are in the power of a man’s tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit…. 24… there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother [That is You, Lord! Thank You!] … The mind of he prudent acquires knowledge and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge!

By the way, got an email today that read: “There is power of life and death in the tongue. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day… A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill them. So, choose your words with care… Speak life to those who cross your path. Speak words to empower and lift up. Speak encouraging words – they can go a long way to happiness and healing. Take the time to encourage each other.

Letting God sort it all out

February 23, 2010

A friend emailed me today:

“Hi sister. Remember to think of all the wonderful things you have seen in how God is working in so many lives and new ones coming to Him every day.”

And I replied:

“Yes… I keep reminding myself over and over again what you prayed yesterday morning about sadness being a “deadly sin” and how we are to be joyful in everything.

I’ve just turned this all over to our Father… there is NOTHING, of course, that I can do about any of it, other than just answer phones, take notes, file… and listen to every one… sure a lot of different viewpoints…. I don’t know what to say to anything any one tells me, so I just keep saying, “Uh huh… uh huh…. Uh huh….”

This whole thing going on here is a thing only God can sort out – but HE CAN SORT IT OUT!”

And then I went to Your Word… and here’s what YOU said to me:

Job 13:5 O that you would be completely silent, and that it would become your wisdom! [Yes, advice that I need to take! Especially right now in this situation!]

Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it, than a house full of feasting and strife…. 9. He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends. 10. A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding, than a hundred blows into a fool… 14. The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out…. 22. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones…. 27. He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. 28. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.
[Thank You for Your word, Lord! For these words! Now!}
[But why do we, Your people, who say we believe and honor and obey Your word, seem to actually just mouth it, say how lovely it is … but don’t take it to heart and let it actually change us, transform us, into Your image?] [Now that is truly SAD]….

Daniel 1:8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank
[Oh Father, why oh why do we keep “defiling ourselves” by turning to the world’s ways to “build Your kingdom” … and then again to try and fix the mess that doing that has gotten us into… instead of just once and for all turning it all over to YOU, and listening to YOU, and OBEYING YOU, and becoming like YOU in all areas of our lives?!?!?]

Daniel 2:20 Daniel said, let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. 21. It is He who changes the times and the epochs: He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding. 22. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. 23. To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for You have given me wisdom….

Hosea 13:6 As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me… 9 It is your destruction, O Israel, that you are against Me, against your Help.
[oh dear, that is us, Your church, today… so often…so much….]

Luke 21:14 So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves, 15. for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.

[And then Your direction and encouragement, Father:]

Colossians 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3. in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge….
6. Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7. having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. 8. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of man, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10. and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority….
17…. the substance belongs to Christ….
19…. Holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. 20. If you have died with Christ… why… do you submit yourselves to decrees… 22. … in accordance with the commandments and teaching of man? 23. These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion… but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

"Breaking Negative Cycles" - and living in joy, not sorrow - and letting go to let You do Your work

22 February 2010

When I went to street church coffee time this morning, I was feeling so sad about what is going on among a gathering of believers I work among… and then Pastor P (without me saying anything about it) said that he has just learned that in the earliest centuries of the church, sadness was considered a “deadly sin” … and he prayed that no matter what happens, we’ll be joyful in the Lord!  That really helped me!

Then I got to work… and things did appear to be “sad” … But I kept remembering that YOU ARE IN CONTROL and that therefore we CAN be joyful even when things are looking pretty hopeless.

I again read an article called “Breaking Negative Cycles.” (by Sheila Wray Gregoire). It says, “We see the negative, because it conforms to what we already expect… break the cycle. Look for the exceptions. Do something unexpected. Most importantly, try adding some laughter. You just may find that those good things you used to love are still there after all.”

I have been watching a couple people “seeing the negative” … and it sure looks to me like they are continuing in a negative cycle, and that it’s just spiraling downward hopelessly. And I feel like there is nothing I can do about it. I was wondering if I should have spoken up to them about what they are doing and saying to each other… but I felt that they haven’t truly listened to anything else they have been told (by a number of people) yet, so what more could I say that wouldn’t just itself cause more trouble (or just be ignored or at least not really understood) …. I feel as though when you put me in this position, You had some good reasons and purposes, but that maybe there is no good coming out of me being here anymore… Anyway, I was feeling pretty sad and hopeless, I admit… but for sure NOT panicky like I was in the past… and I kept remembering Pastor P’s prayer, and that has sure helped me a lot! Thank You!

Anyway, later today a friend posted this on his facebook status: “I am responsible for the way I interact with others and the more and more I live in the reality of how Father lives with me and loves me… I will be an agent of harmony instead of an agent of discord and pain and hurt.”

And I was thinking (all along, since you put me in this position), that this was probably a major reason that You put me there (any why You have put some others there, too)… and yet it was seeming to me that all our efforts seem to have failed… and yes, I KNOW this is a situation BEYOND human effort… and I also know that WITH YOU ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! … but the enemy – and my flesh – were really conspiring to make me feel sad and hopeless about the whole situation… and then I heard Your voice so clearly – clarity! – say: “It’s not over till it’s over.”

And I realized Your work here in this situation is not done… and it is not hopeless… Your purposes will prevail – even if people make choices, perhaps, that in the temporary seem to only make things seem hopeless, and also that perhaps cause them to lose out on potential great blessings for themselves …

And then I read on someone else’s face book status: “the test is having enough faith to let go” …

And I realized that “I” have been “trying my best” and that “I” really can’t do anything – so it has to be, IT IS!, up to You! Oh Father, please help me to “let go and let God” totally! Right from the beginning to the end – of everything! Thank You!


February 20, 2010

1. Are you 100% sure you are right?
2. If you ARE right, and “they are wrong” – then why not “turn the other cheek?” Why not be willing to suffer for Christ?
3. Are the details you are fighting over so important that you are willing to pursue those details to the point of destroying the whole family?

Philippians 4
Colossians 1

I’ve seen this kind of thing happen before… and someone, who was in the very middle of it, proudly quoted the words of that old song:
“Standing by a purpose true,
Heeding God’s command,
Honor them, the faithful few!
All hail to Daniel’s band!
Dare to be a Daniel
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known…

Well, yes, maybe… but don’t let the “Dare to stand alone!” become the purpose…

Short term missions?

February 20, 2010

I’ve been invited to go on a short-term mission to Haiti… turns out a very short term mission… The whole trip will be close to a week, but the time in Haiti only 3 days… the rest of the time will be “enjoying hospitality” along the way…and I just feel like that is a lot of money being spent for a short period of time… I feel like that much money could be used so much more profitably, maybe sending it directly… or at least to be used by those already there helping for the long term… or waiting till an opportunity comes to go and spend a longer time and maybe really do something to make a difference… sure it might cost a bit more, but I bet it would be considerably less as a day-by-day cost…. Father, You know I’ve always wondered… worried, maybe… about these kinds of short-term mission things… wondering, maybe, if we don’t do it more for ourselves than for those we are supposedly trying to help??? Papa??

More trouble....

February 20, 2010

Well, the meeting the other night was nice, it that they went all the way around the table, each person sharing their heart (and only one tiny interruption) … seemed like they were really listening to each other, and some really pretty amazing things were said…. But then after all that, some people got all upset… seems like people just can’t let go of the past… and that they “expect” bad things of each other, so no matter what each other says, it ends up being perceived as bad. On the other hand, I loved it when they stopped at the “Jesus” chair half way around, and, I think, they really did stop and listen… oh, I do hope it was really listening, Papa…. And then the prayer circle afterwards, when things settled down, that was hopeful.

The person who called the meeting really did all she could possibly do… but Father, if people won’t listen to You, if they’re so caught up in bitterness and hurt and all… and yet, Father, I’ve been there too… and You’ve brought me out (please keep me out… please don’t let me slip….)

… so Papa, please soften their hearts, please turn their hearts to You… please help them to get past “words” into real living relationship with You!

Bits from an email conversation with some friends: ponderings on the whole "church as a business" thing

January 15, 2010

I wrote: I ran those “words from Papa” by a woman in their gathering, who is a woman of prayer and gifted with discernment, I believe (her heart breaks with what is going on, but God has placed her there, with her quiet demeanor and yet also clear, strong words of truth… but do the others really listen? They think they do…. God has also placed among them a teacher, a shepherd, even, these past few months, and God has spoken through him also, over and over… and most of them think he is a wonderful speaker… and they do want to love each other far more than it seems they did before… but, oh my goodness, relying on the “business approach” just isn’t doing it… it can’t ..

I’ve been struggling with what is going on at this place where God put me, working in this office, and feeling like I was really getting caught up in “their business” … in fact, yesterday morning I was feeling like just quitting… but I went to Father – and He sure spoke to me! So I wrote it down (and it was to me, too, not just to them, because I know I was indeed getting caught up in all the business-y stuff myself), but I was not sure if I should pass it on to the “board” … kind of scared, really… and then I read your email this morning… and it was Father telling me to send it to them – which I have done. (And posted it on my church journey blog too…)

My feeling is that if Father wants our gatherings of His church to simply be a “well-oiled business” – well, the church has been doing a lot of that for a very long time, and it’s just led to many a disaster… but many keep trying, and sometimes it does seem that the church grows and there is more love and people agree…. But then it seems to get worse than before, especially in terms of relationships in the body, in spite of doing everything business-wise “decently and in order.” I believe that Father wants us to see that we have to depend on Him. Period. Him as the Father of His family, the Head of His body…

(And if they fire me… well, it will simply be because Father has finished with His use of me in this place and time, and has something else, somewhere else, that He wills to use me. He’ll look after me. That’s it.)

On the other hand, perhaps He knows that they are in such a place (the “highest leaders” in the group are incredibly discouraged, and in seemingly such total disagreement with each other… though oddly enough, they are all agreed that the church needs to learn to love each other… but they just can’t seem to let go and let Father do that!)… anyway, perhaps He knows they are in such a place that they are perhaps finally willing to actually listen to His voice, hard as it may be to accept that the way they’ve been seeking God’s love in His church, is actually not His way (and oh my goodness, doesn’t that seem to happen over and over and over again in so many gatherings of His body?)

Personally, here, I cannot “join this church” … not even in terms of “simply attending” …. At least not at this point in time…. All I can see from God’s word is that our membership in His body is based on what Jesus did for us, and the choice we make to accept that, and to love, obey, walk, abide, know, worship, honor – and suffer, be hated, fired, pushed out, whatever, too, if that is what following Him comes to…) I am sorry, people, but membership is not, not, not about signing a paper. Even signing a “statement of faith” … But maybe signing the Bible! 

I cannot sign a paper that, directly or indirectly (because it WILL be one or the other), says that I agree with the business that the church has far too often become. And I think that even often applies to “little house churches” and such (which can be just like home schoolers who “school at home”….)…. I feel as though we are coming into a period of time in our nation’s history (as a huge proportion of the world already is… and most of it already has been at various points in the past) when we will have to stand up for truth no matter the “cost” … but it’s only a temporary, physical “cost” … and my sense is that even here and now, there is a great reward, for in the process, we must throw ourselves completely on our Father, and He will draw us closer and closer into His arms (even when we cannot “feel” it!)…. And that is where I want to be, my Father!!!!

Myself, I cannot join in “playing the game,” (though I can listen to them, pray for and with them, speak – with the love my Father gives me; they do KNOW I love them in the Lord!!! – I can help them out in many ways… but I can’t step over the line and start playing their games…. Without realizing it at first, I started to do that (again), and Father has drawn me up sharp, praise His Holy Name…. It is right to learn to “speak in love” … but that is not the same as giving in, playing games, losing my freedom in Christ which He paid such an enormous price for me to receive… and there are times when truth must simply be told – after asking Father to speak His word alone through me, of course… and what happens then, I must simply leave up to Him. That’s all.

They wrote: We feel part of the WHOLE Body of Christ, not wanting to sign allegiance to one “club” with its rules and… and…. And…. We do feel compelled to go to the home fellowship each week of that community church…. and I struggle each week… trying to worm out of it… but I feel that just by our presence sitting there, being real, speaking forth from where we are coming from, that we create an unintentional tension for them…. Cause they want us but are so frustrated…. God has given them a Saul… they wanted an earthly leader… not an invisible One…

I wrote: I do love these people in the Lord, love them as brothers and sisters… just feel so sad for them and so frustrated… but then I remember how many, many years Papa has worked in my heart, and I know I have to let Him work in their hearts, too… but I am discovering that among them are those who also are freed from “religion/business” but, like I am through this job, not yet “freed” by Papa to leave that “group” …. Even the “speaker” Papa has provided for them the past few months is “freed” and yet Papa has sent him back to reach out to those people who are still trapped… and I am quite sure it isn’t easy for him either… so I can only believe that Papa IS working on their hearts… if they were “hopeless” would He send us back and/or keep us there for a season?

Yes, it is true… we humans are so caught up in the world where we can deal with our 5 senses…. We so want to be part of an “earthly” kingdom, not understanding, not daring to “risk,” the glory, the wonder, of God’s kingdom…. Oh dear….

They wrote: It really bothers me seeing the model of sheep sitting there month after month wanting to be FED…. They already know the gospel…

I wrote: A friend of mind, who didn’t know the Lord till he was at least 40… well he “faithfully went to church” for about 4 or 5 years after he met the Lord… but that’s the thing that boggled his mind, and he often speaks of it: the first 2 or 3 years he was soaking up the teaching… but then he began to notice that at some point it began to sound like a stuck record, I guess, the same stories being told over and over and over… and he couldn’t understand why all those people were sitting there listening to the same stories instead of going out and telling others…. So he just left the room and started to walk up and down the street, reaching out to people and sharing the gospel with them, as he cared for them and built relationships with them… and he still regularly “drops into churches” but different ones all over town, and he asks to be allowed to get up and tell them what God is doing outside, out where the world is waiting to be told the gospel – in action! Verb-form love! And that then when the people out there have experienced God’s love in real, tangible ways, they’re ready to hear it in word, too, and they do come to Father! And my friend hopes that others, too, will catch the vision, and move out…

They wrote: I get tempted to judge the sheep, too, instead of the model…

I wrote: I’ve struggled with that, too… a lot… but God’s helping me see the people, more and more… the “system” used to stick in my craw, but now, well, I still don’t like it of course, but I really am far more concerned about what it does to the people trapped in it… so I’m coming to the conclusion that maybe if I just love the people and hang around and let them see what God has done for me – well, they don’t always like it at first: it’s hard, when you’re “working so hard to please God” or whatever, to see other people no longer doing that, and yet being more happy – anyway, maybe they’ll begin to want God so much, that they’ll maybe just start seeking Him instead of the model…

It’s a funny thing…. When we “attack” organizations/ models/ systems – businesses! – the people that are part of them just get really defensive, and they start to run around doing everything they can to make the system even stronger, bigger walls, bigger cannons bristling out over the walls… but I think when we just love the people, maybe they’ll get curious about that, and start to sneak out to the gate, and then across the moat, and so on, and one day they’ll just forget to run back to the “safety” of the castle, because they’ll meet the real King who’s out riding around His Kingdom and spending time with and interacting with and loving on all His subjects – the King who doesn’t just sit on His throne behind castle walls with a chosen few….

They wrote: and He makes me go and have relationship to stay sweet in my spirit towards them, I believe…

I wrote: Yes, I think that is true. I know I care more about these people in this “church” since I’ve been spending this time with them, even though it is an “environment” I’m not fond of, one which seems awfully limiting…. It’s easier to be self-righteous and critical from a distance (and yes, I certainly have been there)… but when I’m right there in their midst when they’re going through all these complicated, difficult, unhappy moments together…. I see how they really do long to be free… and yet they just don’t know how to do that, maybe are even afraid to do that, maybe don’t even believe it is possible… Which is why we need to be where they are, loving on them, letting them see that there is a trail to freedom in Jesus… but at the same time being very careful to not allow ourselves to be re-trapped (sure have to depend on Father for help with that!!!)…

They wrote: Mostly it’s about having relationships with His family wherever they are, out there AND stuck in the old stale wineskin
We feel torn, knowing that in their flesh they want us to ‘help’ …. But we can’t save the old wineskin model from the shaking… friends to there, that we’ve made relationships with because they are ‘family’ … and they just don’t understand why we don’t make a ‘commitment’ to where they think the ‘ark of the covenant’ resides, so to speak…

And they wrote: Also I wanted to think out loud to you that David kept “relationship” with ALL of Israel, and so the door was open, when God’s anointing time came (for David to receive ‘an appointing and an anointing’ I guess you could say…) that there was a bridge built there for the people if they wanted to come across and choose God’s Way (which David couldn’t even foresee while he was trying to keep a sweet spirit in caves and in the bad books of the old model)…

I wrote: Yes, yes, yes!!! Thank you for showing me that!!!

Sunday 14 February 2010

Close down the business, My children....

14 February 2010

Speak, Lord…. I really, really, really want to hear YOUR voice… I really, really, really want to listen… I feel like all we are doing to be accurate and correct and even to set high expectations and seek the best leader we can find, is total foolishness. Oh, Papa, all I want is YOU. Please, Father, open my ears, open my eyes, open my heart, Lord! Please! Go ahead, I am listening… I already this morning heard You speaking so clearly about our situation that I felt sick to my stomach and just wanted to just run away from it all. But running away is not what You ask, I know. What do You really want, my Father? What do you want from me? What do you want from all of us, Your children, Your body – Your church? Please speak to me, to us, now. Please help me, help us, to listen! (Thank You).

“Oh My children, this is not what I want. My church is not a business. Can’t you see what is happening when you try to run it like a business? In the past, of course, the “business” seems to have been failing because, as it appears to you, you didn’t keep proper business records, which led to discord and gossip, and you weren’t even sure what the rules and regulations were, and everyone was trying to make up their own rules and regulations, which led to more discord and to chaos; and so now you try so hard to run this business well, researching the rules and regulations and trying to follow them exactly; properly, carefully, dotting every i and crossing every t, keeping perfect records (to the point of silliness), balancing the budget, keeping the structure intact no matter what, and seeking the perfect CEO who can bring it all together. But My children, in all of that process, this church, this gathering of My people, has become more and more your church, not Mine - even though you piously now believe it to be Mine more than it was before, when it seemed to be disastrously failing. My children, as long as My church is run like a business, a business is what you will have. But is a business what you really want? Or do You really want Me?

My children, My church is a family. In My word, in the New Covenant, I gave you the family model. A family is designed to live together, to love together. They share their homes, their food, their ups and downs. A family has a father who pours out his life for the family, working for them, providing for them, protecting them, even giving his own life, if necessary, that they might live (that’s called Love!). And a family has a mother who respects and honors and obeys her husband in love, and nourishes her children fro their very conception, again even to the point of sacrificing her own life. The children honor their parents, and live together, and the whole family sticks together even when they don’t agree on everything, because they are family. Families grow naturally, because their very nature is one designed to be fruitful and multiply. Families carry on, through years, decades, centuries, millennia. You are all descendents of the first family – think of that!

In My word, in the New Covenant, I also gave you the body model. The body model I gave you recognizes One Head, to which all the other body parts are connected and from which they are directed. The body model has all its parts connected to a heart, from which the life source, the blood, pumps through all the other parts, and then back through the heart, over and over; and so there is no part that can stand out on its own above or alone from the others. The body can certainly “survive” without certain of the other parts, and yet without them, it is not whole, it cannot be all it was meant to be. Even the loss of one little toe puts the rest of the body off-balance!

I, even in the Old Covenant time, gave a chosen family, the children of Israel, a kind of business model – organizational, institutional - an earthly kingdom/ governmental model. A business, an organization, an institution, runs on rules and regulations. The Old Covenant, the Law, was this kind of a model (although I was meant to be their King, and that potentially made it very different than other earthly, man-made institutions). This business model is divided up into hierarchical layers, with very distinctive roles. The business requires each member to contribute set input (for example, hours of work, varying job descriptions, fees/taxes/dues). It also values different members differently, with some more highly honored, regarded, paid – and depended upon. The business model also requires a physical structure, a central edifice, so to speak, that holds all the members in line through rules, regulations, and other structural aspects; and also often provides a specific physical place for them to gather together to fulfill the requirements of the business. Businesses, well-run, certainly offer some advantages such as efficiency, ability to produce worldly wealth, and a way to set goals and achieve them. But businesses inevitably seem to care more about the institution that they do about the individuals that are part of it.

An earthly business has no real love and no heart. The head of the business is a person, with the limits that accrue to every human being. A business is not a family. In fact, “family businesses” often end up disintegrating the very families that set them up. A business can provide a family with income (earthly treasure), and a degree of protection and security, and even a sense of community, but a business is always dependent upon and affected by surrounding circumstances. Businesses fail, over and over and over again. The “business” that was the Old Covenant failed, because its members chose an earthly King over Me, and without Me, nothing can succeed – even families and bodies. Even the so-called “family of God” and the so-called “body of Christ” and the so-called “Kingdom of God” cannot succeed, unless they truly are reborn of God, through the shed blood of Christ, and filled and led by My Spirit.

Your first parents made a choice that separated the human family from their true Father, resulting in spiritual death. They made a choice that separated them from the Source of Life, which in turn limited their bodies, resulting in physical death. They made a choice that even made them incapable of running a perpetually successful business/ government/ institution/ kingdom, because there would always be sinful selfishness and greed and hunger for power. And every human descendant has inherited that fallen state.

But I have given mankind the opportunity to once more be a family, a family that operates as I originally designed families to be. I have given mankind the opportunity to once more be a body, a body that operates according to the pattern and functioning I originally designed bodies to be. And I have even given mankind the opportunity to be part of a kingdom – yet not a physical earthly kingdom like that of the Old Covenant, but a New Covenant, a new eternal, spiritual kingdom, in which we are united as you abide in Me. I long to be your Father, your Head, your King. I long for you to be My children, my body, each one of you a part of My royal priesthood.

I know you do want to be led by Me – but, My children, You have gotten so caught up in the models themselves that you have lost hold of the Reality, lost hold of your connection to your Father, to your Head, to your King of kings – to Me, your God – Father, Jesus My Son, and our Holy Spirit. You have come to choose earthly structures to try and hold My body together, instead of trusting and abiding in Me, the Head, the Lord of lords, the Vine, the Shepherd, the King of Kings, God Almighty.

Instead of all being branches fed by the One Vine, and all producing wonderful clusters of fruit, you have too often become willing to be simply suckers, soaking up the nutrients from the Vine, but producing neither leaves nor fruit. Instead, too often you have passed that privilege off to selected people whom you delegate as special leaders/ shepherds, not only to produce fruit on your behalf, but too often to become go-betweens, actually replacing Me, so that I am no longer allowed to be your personal direct source of Life, Light, Love, Truth, Righteousness.

Sadly, also, instead of allowing Me to prune the vineyard, a most necessary, though often painful part of the process of fruit-producing, you have too often built up great trellises. Instead of allowing me to strip away growth which is useless, growth which is damaged and diseased, or growth which produces a great many beautiful-looking leaves but in the process diverts the nutrients of the vine away from producing fruit; you have too often wrapped it around the trellises, and then you have built the trellises larger and stronger, to hold up even more of this growth that I long to prune away for you. And finally, there is a complex trellis holding up a great deal of what appears to you to be a large, rich, bushy vine, but it is one in which there are only a few clusters of fruit here and there, and even those are often small and sour. And where one single juicy piece of fruit appears here or there, it is seized upon with great joy as a sign of health and growth. Oh, My children, I want so much more for you.

My children, My children, when will you stop building the trellises? When will you turn directly to Me, the Vine, for life and growth – and for pruning by Me, the Master Gardener - of each of you, individually and together, instead of depending upon human go-betweens and human structures?

When will you become My body, My family, instead of a business run in my name? When will the eternal riches of My kingdom, life lived with and in Me and My love for you, become your longing, your desire, rather than the religious kingdoms of man with their cathedrals and pomp and ceremony? When will you allow Me to be Your Head, guiding you, directing My work through You as I desire, when I desire, how I desire? When will You draw your Life from my Son’s Life-blood, shed for you to give you the true Life for which I created you?

When will you accept that, while I provide among you those who shepherd you in spiritual matters, those who have walked My Way a little longer and a little ahead of you; that they are only there to help you along, nourish you a little for a season, as a mother nurses her infant; yet that it is My desire for you in turn to grow up into Me, depending upon Me to provide the solid food that will grow you to the point where I can use you in turn to shepherd and nourish others, just as your earthly children will grow up and produce and nourish their infants in turn; and so on through the generations. To some of My children I have given gifts to preach or teach or evangelize, it is true; but where would they themselves be without those who first shepherded them in their early growth; and without those even now to whom I have given gifts of wisdom and discernment to keep them on the true path, those to whom I have given gifts of hospitality and helps to care for their physical needs, those to whom I have given a heart for prayer to support them in their walks? Truly, each one of you needs every other one. When will you honor each of my children? When will you all, together, honor Me most of all? When will you learn to follow and worship Me alone?

When will you accept that every one of you is infinitely and equally valuable in my eyes? That everyone of you is an essential part of My family, My body? I do not want a family, a body, that is just existing on “survival mode” – or even as an efficient business! I want a healthy, growing, supportive, sharing, caring, encouraging body and family whose every member edifies the other, and whose every member loves Me, your God, with all your hearts and souls and minds and strength, and who love every other member in My family as you love yourselves – and also to similarly love those who are not yet in My family, but for whom I gave My Son that they should have full opportunity to come back into My love.

When will you become MY church, MY body? Oh my children, come to Me. Aren’t you tired, exhausted, sick of all your effort and all your differences in opinion and all your failures? Don’t you want to be branches growing on Me, Your Vine, every one of you producing great, ripe, sweet, bunches of fruit which together form a truly fruitful vineyard? My promise truly never fails: “Come unto 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Close down the business, My dear children, and let Me welcome you into My body, My family, My eternal kingdom. Let Me love you with all the infinite, perfect, unfailing love that I, as your God, Father, Elder Brother, Guide, Creator, Shepherd, Lord, and King, have ready to pour out upon you. And let Me teach you to love each other so profoundly that the world will look at You and recognize that you have been with Me, because they will see among you My love and the fruit of My Spirit, in your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, as you reach out to each other and to the world I am calling to Myself. Yes, they will know you are Christians, truly Christ-followers, by your love – My Love – and by the glory and the supreme honor and the worship which you give to Me alone. My children, be Mine. I love you.”

Thank You, Father. Your kingdom come! Your will be done – on earth as it is in heaven! Amen!

Saturday 13 February 2010

Street family!! Love it!!

13 February 2010

Brrr… it’s cold outside for morning street family coffee times… especially these days when it’s been really damp. But there is so much laughter and friendly conversation, and so much taking care of each other and looking out for each other’s needs… man, that is FAMILY!!! And I see it more when we gather outside in the winter weather, than inside where it’s warm and comfortable. And I like that people going by on the street, no matter who they are, rich or poor, young or old, always get invited to join us – and some of them do – and the others almost always smile and say a hearty thank-you for the invite!

Tithing??? Papa???

13 February 2010

I’ve started buying eggs (for the street ministry) in boxes full of flats. The price is a bit lower than buying by a dozen, and most of the eggs in the flats are extra-large size, rather than just large. (I’ve also discovered that it really makes a difference which store you buy eggs at… A dozen eggs can range from under $2 a dozen, up to as much as $3.75 a dozen for the identical brand!). Thank You for this wonderful provision! The guys love their boiled-egg protein on cold mornings!

I went through my personal book-keeping very carefully yesterday… and once again I am amazed at how wonderfully You supply our needs! Thank You, thank You!!! 

Father, you know that for the past year, after many, many years of “tithing faithfully” to “our church,” You moved us! It was not the move we expected – we thought we’d be moving to another community. But You moved us out of “our church” into involvement with reaching out to others in our jobs and on the streets of our community. We have learned much of what Your church is, and what it means to be part of the “church at ___ [our community/region/place where You’ve placed us].”

And in the process, we’ve also been moved out of simply setting aside 10% of our income, and putting it into the offering plate “at church.” There is a certain “comfort” in that kind of “tithing/offering” because one can confidently say, “Oh yes, I always give my 10%” (or whatever amount), and one can even get an income tax charitable deduction. Of course, sometimes I’ve been kind of concerned about how that money is being spent… and then, there have been times when we’ve actually bought necessities like food with our credit card, so we could make that full 10% (though many times You have honored us by stretching our money “impossibly” far!!). And there have been times I would have loved to have “spread the tithe around” a bit, by contributing some of it to causes You have laid on my heart… but when I did, occasionally, there was always this “guilt” hanging over, because we’ve been told so often that we must “Give our 10% to the church we attend, and if we want to give offerings above that, those can go to other causes.”

Well, I really don’t know if I gave 10% (or more, or less) in the past year. Quite possibly considerably less, I’m thinking, certainly less in actual, measurable “dollar” terms. But I wonder if this new kind of “tithing” we’ve been doing isn’t more like “biblical tithing.” And maybe, thereby, more honoring to You, too. Because, as a former pastor used to tell us, tithing isn’t just about money (“treasure”), it’s about “time” and “talents” too. And those aren’t nearly as “measurable” but in some respects they might be of even greater “value.” And of course, even in the Bible, the “tithe” (which is, of course, an Old Covenant/Testament concept, anyway), was “in kind” … the “first fruits” (which, with the various requirements actually was more like about 30% in the long run) of crops, animals… even herbs from the family garden! While the money given seems to have been mostly “offerings” for needs as they came up, or as special “thanksgiving offerings” to You. And so far as that “10% tithe” figure goes… Jesus commended the poor woman for giving “two mites” … just pennies … far more than the bucket-loads of coins the rich were proudly pouring into the offering box – for in those two mites, she gave literally every penny she had, while the rich men just gave “petty cash,” impressive as it appeared to the on-lookers.

How have we been tithing? Well, I’m not going to go into details, for obvious reasons (that’s scriptural too!). But, herewith just a few examples: baking goodies for my street family… inviting people for meals with us… giving people money as needs come up (ie medical needs, supporting families who’ve lost jobs in this economy, or whatever) … donating to poverty-stricken third world nations, and other things like that, that Father has put on my heart … sewing up people’s clothes that are falling apart … giving free hair cuts … giving away some of our own “things” to others who need them more than we do… and yes, still giving money to gatherings of Your church as You lead…

Now here’s an interesting thing… Papa, I must admit I do sometimes feel kind of “guilty” for “tithing” this way on things that actually do give me great joy and pleasure! (It seemed to me, sometimes, in the past, that this “tithing” business was more of a duty, though You so often blessed us… but I am finding this new kind of “giving” – which more like occurs as You open up opportunities and lay needs on my heart – is generally far more spontaneous and “generous” in terms of being from my heart … from Your heart!?!?) (And, okay, I know that “churches” really do “need” that steady income to maintain their salaries and building and other costs… but oh, dear, I do wonder so often how many of those “costs” are really unnecessary… kind of like the cost of the Olympic Games when there is so much poverty everywhere…)

I’ve been struggling, though, with all this. Sometimes I really am “sorry” (or maybe “apologetic” is a better word… if you get my drift…) that we went for a whole year last year without making hardly any “real tithe” donations… well, except for all the on-going time/talent/treasure stuff which I know some people think “doesn’t count” …. Certainly, we didn’t spend the “thousands” I could confidently – and, oh dear, perhaps a bit smugly – point to in the past… but I’m beginning to wonder if that “tithing tradition” isn’t, after all, maybe to “easy” a solution to “real needs” and to “truly building the kingdom of God.” As a friend said the other day, it is “easier” to sign a cheque (to “our church” or even to “a third world outreach”), but maybe a lot harder to “go out into the highways and hedges” of our own communities (and wherever else, in this world, You lay on our hearts), and “compel them to come in to the banqueting table” (like in the parable…).

Reminds me of that song we used to sing:
“He brings me to His banqueting table…
His banner over me is LOVE”

I sense that the new covenant way of giving is a whole lot more about love, compassion, generosity, kindness, and so on… than about supporting the “structure” of the old covenant laws and related temple duties and such…


Dropping keys or building cages?

13 February 2010

I received an email from a blog I subscribe to The Art of Non-Conformity, Feb 8, 2010:, in which the blogger, Chris Guillebeau, writes:

“Think about the times when someone has really helped you think or live differently. It was like they placed a key on the ground in front of you; you picked it up and unlocked a cage… The goal… is simple: build less cages; drop more keys…
But whatever you do, don’t be the small man building cages. Be the sage, dropping keys for the prisoners.
What keys do you hold that could set a prisoner free?”

Father, I am sensing that this is what you are calling me to do among Your people, in the place You have set me at this time… and to also do among those You are calling to Yourself who don’t yet know You. I am seeing a whole new, deeper meaning to that phrase, “Here to set God’s people free” … Father, so often we only “scrape the surface” of these understandings… and until we, Your children, are truly set free from our own imprisonments, our own cages (which we don’t even recognize, so often, these gilded cages we’ve built and have come to honor and believe in so much that we don’t even see them for what they are, even when the pain they cause is right in our faces…), how can we ever expect to be able to reach out to others with Your love, so that they too can be set free?

Women and men do think, process, perceive differently!

13 February 2010

Sometimes I think our “detailed meeting minutes” and addendums and such are getting way beyond being “accurate/ truthful/ keeping things clear for the future/ stopping the he-said, she-said mill” … and sometimes I think it is sad that we have to go to such lengths… Of course, ideally we cut the past loose and let it rest (though keeping in mind the lessons learned). And then, ideally, we just follow YOU (Your word, Your Spirit, the circumstances and providences as You set them before us), starting anew, just walking right in Your footsteps (not ahead of You, not running off on rabbit-trails of our own making, not turning around again and again to dredge up the past – hmmm… “remember Lot’s wife!” )… Oh Father, please let it be!

Well, one thing I did pick up in these meetings… men and women really do think and process and perceive and work toward solutions differently! The women love to think things through orally/written in great detail, including the emotional aspects; while the men want to cut through all that and find a concise, logical solution and get on with it.

And maybe I want… well, what? Oh Father, I do want to hear Your voice… while maybe recognizing those differences and trying to find ways to honor them in love??? Please help me, if that is part of what Your will is for me in the middle of all this?

Friday 12 February 2010

Going on Mission? Your will!!!

Feb 8, 2010

Father, K came in this morning and asked me if I have any fundraising ideas (to raise money to go on mission with her group – in early April – just under 2 months from now! I have little or no money right now… and I’d need a couple thousand dollars for travel and other needs…. Father, in some ways I’d love to go… but You know how I feel about the cost of short-term missions trips, and how I wonder if that amount of money could be used more effectively on a longer-term trip or by just sending that money to be used right there for those peoples’ needs? … On the other hand, I do want to do Your will!... So I am getting my passport and things in order… and we’ll see what happens eh! (Your will alone be done! Please!)

Oh, by the way, yesterday at coffee time, ___ asked me if I would be willing to teach him to write in English, and in return he would help me to improve my French and also learn some Spanish (his fluent languages)! LOL… I was speaking French to myself all the way home, as I walked along!

…. (later in the day)… So today, I got my passport photos taken, and picked up the forms and will fill them in and submit them in the next day or so, and make an appointment with the doctor to see about immunizations and such…

Oh Papa, Your will be done!!! 

Seeing You Moving Things Along?!?

Feb 8, 2010

“If you find openness with unbelievers daunting, ask God to show you why. Try listing your fears and faulty perceptions. Once you’ve been honest with yourself, decide to get honest with others about your faith. Being real is opening the doors to new opportunities to share why I’m a Christian. And why not? It’s who I am and what I’m called to do.” (Dawn Yrene)

Yesterday at the street church gathering after breakfast, a woman who works out of the room adjoining the other room where we were gathering together with Jesus, came out and asked us to be quiet (we really weren’t being loud…). And right then P and T and myself (all separately; we discovered this later) were thinking, “Here we go again…” And P thought, this is it, this is the “cherry that tops everything” … once again we are being viewed as a problem in our borrowed spaces…

And today after morning street coffee, Pastor P came and toured this other church building with W, and the two of them think sharing it would be awesome – and so do other pastors/churches in this community so see its downtown core location right next to a large high school, as an ideal outreach place not only for street people, but also for those living close to the poverty line, and troubled youth, and all kinds of other “community outreach.” The group of believers who rents this building as their “church building” could still use it on Sunday mornings for their services, and for their office space, and for their evening Bible studies and such … and then the street outreach ministry and the other “churches” in the community could, TOGETHER!!!, also use it all the rest of week, days and evenings alike, as a base for reaching out TOGETHER as the “church in our community” to those around us.



Feb 8, 2010

Dear Papa,

Please heal R from her pain… please look after D&L wherever they are, whatever they are doing… Please help J to really kick his addictions and come into wholeness and healing … please bring all my kids and their spouses and their children and their relatives to Yourself (and use me, please, YWBD!) … please guide me with what You want me to do with my writing… please be with P and the street ministry – and Your Will Be Done, when he meets with W today…. Please be with D and bring your great healing and answer her prayers for her children and her grandchildren and all! … Please give my mom and dad a hug (okay, I don’t even think that is probably scriptural exactly .. but who knows? Anyway, You know my heart… and my loneliness…)… Please be with ___ and even bring healing from his cancer (though I know he is looking forward to coming home to be with You – and that’s the ultimate healing  … but yesterday he told P that even though he is looking forward to meeting You face-to-face, he kind of hates to leave our “street family” … that’s something, eh! Thank You, Lord, that Your love is having such an impact on lives!) … and please be with ___ in his chemo… and ___ with his cancer… so many of the street family need Your healing (temporal and/or eternal! )

'My Vision'

Feb 7, 2010

[And oh yeah! I also just found “my vision” that I also wrote out many years ago – written Nov 2002, but developed over a number of years before that]

“It is my vision to lead other women into wholeness and hope through new lives permeated by faith and love in God alone. My desire is to be a Titus 2:3-5 “older woman,” by teaching, preaching, and sharing and caring in practical ways…

And this is my dream, an extension of God’s call for me: … to be part of an intentional community of God’s people… who live holistically, in unity, flowing together, learning, growing in faith, sharing talents and interests and dreams in work and play… a retreat center, and thrift store/ coffee house/ practical training center/ soup kitchen, etc, where women can grow in Christ and share together and support each other… learn together the old practical skills… sing and pray and study the Word and worship together… share each others’ joys and burdens; become holistically healthy and fit together… reach out to the greater community.. share God’s word and God’s love; support teens and women in crisis… work with women and teens in trouble and give them a passion for learning, and goals in life, set upon the foundation of Jesus… support single moms, and widows, and young moms, and women struggling with marriage and children… and those dealing with poverty and loneliness and despair. Where older women can teach and guide and help younger women (Titus 2:3-5)… where… as God has called me to preach and teach/ speak, I can share with others a vision of wholeness in a life permeated by faith in God.”

Such Dreams I Dream!

Feb 7, 2010

As I sit here and talk to You about all this, I hear You saying, “Take another look at that statement you wrote years ago… that “Such dreams I dream!” statement…

Okay, I’m going to look at it right now – but I already know that it will take You, the mover of mountains, to fulfill this! And yet, right now, I believe – I KNOW!!! You can – and will!!!

“O Lord God, such dreams I have! … That all my children and their families will totally follow You… [Yes! You are already fulfilling this one!] …. That ___ will become a mighty preacher [Papa! Nothing is impossible!] … that my husband and I will stand together in vital ministry ordained by You, in a marriage totally centered in You! … that our family’s pains will be healed and we will love You and each other [this too You are clearly fulfilling! Thank You!] …. That someday we/I will serve You in other nations [hmmm…. I’ve just been asked to go along on a mission to another nation… where I can even use my French!] …. That I will someday get that PhD [Papa??!!]

I dream… of being involved in an intentional Christian community where we can live and heal and rest and meet God together… “we” being whoever God sends our way… and maybe “camp” ministries… and of a place of Christian outreach for the teens of our communities… and of a place of Christian outreach to women… and of a place of Christian outreach for teen pregnancies and teen parents… Oh Lord, You know all about those dreams.

I dream of writing… and drawing… and making music with guitar, piano, voice… to the glory of God!

I dream of a nice warm house with enough space for all my family… and space and suitability to reach out in ministries of hospitality and sharing and caring… in the name of Jesus! … and of a special, warm, comfy, private space – with good lighting, and lots of library shelves and study space – for me to meet daily with my Lord in study and prayer… [my family is much smaller now that my children are grown, and now we OWN this sweet little house that really does fulfill most of those dreams … but I sense something else, something bigger, is coming down the road… Papa?!!]

I dream of meeting regularly with others – in my own home, Lord! – any anywhere else You lead! – for intensive prayer and intercession and praise and worship and song and dance! Before You, Lord!

I dream of transformed lives and transformed communities – in our community here and in our former home communities – and to the ends of the earth!! Praise God!

I dream of no longer being tired all the time… but lifted up by my Lord on wings as eagles – to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint – to soar with You, Lord! Praise God! [And oh! I AM feeling better, stronger – much more so!]

Oh God, I want to know You more, I want to love You more. I want to walk with You always, eternally… no turning back!!! [Yes, oh yes, You are surely fulfilling this!]

Colossians 2:13-15 Yes Lord, You are the victor! The war is over! And every skirmish from the conquered yet still defiant enemy can be won by my trust in You and my dependence on You! Truly, nothing is impossible with You, Lord God, my Heavenly Father! Thank You for triumphing on the cross, dear Lord Jesus! Praise Your Name, Lord God! Thank You for Your gift of Your Holy Spirit! I love You, great Three-in-One! Amen!

I don’t have to listen to satan’s arguments. If a dream is truly from God – as witnessed by the truth of His word – God will fulfill HIS purposes and plans as I accept them and trust in Him! No ands, ifs, buts! Amen! Praise God!”

My Help Comes From The Lord!

Feb 07, 2010

This morning at street church gathering Pastor P and K (and others, I guess) were so excited about the possibilities of the street ministry sharing the ___ church building.

I don’t doubt that You can change peoples’ hearts, Lord – but I received this really – very! – strong sense from You that You have something even greater and more wonderful – beyond our hopes and imaginings – in store for us!

When I asked You to confirm it (or not) in Your word (thinking You would do that when I got to my daily Bible reading today), immediately Your word (hid long, long ago in my heart, as a child) popped into my mind:

“Lift up your eyes unto the hills!
From whence cometh your help?!?” (Psa. 121:1)

It as just like that, Papa – Your voice, taking Your written word and turning it directly to me – to us, too!

Oh Papa, our help does come form You, the Maker of heaven and earth (v2).

And You will keep and guard our going out and our coming in from this time forth and forever!

This morning in the street church gathering, Pastor P read us the scripture from Mt 19:23-30. But really stood out for me was when K was praying for You to open the doors and provide for the needs of this outreach (and oh, dear God, please don’t ever let us try to make it “ours”! Please keep it always Yours. And as ___ said afterward, please keep us walking in Your footsteps alone!!!) … anyway, Papa, that one sentence from verse 26 stood out so strongly to me:

“With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible!!”

I have no idea if the ___ building is part of Your plans or not – but boy oh boy, if it is, I sense so, so strongly that it will be only a beginning, a foot in the door, of what You plan and purpose!

(And yes, I do wonder about how the people of that “church” really feel about sharing “their” place – some would love it, I know; others, well, it “looks” to me like You’d really have to change their hearts and minds – But that is what You do!!! And if this is Your will, You’ve no doubt already got that all under control! No problem!)

Wednesday 10 February 2010

An open letter to my brothers and sisters in Christ

3 a.m. 10 February 2010

To my brothers and sisters in Christ:

I have heard all your hearts separately as you have spoken to me alone over the past days – and I heard your hearts last night as you met together. And I can tell you, at root every one of you loves the Lord and wants to serve Him and to have love and unity in the body.

But each of you are also at different places in the journey, each of you have different gifts and strengths (and weaknesses), different areas of understanding, different experiences.

Each one needs to listen to the others, learn from the others, seriously consider the input of the others, and always take their input in prayer to Father, and search the scriptures as the Bereans did, to “see if these things [that Paul was preaching] were so.” (Acts 17:11)

A small hint – before speaking your opinion, try to always think, “How did I come up with my opinion? Where does it really come from?” Be honest with yourself. Seek your memories. Did you develop your opinion from your personal searching of scripture and prayer, asking the Spirit’s leading? Was it perhaps influenced by what you read it in a book by a writer you admire and trust, or heard in a sermon or conversation or Bible study from someone you trust, or perhaps from Sunday School when you were young, or on a “Christian program” on TV or radio? Or maybe from your church statement of faith?

(Do you really know and understand the statement of faith that your part of the body claims to adhere to? It is foundational, much more important than the rest of your bylaws and constitution – but are you absolutely sure it agrees with scripture? Maybe it would be a great mid-week study topic for those who gather in your part of Christ’s church!)

Be honest – is it possible your opinions are based on “traditions” you have picked up on your journey, in your home as a child, in church groups you’ve previously been a part of, even in your education, job positions, and your many varied life experiences?

(For example, along the line in my life, I really bought into the idea that “God helps those who help themselves,” and that I should try to “be responsible” and work things out myself, only really needing to turn to God when all else fails. Father had to put me through some really “hopeless for me” experiences to wake me up enough that I was forced to pray and pray, and to seek answers in scripture for hours, days, months, years, begging Him to teach me with His Spirit, and to open my heart to really listen to Him and understand, and act on His words. And I still have to turn to Him every day. I’ve certainly discovered my pride and arrogance in the process. Constantly I’m being shown new unpleasant things about me that I need to ask and allow God to change in me.

Anyway, I have realized some places where that attitude came from – including church teaching, family “values” in my childhood, the “values” I learned as a child in school, books I’ve read (especially those “self-help” type books), things I’ve seen on TV and in the media, “values” in different kinds of work places, and of course the “values” of the society I grew up in.)

So all that to say that our understanding of what God wants is always colored by many sources and experiences, many of which we have come to accept as “good” and “biblical” and “Godly.” Even many of our “church traditions” are like that.

A great many Christians would be amazed to learn that the record of Jesus’ teaching and of the New Testament church, tell us almost nothing about the “order of service” or “forms of worship” for church gatherings, other than a couple verses here and there (for example, 1 Corinthians 14:26), a fair amount of advice on what to avoid, and general principles like being thankful, praising God, and staying true to the pure gospel.

We read nothing of church buildings (other than references to meeting in homes, marketplaces, by river bands, in rented secular halls, and such). We read nothing of worship teams and worship leaders (just small statements, like “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” and so on) (Ephesians 5:19, which doesn’t even refer to “church services” per se). We read nothing at all about sermons by a senior pastor, though we do hear about teaching the believers (by those who are so gifted – not as a “position”), and preaching to unbelievers (a command to all, with some especially gifted as evangelists). We do not even hear about “pastors” as positions in the church. Even the word “pastor” is only used once; the other places translated as pastor are really the word for “shepherd;” “bishops” doesn’t even appear, but is actually “overseers,” which are more like elder elders/shepherds spiritual leaders, and those too are roles, not positions.

We do not read of “membership” other than acceptance as part of the body of Christ because of profession of belief in Him, followed by baptism; evidence of growing in relationship with Jesus (the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: Galatians 5:22-23); real, active love for God and the brethren as the special sign of Christians; and ongoing, active participation in the body with the differing gifts (such as word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, tongues and interpretation, helps, administrations, etc – 1 Corinthians 12 and other scriptures), gifted roles (apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists etc) and various practical talents and abilities God has granted each one, working together to become a whole.

This is just to say that much of what we “believe” or have a strong “opinion” about is not necessarily even scriptural, though it may have been “accepted” for so long by so many people that we’ve come to “believe” it.

Maybe God is calling us all out of “tradition,” out of “form,” out of “accepted structure.” Maybe he is actually calling us to a more biblical Christianity, to be the church like the New Testament church was, where non-believers still recognized that “they had been with Jesus,”(Acts 4:13) and earned the admiration – and wrath – of the world as the world was “turned upside down” (Acts 17:6) by these people who truly loved one another, cared for the poor (now that is New Testament church!) , and all spread the gospel wherever they went.

God has given us all: 1. His Son Jesus as the source of our salvation and restored relationship with Father, 2. the scriptures, His word, as our guidebook, 3. the Spirit of Christ living within us to teach us and guide us in all things Jesus taught – all of which He learned from Father God, and 4. each other, each with the varying gifts of grace which God has bestowed on each one, for the encouragement and edification (building-up) of the body in love.

Stop for a moment. Grab a pen and paper and make a list of the people who are a part of the church body that you happen to be most connected to. For each one, try to list the spiritual gifts, the spiritual fruits, and the practical skills and abilities God has placed in them. Now put those listed gifts, fruits, skills, and abilities together. You’ll no doubt be amazed at the completeness you discover! (And you’ll no longer feel the need to be so “dependent” on your “pastor” – which will free him to truly shepherd instead of having to do all kinds of other things that he really hasn’t been called to by Father!)

God may be opening the door for you to truly be a New Testament church, a “koinonea” gathering of the children of God, and to reach out to the world – going into the highways and hedges and bringing into the kingdom banquet hall the lame, the blind, the poor, the crippled (Luke 14:12-14, 21-24)…

It’s HIS work, He is the vineyard owner, we are simply His workers, servants – slaves! Willing slaves! Honored to be His slaves! And we are also all servants – slaves – to one another, preferring one another above ourselves.

And our ultimate goal is to know Christ and make Him known, by our practical real life and love, to point others to Jesus – all to the praise and worship and glory of God alone!

How exciting!

There have been many struggles, many mistakes made in the past – but today is a new day. Stand firm against the devil, against the principalities and powers, putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6).

Trust in God, and love each other, support, encourage, build up each other with God’s love. Be children of the King, and joy in the building of His Kingdom.

(Father, is this Your word – or just me? Please bury all that is me – every day, every moment. You alone! Your honor and glory! Teach me to worship and glorify and honor You alone, the Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe, who loved us so much that You sacrificed Your only begotten Son so that “whosoever believes” may be brought into relationship, abiding in unity with You – eternally!)

(Okay, and I almost hate to say it, but not only am I proud to be a child of the King and a member of His body, the church universal, and of the church here in our community and region, but I am also proud to be a pretty integral part (though I have run from it, tried to distance myself, be “neutral”) of this particular small part of God’s body, who I see now are truly determined to work through differences and past difficulties, and even despite scorn and/or anger from some others, to come into unity and build God’s kingdom and spread His love).

Saturday 6 February 2010

Our way? My way? YOUR way? Give me - give us - Your wisdom, Father!

5 February 2010

Thinking about this situation … Is it better to just let the past be past? And to trust You to not let false words and perceptions influence people?

(Sometimes I just want OUT… I feel like You have put me in a role that I am not up to… But of course You are totally up to it. Help me listen only to You, obey only You, have no “fear of man” but trust only in You alone!!!

Prov. 11:2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom. [Oh dear God, please keep me humble….] 3. The integrity of the upright will guide them. [Oh dear God, please give me integrity: You! Please guide me! Not “me” … because…] …the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them. [I do not want to be treacherous. I do not want to destroy. But my old nature, and the attacks of the enemy threaten always to take me that way. Oh dear God, help me to put on Your armor, and stand firm and resist the enemy – and resist my old “self” … with all prayer, petition, perseverance… and bold utterance of the mystery of the gospel – at all times in the Spirit! (Eph 6:10-20).]

Prov 11:5 The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness. [Oh dear God, I want, I long, I desire with all my heart, to be righteous! Blamelessly righteous! (And yes, it is possible – in You!)] … 9. With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered [I wonder, do those old files I found contain the knowledge that will overcome the rumors and gossip that continues to destroy?] [But Father, the people telling those old rumors really do seriously think they are true – and they really do think they are seeking Your right, by telling them] [Does it matter anymore, anyway? …. Is it just “me” being “hurt” instead of just trusting You to take care of things? Papa???]

Prov 11:11 By the blessing of the upright a city [or family, or organization, or church, or….] is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down [Papa, what if the people really believe what they are saying is true… but it isn’t? Papa???]…. 12 He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent [does this mean, then, that to keep peace and love one another, those who know the truth should keep silent, and let You work things out in Your way and time? Papa??? But maybe Your way and time could be pointing out those old “lost files” right now, long after we thought they were gone? Papa??? Or is that just “me” thinking, again? Papa! Please make Your way clear!] 13. He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter [hmmmm… that was “confidential” information in its time, wasn’t it? Should it be kept that way even now, and let You work things out, change hearts, whatever? (I say “whatever” because Your ways are so creative and amazing and beyond anything I myself could think up, lol! )] 14. Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory. [Papa???]

Boy oh boy, what are You saying here, to this situation? (It sure seems like people on both sides could quote these verses to their “own advantage” ….)

(I wonder about that last verse, #14: is it right that ALL the people involved in this situation should be given ALL the information [about the current situation, and/or even the info from “the past” …] so that the “right decision” can be made? Is that Your way, Your plan? Papa???)

(And are You telling me to keep silent… and not even share “truth from the past” in face of “memories” that have in the meantime changed the original story [Papa, the people sharing those “memories” seriously think they are accurate! Bringing up this “new evidence” of “old events” could really cause hurt and dissension to people who truly believe they are providing true and helpful information… And I so do not want to be the source of new hurts and dissension… But, Papa, if their “memories” aren’t true…??? Oh dear…. Maybe the others won’t worry about it anyway, and will just take the current situation at face value??? That would be nice…. You could touch their hearts and make that happen… Or You could do something else altogether? … But, then, Papa, why or why did You lead me to those old files NOW? To share them and bring out the truth, as it bears on the current situation… or to test me and see if I will be a person of understanding, and keep silent (as in verse 13)… or what??? Papa???

Papa?? Do You have a clear direction for me? Please???

Prov 11: 19 He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life, and he who pursues evil will bring about his own death. 20. The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD, but the blameless in their walk are His delight. [Oh Papa, I don’t want to be “perverse in heart” … I DO want to be “blameless in my walk”!!! Help me, lead me, guide me, PLEASE!!!! (It is way too easy for me to jump into and carry on “conversations” that shouldn’t even ever have started… I am so sorry… Please, please, please give me wisdom to know when it is time to keep silent!) (And please help me know when it is Your word that is burning in me… and when it is only “me” … or well-meaning but not necessarily God-given words from other people… or even the voices of the enemy doing their best to sound “like angels of light” ….)]. … 23. The desire of the righteous is only good [That’s it Papa… that is my desire! “Only good” … so why do I have such a struggle recognizing it and keeping to it’s narrow path??? Oh, “I need Thee, oh I need Thee, Every hour I need thee…”] 30. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls. [Oh Papa, I want to be righteous, I want to be wise, I want to produce the fruit of righteousness, I want to win souls… and I do NOT want to cause any more pain, dissension, disunity… I don’t want to be the cause of non-believers looking at us and seeing us as unloving, disunified, selfish… and thus turning their backs on You! Oh Papa!!! Help us! Help me! Give me your wisdom and understanding in this situation… Please!!!!]

Jeremiah 11:20 But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously, Who tries the feelings and the heart, let me see Your vengeance on them, for to You have I committed my cause. [Okay, this really does seem like a clear word from You…. So YOU deal with it, Papa. Help me to turn the other cheek (because, yes, I have been hurt by those old rumors, Papa… I knew when I heard them that they weren’t true, because I was there back then… and yes, I DO want them “set straight,” especially now that I found those old files that “prove” what really happened… and I tell myself that it is important because those rumors are hurtful to people in the past, who don’t deserve to be hurt, who didn’t do what the rumors say… and that people who hear the rumors, who weren’t there then, might be believing them, and it might have a negative affect on how they make the decisions they need to make in the current situation… and that this is not how members of Your body should operate… I tell myself all those things, and yes, they are true so far as they go [except that obviously by saying those things, I am not trusting You to over-ride, and to fulfill YOUR purposes despite us – despite ME!) …

(Though now that I stop to think about it, and to talk to You about it, I’m afraid maybe that I’m also wanting to bring those files out with a triumphal, “I told you so!” flourish, in order to “prove” myself –and the others, of course…- “righteous” in that past situation… and, oh dear, oh dear, perhaps in so doing, also “take vengeance” on those whose old memories/ stories/ um… rumors and gossip! … make me and the others “look bad” … Oh Papa, is that really in my heart? I fear it is… And I really didn’t see it till now…)

(And Papa, I need to let YOU deal with those others who are sharing their “memories” …. Because I am not even sure that they know the information they are spreading is not true. I think they really do believe it, maybe they heard it from someone else they trust… maybe it just got twisted as it went through the grapevine over the years … oh dear… But what it comes down to is that I think they really do believe it is true, and that they really do believe they are speaking for You, and that their desires are Your desires… But oh Papa, what if, what if, despite the twisted stories they are using to back up their points, what if their points, their desires regarding the decisions that have to be made, what if they really ARE Your desires? What if they HAVE heard YOUR voice? Even if maybe they are then trying to fulfill Your desires in ways and timing that You would not choose? We all do that too often… But in the end, YOUR purposes ARE fulfilled, no matter how messy we might make the path with our short-sighted, impatient ways… Your eternal purposes do not fail… but it seems to me that we can sure complicate their fulfillment in the short term, doing things NOT according to Your best plans… ironically, in our eagerness to do what we believe is right, what be believe is Your desire and direction and purpose – what actually may be YOUR desire and direction and purpose, but not in OUR WAYS!)]

And, oh my goodness! This way of ours is certainly not a new thing:

Jeremiah 12:2 You have planted them, they have also taken root; they grow, they have even produced fruit. You are near to their lips but far from their mind. 3. But You know me, O LORD; You see me; and you examine my heart’s attitude toward You. [Oh, please do examine my heart’s attitude to You – and show me clearly what it is – and change my heart so that You are not only near to my lips (how well I can talk the talk!) but so that You are also in my mind and heart, Your Spirit and my spirit abiding in unity – in You! (so that I also walk the talk, consistently, always, TO YOUR GLORY, not mine!]

[Because, Papa, I wouldn’t be surprised if the “others” are probably seeing me as talking but not really walking… as misinterpreting Your word… as thinking about MY wishes instead of YOURS…]

[But, Papa, what if they are right and I am wrong? They seem so earnestly to believe they are right… And me, I am now doubting myself (hmmm… might be a good thing!), doubting my own memories of the past… I am even becoming afraid to actually look at those records in case “I” am wrong!!.... Papa??? (Please help me! Please teach me! And please forgive me and help me to tell always and only 100% truth… and to not say anything at all until I have brought it first to You and let it be laid out in the full Light of You… and even then, if I think You are telling me to speak, not to do it unless I can 100% verify it … in the light of Your word and Your Spirit, and, if applicable, in the light of reliable “primary sources” instead of “secondary sources” and rumor and innuendo, and even my own very fallible memories, loaded with my own experiences and perspectives and “self” issues and desires…]

{oh, Papa, we so, so, so need Your wisdom and understanding. Please grant it to us, here and now! Please! Thank You!) (Keep me praying this, too, Papa… perseveringly!!! Practicing Your Presence always!!! Thank You!!!)

Jeremiah 12: 10 Many shepherds have ruined My vineyard, they have trampled down My field; they have made My pleasant field a desolate wilderness. 11. It has been made a desolation. Desolate, it mourns before Me; the whole land has been made desolate, because no man lays it to heart. 12… There is no peace for anyone. 13… But be ashamed of your harvest because of the fierce anger of the LORD.

[Oh Papa, is this a picture of us??? If it is, dear God, please help us REPENT!! Please help ME repent…. I truly am sorry, Father… thank You for revealing this to me…. about ME… I’ve been so arrogant… Papa, even if I am “right,” if my attitudes and desires are selfish and arrogant, all the “rightness” – not true righteousness! – that I have is then as “filthy rags” isn’t it? Clean us, please, dear Father. Clean ME, I beg You… Oh, Papa… please help! Please change me, change us! And then renew Your field, Your kingdom, Your vineyard… Bring Your peace, I pray… Bring a true harvest of righteousness, rather than a shameful harvest of self-righteousness… Bring us back into Your garden, where You have, through Jesus’ sacrifice, prepared the Way so that we can once again walk with You in Your Presence in the garden in the cool of the day, as we, with You fulfill Your original purpose to cultivate and keep it. (Gen 2,3).]

And oh, Papa! Then these things we are struggling with are NOT hopeless! Wow! You are doing it again – answering my cry from Your word – by Your Spirit – “just happening” to line up the words from You that I need to hear from You exactly at this moment! I’ve missed a few days (because of company and such) of the “read-through-the-Bible” plan You led me to this time around – and now, today, I started up again, picking up where I left off some days ago – and every chapter in this “plan” created by someone else years and years ago, is YOU speaking YOUR word to the cry of my heart right here, right now, this very day and hour! Over and over You do this! Wow! You are so awesome! Your purposes DO prevail!!!!

And, as I said, all this “trouble” we are having (that seems to have gone on for years and years, and just doesn’t ever seem to end, at least from our very limited viewpoint here in the middle of it), - well, in YOU we do have hope:

Hosea 6:1 Come, let us return to the LORD, for He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. 2. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up the third day, that we may live before Him. 3. So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth… 6. For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

(But if we do not truly return to the Lord our God, nor truly seek Him [Hos 7:10], then…)

Hosea 7:13 Woe to them, for they have strayed from Me! Destruction is theirs, for they have rebelled against Me! I would redeem them, but they speak lies against Me, 14. And they do not cry to me from their heart when they wail on their beds….

[Oh! Papa! We MUST stick totally to You alone… and we – I! – must know and speak only 100% truth!]


By the way, there have been a lot of questions re retaining the “church building” and other potentially costly issues…

Luke 14:11 [Jesus said:] For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted… 13. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14. and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

[hmmm… what if the building were “kept” in order to reach out to the poor… and Papa was trusted to provide… “the church” might have to set aside dreams of fancy sound equipment and expensive traditional “programs” and traditional “Sunday services” … and maybe even concerns about “our safety” … but I wonder what Jesus would do???...

Well, I know He would turn to His Abba (Papa), and listen to Him, and obey Him, and speak only His words (just as he always, always did when he was here on earth)… even if Father’s directions and words got Him in trouble (which they did), and made Him unpopular (which they did), and took away His safety (which they did), and people disdained Him (and killed Him!)… well, those words above (Luke 14:11-14) were Jesus’ words that He got from Father … Well, it sounds to me like the church, Jesus followers, are called to a life and walk that is not one of comfort and acceptance… with nice buildings and programs for us… and maybe on the side some bag lunches or coffee to be handed out on the streets to “them” … Hmm… What if we tossed out all our “proper religious traditions” and welcomed in the poor with open arms, even if they have nothing to contribute to our coffers (oh dear…), and even if they don’t do things the way “we do”… Of course maybe on the other hand it might be better to (if we can afford it after paying our own bills) maybe try to help support a little storefront mission where “they’d be more at home” (and, hmmm, thereby keep ourselves “more at home” in our nice facility, our – oh my! – “sanctuary!”), right?

Ummm… and Jesus said….

Luke 14:21… Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here [to the fancy banquet hall, already all set up for the high class, respectable, invited guests… who declined the invitation!] the poor and crippled and blind and lame… 23… Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.

Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate [by comparison of his love for Me] his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yea, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?

And then of course, Jesus, You pull it all together for me – for us! You, in Your love, are preparing for Yourself “the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless… Christ [nourishes and cherishes] the church, because we are members of His body.” (Eph 5:27, 29-30)


And what does all this mean in our own lives?... The apostle Paul tells us:

Ephesians 4:1 Therefore I [Paul], the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2. with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3. being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5. one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6. one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

7.But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift… 11. And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors (literally: shepherds) and teachers, 12. for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13. until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature, which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

14. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15. but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the Head, even Christ, 16. from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love...

22. … lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23. and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24. and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

25. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27. and do not give the devil an opportunity… 28. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

30. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ has also forgiven you. 5:1 Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2. and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma….

15. Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16. making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the LORD is.

18. And do not be drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19. speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20. always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21. and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ…

6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm…

23. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.

And words especially for me…

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves… 12.. work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 14. Do all things without grumbling or disputing… 16. holding fast the word of life… 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

And for all of us:

4:1 Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. 2. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. 3. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5. Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you…

11. … I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

14. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with my in my affliction… 16. for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. 17. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit when increases to your account. 18. But I have received everything in full and having an abundance… what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. 19. And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

20. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen…. 23. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.