Wednesday 31 March 2010

"Devotions" thoughts... and questions about "my prayer life"

March 31, 2010

James 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow…. 15. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16. But as it is, you boast in your arrogance…

Father, I only want what You want – day by day, moment by moment. I really don’t know what You want with this business/ writing/ home office stuff – but You do. Let me see what You are doing, where You are taking me, and help me to always follow – obediently, submissively, joyfully, loving You! Thank You!

James 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

I’m beginning to think, more and more, that You really do call different people to different work, paths, outlooks – all within Your great kingdom. And of course we are all at different places on the journey too (remembering Pilgrim’s Progress!). So, please help me not to be arrogant and judging about those who do not see things just as I do. Please! Thank You!

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Oh my goodness! I signed up for the prayer team at The Word Guild - and now that I am receiving the requests, I am realizing how little I pray “formally.” There was a time when I would spend at least an hour to an hour and a half every morning praying through a very long list. And now, once again, I am confronted with a list… and not only from The Word Guild, but many people, on the street and other places in my life, often ask me to pray for various needs… and I say I will… and I do… but usually not “faithfully” as in “daily prayer lists”… but as I remember, as Father reminds me, as events occur that remind me. And I used to pray in detail, (and often made “suggestions” on how to answer people’s needs), and now I tend to just lay situations at Father’s feet, and ask Him to do what is best, because I have become totally convinced that He really does know best. Does that mean I’m not “persevering in prayer,” or “not trusting,” or whatever? Papa???

Saturday 27 March 2010

doers and/or hearers of the word?

March 26, 2010

James 1:22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves… 25. But one who looks intently into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer by an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

I guess that’s why some people keep “going to church” year after year, being taught “the basics” over and over and over (s/a Heb 6:1ff), and seem to be content to stay at that level. Some even seem content to keep “falling away” and needing to be “brought back” and re-taught over and over. Maybe because those who are teaching them, have told them that “falling away” is inevitable. Maybe because it is a way for “churches/ church leaders to maintain control, and to continue to be “needed.” Maybe cause they’ve stayed hearers, and haven’t stepped out into Your kingdom and become doers. Maybe because they are afraid they will fail if they step out – but they don’t need to be afraid! They have Your Spirit. And You will never forsake them…

And maturity comes from doing – from being Your child, growing up in You, obeying (and thus acting upon) Your word, joining our spirits to Your Spirit… not just sitting around talking about You.

“They’ll know we are Christians by our love” – and Your love is always a verb, an action… not just sweet words and/or mushy feelings. Obedience means “doing” what one has been told, not just saying, “Yes, yes,” but not doing it.

James 1:26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, but yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless (hmmm…. Too much talk, without action, without moving out into Your work, can sure lead to strange ideas, can’t it… and to arguing… and to turning back to “works of the law” – Gal 3 – instead of to the works of Your kingdom)…
27. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world (too much talk and not enough action, can also lead to idleness and boredom… and slipping into evil…)

(Thank You!)

Thoughts on wisdom... and working...

March 27, 2010

James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6. But he must ask in faith without any doubting…

Oh Father, I don’t want to be a doubter – and I’m sorry when I don’t trust You. I have to say that the last day or so, I’ve been concerned that sometimes my goal to create this “business” might be more about seeking financial “security” than about just “using my gifts” and “sharing You.” Oh please, please give me wisdom to keep my eyes always on You, to be centered, focused only on You, walking in Your love, with You, in Your kingdom…

Father, Solomon asked for wisdom – and You gave him that, and a lot of other good things besides… perhaps too much, for he ended up taking his eyes off You and onto all the earthly “glory,” worshiping idols and pleasure and wealth…

As James 1:9-10 says, “… the brother of humble circumstance is to glory in his high position, and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation…”

You will take care of our needs as we follow You… but at the same time we are told to work, to not be idle, to not live off others (1 Thess 3:10-12) … so it is right for us to earn a living, of course!

The book of Hebrews, on the church and the kingdom of God

March 26, 2010

I tend to think that the book of Hebrews is a pretty tough one to understand, compared to some of the other epistles; at least, I do find I have to read it slowly and carefully. But it certainly is clear about what the church, the new covenant, the kingdom of heaven is about. Some highlights, for example:

- God speaks to us – those of the new covenant – in His Son. Jesus represents our Father and is, in fact, the exact representation of Father’s nature (1:1-3)
- Jesus calls those who are sanctified (made holy) by His blood, “brethren” – we are family (2:11)
- Jesus is our faithful high priest – the only one we need (2:17)
- We are to encourage each other daily (3:13)
- The word of God – Jesus! – is living, active, able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (4:12) (I was always taught that this verse refers to the Scriptures: but the context is about Jesus Himself!)
- Because Jesus has been tempted like us (but without sin), we can confidently draw near to the throne to receive grace and find mercy (4:16) (We don’t need go-betweens…) (Jesus Himself intercedes for us 7:25) (s/a 10:19-22)
- We are to grow and mature, not just sit around and learn the basics over and over again (5:14, 6:1)
- We show love to God’s name by our works, by ministering to the saints (6:10) (not just by our words)
- Jesus life is indestructible (7:16) (and so, therefore, is the life He gives us)
- The Law was set aside as weak and useless, and a better hope brought in – Jesus – through which we draw near to God (7:18) (The old system was only a copy and shadow of the new covenant which we are under 8:4-5)
- Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all (7:27)
- The true sanctuary and tabernacle is that which the Lord pitched – not buildings built by men (8:2)
- In the new covenant: God’s law is put in our minds by Him and is written by Him on our hearts; He is our God and we are His people; we all know Him (personally) from the least to the greatest; God, in His mercy, will remember our sins no more! (8:10-12) (s/a 10:16-17)
- Jesus’ blood is able to cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God! (9:11) (There is clearly a difference between works of the Law and the good works, service, ministry we do as members of Christ’s body) (s/a 10:23)
- Jesus will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin (isn’t that amazing?) to those who eagerly await Him (9:27-28)
- We are called to strive against sin (12:4, s/a 10:29), to accept God’s discipline which trains us and results in righteousness in us, to respect and be subject to our Father, to pursue peace and holiness, to avoid bitterness (12:4-17)
- We are part of God’s kingdom, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God (12:22), and thereby are “the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (12:23)
- Show gratitude to God with reverence and awe – our acceptable service (12:28)
- As members of God’s kingdom, we are called to: love the brethren continuously; show hospitality to strangers; remember those who are persecuted; hold marriage in honor and undefilement; keep free from the love of money and be content with what we have; don’t fear man; imitate the faith of those who led you to Jesus; don’t be carried away by strange teachings; share Jesus’ suffering and reproach; continually offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; do good and share; obey your leaders, submit to them, pray for them (13:1-18)
- Remember: Jesus is the risen great Shepherd of the sheep (13:20)
- God equips you in every good thing to do His will (13:20)

Isn’t that awesome? Does it sound like “church” and “the kingdom of God” as you have known it? Why not go right now and read the whole book? And then ask God’s Spirit to help you to truly be a member of the church of Jesus, of His body, His kingdom!

Friday 26 March 2010

"It's all about You"??

March 26, 2010

…. Oh! And Papa, if You want me to set up some kind of (probably online) format for “unpublishing” Christian writers to present their stuff, can you please help me to do that – Your way?

I want everything all about this to be Your way – please help me to truly keep my eyes and ears and heart focused on You (and Your church, body, kingdom)! I don’t want to get dragged into that “of the world” trap, in any area of my life (dear readers: you can check out that conversation in my previous blog entry). I want always for all I do, all I am, to be truly centered on You. Thank You!

And yes, that still allows my “individuality” to be expressed – and You do want it to be expressed, inasmuch as You are the One who created me, who gave me all the characteristics that make me an individual… and then You looked on me, Your creation, and declared me “good!” … For I am made “in Your image” and I do reflect Your infinite, amazing, complex, personality and creativity – and You delight in our relationship of love – just as You delight in Your unique relationship with every one of Your uniquely created children – and in Your relationship with Your family (Your church, Your body, Your kingdom) as a whole!

(That idea in that book – that it is wrong to say, “It’s all about You” – keeps bugging me. I think it was a reaction to a certain – all too common – brand of churchianity that seeks to make all its participants “just like Jesus” … but really is perhaps seeking to make them “just like us” … “in our image” … according to “our church” structure and so on… claiming to seek to make its members “servants of Christ” but too often, in reality seeking to make them “slaves of First Church of the City of X.”)

As my relationship with You has grown, I have delighted more and more in coming into an “all about You” position, because I have found in this relationship such freedom, creativity, immensity, adventure… and yes, joy in the individuality with which You created me! Yes! 

When in this world and of this world get tangled

March 25, 2010

N keeps encouraging me to come to their “house church” (it’s new and they are trying to “grow it” I suppose… and they are excited about it… ). I am still really gun-shy about “organized church” … even “organized” house churches … or ones that I can potentially heading in that direction… and that even extends to how “organized” I can see the street mission potentially becoming…

I keep wondering if “growing” into “big things” is really Your way. I think it’s awesome that more people are being “involved.” But at the same time the “rabbits” vs “elephants” – or “families” vs “organizations” – or “organisms” vs “businesses” – seem to me to be more effective in view of the church being based on relational rather than governmental foundations. Even the “kingdom of God” is a very different thing than the “kingdom of men.” And yet, how easy it is for us, as humans, to quickly – often without even realizing it – transpose the earthly kingdoms structure and principles onto what is clearly meant to be a very different, spiritual (and relational – founded in the love of God and His purposes in creating us in the first place!) “kingdom.”

And it doesn’t help that we live in a society with government structures which constantly impinges on every aspect of our lives. True, many of those “laws” are meant for our “common good,” but it seems they just proliferate more and more … and we lose more and more of our freedoms and individual choice. And certainly they threaten to (and, I strongly suspect, are designed to – more than we imagine) pull our loyalties into the state’s “agendas” and away from our personal, basic beliefs and values, and even from our ability to think, reason, and of course to have loyalties and close relationships to “another kingdom that is not of this world.”

And so we, as believers, as “the church,” often, insidiously sometimes, get drawn into thinking, supposing that we are still loyal to Christ’s kingdom, and yet, bit by bit, we’ve become more and more “of this world” as well as “in this world.”

Friendship warpers etc

March 25, 2010

Up at 4:30 am. Made cow patty cookies (aka oatmeal unbaked cookies… but that’s such a dull name, in comparison, don’t you think!), sandwiches, pigs-in-blankets (and jam-jam biscuits with the extra dough); took hot water and boiled eggs, too, to street coffee time. Not a lot of people out, maybe 20 or so… yesterday was “welfare Wednesday” so I suppose some folks are “sleeping it off” … Sad… One of the guys got rolled while he was passed out, and lost all his cash for the next month, as well as almost all his other belongings… after he had given the guy, a “friend,” one of his two blankets. So sad to see friendships warped by addictions… and yet, even in “mainstream” society how often do we see friendships warped by all kinds of other things…

A neat thing, though, about this street outreach, is that over time we see a lot of people come – and go! True, some go because they get into even worse straits… but it is amazing to see how many turn to Jesus and get their lives cleaned up, get jobs, housing, even reconciliation with their families. Thank You, Father!

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Street church coffee time - thank You, Father!

24 March 2010

Up at 4:30 this morning. Made “clean-out-the-fridge” sandwiches (egg salad, meat spread, bologna … all stretttccchhhheeed with chopped up veggies, pickles, etc!)… (and left-over pannini rolls, hot dog buns, and Italian bread…). And of course I prepared the usual couple dozen boiled eggs, and the large thermos of hot water for cocoa, and some cookies… for Another Chance street church/coffee time this morning.

Enjoyed my walk there… it was about 0 C and early dawn when I left, but by the time my half hour walk was up, with a clear sky and sun rise, our outdoor parking lot location warmed up pretty quickly! About 40 to 50 folks are turning up for coffee et al most mornings. The two large thermoses of coffee that K brought were both emptied in about 25 minutes (about 40 cups of coffee), so we went over to the little restaurant nearby, and got them refilled again “at cost!” Awesome! R brought another big container of pasta salad, and of course there was lots of cereal and milk, and juice… so a great feast was enjoyed by all.

These morning “coffee” times started about a year and a half ago, and we thought maybe 4 or 5 people would turn up, two mornings a week. Well! Now we are doing 5 mornings a week (in addition to full breakfast on Sunday mornings, which often bring 80 to 100 people, and up to 200 in summer) and we are averaging anywhere from 30 to 50 folks for coffee (and whatever food we happen to bring along). While the majority are men, we are getting more women and children, too.

And it’s not only about food. People hang around for an hour or two, and many offer to help set up and clean up, and Pastor P always leads in prayer a couple times, and everyone stops and participate, or respectfully listen quietly. And there is always discussion going on about our Lord, and witness to what He is doing in peoples’ lives. And there is counseling and listening ears for those who need it.

I have always loved baking, and family time. And now that my five kids are grown up, I’ve sometimes felt pretty lonely. But Papa has filled my “empty nest” with a big new family! Awesome.

thanks for Your provisions for street church! ... and exploring Your word, wanting to know what You want for me, a woman...

23 March 2010

So this morning up at 4:45 am! Made dough for pigs-in-blankets. Also took boiled eggs… and all the stuff I got yesterday for amazing prices (24 doz wieners at $1 a doz, and large tins of coffee for $5 bucks, and lots more! Yay! Thank You, Father, for such great deals! You really are providing for your people. Thank You!). Anyway, my granny cart of full and way overflowing… and I had my backpack full too! Weighed a ton! Just ate a small yogurt before I left home, and by the end of my half-hour walk, I was so dizzy! Good thing R had made a delicious pasta salad with those mac noodles donated yesterday. And I made the pigs-in-blankets and some cheese biscuits: so good fresh baked. Thanks to the church who generously allow us to use their kitchen and dining facilities 4 mornings a week, for free! Wow! Please bless them, Father! Thank You again! Anyway, after I ate some salad and biscuits I felt a lot better. Of course there was toast, and cereal and milk, and boiled eggs, and coffee and juice too. People are sure hungry! But they love coming for our breakfasts, no matter what “strange” food combinations we might have available. Now that’s a joy – for me!

And this afternoon, went walkabout with hubby! Beautiful sunshiny day. Sat on the grass in the park! And mailed our income tax return… yay!

Spent the major part of the day exploring Your Word, Father… You know I really, really want to know You – and to be in the place You want me to be.

I seem to continue to be “haunted” by the whole question of what women can and cannot do. Clearly, women are described as having “sincere faith” (ie Timothy’s mother and grandmother) … and some women are described as teaching (ie Priscilla, with her husband Aquila, teaching Apollos)… and others as prophetesses (ie Philip the evangelist’s 4 daughters)… and we often read of women praying… but the majority of references to women’s roles in the New Testament are centered in the home – their own homes as wives and mothers, and caring for other women’s needs (ie Tabitha), hosting gatherings of the church in their homes (ie Mary, mother of John Mark), offering hospitality to traveling evangelists etc (ie Lydia). The references to women are mainly character-based and action-based… rather than “teaching” or “preaching” or whatever, though we do see some examples of those areas too.

BUT all the way through, the teachings in the New Testament are directed to all the saints – so to women as well as men. Women receive the Holy Spirit just as men do… and thus they have all the potentialities that come with the Holy Spirit! We all live and walk by the Spirit! Clearly, God has big purposes for women – just as He does for men. There are some differences of authority/position… but we are all called to submission and subjection, one way or another.

Galatians is very affirming for us as women!

3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus… 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery… 6… faith working through love… 14 for the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”… 16.. walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh… 18… but if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law…. 22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control: against such things there is no law… 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

my spiritual gifts? hmmm... maybe not what others think?

March 23, 2010

Yesterday at coffee, J and T brought a bunch of food odds and ends over from the A kitchen. We stored the stuff that is useful for street church coffee time (like coffee, sugar, etc, of course!), and very quickly and easily gave away most of the rest of the stuff. R took a bunch of macaroni noodles home to make mac salad for our breakfasts. Yummmm!!!

Papa, I keep thinking about what others think I’d be good at doing related to street church… versus what I have a passion for! I’m interested in hands-on stuff (like baking and mending clothes and quilting and stuff!) and in relational stuff (sitting around visiting; being a listening ear for the gals; praying with people; taking part in discussions about You!). Some others think I’d be wonderful as a full-time admin person. Now I’ve run into this before, at “churches.” Pastors seem to think that just because over the years I’ve developed some “skills” (bookkeeping, typing, stuff like that) and because I’m pretty organized and responsible, that I have a “gift” of “administration.” I so do NOT feel that about myself. Gift of hospitality, maybe. Gift of helps, maybe. Even gift of teaching, maybe.

To me, “administration” is not a passion or adventure or even something I’m particularly “gifted at”; it feels like “paperwork” – which is, I suppose, a “necessary” part of life, and something that I’m “capable” of … but for me it is more “work” and “responsibility” than something special You have gifted me with, and that I feel “driven” (in a good way) to do, and that gives me special joy in my relationship with You. It also makes me nervous, in relation to “church” (even “street church”) because I’m still struggling with the whole “My church is not a business” thing: I agree with You, and I find that we humans very easily fall into the “church as business” trap! And I don’t want to be part of that!

Papa, I long to do “people stuff” – visiting with them; maybe doing quilting, art, music etc together; maybe teaching budgeting and home skills and such; maybe facilitating Bible studies; definitely praying with people and being a listening ear for other women and girls. But it seems like every time I become involved with a gathering of Your people, with Your church, the leaders (men!) initially allow me to do some of those things, but before long they want me to do what “they need help with” … “what the ministry needs”… which apparently doesn’t seem to include stuff that is love in practice. I don’t mind doing some basic filing, book-keeping, whatever… but when I’m told “this is going to become a full-time job” I just want to run away!

Unfortunately, I seem to have a hard time looking them in the face and telling them so. I suppose it’s because I’ve been brought up to “respect your elders,” “respect those in authority/ leadership over you,” etc… “submit” because I am a woman (though I have no problem with the submission You talk about, the submission that Jesus modeled in relation to Father, and that we are to follow, all of us in various ways)…

Well, I just wrote it all down… maybe I should email it, if I don’t know how to broach the topic face-to-face… Or maybe You can help me? Papa??

Street church notes

March 22, 2010

Sunday morning (yesterday) was of course Another Chance street church/breakfast. It was amazingly warm – around 10 C at 6 am! First day of spring, certainly! I had prepared sandwich fixings on Saturday night (sliced and buttered buns; chopped lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cukes; made a big batch of egg salad sandwich filling), and so on Sunday morning we had “subway” style sandwiches – deli meats and/or egg salad filling with veggies. Very popular indeed! I ending up putting together over 70 sandwiches in about 2 hours. We also had cereal, sliced fresh fruit, and cookies, and we served 20 pots of coffee as well as lots of juice. We estimated that about 100 folks came for breakfast, which we served outside. It was awesome (even though the sky got gray and the wind got chilly!). We had a good discussion afterwards, too, about (with!) the Lord. He was truly there with us!

This morning I got up and made 3 dozen or so sandwiches with the left over ingredients from yesterday’s street church breakfast. We also served cereal, toast, grapefruit, and boiled eggs. About 40 or 50 folks turned up. Although we advertise the Monday to Friday gatherings as “coffee time,” we have started adding whatever food we can gather together, as there are so many people who are really living “on the edge” these days. They have really become a big family! We are so blessed!

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Another Chance

March 17, 2010


“Check it out!” Steve laughed, as he dumped half a dozen tattered plastic grocery bags onto the ground, and plopped himself cheerfully into a battered black lawn chair.
The rag-tag group, in the dirt parking lot, chilly hands curled around Styrofoam cups full of steaming coffee, turned to look in Steve’s direction. Joe remarked, “Looks like you’ve been busy already this morning, buddy!”
Steve dug into the bag closest to him, and agreed, “Real back-alley treasure chests this morning!” He held up a pet dish with an attached water container, and handed it to Marie. “Your kitty is going to love this.” Next, he pulled out a couple pairs of slightly used leather shoes, one pair white, the other black. “Check out what great shape these are in! Looks like they might have belonged to a nurse. Anyway, they’re hardly used.” He held them out to the shortest guy in the group. “Maybe they’d fit you?”
Dave laughed and replied, “Don’t think so. I’d have to take a sledge-hammer to my feet to try to squeeze them into those. But yeah, they are in great shape.”
“%*@#%@*!” Bill hollered, as hot water splashed over his hand from the well-worn old thermos, which had tipped when he pushed down on the spigot.
“Hey! No swearing around here,” Vicky called out, and everyone chucked, for this was rule number one of the five street breakfast rules. The other rules, as everyone knew, were no drugs or alcohol, no colors, no fighting – and rule number five, no yawning! Nobody was sure where number five had come from, but it was somehow appropriate. After all, coffee, juice, boiled eggs, fresh baked pigs-in-blankets or barbequed hot-dogs, and cereal and milk were placed out very early every morning on a battered old plastic folding table, year-round, no matter the weather.
A well-dressed couple, he in suit and tie, and she in dress and heels, walked sedately by on their way to work. “Hello there!” hollered Pastor Pete. The couple looked sideways rather nervously at the dozen or so guys and gals gathered round the table. They started walking a bit faster, the woman’s heels tap-tapping more quickly on the paved sidewalk. “Come on and join us for some coffee!” Pete offered. The couple peeked again over their shoulders as they hurried past, and shook their heads, “No thanks,” with embarrassed smiles. “Well, God bless!” Pete called after them.
The door at a nearby construction office opened, and a young woman stepped out, coffee mug in hand, and walked across to the group. “Hi! My name’s Joanne!” She walked around, shaking hands with everyone. “I work over there, and I see you out here every morning. The boss is out just at the moment, so I thought I’d come over and meet you all.”
Everyone cheerfully said hello, and Kevin asked, “Want some breakfast?”
“Oh, no thanks, I’ve already eaten,” she replied. “But if it’s okay, I’d like to hang out for a bit, as there’s nothing happening over at the office right now.” Within moments, Kevin and Joanne were deep in conversation about construction work, and others in the group were soon joining in.
Steve was still digging in his bags, and brought out a handful of keys and locks. “Can you believe this?” he asked June. “I actually found keys and locks that match!”
June laughed. “That’s a rare find, for sure.”
“Yeah,” Steve added, “but of course I also found some keys that don’t have locks that go with them.”
June looked at the two keys he held out in his palm. “Wow, those look just like the key I lost for my bike lock. I was thinking I’ll have to get the lock cut off.”
Steve handed the keys to her. “Here, take them and see if they fit. I’d just have to throw them out otherwise.”
Just then Mike ran across the street, a big grin on his face. Pastor Pete commented, “You look warmer this morning than usual.”
Mike answered, “Yeah, I actually slept well last night, even though it was raining and close to freezing! Say thanks for me to whoever donated that blanket, eh? First time I’ve been warm enough to sleep through the night since the downtown businesses got together and put those bars across the warm spots by the heat ducts!”
Three or four of the guys nodded sympathetically. “Know just how you feel,” Marv said.
Fred wandered in from the street, and went quietly up to Kevin. Fred was shaking with cold, even though he was wearing a jacket and warm gloves. “Hey, Kev, buddy,” he spoke quietly, “Do you think you could do me a favor?” He pulled off a glove and held out a hand with fingers that were stiff and white from the cold. “I got terrible circulation. Do you think you could pour me a coffee, so I can wrap my fingers around the cup and thaw them out? If I try to do it myself, I’ll probably spill.”
“Sure,” Kevin responded, and poured him a cup of steaming coffee, around which Fred gratefully curled his fingers.
Dana quietly sidled up to Pastor Pete. “I’m kinda having a rough time,” she confided quietly. Pastor Pete gently took her by the elbow and they walked a few steps away from the rest of the group. The others noticed, but respectfully kept their distance, as pretty near every one of them, at one time or another, had themselves confided in their street pastor.
They knew from experience that Dana would find help – a listening ear, a prayer, a gentle direction to relationship with God, some warm clothes, a place to sleep, a connection to professional care, a toothbrush and toothpaste, clean socks, food for her children… It probably wouldn’t be fancy, but she would be treated with dignity and care, with God’s love shown in practical ways, and that was what mattered. She, like hundreds before her, would be given another chance.
The sun was finally peeking over the mountain top, and its rays began to warm the chilly early morning air. The thermoses of coffee had run dry, and the baked goodies had all disappeared. Everyone pitched in to pack up the remaining cereal and milk to be saved for tomorrow’s street breakfast, and the last few boiled eggs were tucked into pockets for lunch snacks. The table and lawn chairs were folded up and packed away into the truck of Kevin’s old beater car, and into Pastor Pete’s tired van.
Steve packed up his bags, and was getting ready to leave when he stopped, put the bags down again, and pulled out the shoes once more. “Here,” he said to June, “I don’t know who can use these. But you probably know someone. Can you pass them on?”
“You bet!” June responded happily. “I know someone who could use them, for sure!”
Once again, Steve gathered up his tattered bags of back-alley treasures, tied them together, and lifted them over his shoulder. “Thanks for the coffee and goodies! See y’all tomorrow morning!” And, laughing, he headed down the alley to check out another dumpster’s treasure chest.

Lots and lots of little street churches? church alive!

March 14, 2010

While I as walking home after street church (yes! The whole time is church, isn’t it? Even the food prep ahead of time!); anyway, of course I walked by several churches… and they were all surrounded by mostly fairly nice vehicles… and not a person in sight, not a sound escaping from the buildings… so quiet!

(I did see one guy sitting in his van drinking coffee… but it was packed with stuff… maybe he was just borrowing their parking lot space? Or??) Strange… kind of like those futuristic movies with no people… or like that series on the Discovery Channel that talks about what might happen if all humans suddenly died/disappeared…. The first few hours/days when all the signs of human habitation were still there – but no humans… there weren’t even any animals/pets in sight, for that matter! Hmmm… “I wish we’d all been ready” … but in that case there’d still be some folks around, eh!

Anyway, I felt lonely walking by those churches. Of course I know that I could just go in there and be welcomed (though I’m not so sure about my granny cart and/or backpack, and my blue jeans and wind-blown messy hair… especially if I wanted to take my cart into their sanctuary with me… )… but I’m wondering, what do “non-churched” people think when they walk by those beautiful big buildings surrounded by so many cars… and not a person in sight? “Not a sign of life!”

Wouldn’t it be something if some of those church folks just stood around outside, on/by the public sidewalk, even during the “service,” and greeted and chatted with people passing by, maybe handed out coffee…. It’s so cool at street church. We’re sitting and standing around on lawn chairs, on steps, even sitting on the grass in warm weather, talking together about You, sharing our walks, praying with each other just naturally, eating and drinking coffee together, laughing, listening…. People walking by are always greeted and invited to have a coffee and snack… and they are chatted with (and the discussion takes a break to make them feel welcomed) and lots of them decide to have a coffee, and even sit down and listen in to, even join in, the conversation.

One couple came by this morning, and accepted coffee, but were apologizing for “interrupting.” And I just burst out cheerfully, “There is no interrupting around here!” And they said, “Really? Okay! Can we sit down for a bit?” And of course we told them to go ahead, chatted with them a bit, and carried on. And that’s typical at street church! That’s church! That’s being in fellowship with You and Your people – and reaching out, naturally, with friendship, relationship – to each other and to the world that’s passing by!

Hmmmm…. Wouldn’t it be cool if there were little street churches outside church buildings all over town – and if churches all built old-fashioned “stoops” out front, lol!

Talking about You, not just talking doctrine!

March 14, 2010

Happy to be at Another Chance street church this morning after almost a week off. Hamburgers for breakfast! Yum!! 

The discussion after breakfast was great. One guy asking a lot of questions – he’d obviously been quite thoroughly “religioned” in his past. His relatives (big family connection) all Christians, except his dad, who was the “black sheep of the family.” So he’d had a lot of “church” but at the same time a pretty rough upbringing (dad a biker… and he himself started drinking at age 8). He dad came back to the Lord 2 months before he passed away – so it seems like son is wanting is follow Jesus, too… but is leary about “religion” …. Pastor P just talked to him about his own walk with Jesus… and this guy seemed to want that. It was good to listen to…

I still wonder, myself, how to talk about You without getting a lot of doctrine and religious talk type stuff mixed in… Sometimes I think that maybe Pastor P is a bit too “anti-religion” … but I realize that it is his walk… and obviously, mine isn’t exactly the same… and I know mine has had a lot of “religion” mixed into it… and some of it hasn’t been very helpful… and I’d like to NOT go down that road when I am talking to others about You!

We are all called to “witness” – to tell others of You – from our knowing You, not just a doctrinal explanation!

Friday 12 March 2010

Godliness is...

March 10, 2010

“Godliness is not the consequence of your capacity to imitate God, but the consequence of His capacity to reproduce Himself in you.” GB status on facebook, Mar 10/10

A dream... and an email... and struggling, questions to Papa...

March 12, 2010

I had a dream. I dreamt that the street ministry here suddenly became really “popular” with local churches, and they organized a big get-together/ celebration/ whatever in some big hall. All kind of people were there, all dressed in their Sunday best. Pastor P, the street pastor, was supposed to speak, and everybody was very excited. But they were waiting and waiting, while the Pastors, in their suits and ties, were keeping him out of sight in endless meetings. So while the people were waiting, they decided to have the juice (kool-aid or some such) and snacks they had prepared, so I picked up a few cups of juice to take to Pastor P and the other Pastors – but people got mad at me, and took the cups away from me, because Pastor P (and the Pastors) were “special” and couldn’t be expected to drink just cheap juice out of paper cups like ordinary people (I was shocked – I was wondering what Pastor P would think if he knew what was going on….)

Then people were settling down for the speech that was supposed to be coming, so I and some other street ministry helpers sat down where there happened to be some space, which happened to be near the platform. Immediately people came and physically pushed us off the seats and made us stand at the back, because this get-together was apparently for “important” people who “support” Pastor P and the street ministry (it didn’t seem to be about money or helping or whatever, just “rah-rah rally” type support; and I have to admit, I was pretty ticked off because I though they should recognize that we were actual, faithful, helpers… and because their “support” seemed so shallow to me… oh dear…). Anyway, it seems that since we were just lowly hands-on-helpers of Pastor P, we weren’t worthy of sitting there….

Then I looked around and asked why no street people had been invited. The people looked a bit embarrassed, but seemed to think that street people wouldn’t be “comfortable” here, and after all, this was about Pastor P and his “ministry,” and besides, nobody really knew any of those people on the street, so how could they be expected to invite them? Since Pastor P was still obviously being trapped in meetings, I said maybe I could go and find some of the street church people. The people at the get-together said, “Well, I guess you could,” but I could see they weren’t very enthusiastic about it. But I went outside anyway – and then I woke up.

After I woke up, I wondered, “What was that about?” Was it a warning to me, because I was annoyed in the dream about how they treated me (and the other helpers), and I had wanted to be recognized as an important part of the street ministry? (Okay, obviously I needed to be warned about that attitude!). Was it a reminder I need to be absolutely humble? (Yep, I sure do need to be reminded about that… a lot… oh dear…). Was it a warning to not get “caught up in politics?” (Yes… but rather I must keep my eyes on Jesus!!! Off the world and its ways!!!).

[Pastor P said, the other day, to someone, words to this effect: “Norma won’t let me get dragged into doing things the church-y way,” and then he turned to me and said, “Will you?” And I laughed and said, “That would be the day I quit, if you started doing things that way!”] Hmm… just a dream???


My friend G wrote an email (to a group of people) a week ago. As it turned out, I didn’t even see it at all till 4 days later, and then circumstances interfered so that I didn’t have a chance to actually read it until just now (another 4 days later), just after writing that stuff about the dream. And Father – You knew I wasn’t prepared to read it till just now, didn’t You?!?!

G wrote: “I don’t have to understand the big picture. I only need to focus my eyes on Jesus, see what He seems to be up to today and follow Him. I know it sounds crazy, but whenever I do that I seem to have great clarity about what today holds, and doing that the future takes care of itself…
But I find it very difficult to do that as long as my focus is on myself and others…
The cross makes us all equal in the eyes of the Father. When we understand that we will never have a need to exalt ourselves over others or tear them down focusing on their weaknesses.”

[Maybe that dream is a message to me about my “self-exaltation” over others whom I see as not yet having reached a position – as I obviously think I have… - of turning away from “worldly ways” like hero-type-worship of “holy men” … and my own desire – which obviously still exists, though I keep thinking I’ve dealt with/ overcome (with Your help, I thought…), to be “recognized” … which of course means that deep down I am still caught in that trap myself…  ]

G continues “And at the cross all the righteousness of the law has been met in us, so that we no longer have to live by rules, guidelines, expectations even principles. We are now free to serve in the newness of the Spirit where the only rule is, “Follow me!” And the one saying it is the one who loved us more than anyone else in all the world.
It’s hard to imagine what relationships look like when they are no longer steeped in competition, isn’t it? So many of our relationships even with other believers have been tainted by it. But the Scripture paints an incredible picture of believers who love, share, support, serve, give; without a need to gossip, envy or complain about what God is doing in others.”

[That’s where I want to be, Father… but it seems almost impossible to ever achieve – even, okay, especially – in myself! I have questioned over and over, “How could they act like that when they are believers?” And I’ve been pretty sure they are believers, and they do want to follow You… others have suggested to me that maybe they aren’t really believers, or that they have turned away, or something… but I can’t accept that… maybe because I see that same struggle in myself so much – and yet I know that I really to want to fully follow You! I see it in my “self-righteousness,” my feeling that I have somehow reached a higher level of “spiritual maturity” … and in things like my trying to stop – if not solve – all the arguments and stuff by presenting even more rules and regulations for them to try and follow… and my getting hurt when they apparently don’t listen to my advice… and my pride of apparently being able to maintain neutrality (but meanwhile, underneath, being frustrated, angry, hurt, sad, even gossiping – in attempted disguises – to the point of my becoming physically ill from all the “stress” )….

Papa, I want to really “be free to serve in the newness of the Spirit where the only rule is, ‘Follow me!’” So why does it seem so impossible? Every time I think I’ve taken another step in that direction (with You!), You show me – and sometimes it’s just so blatantly obvious that I see it myself – another area in which I am still enslaved, chained, foolish, caught up in the old worldly ways of selfishness and, yes, competition…]

G also wrote [but I skipped over it, thinking it didn’t apply to me… or more likely, I’ve not wanted to face the very distinct reality that it does apply to me…]: “But I find it very difficult to do that as long as my focus is on myself and others… I’m battling… the superiority complex of accentuating God’s grace in my life and focusing on others’ flesh. The fact that I’m even trying to find wisdom in comparison is the problem…. by doing so I…miss out on the marvelous purpose of God unfolding in our lives and people around us.”

[I also skipped over that paragraph because I saw the line, “… I’m battling an inferiority complex based on viewing my own failures and other people’s strengths” and I thought, “Well, I’m past that.” But maybe I’m not. Maybe my superiority complex is an attempt to deny or bury an inferiority complex! I wouldn’t be surprised… I’ve always felt inferior – then superior, then inferior, then superior…. Oh dear…]

[So how do I get out of it?!?!?!?!?!?!?]

G wrote: “These kinds of relationship begin only in Father’s lap. I love how Paul expressed it: ‘For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth is joined.’ (Eph. 8:14-150. When we really understand Father’s love, competition no longer has any power over us. We can finally value in each other, what God values in us.”

[But Father! I have knelt and knelt and knelt! And I have come to experience and know and feel secure in Your love in ways I could never have imagined just a couple or three years back! And I do value in others what You value in us, in far greater measure than I could have imagined…. Which is why I have had such great sorrow in watching people disagree so strongly with each other, and is also why I cannot accept what some people say, that they mustn’t be really trying to follow You…. I see them trying so hard, and I long for them to just let go of the “trying” ….

Someone important in my life – funny, I can’t remember who! – used to tell me, often, when I’d tell them I was trying my hardest: “Don’t try! Just do!” And it hurt me to hear that, because I WAS trying my hardest, but still couldn’t get 100% (and that was about just every-day type things in life…)…

But Father, it seems to me now, after that dream, and then reading this email from G, that competition does still have power over me….

What do I do? I long to be in Your lap… I find myself there so often… but every time I think, “Oh thank goodness, I can rest, finally, in Papa’s lap!” I just end up seeing how much I am NOT there… and I begin to wonder if maybe I’m just totally navel-gazing, thinking way too much about myself and “my” relationship with You…

I don’t seem to know at all how to just “be quiet” and “be simple and have faith like a little child,” or know at all how to “just let it all go,” or know how, at all to “rest in Jesus.” Is resting in You actually just “emptying my mind and thoughts and heart” and becoming… I don’t know… empty? Denying what it sure seems to be to be how You created me (a mind that won’t stop and just “accept” … I’ve gotten in “trouble” all my life for refusing to just easily “accept” what I’m told… yes, even from You, sometimes…]

G wrote: “Our world values people who conform.” [Well, every time I’ve conformed, I’ve ended up frustrated with “the system” and longing to get out of it… But it seems so hard to “get out” when it seems like hardly anyone at all want to even consider that there might even be a problem…]

G wrote: “If we’re angry at God, don’t you think He’d rather have us be honest about it and work through it rather than hide behind meaningless words that do us no good?” [And boy oh boy, that has really been my experience with You… it’s been such an incredible joy and relief to just pour out my heart to You, no matter what… and You don’t ever make me feel like my words are meaningless, and You Yourself never reply with meaningless words, either… ]

[But, oh, Papa, it just seems like there’s hardly anybody else I can be honest with like that… without ending up being seen as a troublemaker or non-submissive or whatever… well, I guess that’s why I like the “street church community” … people seem to be more open and honest, mostly at least…]

G wrote: “A believing community is a confessing community. People are not posturing to be better than others, but letting God’s glory shine through their brokenness and failures… In our conversations and our prayers we can freely look at our failures and mistakes, knowing that He is at work to change us…
We might be well served to revisit the cross and remember how none of us have earned anything by our acts of righteousness. When we understand that, we can encourage others past the most painful obstacles into the fullness of life in Jesus.”

[Okay, yes, that is where I want to be. Please help me… and please help me to help others… and please help others to help me… and help me to accept that help…

I don’t know how this works… so I guess I just do have to leave it up to You… even more…. and I have to figure out how to leave my “trying my best” behind … and just let “You do!” in me, through me… hard as that is for me, eh… Help? Please?!!?]

[Thank You. Again. And again, and again….] Amen!

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Agendas, etc...

9 March 2010

Prov 4:14 Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not proceed in the way of evil men. 15. Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn away from it and pass on…. 18. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. 19. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble…. 23. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. 24. Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you. 25. Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. 26. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. 27. Do not turn to the right or to the left; turn your foot from evil.

The thing, Father, that puzzles – and confuses – me the most in all that has been going on, is that these people are believers, part of Your body, and are saying – and believing, I really think! – that they are doing what they are doing, for You! And also believing, therefore, that they are right. But Father, it seems like the path is darkness, not light shining brighter and brighter… And their path, it seems to me, is also darkness, twisting and turning according to how things can be twisted to fit the “agenda” … which they do believe is Your agenda…

Father, if they are believers, can they at the same time be in “the path of the wicked”?? Or are they simply “deceived”? And is that different from wickedness? (Eve was deceived and look how that turned out…) (But is it “different” for those now “saved by grace”???)

Oh… “agenda” … is that different than Your “purpose/ will”?? Can You even have an “agenda”?? (When I think of “agenda” I think of “the ends justify the means.”) (And so the means can become un-holy, un-righteous, un-loving… as long at the means – apparently – achieve the desired end…) (And that doesn’t sound like You at all… or does it?) (I could go into a long discussion about that… but not right now :-`)

But that still doesn’t solve my “dilemma” as to whether the people all tangled up in this horrible mess could actually be “wicked” (or at least wandering in “the path of the wicked”) in spite of being believers… I keep hoping You will open their eyes so they can see Your light… and thus they will also see the darkness of the path they’re stumbling along….

But of course we all do that, at least sometimes… I do, too… and You forgive me, and bring me back onto Your path of light… even when I sometimes consciously, purposefully, go off onto other paths… and I’m not at all sure that they’ve stumbled into this dark path “on purpose” … and yet, the troubles that have come are so, so, so “dark” … so why can’t they just stop and say, “I wonder if at least part of this is my problem? I wonder if maybe I’m on a dark path myself?” (Father??)

(I wonder if it would help if we spent at least equal time poring over Your word, asking for the guidance of Your Spirit, as we do poring over the “constitution and bylaws,” looking for any little points that might seem to hold up our agenda/ viewpoint? But I guess it is also very easy to pore over Your word looking for those little points too… oh Father, we must repent, turn away completely from our agendas… and allow – beg – Your Holy Spirit to cleanse our spirits and unite Your heart to our hearts, so that we too will develop hearts filled with Your love, Your peace, Your goodness, kindness, grace, righteousness… and no “agenda” but just relationship in Your Love … with/in You…)

Time to leave this job? ... more...

8 March 2010

I believe that You, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit – my Creator Saviour God! – placed me here in this job to take care, for a season, of the “burden” of the office needs, and the taking of minutes for the meetings, so that people could take their eyes off these things (just as I believe that ___ was sent to take care, for a season, of the “burden” of needing someone to preach (and shepherd… etc…) … so that the people here would no longer need to “worry” about those things, but could, if they chose, focus on YOU (and You also sent various others with messages from You…) (and to encourage them to say, “Stop! Let’s pray!”) ….

You have given so many opportunities, opening the way for people to let go of all that “stuff” and turn to You… but it just seems like when one “problem” is taken care of (to whatever degree), people just find another problem to take its place… to be in control… to keep the place going no matter what… their way, their “vision” … and they all do seem to seriously believe that “their way” is Your way… (but how can so many different, conflicting ways, be “Your” way? You are not a God of conflict and confusion….)…

So I believe You are calling me to stop “propping” … because as long as I am “propping,” it seems that instead of seeing it as freeing them to turn from their troubles to You, they just maybe use it as a chance to dig yet another hole/ cave/ cage… so now, maybe they just need to have it “all fall down” … so there is nothing else left but to turn to You??? (because I do believe that deep down, they DO want YOU!!!) (Surely?!?)

…. Later the same day…

I have come home from work… sick leave… confirmed clearly by You… Yes, I am pretty sure this job is done!....

Time to leave this job???

8 March 2010

My friend asked me, “So why are you staying in this job at that church? Why aren’t you leaving? Is it because you feel you need the paycheque? Or…?” And I thought about that. And I realized a few things.

One thing is that I’m feeling… well… guilty… about “leaving them in the lurch with no one else available who could do this job.” Especially as they all keep begging me to stay… no matter which side of the “troubles” they happen to be aligned with… and the same with those who don’t seem to be taking sides, either.

Oh Father! The longer I stay in that job, in that place, the more confused I am becoming… and I’m doubting Your voice, even when I hear it bright and clear… and my friend said something about being on “their turf” and how “I” can’t change it, only You can – if they turn to You and let You… but meantime I feel I am being caught up in it (it is even affecting my health… and confusing me to the point where it is interfering with my relationship with You!). She mentioned that there is a chapter in Proverbs where it says, 3 times, about running from others’ … umm… evil?? Oh Papa, I have to get out of there!

And Father, it does not have to do with “my paycheque.” I know it doesn’t. I “could easily get a job at McD or Timmy’s or somewhere, for the same pay,” as I was telling her… but in the middle of my saying that, I did so clearly hear Your voice telling me that it is time to get out of the whole “job scenario,” and trust in You, and take the little opportunities that come my way (like the requests I’ve had lately for babysitting, tutoring, etc), but MOST OF ALL, to order that Christian Writer’s Digest and those other books on Christian publishing… and get writing and publishing seriously! And that You will be with me! ….

Oh yes, and one other thing… get on with my “vision” of getting together with other women to “learn and share the old skills together” … You spoke that to me so clearly, as well, when my friend and I were having that phone conversation… and I have actually already set a date for later this week to start doing that with a friend! And I want to do that with the street folks, too! Etc!

(And I really, really long to lead/ facilitation/ be part of – with You and others – study together in Your word – and prayer and worship together – in a really seriously intentional, relational, YOU way! And to reach out to my neighbors in this complex – almost 60 units, I’ve been here for going on 6 months, and only really got to know one person, who has now moved, and briefly chatted with a few others from time to time! That’s terrible! But I’ve already just the other day offered to be the “welcome wagon” person for the strata council .. and I can’t wait for nice weather so we can invite lots of people over for barbeques and stuff…)

And YOU CAN take care of our finances, eh! Especially since I know You are really leading me – us – this way!

(And maybe I’d even have some time for some art… and music… and… !!)

1 Corinthians 14:33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace… 26… all things done for edification…

1 Thessalonians 4:11 … make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12. so that you will behave properly toward one another and be in any need.

Thank You, Father, for Your confirming word!!!

More thoughts on "short term mission"

8 March 2010

When I was thinking of phoning my friend ___, I was also thinking again about the “mission trip” I’ve been invited on… and wondering if I should ask her about her mission trip to Guatemala, how long it was for, how long she (having experienced mission trips) feels a “mission” should be in order to be effective, and so on… and then, right after saying our “hello’s,” before I said anything else at all, her first sentence was, “When I went to Guatemala….”

And then, well, all my concerns about this trip poured out… and I even tried to put a positive spin on it by saying how some of the mission leader’s trips for 2 weeks or maybe even a month (though actually I don’t know of any that have been for more than a week or so…. Oh dear, was I lying to try to make it sound okay… or at least to not sound like I was being critical of the leader or the trips, or like I was fishing for my friend to agree with “my viewpoint”?? Maybe I’ve been “walking on eggshells” so much in another area of my life recently, that it’s spreading… like a virus… and tact is becoming dishonesty…)….

Anyway, before I could say another word, she broke in and said, “Even a month isn’t long enough!” And she said her Guatemala trip was 3 months… and then she said, “But you are already “on mission” right there in your community, doing the street ministry!” And yes, Father, I do believe that is what You have called me to, at least for right now.

(And I don’t want to go “in debt” unless You are really in it – and if You are, You will provide, won’t You? That’s what I told the mission leader: I will only go if You put all the provisions in place by the time of the trip…) (And I do want to put my resources into this “mission” right here and now, where You have so clearly placed me!). (And I do not feel that this “foreign mission” I’ve been invited on, as it stands just now, is not what I have been “called to”) (And, for me at least, You are not – yet, anyway – providing the “needed resources” … which isn’t to say it isn’t meant to be for someone else…) (And my health also doesn’t seem to be up to it right now…) (And I have a lot of necessary family-related traveling come up very soon…)

The Hatfields and McCoys... Romeo and Juliet... feuds in the church?!?!?!

March 8, 2010

Father, I am just so confused. I have no idea what the “problem” is… and neither do they, I don’t think… I mean, it’s like one of those multi-generational old-time-down-south feuds where no one can even remember how or why it started… and it doesn’t end until some tragic Romeo-and-Juliette-type bloodshed hits both sides at once and wakes the sides up to the foolishness and pointlessness of their fiercely-held, entrenched, our-side-is-right (even if we’ve totally forgotten the original cause of the dispute) vendetta.

Jesus – You died for all of them. You love all of them. They all claim to love You. And even to love “the church” … even to love each other! But they seem blind to what is going on, and how anti-love, anti-church, anti-You, anti-each-other it all is!

Papa, I can’t go on being part of it… even as “just an employee” …

You know, it does seem to me that maybe my “neutral” presence is propping up their dysfunctionality. Maybe – yes, I think it is true – they see me as this anchor keeping them together and afloat in this storm. Instead of them needing to turn to You!! Oh dear God – You just showed me that!

A friend explained to me about the possible “co-dependency/enabling” I might be doing… but I didn’t, till just now, see myself as blocking them (or at least giving them an excuse) from throwing themselves on You… or even as excusing them from facing the situation face-on, and realizing how they really have no choice but to cast themselves directly on You, and allow You to do whatever You know needs to be done to… I don’t know… change hearts? Totally dismantle a “church” that has become far more a dysfunctional organization that a part of the body of Christ? ….

But I do suspect there is fear of what it could mean … and determination to prop up this – Oh Papa, I don’t even know what to call it anymore… it just doesn’t seem to bear the defining hallmarks of Your church (or even of a “traditional organized church”) anymore. But they obviously don’t want to let it die… and maybe it’s gone too far to save/ resurrect … mind you, resurrection does come out of death … and brings a new body, a new life, a new spirit… resurrection is a spiritual, LIFE process, YOUR process… and it seems to me that this whole “dying” thing has somehow lost YOU, lost YOUR LIFE, YOUR LOVE…

Saturday 6 March 2010

The Sabbath (and some other things) were made for man...

March 5, 2010

On the way home from doing some stuff around town, Father reminded me of these words of Jesus: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27). When I got home, I looked the verse up in the commentary (Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol 8, p 638), because I was thinking (You were telling me!) that also the “Constitution and Bylaws” – and even the church! – were also made for man, and not man for them!

So this is what the commentary said: “To Jesus the Sabbath was not created for its own sake; it was a gift of God to man. Its purpose was not to put man in a kind of straight jacket. It was for his good – to provide rest from labor and opportunity for worship.”

And of course that has to be true also of God’s gift of “the church” to His children, too – In an even greater way!

(And I’m pretty sure that the writer of the “constitution and bylaws” of this “church” had much the same kind of goals in mind… to protect the gathering of this part of God’s body, and remove potential distractions that could remove focus from worship of and relationship with God, and so on. Only I am afraid that, with human beings the way we are, there is immediately a huge temptation to twist the purposes of this document, and actually make it a weapon of power and control… as we too often see it happen… After all, if man can twist the “body of Christ, His church” in these ways, how much more easily can man do it to a well-meaning but man-made document (which in its very creation recognizes the potential of people to twist everything…).

(And then the commentator goes on to quote Taylor: “Since the Sabbath was made for man, He who is man’s Lord… has authority to determine its law and use.” And it seems to me that that is no less true in the case of the church… or even of the constitution and bylaws! It’s His authority, not ours. He does not need us to try and protect, run, direct what is His to begin with (the church) – or even what we have created in relation to the church (in this case, the constitution and bylaws) if we truly accept Him as Lord! (Well, I suppose that also begs the question of whether we then really should have structured Christ’s church in such a way that we “need” a “constitution and bylaws”… hmmm, that’s a whole other kettle of fish, eh :-` (Papa???)

1 Thess 3:12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; 13. so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.

And, oh yes… “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care – then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front, don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.” (Phil 2:1-3 paraphrase)

Beginning to get some answers to some of my Old Testament - New Testament wonderings...

5 March 2010

So today I was reading in Daniel…

9:3 So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. [Father, some people believe we don’t need to fast and pray and seek You in these “ritualistic” ways to get Your attention – and love and forgiveness – because You’ve already given us Your love and forgiveness, once for all, on the cross… We have Your Spirit, so we just have to allow You to join Your Spirit to ours, they say… Okay… (But if we truly do have Your Spirit and are abiding with/in You, why do so many of us – all of us to some extent – still sin, commit iniquity, act wickedly, rebel (see v 5)??? Is it because we don’t really believe and accept that we are really forgiven and united with You?)] [One person I know who is big on NOT FASTING is at the same time big on TITHING and on needing STRONG LEADERS for churches to thrive… hmmm…]

9:9 To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him [You HAVE had compassion and forgiven us – You did that work on the cross!]

9:11 Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. [and we are freed from the “curse of the law” if we have believed in You]

9:12 Thus He has confirmed His words which He has spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity…. [so… calamity from God is a fulfillment of His warning about what would happen – “the curse” – if the law was broken …]

9:13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth [And under the Old Covenant, “seeking the favor of the LORD… by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth” is the way out of the curse/calamity for disobeying the Law. But in the New Covenant, we are no longer called to “seek God’s favor” by “… giving attention to Your truth” … but we are called to accept His free gift of salvation… and then we are made righteous by Him… not make ourselves righteous by changing our behavior and trying to live righteously by “following God’s truth” … because now we have God’s Truth within us! Okay! Yes! Wow! I see that . We still must repent (v 15-19) and turn from our sin and accept Jesus – but that is different from repenting and turning from our sin to “seek His favor”!

9:18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. [Daniel did recognize this: “we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, bun on account of Your great compassion.” Even under “the law,” God’s compassion and mercy was already there… and already in action… and there was also the promise of the coming Messiah (vv 24-25)

Yes, we do need the whole story – Old and New Testaments alike… but we also need to understand where we stand in that story… what is the old foreshadowing, which has passed away, and what is the Life we now live … (and how they relate to each other!).

And now back to Your book, Your words... Your Word!

March 5, 2010 (continued)

(I’ve been told that we need to discuss these kinds of things with each other in the family… but I’ve often found it hard to find people who want to… but always, one way or another, You’ve been providing them – and teaching me through them! Wow! Thanks!) (And sorry for so often not recognizing when You are doing that!)

Job 23:10 But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold [but not because of what “I” have done, in my “own righteousness” – oh dear! – but because of what He has done by joining my heart to His heart, my mind to His Mind, my love to His Love…] [oh, um, should I say “replacing by” rather than “joining to”?? .. No, it’s not about “replacing” either, is it? He after all created the good in our hearts and loves what He has created… it’s actually about “abiding” – love relationship!] … 12… I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food [“His words” : wonderful, important, informative, helpful, revealing Him, knowing about Him… but now He has given “His Word” – Jesus, God incarnate! – which is essential! Knowing Him personally… relationship…. Living in His Light, in His Love… in Him!!!!] [Okay, I get it! That was one of the things in that book that kind of freaked me! Okay! Thank You, Lord!]

Proverbs 21:2 Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the HEARTS [!!] . 3. To do righteousness and justice is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice [but even “doing righteousness and justice” is not sufficient if it is not from God’s Heart joined to and abiding with us in our hearts, together! Yes! Righteousness and justice based on true relationship with our God!]

:13. He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered [confirmation of what You have been teaching and showing me…]

:21. He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness and honor [yes, true… IF the pursuit is after YOU… and then the life, righteousness and honor is so far above and beyond anything this world can offer, that one begins to lose all desire for those earthly imitations… which loss is therefore an indication of whether one is really pursuing You, or simply pursuing “ideas/ concepts” of righteousness and loyalty… Of course, sadly, in this world even such “lofty concepts” rapidly become twisted and sullied and even turned upside-down if they aren’t wrapped up in the Love relationship with You which You offer! Ah! Okay… now I see that, too… hmmm…. You sent THAT BOOK along at “just the right time” … again… because perhaps any sooner, I wouldn’t have been ready… wouldn’t have been so desperate to understand why people seem to long for Your love, but at the same time seem to be side-stepping it, not seeing it, even running from it to painful – yes, evil! – substitutes! Oh dear…]

Thank You for showing me… thank You for Your timing… Your heart… Your perfect plans and purposes… Your Love!! Your Light!! Your Way!!
Thank You!!

:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from trouble [very true – but how difficult it is to guard one’s tongue, if one’s heart is not right. How true it is that “it is from the heart that the mouth speaks” – and the mind thinks - Oh, dear God, reach into our hearts, join them to Your Heart, join Your Spirit to our spirits that we may truly abide in You – 100%!!! Please!!!! (Thank You!) Amen! 

:31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the LORD. [Yes, it does!!!]

That book again... one more time...

5 March 2010

Funny, book made me very angry, especially the first half… but I am beginning to see that perhaps I have been feeling “defensive” … having some of my own preconceptions torn away rather painfully… perceptions I though only “others” have, or at least that I – in my “vast” reading and study perhaps, oh dear – had gotten beyond… but maybe only in my head (which tends to get rather arrogant… )… and therefore maybe they have still been pretty attached in my heart, too…

And You are trying to dislodge some of those preconceptions, pull them out, including their very long, long, deep roots … and boy, does it hurt! (But of course, once really pulled out, like root canals I have experienced, the abscesses can be drained, and the “antibiotic” of Your LOVE poured in… and real healing can proceed and occur!

(Okay, mind you/You, I’m still a bit skeptical of some of the writer’s claims… Oh Father, please show me, please shine the Light of Your Truth into the deepest recesses of my heart, so that my mind will indeed “take on the Mind of Christ.”). (Oh! I fear that I have pretty much thought, up to this point, that “changing my mind” by my efforts – study, prayer, my own will power, practical outward behavioral changes, even, oh dear, “psyching myself” into supposedly changed attitudes and beliefs… - will lead to changing my heart… But I see now that it really is only heart change that can lead to true mind change, isn’t it? The change of mind that “I” can accomplish is only surface change… only Your Heart changing my heart can truly change my mind, too, so that I truly do “have the mind of Christ.”)

Boy oh boy, it sure is a long, slow journey… although every now and again a sudden “AHA! moment” – an epiphany – from You! – (which You have no doubt been working on in my heart for a very long time) – just floods Your Light on both my heart and my mind… and on my body, and emotions… all of me! Wow!

Please help me to patiently and kindly love others the way You have patiently and kindly loved me… please…

Thank You!!

You revealing Yourself, Your Love!

5 March 2010

Woke up 4:20 am. Spent some time sitting by hubby in front of the TV watching a bit of Stargate… then checked face book… and sent an email or two… then had a bit of breakfast… and then a shower… followed by a long soak in the tub: first real “bath” (other than many showers, of course) in this house, lol! My toes are finally really clean from last summer’s very ground-in dust, from wearing bare feet or sandals for so long! Anyway…)

Hoo boy! Father, You sure have had some interesting ways of talking to me in the past day or two:
- facebook statuses
- scriptures I “just happened upon” when a planner fell open
- email letter I was writing to a friend, that turned into a conversation with You
- that guy who I’d never met before, and who just dropped into the office… and we ended up having a long conversation – with You in the midst of it, eh!
- a caring phone call
- and just now, that blog email that just arrived…

I did try to “read scripture and hear Your voice” last night, but I really didn’t get “grabbed by it” … but meanwhile You chose to speak to me in so many other ways…

Not to mention, as well, the glorious sunshine yesterday that kept popping through no matter how hard the clouds tried to stop it! It was as much as 16 C by 2 pm! Wow!

And I learned a lot about my “giving questions” when I was talking to that guy who dropped into the office… and then there was the happiness and joy I saw in those street folks when they received shampoo and body wash, such a simple thing, and yet so wonderful to them! ….

And then that blog email spoke to me very clearly about how “me-focused” I’ve become – or maybe have been all along, oh dear… in this whole business at work…

Not to mention, also, how You’ve encouraged me… and opened my eyes to Your greater vision about Your church… and about helping the poor, too!

So! Ha! This whole “church business” You placed me in has (unexpectedly to me! But of course You knew and planned all along) become a great blessing to me (and oh, Lord, I pray it will become so for all the others involved – maybe already has eh?), a great learning opportunity – a great, wonderful, awesome, drawing-closer-to-You experience… all coming to a head (though without doubt You were working it out the whole time!) in less than 24 hours! LOL! Wow! Thank You! Praise You, Lord! Praise Your Holy Name! You really, really, really do love me!!! And yes, I love You too! How could I not?!?!

And yet, for so many years of my life, I knew love for You was possible… I saw it in people like my grandpa and my mom and some others… but no matter how hard I “tried to experience/ summon/ even work for it,” I just couldn’t seem to “get it.” … And then, one day (just a couple years ago) You so clearly revealed it to me… just dropped it in my lap, so to speak… and yet, of course, Your Love – You! – had been there all the time… and the evidence of Your Love – of You! – all around me, constantly…. But somehow, in that moment, (lol… in reading that “controversial” book The Shack and then the book He Loves Me … somehow You finally got past my head knowledge that You love, that You are Love… and You opened my heart, and connected Your Heart and my heart, Your Spirit and my spirit….

And ever since, I just see Your Love all around… and I want others to see it, experience it, understand it from their hearts too… And yes, I get impatient… and I get sad and hurt… But I have to remember how long and patiently You have been seeking to touch my heart… and how long You patiently waited for my heart to respond joyfully to Your Heart… and in the past less-than-24-hours You have just impressed that upon me so incredibly… wow – it is a steep learning curve, a long journey – and You are in charge! Yes! Thank You!

(And I just looked out the window, and the sun is shining again !!!) Amazing love! Amazing grace! Amazing God – Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit!

LOL… Well, the JWs also dropped into the office yesterday… and left behind their literature… which of course makes You, Jesus, to be a created being, Michael the archangel… oh Father, please forgive them… please show them Your Truth… fo a lot of them are just so deceived… Father, their little booklets are written so simply, patiently… so deceptively…

But people really are looking for something simple… and it is true: the message of Your gospel, Your kingdom is simple: clear enough for a little child to clearly understand and accept joyfully! … and indeed, You Yourself did say that we need to become as little children… and yes, we have made it so complicated… and harsh (adding our own spin, our own extra details and perspectives and such)… and work-centered… and full of guilt-trips… and technical details… that do not belong in Your Message, that aren’t a part of You at all!!

Wow! Thank You for just this moment making that so clear to me… You’ve been allowing me to be dragged through all these goings-on until almost all I could see, feel, hear… physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually… was the pain and sadness and sorrow and convoluted technicalities and the babble of conflicting voices… and darkness… and when I felt I was getting dragged in myself (and yes, when I was, even though unintentionally and not recognizing it in myself, being part of it!), and I just wanted to run and hide… or yell and scream and fight and slap people on the side of the head (yikes!) – You have suddenly stepped in and flooded the darkness with Your Light!!!...

So, I guess this is a “Thank You” for the seeming darkness… and oh, I know, You can, You are, working in the lives of Your children, each of them, and You Love them no matter what… and You are building Your kingdom, Your body, Your church!! And yes – thank You for reminding me just this moment! – the gates of hell will not prevail against it, against them, individually and united in You!!! Thank You!

(Again, a thing I knew “intellectually” but my heart has not been able to really understand… has not really been open to You in that area. Thank You for opening my heart and for joining Your Heart to mind, Your Spirit to mine! Thank You that You keep the journey going… until one day I will see You face to face, my Living, Loving Redeemer… no longer “through a glass darkly” but fully, forever, in the full LIGHT of Your Glorious Presence, Your glorious loving Face!

The church in all its technical correctness... or in the power of the cross


5 March 2010

A friend on facebook wrote on his status: “If we preach ‘the church’ in all of its technical correctness, we will never find it, but if we embrace the power of the cross we will see the church spring up around us in all its glory. When the cross is in its rightful place in the lives of the believing community, the church as God ordained will flow from that.”

And I responded… I agree, absolutely… so why is it so hard for us to leave the technical behind and embrace the cross alone? We talk about it, we sing about it, we preach about it... but we continue so often to "cling to the old rugged technicalities"... and their slivers dig much deeper... and have no resurrection, just permanent death, associated with them... oh dear...

I'm trying so hard to be patient, and trust God to change hearts and bring understanding, but my tummy is sick (aka ulcers) watching people chew each other up over interpretations of the technical. I come home and rest in Papa, and find joy and trust and yes, physical healing from the tummy pain ... and then I go to work and have to listen to hours of vitriol, day after day... and I come home sick again... Thursday at 1 pm has become the hour I long for all week because it's the beginning of my "weekend"...

I hear they have some coming to interpret the bylaws to them - again! - and I wish they'd just burn the bylaws and turn to Jesus!

Sorry for venting... I don't know who to talk to... well, I've talked and talked and talked to Papa... and I've learned so much... trouble is, the more He shows me and encourages me, the more DIScouraged I get back at work... I say "work" because it IS about technicalities, and "doing", and rules and regulations... about working and works ... and while there are lots of individuals there who are "part of Jesus' church" (probably all of them are part of it, at their varying places on the journey: I truly do think they do want to know Him, and yet... sorry, I'm just boggled....), it just seems some of them aren't willing (or not able, not understanding it at all) to "be the church together" ......

Maybe I just have to learn to be patient, God's work on hearts takes time, He's patient, not in a hurry - lol, witness how patient He has been and continues to be with me, just to start with!

And I keep wondering... am I doing anything positive here at all... or, by "staying in the room" am I just exacerbating the situation... or at least being "party to it" ???


(PS… Just got Sheila Wray Gregoire’s latest email blog… and she writes: “As the idea of objective truth has grown passé, it’s been replaced by the ultimate idea that our feelings are the proper arbiter for the goodness or rightness of anything. Truth is what feels right to us.
At one point, people believed in a higher morality… People gave generously, or volunteered, or lent a hand… [not] because it would make them feel good about themselves; they did it simply because it was the right thing to do…
We no longer believe in “the right thing” as much as we believe in “the right thing for me”. I am the reference point, and everything revolves around me…
When we stop looking so much at ourselves, and start looking at others, perhaps then we will make a brighter day, and a brighter world.”)

That book... again....

Father, this book I’ve been reading confuses me in the same way as the goings-on at the place I work confuse me …. How can people speak of Your love so glowingly… and yet at the same time seem to exhibit such an unloving spirit?

I’m wondering again… is there such a sharp division between Old and New Testaments as some would like us to believe? Can we just toss every bit of Your interaction – and yes, relationship … at various levels… some pretty profound!... with mankind generally, and with particular men and women, just because they were pre-cross and pre-resurrection?

Father, I’ve read just over half of the book… and the only direct reference to Scripture is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (though the writer is clearly expressing his theological views). The rest (so far…) seems to me to be a long list of his own personal experiences in the past and how he has “felt” relating those experiences to “what he learned about You” at some point in the distant past. Father, he does seem to me to scorn the Old Testament side of the story. Okay, what he seems to be holding up as the whole Truth about You is a list of characteristics of “love” drawn from 4 or 5 verses in one chapter in the New Testament (wonderful as that chapter is, and true as it is, also)… and it also seems to me that, sadly, even the positives in that list he turns into angry negatives (or perhaps he is just angry at the people who in his past have turned them into angry negatives… there’s just so much “angry” in there that I am having a hard time seeing anything positive, even though it’s supposedly all about Your love … oh dear, much like what I see happening there among that gathering of Your people…). I know that we all have done that too often… But even when – maybe especially when – he then tries to present the “positive opposite” of those angry negatives …it seems to come through, also, as angry… a feeling that the “big stick” is being waved… And that really isn’t how You love, either!!!

And Father, not only does He seem to ignore the Old Testament half of scripture (except to seem to be pretty angry about it all, or at least about how it’s been interpreted by “the church”…though maybe this reaction I am getting is just “me,” maybe it is the confusion I’m feeling right now about this situation You’ve placed me in, maybe I’m even feeling threatened about some of my own “cherished beliefs”…. Papa???…), he doesn’t even quote any New Testament passages, or even hardly refer to them obliquely. And I wonder, how does he explain… well, so much of what Paul – and the others – wrote? Even things Jesus Himself said and did (I suppose he might say that was presented in Old Testament context since the cross had not yet happened… but is God a God of confusion? Why would Jesus leave a confusing record for us? Or maybe he’d say that the gospel is simple, and we should just not worry about, not get into, anything “deep”… or maybe he’d say that we just have to remember that Paul (and the others) had “problems”: their Jewish (and/or Greek/Roman/Platonic/etc) perspectives and training and beliefs and culture; the times they lived in – the “historical context”; Paul’s “patriarchal” outlook and Old Testament Law training… etc etc etc… (or maybe he wouldn’t say any of those things; maybe they are just things I heard others say… maybe I AM making it too complicated! Maybe I do need to find the simplicity of the gospel once again… if I ever knew it… having been brought up to think that complicated, intellectual, deep knowledge of the scripture was so important…)… Anyway…

So what? Do we just use one partial chapter that we really like, that seems to fulfill our “vision” of Who You are, out of all the Scripture, pounce on it, hang onto it, and make that – along with all our “bad experiences” related to what we’ve been “taught about You,” which of course we want to get rid of and destroy – do we make that the basis of our knowledge about You – our knowing of You? (Sorry, I may sound like I am being way too extreme here in my reaction… but like I already said, I’m feeling so confused right now… Oh Papa, please show me Your Truth! Please make it clear!) Anyway…

YOU ARE LOVE. But Your love is vast, beyond our experience and understanding… and unsullied with evil, unlike ours… which of course are all reasons why we’ve misunderstood You, misunderstood Your love (as the write correctly points out)… but at the same time, we can’t just “throw out the baby with the bath water,” can we? We can’t just throw out everything You’ve revealed about Yourself and Your ongoing relationship with mankind… even if we “struggle” with some of it, because of our limited understanding of Your Love!

It seems to me that this approach is not only too angry (but again, maybe that’s just my perspective from where I’m at right now), but also too simple (or at least maybe too shallow…). (Nothing in Your creation is as simple as it at first appears … though the first appearances are beautifully, amazingly simple! … and it seems to me that the more we learn of the underlying complexity, the more beautiful and amazing – and reflective of You, of Your Love – it becomes!)

I do love You, Lord! And You do love me – us – all of us! In ways vast and wonderful – and loving!!!

(Oh yes, one more “wondering” … the writer says You want us to do what we like – good things, or even neutral things, at least, I presume – because You love us and delight in seeing us happy etc… but it seems like we aren’t supposed to want You to fulfill YOUR drams for us, or even “allow” You to… because that would be, well, ummm, short-circuiting Your Love?!?! Nah… Father! Love is a relationship, a doing-together…. I know (I hope!) he’s probably just being extra-dramatic to make his point of how opposite Your Love is from the world’s definition of love… but oh dear God, it seems to me that when we push points too far, we are likely to fall right off the edge… perhaps right back into the mess we think we’re trying to get ourselves and others out of (yes, I see that happening, too, in this situation You’ve placed me in… even see it happening to me in my part of it…) … legalistic! Where is the joy?? Well, it’s there, alright, in little glowing moments (in the book, and in this situation where You’ve put me, both)… but so often, so much obscured by legalistic anger, it seems to me!... so human… so sad…

3 March 2010

Well, I’ve read a bunch more of that book… and I have to say, the second half I can handle far better than the first half. Just 2 pages left to read…

Papa, You know what is going on at work. Oh dear God – help!!!! Please!!!

And I guess that’s about all I have to say about that just now. (lol… I love that “Forrest Gump” movie!)

P.S. revelation: God is not nearly as concerned about the “organization” that is “that church” as He is about each person in it, and His relationship with each one, and their relationships as they relate to Him – (not as they relate to the organization!)

P.S. 2 God is patient, God is kind (1 Cor 13:4-7 NIV) (and 1 Thess 2) (and 1 Cor 1-4)… and so on and so forth…

Short term mission?

1 March 2010

Father, You know how “I feel” about that “short-term mission trip” I’ve been invited to go along on… You know I long for “greater adventures” and a “better use of Your – okay and “my” – resources… but You see the whole picture, and You know what is best for me – and for others – and for Your kingdom – and yes, Your glory… so yes! Your will be done!!!

Later…. Well, I just got my first Hep immunization today… which possibly puts me one step closer to that short term missions trip… or to whatever You have in mind, and whenever!

2 March 2010

Ha! I’m “afraid” I might have to go to that country for just 3 days…. I’m “afraid” You might make me go against one of my “cherished beliefs” which I have loudly proclaimed to anyone who would listen – about the “value” (or rather, lack thereof), if short-term missions, especially in view of their monetary cost in relation to the very short time there and what “I could accomplish” (oh dear). I’m “afraid” You might be chipping away again at “my” dearly held viewpoints… and yes, I am “afraid” that You may be causing yet another bastion of “pride” in my life to fall… (although I certainly didn’t recognize it as such until just now… I suppose… I wonder if that recognition is the point… hmmmm… or if I still need to “act on it” to “prove it” and/or to “own it” … to make it mine, make it real, in my life (and, in the acting on it, admit sheepishly to the world that maybe my pontificating about the matter in the past was wrong…)…

…. Later… I got an email about a huge turnaround spiritually in that country… prayer and fasting and incredible waiting upon You… maybe I need to go and see that? or not? Is it real?

3 March 2010

Perhaps the money aspect of that short-term-mission isn’t all that much of a concern to God (as it obviously is to me…), since He owns everything anyway?? Papa???

revelation: trusting You to take care of their stuff too...

1 March 2010

Revelation! If I can trust You to take care of my stuff, my life – surely I can trust You to take care of other peoples’ stuff, other peoples’ lives!

Longing to allow myself to be secure in Your love...

When I read that book Misunderstanding God by D. Hufford), I began to think about how hard it is for us to “let go” of the “false teachings” of our past, and how we maybe “fight back” instead of learning to just rest in the adventure of Your love. I know I do that, too… In some people, for example, that might come out as anger at those who passed on “false teaching,” even if they truly believed those teachings were true…. In my case, I think it comes out as failure to completely trust You: continued insecurity, I suppose… (Thanks for that little revelation about myself just now! – Or perhaps it is really a big revelation, eh! Oh Father, why am I letting myself feel insecure in Your love? YOU DON’T FAIL!!! You don’t hold Yourself back in crucial areas (like we do hold back, as humans, even to those, maybe particularly to those, we claim to most love)… You don’t make Your Love dependent on anything I do. You don’t get disappointed in me. You are never too busy for me. You don’t love others more than You love me. You don’t hold me up to a long list of rules and regulations….

(I was just wondering why You did that – all those rules and regulations, that complicated “Law” – to the people of Israel… to all mankind before Jesus came and dwelt among us… but I suppose that really, by choosing to walk, to live independent of You, they, if they wanted “righteousness and goodness” in their lives – which You had created them for, making them in Your image, You are ARE GOODNESS AND RIGHTEOUSNESSS – the only way, in separation from You, to achieve some sense of goodness – a sad mockery of it, actually – was to strive to achieve it through following rules and regulations that more or less served to avoid at least the “appearance of evil” – because, boy oh boy, they sure aren’t much help when it comes to the evil thoughts and attitudes of the heart… which can be hidden for a time, with enough effort, but can never be overcome with our own efforts.

So in that sense, I guess You did “give the Law” to make us realize how futile our efforts are – so that we, when we encounter Your Son, will recognize the wonder of Your love, and long for it, and joyfully accept it! Because when we truly accept You, we are accepting Love, Life, Truth, Goodness, Justice, Mercy, Grace! And all of those aspects of You ARE Good, they are all Love! And yes, they do require “submission” and “giving ourselves to You completely” … giving away to You all that would “come between” us and Your perfect, wonderful Love. I guess kind of like if we were homeless, and suddenly we legally inherited a great, beautiful estate, with everything provided including endless resources to keep it going and growing… but we chose to continue to wear our dirty old rags, and refused to move into the mansion because we thought it was too beautiful and we didn’t want to dirty it (because we wouldn’t give up those dirty rags, or because we felt we “didn’t deserve it” or “hadn’t earned it” or whatever), so we only agreed to live in the dog house or the garden shed or whatever, at the farthest edge of the estate… and we wouldn’t even allow the servants to come in and clean us up a corner or bring us a plate of the good food from the feast prepared at the mansion! Oh my goodness! Thank You for the very clear picture, Father!

I love the surprise and adventure of giving my days to You!!

01 March 2010

Good morning Father!

Please be with me every moment of today! I do give it all to You – for my joy and pleasure and contentment, just as for Yours! I love giving my days to You! I love the sense of adventure, knowing that You can be counted on to make my days far more interesting and unexpected and delightful than what I would plan myself (of course I do make plans… but I love being flexible to let You turn them upsidedown if You so desire!). I love that You love me, and that I can totally depend on You to provide a day that is totally for my good, for the good of others I will be with, and for the increasing good and wonder of our relationship – Yours and mine – and by extension, all my other relationships where You place me.

I love that You do delight in letting me make “my plans,” especially when in the making of them I allow You the flexibility to surprise me! Sometimes, surely, the surprises aren’t at all what I would plan – and yes, sometimes I still do “worry” and get stressed and fail to trust that You are seeing the big picture and are working all things together for my good… hmmmm…. Guess that means I’m forgetting that You love me, because love is always kind and never fails, eh! Well, I’m sorry about that… but You do know my heart – and it is absolutely true that as I have been learning to trust You – as I have discovered that YOU REALLY AND TRULY DO LOVE ME! – my worry level has been dropping off significantly!

(Which is probably why when I fall into “little worries” now, I feel so sick and notice them so much more than before: because they are no longer a “regular part” of my life, so I’m not used to their effects! Yes! Oh Father, I long to reach the point of trusting Your love so deeply tat I cease “falling into worry” – cease doubting Your love! At all!) (And, yes, cease listening to the insidious whispers of my flesh and of the enemy).

Ha! Anyway, I know Your surprises are always for my good, and so very, very often they come in the form of blessings that I can see and enjoy right here and now, right in the moment! (Which is why I’m becoming more and more inclined to also view and expect the seemingly “unpleasant surprises” to be “blessings in disguise” … just as I can look at an ugly little caterpillar and already see in my mind’s eye the beautiful butterfly it will one day become! Or look at a tiny, bare, brown seed, and see in my mind’s eye the beautiful flower it will one day become! So then I begin to see the beauty and delight even in the “ugly caterpillar” or the “bare, brown, seed” kinds of events and circumstances that sometimes cross my days… A lot of beauty and delight in them! Hurrah!