Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Ephesians 4:4-6

Ephesians 4:4-6: unity is the clarion call - one, one, one, one, one, one. Unity. It doesn't mean we should all look and speak and act the same... unified, one body, one spirit...but individual recipients of God's grace...
Wordle: Untitled

Jesus graces our lives
with lavish gifts.
Why, then, do we
keep these for ourselves?
whatever we have, 
whatever we are
is FROM HIM for US.
turn thinking inside out:
from the inside out
wear our gifts
inside out,
so that the rest of us,
his church,
Wordle: Ephesians 4:4-6
can benefit.

Monday, 27 February 2012

You have collected my tears...

A beautiful picture courtesy of the Time-Warp Wife - check out her blog, quite an awesome woman!

I had a mental picture of this once, for a friend  - 'my' bottle was even more delicate than this, a beautiful turquoise.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

The sacred dance

When Bonnie from Faith Barista asked us to think about how we visualise Jesus, my response was that I didn't. No artistic imagination.

I was wrong.

As I was reflecting this morning, I thought about a recent conversation with friends. Coming from this tiny island - 62,000 people at present on an area of 78 square kilometres (30 square miles) - their friends and relatives were, mostly, all within walking distance from their home. Mine are scattered throughout the world. My paternal grandfather's family had emigrated to Canada in the nineteenth century, my grandmother's had been European nomads. Even my mother's family were spread throughout the British Isles. I have lived on three continents and my closest friends are scattered over five.

As I thought about my grandmother, the thought popped into my head: "You would have been like her, chasing worldly ambition, had Jesus not rescued you."  She was a very determined lady. Highly intelligent, she had taken charge of her career at an early age, taking herself off to the Sorbonne for a while and then moving to England to work as a governess in order to perfect her English. She then had a career as an interpreter and then teacher, retaining links with her students which lasted until her death in her 100th year.

In her family, she inspired awe and admiration, but not a lot of liking - she wasn't an easy person to be around.

I know that, while not nearly as intelligent or academic, I am quite a lot like her. I am thankful that Jesus rescued me and has been gently changing my character for the last thirty years. And I remembered that, when I think, with tremendous gratitude, about this, I do indeed visualise him.
Just like the end of the Disney cartoon Beauty and the Beast, he is holding me close, sweeping me around in a sacred dance. I am secure, loved. John and Stasi Eldredge capture this beautifully in their book Captivating.

My imagination gives me a picture something like these: picture perfect, a fairytale romance.

Yet this last picture below reflects my feelings better: I am thankful that I am a child of God, part of the Bride of Christ.
Don't look at the Beast: Jesus is nothing like him in appearance. In any case, we know that the Beast's character is kind, gentle, loving, caring, self-sacrificing - ready to give up his own life to secure Belle's happiness. Just look at Belle: the sheer contentment on her face as she nestles securely into the Beast's arms.

That is how I feel.

Bonnie posed the question of what Jesus is like, what attracts me to Him.  I missed that bit to start with. I think I've answered it, very very briefly, now..


Saturday, 25 February 2012


An awesome song from Gwen Smith:


Thursday, 23 February 2012


I started this blog during Lent. I pledged to jot down an daily reflection which I emailed to a couple of friends, to hold me accountable. Then I found I LIKED doing it, wanted to reread what I had discovered about God, and Jesus, and living a going-towards-holy-while-still-set-apart life.

I started reading the blogs of others also living  g oing-towards-holy-while-still-set-apart lives and discovered Bonnie at Faith Barista. I love her writing. She has a weekly 'challenge' to reflect on a particular aspect of the Christian life.

This week was to share how I visualise Jesus. I really didn't know what I could write - my visual imagination is very limited. I've never been an artist, rubbish at drawing, can't even decorate my home tastefully. Words and actions do it for me. I decided I didn't have anything to offer this particular week - sorry, Bonnie.

 But what inspired me this morning was a blogpost from We Are That Family about a girl called Charity. A reminder that we all need charity: we all need to experience Jesus - his charity, aka LOVE:
"I am broken. I am angry. I am orphaned, needing to be adopted by God. God used Charity’s pain to heal a part of me. “Jesus brings about my own healing by bringing me into someone else’s.” -Kisses from Katy"

It's Lent again. A time particularly for charity.
This year, I've given myself a tall challenge. No sweets: biscuits, chocolate, cake, dessert - except on weekly feast days. (Very Anglican/Catholic.) I need to lose a little weight, so this is not just a spiritual goal. No reading fiction, either. Definitely a spiritual goal, because reading is my favourite of all things to do - even better than a cappuchino. And I've signed up for 40Acts - do Lent generously, an Anglican initiative which emails me every day with a different suggestion. Yesterday it was to cross a social divide of some kind - initiate a contact with someone I wouldn't normally connect with. Today it is to share my skills.

This is so inspiring that I'm going to have to keep notes and connections on this blog once again...(though should probably begin pinterest...!)

So, by rising to a challenge as well as practising self-denial, I can begin to live more of a Jesus life: to know His love by opening myself up to his healing. Yes, practising acts of kindness is always a good thing - but can be empty deeds if I do not also admit my own neediness.
A humbling thought, but by involving myself in this way I know I will be able to visualise Jesus more easily.
Through others.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Church – as explained through Ephesians 2 (and some of 3!)

Wordle: Ephesians

Church isn't just about turning up to a building on a Sunday, singing some songs, saying a few prayers, listening to a talk and then going home, forgetting all about 'church' until the next week.
Church is about meeting with people. Yes, after the church service over coffee.  No coffee served? Go to a coffee shop together, invite folk home for a cup of tea...but church isn't JUST a social time. Being 'church', doing 'church'...it's spiritual, intentional.
Church is about getting to know people, more than just briefly after the service. Because you can't. So church means meeting others at other times than Sundays.  Church isn't JUST a catch-up on the news - and definitely NOT gossip. 'Church' goes deeper than what lies on the surface of our lives.
Church is about getting to know people well, more than as just brief acquaintances. It is about understanding others, appreciating their lives, listening. It is about intimacy, accountability. We have found the best way to do this is to talk about Jesus. What he said, what he did, how he lived, what his friends said about him.  So we study the Bible together. We find out what it means. We wonder how we can apply it to our lives. We talk with each other upon the way, as the two disciples did on the road to Emmaus. And many other dusty Palestinian roads as well.  Church is about spending time. Giving time. Helping one another. Encouraging.
Here’s a thought: do we pay lip service to this idea of church? Do we really ‘get’ what it is all about? Do we know who – and WHERE – we are?

Some thoughts from Louie Giglio in a talk entitled ‘I AM CHURCH’. He says that we are part of the reflection of Jesus to the world. If we really GET Ephesians 2:1, then we will know that we WERE DEAD because of SIN – HELPLESS to do anything about it because dead people simply can’t do anything – they’re dead!  But, because God loves us, he made us ALIVE (Ephesians 2:4-5): not better, not improved, but ALIVE. And so we came out of the grave to become NEW people (2 Corinthians 5:17) and we are now joined with him IN THE CHURCH (Ephesians 2:11), fellow citizens, members of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19).  This is the Gospel – making us part of the household of God – and is the HEART of the Church with Jesus as the HEAD. We just make up the rest of the body!

Consider the images of church: a body; a family; a household; a city; a country; a building

The Message says (Ephesians 2:19-20): That's plain enough, isn't it? You're no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You're no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He's using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation.
Now at home, in church, as church.

How do you feel about your church family?  Does it feel like family?

The fellowship of the saints...
And it strikes me that our unity - our oneness, our sense of community, our belonging as family - rests ON the heritage of Peter and James and John and Paul...held together by Jesus.
This is different from the world.

Again, do we know who – and WHERE – we are?
In worldly life, we find our place in a hierarchy of others. The leaders - the best, the cleverest, the richest, the most successful - are at the top. yet Jesus is not some remote Lord and Master, some distant boss whose business we aspire to work for or are employed by  but are unsure how long we will be employed. He is the CORNERSTONE: "... the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure."
Yet we are being built TOGETHER, joined together, working together to form the church with Jesus holding us TOGETHER.
An upside-down pyramid which cannot totter and fall because of JESUS!

Does this feeling cut across the denominations?  Are there barriers? How can barriers be crossed, or, better, removed? Thinking of Ephesians 2:1, how can we ‘get it’ (the Gospel) better.

Whitney (Good MorningGirls) talks about this: I'm quoting her here:
" “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2 SURELY you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you,
3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.”
Ephesians 3:1-3
If it seems like Paul has repeated himself a few times in your reading this week, it’s because he has.  Imprisonment couldn’t even waiver him! I love the almost interruption of his speech in these verses.  Was it because he felt the need to repeat himself again?  As if to say, “Wait, I want to make sure you get this… SURELY you have heard.  I’ve already said it, but this is good stuff.  Remember this!”
It would be easy for Paul to get caught up in the political incorrectness of his message.  What he has stated about the Jews and the Gentiles becoming one  in Christ caused HUGE ruffles and controversy.  I would have even understood if he was worried about his image, or if he had a little pity party for himself because the whole thing landed him in prison.  Yet he continues to keep his passion focused.  He knows the ONE whom he is talking about, and he can’t resist sharing the Good News with anyone who will listen.
I wonder how much more we could accomplish for the Gospel if we focused on just that: the Gospel.  I fear that we often channel our energies into so many different things that we lose sight of the real ministry that God has called us to from the very beginning.    We are bent on doing things:
Our own way.
Committed to all kinds of projects, organized ministries and lots of good things, but allowing division in the body and our own agendas to get in the way of why Jesus came in the first place.
Just think of how effective we could be for the Gospel if we were more passionate about the person – JESUS – than we were about the “project”. 
Do you need to answer His call to return to your first love?
He is waiting patiently.  Strip the unnecessary away.  There is JOY in His presence. "

Thank you, Whitney! Let us be passionate about Jesus and passionate for His Church.

Some fun with Ephesians 2:11-13, 8

Grace is for EVERYONE.

For the smug in the pews who have paid all their dues;
the comfortable middle classes sitting on their arses,
the permanently unemployed; the hedonists filling a void,
the hopeless alcoholics and devoted drug addicts,
For the Richard Dawkins and the Stephen Hawkings,
uber-wealthy bankers and city financiers;
for those who have been harmed, those who are charmed,
the youngsters and the ancient, the guilty and the 'innocent'...


Even me.

So, remembering that I was completely ignorant about God's inordinate grace
I am, I hope
inordinately grateful and thankful.  


It's been a while since I joined in with Faith Barista's JamWithMe Thursdays.
I've missed it. I've missed the challenge of writing specifically on a topic to a deadline. I've missed reading other bloggers' thoughts.
So when I saw the topic this week - ' Vulnerable' - my first thought was 'How long is a piece of string?'
Because it is one of those heart-close topics which, particularly at VULNERABLE times in our lives, begs to be unwrapped.
Then I watched this video a friend sent me.

Caring for vulnerable children.
What more is there to say? Doesn't this put our own preoccupations when we are 'feeling vulnerable' into perspective?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

        For God so loVed 
     the world thAt he gave
 his one and onLy Son, 
          that whoEver
         believes iN him
           shall noT 
   but have eterNal

Valentine's Day...

I'm reproducing a wonderful 'Love message' from Holley Gerth
Valentine's Day comes with chocolates and flowers. But it's not that way for all of us, is it?

We live in a world where "happily ever after" doesn't always come true.I know that because I've heard it from many of you. 
So today if you find yourself with a sweetheart, celebrate with much joy.And if you don't, let me lean and whisper you are still loved.Higher than the sky. Deeper than the ocean.More than you've even dared to dream. The hairs on your head are numbered. The cares in your heart are too. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are have a purpose and there is a good plan for you.
You are not alone--you are fully and beautifully known by One who loves you more than you can even imagine. I just wanted to whisper that to your heart again, especially today.

XO  Holley 

Monday, 13 February 2012

What Ephesians says about the church

Ephesians 2 has got me thinking about the church again. I've often thought about what it ISN'T - but Ephesians has reminded me what it IS.
Louis Giglio has a brilliant talk on this.  And here is a post from Good Morning Girls on how we are to be unified in Christ - in the church: 
The truth is that where it counts, we are actually all the same. Before we were saved we were no different than the guy on death row.  We all had hearts overflowing with sin and deserving of death, and yet we were all lovingly rescued by the Prince of Peace. We now have the same Father, the same acceptance, the same Holy Spirit and the same eternal inheritance. God does not love one of His children more than another and no matter how annoying we can sometimes be He does not play favorites. In Gal. 3:28 Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Our common salvation should lead us to stop some things and start others.
Because we are one in Christ we must:
Since God does not play favorites, neither should we. Sure there will be some people we click with more than others, but we should truly love one another, extending the same kindness, courtesy and generosity as we would to our dearest friend. We must do this for even our differences are overshadowed by our spiritual unity in Jesus.
If we were to take the time to get to know people who we think are not like us we would begin to realize that we actually have a lot in common. We all struggle with common sins, fears, and temptations (1 Cor. 10:13).  More importantly, we share a common Lord and love for Him. This should move us to stop harsh, unrighteous judgement especially in trivial matters.
We are called to lay our lives down for others. To think of them as better than ourselves. This is impossible if we don’t see how similar we all are. Our sameness kills pride and produces humility. No one is good at everything. In the areas where we excel another might struggle and where we struggle some one else excels. We need to be cheering each other on to godliness. Wherever you excel, serve others. Where others excel, let them serve you.
But we can’t just stop some things without also starting other things. Let me offer three brief words.
Our theology is the starting point. Keep in mind 1) everyone is created in the image of God and therefore has value, 2)everyone is a sinner in need of a Savior, and 3) in the Kingdom we are all adopted into one family.
Invite people into your life who are not a part of your “group.” This is what God has done for us in Christ, and He calls us to do the same.
Being a part of a family doesn’t always mean happy, smiley faces and sugar sweet words. We must also hold each other accountable. We need to speak truth into each others lives in order to help build each other up in godliness (Prov. 27:6). Of course for this to work we need to be willing to receive correction ourselves. This is what friendship looks like. We are fighting the same enemy and serving the same King together.
Our commonality should lead to unity. Our diversity should serve the body and our Savior is what makes us special. In all of this we find comfort because in the end we are all the same.
I can't put it any better than that.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Death. Questions about. And what happens after...Heaven is for Real

Have you ever wondered about what happens when you die? 
Is there/can there really be life after death?  
What is heaven like?

These are not questions that are easy to answer.

So reading ‘Heaven is for REAL (my emphasis)  – was a long-held ambition. Ever since I had heard about Colton Burpo’s near-death experience as a 4 year old boy, I wanted to hear the whole story. This book does what it says on the tin.

The story unfolds just as it happened to Colton and his family. After Colton didn’t die – the medical records state so quite clearly – he started to talk about his experience in heaven.  He didn’t sit down and relate a wonderful, out-of-his-imagination typical four year old’s story. Instead, far more convincingly, small pieces of information kept cropping up in conversation: in four year old language. Colton had met ‘Jesus’ cousin’ (he didn’t remember his name).  Jesus had told Colton to be ‘nice’.  Jesus had ‘markers’ on him – discussion showed these to be the marks on Jesus’  hands and feet which, to a four year old, looked as if someone had drawn with felt tip marker pens.  In heaven, Colton met his great-grandfather and unborn sister – who had died before Colton was born.  Colton couldn’t recognize the Jesus he had met in any pictorial representation of Jesus – until he saw a picture painted by another little girl who had had a similar experience.  As his father Todd carefully examines Colton’s experiences in the light of Biblical knowledge, he is amazed at the accuracy of everything Colton relates.

Sometimes there can be a degree of scepticism about accounts such as these.  Yet Colton’s experience rings true on every page.  Read it.  You will be drawn into Colton’s world – and that’s a wonderful place to be.

Life.  ‘Death’.  And some answers.

Heaven is for Real Deluxe EditionI was given this book in exchange for a review by Booksneeze. So glad to have read it.
I review for BookSneeze®

PS since reading this book, I came across this critical review.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Building and the Cornerstone

Ephesians 2:19 - 20, according to the Message:
That's plain enough, isn't it? You're no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You're no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He's using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation.

This is the fellowship of the saints...
It strikes me that our unity - our oneness, our sense of community, our belonging as family - rests ON the heritage of Peter and James and John and Paul...held together by Jesus.
This is different from the world.
In worldly life, we find our place in a hierarchy of others. The leaders - the best, the cleverest, the richest, the most successful - are at the top. Yet Jesus is not some remote Lord and Master, some distant boss whose business we aspire to work for or are employed by but are unsure how long we will be employed. He is the CORNERSTONE: "... the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure."
We are being built TOGETHER, joined together, working together to form the church with Jesus holding us TOGETHER.
An upside-down pyramid which cannot totter and fall because of JESUS!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Ephesians 2

Found on Good Morning Girls facebook page this morning...

Inspirational words...

Friday, 3 February 2012

Created for Good Works

A great post from Jen at Good Morning Girls.  I have struggled with the study this week, for reasons which are essentially nothing to do with the verses, but nevertheless found it difficult. This post has crystallized the meaning for me - I particularly loved the 'zombie' analogy!, which says we are all 'living dead' but are now alive because of Jesus.
Jen reminds me that we are created for good works and good works are created for us: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.(Ephesians 2:10 ESV)  Although I am not in the place of having the chores and joys of young children in my life, yet this post is an inspiring reminder to 'do everything for the glory of God' (1 Peter 4:11 says: If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.)  1 Corinthians 10:31 in The Message says: do everything...heartily and freely to God's glory.#

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Grace - and failure

I was as good as dead because of my sin.
I used to live a life of self-indulgence. 
I am not alone, but that does not help me to know that.
I am responsible for my actions.
But God has given me LIFE.
Not just life, but LIFE in all its fullness: life of out of this world joy.
Life full of grace - because of one amazing man. One Jesus.
This is a true gift - not because I am worth being given to but because God is the great Giver. Nor is it because of anything I have done.
There is no room for pride. No room. For. Pride. None.
Knowing this, yet still finding it hard, at times, to live victoriously in the knowledge of God's saving grace, I find this week that I need to remind myself of this poem:

Running the Race
Whenever I start to hang my head in front of failure's face,
my downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
A children's race, young boys, young men; how I remember well,
excitement sure, but also fear, it wasn't hard to tell.

They all lined up so full of hope, each thought to win that race
or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.
Their parents watched from off the side, each cheering for their son,
and each boy hoped to show his folks that he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they flew, like chariots of fire,
to win, to be the hero there, was each young boy's desire.
One boy in particular, whose dad was in the crowd,
was running in the lead and thought "My dad will be so proud."

But as he speeded down the field and crossed a shallow dip,
the little boy who thought he'd win, lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself, his arms flew everyplace,
and midst the laughter of the crowd he fell flat on his face.

As he fell, his hope fell too; he couldn't win it now.
Humiliated, he just wished to disappear somehow.
But as he fell his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,
which to the boy so clearly said, "Get up and win that race!"

He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit that's all,
and ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,
his mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.

He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace.
"I'm hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn't try to race."
But through the laughing crowd he searched and found his father's face
with a steady look that said again, "Get up and win that race!"

So he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last.
"If I'm to gain those yards," he thought, "I've got to run real fast!"
Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight, then ten...
but trying hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.

Defeat! He lay there silently. A tear dropped from his eye.
"There's no sense running anymore! Three strikes I'm out! Why try?
I've lost, so what's the use?" he thought. "I'll live with my disgrace."
But then he thought about his dad, who soon he'd have to face.

"Get up," an echo sounded low, "you haven't lost at all,
for all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
Get up!" the echo urged him on, "Get up and take your place!
You were not meant for failure here! Get up and win that race!"

So, up he rose to run once more, refusing to forfeit,
and he resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn't quit.
So far behind the others now, the most he'd ever been,
still he gave it all he had and ran like he could win.

Three times he'd fallen stumbling, three times he rose again.
Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.
They cheered another boy who crossed the line and won first place,
head high and proud and happy -- no falling, no disgrace.

But, when the fallen youngster crossed the line, in last place,
the crowd gave him a greater cheer for finishing the race.
And even though he came in last with head bowed low, unproud,
you would have thought he'd won the race, to listen to the crowd.

And to his dad he sadly said, "I didn't do so well."
"To me, you won," his father said. "You rose each time you fell."
And now when things seem dark and bleak and difficult to face,
the memory of that little boy helps me in my own race.

For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
And when depression and despair shout loudly in my face,
another voice within me says, "Get up and win that race!"

by D. H. Groberg
May I always see my Father's face.

A reflection on the Good Morning Girls study on Ephesians - Chapter 2 this week...
Good Morning Girls logo