Saturday, 18 May 2013

What's going on?

I am in tears as I write.

A few words: 1 Tim 6:17: "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."

But it is not the words themselves that made me cry.

It is that they appeared at the bottom of a sweet little blog post from one of these women who live beautiful lives in lovely homes.

No, not jealous. Just admiring of someone with better taste than I have who lives in a part of the world which affords elegant living space.

Melissa writes of finding "the balance between enjoying and living with what we love and having so much stuff that we can’t care for or appreciate what we already have." She reminds that "God provides wonderful things in life for our enjoyment and we can find delight in living with His gifts and reminders of His own creative example....I want to embrace a beautiful life, whatever that might look like in this season of life, as a gift from God.
Amidst the trials or struggles we have faced or will undoubtedly face down the road, it is the beautiful things that should remind us that He is good, all the time.
And best of all, beautiful things we find around us now can be a glimpse of the even more beautiful life in store for us when we place our hope in Him."

She tagged her post home, imperfection but actually it is really about appreciation and thankfulness.

So why do I cry?

I cry because the day before - a few hours, in the evening before - this post arrived in my mailbox, we memorised "I will not trust in my riches, but in God who so richly provides": Andy Stanley's take on  "not to...put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us"  We're listening to a series of his on...1 Timothy 6.

And no, it is NOT the words - though I suspect they will be with me all my life, as I strive to put my trust COMPLETELY in God. My tears are in gratitude to a God who shows he loves me by taking any opportunity to talk to me - over and over again - through His Word.

Monday, 13 May 2013


Hmmm - I didn't expect to be jotting down any thoughts this morning when, out of the blue, a verse thumped me. Hard.
A few minutes after I'd read a post from Holley Gerth about value, I turned to my daily reading.
Luke 16: 15.
"He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts.What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight."
And to think I always read this as just being about money. *sigh
Because of course it isn't. It IS about money and material possessions, but also about ownership and achievement. Position and progress. Rights and reputation. My whole life.

As I wrestle with bringing to an end a (formerly close and trusting) relationship - not my wish, this longing-for-reconciliation-and-healing-oriented-girl - I write and rewrite a (hopefully) healing email.
Would I like to receive these words? I ponder as I write, and wait, and revisit, and pray, and wait...wait to send my response and bring closure. Forgiveness and puzzlement and hurt and betrayal and love and desire-for-healing-whatever-that-might-look-like jostle in my heart.
As thoughts and feelings wrestle and scream, demanding my attention, I realise that my desire for other people's value has brought me pain.

The desire to receive value from my former friends.

So as I struggle with feelings of disapproval, rejection, betrayal, criticism and denial of my worth, I realise that no amount of words or actions will heal my aching heart.
Because if I value any of the (very good, God-given) 'things' in my life above God, then they must be detestable in God's sight.
For he says:
"You are to worship no other gods before me—My presence is enough." Deuteronomy 5:7, The Voice.
No wonder that I am struggling. I am asking God to restore me when I am looking in the wrong place.
So I recognise my sin. I beg His forgiveness, so readily given in Jesus. I surrender my desires and look to Him.
Because He loves me. He gives me value. He is enough.
As Holley says: "dare to accept that what Jesus says about you is genuine–that you a treasure, of great worth, a woman with infinite value. No matter what anyone says. No matter what you’ve done. No matter how you feel.
It’s true."
I am precious in his sight, and that is all that really matters.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Isaiah 35

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
    it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
    the splendor of our God.
 Strengthen the feeble hands,
    steady the knees that give way;
 say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
    he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
    he will come to save you.”
 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
    and streams in the desert.
 The burning sand will become a pool,
    the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
    grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
 And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
     and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

New Wine Rewind...

New Wine Guernsey last weekend, longed-for and looked-forward to. A weekend of worship and teaching and renewal. Bliss.
Everyone's experience is different. Some liked one speaker more than another. Some would have preferred more 'old' songs, some wanted still more new ones. Some wouldn't have gone forward for prayer even if wild horses had dragged them (in which case, surely they would? How could you resist?) while others leapt at every prayer ministry opportunity.
I imagine that we all took something different away from the weekend, too.
This was what stayed in my heart:
Not my strength.
Emily Freeman, in Chatting at the Sky, says: It seems to me when I finally recognize my inability is when Christ shows up able within me.
The theme of the weekend was Power from on High.
How often do we subscribe to this, saying something like: "Yes, God, send more of your spirit, more power, Lord...etc etc."
And how often do we add, subconsciously, unaware: " add to my already quite impressive self - MY strengths and capabilities."
We think God is in the business of topping up an almost full jar instead of filling to overflowing an empty one.
We avoid emptiness, because emptiness is an unpleasant feeling.

During the weekend, there was much emphasis on unity. Unity dependent on good relationships, friendship, godly affection. Agreed.
There was talk of receiving the power of the Holy Spirit: of faith, expectation. Oh yes.

In the middle of this, a few verses and thoughts slipped in, dominating my soul, then and now.

THIRSTY. "“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive." John 7:37 - 39

HELPED. "I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!" John 14:16 - 17
I remembered some old truths:
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A GENTLEMAN. There is no forced take over;  no sweeping away - unless I ask for it with a truly humble spirit; no invasion of my jealously guarded privacy.
THERE HAS TO BE ROOM FOR ANOTHER PERSON IN MY LIFE. If my life is just full of 'me', how can there be room for Him? The more preoccupied I am with myself, my thoughts, my desires, my demands, the less I am available to the Holy Spirit.

WEAK. As I pondered the loads I carry which the Helper could help me bear - work attitudes, relationship problems, future worries - I realised that I had been ignoring the Spirit's help and struggling on in my own strength.
Ridiculous. How can I even think about living out Jesus' example in my own strength? The demands of being a disciple are simply too big too accomplish on my own. If the first friends of Jesus struggled before the Holy Spirit came in power, then I shouldn't even think of trying it.
"... the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." (Romans 8:26) Or, as the Message puts it: "He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves..."

As the speaker reminded us of the work of the Spirit: the power of God - I realised how foolish  I am to do anything in my own strength. I need help beyond myself - for physical healing, for broken relationships, for forgiveness, for living...
And as I live with tension - aiming for the perfection of the Kingdom while living in the problems of the present - I need to remember that I CAN'T live this life well in my own strength, but only when I am humble enough to admit my need, come to Jesus and ask for God's power and peace.
Because, if we STAY HUMBLE and HUNGRY, there isn't anything God can't do through us.
As Peter says: "Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing." (1 Peter 3:8 - 9, The Message)