Saturday, 27 February 2010

Women's Ministry

Women's Ministry today was different. I'm discovering that EACH month is it's own separate thing. We can plan and we can expect, but in the end, God has an agenda and we're learning to just get on board with it!!

This month we had two new women. One was a Swedish lady whom I met at Rescue Mission's Secondhand store and invited along after we got to talking deeply one day. She used to live in England too :) I was so surprised when she came along today! She has religion, but I don't think she knows Jesus. At any rate, He is drawing her more deeply into Himself...

And the second woman who came today, a friend of Teri-Anne's, is an Atheist, bless her! So... we mixed things up and didn't have a worship time or spend time in prayer, and instead focused on relationship-building, a biblical teaching from, and discussion on it. It is so special to see Him at work, and to be asked to be a part of it in whatever way He wants...

I love His heart. I love how lovingly He reaches out to draw every single person to Himself, if they'll only respond. I love it when I can see them responding! But mostly, I just love Him. And I want everyone to know this God with His incredible love...

Because He's coming soon.
(Praise You, Jesus!)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

The Giver of Good Gifts

So... I got a summons to the post office.

They don't leave packages at my flat, they put a slip through the mail slot telling me to come get the package at the post office. But this slip was for a post office I had never heard of and had no idea how to find!! I went to my local one and they couldn't explain to me how to get there, and even if they could, it was too far to walk. So... I hung on to it for awhile. There was no indication on the slip what it was or who it was from or even where it was from, and I wasn't expecting anything. So it was a bit exciting :)

Finally, my lovely friend Teri-Anne who has a car got in on the action, and we drove all around Lindholmen looking for this post office and ending up in an out-of-the-way industrial park. But I got my mystery package! Thank the Lord for lovely, helpful, generous friends.

Inside was a little surprise from the Lord. One of my favourite Christian teachers has written a new book. When I read about it on her blog a few months ago my heart leapt in my chest. It seemed as if what she was describing had been written JUST for me. It's called "So Long Insecurity; You've Been a Bad Friend to Us" (disregard the corny title, please, it's bound to be good!) and she mentioned on her site that she would send a copy of this book to anyone who needed to read it but couldn't afford it. When I left my comment with her ministry I honestly didn't think they would respond, and they didn't. So I forgot about it. Until I say in Teri-Anne's car holding a beautiful hard-copy of this book in my hands, straight from Beth Moore herself (well, okay, from her ministry, but a beautiful gift nonetheless :)).

His kindness overwhelms me.

It's no secret that insecurity is the plague of my life. My testimony is one characterized by His reaching in to me through my fog of hiding away my heart due to insecurity and shame. I've spent years even being ashamed of feeling ashamed (huh??). And the path He's had me on is a beautiful one of taking more and more steps into His higher places, forgetting myself and my fears and seeing only His glorious face. Falling in love and being empowered by it. But our struggles don't fall off of us easily, do they. And needless to say, I'm feeling pretty special to God. He never gives up on me. We can go over the same ground 500 times and He still holds onto my hand and lovingly leads me over the tough spots til I can take a step higher. His love is amazing. His patience is life-giving. His attention to our hearts is beyond compare.

And I'm more thankful than I can say.

So I just wanted to pass on some of the encouragment He's given me. It's a little thing in the grand scheme of things, but it's big to my heart. Watch out for all the ways He's trying to delight you, to romance you, with how He responds to the intimate things He knows about you. You will find your every day so lit up with glimmers of heaven's touch that you will stand in awe at this God who not only saves us, but DELIGHTS in us. He loves you. The God of the universe loves you. And not just once long ago on a rugged cross, but today, in the midst of your struggles, in the midst of your sin, in the midst of your unbelief and selfishness and busyness. He reaches out His hand and brushes His fingertips across your face a thousand times a day, whispering I love you. Open your ears and receive it and let it change you, let it embolden you and lift you up.

And say "so long" to anything that's held you down. He is our God. What more can we want!?


Wednesday, 17 February 2010

God's Goodness in the Face of a Friend

(Tim being King Gustav Adolff, the king who founded the city of Goteborg in the 1600's)

I had a visit this past week from a dear college friend from England! He booked a trip to Sweden rather last-minute in a dissertation-writing induced stress, and thought he was coming to have a break-- never thinking how much God would use him to encourage me! But that's the nature of our God. He never wastes a thing. And after our 5 days of catching up, goofing off, laughing, talking deeply and honestly, sharing struggles and joys, and seeing as much as we could of my beautiful city and surroudnings, we both parted blessed and refreshed at His hand in our lives! I LOVE visits from friends!

I was able to take a day off of serving at the Secondhand and we took a ferry around the Archipelago and to the enchanting islands just outside of Goteborg. It was the closest I've ever felt to the arctic, and it was STUNNING! So I forgave it for being so FREEZING out there!

The islands are quaint and residential. Most of them are car-less and the residents use bicycles or little motorized scooters with flatbeds to get around and haul stuff to and fro. They take the ferry into work each day and back again. It's peaceful on the islands. Each one tends to have a small general store. Some of them have a school and a church. Some even have a cafe (though they are NEVER open, in Tim's and my experience! Haha). I love to visit them for a walkabout and tend to bring anyone who visits me out there for the experience!

A kind old Swedish bachelor (the Swedish people really are KIND) let me use his bathroom, bless him. These islands are THAT uncommercial. No place with public bathrooms, even!

(This box cracked me up! It means "goods" in Swedish, but I imagined an apostrophe and took advantage of the hilarious photo shoot :))

We visited museums, because we're cool like that, and saw everything from the world's only stuffed blue whale, to the world's only surviving Viking ship with ruinic writing!

And we walked around for miles, drank lots of strong Swedish coffee, and Tim followed me to all of my scheduled stuff. He even spoke at the outreach event Rescue Mission threw on the Saturday night! And played guitar for me to sing :)

I am so blessed by this God who knows PRECISELY what our hearts need better than we do. And so thankful for friends whom you can just rest with, share everything with, laugh for hours with, and just... rest with!

Now back to real life. Back to the raging battle. But better equipped to face it with the refreshing of Tim's visit. Thank You, Lord!

(View the entire photo gallery here.)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Photos of This City I love!

Mmmm, Lord, thank You for sharing You beauty in so many ways, in so many places...

Saturday, 6 February 2010

A word for my heart & yours

"If you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you."
-- 1 Peter 4:19

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

What's Your Passion?

Today I found myself in a beautiful old cafe in Haga with my friend Anthea meeting a new friend for coffee and 'fika' (sort of, refreshments). Haga is one of my favourite areas of the city, and one of the oldest. It is basically one cobble-stoned street lined with cafes and antique shops. There is a character to its beauty. Aaron, a young pastor from MN who has been working in Sweden for 3 years today, is heading up The Well, a godsend of a ministry that I'm starting to get involved in, and he wanted to meet up with us and "hang" :) In the bible, the well was the meeting place in the town, a place to draw water and to share in community. This young adults group in Fiskeback, The Well, is likewise about community and Christ. It's about internationals in this city coming together to know him and make Him known, to not just "do church", but to do life! Love and authentic relationships are the only way to reach into a cynical, secular culture like Europe has, the apathy Europe suffers from. And this ministry calls to my heart so.

Anthea, my lovely bundle of South African passion, spoke easily and at length about her relationship with God, her struggles with living in this country, her walk with Him, and the way He is moving her heart to pray and intercede for this nation. Aaron and I listened with rapt attention, and it felt so... life-giving to simply sit and have coffee the 3 of us so caught up in Him, so desirous of His ways, so understanding one another on a level deeper than reason because our hearts are attuned to this incredible Father God and our lives are moving in His outstanding ways so far above our own, and landing us all in this beautiful city in Sweden for this season. I had better fellowship in those moments than I have in church in months.

I marveled again at His amazing ways and sovereignty, Paul says in Acts 17, "From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." There is no careless happenstance that has set any of us where we are in this moment. It's no accident that I found myself in a cozy cafe watching the snow fall thickly outside the window in the company of this South African and this American. It's no accident that I find myself inside this ministry which is struggling so internally, which is going so off-track that my broken-heart sometimes just longs to give up and be free of it, but which His heart in me moves to intercede and stand in the gap and hope for and love on in. His Word in Acts 17 reminds us that wherever He has us, in whatever specific location in the world, in whatever situation in that location, "God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." It's all all all about coming to know and love Him more [and we cannot do that and remain untouched, unmoved to reach out to His people]. His nature of love draws us with His ever-lasting loving-kindness to the exact place in time, exact moment in history that we inhabit, exact relationships (or lack of them), exact circumstances around us, that we might look up at Him in that moment, in that time, and reach out to Him and find Him closer than we can imagine. And be changed by His love in order to pass it on...

Aaron leaned across the table at one point when Anthea had finished a story, and looked pointedly at me. "What's your passion?" he asked with intense curiosity.

I was slightly taken aback by the question. My passion? I have to admit to being about the most passionate person I know, whether good or bad. How do I go about containing everything in a few words in a verbal answer?

But it came to me. The summary of my passions. It's Love. His Love of me and my responding love of Him and love of His people. Every passion I have is an out-working of that, because it's all about wanting others to know this Love I know because it is... the very purpose to life in this blink-of-an-eye existence. And if we miss this purpose in the blink, we miss the whole point.

And so He has brought each of our lives to whatever point they are at, to whatever place they are being lived, that we might seek Him and perhaps reach out to Him, this God whose whole character is perfect Love.

To know our lives are so purposeful, so appointed, whether we realize it or not feels like waking up from slumber. I long for us each to live in the knowledge of this appointedness. Think about it: What would the world be like if every day we lived as if we knew we had been chosen by this God to serve a distinct purpose in this moment in time? I think that purpose is to Love with His Love. And just see how it changed the world at the Cross, and still changes the world everywhere it is given.

Seek hard; love harder....
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