Friday, 30 December 2011

Weeks upon Weeks

 It has been weeks upon weeks since I've ventured a word here. Those weeks have been so full of His goodness and encouragement that I can't begin to catalog it for you! So here are just a few highlights:

  • Meandering about Salisbury while visiting some of the best friends I have in the world. Somehow my soul seemed thirsty for the stories that history has to tell, all the intricacies of the lives lived before mine... I soaked it up in Salisbury Cathedral and the tiny village of Britford a country lane's walk away from where my friends live.

  • Visiting my 7 year old godson Alex. So grown up and so delightful! What a privilege to be entrusted with praying for a child's heart and growth... His family are just dear dear people of God.

  • Spending my anniversary with my handsome man. He took me up the London Eye after nightfall to overlook the gorgeous city of London...

  •  A getaway up to North Norfolk with a best friend where we stayed in a timeshare house, talked non-stop about all the deep heart stuff, took a boat tour out to Blakeney Point where all the Grey Seals were coming in from the North Sea to give birth to their precious little fuzzy white babies!, took in a Christmas Spectacular Variety show with hundreds of pensioners, and wandered about beautiful sleepy grey-stoned villages! It was too lovely.

  • Spent a weekend in the Cotswolds with my darling cousin Emily looking after my darling 2 year old goddaughter Lily, the child of some of my best friends in the world. It was so familiar and cosy, and again, such an honour to be entrusted with the care of such a precious little treasure. And in my favourite area of England, no less!

  • Spent a week becoming acquainted with my cousin Emily's part of England where she's studying for her MA in Bristol! There is nothing like sharing life with someone how is as much sister as friend :) I just felt so enveloped by His love... And I had never known how beautiful Bristol is!

  • Devon!!!!!!! Charles and I met down in Devon for the weekend and stayed with his fabulous great aunt and great uncle and second cousins on the sea! It was seriously magical. I had no idea Devon was THIS lovely! And it was really precious to me to meet Charles' extended family because his immediate one is so very small. They were so delightful and being in their presence felt somehow familiar, as if they reminded me of being with my own aunts and uncles and cousins :) What a blessing of a weekend!

  • I visited my old hometown of Gloucester, stayed with a dear friend, and visited other dear friends. The chance to just relax in the presence of old friends was precious-- reminding me of how He has surrounded me with so many families in leaving my own...

  • My fabulous English travels finished with a few days on the Isle of Sheppey with a bestie, and then a few last days with Charles in London. It was precious to put up his Christmas tree together, spend time with his church friends, have a few lovely dates out in the city, and just relish spending time together. It would be our last chance until the end of February!!

  •  And then on December 13th, I arrived home for Christmas for the first time since Christmas 2008! And walking into my childhood home, I felt as if I was taking a true deep breath for the first time in MONTHS. It is such a lovely feeling... And such a lovely home!


And so blessed to be so...

Thursday, 10 November 2011


"I will sing of your mercy which leads me through vallies of sorrow to rivers of joy..."
-- Jars of Clay

(Mmm, yes. I will sing and sing and sing at the top of my voice wherever He places me this world and I will keep on singing til He finally brings me home to His side.

... Being back in the English countryside is like being home in a deeper sense than being home.)

Friday, 4 November 2011

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit (again and again and again)

It's the quiet night that breaks me
I cannot stand the sight of this familiar place
It's the quiet night that breaks me
Like a dozen paper-cuts that only I can trace
All my books are lying useless now
All my maps will only show me how to lose my way
Oh call my name, [Y]ou know my name
And in that sound everything will change
Tell me it won't always be this hard
I am nothing without [Y]ou, but I don't know [W]ho [Y]ou are

It's the crowded room that breaks me
Everybody looks so luminous and strangely young
It's the crowded room that's never heard
No one here can say a word of my native tongue
I can't be among them anymore
I fold myself away before it burns me numb
Oh call my name, [Y]ou know my name
And in [Y]our love everything will change
Tell me it won't always be this hard
I am nothing without [Y]ou, but I don't know [W]ho [Y]ou are

I am nothing without [Y]ou

I remember when I first heard this Vienna Teng song. I was in my second year of uni in England, and on such a journey of growth in my walk with God that every day felt like it held years of tracing my fingertips across His face and taking in its every nuance. They were overwhelming years. They were beautiful years. 

I remember listening to this song, and feeling Him breathing in it so profoundly that it stole my breath. I went outside in the wide open back garden in the night, and sat under the large old Redcliffe tree. As the tears streamed down my face, I thought about the lyrics. I felt them. She put my aching melancholy so aptly into words. I felt the frustration of the familiar, and the futility of the books and the maps trying to tell me the way. I felt the loneliness of being in a crowded room and hearing no one speak in my soul's 'native tongue'. And out there under the stars, 'folding myself away,' I felt the awe of my God. This being who is so utterly HOLY, that no matter how many years I had walked with him, and how many years have been added to those years now, I still cannot contain Him, cannot grasp Him, cannot explain Him or predict Him or somehow wrap my little mind around Him. And there was something comforting in singing out these words. There was something comforting about accepting that without this mysterious, Holy-beyond.grasp being, I was absolutely nothing, my life was absolutely nothing. The depth of my neediness... And the knowledge that 'in His love', that neediness was not only perfectly okay, but right. 

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven..."
-- Matthew 5:3, NIV

I am reading a book on spiritual development which has been entirely His timing in this season of counseling and soul work. It describes our spiritual development in our walk with God in stages. The latest stage I am reading about is basically summed up in this song. Coming to a place of ambiguity, yet certainty. Truly accepting in humility who and what we are, and getting lost in Who He is, even though we cannot even grasp it. Realizing that every "map" we've used for directions on this journey to His heart is an over-simplification of something which really cannot be mapped. That nothing satisfies (except the fact that 'He knows my name'). That it's only in His love that everything makes sense... and even that 'sense' is inexplicable... 

This is where I am. Nothing without Him, and yet knowing He is beyond everything I can even imagine to have known He was. And somehow blessed to know how poor and needy I am. Because it's there I can rest. It's there that the kingdom is mine, and I am home.

"How blessed are those who are destitute in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them!"
--Matthew 5:3, ISV
"God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."
-- Matthew 5:3, NLT

"Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous-- with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!"
--Matthew 5:3, Amplified

"God blesses those people
   who depend only on him.
  They belong to the kingdom of heaven!"
-- Matthew 5:3, CEV

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule."
--Matthew 5:3, The Message


"When life gives you more than you can stand, kneel..."

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Another Journey

Oooh, it's been a long wait...

But as the main rush of wedding season peters out, I'm once again saying goodbye to this pretty Nordic city and heading out to spend much needed time with precious friends and family in "my two home countries"!

I will keep up with the blog as much as I can, but Saturday commences about 5 weeks of travel around the UK seeing loved ones and soaking up His presence in those day-to-days with the friends He's given to place hands on and form my life, and the man He's placed there to hold it :) So far the journey is taking me to London, Andover, Salisbury, the Norfolk coast, The Cotswolds, Bristol, Bradford-on-Avon, a village in Devon, Gloucester, and the Isle of Sheppey! Oh, there is no where like England to me!!

And after those weeks, it's home again, just in time for Christmas!! This visiting my family twice in one year business feels quite a treat. Who knows what He has in store!

One thing is sure, He has each of us on a journey, whether they involve planes, trains, and automobiles, passports and border controls, or paperwork at the office and commutes, grocery-shopping, baby-soothing, and storybook reading, or guzzling coffee at 3am to finish that essay due in at 8. He astounds me with His attention to my heart, to my life, and His deliberately always working away at this lump of clay, moving me toward wholeness and holiness through every circumstance of life. He is teaching me a great deal about hope these days.

And it's this verse which holds me the most at the moment:
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." -- 1 Thess. 5:23-24

So, here's to the One who is faithful, and the journey He has each of us on
Your fellow sojourner,

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Made More Faithful in the Wait

I read a comment left on someone's blog earlier:

"Time to get back to the basics, coffee with cream and sugar; Church with the Word and less fufu." 
And it made me smile because as I slog through this lesson on where church goes wrong, and seek Him to restore my faith in what's right about it, that's pretty much the Church I find He's set me in with Brunnen church plant. We are being Church with the Word and less fufu. We have no building walls. Just homes, and cafes, and a disadvantaged part of the city we want to be a Christ's presence in. We have down-to-earth teaching from the bible, in Swedish and English, which feel more like conversations because we can look into one another's eyes gathered around someone's living room. And we have accountability with one another for living out our struggles and our joy throughout the week too. Nothing fancy, just real and down-to-earth. Tangibly His hands and feet to one another. And He couldn't have drawn it all together at a better time.

This week my DNA (accountability/prayer group) friend and I are reading the book of John. We've both done substantial biblical study in our degrees and liked the idea of just focusing in on Jesus in the gospels, like being reacquainted with the story of His life which we've heard all of our lives. It is heartening to look again and again and again at this God as man, to let the familiar stories of what His disciples witnessed with their own eyes just play before my imagination.

John 6:35 stood out to me today. Mostly because it is Jesus Himself saying in no uncertain terms that anyone who trusts in Him will never be spiritually hungry or thirsty again, and I tell you what, I feel so deeply dissatisfied right now that I can't think of much else beyond how hungry and thirsty I am. Instantly, my disillusioned side starts going, "Huh. Well... You're saying this one thing, and I'm feeling entirely another. That's rather disappointing, God." He told me to look it up in more depth later... So, here I am, 29 minutes past midnight, looking up John 6:35 in the original Greek and seeking God to encourage me with it.

In English, the verse says, "Jesus replied, 'I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in me will never thirst'."

The original Greek for hunger and thirst are peinasē and dipsēsei respectively, and they both conjure up similar translations; 'to have hunger, to have thirst, to have need, to desire earnestly'. The Greek transliteration for 'Never' is ou. There are many translations for this, but my favourite was more of an explanation. Strong's said ou means basically, "ruling it out as fact." All pretty straightforward to what I read in my NLT bible without going in deeper.

But then the Greek for "who comes to me" and "believe in me"...

The phrase 'who come' is transliterated erchomenos, and can also be translated as 'brought to,' or 'accompany'. I like the idea of being brought to Jesus. Like the little children he welcomed when the disciples wanted to turn them away. Because the kingdom belongs to such as these (Matt 19:14). But the richest discovery for me was 'accompany'. I love the image of "accompanying" Jesus. Isn't that what walking with Him is? "No one who accompanies me will ever be hungry again." And isn't it in that daily interaction with Him, that daily keeping company with Him, that we are refreshed for the journey? If there is one word to describe the overriding feeling around this time in life for me right now it is: dissatisfied. I have such earnest and frustrated desires I can barely breathe with them. But must just keep waiting and see the season through... Sometimes so deeply dissatisfied and seemingly disappointed that I don't recognize the sun when it pokes through the clouds as Swedish winter descends. How is that 'never hungering or thirsting,' Lord?

But then the final word I looked up. 'Believe' in 'Those who believe in me....' The Greek transliteration is pisteuōn: 'To believe, have faith in, trust -- to entrust, especially one's spiritual well-being to Christ'. This is not earth-shattering but for the moment, for MY moment, it's kinda huge.

Working through a book about Spiritual Abuse as I walk this journey of Him restoring my soul, the chapter which has most stood out to me has been a rather simple re-teaching on the foundations of my salvation in Christ. On how Grace works. It's only in admitting our brokenness, our neediness, our sheer not-enoughness, truly realizing that we NEED His grace, that we can then realize truly what He means when He says He has done it. If we believe, pisteuōn, to have faith in, TRUST, "especially one's spiritual well-being to Christ", it is DONE. His grace has done it all. And if we believe Him, we can rest and know His love, and be anxious for nothing, strive for nothing, have no lingering fear of not being good enough, or fear that the grace will run out, a bit used up for every sinful act or attitude. He knew every single one before He paid the price for them. He knew how messy this life would get, and how discouragement would sometimes knock us right to the floor. He knew how even His church would be deceived and tainted-- made of humans after all-- and how it would hurt and deceive ones of His. But He still did all of the work of redemption that day on the Cross.

I am recognizing again how truly poor in spirit I am, and so how the Kingdom of Heaven has been unlocked for me (Matthew 5:3). And accompanying Jesus, I must keep TRUSTING Him with my poorness and my neediness, my aching dissatisfaction and unmet desires, and laying it out before Him as I accompany Him every day, every hour... And somehow, it's in being hungry and it's in being thirsty, that I am filled with His grace. With purpose. With hope. It's in being empty, that I am full. It's in being full of emptiness, that Grace works.

And I cannot express how thankful I am for the richness of this grace...

"When I can't feel You, I have learned to reach out just the same
When I can't hear You, I know you still hear every word I pray
And I want You more than I wanna live another day
And as I wait for You, maybe I'm made more faithful..."

--Brooke Fraser, 'Faithful'

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Life-sustaining Water

My God is faithful. Frustratingly beyond working out, yes, but faithful. And I am so thankful.

I am forever blessed by the church plant He has me involved in here in Göteborg for this season in life. Missional, authentic, genuine. We've called it 'Brunnen' which in Swedish means, "The Well". The well in Bible days was the meeting place in a community, a place of fellowship. A well is also where one can find life-sustaining water. I think that as the body of Christ, doing church together should feel like life-sustaining water...

We meet bi-weekly for a church service which helps refresh the faith in me-- and I think this is what meeting together as the Church was always meant to do. And we also break into little accountability groups-- prayer groups, really-- once a week. We call this DNA-- Discipling, Nurturing, and Accountability. DNA with my girls (there are 3 of us) brings the broken bits in me back together. I find this kind of authentic sharing of lives and hearts is to me the tangible touch of God in this aching world.

And I am so thankful.

Sometimes His beauty catches me unaware. Tonight after sharing lives, hearts, a meal, and prayer with my awesome friend and one of the leaders of our precious church plant, I took a walk with God across the Göta Alv under the stars. The city line on the shore of the river coming in from the North Sea was glowing against the inky black sky. And as the bitingly cold wind rushed over me, I found rest there in His presence on the bridge-- cars, trams, and buses bustling by.

Tonight after I'd poured out my heart to my dear DNA friend, we prayed, and as we prayed the song playing was saying, "It's only temporary, it's only temporary." I keep calling this time of processing my grief over church gone wrong and the way I feel so damaged by it sometimes "a season." Only a season. It won't always feel this open and raw and ambiguous and heavy. It was as if God was just laying a hand on my shoulder and reassuring me in common words, "It's only temporary, love. Keep working at this. You'll see. You'll come out the other side."

And one simple evening, over one simple meal, with down-to-earth, "this is really what's inside my head" conversation, He graces me with renewed strength for the journey. It is Who He is. This gracious, this strong, this faithful.

And I stand on the bridge overlooking the murky waters to the shining shore in awe.
So thankful to belong to this faithful God.

I'm not only wishing you strength for your journey, friend; I'm telling you where to find it.
As the deer pants for streams of water,
   so my soul pants for you, my God.
 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
   When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
   day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
   “Where is your God?”
These things I remember
   as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
   under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
   among the festive throng.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
   Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
   for I will yet praise him,
   my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:1-5

Sunday, 16 October 2011

With His Love...

[A new song discovery to read by:]

You know, I used to be really really into this blog world. Not this one here at blogspot, but at xanga, where I kept a blog all throughout highschool and basically grew into myself through writing out my thoughts of all kinds.... I made friends with other bloggers in the community and we grew up together. I have to admit, I kinda miss it. But once in a while, I still read blogs, and when I stumble upon a blog of someone who writes from a genuine and honest and searching place, a "hey, we don't have it all together, but together we might be able to deal with it" kinda place, I am touched and humbled and inspired to share a little deeper, to make this place a space for other people to think genuinely, share honestly, and search deeply too. We don't have to agree on everything, we just have to be honest with ourselves and honest before God, who loves us whether we've got it all figured out or not. (And honestly, we're talking about God here. If you think you have ANYTHING all figured out in light of Him, honey, you have got some re-evaluating to do.)

I like this randomly stumbled upon blogpost today:

In the end, she asks what our favourite bible passage is that let's us know that we are loved. I instantly think of Zephaniah 3:17 which has held me through the years: "For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty saviour. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."

Maybe this post resonates with me so much because the season Jesus is currently walking with me through involves dealing with some deep places of hurt incurred in working in ministry, and with and for The Church. Early this month I took a deep breath and a hard gulp and decided to start having some counseling for issues of spiritual abuse. Yikes-- those are intimidating words. I kinda don't even want to write them. It feels like admitting some kind of defeat to it. That yes, it hurts this much, perplexes me this much, and presses down on me this much. Still. But maybe that desire to not let it show how disillusioned I feel is exactly why I need to be speaking up in this season. Not sure where one would find a Christian counselor in Sweden even if one could speak Swedish properly, I looked up a Christian counselor in London so I can set up sessions whenever I'm over visiting Charles. Initially I thought, "Ah, I just need closure on this. One session to just help me sort it all out in my head." But that was rather naive of me, I think :) And having never done counseling outside of meetings with campus counselors in University, I guess the whole thing is rather an adventure. And maybe it's best that way. I'm in way over my head anyway, and that usually means God's got to be all in all to me.

Seeing the body of Christ used to wound and kill one's spirit has been a bit too much for me. And I begin to see it everywhere, like my eyes have been opened to what they hardly saw before. And it's like heaviness upon heaviness upon heaviness in my little heart which just wants to have faith like a child. And it makes me furious. Furious at an enemy who slinks into whatever form he can take to deceive The Bride. The best deceptions are the ones which look so very close to the truth that the error is almost imperceptible...

In my best moments, it makes me even MORE passionate about loving well and actively, to be a mirror which reflects His face. Because this aching world will see Him no other way. And we, you and I, individuals, are what make up The Church. But sometimes my best moments feel very distant. And it's more like slogging through than running a steady race.

I think this season is a time of grief in me. Over the damage the enemy has done in The Church, His Bride. And over the way that damage has entered my life and my experience of His Church, and broken whatever frail veil of innocent, childlike hope I had hanging in my heart. Sometimes the hurt colours over everything I thought I believed, and I am left gasping for air, wondering where one goes from here. Because where God was meant to be living among me, the Church, turned out unsafe, abusing its power, and I wonder if He was living there at all. And sometimes I can't see or feel His might, I can't see or feel Him saving me, or intervening in the suffering all around as our mighty saviour. But that's where His Love reassures. That's where His love wraps me up so tightly that the world stops spinning. It's His unfailing love that can be trusted when nothing else makes sense anymore. It all begins and ends there. With His love, He will calm all your fears...

"For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty saviour. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
-- Zeph. 3:17

Monday, 10 October 2011

And the Winner is...

So... the first giveaway at In The Hands of The Master Poet has been rather a disappointment...

Only 2 people left comments! And as I know both commenters and think they both should get the book "The Heart of the Story" by Randy Frazee, I couldn't choose one, could I? So I enlisted my handsome boyfriend to help me by giving him the comments to read anonymously and judge the most worthy winner...

Only, he couldn't choose one more worthy than the other!! So, we were back at square one. At least he's handsome :)

So, I've decided with only 2 commenters, you both should read the book! I think I will send my sister who commented the free copy. And I will lend my copy to my friend who commented! So, this way, everyone gets to read it :) Kind of all winners, then? :)

And just because he's adorable and did try to help me, you get a photo of my mighty fine man! Oh, what a lucky day all around :)

Thursday, 6 October 2011

In The Hands of the Master-Poet's First Ever Giveaway! -- Now Closed

The Heart of the Story: God's Masterful Design to Restore His People (Story, The)
The bigger picture has always captivated me.

The idea that God is on a rescue mission to restore the world He created and the people in it to relationship with Him-- and how everything in the story of our lives, and all the individual stories we're living, are all working together to that end, and how, in fact, we are invited to play a part in that rescue mission story... It puts things in perspective.

Randy Frazee calls this bigger picture the 'upper story' in his book The Heart of the Story: God's Masterful Design to Restore His People. He calls our circumstances as we see them through our human experiences the 'lower story'. What I loved about this book was the idea of taking the whole entire bible--the hundreds of memorable and not so memorable 'lower' stories of human experience -- and making a basic summary of it to repaint it in light of the upper story, the bigger picture. In these stories innumerable many of us have grown up hearing about, the characters were firmly entrenched in their own lower stories of human circumstance, just like you and I. And yet, when we stand back and look at the bigger picture the Word of God is showing, we can see the upper story significance of each individual character's lower story (Have I driven home enough the 'story' idea yet?). There is something so innately encouraging in that. I happen to be firmly entrenched in my own lower story, and need constant reminders of that upper story God's unfolding just beyond my human vision, closer than my circumstances tell...

I was excited when I was offered this book for review because I relished the idea of digesting the whole entire story of the Bible all in one big gulp. Frazee, a teaching pastor by vocation and the author of numerous previous books, didn't disappoint in his anecdotal summary. I often get tripped up in the minor prophets. I take them one by one as moving pieces of literature, but struggle to fit them into the chronological narrative of Israel's story. The Heart of the Story helpfully wove the myriad of true tales together in a way that I could cognitively see where they fit into the story in history. And Frazee did it while also lifting the reader's eyes up to the way it all fits into the bigger picture / upper story.

If I could make any criticisms about this book, they would be only from a point of view of my admittedly snobby literaturary tastes :) I sometimes found his writing style a bit juvenile, as if he was trying too hard to sound 'cool', but because I believe this was an effort to make God's Word approachable by anyone, I think we should let it slide ;) It was extremely readable and that can be hard to find when it comes to wrestling with Biblical literature and matters of Theology.

All that said, I think you should read this book! Who doesn't need some help to focus on the bigger picture when we are so caught up in our day to days? So... to aid you to that end, I'd like to offer In The Hands of the Master-Poet's first giveaway! I have an extra copy of Randy Frazee's The Heart of the Story: God's Masterful Design to Restore His People to give away to one lucky reader of this blog :) Ooh, exciting :) All you have to do to receive your free copy is leave me a comment explaining why you would like to read this book, and giving me some way to contact you so we can be in touch about where I should mail it if you win the giveaway.

So, comment, comment, comment! The contest will be open over the weekend and I'll contact the winner early next week. Let's seek out this God actively working to restore us to Himself, and let's equip ourselves to let the upper story, the bigger picture, the greater purpose influence the way we live our lower stories day to day. Let's be encouraged: "since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (Heb. 12:1).
What a gift it is to live wrapped up in such purpose! And what a gift it is to have The Bible to be told of all the ones who lived out their stories for such a purpose before us. What did they do before they had those testimonies to look to and be encouraged by?

Yay for free giveaways of encouragement :)

Sunday, 18 September 2011

How Can I Not Be Moved?

It's not the first time I've seen this drama. And it's moved me before. But tonight, I cannot stop playing it on repeat. I cannot stop staring at the epic story being played out-- my own epic story with The King, right before my eyes-- and letting the lyrics wash over me.

I have been that girl. I am still that girl.
And He has wrestled darkness for me, and still does.

Tonight, something is clicking. Tonight, I am staring at the screen, tears popping to my eyes every time the music picks up and she drops the gun, every time I see the face of the Jesus figure as he shouts for her and pulls for her, and then conquers the darkness and wraps His white jacket around her and holds her...

This is our story. This is what He does for every single one of us. How do we reject Him, or perhaps even more unbelievable, how do have this with Him and then, gradually, forget? Lulled by strategically-placed distractions and seduced by misplaced desires, we are deceived. And it still surprises me.

It also surprises me how I can go a single day without losing myself completely in worship of this Jesus for all that He has done and still does. For how He loves me, fights for me, pursues me. How can we not literally MOVE! Whether that be bowing before Him in awe, or jumping up, selling every bit of "wealth" we've amassed, and running to the ends of the earth to be a witness of this kindness, grace, and hope?! Oh Lord, that you would give me eyes to see You at work moment-to-moment! And more mercy for how much I forget...

"You're all I want
You're all I need
You're everything, everything...
How can I stand here with You and not be moved by You?

Would You tell me, how could it be any better than this?"
-- Lifehouse, "Everything"

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

...Putting it Back

This quote is resonating with me tonight. "There are people who take the heart out of you..."Oh yes, there are. As much as my romantic little heart just doesn't want to accept it; just wants to love on, love on, love on and watch His love pouring through it change the world all around it. I want so desperately to believe Him when He speaks of the way of obedience being the best way, when He teaches us to live with hearts wide open, always hoping, always trusting, always persevering in looking for the good in one another, in choosing to love one another even when we don't feel it, trusting that He will not waste a drop of that effort... I believe this. I choose to live like I believe this. But sometimes, oh, sometimes after a long haul it feels like the heart is drained right out of me... I know you know the feeling.

But... I also know that... somehow, in time (that all-important quality)... "there are people who put it back." And there may not be a moment where it all lines up and all is made well again, but somehow you find that your heart is just... back. And that God, throughout that all-important quality of time, has used ways too various to describe and too numerous to count, but usually requiring much of the tangible human hands around us, to restore to us our hearts which had been so drained away...

I'm working through some difficult experiences of heart-drainage which has been following me around for too long. I just haven't known where to start in dealing with it. Even now I don't. What do you do when the same people who at times have put the heart in you, are the same ones to take it right out? What about when it's a church experience? When the hurts happen in what should be the safest place? And you don't want to say aloud what hurts lest someone feels you're pointing fingers (surely every time you point a finger, there are 3 fingers pointing back at you, right?) and you set boundaries but people are offended by them (and the last thing you want to do is hurt anyone so that more hurt comes from the hurt you've already been carrying for years now, not knowing how to deal with it and feeling it growing more and more stale the longer you let it sit there locked away but never too far away...). The perfect entanglement. Feeling stuck to do anything but just go on, discouragement heaps on discouragement until one day, life has calmed down a little.And you find yourself taking deep breaths again, and there it is, just waiting to be dealt with and set aside once and for all. But the 'dealing with it' can feel more painful than the carrying it around.

Funny how again and again, it all comes back to this. So so so tired of that. But maybe that's what will fuel me to keep on working it through. I wish I could speak plainly without anybody taking offense. Instead, I form vague thoughts in the middle of the night, not expecting anyone to read them, and if they do, not expecting anyone to understand.

And all because I read somewhere that "There are people who take the heart out of you... and there are people who put it back."  I think we have a very real enemy. And I think he will take the heart out of us using any means possible. But I believe we have a victorious Lord, who will reach in and restore our hearts, using His children to reach out to us with His hands and feet. Even if the wounds those hands and feet of His children are reaching out to soothe were put there by the hands and feet of other children of His.

Doesn't it make you want to cry out "Maranatha!" Yes, it makes me desire His coming to restore all things... But it also gives me a passion to BE a glimmer of His Kingdom here and now. To "do church well". To truly be the kind of person who can be a part of a community of hopeful people needing His grace, which create a space where His Kingdom is exemplified here and now, for a world dying to see it.

Perhaps... in the end... that's exactly why I walked through my bad experience with Church to begin with. To make me as earnest as can be about being a Church which genuinely exists to be a glimmer of His Kingdom.

"I'm convinced that one of the reasons Jesus didn't confront the might of Rome or challenge the religious powers in Jerusalem was because He knew the story we long to hear is not one of military victory or political control. It's the story of a God who restores the lost and offers hope to a cynical world. The rumors of God are true. Jesus rose from the dead, and so did the hopes of all those who are looking for revolution..." -- 'Rumors of God' by Darren Whitehead & Jon Tyson

"...Love of God overflow, permeate all my soul...
Fill me up, God, fill me up..."

--Fill Me Up by The United Pursuit Band

Friday, 9 September 2011

Rumors of God

"And this is precisely what Christianity is about. The world is a great sculptor's shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life."
-- C.S. Lewis

You know what you finish a book and as you reach the last page all you want to do is turn to the beginning and start it all over again? The truths it spoke were just that thirst-quenching, the ways in which it spoke them are just that captivating. "Rumors of God" by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson was just that book for me. 

Captivated by the C.S. Lewis quote above, the two Aussie pastors in America set out to explore various "rumors" of the Christian life, what truths can be found in the rumors, and how those truths are holding up in the life of the average Christian. Where we are lacking, why are we lacking? What does this say about God? What does this say about us? It looks challengingly at the claims we make about Jesus and about what it looks like to be His followers and examines the way our lives reflect that to a world which has only heard the rumors... Painting pictures with historical stories of experiences of faith, on both an individual and a corporate level, this book has influenced the way I pray, and awakened in me a greater desire not only for His Kingdom come on earth, but a greater passion to BE His Kingdom coming TO the world He's placed us in.

My copy is now riddled with underlining and stars in the margins :) I'd love to lend it to you, if you're in my neck of the woods!! Because He is so much more than a rumor, and our lives are meant to say so much more than we are letting them...

**I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”**

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