Tuesday, December 23, 2014

That's Christmas to Me

Pentatonix does a song called That’s Christmas to me.  It has a line in it that goes, “the only gift I’ll ever need is the joy of family.”  It made me think.

There has got to be more to Christmas than food and presents, I think we all know that.  But there needs to be more to Christmas than family too.  If our joy at Christmas time comes from the food, the presents, even the family – then what happens when we don’t have those things?  What happens when we can’t have the treats we want, our budget doesn’t stretch to provide the gifts we think we need, or if our family is absent, by death, by distance, or by choice? 

If our joy in the Christmas season comes through these things, we WILL be disappointed.  There has to be something bigger than stuff, or people, to provide lasting joy – because stuff and people, sadly, don’t last.

The only way we can experience deep joy this Christmas, and every Christmas, is to seek out and embrace the truth of the first Christmas – the birth of a savior, who is Christ the Lord.  When we embrace the truth of Christmas, we can go without all the “stuff” of Christmas, and yet be totally satisfied.  We can truly know the JOY of Christmas every day, all year round, despite the inevitability of pain and suffering.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Who's Responsible for Honor?

It's always great when something you've read multiple times catches you in a fresh way.  I read through the whole of Ephesians a few days ago, and the whole book grabbed my attention - it's a great read, I'd recommend it.  

I want to focus on one part of it.  It's the part all parents love to read... out loud... to their kids... as often as possible!

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

So the kid gets to obey and honor - that's their responsibility, and then life will go well for them.

Great, right?

But hold on a moment.  What kid, left to their own devises is going to grow up obeying and honoring their parents?  Anyone who's ever had a 2 year old knows that's just not going to happen.  

How often do we read those verses and overlook the second half of verse 4? We are told to bring up our kids with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Our kids, whether they are 2 or 15, are not going to obey and honor us if we haven't taught them to do so.  That is OUR responsibility, not theirs.

If we want our kids to have a long life that goes well for them - we need to take responsibility for bringing them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Teach them well, empower them to choose obedience and honor, that it may go well for them.

Teenagers - And the Importance of Truth

Recently, one of our teens has had several attacks on her identity and we have been able to help her walk through this and reclaim who we know she is - a beloved child of God.

I've been encouraged through this process by the idea that, if at her age she can learn to recognise and fight the tactics of the evil one - she will be a mighty warrior.  Some of us (read: Me) are only learning this now and have much ground to take back.  May she not lose ground, because she learns how to take it and hold it while she is still young.

The teenage years are renown for being hard, tumultuous times, while our kids discover who they are, where they fit, and how their lives are going to impact the world around them.  These are pretty major questions and they come at a time when there is almost an expectation for teens to rebel and do crazy stuff - stuff that can really mess with the answers to those questions.

So, as a generation of parents, are we just completely sucked in by an enemy who only wants to rob, kill and destroy?

If he can mess up a young persons developing identity, value, and purpose - he can go a long way to destroying that life entirely.

How many young people with no sense of identity, value, and purpose, are ending their lives before they've even begun?  Is it just co-incidence?  Or are they being picked off at a vulnerable time of their life, by an enemy whose ultimate goal is death?

If no one is speaking purpose and life into our young people - then they live in a vacuum, hearing only what the world wants them to hear.  "You're not important." " You're a reject." " You're no good at anything." "No one will ever love you." "The world would be better off without you."

Who is going to tell our kids they're worth it?  That they have so much value someone was prepared to die for them?  That their life was planned and it has hope and a future?  That their life is a masterpiece, designed by a God who wants to shower them with love and goodness?

If our kids are not being told the truth, all they will hear are the lies.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Because You're Worth It

One of the amazing things about God, is that after a lifetime of knowing him, there is always so much more to know, so much more to learn, so much more to experience.

I've been to many Easter Services, having grown up in the church.  I've watched The Passion many times.  I've remembered Christ's death regularly in times of communion.  But last night, during our Good Friday service, a few things occurred to me that I want to think on, ponder, and let go deep into my spirit, because I think it has the power to effect how I see Jesus' love for me, and for the lost.
I was pondering the physical pain and suffering, as well as the emotional pain and suffering, that Jesus endured while being arrested, beaten, carrying the cross, and during the actual crucifixion.  It dawned on me in a new way that Jesus actually felt every whip lash, every rejection, every nail, every breath he struggled for while on the cross, and he felt the very real abandonment of his father when he cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Jesus was 100% human, and 100% God - it's hard to fathom.  But it's easy to focus on the 100% God part without really realising it.  To think, he knew the plan, it had a purpose, and he was God, so he could hack it.  But he was also 100% human, and he felt all of it, the same way you and I would have, if we'd gone through those things.  He wasn't exempt from either physical or emotional pain, just because he was God's son.

There was the physical pain, there was the emotional pain, but what had to hurt the most was the sense of abandonment from his Father.  Have you even stopped to think about what Jesus gave up for us? For you?  I'm not sure I'd really thought about it.

Think about it now.

In heaven, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were complete.  100% totally complete within themselves.  Everything they ever needed, they had.  Their relationship was perfect, complete and needed nothing or no one else.

In heaven, not just when we get there, but now, there is no tears, there is no pain, there is no suffering.
So Jesus left a perfect and complete relationship, he left a place where there was no suffering, and he came to earth - to be rejected and to suffer - for us.

That perfect relationship of the trinity was broken, temporarily, on the cross - for us.

Jesus chose to suffer, to feel intense physical pain and to shed tears - for us.

We look forward to the day when we see our saviour face to face, when we reach heaven, that wonderful place of no tears and no suffering.  But just for a moment, imagine you were already there, living in that perfect place.  Imagine choosing to leave it, just because your love for someone else was so great, so overwhelmingly powerful, that you had to go in search for them.  To do all you could, to compel them to come to that place too.

That's what Jesus did - for me.  For you.  And for everyone that still walks in rejection of him.  
Jesus' love for us was so big, so powerful, so intense, that he could not leave us in our sin and our suffering.  He had to do all he could to show us his love and to give us a way to be in that perfect place with him.  He was willing to give up that perfect relationship and that perfect place, because we were worth it.  I was worth it.  YOU were worth it.

And once we recognise that, and choose Him, that same incredible love lives in us.  And the only way those that still walk in rejection of him are going to choose him, is to see that love for themselves.
And how will they see if, if we are not living it?  But that's probably a whole other blog post....

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Want To See God Today

So I've decided that if I'm going to write, I might actually need to pick up a pen occasionally, or hit "new post" on my blog more than once every few months.  I read a book recently.  I wasn't a particularly great book, but one of the characters in the book ended up going to a writing class.  The most memorable part of the book for me, was when her teacher said, "Write everyday.  It might be the most trivial of things that you write about, but write everyday."  And in pondering that instruction, I can see the wisdom in it.  To sit around and wait for the next big idea to come along, does not make me a writer.  Picking up the pen and putting some words on the page, is what makes me a writer - not necessarily a good one, but a writer none the less.  And if I'm not writing regularly, then it will be harder to pen the big ideas, when/if they do come.  

So I've made a few changes in my life, rearranged a few priority's in my head.  I'm putting the important things first, and letting the necessary, but not life defining things, fit in around the important things.  And one of those things, for me, is writing.  So everyday, my intention is to write "something."  Don't worry, I'll not be putting all the trivial stuff on here and boring you to tears.  But I'm going to write and enjoy putting words on the page, because it's one of the things that God has put in my heart to do.

So today, this is what ended up on my page, and I'd like to share it with you.

I want to see God today.  Does that sound crazy?  Like it's too much to ask for?  How will I see God today?  Actually, God's just there - sitting on the couch right next me.  But I won't see Him unless I look up.  I guess if I want to see God today, it's up to me to look.  God doesn't tend to play hide and seek, not very well anyway, he hides out in the open and we only need to open our eyes to see Him.

When I'm looking - God's easy to see in His word, so very easy to see in worship, often He's even easy to see in trail and hardship.  But I want to see God today - in a different kind of way.  I want to see God today - by looking for Him in you.

You were made in God's image - whether you know that or not, whether you even know God or not.  So there is something of the beauty, the wonder, the goodness of God, IN YOU - and I want to see it.

YOU could be one of my closest friends, my child, my workmate, the checkout chick, or that person across the counter at work that just drives me nuts.  But there is something of the image of God in YOU, and I'll see it if I will only look for it.

If I can see God today, in you, then serving you becomes easier; your pain becomes something I can help you bear; and your joy becomes something I can share.

If I can see God today, in you, then I know I'll be a better person for taking the time to see.  And maybe you'll be a better person too, because someone took the time to see God in you.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

As Close As You Want To

I’m allowed in the throne room.  He said it was Ok.  I could go in, see what it was all about.  See the King even, if I wanted to.  He said I could go as close as I want to.  And I do want to see this King.

So I take my first cautious step over the threshold.  Guess what I see first?  No, it’s not the King – but I know he’s there, I just know it.  I see legs, so many legs.  I’m small, and I seem to be engulfed in this forest of legs.

My senses are alive, tingling, almost overwhelmed.  But I want to remember all this, so I take a deep breath and start to look around.  I see people – so many, many people.  People like I’ve never seen before.  Like that one, so tall and regal looking, with glowing dark skin.  Or that lady there, I’ve never seen such pale skin, and with so many freckles.  There’s red hair, grey hair, and even no hair at all.  There must be every single race on earth represented in this room, and they’re all together, all there for the same reason.

I start to move forward.  I want to get closer.  He said I could go as close as I want to.  I weave my way through that forest of multi-coloured legs.  Left around that pale white one, right passed that one so dark it’s like the richest of chocolate.  “Excuse me, please.”  “Can I get through here?”  “I want to see the King.”  “I would like to be nearer the front, please.”  As I make my way forward the people make a way for me.  “Let the child through, she wants to see the King.”  They smile, like maybe they’ve seen the King themselves, and they want me to see him too.

All at once the most amazing fragrance consumes me, it’s like all my favourite things all rolled into one, but even better.  My senses continue to be awakened and amazed.  It’s like I can taste that delicious aroma that’s filling the throne room.  If this is what it is like to be just near to the King, then I want to be closer still.  He said I could come as close as I want to.

I keep making my way forward, and as I do I hear words coming from my mouth, the words pulsing through my heart, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.”  I realise that everyone, all these people are all singing the same words.  I don’t know how I know, as they’re all singing in their own multitude of languages, but I just know.  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.”

Oh how simply stunning.  I look up and I see thousands upon thousands of angels flying overhead, all crying out their praises to the King.  They are just amazing, shimmering, shinning, reflecting His glory, like sparkles of light raining down on all those faces.  Oh I really want to see him now.  If that is just a reflection of His glory, I want to see the real thing.

I duck and I weave through a few more legs and I nearly hit the floor.  I have to grasp a hand beside me to steady myself.  There He is.  The King.  He’s right there and He is GLORIOUS!  His presence, His glory, it fills the throne room, and it fills me.  I’m not sure I can still stand; I’ll crawl if I have too.  But I want to be closer.  So I let go the hand I’m using for balance, and I take a step towards him.  Oh the audaciousness, will all these people, the angels, the creatures around the throne, will they really let me get closer?  Well I’m not stopping to ask for permission.  He said I could go as close as I want to, and I want to be closer.

So I move closer, closer, closer.  Until I’m right there, right before the throne.  That’s Him, my King, my delight.  I fall on my knees before Him.  Oh to be so close I can almost touch him.

He said I can go as close as I want to.  I look into those eyes.  Eyes that burn with love.  Eyes that have seen every step I’ve taken.  Eyes that have seen every misstep I have taken, and yet continue to pour out complete and unending love for me.

He said I can go as close as I want to.  I take a deep breath, breathe in that precious fragrance, and I lay my head on his lap.  My King, My Papa, My God.  He said I could come as close as I want to.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Along The River - A Story of Encounter

Hey, look down there.  See the light?  Shinning and shimmering through the trees.  Hear the wind gently causing the leaves to sing.  Hear the roar, like a mighty river.  Can you see her?  There, look through the trees.  That little girl.  Walking. Skipping.  Running down the worn dirt track.  Running through the forest.  Yes, you see her too, don’t you?

Wait, hey look again.  Did you see that?  Something moved in the undergrowth just up ahead of her.  I think there’s something there.  Look, I think she senses it too.  Yes!  There, right there, can you see that face, peeking out behind that tree trunk?  I knew it.  I knew someone was there.

She’s moving towards the tree.  Trying to look without looking, sneaking.  She’s level with the tree trunk now, just on the other side of it.  She’s creeping around slowly to catch the stranger by surprise.  Almost there.  But, oh, he’s made a dash for it and he’s out of sight again.  Laughter is all that’s left lurking behind that tree.  She laughs too, and looks around.  She begins to whistle, and walk casually up the path as if nothing has happened, stepping over broken branches, kicking up fallen leaves.

“BOO”, he jumps out, “tag, you’re it” and he takes off.  She takes off after him in wild abandoned pursuit.  Oh I see, it’s a game.  They’re friends, these two, this unlikely pair.  Her a waif, a stray almost, him, well I just don’t know about him.  Almost like a big brother, but he’s no stray, not that one.

She’s running, bounding down the forest path, and she’s beginning to gain ground.  Hang on a minute, take a look at him.  He’s just playing with her, jogging, holding back, taking it easy and letting her catch up.

She’s reaching out and grasping his hand.  The trees part and the pair make their way into a beautiful clearing, the sky is radiant, the grass so green, they both look so alive. 

Ha ha, look, they’re spinning now.  Oh the fun.  Their hands are grasped and they’re spinning round and around and around.  Heads thrown back to drink in the light and the heat of the sun.  Wow, they’ve landed in a dizzy heap and now they’re rolling down the grassy slopes.  Oh the freedom!  The joy!  The laughter!

Bubble, bubble, trickle, drip, drip, splash.  They look around and have you ever seen anything quite like it?  It’s a river, but look at it.  Have you ever seen such clear water?  It’s like crystal, so clear, so perfect.

On the river bank the unlikely pair are dangling their feet in the water.  It seems wrong to put feet in such a perfect river, but then, it also seems so right.

Ha ha, she’s just kicked water at him, and now he’s splashing her back.  The sun catches the spray, and it’s like a spray of diamonds arching through the air.  Oh the joy, the refreshing.  She gives him a look and he smiles, nods.  They stand, hold hands and jump.

Jump in the river.  Splash.  Splash.  They’re in.  Completely immersed.  Floating.  Splashing.  Playing.  The perfect crystal water flowing over them, and around them.

You know, maybe it sounds strange to you, but I feel like I know these two, do you know who they are?  Really, you think so?  Yes, I do see it, she does look like me.  But what about him?

Oh wow, hey look closer, what’s that?  There, right there, is that just a trick of this fascinating light reflecting on that brilliant water?  No, it’s not.  It’s real.  He’s wearing a crown.  So, well, what does it…, could he really be?  All this time… I’ve been touching the king.