Sunday, October 31, 2010

What babies are there in your bathwater?

I am quite a stubborn person. Once I've made my mind up about something there's not much that can change it. Its not a trait I'm very proud of - it means when I really don't want to do something, nothing can make me do it; that can be a stumbling block when it's something I should be doing, and when it comes to surrendering to God.

I've spent a long time feeling guilty for my negative traits, and trying to rid myself of them completely. When that wasn't working, I realised I was trying to throw away too much.

Like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

My stubbornness may get in the way of things at times, but at others it protects me. I don't succumb to other people's doubt of me. If others question or discourage my faith or my beliefs, I can stick it out and I cling stubbornly to God.

A lot of things in our personality have two sides to them. Everything is God given, it's just how we use it.

What's motivating your choices?

    No wonder we don't like exercise sometimes...a lot of the time.
    What we look like eating cake...
    What we look like exercising...

    But we tend to focus on the instant gratification. Cake is instantly gratifying. Exercise is instantly painful. It's easy to see which one we'd go for - IF we're only thinking of the short term.
    What about later on.
    Choosing cake every time....
    Pursuing a healthy life and putting in the work...
    Now, you may never in your life actually go and frolick in the fields or leap along the beach with a giant white-toothed smile on your face. But there's a reason these are the types of pictures always use to represent health and happiness.
    Because even if you're not leaping on the outside, it shows that energy and joy that you feel on the inside.
    Now, your cake vs exercise may be something else:
    Cake = alcohol, sex, watching TV, driving fast, dropping your clothes on the floor instead of the washing basket....
    Exercise = waiting until marriage, tidying up after yourself, telling the truth even if it gets you in trouble, making time for God....
    Keep the long term in mind. Eat cake - metaphorically or literally. But don't do it just because you're using it to feel better in the moment. There's a time and a place for "cake".

Saturday, October 30, 2010

God made Adam by breathing into the dirt

You've got to say that title in your best rapper voice because it's the lyrics to Hands High by Lecrae.

But beyond that, I just had a thought getting out of the shower this morning. It's always those random times when the best thoughts come to me. God likes to catch me when I'm off guard and my head is not as full of all my own stuff.

Genesis 2:7 says "the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."

You could take that several ways..."so, what - human beings are just a pile of dirt then? Gee, thats encouraging.."

Or it can remid you of what's really important. Our earthly bodies are temporary and will eventually turn back to the dust they were made of. But, whatever we're told in Biology, it is not really our bodies that give us life. The blood, our heart beating, our brain firing, our lungs inflating....that's all just physical, temporary, and easily lost.

God breathed into us the breath of life... that REAL life from God. His breath, his word, his life is infused in us. It is enternal.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life - John 3:36


That word should take on a completely different meaning for us.

"Life is hard."
"Life is short."
"I should have achieved more by this stage of my life..."

We think of life as just the physical act of being alive, or as just the passing of time as we get older and go through stages.

Thinking of it that way, enternal life doesn't really seem like such a great prospect. An enternity of struggles, expectations and falling short of dreams.

But the LIFE from God - that's an entirely different and an entirely more inspiring and exciting concept.

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. - John 14:6

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you...  - 1 Peter 1:3-4

If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. - John 7:37-38

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. - Colossians 3:2-3

God.... made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. - Ephesians 2:5

When the thoughts of 'life is hard', 'whats the meaning of it all?' come creeping in, read these verses, and all of Gods living word. Let him breathe again his breath of life into you heart, mind and spirit. Set your eyes on him and remember what and Who it is you are really living for...and what that LIFE really means.

It is nothing to do with out physical selves and all to do with Christ in us

Read the whole verse of Ephesians 2:1-10 

And how do we claim this life?

My son, pay attention to what I say;
       listen closely to my words.
 21 Do not let them out of your sight,
       keep them within your heart;
 22 for they are life to those who find them
       and health to a man's whole body.
 23 Above all else, guard your heart,
       for it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:20-23

The Message version:

Learn It by Heart
 Dear friend, listen well to my words;
   tune your ears to my voice.
Keep my message in plain view at all times.
   Concentrate! Learn it by heart!
Those who discover these words live, really live;
   body and soul, they're bursting with health.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Knowing vs Understanding. From the Inside Out

Romans 12:2  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will.

When God's word comes from within us, when it is hidden in our hearts, when it is an ingrained part of us - that is when we live in God's will. That's when we don't need to come to a crisis or a crossroads and cry out "Now, tell me what to do God!" - because we've already been walking with him daily.
The Bible is more than giant rule book imposing itself on our lives - God is more than a task master, shouting orders from the sky.

When we think of it that way, we're inclined to buckle under the pressure - to one day shout, "I give up, God. All this is too hard. I need a break from feeling like my life never lives up to your standards." I've done that before. It took me a long time to realise, however, that it wasn't God applying that pressure to me, it was my own created perception of God.

God was actually there saying, "I love you. You're my child. My precious daughter. I love you. I'm right here - take my hand. I can carry you through this storm."

But I didn't even notice that loving God - I was too busy seething at my own image.

God is also more than an emergency contact, just there when things get crazy and we can't do it ourselves any more. Because the fact is, we can't do anything ourselves. It might seem to work for a while, but eventually we are going to realise that everything we are doing is leading us down a futile path.

How much better to walk with Him daily - to include Him in every step we take, so that our steps are in line with His - so that when he moves, we are right there to move along with Him.

Trials of a Teenage Life

 "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

I used to see that verse as an excuse, a free pass to validate my rebellious youth. "I'm young - don't you dare look down on me!" Reading it now I don't see that in there at all, but we all see what we want to see when it works for us. Now I see it as an admonishment, an instruction - as it was for Timothy.

I want to explore what it really means.

I had an interesting teenage-hood. I made a lot of mistakes, I can tell you, and from some of those choices I'm still cleaning up the wreckage. Mine is definitely a what-not-to-do in a lot of cases.

I would really like to share that with people as a warning beacon, as advice, and as encouragement that it's a hard time of life and you're not alone in struggling with it. Or just someone to look at and say to yourself, "Phew, I'm doing better than that at least!"

If you want to hear about my story, for whatever it's worth, there'll be videos coming soon on YouTube and I'll post links to them here.It will probably have a girl focus, because I'm a girl and that's all I know, but I'm sure things in it will apply to everyone. And boys, we know you like to read Dolly or Cosmo every now and then just to see what us girls are all about, so this can be for you too :)

I promise it will be more meaningful than a magazine!

Cupfuls of Love and videos-to-be

Part 1 is here!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What would the depth of your life be, if you measured it?

Don't be someone who doesn't care about things - who has built up such a facade of superficial things that nothing meaningful or real can penetrate.

"Though seeing, they do not see;
      though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
   " 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
      you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
 15For this people's heart has become calloused;
      they hardly hear with their ears,
      and they have closed their eyes.
   Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
      hear with their ears,
      understand with their hearts
   and turn, and I would heal them.'" Matthew 13: 13-15

I was supervising a class who were watching a video on the boycotts in South Africa during the apartheid regime. By the end of the video I was moved at what a group of people banding together could accomplish even under severe  oppression.

But I watched as many of the young people, rather than taking in the words that were being said and recognising the significance of what they were seeing, they simply laughed at a man's accent, and the girls went back to giggling and I'm pretty sure I saw one flick there hair, like some bad teenage movie.

With another class, reading and watching the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - the boys, this time, spent more time laughing at inappropriate moments, drawing swastikas on desks and each other and making rude comments, than they did actually taking the time to think about the significance of the real life events and people behind the story.

Not all young people are like this - and there are plenty of adults who are like this still. So this is for everyone. Care about things - let things penetrate the shield sometimes.

No one wants to walk around being affected by everything in life - there are so many bad things happening every day that if we cared about all of them we'd go crazy. We obviously can't take on everyone else's stuff.  And we aren't going to walk around all day being super serious about everything.

But care about things - when you come across them, let the important things resonate and sink in. Don't be someone who walks around ONLY thinking about the surface things - that's when we become shallow and materialistic.

 It's also when our little daily stuff becomes disproportionately large. When not having the perfect brand of shoes, that annoying person you have to talk to every day, having to eat vegetables instead of pizza, that person you like not feeling the same - it's when all that stuff seems like the whole world.

Take notice of the things going on around us in this world, not to get depressed at the state of it all, but to remind you to put things in perspective.

And also to give you a sense of hope. Like in South Africa, determined people helped to overthrow apartheid. Even in the holocaust, a devastating and horrific part of history, there were those who made small differences, by risking themselves to help those who were persecuted.

In every story of terrible atrocities there are the small sparks of hope that remind us what we are capable of when we take notice of things. When we realise what really matters in life, and live our lives with depth and love.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.  Psalm 1:3