spiritual self deceiving

Last week was the second week that I’d been waking up at 4am and not being able to get back to sleep so I decided that I would get up and pray. When I did, it felt like such a great use of time- praying before the sun rose and before most people of the nation get started for the day ahead. It felt like such a fresh and special time of prayer. I thought that this is what I will do when I wake early and it would become a discipline and part of me fearing God and submitting to Him more of myself… (rolling eyes…)

Today, I woke up at 5.15am and felt sleepy still so thought I would try and go back to sleep and then remembered about “fearing God” and having reverence for Him over all other things.. which then got me out of bed, but groggily.

It seems that when I wake and can’t sleep I can get up and pray and seem very spiritual and disciplined, but when I sleep well, in actual fact, sleep would be my preference! What a self-farce I am! Getting up because you can’t sleep is not fearing God or discipline! It’s not being able to sleep!

When I have a choice, that is when it shows where my reverence is and what my desire is for.

When there is no choice, it is not a win when someone chooses you. When there is a choice, and you are chosen- that is special.

How easy is it to feel like we’re doing well when actually we have no idea how self-deceived we are! :/

we are asked only to do what is possible

Today I was listening to worship about God being the God of the impossible and it got me thinking about how He wants us to co-labour with Him. And while I was thinking about this, I thought about what it is that He actually asks of us… and realised that He will never ask us to do anything that is not outside our remit of ability.. Maybe walking and keeping our mouths shut for a few blocks before then shouting (Joshua), or just walking (Peter), or building a boat (Noah), keeping arms lifted (Moses and his two comrades), talking and lifting someone up from the floor (Peter and John), walking out of prison (Peter), confronting a lie (David)…

All the stories and testimonies of God working in and through His people show us that He has only ever asked what is possible. Nothing even extravagant or special. Nothing that is complicated or difficult. It is all totally possible for us to do in the physical realm, but yet it can sometimes feel absolutely impossible. What about when our feelings start to talk louder than God- “I can’t talk in front of people” (Moses), “It is an impossible/hopeless/too far gone situation” (Abraham, Zachariah&Elizabeth, Mary, Meshach and friends, guy at the tombs, food supply/lack of provision), or “to obey would show me to be rebellious” (the healed man on Sabbath who was told to pick up his mat), or “it will put your very own people in a worse situation” (Mordecai)….

The thing that makes the above seemingly impossible is not having our eyes fixed firmly on God. When we listen to others, ourselves and our own ego, to culture, religion, ‘common sense’, or consider the cost of ‘steeping out’, then we will miss incredible co-labouring of another level for what God is wanting to do in and through our lives. For God, obedience is better than sacrifice and it also shows Him where our loyalties lie- in our logic or unbelief/limited belief, or in human strategies etc..

This is where faith comes in. When it looks absolutely crazy, foolish, impossible, rebellious, isolating, to keep unwavering focus of keeping an audience of One only.

May we be like the unnamed servers at the wedding, who just do what He tells us to do… and are able to see the wonders from obedience that maybe people would never even believe if we told them.

fear God only

After watching a documentary film about the mafia and the fear they caused and brought over a whole city, I am even more convinced of God’s Truth and Word, and also how Kingdom principles will work for anyone who uses them. 

The fear of the mob was due to “the family” being so closely intertwined but knit together with control and fear. The unity between them created strength that brought the city to chaos. They were also involved in different economies of society and had legitimate as well as illegitimate work. 

They had created such an atmosphere of fear due to force, murder, intimidation and threats. They became feared. 

They became the god in that city- the all-powerful and almighty one.  They were worshipped by fear and sacrifice and being held in the highest respect from the people. Even though this wasn’t one of ‘freedom’.

The Bible says that God is to be feared and that this brings wisdom and life. And yet we hold so many others higher than God in fear. How about viruses, gangs, payslips (or lack of), the future, politics etc..?

The fear of the Lord is not the same as the fear of the Mob (or all those mentioned above). It does not cripple us but bring the perspective that the Lord God Almighty is higher than all others. This means that if He is being held high in reverence and honour and fear that He alone is Almighty, then we understand that He is the One that has the power to direct the hearts of kings, is able to destroy the soul not just the body, and to speak a higher word than the doctors, employers, gangs, politicians, culture..

This is the fear of the Lord that brings wisdom and long life, peace.

To fear is part of humanity and is highly exploitable which is why God always gives us the choice of a higher way of living- as long as we continue to apply His instruction. To apply His Word will always go against our basic humanity and therefore it is an ongoing relationship and connection that we need so that we do not get overwhelmed when the various voices of culture try and clamour for our attention and downfall.

To fear God, I believe that it means to hold Him in highest esteem and respect. If you read His Word (with the Spirit of God) and have a relationship with Him then you would know that He gave His only Son for all of mankind- every. single. individual. This shows that He is loving at a very personal and sacrificial cost. He is not telling us to fear Him because of ego, but because if we fear Him, then the others that compete for our fear to take us down, will not succeed.

We need our personal application of fearing God, but we also need our corporate fearing of God as Followers of Christ. The city that was brought to its knees due to the mob had corporate fear that was able to run rife through the people and streets and council. So we need to also make sure we are closely intertwined with those who are fearing God so that we can stay encouraged and with the perspective that the Lord God is Almighty and none other..

Nothing of worthwhile investment will ever come without intentional building, choosing, or cost, but it will always be worth it as the later cost (if we don’t invest) will always be higher.

the God who’s not afraid to push our buttons

If you are walking the way of faith in Jesus then you will know that He is not afraid of pushing buttons and causing upset to the mind to cleanse it from the limits and constraints.

In His Word there are so many examples where He will heal and put someone in a crazy uncomfortable position- from either having mud in their eyes, having to come forward from the crowd while you are ‘unclean’ and shouldn’t even be there, having to go to a dirty lake seven times, having to ‘work’ on the Sabbath which is totally rebellious (picking up mats), waiting till the last minute has passed before even considering to come over…

We all have boxed, limited imaginations of how we want things to work out- relationships, workplaces, healings, people coming to Christ, etc..- and yet has it ever really gone accordingly if God is part of this process? Or is it that His Word of ‘His ways being higher than ours’ continues to be true, and that ‘He is able to do exceeding more than we can think or imagine’..

His ways will challenge our ego, our reputation, our obedience, our intellect, and will confront our people pleasing. He will always do this to help us as He wants us to be free indeed and this means that means free from what people will say, or from pride, or from small thinking and expecting of Him. This is not a weird twisted game where He delights in seeing us get strung up and tangled, but He is wants to cut all strings that would cause us to be bound.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. And until we move, sometimes we don’t know that we are in chains..

who are you serving

Who is your god? 

Recently, after the world Cup was won by Argentina, the news reported that as the team were driving through the streets and a few individuals lost their lives by jumping off bridges to try and get a look or close to the team.. 

This makes me think of how all humanity serves gods.. but just who or what? 

Every god will require a cost of lifestyle, money,  attention, time..and ultimately life. 

The World Cup shows us that football is a mighty god and costs money, time, inconvenience, laughter, celebration, tears and despair.. it is a place of comradery and oneness which celebrates and cries together. It is unifying people of all different backgrounds, cultures, races and status as people come together in support of the one team that they all worship. It is also violently opposed to other football teams and their followers and has pack mentality and oneness against others. Remind you of anything else? Religion perhaps?!

But anything can be our god. Even good things. Football is not bad. Careers are not bad. “Ministry” is not bad. Relationships are not bad. Money, health, food, sex, socialising, whatever..is not bad.

But what about when they take more than what they should, and cost more than what is healthy.. What about when they start to provide us with our identity and our sense of worth.. Or escapism or self-medicating.. What about when they don’t work out as planned and people let us down, break up, teams lose, we lose our jobs, status, health, whatever.. What about when we start to feel empty and these things are not filling us with the peace, energy, life that we once had from them? What do we say about ourselves then? Who are we?

We may not even enjoy the ministry or career or circumstance, but we love what comes with it- the accolade, the money, the living, the calm, the hype, the worship of others, the worship from others…..etc. There are some that don’t like football, church, partying, but they are desperate to feel a sense of belonging and so will sacrifice to get something deeper needed by the spirit within us- whether this is from darkness or light.

Everything costs. But what is the cost? Not everything is in our price bracket. Not everything is for sale in the way we want to pay for it. Not everything is for us to buy- it may be reserved for someone else..

As a believer in Christ, I need to make sure that I am open to God for showing me where my worship is being transferred elsewhere..maybe even to anxiety and pain- this can also become god as it takes my focus and attention and starts to be the louder voice.

It is helpful to ask this question regular- who am I serving? And if it not the Lord God Almighty, there is always going to be a deeper cost to ourselves and those around us.

don’t logicalise the heart out

In a previous workplace I shared an office with this guy who was so hilarious and who I loved to spend time with. Then, during a meeting, there was the suggestion that he moved into another office as it “made more sense and was logical” as it would be more his department.

This was so gutting. And afterwards it was just not the same as my comrade was no longer close by.

I’ve recently been reminded of this as what we can think of as “logical and reasonable” can sometimes take out the heart and soul of the matter.

We are living in a society (in the west) which is so focused on production and outcomes that it can seem like the heart is no longer part of the make-up. 

As believers in Christ-who is highly interested in hearts- we need to be very wise in navigating our way through this mad production of busyness and machine of work.

Let’s not choose what is “logical” if it compromises the heart and soul.

dysfunction over fairytale

I always say that in my relationships I would always prefer “honest arguments over a false smile” and this is true, but today as I was thinking about this, I thought that this could also translate to being honest dysfunction over a fake fairytale..and both are negative!

There are arguments that build and there are arguments that destroy. And there are tones, times, and circumstances that will impact the delivery and therefore the ‘collection’.

In my opinion, arguing is not bad. (I am talking about close relationships in this- not random or superficial encounters with others.) It is (in my opinion*) necessary to have honest dialogue and when two people don’t agree there needs to be that ‘discussion’ and openness to listen to each other and this may be more heated than a regular conversation.

Generally people get heated for what they hold dear and wouldn’t be bothered arguing about something that means nothing to them. So for me, if these things aren’t raised and discussed then there is a massive cover-over of the deeper and most treasured parts of you. But with love as the backdrop, all arguing can lead to so much intel of and for the other person, that this is what relationships can then use to navigate more wisely and powerfully together with respect.

But I also thought that in my “honesty” I need to ensure that I am not closed to listening or hearing from others, and especially God. And that to be teachable will always be a benefit and gift to myself and therefore those around me.

How amazing is it when we have people in our lives who we totally disagree with and yet love is held higher?! This is such an incredible connection between people when you can argue and seem to get nowhere and yet at the end of the day, love wins. We have each others back, we fight for each other, we have the awareness of what the deepest treasures are that we hold close and yet even in disagreement can walk together along life.

To be known fully, disagreed with and yet loved fully is something very special in humanity.

*opinions come and go and are changeable and fluid!

others will also pay a cost

I have already written a lot about the cost of this or that, but this week I was thinking about how others in our lives also have to pay a cost- just by being around us.

As I was reading about David in 2 Samuel 16, it talked about how Shimei came out and pelted David and his guys with stones. So David’s guys were being pelted over someone’s anger against David.

And the same is true of our lives- when we are strung out with stress or exhaustion or pain- the ones that are in our lives will have this to bear too, from us. (This is if we are living in authentic community which means that our lives are laid bare to those close to us.)

What impacts us, will impact ‘our people’. What impacts ‘our people’ will impact us. For better and for worse, in good times and in bad times.

We hate it when others have to carry our burdens, but we are happy to help them to carry their burdens. This means that as we accept support from others and our weakness is covered by their strength, pride is trodden down.

In our crazy society the independent spirit rules and reigns, while community, humility, and honesty of heart is scorned upon. But the lie that we are independently strong is breaking us down and apart. No-one wants others to pay a cost that isn’t theirs. We want to ‘protect’ others from this. But this ‘protection’ allows the spirit of disconnect in- to us and those around us.

Not everyone is going to be ‘your people’. You need to be wise about who you keep close. Your ‘tribe’ may not be your family or who you thought, and you may have to pray and wait on God to be connected to the ones that you belong with. But once you have your people, your tribe, your community and friendships, you will gain deep wealth that is worth the price.

blagged by the facade

Going in another direction to last week’s post; while watching a programme about strippers and their world, this has demonstrated how we can be present somewhere and yet still be totally blagged.  For example, the place where these strippers were working was a fancy club with expensive everything and it was presented like an amazing party; anything goes; total freedom; everyone having a great time; the girls with big smiles and loud laughter…

And yet this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The girls don’t have their passports, they live in the venue and are basically prisoners.  From all the money they make, it all goes to the ‘manager’. They have to smile as their survival depend on it. The luxury and creative venue is bought from the exploitation of the women’s bodies who are regularly abused and maltreated (to put it mildly).

This is such a blag, as the men who visit would “see” that everyone is “happy” and “fun” etc and yet it is a soul-less and high-octane dangerous world.

I do believe that some blagging is known for what it is and yet, because it would mean cost, effort, would ‘rock the boat’ etc, we seem to become like ostriches and bury our heads in the sand.. or perhaps just turn our head away in a more subtle gesture of feigning ignorance..

Let that not be us. When people are living in hell..

visual blagging

Today was a blue sky, bright sunny day. If I’d taken a photo of people wearing summer clothes it would have looked like a perfect summer day.. 

..it was however a freezing day that needed full winter clothing! And so it got me thinking about how important perspective is and also “being there”. 

A photo would give some information, but miss out the impact of the temperature. It also doesn’t hold the atmosphere or vibe, and it doesn’t give the smells or noises.  You only get all of this extra information from actually being present. 

In our world of social media where we have picture perfect madness with major reality missing, maybe we can consider there’s so much more than what we see (or what is presented to us).