Sunday, December 1, 2013

I was on the train the other day and for some odd reason I noticed someone's ears and thought: 'ears'... aren't they interesting little things that God gave us! Then I thought about eyes and how we generally trust in our sight more than our hearing... and that's when I realised something really special.

Sometimes all the lights go out in life. We all experience it, literal or figurative, moments when its really hard to see. When direction is crucial but sight suddenly can't help us. I realised that its in those moments that hearing comes into its own - our funny little 'ears' can navigate the darkness in a way sight cannot.

Trusting in our sight is far more fragile... yet by default, it's what we trust in. A mother calls 'stop' at the curb, but the child trusts in what he sees, rather than what he hears and crosses the road anyway. If I think about it.. my eyes tend to judge many things in contrary opinion to my ears... and if I am honest, my 'sight' has less 'insight' into someone else's life than sitting down and listening to them.

So... idea... Whether it's dark today or bright as can be... take time to close your eyes, deciding to put aside the way 'you' see everything and listen. Listen to your children, listen to your spouse, listen to the rain... Spend a little more time 'listening' and a little less time 'looking'.

And take some time to listen to God. The Word was before the world was. His Word created everything we see. Listening to His voice will calm your heart and stir your faith. It will enable you to navigate any terrain - whether its foggy, dark, stormy, bright and even those moments when our own sight fails us.

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Picture of Pride

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." James 1:23-24

Pride is just like Vanity... both are false reflections. We can’t see what's really behind them and that's their purpose - they show us only what we want to see. Ever met someone with so much make-up or such a pretty outfit that it made it hard to see the person behind it all?

Pride dresses up our lives in a way that makes it hard for us to see the truth, even and especially about ourselves. Yet because we can see a reflection, we think we are seeing ourselves as we really are. But to get a proper view of ourselves, we have to stop looking at our own reflection.

The Bible talks about us looking at ourselves in different a mirror – The Word. Jesus.1 This 'mirror' doesn’t reflect our image back to us, it reflects Jesus, exposing the distortions in the image we have of ourselves, and giving us eyes to see how we really are behind the pride that would like to leave us the same way we started. The pride that keeps us from needing Jesus.

Whether puffed up or completely deflated, we simply can not change if we rely on our own reflection to evaluate ourselves2. We will either unnecessarily find fault in others or condone behaviour, comparing it all to our own image. Pride keeps ourselves at the centre and requires everyone else measures up to our standards.

No wonder He resists the proud and give grace to the humble3.

How magnificent is the Cross of Christ? When see the Word and accept it, we see that He (the Word) took our failings, everything about ourselves that we try to hide, dress-up, re-write, puff up and keep up - He took upon Himself, saying “I will bear this for you. I will not leave you with your own reflection, but instead, I will have yours so that you can have Mine". And so, contrary to perception, this sober view of our lives ends not with gloom but with utter joy... For if we will let go of our nature, the Lord will give us His.

When Jacob wrestled with God, God would not bless him until Jacob was honest and stopped hiding his nature behind a labyrinth of lies and a cloak of excuses and pride. "What's your name?"4 God asked. Up until then, Jacob had called himself all sorts of other names - Esau and Son of Rebekah, disguising the fact that his real name was supplanter, deceiver. But the moment he was honest with God about who he was, "Jacob" he said (grabber, supplanter, deceiver, yes that's me Lord) then the Lord touched Jacob and changed him. God gave Jacob a new name, and a new nature. The man who had deceived Esau and been afraid of him, became the man who humbly went out to meet his brother and make amends.

If we want to see God clearly, we can't continue to live in deception about ourselves. And the fabulous news is that when we come out from our hiding place, and lay down our Pride, He makes us into people, who no longer have to hide.

1.      John 1:1
2.      James 1:23-24
3.      1 Peter 5:5
4.      Genesis 32-33

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Faith and Trading

Part 1
Something I have been thinking about is trading in day-to-day relationships. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, that sort of thing and how especially as Believers, we aim to forgive instead of returning debt for debt or nasty comment for nasty comment. We try to let things go. At least I hope so.
But it got me thinking about subtler things. What about if we need to trade a small lie just so that we get our money back on something? Or if we’re not getting our own way and we feel the need to give the silent treatment to our opponent to teach them a lesson? We do these kinds of things to get what we want – using them as currency to purchase an outcome for our own benefit.
We see people all the time using their physical appearance, personality, talents, any number of things, even sympathy to secure something. Everyone does it. The only thing is that God doesn’t. We can’t woo Him with our beauty – He made us. We can’t impress Him with our good deeds - He knows our hearts.
Whatever our currencies are, they purchase us earthly things instead of Heavenly things. But the good news is that when we no longer want the insecurity of this type of trade and we pick up our collection of corrupt coins and take our broken trades to the cross of Jesus Christ, the most amazing thing happens. The Prisoner, the Prostitute, the Bound – are set free. The bible is full of the stories of men and women with corrupt currency, who traded it in for Heaven’s treasure.
Jesus never traded like we do. That’s the thing I really keep thinking about. The currency of earth is corrupt and its one of the reasons He says His ways are not our ways1. Even with all our human temptation, He still refused to trade like us. Instead of responding to lust in a woman, he said ‘you don’t have to trade in that anymore, go and be free’. 2

So since thinking about this I have been going to the cross with my 'stuff' and I now have a growing collection of new currencies in place of the old. Perhaps one would say.. new wine? And I’m finding out that Heaven’s coins purchase things like security and peace, Christlike relationships and freedom for other people... Sometimes it means I forfeit something that I wanted, but it's okay, I'd rather not have it if the path to acquisition is astray.

Trading is powerful. Every single trade is a purchase, no matter who it is with, or what it is for. So... buy things that live forever, things that don't need dusting and will never fade away!

Part 2
Jesus trades in faith3. He never manipulates. He never controls. He never lies, tricks or coerces. No - this is OUR character. When God trades, He trades by His character alone. Salvation is based on God's character, not mine, and so is faith.

Faith is the only place where MY focus isn't on ME! But its on Jesus. It's very hard to focus on the Lord's Character and still have faith in my own. If you don't know the Lord's nature and character, especially in an area of struggle - find out, read the bible, become aquainted with who He is. Seek Him with all your heart.4

"Who do you say I am?” Jesus asked Simon Peter. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” Peter answered.
The faith trade with Jesus may be as simple as our own personal answer to the question Jesus asked Peter. Who do you say Jesus is?

I’ve heard people say that to have faith is to believe for a certain outcome or to believe in the healing, or in the Vision. That we determine thr fruit of our faith and God is obliged to bless it. But what if faith isn't about outcome - its about a person - JESUS - and 'outcome' is the fruit of that faith.

For the person who believes that Jesus is Who He says He is - the son of the living God - and believes that His words are true... they will trade everything they have5 : all their broken and even polished currencies to know Him and with that person Jesus trades everything He has too... to this person He gives the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven6.

1. Isaiah 55:8
2. John 8:11
3. Hebrews 11:64
4. Deuteronomy 4:29
5. Matthew 13:44-45
6. Matthew 16:13-20

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I love how God uses prayer to teach and change us. How often I have prayed for someone and walked away learning something about our humanity... and therefore something profound about myself.

I once prayed for a friend who found themselves in the midst of a crisis, a friend who was also a believer. I struggled to pray because this person was longer standing in their walk with Jesus than I, and also older and thus wiser? But God continued to challenge me to ignore my youth and to pray. So I did. And I was astonished that He would use prayer to change me. How often do we forget about the log in our own eye – or are completely unaware of it? I now always pray for God to change me... and to bless the other person.

What happened can be best described as this: I saw a picture of my friend running in many directions trying to fix their crisis. Their head was flustered and busy, their sight was scattered. The Lord was with them saying “Be still and know that I am God.1

This was nothing new. Believers know God should come first. What changed me deeply was hearing my friend’s response.

“I will come to you Lord once I’ve fixed this thing.”

And it hit me.

I do this.

We all do this.

Humanity has always tried to fix things themselves and what we end up with is fig leaves. When something hurts - who sits still? Even numbness or denial is a response of self-protection.

The Lord wanted my friend to be still in the midst of the storm so that He could help guide them through it.

So why don’t we do it? Why aren’t we still? We’re scared. Scared the problem will get worse. Scared we’ll lose precious “fixing” time... and ultimately, deeply, scared that He will fail us. So we keep relying on our own strength; trusting in ourselves just ‘in case’. Yet we hope in God. What an insult really. The ‘maybe God’, the last resort at the end of ‘me’ God.

Our hardwiring has long concluded that being 'still' doesn’t fix a problem. Being 'still' comes after the problem has been fixed. It’s one reason we work so hard to fix it. We all long for rest. That’s why we work so hard at anything the first place. Once we line all the planets up then rest will come. But God says it’s the other way around. Rest in Jesus Christ and from there all things are added unto us.

We are programmed to stop all pain at all cost. No one likes pain. Even with things we know that we can’t fix we at least try! Only then, when our own ways have failed, we go to God, if we believe He is there. Sometimes we may even be angry that He didn’t bless us in our efforts to fix the pain ourselves. And thus we think He won't help us so why should we trust Him with the wheel? We justify that we were right to rely on ourselves. But the Lord is never obliged to reward our own strength. That is works. That is Religion. That is Pride.

A friend once shared that in the middle of a prayerful declaration for someone else, her heart and mouth poured out before God: "I'm so sorry we don't come to you first Lord."

We all do it. It’s not isolated to special individuals. Self preservation is in the DNA of human nature and it’s always faulty and always temporary.

God’s ways are not our ways2, so what if, not just in a crisis, but in all things, we were 'still' enough to hear Him. What if we went to Him first? What if we graciously gave up our ‘right’ to fix it ourselves and asked Him to take the wheel? What if we trusted him enough
to abandon even ourselves?

Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.3

Perhaps if we started with God first and let Him lead instead of our own understanding we would find ourselves connected to the right people at the right time or doors being opened that were once closed or maybe we would discover a way through the situation that would be hidden to a busy, scattered, limited understanding.

Sometimes our chains may require a spiritual freedom that only the Lord can bless us with – what ways of Man could we run to to give us what we truly need?

We know when something needs fixing because it keeps breaking or we feel the hurt it causes, but do we often know what it is we need in order to fix it? Usually my mind and resources become consumed in working this out. But what if I didn't have to work it out?

If the Lord invites us to ‘be still and know that He is God’ it’s not because He needs an ego boost. Obviously, He knows something we don’t. He sees more than we see. When in pain - human nature doesn’t sit still naturally, it’s a choice, one that requires focus and deliberate decision. Everything in us drives us to dull pain, even if we know the outcome is temporary. We manage it through working hard, eating too much or too little, constantly seeking out relationships etc. Let’s admit it – sometimes it even seems cruel that God would ask us to be still, when He knows that pain is uncomfortable. But a broken leg that moves while healing – heals distorted. God wants us to be still for permanent healing not for the long suffering and enduring.

The problem with sin is that we meet our needs illegitimately and it doesn’t satisfy. Only God can meet our deepest needs and bring rest.

The invitation to be still is not so the storm can overtake us but so that we’re quiet enough to hear Him, still enough to receive His touch, brave enough to let Him near the tender places. The invitation is about letting He who knows the way to the other side, Who gives living water to the thirsty and Life to the perishing; guide us in ways that bring not relief but freedom. Life everlasting... Being still enough, to know that He is God.

I wonder how much of God we miss out on because we rely on our own understanding.

Though trusting in yourself makes sense to our flesh and the world celebrates it everyday, I have to ask the question - can I really trust myself? I am simply not all knowing, can't be everywhere and can't be everything to everyone. I am prone to not stopping, to not listening, to not waiting on God and to secruing things for myself, in my ways, not the Lord's. Such is our humanity. Without Jesus as the reference point and God’s word, faithfulness and presence in all of life - I would be like a chicken with its head cut off – no different to the world, searching for answers to stop the discomfort of personal, periodical and even perminant pain.

But with Jesus, I can stop looking in every direction and in every market place and library that claims to have the answer. I can stop and be still still with He who not only has the answer but is the answer.

I want to be still and know that He is God. I want to trust Him with the things I fear He may even fail on me. I want a journey where the things of my world, are overcome by the things of His world. And instead of a myriad of dead-ends and temporary solutions I am willing to be still and let Him shape my winding path and make it straight4 and broaden the road beneath me, so that,5 no matter the terrain, my feet will not stumble.5

1.    Psalm 45:10
2.    Isaiah 55:8
3.    Luke 17:33
4.    Proverbs 3:6
5.    Psalm 18:36