Heart matters

the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. (Rev 5:8 NIV)

I love the smell of fresh soil.

If you’re a gardener, there are certain smells that bring delight to your heart. Fragrant foliage: rosemary, basil, mint, thyme to name a few. Fragrant flowers: gardenia, daphne, magnolia, lemon, fragrant roses, lily-of-the-valley…

Then there are the fragrances that may make a gardener’s heart sing, yet leave the average ‘Joe Blow’ cold. These fragrances include freshly disturbed soil as an old tree pulls up by the roots (such as I walked past last week); a freshly weeded and watered garden; and even the freshly fertilised garden, not because I love the smell of manure, but because I know what fertilisation will bring in due time.

Such too is the Father’s heart. Or so I think…

Fragrance of our delight in Him, of our worship, of our obedience… even the fragrance of us just sitting with Him, and loving on Him. That delights the Father’s heart.

There is a fragrance of intercession that ascends to Him when it’s empowered with a heart of love. Even the simple act of a random kindness motivated from a place of compassion will release Heaven’s scent into a thirsty world.

A beautiful woman in my life group shared a vision that she had in a time of soaking. She came home, despondent after having been told at her church that they would not perform certain songs from other particular churches because they did not agree with the churches involved. This grieved her heart. She felt a great disappointment at the slander and the unkind words said about other ministries and churches. With this sadness heavy on her heart she went home, went to bed to soak, asking God ‘where are you for me in this situation?’

In this soak she went on a glorious trip and saw various churches around the world: Greek Orthodox, Anglican, Charismatic… and so the list went on. As she visited each church around the globe, she heard the Father speak to her heart on the matter.

I encourage you to listen to her words here it runs 2.24 min:

Heart in worship releases a fragrance that delights the Lord

Carol’s testimony 22nd April 2021

I know I want my worship to be a sweet fragrance.

The form of worship is not the issue, rather it is a matter of the heart.

For you see…

Heart matters…

Heart worship, true heart intercession, fills the bowls in the Temple with fragrance. In due time God will pour the fragrances back out upon the world. A fragrant Love so magnificent, so bold, so great that none will be able to contain. A Love poured straight from God’s heart to His people, for His Creation for His world.

To see that God is good – that is the answer. None of us have the right way. None of us have the only way. The Gnostics held the belief that theirs was the only way… modern gnosticism is sadly all too common today…

Instead, like a beautiful Father, He delights in the one whose heart is set on Him. The rest falls into place. If we will just fix our eyes on Jesus, instead of on each other, and then the world will taste and see that…

God is Good!

©Beth Kennedy 2021

He sees the one

A beautiful person house sat for us while we were away for the Easter break. She is dangerous to darkness because she will listen and respond. She shared the most lovely testimony after we came home, a testimony that continues to show that God is the God that sees and cares for the one.

© Andrey Kremkov on Unsplash

Easter Sunday morning she knew she was to head into St Pauls Cathedral in the city. She got herself organised and caught the train into town.

As she stood on the station, she realised she did not have a mask (masks are mandatory on public transport) so she quickly checked with the stationmaster who informed her she could jump on and risk travelling without one. Many do. She thought twice and caught the train, believing she would be late if she went back for her mask.

Arriving ‘on time’ she stood outside the church with another woman and mentioned she had forgotten her mask. The woman looked at her and promptly produced a spare. A God provided the solution.

Mask situation taken care of, she then realised with a level of frustration that she had forgotten daylight savings ended that morning – she was an hour too early.

Irritated, she considered heading off for a city jaunt. However, as she walked she kept finding herself drawn back to St Pauls Cathedral.

Go to the service she would!

© Sincerely Media on unsplash

Sitting in the large church, she estimated that there must have been approximately 2000 people in attendance. It was not the usual type of service for her, and so she was interested to know what God was up to in the moment.

She tells me she enjoyed much of the service until she heard a loud snoring emanating from a source behind her. Turning with the many others, she noted a woman about 2 rows back whose bowed head was in deep sleep.

The noise irritated many around my friend. People ‘tut tutted’ and nodded at each other while glaring at the snoring perpetrator. Yet, not a single soul got up to waken the slumbering woman, regardless that the service was being drowned out with the sound.

My friend said she watched, waiting for someone to awaken the woman gently. Sure someone would help, she watched the ushers wander past to count the crowd. Not a single person moved to wake the sleeper, to help her avoid embarrassment.

© Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

Becoming certain that this was why she had been told to head into town, she argued with God.

Someone else closer would surely interrupt her…

An usher will surely come to her help…

Surely a Church full of Christians would gently engage with the woman to help her wake and avoid the shaming she might feel upon waking.

My friend prayed someone closer would help.

Not a soul moved.

Compassion flooding her, my friend got up, walked back the 2 rows, and sat quietly next to the woman. Once seated, she whispered to the woman who woke with a start. My friend told her gently that she had been snoring, that she was not there to condone, but to sit by her side. The woman did not look at her and said nothing. My friend continued to sit by her side.

As a trained nurse, she recognised the woman was suffering with some form of mental illness. She had perhaps had too much sleeping tablet the night before; whatever the cause, she did not know that she had been making such a noise.

The beautiful thing was that once awake, the woman fully engaged with the entire service. She sang at the top of her voice and listened with intent. God was clearly engaging her heart.

Who knows the outcome of that single act of inconvenient obedience!

© Ben Eaton on Unsplash

My friend sat, now understanding why she had gone to the service.

God knew.

God had seen this woman.

A kind-hearted Father wanted a lone woman to hear, engage and most importantly be protected from the shame that would follow had she realised what she was doing.

God had seen and sent my friend on an inconvenient journey because…

God is Good!

The God who sees (part 2)

© Sam Manns
God gave me kisses on Thursday. I had been flat, I needed encouragement.
He is the God who sees…

The next day, I saw a great friend. You know the type: encouraging, positive, loves your quirkiness and knows you well enough to brush the dirt away gently to reveal the gold while calling you higher. Community matters!

Home again, I sorted daughter responsibilities, and felt to take our dog for a quick walk. Her life long buddy died recently, and she is more needy these days.

As I walked I thought about two random moments from years ago. Both these moments involved drunk guys. Andrew had stopped for them. One was a homeless man whom Andrew took shopping – he had cried tears in delight as Andrew ‘just happened’ to pick up his favourite foods and load up the trolley. The other man wept in the dark as Andrew sat by his side in the local football stadium, talking about his broken marriage.

These ‘random’ memories should have pointed me to what would happen next – but I was none the wiser.

As I walked into the local footy oval, I saw a man to my left. At his feet was a wine box, with a couple of bottles of champagne.

© Michael Odelberth

He averted his gaze. I sensed sensed his shame and as I did my heart went out to him. His despair and sadness was tangible. With a nudge to acknowledge him as I walked past, I smiled gently.

‘Hello,’ I said.

A quiet ‘hello’ came back.

I continued to walk, and I ‘saw’ in my mind’s eye a picture of me sitting next to him on the park bench, talking.

I never choose to sit down next to drunk men at parks.

I prayed instead.

The image in my mind stuck.

‘I will stop for him and sit if you like. Just let me know if I stop on my first or second lap.’

As I came near to where he sat, he got up.

‘Oh, he’s leaving,’ I thought, ‘missed it.’

However, to my surprise, he merely shifted along to the next park bench. Some men had been working on the turf, so I reasoned he was perhaps uncomfortable. He seemed a gentle soul. He later told me he had become too hot in the sun.

His shift of seating made it difficult to join him, so as I walked close to the boundary fence instead and said, ‘Are you ok?’

‘No, I’m not, I’m actually really struggling,’ he replied.

His vulnerability was raw.

© Alicja Gancarz

‘Wow, that must be tough. Do you want to talk about it?’ I asked.

He did, and he started talking.

After a little while, I mentioned I was a Christian. I explained I had felt prompted to come over to see if he was ok. Note: I have great local non-Christian friends who would have done the same.

I told him about the picture I had of us sitting and chatting. He said that sounded nice.

We sat side by side on the park bench. I listened some more. He spoke. I prayed for him. He wept.

I told Him about the God who sees him, who loved him right as he was. I spoke briefly of my messes…

I told him God did not judge the drinking, the pain, the mess, the self medicating; instead, I explained, God adored him. I responded to a comment that God did not judge him, that Jesus had dealt with all that, but then I said I was not there to preach.

I repeated God loved him so much and merely hated the drink because it hurt him. I also said that God sees and hates the hurt that he was trying to stifle, and like a good Father wants to see him set free in order to have a wonderful life.

© Jen Theodore

As I prayed, I saw a picture of a little boy. The boy was so full of joy and excitement about football that his eyes shone with delight. Speaking to the broken dream in his heart, I prayed for the boy who had played football and cricket at the very oval we sat beside.

I told him he could not be any more loved than he was right now, just as he was. He shared his struggles to believe in a God that could ‘allow’ such pain in the world. I told him he had good questions, and I responded by telling him of my own struggles with faith when faced with the brutality my refugee clients had survived.

We kept talking, he wept, he drank, and my dog sat patiently by my side.

Eventually he said how much my saying ‘hello’ had meant to him.

It was a tiny, yet significant, act of kindness.

I shared how God prompted me to sit by his side, and how I had prayed for him as I walked all around the oval.

‘Really?’ he said…

© Natasha Ivanchikhina

I said simply, ‘He is the God who sees, He loves you, He cares’ and I thought of my encounter the day before.

He is the God who sees…

Eventually I stood, I needed to leave. I had to return home to help my mother, whose sister (my aunt) had just died. Promising to leave Andrew’s number at the reception of his accommodation, I said we would love to see him for a coffee. Drunk or not, it was ok; he was welcome just to catch up.

He said he would like that.

I felt the urge to give him a hug; but ignored it the first time. Feeling it again, I offered him a hug. He immediately responded ‘yes’ and threw his arms around me in a way that he was desperate for love. He was hungry for the acceptance that only human warmth can provide. As I hugged him, I hoped he felt the Father’s heart. I could feel his basic human need to be seen and to be loved.

I hope he calls for a cuppa.

I also hope he can kick the addiction and step into his inheritance. I had prayed a future I saw.

He has kicked the habit before. I believe he will again.

Yet, even if he can’t, he knows there is a God who loves him, right where he is at. He knows there is a God who sent a random female stranger to sit and talk on a park bench for an hour.

Yesterday, God gave me kisses…

He was the God who sees…

Today God gave him kisses…

He IS the God that sees…

I hope and trust that this man at the park tasted to see that…

God is Good!

© Suhash Villuri

The God who sees (Part 1)

©Guilherme Stecanella

If anyone has read my stories, they know I believe in stopping for the one. The masses are exciting and they matter. The big impact is glorious. Yet there is something so very special about the one. Never forget, He is the Father that encourages with the story of the one lost sheep.

Sometimes in stopping for the one, in taking time to sit, listen and serve, I can become quite despondent. I wonder whether it really makes a difference.

Today I gave my time to support others. I spent longer than planned. An hour out of a day, with an extra half hour, does not seem too much; but when you are in a busy world, it makes a tremendous difference.

Feeling a little flat after, I roused myself. I must have made an impact, given how flat I felt. Walking with my son in the sunshine, I reminded myself that God had asked me to do what I had done, yet the niggle remained – had I just wasted my time?

Intellectually you know you are doing the right thing, but…

Master M and I stopped for lunch at a local cafe. I randomly looked at my mobile phone… 1:11.

‘I love you’ I heard Him whisper.

‘I love you too’ I responded and ate my lunch.

As I went inside to pay, I thought about an ARK (Act of Random Kindness) I had performed over a week before in the same cafe. I don’t talk too much about these, and I would not normally be writing about this one, but the goodness and kindness of God radiates by sharing what happened today. It’s my hope you see Him in this story. It’s my wish that you hear His heart. I trust it will encourage you to look for Him yourself when you feel as I felt today…

He is the God who sees (Genesis 16:13).

©Nathan Dumlao

Just over a week ago, I had left a sum of money at this cafe. It was enough for 10 or more coffees to be given away to whom ever they pleased. Amazed and delighted, the girl behind the til chatted about never seeing something like this before. She was so excited by the idea. I laughed and said that she would have fun giving the coffees away. The tangible atmosphere in the cafe buzzed with Holy Spirit.

This came to mind as I walked in to pay my bill. I wondered why I had bothered, noting the grouchy exchange I had with the owner late last week when I had tried to be friendly. (Note: my stinking thinking). I checked myself and my attitude, and I smiled as I paid and left.

We were some way down the street, when a girl chased behind us.

‘I was that girl that you left all that money with on the til the other day, you will never guess what happened…’

I smiled and waited…

‘You broke something open that day. I’ve never seen it before, but two more people came in that day and they also left money for free coffees for others…’

‘Wow,’ I responded, ‘that is bizarre.’

I know people leave money in cafes. It happens regularly at another cafe a suburb away from where I live. But, she had never seen it happen in this cafe.

© Brooke Cagle

She had not finished her story. She was so excited, she repeated herself.

‘I had to tell you, you broke something open that day, you started something that day, you broke it open that day, and others followed you and did the same, you caused something to start that day, what you did opened something up…’

I smiled and was a little embarrassed. Thanking her for sharing it with me, I told her to have a beautiful afternoon, and we walked on in the sunshine.

I heard the Father’s voice. He spoke to me through her excitement and declaration of what had occurred. he reminded me of my purpose, having first reminded me that I was loved.

I was nearly in tears.

She did not know I was feeling flat.

She did not know I have had those same words spoken over me many times. She did not know I had been told I would break things open, and that others would follow.

Being a breaker sounds fun, glamorous even.

It’s not.

There’s rarely people encouraging you to walk forward.

Stepping out in faith is spelt: R I S K.

There’s often jeering from the sidelines. People regularly misunderstand motives. Many, even ‘friends,’ want you to stop where they are at, so as not to cause them too much discomfort.

It’s lonely.

©Limor Zellermayer

The point is, God knew my heart, my thoughts today, and He met me with, ‘I love you.’ Even though I was entertaining thoughts of ‘poor me’ and ‘stinking thinking.’

He then said, ‘thank you, I see you’ and He affirmed my identity and purpose.

Through an excited young woman, He showed me the end of a story. I rarely see what happens next, but she had remembered me and had witnessed to me the marvellous results of stopping for the one, and the flow on impact that an act of kindness had. It was His idea; it was my idea; it was both our ideas… His nudge so intangible. A joy to do, feel the atmospheres shift and watch the delight. She witnessed two more people give money away to bless others they did not know… and she somehow recognised that the act of obedience had broken something open for others to follow.

God heard my heart today, and He met it with a kiss. He did so through an unknowing girl who witnessed generosity break out in her workplace. God knew I needed a reminder that I was loved, that he saw me, and he met me in my need. And He will do so for you too, if you look to see because…

God is Good!

Love looks like something…

So, this is the beautiful Nikita who writes poetry and loves gifts. She encountered Love a couple of weeks ago when my friends and I had coffee…

Love looks like something
© Nikita Borg 2020
Days after we spoke with her, a group of Christians from another church had coffee there. The pastor chatted to her, and she told him her story of meeting us. He invited her to his church. She plans to go. Ironically, it’s the same church I would have suggested to her, but I had felt not to push it, but allow her to go on her own journey. Now I know why I was to stand back – God had it all in hand. The church is just perfect to accept her creativity, beauty, and gentleness of heart.
I will let her tell more of her story.
She gets it…
this is NORMAL Christianity, this is what Love looks like…❤️
Nikita writes on her Facebook page:

hello facebook, please meet L 🌞 L is a dear friend of mine. he is exactly like you and I. He has a heart and soul and a really beautiful dream; to spread the words of love and kindness. He is an incredibly colourful human with an old soul wiseness and a phenomenal artist as you can see! He is almost always peacefully planted outside the ANZ bank in _____ sipping coffee, smoking making art, being, interacting with anyone that chooses to interact with him. I know I really enjoy buying his art as gifts for others and myself but him all to his own, the human that he is, the alphabet he created and the love he emits he is the most kind and whole soul I’ll probably ever meet. So yes this is a huge plug to get you all to support him and buy his art but he also likes flat whites with two sugars and hugs. I gave him a big hug today and he cried and cried and said nobody had done that for years. So if your lucky enough to befriend him and your a hunger just go for it 💙
Not long after she wrote this post she privately messaged me:

I gave myself to God today in front of everyone at fire church I cried and cried and felt a weight lifted and the pastor I knew came over and said a prayer for me and I feel so different. THANK-YOU! I would also be very interested in a more formal church. Can always go to two…… where do you go?

I LOVE JESUS

Three words:

God is Good!

Love looks like something.

Will you leak Heaven as you go?
What does it look like for you?
I’d love to hear your testimonies.