Stories of a good God

Posts tagged ‘God is good’

Be a lighthouse…

In a time of striving, competition, views, likes, followers, activities, parties, cleaning, shopping… (need I go on?) do we really know who we are, let alone what we’re called to do?

The age-old concept of ‘finding yourself’, romanticised by Hollywood, mocked by parents of gap year students, and scoffed at by life-hardened cynics, is tricky to conceive, let alone give birth to, and so we side step the issue, claiming it to be stuff of poets and novelists, and we ‘get on with it’… whatever ‘it’ may be…

As a teenager, I romanticised the concept of ‘finding myself.’ Once ‘there’ I was sure I would find my destiny. Therein lay the key to ‘happiness.’ My mother, ever the realist, told me ‘get on with it,’ work hard, just as she had done from the age of 12 or 13, just as her mother before her done…

Restless, I completed my Arts/Law degree and stepped into the ‘respected’ career of ‘lawyer.’ Square peg in a round hole, but I had a heart for justice. Perhaps in the throes of doing I would truly find myself; yet something remained amiss…

With my 30’s came children, and considerations of self fulfilment disappeared with sleepless nights; dirty nappies; and the gentle joy of a little one wrapping their arms around me as their beloved parent, protector, provider and source of all good things. It was mind numbing work being the stay at home, full-time parent. There was a loss of identity too; yet it was also one of the most fulfilling and intellectually challenging things I have ever done. I would do it all again, for who they are becoming…

The yearning remained.

Had I missed ‘it’?

In those years, I learnt to listen and hear the gentle whisper of meaning on the wind. A Promise remained…

We release our children into who they are & provide support for what they are created to do ©naassom azevedo

My youngest went to school. Both children dreamt dreams. We gave permission for them to dream in daring ways for I believe a parent’s role is to equip, establish, encourage and release. But with their dreams, suddenly the expected space for my ‘thing’ disappeared. It was time to die to self… again.

Jesus is right… No greater love… (John 15:13).

Noble romantic concept – tough to do…

There are so many ways to lay down a life; death comes in so many forms. I once heard Graham Cooke teach wryly: ‘Do everyone a favour and die quietly’.

I stifle a groan.

Again I quiet my soul and listen for the Wind.

Throughout this process of death to self, growth… death to self, growth… death to self, growth… I learn.

It has hurt; I have cried; I have found peace.

In the pause, I learn to breathe; in the pause, I teach others the same.

It is in this most recent global pause I remember who I am. I remember what I had learnt years prior, but had somehow lost in the recent flurry of life. Don’t strive. Wait. Listen. The Heart-Beat will announce the beginning of something new… the new is coming, yet it’s old, it’s been there all the time…

I wait.

In this place, I learn to be, before I do.

I’m not perfect – striving is a lifelong habit, and it is the world’s way.

The noise amid the current storm has been furious. So I step back. I step in, and I breathe.

Like many, I find myself on the precipice of decisions, but the striving to know what, where, when, why must leave…

Being supersedes doing.

It is from being that identity flows, and from identity comes the fulfilment of purpose and destiny.

Identity flows from being… not doing.

So I be…

From there it is safe to go…

From There, I am called to go…

Doing before being will immerse me in striving. My identity will ship-wreck on the world’s values of performance, a sure recipe for burnout, disappointment, and an inner sense of failure. My outer world will not match my inner world… and I will either implode or explode, hurting myself and/or those around me.

So, being supersedes doing BUT it does not replace doing.

Once you can fully be who you are, the doing will flow from you with ease.

We are all works-in-progress, so there is a constant tension and interplay between being who and Whose we are, while simultaneously stepping out in obedience, into what we are called to do.

In reality, there is ‘both/and’ at play rather than an ‘either/or’…

We be AND we do.

BUT first we must be.

We are lighthouses set on the shores of Love, lit up for others to see, so that they too may find their way Home…

Home really is where the Heart is.

Yet to settle in the place where you now stand is to settle for nothing, for we are continuously being called to step forward into the language of Love, the language of dance, and as we answer the call to step into the Truth greater and bigger than ourselves, we will continue to see that…

God is Good!

And so in this time of storms, tempests, winds and rain…

BE… 

THEN DO…

Lighthouse on the shores ©Everaldo Coelho

©Beth Kennedy 2020

Can you see the one before you?

This morning I was a little flat. We are still in stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, and although there was some lifting of restrictions last night, the changes do not really change anything for us in our little bubble.

Restless, I pulled on my big girl pants and drove to the naturopath to pick up some tablets.

As I chatted to the owner, I asked her how she was.

She felt the same – a little flat.

We chatted and exchanged comments, and as I did, I noticed the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit.

I stopped and asked: ‘can I pray for you?’

She looked, muttered ‘yes’ and instantly cried.

‘Oh gosh, yes, please, oh, gosh, that would be nice… I don’t know why I’m crying, how kind…’

Her words tumbled out through her tears.

I responded through tears: ‘it’s ok, I can feel the Holy Spirit here, and I felt to offer to pray…’

She came out from around the desk. I asked if I could place my hand on her back. I actually desperately wanted to hug her…

I prayed for her to be refreshed and to receive joy, hope, good sleep, favour for her children who would also remain at home when school returns in a week.

I also felt I heard a word for her, which I gave for the business, and she stepped back wiping away her tears.

There was nothing more to say in that moment.

We both agreed – three more weeks and perhaps it would be better for us both…

Gerberas to give. Nothing to lose ©Beth Kennedy 2020

As I drove away, I thought of the woman who had texted me that morning that she was closing her business. It was too hard. She texted all her customers; I was just one of many. I felt the nudge to drive to the concourse where her shop was located and buy some flowers, so I did, some beautiful large bright happy orange gerberas, thinking I would offer to buy some of her produce to help with the finances of closing shop and moving to the country.

If I was to do this, surely she will be in her shop clearing it out… if I had ‘heard’ right… right?

The shop was closed and no-one was answering my knock!

Maybe I got it wrong…

Frustrated, I then felt to drive back to give them to the naturopath practice.

‘Surely it would cheer her day,’ I thought. Nothing to lose. I did, but I felt it fell flat… I felt foolish…

Maybe I got that wrong…

Still feeling unsatisfied, I drove back to shop area, drove past the shop and the door was still shut with no-one inside.

So I took the Gerberas home ©Beth Kennedy 2020

‘Right’, I thought, ‘I’m driving home’, but it didn’t feel right to just drive home…

Soooooo, I went back again and bought some gerberas (this time smaller bright orange ones), hoping I had ‘got it right’ this time…

Nope – the shop remained shut and empty.

I brought the flowers home and they sit on my kitchen table, bright and cheery.

So I am telling this to encourage those that are giving this ‘stopping for the one’ a go. People that have heard many of my stories think somehow that I get this stuff right, all the time…

I don’t!

You will get it right sometimes.

You will get it wrong sometimes, but if it blesses someone who cares, God loves your heart, and someone gets blessed.

You will get the timing wrong sometimes – I will give it another shot if I can to bless the woman whose business is closing. Let her know her community cares.

And sometimes you just don’t know what you were hearing… but try to step out any

way.

The bottom line is, giving it a go counts – giving it a go is a ‘win’.

So, even though I feel like I missed it, I didn’t.

I loved on a woman who was struggling, and I tried to love on another.

Incline your ear, regardless of how you feel.

Stop for the one as you go, and you will learn, as you go…

And I can guarantee that you will taste and see that…

God is Good!

 

Let me know when you thought you got it right, but then you got it wrong, or you thought you got it wrong… but did you?

Stop for the one regardless of lockdown

Late last year, I bumped into a friend I had not seen for years.

We briefly chatted, and then she surprised me by suggesting we catch up. She said she loved spending time with me years ago, and would love to catch up for lunch. I was delighted, but a little surprised.

Trust me… I am nothing special.

We had lunch and chatted and spoke a little about our own personal challenges. She shared her heart and as she spoke I saw a picture of her sitting at an easel doing art. I asked her about it, explaining that I ‘saw’ her doing something like painting under a tree.

I need to state this friend may not label herself as a ‘Christian’, but she does believe in the goodness of human beings. She believes that we are responsible to others and ourselves to make good choices. She believes it is our responsibility to leave the world a better place than it was before we were in it.

She does know that I do call myself a ‘Christian’, and she accepts me, for all my flaws and inconsistencies that brings.

I go gently in my Christian talk, because I don’t want to offend her – she is my friend, and friends are kind to one another. Friends do not shove values or belief systems down each other’s throats, yet they are not threatened by a difference of opinion, or a healthy discussion. Friends can agree to disagree while honouring the difference of opinion. I find her attitude generous and gracious.

The last time we spoke was years ago, pre prophetic training. I was prophetic back then (news flash: we all are!) but I just didn’t realise I was and I had not learnt how to listen and then mention what I ‘saw’ or ‘sensed’ for people.

So I asked about the painting (with no Christian ease) and she told me she LOVED painting/drawing. I told her what had happened; she accepted what I said, and we moved on in our conversation.

I encouraged her to join an art class, buy some supplies, and recommended a few more personal things, and we went on our way. She was encouraging to me too; it’s a two-way deal people. She was not, and is not a ‘project’, she is a friend, a real live friend, and I see her because I want to, not because she needs saving…

Red hot keen Christians that carry belts with notches please read the above paragraph again…

My friend is not a ‘notch on the belt’… I like her and accept her, and I would continue to see her as a friend even if she never accepted Jesus into her heart!

People can smell belt notching a mile away!

Hence this story…

Within 24 hours I received a message saying that she had ticked off all three items we discussed, and we promised we would catch up again – she would tell me how she got on with her projects, and I would share how I was getting on with mine.

We caught up briefly before Christmas. At the time she was very thankful, and I felt embarrassed because while I was the mouthpiece and the ears (I listened to her and God), I just encouraged her to step into something she loved, into something God created her to do…

Well…

Fast forward to lockdown stage 4 in Melbourne, Australia. We can now be out for total 2 hours (with one other person if they are not from our home). I have thought of my friend a few times over the last 6 months, but about 10 days ago, I acted on the thought (I believe the prompting) and I texted her to arrange a walk.

As we walked, our discussion got deep quickly, and she asked me a little about my belief in God. She shared her views on many things, God, faith, spirituality. She chatted, I listened; I chatted, she listened…

We will catch up again this Wednesday.

Christians on social media seem to think because we cannot gather in a church building that somehow we cannot do anything effective for the Kingdom, we can’t impact people.

This is nonsense.

There are many ways to ‘stop for the one’.

Sometimes it means stopping for the one stranger on the street – as you walk past you offer to pray, or give them a word of encouragement, or just shout them a coffee.

Other times it’s the phone call that you feel you could make, or the email you could send… and you call or you send it.

Sometimes it’s the prophetic inclination you have for your boss and you share it at work, without declaring ‘thus says the Lord’… there is no need to declare a prophetic inclination in that way – just be relatable.

Other times, it’s just catching up with a friend who happens, unbeknownst to you, to need encouragement. That friend needs someone to SEE them warts and all and call out ‘you are loved my friend’. Sometimes we just need to call out the gold… regardless of whether they ever come to Christ.

It’s about being the Body (not doing the Body). It’s about being human. It’s about moving in response to His heart beat for yourself and others, and in this all will see that…

God is Good!

 

What you carry you spread – the honey will flow because God is Good!

Circis Avondale – joy to behold ©Beth Kennedy 2020

I returned from a daily walk last week and noted how beautiful my blossom trees looked. I stopped to take some photos:

These trees make my heart sing. It is the simple things that bring me great delight. Yes… that is a cabbage in my front garden – beauty, form and function.

I have a larger Circis Avondale at the other end of the row, but I did not have a great photo of that one to show you.

Circis Avondale – pollen laden bees in Melbourne ©Beth Kennedy 2020

As I photographed the trees I saw many bees heavy laden with pollen.

This brought a greater sense of delight as I recognised God’s hand in the moment.

Earlier the same day a friend had sent me a word given by Mary Forsythe (Kingdom Living Ministries) for Melbourne.

Listen to the word here: Word for Melbourne

Two days before, the state government advised Melbourne residents that we were staying in strict level 4 lockdown for a further 2 weeks.

Mary heard about this, and she prayed.

As she prayed the name of our city stood out to her as Mel….bourne.

‘Mel’ means honey…

She felt God say that Mel (honey) will be born in this season. God is digging deep wells for greater capacity in the people of Melbourne. Fresh honey will come from the additional time of lockdown BUT with the extra two weeks there will also be an added pressure. Hence, it was essential we guard our hearts and minds.

For those that do not know, ‘honey’ speaks of God’s glory, His abundance, His wealth, His anointing, His favour. Honey has a natural sweetness, and it is a natural form of energy. Honey also has healing qualities: it is anti-microbal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Raw honey fights infection and boosts immunity. Honey has incredible wound healing properties…

The Bible describes the Promised Land as a ‘…land flowing with milk and honey‘… (see Exodus 3:8 is just the first of many references that can be found). The Promised land is promises fulfilled – a place to thrive and a place of abundant provision.

Of interest, Melbourne was born out of another golden substance – gold.

And so, with the word listened to that morning, and the bees in my garden, heavy laden with pollen to carry to the hive… I realised:

Here is an opportunity to gather the pollen for the honey.

Here is an opportunity to choose God over circumstance… not grumble and mummer… and instead say ‘BUT GOD!’

We will spread whatever we carry, just as bees cross pollinate plants as they go.

It is up to us, what we pollinate with…

Fear, harsh words, judgement, criticism…

Or will we cross pollinate with Kingdom?

Please choose God’s words of life, encouragement, kindness, forgiveness…

We will harvest what we gather… we will spread what we carry…

So let us gather Kingdom mind sets and prepare for the honey to flow.

Let’s see the gold, the goodness, and the glory in one another – call it out!

Let’s help one another grow in our capacity to carry heaven everywhere we go, so we cross pollinate, just by being who we are… in the same way bees cross pollinate by doing what bees are designed to do

And as we do, as we go, and as we beeee…. we will release His goodness, His glory, His honey because…

God is Good!

 

What honey are you carrying?

Is there some mindsets, thoughts, behaviours and attitudes that are inhibiting you from carrying good pollen as you go?

Can you see God’s goodness, regardless of our circumstances right now?

Please tell us about it below.

Be still and know that I AM God…X marks the spot – God is Good!

Sometimes the bay where I walk is unusually still; barely a ripple shifts the surface tension of the waters. At other times, the wildness of the weather comes straight from an Emily Brontë novel and the wind whips, forming waves that surge upon the sand.

Regardless of weather, these days God is often speaking as I walk. It could be the lack of quietness in our home because of a full house in lockdown. It maybe I just haven’t stopped, made room. It may just be where He speaks now…

Who am I to question?

We have a full, noisy house…

My husband and daughter work in my home office. My husband at my desk; my daughter at another desk. My son sits in his bedroom, where he has attended most of his first year of high school.

Then there are zoom ballet lessons 6 days a week (day and night at various times). Ballet music fills our living area, which is open plan to our kitchen and dining area. This means that I often duck and weave the camera as I make yet another cup of tea…

My daughter has a habit of settling herself where her mood suits – her desk in my office, her bedroom, chasing the sun outside, at the dining table (which is my favourite place to work).

It is a full, noisy house…

It’s not that I mind noise – sometimes. However, having nowhere to retreat that is free of invasion by good meaning family members is challenging, especially when you feel called into a quiet time with God.

Sometimes I like to have a quiet sit with God; other times, it’s a wild worship in the living area. I may journal, prophetically play music, shout, sing, complete prophetic acts… what I sense Him asking of me, I do, as best I can.

I have not had the luxury of uninterrupted alone time in our house since mid-March 2020.

Playing musical rooms with my laptop, with no place to settle… God still calls…

He’s not interested in my excuses, my reasons, my habits, he sees them all anyway.

I moved a small table from my office into my bedroom – not ideal, but it was a little desk where I could zoom, or write, or do admin, etc. The afternoon sunlight streams into the room and brings me quiet joy. Having a zoom call in my bedroom is not ideal, but we make the most of it.

25 weeks of zoomed ballet classes later, I still sit and write in my bedroom… it’s our ‘new normal’.

I can hear the music of my son’s ballet class. The ballet mistress makes corrections, sometimes with kindness, and at other times…

I pray for the person who is the focus of a harsh word as I walk through to my kitchen for a cup of tea.

As a prophetic ‘feeler’, the people, the noise, the news reports, the aggression, the fear, the frustration, the sadness, the intensity of emotions can overwhelm. Many of you feel the same way.

I can walk into a shop, and feel the emotion. I often know the challenges on a person. The atmosphere in a store can slap and if someone is hurting, if someone has been dabbling in the occult, I often sense it.

The atmosphere here in Melbourne Australia has been intense. I’m sure it has been intense in many places around the world, yet, I am still called to Him. I have no excuse.

Being in Him with intentionality is the most refreshing place to be…

Each day I walk, and each day He speaks. Regardless of whether I’m listening, He speaks. He loves me enough to always be speaking, to always be present, it’s just whether I’m present to Him. Am I centring myself in His heart beat for myself, my family, my friends, for the nation…

He speaks, and He shows me that:

He is my refuge.

He is my strength.

He is my God in whom I can trust…

If I will just stop and press in, if I will stop doing… if I will…

 

Be still and know that He is God… (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

The stillness in the storm: x marks the spot
©Beth Kennedy 2020

 

‘X’ marks the spot.

God needs to be the centre of our frame, the centre of our image.

He calls us to walk on water…

There may well be a storm brewing around us, but yet He calls…

There is a place of stillness in the storm and it’s in Him, at His centre…

Will I answer the call?

Will you answer the call?

Will we answer the call together?

If we do, I believe that the earth will see that He is the shelter and as His hand delivers us, they will also see that…

God is Good!

Who are you walking with? The Hebrews 11:11 walk of faith – God is Good!

Last week while out walking with my husband, I was struck by how as a couple we walk in sync with one another, and when one or the other of us is slightly out of sync, we will adjust our walk to the one beside us. It makes the walk one of ease and comfort.

We were walking, holding hands, and we were slightly out of sync, which made our holding hands awkward, so I did a little hop, skip and jump, to come into sync with my husband’s stride, and our walk returned to one of ease.

As I did my little ‘dance’ and I felt a stirring from Jesus, my husband. He highlighted this little manoeuvre for me, and as He did, I glanced at my phone – it was 11:11… again.

11:11 means a few things to me.

A few years ago, when God was talking to me about the church needing to wake up, it was ‘Wakey Wakey time’ (thank you Beni Johnson circa 2009/10ish), which was a direct reference to Lazarus waking up (see John 11:11). For others, 11:11 may mean something else. But for me, in this moment, it meant the ‘walk of faith’ regarding Hebrews 11:11:

And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.

(Hebrews 11:11 NIV)

‘The walk of faith,’ I thought.

I looked at our legs walking in unison, my left leg striding out with his right leg, hands held swinging in time, my right leg then striding out with his left – they looked like the walk of 11:11.

Can you see it?

leg leg: leg leg

11:11

I know, it’s how my brain works, because you see, I see God talking to me. He talks to me through what I see, through patterns, numbers, strange happenings (remember Moses’ burning bush in my last post?). It’s not just what I hear or know or sense, I also see, and there are many ways to see…

It’s 4am in the morning here in Australia as I write. He asked me to get up and ask the following question. I suppose it is an important question to Him:

‘Who are you walking with?’

Andrew, my husband, was symbolic of Jesus. I need to be in an easy sync with Him – with Jesus by my side. I must adjust my stride to be by His side, at ease in my walk with Him…

BUT

I also need to be in an easy sync with my actual husband – my life running partner, I need to adjust my step to be with him, and sometimes he needs to adjust his step for me. He often complains that I run ahead too fast… 🙂

BUT

we all need community and singles (or married’s with unbelieving spouses) this then also covers you, as it does married couples (our spouse cannot be everything we need). We all need community. So I ask:

Who are you running with?

The answer is important, especially now, in this ‘Kairos’ time, in this time of challenge.

We are in a rapidly changing world, life (including church) is being shaken to its core, and who we associate with, who we hang out with, what we read, fill our minds with, who we allow to influence our growth forms us and so I ask again:

Who are you running with?

Whoever they are, I suggest at least three things are essential:

1. they will call out the gold in you, helping you brush away the dirt to uncover your essence, your true self. They will celebrate you and let you shine. They certainly will not try to make you a cardboard cutout of themselves. But, please also let them shine;

2. they are people you can lean in and run with, learn from, trust. They need to be encouraging you ‘to come a little higher.’ And, you may be that person for them too, for iron sharpens iron. But I suggest that at least a one or two have done a few more miles in an area where you need to grow. You may also encourage and help them grow too, but your community needs to include a few people who will stretch you, but always in kindness;

3. they are people you can sew into. I believe that we all need to be running with others that we encourage and call higher too. We all need to ‘pay it forward!’ This is how the Body grows, each encouraging the other to become fully alive to Him, Jesus Christ.

So, it’s time to find your tribe. It’s time for me to find my tribe. It’s time for us to find our tribe…

I think this is essential because it’s time for the meat. No more milk fed adults. Milk fed adults are not healthy adults. Kingdom rule requires Kingdom adults.

So, it’s time to grow up!

God wants mature kids because…

God is Good!

I’d love to know what you are doing to find this sort of community, a community that inspires you to grow.

Have you found people who honour you, who see you, yet who call you higher?

Or, are you facilitating groups online or locally to help others grow into who they truly are? If so, let us know what that looks like – it won’t always look the same, but it would be interesting to hear other people’s journey.

It’s time for new shoes, it’s time for a new walk – God is Good!

As A and I went for our walk yesterday we saw these boots left abandoned, sitting on the grass:

Boots on bayside walk © Beth Kennedy 2020

I looked at them as we walked past, laughing that God was showing me something, just not knowing what. Having walked past the spot, I felt a gentle nudge to go back and take a photo…

I asked the Father what He was trying to tell me about them. I felt He said that it was time for us to change our shoes, to change our walk. I feel He is saying that to the Bride of Christ – He is saying to us all that we have had our work boots on for so long, and now it’s time to take them off and stop working so hard for Him.

We have been doing and doing and doing… without knowing who we are first…

These abandoned boots say it’s time to change our walk, and hence, take our work boot off and get ready for a change of shoes. The boots had done well in the past, but now they needed exchanging for an upgrade, for a fresh way to walk.

What I found particularly interesting was the direction they were facing:

As we walk through these strange times, I hear Him say: ‘Be wise where you set your gaze.’
Boots facing out to sea © Beth Kennedy 2020

If someone was standing in these boots, they would look out to sea – one of my favourite places to look. Noting the direction I felt God whisper again:

It’s important what direction we face in these times. It really matters what we are fixing our gaze upon in this season of transition.

It was as if the wearer had seen the beauty of the view, and had discarded the boots for a walk of simplicity and purity, a bare-footed walk with a focus on God’s goodness, God’s beauty. It resonates of Moses stopping for the burning bush, removing his shoes in the desert, for he was standing on Holy Ground:

‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground’ Exodus 3:5 (NIV)

It is at this point God gives Moses his commissioning, but first Moses had to stop, take off his work boots, and listen!

So we take off our work boots (our works) and in simplicity (bare-footed) we go to Him, sit, wait, linger and hear His heartbeat for ourselves, and as we hear the heartbeat for ourselves, we will also hear His heartbeat for those around us. As we do both: hear Him for us; hear Him for them, He will equip us afresh with new shoes, and these shoes will look quite different to the old.

I don’t know what my new shoes will look like.

I don’t know what your new shoes will look like.

But for now we need not know, we need simply to stop and take off our shoes.

Come to me and be still.

Rest a while and know that I am good.

Breathe and allow me to take you through the storm and on the other side of all this, then, having rested, you will be ready to run the race set before you.

Yes, we are in ‘unprecedented’ times. Yes, we are in a ‘reset’ (even the nonChristian world is using this phrase). Yes, it is challenging, and confusing, and different… but God!

If we can all collectively stop, take off our work boots, ‘be still and know (experientially) that [He is] God’ (Ps 46:10), breathe, rest and listen… and then go with Him rather than for Him, then I believe that the world will see that…

God is Good!

Tell me:

How has God been talking to you in these last few days?

Have you seen similar ‘burning bushes’ or ‘signs’?

Who are we anyway? My beloved daughter… My beloved son: God is Good!

Our family has been in a time of rapid transition.

It’s been a ride.

One aspect of our recent journey has been to start an online zoom group. We were always planning to start an online group, and covid-19 made us very aware of why this start up was on God’s heart.

Our zoom group comprises people we know and trust. These people will try things out online with us, give us feedback, cut us some slack, while we hopefully sow something of value into them. It’s still nerve-racking because, well, God has to show up!

As with all groups we have run, the first topic we covered was: ‘who are we anyway?’

‘A simple question to answer,’ you may say, but it is surprising just how many (read everyone) struggle with this topic when you scratch the surface. Our religious and societal beliefs are so entrenched – ‘we must perform to be loved’.

I believe that we all struggle with this idea – that we don’t earn our right at the table with God! God approves of us, having done nothing!

Mark 1:11 makes it clear:

‘And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”’ (Mark 1:11 NIV)

Check out this link to Mark 1:11. The different translations, of the same verse say the same thing. In essence:

‘You are my son, I love you, and I am well pleased with you.’

I find this scripture fascinating. It is at the point of Jesus being baptised by John, before Jesus starts his ministry years. Jesus has done nothing to earn his father’s love. It is from this place of identity Jesus enters the desert, fasts, is tempted by the devil and then steps out into his ministry. He has held firm to who he is and whose he is.

The Father loves and approves of Jesus- before Jesus does anything.

Jesus would have studied etc prior to this point in time, but… he had presumably done nothing. He had not stepped into his ministry works.

Every group we have run, we cover the same idea – we are loved, approved and accepted, without works, having done nothing. In fact, we don’t have to do anything to remain in this place; however, when we really catch this concept in its essence, the irony is we can’t help but do something in response.

‘111, My beloved daughter; My beloved son.’

What do you hear Him speak over you today?

Will you just sit and let Him whisper sweet nothings?

Will you let Him sing over you, as you rest in the nook of His arms?

Will you ‘…wait a little longer’ with Him?

He wants us whole, and fully comprehending that we are His beloved daughter or son, in whom He is well pleased. It is from this place of identity that we are to step out and go, and as we do we will shine with His goodness, with His light, with His love because…

God is Good!

Please, sit, breathe and listen. See what He says to you through this song:

‘A Little Longer’ by Jenn Johnson
I particularly like the version on the album ‘We Believe’ but I couldn’t find an authorised website link to that version. The ‘We Believe’ album version is a little quieter, and I personally find it more poignant.

 

Under a halo moon – God is Good!

A couple of nights ago this was the moon over Melbourne. Some called it a ‘corona moon’ (yes this is a technical term) , but when I researched it via all knowing google 😊 I found that correct name of the phenomenon was in fact a ‘halo’ 😇 moon. The difference being the amount of ice in the atmosphere to create the phenomenon that you see in this photo.

I believe that this halo moon no coincidence.

I believe that God talks to us today, in a variety of ways. He not only talks to us, but He is a kind and loving God; He is not an angry God.

I believe that this moon is one of the ways God is showing us Melbournites that He sees us, He has us covered. This too shall pass.

I encourage my Christian friends to speak life over Melbourne because as you all know life and death are in the power of the tongue.

I also believe that we rest under the shadow of His wings here in Melbourne – I saw this as people started posting silly things online about Melbourne being shadowlands and a friend said to me: ‘YES! We rest under the shadow of His wings!’

I agree, under His wings is where we find refuge.

So, as we enter into even stricter lockdowns this week in Melbourne Australia please speak life to one another, online and in person … and be kind – regardless of whether “they” deserve kindness.

I suggest an act of kindness every day for the rest of August – studies show that such acts actually causes life to increase for the doer, and of course it is lovely for the recipient.

If you are not in Melbourne speak life over your region, your neighbourhood, your schools, your city, your country.

It is with kindness that we will manage; it is with kindness that we will cope, and even thrive; and it is with kindness that we will rebuild because…

God is Good!

Just do the next thing – God is Good!

So often in our lives, futures imagined, dreams envisioned, must be laid down. It is in these moments we have a choice: do we allow God to direct our steps, even though we are all at sea, disappointed, hurt; or, do we try to control everything, and keep directing our lives where we think we should go, regardless.

A while back, I felt a stirring in my heart.  We had just changed churches, and we were still trying to find our feet.  Our old church had been big, loud, there was a weekly mosh pit I had danced and worshipped in, and people were hungry for things of the Spirit. The church we had landed in was small, intimate, and sedate, at least sedate compared to what we had been used to, but regardless, we felt it was the right fit, and we believed the church was on the cusp of revival.

I was keen to serve somewhere.  I felt an urge to start a regular prayer group, and a recently made friend and I started fortnight meetings to pray for our church, the community and beyond; but, I was still restless.

Something was stirring.

Back in the late 1990s I often travelled to Far North Western Australia, where I provided legal representation to people who were illegally entering Australia by boat. It is common to refer to these people as “boat people,” or illegal migrants (because of their status of having no visas of entry). They predominantly came from Iraq. Some came from Algeria. A few were from China. That was the mix of countries when I was working. After I finished at that law firm the Afghans came – they were tough cases.

The stories moved me, the politics of human rights law saddened me, and the other lawyers laughed at me, saying: “you wear your heart on your sleeve” (a weakness in their mind). To this I would respond, “if I was in their position I would rather someone like me representing me, then someone like you.”

I didn’t stay in refugee work for long, and I left my position as junior lawyer to start a business of my own as a corporate consultant, while providing immigration legal advice to people on the side, just to keep my toe in. I referred any refugee work – it was too emotional, and too political. That was until 10 years ago.

When my youngest was about three, I received a call from a Melbourne businessman who wanted migration advice for a Christian Egyptian family he had met while overseas. The father was an Anglican Minister. The businessman wanted to help them. It was to be a straightforward case, but once involved I realised there were very serious persecution risks at play for the family involved. Each time I went to refer the case on, each time I tried to shake myself loose, I would feel God on it – He wanted me to see it through. While the case would have qualified as a refugee case (they were being persecuted for their faith) we did not run the case as a refugee case. Instead, we needed to run the case differently (the refugee landscape had changed and was getting increasingly difficult to negotiate). It took years, but we got the family into Australia under a different visa category. This case confirmed that I didn’t want to do refugee work ever again! The responsibility, the sorrow and the desperation, the trauma…

The Egyptian family that came established the first Arabic Anglican Church in Australia. Other Arabic churches exist, but not of this denomination. And, as I write, they now lead two such churches in Victoria (one in Melbourne, the other in Geelong). They head up a vibrant, growing Christian community. All led by the beautiful family who God would not let me shake loose – people I now call friends. The family reach the Arabic world in Melbourne, and people come to Christ.

Anyway…

We had just changed churches. All my dreams, plans, hopes and vision had fallen away. I was a ballet mum in a world of ballet I never saw coming (yes God has a sense of humour) and I was in a small quiet church, albeit, earmarked for revival. I wanted to serve God, but I did not see any opportunity to do so in my passion and gifting, and so I prayed a prayer that I do not recommend, unless you are ready to just obey!

I prayed: “God, I can’t see where or how I can serve you here. I want to honour leadership. There is no favour to teach what I know, or to release what I carry, but I want to serve you, what do you want me to do, I’ll do anything you ask me to do, I just want to serve you.”

I prayed the prayer, and I thought I knew how God would answer it.

That weekend we attended the opening of the new Arabic Anglican Church, on the other side of town. We were to witness the baptisms of recent converts, and the church’s official opening.  The service was full of the Holy Spirit. The worship was wonderful – all in Arabic, with a different beat, a different feel, but God was there, and I could tangibly feel Him. It was fun.

We stayed for dinner, and as we tried to eat, the people pressed in on me.  Refugees from Syria, refugees from Iraq, all trying to get the rest of their family here. People with heart break and need. They represented the cases I avoided for years. I prayed for many, prophesied over others, and listened to their stories. They all wanted my help, for word had got around.

Heading home I said to my husband I was feeling a stirring. I confessed what I had prayed. I could not believe it – God was calling me to act for these people, and it horrified me. Yes, I felt for them, but I did not want to do their legal work for them, I didn’t want to feel their pain, hear the details, they were all so desperate. And the legal landscape had radically changed – I was underqualified… but God!

When I prayed, I had not envisioned this! When I prayed, I thought He would release me into my gifting in our church, in our local body, somewhere… anywhere. I thought He would place favour on me to minister, that I would have a green light to step up into my calling, while honouring, supporting and loving our leadership, or even maybe out into elsewhere. Anywhere where I could ignite others with a passion for God.

It was not to be.

Instead, I walked into the pain, trauma and hurt of these people.

I argued with God that others were more qualified, better trained, up to date, and professional. God just came straight back at me: “Step up.”

Every time I went to Him He would say: “step up.”

And when I argued I couldn’t do it, He just said “trust me – step up.”

I suggested I refer, that others were better than me in this area of law He just said: “yes, but they won’t pray as you will.”

And so I stepped up…

I did not know what I was doing, but each step of the way he would say:

“just do the next thing you know to do.”

When I quietened myself enough, I would know what I had to do next. The anxiety was dreadful. The stories traumatic. One day I cried my way through the reading and the videos, but each time I turned aside to talk to Him he would say again:

“Just do the next thing you know to do.”

So, in this time of change, turmoil and challenge, when our plans for 2020 seem lost in a haze of virus, lockdown, and shifting worlds. In a year that is not what we thought it would be, I encourage you to do as I am also trying to do (thankfully with friends and wise counsel by my side) and ask Him what he would have you do. Instead of looking at the entire job at hand, the surrounding trauma, the pain within you, while acknowledging that it is there, ask Him:

“What next?”

And then do it…

Just do the next thing you know to do.

Then it would be: “send that email”, “write that statement”, “make that phone call”…

Little baby steps.

And once taken I sought Him again, I would breathe, pray, listen, obey…

And as you do, the pieces will fall together, the focus will come, and the peace and the joy will rest upon you because…

God is Good!

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