Wednesday, 1 March 2017

On Beauty

   I struggle with the whole Beauty thing. Not only in the sense of not always feeling beautiful myself, but also in how I view others. I see people and I know in my head God says they are beautiful, but I struggle because I don't see it. I then feel bad because I feel like I am judging them or not seeing them how God sees them. Recently I realized that I don't see them how God sees them, but not because I can't convince myself they are beautiful, but because I don't understand beauty itself. Beauty is an invitation into partnership with God. Beauty isn't a pass/fail test, rather it is a process that is in itself a beautiful, beautiful thing.

   I was in the bathroom one day plucking my eyebrows prattling with God and wondering why He made us have unibrows, when they are so much work and we look so much better without them. Holy Spirit's response caught me completely off guard. I felt like He responded, "Because I want you to partner with Me. I gave you the ability to be beautiful, but I don't force it upon you. It takes work, it takes effort. It is a learning process. I am a gentleman, I won't force beauty upon you." In that moment and the meditations to follow, my views on beauty were radically transformed. Everything in life is a process where we learn and mature with God. Our character, our discipline, our maturity, even our beauty is a partnership with God. There is work and a process involved. We eat healthy, eat healthy amounts, exercise, work out, put together cute outfits that are flattering on us, pluck, shave our legs, do our hair (or at the least run a brush through it), and maybe do makeup. Just like every process some struggle at it more than others, but that is ok. It's beautiful in the process because the process and the partnership are beautiful.  

   It changed how I view people. I see people as beautiful more easily, because I see the invitation to partner with God in it. I find it easier to appreciate true beauty because I value the process, and I no longer view it as a pass/fail. There is power in my change of perspective because there is vision behind it. Instead of valuing beauty because of personal taste, I value it for the process and the intrinsic value behind it.

  I see people as on a journey, and I love them more because I can appreciate that they are in it just like me. Or maybe they haven't even begun that process with God because they don't have a relationship with Him or don't know that He speaks beauty over them. I can love them better because I know how to empower them.

   When we make beauty about a partnership with God, we unite our inner and outer beauty. So often we pit the two against each other. We push internal beauty so hard, but sometimes we down grade external beauty. Or we are all about the external beauty, we chase after what the world says is beautiful with everything in us, but we neglect the inner beauty of a life with Christ. Yes, our primary beauty should not come from outward adornment.* For me beauty should come from partnering with God.

   I am and always have been a "tomboy". I love jeans, hoodies and clothes that were meant for romping in the mud. Forget lace. And make up? That just ain't my thing. Proudly, I have never worn a pair of high heels in my life. I thought I had the beauty thing down. I didn't seek after it, and clearly didn't find my value in it. But I never invited God into my beauty. What was meant to be something I could enjoy relationship with God in, became something I swore off as a pretentious waste of time. But God had other ideas on beauty, and instead desired relationship in it.

   Now I can better love the girls that mis-use their beauty, because I understand that they are just cutting God out of the process. Although I once despised them in their heart for being frivolous and "not as holy" as I thought I was, now I've grown to love them. I understand that beauty outside of God never satisfies, but relationship with God in it's essence takes delight in making all things beautiful. Now I realize beauty is something to be celebrated. Not worshiped, but celebrated and give cause to praise and thank the Creator of that beauty.

   God sees what we were created to be, but He still loves us in the process of becoming that person.

   The prophetic nature of the beauty of woman is profound. Though I don't understand it all yet, I seek to. I desire to know God more and more in every area of life.

*1 Peter 3:3-4, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."   

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Frustration as a Divine Invitation

      What if sometimes our frustrations with daily life situations, with the world and with brokenness, were actually part of God's divine strategy to force us out of complacency and into a place of yearning for His return and reign on earth? If we would respond to them rightly. 

      What if God out of His mercy allows us to experience frustration, pain and hardship because He's so jealous for us to walk in all the fullness He has for us, that He will at the cost of temporary pain expose brokenness and anything less than what He has for us for what it is? Not for the sake of causing us pain or discomfort, but for the sake of His mercy and desire for us to walk in fullness. What if feeling frustration in life was a sign of God speaking, and an invitation to respond to Him? What if the feeling of frustration was a divine invitation from God to experience more of Jesus in our daily lives and in our world? How would we respond differently?  

     Our emotions were created by God to give us the capacity to experience and connect to His heart. They are designed to challenge us to go deeper in God and to encounter Him in our daily lives. But I think all too often they get twisted and if we aren't careful they will end up distracting us from Him. 

      I think for me, when I feel frustrated it's tempting to view that frustration as a bad thing. As a negative because it means things aren't the way I think they should be. It's tempting for me to feel like I'm the victim, and I'm the one that's losing out. I often find myself stuck in cycles of self pity. Or I try to fix things in my own strength, and usually just end up making things worse because I do it out of my own strength. And my strength is not sufficient. But lately God's been speaking to me about viewing frustration as a indicator that there is something in my life and in my heart that isn't in full agreement with Him. As an indicator of dissonance in my life and His heart. So instead of responding to frustration with self pity or trying to fix things in my own strength, I need view it as an opportunity to surrender more of my life to Christ. I need to use it as an opportunity to quiet my heart before my Father and pray to give Him control of my life and of my emotions. I can choose to believe that His strength is sufficient for me even in my weakness. I can choose to rely on His strength above my own and express my utter dependence on Him. By humbling myself in that way I'm learning I can invite the Lord into the situation that's frustrating me, and allow Him to work all things together for my good and for the good of those who love Him. So instead of it being a negative emotion in my life, I'm finding my frustrations can become an open invitation for deeper communion with Jesus. While also using it to cultivate longing for the fullness and righting of all wrongs that won't come until Jesus returns and reigns in Jerusalem.



Monday, 15 February 2016

Scriptural Musings

                                                       David Counts the Fighting Men
                                                      2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21

I've struggled in the past whenever I would read the story of David counting the fighting men. Why should 70,000 men die for one man's sin? Sin is serious, yet shouldn't each die for there own sin? Yet in 2 Samuel 24:1, we see God Himself (some translation say His anger) incited David against Israel to count the fighting men. If God Himself incited David, how then was it sin? Yet later in 1 Chronicles 21:1, it credits Satan with inciting David against Israel and into counting the fighting men. So was it the Lord, was it His anger, or was it Satan? Or was it the Lord through Satan? Was it God inviting David into dialogue and a place of intercession?

When I asked God why He would slay 70,000 for the sin of one man, I felt as though His answer was also in the form of a question, "Were they themselves without sin? Could they not have died for their own sin?" What if they did die for their own sin? What if David's sin was a reflection of their (the nation's) sin and rebellion, and David's coming into agreement with it? And therefore he stepped out of the gap, out of his role as an intercessor, and therefore God's wrath was released? Was David's sin not just his own, but a reflection of what was going on in the nation? "Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel." 2 Samuel 24:1a.

Would God incite David to step out of his role as an intercessor? Would God incite David through Satan to step out of his role as an intercessor so that His wrath might be released? Was the Lord's anger an invitation for David to intercede for them? And David dropped the ball by coming into agreement with the wrong spirit, and counting the fighting men? Was the Lord obligated (can I use that word with Him?) to go through David first to pour out judgement on the sin in the nation? Since they were under his spiritual covering (which I'm not really sure what spiritual covering means, but it's something I'm delving into to learn more on)? And the Lord could not pour out His wrath as long as David was standing in the gap? Even as He had to tell Jeremiah to not pray for this people, nor plead or make petition? Did the Lord allow or incite David into acting on the sin that was in the heart of the nation? And was Satan inciting the sin of Israel, and therefore David's sin too?

In 2 Samuel 24:17, David saw the angel who was striking the people, and he stepped in as an intercessor. "Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father's house." (A truly bold prayer, and a testament to his heart as an intercessor). The Lord sent God who told David what to do, and David bought the threshing floor and offered burnt offering and peace offerings. "So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel." 2 Samuel 24:25b.

What if the Lord chose to work through David's spiritual authority and act of sin, so that there would be an intercessor in place when His heart was moved to relent from His destruction and outpouring of wrath? What if He worked through David so that he would be able to hold a place of greater intercession? David did not see the angel who was striking the people (in verse 17) until after the Lord saw Jerusalem and relented from destruction (verse 16a, "And when the angel stretched out his hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, "It is enough, now restrain your hand."). After the Lord relented, then David saw the angel and interceded for the people. Had the Lord poured out His wrath apart from it being through David, would He have then had an intercessor in place? Would He then have had a means of mercy? Can He show mercy without an intercessor? Could He have poured out His anger apart from David? Or no, because David was standing in the gap? Could He have judged the nation while they were under David's spiritual covering and he was standing in the gap in a place of intercession and holiness? These are just some of my thoughts, but what do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts, please comment and share!

   *Disclaimer, a lot of this is written in question form to provoke the reader to further thought and dialogue with the Holy Spirit (Whom the Scriptures say will teach us all things), and not meant to be taken as doctrine or solid stances.       

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Matthew 10:9-10

My thoughts and musings on Matthew 10:9-10.

“Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 
nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, 
nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.”
Matthew 10:9-10 NKJV

“Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 
no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals 
or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.”
Matthew 10:9-10 ESV

“Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts.”
I have neither gold, nor silver, nor copper. I have no back up plan. I have no man-made provision. I have no worldly worth nor position. It’s only You Jesus. You are my Provider. You are enough. I have no back up plan for your provision. I carry no worldly currency, the only currency I carry is hunger for God. 

Gold, I have no riches in the eyes of the world. My currency, hunger, is not guaranteed by the standards of the world. The currency of the world does not apply to me because I live by another system. 
Silver, I have no standing in the eyes of the world. I have no recognition. I have no means of bribery or appeasement in this world.
Copper, I have no trade in the world. I have no worldly conductant.     

“No bag for your journey.”
No means of storing up for yourself the things of this world. No means to store up worldly possessions. No way to carry the things or cares or riches of this world. I carry no baggage. 

“Nor two tunics.”
I have only one tunic. I have but one identity. I wear the clothes of righteousness that Your Son purchased for me on the cross. I wear only the tunic that my Father placed around my shoulders. I have no other identity apart from the wedding garments of my Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. I have no other association, I have no other means or appearance of righteousness.    

“Or sandals.”
No sandals. Exodus, 3:5b, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Nothing that hinders my closeness to God. Nothing that hinders my expression of holiness. The things that aren’t necessarily bad, even the good things of this world, but that affect my closeness His holiness. I take them off. I cast them far from my dwelling. I freely forsake the good things of this world, to better experience Your presence. To better experience Your goodness and Your holiness. I throw off anything that hinders. Anything that keeps me from being just a little closer to You. I do anything to get just a little closer God. I let no personal comfort come in between my being, and Your presence.  

“Nor a staff.”
No thing of the world to lean on. No thing of the world to support me when I am weak. No worldly comforts. I desire it so that I must always draw my strength from You, O Lord. I recognize where my strength comes from. I carry no thing that keeps my hands closed to You. Nothing that allows my fists to remain closed. I want to be open handed before You and ready to receive. I do not carry a means to sound out Your way ahead of me. Nothing of this world to check out the path that You have set before my feet. Nothing that lessens my reliance in faith on You. No wisdom of the world to determine if Your path is good. If Your ways are right. I want to come up from the desert leaning on You, not on a support system that comes from the world. Song of Songs 8:5a, “Who is this who comes up from the desert leaning on her Beloved?” I want You to be my steadying source of strength.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Un-Beheld Beauty

   No revelation is too simple. As a young, emerging prophetic theologian, sometimes I don’t realize the worth in simple revelations. The ones that seem obvious, the ones that I’ve heard before, my pride disdains. But as I fall more and more in love with Jesus, and as my pride is being stripped away by the glory of His mercy, I have come to realize that no revelation is too simple. No revelation is to be disdained. The little things are beautiful in the sight of God. The “obvious” things have the power to change a broken and blind world. The things I’ve heard before, someone else hasn’t, and is groping in darkness without it. The things I’ve heard before, are where much of the depth of my walk comes from because I was raised in the Lord. The things I once disdained, were the things of God. I disdained the beauty of heaven, to search for beauty unseen, without realizing the beauty of heaven contained the beauty unseen. It contained depths I hadn’t seen. The seemingly simple things had oceans of untold beauty, I had just yet to see it. 

   The beauty of the cross has hit me anew. The beauty and awe of things like, "God loves me." "Jesus died for me", has once again struck my heart. Things I once grew cold to, and that were too simple for me to dedicate time to meditate on before, are now making my heart come alive so that I can't help but meditate on them. The love of the Man who hung on a cross has ruined me for any other lovers. I am lovesick, and I am ruined for any other love. 

   The beauty of artwork, the crafting of words, the expression of creativity has struck me in new ways. Even poetry, which I once disdained, I have begun to love. The art of crafting words, especially around the heart of God and of the cross, has awakened a new delight in my heart.  

                  “The prophecy of a tongue,
                      the laying on of hands,
                       the feeding of the hungry,
                        the hope of the righteous,
                       the redemption of the broken, 
                        the freeing of the bound, 
                      This is the heart of God. 
                    The love of the cross, 
                       The victory of the empty tomb, 
                         The hope of the Nations, 

                  This is my Jesus, 
                                 this is my Friend.”


Friday, 26 June 2015

Kissing The Toilet

              I started this post months ago, and just now have the time and revelation to finish it.

   This evening I was in the bathroom with my puppy Reagan. I was washing my hands while she was on the floor, and she walked over to the toilet. Now, Reagan is a sweetheart, and she loves to give kisses. So as soon as she walked over I knew what she was going for. Sure enough before I got to her she licked the side of the toilet a few times. I promptly scooped her up and she started licking me! Somehow her kisses did not seem so sweet, and were rather off putting because I knew she had just been kissing the toilet! I started thinking about how often I do the same thing to God. I defile my lips and being by "kissing the toilet" myself. I give praise to things I shouldn't give praise to, I say things I shouldn't say, I give my time to things I shouldn't give my time to, I meditate on things I shouldn't meditate on. I watch, listen to, read and write things I shouldn't. I give my being and my love to so many distractions of the world. And then I so quickly turn around to God and start giving Him my kisses. And somehow, He still loves them.

   I vowed to save my first kiss for the alter, because I didn't want to defile my lips before God*. Yet how often do I freely give my kisses to the toilet? I also wanted my first kiss to be special, and to be a gift I saved and treasured for my future husband at the alter. But how often do I freely kiss idols, and then expect my kisses to God to be special and a treasured gift I saved for Him?

   To be holy for Him, and wholly for Him, is what I desire. I desire to know no other than Him, to "not even let their names be found on my lips."** I want to be so in love with Yeshua that none other compares, and that none other can hold my attention for even a moment. I want to be so captivated by His beauty that I never look away, never once to turn my gaze. I want to be wholly His.

   What's it to be to know only Him? What's it like to never look away? What do the angels in the throne room feeling after an eternity of His presence? What do the Elders feel after the thousandth casting of the crowns? That's what I long to know. Jesus for eternity.

*This was something I felt called to, but I don't believe it is for everyone. I do not believe anyone who has kissed a guy before the alter has defiled their lips! I just believe for me, as one who is called not to, that to do so would be to forfeit God's best in that area.

**Exodus 23:13, "Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips."

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Vision Post Follow Up

   So, awhile ago I shared a vision I had. This week I wanted to follow that up with an application post for some of the things I touched on in that post.

   "How do we build infrastructure and strategy ahead of time so we can actually handle growth when it comes? And how do we partner with God’s heart/what He is doing in a way that we can sustain it?" I think the answer to this lies largely in cultivating discipleship and keeping our focus on intimacy with Jesus. We need to be discipling people and growing together with others, and we need to be discipled ourselves. We need to raise up the people beneath us in holiness and going after God. "Teach what we know, learn what we don't." We need to be constantly seeking out people to take us deeper in our walk with God, and we need to constantly be helping others grow in their pursuit of Him. But more importantly, we need to be focused on intimacy with God. We need to keep our gaze on Him.

   In a family, life naturally comes out of the husband and wife's intimacy. Life does not come from the children. Our relationship with God is as a relationship of a husband and wife. So are our ministries and spiritual children (those we disciple) as children in a family. Our ministries do not bring life into our relationship with God. Our relationship with God brings life into our ministries and relationships with our spiritual children. So often we lose our focus and expect our life source to be from how well are ministries are faring, and how successful our spiritual children are. But is that the natural? Does the life and vibrancy in a marriage result from how well the children are faring? No! No amount of life and well being in children can keep a marriage that lacks intimacy together! Rather the husband and mother foster an atmosphere where there children can be vibrant and grow strong by having a healthy relationship and intimacy together. The health in the home comes from the health of that relationship. Is that not how it is in the natural? Then why should we expect different in the spiritual? "First the natural, then the spiritual." The health in our relationship with God fosters an atmosphere where our ministries and spiritual children can grow and be strong. (That's not to say that if there is difficulty with a ministry or spiritual child that it is always because of a lack of intimacy with God, for there are winter seasons where fruit is evident, but it is often a factor.) Our intimacy with Christ is where the life in our ministries should come from! 

   The way to keep revival going, the way we partner with God's heart in a way to sustain it, is to keep our focus on intimacy. To keep our focus on Christ and Christ alone, and let our ministries flow our of that place of intimacy.   

   Many of these thoughts were inspired by Nathan Davenport's teaching on Intimacy/Meeting with God. You can listen to it here!teachings/cv40

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