Monthly Archives: March 2012

“Do I have to go to church?”

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A friend posted this on FB today.  “Before I sleep… Do I have to go to church tomorrow to have God still know where I am and check he still likes me?”

I couldn’t help but reply: … but the Body will be lacking without you. Your wisdom, gifts and influence.

Confession:  I LOVE the Church.

Now, I’m not talking about the building, or the events, or the ministries etc.  Although I do love all of those too. I’m specifically talking about the Church as the Body of Christ.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Cor 12:27)

The existence of the Church is not an invention of man.  It is part of God’s plan. I would love to talk about the essential functions of the Church as laid out in the Word but we’ll save that for another time.

What is on my heart today is the question:  “Do I have to go to Church?”

There seems to be a lot of emotional baggage around the concept of “having” to go to Church.  There is sarcasm in my friend’s post.  And let’s be honest, there are Christians who are pious about their attendance record and judgemental against others.  Can I say:  I’m so sorry!  I’m so sorry if a Christian has been that way with you.  It is NOT God’s heart.  They acted independently and self-righteously.  And the FB thread contains Truth.  God is everywhere, not just in church buildings during church services.

At the same time, I need to say:  Being an active member of the Church is not optional.  Think of your own physical body.  Can the parts just opt out?  What happens if a body part refuses to participate?  It’s called disease.  Either the part gets its act together, gets cut out and/or replaced, or the body dies.  In the Body of Christ, according to the Bible, all the parts are vital and essential.

To be active in the Body is to be connected and interconnected with other Believers.

As 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and Romans 12 explain, we Believers are ALL parts of the Body.  I won’t go into the specifics of each passage because I don’t want this to be a marathon read.  But if you haven’t read these passages in a while, it’s really worth the time to go through them.

Tell me, is another way?  Tell me, am I wrong?  I don’t see how to get around this:  To be connected with the Body involves being part of a local Church – to gather with other Believers, worship God together (with singing or music or other ways), bring your tithes and offerings, use your gifts, study the Word, edify the Body, equip the Saints etc. etc.  Therefore, it seems going to Church is not optional.

The Body metaphor gives an awesome vision of the Church.  Parts engaged and functioning.  The Body moving in strength and beauty.

Question: What is the health of your part of the Body?  Can you ask yourself:  Am I functioning, healthy, engaged?  OR am I withering, disconnected, non-contributing?

Guys, I am a LOVER of the Church.  I love love love it.  And I want to see this Body, that I am part of, being strong and beautiful!  I can’t stay silent when people make remarks about my Body.  And I certainly will not stand off to the side embarrassed about the state of it.  My whole being is stirred up for his cause:

As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.  (Ephesians 4:16)

I am so sad that the Body of Christ can look like a freak show to the unsaved world.  I think it’s because it has withered parts.

Ever wondered why there are some Body parts being really overbearing in the Church?  I could very well be because your Body part is disengaged and not bringing the gifting that would bring balance to that other part.  Yikes.

One of the replies on the FB thread included the statement: “Church is there for encouragement and fellowship.”   Um, nope.

Of course, there is awesome encouragement and fellowship in the Church.  But that is not what the Church is there for.  The Church is not like a coffee shop where you stop in and pick up a drink and cookie treat to boost yourself.  That would be like saying the Body exists to meet the needs of the taste buds or some other part.  The Body doesn’t exist to care for itself.  Now caring for itself is one of its functions but that is not why it exists.

So, why does the Church exist?  Just like your own body exists… to live a beautiful life walking with God and serving Him.  The Church exists to live a beautiful life walking with God and serving Him.  Are you a healthy part of that beautiful life?

Please please please fall in love with the Church.  This Body needs every part.  This Body needs you.

Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.   (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Tomorrow is Sunday in the US.  If you haven’t been to Church in a while, I miss you. I may not know you personally, but the Word tells me that my health is interconnected with yours.  Please come back.  We need your unique you!  God made you for a unique amazing purpose.  We are not beautiful and healthy without you.

What are your favorite memories of your life in the Body? What gifts do you see God has given you for the building up of His Church, The Body of Christ?

Sun-soaked

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If you were sitting here with me right now, I’d pour you a cuppa and we’d chat.  Both kids are napping so it’s the perfect time to just sit and be.

If you were here, we’d swap stories and enjoy getting to know each other.  Oh I love sharing stories with friends.  There are some pivotal ones in my life.  Stories about moments that were defining.  Moments that made me who I am today.  I think I’ll share them with you over time.  Got a coffee to sip?

It was a warm July morning and we were on a YWAM Mission Adventures trip.  It was training week for our team of 40 Junior & Senior youth and adult leaders.  I love training week because it’s a selah from the daily grind of life as well as a practical time of preparation for serving the following week.  One morning during the “quiet time”, I was praying face the sun. The warmth soaked into my skin as I shared my heart with God. Some girls chattering cut into my glorious alone time. As I opened my eyes to see what was going on, I realized the sun on my eyelids had momentarily impaired my vision.  I checked in the with girls then returned to my golden spot.  This time I turned my face side on so only one side was sunned.  It was a choice of wisdom to keep one eye out of the sun so I could keep track of the kids.  And God whisper pressed into my heart: “How will you live?”

Trusting God fully can leave you blinded to worldly things.  Do I trust Him to live that way?  Or will I live a life of half-and-half.  One part of me soaked in God’s presence and the other part holding on to my own vision and wisdom.  It was truly a life-altering moment for me.

It should be a daily question for me: How will I live?  Walking with Him or walking in my own strength?

Most days I feel a lot like the man who said “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) because I say “I do trust you God, help my un-trust!”

This week one of the kids had 24 hours of high fever and was quite sick.  I was very conscious that I was living that day in a half-and-half way: worrying that he’s not drinking anything, frustrated that I can’t get anything done because he wants to be held, feeling guilty that the other kid is getting zero from me.  Stop. Breathe.

Turning my face toward Him.  Closing my eyes and opening my heart.  Allowing Him to be God in my life again.  Ahhhhh.  That’s how I want to live.

NOT to say that I ignore earthly wisdom.  It would be foolish to do so.  God gave us intellect and human wisdom is from Him.  But it is so easy to let my eyes turn from God and then earthly wisdom exalts itself to the place of god in my life.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. (Proverbs 3:5-7)

How about you? Are there times when the worries of this life take command of your heart? What have you learned about the place of earthly wisdom in God’s Lordship?

My former fear of a horrible death

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When I was about 10 years old, a local pastor’s teenage daughter died.  The story I remember is that their car went into a river, her long hair got caught and she drowned.  From then on I’ve wrestled with a fear of dying in a horrible way.  Over the years I’ve watched many wonderful humans die from terrible diseases and each time my fear grew.  My fear grew feet and muscle and power.  Yes, I’ve prayed about it.  Yes, I’ve focused on God’s promises.  Yes.  I’ve done all the things you’re supposed to do.  But here’s the thing, there is no promise in the Bible that we will die in a beautiful way.  In fact, many of Jesus’ followers died in horrible ways.  And the prophecies in the book of Revelation talk about the horrible ways Believers will die.  So there. My fear not only has muscle… it has Biblical support.

This fear doesn’t really affect my day-to-day life.  I’m not afraid of dying today.  But I have a nagging thought stream that trickles in the back of my mind.  And it tweaks my view of life and of God.

My rational mind knows that this tweak means that my view of God is impaired.  If my fear is true then God is either: cruel to let people go through such pain, powerless to save them, or absent from that moment.

Each of us is on a different journey to trust God fully.  Some of you may be wondering if God is cruel.  Some of you may be wondering if God is powerless.  I don’t wonder about those things.  I know from personal experience and Scriptural truth that he is fully loving and merciful (not cruel) and all-powerful.  Those questions are answered for me.

Today I realized that my fear is connected to the third: I have been believing that God is absent from that moment.  Wow.  A door to the basement of my heart has swung open and Light is pouring in.  All these years my heart has questioned God’s presence in the passing from this world to the next.

I know He is here on earth as the Holy Spirit.  And I know He is in eternity as Father and Son.  But what about the in-between.  How will I pass from the Holy Spirit’s presence to the Father & Son’s presence?  Who will hold me in between?  Who will share that agony?  Who will understand it with me?

Today my fear has been silenced.  Power gone, muscle withered, feet crippled.  It’s gone.

The moment came during a discussion about the deaths of James and Stephen.  My Bible study group is doing Beth Moore’s excellent “Mercy Triumphs” study on the book of James.  Today’s topic was the death of James and the social, political and religious climate when he was leading the Elders in Jerusalem.  The Bible doesn’t record how James died but historical records and research point to him dying in a terrible, horrible way (aka murdered) when Ananus (II) was High Priest.  To cut a long story short, this conversation not only stirred up my fears but also the fears of other women in my group.  We echoed each other, “I don’t want to die that way.”  Then Beth’s writings led us to consider the horrible death / murder of Stephen.

The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily upward into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” Then they put their hands over their ears, and drowning out his voice with their shouts, they rushed at him. They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. The official witnesses took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.   Acts 7:54-58 NLT (emphasis added)

I’ve always know that God the Father and Jesus are heaven.  And I’ve always known that the Holy Spirit is here with us on earth.  But today I saw two new things:
– God present IN Stephen because he was full of the Holy Spirit.
– Jesus STANDING in action (versus “sitting” at the right hand as He does at other times)

I’m not sure I’m able to put this into words well.  But my heart is so full right now.  I will not be alone in my death.  I have the Holy Spirit IN me and I have Jesus in ACTION for me.  They will experience my passing with me.  They will carry me and strengthen me and sustain me.  I am stirred and inspired that Stephen “gazed steadily” toward eternity.  Something huge was happening in that moment.  Something we don’t get yet.  Something supernatural.  It gives me goosebumps to think about.  That moment is in my future.  I will know what Stephen knows.  Wow.  It’s actually exciting me.  Talk about a 180.  Where fear once lived, now expectation grows.

I always wondered how the Martyrs did it.  I wondered if it was just a radical personality type that could stick to their faith during extreme pain.  Turns out I was majorly under-rating the power of the INdwelling Holy Spirit.  Totally changes my view of the story of Polycarp and other Martyrs.  They could endure the torture because of God’s power IN them… not because they themselves were a special breed of human.  And if I have to face something like it: His power is IN me too.

And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven. (Luke 24:49 NLT)

How will I endure death?  Through His power IN me.
How will I live life today?  Through His power IN me.
 
What are you walking through today?  Is there something you are battling alone?  He is not absent.  We are surrounded by Jehovah Shammah: The LORD is there, present.  And we are INdwelt by the Holy Spirit.  You are not alone.
 

Shuffle Day

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As the seasons make their change, I’m forced to do a major shuffle.  It usually takes a whole day.  Sorting, bagging, laundry, boxes in and boxes out.

When we woke up this morning I realized it was time. Today is a shuffle day.

And so, while the kids were eating breakfast, I got their winter clothes sorted and bagged up to pass on.  During baby nap time, our 3-year-old and I sorted through the boxes of next size of hand-me-downs that have been living in the garage. Next step, laundry. Then shuffle-shuffle-shuffle everything around to their new spots.

I actually like this process. There are so many sweet memories attached to those little clothes that no longer fit my growing babies. I love this moment to remember. I need this moment to remember.

The pile of next size clothes is amazing. Our older cousins are perfectly spaced in size above our kids. Once again, we have more than enough clothes for the year ahead.  (Thank you Jehovah Jireh.)

Life is a constant metaphor for me. Today I can’t help but think about the shuffle of “me”. Seasons come and go. And when it’s time to make room for the new, I need to sort through and bag up some of the old.  There are things about me, that I’ve outgrown.  Thoughts, actions, ideals, dreams, pains, fears. They no longer fit.  And I see that my Father God has a huge pile of new things for me to try on and grow into.

And I think need to take the time to look at the things I’m letting go of.  It is not a shameful thing that I used to wear those things.  They were what I could wear in those days.  They were part of my journey.  And some are “standing stones” that display the goodness and majesty of God’s work in my life.  I should not despise them.  I should not forget them. It seems I need shuffle days for my life.

The words that come to mind are the words of prophetic encouragement to Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:10 & 7.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.  It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty.

My Father God rejoices to see the small beginnings in my life. He celebrates my baby steps.  He celebrates me.  And the Truth is, my growth is not really in my own hands.  I’m definitely part of it, but His Spirit is the power by which I grow.  What an awesome hope I have.  I am not the creator of my own self.  Thank God!  Hmmm, I’m loving this shuffle day.

As I sorted the sizes, I came across a tag that said “One Size Fits All”.  In a kid’s sweater.  NOT TRUE!  There is no way that sweater fits ALL kids.  What a ridiculous claim.

And here’s the other metaphor that captured my heart today.  When it comes to my growth and walk with Jesus, it is not “one size fits all”. Other people may be wearing things that I am years from wearing. And vice versa. Just as we shouldn’t be ashamed of or belittle who we were, we shouldn’t use others as a measure.  There will always be someone “worse” and there will always be someone “better”.  Comparing ourselves with others is like constantly flipping a coin that delivers a verdict of self-justification on one side and self-condemnation on the other.  That is no way to live.  My worth and journey is not affected by the lives of others.  My worth and journey is found only in Jesus.

Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.   (Galatians 6:4-5)

Ooooh, I’m loving this shuffle day.  My heart is full of life and hope because of who I was, who I am, and who I am becoming.

How are you? Do you need some time to think about your journey?  To celebrate your journey and make room for the new season God has for you?  Do you need a shuffle day?

Sundays

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Sundays are a special day for me. Set apart and unique. It’s a selah. A day to breathe. Rest. Think. Be refreshed.

It felt weird not to blog but I’ve made the decision that I won’t be blogging on Sundays.

My former boss required his employees to have a protected day off each week.  A full day of no work.  No thoughts of work either.  I day of “not-normal-life”. My day off each was Thursdays.  It looked like: no morning alarm and no schedule. I just did things that brought me joy and rest. Because my job was all about people, my day off was people-free. Because my job had a fast-schedule, my day off was empty of plans.

My boss was strict about us keeping this day off he nicknamed “Sabbath”. Our team worked hard for 5 days, were on-call for 1 more day and then rested fully for 1.  Having a day off was a hard discipline to keep.  It was hard to not think about work things.  Hard to protect my mind, heart and energy level.  Over the years I watched peers in this industry burn out fast.  I am convinced it was because of a lack of “Sabbath” in their lives.

Now, I am an at-home / work-from-home Mum.  I don’t have the luxury of ever having a real “day off”.

I’ve had to be really purposeful in crafting a “rest day” for myself.  A day that is different and set-apart.  A day to breathe, rest, think and be refreshed.

He replied, “The LORD has appointed tomorrow as a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. On this day we will rest from our normal daily tasks.  – Exodus 16:23 NLT (emphasis added)

My day off each week is now Sundays.  It looks like: alarm set for church, play keys & sing and worship with my church family, dig in my Bible, pray, think, breathe.  The kids love their classes and I love getting to have alone time. Afterwards we grab gleanings, make a simple lunch and get the kids down for “nap” (16 month old) and “rest time” (3.5 year old).  Then we chill on the couch and watch a movie together. Sometimes I head off and do something alone. It’s my personal version of Sabbath: “A rest from my normal daily tasks.”

When God told us to rest a day each week, He was not being controlling or arbitrary. He knows what our bodies and lives need. (Mark 2:27 “The Sabbath was made to benefit man…”).  Wonderfully, my husband is a huge fan of me getting down time and alone time.  Sometimes I feel guilty about my “day off” but I believe that God’s Word is true and right.  God’s ways are for our best.  His Ways bring me Life.  Having a rest day gives me strength and joy for the 6 days of serving my family.

Have you considered crafting a personalized day off?  Do you have a day that is different from the others?  Do you have a day that is set apart for rest and refreshment?  What does it look like for you?

Why am I blogging?

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When you set up a new account, WordPress gives a step-by-step guide to creating a blog. One of the steps I loved is “Get Focused“.

Isn’t there something special about the feel of a pencil? I love sharp pencils. And I love love love the stationery aisle at stores. It’s one of my window shopping delights… looking at the rows of pens, pencils, and notebooks. And, second only to Christmas, Back-to-school season makes me giddy. I have such fond and vivid memories of first days of school and the smell of brand new pencils and books. Can’t WAIT for my kids to be school aged so I can actually justify a purchase from this aisle.

… what was the name of that step? Get Focused? Oh right. Focus.

Why am I blogging? A dear friend and mentor recently said to me: “Do not underestimate the power of your unique voice.” It really got the cogs of my mind turning. My voice. Powerful? Unique, yes. But, powerful? Hmmm. I have underestimated the power of my unique voice.

I am a woman of great gifting and passion. I am a woman created with a purpose and gifted for this season. I have experience and insights from being an immigrant and traveler, from being at home with young kids, from being deeply invested in my church, and from years of pastoral ministry with teens and families. But above all that, I am a girl who loves to share life with friends. I love sharing the deep heart stuff of life. I love sharing faith insights. I love sharing womanhood and wifehood journeys. I love sharing tips and tricks for surviving and even enjoying the craziness of motherhood.

My family and friends are scattered around the world. I want to keep sharing life despite our geography. And so the blogging begins…

Why do you blog?

Colours of Color

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I thought for a long time about the name of this blog.  The creative, poetic part of me wanted it to be layered in meaning.  The practical part of me wanted it to be simple and memorable.  My thoughts wandered through phrases and words that have been important to me through me life.  Horizon Blue: My favorite color because it holds a new adventure.  Forget-me-not: The desire to be loved and cared for.  Creative, Beauty, Unique: There are many words that describe me but none that can stand alone and still have fullness.  Color:  Hmmm.  Color.  Yes… I like the double meaning… to affect & influence.  Which spelling?  My native tongue “colour” or my current tongue “color”?  And then it came to me: There are many colours of color.  Each color has shades and tints.  Each element of me is multifaceted and beautiful.  Ta da!  Colors of Color.

Choosing this blog name was not at all like choosing the names of my babies.
– You can give your baby a name that another person already has.
– Your baby’s name doesn’t have to witty, catchy or clever.
– Your baby’s name is somewhat set in stone.

So here we go… this blog name is not already taken, it is poetic and has layers of meaning and if I end up hating it I can change it!  Yay!

“Colours of Color”
– Aussie spelling and American spelling to represent my two countries.
– Points to the diversity and beauty of each of our lives.
– Speaks of the power each of us has to use our unique selves to influence those around us.

Eph 2:10

How did you name your blog?