Passion 2011

There comes a time in life when you are all out of excuses.  You read words.  Meet someone.  Experience something.  And that’s it.  You cant go back.  Every excuse you have for not stepping up to the mark is completely blown out of the water.

 

I have had one such weekend.  My church hosted a women’s conference, Passion 2011, and the truth I encountered there has left me out of excuses. No longer can I close my eyes and pretend that everything in the world is OK because I heard of how trafficking in women is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately US$12 billion a year and there are 1.39 million victims of commercial sexual servitude worldwide.  But I can’t say any longer that God can’t use me to make a difference because I was told in no uncertain terms that I am his warrior princess daughter who has been entrusted with this moment on planet earth for a very special purpose.

 

I was among a company of women who were told that this is our time, our purpose, our Passion.  I was honoured to be worshipping with these women who are stepping up to be all who God has created them to be at this moment in time.  May we be distinguished by our Passion for God and the world around us and may that Passion effect the lives of many people.

 

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This Skin

Will I ever feel at home in it? Sometimes it feels so uncomfortable. I so often want to change it – make it darker, blemish free so I cover it with unnatural substances whose main goal is to make it look more natural.

It’s all so contradictory.

But God also contradicts what my skin is. One moment He says it’s a temple of the Holy Spirit then the next he describes it as a tent. Temporary. Unsubstantial.

It’s hard to get the balance right between the two.

I guess the only way to look at it is that this skin is not my home it’s His home.

My home is in Him.

 

Loaves and fish or chicken and veg?

The boy that day was not confined as to what to give Jesus. I don’t think that if he had presented Jesus with chicken and vegetables Jesus would’ve said, “oh no! I can’t multiply that! It has to be bread and fish.” Jesus would not be confined like that. He takes whatever we give him. He just cares that we give it. Whatever we give he will use.

 

What was important is that the boy came prepared and ready to sacrifice. He had his lunch with him in the first place. He had something to offer.  He didn’t keep it to himself. He wasn’t selfish. I have a sneaking suspicion he wasn’t the only one in the crowd with a lunch box.  I’m sure there were others in the crowd that day who were prepared for a long day in the heat of the desert and brought some lunch with them.

 

What made the difference?

 

Although they were prepared – they were not willing to give.  We can have all the supplies we want but unless we are willing to give, what’s the point?

 

Another thing I have noticed about this boy is that he didn’t try to feed the crowd himself. He knew his limitations.  He didn’t break the bread and fish himself and start distributing it among the circle of people around him.  That would have fed 10-12 people at the most which would have been commendable and those 10-12 people would have been satisfied and the boy would have been heralded as very kind to share with this small group of people.

 

But the boy wasn’t interested in making himself look kind.  He wanted to make Jesus famous so he not only surrendered his lunch but also his pride.  He was saying to Jesus, “I can do something with this lunch but I think you can do more, so here it is.”

 

It’s tempting when you have something in your hand that can help people just to hold on to it and ‘do your best.’  It’s humbling when you realize that your best is nowhere near good enough for the massive need that is out there.  So then it’s time to surrender and take what is in your hand and place it into the hand of the One who can meet the need and more besides.

 

There were 12 baskets of leftovers picked up that day.  Somehow I don’t think that boy went home empty-handed.

 

How easy do you find it to surrender what is in your hand?

When Grace Runs Deep

Read this this morning and it blessed the socks off me.  Its by one one my favourite authours, Max Lucado.

Enjoy…

The prodigal son trudges up the path. His pig stink makes passersby walk wide circles around him, but he doesn’t notice. With eyes on the ground, he rehearses his speech: “Father”—his voice barely audible—“I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not worthy to be called your son.” He rehashes the phrases, wondering if he should say more, less, or make a U-turn to the barnyard. After all, he cashed in the trust fund and trashed the family name. Over the last year, he’d awakened with more parched throats, headaches, women, and tattoos than a rock star. How could his father forgive him? Maybe I could offer to pay off the credit cards. He’s so focused on penance planning that he fails to hear the sound of his father…running!

The dad embraces the mud-layered boy as if he were a returning war hero. He commands the servants to bring a robe, ring, and sandals, as if to say, “No boy of mine is going to look like a pigpen peasant. Fire up the grill. Bring on the drinks. It’s time for a party!”

Big brother meanwhile stands on the porch and sulks. “No one ever gave me a party,” he mumbles, arms crossed.

The father tries to explain, but the jealous son won’t listen. He huffs and shrugs and grumbles something about cheap grace, saddles his high horse, and rides off. But you knew that. You’ve read the parable of the gracious father and the hostile brother (see Luke 15:11–32).

But have you heard what happened next? Have you read the second chapter? It’s a page-turner. The older brother resolves to rain on the forgiveness parade. If Dad won’t exact justice on the boy, I will.

“Nice robe there, little brother,” he tells him one day. “Better keep it clean. One spot and Dad will send you to the cleaners with it.”

The younger waves him away, but the next time he sees his father, he quickly checks his robe for stains.

A few days later big brother warns about the ring. “Quite a piece of jewelry Dad gave you. He prefers that you wear it on the thumb.”
“The thumb? He didn’t tell me that.”
“Some things we’re just supposed to know.”
“But it won’t fit my thumb.”

“What’s your goal—pleasing our father or your own personal comfort?” the spirituality monitor gibes, walking away.

Big brother isn’t finished. With the pleasantness of a dyspeptic IRS auditor, he taunts, “If Dad sees you with loose laces, he’ll take the sandals back.”

“He will not. They were a gift. He wouldn’t…would he?” The ex-prodigal then leans over to snug the strings. As he does, he spots a smudge on his robe. Trying to rub it off, he realizes the ring is on a finger, not his thumb. That’s when he hears his father’s voice. “Hello, Son.”

There the boy sits, wearing a spotted robe, loose laces, and a misplaced ring. Overcome with fear, he reacts with a “Sorry, Dad” and turns and runs.

Too many tasks. Keeping the robe spotless, the ring positioned, the sandals snug—who could meet such standards? Gift preservation begins to wear on the young man. He avoids the father he feels he can’t please. He quits wearing the gifts he can’t maintain. And he even begins longing for the simpler days of the pigpen. “No one hounded me there.”

That’s the rest of the story. Wondering where I found it? On page 1,892 of my Bible, in the book of Galatians. Thanks to some legalistic big brothers, Paul’s readers had gone from grace receiving to law keeping.

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ.… (Gal. 1:6–7)

Joy snatchers infiltrated the Roman church as well. Paul had to remind them, “But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work” (Rom. 4:5).

Philippian Christians heard the same foolishness. Big brothers weren’t telling them to wear a ring on their thumb, but they were insisting “you must be circumcised to be saved” (Phil. 3:2).

Even the Jerusalem church, the flagship congregation, heard the solemn monotones of the Quality Control Board. Non-Jewish believers were being told, “You cannot be saved if you are not circumcised as Moses taught us” (Acts 15:1 NCV)

The churches suffered from the same malady: grace blockage. The Father might let you in the gate, but you have to earn your place at the table. God makes the down payment on your redemption, but you pay the monthly instalments. Heaven gives the boat, but you have to row it if you ever want to see the other shore.

Your deeds don’t save you. And your deeds don’t keep you saved. Grace does. The next time big brother starts dispensing more snarls than twin Dobermans, loosen your sandals, set your ring on your finger, and quote the apostle of grace who said, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10 NKJV).

Let there be…

These are the first three words that God ever spoke.  As he created he simply spoke, “Let there be…”

And there was.

And it was ‘good.’

 

As someone who is creative, because I have the Creator living on the inside of me, these words often float through my mind.  They inspire me to write words.  They inspire other creators to compose music and lyrics, assemble magnificent structures, draw amazing artwork, design incredible fashion.

 

We say, “let there be.”

And there is.

And it is ‘good’ (most of the time).

 

However the constant pressure of creating is wearisome.  Always looking for the next new thing to create can drain.  The weight of others’ expectations can be daunting.  Then other words float around our minds.

“What if it’s not good enough?”

“What if I can’t finish it on time?”

 

It is then that we must meditate on another three words spoken by the creator – “It is finished!”  These were uttered as he hung on the cross and completed the redemption plan to save mankind.

 

The God who said, “Let there be” also said, “It is finished.”

 

Just as “Let there be” inspires us to create, “It is finished” must inspire us to rest.  We must rest in the finished work.  The finished work that makes us the new creations we are in him.

 

But we must also rest for the creations we undertake.

 

As it says in Ephesians 2:10, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  There is nothing new in any creation we attempt.  We are merely vessels through which his already prepared creation flows from eternity into the here and now.

 

I don’t know about you butt that really takes the pressure off me. Now when I say, “Let there be” I can rest in the “It is finished.”