Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Handling Unjust Treatment

What the Bible says about handling unjust treatment

“Do not fret because of evildoers….

Trust in the LORD and do good….

Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him…

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret…

Do not fret — it only causes harm.” (from Psalm 37)

“One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

I press on…” (Philippians 3)

Song: “Your eye is on the Sparrow and your hand it comforts me, from the ends of the earth to the depths of my heart, let Your mercy and strength receive… And I will run to You, to Your word of truth…. Not by might, nor by power, but by Your Spirit oh LORD.” (Hillsongs) These words depict a method for handling unjust treatment.

When we are treated badly: this is what we must do — “Trust in the LORD and do good, Dwell own the land, and feed on His faithfulness…” 

Feed on His goodness, not on the evil that is being done

Make no mistake, injustice, unjust treatment IS evil. But we MUST leave it in the hands of GOD, not stew on it. If we eat it, it will eat us. If we ignore it, it most likely will fade away.

The evil that men do to us can be ignored. Allowing it to fester, it will grow. Ignoring it, it will die. If it doesn’t die that might be Step 2 (for another post). But first, we focus on Step 1: ignoring evil done to us.

Look at the recent trial between Johnny Depp and his ex wife Amber Heard. Look at how awful that situation has become. She may have blown out of all proportion their private lives — exposing and putting him on trial in the public eye. Now he is doing the same thing to her. What hell they are putting themselves through for money and/or reputation. Who is guilty? Should a criminal, if there are abuse crimes, be held responsible? Absolutely, of course. But why then, did the purported victim, not put her husband up on charges and allow the legal system to punish him? It is too detailed for me to analyse and dissect, and I’m not passing judgement on either of them. From what little I know, they are both going through hell and with alcohol and drug abuse, they have been through a nightmare, some of which was of their own making. BUT my point is, neither is moving forward. And in their world, how can they know any differently? It is tragic. And what is the fall-out? Broken lives, suffering.

When we are treated unjustly, how do we cope?

We forgive. We trust GOD. We move ahead in our own righteousness with Him. 

Turning the other cheek, something Jesus recommends, is not only for the other person’s benefit, to give them space and time to repent, relent. It is for ourselves too, for when we forgive, we can walk away free from stress, pain, anxiety and wrath.

The opposite is true: when we do not forgive, we carry stress, pain, anxiety and wrath — or self-righteousness, which eats away at us, first through pride and anger, and ultimately through conviction that will come to us for our own sinfulness in the situation.

When we justify ourselves, we are blocking the protection from GOD. 

So instead, we can rest in the LORD as Psalm 37 says, and feed on His faithfulness.

Persecution is going to come in its many shapes and forms

There are places in the world where those who love Jesus are being persecuted for their faith. So far in the West, persecution has been very mild. Christianity is top of the list for religious persecution around the globe. But in the West we have barely needed to flinch (I gather an exception is in Canada where some churches have been burned during the Covid crisis).

And yet, I’ve seen a lot of flinching, a lot of conspiracy theory shouting, a lot of discomfort. We need to toughen up if we’re going to get through it, when it comes to us, if it comes to us. 

We need to learn to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) in order to overcome the temptation to strike back. IF GOD calls us to defend, then yes we must defend. But by and large, we need to ignore, walk away, overcome. “He who overcomes” remember receives much (Revelation 2, 3).

“He who loses his life will gain” — holding onto this world, holding onto our rights, holding on to what is just and fair in this world, will not enable us to grow and it will not give us crowns in heaven. We must discern between when to fight and when to ignore. And mostly, we need to ignore.

The evil that men do will not stop until Jesus returns to rule and reign

We are held in the palm of GOD’s hand. Are we going to trust Him to protect us, or are we going to fight for our rights?

This matter: handling unjust treatment, can be complicated. There are nuances and individual cases and situations. But overall, we need to allow GOD to rule and reign in our lives. We can trust in His sovereignty, trust in His ways, allow Him to grow, mould and shape us. And we can love our neighbours — even the nasty ones, event the brothers and sisters in the LORD who spite us — and walk on water.

Walking on Water

Whatever is going on around us and to us, we can focus on Jesus and trust in Him. He has what is best for us. This is “walking on water”.

Are we going to allow ourselves to strain through the mucky ponds, waist deep in the sludge of someone else’s false accusations, back-biting and disparaging remarks? Or are we going to walk on the river of life, above the criticism, lies and opinions of our enemies?

We choose. But if we choose to walk on water, we will not be pulled apart or brought down by false rumours or accusations, side-lining or cruelty. Instead, we will be washed, awakened and free.

Jesus said he came to bring life and life more abundantly. That comes from keeping our eyes fixed upon him and looking ahead. Enemies will come and go. How we handle them will determine their power or lack thereof. 

I choose life. I choose peace. I choose love, and love empowers us to overcome all the threats and attempts of the enemy.

So let’s fight the good fight and finish the race. Let’s ignore that which is from the enemy, and dwell on the faithfulness, the goodness of GOD.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Is GOD near or far? A look at faith v religious practice

Is GOD near or far?: Looking at Faith and Religion

Hebrews 4:12

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Many people believe in GOD but don’t know GOD intimately as those who are born again claim to experience Him. How can I know that? Because I’ve been in both camps — which I’d call the “before” and “after” camps: before being born again and after being born again

What’s the difference between born again and not born again? And why does it matter?

Firstly: What’s the difference between being born again or not born again? Biblical Christianity puts the Bible as the first reference point. Born again people generally do that. We base our lifestyle on whether or not it lines up with the Bible’s recommendations for a peaceful and fulfilled life. Although sometimes we fail in our walk, the Bible is our guideline, our plumb line, our reference point.

However, that isn’t a sufficient explanation because many adhere to the strict code or legalistic lifestyle of following the rules in the Bible, not because they have had a revival in their hearts but because they are religious about their commitment to ensuring society — or at least their family — tows the line!

Being born again is a realisation that ‘I want to follow Jesus and I cannot live the life I want to lead without him; and then it is a decision to commit my life to him, to surrender and start again, to look ahead and not behind, and to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me.’ And then there is baptism which is a public profession and experience of being immersed in water as Jesus was.

“What must we do” to be saved? some asked Peter in Acts 2:38. “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Observations

Let’s make no assumptions as to salvation of another person…. Only GOD sees our hearts.

To be born again means we’ve repented of our mistakes, and surrendered our lives to Jesus. This is what makes us “saved” according to John 3:16 (and other verses of course). But isn’t that also what we do in the Protestant Church when we get confirmed or in the Roman Catholic church when we go to confession?

An aside for a moment…

There is a specific trigger for this my writing this post: I mentioned to someone recently that I was sad that they were keeping GOD at arms length, although I was delighted they had faith in Him. The response was polite but the person did take exception to my comment.

I suppose it seemed as though I had made an assumption that I knew their relationship with GOD. So the other person was taken aback by my comment, which is quite right and a fair point… no one can know another’s relationship to GOD.

AND YET, there are certain markers. The most apparent one is, Do we put GOD first!? Is our relationship with Him the most important in our lives? With this question in mind, I continue on the main track once again…

How do we know we have a personal relationship with GOD?

  1. We need the Holy Spirit. He is the comforter whom Jesus ascended into heaven in order to send after him. He, like the father and the son, is GOD (John 14).
  2. Jesus said we must be “born again (John 3:16) – which is to have a personal encounter with the living GOD, based upon an experience or decision or both, where we willingly die to our old life and seek to start again, knowing GOD is listening. We can trust we are forgiven and are reborn, brand new and without sin.
  3. Paul wrote we must have faith in order to please GOD (Ephesians 2), and that we are saved by His grace. Faith, by definition is, “the substance of what we hope for”, it is evidence-based. James says faith without works is dead, so while works includes good deeds, it also includes a tangible hunger for GOD’s Word, the Bible (more below). Without faith it is impossible to please GOD (Hebrews 11:6). And – by the way – faith comes from GOD. It is a fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22); we can’t drum it up. But we can ask for it!
  4. Do we have a desire and commitment to our relationship with GOD which is lasting and ongoing?…. I thought my friend was keeping GOD at arms length. Did I presume or did I sense or observe a lack of engagement? 
  5. Do you have a hunger for the Bible as GOD’s Word? In John 1:1 we read, “In the beginning was the Word….. and the was GOD and the Word became flesh…” That’s Jesus! Do you “Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, soul, mind…. (Jesus quoted Deuteronomy)? Good works without the Love of GOD first, is NOT Christianity, but simply good deeds. Are you a person wearing the label Christian? Does that mean you are going to heaven? Being a person who believes in Jesus is a necessary start, but that alone doesn’t mean one is going to heaven. According to Jesus’ own words, to some he will say, “I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23) You can’t whip up your faith. You can only follow; ask and it will be given, seek and you will find; knock and the door shall be opened to you. 
  6. Have you passion to know GOD? It can grow! I was ignorant but I was open… and then the Spirit of GOD began to convict me of my ignorance. I chose to listen. Through 3 different people in the space of 48 hours, I heard “My people are destroyed/perishing for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6) and I realised I was one of those people!
  7. So much hinges on the Bible, our hunger for it, our growth from it. I started at the top of this post with Hebrews 4: “Word of GOD is living and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword” ….. “and discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  Our walk hinges on the Word of GOD, which is why Paul writes to Timothy and says, “study to show yourself approved…” A deep study of theology reveals how Jesus’ identity matters, that only as the son of GOD, only he could take our place on the cross, taking all our sin — everyone’s sin — and then how painfully he was abandoned as evidenced by his question to his Father, “why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15) The more we study, the more we can grow. And yet, even this is not what gets us into heaven.
  8. Is the Holy Spirit active and alive within us: convicting us of sin, prompting us to dig deeper. Do we allow the Holy Spirit to go to the heart of our matter, not only touching our minds? What leads us to heaven is to have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21). And it is through relationship with the Lamb of GOD, through the Holy Spirit, through our following him, that we are born again, saved for our place in heaven. Jesus said, “In my house are many mansions…” and “I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2).


These are markers of our relationship with GOD. But of course, only GOD knows the heart.

On the structures of religion in Christianity

What about the ceremonies of religious denominations?

  1. What about confirmation then? And our promises and vows made to GOD at this time? Is this less than baptism? Zach 4:6 says, “Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit says the LORD of hosts.” At Jesus’ baptism it was then that the Spirit descended upon him like a dove.
  2. IF GOD is at the centre, then do we get to choose how we come to Him? Intimacy, unity, lap of Abba/Daddy comes through baptism: sign, obedience, step of commitment. Some people are committed born again believers and yet they are in a culture where they are confirmed rather than baptised. Does them make a  difference to GOD? All I know is that I was confirmed at 16, born again at 24 and was challenged at 31 to be baptised. GOD convicted me and I was baptised. It was only then, after my first 7 years as a Christian, that  I truly began to grow: hunger, read, pray, improve my human relationships. I believe I was saved from 24 and destined for heaven. But it was after 31 that I really, really began to grow and be useful to others — helping them to grow in the likeness of Jesus.

So, what’s the difference between GOD being near or far? 

Our relationship with GOD, which includes our hunger for His Word and our prayer life through the Spirit, is what makes the difference between a person of religion or faith and the person who is born again.

We can define our relationship with GOD as something that goes far beyond attending church, though developing fellowship with other believers is important.  

Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

We surrender and we allow our minds to be renewed (not washed as in brain washed) seeing things from GOD’s perspective, beyond what we know and see in the here-and-now. And within us, we’ll notice that there is much more is going on as we develop our understanding of GOD’s Spirit within us.

Why bother with church?

And yes we attend church for fellowship, because iron sharpens iron, and being part of a family keeps us strong and supported. If we merely attend a religious act or ceremony, it may take us to church but does it help us or others to grow? To be with the people: our brothers and sisters in Christ, who also have a relationship with GOD is a wonderful opportunity to share His love, to discuss His word, and to grow in His likeness. When we are in fellowship, we have the opportunity to work as one body: hands, eyes, ears, hearts all working together to give us the ability to function fully. (1 Corinthians 12)

And finally, in our walk we look ahead not behind: “Forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the upward call of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14) It is not our behaviour, our deeds, our successes or our failures that marks us for an intimate relationship with GOD… but it is our hearts — our yearning for Him and the growth of our spirit within us — which sets us apart for Him.

Conclusion about religious Christianity: Jesus tore into the religious pharisees because they were hypocrites many times in Matthew and of them he also said,

“Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) Religion alone does not cut it with Christ.

We cannot presume anyone’s level of intimacy or faith with GOD our heavenly Father. But we can encourage intimacy, sincerity, and if we meet with opposition, we can pray for that heart to be convicted and that mind to be renewed. If the spirit dwells within, alive — born again — and well, then the person will experience conviction. He or she will choose what to do with that, and they are encountering the living Creator of the Universe. When that occurs, GOD is at work and the “arms length” no longer applies.

Hallelujah!

Secondly: Why does it matter whether or not we are born again? 

It matters to GOD whether we are born again because Jesus said ‘unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of GOD’. So arms length or intimacy now is not only about how we experience GOD now, but also where we end up later…

Where are we at now?

Reader, Are you a long-term believer or one new to the faith? 

Solution: Read the Word. Spend time with GOD in prayer. You’ll find answers.

Reader, are you a person with faith who doesn’t know how to get closer to GOD or even whether or not you want to? 

Solution: Read the Word. Spend time with GOD in prayer. You’ll find answers.

Reader, are you a person who doesn’t believe? 

Solution: That’s okay, you can read the Word and even ask GOD if He’s there, in prayer. You’ll find answers.

Is GOD at arms length or intimate with you?

We are all equal as human beings. GOD offers us all the same opportunity. He meets us wherever we’re at and if we allow Him, He draws us to Him, from arms length to close. 

I pray you’ll be closer to Him today than you were yesterday. I pray that for myself too. 

Shalom — I ask for GOD’s peace for you, and GOD’s blessing too.

Categories
Reflections and Poetry

An End of things as they’ve been: a short poem

Time is marching

Clock is ticking

UK dying

Need for grace.

*The author suggests that a read of the short prophetic book of Habakkuk is timely.*

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Joy in Bereavement

Joy in Bereavement

“The Joy of the LORD is my strength”: 

Rebuilding our lives amidst loss…

Has death lost its sting?

Do we believe that joy in bereavement is possible?

Do we believe in scripture? Do we trust GOD in all things?

Do we accept as Paul wrote in Philippians, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”?

Do we know we can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” and that “the joy of the LORD is my strength?”

Yes. Even so, how is joy in bereavement possible?

Attitude to death

Suffering unto death is painful. Today, look at the war-torn refugees: The Ukrainians are fleeing their homeland. Previously, it was Afghans, and before that, Syrians hoping to escape civil war. I wonder, are the Christians in these nations — and there are many — are they in fear?

Has death lost its sting? For me, it has…. Oh, yes, I am concerned for those whom I would leave behind. But going to be with Jesus…. for me, in death there is nothing to fear.

Why then, would I grieve irreparably for my lost husband who has proceeded me to eternity?

Yes, I have mourned, curled up from time to time, have missed and still do miss him. Yes, the process of bereavement is not an easy process for anyone. And yet, we who have lost someone who is in Christ can also have joy — joy to know the person we love has gone to a far away place but also it is a far better place. We miss them, but we can enjoy in their absence the knowing that:

  1. GOD has them in the palm of His hand
  2. We have had the joy of knowing them, of having them in our lives
  3. We have been entrusted to carry on and can be confident that GOD will equip us.

If these things are true, why carry on suffering? There is no need.

A TESTAMENT:

As many of  you know, I lost my husband a year ago. He was not old, was healthy previously, and he left a 16 year old son, a daughter, and a grandson (with a second born just a month after he passed away).

BUT I KNOW that because I choose to trust GOD, to take Him at his Word (as have we all), we are all okay!! Praise the LORD. I choose not to be bitter, nor to be angry, not to blame, condemn or feel sorry for myself. I trust GOD is in all things and in all things we all can trust GOD.

COPING THE WORLD’s WAY:

There are 7 stages of grief, according to common psychological practice. Nothing wrong with analysing or making ourselves aware of what understanding is available  in society today.

BUT we who are In Christ do not have to bind ourselves to these stages because we have supernatural healing and comfort. We who are In Christ need to recognise we are SET APART and through prayer and comfort of GOD almighty, we don’t have to go through any human secular pattern.  We can — it isn’t wrong. But we don’t need to. 

We can even have joy in bereavement.

Bittersweet: Do you know what “bittersweet” means? Memories of a lost loved one are both joyful and sad: joyful because it is as though they are still with us, for a moment, and sad because they are not. So memories are both bitter and sweet. That’s life too, isn’t it?… As the expression goes, we take the bitter with the sweet.

We take the bitter with the sweet, because we know that all things work together for our good. We who are free in Christ are not only saved from hell, but there’s so much more to our salvation. We can experience life & death with no big sting! 

Death has lost its sting. We can walk in this. It’s even a good witness to bear the loss with His grace within and upon us.

This is not denial of our loss. Yes, it hurts. Yes, we miss the one who has gone. But we carry on, with peace and confidence in Him, our GOD.

GOD’s WAY FORWARD:

Have you got lots of prayer cover? Let’s never underestimate the power of prayer cover to comfort us and hold the enemy at bay.

We needn’t just survive but we can thrive even in grief. 

The First Year

We have responsibilities to attend to which helps us through the first year.

For example…. there is the looking after others, taking care of financial aspects following death, arranging the funeral? Doing nothing in only the rarest of instances is advisable. Doing a lot isn’t advisable either as there is sort of a cloud over us that makes concentration difficult. Rather, pacing ourselves wisely is sensible and good. Idle hands don’t help; over-work isn’t ideal. Finding a balance between taking time for ourselves to process our loss, and yet gradually moving forward is so important.

All of this addresses our mental attitude. Let us allow GOD to renew our minds, taking us through our situation with the many changes, and leading us to deeper, wider understanding of Him and our relationship with Him.

What do I miss most?

Knowing what we miss, being aware, helps us to address it at some moments and allows us to work through how to cope without.

I suppose the thing I miss most is conversations with my husband. I have no-one to talk to about some matters now. So, I simply take my conversations to GOD and either He satisfies or He leads me to a human source as well.

SO, HOW DO WE GET THROUGH BEREAVEMENT GOD’S WAY?:

  1. Trust Him: I made a decision very early on to accept the situation and recognise GOD’s faith in me – as a person, as a mother (my primary concern of course), as a watchman. In my life GOD is sovereign so I know He didn’t make a mistake, and He didn’t forget about us as a family. He must have reckoned I could cope — and I told Him so. Further, He must have reckoned this for my son as well. This attitude — along with the prayers of many others (aka importance of fellowship)— this attitude of being able to overcome, enabled me to overcome.
  1. Know thyself: I walk in GOD’s grace. I rest when He leads me to rest

– or curl up

– or be prayerful

– or remember 

– or be honest with Him or myself or others about what’s on my mind and heart.

– I rest upon scripture, for example, “He leads me beside still waters and He restores my soul” !!

3.   Talk: As I mentioned earlier, I talk to GOD

– I talk to others

– I talk to family who have lost their brother, uncle, father. Remembering others have also lost Alan reduces self-centredness and shows compassion.

– thinking of others, doing for others keeps people near and gives little room for self-pity or self-absorption. I know and have proof in the doing:

– I am not helpless

– I am not worried

– I am productive

– I am occupied

4.  Listen to the Spirit: GOD provides boundaries: Walking close to GOD, listening attentively for His Spirit, I allow the Spirit to lead me. The more I allow myself to be led, the more protection I experience. And allowing the Spirit to lead me keeps me within a spiritual structure that enables me to walk in His peace, His rest, and His wisdom.

5.  Handle the practical responsibilities: 

– funerals

– finances

– friends : All these things occupy our attention when we most need to face the void of the loved one’s absence. This is a good thing (so long as it is kept in balance… avoiding pain or denying pain is not good, but working through the pain with other healthy distractions keeping us from moping or being pulled down).

6.  So, where is the joy in bereavement?: Grief is like the ebb and flow of a river or a tide. It comes and goes. So too, surprisingly enough, comes joy. It may be only a glimmer at first. But there will be some laughter amidst the sorrow, especially if we allow others into our sphere. 

Even in the most horrendous crisis movie, there are uplifting moments. Life is like this… we cannot despair 24/7.

If beyond the natural sadness of grief, a sense of hopelessness or “lostness” comes upon you, do tell a doctor, tell a pastor. Don’t let it stew. Don’t wallow or dwell there, because that can lead to depression. Instead, share it and know you can — and will — get through this time.

And know that breakthrough will come! There will come a time when the cloud lifts. You cannot lift it, but there will come a time… For me, it was eleven months after Alan had passed away, on a Saturday evening after a pleasant day, as I put my head on my pillow to go to sleep I realised, “Oh, I was happy today.” 

The cloud has not returned.

7. Music not Food for Comfort and Uplifting: My son said to his father when in hospital, “Don’t underestimate how much music can help.” He was right!

8. Remember the lessons learned: When my husband was ill I learned two particular things: 

1. to keep my eye on Jesus, not on the storm

and 

2. How powerful is His grace: His amazing grace!

I have not forgotten these lessons, and I have grown in the ability to practise these truths.

9. Receive: I’ve never been so supported as while my husband was ill and I’ve never been as spoiled as in the year following. I didn’t basque in it but I did accept it and am very grateful for it.

Finally, and perhaps most important of all to overcoming a period of bereavement

10. Prayer: Do not underestimate the power of being in GOD’s word throughout this time, allowing Him to change you in these new circumstances. And pray, frequently and abundantly!

In all things GOD works for our good. This you can trust, this you can rely upon, and this you can walk in regardless of how you feel, until the cloud lifts and you can say, “Oh, I was happy today!”

A Prayer

Father, I thank you that all things do work together for our good, for those of us who love You and are called for Your purpose. I thank you that I am a living testament to this as are many other spouses, parents, children, and friends who have recently lost one dear to them. Father, I thank you that we can overcome any storm when we focus on Jesus. Thank you for this truth and for your wisdom to us. Help us to trust it, to apply it, and to share it with others so that they too, can overcome all circumstances.


In Jesus’ name, Amen

Categories
Reflections and Poetry

Believer, let not your mind get lazy: a self reflection

Believers, let us not allow our minds to get lazy

I have been recognising that I am slowing down a bit. I’m not as vigorous as I used to be. That includes both my physicality and my mentally as well. Spiritually, I praise GOD because I seem to continue to grow!

There’s nothing wrong with my health or my age. I just don’t have the quickness of movement I used to have, and perhaps even my thinking is slowing down.

I’m sure the quickness and stiffness in my body has to do with getting older…. Although I’m thinner than I used to be and within the boundaries of ideal weight, and although according to medical science I’m healthy, I am aging; so physically, I’m less flexible and less quick than I was a few years ago. I exercise most days to try to keep age at bay.

As for my mind though, I don’t think the reduction of vitality is age (or at least not entirely), but rather, I think my mind will be as fit and healthy as I choose it to be, based upon the choices I make every day. Just as what I eat and what I do keeps me physically healthy (or not!), so too what I feed my mind, and how I use it will determine significantly how dexterous my thinking remains.

What isn’t good for me

I have learned too much tv or internet is not good for me. It deadens my acuity. I’ve written about that before. I can choose to watch a movie or read a book; I can choose to surf the next or not! But also, what I watch will either stimulate or deter my mental clarity and agility. This is the nub of what I want to write about today…

Proverbs 22: 24-25 says,

“Make no friendship with an angry man,

And with a furious man do not go,

Lest you learn his ways

And set a snare for your soul.”

On the surface, this proverb speaks of associations and friendships, but it can also mean influences. Today, we can influence people in the millions without ever meeting them, simply through what we post on the internet.

So too, we can be influenced by people we never meet in person. Do we know the character of the people we watch on YouTube, for example? We don’t know their personality, unless we know them personally. We only know what we see from our screens. And yet, many of these people act as pastors in our lives, or philosophers, or are our source of news and information. 

Gauging the Character of those whom we watch

If a person is raging — either in temper or accusation — he or she is angry, unsettled, or in slang, “mad”. And why do we call it mad? Because ‘emotion is hot, and reason is not’:)

Irrespective of how a person portrays himself or herself on social media or the in news media, they may — and probably do — have an agenda behind their postings. If the person is angry, is it righteous anger driving them, or self-righteous anger?

Anger: righteousness or self-righteousness

Righteousness can only come from GOD. When Jesus overturned the tables in the temple, he was very angry. But out of that anger, he said clearly and simply,

“… It is written, ‘My house is a ‘house of prayer’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Luke 19:46)

If we follow writers or speakers who are angry at government or science or the rich- and-powerful, why are we following them? What they say may be accurate, but what is their attraction and what is their effect upon us: on our minds, on our relationship with GOD and with our sharing of the Gospel, and with our brothers and sisters who may not agree?

The litmus test is simple

If, from what we are digesting, we are not growing closer to GOD and to loving Him and others more, then what we are digesting is not of GOD.

Making healthy choices

How much non-spiritual food do you want to digest?  A little bit of chocolate is not unhealthy physically, but how much proportion of chocolate do you put in your daily diet? Likewise, a little bit of news can be interesting and can even inform for our prayers. But how much “bad news” is healthy to digest or even desirable?

To my mind, as Paul suggests in Philippians 4:8, I will aim primarily to choose, “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

These are righteous choices, these are healthy choices, these are wise choices to make.

Be aware

I write Preparing the Bride because, as a watchman, my call is to observe and notify. What I observe is that a whole lot of people in the body of Christ are getting seriously distracted, and sometimes even disturbed by evil plots and conspiracies of the powerful elite. 

If this time spent upon such matters is not growing us toward Yeshua our Saviour, then it is time badly spent.

If these powerful elite are evil, are we praying for their souls? If they are of the devil, why are we giving them time? “Resist the devil and he will flee.” (James 4:&) Often I don’t observe people resisting, but rather dwelling upon the evil, sharing it — which is gossip — and being antagonised by or fascinated with it.

Evil exists, but I don’t choose to hang around it

Someone may respond to my provoking this subject by saying, “But we must pray against it.” Yes, and we must also pray for our leaders.

The devil is fascinating, the devil is deceptive, the devil will do anything to entice us away from Jesus. 

How close are we to our Saviour and how far from the devil in these days? How ready and prepared are we as the Bride? At the end of these days, that is what matters.

Bless the reader and know my heart is simply: to love Yehovah GOD, the Creator of the universe, and to make Him known.

Shalom, Shalom.

Categories
Politics and Society today

Reaching out – Looking in: part 7 Church: stay or go?

Do I stay or do I go?

I’m going to say that church is a family… How so?

We are living stones (2 Peter 2) and together, built upon the chief cornerstone who is Jesus, and the foundation stones who are the New Testament Apostles and Old Testament Prophets, we make up the church. The church is not a building and in fact, churches initially met in homes as home groups. Today, it is usual for congregations to have small groups, often called cells or home groups or connect groups, which are small subsets of any particular congregation. These small groups are designed to bring together portions of the congregation in friendship and personal intimacy where it isn’t practicable to do so en masse.

We are the bride of Christ, that’s true. And before the wedding day, the day when he returns to fetch us (Matthew 25), he is fashioning us as his bride. 

But as a church, we are family. And as an individual congregation, we are family. 

Leaving a congregation then, is like a family member abdicating its membership. And if you’ve ever been in a natural family where one leaves or others disown, that is heart-breaking. Instead, reconciliation is much better; it’s healthier and more loving. So too, ought it to be within the church. 

Stay 

Therefore, I would suggest we stay in the congregation we are in wherever possible. If we move homestead to a new town, and it isn’t practicable to remain, of course we must move on. Paul repeatedly says, “I long to see you” when it isn’t feasible. 

If there are deep convictions within you, that the leadership is not teaching sound doctrine, that may be a reason to leave, particularly if it is infecting your live of faith and growth. You may however, be called to remain, in order to “be the grit” to offer words of chastening to leadership. Of course if that’s the case, then it will be done in a spirit of humility and with grace under the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

The time of church hopping and random selection is passed

If we are convicted that we can’t just hop around, hoping to find a good sermon here and there, or make a few new friends, we may choose more cautiously, with a view for the long term, the church in which we will worship. It is a family, and so we must consider others whom we will meet, and recognise they will view us (consciously or unconsciously we do not know, but they will!) as family. And to them, each addition is important.

So let us not run here and there, and let us not leave in a huff. Rather let us recognise the living stones that we are, and that we are meant to be cemented into a family and to stay put, in order for us to grow, blossom and effect others to do the same.

Iron sharpens iron

Let us embrace our church family like we embrace any family: wholeheartedly, with acceptance, conviction, determination and love, to make our church life healthy, whole and all it is intended by Jesus to be. His church began with 12 men, woman such as his mother, Mary Magdalene and others, and revolutionised a world through faith and love. 

“Let us, as a church, grow in the same way. Let us hold fast and be the church that Jesus intended, one brick at a time.

“In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

End Times preparation: illnesses, passing – and our enduring faith

A prayer

Dear LORD,

“You are our Father, our Yehovah, our GOD in heaven. We thank you for the lives of those whom we have loved that have gone before us to be with You. We trust Your timing, Your will — be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

When my husband died after thousands of saints praying and believing GOD for his healing, I knew that GOD was sovereign and He had given me the ability to cope. 

When a friend had an accident and was put into hospital, I prayed and so far all is well, though recovery is slow.

When an elderly lady in my home group went to bed on Thursday evening and on Friday did not wake up, I could see the hand of GOD giving her lasting peace without any suffering, lengthy illness, or pain.

GOD gives life and He restores life to Himself.

Nihilism

We live in society where many people think life is meaningless. Many believe we are powerless, and GOD is dead — if He ever existed at all.

This is hopelessness at its peak. We see this lie transform the hearts of innocent, inspired children into despairing, depressed, lonely young adults. What a transformation! And for what? To attempt to prove life is meaningless by removing the purpose of our lives, the core of our meaning from the thoughts of the young, and lead them instead to believe in nothing, to hope in nothing, to die sick and empty and bereft. From where I sit, this proves GOD and the consequences of a denial of Him.

The Bible says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:6a) and “our hope…. is the LORD”. (1 Thessalonians 2:19)

The passing of saints

When I experience loss, I recognise the one who has passed is now with the LORD of his/her life. For those who pass who did not know Him, yes, it is grievous. But it is not so for those who have gone to be with Jesus.

We grieve their loss, but we must recognise the reality of our faith and theirs: that they have gone to be the Good Shepherd and they have joy forever. One day we will join them. That is the source of hope and joy.

Crutch

The atheist may say we who believe have a crutch. Perhaps so. But what does that matter? The truth is, we have joy and they do not. Joy is our source, joy is our crutch, joy is the result of our hope. Our lives now and in the hereafter are full. 

The atheist may say we live a lie. But we live by faith. And that faith offers joy in all circumstances and heaven beyond this life. It is substantiated by the Word of GOD and by our life experiences.

The atheist may say there is no future beyond this life. We say there is. We say there is both heaven and hell: we each can choose where we want to go. 

The truth may be that we do have a crutch. But that crutch is there for us and it is built on truth. The life of a Jesus follower is tough, and we need a crutch sometimes, just to endure the pain. But I think it is a different pain and a different challenge to that of the atheist. The atheist may think he’s stronger than we are, for believing in nothing and carrying on. But the challenges of living our faith, whether in the relative freedom of Western society or in a society where freedom of religion does not exist, are far greater, because our faith is tested daily. It is also repeatedly rewarded, which is something that enables us to keep going. But at the end of the day, we revert to the cross: the truth that Jesus died for us and if we believe and trust in Him, we shall be saved.

Enduring trust

Times are coming thick and fast, times of our shaking, our testing, our pruning. A study of Matthew 24 highlights the challenges those in the “last days” will face, and I believe we are in the last days.

What I am particularly aware of is the passing of other believers: sudden illnesses, sudden accidents, suddenly-s! GOD is allowing this for our strengthening. Some will pass away, and this is for the pruning of those who remain. This pruning is necessary for we do not know our total mission on earth and we do not know our mission in heaven.

Hold fast, folks; “…but you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.” (Joshua 23:8) Hold fast. And we will see the salvation of our GOD (Exodus 14:13)

Categories
Reflections and Poetry

Surely Politics is not meant to be a Game

My Observation (an opinion piece)

Today I watched the Prime Ministers Questions, a weekly time slot in the British Parliament when ministers are given the opportunity to ask the PM questions directly. This is a weekly Wednesday televised event as typically, the Leader of the Opposition grills the PM publicly. Tonight (at the time of writing) I watched the recording from this afternoon.

I am disgusted with both leaders, PM Boris Johnson and Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer, and with both parties. Before I go on, this is an opinion piece, a response to what I watched, nothing more.

I am disquieted by the jovial nature of the discourse for, underneath their grit and attack, lay smirks and smiles and a general feeling of self-satisfaction by both of them, and many in their respective parties were jeering and baiting….. and effectively cheering each other on.

We are at war. This is not a funny season. My sadness is only just super-ceded by my disgust because the world situation, the moral decay across the world, is no joke. And while the Prime Minister uses clever slangs to sling at his opposition, and the Opposition uses words that suggest he despises the moral degeneration of this opponent, underneath the sparring, it all seems as though it is a game.

Mr Starmer asks the PM to resign!

Perhaps Mr Johnson doesn’t resign now only because he feels no real sense of moral failing, but recognises also that the other side is just as tainted and to resign only bats the degeneration into someone else’s court. It’s a cynical way to look at things but also pragmatic. And in one thing he is correct: we are in dire times and to change leadership now is “bad timing” at best.

By I digress… The nub is after all, party gate*.

In the meantime, while the nation is dedicated to supporting Ukrainian refugees and a war-torn nation, we observe the rotten disregard for the law in “party gate”.

The truth is, at party gate’s core, I reckon, the vast majority of parliamentarians were working long hours and were wanting a bit of a breather, relaxing with their own work-day colleagues. But while Conservatives were discouraging other offices from meeting, they themselves ignored their own rules. Now they’ve resisted admitting they were doing just that. Police have seen through the inconsistency but Boris cannot, or will not. The Opposition understands but uses the situation to their own advantage. And no-one really cares about right and wrong.

I voted for Boris. I knew he was an immoral man: a serial adulterer. But he would (and did) get Brexit done. But now, instead of sitting in front of a camera and genuinely explaining the detail to the nation, he glibly “regrets” what he did not perceive as criminal action, and wants to move on.

The media is great at pointing the finger. It rants about hypocrisy… whist some of the key journalists, who did precisely the same self-centred partying — even in public venues — are leading the charge. There is no sense of irony, no repentance, no sufficient humility, only a slinging of arrows and taunts and jeers of accusation. To the journalists it’s exciting news. The the PM it’s another hurdle to jump. To the public it is pathetic, infuriating, sad and dire.

I agree that the nation should not have the upheaval of a leadership contest, nor an untimely election. But this leader has no scruples and the nation suffers as a result. 

There is no better alternative

A nation gets the leadership it deserves. It seems the UK does not deserve much.

And why should it? 

We endorsed abortion. We endorsed gay marriage. We endorsed transsexualism: Human Rights has run amok. The aim of HR was for people to be protected across the world but the battle has become a joke, where the terrorists are given their Human Rights and the Judaeo-Christians are shunned for crimes their ancestors committed before they were crimes (for example slavery) and the values of “thou shalt not commit adultery” and “thou shalt not kill” are manipulated beyond recognition to excuse human abuses and crimes against GOD. The result: the total breakdown of the family, moral decay and hedonism to the level of absolute and unspeakable depravity. Yes, it is in the West, but it has spread and has infested, in its various shapes and forms, the globe.

My heart cry

Who can lead this nation — or any other — towards the values of GOD’s laws?

I simply resort to this: “Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus. Please LORD, Yehovah GOD, do not let society worsen still. Come, come now, come soon, Jesus.” 

*party gate (so nicknamed in reference to the Watergate scandal in the 1970’s during the Nixon presidential campaign): the term given to the leaked information that while the country was in lockdown, Westminster was engaging in parties — certainly work parties amongst those already working in close proximity during the work day but then holding drinks parties on Westminster premises during out-of-office hours.

Categories
Character Development Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

No fear of death

We who are in Christ are free to live knowing the GOD of all creation knows us and loves us. He guides us as much as we allow Him to, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the Word of His testimony. 

And when this life is done, where are we going? To our heavenly home. In fact, we are pilgrims, we are passengers, we are aliens of this world. (1 Peter 2)

So, then do we cling to life? It’s an odd thing, knowing we are bound for heaven but not seeking it, and dead to this life through baptism and yet very much alive to enjoy one another, to enjoy life.

What do you most enjoy? Rustling of leaves in trees on an autumn day? Twittering of birds in the spring? Snowdrops on your tongue in the wild north? Laughter with friends, or hearing your grandchildren shriek in delight? Or the smell of a wonderful roast beef dinner (or the equivalent for you… considering your culture or your diet)?

What do you savour? What do you miss when it’s gone?

We are more than on the brink of war. Dotted around the globe there has virtually always been war somewhere, but now with the Ukraine and Russia fighting, and refugees escaping in the millions, war is here, in one form or another, in Europe and effecting the globe.

And what about us? Do we fear invasion? Or starvation? or Death?

I remind us all: we who are In Christ, have no need to fear, have no fear of death. 

Paul said, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) As we trust in GOD, His word and His love, we know that we know we will see Him face-to-face one day. 

I am not afraid of when that day might be. For if I stay, I am with the family I love. And if I go, I go to the LORD and the the family I once had. 

What can we gain if we fear death? 

What can we gain if we do not?

Perhaps it is time to live as though this may be our last breath, not in fearing the end but in relishing the present. 

Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6)

I have people I treasure here. I have people I treasure who have gone before me. Either way, I trust in the LORD. I shall fight the good fight and continue the race until it finishes, but I will trust the LORD for the timing of the end. And I have peace.

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Passover, Easter or Resurrection Day?

Which is it?

My dear husband who was a Bible teacher, pondered communion and said, “Jesus said ‘as oft and you do this, do this in remembrance of me’. What did he mean by this? I think he meant Passover, which is once a year.”

From the last Passover meal Jesus held with the disciples, Christianity has extracted Communion. Church denominations, church congregations, have pondered this very question throughout the ages. Most practicing Catholics participate weekly, I think. My church — monthly. Scarcely any Gentile congregation participates only once a year, as far as I know, though Jewish people remember the Passover yearly. What of Messianic festivities? We don’t have an answer with all in agreement. But it is that season now, so …

I will attend a low key Good Friday service in my local parish church. I will attend a Passover Meal in my personal congregation. I will go to church on Easter Day (though I prefer to call it Resurrection Day as the connotations of Easter aren’t very Bible-based — carrying pagan roots… and bunnies!). I am no more holy because of my actions or choices, nor is anyone who attends a particular service. This is because it isn’t what we do that ultimately matters, but what is in our hearts.

I will sit and watch a movie with my son about the last days of Jesus before his arrest and crucifixion. We will watch it because I need to invest in my son’s spiritual future, and the season suggests to me, it is a good time to watch this particular film.

I am doing what I feel led to do. Is this out of habit, or preference, fear, or love? It is all done out of love.

From Matthew 6:25 and onwards, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? …”

Jesus asks us not to be worried… not about anything.

Instead, He says, “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

From Paul, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17)

Does this not pertain to our recognition of days, titles of days, and activities on those days today?

We can’t ‘get it right’

When we surrender to GOD, and we walk in the Spirit, we will be perfected. As long as we continue to try to get it all right, we are walking in religion and in the flesh, and attempting to be perfected in our own strength.

As we seek to adore and cherish GOD: Father, Son and Spirit, we will find that our flesh is stripped away and we simply come to Him with our hearts, by His Spirit.

The LORD looks at the heart. We look to Him for our leadership and our spiritual protection. Let us aim to follow and not aim to get things right. Then, I think we will have true communion with Him.

Categories
Character Development Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Taking GOD out of the box: freedom v religion?

Do you know how much GOD loves you?

Do you know you are free to make any choices you want? 

Do you know, really know, GOD is sovereign over everything? 

How big is GOD? 

Do you get anxious? Concerned you might fail? Do you fear making a mistake in GOD’s eyes or offending someone else?

How much do you trust GOD? How much do you trust yourself in Him? How much do you leave your life in His almighty hands? How much do you know it’s okay if you can’t say honestly, “I know, I believe, I trust!” to all those questions.

How much do you dwell in the peace of GOD’s Shalom, confident in His saving grace? Do you know that: The bigger your GOD, the more you will relax!?

TODAY, my point is to get us to realise just how absolutely incredibly HUGE Yehovah GOD is, and how powerful, and that He leaves nothing to chance! And next we are to recognise we are saved to walk in freedom not religion (which has a peculiar and persistent way of trying to trick us).

  1. Let’s look at GOD’s law to help us to see how BIG He is:

“Oh, how I love your Law… Precepts… Statutes…”

Matthew 12:1-2 “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!””

The Sabbath is very important to GOD, just as His day of rest is important for us. But GOD is bigger than our understanding of Sabbath rest and is bigger than our interpretation of scripture. We can get very bogged down or hemmed in by what we think GOD intends when really, we can explore and learn by study and intimacy with GOD, what he really means in His word.

For example

Matthew 12:11-14 “Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him. Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.”

The Pharisees perceived that Jesus was breaking the law and encouraging others to do so. It infuriated them. Led by a pharisaic — a religious – spirit, they sought to yoke others.

The Pharisees had put GOD into a box, calling the box the Law. All Jews were meant to adhere to the Law and failure meant condemnation and sacrifice. And yet, GOD knew there would be failure to keep the Law which is why He gave them the sacrifice so that they could repent and move forward from condemnation and sin. In an even greater way, through faith in Jesus, because of His death and resurrection for our sin, we are saved from the sacrifices of the former Law and know we are saved to eternal life.

A religious spirit says Jesus’ sacrifice isn’t sufficient, but we must earn our salvation. This is completely contrary to the Gospel message which Jesus personified.

Salvation by grace or by works?

Although we are free in Christ, do we do the same as the Jewish leaders at the time of Jesus on earth, putting heavy burdens of shame upon ourselves and our brothers and sisters? Do we condemn people (rather than their sin) or do we encourage one another to overcome? Is our GOD big enough to forgive anything when repent?

GOD is sovereign. His ways are not necessarily our ways and His understanding is not necessarily our understanding (Isaiah 55). This outlook has been lacking in many religious people throughout history, which is likely why a large contingent of people are not interested in Christianity today. Indian leader Mahatma Ghandi said something like, ‘The teachings of Jesus are good but it is the Christians that I can’t accept.’

Know the Word to distinguish GOD’s heart

IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO KNOW THE WORD — not so we can break it but so we can know our freedoms in Christ. When we know “all things are permissible but not all things are helpful” and follow His Spirit, trust Him, and know He’s sovereign, we can rest in Him. We strive to ‘be perfect’ as He is perfect, and when we err, we repent and move forward. 

Resting v Relaxing

Isaiah 30:15 says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

Allowing GOD to be BIG means we can rest in His will and purposes, trusting Him to reveal His path. As we surrender and rest, He leads us. GOD’s rest is walking in obedience whereas relaxing is “idle hands” which has negative consequences.

There is no need or room to be anxious when we rest in Him!

Free from Religion

Let us also not be religious or heavy-handed or pharisaic like some of our predecessors but rather let us practice the Law of love: “Love the LORD your GOD… and your neighbour…” It is what Jesus said and what he lived.

GOD’s Standard

And yet there is a standard, isn’t there. Jesus said of the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you… Go and sin no more.”

How did Jesus make that proclamation of forgiveness and commandment of changed behaviour? GOD was not kept in a box. GOD is and was — for Jesus —completely sovereign. He was righteous. Jesus followed Him, was intimate with Him in prayer, so much so that he did nothing that was not from the voice of His Father. Therefore, Jesus could step forward knowing the Law but using it for its intended purpose: not to lay heavy burdens but to guide towards righteousness.

2. Let’s look at GOD’s Word to see how BIG He is:

Born again, Bible believing followers of Jesus believe GOD’s word is accurate, complete, and any action of belief needs to be in line with the Word.

BUT do you know we don’t have to put that Bible Word first. WHAT?!!?

GOD comes first. That’s how big He is. Even Jesus doesn’t know when he’s returning, only the Father knows… That’s because even the word doesn’t stretch as far as GOD does.

Living in this knowledge we have Shalom. Denying it keeps GOD in a box, making us fearful and vulnerable. The flesh convinces us that our choices, activities and behaviours influence the ultimate outcome. This thinking is like mixing linen with wool. The Hebrews were told not to do that…. nor to put new wine in old wine skins… remember that? (Matthew 9:17)

3. So, what do I mean by “taking GOD out of the box”? :

WE NEED A PARADIGM SHIFT

When we think we’ve got an issue sorted and clear in our minds, it’s so often a sign we probably don’t. The issue will arise again one day, for us to recognise: “Oh, I thought I understood, but now I see more clearly.”

Saul — who later became known as Paul — was a pharisee and had his Creator in a box. He was certain he was doing GOD’s will in destroying the followers of the upstart rabbi Yeshua. The Pharisees were the leaders of the faith at the time of Jesus, but they didn’t see the Messiah coming! They needed a paradigm shift, which is exactly what Paul experienced when on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9)

4. So, how do we live?:

We have freedom!

Is it total abandon? We have freedom but not licence. “Do we sin so grace may abound? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:1) 

We also don’t want others to stumble. Rather than to tempt others, we put aside our freedom on occasion for the sake of others. 

When we look at loving GOD and one another, we look not to get the most out of our freedom but rather, in caring for the spiritual wellbeing of one another, we measure our actions, showing self control and restraint, not because of law but out of love for others.

In this way, GOD is outside of the box we may have put Him in, and likewise we discover our place outside of a box, free to be alive.

So, let us be free to live, love and learn… that we might become more and more like our Saviour and role model, Yeshua – Jesus the Christ, lamb of GOD, risen one.

Shalom and Every blessing to you as you navigate through life by the power of the Holy Spirit who resides in all who have given their lives to Jesus.

Categories
Reflections and Poetry

Following the Holy Spirit: a poem

Following the Holy Spirit

I urge you into my life

If you will come.

I’m useless without you

I urge you to come.

I lay myself bare

If you will come;

Soul at the ready

Broken and barren

I urge you to come.

I wait patiently

Hoping you will come.

You don’t disappoint

When I’m still:

Then you come.

Thank you Lord Jesus

For He has come.

The Spirit is willing

You left, so He’d come.

I yearn for this flesh

To exit the stage

Make room for the Spirit

Then You do come.

He’s simple, divine, 

Wholesome and pure —

So what is the fuss?

Why so many defer?

I build my life,

To tear it down

For mine is yours now

Refined by Your love;

I beckon the Spirit

You willingly come

Whenever I ask

Taking time to be still.

The noise of the music

The rush of our fear

Can push out the Spirit

Not bring Him near.

So let’s be still and wait

If He will come;

I believe it can happen

When the Body is One.

Categories
Character Development Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Loneliness: the 21st century disease

Massive change to society

What do you suppose has changed this world most rapidly and most profoundly in the past 2 decades… even the last decade? What has transformed the way we live, interact, study, learn… not what we study, but how we study? What is the single-greatest influence in recent years that has transformed the way people around the world live?

INTERNET! If I say it’s the internet would there be much opposition?

What do you suppose is the single-most crippling disease in recent years or even just months? Not Coronavirus, although Covid has certainly made this other disease more obvious… It isn’t heart disease, at least not literally… I would say, and this is just my opinion, but I’d say many would agree with me… The #1 disease in the 21st century is Loneliness…

Loneliness

Loneliness isn’t mental illness, per se, although sometimes it can be closely linked. Isolation has crippled our world — yes economically through the pandemic, but also this by-product: isolation has been around a lot longer than the pandemic. Isolation is largely a result of the internet.

While the internet has expanded our list of contacts, and has enabled people to link up with “long lost friends” — yours truly included — it has also created a shallowness to our relationships, because we have less time as we spread ourselves thinner and thinner with each person, and have less face to face time with one another.

It is vital that we learn how to enjoy our own company as a healthy basis for human relationships, and we’ve had plenty of that especially over the last 2 years. BUT BUT BUT as well as “me” time, we also need “we” time: time with me and Jesus time!

Time with Jesus

We need abiding time…. John 15:4 says,

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

This abiding with Jesus helps us tremendously. And we also need occasions to be with flesh and bone friends: for companionship, discussion, fun! … and of course, spiritually: iron sharpens iron.

Companionship

If I had to pick one single thing I miss most with my husband who has passed way, it is our conversations.

What does John write about companionship? Continuing in John 15:9-13,

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”

Then he instructs the disciples: If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Inherent in this is that we have friends, we need friends, and Jesus recognises this.

Then he puts a bit of a definition about quality friendship in verse 13 when he says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Jesus values friendship. We are not meant to be alone. GOD even said “in the beginning it is not good that man should be alone” and therefore He made female as well as male.

PART I: IDENTIFYING LONELINESS leading towards the #1 cure

First premise: We aren’t meant to be lonely. Being alone is not the same as being lonely…

What do human beings need for contentment as a way to deal with Loneliness? 

  1. Self acceptance — for Inner Peace: John 15:11 “joy may be full”. We need a ‘relationship with ourselves.’ To have ‘fullness of joy’ we need: i. acceptance of self ii. acceptance of circumstances iii. reaching out to others though calm, confidence and love iv have something to offer and v to be ready to receive also. In these ways, we experience fulfilment even when we are on our own.
  2. Relationship with GOD: We are made in His image, male and female. With our current gender blurring and natural/biologicial boundaries being removed, there is a lot of confusion. BUT we are wonderfully and fearfully made, Psalm 139: “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. There is one GOD who made us according to the Bible and He is in relationship: Father, Son, Holy Spirit (who perhaps has the most female personality aspects). Other gods are either remote or powerless. Here again in Psalm 139, David knows GOD does not leave nor forsake him, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence….

“If I ascend into heaven, You are there;

If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the morning,

And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there Your hand shall lead me,

And Your right hand shall hold me.”

3. Loneliness and human relationship: Have you ever felt ‘alone in a crowd’? Have you been the centre of attention and yet felt completely misunderstood? Have you hidden your true self (we all do in some measure, don’t we?). These mark our sowing of loneliness. I recently watched a documentary about Cary Grant, the famous and award-winning actor during the 1950’s and onward. He and many Hollywood stars are prime examples of being famous and yet totally lonely. Have you or anyone else you know been the ‘scapegoat’ of the family and felt isolated as a consequence? Rather, have you been blessed with a great friendship in your life, either with a spouse of good friend? Look at David and Jonathan and what devoted friends they were? Friendship is valuable and to be valued. We are not meant to be alone.

PART II: SYMPTOMS of LONELINESS

  1. Loneliness and Hunger: Loneliness is like a hole, a void in our lives. It can ache, like hunger. So, what shall we fill it with? People-interaction or food? Comfort eating is a real problem in society today, with unhealthy snacks being the tasty temptation to fill/fix the problem rather than addressing it. Poor diet is just one health issue that can arise from loneliness. (more later…) But Matthew 5:6 says, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.”
  2. Loneliness and Pride: We are proficient at masking our pain when we don’t want to appear weak or vulnerable, or perhaps unpopular. But while masking our pain is sometimes prudent, often it can lead to rigidity, high blood pressure, anger that can explode inappropriately — and even provoke our isolation with a “superiority complex”. Our personalities can become distorted. On the fantasy extreme, look at the super hero foes… aren’t they often people who have been shunned, excluded from the crowd? And on a serious, very serious note, Adolf Hitler was denied art school and was a loner. One of the profile aspects to mass murderers, serial killers, psychopaths is their isolation. Taken to extreme, pride and loneliness can be a toxic combination. Left on his own, King Saul wrongfully offered sacrifice to GOD which brought down his reign. And of King Uzziah it is written in 2Chronicles 26:16 “But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” Solomon wrote, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
  3. Loneliness and Despair: Depression, isolation, fear, emotional instability and insecurity all may stem from the barren landscape of the heart that is the result of long-term loneliness and the despair that comes with it. If we despair for any reason, how can we be revived? Psalm 119: 25 says, “My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.” Spending time with the LORD and in His word lifts us from loneliness and all its consequences. This may be a temporary solution as we do also need human relationship in our lives. But GOD will bring us through if we will allow Him to do so.

PART III: AVOIDANCE TECHNIQUES to LONELINESS

  1. Loneliness and Busyness: “Be still and know that I am GOD” is repeated in scripture time and again. Without stillness, we can hide our loneliness behind activity. But overactivity can lead to exhaustion, anxiety, frustration and over-work. 
  2. Loneliness and (over)Eating: Poor diet and comfort eating is a way people cover up their pain, whether it is pain from loneliness or some other grief, anxiety or fear. But the medical consequences can be quite profound: diabetes, kidney disease are two serious diet-related illnesses. Cardio-vascular diseases can also result. Bad teeth / bad breath and obesity are results which are visually apparent. Rather than to feed our discomfort, we are meant to consider our bodies “the temple of the Holy Spirit”. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.” When we try to manage our pain rather than deal with it, this is an example of ‘being wise in our own eyes” which brings destruction rather than well-being.

PART IV: CURE FOR LONELINESS:

  1. Search for, find GOD’s plan for your life: Jesus gave us clear instructions. i. A new commandment: to Love the LORD with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves. and ii. To go into the world preaching the Gospel, healing the sick and raising the dead. This will not only keep us busy but also engaged with others. Jesus also gave us a new family to be a part of: the family of the Church. Yes, we’ve messed up His plan, taking it onto ourselves; but if we search hard enough, we will find a family of believers who will honour and accept, love and encourage us, especially as we seek to model it. We all have a particular plan for our lives, but whilst we may not know quickly and easily what that is for us individually (it took me 3 years of concerted effort to discover what my calling is; I’m still waiting for it to be fulfilled completely), we have plenty of opportunity to engage with others and have purpose, while we’re waiting for GOD to unfold His complete plan for us individually. Being transparent, open, vulnerable on the one hand and being compassionate, encouraging and kind to others on the other will draw people to us who will provide human contact which eases and removes loneliness.

CONCLUSION:

  1. Loneliness is not an incurable disease. Rather, as we mature and reach out to others, as we recognise we’re meant to be part of a family, and recognise that following GOD is not a religious activity but a relationship-based life, as we are willing to go to GOD through His Word and His people, and as we resolve to be healed, so we will become whole. When we practise the great commandment to love GOD and love others, our isolation will end. “ In Him, may we live and move and have our being” both individually and corporately… Amen.
Categories
Politics and Society today

Reaching out – Looking in: 7 choosing grace over sensationalism

Reaching Out – Looking In

Reaching Out – Looking In is a new diary journal which speaks my inner thoughts as I walk my walk in a society that is rapidly imploding. Will the church: the body of believers — will it implode or move through to where Jesus prescribes we are to be as part of His Church?

Some years ago (@2012 link), I began and wrote a weekly journal An Examined Life based on Socrates’ adage, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I continued for a few years, and a few years after I’d stopped, I had the idea to revive it (@2020 link), but failed. 

Now in a new frame, I’m beginning again, this time not to copy the original idea but to take it and suit it to today in my walk with Jesus.

Reaching Out weekly

I’ll aim to have an insert every week, which I also plan to share in my weekly newsletter, Preparing the Bride for what better preparation than to walk together, with Jesus, through these times until this walk on earth is finished…

Hallelujah! Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus! And in the meanwhile, come one and all to the place of the heart, where Jesus abides with us and we abide with Him (John 15).

What’s on my mind this week: Sensationalism

COMMENTARY: Choosing grace over sensationalism

“My grace is sufficient for you” (1 Corinthians 12:9a)

I long for His grace to permeate my soul and the soul of every Believer.

Concern about sensationalism

The more I see negative information plastered all over social media and the more I watch tv news (msn and alternative), the more I’m aware of the sensationalism rife over the audio/visual waves.

As though war was not extreme enough, it seems some people cannot resist stating opinions as fact (Am I doing that now?), and raising the fear game to such a degree that families and dear friends are arguing over what is true and what is not.

Whew! I just want peace, don’t you? Shalom. Yes, worldwide literal peace of course. But the peace within, which passes all understanding: GOD’s peace.

Some caught up in innuendo and false accusation

There are some in this world who seek to control, to diminish freedom, and take life itself. Are we praying for them?

What concerns me about people who watch and study the evil that some dark areas of humanity are engaged in: to terminate our freedoms and even our lives, to control-control-control, is that those focusing on this evil may actually be enamoured with the strategies and movements of the enemy, or worse, are hating man rather than the principalities and powers behind the thoughts and actions of man. This I determine, is not the way to walk. In fact, it seems to be a distraction from our call to minister the Gospel and the truth of Yeshua.

How much time is spent in looking at the dark web or main stream media and condemning in our hearts the possible motives or actions of others?

Some watchmen will have a call to sound the alarm against such evil. But are all sharing these things actually posting the alarm to the lost, or only watching? Are some in fact savouring? For in the end, this is gossip: true or false, it is still gossip.

“A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends.” (Proverbs 16:28)

Fight the good fight

So I am saddened that many believers seem to be diverted. Some may have a call to warn and protect, but are mixed up in with the world’s counter-agenda: to fight against flesh and blood, to expose the evil of the elite, to hearken to the fleshly attacks, and to get embroiled in a fight that is not theirs to fight. Are we praying against the evil one and are we praying for those under him? I hope more prayer is happening than what I surmise.

It saddens me. It angers me at Satan, and saddens me for my fellow Believers. This fight against the machinations of the darker side of humanity is not my fight.

Ephesians 6:10-18 states, 

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—“

What is my call?

Where do each of us fit into this scenario? Where do you? Where to I? Let us ensure we are watchmen on the walls GOD has given us to watch, without judging (myself included) the walls over which others are called to watch.

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Prepare – Prepare – Prepare!

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

I keep having dreams the bottom line message being “Prepare”.

I am not one for prophetic dreams. There was a phase of several years where I did not remember my dreams at all! Before that, I used to dream stories, some of which have become short stories and books (some published, some on the shelf). But over the last couple of years, I’ve tended to dream messages which tell me to ‘be prepared’ — for a worsening scenario on the society scope.

John the Baptist said, “Prepare ye the way of the LORD”. 

I am dreaming, Prepare dreams: preparing landscape, preparing buildings, preparing farmland, preparing young women by encouraging character growth… I’m preparing for something….. 

Yet, this morning I awoke and thought to write this post.

How short is our time?

When is Jesus to return? 

About 18 months ago, the LORD spoke to my heart and said simply, “Jesus is returning soon”. Well, we know from scripture that GOD’s quickly and ours is not the same sort of time line. McDonald’s fast food ‘soon’ and the Father’s ‘soon’ are worlds apart.

In Revelations 3:11 Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”

Preparing the Bride

I write “Preparing the Bride” in an effort to offer depth and breadth of Biblical understanding to encourage us all to grow in the LORD, to deepen our faith, trust, responsibility, readiness for the return of our Lord.

The wise and foolish virgins

Have a look at Matthew 25:1-13. I highlight the following, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour [b]in which the Son of Man is coming.”

This familiar parable is for all of us to remember along with “… I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23) to remind us, to ensure we are wise and ready. The oil in the lamps is compared to the oil of the Holy Spirit, the surrender of our souls, to willingness to follow. 

Elisha did not leave Elijah but clung to his presence, not wanting to miss his teacher’s departing. Elisha did not miss that moment when Elijah was taken up as recorded in 2 Kings 2 and was rewarded a double portion of anointing in his own life as a prophet.

Likewise, we do not want to miss what the LORD has for us: here on earth and in heaven. So let us continue to be ready, to be prepared for Jesus’ return, not dwelling on the riches of this world nor rewards here on earth, but on the eternal presence and eternal rewards — such as the crown of life (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10)

Wearing our love and our armour

Today we who are In Christ must wear our love and our armour….. for we wrestle not against flesh but against powers and principalities. May I encourage us to do deeper study of 1John 3:16-24, 1 Corinthians 13:4-12 and Ephesians 6:10-20, to develop a clearer, deeper, fuller understanding of how we may love the LORD our GOD with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbour as ourselves… even our enemies.

May the word of Yeshua Jesus dwell in us richly! (Colossians 3:16)

Added bonus

When we are in heaven, taken up as in a rapture, or when the LORD takes us in death — I know not which — let us be all He has created us to be, to the best that our surrender, love, joy, compassion and peace will enable us to be. And then we will have “no more tears”, perhaps even to meet our previous-departed loved ones, and many of the saints that have gone before us, including the prophets of old and of course, Yeshua / Jesus himself.

Hallelujah!

Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Reaching out – Looking in: pt6 Abiding as Protection

Attack – spiritual manifests in the physical

Yesterday (as I write) I was attacked financially by a smooth workman who overcharged me. I don’t usually fall for this sort of thing. But I did and in processing the matter, drawing close to GOD, I learn (again!) that to abide with Him is my greatest protection. 

Why was I vulnerable? I believe it was because I’m upping my involvement in intercessory prayer. Hallelujah! I must be in the right place, doing the right thing. Praise the LORD!!

Did I think I’d express this 12 hours ago? Nope, I was in a muddle, a bit confused (GOD is not author of confusion) and feeling a bit raw and exposed. I do have good discernment but where was it yesterday? My hubby used to call it my “radar” — an ability to gauge a person’s honesty: workmen, mechanics, salesmen, and so on. Well I failed yesterday and that was annoying. But now I realise, it was a spiritual attack and it has me doubling-down on prayer covering and on prayer abiding!

When we are vulnerable — and let’s face, we often can be vulnerable — we need to rely upon GOD for our protection and our comfort. He will never leave us nor forsake us. But we do need to abide in Him to awaken and strengthen ourselves. And as we move further in the matters of the Spirit, and as we are under more responsibility and the world is spinning out of control, how much more we need to abide and rest in Him.

Giving Thanks

Thank you LORD, for enabling me to be exposed, to learn and to draw closer again to you, that I might yield more and better fruit and in the process be more useful to your Kingdom works.

Thank you Jesus, for your blood covers me. Thank you Holy Spirit, for being available and ready, by my side, inside my heart. Thank you Father for your patience as I grow. I am preparing. Thank you.

Categories
Reflections and Poetry

GOD’s Peace in War

GOD’s peace

Amidst war

is possible

and powerful

and essential

© Sarah Tun 2022

Categories
Politics and Society today

Reaching out – Looking in: pt5 Helplessness

Reaching Out – Looking In

Reaching Out – Looking In is a new diary journal which speaks my inner thoughts as I walk my walk in a society that is rapidly imploding. Will the church: the body of believers — will it implode or move through to where Jesus prescribes we are to be as part of His Church?

Some years ago (@2012 link), I began and wrote a weekly journal An Examined Life based on Socrates’ adage, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I continued for a few years, and a few years after I’d stopped, I had the idea to revive it (@2020 link), but failed. 

Now in a new frame, I’m beginning again, this time not to copy the original idea but to take it and suit it to today in my walk with Jesus.

Reaching Out weekly

I’ll aim to have an insert every week, which I also plan to share in my weekly newsletter, Preparing the Bride for what better preparation than to walk together, with Jesus, through these times until this walk on earth is finished…

Hallelujah! Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus! And in the meanwhile, come one and all to the place of the heart, where Jesus abides with us and we abide with Him (John 15).

What’s on my mind this week: a feeling of helplessness

COMMENTARY: Identifying Helplessness

Wars and Rumours of Wars (Matthew 24): War is the season humanity seems to be in. When you look at war in the Ukraine — and all the media is focused upon it — you might overlook that Iran and Isreal continue to have altercations in Syria which are mounting, and there is a lot of sabre-rattling and backing-off between Russia and the USA. Of course wars continue to rage across the globe as well, both between nations (eg Saudi Arabia v Yemen) and within nations. Physical struggles rage. And there are the “warring” factions across the internet: rumours and attacks, where companies and individuals go at one another with accusations and threats, insults and blame.

It is no wonder I felt a bit of a squeamish unidentified feeling last evening of … what? I realised this morning it was helplessness.

I don’t often feel helpless. Perhaps it is knowing the LORD’s protection and trusting him. perhaps it is the relative safety of my personal environment, perhaps it is simply a gift; but rarely do I lose my sense of inner security, my groundedness. Why? Mostly because I’ve given up the illusion of control to Him. But then last night….

I realise my vulnerability

As I pondered whether to take in a refugee family from Ukraine, I realised reasons why it might not be a good idea. 

When I sent my son back to school for the week, I realised I can’t control his life (nor do I want to!) and he’ll soon be finished school and on his own. 

When I realised all the research in the world and scrutiny and prayer cannot change the direction the people of the earth are traveling: towards one form of destruction or another. There’s military war, there is moral disagreement, there is so much unresolved tension. 

So, I manifested through a sense of nervous energy that I am physically and emotionally vulnerable. 

Now that I’ve identified the feeling, the feeling doesn’t have a grip on me. But I hold onto the idea and the awareness that life is tenuous, the future is unpredictable on a global scale, and it can make me a bit light-headed or worried if I’m not conscious of it and attend to it.

Now what?

So, now that I know I’m feeling a bit helpless, I go to GOD and tell Him. I get His perspective, through dialogue, through His word, and through reflection. 

What really matters most is the salvation of others and especially of those near and dear to me, and that I am ready for Jesus whenever he might call me: to work, to give, to follow his lead, or even to go to him. 

The rest is acceptance: 1. accepting that I cannot rule the world nor change it. 2. other than through the prayers or actions I might take, I have little influence. 3. I am not responsible nor can I escape what I know and am accountable for. 4. “Trust in the LORD with all my heart” (Proverbs 3:5-6)… and Love GOD and love others.

Folks, the world is collapsing all around us. It may take some time yet, or it may be over very quickly. But either way, all we can do really is to prepare and pray. And that’s what I’m attempting to do. And when or if we feel unsettled, don’t stop there… keep pressing into your Father for how to apply the queazy impression to make a difference!

Maranatha! Jesus come! About 18 months ago, GOD spoke into my spirit and was clear and strong, “Jesus is coming soon.” Well, I don’t know GOD’s time table. Not even Jesus was aware of GOD’s time table (Matthew 24) when the disciples asked him. We don’t know GOD’s “soon”. But let’s assume it’s right round the corner. We can’t lose then, or waste time, or have regrets. Let’s press into GOD and be ready for whenever He might come. 

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

Categories
Politics and Society today

The Gospel Message: Church needs to change – part 15

War!

If there’s any good thing about a war it is this: It puts everything into perspective.

When you see refugees fleeing for their lives from war-torn Ukraine, or previously from Afghanistan or Syria before that, you see they have nothing but the clothes on their backs or perhaps a small backpack or suitcase. Possessions lose their importance.

What is the most important thing about our walk with the LORD?

That’s easy: What did Jesus say we are called to do? 

“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

In this final piece for “the Church needs to Change” series, I’d like to encourage those who are saved by GOD’s grace through His son Yeshua / Jesus. What matters most to those of us who are saved? It is that Jesus, the son of GOD, died for our sins and sets those of us who believe in him free for eternity, to be spent with him rather than in the pit of hell without him.


If that isn’t what’s most important, perhaps you the reader need to consider again.

Today’s message from the Church must be…

… the true Gospel of Jesus.

How much does the church preach this? How much does it need to preach it? How much does the fellowship need to emulate the love and forgiveness of Jesus before he returns as judge?

And yes, according to the word of GOD, we know that Jesus came as saviour and when he returns it will be as judge.

“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom” (2Timothy 4:1)

If you personally comb through the book of Revelation as I have, you will see that Jesus separates the sheep from the goats; it is Jesus who judges the earth.

Therefore, while we have time and opportunity…

So in season and out of season, we must listen to GOD’s heart within us, and to others around us, to see what seeds we can drop into their hearts. Time is short, and while GOD’s “quickly” may be much slower than ours, we do not know the day nor the hour. We can assume the time for judgement is only getting closer….

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)

There are a lot of end-time signs that we best not ignore. Read Ezekiel 38/39, Matthew 24, Revelation to begin to acquaint yourself with how the Bible reveals to those who search, what is to precede his coming. A lot has already occurred or is occurring even as I write. The prophecies are not all fulfilled and there is more to come. 

Nevertheless, Jesus said,

“Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 22:7)

And we know we can trust his word.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be as family. Let us uphold the word, and let us be loving and bold in preaching GOD’s word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Categories
Politics and Society today

Reaching Out – Looking in: p4 Our Attitude is a Decision

Reaching Out – Looking In

Reaching Out – Looking In is a new diary journal which speaks my inner thoughts as I walk my walk in a society that is rapidly imploding. Will the church: the body of believers — will it implode or move through to where Jesus prescribes we are to be as part of His Church?

Some years ago (@2012 link), I began and wrote a weekly journal An Examined Life based on Socrates’ adage, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I continued for a few years, and a few years after I’d stopped, I had the idea to revive it, but failed. 

Now in a new frame, I’m beginning again, this time not to copy the original idea but to take it and suit it to today in my walk with Jesus.

Reaching Out weekly

I’ll aim to have an insert every week, which I also plan to share in my weekly newsletter, Preparing the Bride for what better preparation than to walk together, with Jesus, through these times until this walk on earth is finished…

Hallelujah! Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus! And in the meanwhile, come one and all to the place of the heart, where Jesus abides with us and we abide with Him (John 15).

What’s on my mind this week – Attitude

COMMENTARY: Our Attitude really Matters!

“We know that all things work together for good to those who love GOD, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

If you believe that, you have the choice also to walk in it. An attitude is a choice, a decision.

Today, we are experiencing war in Europe. This is very dangerous. But we have a choice as to how we respond. We can be afraid, or we can choose not to be afraid. We are not a victim of our circumstances, but a result of our choices.

Today marks one year since my husband’s passing. I have a choice: I can grieve or I can be thankful. I choose to be thankful for all that the LORD has done in our lives while Alan was with us, and since… the goodness of GOD is overflowing and I am a living testament to that.

I choose not to fear and not to be full of sorrow. The Word, others’ and my own prayers, and GOD have enabled me to come through strong. The result is also because of the choices I have made along the way: to trust GOD’s sovereignty and goodness, and to believe that, “all things work together for good to those who love GOD, tho those who are called according to His purpose.” Hallelujah, Jesus reigns. His goodness is overflowing and I am living proof of this.

On the news last night a Ukrainian woman was interviewed and she said, “We will win.” The broadcaster was incredulous and asked, “You think you will win. Why?” And she said,”Because we are living the Truth. The Truth will win.” Given what she said and that there is a large majority in Ukraine of Christians, she was very likely either a practicing Christian or had heard and been influenced by the Gospel.

Jesus is the Truth and he already has won. Bless those who testify. The Truth sets us free.

I am free because I believe the Word and it has proven itself to be true.

All glory and blessings to GOD, and Amen.

Hallelujah!

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

No Fear of Death

We who are in Christ are free to live knowing the GOD of all creation knows us and loves us. He guides us as much as we allow Him to, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the Word of His testimony. 

And when this life is done, where are we going? To our heavenly home. In fact, we are pilgrims, we are passengers, we are aliens of this world. (1Peter 2)

So, then do we cling to life? It’s an odd thing, knowing we are bound for heaven but not seeking it, and dead to this life through baptism and yet very much alive to enjoy one another, to enjoy life.

What do you most enjoy? Rustling of leaves in trees on an autumn day? Twittering of birds in the spring? Snowdrops on your tongue in the wild north? Laughter with friends, or hearing your grandchildren shriek in delight? Or the smell of a wonderful roast beef dinner (or the equivalent for you… considering your culture or your diet)?

What do you savour? What do you miss when it’s gone?

We are more than on the brink of war. Dotted around the globe there has always been war somewhere, but now with the Ukraine and Russia fighting, and refugees escaping in the 100’s of thousands, war is here, in one form or another, in Europe and effecting the globe.

And what about us? Do we fear invasion? Or starvation? or Death?

I remind us all: we who are In Christ, have no need to fear, have no fear of death. 

Paul said, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) As we trust in GOD, His word and His love, we know that we know we will see Him face-to-face one day. 

I am not afraid of when that day might be. For if I stay, I am with the family I love. And if I go, I go to the LORD and the the family I once had. 

What can we gain if we fear death? 

What can we gain if we do not?

Perhaps it is time to live as though this may be our last breath, not in fearing the end but in relishing the present. 

Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6)

I have people I treasure here. I have people I treasure who have gone before me. Either way, I trust in the LORD. I shall fight the good fight and continue the race until it finishes, but I will trust the LORD for the timing of the end. And I have peace.

Categories
Politics and Society today

Reaching Out – Looking in: p3 Interceding for a Nation – stuck on Canada

Reaching Out – Looking In

Reaching Out – Looking In is a new diary journal which speaks my inner thoughts as I walk my walk in a society that is rapidly imploding. Will the church: the body of believers — will it implode or move through to where Jesus prescribes we are to be as part of His Church?

Some years ago (@2012 link), I began and wrote a weekly journal An Examined Life based on Socrates’ adage, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I continued for a few years, and a few years after I’d stopped, I had the idea to revive it, but failed. 

Now in a new frame, I’m beginning again, this time not to copy the original idea but to take it and suit it to today in my walk with Jesus.

Reaching Out weekly

I’ll aim to have an insert every week, which I also plan to share in my weekly newsletter, Preparing the Bride for what better preparation than to walk together, with Jesus, through these times until this walk on earth is finished…

Hallelujah! Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus! And in the meanwhile, come one and all to the place of the heart, where Jesus abides with us and we abide with Him (John 15).

What’s on my mind this week

COMMENTARY: Intercession

Ezekiel 33.

The LORD said read Ezekiel 38/39 again first but I dove into 33…. Filled with His spirit and walking in His word, I was safe. But I was struck hard… for He was showing me that at this time, what is Egypt in Ezekiel 33 is now Canada and its fate.

Oh, how hard the word can be. Oh, LORD my homeland, glorious and free. 

“GOD keep our land, glorious and free” the truckers sang in the capital city Ottawa, on the roadblocks at international boarders with the US. “Glorious and free.” The truckers also prayed, “Our Father in heaven…” And they did pray, arm in arm, heads bowed. I’ve seen the genuine — non-doctored videos. 

I cry internally for my homeland. Britain too is my nation now. And I love Britain. But my roots are Canadian, land of my birthplace, glorious beauty and free. Friendly, until Covid and laws swept people up and divided them: those for the vaccine and those against. As for the truckers, 90% of them are vaccinated, a higher average than the national average. But they fought for the right to movement, with or without a vaccine. They won the international community but they lost to the hardline Emergency law that PM Trudeau invoked, contrary to the opposition.

The LORD has a long memory, thankfully. I intercede. Canada has been pro-Israel, GOD’s precious first-born child. Canada has loved Jesus. Canada has erred against the indigenous people, tearing up their families to destroy the native culture. It has allowed many laws to pass: abortion, gay marriage. It has broken my heart, and GOD’s too, I suppose.

And now, like Egypt, GOD will destroy it. Unless we intercede.

“Father, how do I pray for this land? How to I ask you to go against Your will? Save those who love you. Save the land. Spare those who have been victimised by bad laws. Help the widow and orphan. Heal the land. Oh, I simply do not know how to pray in words…. Words fail me. Buy my heart is for the land of my birth.”

As for the world at large, we are in utter chaos. Some nations appear calm, but likely it is the calm before the storm. Ukraine expected peace. They did not prepare for annihilation. Now the people are scattered, broken. Raise up Your standard, LORD, amongst those people, the vast majority of whom profess Jesus. Rescue, preserve, save, heal.

Oh man. What have you done to bring us to this? The point of World War III. Why does man not learn? How can the evil one gain his foothold yet again? How is this possible? Because man wants to achieve on his own. Because man is lustful for himself. Because man has turned from GOD.

“Oh Father, save, heal, restore.” I know “it is finished” Jesus said. But those to whom there is life, must turn to the One who finished it. Jesus points to GOD the Father, the father whom the Jews have been waiting for, for centuries. Turn to face Him, oh you stubborn peoples!

Psalm 122:  says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 33 goes on after Egypt, more devastation. Then Ezekiel 38 turns to Israel, land restored but land destroyed in part, as His plan for ultimate restoration of humanity to Himself.

“Oh LORD, give us strength to see that day.”

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

True Courage: loving your enemies – a look into Ukraine

What’s been happening in Ukraine?

There have been harrowing acts of courage displayed since 22nd of February when  the Russian invasion of the Ukraine began.

I’ve seen photos of the children from an orphanage sleeping in a bomb shelter. What courage did it take for the carers to collect those children, move them and stay with them to guard and protect them?

I’ve seen video footage of Ukrainian citizens encircling a convoy of Russian tanks, and singing their national anthem.

And the convoy did not appear to shoot.

All of these acts and many, many more require great courage. To defy the norm, to behave in an unexpected way, to stand for principles even when your life is in the balance: these all require courage. 

But perhaps the greatest courage that I have heard about is people feeding and caring for the invading soldiers who are hungry and confused. Apparently, the hosts are Christians. Loving your enemies is a tough order. But loving your enemies, serving and feeding them when their tanks are pointed at you — that takes ultimate courage.

What triggered Putin to decide to invade now?

How much of this battle in Ukraine is spiritual? There are theories. Interesting the date coincides with an historical date — Perhaps a previous invasion was what I read or heard this past week? Is that the day Putin invaded Crimea in 2014? (May I invite a reader who knows to respond?) That the invasion date was 22.02.22 is peculiar, memorable at the very least.

We know from President Putin’s own mouth that he couldn’t tolerate the closeness of the Western ideology near Russian boarders; and how deeply the West was influencing Ukraine and for Ukraine to become a part of NATO was inconceivable — in Russia’s own backyard. Although its joining NATO hadn’t happened yet, it was becoming more a possibility, at least in the eyes of Putin.

Whether Putin is deluded or simply calculated, it took something extraordinary for him to invade…. I don’t think I’d call that courage but it was outrageous and extraordinary.

How did he have the nerve to gather his troops on the Ukrainian borders? Did he take courage from his economic alliances with China? Did he say, ‘Win or lose this must be done?’ I suppose he reckoned victory was invitable. And perhaps that’s where he got his nerve..

But he isn’t winning… not easily. And he’s very isolated. 

Putin seems to be claiming he’s ridding the world, or at least Ukraine, of a Nazi-dominating influence. If it were true, and if he were obeying international law, he’d be doing a good thing wouldn’t he? And so, wouldn’t that be courageous?

Courage is 

Facing odds for the sake of what is “the good”, and taking action under dangerous circumstances, no matter the outcome, seems to me to be a stance or act within the realm of demonstrating courage.

And surely in order for an action to be considered courageous, it must be an action that is deemed noble, good, self sacrificing, virtuous. What the Ukrainians do in showing steadfastness and kindness toward their Russian invaders is courageous.

As for what Putin is doing? Let us allow History to define his actions. The aggressor is rarely seen as virtuous. If Nazism has any strength in Ukraine and is a threat to the world, then maybe Putin will be sparing us a recurrence of World War II…. But to provoke World War III in order to achieve it is hardly a gain in the process.

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Politics and Society today

Reaching Out – Looking In: 2. on surrender

Reaching Out – Looking In

Preamble:

Reaching Out – Looking In is a new diary journal which speaks my inner thoughts as I walk my walk in a society that is rapidly imploding. Will the church: the body of believers — will it implode or move through to where Jesus prescribes we are to be as part of His Church?

Some years ago (@2012 link), I began and wrote a weekly journal An Examined Life based on Socrates’ adage, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I continued for a few years, and a few years after I’d stopped, I had the idea to revive it, but failed. 

Now in a new frame, I’m beginning again, this time not to copy the original idea but to take it and suit it to today in my walk with Jesus.

Reaching Out weekly

I’ll aim to have an insert every week, which I also plan to share in my weekly newsletter, Preparing the Bride for what better preparation than to walk together, with Jesus, through these times until this walk on earth is finished…

Hallelujah! Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus! And in the meanwhile, come one and all to the place of the heart, where Jesus abides with us and we abide with Him (John 15).

What’s on my mind this week: Surrender!

COMMENTARY:

My personal thoughts about this war at this time

There are two sides (at least) to every story, so whilst it looks like Putin has caused this war out of his own fancy, he did warn the West for years of his discomfort with NATO in his backyard. I don’t know what got him riled specifically in 2022 but here we are and the Ukrainians are not to blame, nor are the Russians. Politics and godlessness are two of the main culprits here, though Putin didn’t have to do this!

I’m not scared. But I am aware that we are on the brink… well, past the brink of war but now on the brink of WWIII. What to do? Not to panic but to pray. What to pray? GOD’s will and intervention, that truth will be exposed, that goodness will overcome evil.

And yet, being entirely honest, if we want Maranatha, how much of this must come to pass to make way for Jesus’ return? Surely, the bride must be ready, more lives must come to him, and I suppose this adversity prompts both. So, do I want this war? No. But do we need this war? Maybe.

Well, I guess I pray, I wait, I abide, I am still, I watch and I pray lots more.

Hallelujah! Ultimately, GOD wins. In the meantime, I’m holding fast to the winning side.

Surrender thoughts

Perhaps it is because the world is at war, which has recently manifested physically in the country of the Ukraine, that I’m contemplating the concept of ‘Surrender’… Or perhaps it is that I grapple daily with surrendering myself to the LORD’s will because I love His will to be done in my life, yet sometimes I push Him out! In either case, the concept of surrender is on my mind a lot this week.

What if Putin just gave up his mission to protect his motherland (his perspective) or what if Zalenskyy gave up his country to the Russian military who have invaded his (literally)? White flags — that quintessential symbol of surrender — aren’t appearing and don’t look to be coming any time soon. 

How similar is each man, woman and child in the natural. We are born wanting and strive to satisfy our wants and needs. Our wants in large measure, are unfulfilled. Death may bring ultimate surrender, but that’s a bit bleak. Faith may bring with it a surrender into life, which is a far brighter prospect. But while death is inevitable, faith is not. Faith comes from GOD, though we are free to ask for it. Isn’t it odd that we ask for something that will ultimately bring is to our knees and to give up all that we thought we wanted? But that is surrender, isn’t it?

When I was a little girl, I believed in the reality of Jesus and never doubted his word or his goodness. Although it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I began that process of I surrender which is brought on by one’s sincere search for and discovery of the Creator, our heavenly Father. What brought me to this surrender to Him was my revelation of how dire my own life was and of His revelation to me that He was real, He did love me, and He was looking out for me. I simply prayed, “If you’re really there, show me and I’ll follow you.”

He showed me, and some three and a half decades on, I’m still following Him, and still working toward full and consistent surrender.

So here comes the bullet point (pun intended): If with the help of the Holy Spirit and me actively keen on surrendering to GOD, it’s taken me over thirty years to manage to achieve it somewhat, how can we possibly expect Putin or Zalenskyy to surrender their national security? 

We cannot. But GOD… there! through prayer, is the power of surrender.

Prayer for Surrender

So I pray for both leaders, I pray for the people in both nations, I pray those who know GOD surrender their lives to Him fully so that they can be His hands and feet at this time (there has been a lot of evidence of this already….. such as Ukraines feeding Russian convoys when the latter have literally run out of petrol). I pray, I encourage others to pray, and I meet with others to pray. And I get very excited about marvellous and miraculous testimonies which do seem to be coming out, from reliable sources.

And then I praise GOD and pray some more.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ Watchman on Alert BLOG

Church or not church this week?

Early Sunday Morning

I was sitting on a Sunday morning, listening to Holy Spirit led music (Dappy Keys, your You Tube channel is great!)

I was reading the Bible and being still with GOD.

I was enjoying the peace after a weather storm. And I was reflecting on the peace that the LORD brings. 

Was I to interrupt that to go to church that morning? I could settle down and watch on line because our church does live streaming as well as in-person meetings. But then I’d miss the fellowship. Or I could just continue dwelling, abiding, with GOD.

Fellowship

John writes, “…. that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1John 1:3-4)

As we listen to preaching, and spend time together, and as we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to the Father and His son Yeshua, as we are all gathered together in church, we share: we enjoy and we have joy!

But sometimes I just want to be still, be with the Father, and reflect upon His word on my own.

We are not called to a rigid gospel of behavioural dictates but we are called to a gospel of love, joy, peace. I can “do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and that includes choosing whether to go to church this time or to stay at home to abide with my Lord.

Factors to consider

Hebrews 10:24-26 says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

If we miss one week at church, are we forsaking the assembling together?

Jesus…. and Paul and all the other writers of the Gospel and New Covenant which we find in the New Testament of the Holy Bible, wrote to guide us, not to bind us.

If we proceed in our journey without fellowship, then we are subject to lots of pitfalls. We are to walk together, strengthened by each other, offering and willing to receive aid, support, love. But we are not yoked with “should”, “ought” and obligations. We who are in Christ are free, and we are not to fear. We are not to be bound… Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30)

If we forsake meeting together, determined to walk on our own, then ultimately we are risking our faith. But if we fear condemnation or fear man’s attitude towards us, or if we reckon we must go else will lose our salvation, then we are going to church for the wrong reasons. Rather, if we prefer — once in a while — to be alone with the GOD of our salvation, then we are not doing wrong.

We are to love GOD and then love one another. Spending time alone with GOD is love. Spending time together is an act of love also.

Freedom of Choice

Church service once a week is the real issue. Why don’t we, as they did in Acts, meet daily, over food: breaking bread together? (Acts 2:42)

What I would really love is this: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46)

It isn’t practical in our world, but that’s what I would love. 

There is nothing I like more than to spend time with other believers over a meal (or even without a meal) discussing GOD’s Word and sharing love. Nothing.

As for church service, isn’t it wonderful to worship together, to listen to someone share his or her contemplations of the Word through a sermon, and to pray together? I love it!

Decision on this occasion

But this time, I stayed at home, because I felt the LORD’s prompting to do so. ‘Don’t go this week,’ I sensed Him saying to me; ‘just slow down, abide with me, and live.’

This is the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, our Messiah and Lord. This is life. Hallelujah!