Sunday, September 29, 2013

Some things worth the time.......

Stayed home from church today with a sick boy (Steve's still overseas for a couple more weeks).  I'm also pinned to the chair by the neighbor's cat that's asleep on my lap.  Well, I know I could knock the cat off but I don't want to, OK?!

I've seen and heard an unusual number of things worth taking the time to look at this week and thought I'd pass them along while I have this unexpected time:

Encouraging story in the midst of bad!  Love it when stories where people give God glory make the mainstream media:

I've only seen a Facebook link to this so not sure if non-FB people can view.  But please try (ladies!) because it's worth it!  How HE sees us and who we are in Him:

The song I can't stop singing right now:

We need to cherish the good men and do our best to raise more of them:

And this is especially WHY.  Sobering, disturbing, but so glad that people are waking up and taking it seriously:

Now something to refresh you after that last read.  Yes, we need Him.  And so does the world around us.  He is Purity, Peace, and Deep Satisfying Joy:

And while I'm at it, here's another declaration!  A bit of final joy:

Now I'm getting cuddles from the sick boy.  Much better than the cat!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Greatest Star of All Time

(I think it's important to face and embrace what's going on in the world around us.  To be aware so we can let our hearts break with what breaks His and move us to passion and prayerful action.  My last post was fairly dark, however, and while this and more---Kenyan malls, church bombing in Pakistan, etc---are in my prayers and on my heart, I decided to post again more quickly than I usually do about something positive!)

I heard a phrase recently that still rings like bells in my head.  I won't say who said it but when she reads this she'll know!  A silver head bowed in group prayer around a table.  I thought how her words were more formal than mine, but how they flowed off of a tongue that faithfully prays and were all the more heart-felt for their formality.  They radiated the deep, caring, uncompromising faith that this woman lives by.  Since she already had my undivided attention, her closing caught my ears:

"For Jesus' sake.  Amen."

Not the, "In Jesus' name,"  so often used.  For His 'sake'........

You see, while I don't really use "In Jesus' name" in my private prayers, I have for most of my life in public.  It's what you do, right?  Just rolls off the tongue based on:

 "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it."  (John 14:13-14)

It's Ok to say, but I've been pondering the subtle differences.  

At least to me "In Jesus' name" implies that we are asking God to answer our requests since Jesus is our High Priest, our Mediator.  It's a declaration to the Enemy as well that we are with God 'in' (through) Jesus and so have the right to ask.  These are OK but sometimes, however, there might be just a bit of trying to remind God of this so He will honor our prayers.  Or trying to put a subtle stamp of approval on our prayers in the spiritual realm by invoking His name.

"For Jesus' sake" sounded so sweet to my ears, not just because of the voice that said it and the humility with which it was said, but because it not only reminds all concerned of His sacrifice for us and therefore our position in Him, but implies action in response.  A reminder to do all that we do both now and always 'For Jesus' sake."

Recently I knew that I needed to pray but found myself distracted.  I kept trying to pull my mind back to the task at hand.  Then I found myself wondering, once again, why time with Him is sometimes such a task.  There are lots of reasons, not the least of them being our own human frailty and the desire of the Enemy to try to keep us doing anything but that.  But I started to think about WHO I was trying to spend time with.

I had just read an article about someone famous.  How fans wait for hours and even days for a chance to come close to their idol, their hero, this superstar.  What a warped view we have on the world! Worshipping the creature rather than the Creator.

What does that say about Who we think God is?  Oh my.

The biggest superstar of all time is reaching out to us.  He's calling to us and offering us the Greatest Romance---a relationship with Him.  He's literally the hero that saved the day by saving us.  The most valiant knight ever.

Romance has infatuated mankind since the start.  Yet, the biggest symbol of true love, excitement, valor, chivalry, and sacrifice waits patiently for us to notice His eye seeking ours through the crowd.

He wants to make us HIS.

Gari Meacham says, "I don't want to be a committed Christian; I want to be a desperate Christian."  How well said.

Desperate for Him.

For Jesus' sake.

"His love endures forever." (Ps. 136:1)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I Hate the Gutter

My mind's been in the gutter again lately.  Not bad thoughts of my own, but reminders of the gutter that affects so many women and children in the world today.  I've been hearing stories and statistics that are disturbing from a number of different sources.  And just when I think I'm getting my mind out of the gutter, something reminds me again.

I wanted to go see a documentary that was shown by some friends on Monday night.  I know a bit about this film and want to see it in it's entirety eventually.  But I knew that this week I just couldn't.  There's already enough beating around in my head for now and making my stomach sick without adding to it.

The New Zealand Herald published an article recently saying that while the word rape wasn't used in the survey, men were asked in various Asian nations if they had ever forced themselves on a women who was not their partner. One in ten men said, "Yes."  1 in 10.  When their wife or girlfriend were included, the number rose to 1 in 4.........

We recently watched a very enjoyable documentary as a family that took place partly in Papua New Guinea.  It was lovely to see something that reminded us of our Fijian home!  My enjoyment was marred, however, by sweet, smiling faces of women and little girls as I wondered how many of them had suffered sexual abuse? (Like I said, I have the subject on the brain)  In the article mentioned above, PNG had the highest rates of any of the other nations where the survey took place.

I read another secular article recently about how pornography is changing the culture of youth (NZ based article).  How youth are turning to internet porn as a 'how to' in sexual expression and how much of what they are seeing has aspects of violence and domination.  The article went on to quote young women as saying that what they were experiencing as an expected 'normal' part of their dating experience was leaving them feeling used and abused.

And don't get me started on porn and the correlation of those who end up in this industry and past sexual abuse.  Make no mistake, porn is a result of abuse and promotes abuse.  There's nothing innocent about it no matter what your personal morals are.  It's insidious.

Sexual abuse is an issue that has touched or will touch us or someone close to ALL of us at some point.  True fact.  It may be hidden but it's there.

The first part of my life was far removed from that.  I had always felt very good about the fact that I was female and while I had a foster sister for a bit my last year in school who had suffered abuse and learned quite a bit through her eyes, it had never entered my world otherwise.

I was 25 the first time that my confident, American self was treated like something to be discarded because of my gender.  A neighbor (from Fiji but not indigenous Fijian) came to my door in Fiji with something quite basic to discuss and refused to talk to me.  "GO GET YOUR HUSBAND!" he yelled when I didn't instantly obey.  I was too stupid and worthless for his time.  It took me a couple of hours to stop shaking from hurt rage that night------especially when it dawned on me that this was how many women are treated always.

I'll never forget the night a couple of years ago that I was followed home for sex. I brushed it off at the time reminding myself that I am never out of His hands, yet later found myself glancing behind quite a bit more often when the door was open for air while I cooked in my kitchen.  A friend put it this way recently, that sometimes when something has been traumatic the body response has to catch up to the brain.  My brain reminded me that there were thousands of women in our area who couldn't say 'no' to the men who came to their doors that night and how lucky I was to be safe, but my  body was jumpy for some time.

I read a blog a couple of days ago by a Facebook friend who works in Africa.  She called the article The Story Women Need to Tell and talked about how in her area all women receive constant sexual harassment, yet know that they just have to put up with it. But really should talk about it and process it more.  I related so much to what she said. Many of the things she mentioned I've experienced in my recent other home as well.  It's not easy being a target every time you walk out your door.  Every. Single. Time.

She said, "I learn to the depth of my core that I am human and that I am created in the image of God.  If I wasn't, it wouldn't hurt so bad when people strip me of that basic dignity.  I learn how to offer that same dignity to others, to lessen the incidents of my own dehumanizing of others."

Maybe that's the answer to my contemplations. And why I can't let the impact that this has on the world at large and on so many individual hearts off of my mind. As created in His Image, our very beings are the thing the Enemy most wants to corrupt; to despise, disrespect and destroy.  And far too often he doesn't have to push humans too far to get them to do just that-----to themselves.  And to others.

While I don't like the ways that this issue has invaded my personal world through the mere fringes that I've experienced, there are those that I love who it's touched far more.  And I just can't look, don't want to look, at people as invaluable any more.  Not anyone.  Not even the 'users'.  Those whose perversions have made them a slave as well.

Victimization is a street with many lanes.  And the Enemy is out to destroy any way he can.
"“Where, O death, is your victory?

    Where, O death, is your sting?”
............ But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

                         ~I Cor. 15: 55,56

Death certainly can look victorious.  It's so easy to find the sting.

The victory may not be visible much of the time yet.  And the death is quite obvious in its powerful, foul stench and hollow eyes.  But the victory is won.  And freedom is coming.

It is finished in Heaven and it will be on Earth as well.  Come Lord Jesus.  Soon.

Friday, September 13, 2013

As Long As Life Lasts

Last weekend I pruned rosebushes.  For the first time.  Ever.  Yes, I know that's hard to believe.

I sure hope I didn't kill them!

A friend from India who visited recently (thanks, Leonora!) showed me how and I took the badly needed plunge.

There are quite a few things that have slipped through the cracks of my 'normal' adult skills since I've spent most of my time in developing nations.  Kind of like how I have recently discovered house cleaning with microfiber and other modern fibers rather than a rag or sponge.  Oh my goodness!  Who knew? I will never leave the First World again without it.

But I digress.  Back to rose bush pruning.

A task that was hanging over me actually turned out to be fun!  Clipping off dead wood in order to let new life thrive.  I had a few pricks on my hands after as the spines on the old branches protested with their natural protection, but the bushes look ready for spring.  Probably a bit late to do it actually, but better late than never.

How often do we resist the 'pruning' in our lives?  Both by our Heavenly Father and pruning that we know we should do ourselves?  My last year has involved a lot of pruning.  But now I'm feeling 'lighter' and know that the new buds are forming.

"Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.  Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent.  Instead you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God's promises because of their faith and endurance."
                                                  -Heb. 6:11-12

"Spiritually dull and indifferent," sounds like dead wood to me!  When I read this the other day I found it interesting that the key to not developing this dead wood was to 'love others as long as life lasts.'  Through up's and down's.  Through trials and times of peace.  Through the beautiful and even when we're unlovely.


Hannah spoke last Sunday night at the church where she's an intern.  Her text was James 2:1-13.  This passage mentions the rich and says that if we show favouritism we, "...sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.  For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." (vs. 9-10)

Hannah and Aaron prepared a speech ahead of time and Aaron read it during her message.  It was about how he, because of his background and the places where he's lived, struggles more with discriminating against the rich instead of the poor.  But that how he's realized that that is showing favoritism as well.  How any kind of favoritism discriminates.

Hannah then went on to give a beautiful explanation about how the law through Christ is actually meant to bring freedom and that the message here is actually about love.  The passage ends with some of my favorite verses:  

"Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that GIVES FREEDOM (caps mine), because judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement."  (vs. 12-13)

Loving those who we see as unlovely, or unworthy, or just plain make us uncomfortable without favoritism.  Love with mercy for as long as life lasts.  A unexpectedly good recipe for avoiding becoming spiritually dull and finding freedom!

We need to consciously keep challenging ourselves, think beyond the confines of what's comfortable and, "Just do it."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Creation is amazing!!!  Few photos from this past week..........


Monday, September 2, 2013

First Day of Spring

Yesterday was the first day of Spring in New Zealand (and Father's Day!).  We spent the afternoon hanging out on our little farm .  New life all around:

I've been in a photo taking mode lately so really should carry something around other than just my phone.  At least it takes PRETTY good photos!

And just because it was Father's Day, although these were taken a couple of weeks ago.  And that gun has since been used to kill our ram (only want lambs a certain time of the year-don't worry the ram never knew what hit him-Steve happy that he didn't sell his 22 before we went overseas) who is now in the freezer.

Not only is he a good shot (!), this man is definitely the gift that keeps on giving to our family. *happy sigh*

His Majesty

I have tennis elbow.  Pretty strange since I haven't held a tennis racket for YEARS!  There's a more technical name but it amounts to the same thing, a sore arm that will take a while to heal.

It's my right arm but I can be careful and, while it's a pain (literally!), still do most things.  The worst is brushing my teeth.  Arm bent up and small motions.........Ouch!  I've been brushing left handed and am not doing as good of a job, so look forward to having a really clean mouth again soon as it heals.

The strange thing is that I actually hurt my left arm first.  I had one of those, "I hope no one was looking!" moments with a clear glass door in a public place and had a sore left wrist for a while after.  I then hurt my right arm much worse because I was favoring my left.  The physio said that he hears that story all too often.

It's all about balance. Things meant to be working together a certain way that can go ill if they don't.

I read something the other day somewhere that I didn't write down and I don't remember where it was (!).  The author of the article basically talked about how so many Christian songs in the last 50 years or so have painted a picture of Jesus as 'sweet' and how we need a bit more well rounded view of Him than that.

I think that perhaps that's what people then needed to hear. That a couple of generations who had been through The Great Depression and a couple of wars perhaps had no problem with the idea of a God of justice and power but needed to know the gentle healing of His love.

And now perhaps my generation somewhat and the current one especially is a little too familiar with His grace and can tend to, well, not take His holiness as seriously as we should.  Stomp all over it really.

"Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?  Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?"  (Rom. 6: 1-2)

And yet far too often we do.

One thing that surprised me in learning about the religion in our recent Third World home was the fierceness of their many gods.  There is festival after festival with rather violent and fierce images of gods and goddesses pictured in statues and prints all around the city.  

Why?  One of the FS women told me that it's because you want to choose the most fearful, powerful god to stand for you and help you to get what you want.  So it's fine that you're afraid of them.


But our God IS the most powerful! (Those others are just wanna-be's!)  AND loving and kind.  He is "gentle and humble of heart" (Matt. 11:29).  But He is also the Creator, the Alpha and Omega. He is awesome in spender and mighty in power!!!  He is just, holy and entirely righteous.  The King of kings and Lord of lords.

The MOST powerful.

Picture this:

"God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.  To him be honor and might forever.  Amen."  (1Tim. 6:15-16)

"His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword.  His face was like the sun shining in all it's brilliance." (Rev. 1:14-16)

I feel the need to pause and reflect.  


God is a 'consuming fire' (Heb. 12:29) yet through His sacrifice for us we can "approach the throne of grace with confidence!" (Heb. 4:16) And He merely spoke and made THIS:

He is the Divine balance.  More amazing than we can ever imagine.