Sunday, 4 December 2016

...better than you think.

'I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.'
Psalm 27:13-14

It's nearly the end of 2016, it's been a memorable one hasn't it?! Haha. I saw this video on Facebook recently as a sort of summary of 2016.


video

We've had Brexit, we've had the Donald, we've had the sacrilege of the Toblerone....And my own experiences this year would have also made a pretty insane reality TV show.

The big question on my heart has been 'Is God good?' Now obviously I know the answer is yes, but to really make the declaration of His goodness my battle cry, I wanted him to show me what on earth I'm talking about when I share, defend and proclaim it. So here I am laying in bed this morning reflecting on some of the cool things that have happened and I thought I'd share some of the moments that left me going 'wow ok, you're not kidding, you're really good'...

- Someone I met over the summer I witnessed getting prayed for and then miraculously healed of cancer.

- Despite feeling like I was probably just making it up, I gave someone a prophetic word of a dream they'd had the night before.

- This last week I had the privilege of getting to give my bible away to a man that didn't have one and had been muslim his whole life, but six weeks ago he had a dream about Jesus, became a Christian, and has now moved his family to South Korea.

- My parents are in India at the moment and are kind of watching on in awe as they witness so many people having tangible experiences of the Holy Spirit for the first time.

- I learnt the liberty of the power to choose what gets my yes and what gets my no, and that I've been given more courage than I thought I had.

- Some awesome folks from StreamAsia visited last week and interpreted a dream I'd had in such a way that I was left dumbfounded at how well God knows me. I also discovered God speaks to me in Korean that I don't even know or understand, but that he's blessed me with a beautiful Korean friend who speaks both Korean and Holy Spirit and who can help translate.

- I've been given the opportunity of a surprising change of direction, with a 2017 that will bring with it a return to England, a new job, a new church, new and old friends, and new adventures...and it's exciting and terrifying.

So yes 2016, you've certainly been memorable...and you've taught me about God, what I think Susan learnt about Aslan...

"Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.” C.S Lewis




Sunday, 22 May 2016

Life Grows in the Dirt


I tease my melancholy friends sometimes for what seems to me to be a bizarre attraction to pain (because sanguines are subtle like that), but I have to say that as someone that tries to resist difficult things at all costs, this has been one of the most painful but simultaneously best seasons of my life. 

This morning I was talking with God about some of the things that have happened over the last couple of years that have felt challenging, heartbreaking and sometimes cruel. I think we tend to have a natural desire to make sense of things, if we can find meaning or reason for our pain, it somehow makes it more bearable, but in so many of the things I was bringing to him there just felt like there was no rhyme or reason for it. Things have sucked, they've been unjust and have felt thoroughly tragic, and when I try to pretend that they haven't been I don't heal.

So as I asked the why question again this morning I was reminded of this verse:

"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 9:12-13

It's been one of my favourites for as long as I can remember, but the part that struck me smack in the face this morning was 'But go and learn', Jesus doesn't say, 'sit and learn, I'll tell you', he says 'go'. It seems to me that it's in the curveballs of life that we learn the beauty of the gospel. It's in the challenge of our core convictions that we discover why they're core and they're strengthened. It's in the injustice that we realise the depth of the need for mercy.  It's when you don't know how to respond, but have to, you learn how to. It's in the stuff that doesn't make sense that we learn his presence is enough and he's still on the throne. He could protect us from all pain, but we'd never grow and we'd never know freedom.

I realise God is really invested in who we are becoming, and it's preparation for the future, but it's not just preparation for the future. I think we can sometimes assume and in my case be told that when life feels like it's repeating itself there must be something wrong with you, or it's something you're doing wrong. You know sometimes that might be true, but if tough seasons are preparation for the future have you considered that the new thing that seems even harder is not your punishment, it's your reward? He is a good, good father!!


'So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.' 
John 8:36



Thursday, 31 March 2016

Everything has its time

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 I love this part of Ecclesiastes, but to be honest it's sort of ironic that I'm writing a blog post about knowing the times and seasons, because over the last 8 months hearing the phrase 'it's important to know the times and seasons' has made me want to scream, cry or hit something. For a long and blessed time in my life I've been learning the value of being led, of trusting church leaders and becoming fairly dependent on them hearing God for me. It has been wonderful, healing and valuable. I guess when you discover a profound truth it can so often feel like it's the only one. So as my pastor began to preach that he believed God was bringing judgement on America I felt utterly conflicted,  everything in me was screaming that he was wrong and yet I was being encouraged to place the way I felt Holy Spirit was leading me second to his discernment. I don't at all want to throw the baby out with the bath water, spiritual leadership is not only wonderful, but vital and a God ordained gift to the body, particularly when it comes to spiritual counsel, but the other side of that coin that has been beautiful, scary and challenging to learn recently is to trust Holy Spirit in me and place a high and sometimes costly value on that too.

After wrestling through different things with God and with people I recently made the difficult decision to step down from leadership at my church. The day it was announced I also plucked up the courage to do something else that I didn't want to face . A close friend of mine recently passed away and I knew I had a prophetic word from him saved as a voice note on my phone, but I hadn't felt ready to hear his voice again. He opened with this:

'I feel like the first thing that the Lord wants to say to you is that he's proud of you, he's so proud of you, that he's trusted you with decisions and he's proud of the decisions that you've made and that he trusts you.'

I wept.

While I'd been back in England I'd had this moment with my parents where I just broke down, I'd heard so many people with (mostly) loving and well meaning, but opposing opinions tell me what was going on with me and what decisions I should make, but I knew full well my decisions were actually pleasing no-one. As someone who places a high value on relationships...that was a very hard pill to swallow. If I'm real I've regularly felt like I'm not getting it right, it's been hard to know when is the time to speak and when is it time to stay silent,  when is the time to embrace and when is the time to refrain from embracing... it's honestly even been hard to know when is the time to laugh and when is the time to weep. It was a profound and slightly terrifying thing to hear that God trusts me, even when I'm fairly confident I'm not always getting it right, but to hear that he's proud of me wrecked me, his pleasure in me I'm discovering is enough.

So as I look to this next year and I wrestle with the question marks that are left, I realise more and more that everything has its time, what I'm learning today I may not be learning tomorrow. That there will be days that I want God to speak directively and he won't, and days that I wish he hadn't and he has...but more than anything learning to enjoy and celebrate the relationship and the journey of hearing his voice.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Lukewarm?

Have you ever had one of those moments where you realised you've totally misunderstood something for most of your life? Let's see if this is just me...when you read these verses what do you think?

"I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth, For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realising that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked." Revelation 3:15-17

'Bad Christian, not on fire for Jesus enough'...right?! I'd always understood this as a thermometer of spiritual zealousness. Then in community group on Monday someone asked 'Why is being lukewarm worse than being cold? Surely being cold is worse?'  What a great question! The answer we came to was that being lukewarm causes a stumbling block for others, and I think that's true, but what is it about lukewarmness that is so vomit worthy? When you read the rebuke in Revelation it sounds kind of familiar to some other rebukes from Jesus:

'So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness' Matthew 23:28

'You blind guides, straining out a small gnat and swallowing a camel!' Matthew 23:24

and the real clincher...

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get'. But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18: 9-14

As I've been thinking more about this and reading into it, I've realised that the issue is not about a spiritual zeal thermometer. Cold is good and hot is good, the problem is the mixture. It's the same with food. Get it straight out of the fridge... good, heat it thoroughly...great, do a half hearted job in the microwave...expect to see it come back up!

Here's an idea, maybe 'cold' is actually pointing to those that get the point of the law, which was to show us that we're dead in our sin. Maybe 'hot' is those that understand that it's all God's grace that brings righteousness.

2 Corinthians 3:7-11 explains it really well:

"Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory."

What's the problem with being lukewarm? You end up mixing the law (cold) with grace (hot) and get the benefits of neither.

Is complacency and half hearted Christianity good? Of course not! It demonstrates you've totally missed the point, too. To be honest, I suspect the apathy of many is because they're tired of trying to stir up a zeal that's void of the power of the grace of God. When you read Revelation 3: 15-17 and you hear 'come on buck up your ideas' rather than a gospel of grace you'll end up having to buy into lukewarm as well ...and that will become pretty wearing. You'll inevitably have to lower God's standard or live in permanent condemnation.

Zeal is a wonderful thing, but the issue with the Pharisees was not a lack of zeal, it was misplaced zeal that led to self-righteousness and the contempt of others.

Praise God though this is not where the letter to the church in Laodicea ends, the next couple of verses are beautiful:

'I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent'



Sunday, 31 May 2015

Why so zealously inconsistent?

I’m one of those people that is worryingly filter free. If I’m thinking it, it’s very likely to come straight out of my mouth, which has it’s pros and cons.

I had a couple of conversations on the topic of integrity recently where I now realise that with great zeal I said two completely opposite things within 24 hours of each other….which when talking about integrity probably doesn’t bode all that well, haha.

In the first conversation I basically said, sometimes it’s faith to do the stuff when you feel nothing. For example, you don’t actually want to jump up and down for joy in worship, but maybe you just need to do it anyway. As the line from one of my favourite songs goes ‘sometimes you’ve got to sing your way into the truth’. When I first encountered the Holy Spirit the pastor prayed for the Holy Spirit to come and then said, ‘okay if you feel anything stand up’. Honestly I felt absolutely nothing, zero, zilch, zippo, nil, nada….but I stood up anyway. I then radically encountered God and I can only assume Holy Spirit was less interested in my deception and more interested in my hunger. 

Fast forward to this evening and with great zeal I started talking about how we really need to cut the crap in church and stop saying and doing things that we don’t mean, for our own sake, but particularly because I have both a real heart and admiration for this generation that is just unwilling to settle for anything that is not authentic. 

On both occasions I was fully convinced of the truth of what I was saying, but now I’m wondering how a conversation between Saturday night Rosie and Sunday night Rosie would have played out, and I suspect it might have been fiery. So I’m sat here asking myself ‘Which is it then? How zealously inconsistent do you want to be on the topic of integrity? Are you okay with both things not just being a bit true, half this and half that…but totally true?’ and I think the answer is yes, zealously, uncomfortably…yes.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Clarity

Usually in my life my thoughts are pretty simple and the way God talks with me is usually by just revealing the downright obvious that has somehow become anything but obvious. I was reminded of this this weekend as a couple of friends laughed at my latest revelations, which to be fair were pretty funny and on a par with the same friend’s response to ‘Why is it so empty in Shinsaegae?’…’I guess people aren’t here’…deep Breann, deep! While the simplicity of that is amusing, I guess that’s what clarity is.

The other side of this is that I love wrestling with questions, and I’m okay with chewing on things for a while without necessarily knowing the answer. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post titled ‘A curious generation’, which was intentionally a bit ambiguous and cryptic. It was a kind of social commentary about the postmodern generation that I’m part of, in that we ask a lot of questions and are very curious, but we're sort of disillusioned by the idea of a grand narrative, because while we recognize partial truths somehow they never seem to fit together very well.

After I posted it on Facebook I found it fascinating watching different people’s response to it. For some (as I can see on the blog views), they opened it, read it, and that was that…no further conversation to be had. Others were interested enough to point out that they didn’t get it, and some suggested possible interpretations based partly on their knowledge of the author. What was most interesting to me though was one particular friend that was just not ok with not knowing what I meant by it. Her persistence won the day and I explained it to her.  It reminded me that while wrestling with things is an important part of owning truth, actually what the author intended does matter.

I guess that’s why I was grateful this church wide retreat, that although there were many things that are still whirring around in my brain for me to chew on, I also encountered a God that just blindsided me with some things that were slapintheface obvious.


Case and point (The revelation that tickled my friends)
#1 - The thing about new things is that they’re new, they don’t look like old things.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

A curious generation



I have  this piece…look so pretty!

Oooh that IS pretty. Errrrr, maybe if I just…nope, how about if I turn …hmmm, oh I know * flip*…eughh seriously!

Pass me the scissors.

Gently…gently…gently…ah crap …(discards).

Tape anyone?


THE END!






….















No seriously, I can’t find the end.