Saturday, February 22, 2014

moving time

It is time to move! No, not out of Dublin. It is time to continue writing but in a new space with a fresh start. This blog will remain active for another year but everything new will be found over here (click).

There you will find out why I write. Thank you for walking through life with me.

Monday, February 17, 2014

sitting comfortable with questions

A few weeks ago I started going to Alpha at my church.. It wasn't something I had planned in advance or even considered going to until I just couldn't let go of the idea of inviting a friend to it. Well, I actually invited him to just meet and chat first with Alpha conveniently being on afterwards. I'll be honest, it was planned but it wasn't pushed. He asked me if it was a set up and I, smiling, said, "of course." We didn't have to go. I was happy to leave it if he wasn't into it. That evening we joined about 40 other people in watching the video and having group discussions about who Jesus is.

I relaxed into our small group discussions when other people in the group began to express their doubts and the things that they found difficult to believe. It seemed that half of our group wasn't convinced from what was presented that Jesus actually existed as a man and that he was (is) God. Not knowing and not believing were ok. It was sitting comfortably while not being able to answer every single question and not feeling the need to answer them all. It was an acknowledgement that most of us don't actually have enough concrete evidence stored up in our back pockets to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is God. Can I answer a lot of questions? For sure I can. But my trust in the sources has been through an accumulation over my life, not a 45 minute video.

Looking back over my schedule for the past few weeks I realise how many people I have met with for coffee or a cuppa (cup of tea). Most share the space with a million "why" questions for God and honest spaces of uncertainty. "Why don't you heal me?" "Why did you let this happen to me?" "Why can't I be different?" "Why do I have to deal with the consequences of other people's choices?" "Why did her partner kill himself?" If we were brought up hearing about Jesus we follow that up with: "Because Jesus I thought you ... (gave peace, healed, honoured good choices, knew what you were doing)." My own list of questions to ask gets longer each day too. But I will become completely overwhelmed if I spend my whole day in the "why."

My curiosity and drive to know push me ahead to learn and be convinced by multiple sources. I push ahead to try faith on for myself every single day. As my questions grow, so does my conviction. For all of the things I don't know, I do know this: God will never fail us and my heart is settled when I worship him as God - the only one who knows it all, the only one who loves from a place of absolute purity. And the best thing is that he is complete secure in himself so our questions don't actually phase him.

If Jesus came and sat with us in our group at Alpha on Monday evenings, I wonder what his interactions would be like. I think he'd really be ok with everyone who would say, "I'm not so sure about this right now."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

text message prayer

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. ~ Brother Lawrence
Over the years there have been sources of inspiration that give my heart a squeeze and firmly call me to pray. There are books and books written about prayer and the different ways that we pray. It always involves a conversation between God and us. The most lovely prayer times for me are usually ones where I sit in silent awe of who God is and what he has done. They are the ones where I am aware that God is presently with me as I go about meeting with people, planning things, and in the moments of daily life.

The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God's standing challenge, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!" ~ James Hudson Taylor

The prayers that hurt the most are the ones that come from the darkest corners of my heart. The hurt that I see in myself and the world around clashes with the holiness of God and it feels like fire is waging war within my whole body. I suppose that is where I could walk away from the conversation too soon and end up hating God for the pain in this world. The fire always bring new life in my soul or the world around me.

"Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still." ~ E.M. Bounds

Several weeks ago I wrote about how I have started praying for people regularly as I sit on the bus going into work in the mornings. Intentional and regular intercession (praying on behalf of other people) has not been a strong point of mine in the past, partly because I am not really good at routine. Since writing that post I have begun to receive texts off people about how God has been intervening in the situations that they asked me to pray for! In the mornings my phone begins to buzz now with requests from people who know I am praying for them and from people who aren't even aware that I am praying for them. They are requests for God to move in their circumstances or the circumstances of friends. They are words of thanks for how God has answered. I feel a bit like a giddy child right now who has just planted seeds for the first time, faithfully watered them, and is now seeing the sprouts come through the soil.

No learning can make up for the failure to pray. No earnestness, no diligence, no study, no gifts will supply its lack. ~ E.M. Bounds

I am amazed with what I have seen and what I want to see more of. If only people knew the God who lovingly wants to restore all of creation. For this short season, I am in a place where I am spending a lot of time learning, doing more administrative work, and working with other Christians. Structures for effective ministry are being built. But prayer is what is really at work, fortifying the strategies and moving in peoples' lives so that when doors of opportunity open it will be like a floodgate!

Don't pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees. ~ Corrie ten Boom

Thursday, January 30, 2014

myers-briggs 9 years later

Understanding who God created you to be is so vital! Never did I think that officially taking the Myers-Briggs test during a 2 week missions prep course in 2005 would be so important! Who knew that a good personality test might actually be useful. I hated any test that put a label on me and certainly didn't want to conform to that one.

Graduating in the 2000 basically meant that we all had stickers on our backs saying, "pick us to analyze to death". I mean, really, it was an easy group to target and remember. In 1000 years they could compare the results with the youth of the new millennium. I grew to absolutely detest other people poking and prodding my brain to determine what sort of human species I was. It was the spring of 2005 when World Partners asked me to go along to Wycliffe's missions training programme in Langley before moving to Ireland. I was stunned, and a little bit humbled, by the accuracy of my results and how they were presented to me. They gave me the courage to give other tests the benefit of the doubt.

Don't get me wrong here, Myers-Briggs is not for everyone. Most people's favourite tests are poor portrayals of me so I can understand how one test does not fit all.

Whenever I feel like I am getting bogged down by the expectations that I have of myself or the expectations I feel others have for me I return to those results to breathe a sigh of relief again - I am ok. Most decent websites with descriptions will give helpful insights into what to watch out for and how to make sure you stay healthy in all aspects of life ... which is apparently a sort of normal thing for me to be looking up.

What's the importance of this? God has created us for his perfect and loving purposes. Our personality and natural inclinations are intentional so that we can love the world well. As we spend time with him, God transforms us more and more into his likeness ... not into a Christian personality type (where's the body of Christ in that!). So it is constantly a journey of learning, acceptance, discovery, and growth for me. There are plenty of things that I would change about who I am some days but God keeps reminding me that I am the way I am for a purpose.

You are the way you are for a purpose! Let him redeem that in you.

We have been doing a week of prayer and fasting at my church this week. I have several items that I really want insight into and supernatural intervention for but I was getting nothing ... well, almost nothing. There was a lot of silence and peace in the waiting (I didn't want silence and peace!). I'd write down my specifics and God seemed to ignore them.

Instead he only said a few lines about how I am exactly who he wants me to be. He loves who I am. This week, I actually needed that.

Oh. What am I? An ENTP of course.

Here's a slightly humorous look at what I can bring when loved well ... (Caring for your ENTP)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

listen for the marching in the tops of the poplar trees

God is a player on our team. He's not just a coach. He plans his moves along with ours and asks us to wait, watch, and listen before we make our move so that we succeed.

Two types of movie reels play through my mind when I think of this. The first is the kind that you might find in the Pirates of the Caribbean where there is a map laid out on a table and all sorts of military figurines set out on it. The army people (I am so good with military terms!) stand around and determine who will go where and when. They make a plan of what will happen so that the enemy is defeated from more than one side. Multiple players are involved. In the adapted film in my imagination, I see myself - hopefully in really cool period costume - and God standing around a table looking at the city of Dublin and determining what I need to do and what he is planning on doing so that the enemy will be defeated. In the second film I find myself in a cheesy sports movie sitting with an over-enthusiastic team in a locker room where God is the not only the coach but Jesus is also a player sitting beside me in on the bench (cue: mystery of the Trinity). The play is getting mapped out with colourful markers on a white board. In the play, Jesus goes left to (insert move here) and I go right for the breakaway.

This week I read:

When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, they went up in full force to search for him ... David inquired of God: "Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?" The Lord answered him, "Go, I will deliver them into your hands ... Do not go directly after them, but circle around them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move out to battle, because that will mean God has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army." So David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army. ~ 1 Chronicles 14:8-17 (worth reading the whole thing)

What if David hadn't listened for the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees? God wouldn't have been in place yet, having done his thing. I was really struck with how specific God was. David had to be listening so closely to know when God had made his move. The plan would have failed. I really needed to be reminded that the plan is not up to me to figure out. The execution of that plan is also not mine alone. It is not even for me and people I work with. It is for us and God. He is a very real, active participant of the team. Vital, in fact.

Friday, January 24, 2014

rebellion is hope

Let me dream of a city that looks so different from the one that I see today. Let me dream of a city where the group of teens on the corner is a symbol of a nation’s hope. Let me dream of where they use their recklessness to say “enough!” to violence, “enough!” to anger, “enough!” to streets filled with rubbish, “enough!” to drug abuse, “enough!” to disrespect, “enough!” to lonely neighbours, “enough!” to the sex shop on the corner, “enough!” to poverty, “enough!” to shame.

Let me dream of teens who use their recklessness to pursue goodness when everyone tells them they are bad, pursue education when they are told they are stupid, pursue purpose when they are told they are a waste of space, pursue understanding when they are limited, pursue healing when they are hurt.

Let me dream of teens with courage to set the example for society in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.

Let me dream of the city this will become when teens begin to understand that rebellion means fighting the rules of how they are expected to behave. Rebellion is love. Rebellion is responsibility. Rebellion is having a voice. Rebellion is peace. Rebellion is hope.