Monday, August 18, 2014

If We're Honest


If We're Honest is an album that Francesca Battistelli released earlier this year. I've heard her song "Write Your Story" multiple times on the radio whilst driving to work or uni and it's always such a catchy song and I loved the message it reminds me of.

I love how these verses reasonate so deeply within me!

My life
I know it's never really been mine
So do with it whatever You like
I don't know what Your plan is
But I know it's good, yeah

I wanna tell You now that I believe in
I wanna tell You now that I believe in
In You, so do what You do

...

I want my history
To be Your legacy
Go ahead and show this world
What You've done in me
And when the music fades
I want my life to say

I let You write Your story, write Your story
Write Your story, write Your story


It's so beautiful and I finally got the chance to Shazam it so I could go buy her music. I checked out the rest of her album, and it's literally one of those albums filled with so much truth. If and when you check out her new album, pop over to her Youtube because she's got little short clips on the story behind her songs. I love it when singer's share their heart behind the songs they write. It's so beautiful. Hope this album blesses you as much as it has blessed me!

The fog will clear

We can often be impatient like little toddlers. We want to know everything, see everything, understand everything. I had a chat to my cell leader last night and this scenario came up in our conversation and I thought I'd share it here.

Sometimes we're like a little toddler. Our Father is sitting at a table working on something and because we're so short, because we haven't grown yet to that level to see, we keep asking Him "Father what is it? What are you doing?" And yes, He can totally answer you, but if you knew, just maybe you wouldn't be responsible for the things you need to learn now. And so we sit at His feet playing, chatting and doing other things but then the curiosity kicks in so we think we're a bit smarter by thinking "I'll grab a chair. I'll grab a chair, climb it, have a look and then see if I want it or not."

So we climb the chair. We climb the chair and we fall. We hurt ourselves in the process because we're not yet old enough to climb that chair. We're not old enough to understand you can slip. We couldn't wait til we'd grown that little bit more.

It might seem like God's refusing to tell you what's going to happen. But, if anything, He promises you that it'll be good. He promises you the best things and He is never early nor late.

Yes waiting can totally suck. You might have days where you curl up at His feet and cry because you can't think of the words to say and your heart can only speak and pour tears. That's okay. Remember, He sees every tear. He sees you where you are. He knows your heart.

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." (Psalm 56:8 NLT)

Before you know it, you'll see His plans. Let us be joyful in knowing He is in control and is creating something beautiful even though we don't see it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

No Other Name


















The 23rd album by Hillsong called "No Other Name" this year at their conference. The album features the vocals of Reuben Morgan, Ben Fielding, Annie Garratt, Jad Gillies, Joel Houston, Taya Smith and many more. I was privileged enough to get the opportunity to go to their conference last year. It was such an amazing experience to worship God with 20,000 other people in one venue. It's something I'll never forget. Although I was unable to attend this year, I do hope that I'll be able to go next year.

Koorong wasn't selling the deluxe album the last time I went (not sure if they are now) but it is so worth the extra cost. I love the alternate versions which aren't available in the normal CD. "No Other Name" is such a beautiful grace filled album. If you haven't heard it or bought it yet, I urge you to. I love how stripped down the alternate versions are. Personally, I think that sometimes we get so caught up in how good the band plays, the lights, the slides and all that jazz and miss really worshipping God and enjoying His presence. Stripped down songs always remind me of cell group worship sessions with a small group of people and a guitar and I think maybe that's why I like acoustics so much. Honestly such a beautiful album that should be checked out!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Tapestry

If it is a loss for my own will but a gain for the kingdom, if I am living a life  desiring His will to pass, then it is a gain for me too.

There's days I regret a lot of things. I regret committing to things only for them to be smashed apart. But I realised that today my regret is misplaced. It doesn't belong here and there shouldn't be any regret. Things fall together and things fall apart and sometimes it's just so we can learn.

If everything falls apart but we choose to be open and receptive to grow, even though things don't return to the original state, we won't be filled with regret because we know that in whatever happened, we learned, we grew stronger, we became more prepared for His kingdom. We became stronger soldiers. If we're living a life which desires for His will to pass, then though something could be a loss to our own will, it can be a gain for the kingdom, and the gain for the kingdom surpasses the importance for our own will to be completed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Character change

Twenty four.

For the past number of years I've had this little desire on my heart to be married or at least engaged by the time I was 24. There has been a few close friends I have shared this to when we've talked about our 'ideal' futures. I get the same reaction every time though.

That's so young.

Twenty four. It crossed my mind this morning that that's what I'll be in 3 years. I won't be devastated if I'm not engaged or married by then, it's just a little age I fancy but anyway, that's enough about me, this post is actually about Proverbs 31.

It might be a weird thing to say, but I actually love to think about what I would or could write in my vows. One of the most common things wife's to be incorporate inside their vows are that they want to be a Proverbs 31 woman for their to be husband. The thought of this verse actually really got me thinking. How often do we try to change ourselves and improve ourselves for the benefit of ourselves or for God. If we're changing for anything or anyone it should be for Jesus. I want to be like the woman described in Proverbs 31 so I could better serve the Kingdom and my husband - not just because, for my husband and the Kingdom on the side.

It's such a simple thing but it's been something on my mind since there was a blow up of work politics in my workplace. Though I'm not involved, it really got me thinking about changing character and who we change it for.

Changing and improving our character is important. But who we change for is the question. We shouldn't be measuring ourselves by the standards and culture of this world but rather against Kingdom culture and the standards God had called us to.

I want to change so I can serve and carry out God's will better and in doing so better serve others. 

Perfect love

I remember speaking to my cell leader a couple weeks back and remembering something said that went along the lines of "dude, everyone's either getting into a relationship, getting married, or popping babies." It's actually so true. It was such a difficult thing to look at this year because I couldn't even understand my own break up - still don't. I had so many questions but I've come to a point where I realise what it means when people say 'God is better than the answer'. I may have had a lot of questions, but when you're focusing on just wanting answers that can't be given now, nothing changes.  Those questions still stand, but I am not actively asking for them to be answered anymore. Rather, I just chose to trust regardless of me getting answers or not.

Here's the thing. Answers don't always change the outcome. 

I thought that if I had the answers then it would help me understand and only then I could continue with life. But it's not. Answers can help, but they don't always help and there wasn't a guarantee. But there was with God. Because when you choose to turn and 'find' God over those answers, you'll see all this time He was there with His arms open waiting for you to run into them. You'll find His love for you and in that truthful moment, answers won't matter to you anymore because you know that He is with you.

You'll find Him standing there saying, "I love you so much, that I sent Jesus for you, so that you could have a relationship with me. I love you so much that my Son became human for you. My Son was spat at, humiliated, whipped and they put a crown of thorns on His head, but it was all for You. I love you so much, so trust me. Trust me because I love you and I have a plan for you and your life."

I truly believe when our perspective changes from finding answers to just trusting God that there is a breakthrough and something incredible happens. For me, that something incredible was learning that if I knew what happened in the future, maybe this year wouldn't have been as stretching as it is. And it's been good that it's been stretching. It's good because whatever happens, I know that choosing to take that leap of faith is God preparing me for the future. Without this stretching period I wouldn't have learnt to focus on:
  • not being so dependent on others 
  • to follow God regardless of how I feel - to obey even though my flesh says no 
  • to really understand what it means to die to oneself to carry out His will
  • to not let my emotions control me, but to let them take the backseat and allow God to direct me and go through life with me day by day, one step at a time
  • to follow God when I don't understand 
  • to learn to listen as listening requires is to be silent and receptive
  • trusting God in bringing me out of my comfort zone 
  • to know in my heart that God is always faithful and that He loves me so

If you're searching for answers today I urge you to go to our Father. I know that things might look out of control and messy and I may or may not understand the full extent of your situation, but regardless of that, God does and He loves you.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Born to be free

This year has been a little crazy to say the least. It would take me ages to write out the past 7 months and what I'd prefer over that would be to talk to you about it, in person, with coffee. All I can say it was a huge collision of a bunch of things and that if God were to turn His face away from me that I would just collapse.

I'm a forgetful person. This year I learnt what it means to trust God and what it really means to die to oneself. I learnt what it meant to obey God and what it means put His will in place of ours.

I don't really know how to write this post. I don't have a structure that I'm going by or anything. I'm not even quite sure how to approach it. One thing that stands out in my head is Genesis 22 where God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. Kind of a crazy thing for God to say since Abraham wanted a kid so bad and God gave him Isaac.

I don't know about you but Gen 22 was always a story I couldn't identify with or appreciate fully. I couldn't comprehend the thoughts, the sadness and the confusion that would have went through Abraham's mind. Imagine wanting one thing and then suddenly God tells you no. How are you supposed to react? One thing I can say about that chapter is that it was an incredibly stretching time for Abraham. I was inspired to write this post after reading Brennan Manning's book The Ragamuffin Gospel so most of my quotes will come from that book. I highly recommend you read it because it's simply such an amazing book. It's also really helped sum up the season and things I've been going through.

These are some of the things I've learnt this year:
  1.  Trusting God means trusting with no expectations for your own will to be done. I know this sounds so simple, but in practice it can be so difficult because we're such limited creatures wanting the best for ourselves when it comes to crunch time.With what happened this year, I expected God to do certain things my way. I expected things to go my way but I trusted that He would carry it out. It's some sort of weird paradox because I was trusting God to do my own will. I trusted God with my feelings but expected a certain outcome. An 'it would be nice if this happened' mindset is completely different from an 'I expect this to happen'. I convinced myself I was thinking the first when really I was the latter. In summary, I wasn't trusting God because if I did, I would have trusted Him with whatever outcome He was to carry out. I am truly inspired by the faith Abraham had and how he pushed his feelings and his desires to the backseat and obeyed God. Such strength. He desired not to slay his son, but proceeded to do so and trusted God's plans and goodness.
  2. When the craving for reassurances is stifled, trust happens. I craved tangible reassurances in the form of friends. The truth of this lay veiled by a lie which asked for support. I needed support yes. But there was a point where I started questioning my value and the desire for me to be included in things and then it began being measured by the people I could turn to. I think this passage by Brennan Manning in his book The Ragamuffin Gospel sums everything up perfectly.

    'The sunrise of faith requires the sunset of our craving spiritual consolations and tangible reassurances. Trust at the mercy of the response it receives is a bogus trust. All is uncertainty and anxiety. If she does not receive proofs from the Lord she suspects her relationship with the Lord is over or never existed. If she receives consolation, she is reassured but only for a time. Tangible reassurances, however valuable they may be, cannot create trust, sustain it, or guarantee any certainty of its presence. Jesus calls us to hand over our autonomous self in unshaken confidence. '

    Most of the people I could connect with left in the past year. This was something I expected to go through since I'm going to an international zone cell, but I didn't realise the potential impact of it. I'm not the type to have many friends. I'd much rather prefer deep relationships over casual ones. But this year left me feeling lonely after they left to their countries. I actually discussed my season with my cell leader and we came to the conclusion that this was possibly a season of solitude for me. She also told me that she thought I was a bit dependent on other people at times, and maybe this was a time where I was also learning to be more independent with what I wanted or what I stood for. It was a good wake up call because I know that I wasn't the type to do that but over time I'd started to be more dependent on other people. I'm okay with being alone, but I think is a season more about the things that I stand for, the things I believe in etc. 
  3. 'The grace to let go and let God be God flows from trust in His boundless love' (Brennan Manning). I think it's so easy to limit God's love for us in a tiny box based on the love we've received or think we've given.

    Two things:
    • 'Human love will always be a faint shadow of God's love.' 
    • 'Only love empowers the leap in trust, the courage to risk everything on Jesus, the readiness to move into the darkness guided only by a pillar of fire. Trust clings to the belief that whatever happens in our lives is designed to teach us holiness.'

    I never realised how much I'd focused on my feelings. I have a tendency to get carried away with my emotions but this year has really called me to put my emotions to the backseat and to obey God regardless of how I feel about it. I can't even comprehend the feelings going through Abraham's heart when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. An angel was called to intervene before Abraham slayed his son. I can't imagine how God felt when no angel was to intervene the crucifixion of Christ, but He allowed it to happen because He loved us that much. I never realised my focus until the truth of what God did for me pierced through the darkness and my heart.


    During this year I spent a lot of time confused by what it meant to trust God, what it meant to let go and let God, and what was that freedom everyone talked about. Trusting God doesn't mean that you don't have any desires. You tell God your desires, you have things you want, but above all else it means you want what God wants for you. So regardless of what happens, you know that God's giving you the best for you. Trusting involves having faith that God loves you. That is, really believing that God loves you.

    Letting go refers to letting God take control. It's so easy to want to take over and say God, "you're doing an absolutely shit job and everything's crap right now". Trust me, I've been there. Have definitely been there this year. I thought I was letting go by trusting Him with the outcome. But I challenge you today to really let go. Let go by letting Him do His thing. Let God be God. For me it was letting go of my feelings. It was letting go and saying 'God, you provided before. I will let go and let you take over and if what I desire happens or not, I still choose you and trust you and praise you for it'.

    Freedom. For me I didn't understand what it meant by freedom because in my head I didn't think I was a captive to my thoughts or my feelings. But, the freedom I now see is the freedom in knowing I don't need to worry about the outcome because I know God is in control. It's the freedom from worrying about what will happen because you know God loves you and will give you the best things for you at the right time.

    I don't know what will happen to me. His timing will tell. But, I challenge you that if you are struggling to let go of something, if you are struggling to trust, remember that He knows best and that He loved you so much that He sent His one and only son for You. I pray the weight of this truth of His love for us pierces your heart and that it frees you today because you were born to be free.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Responding in faith

I find it crazy that an Almighty God who doesn't need me wants to delight in me. He wants all of me regardless of how messed up I am. Regardless of how many times I've sinned or how many times I've refused to listen to Him. He didn't need me but yet He chose me to be His child, His beloved - to be a part of His Kingdom and His plans. He chose to shower me with grace because He is love.

He loved me way before I chose Him. This is my God, my Saviour. And yet, it can be so easy to forget His love and think He'll let us drown in waves that crash over us. This amazing, all loving God sent His one and only Son to die for my sins. All because He loved me. Me. Me with all my messiness, my crazy emotions, everything. He sent His Son to overcome death for me. If He did that for me before I chose Him, how great is His love for me?

I've been placed in the position to surrender someone that meant the world to me. I don't understand why. I don't want to. But, He has a plan and He's calling me out to go into the unknown by having faith and trusting in Him. God never told us that trusting was easy. No. He called us to live by putting our faith in Him - a sort of faith that "walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future" (Brennan Manning).

If He loves me so much to send His Son for me. How much more should I respond in faith and trust that He has a plan. I know I'm being shaken so that You can prepare me for what You want to bring me to. And though I don't understand now, I will choose to trust.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The size of your faith doesn't matter. It' not about putting your faith in the amount of faith you have, but rather, putting your faith in a God that won't ever let you go.