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Just BE! A Tribute to Barbara Wake

Writing the ‘BE Blogs’ over the seven years since Bethany’s passing has come from a personal call and growing conviction that anything I DO must flow out of who I truly AM and created to BE.

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Throughout this time, I have been greatly challenged to the core of my BEing by my dear mother-in-law, Barbara Lilian Wake, who has just passed into her eternal Home with Jesus (and reunited with her darling Bethany).

I first met Barb at a church working bee… we were part of the ladies team building the mud-brick wall in the hall at Diamond Valley Baptist. I was impressed by her hard-working attitude and healthy eating habits. She was so friendly and made me, the newbie, feel very welcome on the team. Little did I know then what an integral part she would play in my life as my mother-in-law and friend for over 30 years!

This week, we had the honour to celebrate her life with family and friends. In my tribute, I shared about all the GIFTS Mum Wake has blessed me with over the years… GIFTS of grace, faithfulness and service that are too many to count!

If you are aware of the story of the ‘Proverbs 31 Woman’ then think of Barbara Wake as an exemplary modern day example! I am just one of her children who rise up and call her blessed!

Yes, I gained many GIFTS from and through Mum.

I am particularly grateful for the GIFT of childlike faith in Jesus Christ she constantly displayed in such an uncomplicated way to the world. A GIFT she passed onto her dear son, my beloved man.

But I am coming to understand that the greatest GIFT she has given me is something I am still grappling with as I journey the joys and sorrows of life.

The greatest GIFT she has bestowed is nothing that she has said or done. For the past decade, no words of profound wisdom or inspirational action have come forth from her. Yet, what she has offered us has been so powerfully displayed in a simple state of BEing that is transforming my life.

As Mum lay in a nursing home for the past six years, suffering from dreaded Alzheimer’s disease, she has been unable to SAY anything. She has been unable to DO anything for herself, for others, or for her Lord.

Bit by bit, piece by agonising piece, blow by devastating blow, every possession was stripped away from this kind woman without guile. Every skill she had carefully honed over many years was savagely ripped asunder. As far as we know, her thoughts were empty for years as her memory unravelled and disappeared. Sadly, Mum lost all knowledge of her loved ones and every single ability to DO anything totally diminished over a torturously long passage.

As I sat with Mum earlier this year, attempting to help her eat yet another ‘blended mushy meal’ it struck me that Mum just IS… and that’s all. The call to ‘Just BE’ had reduced down to the very basics.

Mum could breathe and her heart was still ticking… one step closer to eternity with every beat. There was still an occasional glimpse of her gorgeous smile, but her big brown eyes were blank and no longer held their usual spark.

We have always loved Mum for all she did for us. But now the countless days of her service on earth are over… she made that clear when seven years ago she handed me the tea towel and walked out of the kitchen for good!

As I sat there that bleak day, I wondered if Mum knew that she is still greatly loved, infinitely valuable and eternally significant to us, not for what she could DO but for who she IS.

At that point in time, Mum’s body was withered and she had absolutely nothing to offer us practically any more. Was it just the memory of all her kindness and sacrificial service over the years that kept feeding our love? That may still be part of it, but the essence of our continuing love seems to be this:

We love Mum simply because of who she is.

She is a daughter. She is our mum. She is our children’s nanna. She is an aunty, a sister, a friend and a beloved wife and although she was and now is totally incapable of doing anything on earth for us any more, her identity remains and can never be shaken!

Barbara Lilian Wake is loved!

The circle of life keeps bringing us back to dependency… we are ushered into this world as helpless newborns and many of us will return to that state in one way or another as we are birthed into eternity.

We are born a child and we die ‘a child’ – no matter how long or significant the dash is in the middle!

So the greatest lesson I am still learning from my dear mum is this…

Even if I never said or did a good thing again, I am valuable and infinitely loved by the mere fact that I am God’s child. This is an unchangeable constant.

Like Mum Wake, I am loved by God the Father, reconciled and adopted into His family simply by putting my faith in His Son Jesus. I am now indwelt by His Holy Spirit who is transforming me into all I am meant to BE. He is the One who gives me the life and courage to DO all I am meant to DO.

Like Mum, my value is NOT found in what I DO for Him or others, but all bound up in my true identity. I am His daughter, His BEloved daughter and all I DO that has worth will flow from this incredible fact.

So the question I have to keep asking myself is, “I am content with nothing more and nothing less than this?” My desperate plea is to know this love in the centre of my soul. Then, from this place alone, love God, His people and myself back with the same love. This is what is it all about friends!

 Mum Wake and Bethany continue to speak to us – grant us ears to hear Lord.

Dearest Mum, we are forever grateful for you! You have showered us and our children with priceless GIFTS that have shaped who we are.

We are even more grateful for your endurance through such a horrific, costly trial. You have actively and passively taught us the most valuable lessons we need for eternity… to ‘Just BE’… this is the greatest GIFT you offer us all!

To break it down a bit more, here are the main GIFTS of grace you have modelled so well for us throughout your seasons of tremendous ability and heartbreaking inability…

We are the BEloved of Jesus
“You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavour to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity.”
Colossians 3:12-14

We BElong to Jesus
“Dear brothers and sisters, you are dearly loved by God and we know that he has chosen you to be his very own.”
1 Thessalonians 1:4

We are called to BE one with Jesus!
“Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection too. This is why we are to yearn for all that is above, for that’s where Christ sits enthroned at the place of all power, honour, and authority! Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm. Your crucifixion with Christ has severed the tie to this life, and now your true life is hidden away in God in Christ. And as Christ himself is seen for who he really is, who you really are will also be revealed, for you are now one with him in his glory!”
Colossians 3:1-4

We are to BEcome like Jesus
“We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

Precious Mum, while we are grieved over you, we are also relieved for you. None of us can understand the cup of suffering you were asked to drink… but drink it you did… gulping all the dregs to the bitter end. As you drank, you still smiled and entrusted your life to the only One who can redeem your path of suffering into a threshold of eternal joy!

‘Just BE’ Mum… ‘Just BE’!

BE in His presence forever and enjoy your inheritance as His child to the full! We can hardly wait to hear your infectious laugh ring through the halls of Heaven. Thank you for gifting us with this deeply transformative, incredibly precious life lesson. May we live in the truth of just being who we truly are throughout all of our tomorrows until we meet again 🙂

BE Ready to Die… and Live Forever!

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One day we will each be swept away into the sleep of death.We glide along through the tides of time—
so quickly gone, like a dream that fades at dawn.
Like glistening grass that springs up one day and is dry and withered the next, ready to be cut down! Psalm 90: 5-6 TPT

In the space of six days, three precious people in our friendship circle have been swept away into death, all leaving behind haemorrhaging hearts. All three are tragic and two of them were very unexpected.

I am surrounded by raw grief.

The news reports tell me that in the same time frame, hundreds of unique souls have been killed in a terrorist attack and many more in floods and fires that have ravaged the globe, wrenching apart thousands more from their loved ones.

I am overwhelmed by a grieving world.

I grew up hearing the saying, “There are two things that are inevitable – death and taxes.” From my observation, we in the Western world do everything we can to avoid and ignore both!

Try as we may, death smacks us (and everyone one we love) in the face sooner or later. It is the ultimate equalizer… the one thing we cannot control and are powerless to escape.

Thousand of years ago, Moses had this to say about life, death and sorrow…

You’ve limited our lifespan to a mere seventy years,
 yet some you give grace to live still longer.
But even the best of years are marred by tears and toils,
and in the end with nothing more than a gravestone in a graveyard! We’re gone so quickly, so swiftly; we pass away and simply disappear. Psalm 90:10

Life is sacred and short! Death is going to visit us all so what can we do to prepare for the inevitable without becoming morbid? How can we live each day as if it were our last? What would change for you if you did embrace the inevitable truth?

There is only ONE who claims to have totally obliterated the curse of death. ONE who stands alone in declaring that those who stand with Him will NEVER DIE! His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. His claims are unique and without comparison in this broken, suffering world. There is only ONE who has died and risen again to the place of honour at the right hand of God. He offers us all LIFE after death – forever in relationship with Him – I dare you to convince me of a better offer!

CHRIST ALONE!

He is the only ONE who makes all these audacious claims…

“I AM the Way! I AM the Truth! I AM the Life!” (John 14:6)

“I AM the Resurrection and the Life!” (John 11:25)

He goes on, (just before raising Lazarus from the dead to prove His point!)…

“Those who believe in me will live, though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

And much, much more scattered through the book of Revelation…

“Don’t be afraid!

“I AM the Beginning and the End – the First and the Last!”

“I AM the Living One. I was dead but look – I AM alive forever!”

“I AM the One who holds the keys of death and hell!”

I AM the One who makes all things new!

We can’t deny death or lighten its horrific toll. Death seems to have had its way this week, but because of the One and Only Jesus Christ, tomorrow is a very different story!

Friends, in a world that is turning to all manner of ideas and religions to try to find some relief to the agony of death, I am taking hold of this anchor of hope while being held by Jesus, the Great I AM.

Christian hope is not wishful thinking, ‘airy fairy’ nonsense! It is based on the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Word of God – His unique and unprecedented claims and promises! Let us never forget that all of this backed up with an empty grave and countless witnesses to the fact!

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In Christ, death is not something to be ignored and feared, but to be prepared for and accepted. Ignoring death is to our great detriment – communally and individually.

Henri Nouwen, late priest and author, submits that our dying well can be the greatest gift believers in Christ can offer to the world. Death tears us apart but also brings us together.

“The great gift in our dying is the gift of unity with all people. However different we are, we are all born powerless, and the little differences we live in dwindle in the light of this enormous truth.” (Our Greatest Gift p. 42)

He then expounds of the unique gift Christians have to offer a dying world…
“…when we face death with hope, we can live life with generosity.” (p. 46)

I may be surrounded by death and grief right now, totally overwhelmed by all the suffering in this broken world but more than that…

I am encircled by the love of Christ.

Those of us who believe this have SUCH an incredible gift to offer to the world!

Believe. Receive. BE Ready to Die – and Live Forever!

Help us to remember that our days are numbered, and help us to interpret our lives correctly. Set your wisdom deeply in our hearts so that we may accept your correction. Psalm 90:12

A Prayer for the Grieving:

Not only can believers in Jesus die well, but we can also grieve well. We grieve when we love well, and we grieve well when we have hope. Moses ends his beautiful psalm with a prayer of hope and blessing that offers us a way to pray for our bereaved friends and for the grieving world this week…

Let the sunrise of your love end our dark night. Break through our clouded dawn again! Only you can satisfy our hearts, filling us with songs of joy to the end of our days.
We’ve been overwhelmed with grief;
come now and overwhelm us with gladness.
Replace our years of trouble with decades of delight.
Let us see your miracles again, and let the rising generation see the glorious wonders you’re famous for.
O Lord our God, let your sweet beauty rest upon us and give us favour.
Come work with us, and then our works will endure,
and give us success in all we do. Psalm 90:14-17

A Song to Strengthen:

 In Christ Alone was piped by Bethany’s friend, Stuart, as we entered the church for her Thanksgiving Service. Here is a version by Laura Daigle 

BE Swept Off Your Feet!

 

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Recently, my precious middle daughter and I had a good discussion about how easy it is to take the cross of Jesus for granted. We both grew up in situations where the Good News of Jesus was, and continues to be, spoken of often. Yet we admitted that we don’t always feel loved by God and often neglect to love Him in return.

A few days later we picked up our conversation, together with my dear Mum. We asked, “Why is it so easy to forget Jesus, our First Love’?” “How do we nurture this love in our hearts so that we do not cease to be amazed and enamoured with Christ our Bridegroom?”

Don’t you love it when the hero of the movie comes riding in and sweeps his future bride off her feet? Jesus swept me off my feet when I was a child and I have never quite recovered! Yet if you are anything like me, we have the tendency to get back on our own two feet again, get too independent and too accustomed to the face of our beloved.

They say that “actions speak louder than words”, but words are also an essential ingredient as we attempt to communicate love. I delight in reading words of love from my husband, family and friends… and then re-reading them over and over again to remind myself how dearly I am loved. It can be easy to forget that fact when life gets tough.

God’s Word is like a love letter to us and so, with my ‘first love’ for Christ a bit on the stale side, I decided to re-read His words of love to me, especially those He expressed from His cross of sacrifice, suffering and shame.

The Seven Sayings of the Cross

There are seven sayings of Christ from His cross and each one reveals unique and stunning vistas of the heart of our Messiah. I hope that you can BE Swept Off Your Feet, either for the first time or yet again, as you allow these powerful words to enter your heart, mind and soul…

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24)

This is grace! This is compassion! This is the courage to rise above injustice and bless those who curse! This is strength! This is protective covering! This is impossible… yet possible with the Father!

“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

This is truth! HE IS TRUTH! This is Kingship! This is hope for beyond the grave! This is merciful! This is utterly amazing!

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

This is total surrender to the Father! This is complete release of everything! This is faith! This is ultimate, confident trust!

“Dear woman, here is your son…  Here is your mother.” (John 19:26)

This is commitment to family! This is provision for the grief-stricken! This is the faithfulness of a Son!

“I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)

This is Scripture fulfilled! This is human fragility crying out! This is desperate human agony!

“It is finished!” (John 19:30)

This is completion! This is our confidence! This is a cry to the universe that salvation is accomplished once and for all!

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34)

This is the most complex one to understand!

Friends, if you already feel swept off your feet by Jesus, please feel free to finish reading here. I am pleased you have had a fresh revelation of His love. But if you want to take a few minutes to ponder with me some thoughts I offer on this more difficult saying, please read on. I think it will be worthwhile…

I have been meditating on and studying these words of Jesus for years, trying to get to the heart of what He was trying to communicate here. I am still a bit perplexed and find that I have both new questions and new insights each time I sit with them!

Basically, we don’t fully know what Jesus meant when He said these words with His dying breath. It is clear that Jesus was quoting from Psalm 22:1, but there are two main interpretations that respected scholars, teachers and preachers hold to…

The first is to take these words at face value and believe Jesus was actually abandoned by His Father on the cross. This view teaches that it was at this moment the sins of the world were laid on Jesus and that these words are a desperate cry reflecting not just His physical sufferings, but also the suffering of separation from His Father. If you hold to this view as many believers do…

This is the ultimate agony! This is total identification with human failing and suffering. This is the sacrifice of love we cannot comprehend!

The other view, that many other believers adhere to, is that the Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit cannot be separated and that when Jesus uttered these words in His passion, He was worshipping God and declaring that He is Messiah!

Jesus, as a Jewish boy, would have learned this song, and all the Torah and other Psalms, by rote. I am told that the practice was to use the first line of the psalm as the title of the song to be recited/sung. So perhaps Jesus was in essence ‘singing’ this messianic song of worship as the Saviour of the world! If this is true, then He was making the most astonishing declaration in history…

I AM Messiah – the Suffering Servant! This is worship in the midst of extreme suffering! This is strength in weakness! This is fulfilment of prophecy! This is what all of fallen creation has been waiting for! This is the ultimate war cry and declaration of His (and our) imminent and eternal deliverance!

I encourage you to have a look at the magnificent Psalm 22 when you next read the crucifixion accounts. This ‘Messianic Psalm’ was written by King David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit some 1,000 years prior to the crucifixion of Christ. It adds some depth and incredible insights to His passion. I think if you take the time to meditate on it, you too will BE Swept Off Your Feet and carried forever in His loving embrace!

A note to clarify…

Just because there are some differing opinions on this topic, we should not be scared away from meditating on both views and seeking God for further revelations. Believe me, He wants to lead us into all truth and in the journey of discovery, we will come to know and adore Him more. This saying of Christ is only recorded in Matthew and Mark and the only saying they both mention. As I read both accounts, I am soberly reminded that some of the witnesses to the crucifixion were very confused when they heard Jesus utter these words – so it is no wonder there is still some confusion over this saying today.

All these sacred sayings, and both these views of the more difficult one, bring in beautiful aspects of Messiah we can learn from and marvel in. His divine humanity is revealed to us, yet still remains a mystery! How can we possibly fathom it all? It will take an eternity to unravel the intricate wonders of the cross!

A Prayer…

“My Jesus, please restore my child-like wonder and help me to never take You, my First Love, for granted ever again!

A Song…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_-0Xtt1slU

Don’t Let Me Lose My Wonder by Kristen Getty

PHOTO: Our son, James, sweeping his beautiful bride, Melissa, off her feet!

BE-LOVED!

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Shouts and whispers of LOVE have been swirling around from every direction recently… perhaps your ears have pricked up and heard them too?

 “ Love wins!” “It’s all about love!” “Love is all that matters!”

”Love conquers all!”

At the same time, my husband and I have begun to celebrate as our 30th wedding anniversary approaches. So I guess thoughts about LOVE are on my mind more than usual right now 🙂

Messages of LOVE, or the lack of it, are everywhere and sometimes it is hard to discern and define true LOVE when everyone seems to have a differing opinion.

As a human being, I have a deep desire to receive and give LOVE. As a follower of Jesus, I have been commanded to LOVE…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest command. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

Great idea! Trouble is, I can’t live up to these commands on my own. When I try to, I make a mess of it.

What happens when we try to love God, others and ourselves with love we conjure up ourselves?

*When we try to love God with our own love, we end up living in one of two extreme places… the land of ‘legalistic religion’ or the realm of ‘anything goes’.

*When we attempt to love others with our own love, we tend to either idolize them or neglect (or even abuse) them in the end.

*When we seek to love ourselves with our own love, we become either self-inflated and obsessed or self-abated and dejected.

So in the process of learning about LOVE, I have discovered that I cannot LOVE properly on my own without first receiving LOVE. Here is another way to put it…

In order to have the capacity to LOVE, we must first BE-LOVED!

John, the BE-LOVED disciple, says it this way in his letter to the early followers of Jesus… We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

We have been given an impossible command to LOVE by God. Yet He, Himself, has supplied us with the power to fulfil His command to LOVE. Paul says in Romans 5: 5 that God has poured His love into the hearts of every believer In Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Friends, please read that again and let it sink in!

Sentimental love is spreading like wildfire in our world. It sounds good. It feels good. But sadly, most of us have discovered it only lasts for a while. In the end, sentimental love can leave us emptier than before we devoured it – and with a bitter taste in our mouths and spirits.

The authentic LOVE that we are actually craving for and need more than life itself is the sacrificial, sacred, selfless LOVE of God as given to us in Jesus Christ! Not a feeling based, temporary LOVE, but a factually based eternal LOVE that is constantly acting graciously toward freedom!

REAL LOVE is not sentimental selfishness – it is sacrificial selflessness!

John the Beloved also says in 1 John 4:10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

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This first LOVE is what I am going to build my life on from now on. All other loves are secondary. I am going to keep going to the cross of Christ and keep opening up my heart to receive His first, agape, unconditional, selfless LOVE and then keep my heart soft and open so that this LOVE can flow back to HIm and others. I will also be able to LOVE myself with His LOVE!

So what can we do to further grasp the wonder that we are the BE-LOVED of God?  

Pray: “God, You are LOVE! Help me to receive the LOVE You offer in Jesus, by the power of Your Holy Spirit.”

Believe and Receive: Jesus is the BE-LOVED Son of God. John, His BE-LOVED disciple tells us that we are God’s children too! (1 John 3:1)

TO BE-LOVED BY GOD IS OUR SECURITY AND OUR IDENTITY!

Fill: your life with Scripture and meditate on God’s word of truth to you!         (The Gospel and letters of John the BE-LOVED are a great place to start!)

Soak: Make sure you take plenty of time to saturate your life with God’s LOVE in this busy world. That means taking time to stop!

Listen: We learn from others who have gone before us. Do you have someone in your life that is secure in the love of God? Perhaps you could ask them to mentor you! If not, ask God for this blessing and keep your ears open to hear and discern good voices that will build His love in your life.

One mentor that I look forward to meeting one day is Henri Nouwen. My pastor gave me his book, Life of the Beloved, sometime after Bethany went Home. It was a soul-searching time where the enemy of my soul would have me believe that God’s love is fickle and conditional. Life of the Beloved comes highly recommended and has been a significant source of healing and direction in my life. Here are a couple of nuggets of wisdom to tease you into wanting more…

 “ Becoming the Beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make.”

“Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say or do. It entails a long and painful process of appropriation or, better, incarnation.”

Resolve: Like Jesus, like John, like Henri and the Psalmists of old, let us resolve to build our life on the never-ending LOVE of God. It is too hard to do on our own but thankfully we are not alone!

“And so, we know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:16

A modern Psalm to encourage you…

“I WILL BUILD MY LIFE UPON YOUR LOVE IT IS A FIRM FOUNDATION AND I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN YOU ALONE AND I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN!”

Build My Life by Housefires https://youtu.be/4W-St_nxyFc

BE Blessed by the Greatest Encouragement Ever! Part 2

Recently, we looked at Romans 8 as one of the ‘jewels in the crown’ of Scripture. Countless people through the ages have found great encouragement in seasons of suffering through this portion of Paul’s ancient letter. As I reveal in this second part of my conversation with God, while meditating on Romans 8, I too have received some wonderful courage to go on and it is my hope that you will also. Please feel free to open your Bible to this precious passage and join me…images-1

Lord, I am beginning to understand more and more that I have to wait.. but the weight in the wait is so heavy! All I can do is pray – but I don’t know how to pray and I don’t always have the strength and even the desire to…

My Spirit helps you in your weakness and intercedes for you, according to My will, with groans that words alone cannot express.

Ahh… thank You Papa… I need You! Much of life is difficult and sad and does not make sense to me, but I choose to trust You…

In ALL things I am working for the good of those who love Me and are called according to My purpose – that is you, My daughter!

I am overwhelmed Lord… please keep speaking…

I know you. You are destined to become like My Son Jesus. I have called you. I have made you right with Me through His sacrifice and you share in His glory…

What can I say? This is all too wonderful for me to comprehend!

I am for you. I am not against you. I did not spare even My Son for you –             I long to graciously give you all things!

WOW! How can I ever express my gratitude? Your Son traded places with me, taking on my short-comings, suffering and shame. Now no charges can be brought against me! Your Son is interceding on my behalf before Your throne…   I am undone…

NOTHING can separate you from My love daughter – do you hear Me? NOTHING!

I know this Lord but I can feel separated from Your love when I face trouble, hardship, persecution, lack of provision, shame and dangers of all kinds. At times I do wonder where You are and if You still care…

As you prevail through all this brokenness, you can be more than victorious through the power of My love. NOTHING in all of creation can separate you from My love dear one. The revelation of My love is in the cross and resurrection of My Son – believe and live My child!

BE Blessed with the Greatest Encouragement Ever! (Part 1)

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Set in the middle of Paul’s letter to the Romans, is the magnificent jewel simply entitled ‘Chapter 8’. Romans 8 is affirmed by many as their favorite portion of Scripture and is often my ‘go to’ when I am in desperate need of some comforting truths from God. It is here that Paul presents the Good News of Jesus so clearly against the background of the ‘Bad News’… I guess this is why it shines so brightly for many!

Friends, I certainly cannot offer any new insights from the text on my own, but I hope that by sharing with you how I engaged with this ancient, living wisdom in prayer today, God’s Holy Spirit will take it and use it afresh so that you too may BE Blessed with the Greatest Encouragement Ever!

Journal 2 May 2018

Lord, I am feeling judged and ashamed of my own short-comings…

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Lord, I don’t want to be controlled by my sinful nature that keeps pulling me down into despair and poor choices… I want to please You!

Set your mind on what the Spirit desires. The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.

Lord, I am weak…

The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is within you and will give you life!

Lord, I want to live but don’t know how…

If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live!

Lord, I am afraid…

You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of sonship. You can call Me Abba Father!

Thank you Papa! I love being Your child! I really do want to share in all You have for me, but it is hard to get past all the devastating suffering that is in me and all around me…

You are My heir and co-heir with My Son… you will certainly share in My glory as you share in His sufferings.

Papa, this is all too difficult to understand and seems impossible to wait for!

The whole of creation is groaning to be liberated from the curse of My children’s rebellion, and so are you – even though you have My Spirit. But these present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in you My daughter!

Yes Papa! I sure do ache and groan… for myself, for my family, for my friends and for the world! What should I do?

HOPE in Me for all that is assuredly promised by My eternal, faithful word. You do not have it all yet, but You can wait patiently and confidently with Me as I show you how…..

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Part Two to follow soon…

BE Secure in the Liminal Space!

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I have been living in a liminal space for a long time without even knowing it!

Liminal space or liminality is a concept I have only recently been introduced to by our pastor and my lecturer in the same week. Since then, this interesting idea has captured my imagination.

The word liminal comes from the Latin word limen meaning:                            threshold, doorway, any point of entering or beginning.

Liminal space then is the place of waiting, the twilight zone in between the now and the not yet. It is seeing through a glass darkly as Paul puts in in 1 Corinthians 13:12. It is an uncertain place of transition – a state of limbo that can be quite painful, confusing and unsettling.

Liminal spaces are mostly created by great upheavals. In our case, the ongoing sense of loss and the memories of the severe suffering our Bethany endured often lands us smack bang in the land of liminality. We can’t go back – and we can’t yet go forward – know what I mean?

Many of our family and friends find themselves in liminal spaces of a different kind right now too…

  • My dear father in law as he waits for Alzheimer’s Disease to finish its work in his beloved wife.
  • My friends who sacrificially care for their disabled daughter while ministering to other disabled people in one of the poorest nations on earth.
  • Other precious friends as they deal with physical and mental health issues that never seem to be resolved… I could go on and on…

86Liminal spaces are usually uncomfortable and they usually catch us by surprise… yet they are a normal part of life and it is normal to feel totally disorientated while visiting there. Liminal spaces feel permanent and seem like they are going to go on forever. One can easily lose hope and perspective in the swirl of foggy clouds that liminality can bring.

But here is the good news about liminal spaces… they are temporary and they are transformative! In fact, these transitional, thresholds are where the best and most lasting transformation actually takes place!

Author and theologian Richard Rohr says this about liminality

“…where we are betwixt and between the familiar and completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin.”

 Ok, I kind of get that, but incredulously he goes on to say…

“Get there as often and stay there as often as you can by whatever means possible. This is the sacred place where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal spaces in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy. The threshold is God’s waiting room. Here we are taught openness and patience as we come to expect an appointment with the divine Doctor.”

Yet again, God is teaching me some deep lessons to help keep me secure in Him during a difficult and uncertain season. Here I am living in the midst of liminality (where things were not as they were and things are not as they one day will be) and to be honest, I don’t like it very much! But as I accept that I am here in this God-ordained moment of time, I begin to discover the wonderful treasures He wants to show me that can only be revealed in this messy place.

When you think about it, ALL of life here on earth could be considered as a liminal space! This world we call home is just temporary and is where our faith is stretched and grown in the tangles of joy, uncertainty, pain & sorrow. This place in life hurts, but I am learning to be more at peace and secure in the liminal space – how about you?

Contemplation

It was 23 years ago this Easter Saturday that our Bethany Joy was born.

Easter Saturday… what a perfect example of a liminal space. I can’t imagine the trauma, shock, horror, confusion and disappointment the first disciples woke up to on that first Easter Saturday. It was the day in between the suffering death and the miraculous resurrection. On Easter Saturday, it seems that they had forgotten all about the promises Jesus made and the emotional pain would have been excruciating. I can be so hard on the first disciples, but I can be just like them in my grief-stricken liminality.

Yet, as they grieved upon the threshold, the twilight transformed day into night and the next sunrise ushered in Resurrection Day!

Liminal spaces can feel unsafe as often we have left what we thought was secure behind. In praying about this concept, God has given me another picture this week to help me BE secure in the liminal space

Imagine His nail-scarred hands are holding you firmly in this sacred moment in time… the Hand holding you on your left represents the sin and sufferings He entered into for us and the one on your right holds you in redemption and resurrection life. Both hands touch you in this place… both cradle you and you cannot have one without the other. He has allowed you into the fellowship of this intimate space where both the cross and the resurrection have to be part of your life if you are to be part of Him.
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Maybe right now your thoughts and feelings are burning deep, sharing with Him the searing pain of His nail wounds. Weep with Him in your losses and be grateful that this same Hand is the One shielding you from the eternal suffering of separation from life-giving relationship with Father, Son & Spirit.

Perhaps mind, body and spirit you are experiencing a closeness to the victory of the resurrection Hand of Jesus that is also holding you. If so, then also be grateful and grasp it with all you have. On your knees at the threshold, worship the One who is the Door and longs to usher you into His new beginnings filled with abundant life!

Even when the bottom has fallen out of our world,                                                       we can BE secure in the liminal spaces of life.

Dear friends, let us encourage each other as we courageously step into these liminal spaces. When you can’t go back to the way things were and you are not sure of what is ahead, you can be sure that in His perfect time and in His perfect way, He will open up a new path through the desert wilderness – a path you never knew was there! (Psalm 77:19)

Most assuredly, your liminal space in time will not last forever and it is here that you will be transformed from glory to glory as you are held by the nail-scarred, immortal hands of the crucified and risen Christ!

But I’m caught in between the now and the not yet
Sometimes it feels like forever and ever
That I’ve been reaching to be all that I am
But I’m only a few steps nearer – yet I’m nearer!
Amy Grant (based on I John 3:2)

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BE Intentional Walkers!

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Today I am going to walk. I am blessed to have legs that work and without even thinking about it, I am going to walk around the house getting needs met. I am going to walk out to the car and walk to the office where I serve. Later, I am going to walk around the supermarket and in the course of the day, will probably clock up many steps without thinking about it.

I haven’t thought a lot about how to physically walk with purpose until last year when I took up a challenge and commenced a deliberate walking plan. (Four months in and I am on target to walk 1,000 kilometres in a year – and it feels good!)

The deliberate walking I do invigorates me, and now that I have started, I am frustrated when I cannot complete my goals for some reason. The weather is often an obstacle that I have to push through, but also circumstances can change my plans and even my ability to walk in just an instant.

For instance, over the Christmas holiday period when I expected to put a lot of time into walking, a nasty leg abscess stopped me in my tracks. I am very thankful to be able to walk again and still have a healthy leg – I don’t want to take my ability to walk for granted ever again!

When I am walking with intention, I take a gift of time away from other pressures and this provides me with the opportunity to purposefully think and pray through heartfelt concerns and needs. In light of my recent setback, I have been pondering what it means to walk through life with purpose, especially when walking means painfully stirring up debilitating wounds.

The Bible talks a lot about walking… walking in the light; walking in love; walking in truth; walking with God; walking on mountains and through valleys, etc. (Please feel free to take a deeper look at some of the ‘walking’ passages for yourself that I have added to the end of this blog.)

So, the idea of walking this journey in life is not a new concept but the whole idea of how I can choose to be an intentional walker is a growing one to me 🙂

The fact that we woke up breathing in this world this morning means that we have been given the gift to walk through another day. The choice that lies before us then is this: “How am I going to walk through this day in a way that will bring life and purpose to me and to others around me?”

Without thinking about it, many of us will run flat out into a day that contains too many things to squeeze in. Without thinking about it, many of us are going to stagger around lost and lonely under the weight of grief and pain.

Without thinking it through and being intentional, sadly many of us are going to choose a path of destruction, instead of redemption, in the midst of our circumstances.

What I am talking about here is a journey with intention – walked out step by step with Jesus in the direction towards eternal life with Him!

After seven years of grieving our brown-eyed-beauty, one thing I have learned is that if I don’t make some deliberate choices about how I am going to ‘walk through the day’ and live my life journey, I tend to stumble around in circles and end up in a heap on the ground! Another thing I am coming to accept (and even beginning to embrace) is that the pain of the trauma and separation are not going to leave me in this life – this is all is part of who I am as a human being walking this earth and I have been asked by the One I love to do so alongside others who are broken and suffering in pain.

Our dear Bethany could not physically walk for the last year of her life, but she chose to ‘walk’ the pathway Home with honor and courage. With her head held high as a daughter of the King, she took His hand as her closest companion and filled her backpack with faith, hope and love. She placed the shoes of peace on her crippled feet and moved toward her ultimate destination with purpose.

Friends, there is no doubt that our life journey will be a mix of pain and rest, challenges and joys, purposeful choices and missteps whatever path we choose. Thank God that while we may not have a choice in our life circumstances, we do have the choice to BE Intentional Walkers! I pray today that you will ‘tie up your laces’ with me, stretch those ‘faith muscles’ and set your sights on the same path chosen by and paved by the Saviour and start walking – rain, hail or shine! Redemption Road may be a narrow path that few choose, but it leads to LIFE!

Choose the right path…

            …Choose the right companions…

                        …Choose the right equipment…

                                                …Choose to take one step at a time…                                                                                                                        and don’t forget to…

Choose to absorb the view, taste the feast and smell the roses along the Way!

The process of the journey is preparing us for the eternal destination!

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Climbing Higher…

God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. So here are 20 truths to guide us through our intentional walking, especially when the going gets tough!

*Walk humbly with God! (Micah 6:8) 

*Walk with Jesus! (John 8:12)

*Walk with the Holy Spirit! (Galatians 5:16-26)

*Walk with godly companions! (Psalm 101:6)

*Walk in obedience! (Deut 8:6; John 14:15)

*Walk in holiness (Isaiah 35:8)

*Walk in the Light! (1 John 1:6-7)

*Walk lightly! (Matthew 11:28)

*Walk without grumbling in the wilderness! (Numbers 14:2-4)

*Walk in thanksgiving! (Psalm 100:4; Colossians 2:6-7)

*Walk in peace! (Colossians 3:15)

*Walk in Truth! (John 16:13; 2 John 1:4)

*Walk in paths of righteousness! (Psalm 16:11; Proverbs 8:20)

*Walk in faith! (2 Corinthians 5:7)

*Walk in love! (Ephesians 5:2)

*Walk on water! (Matthew 14:22-33)

*Walk in praise! (Act 3:8-9)

*Walk with no fear! (Psalm 23; Isaiah 43:1-2)

*Walk in a manner worthing of our calling! (Ephesians 4; 2 Thess. 11-12)

*Walk for the glory of God! (Isaiah 26:8)

THANKS FOR WALKING WITH ME!

 

 

 

 

 

BE Filled With JOY!

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Try as I may, I can’t seem to keep my ‘JOY tank’ filled up on my own. The taunting resound of ‘JOY to the World’ compels me to keep seeking authentic JOY that satisfies this Christmas season and beyond. Honestly, I find it so difficult to push through my natural feelings and experience true JOY in the midst of so many undesirable circumstances. But friends, I have found a way and I hope what I share here will encourage you to choose the pathway to JOY…

Right now, memories of Bethany’s Christmas Eve ‘death sentence’ seven years ago are haunting me. I am aching for my dad and brother who will be so obviously missing as we gather around the family table. I have just finished wrapping presents and am mourning over one significant gift that I didn’t need to wrap this year… our precious Down Syndrome buddy, Andrew, will also be greatly missed. It won’t be the same without his hilarious antics and loving ways.

It’s not only the dear ones who are absent that are bringing pain to my heart this Christmas…

 * Several dear friends are facing their first Christmas without their loved ones and two good friends are in for the battle of their lives as they face intensive chemotherapy this holiday season.

 * Other brave friends are facing Christmas alone after divorce and my husband’s mum is still in nursing care after five very difficult years living in limbo with Alzheimer’s Disease.

 * On top of all this, I am feeling the loss of some previously close friendships and navigating through some family dynamics that are going to make finding Christmas JOY a challenge!

Sorry friends! I admit that there is a bit of a’ pity party’ going on here. But I think you get the picture and it is my guess that if you’re still reading, you are relating to some of the disappointments and sorrows that Christmas time can bring.

Christmas does bring a lot of nice distractions though… a bounty of food and drink, generous gifts, dazzling lights, magnificent music, fun movies, etc. etc. I love enjoying these things with my family. But if I go to these temporary things to fill my ‘JOY tank’, I am quickly left ‘running on empty’. My underlying sorrows run far too deep to be healed by Santa and tinsel.

Yes, I am more convinced than ever that it is humanly impossible for me to experience the kind of JOY my soul longs for. I need to drink from a deeper well of JOY that those glittery surface things can’t satisfy.

So, where can I go to find the real JOY that is on offer this Christmas?

How can I BE Filled With JOY – the kind of JOY that my soul is parched for and my heart needs so desperately?

If you know me at all, then you know I am going to tell you to go to Jesus – don’t you! But please hear me when I say that I am not just preachin’ this to you – I am definitely preachin’ this to myself several times a day right now!

JOY is a gift from God by means of the Holy Spirit. In fact, JOY is a fruit of God’s Spirit that is listed in the book of Galatians 5:22-23. JOY is something that I can’t conjure up on my own – what a relief! So let’s see what Jesus says about how to receive this JOY…

“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

Now be honest – did you think I was going to give it away that easily? If you want to discover what “these things” are and know the secret to true, everlasting, overflowing JOY, then check out the rest of Jesus’ words recorded in John 15… you won’t regret it!

As I put into practice what it says in this precious passage, guess what happens? Yes, I am filled with JOY! Not JOY that comes from my own making or doing. (Actually, my circumstances have not changed much at all.) But instead of wallowing in despair, I can sing with my whole heart this Christmas about the JOY unspeakable that I am experiencing in the midst of the trials, in the middle of hardships and sorrows, in companionship with the struggles my beloved friends and family are facing. Our Bethany JOY also discovered this JOY that defies logic and has an air of security and expectancy that goes beyond understanding.

When God’s gift of JOY is received into our beings, she brings along some special companions to journey with Sorrow and Grief. No, they don’t just disappear when JOY enters, but they are welcomed and comforted by Faith, Hope & Love who enter in on the heels of JOY – with Peace following not far behind!

True JOY is all bundled up in the gift of a babe who has utterly captured my broken heart. It is my sincere prayer that you too will know Jesus and adore Him this Christmas. Whatever you are facing and feeling right now, may you remain in His love, worship Him with a thankful heart, love everyone around you and…

 BE Filled With JOY that overflows to bless many!

“BE ENCOURAGED!” A Tribute to Ed Bentley

 

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Ed Bentley was a unique character… an unforgettable person who made a deep impression on many lives over his 99+ years on earth – I am one of them.

When my husband and I joined Wycliffe Australia almost 20 years ago, Ed and his darling wife Laurel were well past the usual age of retirement, but still serving in whatever way they could.

A talented artist and musician, Ed was born with a cleft palate and other difficulties that back in 1918 were life-threatening. Baby Ed was not expected to live past his first birthday. Yet his remarkable life was gently lived out in the presence of God and the people he loved with passion and loyal devotion for almost a century!

When you met Ed, his speech challenges quickly faded into the background as the twinkle in his eye captivated the heart. Both Ed and Laurel made us feel like we were the most important people on the planet when they greeted us – what a rare and priceless gift! You never came away from a conversation with this man without feeling uplifted and encouraged. In fact, Ed’s famous tagline was “BE ENCOURAGED!”

I have been pondering why encouragement was so important to Ed. Why did this godly man who had lived so long on the earth, against all the odds, through all kinds of joys and challenges (including two world wars) realize the necessity for encouragement?

Ed knew first hand how brave we all need to be to live well in this world. He knew for sure that we all need a truckload of courage to survive and to thrive and that there is only one source of authentic courage that makes the grade.

In his lifetime, Ed wrote out thousands of cards with hope-filled Bible verses, ending of course with his famous quote “BE ENCOURAGED”. I have one and will treasure it now that he has passed into eternity and is enjoying his Lord and Saviour, Jesus, face to face as he longed for.

The source of Ed’s courage was most definitely centred around Jesus and His Word. This is why Ed and Laurel became part of the Bible translation movement around the globe – all the love and encouragement they had received was just too good to keep to themselves!

I will especially remember Ed and Laurel for their love and care for us when Bethany was ill and passed away. When they said they were praying for you, they were people of their word and you just knew you were certainly being prayed for!

I want to share with you one more inspirational lesson from Ed to take hold of. The story goes that on his 92nd birthday, Ed was asked how he felt about reaching that ripe old age. His response greatly encourages me and I hope it blesses you too…

“The first 92 years have been a preparation for what God has for me tomorrow… I can’t wait to see what He has for me tomorrow!”

On the eve of my 52nd birthday (just a little spring chicken in Ed’s sparkly eyes), I am challenged by this precious man to view life with the same kind of courage that looks forward with hope and excitement. I am painfully aware that I am totally unable to conjure up the courage I desperately need to live – so I am thankful that I don’t have to! I have the very same resource available to me as Ed. So, filled with the Spirit of God, I too can look to the future with confidence and expectant hope. I too can live courageously in the midst of all kinds of circumstances life may bring.

Our CEO in his speech honoring Ed noted that the word ENCOURAGED starts with an E and ends with a D = ED! What a great way to remember a great saint of the Lord who has gone before us and still cheers us on!

Ed, our heartfelt thanks for leaving us a beautiful example and legacy that points the way to Jesus Christ. There is only one last thing to say as I hear your voice echoing in my head…

Friends, “BE ENCOURAGED!”

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be strong and take courage. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Used with permission from Ed’s beautiful, courageous Laurel.