Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The gift He gave....more than enough, my contentment

HIMSELF (part 2)
by A.B Simpson


And so I thought the healing would be an it too, that the Lord would take me like an old run down clock, wind me up, and set me going like a machine. It is not thus at all. I found it was Himself coming in instead and giving me what I needed at the moment. I wanted to have a great stock, so that I could feel rich; a great store laid up for many years, so that I would not be dependent upon Him the next day; but He never gave me such a store. I never had more holiness or healing at one time than i needed for that hour. He said " My child you must come to Me for the next breath because I love you so dearly I want you to come all the time. If I gave you a great supply, you would do without Me and would not come to Me so often; now you have to come to Me every second, and lie on my breast evvery moment."

He gave me a great fortune, placed thousands and millions at credit, but He gave me a cheque-book with this one condition,"You can never draw more than you need at the time." Every time a cheque was wanted, however, there was the name of Jesus upon it, and so it brought more glory to Him, kept His name before the heavenly world and God was glorified in His Son.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The gift HE gave...more than enough; the only one we'll ever need. :)

HIMSELF (part 1)
by A.B. Simpson

I wish to speak to you about Jesus, and Jesus only.

I often hear people say, "I wish I could get hold of Divine Healing, but I cannot". Sometimes they say "I have got it!" If I ask them "What have you got?" the answer is sometimes "I have got the blessing", sometimes it is "I have got the theory; sometimes it is "I have got the healing"; sometimes" I have got the sanctification". But I thank God that we have been taught that it is not the blessing, it is not the healing, it is not the sanctification, it is not the thing, it is not the it that you want, but it is something better. It is "the Christ"; it is Himself. How often that comes out in His word - "...Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses, ...Himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree." It is the person of Jesus Christ we want.

Plenty of people get the idea and do not get anything out of it. They get it into their head and into their conscience, and into their will; but somehow they do not get HIM into their life and spirit, because they have only that which is the outward expression and symbol of the spiritual reality. I once saw a picture of the constitution of the United States, very skillfully engraved in a copper plate, so that when you looked at it closely it was nothing more than a piece of writing, but when you looked at it from a distance, it was the face of George Washington. The face shone out in the shading of the letters at a little distance, and I saw a person, not the words, nor the ideas. I thought, "That is the way to look at the scriptures and understand the thoughts of God, to see in them the face of love, shining through and through; not ideas, nor doctrines, but Jesus Himself as the LIFE and source and sustaining Presence of all our life."

I prayed a long time to get sanctified, and sometimes I thought I had it. On one occasion I felt something, and I held on with a desperate grip for fear I should lose it, and kept awake the whole night fearing it would go, and, of course, it went with the next sensation and the next mood. Of course, I lost it because I did not hold on to Him. I had been taking a little water from the reservoir, when I might have ALL the time recieved from Him fullness through open channels.I went to meetings and heard people speak of joy. I even thought I had joy, but I did not keep it because I had not Himself as my joy. At last He said to me oh so tenderley 'My child just take ME, and let Me be in you the constant supply of all this MYSELF'. And when at last I got my eyes off my sanctification, and my experience of it, and just placed them on Christ in me, I found instead of an experience, the Christ larger than the moments need; the Christ that had all that I should ever need. This Christ was given to me at once, and forever and when I thus saw Him, it was such rest; it was all right and right forever for I had not only what I could hold that little hour, but also in Him, all that I should need the next and the next and so on, until sometimes I get a glimpse of what it will be a million years afterwards when we shall "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of our Father" (Matt.13:43) and have "all the fullness of God".

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Good Works - the branch life

"....faith without works is dead” (James 2:20)

Since discovering the message of grace I have learned that works are not the root of our salvation.( And by that I'm specifically talking about the mixture of law and grace where we think we have a responsibility to maintain our right standing with God through ongoing good works). No, we are saved by faith through grace alone (Ephesians 2:7-9)! Works are simply the fruit of our salvation. In other words, right faith is the cause and right living is the effect.

But what if you have faith and there are no works folowing?

Tony Sutherland on his blog expounds:

"....if we aren’t detecting outward indications of inward faith then it is a telltale sign we are putting our trust in our own behavior to earn favor with God. In other words we have become self-conscious rather than Christ conscious. When we are self-conscious we trust in ourselves resulting in ‘dead’ faith. This kind of faith begets worthless works. Remember, God justifies us the very moment we believe, thus making our faith and works inseparable. The first produces the second, and the second is the evidence of the first. We are justified by faith in God and the work of His Son thus demonstrating it by our works towards man. It’s not rocket science people! I repeatedly emphasize that we are not saved by faith plus works. To accept this is to believe that the blood of Jesus is not enough thus blaspheming the atoning work of the cross. If it were possible to be saved by faith plus works, then Jesus alone would not be our Savior. In effect we would also need another savior… ourselves. However, the whole of the New Testament (particularly the Pauline epistles) is crystalline… Faith in Jesus alone is what saves us and keeps on saving us. I will not cease in persisting to adamantly hammer home this truth… We can only be saved by the kind of faith, which results in a life of good works...."

"....In light of all of this we must once-and-for-all put to death our self-righteousness, receive God’s free gift of grace by faith and stand firm in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free (Galatians 5:1). When we do this we will end up living for God better accidentally than we ever could on purpose. A great paradox, according to Paul, is that we should diligently labor to rest (Hebrews 4:11). The basis of the Christian life is to rest upon the finished work of Christ and lay down our striving in order that HIS power can live in and through us."

Below are some real golden nuggets pondered from Bertie Brits live webcast tonight:

As a Child of God, God is FOR you, not against you.

*Whatever vision God has given you, know that HE will empower you and give you the favour you need at the right moment. Be free to be yourself and be busy with only that which He invites you to do TODAY.

*Under the new covenant, living out of our new nature, we are not under obligation to do ANYTHING…not that which defines “good citizenship“, not even that which is spiritual in nature. We simply rest content in God’s love, and allow Him to be himself in us and through us. He will naturally bear fruit in our lives and our part is to simply stop resisting it. We have been saved into good works. It is who we are (God IS good) and when we see it manifest it is a confirmation of the truth of the indwelling life of Christ. It is He who is at work in us to desire good and do good! Honour God and His work in you by yielding your members to Him. Let God BE……!

* Good works manifested by His Spirit preach! They declare the power of God, the goodness of God, the provision of God, the love of God, the mercy of God!!!!

*Do not seek to grow stronger in “positive thinking”. Do not pursue good habits (born out of willpower) which is man‘s ability and attempt to do what is right. That produces nothing but DEAD WORKS! Instead be strong in the Lord and in the power of HIS might. Our strength is in our faith in Jesus and the power of his resurrection. Be strong in the reality of whose you are and who you are!! God is not angry with us , however, our resistance to His Spirit working in us will result in defeat and emptiness and then our hearts and the enemy (not God) will condemn us. God has so much more for us. He has promised us a future and a hope. Jesus, who performed miracles, and lived a life of love, and forgiveness, and possibilities, said, "Truly I say to you, He who puts his faith in me will do the very works which I do, and he will do greater things than these(John 14:12)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Letting go of the old and Coming into the new

I don't know how or why but something significant occured in my heart today. Somthing fell off and something healed. I wasn't looking for it and I didn't see it coming. A moment in time. A small wonder and a huge miracle.

Today I discovered myself. unexpectedly. Through his eyes.

My name is Cirra.
And today I am coming out.
Out of a cocoon of fear and shame.
Out of the old place of groveling on my belly. Face to the ground.
Uncomfortable in my own skin.
Moving towards a destiny that I didn't understand....
but moving still, by the rhythm of a heartbeat that propelled me stumbling forward.
Into a new freedom.

My Father named me.
He named me Clear; bright; famous.
In my mothers womb He knew me. He delighted in me and said that I would be light-bearer. He identified me as his own, for HE alone is light. He alone is Clear and bright and famous. Not yet born, He called and chose me. To be his beloved. To be identified with him. And like tapestry he weaves the circumstances and desires of my heart. Creating something beautiful, in His time and for His purposes.

I am letting go of the old house. Saying goodby to those faulty foundations and walking barefoot onto the Solid Rock that is Christ, my identity. I am embracing the freedom He is calling me too. Embracing myself the way I finally now see He does. No longer regarding myself or others after the flesh.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Tired and overwhelmed at present. Brain and body overload.
I have decided to get out my eisel and canvas and soak,soak,soak until I am rested up, refreshed and my heart feels alive again.


lots of love to all my online friends!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Incorruptible, supernatural seed

In you. In me.
Living, breathing. Alive.
Rooted and established.
Anchored. Safe. Secure.
Growing....bearing fruit.

And just as one couldn't stop the flesh from manifesting whilst under the law...how much stronger is this seed. "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God". (Col 3:3)

As my my friend Rich says: "What a wonder-struck sense awaits us as he continues to open the eyes of our heart to see, know that the Law of the spirit of Life has freed us from the gravitational pull of sin and death. His nature is not an add-on, it IS! The works of the flesh ARE! The fruit of the spirit IS!"

"I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who remain in me,and I in them WILL produce much fruit." John 15:5

"God is in all. God dwells in Christ. Christ lives in God. We are in Christ. Christ is in us: our life taken up into His; His life recieved into ours; in a divine reality that words cannot express, we are in Him and He is in us. And the words,"Abide in me and I in you" just tell us to believe in this divine mystery, and to count upon our God the Husbandman, and Christ the vine, to make it divinely true. No thinking or teaching or praying can grasp it; it is a divine mystery of love. As little as we can effect the union can we understand it. Let us just look upon this infinite, divine, omnipotent Vine loving us, holding us, working in us. Let us in the faith of His working abide and rest in Him. And let us count upon Him to fulfill in us the mystery: 'Ye in me, and I in you'." - Andrew Murray

How much more beautiful, and enjoyable to anticipate and call forth and discern what is....because it is. And we've only just begun....

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth. Colossians 1:3-6

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Beloved ones

And a voice from heaven said " This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."

"You are mine"
"You belong"
"You are precious to me"
"You are valuable"
"I am delighted in you"
"You are beautiful"
"You are capable"

The Father knows we need to hear it. He knows the brokeness of His children.
Jesus himself (whole as He was) was affirmed of His Father's unconditional affection.

Before he did anything, the Father affirmed who's He was and who He was.

It's the ammunition for the battle. The battle within our soul, and the battle to overcome the darkness in our families, in our communities and in our cities.

The adversary shortly later would chide Jesus"If you are "the son of God...

As he does to you, and me and countless millions enslaved by the law, who have yet to hear the news of their freedom.


The good news is that we ARE the righteousness of God in Christ.

This righteousness comes when we have faith in His blood, not our good behavior, to make us righteous. It is from faith to faith, not faith to works, or works to works.

"Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. "Everyone who calls, 'Help, God!' gets help." But how can people call for help if they don't know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That's why Scripture exclaims, 'A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God!" Romans 10:11-15

The good news is not to be preached to show humanity what is wrong with them. It must be preached to show them what is right with them because of Jesus’ work at Calvary.

"Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust" 2 Peter 1:3-4

Monday, February 09, 2009

The LOVE revolution

I just had to stop in to introduce a band that I just heard on the radio today. I honestly had to stop the car and listen with wonder, not just at what I was hearing but with the realization that Father is up to something BIG....all over, wherever, with whomever, He is whispering and shouting out to His beloved creation "I LOVE YOU." He who has ears let them hear. I'm just thankful for those who do and willingly echo His voice.

From their website here is a blog post. This guy gets it. I love that! I love that a whole generation beneath me are discovering and uncovering the PURE gospel and begining to walk in the freedom and authority of that:

“And avoid fear, for fear is the consequence of every lie.”
-Fydor Doystoevsky, (the Brothers Karamazov)

"Today, this single phrase has been beating in my head like a war drum.
On the battlefield of my mind, and in the fragile chaos of my machine-like heart,
this simple line has been echoing on.
Reverberating off the walls of war-torn streets,
I can faintly here the Roman calvary choirs singing.
And for me, it sounds a lot like freedom.
This one thought, this shining flickering light is my lighthouse in a thundering sea.
Maybe not you, but I for one have been rather sick and tired of myself as of late.
And more specifically, I’m tired of the lies that I so blindly believe.
I know it may sound melodramatic, but if my heart is where my treasure is
then I’m tired of this love affair I’ve made with doubt and
the seemingly never-ending struggle in my heart.
I want you to get it. I want you to understand that if you struggle with the answers
that you’re not alone. But I also want you to know the root, the cause,
and the fight that’s in between.

There are lies everywhere.
Blinking neon lights, and sweetly penned secrets.
A movie. A sermon. A Day after thanksgiving sale.
How quickly we forget that the things we hear and see are making an impression.
Like an empty place in the bed where a body used to lay,
they’re wrapped up in the sheets, but they don’t need the rest.
They can come without warning and talk for hours without a sound.
Lies tell the future, insist on interpreting the past,
and seem to always keep us paralyzed to the present.
They can fill a closet with skeletons and invite monsters under the bed.
Lies are strangers in friends clothing and fill your house when you’re alone.


The inevitable, unstoppable result of listening to something other than the truth.
Cousins, sisters, brothers perhaps? I’m not exactly sure the relation
but I know that its a tie that binds.
Feed one, and you nourish the other.
Nurture a lie, and watch the panic grow.
Forget the truth and welcome anxiety.
Give up on hope, and welcome misery with open arms.

So then it should comes as no surprise
that the most recurrent command in all the Bible is this:
“Do not be afraid.”
Easy enough right?
Well maybe it could be,
but I don’t think we’ll ever live free of fear as long as fear itself is our problem.
Fydor reminds me. Fear is the consequence of a lie,
Which means, if I find in myself some irrisistible anxiety, chances are,
I’ve welcomed a lie into my heart.
And maybe I didn’t exactly welcome it.
Maybe I just forgot to close the door on some memory
or I left the window cracked, but whatever the reason,
if the lie has crept in somewhere,
and has made its home where my faith has worn through,
I must recognize it for what it is.

It should also come as no surprise then, that the work of God is belief.
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one whom He has sent.”
Or as Jon Foreman sang, “belief over misery.”
Do we understand that fear isn’t something that we are meant to live with?
Do we have any idea how free we would be if we could just believe?
And trust me, I know. It’s not easy.
In fact, its the hardest work any of else will ever have to do,
but its the war we were meant for.
Since we’re grafted into Israel as Romans says,
that means we’re brought in to “wrestle with God,”
for that is exactly what Israel means.
So we fight to rest.
We work to stop working.
We war for peace.
We run to stand still.
Life is waiting for the ones who lose control.
“taking captive every thought, and making it obedient to Christ Jesus.”
Take captive?
Take it freaking captive.
Smack that lie in the mouth and slaughter it with truth.

Here’s some fights I’ve had so far.
Lie: “you’re too screwed up for God to love you anymore.”
Reliation: “God proves his love, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Lie: “I’ve made too many poor choices. I’ve missed God’s will for my life.”
Truth: “Even what you meant for evil, God meant for good.” (Gen 50:20)
“God works all things together for good for those who love God and who have been called”
Lie: “Someone might break in and kill me.”
Word: “Do not fear those who can kill the body and after that can do no more.
Fear him who after killing the body has the power to throw you into hell.” (Luke 12:4,5)
Lie: “I’m not good enough”
Truth: “In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us….” (I John 4:10)
Lie: “I’m awesome. God owes me.”
Truth: “God is not served by men’s hands as if He needed anything…” (Acts 17:25)
Lie: OMG. Can you believe this guy? What a jerk!
Truth: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but with sober judgement,
according the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3)
Lie: “Sex will give me the pleasure I’m looking for.”
Truth: “I have no good thing apart from you.” (Psalm 16:2)
“In His presence there is the fullness of joy, at his right hand are pleasures forever.”
(Psalm 16:11)
Lie: “God’s command is going to ruin your good time.”
Truth: “The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but I have come to give you life,
and life more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Lie: “I don’t have the strength to say no to this!”
Truth: “if anyone is in Christ He is a new creation.” (2 Cor 5:17)
“and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” (I Cor 10:13)

The war drum goes on.
It never ends,
it doesn’t stop.
And so avoid fear, for fear is the consequence of every lie.
Belief is a fight. Work at it with all the power that God supplies."

- Mike (Lead singer from Tenth Avenue North)

Check them out if you get a chance:

Friday, February 06, 2009

The gosepl is the unveiling of God's love.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." John 1:14-17

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

The law highlights what we must do for God but grace illuminates what God has done and is doing for us. THAT is the unveiling of love, THAT is the good news we all need to hear each day.

Did Jesus come and tell people what they must do for God? Or did he come and tell people what He would do for them, and then demonstrate it?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The power of God to transform!

The first time I saw this movie almost 10 years ago I remember being so aware that my heart related so much to the character of Javert. It was like looking in a future mirror with shock and horror, and I was humbled by and drawn to the character of Jean Valjean. More so I was intrigued and haunted by the whole story played out in the movie. The clip above, was the first time I ever saw a glimpse of GRACE and MERCY demonstrated, the first time I saw one 'believe the best'....the fruit of the charachter's life later on in the rest of the movie makes so much sense to me now. I didn't understand it all but a hunger for true freedom had been awoken in me.

Today, something similar to what occurred in the clip above brought this whole scene back to memory and I have been asking questions.

How does grace (not law) work to change a man; a culture even?

Paul said: " I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith. (Romans 1:16)

"God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

The gift of righteousness sets people free from condemnation and then they become open to the power of God. And it is the one who embraces this gift and enters through salvation's birth canal who bears the fruit of righteousness. Christianity is not right DOING. It is right BELIEVING. Right believing will always lead to right doing! Those who are FORGIVEN MUCH, will LOVE MUCH!

"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently." Galatians 6:1

How do we restore gently?

ALL have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.
God himself identified with us in our fallen condition when he came as a man and walked among us.

So we walk together with the broken...not alienating them, not pointing fingers and exposing flesh, but understanding that we too have been broken by the curse and it is only LOVE that has freed us. It is only grounded roots of love that produce foilage of beauty and the subsequent mouthwatering fruit of goodness.

Identity is always the issue. Let us tell them who they really are! The gospel proclaims for us all a picture of the finished work of Christ. If we want to give them real, positive, biblical hope, we must make them GOD conscious...not sin conscious, or problem conscious. Not past conscious, or future conscious. FOR He is a very PRESENT help in time of need! We must tell people that God is not holding their sins against them any more.

"For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin -- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin." (Rom 6:6-7)

And so we deal with darkness by releasing the light to shine, and do what it was meant to do:

Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today. Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost. (Luke 19 :1-10)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths.

You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.

How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your rivers of delight.For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see"

Psalm 36:5-9

How strong your love, how relentlessly your kindness pursues me.
It is so good to know that you will never give up on me, never let me down.
How sweet to trust you, to know that you are pure and good; always.
How grateful I am that in you there is no darkness, no intent of harm or self seeking. You are beautiful. You are my one desire. You alone are all that I need and seek. Thankyou for loving me indefinetly.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Does the gospel make a difference?

Remember, the gospel is "good news".

Interesting article. From Times Online, here:

Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset.
By: Matthew Parris

"Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.

At 24, travelling by land across the continent reinforced this impression. From Algiers to Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, then right through the Congo to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, four student friends and I drove our old Land Rover to Nairobi.

We slept under the stars, so it was important as we reached the more populated and lawless parts of the sub-Sahara that every day we find somewhere safe by nightfall. Often near a mission.

Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers - in some ways less so - but more open.

This time in Malawi it was the same. I met no missionaries. You do not encounter missionaries in the lobbies of expensive hotels discussing development strategy documents, as you do with the big NGOs. But instead I noticed that a handful of the most impressive African members of the Pump Aid team (largely from Zimbabwe) were, privately, strong Christians. “Privately” because the charity is entirely secular and I never heard any of its team so much as mention religion while working in the villages. But I picked up the Christian references in our conversations. One, I saw, was studying a devotional textbook in the car. One, on Sunday, went off to church at dawn for a two-hour service.

It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man's place in the Universe that Christianity had taught.

There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: “theirs” and therefore best for “them”; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours.

I don't follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.

Anxiety - fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things - strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.

How can I, as someone with a foot in both camps, explain? When the philosophical tourist moves from one world view to another he finds - at the very moment of passing into the new - that he loses the language to describe the landscape to the old. But let me try an example: the answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it's there,” he said.

To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It's... well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary's further explanation - that nobody else had climbed it - would stand as a second reason for passivity.

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.

And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete."

And for further insight, watch this....

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Full of Hope in 2009!

“This I know, God is for me” (Psalm 56:9)

This excerpt from Steve McVEY was exactly what Father has been whispering to my heart:

"Our God is a friendly God and He is sovereign over the universe. So, wherever we are we can trust Him to work all things together for our good. Is the universe friendly? It doesn't matter. The God who rules the universe is.

How you think about life is very important. As you move into 2009, appropriate the virtue of applying God’s underlying goodness to every situation you face in life. Do you believe the following statement? God is for you. There is no substantial ground to stand on when it comes to expecting the best until we have settled that we do, indeed, believe that statement.

Without absolute confidence that God is for you, circumstances may toss your emotions and actions around like a cork in the ocean. The person who has settled on the fact of God’s goodness is able to calmly move forward in anticipation of a good outcome
Does that mean that we always get what we want? Not at all, but it does mean that while our path may be a winding one that sometimes leads us through valleys, we are progressing all the while toward a good place. Any place God leads us is a good place because it is God’s place for our lives.

As you move through the next year, expect the best. Consider every positive result in your life to be a reminder from God of His intent to bless you. Look for His hand and listen for His voice in the subtleties of your day." - Steve McVey

So like I did in the beginning, I am watching and listening. Only this time I am EXPECTING. I am pregnant with the seed of HOPE and that hope will give birth to life in me and for others.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The true reflection

My lover thinks I'm beautiful and he is enamoured with me.

My Father says I am His delight and He really enjoys me.

Faithfully I've been showered with this ever pursuing, devoted love from the moment of my birth. Words of affirmation....tender touches...lavish gifts....sweet time together...humble service. Over and over He gives to me. In the secret place of conception He smiled on me...

Ephesians 1:3-6
"How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son."

But little have I noticed. Rarely have I believed.
My gaze has been at my own tattered, bruised, ugly FLESH.
Scarred by condemnation, groping gratification, poverty's fearful withholding, rejection, isolation and demanding expectations I have kept myself locked in a prison of self hatred. Not living loved, but living as though cursed.

A precious blogging friend shared a parable this week and asked the question that highlights this problem: 'Have you been gazing into your Lover's eyes as He speaks truth to you or are you bewitched by your own reflection in the mirror?'

The stickers only stick if you let them...

To gaze into my lovers eyes means I must lift my eyes and look away from my flesh. I must turn from the curse of the law...until His eyes alone become the true mirror reflection. And Pappa's words, they MUST be the only one's I receive. (Romans 10:17. Peter 6:68) I must preach this gospel to myself daily! And rest confident...

Corinthians 5:14-17
"Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. Because of this decision we don't evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don't look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you."

He thinks YOU are beautiful and he is enamoured with YOU.

YOUR Father says that you are His delight and He enjoys YOU.

Faithfully He has and will shower you with this ever pursuing, devoted love. Words of affirmation....tender touches...lavish gifts....His sweet presence...humble service. Over and over He will give to you. In the secret place of conception He smiled on you...He still smiles on you. Will you, with me, percieve and recieve how true and real this love?