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Bible Study Kingdom

Bring Me What You Have

Todays post is one of my contributions to a “New Testament in a year” daily reading challenge that I was asked to write for my home church.

Matt 14:1-21 20

In this passage Jesus has actually just withdrawn (or tried to) from the public eye for a while, after the brutal murder of His cousin and friend, John the Baptist.Yet even in the midst of His own grief, He still sees the people who had gathered and heals their sick. As a result, even more people gathered and by late afternoon a large crowd had formed.As the day draws to a close, the disciples are concerned that the people have no food. Jesus tells them to feed the people – but they have only five loaves and two fish to hand.The disciples focus is on what they dont have.

Jesus says “Bring me what you have”

Many of us are familiar with what happens next – but there is a point in this passage that we often miss:

  1. The loaves did not multiply in the hands of Jesus – they actually multiplied in the hands of the disciples!
  2. Jesus didn’t pray, and He didn’t ask God to multiply the bread – He simply said a blessing, and then the disciples gave the food out until everyone was fed – and there were still leftovers!

Having seen multiplication happen myself, I can tell you that actually, the one thing you never see is the actual multiplication itself. Instead, the food just keeps going, and it is only afterward that you realise that it should have stopped long ago!

The other thing I have learned, and this reading shows us, is that the Kingdom principle is to take what you have, and use it.Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.
Jesus didn’t tell the disciples ahead of time what was going to happen – I would imagine that as they first began, they were thinking “Well, this isn’t going to be any use – we have over 5 thousand people here and He thinks we can feed them on 5 loaves of bread!”
Then as they got further and further into the crowd and the bread still had not run out, there must have been a moment where the disciples realised what was happening. How amazing to witness a miracle on such a scale!

I love how this account shows us that Jesus is interested in our needs, not just in a spiritual sense but in a very practical sense too.
How often have you thought that a situation was hopeless, only to realise when you looked back afterward, that God was with you all the time?
I know I have.

It’s still January – lets make a resolution that this year – in every situation – we will bring what we have to Jesus for His blessing, and then use it – in the sure knowledge that our Father in Heaven will always provide for our needs.

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Bible Study Posts

You of Little Faith

The following post is taken from a “New Testament in a Year” challenge that I was asked to write some contributions for by my home church, Gateway
Matt 14:22 – 15:9

In most Bibles, this passage seems to be headed “Jesus walks on the water”

That in itself is quite a show-stopper.

Images by Reuben Rodriguez – used with permission

If you think about it though, for Jesus to walk on water wasn’t such a stretch for the disciples to believe – they had already seen Him turn water into wine, perform countless healing miracles and cast out demons. Surely the headline news here is that Peter walks on the water! An ordinary man, who hears the command of God and acts on it. Then disaster strikes as Peter looks at the waves around him, and begins to sink.

Often we read this passage and we focus on the fact that Peter sank. We miss the fact that Peter tried. We miss the fact that before he started to sink, Peter had in fact walked on water. He wasn’t the only disciple in that boat – but He was the only one that actually had the faith to try – and he did it! He walked on the water.

Jesus says to Peter,

“You of little faith, why did you doubt ?”

We read that as a rebuke – but actually Jesus said if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains and achieve great things:

“Truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you”. (Matt 17:20)

So perhaps Jesus was saying that Peter had all the faith he needed, (“you of little faith”) – and asking him why he doubted that it could happen at all – rather than asking why he sank? If Jesus says that we can do something – either in the scriptures, through our prayer time, or even a prophetic word from another believer – then why would we doubt Him?

The second part of our reading today is Matthew 15:1-9

It’s those pesky Pharisees again! They have tried and failed to get Jesus on a point of law. Now they are going after the disciples on a point of tradition. (Note that they can’t even get them with a direct breach of religious rules – so they move the goal posts to tradition instead!)

Jesus turns their argument on its head and throws it straight back at them:

“Why do you allow the traditions of men to overrule the command of God?”

As I read these two accounts together, there is a common thread that jumps out at me. Peter could have listened to traditional, established wisdom: “You are only a man. You can’t walk on water you will drown”. Instead, he chose to obey the command of His God, who said simply,

“Come”

As Christians, we will often be in situations where traditions and culture will conflict with what God says. It is easy to be swayed by “sensible advice” or “common sense”. In the end though, we have a choice. We can honour our own culture and take the easy path, as the Pharisees did – or we can follow the call of God, who says “Come” – and see His power at work to help us walk on our own, personal water.

I don’t know about you, but I want to always have the courage to “walk on the water”, whenever and wherever Jesus calls me.

Lord, help us to listen for your voice, and be ready to step out with our mustard-seed-sized faith when we hear you call us.

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Bible Study Daily Life Posts Questions

You Can’t Have It Both Ways

The following post is taken from a “New Testament in a Year” challenge that I was asked to write some contributions for by my home church, Gateway.


Matt 12: 22-45

I think we all have people in our lives – and people we meet – who are sceptical of our faith. Especially in the early stages when we first become a Christian, and especially if they have known us a long time. They are waiting for us to trip up. Watching to see if this new found enthusiasm and “the new you” will really last, or if it’s just another phase we are going through.

As we mature, if we are in any way vocal about our faith we will still meet people who are a little suspicious or even cynical about the Christian faith. Generally speaking, those people fall into two categories:

  1. The genuinely curious
  2. Those who just want to tear you down.

This second group of people isn’t a new problem, and Jesus has already modelled how to deal with these situations.

In our previous reading, we saw the Pharisees – the religious elite of the day, trying to trip Jesus up and accuse Him. They tried to get Him on points of the law – specifically that He broke the Sabbath. Of course, Jesus was able to answer their accusations in such a way that He exposed their legalistic and unloving motives. No wonder they didn’t like Him!

Today’s reading continues on the same theme. Jesus heals a man who is possessed by demons, blind and mute. When the man is healed, we are told that all the people are amazed. The Pharisees, however, are simply angry. Instead of allowing themselves to see the truth of what is happening in front of their eyes, they simply move the argument onto new ground.

“Well, he can only do that because he’s tapping in to the devils power”

Image by Lisa Wilding – used with permission

Jesus points out that this, too, is a ridiculous suggestion. If Satan is casting out Satan, then his kingdom is falling apart and he is defeated. If however, Jesus is casting out demons by the Spirit of God – then Satan’s kingdom has fallen because the Kingdom of God has arrived. Either way, the devil is defeated.

He continues in verse 33:
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit”

In other words – you can’t have it both ways. Either what is in front of you is good, or it’s bad. I think everyone witnessing this exchange would have agreed that a blind and mute man being set free is a really good thing!

So next up, they decide they want a sign (verse 38). Jesus knows, though, that some people will not believe no matter what you show them. They are only interested in tearing things down. So instead of saying “See that cripple on the mat over there? Watch this!” Jesus tells them that the only sign they will get is His death, burial and resurrection. In other words, He decides to let the fruit of His life and ministry speak for itself.

In this passage Jesus has given us a template for how to deal with those people who try to trip us up, or tangle us up in arguments. Just as with the Pharisees and Jesus, there are some people in our lives who don’t really want to be convinced – and the best thing to do for them is just let the changes in your life – your own personal resurrection – do the talking.

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Kingdom Posts Prophetic Unstuck

Time to birth the promise

You were born to give birth.

That sounds slightly mad now that I typed it “out loud” – but it’s true. You were created to recreate. To bring forth things into the world that only you can bring.

The thing is though, that often the process of birth is glossed over. We don’t talk about the realities of childbirth, especially around  expectant mothers and fathers, for fear of scaring them. I have always thought this is rather a short-term measure because eventually, they are going to be faced with the reality of the birth scenario and if they go into it unprepared, it is much more likely to scare them.

The same is often true in church. We like to talk about the promises of God, and our specific prophetic words we have received. We like to prophesy “wow” words over each other and get excited. I have never heard much talk about the birth process though. The hard work, nitty-gritty of actually taking what God has said to you, and beginning to walk it out.

I remember going to birthing classes when we were pregnant with our second daughter (I had a hard time with the first so we went for a refresher)

They showed a video of a woman giving birth. The expressions on her face were something close to one who has indigestion – I almost got in trouble for laughing.
Obviously this lady in the film had a very easy time of it – but that certainly isn’t typical.
I was amused but also a little annoyed on behalf of the first timers in the group.
This was hardly preparing them for the realities of the big day.

Here’s what I tell young women now – including my own teenage daughters. Giving birth is the hardest, most painful thing you will ever do. It is also the most beautiful, satisfying and rewarding thing you will ever do. The pain serves a purpose – it binds you to the result. Who would lightly give up on something they had invested so much in to see become reality?

There are many believers who are pregnant in the spirit right now. Myself included.

It’s time to pack that overnight bag, decorate the nursery and prepare for the hardest work you have ever done to see that promise come into the world.

Sitting on your backside is no longer an option. You may have had prophetic words stretching back years about this, or it may be a fairly recent thing – all I know is, that for many of us -the baby is coming and you need to PUSH to bring it forth quickly.

Sure it’s going to hurt. Sure it’s going to be tiring, and it will probably turn your world upside down when it arrives -but it’s also going to be amazing. Start rolling your sleeves up and actually doing those things that God has spoken – even if you can only take a small step toward it – do it. Take that class, make that call, apply for the job – whatever you can do to cooperate with what God has spoken about your destiny.

You were born for this – time to birth what you were born for. The world is waiting.

Categories
Daily Life Posts

Rainy Day Reminders

I was driving my daughter to school. It was raining, but not proper rain.

It was that really pathetic kind of rain that it can’t quite make it’s mind up. Like it just can’t be bothered to make the effort.

Teenage rain,perhaps?
Anyway as we were hurtling down the road, with backpack, lunch and bits of pe-kit flying round the cabin (”double-check – are you sure you put your trainers in?”) – I looked up and saw a rainbow.


A complete rainbow from one end to the other.

I tried really hard not to look as I was supposed to be driving but the rainbow has always been a fascinating thing for me, even as a child. Imagine my pleasure then, as within a few moments I could see a second one. Right over the top of the first – and again, complete from end to end. They straddled right across the road we were on for a few minutes, and then they were gone.
I pondered their beauty for a moment, and inevitably thought about the part in the book of Genesis where we are told that God put the sign of the rainbow in the sky so that we would remember God’s promise to never again flood the earth.

It got me thinking.

Why when it’s raining?

I mean, scientifically speaking I know it’s because the light hits rain droplets at certain angles and then we see the different colours – I do know that – but God could have made it so that happened some other way – without using the rain.
Perhaps – and this is pure conjecture on my part – but perhaps it was because He knows that when the sun is shining, and everything is going well in life, it is easy to believe God’s promises to us.
On rainy days, however – when the clouds roll in, and the rain pours down on us. When nothing, just NOTHING is going right – those are the days when we need to be reminded of His presence and His promises to us.

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Daily Life Posts The Matthew Six Project

I’ve been lying (to myself)

I’ve been lying – to my family, my kids, my friends – and worst of all – to myself.

This is a recent realisation, and it hit me right between the eyes one day as I surveyed my kitchen. The worktops, heaving with dirty dishes, plastic tubs recently unearthed from the refrigerator with contents that are long forgotten and un-labelled, and dry but unfolded laundry sneering at me from under the breakfast bar.

The thing about lies is, that often we actually fully believe them ourselves. So it was for me. I was completely convinced that the reason my house was in this mess (the kitchen was merely the tip of the domestic iceberg), was because I didn’t have enough time to care for my family, and myself, and give time to ministry and writing too.

I genuinely believed that the issue was with other people, and the busyness of life that frequently overwhelmed me in a tidal wave of dirty socks, unironed shirts and lost homeworks.
The Supernatural Housewife

The worst of it is – that was only lie number two. The secondary lie that underpins the “biggy”. You know how fishermen often talk about “the one that got away”? That big  catch that has eluded them for years? That’s how I felt when I landed this next one.

This one is a game changer – for me at least. Perhaps for you – read on.

All my life I have told people that I’m not very good at being organised.

“It’s just not who I am” I would say. “I’m the flamboyant, artistic sort – and you can’t have that and tidy kitchen worktops.”

The odd thing is though, that over the years I have helped quite a few people sort out their mess, and even been instrumental in helping long-time hoarders get free from their habits and begin a journey to organisation. Likewise in my own life there have been multiple times when I have re-organised our home, and sifted out the junk to reveal a calm and ordered living space. I’m actually pretty good at this organising thing. We live like it for a few weeks and then gradually, life happens and we descend into chaos again. I  don’t mean just a-few-things-left-out kind of chaos – I mean stuff-everywhere-I can’t find-my-shoes kind of chaos.

So the lie is that I’m not good at being organised. The truth is, I’m not very good at being CONSISTENT.

Ouch.

At that moment I realised, I could swear I heard the sound of a wall come down somewhere.

Since then I have been on a mission to de-clutter our home and simplify – but more importantly to be consistent in my habits so that when change comes, and life happens – this time I don’t get knocked off course.

We make choices every day about what we do with our time. I’m going to try to invest mine more wisely – I’m not really into New Years resolutions… but I may make an exception, just this once.

Categories
Growing Up

The Dance

The smell of cigarette smoke mixed with beer and the quiet murmur of people talking and laughing at candle lit tables. I swung my feet as I sat on my chair watching the grown ups, and enjoying my coca-cola through the straw. Slurping, because mum wasn’t listening and it always made it taste better. Knee high white nylon socks and shiny black patent shoes that made me feel grown up.

I watched them, quietly shuffling around the floor – somewhere between a waltz and – well, it doesn’t matter does it really? They were together. Looking back I never really appreciated that. In a world where so many marriages failed, my parents were still together.

“I don’t believe in superstars, organic food and foreign cars… but I believe in love”

The lyrics were supplied by Don Williams and others – mostly country artistes.The music was supplied by my elder sister and her husband. Theirs was a talent capable of going much further than the local music scene – but they were happy where they were, playing local country clubs at weekends, where they were pretty popular – and we were often there as a family to listen.
I even learned a little line dancing.
Watching my sister playing her bass guitar on the stage always fascinated me. She used to wear her long brown hair curled, usually loose – and her eyelids, beautifully made up – always reminded me of butterflies as they fluttered.

My parents seemed old to me then but I guess they were actually about the age my husband and I are at now.I look at photos of my mother then and see myself.
The dance continues.
My own children are now almost all grown and finding their own place in the world.

Some days my parents dance through this life was more of a tempestuous tango, and others, a beautiful waltz of love – but dance they did – and dance they still do – at least in my mind.
A lifetime of Love is not always the carefully choreographed presentation that we imagine it to be.

Hollywood presents these things in a haze of romance. Real love knows how to dance in the hard times, and in the rain if necessary.

My parents dancing days are behind them now.
They still enjoy their music together and from time to time I still catch them holding hands, and remember how lucky I am to have had that childhood. The one so many children dream of. With a Mum and a Dad.Under the same roof. To have seen my parents dance together like that – so many people I meet do not have those kinds of memories.

“I don’t believe in superstars, organic food and foreign cars… but I believe in love”.

I believe in love.

Categories
Daily Life Growing Up Posts

My Kind of Perfect

“You placed gold on my finger… you gave life to our children and to me, a reason to go on.”

When the record player began to play in our front room, it generally meant only one thing. Dinner was almost served. As I got older I was often allowed to choose one of the records from my parent’s collection and carefully place the needle on the spinning disc.

 

I grew up listening to an eclectic mix of greats.
Shirley Bassey, Don Williams, Perry Como and Charlie Rich – and of course, the Beatles – To name just a few. Classical compilations from film tracks were also a popular choice. Gentle choices with largely innocuous lyrics that somehow seem absent from the music we have today. It’s all shouting and black eyeliner now it seems. Or am I just getting old?

Sitting at the table for meals was mandatory in our house when I was young. As I got a little older and my mum started to work shifts at a local chip shop, dinner on trays were allowed to sneak in a bit – but Sunday dinner was non-negotiable.
My husband remembers being turned away once when he arrived too early on a Sunday to take me out.
I honestly can’t remember the incident but he tells of having to go for a drive until it was time to collect me.

 

Old fashioned? Perhaps. But worth fighting for.

In my memory it all seems a little bit “Little House on the Prairie” -and in many ways it was the idyllic family life that many of us strive for.
Two parents, a home that was secure, food on the table and logs for the fire.
A lifestyle that has largely been confined to the history books as technology and society have both advanced and regressed respectively.

I admit my own family doesn’t eat at the table every night and as the children grow older and become more independent it is harder to maintain a family mealtime, but we do try at least once a week to make sure we all sit down to a meal together.
These days “we” often includes extras as the family expands to include friends – and that’s a good thing.
We eat, and we talk. Usually we talk about nothing in particular and that’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t have to be about anything. There doesn’t have to be a reason.

 

The bargaining to get out of washing up has been replaced with negotiating about who loads the dishwasher.
Family life hasn’t changed that much.
It’s still there if you know where to look for it.
It’s somewhere in between the arguing about bathroom usage and the constant pleas to “Close the DOOR!”

It’s in the Saturday afternoons spent being outwardly irritated that your husband is outside fixing your daughter’s car AGAIN – but secretly feeling quite proud of him for being such a good Dad.
It’s in those chaotic- who-ran-the-toilet-roll-out-AGAIN mornings. Those days when five of you all have to get out the door within the same half hour period but no one wanted to be the first in the shower.
Slamming doors, frantic shouting -and then they are gone, and I’m left alone in a silent and largely destroyed kitchen.

That’s the thing though.
Pretty soon I will have a perfectly organised kitchen that I dream of.

Because the children will have left.

One day, all the shouting and the un-replaced loo rolls and trails of crumbs and dirty scrambled egg pans will be over – and I will miss them.
That day is coming, and I’m aware that it has crept up on me much quicker than I imagined.

So next time I’m getting annoyed at the mess and the interruptions, help me Lord to take a deep breath and remember that this is that perfect family life I dreamed of twenty years ago when I held my baby in my arms.
This is it, right now – in all the mess and the chaos and the arguing.

Help me to remember to enjoy it. Because pretty soon it will be over.

This is MY kind of perfect. <3

Categories
Daily Life Growing Up Posts

Catching the Wind

I looked up at them, dancing quietly together. They thought no-one was watching but I was. A silent moment of romance, snatched from the busyness of a noisy family weekend.
Sunlight streaming in through the front-room window and Donovan singing on the record player.
“When rain has hung the leaves with tears, I want you here to kill my fears – help me to leave all my blues behind”

A private moment, made for two – and yet somehow I was in on it. I assume I was so quiet I wasn’t noticed – I was only about six years old, so I was easily overlooked.

A snapshot in my mind of a sister now longtime lost, and a love that was prematurely ended -at least in this world.

I saw my brother in law dance again last year. At the wedding of their eldest son – now a grown man who met his beautiful bride and has started his own dance.
The circle completes.
Another memory of dancing – this time tinged with sadness.
Jumping up and down to a Robbie Williams cover as the groomsmen “pogoed” around the room, ties on their heads and beer in hand – but not necessarily remaining in the glass.

Afterwards I was told that he hadn’t danced since his bride was taken from us – and it’s been fifteen long years.
Another snapshot to treasure.

“For me to love you now, would be the sweetest thing, t’would make me sing – aah but I may as well try and catch the wind”

Time passes and memories fade a little along with the pain, but sometimes, just sometimes, I catch the wind.
A smile from one of my daughters, or hers. A mannerism that reminds me that she lives on.
And I cry.
I remember, and I try to catch the wind, for just a moment.
I remember how she felt when we hugged, how she smelled, and a particular sweater she wore.

I remember how I disliked that a pair of shorts I bought fitted her perfectly – and were too small for me.
I remember her toes. Her fingers, the way she rubbed in the fat and flour for a fruit crumble – and mine was never as good.
And I smile.
Then I let the breeze go to continue on its journey, because I must continue with mine – until the next time.

Categories
Posts Prophetic Testimonies

The Journal And The Dream

It has been a long time since I looked through my paper journals. I have been writing notes and thoughts in Evernote for several years now, so my paper journals have been sitting in a box, pretty much forgotten.

Of course, many things that God has said and done over the years are indelibly etched on my memory and in my heart – just as parts of your journey are in yours – but some things, those little things that don’t really make sense at the time – get overlooked and disappear in the mists of our recollections.

So it was with me, until recently – when I joined a writing group on Facebook and together we all joined in with NaNoWriMo.
For those who (like me) have never heard of NaNoWriMo – it stands for “National Novel Writing Month” (I think?!) – anyway the premise is that for the thirty days of November you aim to write something every day – the ideal goal being 50,000 words in a month.

I’m not writing a novel but I do have several other projects and books in the pipeline, so I joined in. It can’t hurt.
I had planned as part of the challenge to go through my old paper journals and type up dreams, visions and other useful insights from my journey into Evernote – partly so I could then share some of them, partly so that I would have them in a more accessible/searchable format.

What happened over the first few days was not what I envisaged from the exercise at all.

As I flipped through the journals and typed up the useful parts, there were so many encouragements in there for right now, I was quite overwhelmed at times.

Photo by Lynsey O’Donnel – used with permission

One particular entry jumped out at me from the pages of a journal that dates back to 2009.

“Woke early, after a dream in which I was recording some sort of message involving scripture references. the feeling was that it was for people in a school of some sort”
Now, in 2009 I was still terrified of public speaking, and public ministry wasn’t really something I had any leaning towards. Yet God, in His wisdom, kept prodding me like this.

I had completely forgotten about this dream, which was nothing short of confusing at the time. Yet there it was, staring back at me – in my own handwriting.

I looked at the date, and the place I was at when I wrote this entry – and that’s when I nearly fell off my chair.

This dream and journal entry happened when I was in the West Midlands, attending a Conference in Dudley
I was staying in a hotel called The Saltwells Inn
The date was Saturday 29th November 2009.
Skip forward seven years to this weekend. I mean exactly seven years worth of weekends (I counted). I have just spent the weekend, in the West Midlands, teaching a “Healing Ministry for Beginners” workshop in Old Hill. That’s literally just around the corner from where I was when I had the dream.
We were recording the sessions ready for our online workshops (none of which was really planned by me – it just sort of “happened”) – AND – here’s the clincher.
We decided to stay at The Saltwells Inn. My husband came with me on this trip so I booked a double room. When we arrived there had been a mix up and they switched us to a twin room.
Guess which room we were in?

The same room I was when I dreamed it.

God doesn’t do accidents, and I got the point!

I want to encourage you today to do two things:
1. Start a Journal (If you don’t already)
2. Write things down in it even if they seem completely mad – with the date and location.

One last thing – if you are aware of things God has said to you that don’t seem to be happening – don’t lose heart. It took seven years from that dream, to fruition. That’s a long time – but God knew that when He showed it to me. He knows the times and places you should be. He is working in you and with you to bring you to that point in time that He has already planned, and shown you a snapshot of.
All you have to do is cooperate – and be ready to GO when the time comes.

Love, Rebecca x