It’s always been in you

Last night as I returned home from work I stood there at Town Hall station here in Sydney waiting for my train. Most nights I scan through a chorus of podcasts for something to listen to. There’s a bunch of different podcasts I follow. But there are some there i value and a few that allow me to spend some time with the Father for another 35-40 mins before I reach my front door.

One that I’ve really enjoyed in recent months has been Steven Furtick from Elevation Church. I’m sure part of what I’ve enjoyed is his delivery. It’s passionate, it’s high energy but most importantly he speaks with a sense of “real” about him and it aligns with my own heart so well.

On this particular podcast he spoke on the belief that “It’s always been in you”. He spoke a strong message on the fact that God has been working within us our whole lives. From the day we were born he put “it” within us. He crafted us SO uniquely that day. He crafted us SO intricately that one day we would reach a point of growth and maturity in our lives that we could choose to accept his invitation to relationship with him

And from that moment of accepting his invitation he then allowed us to seek and discover our spiritual giftings. He allowed us to not only discover them but also entrusted us to use them to bring glory to his name.

In Luke 6:45 it says:

“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
Luke 6:45 NLT”

I love the last line in this verse!

“What you say flows from what is in your heart”.

When I think about the things that he has given me, I think about the importance of what it is that he is asking me. On one hand so much of that is about simply being in relationship with him. But it’s not about me. It never was about me! It’s always been about Him!

So what He has given me may well be for me but it is for me to use to bring glory to him. What flows from my heart is what I speak. What flows from my heart is the action in what I choose to do. Does it produce good? Or does it produce evil? Does it align with the things the Father has gifted to me and entrusted me with?

I’m very pleased to admit that most of time it does. Like anything there’s always room for better but I know that so long as I stay in relationship with him we will always be in that right place with him

Staying close to God is key here. Because as Steven said in his message, distractions and the way of the world will always get in the way. People will always have other ideas about you.
People will put titles on you which say “That is who you are”. They will define you by those titles, by your successes and failures. They will limit you by what you can do. That may then lead you to think you are what you can do. You then lose yourself and gain the world but jesus said “what good are you?

He put it perfectly, Steven. He then nailed it!

“Don’t let anyone put anything on you that will cause you to forget what God put in you!”.

That’s right! It’s SO right! Amen for that.

Always remember first what God has put in you. In our HBC Community we are all well aware of the things that God has put inside us. We are known by them. We are Faithful. We are Lovers. We are strong and we are giftbringers and lifegivers. We are many things but all things are designed to give God the glory and what flows from our hearts and our mouths is what God has put inside us and I love that about us!

In Jeremiah 1:5 it says:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5 NLT

Wow. Before he even formed us in our mother’s womb, He had already appointed us prophets of the nations! That there is the confirmation of how intricately he designed us. To that specific degree he designed us so uniquely.

God made us all unique. There are no two of us alike. What he’s given me is different to what he has given you. But you know what’s amazing about that?  He made us so that we would coexist. So that we would need each other! He knew where we would be and what we needed to be equipped with.

One of my favourite quotes is one that focuses on the fact that people need other people. It comes from a guy named Jamie Tworkowski who started a non profit organisation called “To Write Love on Her Arms”. They are based in Florida, USA. Jamie reflected brilliantly on the importance of people coexisting, of people needing connection with other people. He said:

“You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.”

– Jamie Tworkowski

How good is it!??!

But I believe it goes further than just that.

Why do we need other people?

Part of it is the uniqueness we carry. It is also the physical need for companionship. But don’t underestimate your uniqueness as a big reason why we coexist. Sometimes it is the words of others or even ourselves that unlock the windows around us and for others.

It is why we should share and be willing to be vulnerable with those we trust. Because God put something inside us from the beginning. It’s always been in you. Be SO encouraged by that. He has given you all you need. It is inside you and you have authority to use it the way he intended.

Last weekend I watched a Facebook live with Matt, Courtney and Rebekah from our HBC Community on the uniqueness God has created in each of us. What I listened to was a conversation that I can only call wonderful. I sat there watching and just continuously nodding my head, agreeing with the opinions of all. It was amazing to hear the heart of God come out in all three of them and also to hear the same themes that God had placed on my heart through Steven Furtick’s message earlier in the week come roaring back in so emphatically again. I just love the way God confirms his point.

The journey of our uniqueness is no accident. It forms who we are. It becomes who we are in Christ. I love how you put it Rebekah when you said that every part of your placement forms a part of who you are. Things like where you live, the people you hang around. They form part of your character.

it’s no accident you are there with the people you’re surrounded with. Right there you have the opportunity to bring a piece of God in to those moments. In those moments God has placed something specific within you for those moments.

Matt spoke of the idea of being vulnerable and sharing our experiences is quite often a bridge for other people that allows them to meet us in that moment. That where we’ve been is where others have been too. But further than that, where we’ve been may well be where others sit right now. Your words and experience may just be exactly what is needed for someone else.

So friends the point is this. We carry something within us. Something that God has specifically designed for us. It’s always been inside us. It’s part of what makes us unique but it was intended to be that way. He wants us to step up and step out. He wants us to speak, to use our voices. Our voice is important! What we say does matter. We are a living and breathing example to someone else.

Be encouraged friends. Be encouraged that your uniqueness is something intentional. It is like a toolbelt given to you by the Father. It is more than useful. It can do things only God intended them to do. That is a powerful thought!

He trusts us with that though. He loves us that much that he blesses us with the ability to do things for him and through him. And with that I think back to what Rebekah said in the Facebook Live event:

“it’s not a formula, it’s a relationship with God”

Indeed!

That’s what Its all about. The relationship we have with God. It starts there. It’s inside you. It’s always been in you.

We live in a place called Love

As 2020 ended and 2021 began i found myself doing all the usual things one does at that point. I reflected. I reflected on what was a wild year! It was crazy! It was unprecedented! In fact it was many things and probably too many to list. But as i sat there pondering and thinking about the current time and place i find myself in i realised that more than anything this was still the same journey i had been on. It’s my journey and it’s my story.

With that in my mind i know that nothing has ended and nothing new has begun. It’s simply time for the next chapter. It’s time to zero in on what i know and what i have learned and to keep pushing forward. It’s time to be ready for what happens next, whatever that may be.

I feel like a lot of what i took out of 2020 would be so different to many people. I didn’t have the health issues or job issues. Didn’t have the financial concerns either. I didn’t have the fear and isolation that so many spoke of. I was lucky. I feel blessed. 2020 was a damn brutal year the world over! That makes it a strange feeling to have. But it is real and i thank God So much for his provision!

I also feel stronger, i feel wiser. I feel at peace with life and with myself. Again with fear and uncertainty in our world that feels like the most contradictory of places to be in right now. But i do feel it and again i know that God has looked after me to this point today.

So as i sit here now, in early January I started pondering what to write next. I really wasn’t sure of where to start? I decided to rest on the idea and just wait for something. Anything! When the year is new i think there is always a tendency to start afresh. I knew deep down that was probably unlikely. That God at some point would get me moving again. One night as i sat there mulling over things with WordPress open, it came to me! I felt this gentle feeling, like a presence upon me and it said;

“We live in a place called Love”

I don’t know why it came in to my head? I’ve heard the phrase many times before. It’s a statement which can be worded differently but the idea behind it is always the same. When all is said and done, it is so important to our own lives to start from a place of love. As i thought about the statement i immediately thought about my interpretation of it. Where in my life was that true? Where was this place? Was it even simply a place? Or was it also an ideology? A place to start from and live by?

The answer? It was all those things!

So how do i answer my own question to “We live in a place called Love”?

So it is a place. It’s an ideology. It’s feeling a way of thinking. A mindset. But it starts with me. For me to be in that place i need to first exercise it. I need to start my day with it in mind. I need to action it in to existence.

It looks like many things in my day or your day. Yes. It’s a way of thinking that any one of us can learn to live by. It can be as easy as listening to someone, giving them your time. It can be showing compassion to a person you come across in your day. It can be choosing to bite your tongue from venting at someone. What ever it is, the decision is yours. How you react is your choice. That’s right! It starts with you. We are built to love, so, we can choose to love if we want to.

Now remember that phrase.

We are built to love.

A week or so later and the idea of living in a place of love came up once again. This time with my church. I’ve mentioned before but with the Pandemic in full swing our church took to Zoom. We’re now at close to 11 months, by the time i finish writing this it will be closer to 12 months in to that and it’s just been the most incredible and unexpected thing!

Here we were kind of unsure what to make of church in the early part of 2020. Would it work? Would we get sick of it after a while? None of us really knew. We Kind of just “rolled with it”. We went with the flow of things each Sunday. Not so much a structured event. There were no rehearsals. It was simply a matter of making ourselves present. Starting with that mindset of being in the right place.

What we got was, well? Where do I start?!?!

Our Church is a smallish church here in Sydney’s inner west suburbs. It always has been kind of small. There’s nothing “Mega Church” about it. These days 40-60 people would attend most weeks but we have a group of around 100 maybe that can attend at any one time and when the Pandemic hit I reckon 20 of them, maybe more, became MIA – missing in action.

Our church has always had a great heart. Full of all the kinds of people you love to have within your church. Servant like in the way we people got things done every week. Always without seeking reward and always seeking to give God the glory. Never done in a way that pumps our chest but seeks to get what needs to be done for God’s kingdom.

But it’s fascinating to think back to the first 3 months of 2020. I remember sitting in church socially distanced and it was all just a bit awkward. In a way, there was a barrier that just made interaction a little awkward.

By the time church moved on to zoom via “Church on the Couch”, what we didn’t know then but definitely know right now was that God was shifting our church in to a new realm. He was literally shifting us! He used this forced hiatus from “normal church” and plonked us in front of our screens from the safety and comfort of our homes.

There in the place we feel most safe and comfortable God decided to do something equally incredible. Without so much of a detailed plan church would proceed via zoom and what we got was an experience that was just so different. It was irrepressible, undeniable. It was was GOD.

I don’t think anyone could have seen what was to become of our Church family. While we have lost contact with some who we look forward to welcoming back one day, we have gained many who are so precious to us now. The kingdom of God is alive and well.

What we’ve seen on this journey over the past twelve months has been the building of a community that chooses to live in that place of love.

Yes.

We are now living in a place of love!

What we see each week in our community, and it extends to being a daily habit of ours, is that alignment of one’s mindset. It is the ability of any one person to start with a heart that loves. That same ability then starts from a mindset that chooses to love. It speaks love in to others. It actions love in the same way you would gift something to someone. Before you know it, love reverberates around your world and you begin to see what it actually does in the bigger picture.

Love is a big word. It’s a word that encompasses so many different looks. I’ve said it before, it’s an overused word. To the point it’s used in a context with little meaning to it. But actioning love is never insignificant. Never! My church family know its value, especially in the actioning of it.

We see its value because He, God, first loved us. When we love, we are in his light. We carry his light. We shine his light. We bring and give and gift his light to where it is needed. It is my starting place each day. To start from a place of love, his love. It is mine, it is yours. It is ours to take hold of.

I wanted to finish with two bible verses.

1 John 3:18 – “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other. Let us show the truth by our actions.”

Hebrews 10:24 – ” Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works”.

In both verses the actions or acts of love are crucial. Without them we cannot love properly. We need to physically action ourselves to do so. Its never enough to simply say it. We need to show it. Living in that place of love is rewarding. Sometimes it’s also challenging, tough even. But there is much beauty found there when you clear your path. There is much beauty there when you align your mindset to start from that place. Start simple and go from there. Actions are a simple thing.

One final thing. Living in a place of love sounds a lot like what i imagine heaven to be. A place where love so tangibly reverberates around us. What i am discovering right now is that fragments of heaven are dropping in to our lives like never before. Almost like this was part of the plan to begin with. Like this moment and this time was a place in time we were destined to be part of all along. God’s plan for us is our mystery. We see the direction we’re moving in but are never too sure of what is coming next. It’s part of the fun. For now though my eyes remain fixed on him and living in that place of love is where i know i am meant to be.

On the verge



“On the verge”.

These are the words that came to me as I spoke with the Father. What do they mean and why are they my words this morning? Just three words within a gentle early morning thought.

Only God knows.

But later as we did church that Sunday morning I would have the words spoken in to me that he is calling me into a greater revelation of my identity in him. He has been doing that this year already.

To go deeper? Deeper yet again?

Well, wow! I’m blown away by this thought but excited for it. I feel my courage rise up. I feel such joy. It’s a blessing to feel that right now. And maybe this is what the start of this is meant to feel like?

Over to you Lord…….

That was then and this is now, some 6-7 weeks on from when I started writing that initial piece. It’s now the end of November. December is tomorrow. God has a way of reminding me, of asking me to go back to something. He does this in part to show me what it is that he has done. When I wrote the initial part of this I said to him

“Over to you Lord……”

I was on the verge. On the verge of what? It was the tip of something. Where do you go when you find yourself with a question like that?

Well, you go to him. The Father, the creator, the grand designer of all things. You go to him.

So much of this year has already been about a journey with him. He’s kept inviting me and I’ve kept accepting the invites. The journey was never about discovering him. It was about experiencing him in new ways. In ways deeper than I had previously known.

Even as I come back to this piece I am writing now. I had NO Idea I would be back here at this piece today. But my Lord has his plan and his timing and as I sat with him this morning reading about spiritual gifts and how they all come from the same spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4) I was drawn back to this piece and the memory of having it spoken over me that “he is calling you in to a greater revelation of my identity in him”.

It’s there I realise that the revelation has been shown. I understand it. He has shown me the greater revelation of my identity in him. He’s taken me deeper, my eyes see what they didn’t see before this. My understanding is greater.

My spiritual gifts are very much where my identity in him shines through. They are something that comes from the Holy Spirit, and I find that it grows. The spirit, it grows within me and it shines from within me so that others can see it. Those that don’t know God will say that I am “unique” or “different to others but I can’t figure out what it is?”.

Those that know God intimately will test and see that it is from God. They will recognise similarities with their own experiences. And it is this that I want to achieve. I want to affect people the way that God wants them affected. I want my gifts to be used in a way that brings only glory to the Father’s name.

The deeper i go in to my indentity in him the more I see that it is less about me. I spoke very briefly to a small group of my writing this weekend past. I said that to me I was nothing more than a vehicle that God was using for his glory.

Further to that thought and this past weekend I also heard awesome titles such “wind breakers” and “wave crashers” as a way of describing the effect we can have for his kingdom. I wonder if I am simply another one of God’s “gift bringers”? Okay’ that’s a rethorical question. We are all in fact gift bringers.

But there is much purpose in the idea of being a “wind breaker”, or a “wave crasher” or a “gift bringer”. We are all one one of these, if not all of them. We’ve been blessed with the power of God to crash, break and simply gift within our lives.

It’s there that we affect the people around us. God blessed us with spiritual gifts so that we may use them. He blessed us with them so that his glory would be seen.

To answer the original question of “what was I on the verge of?”. Well I believe I was on the verge of experiencing God on a new level.

The deeper i went with him the more I could see his fingerprints on things. The deeper i went with him the more I could see him move and affect things and affect people. The deeper i went the more I felt him close by. There’s a peace that is unlike anything the world can offer. It stems from his intimacy and it is there that he keeps inviting me back.

Now I look back at that gentle whisper weeks ago and see the purpose in that quiet moment. Our heavenly Father has a timing and purpose for all and it doesn’t always work on the same time that we wish it would. But it does work and it does happen and when you see the proof of his work it always looks so perfect and feels so right and proper.

In recent weeks I’ve felt he’s also been reminding me that “we do this together – we are in this together”. Okay, so thats not a new revelation for me. I know fully well he is with me always but the need to speak those words out has felt timely in those I’ve come across.

Those words were for me to speak in to others. They are only simple words but they comfort and encourage. If God is for us, who can be against us? If our God who created us and designed our paths is with us each day then what greater encouragement can we receive? He is all we need and he has all we need.

That is the faith we all stand on. That is what he is inviting us in to, again and again. My prayer today is that you will hear God speak his wisdom in to you today and that as you accept his invitation your eyes open further and your heart will expand with more of what he wants. That you today will learn just a little more about your identity in him and continue to grow.











“Open my eyes to the things unseen”.

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT”

“Open my eyes to the things unseen”.

It’s a curious demand on the surface. Asking your eyes to be opened to the things unseen. What exactly does it even mean??

Thankfully we’re not referring to things out of a horror movie here. That’s not something we’d generally ask for! For me this was a prayer I prayed over myself in the second quarter of 2019. It’s a bold prayer. One that you declare when you are indeed serious about that request. Why? Because there is a feel about it at first of; “Okay! What am I getting myself in to here? Am I in fact serious about the prayer?” Because when you pray a prayer like that you are basically asking the Lord to reveal things to you. Asking him to show things you haven’t yet seen.

But it’s not a one way street. It’s not like buying a movie ticket and sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the film. God will reveal things to you when you are ready for them or need them. So when i took that step I knew I needed to know that I was ready for it.

He’s not going to reveal this or that, bless me with something when I haven’t given him my full attention. I knew there were things he would show me that would be wonderful and encouraging but I also knew there would be things that would make me feel like a little boy sent to his corner to think about the things he’d done. But that was just his way of showing me areas where I could improve on. He did it gently. It never felt awkward or difficult. It simply felt like the love of my heavenly father showing understanding and compassion. He would give me time, there was never any pressure. There was only grace. There was only love.

So my attention needed to be honest and intentional. I needed to have a direction that I could head in. I found an environment that worked for me. I wrote. I wrote and wrote some more and i wrote more after that again! I kept going. It was here in the writing that I found these things previously unseen.

When writing I’ve always had a compassionate heart, one that encourages. I found that right away. There was beauty in offering that to anyone who chose to read something I wrote. I soon realised that the blessing in doing that worked both ways. I would enjoy doing it because my heart genuinely wanted to fill a need i could see. But the blessing also extended to those who needed those words. There’s purpose in that place. There’s also hope that stands so tall when you see that purpose result in something.

Purpose forms a huge part of the things that were unseen for me. It’s something that more than 18 months on from that initial prayer it had become so clear. The purpose is created from the environment I created for myself, but I couldn’t have done so without the Lord’s helping hand. It’s an environment which has so heavily relied on God’s direction, his control and his design. None of this is coincidence. None of this is luck. It’s part of his design. Living in that place is my choice. I’m encouraged. I’m given opportunity, but it’s still up to me to step in to that place that he has created for me.

So when I think back to the time I first prayed to “open my eyes to things unseen” I remember feeling unsure of what this would mean for me. I remember feeling a sense that this was a huge things to ask and that this would be a test of where I sat with the Father.

When I think back to that same prayer now I see it so differently and it’s there that I realise just how much I have seen because of that initial prayer. What I sense and feel I now see……what I see is a beauty that was unseen. It was known to a degree but the depths of it were far greater than known and to see it I had to walk down that road. I not only had to see it but I needed to experience it. I needed to work within in it to understand the depth of it.

The prayer that initially might have felt even the slightest bit scary and daunting was In fact a calling to come and live in a place that couldn’t have been any more inviting than it was. What initially looked like something daunting was nothing more than the Father asking me to make a huge leap In his direction and that this was his timing.

I’m so blessed for his timing and thankful for the things he’s shown me. As i write this I hear the words “praise forever to the king of kings” and realise that’s not coincidence. That’s the Father reminding me of his power, his glory, his provision and he’s also reminding me that it’s forever, it’s endless and nothing is more powerful.

As I finish this off some 3 weeks after I started I feel drawn back to something I wrote separately over this past weekend. Every so often I will share something with my church family via our weekly email. This time round it centred on I guess you would call it the experience and the emotions, the thoughts of what I had felt this previous Sunday in church. I had touched briefly about the way I had felt so blessed by the fact that God had given us new voices in recent times singing and also sharing their hearts with our group. It’s great to hear new voices! I’m thankful for them and thankful for what their presence provides.

But i also felt God was reminding me that new voices don’t just sound different or have a different story to tell. It’s in those moments that we focus on them, I realised they each carried something of real value and their presence should not be brushed aside. I could see that I was being drawn to more than just their presence. I was reminded that these were God’s children with stories to be told, lessons to be taught and encouragement to be shared. That new voices were in fact new opportunities to grow in my own journey with the Father.

Again. Another example was given to me of asking the Father to open my eyes to the things unseen. It was never going to be a place of daunting experiences. My perception was nowhere near the reality. The reality was beauty. The reality was grace…..his grace.

The reality was fragments of heaven been shown to me via his children. It blesses me SO much more than words can say. It’s value is immeasurable. Not surprisingly, so is his value. This Lord, God, our Father…..he is…and his value, immeasurable.

“What do you bring to the table?”

2020 has been a strange year. It’s been unique. It’s been unprecedented. I think we’ve heard that word an unprecedented amount of times too, which only confirms what a strange year it’s been.

I’ve found 2020 to be beneficial in its own unique way as well. I’ve found it thought provoking. I’ve found it one where perspective has been more useful than normal. I’ve found we’ve been asked to think outside the usual parameters we’re accustomed to.

Individually the same can be said. Like one Sunday morning as i sat there on zoom tuning in to the latest “church on the couch”, as has been for months now this year. We were asked a question. A short one. But it was thought provoking, and in a good way.

What do i bring to the table?

The question is very much also a saying. What is it we can contribute? What is it that we offer? What is it that we know we possess that is of use to others? In this context it is all about what we bring to God, the Father’s table?

For me it starts with a simplicity. I’m simple. I know what I want and I’m going focus on that and only that. I’m not asking for much. I’m simply asking for what I need.

There’s authenticity too. I carry something genuine and real and it is me. It is mine. Friends and acquaintances have often spoken of it. Of how I carry something like the fingerprints of Christ. He’s put that in me, I know so.

But as he’s mentored me he has shown me how to go further. To love, encourage and to show compassion. He’s helped me realise that life isn’t all about me. The need to respect and consider others is of equal importance to that of my own.

He’s given me a desire now to speak that in to others through writing and no doubt through words that I also speak. Being brave enough to be open and honest is a damn hard task. Not least because you essentially expose yourself to others. “ Expose” probably isn’t the greatest word to use because by now i feel it’s less exposed and more offering up what I’ve found to be good for me. In the earlier days it did feel more like exposure.

But in doing this he has shown me the value of doing just so. We humans are meant to co-exist. We’re meant to do life together and the value in community is so high. Perhaps it’s the emotive reaction that connection brings? Or maybe it’s simply that our circumstances feel familiar and empathy is felt? We’ve all been in these places at one point or another

When I think back to that desire the father has given me I don’t just see the desire he’s put in to me but equally the desire he has for me, and wow! When you see that it blows you away. His desire is borne totally out of love. Unconditional love. When I think about this I feel it’s hard for us to fully comprehend how much he loves us. We have an idea, but that idea is based on our own idea. I have a feeling he loves us even deeper than that.

His love for us is a lot like taking a ride somewhere. It’s been a journey. We’ve had to learn and discover the deepness of his love. The journey has taken us places, it’s given us emotions that have changed us and when you look back 10 years, 5 years, 2 years and then today and you see all these parts he has built up within you. They have made you stronger and wiser. They have taught you so much that you are not the same person you were earlier. It’s not possible to be the same person anymore.

If the Father has made us so perfectly in his image then it is our duty to best believe that his design is intentional and the things that make us who we are were truly meant to be. Our identity is something we need to embrace.

That brings me back to the question I’ve been asked a few times lately.

What do I bring to the table?

The saying has been around forever but in the context of our relationship with the Father i wonder if we’re truly aware of what we bring to the table? I’m aware of the things I bring. I mentioned them at the beginning.

Things like authenticity and genuineness were words given to me recently. I’ve seen it and know it to be true. Another word given to me which also sits in line with the others was presence. Presence is not something you practice. Presence is something you carry and if anything it is more of a reflection. It’s what people see.

I think those are three amazing things to bring to the table.

Authenticity

Genuineness

Presence

Each one of those I see mirror the way the Father also was. The beauty in this is that this is what he intended for me. I didn’t really ever work towards this, it just became a part of me as i matured. This is how the Father builds us up. This is how he built me up.

I want to finish with this. The other day I was reading out of Acts chapter 2. Here King David spoke of a Lord who he walks with so intimately. He knows that he is forever side by side with him. He speaks of his praises, his joy and the hope that is so strong.

I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’”

Acts of the Apostles 2:25-28 NLT

It’s my hope that we all find a place where we can each be thankful for his presence, praise him for the joy he has given us and continue to live in such strong hope that he is forever with us on this journey. We will not be shaken. He will not be moved.

Whatever it is that you bring to the table you should have a confidence in it. A confidence within yourself. Your value is found in the things that Christ has given you. And all you bring is all you need to bring. It is all he intended for you. It is all you need…..and it is yours to keep!

Owning your identity

So I’ve been thinking an awful lot lately about our identities and the way that our Father works within them.

Let’s start with the obvious. Our identity, which God has given us – is seen through the ways we use our gifts, which he has also given us. Our gifts become like our authority. God wants us to use that authority so that people may know and literally see our God given identity. He wants us to use it in a way that brings joy to his heart and glory to his name.

I feel such encouragement when I think about the way that my identity is found. I’m so profoundly lifted when I realise that the gifts he has given me are where my identity in Christ is revealed. The gifts are intended for me. They are for me to use in ways in which I can bless those i come across.

God has given us all gifts. Some are unique, others are intended for the right people. But all of us have an immense value that our Father wants us to not just discover, but use.

We find these gifts in so many ways. We find them in the way we serve tirelessly without seeking reward. We find them in the selfless faith we carry each and every day. We find them in the way our hearts desire for things. We find them in the things that make us come alive.

Some of us love like all of us only wish we could. It’s a love that looks easy, it looks like peace as well. It’s amazing! Love and peace feel like the dynamic duo we all seek and when we find it it is THE most brilliant feeling. To have someone shower you with their love and peace is a blessing you invaluably accept.

No matter what our identity entails it is all special and brilliant. After all, it’s God’s craftiness that has been at work, and his workmanship is unlike no other.

It’s so clearly part of his design for us and when i see this it draws me in closer and stronger with each day. He has a path he has set us on, he has us on his fingertips guiding and encouraging us. He walks beside us – forever in control. That right there is a powerful hope to hold on to. He is with us at ALL times so be on the lookout, listen for him.

Our Father has given us so much already. But perhaps the most exciting thing about what he has given us is that we literally have no comprehension of just what he can actually do and the depths that he would go in order to do so.

I was drawn to Ephesians 3:20 earlier and was simply struck in awe. It says

“ God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his spirit gently within us.” (MSG version)

This is amazing! It’s Marvellous! It leaves me sat in awe of just what he could do. What I know is this. You and I, we all have gifts intended for use. And when you see the way he is already using you then you begin to sense a little a tick of the magnitude of his plans for us.

He does this by using us, by living within us. So when we use our gifts it is like God showing us the things we are capable of. But not only that. He’s showing us who we really are intended to be.

It is such an encouragement when we realise that. It’s also an incredible blessing to be entrusted with. He gives us this when we are ready to use it. He equips us with what we can handle. We are a vessel created and crafted for that specific purpose. It’s up to us to discover that purpose and gifting.

As I’ve thought long and hard over the past weeks he’s shown how this all comes together for the good of his kingdom. I’ve seen this in the words spoken over me. I’ve seen this in the way the same things have been confirmed by others. Almost like twins who think the same things. Our Father has confirmed much in recent weeks like that. It’s exciting and empowering when that happens.

But as I finish this “lesson”, if we can call it that. I want to finish by empowering you to step out and use your own gifts. Listen to God. Listen for the finer details which will become the start of something with such great purpose. No gift is too small, insignificant or over used. There’s always a need for more of it.

I’m lucky right now that the sense of my gifting is so strong right now. But rather than make it about me I just want to listen to the things my Father in heaven reveals to me. That friends is what is worth sharing.

Riding the wave

A while ago I found my mind drawn back to a text message sent to me some 14 months ago. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this memory. But i felt that God had placed it there for a reason.

For the first few days I would think back to it but not really take the time to investigate it. Kind of like procrastinating. We know we want to or would like to do something but just never get around to doing it. The thought stays there but it remains a thought, and that’s exactly what happened.

About a week later things had not really progressed but if I knew one thing it was that God has a habit of doing things in his time. So I asked myself why would God bring up the text message in my mind out of the blue? There simply had to be a reason for it and I knew it!

The text was from my pastor Matt. He had been spending time praying for me and during that time had seen a vision that represented God calling me in to a deeper place of intimacy with him. In this vision I had been in the water wanting to catch waves but not having the courage to do so.

I knew full well what that meant, but to be honest, what did that look like? I had no idea.What was i to do? How was I meant to go about it?

The waves represented the Holy Spirit. Essentially I needed to be bolder and catch those waves. Because in the vision the moment I did catch one I was overjoyed. I was ecstatic!

I wanted that SO much! I wanted to know I could do it. I wanted to experience what that reaction was.

So I prayed.

I prayed and meditated on those questions. On what it meant? And how I would go about it? I started looking intentionally for the answers and the truth was I found them right away. They weren’t ground breaking answers. They didn’t change many things at all but what I see now is they got my mind searching deeper and got me in to a routine of doing this.

Almost like my mind was being retrained – to look at things from a slightly different perspective. If I felt curious or unsure on something I began to see that this was my mind expanding.

A lot of what I was writing on in this period was from that initial perspective. A perspective that focused on encouraging and loving. A perspective that knew that in that place of honesty and vulnerability there were people out there who felt the same things or needed those words for themselves.

But as i started searching deeper for God’s intimacy I realised that I had stopped writing. That even though I had a lot on my heart, I wasn’t feeling moved to write things down. Instead I was being called to stop. To listen. To rest. To seek and find these reasons for the pause.

Even as I write this now my latest piece sits unfinished and here now is another piece put together so easily, almost as if God has placed it all on my heart right now, for this moment, this purpose.

The purpose is not just for me. It’s never about me. It may involve me but it’s never about me. It’s about God. It’s for God and it’s done with our Father, God.

What I realised when looking back at this text message was that what was spoken in to me that day is what has indeed happened since then. It’s been gradual and it’s been consistent and it has blessed me time after time again.

I still think about a time when I found it challenging even to write things that provided just a small window in to my thoughts and feelings. As introverted as i can be at times, this was a wild and yet bold step to make.

That feeling quadrupled in intensity when writing about thoughts became writing about deeper, more intimate matters such as what God has been doing in and around me.

But by this point it felt almost a necessity that I stepped in to that place and in some ways was actually an easier step to make because the words almost always come easier than when I write about other matters. Almost like God just laid it all out for me and I just needed to put it together.

The revelation in this experience for me was found in the way God had used that text message to show me what he had been doing since that day. At times we lose sight of some of the things he does for us, so to pull it back in and focus on things in hindsight was amazing! Because I could see HOW much he has done during this time.

I look at the way a COVID world has impacted this too. The routine of a Sunday spent in church, as good as it was, was changed. My focus – shifted, again.

Church has still been a big part of my Sunday just via Zoom and to be honest. I love it! Why? Well funnily enough it feels more intimate, it takes us deeper via the conversations we have. There is openness, vulnerability, honesty, love, kindness and inspiration. But perhaps the one thing that stands out most is that despite a world where isolation is a common theme now, it is community and family that are growing in this space.

Zoom has also challenged me to continue down this road I am on. I get to be Inspired and at the same time hopefully inspire and encourage others.

It’s also a proposition for the future. It’s a bold invitation to continue down this road. That as I step deeper in to him that there is a purpose that I will understand far better on another day.

The challenge today is definitely found in the connection we establish with others. Life has been altered. The opportunities are still there but they look different. They occur differently, none the least they are still there.

However I am so encouraged that I was drawn back to the original message so that I could see what God has done, and I’m eagerly awaiting what he wants to show me next.

The beauty of God is that he crafts us so intricately, so uniquely that we can have no idea what he is about to do next. But we can be safe in the knowledge that he’s always working within us.

I feel like the only thing left to say now is to encourage. We all have our own story. It is unique, it is something worth sharing and you can. But it is our story and what God has planned for each of us is going to be different for each of us. That’s what makes it unique.

But find encouragement even in the little things he does. A thousand small steps is a lot of steps In the right direction. So even if when it feels like he’s doing little, be encouraged that he’s doing something and piece by piece it will all make sense and you too will look back and see HOW much he actually has done.

As for me the shift is obvious. The fork in the road, long past. Those thousand small steps have left me in a place where I am ready for that next thousand steps as the journey continues

Encountering God

I’ve found myself lately focused on the ways in which I encounter God. For a few months I’ve been leaning far more intentionally on the ways in which I encounter him and then choose to interact with him. He’s taught me to listen more to those around me. To remind me that he uses every one of us as a means to speak to us.

I’ve always known that there’s an intentionality behind the people that God provides in our lives. They are there for a reason. They are there because they provide us with tools or gifts that we are open to receive. These people are our encouragement, our kick up the backside and they are the ones who watch out for us. They are many things. They are also the tools that God uses to equip us with what we need.

Originally this blog was entirely centred on the ways we encounter God and at a later point it will again. However i felt it was perhaps necessary to think about it in a different way. A way in which it affects us in a world that is now changing by the day. Why? Because things are changing quickly and the world we live in has a reality that is very different to the one of how we spent Christmas Day. So much has changed!

What’s clear is that this world is a very different world now. Our freedom is being challenged. Our simple, every day routines have been compromised. What we took for granted all of a sudden seems more valuable. Life feels a little more a gift than an entitlement. We’ve been reminded in the most brutal way that life is fragile and that it isn’t assured.

All those thoughts are just a little confronting to think about. But equally it’s a time to remind ourselves that God is still near. Things are still the same between he and I. They are still the same between God and yourselves. And it’s those encounters with God that we should be dearly looking for. He is there. He’s not gone anywhere. Right now I feel an encouragement to be more actively seeking him. To be mindful of the ways in which he is presenting himself to me.

There’s little doubt the feeling of seeking God more is a thought that has crossed all our minds lately. This is a world now that needs resolution. It needs restoration and healing. It is a world that is crying out for authority and there is none better than God.

Coronavirus has us all feeling a little anxious and concerned. Our daily lives aren’t just affected they are altered. We are learning to do things differently. We are learning to keep our space from people. We are learning to be mindful of the things we do and the way we go about that. We are retraining ourselves in our habits. It’s all a bit unique and different, and we as creatures of habit never like change.

There is though an encouragement. Because even amongst the fear we feel on our streets, our shopping malls and transport network there is something far greater than the strongest fear we can entertain.

God.

He’s not just our creator and father. He is our healer. This is the same God who moved mountains, parted seas and broke droughts. He has an infinite amount of power over this world.

So of course we should continue to ask him for healing of the sick. We should ask him for protection. We should ask that he will bring wisdom and clarity to our political leaders. We should ask him to provide strength and precision to our doctors and their teams, including nurses.

That is the God we encounter when we actively seek him. It is the God we know and have faith in. Even in these challenging times his promises are still so real. He has reminded me so much of that fact in recent months. That all it takes is a genuine heart that seeks him out and one that is willing to receive what he is offering.

So friends. Be open. Be open to the things he places on your heart. Be mindful of the ways in which he speaks to you. Know that there are people in your life for a very specific reason. Challenge yourself to be more open with them. Have a conversation with them, even if you’ve never done so yet. Just know that God has a reason for that moment. It’s all part of his design. And now perhaps more than ever his design needs you working towards it.

Love is spelled Light

Recently i shared a small snippet on what it means to be a light. It was a chance to share one of the things of my life for which I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for it because we live in a world that focuses on “ME”. It focuses on things we can get from life, whether it be wealth, status or just generally our wellbeing. All those things are nice, they are great actually. However there’s more to living than this.

I’ve found that one of the things I do naturally and effectively is to be a light. What does that mean exactly?

The idea of it comes from the book of Matthew in chapter 5:16 where it says;

“So don’t hide your light! Let it shine brightly before others, so that the commendable things you do will shine as light upon them, and then they will give their praise to your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:16 (Passion translation)

In a more general sense of the translation to be a light means to shine or to bring light to people’s lives. It means to encourage, empower and set an example. It means supporting or showing love to those around you.

It’s about shining a light on something, like in the same way a light shone in the darkness reveals the true identity of something.

I’ve found over time that people need other people. We carry burdens, we carry fragments of our past which even though are in our past they still touch, linger and affect our futures. It’s not always easy to see things for what they really are. We see them through the lens we get used to seeing them through. And this affects our ability to look forward.

I’ve found that i have a way with words. Almost always in a context of writing something. But I’ve learned also that sometimes those words need to be spoken. Words have meaning. They impact us.

While words spoken can have an impact, it is examples which impact more. Examples are best set by actions. Our presence can mean a lot to someone, just having someone being there fills a void that can be incredibly beneficial.

What is it we carry that is so beneficial?

We carry a presence which reflects the nature of who we are. It’s partially personality but if anything it’s more than that. It stems from the heart and your deepest desires. My heart seems to carry vast amounts of compassion, empathy and love. It’s hard to know why but it does.

It’s only been recent years that I’ve let that part of me really be seen. Not for fear of what others would think, but honestly? It was that I truly did not understand what it was that i carried within me.

It’s one thing to be nice to someone. I always found that easy. But it’s something far greater to step out and just be there for someone. Sometimes it’s just a message, a conversation. Even just a moment. What counts in that moment is the example. It’s the action which speaks loudest.

It’s like saying;

“Friend, nothing else matters. I support you. I want you to see that i am simply here for you”.

Nothing is expected in return for this isn’t about me. It’s about doing the very thing i believe we are here for. Each other.

We are here for each other.

That is what it means to be a light. I know that at the other end of the spectrum it is people’s words and presence which have encouraged me over time.

Sometimes we know where to go but can’t seem to find our way there. This is where we need other people. I don’t think its coincidence that the people in our lives are who they are. I think they all play a role in shaping who we are meant to become. It is their words, their encouragement, their constant presence and support which helps us find our way.

When I think about my presence I want to know that i made a difference. I want to know that I stopped and helped someone when they needed it.

Why?

Because not everyone will do it. People will be left to fend for themselves, or feel that their circumstances left them unworthy of a good deed. I see people made to pay continuously for their poor decisions. I see people living without belief of better days ahead. Of choosing to believe that hope is something they cannot touch because they feel they don’t deserve it.

But hope is a powerful thing. Hope is a presence that restores the broken, it recharges the defeated and it reminds the lost that you will find that place you desire once more.

That is why shining a light for all to see is so important.

My light is your hope. Light shines for all to see. Your hope shines brightest in the darkest moments, like the sun that rises after the night’s longest hour. I’m reminded of that every time the sun breaks out after a storm.

Friends as Christmas passes and a new year closes in remind yourself to think of those around you. Be encouraged that your presence can be someone else’s light.

The mindset

I often wondered what it was like to find a level of peace that existed beyond what I initially knew. It’s easy to say to someone “Cheer up!” Or “Look on the bright side dude!”. But when you feel that way it’s not always easy to simply pick yourself up and feel better about certain things or situations. On occasions there are but what’s more likely is that you will put on an act to look as if you’ve moved on, all the while you feel a sense of carrying that burden with you, it remains. It just sits in your back pocket waiting to come out again at a later point.

We’re really good at storing unnecessary things within us. We hold grudges. We hold disappointments. We hold bad experiences. We hold a lot of things that carry negative weight within us. It’s crazy that we do!! Why do it!?!? It’s doing no good for us so why focus on it? Why let it absorb so much energy? It would be so much better if we could just flush it away and know that it’s done with.

So how do we do that?

The truth is we’re flawed characters. We don’t have all the answers. That is how we end up where we are in the first place. We make decisions emotively. How we feel determines how we react. It feels as if we are built with defensive mechanisms within us. They seem to stem from our flawed personalities. We react in a imperfect manner. It’s proven in those moments we look back on and realise we didn’t react the way we should have or even would like to have.

I believe the key to difference starts in a similar place. It’s starts within us. It starts with our mindset. Our mind is our biggest weapon yet our most dangerous adversary. It can do both. Both brilliance and destruction. But there lies a real force in a mindset that is positive. There comes with it a real belief and determination to wherever you find yourself. A positive mindset is more proactive. It is more productive and it is far more healthy for us. I guess it stems from knowing what we want in life, or in that day or moment.

Ultimately though a positive mindset is the ability to think in a manner that chooses not to worry. It chooses to think in a forward thinking space. It determines a mindset that doesn’t let things get in the way. It focuses on a way and shuts out all thoughts around it that could unsettle those thoughts. It’s a mindset that requires strength and discipline because it’s obviously far easier to let our emotive selves control the way we think.

The level of peace I carry now stems from a shift in my mindset.

What did I do exactly?

Well first you need to identify your mindset and what dictates it. You need to figure out what it is that controls your thinking. Is it your job? Your family? Perhaps it’s your wealth or even your health?? But deep down there will be something that feels central to dictating the way you think and feel.

When you figure out what it is that dominates your mindset you have to ask yourself.

Is this a good thing? Or

Is this a bad thing?

I think it’s so important to fixate your mind on the good things in life . Things that make you happy, things that bring value to your life. Things that deep down inside of you feel right.

Equally though it is time to rid yourself of the things that you feel drag you down in life. This is your life, you decide what is good or bad for you in your life. Rid yourself of it. Don’t allow yourself to invest the time even thinking about it. Choose to say “No! I’m not going to focus on this.”. Choose to rid yourself of the negative energies in your life. Focus on the good and allow your mind to feel at peace. Your mind can have you sinking deeper by the day if you allow it to do so.

A healthy mind is wonderful basis to build upon. A healthy mind is a mind at peace, and a mind at peace is a mind that is making choices that deep down feel right and do good for you.

My mind feels at peace most of the time now, but I am human. That default mechanism has me emotively thinking some days but I am usually quick to slap that in the face and think with a mindset that is more positive for myself.

Perhaps a lot of that is to do with my Christian faith………….

Actually, it probably has a lot to do with that. Maybe faith has a lot to do with instilling a positive mindset?

If faith is the ability to trust in something you cannot physically see then that right there is a mindset that chooses to think outside our usual emotive ways. Instead it chooses to believe in a higher power greater than myself. It chooses to believe that what I feel or fear is merely my emotive state telling me otherwise. The challenge is always to trust the process.

Having God there helps a lot with this. I choose not worry about things that I can’t control. Instead giving them to God, and knowing that if I focus on what’s important then the rest will fall in to place. And it always does.

The old me would’ve let that fear or negative thought take control at some point. It would’ve highlighted to me how my reaction was always a certain way. A way that didn’t really help me with anything. Now though it is different. It starts with the mindset that sees me looking forward and positively. And with it a reminder every time of how much better, easier and enjoyable life is when you look at life through a positive lens.

So friends it’s a simple equation. The choice is yours. It’s like a fork in the road. Your mindset will control you. Which direction you want to send it is up to you.

Left or right? East or West? In the dark or the light? It’s your call. Even if you feel you’re in a good place right now let it reinforce the value of a positive mindset and be thankful you’re able to enforce it.

But perhaps it’s best put this way. Don’t think of it so much as a case of simply trying to find the good in any situation. But rather learn to look for the good. Even in situations which leave you feeling bummed or hopeless. Desperate or sad. Try and find something of value, something of good. It will help. It will help even if all it does is encourage you to think and react differently.