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.











“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