Monday, January 28, 2008

4 Things Meme

Okay ... I don't normally do these as I try to keep my blog devotional ... but here goes ...

4 jobs I've had:
- Teacher
- Toilet Cleaner (yes, child creche cleaner - 40 toilets every night - ugh)
- Plant seller (know nothing about plants - FAST learner!)
- Church Leader/Intern/Missions Worker (working full time at church)

4 movies watched over and over:
- The Matrix
- The Thomas Crown Affair
- Roswell (does the boxed DVD TV series I own count?)
- A Knights Tale

4 places I've lived:
- Seoul, Korea (current location)
- Valbonne, France (South of France ... suffering for my masters!)
- Alberta, Canada (Rotary Scholarship)
- New Zealand

4 shows I watch:
- House
- Numbers
- *Anything I can find in English on the TV ... lots of channel surfing involved ...

4 places I've been: - (okay I took a bit of liberty here ;) )
- Europe - England, Scotland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Czech Rep., Hungary,
- Middle East - Turkey, Egypt
- Asia - Japan, China, Korea, Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand
- Other - Canada, USA (incl Alaska & Hawaii), NZ, Fiji, Australia

4 people who email me regularly:
- Mum
- Ang
- Julie
- work (enough of those ones!)

4 favorite things to eat:
- fresh pineapple
- cadbury's dairy milk chocolate
- Granite (a frozen slushy southern italian drink made out of fresh lemons)
- Turkish/Middle Eastern food

4 places I'd rather be:
- Sorrento, Italy
- Kayaking Northern Vancouver Island
- My Beach! (Otaki Beach, NZ)
- Sailing on the South Turkey Coast

4 things I look forward to this year:
- holidays!
- a music jam on my birthday
- a visit to Phoenix?!
- a new country to explore

4 people to tag:
- think they are all done! - if not and you are reading this ... YOU!

A Message for The Shepherds

Currently I am reading an autobiography of Ansel Adams and I have to say, it's an EXCELLENT book. I highly recommend it if you are arty in any way. I keep sticking yellow stickies on it because there is so much I want to revisit and think over. Yesterday, I was reading a passage and it absolutely arrested me.
"There are sheep by the billion, but the shepherds are few. And the shepherds in the modern capitals of the world may lead us either to pasture or to slaughterhouse."

Ezekial had a little something to say about this as well:
Ez 34
1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them."

This is a scripture I have often thought about. I have been in a shepherding position and I know many of you reading this have been, or are currently. What kind of shepherd are you?

I have been in churches that are running fast and hard - doing fabulous things for the Lord. But, the cost has been high. Leaders and people have fallen alongside the way. The actions of the church have said, "sorry, we can't stop with you. We have places to go and things to achieve. Sorry you are hurt, but we have to keep running." I see this and I think of God's judgement on the shepherds - "you got fat off your sheep." Friends, this mindset is subtle and insiduous. It has no place in our churches and as shepherds, we are called to seek out the lost, the hurting and bring them back into the fold.

Back in the 80s Chuck Girard wrote a song called, Don't Shoot The Wounded. Part of the lyrics go,
Don't shoot the wounded, they need us more than ever.
They need our love no matter what it is they've done.
Sometimes we just condemn them, and don't take time to hear their story.
Don't shoot the wounded, someday you might be one.

Take some time to read the lyrics of the whole song. It really is a word to the Church.

Too often we are good at seeking out the unsaved but we have a lot of lost, hurting and damaged Christians who don't need our judgement. They need our love. They need a good samaritan to stop and bind their wounds - help them to the inn. I really have it on my heart this morning. People matter to God. We know this. But let me tell you that fallen and hurting leaders also matter to God. Those who have encouraged others, who have walked strongly and faithfully but for whatever reason are discouraged and wounded, they need our love, our encouragement. They need someone to stand alongside them when they are battle weary, and hold their arms up when they can do this no longer.

Will you be one who does? Will you be Jesus with skin on?

Well ... DUH! ... and THANKS!

Hi all

Its currently 2am and I cannot sleep. My body is buzzing ... this was a symptom for me quite a few months last year ... part of the problems arising from my pituitary tumor. However since this type of symptom has next to gone since I started my meds, I have to put it down to the foolishness of drinking not one, but TWO cans of diet coke while playing cards with friends tonight. I am not a coffee drinker and have coke as an occasional treat so ... here we are ... thinking of you all!

Okay ... the above is not the DUH referred to in the heading! The DUH ... is THIS! I have been feeling a wee bit puzzled and discouraged that no-one has been stopping by to leave comments on my blog ... my favourite bit of blogging is the interaction with YOU - the reader ...

So since I am awake and I have something on my heart (next blog), I thought I would start to blog my next blog. Instead I log in and find 16 comments awaiting moderator approval! DUH! I forgot I had to change the settings to this because some stinker spammed my blog!

So here I am in the wee hours of the morning with a BIG smile on my face at your thoughts and introductions. Thankyou one and all ... i will get around to answering these soon. But in short, yes Claire, I am back in Korea and it has been FREEZING ... with the wind chill, quite a few days last week were around -20C. Makes me want to break out in a round of "BrrrRRRR, it's cold in here! There must be a clover in the atmosphere! I said now, BRRRRRR, it's cold in here ..." (see you get me manic when its the middle of the night!).

In answer to those who have been asking about darling wee Ruby, she is a little honey. Her chemo is going well. She is in the midst of a particularly nasty round of treatment that can give her ulcers down her aesophogus and mouth. I think she has three of these treatments left and as of yet she has not got ulcers so this is something to thank God for. She has had several bad infections the last month which has resulted in hospital stays and gastric tubes.

Alrighty ... thats the quick news updates ... Look out for my next posting ... either I will be so wired I will finish it tonight or it will be up in the next few days!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

What If God Was One Of Us?

I was off work sick this week and while laying flat out on my sofa, I was channel surfing on the tv. I could not believe my luck when I came across a movie based on a favorite book of mine - Joshua. (The original book seems to be out of print, but it looks like it is part of this). The premise of the book is Jesus turning up to live in a small community. His name is Joshua. While I do have a couple of theological issues, the book and the movie both captured me because they paint a picture of what would it look like if Jesus lived in my community. Joan of Arcadia tried for a similar thing. Rich Mullins has a fabulous song called Boy Like Me that touches on this same theme. Take a moment to read the lyrics. I love the line: "Well, did You wrestle with a dog and lick his nose? Did You play beneath the spray of a water hose? Did You ever make angels in the winter snow?"

Take a few moments and picture it ... don't picture the Jesus of robes, beards and centuries of paintings. Picture a Jesus of whatever gender, ethnicity, skin colour and clothing that is relevant to where you are. Who is (s)he? (Yes, that can mess with our minds can't it!) What would he be like? What would draw people to him? The thing that comes through in both the book and the movie, is his humour, kindness and love for people. Love, love and love again. Even when challenging, it is done with love for the person and the truth rather than a self righteous finger pointing.

Like in times of old, people were drawn to Jesus. He loved, he cared, he listened. It's an incredibly attractive thing. I know I find myself undone by the love of God. When I stop long enough to be with him, it hits me, and I am completely humbled and undone. And I am drawn. I want more of him.

Here's a thought. We are Jesus with skin on. What does this look like in your world?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Introducing ... YOU!

I have been doing this blog for just over a year now. One of the things that kept me blogging was the encouragement of my friend Dan. In fact, he really got me started but when i would write and wonder if anyone was reading this, or even interested, Dan would leave comments and i would be encouraged! Not just that this was not a time wasting experience, but he would add thoughts that would spark more thinking in me! It's one of the things I like about blogs. They are a two way communication channel - we are a community and I love seeing other people's perspective on things. If you are not a blogger member you can still leave a comment, just sign in under anonymous!

I notice through my blog counter I have quite a few readers and I don't know who you are! If you are a lurker ... take 2 minutes to introduce yourself and tell me a bit about who you are ... maybe how you came across my blog or what brings you back?! I would really like to meet you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Road Trippin'

Sing along ... "hit the road Jack ..." ;)

When I was a child we would sometimes be driving with my Grandfather from Thames to Coromandel. This drive is one of the most gorgeous drives in the North Island of New Zealand. It has stunning scenery and I love to drive beside the little sheltered bays in early evening with the pohutakawas in full bloom. Every time I drive it, I think, "oh ... I had forgotten just how beautiful this is ..."

Anyway, as a child, this was completely wasted on me and I indulged in the question that all grown ups just love to hear ... "how much longer?" And of course, not just once, but many, MANY times. My grandfather always had a response to this question. It went like this: "just up, down and round the corner."

The words of my grandfather have come back to me a lot this past year and they are filled with wisdom. We are all on a journey and sometimes it seems (yes, sing along with me ...) "the road is lo-o-ong ...." But the reality is, our journey is just up, down and round the corner. I have learnt a lot about this watching Ruby fight her Leukemia. There are good days, bad days and days she turns a corner and then repeats ... Life is a journey. Sometimes you are at the top of a hill, sometimes at the bottom and sometimes you turn corners. Unlike the song, "we're on the road to nowhere", you are going somewhere. Be encouraged and don't be despondent. As it says in Hebrews 10:23, "let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful." just what did he promise? Well many, many things but a couple of very important ones that spring to mind are:

Phil 1:6 "be confident of this: he who began a good work in you will see it through to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

You are not forgotten or overlooked by God on your road trip. In Isaiah 49:15-16, he uses the imagery of a mother and baby and says, "can a mother forget a baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands ..."

Sometimes it seems like we are forever on our journey, going round and round the same roundabout. Be encouraged. Don't see it as a roundabout, see it as a spiral road ascending upwards. Yes, you come around the same side as you travel ... yes, the view is similar, but you are climbing higher ... going further each time. As you look ahead, it may seem like you will never arrive, but look back and see how far you have come on your journey.

Praying Karen has been talking a little about seasons and pruning. Sometimes in our pruning season, it may seem like winter and that it is endless. There is a beautiful line in Oscar Wilde's story, The Selfish Giant. Let me set the scene for you. In this story, the giant was selfish and for a long time, his garden was in winter. Autumn would come by delivering fruit to other gardens, look into his garden and say,"he is too selfish, he shall have none." The giant had a miserable time and winter had a hey day (personified by frost, hail, snow and the north wind). Anyway he has a change of heart (read the book, it's inspirational!) and knocks down the wall of his garden to let the children play. Winter loses its grip and spring rules. Many many years go by and then the story picks up again:

"One winter morning he looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate the Winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting..."

I love that line ... spring was asleep and the flowers were resting. The giant had learnt that life has seasons. He had learnt that after every winter, there is a spring and it WILL COME! Listen to the words of Joel 2 and substitute your name in there ...

Joel 2:18-27
"I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; Surely he has done great things. Be not afraid (your name). Be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things. Be not afraid (your name), for the open pastures are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches. Be glad (your name), rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. "I WILL RESTORE TO YOU THE YEARS THAT THE LOCUSTS HAVE EATEN ... You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God,..."

In the travels of your life journey, as you pass through a winter season, remember this and be filled with hope. Spring is coming! It's just up, down and round the corner!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Have you ever been short of breath? I can remember multiple occasions … coming off my pony at high speed and being winded … swimming underwater just a bit too long … that feeling of lungs just screaming for oxygen … the instinct to breathe is life itself.

I have been thinking about breath lately. Recently I was home in New Zealand and while at my Mums, I took every opportunity to be on my beach (she lives 2 doors down) in the evening – generally playing with my camera (see above photo!), but also, just taking in time to stand in the dunes and breathe. Breathe in fresh, glorious New Zealand air, breathe in the space and stillness of the cool of the evening, breathe in the beauty and wonder all around me, breathe in peace. I could have walked and walked on my beach (its possible to walk for hours – that’s the joy of a NZ coastline) but mostly I just wanted to BE when I would get down there. Far from the smog, crowds and frenzied pace of Seoul, my soul rejoiced and drank in the opportunity to be still. There is something incredibly restoring about being in the midst of the beauty of God’s creation.

A quick wee look at Websters dictionary gives some interesting definitions of breathe …
To start with, we have the physical act of inhaling and exhaling. Do you know that many specialists have noted that we do not breathe properly. We get into bad habits of shallow breathing – it’s the minimum we need but it does not give us all we need. I learnt this while taking singing lessons. I would arrive at singing from a day of teaching, and my chest would be tight and I would be doing small top ups of air instead of the deep breaths my body was designed for. Often I was unaware of it and my singing teacher would point it out. I would have to be very conscious and deliberate about the way I breathed. Are you like that in your spiritual walk? Just shallow breathing with God? A little is enough to keep you going? Are you tight and pressured? Take time to stop and breathe deeply.

An additional meaning is simply, “live”. This just makes me think of that scripture that says in him we live, move and have our being. Are you existing, or LIVING?

Another meaning that has become more obsolete over time but really caught me is, “to emit a fragrance or aura”. I have a colleague who has the most incredible sense of smell … any time I wear a perfume, she notices and is able to identify it. If it’s new to her, I tell her once and then she can pick it any time. Do you exude the fragrance of Christ? As you move through your daily life, do people notice it?

Another definition is, “to pause and rest before continuing”. Not much we need to say here is there?! Are you building in those times to pause and rest. Times to just be still and breathe in his presence?

A final definition from Websters: “to feel free of restraint”. This brings me back to those singing lessons and my tight chest from incorrectly breathing. When we stand still in space and take time to breathe, we become free. Think of God’s desire for us, so beautifully expressed in Job 36:16: “I am wooing you from the jaws of distress, bringing you into a SPACIOUS PLACE, FREE FROM RESTRICTION” (caps mine). Why does God want to bring us into this spacious place? Because he DELIGHTS in us! (Ps 18:19).

I had a wee look at some of the scriptures about breathing and there are two very important words for us to be aware of.

Firstly we have Naphach (pronounced naw-phach’). This Hebrew word has multiple meanings but the most common ones are to blow and to breathe. It is the word used in Genesis when God breathed the breath of life into Adam. Interestingly, one of its major connotations is to give up life. We have life because Christ gave his up!

Naphach is also used throughout Ezekial 37 – the dry bones chapter. There is another Hebrew word here that can be used for breath and it is Ruwach (pronounced Ruach). This word means breath, mind, spirit. So when God is saying that he will put his breath in the dry bones and they shall live, he is talking about the very essence of himself. And there it is in a nutshell folks. We live because he gives us life.

How often do you stop to breathe? To be still? Do you slow down enough to realise the screaming in your lungs? Are you desperate for Him to fill you with his breath? His life? His presence? I know that this year, I need to be desperate … I need to spend more time breathing in his word and his presence. How about you?

I will leave you meditating on the lyrics of that beautiful worship song by Marie Barnett. I have linked it to Michael w Smith so take a couple of minutes and just soak in God's presence while you listen ... The words are below if you need them ...
This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
You holy presence
Living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word
Spoken to me

And I, I’m desperate for you
And I, I’m lost without you