Tuesday, 23 December 2014


Before reading this can you do me a favour? Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. My prayer is always that he would speak through my words, because or you and I are just wasting our time. But for some reason this morning I think it is particularly important. Something is brewing in my mind and heart, it is bubbling up, something that makes me want to shout from the roof tops! But I know that I can shout all I want, if the Holy Spirit is not in my words they will be empty, useless noise… 

As I sit next to my Christmas tree in the quite and peacefulness of the morning I can’t stop thinking about what I read and reflected on yesterday, so despite wanting to write on something new…

This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. (1 John 4:7-10)

Yesterday morning I was struck with the significance that God loves us so much that he sent his son to die!!! So that he could repair the damage we have done! This is incredible! This is the GOOD news, actually it's way better then good, it's GREAT, it's FANTASTIC, INCREDIBLE... This is what Christmas is all about, God sending his son to die, so that through his death and resurrection he would defeat sin and death, inaugurating the kingdom of God, the reconciliation of all of creation to our Maker... GUYS THIS IS BIG NEWS! Don't let the Christmas season get swept away in the flurry of buying presents, baking cookies, cooking turkeys, drinking eggnog, and having Christmas parties, without taking sometime to seriously reflect on the marvel of this GREAT news, then with these treasures stored in our hearts we can truly celebrate knowing the King of kings and the Lord of lords has arrived to save us from our own self-destruction! Praise be to my King for you alone Jesus are worthy of all that think, speak, and breath! Amen

I posted this reflection on Facebook, so you may have read this already, but I think it’s important enough for a repeat… don’t you think? 

Have you lost sight of the MIND BLOWING significance of Christmas? I know I have. And it’s not just about understanding the true meaning during this season, this GREAT news should shake up our entire lives, every season needs to be shaped and transformed by the MIND BLOWING news that God is with us, that he has sent his son to die so that he would repair all the brokenness in the world, everything from our own personal hurts to the social injustice to the damages in creation. 

Christmas has cosmic all year round significance…

Do you believe that? Are we living out of this truth?

My challenge to us this morning is not settle for the warm fuzzies and sparkles that to often dominate Christmas (not that I don’t love sparkles, because I do, I love sparkles! But Christmas is so much more, something far greater, actually Christmas has a warm fussies and sparkles that if we allow them to will completely transform our world!). 

That’s what I’m talking about TRANSFORMATION, the total transformation of the entire world, of all of creation! To us a child is born… yes a child, who is the SAVIOUR, the King of Kings, the One who sets all things right, the Healer of the nations… We were, we are on a path of complete destruction, but at just the right time God sent his Son… This is what Christmas is all about God coming to save his broken, hurting world, to set all of creation free from sin and death, reconciling all of creation to himself! 

Drink your eggnog, open your presents, and wear lots of sparkles, but let’s not settle, let’s not be robbed of the transformational power of Christmas…

Maybe you are like me and you have grown up hearing the Christmas story, singing the songs, going to a candle light service, so that the significance of the MIND BLOWING truth of Christmas has been diminished?

My prayer is that as we sing the warm fuzzy Christmas songs this year, hear the Christmas story, and light our candles that the Holy Spirit would open our minds and hearts to the miraculous truth and significance of Christmas, lets ask him to take the significance and truth of Christmas deeper then it has ever gone before, sinking into the very depths of our souls, messing us up for the entire year, may the truth set us all ablaze, transforming not only ourselves but the entire world, may the significance that God is with us bring us to our knees as we come and worship the child that has been born, the King of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, Emmanuel …

Let this shake you up, I mean really mess with you… likely we each have our things that God wants to shake up in us, so ask him to show you what it is that he is wanting to mess you up for. 

This Christmas I am praying for revival, in me, in you, in the church, in Vancouver, in the world, in creation! God sent his Son to reconcile the world to himself, now I’m not going to settle for anything less than a full on revival! How about you? What are you asking for this Christmas?

Friday, 19 December 2014

Just Chill Out

As I sit here waiting, rather impatiently, on the Lord, I hear his gentle voice whispering to me over and over again, “I love you Maria, I love you Maria, I love you…”

He loves me. God loves me. I am loved by the Maker of heaven and earth.

You’d think that be enough? Apparently it’s not, because I keep crying out for something more… more than God’s love!? Really, Maria!? What is wrong with me!?

God’s love is enough for me, it must be, it has to be. The Maker of the universe must be enough for me. Right!?

Then why do I keep desperately seeking love, or something like it, in other places? 

The answer is obvious, we’ve discussed it here before, I am believing a lie. I am believing the enemies first and maybe his greatest lie that God is withholding something from me. I am believing that the “world” has something good to offer me that God can’t or at least won’t. If I’m not full on believing this lie, I am at the very least settling for something that will give me temporary satisfaction, because waiting on the Lord is to hard, I need something right now! Oh what a product of my own culture I am. I can understand intellectually, even experientially, that the ways of the world will not give me long term satisfaction, yet I still give myself over to the passions of the “flesh” because it’s easier and quicker than the slow diligent process of God’s life giving way. Oh help me God!

I know I’m not the only one who is stumbling her way along in this journey we call sanctification. Fess up! Don’t lie to yourself, it’s not going to get you anywhere…

So where do we go from here? I'm “to do list” kind of women, so my temptation is to make us all a “how to get spiritually fit” list, in 10 easy steps or less… but no that’s not what we need. I’m not dismissing the spiritual disciplines, or our human moral effort, no matter how feeble it may be, they have a place, a role in our journey, forsure, without a doubt. But as I sat here this morning, wrestling with God, I kept asking him “what do you want from me!?” and he would gently answer “nothing Maria, I want nothing from you, I only want to be with you.” I thought OK right, great OK so now what? “What do you want me to do? What should I read or write or pray? Come on there’s gotta be something I can dooo!”

Nope. Nothing. There is nothing you or I can do or not do to receive God’s love. He loves us because he made us, because he chose to love us. That’s it.

So God said to me “Maria just sit, be still, and receive my love.”

Ah! Man oh man… so there I sat, squirming in the love of my Father in heaven, he who knows me by name, he who has chosen to love us, that’s right he loves you too, and I think he is probably calling many of us—as I’m confident I’m not the only one who struggles with being still, with receiving his love, with earning and achieving, with to do lists, with resting in him—to come and sit in his presences, to be still with him, to “hear” him whispering in his quiet gentle voice “I love you, I love you, I love you…”

Maybe you could take sometime today, or tomorrow, and sit in the presences of your Father who loves you, he who knows you by name and he who has chosen you to be his beloved child… maybe?

This song was playing as a I started this morning, and it played as I finish writing this…

“Better is One Day”

How lovely is Your dwelling place,
Oh Lord Almighty
My soul longs and even faints for You
For here my heart is satisfied,
within Your presence
I sing beneath the shadow of Your wings

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere

One thing I ask and I would seek,
to see Your beauty
To find You in the place Your glory dwells

My heart and flesh cry out,
For You the living God
Your spirit's water for my soul
I've tasted and I've seen,
Come once again to me
I will draw near to You
I will draw near to You

Saturday, 13 December 2014

I am a Junkie

Bear with me for these are not yet fully formed thoughts...

I have been reflecting on self identity recently… now that’s not just a fancy way to say I’ve been thinking about myself a lot lately, although that is probably true as well!

What I’ve been thinking about is, how does one come to know self? 

I am a little bit of a personality test junkie, I love them! Anything that will tell me more about myself! 

Now I do recognize that personality tests can't actually tell me who I am, and that they need to be nuanced, but I do think they can be a valuable tool for "self-work" ... 

OK Maria where are you going with this? Don't worry this is not going to be a promo for the latest and greatest personality test...

I am a number 8... if you don't know what that means that’s OK, but if you do then great, you'll know that by being a number 8 I am a challenger, a fighter ... at least that is what the test told me. The test also let me know that my greatest fear is to be controlled... I actually can get onboard with most of, if not all, of what the test has told me about myself (despite the fact when I first took the test and was told "Maria you are a number 8, the challenger..." the first words that came out of my mouth were "No, I'm not! No really guys I don't think that I am..." Haha! But I have come to accept my true identity!). 

In the past month or so I have been reading more about my personality, and spending time in prayer asking the Lord to speak into what the test says about me, and who He says I am, which I think is probably a pretty legit thing to do, right? 

I still think personality tests can be a helpful tool, I still think of myself as a number 8, but a couple days ago as I was sitting with the Lord thinking about myself, I was reading My Utmost for His Highest, and this is what Oswald Chambers had to say...

"Personality is like an island, we know nothing about the great depths underneath, consequently we cannot estimate ourselves. We begin to think we can, but come to realize that there is only one Being Who understands us, and that is our Creator.” (347)

That's when I first started to question the validity of my self-work methods, maybe instead of sitting around thinking about myself, even if it's with the Lord in prayer and reflection on the Truth of who He says I am, I should try sitting around thinking about Him, praying and praising Him for who He is. And as I get to know Him more and more intimately I will start to discover who I am in Him…

Further on Chambers argues that, “if you give up your right to yourself to God, the real true nature of your personality answers to God straight away.” (347)

Maybe Chambers is onto something? What do you think? Could maybe the key to who we are actually not be in ourselves but be in the One Who created us?

Over the past couple days I’ve been trying to think of myself less often, and instead focus my energies on Jesus, or as the author of Hebrews beckons us to do, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2).

Then this morning I read in the Message “ … If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me…” (Matt 10:38-39)

Hum… there it is again, the idea of forgetting about myself and instead looking to Jesus! 

I think there is something to this. 

Again I am not saying throw out the personalty tests! 

But what I am saying is maybe instead spending so much time trying to figure myself out, trying to figure out what’s wrong with me and how I can fix it, I could instead spend that time looking to Jesus, reading the Word, praying and praising Him, not with the aim of figuring myself out, but with the soul goal of knowing Him, loving Him, praising Him, because He is worthy, in fact He alone is worthy, I am not worthy, you are not worthy of all the time and energy that we spend on ourselves. 

Please hear me I’m not suggesting any kind of asceticism or self-deprecation, rather I am just think that most of us could probably think about ourselves less often, and think of Him more often, and that this would do us a lot of good, in fact I’m suggesting that with this reorientation we will not only, ironically, find ourselves, but it is the right and true perspective, for:

““Worthy [is He], our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for [He] created all things,
    and by [His] will they existed and were created.” (Rev 4:11)


Monday, 8 December 2014

No Pretty Bows

This morning as I spent some time still (well as still as I can be ;) before the LORD, I was struck with the imagery of myself standing on a rock, swaying in the wind...

I felt the Lord saying to me "Maria you are standing on the Rock, that is Jesus Christ, but you are being tossed and turned by the winds."

I thought, yes, that is exactly, what is going on... I am weak, weak to and in my flesh, I am venerable to my own self-destructive ways...

I am swaying in the wind, on the Rock, but unstable, I feel as if I am about to topple over into the crashing waves!

I am unstable. How do I become stable?

Duh! I know this answer, because I have been here so many times before ...

I will become stable through active participation in the Word, prayer, the Sacraments, and in fellowship with Christian community...

OK so if the answer is so simple, than why can't I seem to stay stable!? Because though the answer may be simple, but it is not easy. Not only do we have forces in us working against us, but there are also the dark principalities in the world that are working against us!

But please do not be dismayed, for Christ has been VICTORIOUS over all of sin and death, He has set us free from the power of the flesh, so that NO LONGER are we slaves to sin but now we are slaves to RIGHTEOUSNESS!

This is the truth! Do you believe it? No? Yeah me neither, well that's not entirely true, I do believe it, sometimes, but I have a really difficult time living in this reality.

This brings us right back around to our deep NEED to actively participating in the Word, prayer, the Sacraments, and in fellowship with Christian community...

I have not pretty bow to wrap this up with, because for right now (one day when Jesus returns, he'll wrap us up in a pretty bow) we are on a journey, its a process, it's messy and at times ugly, but there is HOPE and his name is Jesus Christ of Nazareth!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Insidious Weeds

Spending sometime with Jesus this morning...

"Maria what are you desperate for?"

Oh! Nooo! Not that question!

It's not that I don't know that answer to this question, because I do, oh I really do, but it's that it's such a painful question, because it hashes up all those dark things in me that I try to drown out with busyness, parties, friends, work, noise... 

Anyone know what I am talking about? Sure you do!

OK so what are you desperate for? First things that come to your mind...

to be loved.

That's an easy one right? 

Truth - I am loved by God. He is enough for me. He satisfies me. 
Truth... or is it?

If this is true why am I still so desperate for love?

Because I am believing a lie...

The lie - I am not loved. I am unlovable. I am alone.

That's stupid! I know that's not true... or do I? Because I am living like I believe the lie...

I know that this needs to change, but I don't know how it will change. I don't think that it can really ever change. ANOTHER LIE! 

Oh gosh! You see how insidious this is!? 

These lies that we all believe are like deadly weeds that take root in our minds and hearts, choking out beauty and life... and just like gardening we need to be diligently weeding our minds and hearts, pulling out the lies...

We need to get on our knees before the Great Gardner and ask for Him to show us the lies that have taken root in our hearts and minds. As we humble ourselves before Him in times of prayer and mediation, in stillness and quietness He will help you pull them out, and plant in your heart and mind life giving flowers of truth.

There you have it, its not easy, it's hard work, you will get dirty, your knees and back will hurt, but with the diligent effort of spending time with Him, He is faithful to heal and restore you...

O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge (Ps 62:8)
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus ... (Eph 2:10)
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished ... (Phil 1:6)

Friday, 24 October 2014

Let's Get Chewing

As I sat this morning eating my very blue oatmeal and drinking my maple syrup infused coffee, while listening to a worship song proclaiming that "my God is mighty to save" I found myself beginning to sing along, and then I found myself thinking "yup I believe this to be true, my God IS mighty to save!"

As I began to journal I reflected on the darker doubt filled place I was in yesterday morning before I started my devos. So I thought to myself what has changed? The simple answer is that for the past mornings I have spent time in meditation and prayer with my God who is mighty to save!

The question that came to the page was "what happens when I don't feel or act as more than a conquers?"


The verse that was tumbling around in my mind is found in Romans 8: 37 where the Apostle writes "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Earlier he makes the argument that those who are in Christ Jesus have been set free from the law of sin and death (vs. 2). 

I have to be honest sometimes, maybe even quite often, I don't feel or act free from sin, instead I am feel and act conquered by sin, defeated, struggling, unable to live the life of freedom and flourishing I read about in the Scriptures, and that I do believe is meant to be mine, "oh Jesus I believe help my unbelief."

The next verse that came tumbling into my mind, or rather that was placed into my heart was Romans 12:2 " Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

Or as the Message puts it "Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."

I thought "Yup! That's the answer." This is a truth that God has to remind me of often... fix your eyes on Jesus, because HE is the founder and perfecter of your faith! (Heb 12:2).

So there you have it, don't feel or act as more than a conquer? Whatever it is that you struggle with, we all have something, it might be a sadness we can't shake or a we can't get a control of our unhealthy eating patterns, whatever it is we need to FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS BECAUSE HE IS THE FOUNDER AND PERFECTER OF OUR FAITH!

My recommendation is that we get into the habit of fixing our eyes on Jesus through mediation on his Truth and in prayer everyday, because lets be honest we are still broken humans, yes we are being perfected by Christ, we are not yet perfect and we still have our weaknesses, so we need daily, if not more than that, reminders of his Truth and promises! 

This does not need to be long or extravagant, maybe start be reading through the Psalms, start with Psalm 1 read it over and over again, really chewing on it for 5-10 mins, then take a pen and paper and let your thoughts flow for a couple mins, don't filter them. don't analysis the verse, let the outflow of your meditation on God's Word be your response in prayer. 

I also recommend doing it in the morning, before you go out into the world, plant your feet firmly on the Rock that is Jesus Christ. 

29-30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
31-39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. (Romans 8: 29-39 MSG)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Scam Artist

Do you ever feel like a hypocrite? 

Yesterday morning in class I was just about ready to burst out in tears over the deep love for Jesus that was pumping through my heart! All I could think was "I love you Jesus, I really really love you!"

Then not so much later that evening I was in the shower and all I could think was "I just want to go out and get drunk." I even went so far as to whisper to Jesus (the same Jesus I just had professed my undying love to) "I think I'm done being a Christian, I don't want to be a Christian anymore, I am done."

What the crap!?

As I stood in the shower, I kept thinking to myself "I am scam artist, I am scam artist!" Here I am in the morning almost weeping with love for Jesus, and in the evening I am ready to forsake him for a night of debauchery. Here I am working for University Christian Ministry discipling young women, leading a bible study, and going to Regent College working towards becoming a pastor!!! 

You're kidding me right!?

I know that I have said this before, but really "God you have the wrong person for the job!"

OK I know that people throughout history have felt this before, like Moses and yada yada... 

But this time He really does have the wrong person!

I love Jesus. I really really really do, I know this to be true as the Spirit cries out "Abba, Father!" (Romans 8:15) 

BUT I also have the very real desires to do things that I know are harmful and do not please my Father, and sometimes I actually act on these very real sinful desires... 

So now do you see how I am scam artist, I am really not pastor material, because I have sins that don't just exist in my past, but they exist in the here and now, and they are some really deep, dark, and ugly sins!

So where does this leave us?

I don't know where this leaves you, but it leaves me DESPERATE! Crying out to me Father "Help me! PLEASE HELP ME!"

I echo the Apostles oh so wise and real words:

17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different
1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
3-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.
The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us. (Romans 7:17 - 8:4 MSG)

Monday, 1 September 2014

Let's Talk About...

Let's talk about you and me
Let's talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let's talk about…

Love baby

Ah? Of course the original lyrics do not say "love" they say... am I allowed to say that word on here?

SEX! They say Let's talk about SEX, baby!

I think I might be blushing...

are you? 

Well actually I don't want to talk about sex, its not that I don't want to but at this point in time I have another word on my mind, one that could be closely connected to, it should be inseparable from sex, but in this broken world we live in that's not the case...

Let's talk about LOVE, baby! Actually as I write this I'm thinking maybe in our culture "love" is more of a scandalous word then "sex"? After all according to the movies people are doing the deed by the third date but the four letter word L-O-V-E isn't uttered till far after that, if it is ever spoken, usually nearing the end of the movie. 

I have a few thoughts on why this is, and I am sure you do too, but I'm not going to share them at this time, because I am straying from my original intentions! 

OK focus Maria!


this is what it is to love, to love with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

don't be fooled by popular culture, love is not easy or merely an internal feeling...

love is focused and has external action implications.

that is to say to love is to behave  a certain way, it involves intentional action.

How do I know this to be truth?

1 John 4:8 tells us “… God is love.”

If God is love than let's look to his love for what it means to love...

Read Psalm 136:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who alone does great wonders,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and brought Israel out from among them,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who led his people through the wilderness,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who struck down great kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and killed mighty kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and Og, king of Bashan,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and gave their land as a heritage,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
a heritage to Israel his servant,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
he who gives food to all flesh,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

Did you notice that every example of God's steadfast love is expressed in an action? Doing great wonders, delivering Israel from Egypt, providing food for all flesh...

THEN there is the greatest action of love...

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)


This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)

So what's my point in saying all this?

I think the point, the bottom line is:

Love, real true love will have eternal action implication, it is faithful, steadfast, disciplined, and enduring...

(or bottom lines ;) 

To "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" and "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt 22:37,39) MUST manifest in external actions, if it does not it is not love.

I know that is a hard word to read. Please know that I am writing this to myself as much if not more than I;m writing it to you...

I recently wrote a paper on social justice, and it messed me up in all the best but most uncomfortable ways. 

I want to challenge you to take sometime to reflect on how or how not your love for God and others is or is not being manifested in external actions... be real with yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to show you, and pray that he would empower you to take the practical steps to actually do something about it, to take actions of love... this is not meant to be a burden, but rather this is part of what it means to live the abundant life with Jesus...

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works! (Heb 10:24)

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables


Where does my source of joy come from?

That's an easy answer: the Lord! Duh, right?

Maybe it's an easy answer but why do I still feel like I lack joy?

Just ask ... 

Holy Spirit I ask for joy, please.

Joy is yours for the having, it is a fruit of the Spirit, joy as with all the fruits - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control - all are available to us through the Holy Spirit.

As we abide in Christ He abides in us, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit will be produced in us...

So I gots to be abiding in Christ, by praying, listening, reading the Word, praising, serving, and spending time with other believers...

It's simple. but not easy, this is where spiritual disciplines come in... 

but if you are like me you just want to cruse along, not having to put any effort or work into following Jesus, but I have found that - if I want to grow, if I want to thrive, if I want to live the abundant life, if I want to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control - in my life I need to make a discipline of praying, listening, reading the Word, praising, serving, and spending time with other believers... 

this means getting up a earlier then I might want to, this means turning off the T.V., this means going to church to meet with my brothers and sisters even when I don't feel like it... 

I know none of us want to hear this, right? Come on Maria, we are saved by grace, we don't have to do anything we don't want to do...

Yes you are right, we are saved by grace, and it is by grace that we participate in the spiritual disciplines that through the power of the Holy Spirit transform us from holy to holy! It's common sense, we all know it to be true, if you are training for a marathon you need to be physically discipline, if you are in a relationship you need to put work into it by spending time with the person... right?

I'm not saying anything new, any of us who have been around "the Christian block" a couple times have heard this all before, but we sometimes need (OK I need) a reminder... no?

I'm preaching to myself, my prayer is that some of you out there struggle with some of the same things I do and that Jesus will use these words to bless you.

Some fruit for your meditation:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

John 15: 1-11

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

As Soon As

Reading about king Hezekiah this morning I was struck by this man`s first response in great distress... it was to turn to the LORD his God...

The king of Assyria was threatening king Hezekiah, and the thing is they were not empty threats, we read in Isaiah 36:1 "Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them"... 

the King of Assyria mocks king Hezekiah asking him "On what do you rest this trust of yours?" (Isaiah 36:5) king Sennacherib continues "Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’” (Isaiah 36: 18-20).

So you see king Hezekiah was facing a great and terrible threat...

"As soon as king Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord." (Isaiah 37:1)


king Hezekiah FIRST response is to turn to the LORD.

Is this your first response when you're in great distress? what about when you're just having a bad day? I know my first response more often then not is to first turn to friends for advice, inward to try and figure it out myself, to food, drink and entertainment to just ignore it... then when all that fails I'll turn to the LORD in prayer and praise... I think I have A LOT to learn from king Hezekiah...


So king Hezekiah receives a distressing letter and what does he do?

"Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the LordAnd Hezekiah prayed to the Lord“O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.” (Isaiah 37: 14-20)

That's right he prays... he as Psalm 62:8 says "Trust in him [the LORD] at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah"

This is such an powerful image  of trust in prayer...

take whatever is distressing you, whatever is hurting you, whatever is frustrating you, whatever and everything that is going on in your life and "spread it before the LORD"... because He is the "Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth..." AMEN!


God answered his prayer...

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria..." (Isaiah 37:21)

Not only does God answer king Hezekiah's prayer, it says "because you have prayed to me..." I don't know what would have happened if Hezekiah had not prayed, I don't know why sometimes God seems to be silent when we pray, or that he seems to say no... I don't really know how prayer works, but I do know from this example that something happened when king Hezekiah trusted in the LORD his God and prayed...

and it happens AGAIN!

King Hezekiah gets sick, and the LORD tells him he is going to die, so what does Hezekiah do?
"Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lordand said, “Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly." (Isaiah 38:2-3)

He prays... and once again the LORD hears his prays and answers him...

"Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city." (Isaiah 38: 5-6)

This is CRAZY! king Hezekiah prays, the LORD his God hears his prays, he sees his tears and he adds fifteen years to his life!!! Now again I don't know how this all works, but I do know that the LORD YOUR GOD also hears YOUR PRAYERS and He SEES YOUR TEARS... he may not add fifteen years to your life, or answer your prayers the way you want Him to, but I believe that he HEARS AND SEES YOU...

So why do we pray? Why do we pray even when it seems that God doesn't hear us? Doesn't see us? When He doesn't save us from our distress or add fifteen years to our lives?

We pray because "Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth..."

and as another king who faced great trials prayed...

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
How long will all of you attack a man
    to batter him,
    like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
    They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
    but inwardly they curse. Selah
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us. Selah
Those of low estate are but a breath;
    those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
    they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no trust in extortion;
    set no vain hopes on robbery;
    if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
Once God has spoken;
    twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
    and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
    according to his work. (Psalm 62)