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!