Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Just Breathing....

When the Lord gave me the hurry up regarding bible school I asked, as you do you know, why I was going.  And I got told.  As you do.  It was one of those unmistakable moments when the Spirit's voice is so clear there is no mistaking & what I got told was *Preaching & Teaching.*  Duh.

I have been pretty quiet about it at school, mostly because there seems to be a bit of snobbery about who is doing what after school & I'm not into that.  People do what they are called to do.  Same Spirit, different gifts.  No call to be elitist about these things.  Besides,  I twigged pretty quickly what I needed to learn & I was waaay out of my comfort zone because I am academically inclined & God was saying in no uncertain terms ~ practical application! Ouch.

I have squirmed.  I have wriggled.  I have huffed & I have puffed.  I have wept & sobbed & begged.  I have come close to walking out & never going back because the one thing I have not got from school is affirmation & the one thing I have really needed is to feel validated; that I was on track; that God did indeed have it all in hand.

And it was all so different to what I was used to.  It was noisy ~ & I was used to hearing from God in the silence.  I have learnt.  The first time I saw Patsy preach I knew without a doubt this was how I was to learn to preach.  Ditch the notes [!] Ditch the security of the pulpit that so kindly hides shaking knees. [Really?]  Ditch the carefully thought out sermon I constructed like a well planned essay.  [Noooooooo.......]  Ok.  Ok.  There was a reason I did drama in uni.... As my Star is wont to tell me, Just breath, mother....

The one thing school has taught me is how much I don't know.  The amount of information coming in hard & fast is just hugely overwhelming.  I can do the academics but the practical has left me reeling. And what little confidence I began with was quickly eroded by the street witness.  Everyone ~ & I do mean everyone ~ is better at that than I am.

Now what school really emphasizes is hearing from the Spirit yourself & following the promptings.  I thought I was ok at that.  Not brilliant or anything but I thought I did ok ~ only being school I kept getting told this that & the other thing which had the lovely effect of confusing me no end until I didn't know whether I was Arthur or Martha, up, down or inside out.

And then....then....God starting lobbing me the curved balls.  I preached. Once.  On the island. I heard clearly from the Holy Spirit.  And it was good.  I preached on the Holy Spirit.  I knew my stuff so well I was preaching in my sleep for weeks beforehand.  Lucky Dearest. And I prayed for people.  I sensed the anointing but confident I was not.  Oh, I think I came across as confident but none of that was me.  

Today I did the Thought for the Day ~ short, pithy, to the point. Psalm 23:4 ~ & the visiting preacher was rapt!  My thoughts tied in neatly with his comments & I got validation. Whew. I have 2 more spots coming up in the next month.  I know I have been moving in the Spirit.  Everything that just won't come together for me with the street witness has been for the preaching.  It should be enough but I am human enough to need telling that I'm doing ok. That I'm on track.  That what I sense in the Spirit is indeed spot on.

I'm only halfway through school.  Dino, who is almost done, is not getting the same sort of opportunities I am.  Most people are in their last term before they get any sense of the direction the Lord wants to take them ~ & here I am juggling assignments with preaching & trying hard not to let school stuff interfere with the Spirit's leading & stay sorta sane in the process.

To say nothing of the other stuff  going on in my prayer life that is doing my head in & a ramble for another post.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Born to be a Star.

Why, except as a means of livelihood, a man should desire to act on the stage when he has the whole world to act in, is not clear to me.~ George Bernard Shaw

Yes; she's always been this way.

It began when she was very young.....

with her partner in crime ~ also a rampant extrovert who was born to perform!

The Christmas performance was the highlight of Star's year.

Some things never change. 
Not really.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Before Christ sent the church into the world, He sent the Spirit into the church.  The same order must be observed today,  John Stott.

I'm easily confused.  Give me two contradictory statements & I will fall between the two, maintaining that both can be equally true yet unable to explain why it is so.  I will grasp difficult concepts intuitively but the simple will elude my understanding & so...

For years (& years) Christians have bemused me ~ myself not least of all.  If we are a new creation in Christ then how in the Dickens is it that so many Christians, like Paul, are caught exactly here: for the good which I would do, I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I practise.  How on earth, I muddled, was it that the divorce rate in the churches was as high & sometimes higher, than in the world?  What possessed spirit filled, born again believers to carouse harder than the unsaved while sprooking such platitudes as : Forgiven, not perfect?  What strange quirk in the psyche grasped hold of grace while failing to recognise repentance?  And you can not write it off as the Devil made me do it.  We are made righteous in Christ.  We are redeemed & co~heirs.  More to the point God's Holy Spirit is indwelling in us & thus we have access to the very power of God ~ That is what dunamis is:

Strength, power, ability; power for performing miricals; moral power & excellence of soul ~ or so the N.T Greek Lexicon informs me. Dunamis is the word used for the power of the Holy Spirit, the word from which we derive our English dynamite & it is active.  Active, not passive.

Over the years I have speculated that it is poor teaching ~ & in a sense that is probably true, only not in the way I thought.  I proposed that people simply failed to apply biblical teachings ~ when I know full well the flesh is far too weak to achieve anything on its own.  I surmised that people hadn't really been saved in the first place ~ only where did that leave me?  It niggled & niggled at me because I had firmly in mind that power & the Holy Spirit came together.  If you had one then you had the other ~ only where was the power?

Leaving aside the vexed question of the charismatic gifts there is still moral excellence ~ a quality seldom found, more seldomly displayed, amongst Christians of any calibre, & meanwhile the world looked on with contempt & the word hypocrite became the word most associated with Christianity.  How sad.

To add to my dismay there were Christians running round loudly quoting bible passages & adding their condemnation to the heady elixer.  It sounded like it sould be right & yet it did not sit well with me.  While loudly decrying legalism they were arguing for works as proof of salvation.

It has taken me a long time but I think I have finally untangled the knotty threads of this particular quanandrum.  The answer is in the very first commandment:  Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soult, with all thy strength & with all thy mind...

Now look at what Hebrews 4:12 says...

People are not made of a *whole cloth*.  The Spirit will seperate from the flesh at death.  The mind operates independently of the spirit & the body.  We are told to subdue our flesh, to renew our minds but God has redeemed our spirits so that we can walk according to His Spirit.  The Spirit enables us to will & to do the Father's will.  The problem is far too many of us don't understand what it means to walk in the Spirit ~ & even when we get that bit sorted we are far to lazy to crucify our flesh & renew our minds.

This Christianity business is hard work. I think I need a nap now....

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Worm turneth...

I'm not dumb. I just have a command of thoroughly useless information.”

~ Bill Watterson

My Star is beautiful & flakey & she has very decided opinions of her own ~ especially when it comes to schooling.  The family stories about Star are rife because Star has never been one to be overlooked!  Most of her siblings carry scars in memoriam of battles lost to their little sister & the tale of Grandma & the jam spoon has flowered into epic & legendry proportions.  Most of the household would do anything to avoid one of Star's hissy fits.  Pity her dear mamma, who was assaulted on 2 fronts & unlikely to win either battle.

Thank goodness Star's siblings were in school for most of her early years while we worked on her less desirable character traits.  In fairness to Star it must be said that on her own she was an exceptionally easy child to deal with.  I could take her anywhere & she would behave impeccably.  The only real meltdown she ever had was the one & only time I tried a wrist strap with her.  She was devestated I thought her incapable of behaving like a real person.  We ditched the strap & Star is the only child I was unlikely to lose in the shops.  She always stuck to me like glue.

Star is number 5.  By 5 you've learnt something about the sort of kids the Lord is likely to give you.  In our case that has always meant really, really smart ~ but they'd rather be anywhere but in school.  I was so over the school thing.  In my mind I was never putting this child in school.  I just felt too old, too tired ~ too over it ~ to dance round a system that does not know how to cope with the unusual.  I'm pretty sure long term homeschooling is not what her father had in mind for his daughter when we started out but luckily Star is highly susceptable to chocolate & not above bribery!

As I've explained before the child did get the odd day in a regular classroom.  I was working & the grade teachers loved her.  She was quiet, obedient & easy to work with but Star never had any desire for prolonged stays.  No sane child wants to be locked up for 6 hours a day!  Despite appearances Star has always been very sane.  Then about grade 9 that all changed.  I have no idea what brought it on.  Some stupid, glamourised t.v show where high school is portrayed as one long exciting drama perhaps.  Wherever it came from Star was on a roll.  She wanted to go to school.  She was desperate to go to school.  We were the cruelest parents on the planet for denying her what every other child in the universe accepted as their right! *sigh*    On & on she went.

I might have caved if the schools round here were better but they are all pretty awful.  I told Star she could have school or she could have her music but both she could not have.  It wasn't much of a risk.  It was always a given Star would plump for her music.  That didn't mean she had to cave gracefully ~ & she didn't.

This year when our primary school ran its Support~a~Reader training program Star signed up for it.  While I am in school Star is teaching grades 2 & 3 how to read.  They call her Miss Star, which we all find very funny.  The teacher adores her.  She can be prevailed upon to stay a little longer & help out as a teacher's aide.  The kids adore her.  What's not to adore?

Every day when I get home I check in with Star as to how her day has gone.  She was a little spun out to realise she is now doing the job I once used to do.  She was a little cagey at first.  She gave herself time because the everyday experience of these kids has never been Star's everyday experience.  She had no real idea how a classroom operated or what happened in the course of a normal school day.  All these things were outside her experience. [Her teacher flipped out a little over that! ]  And then the other night, having discussed how her day had been interupted by Class Photos & Rescheduled Lessons, Star turned to me & in all seriousness said,"It's a good thing you never sent me to school.  I would have turned into the most horrible child!"

Yes, Dear.  We know.  It's why we never sent you.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What can I say?  My cats are psychotic.  I was cuddling Marlow.  Kirby jumped on top of him & walked over him to get to me.  He then sat on top of his brother....It is no wonder I don't get any exercise.  I spend my free time cuddling cats....

Friday, September 14, 2012

People are very kind ~ & there is a wealth of information out there!  A reader has recommended this book  on the Prayer of Tears.  I don't know the book or the author & there are no reviews as yet.  Anybody know anything?  It looks fascinating.

My Goodness Me!  This post is 2 years old.  I got a new comment this morning.  Go take a look....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Prayer of Tears.

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. ~ Psalm 126:5

I said we were weird.  I said we seemed to constantly land slightly left of centre, so much so the only people I actually know who have experienced the Prayer of Tears live in my computer.

The first time I came across this expression was from Richard Foster, who is one of my all time favourite Christian writers.  He speaks to my condition, pulling his understanding of who God is from many different Christian traditions though he himself is a Quaker.  I understand this.  There is a flow to his understanding of how the Spirit operates that my spirit testifies to.  God is not limited by man~made traditions.  He is not locked into our doctrine, which is only our poor understanding of what we think God is saying to us.  There is a bigness to his understanding of God.  I'd been impressed ever since I came across his Celebration of Discipline more than 30 years ago & saw how the Quaker view of simplicity was a holisitc thing, begining with the self & spreading out in ever widening ripples to eventually include the whole earth.  It still makes complete sense to me.

So when I found his Prayer, Finding The Heart's True Home, I coveted it immediately, so much so that despite the price, which was far more than I could honestly afford, I simply couldn't walk out of the shop without it.  I'm so glad I didn't.  I have refered to this book again & again.  Dino has read it & when I went hunting it to refresh my memory before posting I found Dino had lent it to friends. 

I have lots of books on prayer ~ most of which have sat unread on my shelves, including a number of *classics*.  They made no sense to me.  My prayer life was not reflected within those austere pages.

 Towards the end of this brilliant book which lists over 2 dozen different sorts of prayer, Foster talks about the Prayer of Tears.  I was riveted.  Tears have always been a part of my Christian experience.  Even as a child, even before I would have called myself a Christian of any hue, God & tears went together in my experience.

In some ways it is easier to define this by what it is not.  It is not crying.  It may be anguished sobbing but not usually.  It is more a slow leaking of water from the tear ducts & one has absolutely no control over it.  Indeed, at times, it has been so much a part of prayer I was avoiding prayer because as soon as I shut my eyes the Spirit descended & this slow leaking of water began!   Praise, which is a type of prayer, is likely to bring it on.  Highly inconvienient!  There one is happily warbling out the hymn & a single word, a line, brings Christ sharply into focus & off I go like a waterlogged cat!

It is not selfhish tears ~ & I have wept enough of those to know the difference!  It is not the sort of crying one does before the Lord when times are tough & you want relief, or you've done something stupid & have to tell, or even when you are begging for the salvation of a loved one.  Nope.  The tears of which I speak are generated by a movement of the Holy Spirit.  One can be chipper as as one goes into prayer & within moments the tears are falling.  Stop praying & the tears immediately disappear.

So I will just mention a few of the areas where the prayer of tears seems to really like operating ~ at least as I have experienced this.

. Adoration.  Seriously, the Holy Spirit really gets up a head of steam when we enter fully into praise & worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I have had to stand there, completely unable to sing, the tears rolling uncontrollably down my cheeks while the Spirit highlights all that Christ has done for me.

. Breaking.  There seems to be a movement of the Spirit when He is doing a work in us that will bring us to tears.  I do not mean weeping as you may have experienced when true repentance comes upon you.  I do not mean crying per se.  It is more a sensitivity to the Spirit where even the lightest touch of Christ brings us to our kness in love & adoration ~ & with that comes the tears.

. Healing ~ especially emotional healing.

. Intercession.  I am not an intercessor but there have been times when I have been very aware of the Spirit grieving over mankind, over the state the world is in & there is a peculiar sense of sharing the burden which comes with tears. It is as though God was showing me His heart.  Just a tad overwhelming.

There is a good deal more to prayer than I think we will ever understand on this side of glory.  It is a peculiar kind of conversation but at it's heart lies a mystery.  The prayer of tears is more mysterious than most.  So often I have no idea why, let alone what God is trying to convey to me.  Sometimes He gives me a sense; sometimes not.  It doesn't matter.  What matters is the response to the touch of God.  God is talking.  The God of the universe.  The one who made the sun & the moon & the stars.  Is that amazing or what?!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

And then there was *Prayer School*...

"No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it." ~ Guy H. King

One of the things I have been enjoying most about school is a peculiar little non~subject called *Prayer School*.  Strictly speaking it's not a subject.  Strictly speaking it is for practising different aspects of prayer.  That alone had my interest.  I am always interested in the different ways people like to connect with God ~ though I rarely run into people as odd as we are.  I say we because Dearest is part of the church prayer team & as such was included in a special prayer meeting on Saturday.  I'll get there but first things first.

Over the years God has gone to great pains to teach me about different sorts of prayer.  I practised first & learnt about them later ~ including the use of tongues, which for me was always done very quietly in my own prayer closet & never for public consumption, partly because it was something first imparted from the Lord Himself & not something I got from the laying on of anybody's hands.  Dearest is even weirder because for years he swore black & blue he did not speak in tongues.  He would not speak in tongues.  And he was never about to speak in tongues.  Then one night I found him deep in prayer muttering away to himself ~ & yep, he was praying in tongues.  It took him quite a while to accept it but I wasn't the only one to hear him so eventually he had to admit he too prays in tongues.

Anyway some stuff I have always gravitated to naturally ~ such as praying the scriptures, which just makes sense to me.  After all, these are words straight from the Holy Spirit himself.  And silence.  I learnt the art of Listening for God ~ something I believe more Christians need to learn instead of doing all the talking themselves!  I understand the importance of praise but I am a quiet person & exuberant worship does not come naturally to me & it is an area I have struggled in, just as I have disliked getting instructions to do this that or the other just as I'm sinking deep into prayer!  Hmmm.....I still generally find myself slightly left of centre.

Anyway our church is quite some distance away & it's not cheap to travel constantly so Dearest has never gone over for the regular prayer meetings.  Now Rhema was not discouraged by this.  They collated a blank calender & at the end of every month Dearest sends this in with me with everything he's received from the Lord in prayer marked down. The prayer leader keeps in contact via e~mail & she uses Dearest a lot because he gets revelation & insight.  He also has plenty of alone time to get deep in prayer!  We are not the only ones.  Many people travel quite big distances to attend this church [yes, it's that good!] so the church decided to organise a special day & see if they couldn't pull most of the prayer team together.  Dearest, Dino & I all went over for it.

The theme for the day was finding your place along the wall in one of the watch towers.  I firmly believe that every Christian needs to be doing this.  That way everything gets covered & no~one need feel overwhelmed because the need is so great, the prayer warriors so few.  The theme followed through for this week's *Prayer School*.  We were asked to identify anything we carry constantly in prayer.  For me this is easy.  I have such a sense of the nearness of Christ's return & the need for His people to prepare, to be ready, to bring in the harvest that it is never very far from my thoughts.  And I am aware that even in many Christian circles this makes me more than a little weird.

However today we teamed up in groups with like minded individuals to pray out the heart of God.  To my great amusement I was lobbed in with the evangelical crowd ~ which ironically does make sense; after all, they too have a sense of the impending arrival of Christ, & thus a heart for the harvest.  And it was super.  Liddy, my Liddy, towards the end the Holy Spirit led us to pray particularly for the labourers already in the field & you came very strongly on my heart.  It was really impressed on me that the Lord is with you, strengthening you for the work.  He is pleased with you.  So you go, girl.

Now I just have to figure out what the prayer of tears is all about & why I keep landing in that particular prayer spot.  I am over it ~ particularly in public venues! Hmmm...