Out of the storm

Job 38-1Have you ever asked, “Where is God?” 

Lt. Dan in the movie Forrest Gump certainly did, asking Forrest “where’s this God of yours then?” Forrest remarked, “Its really funny that Lt. Dan said that, because right then, God showed up.”  I like the scene because this puny man is having a big fight with God.

“You lift me up to the wind and cause me to ride; And You dissolve me in a storm.”  Job 30:22

♦◊♦◊♦

 God must have answered Lt. Dan in the storm because when it ended, he was at peace, a changed man.

Sometimes, God’s answer is in the storm.  There is a scripture that says “Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm.  Job 38:1″  

rainbow

That’s how it happened for me.   I wasn’t as defiant as Lt. Dan, but emotionally I felt just as amputated.

The question “where was God?” caused friction with one of my friends, but its a question I had to ask.  It is okay to question and ask God where He was.  We’ve got to be real.

Some years ago, I had my own storm.  I wasn’t able to call God “Father”, just Lord.   I believe the word “Father” has a lot more trust in it than “Lord”.  Finally, I asked God “Where were you when my only brother died?”

His answer is in my book.

After God answered, I had peace, just like Lt. Dan.  Now I am able to call Him Father.

Sometimes the Lord calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms the soul.

Comma, comma, comma,,,, chameleon?

Alpha and exploring the meaning of life

In the next chapter of the Kingdom, I went to an Alpha course with my friend “White Flower”, to further explore the meaning of life and our Christian faith. 

Bear Grylls recommends Alpha.  You don’t have to be a Christian to go to Alpha, although you will probably encounter the Lord while doing the course, if you haven’t already met Him.  The churches running Alpha make all explorers feel very welcome.

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To conform, or transform?

On our last night of Alpha, this is what we were taught;

Monarch chrysalis“There are two types of Christian; the chrysalis and the chameleon. The chrysalis is completely transformed, whereas the chameleon merely changes colour to suit its surroundings.  Make a new start, let God transform you inwardly by a complete change.” 

I had always found safety in conforming.  I would stare out from my camouflage at a world of hurt.  Finally, I came to a place where I had to choose what I was going to be.

Conforming would have been the safe option, but I would have stayed a chameleon.

My transformation happened in steps.

First, the cocoon.  God had been teaching me about boundaries.  Now He wanted me to enforce them.   Transforming myself felt scary and dangerous, but I had to do it if I was to leave behind the things that harmed me.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

So when it came to the last question in Alpha, how can I make the most of the rest of my life?   I had to decide whether to be a chameleon, or a chrysalis, whether to use camouflage, or a cocoon, whether to conform, or transform.

My story about that is told in my book.

Comma comma comma Chameleon

An attack of FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt)

I have struggled with unbelief, particularly in the early days, even after I found the Lord and heard what He’d promised me.  On one particular occasion, the Lord dealt with my lack of trust and reminded me of the promise He’d made.  

The story is told in my book.

I think we all struggle with doubt, especially when the Lord is silent.  I copied this Word for the Day from Radio Rhema NZ, that I received around the same time I had the FUD attack.  It helped me, and it may help you or someone you know who is trying to recover from a destructive relationship.  If this helps, God bless, I know what its like and I’m blogging for you.

Rebuilding Trust

When your trust is violated, you become distrustful and you start questioning in areas you never did before.  Sometimes you can’t receive the very love you need because in defense your wounded spirit vows, “Nobody will every do that to me again.”  The real damage is not what you went through, but what you’re left with: terrible doubt.  The woman at the well had been through five broken relationships, and when she met Jesus she didn’t know that He was different.  He had to take down her defenses or she’d have missed that greatest thing that ever happened to her.

Jesus is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).  Even though you can’t go back, He can.  He can turn on the lights in those dark places and break the chain that binds you to memory.  “The former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17).  You don’t have to wait until you get to heaven to experience this; He can do it for you now.  But you’ll never experience a moment of what He’s promised until you learn to trust again.  Trust God, and trust the people He sends to bless you.  Yes, you’ll be disappointed.  Don’t look for perfect treatment from imperfect people.  You’ll get lots of practice in forgiving, but that’s the Christian life.

The people God can use the most are those who have been made whole in wounded places and strengthened in broken places.  Ask Him to help you take down the wall of fear and learn to trust again.

Do you want it more than you are afraid of it?

I’d been working ever since I was seventeen and decided on a change of career after my children were born.  I spent their early years studying part time for a career in IT, while working part time as a teller at a Credit Union and part time as a Science Technician at a College . 

I was a part time this and a part time that, and a full-time Mum.  In the year after I qualified, a job came up for a Systems Engineer.  After two interviews I found I also had to sit an IQ test.

I nearly talked myself out of the job there and then.  I’d sat a similar test at the same place, the only programming shop in town, 15 years before and failed.  I didn’t want to go there again, but the Lord reminded me of what I had read in a book called ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale.

“Whatever you’re doing, give it all you’ve got.  Give every bit of yourself.  Hold nothing back.  Life cannot deny itself to the person who gives life his all.  Throw your heart over your difficulty, throw your affirmation over every barrier, throw your visualization over your obstacles.  Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow.

I’d never get another opportunity like it, so I ran at it with all my might.  This time I passed the test ahead of all the other applicants and won the job.

That was the first hurdle over.  I overcame my fear of failure.

My advice for the first hurdle is don’t let life say no to you.  Have another go.

In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure,  – Bill Cosby.

The next hurdle was starting the job and finding I’d been given the workplace bully as a mentor.  I wish I could say I sailed over that hurdle too, and put her in her place.  I didn’t.  I didn’t confront her because abuse was familiar to me, and I needed whatever scraps of knowledge she would grudgingly give.  I did not overcome my fear of man (Chapter 30 starts this part of the story).

We ran into each other recently, which was quite a surprise as we live in different cities and haven’t seen each other in years.  I’ve moved on.  With God’s help and a big push from Him, I gained a Diploma of Business, and now have my own business which has been running for seven years.

Still weighing and assessing me, she could see I am happy, secure and confident.  She’s still in the same big company, worried about redundancy and her mortgage, and can’t imagine working for herself.  I’d say I’ve got a lot further in life without scorning people or throwing them under the bus at work.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Proverbs 3:34

Proverbs-3:34

So for the second hurdle – workplace bullying, keep calm, and believe in yourself.  Its not about you, the bully is the one who is insecure.  Nothing they say about you is true.  If you’re stuck with the bully, stand your ground and confront them.  If you can.  If you can’t, learn how to assert yourself or leave them behind, because they’re never going to stop.  Is your desire for success greater than your fear?

Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it. – Bill Cosby.

In-order-to-succeed-your-desire-for-success-should-be-greater-than-your-fear-of-failure

The seven deadly sins

Two years ago, my son moved home with his cat Shadow, who he had rescued from the mean streets of our old home town.  When he first adopted Shadow, the cat was skinny, scared, and pathetic.  Shadow’s trust in us has grown with his weight. 

Now he’s a big fat cat who lolls around on his back doing nothing all day.  I’ve pointed that out to my son saying “Look at that – if he was Catholic he’d be guilty of at least two of the ‘seven deadly sins’, gluttony and sloth!”

Do you believe that the seven deadly sins of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony are in the Bible?  They’re not.  They were invented by theologians and they are not listed in the Bible.

SevenDeadlySinsHere are the seven sins that are listed;

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. 
Proverbs 6:16-19

This list of sins aren’t called deadly, but they are things the Lord hates and finds detestable.  Why?  It’s like murder, and there are consequences.

There is a proverb that says “Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor.”  Proverbs 25:18. 

The confrontation deals with  a false witness who poured out lies, and stirred up conflict in the community.  The man in this chapter sowed discord amongst us, and it caused us all to stumble.

The story never made it into the book.  My editor said I needed to “murder a few darlings.”   

Proverbs 6_16_19

Learning from the Master

Before Jesus began His ministry, His occupation was a carpenter. He would have known how to make a yoke that was light and fitted well. 

Jesus said;  Come to me all you who are heavily laden and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

The Lord brought me a friend who became my prayer partner. He yoked us together as a team, and it was a yoke that was easy. We flew higher and learned more together than we could ever have done alone.

 The Lord desires us to learn from Him. In Psalm 94:10 He is described as “He that teaches man knowledge.”


 I read some illuminated writing from a 15th century monk called Thomas A Kempis. In his writings The Imitation of Christ is a chapter called “God is the best teacher”;

 God is the best Teacher

 Do not be led astray by the brightest human minds. “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of words but of power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20)

Never read anything in order to appear wise. Knowing answers to difficult questions will not help you as much as spiritual discipline. Even after profound scholarship, you still need to know me, for I am the beginning of everything, the Teacher of all men” (Psalm 94:10). I will give you better insight than any professor could. I teach without audible words, and without argument and debate. I instruct you to despise earthly things and seek the eternal, to run from honour and endure insults, to place all hope in me and to love me above all things.

Books may contain identical letters and use the same method of communication, but they do not instruct everyone in the same way. The reason is that I secretly teach within each person as I see fit.

The second wish

In a previous post where I met a character I dubbed “the Minstrel”, I told a story about wishes.  The story goes like this;

There was once a princess who got rid of a controlling man, and foolishly asked the King for the next man to be the complete opposite.

“Please bring me a man who is the exact opposite of Silver-tongue” she prayed.    Even though she had gone to the King with her wish, she asked the for the wrong thing.  All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.  Proverbs 16:2.

The King decided to grant her request because He wanted her to learn.  She should have asked for wisdom.

Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,The Lord ponders the heart
    from men whose words are perverse,
who have left the straight paths
    to walk in dark ways,
who delight in doing wrong
    and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
whose paths are crooked
    and who are devious in their ways.  Proverbs 2:12-15

The next man, a friend she dubbed “the Minstrel”, was the complete opposite, but his words were just as perverse, and he goaded her with snide little put downs.

The foolish princess still hadn’t learned and asked the King to bring her someone else.

“Please bring me someone who sees me for who I really am, and desires me” she asked.

The King, who wanted the Princess to see herself through His eyes, replied “Be careful of what you ask.”

Be careful for what you ask.

Be careful for what you ask

Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. Job 5:7.

bedazzled-106

One of my favourite comedies is ‘Bedazzled’.  Eliot, a geeky man working a dead-end technical support job for a San Francisco computer company had a crush on his colleague, Alison Gardner, but lacked the courage to ask her out.

He said to himself that he would give anything for Alison to be with him. Satan, (played by Elizabeth Hurley) in the form of a beautiful woman, overheard him and offered to give Elliot seven wishes in return for his soul. Each of his wishes ended in disaster.

I too have a story to tell about wishes.

There was once a princess who got rid of a controlling man, and foolishly asked the King for the next man to be the complete opposite.

“Please bring me a man who is the exact opposite of Silver-tongue” she prayed.

The next man was the complete opposite, but still found ways to take advantage.

Even though she had gone to the King with her wish, she asked the for the wrong thing.  The King decided to grant her request because He wanted her to learn.  All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.  Proverbs 16:2.  She should have asked for wisdom.

Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
    from men whose words are perverse,
who have left the straight paths
    to walk in dark ways,
who delight in doing wrong
    and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
whose paths are crooked
    and who are devious in their ways.  Proverbs 2:12-15

Be careful for what you ask.

Coal under pressure

Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;

And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.  As You Like It Act 2, by Shakespeare

2Corinthians4_8

Exhaling between her teeth, Joanna ticked off the list she was studying. It was a real eye opener when she got to the part that dealt with stress.

They were given a weighted list of all the things that caused stress; separation or divorce, moving house, death, relationship problems. It was part of a compulsory paper she had to study at college called ‘Interpersonal Skills’.

The stress wasn’t over. She had gone through hell this past year, and there seemed to be no end to the grief. She was still dealing with relationship problems from Silver-tongue with his nastiness, her ex-husband with his blame game, and her mother with her regular bi-polar craziness. Divorce and another house move loomed big on the horizon.

Her only escape was study, and the joy she got from her children. The princess was studying part time for a career she planned once the children were at school.  The qualification she aimed for formed the first year of a degree in Computer Science. The thought of a career in her chosen field brought hope for the future.

Silver-tongue enrolled in the same courses.  He kept a jealous eye on her, making caustic remarks if she chatted to any of the men at break time while they watched the second year students play hacky-sack.  One of the second year students was a lean man in his thirties with a handsome, boyish face and greying hair.  He was in the background.  Silver-tongue took all of her attention.

The next day she told her friend princess Eve, an attractive and graceful blonde about the stress list. They were feeding the deer at the Deer Park, over the road from where Eve lived. Princess Eve found it interesting as she was going through her own trials. She listened as she stuck some bread through the fence, then turning to Joanna she said “You know, coal under pressure forms a diamond.”

Joanna grinned wryly. “It had better be a pretty big diamond!”

The King heard her.  He would see what He could do.  Silver, gold and jewels were good but in His Kingdom, wisdom was foremost.

Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.

She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.  Proverbs 3:13-17

The house of the Lord

Psalm 122

As a divorced woman bringing up two children alone, I was not sure where I fitted in church, and asked the King for guidance. 

He led me through a friend, princess Eve in the story, to a home church, a small, mobile unit in the worldwide body of Christ.  This home church practised hospitality and met every Sunday evening at a different house.  I believe this church fitted the model described in the New Testament.

My children and I had no problem fitting in and soon felt right at home.  This church became a safe haven for me, a place where Silver-tongue did not want to be, nor did I ever invite him or include him.

One night in 1996 we met at the house of the pastor.  Their house was built on the side of a hill overlooking the sheep farm where I had grown up, in the beautiful valley that led to the Mount Zion sheep station.

After the shared meal, the pastor sat down to teach as the evening sun folded into the familiar hills and the sound of our children playing outside filtered into the house.  My eyes ran over the rugged hills of my old farm where the occasional bleat from the sheep travelled to my ears.  Even though years had passed since I had been to the valley, and I had travelled far, to be back was sweet and familiar.

We opened our bibles to Psalm 122, the psalm that followed the verses in 121 “I lift mine eyes to the hills”.  The psalm spoke of the house of the Lord, and Jerusalem built as a city that is compact together.  

Our Pastor led us to 1 Peter 2 and explained that the house of the Lord was not a building of bricks and mortar, but of human beings described as living stones.

As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.  1 Peter 2:4

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12

I really wanted to know what God’s will was.  Would it be okay to one day be able to marry again?  Is the King the God of second chances?  You will see from reading my book how the King revealed his will.