Blessed are the peacemakers

peacemakers

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”  Matthew 5:9

I asked the Lord what he meant by that on my early morning walk today.  

First, he gave me a scripture; God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”  Colossians 1:20.

The Lord explained that he was the first peace maker; and when we become his sons and daughters, we become his peace makers.  He reminded me what I’d done with my mother last year.  We never had a good relationship.  But he saw her differently from me.

Here’s my story about making peace.

Shepherds call

Seven years passed.  Healed from the hurt of the past, Joanna went from strength to strength.  But she still had bad memories from her childhood.

One day her mother grew seriously ill.  Joanna approached the Lord, concerned about her mother’s salvation.

“Father, it’s up to you whether she’ll pull through this time. I forgive my mother for all the abuse she heaped on us. She wasn’t able to be a good mother because she was abandoned at the age of three.

Is her name written in your book, the book of life?  She believes in you – but she doesn’t know you. I want to be able to bring her to you, but I can’t reach her. I can hardly go through the four spiritual laws, or walk her down the Roman road.  Lord, how can I get her to trust you? You promised that if we lack wisdom, we should ask. I’m asking.”

albrecht_schenck_shepherd_call

Shepherd’s Call, by Albrecht Schenck

“I will come to her,” He replied, pointing to a painting that her mother used to have; a vintage 1900’s painting called ‘Shepherd’s call’ which depicted a collie barking for the shepherd after finding a lost lamb in the snow.

“Talk about that painting. Ask her who the dog is barking for, and then bring me in. I want her to know she is the lamb …”

“What a brilliant idea. I’d never have thought of that,” Joann replied, impressed. “But I don’t want religion getting in the way. What should I do if it does?”

The Lord gave her an answer for that.

Later Joanna sat at her mother’s side, alone.

“You know that painting of the dog and the lamb you had?” she began.

“Yes, I gave it away,” her mother replied.

“Yes, you did. Remember that lost lamb?”

“The lamb didn’t have a mother,” her mother recalled.

“Yes, that’s right Mum, she didn’t have a mother,” Joanna replied, sad.

“The Lord said for me to tell you that you are that lamb” she said, as soon as she’d gathered her composure.

Tears came to her mother’s eyes.

“Who was the dog barking for?” Joanna asked.

“The shepherd,” her mother eventually answered.

“Did you know the Lord is the Shepherd?” Joanna replied.

More tears came.

Just as Joanna had foreseen, Joanna’s mother talked about religion.

“Mum, do you know what the Bible says true religion is?” Joanna responded.

Her mother shook her head.

“True religion is to take care of widows and orphans,” Joanna replied, giving the answer the Lord had given her.

“I’m a widow,” her mother said.

“That’s right, you are a widow,” Joanna replied, impressed at the Lord’s answer.

“Who is the Lord to you?” Joanna cautiously asked, feeling like the Collie.

Her mother was silent.

“Are you afraid of death?” Joanna asked.

“Yes, I’m afraid of the devil – I don’t want to see him,” she replied.

Joanna introduced the Shepherd.

“Mum, Jesus tends his flock like a shepherd. He looks for lost lambs and he saves them. He wants to carry you in his arms, close to his heart,” she added.

“Who would you like him to be?” she asked, watching her mother’s face.

“My protector,” her mother replied.

“Like a saviour?” Joanna asked.

“Yes,” her mother agreed.

“Do you accept him as your saviour?” Joanna asked.

“Yes,” her mother replied, with childlike faith.

“You are saved,” Joanna told her, relieved to see the lamb now cradled in the Shepherd’s arms.

“Now that you have accepted Jesus as your saviour, you need fear no evil in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The Lord is your Shepherd, and his rod and staff will comfort you,” Joanna reassured her, remembering her own staff.

That was as much as she could do.

Outside, a piece of rainbow shone out from clouds above the Ruahine mountain range.

That night, her mother sang.

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Stormy beginnings

calm-before-storm-1We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in 2014.  Married life began in a storm, and what a storm.  It was a one in 20 year weather event, apparently.  It had gone on for a week and shown no signs of abating.

The month of February is full on summer in NZ and we thought the weather would be good for our wedding.  Wrong!

I think it was because we had a big  evangelistic crusade in New Zealand at the time, and it had gone to Wellington, our capital which was only two hours away.  The campaign, Impact World Tour was brilliant because all the churches of different denominations came together and worked as one to reach people for the Lord.  We were all involved in different ways.

The devil didn’t like it and tried to rain out all the venues.  It was a spiritual battle.  The only problem was our wedding was being affected by the weather too.  I should have thought about it more when we chose the date.

Everyone asked us what plan B was for the weather.  There was no plan B.  My fiancee decided to go ahead with having the ceremony in the garden.  It had a strange calm about it, even though the wind blew through the trees around this place named Homestead Garden.

There is a scripture in Isaiah 25:4 that describes God as being a refuge in the storm. 

Homestead Garden b&w

Homestead garden

When we got married we invited God to the wedding, which went off without a hitch in an island of calm, with radiant sunshine.  Our guests  got sunburnt.  All the other outdoor weddings that day got rained out and blown out.  People were amazed that the storm didn’t touch us.  I’ve never known such favour.

As we were saying our vows, two Monarch butterflies fluttered their way across the lawn in front of us.  It was a beautiful sign to be given.  The butterfly has turned up at different places in the story.

You’ll see the butterfly emerge in Chapter 5 of my book ‘The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams.’.  It flutters into the story again in Chapter 8, ‘Shelter in the Storm.’  This time, it’s not alone.

Here are a few photos of our wedding in the storm.

Windy wedding 2 Our wedding at Homestead Garden 3 resized Windy wedding 1

 

 

Almond Grove

Have you ever had a dream come true?  I found myself in a place I had seen in a dream – a particularly auspicious dream.  Years before I’d dreamed of staying at a lodge of sorts, which lead to an Almond grove.  According to my dream dictionary, to dream of Almond trees meant I could look forward with certainty to a happy marriage.

About four years later I met the man I was going to marry, and one weekend in the winter we stayed at a lodge of sorts with a group of people from his college course. 

I learned that our hosts had planted some Almond trees on the lodge grounds and I recognised I was in the place I’d dreamed if.  The trees weren’t as spectacular as the grove in my dream, but the surrounding land at Otaki Gorge was every bit as beautiful.  Otaki Gorge was the location in New Zealand which represented The Shire woods in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies.

Otaki in Maori means the place of a staff stuck in the ground.

Otaki river

Otaki forks

To have the dream fulfilled was an awesome experience.

There is a proverb that says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12.

In the Kingdom dreams do come true, if you seek the Kingdom first.  There is a promise in the Bible; “Seek your happiness in God, and He will grant you your heart’s desire.”  Psalm 37:4

It’s true.  If you read my story, you’ll see how good God was to me, and I am no more deserving than anyone else.

The ring, and the unnamed servant

doves-eyesIn a way the courtship I wrote about in my story The Kingdom reminds me of the Bible story in Genesis 24 of Isaac and Rebecca.  Isaac’s bride had to come from his father’s country.  The father sent an unnamed servant to go and get her. 

The unnamed servant met Rebecca at a well.  He watched her closely.  When she fulfilled the signs the servant looked for, he gave her a ring and two bracelets.   Rebecca went on a journey with the servant to find Isaac, and she first clapped eyes on Isaac when he had gone out into the Prayer in desertdesert in the evening to meditate.  The servant announced to her who Isaac was, and Rebecca veiled herself.  The servant told Isaac all he had done.  Rebecca became the wife of Isaac, and he loved her.

I could have written those scenes in the Kingdom with that in mind, but I had no way of knowing about “Isaac” when I wrote about the desert and the wells.  I just went where God led.

The unnamed servant was sent with gifts and jewellery to fetch the bride.  He put the ring on the bride.  The unnamed servant is a type for the Holy Spirit.

My rings both have interesting stories behind them.  God supplied the wedding ring out of thin air, and it came first.  Then after I met “Isaac”, a beautiful and very valuable engagement ring came from “Isaac’s” Grandmother in Florida, over 8,000 miles away.

Hosea 2-19

In the story I write called “The Kingdom”, the King told me “Isaac” was going to be my husband.  The story about the gold wedding ring that just appeared one day out of nowhere is in my book.

When I met “Isaac”, he told me his mother’s maiden name was “Isaacson”.  By then I knew he was the husband, but it was still an amazing confirmation.

As soon as “Isaac” knew I was the one, he wanted to get a ring on my finger right away.

The only trouble was he’d just started a business and had no money.  When I pointed out the obvious, he just believed God would help him out with the ring.  And God did.  His mother told him she had a ring just waiting for him.  It was a huge rock!  It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever been given.

Some things aren’t built to move

What do you think of same sex marriage?  The Church didn’t see it coming, and we’re left scrambling.  Some Churches see themselves as inclusive, and they will conduct gay marriages.  Other Churches are taking a “wait and see” approach.  The Church I belong to is sticking to what is written in the Bible, that marriage is between a man and a woman. I agree with my Church. 

Now you may see me as being an intolerant bigot.  No, I’m a repentant sinner.  There’s this saying I like; “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes“, and I am going to.  Please hear me out.

I have the same right

Jesus was very clear about divorce, and marriage being between one man and one woman.  You can read it for yourself in Matthew 19:3-11.

My story “The Kingdom” began when I was a divorced woman with a married man.  At first, I didn’t regard that as being a terrible sin.  I mean, he was going to get divorced!  Do you see how messed up that was?

When I got to know God, He showed me that He regards divorce, adultery, and homosexuality as sin.  It was a struggle for me to trust God to get me out of all of that.  I got there with a lot of help from my friends and support from people in different churches.

After my divorce God in His mercy gave me a second chance, and I was able to leave all of that behind me.  I am now very happily married to a man who loves the Lord as much as I do.

What do you think the Church is here for?  It’s to deal with sin.  We’re like a cross between a school and a hospital.  We teach the truth, and bring emotional, physical and spiritual healing to those who are wounded by sin.  That is what we do, knowing that we ourselves are sinners.  We are not perfect, we’ve been forgiven.

The church is there to help turn our lives around, so we can go the other way.  That is what we are.  We are like a lighthouse – an oil filled one.  Oil is a symbol for the Holy Spirit.  If your Church is offering same sex marriage – run.  It’s a Church without any oil.

Jesus told a story about a Bridegroom and oil in Matthew 25, the parable of the 10 virgins.  That Church is not interested in dealing with sin, or your spiritual condition.  The Church is supposed to deal with sin, not accommodate it in the name of “tolerance” or “inclusiveness”!

We can’t change the marriage covenant.  It would mean abandoning our faith to do it.  You might as well be asking for a lighthouse to move!  Here’s a clip about the USS Montana and a lighthouse.

Hearts and Flamingos

A lot of people have trouble with dating and courtship.  Even Solomon, the wisest King in the Bible, said it’s a thing he did not understand.

There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand:
The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maiden.”  Proverbs 30:19

Its interesting that Solomon should include an eagle, serpent, and ship in his observation about courtship.  What do they all have in common , besides being familiar sights to him?  Let’s see.  Flying. Sliding. Sailing. Courting.  I guess its all about the moves.

flamingo-heart_2277679k

A flock of Caribbean flamingos in Yucatan, Mexico, form the shape of a heart while feeding on a lake.

Pink Flamingos have the moves when it comes to courting.   God sends us signs, and I found this picture of a heart on The Telegraph website.  What might He want to tell us about the Flamingo?

They do a really cute dance.  I like the way they’ve been designed to bust out the moves.  How is it they know what to do, and we don’t?

Here is a link for a short movie clip about the Flamingos in Celestun, Mexico.  The people there know to protect the Flamingos – because it’s part of their heritage.  I wish we had the wisdom to teach our children about courtship and protect the marriage covenant in our own societies.

What kind of moves do men and women make when it comes to courting these days?  Courting is out of fashion isn’t it?  I knew it as ‘dating’ and my daughter calls it ‘hooking up’.  What is courting?  What are the rules, etiquette, and social mores?  I know its not what we see portrayed on TV and the films.  It’s not even close.  If children don’t see it from Mum and Dad, how are flamingosthey supposed to learn?  The media is the wrong place to learn about courtship.  When it comes to the world, eveything goes.  Now my children are trying to find their way through the same maze, and it’s grown even worse now that there’s all sorts of immoral stuff being passed into law.

What’s God’s pattern for courtship and marriage?  Right from the start, He designed marriage to be between one man and one woman.  The Old Testament kings and patriachs had plural wives, but this would have been a result of sin – not His perfect design.

God inspired Solomon to write that a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:12.  He, being the third strand.  It makes all the difference.  God designed marriage so a man and woman could become one, and from that union, produce a family.  He also uses marriage to strengthen families where the father or mother is missing.  Listen, God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.  Psalm 68:6.

Chapter 69 The Courtship tells the story about the courtship that began with the man God found for me.  I’d been a rebellious one living in a sun scorched land, before I came to trust the Lord and accept His pattern for marriage.  My husband had been a lonely guy, waiting for the wife the Lord had promised.  I am so glad that God chose him for me.  It’s better to dance to God’s tune.

I found a couple of good links about courtship here:

17 Tips For Effective Courtship

http://dareadaramoye.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/17-tips-for-effective-courtship/

“God really does write the best love stories.”

http://kindredgrace.com/real-life-isnt-always-like-the-courtship-books/

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match …

matchmakerMy second marriage is a bit different because we had God acting as the match maker.  It is a match made by God in Heaven, but lived out here on Earth.

How did He get us there?  God led me through the story I write.

Over seven years He told me things along the way about the man he had chosen for me.

In the story, I referred to the man as “the Chosen”, and when I met him, “Prince Mentor”.  The Lord has asked me to put the story online.

When I did meet “the chosen”, it wasn’t love at first sight.  There was no romance.  I presumed that because I had been told about his nationality, and the fact that our paths would cross in a circle, that he would know about me.   Not so.  He presumed the Lord had some other woman for him, and kept telling me about her.  It was a mind game for me.  I got really obstinate and decided not to reveal anything the Lord had told me about him.

To complicate matters, I had a friend named “Ishmael” who loved me and gave me words of affirmation.  He spoke my love language!  He was only a friend because he was from a different culture, and a moslem.

It was never going to happen and I’d told him to go back to his wife, but we remained friends.  Ishmael bolstered my self esteem.  I basked in the warmth of his approval, feeling wanted and desired.  It was completely different with “Isaac”, the chosen guy.  I felt unwanted because of his actions.

I ended up talking to them both until the Lord made me put a stop on Ishmael.   The Lord said I needed to tell Isaac that he was the man God had chosen for me.  I said no to God, repeating what Isaac had said – “he didn’t want any uncomfortable moments.”  Nor did I.

In fact I said a bit more than ‘no’ to the Lord.  Then the King in my story turned into a lion and basically made me tell him the story.

I was afraid he might trample my pearls into the mud.  It had happened to me once before, when it hadn’t been about a match made by the Lord.  That time I’d been trying to build some boundaries, without knowing how.  The Lord assured me that this man was not a pig.  He told me the parable about the merchant who sought after pearls, and found one of great price.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  Matthew 13:-45-46

So with white knuckles I obeyed the Lord and sent the story to the man.

What happened next?  You’ll have to read my book.