That widow who never gave up

This means warI’ve been asking the Lord what he meant by the question he asked “When the son of man returns, will he find faith?  Luke 18.

When Jesus asked this question, he’d been describing a courageous, indomitable widow who did not give up her petition for justice.  ‘Grant me justice against my adversary,’ she petitioned the judge in Luke 18:3.  He used her to show us what prevailing prayer looks like,

He told me to read the parable.  It’s been another parable I didn’t like because it left me wondering whether God was like the judge.  But after asking the question about what he meant by faith, I could see he wanted us to look at the widow.

War RoomHe confirmed by sending me to see a movie last night called “The war room.”  Now I had no idea what it was about.  The way it started off, I thought it was going to be a war movie.  No, it was about a widow, a prayer warrior who befriended a younger woman and taught her how to pray without giving up.

This is what this widow prayed;

Raise them Lord that will call upon your name.
Raise those who love you and seek you and trust you.
Lord, we need an army of believers who will stand upon your word above all else.
Raise up warriors Lord, who will fight on their knees, who will worship you with their whole hearts Lord.
Lord, call us to battle, that we may proclaim King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
I pray these things with all my heart.
Raise them up Lord, raise them up!

This is the kind of faith he’s looking for when he returns. This is what God’s army looks like.

The movie was held in a secular movie theatre, and when it ended, the audience clapped.  This is the kind of faith the world respects.

It’s challenged me.  I recommend you go see this movie.

My hope for you, for 2015

Hope is a powerful thing, and if God gives it the world can’t take it away.

I once heard a good acronym for HOPE;

Honest Optimism Practically Expressed.

Hope opens up the power flow for the Holy Spirit to move in your life.  Doubt closes it.  The Lord would tell me off when I expressed any doubts about His promises.

Hang in there and don’t stop believing.

Here’s Psalm 25 put to music by Third day.  It’s called “My hope is in you.”  We played this at our wedding at the conclusion of the service.  It meant a lot to us, as we’d put our hope in the Lord – and he did more for us than we ever expected or imagined.

I hope you have some en-JOY-able times this year, even in the midst of challenges.

Faith Quotes_Faith quote2

The Lion has roared

Amos3and8Lately the King has been speaking to me about a Lion roaring.  The Lion is associated with judgement.  I know his roar can make the earth shake.  Why would the lion roar? 

The lion has roared– who will not fear? The Sovereign LORD has spoken– who can but prophesy? Amos 3:8

Prophecy isn’t one of my top gifts, discernment is.  I discern signs and go to the Lord with what I observe.  I then read the Bible to see what He says, and I pray.  From the ends of the earth, I call to Him.  This is what I have discerned.

Have you noticed over the last ten years that western countries have made laws in opposition to God’s covenants?  To God, interfering with His covenants is a poke in the eye.

I’ll start with my own country, NZ.  There have been sweeping changes made by minority groups to the social and moral fabric of the nation.  Since then, we have had several earthquakes.

christchurch-cathedral-before-and-after

Christchurch NZ, 2011

The first quake struck Christchurch in September 2010.  Even though it was 7.1 on the richter scale, no-one was killed.  We called it a miracle.  It was a warning.

The first sign of judgement was the second quake that struck six months later in February 2011.  It was devastating.  The city is having to be rebuilt and it destroyed the Christchurch cathedral.  It’s not hard to see what the judgement is on. “Judgement begins with the house of the Lord.”  1 Peter 4:16

seddon-and-beehive

Seddon statue in front of the Beehive, NZ Parliament

The second sign of judgement was over the authority of the NZ government.  An earthquake struck in July 2013, on the eve of same sex marriage coming into law – another law that was passed despite public protest.  It was located in Seddon and felt strongly in the capital.  The town of Seddon is named after Richard Seddon, New Zealand’s longest serving Prime Minister.  There’s a prominent statue of him outside our Parliament Buildings.  Seddon has come to represent the authority of the government in NZ.

eketahuna-nz

Eketahuna, NZ

The third sign of judgment was over “real New Zealand.”  An earthquake struck Eketahuna, a little NZ town with a big Kiwi statue to represent that it is a stereotypical rural NZ town – “the real New Zealand”.  This was the third sign of judgement.

Britain is another country that brought same sex marriage into law, in the 60th year of the Queen’s coronation.  I noticed Prime Minister Cameron called the UK floods ‘biblical’ after the Thames burst it’s banks on 11th Feb 2014. 

There seem to have been a string of storms, beginning with the  St. Jude storm on 27-28 October 2013, which was also known as Cyclone ‘Christian’.  Why is it significant?

Jude was the brother of Jesus.  He urged the Church to contend for the faith, warning about certain people who have secretly slipped in among the Church; ungodly people, who pervert the grace of God into a license for immorality.  Jude 1:4.  When the Queen ratified the same sex marriage bill it into law, she broke her coronation oath where she swore to maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel.

Lion cloud

Lion cloud in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, May 2014

God was trying to get Britain’s attention.  After that, the Lion appeared in the sky during a storm in May 2014.

We need to be like Daniel for our countries.  Before Gabriel came to tell him about the end times Daniel humbled himself and prayed for forgiveness on behalf of his nation.
We need to pray like the prophet Daniel;

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land … ” Daniel 9.

I recommend praying the whole chapter, and substitute the name of Israel where appropriate for our own nations.  We have entered a time of judgement.  It’s time for the Church to rise up, be on alert, and pray.  This is what the Lord told me seven years ago; “We are born for such a time as this. We need the Isaachar anointing, to understand the days we are living in. The sons of Isaachar discerned the times, and knew what to do.  This is our time.  We need to humble ourselves, and seek God’s face.  May His Kingdom come.

A time for war

St Matthews Monastery Iraq

Mar Mattai (St Matthews) Monastery Iraq

This week a priest visited the churches in my small community, along with the elders of the Assyrian Church of NZ.  His name was Father Fadi.  He needed an interpreter as he did not speak English, he spoke Aramaic – the language of Jesus.  He was dressed in a black hassock with a black and silver skufia (soft cloth cap).  Why was he so far away from his homeland? 

Father Fadi was forced to leave Iraq.  His wife and children are still there.

I had never before seen a member of the persecuted church, and we all listened to him very carefully.  He carried the hurt of his people.

Realising we were in the presence of an ancient church, one that had been persecuted for centuries, a reverential hush came over us.

mahurangi2

St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at Matakana coming home

It reminded me of the hush I witnessed when a church was moved on a barge from Snells Beach back to Matakana, it’s original community.  The waiting crowd had gone silent when the little church appeared around the final bend of the Matakana river.

This is also a church on the move, but there is no home for it.  Mosul (Ninevah) is a Christian area, always has been.  Father Fadi said things got progressively worse for them in Iraq after Sadam Hussein was deposed, especially since 2010.  He said that every day his heart had pain.

There were over 100,000 Christians living on the plains of Ninevah.  Isis forced the people out.  They had to leave their homes overnight and and have nowhere to go.  Some of them are sheltering under highway underpasses and the temperature has got up to 50 degrees C.

Father Fadi said that he wanted us to know that there was a church in Iraq.  St Matthews was his monastery.  It was founded in the 3rd century.  Its 20kms from Mosul, ancient Ninevah.  Now there are only two elderly monks left at St Matthews who did not want to abandon the monastery.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10916613/Iraqs-beleaguered-Christians-make-final-stand-on-the-Mosul-frontline.html

Please pray for them.  What does God think of their plight?  Why has He been silent in the face of the slander, abuse and murder of His people?

For the past two weeks, I’ve been getting a verse from Amos;

The lion has roared—who will not fear?
The Sovereign Lord has spoken—who can but prophesy? Amos 3:8.

I’ve been praying for a context.  Today He told me the Lord is a God who avenges, and one of His names is “The avenger of blood.”

We’re not used to that concept.  All we know is a God who has taught us forgiveness 70 x 7.  We know the Lamb, not the Lion.

It’s time for the church to rise up and pray.  There is a time for peace, and a time for war.  The church couldn’t stand by and turn the other cheek while Hitler was rampaging through Europe and North Africa.  In that time, God raised up intercessors like Rees Howells.  We need to intercede like that again.

What can we pray?

It can be hard to pray about the enemy.  I mean, I’d love to ask God to slaughter the Jihadists and leave their dead bodies strewn across the desert.  It would be justice, but then I’d be praying for them to go to hell.  A better prayer would be for God to thwart them, or make Himself known to them in dreams.  If you don’t know what to pray, pray the word.  Psalms are good for this purpose.  God delights in us addressing Him using His word, and it never returns void.  The devil can’t stop prayer from the word.  I used this I used the world from Psalm 94 to pray for His persecuted people;

Assyrian Christian Fr Adda

Assyrian Christian Father Adda prays at St. Matthew monastery on Mount Maqloub, northeast of Mosul in Northern Iraq, Jan 12 2004

O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth;
pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long, Lord will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant?
They pour out arrogant words;
They crush your people,they oppress your inheritance.
They slay the widow and the foreigner;
they murder the fatherless.
They say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.”
The wicked band together against the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
Lord let the enemy know you do see,
Let the enemy see you are taking notice.
Let them see the futility of their arrogant words and empty boasts,
That they may come to fear you.
Lord protect the widow, the foreigner, the fatherless.
Become the fortress of your persecuted people,
the rock in whom they can take refuge.  Amen.

There’s a lot more to the Psalm than I’ve prayed here.  I recommend you read the whole Psalm.  I will write more about the Lion of God in the next post.

Links

Beleaguered Chritians make final stand on the Mosul frontline

 

Seek first the Kingdom

Ephesians 3-20Do you believe that God is able or willing to provide if we ask, or do you believe that “God helps those who help themselves?”  I had to grow up self reliant, so I believed more in self help.  That was until I came to a place in my life where we’d just left college,  we didn’t have jobs, and we were nearly out of money.  We ended up in this tenuous position through no fault of our own, work we’d been promised didn’t materialise.  I called that place “the mirage”.

Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount not to worry about stuff, our Father in Heaven knows what we need;

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 

SparrowLook at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:25-34

I wanted to believe that if we seek first the Kingdom, all these things will be given to us – but I had trouble trusting God for provision after the mirage.  I worried about the future big time!  My husband didn’t pray very nicely to God about our situation, he just barked “God, we need money, RIGHT NOW.

Eye on the sparrowGod heard us.  The next day we entered a period of supernatural provision that lasted for two months, ending when we got our first pay packets.  We got jobs working nightfill at a supermarket 3 nights a week, commercial cleaning on the weekends and early mornings, and I also worked as a caregiver on Saturday night through to early Sunday afternoon.  We were building a business during the day, and I wondered how we were ever going to get that off the ground.  God got us seed funding for that as well.  He did above and beyond what we asked for or ever could have imagine.  Our business was able to pay us both after the first year, and we were able to give up our night jobs.  That was seven years ago, and we’re doing okay, despite the recession.

The story is told in Chapter 78 The seed

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

 

Holidaying on the smell of an oily rag

Camping at Te Aroha

Camping at Te Aroha

Have you ever gone on a holiday with no money?  We have!  We were forced to some years back, through having to vacate our student flat on campus over the December-January holiday period.  As far as our finances went, we were running on the smell of an oily rag.

We prayed about what to do and where to go before leaving, and God didn’t disappoint us.  “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes” He said.  It seemed a great idea.  Off we went with $80, a $1000 overdraft, a tent and a 16 year old car.

In the end, we spent only three days camping.  We got houses to sit in big city Auckland and in Waipawa, a friendly little town in Hawkes Bay.

We went camping at a place called “Te Aroha” which means “the mountain of love” or “the loved one”.  The river its next to is the Waihou river, meaning “new water.”  One of the walks we did took us along the banks of the Waihou river.  It’s a river of crystal clear water, which I’ve covered in earlier posts:

Come to the river and Salus per Aquam, Healing through waters.

New Zealand is a country of outstanding natural beauty, so we went exploring.  We spent several days in the Karangahake Gorge, an old gold mining area of bush clad gorges, waterfalls and sparkling rivers.

If you are ever in the North Island of New Zealand, I recommend these places for hiking.

From there, we eventually made our way to Hawkes Bay, where we were going to house-sit for my sister and brother-in-law.  The road we travelled was the Napier-Taupo road.

The road isn’t as bad as when I was a kid, but I was a bit worried because there were some big hills for the old car to get over.  The Australians call our hills “mountains”.  My worst fears were realised after we scaled the Gentle Annie, a hill that was over 2300 feet high.  The car engine overheated and converted all the water to steam at the summit.  It still went after that, but it was flaky and never the same for the rest of the holiday.

We had to spend some of the overdraft money on products to try and fix the subsequent overheating and leaking problems.  I think the hill lead to the engine’s demise.  Six months later, my husband replaced the engine as soon as we were able to afford it.

I felt the presence of God on that holiday, especially in Hawkes Bay.  He spoke to me a lot out of the book of Isaiah, even though I was reading Proverbs at the time.  That holiday has to be one of my all time best holidays, even though we had no money and a car with overheating problems.  I believe it is better to be time-rich and money-poor rather than the other way around.  Experiences don’t have to cost money, but you need to have the time to enjoy them.  Joy is part of the word ‘enjoy’.  That holiday, I learned what joy was.

The joy of catching up with family and friends.  The joy of going back to childhood places.  The joy of hiking through beautiful places.  The joy of being free and not having to be anywhere.  The joy of discovering things that had been hidden for years.

 

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.

40

40You know how you hear a song and it takes you back to a certain time in your life? U2’s song ’40’ is one of those songs for me.  

When I first heard the song, I was on my own, and miserable.  The narcissist I was in a “relationship” with put me through hell.  I remember finding comfort in the words to Psalm 40.  It was like a promise.  Back then, I was living in a street called Pitt Street.  It was there that the Lord turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me up out of the pit and got me onto solid ground.  He brought me safe people and taught me how to have healthy relationships.  I can’t sing His praises enough.

U2 think the same thing.  The song ’40’ by U2 is taken from Psalm 40.  Have you heard it?

Psalm4040 -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a clip of them sing ‘Yahweh’ and ’40’.  40 comes on around the 4 minute mark.  Enjoy.

U2 are not a Christian band, but here they are giving the King the glory and recognition He deserves.

Word for the weary

Have you ever ended up feeling totally drained?  I have.  My relationships used to drain me before I had boundaries.  Nowadays it’s my work. Solving problems with computers and computer systems all day long can go from taxing to brain-frying.

Have you heard the saying that “God helps those who help themselves?” Do you think its in the Bible?  Its not.  The Bible consistently tells us if we go to God, He will renew our strength.  Jesus tells us “Come to me all who are heavily laden and I will give you rest.”   Matthew 11:28.  Remember that when you get out of step with the rhythm of life.

You can go to God for strength, that’s a promise.  His understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.

eagle

Isaiah 40: 28-31

Did you know that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength?
– They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  Isaiah 40

I have this promise on my office wall, to remind me who I can go to when I am tired and I’ve had enough.

The Lord will want to know why you are drained.  Are you flying in your own strength?

He will teach you to find the wind, if you permit Him, if you believe Him.

The next chapter, Chapter 45 Message on the rock tells of how I got to the end of my strength and the lesson I learned.