The Amazing race

amazingrace2Have you watched the Amazing Race? Imagine you are competing in it.  Millions of people are watching you on TV.  The prize is $1,000,000.  It would change your life to win it.

You finish the first leg, and those watching you are excited about the way you’ve run the race so far.  The race organiser is there to greet you as you come up to the finish.   You’re still in the race.  He is happy to see you make the pit stop, and while you rest you think about the decisions you made, the risks, the trials, the challenges you overcame, the pitfalls and mistakes, the detours and roadblocks.

The Kingdom is like the Amazing Race.  We have to follow directions, search for signs, work out the clues, overcome the obstacles, and get through the road blocks and challenges.  Only at the finish will we know if we’ve won, and what we’ve won.

The Kingdom of Heaven is open for all, if you believe in the Lord and confess your faith in Him.  “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”  Romans 10:9-10.

But you still have to contend for the race.  There is an adversary, the devil.  If he can’t stop you from getting that precious ticket to Heaven, purchased for you by Christ, he will try and keep you from running the race.  He will find your weakness and attempt to ensnare you.

Ephesians6-12Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  Philippians 2:13

What you inherit when you enter the Kingdom of Heaven depends on how you’ve run the race here.  Not everyone gets a prize.  Many are called, few are chosen.  Matthew 22:14.  You have to overcome to inherit the promises, and they are great.

What you inherit is up to the Lord.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  Colossians 3:24-25

Get this, y
ou can lose your inheritance while still being allowed into Heaven.  Some people are going to get into Heaven with the smell of smoke on them and nothing else.relay

If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.  If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.  1 Corinthians 3:14

“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”  1 Corinthians 6:9-10

If you are in one of those ‘nor’ or ‘neithers’, have a really good think about what you stand to lose because of that sin.  This should make us intentional about how we live our lives; working out our salvation with fear and trembling.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.  Philippians 2:13

Just like in the Amazing Race, where the competitors are gunning for the finish line, the prize in sight.

You may run the race alone or as part of a team.  For years I ran alone or with friends until Isaac came to join me in the race.

When I learned about inheritance, I found there was even more to the race than I first thought.  There are people who have run before who have a baton to pass on.  You will know if you are on their team.

Hebrews 11 speaks of people of faith, who believed in what God promised; “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for them so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

The baton can be promises to be fulfilled, victories to be obtained, or mantles to be taken up.

The Church fulfills its commission in telling everyone about salvation, but often it stops there.  I hope I’ve given you something to think about.  The next chapter of my story is about running the race.  I’m still running.  I’ve got a funny looking baton which you can read about in Chapter 79 The Year of Inheritance.

Here’s a good site I found that teaches on what I’ve mentioned here, in more depth;

http://remnantreport.com/cgi-bin/imcart/read.cgi?article_id=292&sub=25

Here’s “Stay strong” by the Newsboys.

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.

 

The wall

Have you ever encountered an obstacle that seemed unsurmountable?  Its called “hitting the wall.”  What’s been your wall? 

walk the wall

“Walk the wall!” A scene from “An Officer and a Gentleman”

Statistics was the wall I came up against, a paper I had to pass to qualify for a Diploma of Business.  We had four weeks to complete it.  I just couldn’t do it, I hadn’t been able to understand maths since the age of ten.  When I prayed about it, I knew I had to “throw my heart over the bar”.

Years before, I had won a major spiritual battle against bad thoughts.  After I’d got rid of the worry and hate, God wanted me to fill my mind with positive thoughts, so I read a book my Norman Vincent Peale, “The power of positive thinking.”

One of the things Norman Vincent Peale said was this;

Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow.  Throw your faith over your difficulty, throw your affirmation over every barrier, throw your visualisation over your obstacles.  Fire the heart with where you want to go and what you want to be.  Get it so deeply fixed in your unconscious that you will not take no for an answer, then your entire personality will follow where your heart leads.”     

It reminds me of a scene from the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman” that came out in 1982 with the hit song “Up where we belong.”  Anyway, the scene I am talking about is where the only female cadet on the course has a wall she has to scale.  The hero wouldn’t let her give up.  He coached her over the wall; “Walk the wall! Seeger! Seeger, walk! Seeger! Don’t you let go! You walk that wall! Pull! Pull! Pull, Candidate Seeger!”  

Psalm 18-29

Have you ever hit the wall?  If you can’t seem to get over, consult God before you give up.  He will know whether you can do it or not.  He and my husband helped me scale the wall, just like the hero in the movie.

Did I pass Statistics at College?  I did, I never used it in my business – but I have used Statistics in a major revelation about the 153 fish.

Leaving town, for God’s sake

You have a dream job, a great family, and you are happy in the town you are living in.  Would you give it all up, and uproot your family to go and do what the Lord wanted?

choice

I did.  Ten years ago.  It wasn’t easy.  My best friend thought it was a risky move.  Has it been worth it?  Yes.  Was I comfortable doing it?  No, but I have flown higher and gone further than I would have if left in my comfort zone.

Years before, the Lord told me there were two ways I could go. I could choose a hard yet interesting path, where everything I was given would be tested.   Or I could settle down under His protection and still have His blessing.

Why did I do it?  In the Lords prayer, we pray “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.”  This was something that was God’s will, and I wanted to do it for Him.  And I’d chosen the harder, higher road.

If you have been following my story, the next chapter is the close of my old life.  I had been asked by the Lord to go to a college in a different part of the country to live as an adult student.

At the start of my journey with the Lord I would have lacked the faith to move north and go to College in mid life.  By the time I met and married Isaac, I had learned that God is faithful, and He always has our highest best at heart.  He is worth it.   And there’s a promise in the Bible that God will reward the people He asks to do it;

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.  Matthew 19:29

I hated the town I left for most of the time I lived there.  I hadn’t been born there, my father had moved us into the area when I was twelve.  I’ve had some horrible jobs and relationships in that town, jobs and relationships I put up with because I believed I had no other choice.  It would have been easier to leave if I was still in that situation.  I wasn’t, I had a dream job, good friends and a husband I loved.  It made all the difference to how I saw the place.  The town was no longer a prison, and I was no longer a victim.

There’s a line that Janis Joplin sang in “Me and Bobby McGee”, that goes “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”  That’s not the kind of freedom that Christ gives us.  We are free to choose.  God knows its not a choice when there is nothing to miss or leave behind.

Perhaps you are only free to leave when you are truly happy.

Jesus said “For those the son sets free, are free indeed.  John 8:36″  That’s true.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” Galations 5:1. 

Before we go, here are some photos of the town I left, the place where I finally found happiness.

 

My house

My house from the Durie Hill Tower

Durie Hill Lift and Tower

The Durie Hill Elevator and Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wanganui panorama

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.

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.

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.