About Katia Adams

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This last month I was one of the millions of people who sat and watched as Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle.  I love weddings in general, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint with all the pomp and ceremony and glamour, not to mention the incredible promises of covenant to one another.

I’ve been intrigued by the social media frenzy stirred up by Bishop Michael Curry’s passionate preaching.  Voices of admiration rang out almost as loudly as some in the christian camp booing him for not giving a full enough rendition of sin and its penalty.  Whilst I can understand where some are coming from, I’ve got to say I thought his message was timely, beautiful and profound.  As I understand from scripture, God is love – and so I’m not convinced that we can ever overemphasise the incredible world-transforming nature of it.

Listening to him preach and reading over some of what’s been commented has led me to scripture again to look at love.  I’ve been musing over Paul’s words in Ephesians 3 and am more convinced than ever that God’s heart for the world and for His people is to be totally and utterly overwhelmed and immersed in His love.

Here’s Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 –

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (NKJV)

A few thoughts on these verses –

  1. Let love be your foundation

Our roots are in love – that’s where everything starts in our journey with Jesus.  Sometimes I think we’ve tried to rewrite the Gospel so that God’s motivation toward us becomes more sin and judgement focussed, but the best known verse in the world remains true in direct opposition to this sort of thinking – it was because God so LOVED the world that He gave His son.  Let’s not muddy the waters by trying to get theologically clever.  Let’s be clear – the gospel story is rooted in one emotion and Paul’s prayer springboards from that place of rooting and grounding:  Love.  It’s not a flimsy fickle sort of love.  It’s not a here today, gone tomorrow kind of love.  It’s a world-transforming, cross-bearing, death defying sort of love.  And it’s on offer to you and me.

  1. Let love be your comprehension

Starting in love, Paul prays that we would be able to comprehend it.  That our minds will be stretched to understanding the incredible proportions of it.  That our thinking would be inundated with this emotion from the heart of the Father.  The gospel has you rooted in love, now let’s journey in understanding it, in filling our minds with the truth of it, in trying to grasp the extent of love that our Papa has for us.  It’s a study that is so vast that it blows our minds (and boxes of thinking) wide open.

  1. Let love be your experience

Paul’s words are provoking because though he prays that we comprehend the love of God in verse 18, he’s clear in verse 19 that it goes beyond comprehension.  No matter how much we study and learn of the love of God it will never be enough because it is so much greater than our minds can fathom.  Comprehending His love is a worthy and important pursuit, but it’s an insufficient one.  God wants to journey us so that the love that we start in and work to understand is a love that we enter into an experience of.  He wants to take us from being merely students to the wonderful privilege of being sons – the first focusses on learning, the second on relational experience.

Where are you in your journey with Jesus?  You may be someone who is trying to grapple with the idea of whether God really cares about you, or you may be just starting out on getting to know Jesus and are getting your feet planted firmly into His awesome love.  Wherever you are, let me encourage you today – His love is so beautiful to read about and think about, but was never intended to be just a theological concept.  He is inviting us to experience Him and His heart, to meet His affection which is beyond any box we’ll ever be able to hold in our minds, so vast that it is breath-taking in wonder and depth.  Let’s step in a little deeper today and invite Him to come and do what He has always intended – to show off with His love so that we come face to face with His affection and are undone in His presence once again.

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Being married to a prophet has provoked me into a bit of a crazy wild journey with Jesus.  When I first started getting to know Julian, he would tell me of some unbelievable encounters with God that He was having and if I’m completely honest, I would find it a bit annoying because I wanted to experience similar crazy encounters too but I thought that they were somehow only ‘reserved’ for those who are prophets.  As if being a prophet meant that Julian could enter into a realm that was out of bounds for me – just an ordinary christian (is there any such thing?!).

Over the last few years, I’ve realised just how wrong that kind of thinking is.  Firstly, as children of God we are ALL created to know Him and hear Him and experience Him – that’s not a privilege reserved for prophets, but a reality on offer for all believers.  Secondly, the very reason Jesus gave gifts of prophets (alongside the other 5 fold gifts spoken of in Ephesians) was not to create a kind of tiered system in the body where some people are ‘super christians’ and get to do the stuff and the rest of us just stand in awe of them, but rather so that those people could equip and empower the body to do the very same things they do.  That’s the point of having grace gifts of apostles and prophets and teachers and evangelists and pastors.  Not to have them on pedestals where they do the work of ministry, but instead where they multiply and reproduce the supernatural DNA that they carry to those around them, so that the whole body is raised up to do the work of ministry.

In other words, Julian’s experiences are not meant to make me feel left out and jealous of how he gets to do fun stuff and I don’t, but rather they are meant to invite me and provoke me and empower me into experiences of my own with God.

Realising Jesus’ intention in giving gifts of people to the church has revolutionised how I anticipate what God wants to do with me.  No longer do I hear a story from someone with an amazing gift and think ‘Oh I wish that I could do that!’ but rather now I think ‘Woohoo! That must mean that I get to do that!’.

Every testimony and story you hear of wild encounter and supernatural moments are not meant to make you feel left out, but are meant to draw you in.  

What stories have you heard that make you yearn for more?  They are not simply stories, but are rather invitations whispered by your good, kind Papa who is holding out His hand and inviting you into the more of who He is.  Are you listening?  Are you ready to dive in deeper?  There is nothing that you have heard or seen in the christian world that is reserved for someone else more gifted or more ‘chosen’ than you.  We are all children of the same Papa who sees us all as His favourite.  What is He wanting to say to His favourite today?

 

This blog was originally posted on frequentsee.org

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Just a quick confession at the start of this year:  I started a ‘read the Bible in one year’ plan.  I’m already behind.

BUT despite the fact that I’m finding it a challenge to get through all of the reading for each day (not really the point, is it?!) God’s been speaking to me wonderfully through the book of Genesis and has set me up with a thought that i’m trusting will shape this year.

I was reading the familiar creation story again and something exciting popped out at me.  As you read the account of God making the world, you see that God creates everything that fills the earth according to its kind – plants and trees ‘according to their kinds’ (1:11) and fish and birds ‘according to their kinds’ (1:21) and beasts and livestock and creepy crawlies ‘according to their kinds’ (1:25).  And then this recurring phrase suddenly changes when God makes man.  He doesn’t make humanity ‘according to its kind’ as you would expect from everything He’s created so far.  Rather, He creates humanity according to HIS kind – ‘in the image of God He created them’ (1:27).

You were created according to the God-kind.  You are not ‘only human’ as the enemy would love you to believe, putting a lid over you of what you can and can’t achieve.  There’s actually no such thing as being ‘only human’ in that sense, because humanity wasn’t created with the limitation of its kind – it was created with the impossibility of the God-kind.

At this time most years, I look ahead with both excitement and some sense of being overwhelmed as my diary is booked right until the end of the year already and there is so much that I’ve agreed to that feels far beyond me.  But since reading Genesis 1, I’ve had this recurring thought in my head – I’m not ‘only human’.  There is no such thing.  I’ve been made according to His kind and right from the beginning He designed me to think outside the box and to disagree with seeming impossibilities.  Yes, the fall broke that beautiful reality, but coming alive in Christ brings me right back to my original design and His original intention.

So, as you look ahead to this year, I want to encourage you to ignore the enemy’s condescending lies that you can’t possibly have what it takes because you are only human.  What a lot of nonsense!  You have been made according to the God-kind where His intention is for you to live outside the box of possibility and feasibility.  Everything in your make-up was designed to touch the impossible and shine with His glory on the earth.  Get ready 2018, you’re going to be the year of smashing impossibilities.

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I think it’s Bill Johnson who said ‘The reality you’re most aware of, is the reality you will reflect’.  It’s a statement that has stuck with me.  It’s the statement that inspired me some years ago to spend a whole lot of time on youtube watching videos of Kathryn Kuhlman and David Hogan and other men and women of God who see God move in incredible signs and wonders, many of whom are completely eccentric, but who carry something incredible in terms of friendship with Holy Spirit (a lesson in not letting packaging offend us, but in looking further to see the gold in people).

I want Kingdom reality to be the one I reflect more than worldly reality.  I want signs and wonders to be a norm in my life.  I want the supernatural to be instinctive for me.  And so my aim and desire is to immerse myself in the world of the Kingdom – whether by praying or reading or singing or watching videos of people who are ‘doing the stuff’ so that my time is spent plunging my head and heart and senses into a more wonderful world than I can ever imagine.

Recently I was reading through the book of Acts and was inspired in this journey of Kingdom experience again when I read these words –

‘… for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard…’ (Acts 4:20).  What I see and hear, is integral to what then comes out of me.  In other words, the reality I’m most aware of, is the reality I will reflect.  And so I’m provoked again to spend time seeing and hearing afresh.  How can I expect to speak and live fresh bread if I’m not seeing and hearing it?  I can’t pick at dry leftover breadcrumbs and expect to birth anything fresh.  This isn’t just challenging for me as a preacher (although it certainly is provoking!), but this is about me as a woman, me as a mum, me as a friend and wife and daughter.  If I want my words and life to carry life, I better spend time with the One who gives it.

So here’s my challenge to us all today.  What are you spending your time seeing and hearing?  Because whether or not you want to, you will be speaking it.  So let us make sure what we see and hear is worthy for us to speak it.  Let us immerse ourselves in the reality of another world.  The world we were made for.  The world we are joined to.  And the world we have been given authority to reflect.

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Have you ever had one of those moments where someone points something out from scripture and you think to yourself ‘How have I not seen this before?!’?  On Sunday evening I was listening to an outstanding message from George Gourlay – ‘The King who is Victorious’ (i’d really recommend you have a listen – it’ll be up on the Harvest Church podcast soon) and he mentioned something about Jesus’ posture in victory that rocked me.

He pointed out the verse ‘ The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” ’ (Mark 12, quoting Psalm 110).  Notice this – Jesus is sitting on His throne in the perfect rest of His victory even BEFORE the enemies are made His footstool.  He is modelling what it looks like to live in Kingdom victory before the final expression of breakthrough.  He is in complete and utter rest.  No striving, no pacing around in worry, no begging the Father to come through as if we need to beg and plead to get Him to act… none of that.  Rather He is seated in total confidence that the victory He has won is irreversible, unshakable and is being inevitably worked out.  The footstool part is just a matter of time.

I’m so provoked by this.  There are so many things that i’m trusting for and praying for and if i’m honest, pushing for.  And it’s not that any of those things are bad, but on Sunday evening I was reminded that although I may not feel it at times, the most true reality is that i’m living in a seat of victory in Christ and the enemies that I see (suffering, injustice, sickness etc) and the breakthroughs that I long for are going to come about not from my pushing but from my understanding of what’s already been done and what’s been promised by a faithful Papa.  I’m not saying we stop praying or fasting or anything else we feel faith to do. I’m just suggesting we do those things with the beautiful peace that comes from complete confidence. Rest doesn’t mean inactivity (we know that Jesus isn’t inactive even as He’s seated – He’s interceding for us) but rest does mean certainty.

I have a wonderful friend who is living out this truth in the most remarkable way.  She is sick.  Sick to the point of death.  And while her body has been slowly but steadily ravaged by the horrible disease that is cancer, i’ve never seen a more inspiring and Jesus-pointing model of resting in victory even before her breakthrough.  She’s not out of touch with what is happening in her body.  She’s not living a super-spiritual denial of the facts.  She’s well aware that this cancer will take her very soon should her breakthrough not come on this side of eternity.  But even as I type this i’m overwhelmed as I think of the sheer confidence she’s living with.  He is good.  He WILL make the enemies a footstool.  It’s only a matter of time.

But this isn’t a truth that’s only relevant for us if we’re trusting for a breakthrough of healing.  This is a truth that is a gift for our everyday moments of life.  Our good good Papa is offering us a perfectly peace-filled place to live from.  Confident, certain and unshakable.  Victory over pain and sickness and death and brokenness is irreversibly ours because we’re in Christ.  And rest assured the footstool is being prepared even as you read this.

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find it all too easy to forget where I am.  I can go through days forgetting the fact that although what I see of my surroundings with my human eyes is earthbound, in actual fact i’m sitting totally joined with Jesus in Heavenly places.  Totally joined with Him.  So intertwined that there is not a single moment of my day where it’s possible to untangle myself from Him.  If He’s on a throne, then so am I.  If He’s sitting at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 1), then so am I.

This morning i’ve been musing over what it actually means to be seated at the Father’s right hand.  When scripture mentions the words ‘right hand’, what is it that the Word is trying to communicate?  Doing a search through the Bible to open up the significance of ‘right hand’ is a seriously encouraging read.  Ephesians isn’t simply trying to tell us our direction from the Father but rather trying to open our eyes to the overwhelming Kingdom resource that we’re sitting in.

Take Genesis 48 for example, when we read of Jacob blessing Joseph’s children,  his right hand was so significant that where he placed it was where the lion’s share of blessing, birthright and inheritance would go.  Then look at Exodus 15 – from His right hand comes so much power that the enemy is shattered & wiped out.  At His right hand are pleasures evermore (Psalm 16), a place of refuge (Psalm 17) and source of support (Psalm 18).  His right hand is filled with righteousness (Psalm 48) and brings deliverance and salvation (Psalm 60, Psalm 98).  From His right hand comes creative power (Isaiah 48).  The Son of His right hand is one who He makes strong (Psalm 80).

We are the sons and daughters of His right hand.  We are literally sitting in the wild and uncontainable current of His blessing, favour and inheritance, His power and deliverance and covering of refuge, His spine-strengthening joy and life-giving pleasure, His heart-cleansing righteousness, His ability to create all things from nothing and to bring forth what is seen from the unseen.

Whatever your earthly world looks like today, know this: His enemy-shattering power is all over you.  His favour and blessing of birthright rest on you.  His arms of comfort and support and refuge surround you. The power to create hovers expectantly over you. You are the sons and daughters of His right hand and He will bring you strength.

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I recently read an incredibly sad and provoking book entitled ‘Half the Sky’ by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  It is a book all about women, documenting how women are the most oppressed people on the planet today.  It shows oppression to be not only the horrors of human trafficking, but a wide range of experiences where women are told they are somehow less or smaller than the men around them.  It’s a heart wrenching read, but also one of mobilising the reader to action.  It’s the sort of book that makes you want to stand up and change the world because surely when God created woman, He did not intend for her to be oppressed and held down but rather to lead and shape the world around her.  He did not make her small and insignificant, but placed her in a place of honour in creation – alongside man – to rule the world (Genesis 1:28).

About a decade ago if you had asked me what I believed God’s intention was for women I wouldn’t quite know how to answer you.  As a child I grew up thinking that girls were equal to boys in every way.  I believed that I could be or do anything.  In my late teens I had a conversation at church that shook that belief in me.  A conversation that left me questioning what God’s heart really was towards women.  And that conversation – painful and confusing as it was at the time – was an incredibly helpful one in hindsight as it set me on a journey of study and encounter.  I wanted to come to a place of peace in my heart – to understand what God’s intention is for me as a woman and to understand what scripture says about my role.

I’ve written the points below as a brief summary of some of what i’ve read and understood from scripture.  I hope this post will be an encouragement to many – that the God of the Bible is FOR women and is not interested in holding them back.  I hope also that this post may make some readers think again about some of the scriptures that may have been used to suggest that God has placed a lower ceiling on women than He has on men.  In the end, I hope that whatever your view on the role of women, you will find me not to be offensive but rather passionate and ultimately full of love for both those who agree and disagree with me.  I think that God is much more interested in us loving each other within our different opinions than proving our point to be correct but doing so in a way that lacks love for one another.  I hope the former will be true of me.

Please bear in mind that i’m not trying to write this post as a conclusive thesis on the matter – i’m writing with my two children under two around me… makes for a somewhat chaotic writing process!

For the purposes of brevity, i’ve summarised my view on the role of women down to three main headings:

1. Equality from Eden to eternity

2. Jesus loved to liberate women

3. Paul loved strong women

Equality from Eden to Eternity –

In Eden we see that Adam and Eve both had a mandate together to rule over and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28). Adam didn’t rule Eve to then rule the earth.  They were equal co-rulers.  Before the fall, men and women were created to rule alongside one another.  There’s no hint of hierarchy.  There’s no hint that Adam was the main ruler and Eve the subordinate.

Some have tried to use the word describing Eve – a helper (Genesis 2:18) – to insinuate that her role was somehow a deputy to Adam.  But if we look into the word helper (in Hebrew: Ezer) we realise just how absurd that insinuation is.  The word does not have the connotation of inferiority but rather of adding strength.  In the Old Testament, the word Ezer is most consistently used of God – the point being that it is a word describing someone who is bringing much needed strength rather than someone who isn’t important enough to be the main leader.

Others have tried to use creation order as their basis to prove that Adam had more authority than Eve.  There’s not much logic to this however.  If anything, creation becomes more complex and authoritative the further on in order.  The animals came before both Adam and Eve.  That doesn’t give them greater authority, but rather the opposite!  I certainly don’t claim this to prove that Eve had more authority than Adam, but neither do I find justification for claiming the opposite.

Jumping ahead from Eden, right through to eternity, we catch a glimpse in the New Testament again of God’s desire to see men and women standing alongside each other – together in equality to rule and reign.  Men and women are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), seated in Him (Ephesians 2:6) and reigning with Him (Revelation 5:10), the focus no longer our gender but our one-ness in Christ (Galatians 3:28).

I wonder why, when God created men and women to rule together from Eden to eternity, we would think that His intention for our present age is any different?  Why would we think that God would introduce hierarchy as His intention now when hierarchy is not His intention either in Eden or in the Kingdom fully come?

Jesus Loved to Liberate Women –

If Jesus is to show us the heart of the Father, then we see that Papa God loves to liberate women and see them flourish in roles that some would reserve only for men.  Jesus let Mary sit at his feet (Luke 10) – the posture of a disciple – scandalising everyone around Him as He redefined what a woman could and couldn’t do.  He catapulted the Samaritan woman into being the first evangelist (John 4) and used Mary as the first witness to His resurrection (John 20) – completely disinterested in the fact that this would make the testimony of His victory weaker to those who saw women as somehow less able than men.

Jesus’ encounters with women consistently lifted them up and honoured them.  I wonder if this is true of us who represent Him?  I’m not talking about patronising or flattering women.  I’m talking about allowing women to walk in authority – as Jesus did – despite what the traditions around us may think.  His example is both encouraging and provoking.

Paul Loved Strong Women – 

I love reading through Romans 16.  It’s a chapter where Paul honoured those who laboured with him in the gospel.  The chapter is full of affection, admiration and respect.  The remarkable thing about that chapter is that Paul names several women within it.  He is not offended by their strength, not taken aback by their gifting, not scandalised by their positions of authority.  He honours them:  Phoebe, Priscilla (who interestingly is named before her husband Aquila in case you are still adamant that order connotes authority), Mary, Junia (who alongside her husband Andronicus is named as outstanding among the apostles), Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Julia.  Women who were deacons, apostles, co-labourers in Christ.  No hint of hierarchy or male dominance in Romans 16.

It’s interesting to me that we largely ignore how Paul loved and affirmed strong women who had authority in Romans 16, ignore how he didn’t put any gender qualification on operating in gifts of the Spirit including teaching and leadership (Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12) or in holding offices of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher (Ephesians 4) all in favour of a handful of verses he wrote to a church that was struggling with false teaching and so needed specific, corrective insight (1 Timothy 2).

I find this sad because 1 Timothy 2 is no more authoritative on the role of women than the other verses, it’s just that it gets much more airtime.  It’s tragic that people defend holding women back by claiming that they are just following the ‘plain reading of scripture’ when what they mean is that they are following an inadequately shallow reading of 1 Timothy 2:11+12 whilst ignoring the ‘plain’ reading of Romans 16 and Galatians 3:28 and 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4, let alone taking into account the broader brush strokes in scripture of the heart of God and Jesus’ example towards women.

This blog will become far too long if I go too in-depth on 1 Timothy 2 but let me just say a few things to whet the appetite –

  1. The word translated authority in 1 Timothy 2:12 (authentein) is an incredibly complex word.  This is the only time it is used in the Bible.  The normal word for authority (exousia) is used multiple times by Paul elsewhere but here he chooses the word authentein – we would be in error if we did not see this as a caution in how we are to translate the word.  This has led many well respected academics and theologians to point to authentein not being a word meaning just authority but rather a word with the connotation of grabbing or usurping authority.
  2. The word translated as silent or quiet in 1 Timothy 2:11 by many is the greek word ‘hesychia’.  Outside of Paul’s teaching on women, this word, or its Greek root ‘hesychios’ are found in four other places in the New Testament – 1 Timothy 2:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:12, Acts 22:2 and 1 Peter 3:4.  In all these contexts, the word conveys a sense of being at peace/at rest/peaceable rather than having a low level of volume!  It would seem that Paul’s instruction is that women learn in a way that is at rest rather than resisting or argumentative towards instruction (this fits well with the general tone of the surrounding passages about encouraging unity and peace rather than division).
  3. Even without the complications around translating ‘authentein’, 1 Timothy 2:15 should make us aware that this whole passage simply cannot be interpreted at a cursory glance.  There is no way of getting away with a ‘plain reading’ of 1 Timothy 2.  If you walk away at a shallow reading of the chapter, you will walk away in error.  Many have done this with the teaching on women.
  4. The context of the book of 1 Timothy is I believe a great key in its interpretation.  It was written by Paul primarily to correct the false teachings being propagated in Ephesus.  It was not a letter laying out his core, timeless beliefs (which would be more true of the book of Romans for example), but rather a letter trying to correct specific errors in a specific community.  If we mistake Paul’s applications to a specific community as his principles for all communities, we run the risk of falling into great error ourselves.

There is much more that I could say on these headings, let alone all the other headings i’ve left out!  But, let me finish this post by saying this:

The more I read and study scripture, the more I realise that God loves women.  God’s heart is to liberate women.  He wants full expression of life in women as much as in men and has put His incredible authority on women as much as on men.  He has called men and women together to manifest Kingdom life all over the earth.  He is not the author of misogyny but rather is a proud Father cheering on His daughters (and sons!) to bring heaven to earth as heirs of His Kingdom.  Isn’t it time we as the church joined the cheers of our Father for women to be powerful and beautiful and all they were created to be?  Isn’t it time we honoured the Priscillas and Junias and all the rest among us?  Romans 8 tells us that all creation is longing and waiting for the full revelation of the children of God.  I think it’s time to set our women free.

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I’ve got to be honest, I got really grumpy with God this week.  Grumpy to the point where I must have resembled my toddler having a tantrum about not getting whatever it is that he wants.  Grumpy to the point where I was accusing Him of not caring and not being all that He’s promised He will be.  I think God must have used up extra patience from His storehouse on me this week…!

The thing is, it’s been a tough few weeks – battling illness in our home, children not eating or sleeping (or both!), multiple visits to different medical professionals and scary diagnoses being mentioned and looming threateningly overhead.  The levels of pressure have been up and the number of hours of sleep have been low.  That’s a dangerous combination right there.

And so, after another night of broken sleep my frustration and hurt and disappointment and weariness came tumbling out in some big questions – ‘Where are you God?! Why aren’t you breaking in? Don’t you care? We feel like we’re drowning over here!’  In all honesty, it felt good to let it out.  It wasn’t my prettiest moment, but it was real!  The funny thing is, even as the accusations were coming out of me, there was a deeper truth holding me steady in my heart, aware that the questions were rising out of my flawed perspective and sleeplessness rather than a new found discovery of flaws in Him.  But it did my heart good to let the hurt out so that I could invite truth and affection in.  Once i’d spent my hurting emotions fully, I was able to just be still for a while and as I did that, of course I could hear Him speaking into my circumstances.

I was reminded of 1 Kings 19:11-13 when Elijah is waiting to encounter God, but God is not in the dramatic earthquake or wind or fire but rather in a quiet gentle whisper.

The truth is, i’m a woman who likes breakthrough earthquakes – quick, epic turnaround moments where the landscape of my circumstance changes drastically in just a few moments.  And of course God does work that way at times, and I really love it when He does!  But the reality is, that’s not the only way He brings breakthrough and life.  Some of His ways are more subtle, quieter and less dramatic.  It’s easy for me to miss the whisper when i’m hoping to see Him in the earthquake.  But this week, after my outburst, God has graciously been pointing me to all His whispers of breakthrough in the last season.  Whispers of incredible loving family and community who have surrounded us and given us strength.  Whispers of health improvement in small increments where it’s easy to overlook the improvement because it’s not complete… but it’s improvement nevertheless!  Whispers of miraculous energy levels even despite shockingly low levels of sleep.  Whispers of smiles and giggles from poorly children where love and joy has overpowered illness.  The list goes on and on when I start to adjust my lenses.

So i’m writing this this morning with my circumstances having been somewhat improved but not yet completely restored.  But i’m smiling and full of hope knowing that God is whispering to me even now and that every moment of my setting is a set up for me to encounter His goodness if i’ll just stop and be still and let the whispering God envelop me again.

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I’ve been thinking about generosity and abundance a lot in the last few days.  I love the invitation in scripture to enter into cheerful giving – that means it is possible for generosity to be attached to a whole lot of fun and joy.  Many of us may not feel the words fun and generosity belong in the same sentence, but the more I enter heaven’s invitation to live generously, the more i’m convinced that it has the power to inject unreasonable levels of joy into our lives.

Here are my favourite two reasons why:

Firstly, as we give generously, stretching ourselves and our means, we get to let go of the reality of the seen realm and tap into the greater reality of the unseen realm where there are limitless resources and storehouses that never run dry.  The fact is that if we allow our bank balances to have the final word on how we live and give, then they will have just that, the final word.  We will have tied ourselves to them for our provision, for our adventure, for our blessing. But if we allow heavenly storehouses the final word on how we live, on how we give, then our bank balances will not have a defining hold on us and we’ll be allowing a far greater, richer reality to resource our lives.

Secondly, when we give generously it is one of the moments when the expression ‘Like Father, like daughter (or son)’ shines most brightly, for our heavenly Papa is the most lavishly generous being in existence – He is the prodigal Father – and we can never out-give Him, but we certainly can look like Him as we live open handedly. Everything He does is an overflow of abundant generosity. It makes me smile to think i can look a whole lot like Him as i enter into the adventure of giving.

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Just a quick thought today –

Recently I was reading Matthew 6 and something so simple yet incredibly encouraging jumped out at me.  If we don’t understand the Father, we’ll think we have to bring something ‘worthy’ to make Him listen to us – in Matthew 6, Jesus talks about reliance on clever and long winded language.  But in reality, if we are basing His listening to us on anything we have to offer – be it gift, strength of faith, impressive eloquence or anything else we can think of, then we simply have not understood Him.

As He teaches, Jesus here makes a step from the incorrect belief of gentiles that long prayers lead to being heard and simply says instead – your Father knows.  Your Father is listening not because of anything you can bring.  He listens simply because He is your Papa and He knows.  He knows your needs.  He gets it and He gets you.  He’s listening not because of what you can convince Him of.  He’s listening because of who He is.  He is your Papa and His heart is for you.  A little further on in Matthew 6, Jesus teaches against worry and does so again on the basis of relationship.  He is your Father.  And you are valuable to him.  Not because of what you do, but because in making you His child He gave you value.  Full stop.

So today as you go to Him – whether in hurried prayers in the midst of thousands of demands, or whether in hours of glory and soaking up His goodness, understand this:  He’s listening to you.  Not because of anything you are or aren’t doing, but simply because He’s your Papa and that’s what He does.  He really is just that kind.

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