You only see part of the picture.

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(Lessons gleaned doing a puzzle extending 6 inches beyond the borders pictured on the box.)

You only see part of the picture

There’s more to your life than you see.

You see what happens around you

But outside that framework there be

Unknown factors and measures

Images, colour and light.

Though to put the pieces together

It can be more of a fight.

Part of the picture you work on

Putting the pieces in place

The other unseen surrounding

You leave to My infinite grace.

Guessing at last what’s portrayed there

Trying to make sense of it all

Feeling your way to an image

You don’t have a sight to recall.

But think of the wonder in this child,

It’s much more exciting you see.

The whole of the picture completed

You’ll see it at last as I see.

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We come to understand Him through the things that he made.

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God is the ultimate artist, and, as we come to know Van Gogh, Rembrant, etc. through studying their works, so we can come to know God through His creations. Every flower, bud, tree, every creature great and small, the sun, moon and stars teaches. Even the vast nothingness of infinite space speaks of the emptiness without Him.

The artist is know by his creations. It could have been dull, boring, monochrome. Instead He made it diverse, brilliantly coloured, with millions of varieties, each interlocked, depending on each other. An artist of precision He balanced each element, each atom, with exact care to sustain life. He set us here, within His vast environmental sculpture to explore, to live, to learn for ourselves to create the good.

God is never boring. Life is one amazing voyage of discovery if we open our eyes to see it.

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God’s ultimate back up plan.

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Yesterday I posted about how God always has a back up plan when things go wrong (Rom. 8:28). That set me to thinking of not just my little life, not even nationally, but about God’s global back up plans.
Yes, he has a back up plan for if/when we screw up this earth beyond redemption. It’s not about electing Christian politicians, edgy liberalist ideas, or law enforcement. It’s all explained in the book of Revelations (and a few other places). God’s ultimate contingency plan is to come rescue us (and the earth we were meant to care for).
It says, He’s going to take over with a whole new ball game, and this time we play by His rules, not ours. Finally, justice (and mercy – can’t have one without the other) will be meted out, our whole economic system uprooted, no more rich, no more poor, no more exploitation. The earth’s replenished land and resources will be shared by all, no more hunger, no more crippling mortgages. For sure there will be work, but wholesome, independent work, no more bosses! No more curse on the land, (no weeds, pests or fungus). Tame animals, less sickness, prolonged age expectancy etc. etc.
When I see us continually screwing up I remind myself – there’s a back up plan and its incredible!

Don’t worry, God’s got a backup plan.

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Sometimes life can get scary! We take a wrong turn, make the wrong decision, or be on the receiving end of someone else’s – it happens (a lot!)

No need to worry, God’s got it. Our immense, inestimable, heavenly father always has a backup plan. It’s promised in Romans 8:28 “all things work together for good to those that love God and are called acording to His purpose.” It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go for that ball, but if we miss it, God will grab it and lob it in the right direction. If we took a wrong turn He’ll bend that detour back to the straight and narrow while we become wiser drivers along the road. If we fall, He’ll pick us up, dust us off, and set us, more humble, on our way.

I once got really down and discouraged at my frequent failures. Sitting gloomily pondering my stupidity, I noticed my friend’s two-year-old enter the room. Coming straight up to me (and with appropriate hand motions) he said, “God’s way up – down!” Talk about “out of the mouths of babes and sucklings!” I got the point and never forgot. It’s become a habit over the years, when I blow it, or something goes wrong, to try to guess what God is going to do to fix it – He’s full of surprises! Like the “Murder in Paradise” ( a fun who done it series) I seldom guess, unless He gives a lot of clues! Lol!

I must confess to still being a worrywart at times, but it’s life’s number one way to de stress for me to remember that, though I haven’t a clue how a situation could possibly be remedied, God always has a backup plan!

What is a church?

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Many of us associate the word church with a building, but the original meaning was a group of believers. While a church building may be old, beautiful, a remembrance, or a masterpiece of creativity, it is an empty shell without the congregation. A true church is the sum of its members, whether they meet in a movie theatre, coffee shop, or simple home. Perhaps some of the strongest churches have met in forests, on mountains, even in cellars, during times of persecution (and still do in some parts of the world.)

A recent blog post set me thinking about churches. Probably the most diabolically clever move the enemy ever made was to make Christianity acceptable, safe. The ancient “church”, heartily relieved to no longer be hounded and persecuted, settled down to work in harmony with the prevailing worldly systems of its day. Sure, it had its revolutionaries, St. Francis, Luther, etc. But even Luther compromised when he saw where the truth of the scriptures was leading – the overthrow of the status quo. He sold out his followers and thousands died.

In every generation, and scattered throughout denominations one finds true Christians, always a minority. The proportion of these individuals in a church tends to decide how dead (going through the motions) or alive it is. A spirit filled pastor can sometimes bring a church to life, but the choice rests always on the congregation. It is not always shown by large numbers (think Noah and Jeremiah). In my experience small, personal churches tend to be more on fire, as they grow so do the problems. If you build something successful someone is sure to either try to destroy it or take it over – this happens!

The church I frequently attend is small, personal, accepting. They have all types and ages in their congregation, wealthy and privileged, to poor single mums from the counsel estate, 90 year olds to tiny tots (even teenagers). The pastors are sincere and loving. Testimonies, prophecy and prayer abound and are freely shared among the congregation both after and often during the service. It’s easy to see the love of Christ abounding. I notice how no one minds when a woman sings off key and two beats behind on every song, when several get up to help the one in a wheelchair, when someone breaks down in tears and the person next to them (not in any church position) puts an arm around them, when I see the free lunches offered to any that come (minus a sermon) and note the guy with a tattooed face I’d avoided sitting among them, greeted with a smile. While perhaps not as radical as my own beliefs (it still operates in conjunction with the “system”) I’d say it is an alive and growing church in the best meaning of the word.

 

The freedom of being a christian!

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Mark Batterson makes a statement at the beginning of his “Wild Goose Chase” series (if you haven’t heard it you really missed something!) He speaks of how a zoo just isn’t the same as seeing creatures in the wild. He ponders whether churches, well meaning, may shelter “caged Christians” safe, secure but no longer free. It’s a question to ponder.

In my own experience finding Christ was the ultimate in freedom. Free of worries for my needs or safety I could go anywhere, do anything! Being “born” outside the religious system I took His words quite literally when He said, “My God shall supply all your needs,” or “the angel of the Lord encamps about those that fear Him and delivers them,” etc. I lived on the promises and He met every one, wonderfully! In my innocence I knew no other way.

The verse, “He came that we may have life and have it more abundantly” does not (as it is often misapplied) mean we’ll get rich. It means when we receive His spirit in our hearts our new (spiritual) life begins, right then, overflowing with power, joy, and love. But even the life-giving spirit of Christ can be quenched if we bottle it up and turn off the faucet through fear.

I find it strange many non-believers view Christianity as restrictive. The opposite is true. Jesus sets us free, free from sin, from fear, even from convention. I suspect many might be surprised at my mental picture of Jesus – in action, overflowing with life, joy, love and power. My favourite Easter picture (above) shows Jesus racing from the tomb, full of power, eager to begin His future work. He often makes me laugh (usually at myself) and tells me I’m too serious – a worry wort lol! He really is a “free spirit” in every sense of the word.

I love that His first recorded miracle was to save a party by turning water to wine, that children loved Him. I love how he picked fishermen – even a tax collector – for His disciples. Even more I love that he roamed the land with no home, no job, no official stamp. He even had a notorious prostitute as a close follower! He must have gotten dirty, probably smelly, definitely not a member of “respectable society”, but love and power flowed from Him, healing, freeing, inspiring. That’s certainly not the image non-Christians have of the average church member.

Have we become caged, tame Christians, docile pets of the status quo? It’s a dangerous question to pose – it was the “status quo”, not the Romans that had Jesus killed – the Romans were just the tool they used. Being a real Christian is highly dangerous, but oh the thrill of adventure!

 

Choose to live.

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For me, the best New Year quote was given in the movie Braveheart. He says, “All men die, but not all men truly live.” Many go through life chained to circumstances, living according to “the pattern” of expectation, quenching their dreams, sweet childhood racing hearts reduced to spiritual poverty, disabled by fear.

To truly live demands courage. One might meet an untimely death! At best we stand to fail sometimes, become a target for gossip, have our “friends” desert us. I’ve trod the path, I know.

The alternative to embracing life, is to live a humdrum existence, to “arrive safely at death” dreams stored away lest you fail. I did this at first, till at 17 I exploded, unable to contain it any longer. I hurt some people (especially the boyfriend I no longer wanted to marry). The truth can hurt, but I would have hurt them more in the long run…

I cracked the – 1960s council estate, London suburbia – mould, getting a job in downtown London, I pursued my talents, eventually earning a fine art degree and being ostracized by former friends and neighbours for my audacity. I questioned everything, began to travel, to teach, and best of all (after a great many adventures and going through hell for a while) discovered God was real. From that point on, though there have been battles to fight, I led an enchanted life of total FREEDOM!

During this time, I was continually told these things were impossible for me, a poor girl from a council estate where no one could dream of more than shop, office or factory work, scarcely knew other options existed. Even my school advised against my staying on to take GCSEs (I was dyslexic – a condition unrecognised then) so I left school and started work at 14 years old. I see in retrospect God always had a hand on my life.

Well, that’s my story and it has repeated itself in my children, each conquering “the impossible” in their own way. My advice to anyone with a burning fire? If you hate your life, be brave! Step out on the water like Peter. Sure, he sank when he looked at the waves and the wind, (as we often do) but Jesus lent a hand and together they walked on the water. Peter, a simple fisherman, is remembered while the richly endowed of his time are forgotten. Not for his intellect, talents or wealth but due to his courage to risk everything. So, step out, pursue those dreams, but, if you’d be wise, take God’s hand you may need it sometimes.