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!

 

Good question!

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new!

Well actually I did do something for the first time today. I ran aground in the shallows of the lake after my disabled sailing buddy grabbed the tiller for the upteenth time while repeating “ash! ash!” in a frenzied voice.

After a couple of minutes of frantic waving on my part (and jubilant whoops of euphoria for some reason on my buddy’s) our faithful safety patrol guys came to pull us off.

After returning his carer told me, “oh he means food. It’s almost lunch time.” (Now I understand his anguished gestures towards the jetty and final frustrated grabbing the tiller – he wanted to eat!)

So I learnt two new things –

  1. Our safety crew are saints (instead of teasing me about my lack of sailing ability they smiled and announced, “you wont be the only ones going aground here today with that prevailing wind.” – no one else did but that made me feel better).
  2. ) I learnt that food can be very important to a disabled person. (He was afraid he might miss his meal out there on the lake.)

The Mountain.

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(Flash fiction from June 2014)

Song Bird Songs

mountain

Looking upward he adjusted the loaded backpack. The mountain rose majestic  before him its pristine slopes green in the early sun. Tilting his cap he set off.

By mid-day slopes and dappled woodlands lay behind, the path ahead was steeper, rockier. The occasional hikers had vanished along with his mobile signal.  A strange isolation seized him, fear nibbled. Was this wise? Should he wait, join a climbing party?

No, this was what he had wanted, alone, above the confusion. Rebelliously he consumed a sandwich and trudged on. He became increasingly conscious of his surroundings. The rocks were not barren, tiny plants grew. He was not alone for birds carolled in passing and rodents rustled from his path. This was their world always, but today he would partake.

Joyous ripples announced a stream, leaping towards the waiting valley, cool and sweet. He emptied his bottle replacing stale water. He felt a…

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One last voyage.

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sail boat

The vessel was old decrepit, had seen too many storms, weathered too many years, carried too much cargo. He looked at it in the mirror, the unsightly bulge at the waist, the seams around the eyes, the thinning hair. This was no longer the trim, powerful craft he’d set out with. Refurbishing had turned into “tied up in port” rust and decay had set in. Yet the ocean called…

He smelt the sea breeze of adventure and longed to follow. Not for him home comforts, he loved to follow the wind, to listen to the cry of the birds as they flew free as the breeze.

“Tie up in port and die,” the voice in his head told him. “You are defeated old man!” But something inside resisted, something strove with the voice, something akin to a sea bird (or perhaps a dove).

“It ain’t over till it’s over!” he spat defiantly into the mirror. “I shall set sail again!”

He began at once offloading old cargo, purchasing new sails in the form of several bright Hawaiian shirts, he stocked up on food (healthy stuff) then he set sail. He sailed across the path of a foreign vessel, hailed it with a hearty greeting, offered help in piloting (it seemed the woman at the helm may have lost her bearings). Coming alongside he boarded the vessel assisting in repairs.

I’ve not seen either vessel for a long while since they sailed off into the sunset together.

The Greatest Adventure! ( (Re blog from May 2014)

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grave

My heart is touched with sadness today. An old and precious friend has concluded his battle with cancer. As a fellow believer I rejoice is his present freedom from suffering, but feel a vacuum left by his passing, such men are rare.

He died as he lived with a peaceful heart surrounded by his family and mourned by friends without number the world over to whom he showed kindness, patience and a helping hand, (me included). Such a man needs no memorial stone to be remembered. I dedicate this next post to him through tears, but in joy that his free spirit is no longer confined to his bed.

  The Greatest Adventure! (A believer’s perspective)

Once all was clean and unsullied, fresh and new; mankind surveyed his domain. He walked childlike through creation, peeping through trailing vines, smelling the fragrance of the flowers and watching startled as birds took to the sky. Imagine the discoveries – of tastes, of textures, of rushing waterfalls and placid turquoise lakes, the mystery of the sunset, the glory of its rise…

Now it is jaded, much of the joy of discovery has ceased.

The world and creation are now mapped and cataloged, pictures flash on screen at the touch of a computer key, yet the heart of man still yearns for exploration, sometimes seeking it in perversity and corruption, but we have yet to begin to delve into the infinity of creation. Exploring one plain, the carnal, seeing from one viewpoint only, we’ve missed the infinite complexity of the universe. True science knows we see but the tip of the iceberg.

Death is a ticket to another dimension from which the view is very different, a startling realization of the infinite. At death one is freed from the restriction of the physical mindset so prevalent in this modern world. Casting off its former shackles, the spirit, that curious, exploring, creative element of man’s inner being, is finally free to explore infinite horizons of time and space. Free to come to God, at last casting off all confines of flesh, of time, of mortality.

No need to wait till we die, the door stands open, but to enter we must cast aside the glasses of conformity, surrender to the free wind of God’s spirit and let it awaken our senses in full, opening as a new bride to her lover, in trust, in expectancy of fulfillment. Then we’ll begin to comprehend the vastness of creation. Then we’d no longer fear death. The journey perhaps, but we would know the door, the portal to eternity.

“All men die, but only some truly live!” (Braveheart)

I’m glad my friend was one of them.

(Strange to re blog this now as I just heard another old friend has been hospitalized. This remarkable lady is also in the last stage of cancer. It brought forth an incredible sweetness in her and I know she is ready for the trip. It would be selfish of me to mourn yet I do feel sad that such precious souls cease to be among us.)

31 day challenge day 29

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travel

Where have you traveled?

I’ve always loved to travel and learn about other peoples and cultures, happily my second (and long term) husband shared my passion for exploration and we spent much of our time together living in S E Asia (my second home!)

So where have I been?

France (a visit to Paris, the south, and a month in Brittany)

Italy (I’ve lived there twice each time for around a year  in Genoa and Bari. I visited, Florence, Rome, and many small north Italian towns.)

Sicily (I lived near Palermo for around a year)

Greece (near Athens about a year and visited various islands)

Ireland (three years)

Germany and Morocco ( visited)

Hong Kong (8 years)

Taiwan (3 years)

Japan( four years)

Philippines (a year)

China (4 years)

I also visited Korea, Macau, and Thailand.

Hope I remembered everywhere!

31 day challenge day 20

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A difficult time in your life?

When you see an adventure in a movie it looks exciting, like fun, but in real life it’s not quite the same. Your stomach doesn’t just churn it grips like a fist and twists. Feeling you’re about to fall apart at any moment you have to hold things together, hold yourself together in order to survive. Later folks may oh and ah at the story but at the time it isn’t like that. It’s just plain scary.

I experienced this during my break up with my first husband. Handsome, romantic and from a rich and influential S E Asian family he swept me off my feet but intercontinental marriages are not for the faint hearted. It wasn’t a matter of he didn’t love me, rather he loved too much but in the wrong way. Our passion became destructive to where, despite my total faithfulness; he was so paranoid that I might fall for someone else that life became unliveable. I didn’t even dare talk with other men for fear of his beating them up. It was totally out of control, reasoning and counselling didn’t help. I knew I was pregnant again and that I needed to escape while there was time if I wanted to keep possession of my children.

The details of that 007 style escape are too long to recall here, but if I tell you they included bursting through armed guards to plead with a general to take me and my daughter on his private plane to escape to the embassy you’ll get some idea.

The British embassy said they couldn’t help me without possibly causing an “incident” (his father had helped finance the leader in power and his brother was in the government) but they put me in touch with a local charity that could hide me and help me get out of the country. This was followed by a couple of weeks of staying  in an orphanage in the boonies, hidden away from windows etc. The conditions were pretty primitive but they were good people. Finally, shaking inside, I was driven to the airport. As I handed over my passport I was stopped. My heart thudded in my chest (my secret fear was that his family had given my details to immigrations to prevent my leaving). Thankfully there was just some obscure tax I hadn’t paid and I was able to board a plane next day.

My parents met me at Heathrow airport horrified at how thin I was. At seven months pregnant I weighed less than my normal weight (stress). For the next two weeks I ate and slept and slept and ate. Wonderfully in spite of all this my new baby girl was born small, but perfect, growing up to be beautiful, smart and best of all a wonderful, good-hearted woman. To have her made the whole experience worth it. We escaped “without even the smell of smoke!”

Be wiser than me take care who you marry!