Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chase what matters.

A few months ago I was on a real spiritual low, actually a low of life in general. I'd come through months of trials and had more questions than answers. I was trying desperately to sieve through what is gospel and what is not, clasping onto the ragged remainders of my faith while trying to work out who God is and how He feels about me. I'd come through a period of spiritual, emotional and physical suffering and I was trying to see God in those circumstances.

One night I was driving back from a prayer meeting, where prophetically gifted Christians prayed over me and released words of love and encouragement. I'd come through quite a traumatic time and the words were hard to swallow, in fact I could almost tangibly feel them bouncing off my spirit. The words came back and tried again to penetrate the protective casing of my heart, but relentlessly my heart fought back chanting "you don't know me... you don't know what I've been through, you don't know what I did, you don't know what happened to me... you can't understand".

One of the men praying over me declared "You are a God chaser Laura, you have always been a God chaser a truth seeker". Pretty bold statement for a guy who had only just met me an hour before. But it was true, even before I really walked out my faith, I described myself as someone who wanted and sought truth, I'd even used those words before - a truth seeker.

As I was driving home that night a million things swirled through my mind, painful memories of things I didn't understand and flash feelings of hurt and abandonment. Discouragement started to seep back in through the cracks of my growing insecurity concerning His love for me. Remembering the man's words, I angrily spoke out to the Lord "Well Lord, I'm done chasing. I chased you and I got hurt real bad and now I've learned my lesson, my chasing days are over".

Literally moments later I drove past a billboard for Chase Bank. The words screamed down at me "CHASE WHAT MATTERS". I had to smile, a tearful smile, He'd caught me off guard. No sooner had a spoken than He'd gotten the last word in.


He was speaking and straining my ear to hear I sensed Him say, "I see you. I see your pain and I do understand how your feeling. But Chase me. I know everything about You, I created You and I know your thoughts before you think them. Chase me. I love you, and I have a plan for you, there are things you don't see yet. Chase me because I chase you, I preempt you because I know your days, your hours, your moments, you are very precious in my eyes. Chase me because I AM LOVE, don't ever stop Chasing what matters."

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Blurry eyed email checking while sipping strong coffee has become my morning ritual in school. Its become a kind of sacred time when I get to gather myself, meditate and mentally stretch before the teaching day begins. The exception that impedes on this routine is Thursday morning library duty; at this time I get baptism of fire into the day watching over a crowd of hyperactive children, who interestingly appear to all be morning people.

Sometimes when I’m more in the humour for it I engage with games and conversation, but on this partiular Thursday I took a seat by the librarians desk and tried to block out the noise around me. Sentimental people would say there are few things more beautiful than the bubbling sound of children playing, those people obiviously don’t do library duty before 8am.

I propped my head onto my hands, sighed and closed my eyes. The final month of the year is always the toughest; teaching is such a soul consuming job and by this stage in the year all energy is spent, there is a feeling of having nothing left to give.

 “Teeaccheerrr” a little voice whispered in my ear. I recognised the long drawn out sounds and persuasive intonation to be that of a Korean english speaker. Shaking my head to clear the fuzziness, I turned to face the voice to be met by one of our reception children’s hopeful face.

 “Mhmmm” I responded.

“Could I have one piece of paper”. It struck me as cute that she specified one. 

“Sure...” I mumured while handing a crisp white sheet that seemed bright with the expectantancy of being a canvas for a child’s masterpiece.

The child wandered back to a table and started to work with a purple crayon. 

"No running in the library" I tried my best commanding voice hoping that it might produce a instant response. I watched as the two boys dived headfirst into the reading bean bags, at least they weren't running anymore. Sighing I rested my head back in my hands and gently breathed all the air out of my lungs, before sucking it back in to maximum capacity. "5 days", I mentally encouraged myself. "5 more days, then... I can rest."

 “Ms McCullough” a different voice punctured my daze like a finger bursting a bubble.

“Uh huh“ I grunted not opening my eyes this time.

“Could I have one piece of paper”

“Ok ... here you go..” I responded, wondering who taught them to speak like this requesting one piece of paper rather than ‘a’ piece of paper. The words sounded odd in my ears.

I look around to see if there was going to be any more requests. I could see another reception child watching the one who had just left me, she spotted the paper and traced the steps back to the source. Catching my eye she ran over,

“Good morning Ms McCullough” she sang.

“Would you like some paper” I pre-empted her.

“Yes please, can I have one piece”.

I passed her a bunch of paper instead, expecting that she would take it to the table where the others were drawing to share with any other budding artists. But instead she took the bunch of paper and went and sat down with it, keeping it to herself.

 “Ruby” I called her back to me. 

“How about I give you this bunch of paper and then you can give it out to the others who don’t have any”

Her face lit up like a candle at the prospect of this great responsibilty. She straightened herself and took the paper back towards the desk, running to the others enthusiastically giving out the paper to anyone that dared to look in her direction.

As I watched her I sensed the presense of the Holy Spirit and I knew He was speaking to my soul... I strained my Spirit to listen.

 “Its more blessed to give than to recieve” He prompted.

As I watched her run from child to child offering them paper I saw the correlation between this and the Kingdom of Heaven. God gives each of us some things more abundantly than other people...  monetarily, physically, emotionally, spiritually but in each it was never intended to just be a gift for us but to be shared, each’s gift is different so that we learn to need eachother.

As the Jews were a blessed people and gentiles knew that God was with them because of that – so I believe, He remains the same today. He desires to bless us beyond what we ask for, He desires us to persue Him for life in its fullness, but He does not bless us simply to privledge us just to bless us above others or to please ourselves by hording treasure. As I watched Ruby’s job I could see blessings increase in their beauty and significance as they are shared.

A few days later I was talking with someone about the prosperity gospel. They were saying that they couldn’t find the “health and wealth” teaching in any of Jesus teachings. I listened and let the words marinate, not yet having an opinion I wanted to see what He would teach me about this.  Abba reminded me of Ruby.

“What if you had only given her what she asked for... one piece of paper... the other children would not have received. But you gave her the position of steward to bless her and others.”

 Perhaps as such, is in the Kingdom. For those who have been blessed with education, good jobs and positions of authority we should not despise what we have been given but steward it. Does it help the poor for us to join them, living with them on the streets? Does it help them any more than if we were to horde our treasure? What if we were to choose to live simply so that we can choose to develop a spirit of generosity and not a spirit of hording; stewarding the blessings that have been placed in our lives so that we can be a pipe through which God funnels His love and provision through. So it is also with those who have been blessed in other ways – our gifts are for us to share.

Bethel often talks about how God wants to bless us and wants to heal us. Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, we must dig deep for its treasures and release them here on earth, "your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven". In Heaven there was no sickness and there was no want. As Paul said, he learned to live with everything and nothing. Its not what we have or don’t, but rather the condition of our hearts to learn to sow generously everything at our fingertips. 

Like any teaching, we must live by His voice in our own lives rather than simply by prinipal. There may be seasons where He calls you to give it all away to the poor, because He knows that in giving something happens in our heart, our priorities change. There is a longing in my heart to be a person who makes good choices with the favour that has been given in my life. To be a channel through which the riches of the kindgom can be dispersed to those in need, to allow God to bless my life and yet sow it all back into His kingdom. To not be bucket that collects blessings but to be a sprinkler that showers them out on others. 


Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Last Wednesday I fell in love... His name is Josiah.

My sister has been over in China visiting me, and one of the things we decided to do was to go and visit a foster care home outside of Beijing. It is a western run and privately funded foster home; bright sunshine spilt through the windows into the rooms, filled with laughter and a minefield of colorful toys to pick your way through. It quickly dispelled all my pre-concepts that had been formed by the horror stories that circulate about the government funded orphanages. Every room we entered was filled with children giggling and playing, the atmosphere was one of peace in a safe place. But as we wandered through, I soon noticed that each child seemed to have a physical disability of some kind. A pretty little girl in a candy pink dress raced around the room giggles bubbling forth but I noticed her face bore the marks of some birth defect, another toddler trailed himself across the floor in front of me as his legs were amputated in a recent operation, still another child looked around the room with eyes as big as saucers due to a problem with his heart. But you would have never have guessed that these children had suffered, by the joyful spirit that blanketed those rooms, you could sense the place was soaked in prayer. A place of hope despite difficulty, a place of joy despite pain.


After a short time we were led upstairs to where two newborns were resting. Josiah and Jayce slept crib by crib as we snuck into the room. As one of the foster care workers lifted Josiah out of his slumber and placed him in my arms, she described how when she first met him in a chinese run orphanage. Back then her heart had broke as she had seen him caked in dirt and for the most part ignored, as sadly as is all too often the case in the understaffed government funded orphanages. He was restless in my arms with the mannerism of a child that was in discomfort and so the foster home worker pointed out that Josiah has been born with dwarfism amongst many other problems including; a club foot, a hand deformity, megacolon and hypospadias. She encouraged me to continue holding him which I did rocking him in my arms with care, despite being 4 months old I'd never held a baby that seemed so delicate and vulnerable. His skin hung in folds off his tiny legs and arms and his head seemed too large and heavy for his body to support. As I held him he continued to wince restlessly and puckered his lips to suckle. My heart broke as I beheld this little one, without a mother to nurse him, without health or strength, in pain (maybe constantly) and in distress.

This has been a difficult 6 months for me on the faith front. Discontent with how I am living my faith and the westernized culture of Christian religion not lining up with my reading of Jesus teaching, God has allowed suffering, isolation and hurt to be my teachers. I swing between experiencing His total kindness & relentless, tangible love in my desolation of Spirit that it brings me tearfully to my knees; yet at other times I get so despairing of myself and others that I believe that I'm breathing my last breaths in my Christian walk and losing my faith. It has been a season of the things that my head has always believed being challenged. Some of my beliefs survive the challenge and drop into my heart like seeds into soil, other beliefs get burned up in the baptism of fire and dissipate. In the midst of suffering I have been searching for a Jesus, a God, a faith, that is not cheap, that does not easily roll off the tongue bypassing the heart.

I have been searching for a Jesus, like the one in the bible: a Jesus that comforts and understands the broken. A compassionate God, rather than an answer producing, vending machine faith that slickly spews out well rehearsed Christianese lines, that are a pointless, salty band-aid to the truly wounded. So much of our Western culture of Christianity (the Christianity that I have experienced at least) is applicable only to the middle classes, to those whose idea of suffering is having to endure a carmel macchiato when they ordered a vanilla frappacino. Where is the Jesus of the dwarf orphans like Josiah, the Jesus of the child prostitutes in Thailand and the Jesus of the brutally mutilated and raped women of the Congo.

As I held Josiah in my arms my heart burned with anger at the injustice of this world, the in-balance and destructive sinfulness. The evil principalities that are roaring around unseen in the physical, unrestrained for the most part by us- those who walk under the Banner of the Son of God, to whom all authority has been given over them by prayer. Paul tells us that it is these principalities and rulers in the unseen that are truly our enemies and I as look at their trail of destruction I desperately wonder how to release the victory that has been promised. As I saw through worldly eyes the lack of hope in Josiah's future tears filled my eyes and I began to angrily question God why such a child is allowed to be born into a Chinese orphanage, only to suffer then die.


Abba Papa remained silent, except to gently remind me of my belief in the power of the spoken word. After all, the stars were spoken into being by God and thus humans being made in His image, we too hold "life or death" in our words. Faithlessly and questioning my own belief in what I was about to do, I began to prophecy over Josiah. The only words that came were "What Satan has intended for evil in your life, God will change for good...." to which Josiah responded by continuing to squirm in my arms and avoid my eyes. The whole time that I had held him he had not once made eye contact with me, furthermore, when I tried to maneuver him or myself to meet his eyes he would look away, not for even a second had our eyes met. I continued with tears in my eyes, "Josiah, I do not call you an orphan for He has told me that He loves you". As the words fell from my lips to his ears, he looked directly at me, his dark eyes settled on mine so deliberately that the stare seemed eternal, restful and intimate. We held each other's gaze for a long time and I felt the Holy Spirit do something in my own Spirit. If this child's Spirit could respond to God's love and trust in it in such a situation how could I doubt His love for me in mine. Tears filled my eyes and I started to sing quietly the Jesus Culture song "How He loves us..," Josiah continued to watch me for quiet sometime and soon afterwards I noticed that from that moment his body had relaxed, gone still and peaceful.

"When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me. "

As I left the foster home that afternoon I was a turmoil of emotions. My heart had been completely stolen by an orphan that I had known less than an hour and faith had been breathed back into my heart; but also a longing for the Jesus the disciples walked with. The Jesus who healed "all" that came to him, a Jesus whose very presence caused demons to flee and brokenness to dissipate. I left with a continued discontent at where my faith is at, but also a sense of joy and hope at our God. While Satan seeks to destroy, maim and harm, we have a God that proves Himself to be the God of the silver lining, a God who greatest pleasure is to take impossible circumstances, unlikely candidates and hopelessness and turn them into hopeful worshippers, kingdom warrior heros and joyful procession of saints. He does this by speaking life over us, by adopting us, by placing the Holy Spirit in us.

I hold onto this discontent with a seed of belief that there are greater things to come, someone once said "If necessity is the mother of invention, then discontent is the father of progress". ..

The experiences the evil powers in this world aim to use to harm us, He reconciles those same experiences into being our teachers and uses them to draw us closer to Him and reveal His love and kindness.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

"What is your religion?"

Recently I was asked this...  it proved more difficult to respond to than to simply say the name of a faith system. 

Below is a summary of my response... 

"I really don't know how to answer that... there are alot of ways in which when it comes to the system or the way of life of Christians that I do not relate to. The very word religion makes me think of sleeping in church services that are dull, oppressive and unrelatable and forced bible study running through those literature comprehension style cloze procedure questions...


When it comes down to it, my "religion" is a lifestyle that looks like this... - I find fellowship with people (of all backgrounds) who want to talk about God. My sweetest fellowship is with like minded people who want to see God be God and have life with Him (freethinkers childlike idealists within the Christian framework usually). I love listening to or reading about the testimony of people who have experiences with God (sometimes pastors sometimes just normal folk) and I love to worship and sing and dance before the Lord with others or alone (worship). I love to read the bible and search the words of Jesus for His person and His heart. I love to let the Holy Spirit mould me even if it hurts - and I love looking back in retrospect at the work of His hands in my life and in others. I love to encourage people to dive deeper into the heart of God and the life He has planned for them, to show let the SPirit teach me how to show love and grace when I don't feel it. I love to see God in little ways and expect greater things in the future. I love hear of those He's healed and the amazing things He is doing all over the world today. I love to see elements of Him in others. I love to look at the beauty of creation and feel my Spirit sing unprompted spontaneous worship to Him. I love to remember my smallness and His greatness, I love to realise deep within my heart that no matter what I achieve, or do, or whatever that without God my life is completely meaningless... even to me, I wouldn't want it. I love going to churches that are in love with God, drawn together by their shared passion, rather than those who are meeting "religiously".... out of shared belief "systems". 

Religion to me has a forced..ness to it -something that you do because you have to do it.

I love the Lord and am drawn to Him and other people who love Him... 
there is nothing forced in any of my lifestyle.. they just happen.. because He desires me and has captivated me and to I desire Him ... He has whet my appetite and I want more.. and this is how it was with people that would meet Jesus.. they would follow Him, crowds of them because they wanted more. Its very relational.. and of course relationships go through dry spells.. like a marriage there are times when the love is a choice over a feeling... 

Jesus is the door... before He died I could never have entered into the presence of God... now because of HIM I can have this sweetness with the Father, clothed in white perfection because of His goodness and not my own attempt.. because of Him I can be empowered by His Holy Spirit to be part of things that only God can do, because of Him I can have him as my closest friend.

So I guess the box I would tick is "Christian" but that word with all its connotations rings short for me..."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Denominational Division and Legalism

Denominations, Unity and Acceptance.

Denominations has always been a big issue for me, I grew up in a church that described themselves as "the only way", priding themselves in being separated from "worldly religion like mainstream Christianity"

However it has been my experience and observation that God finds us wherever we are and meets us there. Just old hymn declares "just as I am" there is something powerful in that unconditional love, that limitless grace that we are unable to hide from. It has become increasingly clear to me that Abba is not limited to or stopped by any one denominations perspectives or theological restraints.

In many denominations there are theologies and doctrines that I would say don't resonate with my interpretation of scripture, nor my experience of God. Yet I see God meet those believers with grace and love and lead them on their journey through life with Him. I too am on a pilgrimage that is not finished and so while I may disagree with some of their viewpoints I also don't have the final word or corner on truth. However, I believe that where there is a heart to seek the Father, He will meet that person, that is what He does. Who we have fellowship with becomes a choice - not a salvation issue. The form we choose should be the one that fits us best. We should naturally be drawn to where we are sharpened, challenged and encouraged.

However, if our institution or denomination becomes the definition of "our faith" we end up worshiping the institution or even a set of beliefs - instead of God. When this happens, we will want to either defend or attack the institution or denomination and in turn will feel threatened by others forms of worship. By reacting this way we often miss out on getting to know the Father better through the diversity of His people and the value of their variety of testimony with Him. What is true in my experience, does not discount the alternative experience of others, it is not a case of being right, God moves diversely.

He certainly moves through the gathering of His people, blessing and challenging us through community. He left us two commands, love God and love each other. Check that out for theology! It is so incredibly simple. Yet by labeling, defining and ultimately dividing we highlight out differences and make it all too easy to not engage with those whose beliefs challenge ours. I recently was reading the profound musings and writings of trappist monk, Thomas Merton, he stated The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
Imagine if all flowers we daisies, the beauty that we would miss in not having the lilies or roses.

There is power in meeting together to praise and pray but if we make it only about tradition and staunch unmovable doctrinal statements we can miss out on the personal levels of breakthrough that God wants to bring us into. It would be a sad thing to come to the end of life and still have the same view of God (whichever that maybe) after walking your whole life with Him. Our theology should be organic, grow and develop with our experiences. How ridiculous it would be for a husband who has been married many years to say he still doesn't know his wife any better than the day he met her.

Denomination have been formed and reformed, divided and redivided over doctrinal issues and definitions of faith. However, by limiting the movements of God into what we can define, within a set grid of understanding, we can hinder our walk from experiencing the new things that He may be doing. How often a church loses half their congregation because a revival arrives or God starts moving in a way that was not expected. We must reject the fear surrounding new moves of the Holy Spirit, because we are afraid of being misled or deceived. He always moved in ways that He had never done before, who else did He appear to as a burning bush, but Moses, who else got tongues of fire upon their heads but the disciples? Who decided that after the bible was canonized that God stopped moving in new ways?

Legalism the graceless executor

Often staunch denominational loyalty goes hand in hand with legalism, ironically regardless of the denomination represented. There are some unbelievers that I know that when I mention I am Christian they literally flinch. Why would a faith based on grace and love cause someone to flinch at the mention of its name? Legalism hurts people, legalism has a tendency to deny the humanness of that person and uniqueness of their situation. Legalism demands an eye for an eye a tooth for tooth, and devalues a persons encounters with a Holy God and intimate Father. People have been hurt by those who follow Jesus under the banner of love and grace, but every religion has hurt, damaged and destroyed, every religion has groups of people within that use it to control and manipulate.

Here's the things though, just as legalism dehumanizes so does taring everyone with the brush if they are within the same religious frame, it denies the uniqueness of their experience with God. I have met missionaries and pastors who are indeed from conservative backgrounds, yet filled with the fruit of Spirit and walking in closer intimacy with the Father. I have also met legalistic conservative pastors and missionaries who are so illogical, insensitive and unreasonable that they drag the name of the Jesus through the dirt. I have met charismatics who are true mystics, walking in daily encounters with a limitless God, and charismatics who are so pushy and forceful that I want to run from their presence rather than spend time talking with them or having to endure a sensationalist, emotion train wreck of a meeting. I'm not calling anyone salvation into question - its not a salvation issue. Simply an observation that swinging to either extreme is not the answer

A lot of spiritual development also comes from how willing we are to search and seek out with an open mind the heart of God. We mustn't judge by someone's place of gathering or the denomination that they fall under, but instead from the light in their eyes when they talk about Him and the passion with which they seek new revelation and truth, which comes from spending time, real time, united and abiding in Him.

Behavior Modification vs Baptism of Fire

There is always more to learn and there is always more that the Father wants to pour out.

When I first received the Holy Spirit, the bible took on a whole new life in front of my eyes and opened up. As I have grown and the walls within my heart have come down and my mind has been expanded by the presence of God I have received deeper revelation and I know there is always more to come.

Much like when we go to school we grasp numbers in KG or Grade 1, over time we will learn more difficult concepts, multipication, algebra etc. So it is in the Kingdom. We come to the Father and we learn according to the level we are at. He is so kind. The Holy Spirit just blew me away this weekend with these verses though. They really brought breakthrough in my mindsets.

Matthew 3:11 - (John the Baptist talking about Jesus) "He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire..."


He then goes onto say vs12 "He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat... gathering the wheat into His barn but burning the chaff in never-ending fire..."

Now perhaps I am the only one to misread this but the way I used to read that was this - Jesus will come one day and separate the redeemd - from the bad, evil people at the end of the world.

But actually I believe its saying something different completely.

We (our hearts) are a field. Jesus separates the wheat (our godly characteristics that His spirit produces or even the characteristics we carry in the natural, love, grace, selflessness, ) from the chaff (our evil nature of self love, self glorification, greed, etc - and also the wounds that life has inflicted on us that have created mindsets that are ungodly such a hate, misogynist, racism, cyclical abuse etc).

The "Good News" is that old covenant is done - He doesn't just tell us "don't live that way, don't think that way" - legalism never produces love.
Instead He died to set us free - literally free and now we receive His Spirit to help us to purify us, if we allow Him to baptise us with fire will burn up the chaff.

This will bring such freedom to our souls - so that as Christians with the power of the Holy SPirit resting in us can be the most free people on earth. He who the Son sets free is free indeed! What would the church as a whole look like if His children were crying out for the purifying baptism of fire? I'm not saying Christians as a whole don't walk in some level of freedom.. but there is greater freedom to be had. How the people around us would be impacted without us saying a thing, if we were to press into the promises of the bible like this one - the baptism of fire.. a freedom that is NOT behaviour modification or just "Try your best" but a freedom in our Spirits would be so profound that unbelievers would say "You must have God with you because you are so different and so free."

I'm not saying that we shouldn't avoid sin - we should..but behaviour modification is not transformation. Our efforts to be pure please the Lord, but if when we fail - it leads us into deep condemnation then it defeats the purpose. We must make every effort to not sin - but realise that the transformation is HIS job - and trust in the work that He is doing - while crying out for more, and not despising it when the fire comes (which is not always a walk in the park... getting emotional/spiritual/mental healing can be overwhelming).

Its SO important that we don't walk in legalism as it either puffs us up when we succeed or it defeats us when we fail. Not only that but the focus is so egocentric that it would be easy to fall back into the judaic steps of the Pharisees and become self-righteous and condemning of others. While we should try to live a Holy Life - when we fail, we must repent and cry out for more of His Spirit and more of the baptism of fire to burn up the "chaff" - calling the chaff out by name - there is such an unbelievable power in very specific, strategic prayer.


True breakthrough comes from knowing who we are in Christ. This will cause us to neither become puffed up of defeated - realising its because of who HEs (and not what we've done) that we have authority and freedom. Knowing we are already loved (not doing good in an attempt to be loved - or to keep in God's good books). We need to get past the self-condemnation that causes us to hide from His presence and realise He has already done everything to show He loves us - He has placed His own Spirit within our Jars of Clay. WE have creations power at our fingertips to be completely and radically transformed.

Doing church, knowing the bible, leading, serving etc is all good.. but if we are not "God Different" (by this I mean different from the world in a way that they could not emmulate because our Spirit transformation is such a Divine thing) - then why should an unbeliever look at us as say "Truly God is with them - I want that".

As I mentioned in my previous posts many unbelievers are walking in greater levels of compassion and mercy than believers. Father God just waits for us to cry out and ask Him for a heart transformation that will make our hearts like His - Jesus always, always asked people specifically for the healing they wanted to receive, He never forced it on anyone .. but perhaps we are too busy trying to please Him to ask? By climbing up into His presence like Mary, sitting on Papa's lap and beholding Him we can become changed, but often the church wants instead to polish His shoes like Martha and show Him what good sons and daughters we are.

Whats more, if we ourselves haven't experienced the breakthrough ourselves then what are we calling people into the Kingdom for? Is it really just a heaven/hell issue? Jesus called the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth "Your Kingdom come..." we are to experience the presence of our Father now - not to wait until Heaven. That gift is for now! Now is that 'gospel' - good news! Much better news than "accept Jesus - live a well behaved life and if you do you'll go to heaven"

Has our aim become that we just convert people to be "church goers" (essentially comfortable christians) who at best just have to go through a short prayer and then behaviour modification? then if all goes well, soon they will lead bible study, sing in the choir, maybe even street evangelize and lead someone else into the same life style.

*Once again I want to reiterate, this is not a salvation or a denominational issue, I'm not calling a Christian's salvation or relationship with Jesus into question but rather saying.. Do you want more freedom? And how badly do you want it? Enough to pursue and ask for more... enough to get still and listen to the heart beat of God and pray inline with what He is saying... Enough to ask and ask and ask (Luke 18.1-8) Enough to believe like a child for the impossible...

These unbelievers... could we instead invite them into radical freedom that comes from spending time in the loving, grace-filled presence of an Almighty God. A truth and a freedom, a love, that is so powerful that no matter how great their problems are (drug dealers, prostitutes, trafficked women and children, HIV victims, alcoholics), no matter how impossible the problems are (mental / terminal illness) that Jesus died to set them free.
That THEY too would have life and life more abundantly.

Are we "hearing" about God... or "tasting and seeing that He is Good" Psalm 34:8

Job 42:5 "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you."

Suggestions to pray into ~ or to Contemplate
*a baptism of fire - specifically speak freedom in these areas Lord (list them>>>)
*a greater outpouring, sensitivity and awareness of the Holy Spirit
*a heart expansion that will allow me to love like Jesus
*ungodly mindsets broken (list them >>>)

thank-you for the authority of your name Jesus, its in your name we ask and pray~ Amen

Love of Knowledge vs Experiencing God.

I would rather I didn't have to put a VS in between knowledge and experiencing God (I don't think that it is always the case that they stand against eachother) but I have observed lately that often what we think we know can hold us back from what God is wanting to do, or how He is wanting to talk in this season. We often defend our knowledge with such defensiveness that we miss out on what the bible is actually saying - LOVE. It was no different in Jesus time the leaders and those who studied the law wanted to debate, but not out of a desire to draw eachother nearer to God but out of a desire to "be right".

I have recently been spending some time asking the Holy Spirit about why is it often the western church prefers to stop at knowledge over experience of God. Especially when we see how the Spirit of God pours out in amazing measures in poor countries. Why are we not asking for the same.. and expecting it? Now I know that there will be some respond - "their teaching is not biblically sound" or "the fruit of the spirit is more important than the gifts of the Spirit). I'm not interested in justifying one church over another, I'm not interested in putting down one denomination and uplifting another... I am not making any of these statements "salvation issues" -God loves all His kids. I'm just saying.. if God is opening blind eyes and raising the dead in Africa are you asking Him to visit your church in the same way.. if others are experiencing the power of God in physical tangible ways are your humble and childlike enough to not get offended but say "Father - we want some too!!!"

This just feed on knowledge (church and biblestudy) and not experience the power of God is not the example Jesus left, neither is it what was going on in Acts church. Jesus himself said if the works of the Father don't follow me then don't believe what I say.
Are we expecting too little from God?

Are we too busy doing life... or even doing "church". Are we too busy thinking of our own prayers to listen to the Father and hear what His heartbeat is saying and pray in line with that? Do we know too much... and so we have lost our heart of curiosity to discover the heart and person of an unlimited God. DO we expect too little...? "You do not have because you do not ask God" James 4:2

We see massive miraculous out pourings in other parts of the world and yet the western church on the whole is experiencing God in such limited measures. Often "doing" church in a way that doesn't require God to "show up" for things to continue as planned- in fact the opportunity for Him to do the miraculous is often not even created.

AS I pondered these things I started to read the beatitudes in Matthew and I observed that it says "blessed are the poor.. blessed are the persecuted... for their's is the kingdom of heaven". This satisfied me a little more as I realised that this could be why the Kingdom of Heaven in poured out in greater measure on these kind of people.

But then I though of the few churches in the West that do experience revival. (i am not solely in a blanket way about for example charasmatic or pentacostal churches) but the churches where God consistently heals, where is an extreme hunger for the presence of God and an outpouring follows.

The Holy Spirit then showed me that verse "blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God"... it is the purity of heart and childlikeness (of believing for the impossible) of a hunger and crying out for the presence of God that preceeds these outpourings. There is something powerful in the heart cry "I want God more than anything else".
Anything else - includes what we don't know (letting the Holy Spirit take away our limitations), it included what we don't understand and what we think we know (and as such what will fight to defend)- Knowledge. Are we so protective of what "We Know" that we won't let God act outside of it. When the disciples experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit it was outside their grid of understanding but they wanted God more than their knowledge.

Interesting to note (I'm particulary interested to see what Jason will say on this)
that in the "Olympics" of the New Testament, Knowledge didn't even get a "medal", indeed
love, hope and faith were the medalists with love taking the gold - figuratively.
So what do you say to the western church, whose bellies are fat with Knowledge yet
who often resist the variety of ways God likes to speak.
One of the key reasons Jesus came to demonstrate the freedom that He wanted to church to be ambassadors of. The freedom that comes with the Holy Fire of the Spirit of God burning up the chaff in your life. We are meant to not only experience that freedom ourselves but lead others to it - and I'm not talking simply about the sinners prayer - but an encounter - and on going encounters with Jesus, the Holy SPirit and the Father that transform us. So many of the people I have met within the church have the Holy Spirit but restrict and limit Him because they don't allow God access, they don't pursue Him for greater things. He is willing to pour out more and more freedom, all the characteristics about yourself that you don't like ... some of which behaviour modification or medication can't heal... Jesus healed everyone that He came in contact with -and called us to do GREATER THINGS... can any of us say we have reached that level of intimacy yet? That we do greater things than Jesus? What do theologians say this I would be interested to know..? If we haven't.. how many of us are praying into that promise...?

I find it particularly interesting that when a well respected knowledgeable leader said Lord what must I do to have eternal life, Jesus gave him the example of the good samaratian as an example of how he should be. Ironically Jesus chose the marginalized, despised and not Jewish (chosen) to be uplifted as an example of love.
we are so well versed in apologetics, in our 4 point plan and even our "ministry" that we miss the wounded all around us. Its so sad to see the non-christians showing more compassion and love than the Christians, while the CHristians stand proudly on their beliefs and use them as weapons to harm, control and justify.

Check the book "The Tipping Point" where the author discusses a study of a group of young theologians who were asked to prepare a sermon on the Good Samaritan. As part of a psychological study the were told that they were they were late and to hurry to present it. The researcher prepared a hurt person on the street to see if the theologians would stop and help. only 10% of them did stop and help... some even stepped over the hurt person lying on the street to get there in time.

In my observation there is nothing wrong with knowledge, as long as your brain is switched on during the process and you are not taking the status quo "christiany christianson" answers but testing the scriptures with the most wonderful teacher - the Holy Spirit. there are so many things we say as Christians that are just learned responses - things that we have heard and say and just repeat without thinking. At church the other day one of the older men told me in response to a issue I was having to just "lean on the Lord" but when I asked him to elaborate he couldn't describe in any real or practical terms what that looked like. Could we be so wrapped up in what we know that we miss out on relationship and worshipping God in all the fullness it could be. I have noticed that sometimes (not always) those who fall in love with theology end up worshipping the Bible instead of God. The importance of love escapes them and being "right" becomes more important.

Could you be in relationship / friendship with me by following 4 steps and then reading about me? No you would have to experience time with me to know me and be known by me.
SO why then are so many theologians and Christians threatened by what they have not experienced? Is it simply because they haven't personally experienced it or is it that they are afraid of what they don't understand?

Self-Help Christianity vs Transformation of the Holy Spirit

Recently I was talking with someone who was very anti-experiential Christianity.. claiming that really we had recognize the Word (by this they meant the scriptures) over a person's experience with God. That “You may say, ‘I have never known such love. I have never known such peace. I have never known such joy.’ The people who belong to the cults will often tell you exactly the same thing. So we must not rely upon our own subjective feelings (or anybody else’s).”
I was glad to talk with them and listen to their point of view. Overall I also believe in the importance of the scriptures, but I have some issues with the church body wanting to stop at doctrine rather than pushing into a Holy Spirit led life.


Now I recognise that some denominations are very focused on the experience of God over teaching. But in my opinion, at the moment people are far too concerned with reading their daily devotional books and being satisfied with that kind of comfortable christianity. This to me is just as dangerous as sensationalizing faith. This behavior modification Christianity, focuses on rules and accountability, rather than getting to know the person of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father personally and becoming changed in a way that simply can't happen with out God - a way that will be more than an in the moment encounter - or "experience" (though that may be part of it) but to get to know and walk with God in a way that changes your mindsets and brings freedom into your person in ways impossible by self help - ie in ways impossible minus the Holy Spirit... This is what it means to follow Jesus.
I'm frustrated by and tired of "self-help" Christianity, when recently reading Ephesians I noticed it pours out words after words about the power of God belonging to us (YOU AND ME!!!) now that we are united to Jesus. We are not meant to be like unbelievers we are meant to be radically different.
Why is it many Christians prefer to read about others encounters and experiences with God rather than form their own, claiming God doesn't work that way anymore but at the cannonisation of the bible He apparently changed. God has not changed, and neither has His word- which biblically is not the bible but the person of Jesus "I am the word".

Now please do not think that I discount the scriptures, I am an avid bible reader... but as much as in the scriptures there is "life" and the divine, they are not to be worshipped. As someone once put it "don't worship the principals, worship the Prince". I love the word of God - the scripture is so alive, and truly revives the soul, but it quickly becomes "law" like the old covenant if we just try to mimic what the New Testament believers had without the Holy Spirit. In my experience - the church tries to control things down to the last letter so much that they really restrict the movement of God. Reading the bible with the Holy Spirit as teacher is a very different experience than going to a dry bible study with "Sunday School" cloze procedure questions that require no enlightement and are not that different from a literature comprehension question I might set my class.


Does God speak mostly through "His word" (the bible)?

In our western midset this is inconcievable, we never think about it, but there are christians all over the world who are illiterate (can't read the word), who live in communities where they recieve limited teaching because they are so rural, there are Christians who are living here in China who are under oppressive government rule who have limited access to the word of God, there are countries where its illegal to mention Jesus name in public or to hold pocession of a bible, even privately. Does God just not speak to these children of His because they are ignorant of His word...
In the western church we are so black and white and "task task". We forget that we are dealing with people in all kinds of situations and so we forget to show grace.
(**I can speak for Ireland that for 100's of years Christians didn't own bibles, and once they were commonly own many people didn't read- they were taught in church Latin about the Lord most of which didn't speak Latin** Now this may not have ALWAYS been the case, but for many it was... did these people go through life and not experience a relationship with God because they were not educated?)

God has OFTEN moved in ways that were unusal- that biblically that He had never done before. Job is a perfect example. All his friends were saying "God would never contradict His word, you must have sinned, He doesn't allow the righteous to be cursed... God doesn't do this" and they had scripture to back it up look at the psalms- well He did allow those things to happen to Job. Job pleased the Lord cause he wasn't willing to box God but (though complainingly) allowed God to be God and didn't loose faith in His goodness or His worthiness of worship. Ironically God was not pleased that job's friends scripturally accused him in this way and in the end he asked Job to make a sacrifice before Him on their behalf. Job's experience of God at that time contradicted the mindset of the religious people.

People also accused the apostles in acts of being drunken after they received the Holy Spirit because the people had no biblical grid for what was going on with them. Sometimes God works outside of the confines of what has happened before. And why shouldn't He? He loves diversity, He is the most intelligent being and He is also the most creative. If we are following Him and not just His principals then through relationship we will be able to discern if it is His Spirit that is moving.

I am not attempting to defend one denomination, that word has little meaning to me. I do not try anymore to define my faith by where I have fellowship, but instead enjoy the diversity that there is within People connected to God, the whole spectrum from conservative to charasmatic.

I realise there is alot of counterfeit "experience" out there, sensationalism etc. But at the same time I am reluctant to tar all charasmatics with the same brush - as all being sensationalist and not being grounded in the word... I know some amazing charamatics that are grounded in the word but who in certain times choose grace and love over beating people who have fallen with their principals.. and in that they have been accused of having weak biblical understanding. A good example I have read before is "one counterfeit hundred bill doesn't affect the value of a authentic one."
I am also reluctant to tar all conservatives as "spiritually dry and unversed in grace and love" - because I have friends that are conservative and that this is simply not always true.

I will end with these quotes
"I think we have made relationship with God into not a relationship but about meeting requirements"

"Jesus said I'm the truth... truth is not a teaching... truth is a person..."