Answered Prayer

A few week s ago I wrote a post about miracles – 3 miracles that had come back to mind from a period of time living in London. But last weekend I witnessed three more miracles!

I called it “answered prayer” though, not miracles. And I’m not quite sure why.

Is there a difference between answered prayer and miracles?

I want to share this to encourage you to continue praying, and also to glorify God for what He does in our everyday lives – because God is indeed so very faithful, so very active and so very good. He calls us to pray for one another, to pray about everything and to pray without ceasing.

God really does care about the little details in our lives and we really can, and should, take every little thing that concerns us, or others, to God in prayer. As we are reminded in Philippians 4 v 6-7,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

Our hearts and minds and guarded, because we can completely trust God to make that “situation” fall in line with God’s plans and purposes. We can know peace, because we can trust Him.

Like all of us, there are many things that I pray about – personal, family, church, national, world-wide – sometimes more general prayers and sometimes more specific. Last week I was stirred to pray in a very visual way over a few issues. I think visually, so it seemed a helpful experience to pray this way too –

Firstly, I had been shown a picture of Person A’s leg, which had become terribly diseased, gangrenous, and they were afraid he would die, but were certain that if he lived he would lose the whole leg. Because I had seen this photograph, whilst praying I visualised God answering the prayer. I prayed for God to restore healthy circulation and to heal the leg completely and I visualised actually helping to massage life back into that solid black log, which is what the leg had appeared like in the photograph…

Person B, that I know, had been taken into hospital with a severe problem last week, and when praying for this one, I felt how frightened and alone she was feeling, so I prayed for healing, but I visualised giving her a very big hug and I asked God to give her a big hug, and to let her know how close He was to her, so she wouldn’t feel alone and would feel joy in this knowledge…

Person C, is a relative with anger issues that have got him into big trouble on a few occasions, and I had a call to say that he had been given a week’s notice from work, suddenly, and was on his way to see the boss. I prayed and visualised him taking deep breaths, calming right down and letting go of all the anger. I prayed that he would turn around and not visit the boss and that the boss would have a change of heart and God would turn this around…

I have prayed for many other people and situations, but I describe these three, because over a period of less than 24 hours at the weekend, I heard news of how God has answered these prayers.

On Saturday night, in a video call with a relative of Person A , I asked how A was and if he now has circulation back in his leg. She told me that he had nearly died, but recovered and has now been sent home and will not have to lose his leg! Praise and thanks and glory to God, for this answer to prayer, for this miracle of mercy and restoration. God is so good. I was so excited and happy and encouraged.

Now I am praying that he will acknowledge that it was God who saved his life and will come to know God as his eternal Saviour.

On Sunday morning, towards the end of church service, a brother shared that he had seen Person B in the hospital and she had been praising God who, she excitedly told him, had come to her in a dream and given her a big hug and a kiss!!!! Well, I was very excited and so thankful for that. Fancy coming to her in a dream. How ingenious God is! That has since encouraged me to pray for many people I would like to receive a revelation of God’s love – and a dream would be a wonderful way to do it!

Later on Sunday afternoon, I phoned to ask how it had gone with Person C. He had gone to see his boss, but had been calm and simply asked him why, had explained himself, and asked him to reconsider. The following day the boss told him he would lower his hourly rate slightly, but he will keep his job. God you are so faithful and so very good. I was so grateful and so excited again.

Honestly, I know that God answers prayer, but I was so encouraged and excited by such clear answers to prayer. In fact I was jumping and dancing with joy and phoned a few people to praise God with me for His care and love and power.

I have been encouraged to continue visualising and being specific in my prayers. I know that I am not twisting God’s arm, or making Him do something that is not on His heart, and I know it is nothing to do with me or even the way I am praying. I also know that others have been praying for these individuals too. And I know that God sees the bigger picture and that sometimes I pray for something and God does not answer it in the way that I had hoped. But I know that He hears me.

What has blessed me mostly, is that because I have been specific, I am able to see the answers to the prayers more clearly. It has taught me to be more intentional in my prayers, to write down specific prayers and to follow up how that person or situation is, so that I can really give thanks and glory to God.

Also it has encouraged me to follow up and to ask after people. Sometimes I pray for people when a request is made, or I see a need, but life takes over and I forget! I forget their need sometimes, if it is not mentioned again, or I forget when all is well again, that we even prayed.

I saw an image of the 10 lepers, all of whom were cleansed of the leprosy, but only one returned to thank Jesus – he was “made whole”.

Let’s remember to thank God continuously for the peace He gives us, knowing that we can bring EVERYTHING to Him in prayer and that we can trust Him with the outcome. And let us remember to thank Him and give Him glory for all the answered prayers, for all His provision and blessings.

This is an attempt to depict the dream God gave me when He “extended His sceptre” to allow me to make my requests to Him. He welcomes us into His presence and we can bring our requests with confidence in the name of Jesus.

Do you strive to defend yourself?

Have you ever had one of those Holy Spirit revelations that sends you laughing and crying simultaneously and almost uncontrollably? I had one of those this morning, and it’s not a common occurrence, so I think it’s worth sharing.

The conclusion was – “Dawn, you don’t need to defend yourself!!!”

The revelation of truth is that I’m not good and have never been good and I don’t need to pretend to be.

God doesn’t love me because of something I’ve done, He loves me because He made me and I am His.

It is by grace I have been saved, through faith, and this is not from myself, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no-one can boast.(Eph 2:8-9)

Although I know this in my head, I am one of those people who has such poor self-esteem from a childhood of negative labels and emotional abuse, that I became both always internally critically harsh with myself, whilst also terribly sensitive to external criticism. My own internal critic is loud and unforgiving, but if someone else criticises me, I crumble and cry. I also acknowledge today that I defend myself and can take offence at criticism.I pray for a teachable spirit, but I still don’t seem to take correction well.

A few weeks ago, a good friend told me she thinks I ‘did my best’ (in a certain sensitive area of my life), but that I was ‘not good enough’. Those words pierced my heart and I felt they were deliberately cutting. I brought it all to God in tears and pain and defended myself against the colluding internal critic, by blaming all the external factors that had conspired against me to make my task impossible to do well. I blamed her, my past, all those others and myself. I was hurt. Very hurt. And the “poor me” syndrome raised its head and I thought of all those who had made my life difficult and not helped etc… A slippery slope, to be sure. In AA, they say “Poor me! Pour me another one!” I “forgave” my friend, but she was not happy with that, so I proceeded to get off my chest a couple of other things she had done which had really hurt me too. It was helpful for me to let go of these things, but she was very angry. I had defended myself and attacked her in retaliation. I hurt her in return. I repent of this.

This is not God’s way.

But I mess up.

Yes, I get it wrong, and sometimes I hurt and get impatient and fearful and spiteful and defensive… and all the things I don’t want to be.

I don’t want you to know that.

I want you to see me as a good Christian; as one who always forgives, always loves, always reaches out with kindness and Godly wisdom…

But, you know – I mess up. I am a broken pot. I am a sinner. That’s why I need a Saviour! I fall short every day! I was not good enough and I am not good enough, but by His Grace, His power is made perfect despite and in my weakness.

He loves me.

It is His grace, His righteousness.

I don’t need to pretend!

I don’t need to wear the “goody-two-shoes” mask any more.

I’m not good. He is!

I went into fits of laughter and tears as I saw, and then let God demolish, the defensive walls I have built up in my attempt to look good in my own eyes and to be what I believed other people wanted me to be.

I experienced such an amazing sense of release as I took off the mask (we all now know how uncomfortable masks are!)

I realised today that I have been using the wrong armour! I built up my own armour – it is not the Lord’s armour, but my own! I have a mask of what a good Christian should look like and a shield of defensiveness (to hide behind, or if anyone questions my motives or actions) and a sword of blame and offence against criticism.

Oh my Lord. Oh the peace, the rest that You give. “My burden is easy”, You say.

It’s true!

A friend of mine just sent me a text with “Jeremiah 31:3” quite out of the blue, as I came to the end of my time of reflection with my God, so I looked it up – “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness”, but I had a quick glance at the verse before, which confirmed His message to me – “The people who survive the sword will find favour in the desert. I will come to give rest to Israel.” I have survived the sword, a great many swords and now, in this desert, I have laid down my own sword. Now I take up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and I take up the Shield of Faith, with which I will defend against the fiery darts from the evil one.

I don’t need to fear Satan, the “Accuser” either. Because I am a sinner, saved by grace – that is all. That is the good news. It is not my work or my failure, but God’s love and grace alone that enables me to stand.

But I can relax and accept that I am not good. I will need reminding of course. Un-learning takes a long time.

I don’t need to strive and pretend to be good for Him to love me, or to use me for His glory.

Oh what peace, rest and joy in that revelation for this soul.

Praise be to God, my Saviour!

Relax kid! He sees you just as you are and He loves you with an everlasting love!!

Alleluia.

What did Jesus preach?

Before the Cross, what were Jesus and His followers preaching?

Most of this can obviously be answered from accounts in scripture itself, but I am hoping that this can become a bit of a collaborative discussion so that you can give your ideas and help me to understand this better.

For several weeks I have been pondering on these questions, which took a deep urgency in my spirit. I felt the need to know what I should be preaching and what was the original message…

Today the message of the church is that of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus, but the disciples were ignorant of this message. Jesus was not preaching this either. It suddenly struck me that they weren’t preaching the message of the cross and resurrection from the dead, or the shedding of His blood to take away our sins… The cross and resurrection is what I equate with the Good News – The Story of the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday! So what was the good news that the followers of Jesus preached?

My questions are:

What did Jesus preach?

What did the 12 and the 72 preach, when Jesus sent them out?

What should I be preaching?

1 – John the Baptist Prepares the Way

Matt 3:1 – In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

A voice of one calling in the wilderness,

Prepare the way for the Lord,

make straight paths for him.’ ”

People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.

Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

2 – (Matt 4) Jesus Begins to Preach

Matt 4:12 – When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee…

17From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him…

23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

Jesus healed, loved, taught the people to love God and to apply love in their lives.. He called for repentance, forgave their sins and He called people to “Follow me!”

For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”(Matt 9:13)

Matt 9:35 – Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. .. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

4 – Matthew 10- Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

1Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness…

5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give…

14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

The 12 disciples were some of the first believers in the gospel of the kingdom. They were among the faithful of Israel who trusted that Jesus was the Son of God and promised Messiah. They were sent only to the lost sheep of Israel – to those who knew the law of God and the prophets, those who were to expect and long for the coming of the Messiah… they followed the message of John the Baptist, who had prepared the way with the call to repentance…

What did it mean to preach “The Kingdom of God is near”? We know that they healed the sick and cast out demons in His name – which was a compelling evidence for the claim that the Kingdom of Heaven is near! But what else would it have meant? To the people of Israel, the message to repent and to turn back to God, would have been both familiar and very rich and meaningful. The people of Israel knew God’s laws, to which they must return.

When Jesus sent out the 72, it seems the message was slightly different and the instruction was not only to Israel, but to every town and place where He was to go.

Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two

Luke 10:1 – After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go

9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town…

In Matthew and Luke’s accounts, the preaching seems to be –

Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near”

In Mark’s account –

The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:15

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 3:36 – “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life; but the one who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

John 6: 29 – Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

John 6:40 – For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

The Great Commission to all followers of Jesus

Matt 28:18 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you …”

The Acts of the Apostles

Peter and the other disciples, continued to proclaim this message –

Acts 2:36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

… 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Acts 10:34 – Then Peter began to speak: [to Gentiles] “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him…

… 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.

My Conclusion

John the Baptist and Jesus preached to CONFESS and REPENT of SINS, to TURN (back) TO GOD, BELIEVE in ‘JESUS – the MESSIAH and SON of GOD’, and believe THE GOOD NEWS that THE KINGDOM of HEAVEN – (the RULE AND REIGN OF GOD) – is NEAR at HAND.

TODAY IS THE DAY FOR SALVATION. Believe, be baptised and turn to God with all your heart, mind, strength… Everyone who believes in Jesus and follows Him is forgiven and saved from the wrath of God, for eternal life.

Salvation happens in a moment, but sanctification is a process that takes the rest of our lives, which is why He exhorts us also to “make disciples… baptising… and teaching…”

The Holy Spirit helps us in this mission too.

I love the assurance that He sends us to every town and place where He himself intends to go

This is the message I need to preach, I believe.

But I also ask myself, How significant is the change in the message of Salvation after the death and resurrection of Jesus?

How different is the gospel as it needed to be presented to Gentiles and now, to people of today?

Please add your thoughts in the comments about what we need to preach today.

Oh that The Holy Spirit would still validate the preaching of the word with signs and wonders, that the lost may see and believe and be saved, and God may be seen and glorified. Amen.

Jesus preached and taught the people… He had compassion on them.

Miracles

This morning I had some memories of miracles that happened, when I lived in London, which to me were dramatic evidence of God’s supernatural protection. It is good for me to remember, to praise God and to encourage others with these testimonies.

I know that God protects us in so many ways, that we are often even unaware of, just as He answers our prayers continuously, but sometimes He does it in such a way as to really get our attention. These are three such jewels.

1 – First, I remembered the day that I got called out of class for a phone call from Maria (my au-pair girl) – she was beside herself with panic and distress as my two-year old Conor had fallen off the table and was lying on the floor, crying in pain and unable to move his neck or spine. Maria sobbed and gabbled that she had prayed like never before, panicked, tried to phone for an ambulance, but decided instead to phone me. I listened and had such a supernatural peace (and assurance of a miracle), that I was able to reassure her and tell her I was on my way… I collected Josh from his class and together we drove home (I so rarely had the car at school, so that was another blessing). I calmly explained to Josh, that Conor had had an accident, but was going to be fine and that Maria was terribly upset. When I arrived home, Conor was still immobile and moaning (he had been in the same position already for over 2 hours at this point), so I prayed over him and called the paramedics… Maria had candles out and was praying and promising God that, if He healed Conor, she would believe and attend Mass every week! The paramedics were wonderful, but they were afraid to move him, so after a careful examination they went to fetch a neck support and stretcher… I continued praising God and praying, declaring that he was going to be fine… When the paramedics approached Conor to put the neck support on him, he stopped crying, looked startled and jumped up and ran away!!! The paramedics went away laughing and I praised God.

2 – A few months later, a very distressed Maria shared her worry about a growth that had reappeared on her neck (she had had an identical one before and had had it surgically removed, as it was cancerous)She let me pray for healing, in the name of Jesus, and by the morning, the growth had completely disappeared! All glory to God.

God is so good, but these two relatively dramatic events, witnessed first-hand by Maria, somehow still did not convince Maria… Yet! As far as I know, she still doesn’t go to church, but only God knows if she prays or believes. She knows what happened though! It reminds me of Jesus saying, “’If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” (Luke 16:31)

I am also aware that I witnessed God’s healing power in these events and yet I too often doubt, am fearful and do not always trust God’s providence or willingness to do the miraculous today. We are slow to learn and quick to forget the Lord.

3 – The other act of God’s obvious and dramatic protection at that time, was the day me and the boys were going to meet a crowd of friends at Hyde Park, for the “Party in the Park” event. We had worked out which bus we would need to get, to coordinate our rendezvous in the busy park entrance, but the boys faffed about and we missed our bus! I was annoyed and stressed about being late, but when we were finally on the next bus, heading into town, we passed the bus that we were supposed to be on –it had crashed into an overhanging tree, and the exact place where we always sat (the top, left-hand, front of the bus) was completely smashed in and full of tree. We had been protected from being badly injured in that crash. We all knew it and were so awestruck and grateful.

This incident has continued to remind me to trust and praise God in all circumstances, especially when circumstances don’t seem to be going to my plan and seem to be going “wrong”, according to my own limited understanding.

Of course, no miracle is greater than the miracle of God’s love for sinners like me and the miracle of Salvation in Jesus.

But I hope these testimonies from my own life encourage you, as they do me. Maybe you have your own testimonies that you need to remind yourself of and maybe even share to encourage others? All glory and praise to God.

reminders of the hope we have in Him…

Obedience?

Obedience – How that word still heckles me!

It is not a popular word today. But it’s the word that came to mind today, as a source of peace and grace.

Let me briefly take you on a little journey… with 2 ‘icon’ style images – one is of Gethsemane (an authentic Greek icon) – the other is a photograph I took and stuck onto a block. This is a photograph of a painting I did and this is the story of the painting:-

In 2009, I was reading Revelation (1:12-20) and I felt the command to “paint what you see”. This was unusual for me; I didn’t enjoy painting and to paint something so prescriptive was just not my cup of tea. But the thought persisted, so 2 months later, I began to research various styles of menorah (golden lampstands) and to design some of my own and sketch out a composition… Then I bought a large canvas and began to paint the “one like a son of man” and the menorah and all the various symbols, till each one was in place. I didn’t like the painting; technically it was very weak and style-wise – just not my thing. But I was stuck. I didn’t know how to finish the painting. I hadn’t depicted the alpha and the omega nor what I kept calling “the glory”. I was in a bad place emotionally (and therefore also spiritually) in my life and kept crying to God that I no longer knew what “the glory” was! So I covered the canvas with a sheet and it sat in a corner gathering dust. In 2019, visiting my family in Orkney, I suddenly remembered the painting and knew I had to finish it. I heard the same patient command. No annoyance; no condemnation; no mocking; just a repeat… so I came home and added the ‘alpha and the omega’ and ‘the glory’. This time I knew what to do. I finished the painting, amazed that it took 10 years to complete! Amazed that God still cared for me to finish it. The painting is technically still not great, nor is it still ‘my style’, but now I love it. The painting hangs in my bedroom above the keyboard on which I plink-plonk the praise songs I’m learning… It reminds me that He will come again in Glory; it reminds me that He loves all His different churches and that His Glory shines on them all as they gather around Him. It reminds me that He’s so patient and is not finished with me yet, but the work He has begun in me, He will bring to completion.

Also, very briefly, the garden of Gethsemane icon – it spoke to me over and over for a year, saying,

Can you not watch with me for one hour?.. Watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak .” (Matt 26:40-41)

Eventually I obeyed Him, and that hour is my daily life source and blessing. He was so patient.

He does not condemn. He knows what we need and desires us to receive, but He doesn’t force us. When we obey, we (and often others) receive the blessing. If we do not obey, He waits until we allow Him to bless us. We can never out-give God. Whatever we give Him, He multiplies beyond measure.

I saw today the other image of Him in Gethsemane – praying,

My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.”

Even Jesus did not always want to obey, but He chose to do so. He understands our weakness and temptations, but He overcome and He gives us a way out, in His strength. Take heart. Be strong and courageous, for He has overcome the world. He did it for the joy set before Him and now He intercedes for you and me in the Father’s throne room. Amen.

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”’

Revelation 1:12-20 (NIV)

Prepositions of audacious love!

Prepositions of audacious love

This is a snippet of playfulness – of how my mind can ‘go-off-on-one’ when I allow it.

This was during morning prayer…

I was staring at the Celtic-style stone cross, which sits in front of my candle jar…

… the gentle light of the candle was dancing through the flame-smudges and wax on the jar; and I considered…

The candle light became the light of God’s radiant love behind the cross – the preposition “behind” struck me, so I followed it’s grammatical/symbolic path of position and preposition…

I meditated on the significance of God’s love being behind the cross – as we speak of motivation being “behind” an action or attitude – and God’s love was definitely behind His sacrifice on that cross…

What about in front, or before? God’s love was definitely before the cross – the cross was because of, therefore His love preceded the cross. For God so loved the world, that…!

(And I saw the Ark of the Covenant and His presence visible in front of and behind His people in the Wilderness).

His love beside the cross? Absolutely! The cross was a place where the love of God was demonstrably fully present. His love and mercy were beside and in and completely fully present at, on, in and throughout the divine and human suffering of the cross, then and now.

So, above the cross? Of course! His love and purposes are higher and above and beyond anything we can imagine…

Can it go below? Yes, for His love dug the hole. His love is the foundation for all the purpose, work, victory and glory of the cross.

So the love of God is behind, before, beside, in, through, on, above and below… it is beyond and all over the cross… and like the candle light, it dances gloriously, compels, makes visible and radiates from the central point of love, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ, who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross…

For me and for you.

I painted the candle jar and the cross that inspired these meditations: –

I painted the candle jar and the cross that inspired these meditations: –

Morning Pages – a process.

Morning Pages

I want to share with you a process that has been extremely valuable to me over this last year.

Last Christmas, my sister sent me a copy of Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way”. The main part of the practice is to write for 3 pages every morning… for all those writers out there, this is not writing as you know it – morning pages are to be the written ‘vomit’ of all the unprocessed mush that wants to come out, in whatever form it might appear, not to be read by anyone, even yourself, but to just get it all out, in your own handwriting, onto real paper…

The thought of writing 3 pages for no audience did not appeal, the thought of an additional job (especially another writing job) appealed even less, and as for the necessity of putting the alarm on for one hour earlier every morning, well… but despite all of that, there was something about the rationale that intrigued me. I knew that writing was very therapeutic for my processing.

Also, I had frequently bemoaned that I found prayer impossible in the morning, because my head was like a relentless spin-dryer, whirling the day’s concerns, and focussing on anything else seemed futile.

But the argument for clearing out the spinning process was compelling and so I began on Boxing Day last year (2019) and began every morning with 3 pages of writing.

“You don’t decide your future; you decide your habits and your habits decide your future” John Maxwell.

Following the course of the programme took 12 weeks, by which time the new habit was fully tried and tested and the impact was quite profound. For me, when I write with my left hand and allow my unconscious mind to scribble it down, I seem able to allow the peripheral vision to kick in and all the background scenery takes shape too and I can colour in the scenery. IE – I see much more clearly; it focusses my mind, sorts the wheat from the chaff, deals with nagging issues and prepares a prayer and an action plan for the day ahead… Also, an interesting phenomenon had occurred for me: I have always been a hoarder, but during these 12 weeks, I systematically went through 40 years of stored paperwork and threw 95% of it into the recycling bin! This is a significant shift. It had similar repercussions in other areas – sorting, filing, re-appraising, giving away, mending, moving on…In fact I filled over 6 huge recycling bins!

I found I would begin writing – maybe a dream I’d been having, going through stuff I need to do, what was said that bothered me… and, having to stay with it on paper, I would find myself coming up with solutions to situations, ideas for reconciliation, new questions to allow me a different perspective and answers… I have found I can align my mind and my heart, process and put negativity in its place, identify and reinforce the truth, pray for issues, look more closely at my processes…

So many ‘eureka moments’ and revelations splattered over those pages and, as my mind and path became clearer and more intentional, so my praying became so much more focussed and open to Holy Spirit inspiration.

Needless to say, maybe, but I have continued with this new habit and begin every day with my morning pages, to give me the space in my mind to pray and to write and serve. My writing projects over this time have been therapeutic, challenging works, which triggered a lot of excess emotion and muddled thinking and the morning pages became such a valuable tool to pick up the pieces, after each sleep process, and to help the Holy Spirit in the renewing of my mind.

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

I so thank the Holy Spirit for helping me to use this tool in the renewing of my mind; and I thank Julia Cameron for her inspiration through the book; and my sister for sending it to me. I have passed a few copies of the book to others in the hope that they may find it as valuable as I do.

If you have come across this practice and/or already do it yourself, please do make a comment.

A Big Bright Star

21/12/20

This morning the Lord caught my attention. I have been asking for wisdom about many situations over this past year, and this morning He reassured me and made me smile. I hope you can follow my meanderings.

I’m aware that my mind is often a cross between a sponge and a chameleon, and after all the blogs, articles and videos I’ve read and seen, and all the differing conversations, viewpoints, news and ideas – it is easy for me to just have a head full of contradictory jumble. A lot of stuff makes sense to me and a lot of it doesn’t. The trouble is, each viewpoint is somebody else’s sworn truth and apparent identity, that they will defend with vitriol and passion…

Unfortunately for me, the official story is usually the one that makes least sense to my understanding of the world – that and the marauding aliens coming from Andromeda to steal human kidneys…

So the ideas are not originally my own, but how I process them and the end composition and arrangement of the process is, though it shifts and changes from day to day.

My mind, like my heart and my life, is a work in progress.

I had just been writing my morning pages, filled with lamenting and questioning God about all these restrictions being imposed on the world… As I do often, as I spew out the jumble from my head, I was also writing my thoughts about the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, which the cloudy sky will prevent this astronomy enthusiast from seeing tonight… and about the date (because I love patterns, and 21-12 has a lovely symmetry that will be perfect next year) … But mostly I was praying for Peace for all those whose planned Christmas festivities were suddenly scuppered by the PM’s announcement on Saturday; and praying for wisdom; and drifting my questions into an article I read yesterday, about democracy v. dictatorship… I found myself questioning the premise that we live in a democracy in the UK, as I have for some years, but especially… Then I drifted uncomfortably back to the star – was the “STAR” that led the wise men to Bethlehem a great conjunction, or was it the glory of God as a supernatural sign for them to follow? And how do us mere mortal Christians know which opinions of all the great wisdom of the present age to follow. Sure, as Christians we follow the God-breathed Word in the Bible and we listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit, but we also live within the world’s political system and have been given a creative, rational mind… And we are told that “wide is the gate that leads to destruction; but narrow is the path that leads to life, and few there be that find it.”

Forgive me, because I’m aware that what I’m writing is a reflection of the jumble of thoughts and not a coherent argument; but the truth is that I don’t have a coherent argument. I know that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have the light of life. For God did not sent His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” And I know that I trust Him with my every last breath of life. But for the rest… I honestly do not know what to believe!

Anyway, as I knelt to pray, I turned to read the next page of the little advent book (that I have had since 1998, when every advent I would kneel with my infant boys and light candles and read the story for each day. There was a large fold-out scene of Bethlehem on which we could place the stickers for each day, but all that remains today is the book. This year I have been writing out the prayers daily and sending it to each of my sons in their own respective, grown up households.)

He tells us to come to Him as children…

This is what I saw and read today, and what I want to share with you, from the little advent book: –

Day 21

A Big Bright Star

Matthew 2:1-2

Today is 21st December.

Today’s picture is of the big bright star.

We don’t know much about the wise men but we know that they recognised the star. They knew it would lead them to Jesus.

Isn’t it amazing to think that a big bright star up in the sky led them to the tiny dark stable where baby Jesus lay?

The wise men chose to follow the star to Jesus. People probably thought they were completely mad! Do you think the wise men felt a bit silly setting off to follow a star while everyone else ignored it and went on eating their supper?

Sometimes our friends laugh at us for choices we make. Sometimes people try to make us say and do things because everyone else is saying or doing them. This time everyone else was wrong. Everyone else can often be wrong.(my italics)

PRAYER: Dear Lord, we remember the wise men. Thank you that they didn’t care what anyone else thought – they followed the star to Jesus. Please help me to do what I think is right no matter what everyone else is doing. Amen

Yes, Amen and Amen. So on the day of the winter solstice and the great conjunction or Jupiter and Saturn, musing over number patterns of the dates and praying for wisdom to follow God and not the world… He gives me a reflection on the big bright star that the wise men followed, despite what everyone else thought… We pray for courage to do what is right, no matter what the majority think… and where do we find the scripture for the star? Matthew 2:1-2 another 2-1-2 pattern like the one I began with as I wrote 21-12-20…

I just love that God meets us where we are and understands our idiosyncrasies like no other.

I wish all my blogging friends and readers a most blessed Christmas, full of wonder, peace and great rejoicing – and may you find Jesus and follow Him and His light every day.

A Dream Diary

A Dream Diary.

Dreams occur mostly in what is called REM (rapid eye-movement) sleep – it is a shallow sleep state where our muscles are paralysed and occurs at various points throughout the night. To deprive a person of this REM sleep can lead to memory loss, psychotic or paranoid behaviour and tremors. It is clearly a useful time and state given to us to process all the input our brains have received throughout our waking time.

To avoid ‘dream amnesia’, ask God to give you dreams and ask the Holy Spirit to recall to you as you awake, the things you experienced in your dreams. If you are afraid of what you may dream, tell the Lord and ask for His presence and protection.

Remember, God used dreams to speak to, to warn (like Joseph, the foster father of Jesus), to encourage and to get the attention of many characters told about throughout scripture, and He used people like Joseph (the colourful coat chap) to interpret dreams for the benefit of a nation. God will speak to you through your dreams too, if you ask.

Tell yourself that you will remember your dreams and be intentional. Have a note-book and pen ready to write down what ever is in your head as soon as you awake. Some of it may still slip away as you write, but if you leave it till after your breakfast, chances are it could all be gone.

You do need to be intentional and disciplined if you want to do this. But it is not difficult.

You may not recall a dream every morning, and many/most may seem quite banal, record them anyway. I was recalling on average 4 – 5 every week, whilst I kept this discipline.

1 – Prepare – ask God, tell yourself and have pen, paper and a little time set beside your waking.

2 – Recall and scribble down your dream, with as much detail, colour, people, events, feelings, words spoken, sounds heard… as possible.

3 – Note your feeling state in the dream and as you record it.

(Now you can make a coffee if you want and if necessary, you can come back to the the next bit a few hours later.)

4 – Connect – Jot down the previous days events and major concerns.

5 – Summarise now what YOU think the dream is telling you. Thank the Holy Spirit and thank your sub-conscious mind for making the effort to enrich you with all of this. Listen to what both God and your mental state is telling you.

Below is another dream I had and an example of how I put these steps into practise myself.

[10/10/19

I had a request to present to the King. I had been excited, passionate and courageous to request an audience, but now I had no choice but to go before Him, I knew that the King had every right and power to decide to destroy me. I was so terrified and aware that I was not even beautiful, like Esther. I was led by a guide through a maze of plain stone corridors, hewn out of the rock – like a massive cavern. It was all bare stone, some flares for light, mounted along the way, like a 13th century dungeon… I kept telling the guide I needed the toilet, but she just laughed and shrugged and continued, with me struggling to keep up. I was rehearsing my plea and praying, wanting to slow down and to find a toilet…

She led me into a slightly larger bare stone cavern, with just a wooden table and stools in one corner. My guide silently took me in front of the standing, cloaked King and she backed out the room, leaving me shaking in awe and fear before this power behind the hood. I fell to my knees at His feet, not knowing how to behave or what to say – I hadn’t been told how to address him… I couldn’t even remember what my request was any more. I just waited in a heap at His feet. In a gentle boom He commanded “Come” and touched the top of my head. His touch gave me courage enough to stand and I followed His command to get a stool and sit with Him at the misshapen table. The stool had sort of collapsible legs and I couldn’t get them to work as I fumbled to obey… my own legs were collapsing too, but I knew I would live and He would be gracious to hear and grant my request. So then I remembered some of my plea (about wanting to teach the children about a kind, Christian King…) and tried to rehearse it, so it would make sense, as I faffed, nervous and jibbering still, with the stool panicking… Then I looked up at Him… and awoke!]

Points 2 and 3 – I included points 2 and 3 in this description

Point 4 – I had been working in the preschool two days previous and had nervously begun to be excited about the thought of going back to working in a classroom with young children. Very preoccupied with XX and his very recent tremendous despair and pain.

Point 5 – I’ve been accepted to bow before my King and bring my requests to Him – so comforted by this today as I need to spend so much time on my knees before Him, for XX and his life and transformation. I can go to Him in my fear and trembling, knowing that He is listening and accepts my request. Thank You, majestic King of eternity, for hearing my prayer.

Christmas blessings to all you beautiful people who read my posts. I really appreciate you.

May your Christmas be blessed with fun and family, love and laughter, peace and great joy. xx

Dreams

I have been reminded again about some dreams that the Lord gave me over a year ago already, but they are still fresh today. As I recalled the dreams I felt they would be an encouragement to share them with you. The following dreams are all from one slumber. I have another to share, but will do it in a separate post, to avoid making this one too long.

It has also encouraged me to begin again my dream diary, as I would like to receive more dreams from the Lord. I’ll explain the simple process of the ‘dream diary’ in the next post.

06/10/19 – Recalling the dreams:

[a- I went to church feeling very tired. I was asked to go out and be with the children doing Sunday-school, but really I would have preferred to rest in the service and in God’s presence and hear from God… But I went with the children, feeling a bit disappointed, unsupported and taken for granted. A young man also came out with us and He did everything. He was ‘like’ Jesus and the children and I were completely comfortable and relaxed with Him. I sat down at His feet and rested in such incredible joy, as He did everything so beautifully and I felt almost smug – dead chuffed that I’d made the best choice to come out and be with the Master – that I wasn’t just getting His words, but getting Him in person!!

b – Next He took me out to a big house – not all that spectacular from the outside – nor seemingly at first glance from the inside, almost tacky, though it had an amazingly grand staircase that fanned out at the bottom, wide and inviting – the hallway was round and simply stunningly white and gold and silver, both cozy and intimate, yet vast and unfathomably expansive… We were greeted with gentle, welcoming familiarity and warmth and I was tempted to stay and look around – all around the sides appeared single beautiful spiral rope ladders going to individual rooms and I wanted to go up, it was so pretty and warm… the joyful hostess said I was welcome any time, that she had already prepared me my own room to stay whenever I’m ready, but my guide was reminding me I had things to get on with still and was being distracted. I felt so happy, but surprised and reassured to see that I had a perfect home waiting for me after all.

c – Then we went back outside and some children were gathering and were waiting for this man… We went through the streets, picking up others – like the Pied-Piper – attracting children, waifs and strays and many curious individuals. There was such joy on this adventure as we meandered through the streets, singing and laughing. We came to the side of a busy motorway, behind a big barrier, and on this side a great number of trestle tables had been set up into one long table, lining the road. A feast was being laid on the table and we were all seated. There were snow-capped mountains in the background, so I got out my camera to capture this amazing scene of the outdoor feast, the beautiful people and mountains behind… As I stood back to look in the view-finder, I saw masses of demons swirling and racing around, all around the road and trying to get under the table and between the people; I was shocked! I took a few photos, but the demon spirits were not visible on the photos, only through the lens – but I showed others and they could see the spirits through the camera lens… I knew that The Lord had “prepared a table for me, in the presence of my enemies”.

d – We had the most amazing feast and then got taken from there in a car – I was looking out of the back window as the sky and surrounding areas became very heavy and threatening-looking – I could see forked lightening over the beautiful snow-capped mountain and a rainbow appeared as if to halo the scene – it was impossible to photograph what I saw, but I said “God is really showing off over there!”]

Today I will resist giving my own interpretation of my dream, though to me it was beautifully obvious. I have been reminded of this dream, and blessed by it, on countless occasions since.

In my next post I will share another beautiful dream from the Lord, and I will also share some tips on how to keep a simple dream diary, for any of you who would like to begin remembering and receiving your dreams. I hadn’t been remembering my dreams until I began this process, so don’t be discouraged. It can be done. God is so good.

My church jokes that “your old men will dream dreams and your young men will see visions” That makes me an oldie, but I’m happy to receive anything and everything from the hand and heart of my Lord.

Maybe you have had a dream from God that can be shared to encourage others too?