Friday, 26 December 2014

The Love Covenant

(Excerpt from Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts)

All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant.  Psalm 25:10

My children, there is no good thing that I would withold from you. I have not left you to fend for yourselves nor to make your way by your own devices. I am the Lord your God. I am your provider and your defender. I care for you with a deep and tender love. I am all-wise and all-powerful and will be your defense against every onslaught of the enemy.

Anticipate My help. I will not fail you. Look down at the path before you. You will see the print of My feet. ” ‘I will go before you and make the crooked places straight’ ” (Isaiah 45:2). I will make the path ready for you as you follow.

It is a joy to My heart when My children rely on Me. I delight in working things out for you, but I delight even more in you yourself than in anything I do to help you. Even so, I want you to delight in Me just for Myself, rather than in anything you do for Me.

Service is a salvage of love. It is like the twelve baskets of bread that were left over. The bread that was eaten was like fellowship mutually given; and the excess and overflow was a symbol of service. I do not expect you to give to others until you have first eaten. I will provide you with plentiful supply to give if you first come to receive for your own needs.

This is not selfishness. It is the Law of Life. Can the stalk of corn produce the ear unless first it receives its own life from the parent seed? No more can you produce fruit in your ministry unless you are impregnated with divine life from its source in God Himself. It was from the hands of the Messiah that the multitudes received bread. From His hands you must also receive your nurture, the Bread of Life to sustain your health and your life.

This is His love covenant with you. It is the message of John 15:4: Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” This abiding is a love relationship, and this is why service is the salvage of love.

Service will be futile and burdensome unless it springs from an overflowing heart. Overflowing not with good intentions and condescending self-righteousness, but overflowing with the love of God. This you do not have of yourself, nor can you give, however much you might desire to do so. You will possess this love only as you wait upon Me and take time to absorb it from Me, like a quiet flower takes life from the warm rays of the sun.

Your heart will be cold otherwise. For your ready ardor and natural sympathy, and commom kindness will soon be cooled by the chill winds of ingratitude and others’ unlovely reactions. Do you think the love of Jesus was always well received? Would He not have brought His ministry to an abrupt end on many an occasion if He had needed the appreciation of people to motivate His loving service?

Have you read the reaction of the religious people to the recital of His miracle-working power in Luke 4? The exhibition of God’s love draws forth emotions in the unregenerate heart that are nothing short of murderous at times. In other cases, God’s love is met by callous indifference and criminal ingratitude, as with the nine lepers who never returned to express so much as a word of thanks for their deliverance from a walking death (see Luke 17:12-19)

In the face of divine love being poured forth on Calvary – the holy, sinless God Himself dying for the sinful, depraved, undeserving humanity – what is the reaction? Gratitude? Love? Contrition? No! Hate lashes out in jeers and mocking. Violence and cruelty flow forth like a river and mingle with the very blood that was spilt for their redemption!

No. Human kindness will never be enough. It will never fill the twelve baskets with fragments. There will never be any crumbs left over for others unless you first eat from your own personal love feast with the Savior.

Let Him fully satisfy your soul-hunger, and then you will go forth with a full basket on your arm. Twelve baskets there were (see Matthew 14:20). One for each disciple. There will always be the multitudes to be fed, but the few called to minister. This is by My own arrangment. As the Scripture says: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1)

Many are called. Few are chosen.

Friday, 5 December 2014

No flowers, but a crown

I said: “Let me walk in the field”;
God said: ‘Nay, walk in the town”;
I said: “There are no flowers there”;
He said: “No flowers, but a crown.”
I said: “But the sky is black,
There is nothing but noise and din”;
But He wept as He sent me back,
“There is more,” He said, “there is sin
I said: “But the air is thick,
And fogs are veiling the sun”;
He answered: “Yet souls are sick,
And souls in the dark undone.”
I said: “I shall miss the light,
And friends will miss me, they say”;
He answered me, “Choose tonight,
If I am to miss you, or they.”
I pleaded for time to be given;
He said: “Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem hard in Heaven
To have, followed the steps of your Guide.”
I cast one look at the fields,
Then set my face to the town;
He said: “My child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?”
Then into His hand went mine,
And into my heart came He;
And I walk in a light Divine,
The path I had feared to see.
–George MacDonald

Friday, 28 November 2014

war on grumbling day 40

Day 40
I'm thankful for the fragrance of my Hallelujah. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving 

Today was one of those days when I get to marvel how God uses and works through me. I'm still not 100 per cent better from a chest infection, but I had lunch with a young lady I'm discipling and met with the chaplain at  the Manitoba Youth Centre about doing one-on-one jail ministry. Later on, we had dinner with a young man whose entire life has been consumed by hard drug use and ran into a lovely young prostitute I'd encountered several weeks earlier, and were able to love on and pray for both.

This life walking with Jesus is rewarding and rich and hard too. But it's on days like this, in the middle of my own struggles, that I can't help but praise Him and love Him even more than yesterday. I may not be partaking in American Thanksgiving today, but I'm grateful to declare Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.
How gracious is My redeemer, King Jesus, the Son of the Highest //
What could I possibly give to You, but the fragrance of my Hallelujah //
Praise be to the Wounded One // Glory and honor to the Son //
We ascribe worth and give love to You Lord //
Let the fragrance of our love go forth

Thursday, 27 November 2014

war on grumbling day thirty nine

Day 39 
I'm thankful that I have friends and community who hold me up in times of trouble. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving 

When I first started going to Sanctuary House of Prayer (SHOP), I attended Tuesday evening intercession meetings at the home of one of the worship leaders. During that time, an incredibly lovely young Somali man who'd always supported my ministry was murdered senselessly and it turned out I also knew the accused murderer. Needless to say, I was distraught and entirely discouraged. That Tuesday night group offered to pray and prophesy over me, and one of the women gave me Exodus 17:11-13 as encouragement. It was Scripture that I'd never heard before and it was so perfect.

As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning,but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

I need my friends and community to hold up my hands when I'm tired from the battle. We all do. I'm so grateful to the people I can go to and ask for advice, prayer or encouragement no matter how bleak the circumstances. And for that I'm so deeply grateful.
I just might have a problem that you'll understand //
We all need somebody to lean on //
Lean on me, when you're not strong //
And I'll be your friend I'll help you carry on //
For it won't be long til I'm gonna need //
Somebody to lean on

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

war on grumbling day thirty eight

Day 38
I'm thankful that God sees me entirely different from the way I see myself. But I'm coming around to His way of thinking. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving
Girl Holding Lily - John Simmons

Tonight I was out with a group of the young laid down lovers of Christ who I dig spending time with. One of them gave me a prophetic word that was something I've heard repetitively over the past decade from the Lord Himself and several other people. And I think it's high time that I receive it. 

It's purity. The word in Greek is katharos, meaning clean, pure, unstained, either literally or ceremonially or spiritually; guiltless, innocent, upright. I'm not going to lie, given my past, it's been a tall order accepting that not only does the Lord see me as pure, I am exactly that. But with healing and truth, I can finally say that purity is part of my identity. Mission accomplished Papa. O how I love You.
Cause there's a lack // There’s a gap in my soul //
Between the things that I believe and I know //
So Holy Spirit You who fill all and all //
Come and fill me // Holy Spirit, come and hold me together //
So I fall into grace again // Like a child I am

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

war on grumbling day thirty seven

Day 37 
I'm thankful that I see beauty everywhere. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving 

This morning was -15C. Cold. As I was taking out the recycling, my breath was taken away by the Golden Boy atop of our provincial legislature with the sun creeping up behind. It was starkly beauteous in a way I can't quite describe. 

You must understand. I see beauty EVERYWHERE. I am dumbfounded at hoarfrost and awestruck by sunsets no matter if they're lakeside or in the hood. I'm mindblown by aurora borealis, agog at misty mornings, astounded by wildflowers in garbage strewn ditches and enthralled by canola fields...and well...I could go on and on. 

I love that God made me this way. This world is His creation and it's like I get to partner with Him when He shows me little nuances that others notice, but don't always seem to fully appreciate. 

I was listening to Phil Wickham this morning and honestly no one expresses it better:

I see Your face in every sunrise //
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes //
The world awakens in the light of the day //
I look up to the sky and say You're beautiful //
I see Your power in the moonlit night //
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright //
We are amazed in the light of the stars //
It's all proclaiming who You are, You're beautiful

Monday, 24 November 2014

war on grumbling day thirty six

Day 36 
I'm thankful for the Lord of breakthroughs. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving 

It's pretty astounding how many breakthroughs I've experienced with the Lord. But I have to say the only thing better is getting to participate in other people's breakthroughs. Whether it's through loving or contending in prayer, I always find it exhilarating. It gives me a fresh infusion of hope and the solid assurance that God's heart is all about breakthrough for each of His kids.

You've got an image of yourself  // You've built by yourself alone //
But it will come a-tumblin' down // Just like the walls are made of stone //
You will be separated from everything you seem to be //
You think you'll be liberated //
Yeah, but the grave won't set you free //
You've got to cover down, cover down, break through //
Cover down, cover down, break through 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

war on grumbling day thirty five

Day 35 
I'm thankful that I am forgiven much. And because of it I can do the same. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving 
Without Jesus I pretty much suck. I am an inconsistent mess some days. I do and say things to the people I care about -- and more importantly the ones God loves -- that are unacceptable by any criteria. 

Today was not much different. But I'm not stuck there. I can forgive. Or in this case, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Is it easy? Oh no. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
The more I know, the less I understand //
All the things I thought I knew, I'm learning again //
I've been tryin' to get down to the heart of the matter //
But my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter //
But I think it's about forgiveness, Forgiveness //
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

Friday, 21 November 2014

war on grumbling day thirty four

Day 34 
I'm thankful that My Saviour, who is so worthy to receive all glory, honour and power, sees me as a woman of worth. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving 

A couple years ago, Papa spoke to me about my worth: What lies will You dispel for me?  

It's been quite the journey coming around to God's way of thinking, In fact it's been long hard-fought battle through failed relationships, betrayal, pain, self defeat and straight up self hatred. 

But He has mercifully walked alongside me through the lies, vows and crooked thoughts, and step by step showed me the way He sees me. Every once in a while, I come up for air and view myself through God's eyes. And those days I know I'm a woman who has value far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10) and who is worthy of love and new beginnings.
No need to read between the lines spell it out for you //
Just hear this song cause you can't go wrong when you value 
A woman's worth

war on grumbling day thirty three

Day 33 
I'm thankful that it is well with my soul. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving 

I've been sick with a sinus and throat infection the last few days and I'm completely awed at the ways God works when I'm forced to just slow down. When I'm lying in bed and get to take a two hour phone call from Africa that turns out to be one of the most significant and encouraging conversations I've had with a dear one in years. And when I'm home so a 26 year old kid, who has spent six of his formative years in the penitentiary, could drop in for lunch and share his breakthroughs with me. 

Oh. My. GOODness. I just love how God works even in my weakness. So it is well with my soul even if it's not entirely well in my body. 
So let go my soul and trust in Him //

The waves and wind still know His name //

It is well with my soul

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

war on grumbling day thirty two

Day 32 
Today I'm thankful that God is all about more. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving 

Abba challenged me earlier this year. He said I could ask of Him "abundantly more" than I had been asking. When I think about it, that is quite apropos. At the house of prayer I attend, I have a dear friend who always prays for fire. And me? I always ask for more.

This morning, I was at a networking meeting for youth
pastors and leaders in the city and I was praying for the young men and women I've been contending for over the past decade. And then it just struck me. I can ask for more. So I did. I asked Jesus to encounter every youth that the pastors who were present oversee. And then I reached a little higher. I asked for every young person in the city.
Why not? He said I could. And after all, He is God. 

You're more real than the ground I'm standing on //
You're more real than the wind in my lungs //
Your thoughts define me // You're inside me // You're my reality
Abba, I belong to You

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

war on grumbling day thirty one

Day 31 
Today I'm thankful that I hear God's still small voice. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

I can hear God speak, but I sometimes go through periods where I willfully avoid sitting down to converse with Him. 

I'm sick today, a situation the Lord often uses to break in to my life. When I'm ill, I admittedly feel weak and vulnerable, and unable to give in to my usual distractions. I'm more prone to lie still enough to hear His voice.

I was in a friend's car this afternoon and she had to run in to her school to pick something up. She popped in a worship CD before leaving the car, which prompted me to journal about a painful experience that I had an epiphany about in the last 24 hours. All of a sudden in the middle of my tear-stained written rant -- without even the slightest provocation by me -- Papa cut in and started to speak really clearly. His short sweet feedback was eminently revelatory and within the span of a few minutes things made more sense.
And it makes me wonder. Why do I avoid spending the time to hear the voice of the Most High God of the universe, the One who created me and loves me and is so evidently for me? 

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12)
We will see the look on Your face // 
We will hear the tone in Your voice // 
And we will be changed as we behold You

war on grumbling day thirty

Day 30
I'm thankful for my meekness training. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Oh how I love the women I run with. Recently after a somewhat embarrassing incident at a conference, I shared it with my friend fully prepared to get her sympathetic ear. She listened to my tale of woe, shrugged her shoulders and said "Well God does like to humble His kids." 

"Ummm. Well. Sure," I sputtered. Ugh. Convicted. 

Tonight, I was prayer leading an intercession set and for the second week in a row, I was overruled by leadership. When I whined to one of the other prayer room staff she chuckled and said "Looks like you're getting some meekness training." 

I looked at her and couldn't help but laugh. Ha! Convicted. Again...

It's a good reminder since Jesus' whole life was ordered around meekness. And since we're set apart to be Christlike, then being meek should be our pursuit. Clearly, that's easier said than done in my life...but at least I'm now aware of the training program.

May the Lamb receive the reward of His suffering //
Starting with me //
For the Lamb is worthy //
All the nations shall come and join in //
The song of the Lamb

Monday, 17 November 2014

war on grumbling day twenty nine

Day 29
Today I'm thankful for, believe it or not, snow. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Winter finally came to Winnipeg today and with it, snow. I don't mind one bit. In the year 2000, I committed to never complain about the weather, a promise I have stayed true to. As well, I've noted the Bible mentions snow over 20 times and all of it is meaningful. It references the coldness of winter and compares its whiteness to clothing and leprosy. But most importantly, snow is allegory to describe also how clean our sins are when washed by the blood of Jesus.

This morning I was reading Job 37 and 38, two of my favorite chapters in the Bible, and I came upon:
For He says to the snow, be on the earth (Job 37:6)

I figure if God says it and I have to live through it, I might as well see it through His eyes.

I won’t be afraid; I will face the wind
I won’t be afraid; I’ll embrace the flame
Let the winds blow, let the winds blow

Saturday, 15 November 2014

war on grumbling day twenty eight

Day 28
I'm thankful to discover really swell leftovers in my fridge after a crazy day. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Today I looked after the Sudanese-Canadian sisters and what a day. Taught them how to bake, took them to an art drop-in and they ended up on a float for the Santa Clause parade. Between refereeing their disagreements, marching them through thousands of Winnipeggers in subzero temps and their constant chatter and inquiries, I found my usual calm demeanor slowly disintegrating. Seriously, how do parents do this day in and day out? I'm exhausted after just nine hours with the dynamic duo...
After we cleaned up their messes and they left with their older sister, I took a deep breath and contemplated dinner. And upon peering in my fridge, lo and behold I found leftovers from my favorite uber-authentic Szechuan Chinese restaurant and some yummy Vietnamese hot and sour soup from lunch yesterday. Nothing overly profound to be sure, but I am so grateful.
I'm at the borderline of my faith //
I'm at the hinterland of my devotion //
In the frontline of this battle of mine, but I'm still alive //
I'm a soldier of love every day and night //
I'm soldier of love all the days of my life

war on grumbling day twenty seven

Day 27
Today I'm thankful for music and what it does for my soul. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

What a special invention music is. Created by God. Designed for me. 

This morning could've been like any other. But I sent someone a song that I thought would touch their heart. It ended up touching mine. 

Photo credit: Heidi Phillips
The result was bouts of weeping and that good ole mixture of awe and wonder at lyrics, melody, choruses...oh I could go on and on. 

And like the good addict I am, I needed more. All day long. Until tomorrow when another song, another artist -- maybe someone new, perhaps an old friend -- will tickle my fancy. And thus, the cycle will go on and on. 

 Oh, God, I let intruders into the garden of my soul //
Foxes are running wild //
I thought You were holding out on me now to keep me from being free //
How could I have been so wrong //
Forgive me, forgive me, Lord // For living like I'm not Yours
I forget how kind You are

Friday, 14 November 2014

war on grumbling day twenty six

Day 26
I'm thankful that God gives me rest. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Today I slept in until almost noon, a luxurious pleasure that I almost never enjoy. And I didn't feel the slightest bit guilty. 

But that isn't the only kind of rest Papa provides. He promises rest for my soul. 

In Psalm 62:5, King David says: Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.

Oh yes...

I’ve made mistakes // I’ve let my hope fail 
My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world 
And I know that you can give me rest  // So I cry out with all that I have left 
Let me see redemption win // Let me know the struggle ends 
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn 
I wanna know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn // Cause I’m worn

Thursday, 13 November 2014

war on grumbling day twenty five

Day 25
I'm thankful because I know that I can trust You. #WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

It's so interesting how Jesus has beckoned me to trust Him over the past decade. There are a couple situations where He continually asks me to lean on Him...and then always comes through. As I struggle with doubt and confusion, He cuts through and whispers "I got this Gaylene." And when I hear the tone of His voice, I just know. Do I always listen? Nope. But I know I can. And I know He will ALWAYS come through for me if I just stand, believe, trust and lean on that voice. 
I know that I can trust You //
I lean not on my own understanding // 
My life is in the hands of the maker of heaven
I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open //
There's nothing I hold on to //
I am so in love with You, there is no one else for me

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

war on grumbling day twenty four

Day 24
I'm thankful that I can see the beauty in the brokenness.

I went prayer walking in my hood this evening and I came upon a group of drug dealers waiting beside a phone booth for a call. They were listening to a rap song on one of their cell phones and started to dance right there in the parking lot in the -5C temperatures. There was something so sweet and unfettered about the scene that I stopped to watch with a big grin on my face. 

When I walked away, I couldn't help but praise God for giving me His eyes to see these little vignettes, which are unmistakably lovely. Every time I do, I feel more like Jesus, because He never looked past the brokenness and always saw something beautiful.
All around // Hope is springing up from this old ground //
Out of chaos life is being found in You //
You make beautiful things // You make beautiful things out of the dust //
You make beautiful things // You make beautiful things out of us