Some friends of mine have been praying into the situation of why so many people are single in the church and in the nation. Why so many broken relationships and broken hearts? Why so much theft of identity? Why so much loss of hope? The Lord has sent them visions. Here is what my friend writes:
So a bunch of us have been praying for marriage for a little while now – marriage in the church generally, marriage in the nation, and yes marriage for us individually.
It’s become clear that a significant part of the reason for the amount of singleness and other marriage related problems across the church, and the nation, has been spiritual attack by the enemy (seriously).
The amazing and great news is that we have been making real progress in praying against this attack and taking back ground from the enemy, and changing things in this area (and not forgetting prayer by many others for this area).
After 7 x1 hour sessions of prayer this year, the Lord simultaneously dropped the same picture into 3 people present at the last meeting. It was a big field, seen from one corner, with other big fields beyond it. It had just been freshly ploughed, with a tractor trailing a plough off to one side of the field, driving off. This was immediately followed by a 2nd picture showing the same field but covered with fresh green shoots coming up all over, and then a 3rd picture showing the field full of golden glowing ripe corn, blowing in the breeze under the sun. Because of spiritual warfare and breakthrough, there is going to be a huge harvest of Godly marriages across the church in this nation, and I hope and expect, across the nation in general.
These prayer sessions continue once a month, as there is an ongoing battle to fight, and there is currently a need for more men to join us. The next meeting is this Sunday at a central London location, at a convenient time. Meetings are mainly us praying freely as we feel led and whatever comes to mind, and you can arrive or leave as needed. There is no commitment required but if you would like to join us and pray, you are most welcome.
So, here they are in London, UK, praying for singleness when across the world, somewhere in the Middle East, I, too, have been hearing this chapter from the Lord each time I’ve gone to him in wonder and bemusement about being single and the random people I meet and how to navigate the complexities this life situation brings: MARK 4
Here, too, is the situation we find ourselves in:
Isaiah 4 The Message (MSG)
4 That will be the day when seven women
will gang up on one man, saying,
“We’ll take care of ourselves,
get our own food and clothes.
Just give us a child. Make us pregnant
so we’ll have something to live for!”
2-4 And that’s when God’s Branch will sprout green and lush. The produce of the country will give Israel’s survivors something to be proud of again. Oh, they’ll hold their heads high! Everyone left behind in Zion, all the discards and rejects in Jerusalem, will be reclassified as “holy”—alive and therefore precious. God will give Zion’s women a good bath. He’ll scrub the bloodstained city of its violence and brutality, purge the place with a firestorm of judgment.
5-6 Then God will bring back the ancient pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night and mark Mount Zion and everyone in it with his glorious presence, his immense, protective presence, shade from the burning sun and shelter from the driving rain.
Also, Living Translation:
Isaiah 4 Living Bible (TLB)
4 At that time so few men will be left alive that seven women will fight over each of them and say, “Let us all marry you! We will furnish our own food and clothing; only let us be called by your name so that we won’t be mocked as old maids.”
2-4 Those whose names are written down to escape the destruction of Jerusalem will be washed and rinsed of all their moral filth by the horrors and the fire. They will be God’s holy people.[a] And the land will produce for them its lushest bounty and its richest fruit. 5 Then the Lord will provide shade on all Jerusalem—over every home and all its public grounds—a canopy of smoke and cloud throughout the day, and clouds of fire at night, covering the Glorious Land, 6 protecting it from daytime heat and from rains and storms.
Here’s what I think I heard the Lord say:
This is the situation you’ve been in for a while now. Women trying to do everything by themselves. They have been broken and rejected and therefore have rejected the men in their lives. The enemy has tried to divide, conquer and steal but now I stay Stand Strong! I will deliver! There is a rich inheritance about to flood the hearts and souls of many who have cried out for a lifelong, godly partner. But first, purify yourselves in my holy fire and love. Repent of all your sins and shame and you will sing a new song unto the Lord. I am the rewarder of those who earnestly seek my face. I will deliver you from this loneliness, confusion, pain, shame, guilt and despair for I am the God who heals and every nation will call be Blessed Redeemer, the Ancient of Days. New ground to be broken and new action will be taken. Believe in me and I will bring you forward with me. Is there anything too hard for the Lord? Didn’t I set a bush on fire to get the attention of Moses when he was at his wits’ end? But I had a greater plan for him just as I have a greater plan for you. We will work together. A new challenge will be met with joy! New things will happen right now before your eyes. Things you thought were once impossible. Many people have given up on the silent hope of being married and having a family. I say RISE UP! Get up and walk! Walk forward through the endless possibilities of joy through the open door which has been flung so wide and with such a force of prayer and cries that the hinges have fallen off! Godly homes where shelter from daily heat and grind will take over cities, nations and the world will know that I am the God who loves you back to life. Isaiah 4 v 6: It will be a shelter from daytime heat and a hiding place from storms and rain. NLT.
Also, Isaiah 5 is the Lord emphasising to us about purity and the dangers on our judgement of too much alcohol and how this has created the relationship statuses we find ourselves in today. We must urgently repent, step away from the booze and call out to the Lord for forgiveness: Isaiah 5 Living Bible (TLB)
5 Now I will sing a song about his vineyard to the one I love. My Beloved has a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 2 He plowed it and took out all the rocks and planted his vineyard with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower and cut a winepress in the rocks. Then he waited for the harvest, but the grapes that grew were wild and sour and not at all the sweet ones he expected.
3 Now, men of Jerusalem and Judah, you have heard the case! You be the judges! 4 What more could I have done? Why did my vineyard give me wild grapes instead of sweet? 5 I will tear down the fences and let my vineyard go to pasture to be trampled by cattle and sheep. 6 I won’t prune it or hoe it, but let it be overgrown with briars and thorns. I will command the clouds not to rain on it anymore.
7 I have given you the story of God’s people. They are the vineyard that I spoke about. Israel and Judah are his pleasant acreage! He expected them to yield a crop of justice, but found bloodshed instead. He expected righteousness, but the cries of deep oppression met his ears.[a] 8 You buy up property so others have no place to live. Your homes are built on great estates so you can be alone in the midst of the earth! 9 But the Lord Almighty has sworn your awful fate—with my own ears I heard him say, “Many a beautiful home will lie deserted, their owners killed or gone. 10 An acre of vineyard will not produce a gallon of juice! Ten bushels of seed will yield a one-bushel crop!”
11 Woe to you who get up early in the morning to go on long drinking bouts that last till late at night—woe to you drunken bums. 12 You furnish lovely music at your grand parties; the orchestras are superb! But for the Lord you have no thought or care. 13 Therefore I will send you into exile far away because you neither know nor care that I have done so much for you. Your great and honored men will starve, and the common people will die of thirst.
14 Hell is licking its chops in anticipation of this delicious morsel, Jerusalem. Her great and small shall be swallowed up, and all her drunken throngs. 15 In that day the haughty shall be brought down to the dust; the proud shall be humbled; 16 but the Lord Almighty is exalted above all, for he alone is holy, just, and good. 17 In those days flocks will feed among the ruins. Lambs and calves and kids will pasture there!
18 Woe to those who drag their sins behind them like a bullock on a rope.[b] 19 They even mock the Holy One of Israel and dare the Lord to punish them.[c] “Hurry up and punish us, O Lord,” they say. “We want to see what you can do!” 20 They say that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right; that black is white and white is black; bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
21 Woe to those who are wise and shrewd in their own eyes! 22 Woe to those who are “heroes” when it comes to drinking and boast about the liquor they can hold. 23 They take bribes to pervert justice, letting the wicked go free and putting innocent men in jail. 24 Therefore God will deal with them and burn them. They will disappear like straw on fire. Their roots will rot and their flowers wither, for they have thrown away the laws of God and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25 That is why the anger of the Lord is hot against his people; that is why he has reached out his hand to smash them. The hills will tremble, and the rotting bodies of his people will be thrown as refuse in the streets. But even so, his anger is not ended; his hand is heavy on them still.
26 He will send a signal to the nations far away, whistling to those at the ends of the earth, and they will come racing toward Jerusalem. 27 They never weary, never stumble, never stop; their belts are tight, their bootstraps strong; they run without stopping for rest or for sleep. 28 Their arrows are sharp; their bows are bent; sparks fly from their horses’ hoofs, and the wheels of their chariots spin like the wind. 29 They roar like lions and pounce upon the prey. They seize my people and carry them off into captivity with none to rescue them. 30 They growl over their victims like the roaring of the sea. Over all Israel lies a pall of darkness and sorrow, and the heavens are black.
I had this vision a few weeks ago and I feel like the Lord was speaking to me about it today as well with the following verses from the above chapter 5 (9&10): 9 But the Lord Almighty has sworn your awful fate—with my own ears I heard him say, “Many a beautiful home will lie deserted, their owners killed or gone. 10 An acre of vineyard will not produce a gallon of juice! Ten bushels of seed will yield a one-bushel crop!”
Verses 16&17: 16 but the Lord Almighty is exalted above all, for he alone is holy, just, and good. 17 In those days flocks will feed among the ruins. Lambs and calves and kids will pasture there!
Many, like myself, have found much comfort through booze and I feel like the Lord is saying we must stop this. This will bring breakthrough. Our judgment has been impaired and mistakes have been made. Turn to Him! He is our healer and He loves us. Nothing is impossible. The vineyard that was deserted will be so fruitful, our barns will be bursting! There will also be an increase in marriages between nations so that the gospel will go into every home in every land. Stand firm. Pray at all times and in all circumstances especially before we speak. The truth of the Lord will prevail and His light will shine into all the darkest corners of the earth. What we whispered in the dark will now be seen in the light. This is a good thing. Our silent tears, silent fears will be healed and covered in the Holy Spirit Balm and the world will gasp in awe and reverence of the Lord’s power in these answered prayers. Keep going!
THE VISION, 21st September, 2014, Somewhere in a Middle Eastern Land, far, far away: Bright light doorway. I went through. The Lord was with me. He was holding my hand. We went through the doorway of a garden wall and into what was like an old courtyard from the Roman times – an open courtyard. We walked around the columns of the house. The entire place was empty. There were leaves everywhere and a breeze was blowing. No one was there. I felt like it represented the hearts of many believers who had been waiting on the Lord and been obedient to His call but had lost many things in the process – many people had abandoned them, the locusts of life had destroyed the lives of others around them and taken them. They were lonely and isolated but they weren’t alone. They had been gifted with contentment and peace amidst circumstances beyond their control, enemy theft and attack. They had stood firm when others had fled but they held on with love and felt no animosity towards those who had left them to stand alone. They had been waiting for the visitor to arrive – the visitation of answered prayer. They longed for the house to be filled with people and with laughter again; for a thriving family and community of love and grace and prosperity; the renewal and abundance of crops and reward for vigilance and obedience. They had been watching and waiting prayerfully. They had been interceding and had lost many things. Hope was dwindling. Their bodies were heavy, their throats dry, their ears sore, their eyes stung. How long, Lord? Is it me, Lord? Search me and know my heart, Lord. What can I do, Lord? They were tired but had great supernatural peace and contentment but were exhausted. Their bones groaned. Every day, they waited expectantly as they walked around the courtyard and outside to look over the beautiful, fertile valleys. Every day. But no one came.
There was great potential in this home and beautiful courtyard. It was like something from a Vogue Living magazine – a before and after picture shoot. It was like He was giving us this home to redecorate and money was no object. The climate was warm, there were olive trees and a vineyard outside with space to rear animals.
I felt excited to be there and see its potential but also sad and asked the Lord to please help us fill these homes again.
I asked the Lord to help me understand what He had shown me. He lead me to these passages in the OT.
HABUKUK 2;2 This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.
Isaiah 51 The Message (MSG) Committed to Seeking God
51 1-3 “Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God. Ponder the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug.
Yes, ponder Abraham, your father, and Sarah, who bore you. Think of it! One solitary man when I called him, but once I blessed him, he multiplied. Likewise I, God, will comfort Zion, comfort all her mounds of ruins. I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden, her moonscape into the garden of God, A place filled with exuberance and laughter, thankful voices and melodic songs.
4-6 “Pay attention, my people. Listen to me, nations. Revelation flows from me. My decisions light up the world. My deliverance arrives on the run, my salvation right on time. I’ll bring justice to the peoples.
Even faraway islands will look to me and take hope in my saving power. Look up at the skies, ponder the earth under your feet. The skies will fade out like smoke, the earth will wear out like work pants, and the people will die off like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my setting-things-right will never be obsolete.
7-8 “Listen now, you who know right from wrong, you who hold my teaching inside you: Pay no attention to insults, and when mocked don’t let it get you down. Those insults and mockeries are moth-eaten, from brains that are termite-ridden, But my setting-things-right lasts, my salvation goes on and on and on.”
Psalm 107:4-9 Some of you wandered for years in the desert, looking but not finding a good place to live, Half-starved and parched with thirst, staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion. Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God. He got you out in the nick of time; He put your feet on a wonderful road that took you straight to a good place to live. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves. He poured great draughts of water down parched throats; the starved and hungry got plenty to eat. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Psalm 107:23-32 Some of you set sail in big ships; you put to sea to do business in faraway ports. Out at sea you saw God in action, saw his breathtaking ways with the ocean: With a word he called up the wind— an ocean storm, towering waves! You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out; your hearts were stuck in your throats. You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk, you didn’t know which end was up. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time. He quieted the wind down to a whisper, put a muzzle on all the big waves. And you were so glad when the storm died down, and he led you safely back to harbor. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves. Lift high your praises when the people assemble, shout Hallelujah when the elders meet!
Psalm 12:5 Into the hovels of the poor, Into the dark streets where the homeless groan, God speaks: “I’ve had enough; I’m on my way To heal the ache in the heart of the wretched.” In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Psalm 102:3-11 I’m wasting away to nothing, I’m burning up with fever. I’m a ghost of my former self, half-consumed already by terminal illness. My jaws ache from gritting my teeth; I’m nothing but skin and bones. I’m like a buzzard in the desert, a crow perched on the rubble. Insomniac, I twitter away, mournful as a sparrow in the gutter. All day long my enemies taunt me, while others just curse. They bring in meals—casseroles of ashes! I draw drink from a barrel of my tears. And all because of your furious anger; you swept me up and threw me out. There’s nothing left of me— a withered weed, swept clean from the path. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Proverbs 31:4-7 “Leaders can’t afford to make fools of themselves, gulping wine and swilling beer, Lest, hung over, they don’t know right from wrong, and the people who depend on them are hurt. Use wine and beer only as sedatives, to kill the pain and dull the ache Of the terminally ill, for whom life is a living death. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Isaiah 38:9-15 This is what Hezekiah king of Judah wrote after he’d been sick and then recovered from his sickness: In the very prime of life I have to leave. Whatever time I have left is spent in death’s waiting room. No more glimpses of God in the land of the living, No more meetings with my neighbors, no more rubbing shoulders with friends. This body I inhabit is taken down and packed away like a camper’s tent. Like a weaver, I’ve rolled up the carpet of my life as God cuts me free of the loom and at day’s end sweeps up the scraps and pieces. I cry for help until morning. Like a lion, God pummels and pounds me, relentlessly finishing me off. I squawk like a doomed hen, moan like a dove. My eyes ache from looking up for help: “Master, I’m in trouble! Get me out of this!” But what’s the use? God himself gave me the word. He’s done it to me. I can’t sleep— I’m that upset, that troubled. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Habakkuk 2:2-3 [ Full of Self, but Soul-Empty ] And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Matthew 23:37-39 “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Murderer of prophets! Killer of the ones who brought you God’s news! How often I’ve ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you wouldn’t let me. And now you’re so desolate, nothing but a ghost town. What is there left to say? Only this: I’m out of here soon. The next time you see me you’ll say, ‘Oh, God has blessed him! He’s come, bringing God’s rule!’” In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Romans 1:8-12 I thank God through Jesus for every one of you. That’s first. People everywhere keep telling me about your lives of faith, and every time I hear them, I thank him. And God, whom I so love to worship and serve by spreading the good news of his Son—the Message!—knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you. The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God’s gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! But don’t think I’m not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.
“‘From this day on I will bless you.’” Haggai 2:18-19 NIV
As the end of the year draws quickly to a close, we expats across the world have already begun packing our bags to return home for Christmas. Expectations and tensions can run high at this emotionally charged time of year and, as adults, it is difficult to not wish that life could just this once rekindle a child like expectation of the excitement and wonder of Christmas Eve stockings, presents and selection boxes for breakfast. If only everything were as exciting as when we were children and Santa’s letter was sent up the chimney whilst our little legs measled against a roaring fire and our hearts fluttered.
Sometimes, prayers can seem like a will-he/won’t-he-bring-me list to a God who seems as real as Father Christmas. “Has He actually heard this prayer I’ve been groaning for the past ten, twenty, thirty years?” we wonder.
Unfortunately, more often than not, our words and hope just simply run out. We’ve reached the end. Our prayers take too long to get answered and we grow weary, just like the end of the year, when our dinner consists of biscuits and toast and our throats grow raspy.There seems no answer in sight. While our bodies ache for some kind of closure to prayers we have whispered in the dark and cried out in the silent, lonely places only we know, the all powerful God who made us is on silent. We’re left feeling confused, angry, bewildered, exhausted and despondent.
Disappointment and sadness envelop the child like hope and light within and we just give up. We’re left sitting alone in a big, drafty room in a vacant, dark, haunted house.
And then, ever so quickly and subtly, something inside us just switches off because, let’s face it, there really seems to be no response from a Santa like God sitting in a distant, imaginary land full of elves and wooden toys.
In this talk, we hear how any amount of faith, no matter how small it is, is enough. Let me write that again. Any amount of faith, no matter how small it is, is enough. It is enough.
A Christmas Prayer List for God for Expats:
1.Help us have faith to just believe that you’re working behind the scenes
2.That you haven’t forgotten us.
3. Please, Lord, send us all true love, peace, happiness and joy this Christmas.
4. For those of us travelling home to family situations, Lord, we beg you for short queues, simple check ins, upgrades, spacious seats, and swift travel. May we all think before we speak to those we haven’t seen in a while, remembering that the power of both life and death lies in our words.
5. To those of us away from family and friends at Christmas, please send loving, happy people to encourage and nurture us during this reflective time of year.
6. But most of all, help us, Lord, to speak to the mountains in our life with the confidence and hope that only you can miraculously give us.
Thank you, Lord, that you will bring us so much wonderment over this Christmas time to allow us to return in January with so many stories of your goodness and blessings upon us.
- Isaiah 58:8 NKJV – When your circumstance becomes God’s answer (pagprayer.wordpress.com)
- Written but unread – She left a legacy and a letter (letterschangelives.wordpress.com)
- Pope: allow Lord to encounter us in preparation for Christmas. (thecatholicsnetwork.com)
- When Faith Came to Our Hearts (everydayawe.com)
- Unrealistic Christmas wishes (ohamydearblog.wordpress.com)
- Fall In Love This Christmas (lifevesting.com)
- ‘The Christmas Candle’ Movie By Max Lucado, Rick Santorum, And Susan Boyle Focuses On Hope (huffingtonpost.com)
- The REAL War Against Christmas (jaybsnyder.com)
- Reinventing Advent (cofchristdailybread.wordpress.com)
- Your Faith Journey (patriciaallisonauthor.wordpress.com)
Recently, I have been pondering what the true meaning of love is. If you love someone, set them free. All you need is love. Love is a many splendid thing, indeed, but how do we really show someone that we love them? Sometimes, it is by sitting on our hands and doing and saying nothing while they hurt us with words and actions. Sometimes, it is giving them our last dirham or a simple smile and hello. This passage of the the New Testament is a Wedding Favourite, but imagine if we substituted the word ‘Love’ for ‘I am’ when reading the following passage. A somewhat sobering thought as all of us strive to attain the all perfect love for each other when it is the last thing we feel capable of. Lord, help us. Lord, graciously help us show the world what true love is. Peace out.
The Way of Love…
13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t Iove, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
(Therefore, with God’s help and grace…)
- I never give up.
- I care more for others than for self.
- I don’t want what I don’t have.
- I don’t strut.
- I don’t have a swelled head.
- I don’t force myself on others.
- I am not always “me first.”
- I don’t fly off the handle.
- I don’t keep score of the sins of others.
- I don’t revel when others grovel.
- I take pleasure in the flowering of truth.
- I put up with anything.
- I trust God always.
- I always look for the best.
- I never look back but I keep going to the end.
- Love is not easy…but it is worth it (thejourneyforwomen.wordpress.com)
- Tear it Down… (angeledwardsvlc.wordpress.com)
- Baby don’t hurt me. (totesridiculous.wordpress.com)
- Always and Never (mac4320.wordpress.com)
- What is love? (andythomaswcfs.wordpress.com)
- What is Love? (A Fifteen Year Old’s Point Of View) (belligerentminds.wordpress.com)
- Who I Am in Him (auniversallove.com)
- “What is “love”? Baby don’t hurt me…” (wispsite.wordpress.com)
- Love is patient, love is kind (cameronculp12.wordpress.com)
We have all had to simplify our lives living here in the desert. The nearest city is around 180 minutes drive away and the journey is nothing short of exhausting. A weekend trip to Abu Dhabi is supposed to be refreshing but any relaxation felt is soon erased by the arduous drive back to our desert accommodation.
At some point, all of us have felt that our former lives in the West have been brutally stripped away and have left us bare and vulnerable. Each of us has often questioned why we are here.
Yet something much stronger overrides this sense of exposure to the unknown and uncertainty of this lifestyle we now find ourselves in. Its name is Peace. http://biblehub.com/john/14-27.htm
Expat Desert Inhabitants have made difficult choices, sacrificing friends and family and a lifestyle back home to follow what we know in our hearts to be the right professional and/or personal choice. If we looked at our situation with human eyes and took everything at face value, we would feel overwhelmed.
Yet, when we are in a place where we know we are meant to be, we are somewhat at pains to describe to others why we remain. Paradoxically, we know that if we stayed in our home countries, we would feel restless and unsettled with each passing day; the silent sentiments of no longer belonging to the society into which we were born steadily consuming us.
I am blessed by new friends and colleagues who identify with the difficulties we are facing together. Chats whilst sharing cups of tea and coffee, bread, biscuits, books read, clothes that no longer fit, recipes, drives to the city, weekly car-pools to work when we all need a 30 minute lie in, recommended podcasts and albums all combine to enable us to develop our sense of community and sisterhood.
There is much joy to be found in what is sometimes an incomprehensible life when we look outwards, forget ourselves and keep going. Personally, I am often encouraged by the words once sent to me many years ago by my sister: Look outwards; forget yourself. And those of my dad: Keep going and don’t look back or you’ll turn into a pillar of salt! http://biblehub.com/genesis/19-26.htm
Many of us are finding talents which have been lying dormant for so long and are making jewelry or painting and sketching. Some are learning languages for travels to and from the Middle East whilst others are discovering a flare for making sour cream and guacamole (see last post: In the desert, we make our own sour cream…)
Although it may seem we have little, we are growing inwardly and outwardly. Just as it was in the story of Jesus feeding the 4000, we learn that although things more than often do not make sense, as we continually pray in all circumstances and keep looking on the bright side, miracles happen and we find ourselves coping.http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+8&version=MSG
Prayer: Lord, forgive us for times when we have been disgruntled, disillusioned and disappointed about the circumstances we find ourselves in. Forgive us for the times when we don’t appreciate what we have and help us see the satisfaction of simple living. Help us understand that it is by spreading out what little we already have that more of us are blessed and encouraged. Thank you that by trusting you, we don’t need to always have and understand the answers. Thank you that you are a creative God who loves communication http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%201&version=MSG; that you invented words, chats and a wonderful world to be discovered.
Please, help us, Lord.
Listen to: Mumford & Sons
- Qasr Al Sarab : Abu Dhabi (jasmineloves.com)
- 6 Beautiful Places in Phoenix (local.answers.com)
- The Natural Beauty of Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden (local.answers.com)
- Modern Methodism and the Parable of the Talents (davideflavell.wordpress.com)
Tonight, I added half a pineapple (which I had chopped up into pieces yesterday morning), to the basic veggie recipe which is listed below. Half a packet of roasted almonds in the cupboard were urging me to add them to this dish of mouth watering proportions so I dropped them into the bubbles towards the end. Next time, I am going to fry them at the start before I add the oil and spices, remove them and then sprinkle them over the top of the final plat du jour, as they felt a little soggy, though tasty nonetheless, in the dish.
The beansprouts, of course, didn’t have to cook in the pan. They were set gently on top of some couscous (which had been fluffed up and cooked up with a veggie stock and a knob of butter), before the spicy veggies were placed on top.
Treat of the week is a UK CHOCOLATE TWIRL bar. Have found a shop in the area which stocks a few UK chocolate bars, and, for obvious reasons will under no circumstances be disclosing its location. (There’d be less for me, duh.) I bought five bars and put a packet of McVities Chocolate Digestives back on the shelf. It was hard, but too much of a good thing…
Listen to: Michael Bublé: It’s Time. (An oldie, but a goodie. Downloaded from iTunes for a fiver.)
- Yummy, Spicy, Veggie Dish (meeteatpray.com)
- Spice up your veggies with Lisa’s Organics (examiner.com)
- Michael Buble Serenades NYC With Performance in Subway [VIDEO] (glambergirlblog.com)
The desert is getting hotter and the environment feels like it is on a knife-edge. As we leave for work at daybreak, there is no telling just how hot each day will become. The heat is like a wild, untamed beast. It bites your face, your mood, your diet and stings every aspect of your life. But yet, the desert terrain remains beautiful and ever changing; a hot mess melange of intrigue and exasperation.
In this environment, of course it is vital that people drink enough water, take exercise, eat healthily and get enough rest, but most importantly it is imperative that we remain kind to one another despite our feelings and our internal and external struggles.
Everyone is fighting a demon of some kind or other. Maybe it’s fear; maybe regret about the past and worry about the future. Every single person you meet today, or have come into contact with or watch crossing a road is wrestling with something. They are worried they don’t have enough money to pay the bills. They’re regretting putting that new laptop/dress/shoes on their credit card. They’re thinking their clothes are feeling too tight. They’re worried why that person never called. They’re wondering if they are in the right job, the right relationship, the right city. They’re wondering if they will ever waken up without exhaustion or dread breathing its smelly breath in their face before their feet have even got out of bed and touched the floor at that most mutant of the morning hours.
So often, when people ask how we are, we are pressed for time (or we pretend that we are), or we are afraid of the reaction to our truthful response, so we chirp, ‘Fine!” and skip past them as quickly as we can for fear that they might just see the real us with our jaded and faded smiles and stinging tears welling in our eyes.
I have tried so many times to tell myself to be a person of courage and encouragement. In fact, if we take a closer look at the word, Encouragement, we will see that within it lies COURAGE! Yes, it will feel like we are stepping off a cliff edge by opening up and saying that we are actually not FINE (Fearful, Insecure, Neurotic & Exasperated), but by staring fear in the face and admitting that we are perhaps feeling rubbish, inadequate, ashamed, remorseful, we will free ourselves up to allow more love to grow in our relationships with others. (Now, I’m not saying we have to start telling everyone we meet how we are actually feeling, but I am convinced each one of us has at least one trusted friend with whom we can openly talk. When my friends and I meet together to catch up, we have the rules that what is said in these walls, stays in these walls. It is my dad who wisely says that if someone is not there to defend themselves, then we are not to talk about them.)
Encourage one another. We are not better or worse than anyone else on this planet.
Be careful with words and body language. In Christianity, the Bible teaches us that we have the power of life and death in our tongues.http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=proverbs%2018&version=MSG
It also teaches us that if we judge others, we will be judged.
How many of us have looked at someone else’s tattoos, lifestyle choices, tutted and sighed thanked our lucky stars that s/he wasn’t our child/brother/husband? (I thank you Lord that I am not like that tax collector over there… http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+18%3A9-14&version=MSG)
When we judge others, we are actually opening up a spiritual crack in the doors of our homes and our lives to invite the very same things into the lives of those we love and are called to care for. With each harsh word spoken or judgement made on someone else, bricks fall which form a wall around you, ultimately separating you from friends, family, colleagues and fun times! So, check out your tongue. Give it a medical and remind it and you of your responsibility to speak LIFE into those around you so that you, too, will experience life in all its fullness.
PRAYER: Lord, thank you for friends around us. Forgive us for times when we have judged too readily or harshly. Guard our mouths and our minds. Fill us with your gentleness and compassion. May we grow in honest and comforting relationships, building one another up with joy, encouragement, trust and love. Lord, help us to become those people of courage and encouragement. May we speak life into all those we come into contact with. Help us, Lord.
- The Courage to Live Consciously (accretionalliance.com)
- Lessons of Courage (thisdaywithgod.wordpress.com)
- Fear vs. Courage (alishasangle.com)
- Choosing Courage. (greatriversofhope.wordpress.com)
- Chase that Lion & Grow with God! (christiansread.wordpress.com)
- Christians shouldn’t fear death (examiner.com)
- Coincidence?… I Think Not! (seanduffey.wordpress.com)
- From fear to courage (jennifermcintyreblog.com)
- Who Me? (patcegan.wordpress.com)
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:28 MSG
I’ve never really recovered from the time I ate take away sushi in Singapore and managed to get wasabi in my eye. Fear and loathing set in as a result of such unbearable burning and watering of the eye and I haven’t touched the stuff since.
The same applies to my relationship with octopus. I choked once on the slithery tentacles in an upmarket restaurant in Languedoc whilst on a French exchange as a teenager and now look fearfully towards this particular specimen. I can almost feel the gag in my throat as I write and am reminded of this most distressing of formative teenage moments.
Mushrooms, too, remind me of a time a guy at university sent me a valentine’s card with a mushroom stuck on the cover asking me to be his valentine as I was a ‘Fun-Gal’ to be with. Sure, it made me laugh and I loved the unique approach but there was no chemistry and alas, I had to break up with him shortly afterwards. I am reminded of the breakage of his heart each time I see these slithery items in grocery stores and vegetable stalls throughout the world.
Such is my culinary malaise that I will often reply with a grimace, “Seafood and mushrooms,” when asked for dinner and what I eat and don’t eat. Mushrooms make me feel guilty. Octopus makes me gag and reminds me of social clumsiness around a sophisticated French dining table. Sushi just hates me.
What a shame! I am most probably missing out on the most exquisite culinary delights in the world yet am letting fear and memory combine to prevent this from happening. And I always, always feel uncomfortable telling people that I really don’t like to eat these things as I love, and am so grateful for, any invitation to eat with others. I get so excited at the prospect of what topics of conversation will be covered and the people I will watch and learn from. And I especially enjoy getting dolled up in anticipation of a good evening with friends and acquaintances.
Once bitten, twice shy, is a phrase often associated with a broken relationship but can also be applied to our relationship with food. Memories and emotions associated with mealtimes are powerful tools to prevent us from living in an emotional and healthy state.
How many of us were forced to eat dried up fish on a Friday and now resent Christianity as a result? Sometimes, it is through facing our fears and gulping down that octopus, mushroom or dried up piece of Friday fish that we regain power over our minds and emotions. Perhaps this is why the good Lord invented Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot to help ease our pain in both the natural and in the emotional?
Not so long ago, whilst staying in a Kibbutz along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, I was offered some tasting looking St Peter’s Fish. Juicy, succulent and smelling great (and without a hint of dryness), I cautiously accepted. The fish was lovingly prepared by a chef and perhaps this attitude towards its preparation combined with the lack of association with a religious ritual had something to do with its tastiness and flavour? Words can’t describe how delicious that piece of trout was. Unfortunately, it wasn’t from the Sea of Galilee itself, but it certainly has made a difference in my attitude towards eating fish in the future.
It is my prayer today for freedom in our memories and a quiet yet strong healing our hearts and minds and their somewhat unfortunate (and at times overpowering) association with food.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the freedom and love that you bring through allowing us to all have our quirks and foibles and attitudes towards food. We thank you for providing us with so much food in this earth to cater for our diverse palates and menus. But most of all, thank you for providing us with new mercies each morning to enable us to walk forwards and forget about the pains associated with food from our past. Help us and forgive us Lord for the times we have allowed our memories to prevent us from moving onwards. Crush the fear in our hearts with your love. Amen.
Listen to: Angus & Julia Stone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDiCXmERp7Y&list=PL3B4CAA77361F7D49