Exciting News! The UnApologetic is going LIVE!

Hi Readers,

Firstly, I want to thank you for following my blog.
Secondly, I am excited to announce that I am now on YouTube!

I have been doing weekly live videos on my personal Facebook page for six months now, and I feel God saying it’s time to step it up. Plus it allows my non-Facebook friends to watch as well. I would love for you to join me and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Apparently once I get 100 subscribers I can get a custom URL, instead of a long list of numbers and letters.

Until then, here’s the link.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5YpMTj48X6hE7qMffYUQxg

I’ll be going live Tuesdays at 10am (ACST).

Of course, I’ll still be writing my blogs as well, so don’t go away.
Please share with your friends and I’ll see you in cyber-space.

In truth and deed,

JoSarah
The UnApologetic

“For we are what He has made us, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” Ephesians 2v10

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5YpMTj48X6hE7qMffYUQxg


Posted in General | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tie Your Belt

sempai beltIt was the midst of Covid lockdown, and in fifteen minutes I had karate class…over Zoom.

It was not my ideal scenario.

The only room big enough in the house was the lounge — if I pushed the couch back right against the wall. The carpet floor made moving about difficult and doing the round kick left me with carpet burn. Even when I hooked my computer up to the bigger screen on my TV, it was still difficult to see what Sensei was doing. (Although, somehow he could still see us just as well as if we were there in person.) As for learning my new kata pattern? Forget it! When trying to follow on-screen, left becomes right, right becomes left, and the kata becomes very wrong. However, tonight was senior training and, as a sensei, I had to be there. Even though nobody was actually “there”. (Grumble, grumble.) Would Sensei even notice me on-screen amongst all the others? …Sensei would definitely notice if I wasn’t there. (Grumble, grumble.)

I was in a bad mood and just didn’t want to do it.

I tried to think of every excuse to get myself out of the lesson. I could find none. I tried to think of the positives — at least I didn’t have to travel; at least it is a short class. It didn’t work. I knew my attitude stank, but I didn’t care. In fact it felt good to indulge it. 

 I continued to grumble as I put on my uniform. Stupid Covid, spoiling everything. (Grumble, grumble.) I slip on my fresh, white gi pants. I’m not gaining anything standing in my living room, looking at a screen. (Grumble, grumble.) I put on my gi top and tie the strings to fasten it at my waist. I need to be in a real class. (Grumble, grumble.) I wrap my belt around my waist… this is stuuupid… and pull the knot tight. (Grumble, gru–)

Something clicked in my brain — and instantly the bad attitude was replaced with: let’s do this. I felt the change so suddenly and clearly that it shocked me. Almost.

Karate works on reflex. Instinct. Instant reaction.  After nine years of training, hundreds — thousands — of lessons, countless times tying my belt, my brain was literally physically wired to switch to “fight mode” when I tied that knot.  

* * *

The Bible — especially in the King James Version — often uses the phrase “gird your loins”, meaning “get ready for action”; which is essentially the same as saying, “tie your belt”. You could also say, “man up” or, as a friend of mine says, “put your big-girl knickers on”. (Thanks Ps. K!)

In the Bible times, people wore tunics…which weren’t very practical outfits when it came to working or fighting. So, one would “gird their loins” by hoisting up their tunic, tucking the fabric between their legs and tucking it into their belt or tying it around their waist. Not a very dignified image, but when you are out working in the field or fighting a battle fashion-sense is not really something about which you worry. (For a full description of what it means to “gird your loins”, check this illustration by the Art of Manliness.)

The apostle Paul uses this phrase when he writes about the armour of God in Ephesians 6:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth…

–Eph. 6v10-14a emphasis added.

The New Revised Standard Version says, “fasten the belt of truth around your waist”.

Tie your belt.

The Old Testament often uses the phrase “gird your loins” to mean “get ready”. Get ready for battle, get ready to work, to run, to give an account to God…

That night, I was getting ready for my karate class, but I wasn’t ready: I was letting my mind — my thoughts and feelings — control me. It did not befit the uniform I was wearing (a good karate-ka controls the body and the mind) nor did it befit me as a follower of Christ. You were having a bad day. Who cares about your attitude? You may think. Everyone gets that way from time to time. You’re only human.

That’s not what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10v3-5:

“Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

– NRSV

Yes, we all have our bad days. No, there is nothing wrong with having grumpy thoughts. However, I allowed myself to indulge in my bad attitude and I gave the negative thoughts free reign in my head. It’s not a problem if those thoughts enter the mind. It is a problem if you let them stay. Fortunately for me that physical act of tying my belt triggered something in my brain that booted those thoughts right out of there. 

As I signed into Zoom, now ready for my karate class, my mind pondered the phrase “gird your loins” and I wondered how I — and others (yes, I knew right then it would be a blog) — might use a physical action (like tying one’s belt) for a spiritual effect. My usual go-to was to sing Raise a Hallelujah whenever the devil tried to attack my mind. (A tactic I failed to deploy that night.) What else could I do? What scriptures could I recite? What symbol or action could I use as a trigger to shift my focus from the things of this world and onto God?

 In the Jewish faith they use tefilin — little black boxes filled with scripture which they tie to their forehead and arm when they pray — as a physical outworking of a spiritual act. (“Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deut. 6v8-9 NIV.) They also put scriptures inside the mezuzah boxes on the door frames of their houses, touching the mezuzah whenever they enter the room. These simple yet significant acts serve as constant reminders of our God.

There are many times that I don’t feel like doing the things I should be doing. There are many times where others stuff gets in the way and I become too busy or I just forget. (I am a little embarrassed to say that even writing this blog is one of them. I should have done it months ago!) Even so, I cannot let my feelings — my “flesh and blood” or “human standards” — dictate to me, because my real fight lies in the spiritual realm.

 It is amazing to see how a small and seemingly insignificant physical action —such as tying your karate belt — can have spiritual results. “For the weapons of our warfare are not merely human…” it says. This means that simple physical act actually becomes spiritual weapon! (And don’t forget it is a fight Jesus has already won!)

The apostle Peter encourages us to “gird your loins” in a spiritual and mental sense:

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”

–1 Peter 1v13-15 NRSV

As a karate-ka I wear my belt as a symbol of who I am, but also as a reminder of how I must conduct myself. (“Grumble, Grumble…” is not part of the uniform!) As children of God we do the same. Wear the full armour of God; take every thought captive —all the time, and not just when it suits you! Don’t let your physical world control you, but rather use those physical actions to spur you on in your spiritual fight.

Man up.

Put your big-girl knickers on.

Gird your loins.

Tie. Your. Belt!

Posted in General, Karate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

 To (Half) the Kingdom

The book of Esther tells the story of a young Jewish girl who became Queen of the Persian Empire. A story to rival any fairy tale, and truer besides. However, for Esther, becoming queen was just the beginning of her story…

The evil Haman – his people an ancient enemy of Esther’s own – was plotting to destroy the Jewish nation scattered among the empire. Although well positioned to save her people – to go to the King and plead for their lives – Esther saw herself as an unlikely hero, as (according to Persian law) to approach the King without being summoned was to risk certain death. Still, her wise cousin Mordechai encouraged Esther, saying, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4v14b NIV)

So, after three days of prayer and fasting, Esther approached the King, even though it was against the law.

When King Xerxes saw Esther, “he was pleased with her.” Holding out his golden sceptre, he granted her mercy and let her approach.

Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”  –Esther 5v3 NIV–

“Even up to half the kingdom…”

The ultimate prize in any fairy tale. Whether it be a knight who had won a great battle or, like Esther, a fair maiden who had won the King’s heart, you could not receive a greater honour or gift than “up to half the Kingdom.”

It was basically saying, “You may have anything you want.”…Almost.

* * *

This Purim (the Jewish Feast of Esther) I read the Esther story again, and this line stuck out to me. Then I heard God whisper, “I have given you my whole Kingdom.”

In Matthew 16v13-20, Simon Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus replies:

“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah…I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

–NIV–

When someone gives you their keys, what does that mean?

They are giving you unrestricted access to whatever those keys unlock. Their house, their car… When you are given their keys, you have a right to use it. It almost implies ownership.

Half the Kingdom? Ha!

Xerxes, a pagan king, offered Esther half the kingdom, even though she came before him unsummoned. How much more then, will our perfect God and Father, give us the things we ask?

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

–Matt 7v9-11 NIV–

This does not mean that we come before Him only to ask for things or to say, “give me, give me…” No! We come before Him knowing He is King of the Universe, but also knowing that He wants to spend time with us.

The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes his covenant known to them.

–Psalm 25v14 NRSV–

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

–John 15v15 NIV–

God wants to partner with us. With you.

He doesn’t need us to complete His plan: As Mordechai said to Esther, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place…” (Esther 4v14a NIV)

He doesn’t need to. But He wants to.

* * *

What is it that God is calling you to do? In what circumstance can you have the courage of Esther to rise up “for such a time as this?” Esther wasn’t assured of her path when she chose to go before the King of Persia – but she did know that the King of the Universe had offered her an invitation: An invitation to partner with Him and change the destiny of an entire nation.

From your cup of coffee in the morning (or, if you’re like me, tea) to the secret desires of your heart: God, the King of the Universe wants you to be a part of His Kingdom.

He has given you His keys.

…What will you unlock?

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HE’S ALIVE!

**WARNING** This blog contains major spoilers for NCIS episodes S9.24 and S10.1

Although, I don’t watch it anymore, NCIS used to be one of my favourite TV shows. (I still enjoy re-runs of the old episodes though… I think they should have stopped at the end of season 11.) This blog is adapted from a short message I shared at church, soon after these particular episodes aired. Let’s call it a “revelation by TV.”

* *

NCIS. It stands for “Naval Criminal Investigative Services”. For those who don’t watch it, let me set the scene and explain the emotions that I went through. As a writer, I love to get really involved with the story: So, for you to understand my revelation, you have to understand how I felt.

It was nearing the end of the season, and all the episodes were building to a climax. There had been terrorist threats and terrorist attacks, fires and kidnappings. Something big was going to happen. Clues were getting thrown around like crazy… Someone was writing their will. Someone was about to get married… I mean, the season finale was called, “Til death do us part”! …I just knew that someone was going to die!

And so, it all came down to this one moment:

A car bomb, parked right outside the building where my beloved characters worked.

But which one of my friends was closest to the danger?? Which one was going to die???

Watch here:

The last minutes from NCIS’ Season 9 finale

 

 

…I sat there staring at the TV with tears running down my face.

 

No! Not him! Not like that!
Not Ducky! Not Ducky- who you thought of as your grandpa. Not Ducky- who had been there from the beginning. Not Ducky- who… who wasn’t even in harm’s way! …No!

 

…Of course, that was the season final. I could hardly bare the wait.

Why did it have to be him?!

Finally, the new season began and I eagerly sat down to watch it. Well, “eagerly” is not quite the right word, because it just wouldn’t be the same without Ducky…

But imagine how my sorrow quickly turned to joy when I discovered that Ducky was okay! He wasn’t dead! HE WAS ALIVE!

After that episode had finished I was so happy. I was so happy that I was dancing around the house. (You can ask my family.) I was so happy that I started singing to myself: lyrics from a random song I learnt as a kid. ‘He’s ali-i-ive….He’s ali-i-ive…Hallelu..jah….Jesus? is? Alive?’

Jesus is alive?! (Yes, they were the real lyrics.) I stopped dancing and just stood there for a moment, thinking… shocked:

And I get excited about some fictional character on TV??!?!?

It was almost embarrassing.

We learn this on the first day of Sunday School, but often we forget how MASSIVELY HUGE it is:

 

JESUS. IS. ALIVE!

 

A friend of mine watched NCIS too. Just before the new season, she texted me saying, ‘I’m not watching it. If Ducky’s dead, there’s just no point!’ She was joking- kind of- but could you imagine if she had stopped watching?! She would have forever thought that Ducky was lying on a beach, alone: dead!

That got me thinking…

What if the apostle Peter hadn’t run to the empty tomb? What if the disciples had never seen Jesus appear to them in that locked room? What if Thomas had never placed his hands in Jesus’ wounds?

 

What if Jesus was still dead?

Our entire faith centres around Jesus death. But the cross is bare and the tomb is empty!

 

JESUS. IS. ALIVE!

 

This is what sets Christianity apart from other religions. It’s what makes Jesus more than just another “good person”. Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist. Muhammad, Gandhi and Mother Teresa….Elvis. People worshiped and idolised as prophets and heroes- As people who made a difference.

They all have one thing in common: They’re all dead.

But Jesus? He is alive!

 

In 1 Cor 15.17-22 it says,

And if Christ wasn’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It’s even worse for those who die hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they’re already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.

There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ.

(MSG)

 

When I realised that Ducky was alive, something came alive in me too.

…How much more then, on that day I found that- Jesus- is alive!

 

 

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reckless Obedience (The Next Step)

‘God, who can I pray for?’

I didn’t plan it to be like this. When I started out on this journey of Reckless Obedience, I honestly didn’t know how it would play out. But everything fell in place with a beautiful symmetry that is every writer’s dream. I didn’t plan it to be like this— but God did.

It went something like this:

I was standing in church during worship, when we have a time to pray for the people around us. That week, I put my hand up for prayer, and my friends surrounded me and prayed. When they had finished, I felt that I should go pray for someone too. I looked around. No more hands were raised to ask for prayer (like myself, they had already been prayed for) so I asked,

Me: ‘God, who can I pray for?’

Immediately I get a name.

God:  ‘Dianne’

Me: Dianne? Do we have a Dianne at church? Perhaps she is a guest…?

A beat.

Me:  Ohh! Di! You mean Di!

I look over to where Di is sitting.

Me: …God, you know I really like this song.

God: …

Me: Kidding… Well, actually I do really like it, but I’m not going to make that mistake again.

I go over to Di and ask if I can pray for her. She, of course, says ‘yes’.

Later she tells me it was just what she needed— just at the right moment.

Oh… And when I got back to my seat after praying, the worship team repeated the song I like. (Thanks God)

What is obedience?
I think it is more than simply doing what you are told…
Why do we obey?
Is it through fear? Or is it through love and trust?

Back when I hesitated to pray for Janine at Youth Alive (read here) I asked God, ‘why?’ He said, ‘the more time you spend with me, the quicker you will obey.’

You see, it’s not about God shouting out orders to us; standing there with a big stick if we don’t obey. It’s not even about me or the people I helped when I did obey. (Do you think God needed me to pray for them???)

It is about relationship.

John 15v 14-16 says:

You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. -NIV

We are not some afterthought. God doesn’t just go, ‘Oh hey, since you’re here, can you just…’

He chose us. From the very beginning, He arranged for us to be a part of His grand plan. We are not pawns in this piece. We are not servants and slaves. We are partners and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8v17)!

This is the next step.

The next step for me came without me realising.

I have shared with you a few outward things that have happened during this journey, but a lot has happened inwardly as well. Never have I felt so close to God. Never have I heard His voice so clearly… and had the faith to trust that I have heard Him— then the courage to act on what He has said. I know God has some big changes ahead for me. It is both exciting and terrifying. But God is with me (always!) and I know it is right.

Though I did not realise I had reached the next step, it came as no surprise to me when I asked— instead of waiting to be told— ‘God, who can I pray for?’

God doesn’t want a passive relationship.

He doesn’t want us to come to Him from time to time. He wants to spend every moment with us.

He doesn’t want us to wait for Him to tell us to do something before we act. He wants us to ask, ‘God, what can I do? …What can we do?’ (Besides, He has already told us what to do in His Word.)

God doesn’t want us to cautiously dip our toes, to test the waters. He wants us to dive right in— and dive deep.

‘But I’m not wearing my bathers!’ You may cry. ‘I’m fully dressed!’

‘So…???’ God replies.

 

Go on! Be reckless!

Posted in Reckless Obedience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Love?

How can I say this?

I, a writer, could give you a grand dialogue: but without actually showing you I care— it’s only hate speech. I could present you with well thought out arguments and statistics: but if it’s just to prove a point— I’m a bigot. I could risk ridicule and stand up for what I believe in: but if I only tell you half-truths— I’ve done nothing for my cause.

 

“Love is love”, they tell me?

Let me tell you about love.

 

Love is patient.
               I am sorry I have not stopped to listen to your story.
Love is kind.
               I am sorry I have said words that caused you pain.
Love does not envy, it does not boast.
               I am sorry I have thought myself better than you.
Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking.
               I am sorry I have put my own needs before yours.
Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong.
               I am sorry I have only seen you for “what” you are, and not who you are.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
               I am sorry I have failed to show that God loves you.

 

Yes, I could tell you about love.

Or, I could show you…

 

Love always protects.
               I will put you first.
Love always believes.
               I will see the best in you.
Love always hopes.
               I will be better.
Love always perseveres.
               I will never stop loving you.

 

“Love is love”, they say?

 

          God is Love.

… And Love, never fails.

 

 

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Redefining #Blessed

A little gem from another blogger. Thanks Jonathan.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend.”
Prov 27:17

The Ministry of JC

img_3208

Our society is always changing.

And perhaps this is best represented in our weird tendency to redefine things. Particularly nowadays. It seems everywhere we turn, a previously unquestioned concept is experiencing a huge social reconstruction. I’m looking at you, marriage. Not forgetting the 63 genders you can now choose from. Here’s the problem:

We all want a say on how life should be defined.

We do it in more subtle ways too. For example, the hashtag #blessed has been used 77,000,000 times (on Instagram alone). And it appears to be a way of boasting whilst remaining humble. Win a sporting event. Pass that hard university topic with flying colours. Get a promotion at work. Be surrounded with friends and family. Live in a huge house. Such events seem to qualify our ability to say that we are blessed.

And so our culture has formed something of a silent creed. An unspoken but very loud anthem…

View original post 1,179 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Reckless Obedience (Part Two)

(If you haven’t read part one, you can read it here.)

‘Go and talk to Hayley.’

It was mid-morning and I was just about to sit down to read my Bible and write in my prayer journal, when this thought popped into my head. Again, I knew it was God…

* * *

Hayley is my next door neighbour, and the week before, I had bought her a bunch of flowers. I was on the way home from church, after a “Community Engagement” seminar with guest Pastor, Paul Bartlett. (Author of the book Thank God it’s Monday [#TGIM] and Pastor of Lighthouse Church in Woolongong, NSW.)

I dropped into the shops before heading home, and while I was there, I saw a bunch of flowers marked down at half price. I heard God tell me, ‘Get them for Hayley.’ I picked them up and gave them a closer inspection. They still looked in good condition and I felt that they might be the type that Hayley would enjoy.

…I would like to tell you that I put them in my trolley straight away.

But I didn’t.

(Why! Oh, why! do we hesitate??!!)

I told myself, ‘I will get them at the end of my shopping.’ (As if that would make a difference?) God told me, ‘If someone takes this bunch, you’ll have to buy a full price one.’ (He had a point.) Anyway, I bought the flowers and when I got home, I knocked on Hayley’s door. I gave her the flowers, saying, ‘I was at the shops when I saw these, and I thought of you.’ She was very moved that I would give her such a gift, and commented that no one had ever done anything like that for her before. (Which I thought was incredibly sad. How many people out there have never received a gift, “just because”?) She then was trying to think of all the ways she could repay me, but that wasn’t the point. We chatted for a little while, and with the promise of coffee, I went home.

Fast forward to a week later and God saying, ‘Go talk to Hayley.’

It went something like this:

God: Go talk to Hayley.

Me: Now?

God: Yes.

Me: Ahh, okay…But what do I say? I’ve already used the “I’m thinking of you” excuse.

I didn’t want to come across as the creepy, too friendly, Christian neighbour.

God: Take your cup of tea and do your devotions on your front veranda.

I quite often do this on sunny days. Luckily, even though it was mid-winter, today was one of them. I figured God had a good idea here. Perhaps Hayley would come out for a smoke and I could talk to her then.

So I go outside and start writing in my prayer journal.

…Five minutes later? Hayley comes outside!

Me: Hi Hayley.

Hayley: Hi

We get chatting about our week. She mentions that she has a sore back. We talk about the lovely sunshine etc.

Seeing that I am busy with my journal, Hayley doesn’t want to distract me any longer.

Hayley: Well, I’ll leave you to it.

As she turns to leave, I get a (reckless) idea…

Me: Hey, can I pray for your back? Is that okay?

Hayley: Sure. That would be lovely. Thank you!

I say a quick prayer, she goes back inside, and I am left to my prayer journal with the biggest grin on my face.

God + timing = perfect.

When I started this journey of Reckless Obedience, I thought it would be full of moments like this. But up until this point, there weren’t really any other moments of which to speak. And even when it came to this one, I wasn’t even thinking, ‘I must obey, because I promised Reckless Obedience’. I just did it.

But isn’t that the point?

When someone does something reckless, and this time I mean stupid or dangerous, you might later ask them, ‘why did you do it?’ Their response will usually be, ‘I don’t know. I just wasn’t thinking.’

I thank God that I didn’t stop to think about whether I should pray for Hayley. I thank God that I just did. Had I stopped to think, Hayley would have gone inside and it would have been too late. (Unlike with Janine, here, I wasn’t going to get a second chance.) I didn’t even stop to think whether it was my idea, or God’s.

And that, I think, is the secret. When we are so in tune with God, we don’t even think, ‘God told me to…’ we just do it and later realise, ‘Oh, that was you God!?’

I prayed that I might become more reckless in my obedience to God…

What He did was draw me closer to Him.

In John 17 v 21, Jesus prays for you and I. (Just think on that for a moment!)

that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. NIV

As big as the grin was on my face after Hayley left- it wasn’t about me… ‘so that the world may believe.’

When we make ourselves available to God, all for His glory, amazing things can- and will- happen.

I still have a long way to go on this journey of Reckless Obedience. (Such a long way!) But I thank God that, this time at least, I got it right.

 

 

Posted in Reckless Obedience | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reckless Obedience (Part 1)

 

‘Go pray for Janine’

It was the last day of the Youth Alive We the People Conference, and I was standing at the back of the mosh-pit during worship, when this thought popped into my head. I knew it was God, but instead of obeying straight away, what followed was a five-minute conversation of me listing every possible reason as to why I shouldn’t… To be honest, ‘the dog ate my homework’ would have been a better excuse.

It went something like this:

God: Go and pray for Janine.

Me: Okay, I guess I could do that.

I don’t move.

God: Go on then.

Me: But, look at her. She looks so beautiful worshiping. I don’t want to distract her.

God: And?

Me: I like this song. I want to worship.

God: Really?!

I look over. Janine is now kneeling and lifting her hands in passionate worship.

God: Look. What a perfect opportunity to go kneel next to her and pray with her. Put your arm around her.

Me: But what would I say?

God: Tell her I hear her prayer.

Me: Well, that’s a bit simple, isn’t it? I could have made that up.

God: And?

Me: Well…

God: The song is almost over… quickly!

Me: But I like this song…

We sing the last chorus and the song comes to an end. Luckily for me, there is more.

God: Go…

I look over to Janine. She is now sitting in her seat, flicking through the pages of her Bible.

Me: Well, I can’t go now, she’s obviously in the middle of something. I’ll definitely distract her!

God: Isn’t that just proof that she is searching for something?

Me: It’s got be more than, ‘God hears your prayer’.

God: Does it?

Me: It could have been just me?

God: So?

By now, Janine is standing again, worshiping.

God: You know you’ll really regret it if you don’t go.

Me: *rolls eyes* Okay! Fine!

I thank God that He is ever so patient: and more annoying than I am stubborn. I thank God that I obeyed… eventually. I thank God that, even though I was oh so close to missing out, He persisted, and allowed me to be a part of something more important that I knew.

The rest of the story went something like this:

Janine has her eyes closed, worshiping. I touch her on the shoulder.

Me: …Can I pray for you?

Janine: Sure

I begin to pray, just saying whatever comes to mind. Then I tell her what God told me to say…

Janine looks at me astounded.

Janine: I am writing that down! Thank you. That was exactly what I needed to hear.

I silently berate myself for wasting those five minutes in an unwinnable argument and wonder what might have happened if I had acted sooner. (Though, ‘no one is ever told what would have happened.’)

Me: That means a lot, because I was debating for five minutes whether to come, wondering if I was just making it up.

Janine: No. It was perfect. Thank you for being obedient.

Obedient…

Was I? Really?

I am a karate sensei (teacher). In class, when a command is given, you have a split second to obey. And obey with a loud, clear and enthusiastic ‘hai!’ (Yes!) If my students don’t respond with all of this criteria, I make them stop and do it again. With one of my senseis, we get push-ups if we don’t respond loudly and immediately.

Why make them do it again? Why the push-ups? Because we train to respond “on command”. We train to respond without thinking. This ‘hai’ response is now so ingrained in me, that I have to stop myself from using it elsewhere. It hasn’t slipped out at church… yet, but when the preacher asks, ‘Amen?’ ‘Hai!’ is always on the tip of my tongue.

If I ever hesitated in karate like I did that day at Youth Alive, my sensei would… well, I honestly couldn’t tell you what they would do, because it just wouldn’t happen.

Which leads me to ask: Is obedience delayed, really obedience?

Even though I got there in the end, I still felt that I missed something. And it was only by God’s grace that I didn’t miss it altogether!

I walked away from Janine in embarrassed and befuddled amusement. All the excuses I had just given- to GOD, I might add- now seemed absolutely ridiculous. Janine wasn’t a stranger. I wasn’t’ preaching on the streets. I was in a church service for goodness sake! Yeah, the dog ate my homework really would have been a better excuse.

Over the next few days, I was really psyched that God had given me such an important word, but my hesitation bothered me. I didn’t feel guilty… I just wanted to know why? Why did I not obey when God first said, ‘go…’?

I prayed about this and God said, ‘the more time you spend with me, the quicker you will obey.’

Just like in karate, when the sensei says, ‘go,’ and I say, ‘hai!’ I wanted to obey God on command. So, for this last month I have been on a journey.

No arguing.

No debating.

No asking, ‘why?’

 

Don’t think. Just do.

 

I call it Reckless Obedience.

 

Whether it’s ‘you don’t need two pieces of bacon,’ ‘don’t buy that,’ or ‘go talk to that person,’ I obey. Whether I think it’s God talking or it’s just my own thoughts, still, I obey. Have I always gotten it right? No. But I am trying…Training. And I am getting faster.

Now let me just say that I am not talking about being reckless in potentially dangerous situations. I am talking about the little things. An illustration by Steve McCracken has helped me immensely on this topic. He says, if it’s good or neutral, don’t argue, just obey. (Read here)

As in karate training, this act- this discipline– of Reckless Obedience is creating physical pathways in the brain. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. And then there are the Spiritual benefits. As Jesus teaches in the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25v14-30), if God can trust you with the small things, He can trust you with the big things.

Or as with Janine, what seemed like a small thing to me was actually a big thing. I remind myself of this whenever God gives me an instruction. I don’t want to be the reason someone else misses out on a miracle.

I want to be reckless.

I want to obey.

Fair warning to those who want to join me on my journey of Reckless Obedience: it won’t be easy. It will be inconvenient, tiring and it will make your head spin. But it will also be thrilling, spiritually strengthening and totally worth it.

I know my journey has only just begun. (In Geek terms, I’m barely out of the Shire!) There will be more to report, if you’ll join me…

It’s time to be reckless!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Reckless Obedience, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Who is My Neighbour? Part 2.

She waited the tables

At midday.

She had just started

Her shift.

She tucked a stray hair

In her head scarf.

And smiled for all the

Customers.

 

He sat down outside

Jake’s Cafe.

He had just come from church.

He placed his bible

On the table.

And asked the waitress

For water.

 

She brought his drink to

The table.

He asked about

Her day.

She saw his bible,

And wondered why

A man like him would

Talk to her.

 

He finished his drink

And waved

Goodbye. She waved.

And smiled

Because she was glad.

He left her a

tip. But hoped she found

Something more.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment