06/11/2018

The Beauty of Hell

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:06 pm by The Water Bearer

Aren’t you tired of hearing the warning and seeing the cartoons of “Eternal Burning Hell” as the place for those who aren’t righteous and ‘saved’? Those who know me know I get wildly angry around this threat!

Let’s at least agree to the fact that NO ONE actually knows what happens after we pass through death, except those who’ve died, but we can’t really ask them can we? Scriptures give us some hints, but it keeps its secrets hidden for a good reason. If we’re honest, all of us have an idea in our heads of what we would like to happen to the very worst of mankind, but we have to recognise that we DO NOT KNOW! Its not a good look, trying to scare people with some words in a book they don’t value.

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” Ecclesiastes 11:5

To be frank, I prefer to leave the things I can’t possibly yet understand to God and trust Him that the end result will be fair.

FIRE & BRIM…… What?

While that fantastical threat of ‘Fire & Brimstone’ (what the hell is brimstone anyway?) has been a worthy motivator for conversion to Christianity for millennia, I find the afterlife less motivation than the “Hell on Earth” that we are all familiar with in the here and now.

In this life I’ve had a taste of how horrible Hell on Earth is without my Saviour by my side. That Hellish feeling where everything becomes overwhelming, and fear takes hold, that state of hopelessness and lack of feeling God’s love is unbearable. It’s the place of our crucible, which according to Merriam-Webster means; “a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development“. The truth of this Hell I speak of, didn’t become a distant memory once I asked my Lord to take hold of me and never let me go. Not at all, now He just goes to Hell with me, and because He’s been there before, He can show me the way out, time and time again. Hell still holds its usual bite, but these days I know there is much more than suffering going on.

Even the best of us will go to this Hell at some point, ‘saved’ or not, but the deciding factor as to whether you stay there, or find God and follow His guidance to get out, is not simply a religious act. It’s a conversion of the heart, a listening for His voice in the core of your being when everything around you is in turmoil. Its the very act of being able to identify your own sinful motives, find and trust God personally, gain the lesson and then see the beneficial evidence in the aftermath of that heart transformation.

Then you are resurrected out of hell and into hope, unity, love and peace with God.

Or in other words, you get a taste of absolute HEAVEN on EARTH!

From this perspective, sending someone to Hell is a divine and loving act, remember He sent His own SON there! For it’s the birthplace of freedom from sin!

Some of you won’t follow me from here on out, so before you leave me mid-paragraph, just know that there is no need to keep using your imagination and Scriptural threats to ‘encourage’ people to turn to God. You can use Scripture to confirm your own personal experiences of Heaven and Hell on Earth and share them, at least then your warnings don’t seem like idle threats you can’t back up with priceless tangible experience.

For those special few who grasp this and are hungry for more, lets dig into this together….

PACK YOUR CROSS & GO TO HELL!

Now that we’ve gotten rid of any fakers, let get real. Just because I said the sinner’s prayer and I completely believe that Jesus died for my sins on the cross, went to Hell, and was resurrected, (Yeeew AMEN!) doesn’t mean I have never again sinned or had to suffer the consequences for my sins. I may not need to worry about what comes after my death, but while I’m still here there is still plenty of work to be done, and plenty of unrighteous motives still hidden in my heart that need to be purged. And yours too…. even if you’re not aware of them.

Thankfully I know just the guy to help ‘burn off the dross’ Psalm 119:119 and purify my heart and yours. Please don’t fall for the illusion, it’s a life-long process, and while I more often experience Heaven on Earth since falling in love with Yahweh, than periods of Hell, doesn’t mean I don’t still need to go there from time to time and kill off a deeper level of sin.

“The Son of Man must suffer many things,” He said. “He must be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then Jesus said to all of them, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.…” (Luke 9:22-24)

I don’t believe Jesus was being facetious for dramatic effect or simply referring to the direction of our physical lives. There is a clear message in this Scripture that has helped me find comfort in my own personal experiences of Hell. That, regular awareness of my current and hidden sins will bring me to the cross in deep remorse, where I am willing to give up the sin I was poisoned by, which will take me into a season of Hell, in which I will depend completely on my Saviour to bring me out and then experience the wonderful benefits of the “Born Again” condition on the other side of it all. That’s exactly how I feel. I feel renewed, free from the burden and influence of that sin, a new creation, and deeply in love with my Lord more than ever before…. If that’s at all possible.

Most of you who have stayed with me thus far will know this isn’t a one-time event, and it hasn’t been done ‘for you’ so that you can ignore your sins or pretend they aren’t there. This is a systematic and vital part of the faith journey. In fact, the more sins you identify… THE BETTER! Sure, you’ll go through Hell, but there is no avoiding it, and you don’t have to stay there! You don’t have to go alone! And the Heaven on the other side is incredibly worth it!

“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”
2 Corinthians 7:10

HELL ON EARTH IS ENOUGH MOTIVATION

Perhaps those of you who value this process, will now be more comfortable using your own admission of purging sin, of Hell on Earth, and the brilliance of the Cross, to encourage others to connect with Christ.

Not because of the fear of some unfathomable place after you die, but because suffering here is real and it can be Hell: If its not a matter of if I go to Hell but when, I’d rather not go alone. Would you? We can carry our cross in one hand and hold our Saviours’ hand with the other. There is more than enough motivation in this to fall head over heels in love with our Lord once He meets you in Hell and shows you the way out. … because you never know, if you go alone you just may find yourself stuck there for what feels like eternity.

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29/09/2017

Pressure Building & Perfecting

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:50 pm by The Water Bearer

I’m not gonna lie, finding my feet as a wellness instructor/entrepreneur on top of mother/wife/employee/friend, is proving to be quite the challenge. I am a girl who loves and thrives in a routine. I form patterns quickly and use scheduled habits as my default setting to help my thoughts cope with all the new responsibilities that threaten to murder my creative mind-wandering.

Funnily enough, lately, no matter how ‘responsible’ I try to be or how many to-do lists I write, there is no routine in sight! So many new (exciting) roads are forming ahead of me and I feel my feet lifting off the asphalt. I hate this feeling, it feels like spinning. I need grounding and I know it. One part of me says ‘STOP’ Do nothing, rest, throw away the to-do list and just BE! Another part of me says  “Ooh look at that bright shiny new client who needs all my focus”, or “Gee that is a great idea for a new book I could start to write” or “Wow a Sanctuary Stretch retreat would be awesome”. Then I remember how easily empathy adds more weight to my shoulders, and my other 4 unfinished books, plus the amount of work a retreat would take to set up properly. I want to cry at my lack of discipline and the idea that there is a graveyard somewhere where all my ideas and passions go to die!

Ok so it’s not quite that dramatic today!…. but don’t get comfortable, it could form into a melt down at any moment.

Running regular classes for movement and mindfulness is such a blessing! What an awesome job, right! And yet as things get busier over here, I am feeling the pressure building. Pressure of any sort immediately conjures up memories of past struggles. I am reminded that I am never my best self under pressure. I become manic easily, trying to combat and control the struggle. And yet I am also comforted by the understanding that each time I have been under pressure, I have come out a little better on the other side.

Perhaps you can relate?

Look back across your life and identify some past pressures. At the time, you may have felt overwhelmed in your lack of understanding, you would surely have felt discomfort, as your natural instincts to resist suffering kicks in. Now, see if you can identify a change in yourself resulting from that pressure. Did you change for the better or for worse?

In my own life I see the times I refused to accept the lesson, and how it led me to an even darker place. I also see the times I accepted the lesson, and saw my own personal prayers answered in subtle increments. We never really see the change happening at the time, it’s only when we look back and think ‘Woah, I am really different!’

So this time I am stepping into the pressure with a little more anticipation than ever before. I am hopeful and expectant of the miraculous changes to appear in my life, once the dust has settled.

Grounding has always been difficult for me, without routine, so then perhaps I am now transitioning into a place where I can learn to be grounded amidst a lack of routine? That idea thrills my heart!

I may not be ‘perfect’ throughout this period, I may melt down occasionally as I adjust to the newness of life, still won’t you join me? In the perfecting process? Push on through seeking the lesson, the transformation. It just may be the answer to your prayers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

14/11/2016

Suffering & Spiritual Audits

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:24 pm by The Water Bearer

audit

Suffering is a part of life, as we all are well aware. No matter how hard we try to protect ourselves and our loved ones, there are always trials on the horizon. It can be so easy to turn to God in anger, in our resistance to the suffering we perceive He has control over, and quite frankly we expect more from a loving and good God. Yet Christ himself was not even spared the element of suffering in His life. In fact quite the opposite. Christ, being God in the flesh had opportunity and power to avoid suffering and yet didn’t. Even now as God watches over all of us, His children, He Himself suffers as much, if not more, than we do.

So then if God won’t even prevent His own Son’s suffering, or Himself from suffering, why should we expect any different?

A couple of differences between our suffering and Christ’s is firstly that Christ was willing to suffer, where we commonly resist it. And secondly is that Christ had no need for a spiritual audit because He had no sin in Him.

A spiritual audit is exactly as it sounds, a deep inspection of the condition of our hearts, our behaviour, our thoughts, our habits, our obedience and our relationship with God.

Suffering is a result of sin, not always directly tied to our own personal sin, as in “I shouldn’t have had an affair because now my family have left me and it hurts.”, rather as a general rule of the state of sin in the world. God suffers not because of His own sin, but because of the sin in the world. Christ’s death proves that it doesn’t matter how ‘good’ we are, sin will still impact us during our time on earth and cause us pain.

When we go through sufferance, it weakens our resolve taking us to a place where our stubborn hearts have need of God and His assistance. For those who are willing to perform a spiritual audit on themselves there is hope in trials, as evidence that a better change is coming, bringing a brightness of the new spiritual position to be obtained, as even more darker elements are cleared out. A new level of growth in Answer to fervent prayers for God to change our hearts and free us from temptation and despair.

For those of us who expect an easy life and refuse to acknowledge the need of a spiritual audit, by believing ourselves already acceptable, self-assessment is an unnecessary pass time. Because of an ignorance to the pride in our hearts, suffering is a reason to question and challenge God, and to fight against His will. However, when the level of suffering is personal in such a way that we can not ignore the role we played in the consequences of our suffering, more hearts are inclined to self-assess and want to change their ways.

Stubborn hearts pray for others to be as ‘good’ as they are, and pray in anger towards God against the suffering of the innocent. Whereas humble hearts pray for the improved condition of their own standing, and in submission pray for all sin to be overcome, easing the suffering for all, not just the apparent innocent.

For, all of us, every single one has sinned against God, and against our fellow man, in more ways than we like to admit. Our Inner Enemies make our decisions for us so often and we begin to wonder how we ever became who we are. Performing a regular spiritual audit keeps track of exactly what our inner enemies are up to, self-awareness removes all excuses and distractions, and pays attention to ourselves in ways we avoid daily. Being mindful of our thoughts and behaviour gives us back the power to change them, to bring them under the captivity and obedience of Christ.

The enemy of God has tried to convince us that our failings and sins are reasons audit-2to avoid God, out of fear, so we not only hide them from Him, but also from ourselves. A spiritual audit clears out this reasoning and reduces us to a humble servant of God, willing to be cleansed, forgiven and loved. Loved with such intensity that our relationship with God is not dependent upon our ‘goodness’ but rather our ability to spiritually audit ourselves and our hearts under God’s gaze and be reassured and confident in His Grace and His Love.

We feel beforehand that this process is a scary thing, yet let me reassure you, you will never regret it, you will grow, grow within yourself, and grow in your relationship with God, and fall deeper in Love with Christ every time you experience the comfort of His Forgiving Grace.

amazing-grace

20/09/2014

Joy of Complaining*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 8:07 am by The Water Bearer

Linus

Man, do I ever need this post!

Have you ever heard of the phrase “He/she’s a whinging Pom”- Well I am originally from England and I can testify this is an accurate title.

I am not completely convinced this constant “whinging” or complaining is always evidence of an unhappy heart or even an unhappy life. I would like to think it is a release of truth and way of sharing our personal experience of life’s daily frustrations and trials with others. A way of being vulnerable with our fellow man and experiencing empathy.

I tend to be a pretty open person, I share truths about my life easily, but especially with those who I trust and am closest to.

Like many of you, I have been weighed down most of my life with one trial after another. Whether it be illness, financial concerns, relationship upheavals, injury, grief, persecution and the like. It seems as soon as I get one sorted there is another one waiting in the midst to hit me from left field. Sound familiar?

I share my trials, like those listed above, and also the daily irritations of life, such as emotional instability, disappointment in others, offense at the deception of the world system, frustration and confusion of motherhood and wifedom, overwhelming workload, or just plain inconveniences.

However, there is an element of negativity to complaining that I recently became self-conscious of. That perhaps my constant sharing of all that is troubling me might actually be making those around me, those I love most, feel heavier because of it. This hit my heart hard! The last thing I want to do is drag anyone down. I have an extremely blessed life and want everyone to know how grateful I am.

Feeling convicted in my spirit by this, I was desperate to find a way to either stop complaining completely, or to change my attitude so that my complaining isn’t disheartening my loved ones and ruining my testimony. I have been praying on this, and seeking the Lord’s wisdom, and this morning I woke up with the answer!

It came to me like this…

LEARN TO FOCUS ON THE LOVE PATTERN

The pattern of life under God’s control is – Suffering leads to Growth or Change all while abounded by Blessings.

Let me explain that a little better….

Suffering softens us and exposes our weaknesses, so rather than complaining negatively about life’s trials, use the urge to complain to prompt us to “Boast in our weakness” (thanks Jefferson Bethke). By being grateful that God sees us completely and hears our cries for change, and accepting that these trials expose our weakness, we take our weakness to God which pushes us further and deeper into relationship and intimacy with Him through Christ. Whose grace and strength washes over us, giving us a new level of change or growth, plus a new level of faith and freedom. All the time He gives comforting signs He is with us, along with abundant provision and protection.

All this is done from His LOVE! Love for you and love for me. This ‘love pattern’ is designed to pull us into His loving arms, regardless of how ‘good’ we have been but rather dependant on how frail and flawed we admit that we are.

Our positive vulnerability will encourage others to be vulnerable, building true connection and empathy with those we share this earth with. All the while giving us an opportunity to share this wonderful news of redemption.

So therefore when someone asks us how our day was and we feel that familiar urge rise within us, lets shift the focus of our complaint from defeat to victory, using our trials to spread the joy of God’s LOVE PATTERN.

I need to end on a prayer here…

Dear Gracious Lord, I lift up your name in Glory as I realise this wisdom you have shared with us. Help us all to keep your love pattern the focus of our trials. Don’t let our weakness allow this wisdom to be forgotten, use us and our trials to spread your love! In the mighty name of your Son I pray! Amen!

k8-iShow-Wall-sticker-romantic-living-room-tv-wall-font-b-love-b-font-pattern-font

 

 

 

08/05/2013

Turning His Face*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:49 am by The Water Bearer

woman-reaching-upward

Through these few weeks of suffering the condition I mentioned in a recent post, I have been more focused than ever on bringing more of God’s presence into my day-to-day life. Funny that!

We always stretch further for Him when we are suffering, don’t we?

Last week I completed a 2 week fast. No alcohol, No TV, and did not touch a blog site or any social media. My intention was to meditate, and work on my novel, as much as possible (although my plans are not always His and He had other things for me to deal with).

The foundation of a successful fast, is giving up anything that seeks to control us, anything we enjoy enough to get lost in, or find a pull towards during tough times. Easy distractions or addictions, habits and weaknesses. During a fast we make a 100% non-negotiable promise, to God, to go without which ever thing we are fasting for an achievable amount of time.

Each time the tempting thought arises we acknowledge God and our promise to Him, we reinforce that promise and we ask for His help when it gets tough. By doing this we are making some huge expressions of faith from our softened hearts. (God just loves it when we do this!)

These are some things that speak out of our hearts during a fast like this – God is real, He watches us, We revere Him enough to want to keep our promise. We need his help when we are weak. We are willing to give up the pleasures of the world to acknowledge Him and invite Him in to our situation.

It is the most powerful exercise I have found to overcome the world and my flesh, and witness His presence.

The first thing I noticed during this particular fast, was how much spare time I had to get other things done. I accomplished so much, and after feeling useless for a number of weeks, I felt a great sense of achievement as I ticked off many things on my never ending to-do list.

The second thing I noticed was how much easier it was to discover God’s guidance and to find things to praise Him for. The medication I am on for this condition has exacerbated my mood disorder significantly, I am more emotionally sensitive than ever. It can only take a millisecond for me to burst into tears, or flick on the rage switch, grit my teeth and loose any place of calm. Often, in times like this, I pray. Usually something desperate like “Oh Lord help me, take away my emotions, help so-and-so see how hard this is for me and not aggravate me! I don’t want to feel like this” etc. Then I wait…with angry tears….until He changes things.

However, during this fast I found praising Him was a much quicker way to flick off that unpleasant switch.

I recommend everyone tries this, it is not always easy, but it works every time!

Right in the midst of a full blown attack, when our Inner Enemies are hitting us from every angle, rather than fighting back in anger, we can end the battle then and there. By pushing aside that tidal wave of ammunition,  which fuels unpleasant emotions, just for a second, and find something, anything to be grateful for. Praise God for that, whatever it may be. It could be as simple as the ability to breathe, or the warm bed you are about to snuggle up in… It could be the legs that allow you to walk away from something aggravating. 😉

If there is  anything that will send our Inner Enemies high-tailing it into the distance, it is Praise! Worship! Gratitude! Forgiveness! A sure way to grab onto the face of God and turn it towards you!

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15/07/2012

A Fragile Heart*

Posted in Encouragement, General, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:22 pm by The Water Bearer

I haven’t been in the blogosphere much this week, because I am being dealt with, being brought a new level of perspective and change. I recognise that this type of growth usually springs forth from a fragile heart. My heart has been extremely fragile this week…..

In this condition I write and write, pouring my soul out in front of me. I have written 6 or 7 posts this week alone. Yet my state of mind and vulnerable heart are preventing me from seeing my words clearly and I am unable to trust myself or my writing. I am too close to it at the moment, so it’s impossible to edit or publish anything. I guess as usual I have too much to say.

I am going to try to use this time to withdraw, to calm my mind and spirit with relaxation, drink plenty of herbal tea and meditate on God’s word. Perhaps this break will even help me work on the novel which I have been trying to write for over a decade. I will come back to the wonderful blogosphere soon, I will read your fabulous posts and comment when I can get my head around it. I will publish only in God’s timing and His certainty. Until then I ask for your prayers, prayers for me to gain some clarity and some calm inspiration. I am fighting off my inner enemies as best I can, I need time to concentrate on my faith, put on God’s armor and call on my inner angels. I have faith that something amazing is going to emerge from the midst of these trials…..Until then…..

“Jehovah preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he saved me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; For Jehovah hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, Mine eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. I will walk before Jehovah In the land of the living.”

Psalms 116:6-9 (ASV)

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