Its my wife’s birthday today. I wont share her age, because I am a gentleman, and that’s not something gentlemen do. She asked me yesterday if I would write a blessing for her, speak it over her and give it to her, so she could keep it in her Bible and refer to it often. Scripture talks a lot about blessing. Indeed one of the major activities of the priesthood in the OT was to stand above the people, reach out their hands, and speak what is known as the Aaronic blessing over them.
I am upfront about being Pentecostal in experience and practice. That is I believe that the gifts of the Spirit still exist today. And so not only did I prayerfully seek to write out a blessing for my wife, I also sought the Lord for a specific prophetic word for her. Now I want to be upfront, that I think much of the modern pentecostal approach to prophecy borders on the same wavelength as someone reading their stars regularly in the local newspaper. We find in the Scriptures all we need for life and faith. In saying this, the very same Scriptures which we find life and faith, also tell us not to scoff at the prophetic word, and that we are also to be eager to seek all gifts, especially that we may prophecy.
So, to be obedient to the direct command of Scripture, its something that I seek the Lord time to time to do. And after a time of seeking the Lord, I wrote down the word which came to me for my wife. Now, I am upfront in admitting that I wasn’t writing scripture. The canon is closed. But hey, lets admit, that not every prophecy of the early church was ever written down in Scripture either – so lets not pretend that we are equating modern prophecy to Scripture, after all the early church in the NT, never made that claim either.
I also did something different. I got out Jo’s scrap booking stuff and made her a card. I was truly out of my depth here and so I prayerfully asked God to help me. I’m glad to say, he answered my prayer and together we managed to put a nice card together, in which I pasted the word and blessing I had typed out.
This morning, I made a batch of my own secret recipe pancake mix, which contains oats, wholemeal flour, butter and milk and allowed it to rest. I believe in the power of symbolism. So I then went outside and made a staff.I took my knife and debarked a branch and smoothed it down; while Jo had herself a nice long hot bath and enjoyed a bath bomb. Some time later, she got out of the bath, prepared herself and stood in the middle of the lounge room, prayerfully expectant for her blessing.
I picked up my staff and raised it in the air. And while holding it up, I spoke over her the word which I believed the Lord was giving me for her. (And no, I wont share that with you here…that is Jo’s business.) I then finished speaking forth the prophecy and proceeded to speak the blessing over her. I gently laid the end of the staff on her shoulders and the top of her head and spoke forth the blessing I wrote for her. And when I finished, I handed her the card with the prophecy and blessing.
It was an incredible experience for us both. It was humbling and powerful. It was encouraging and a time of mutual strengthening. It was something that neither of us took lightly. And afterwards I was thinking about Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians for husbands to wash their wives with the word. And I am left wondering, if indeed, this kind of activity is what the Apostle Paul was intending when he wrote to them.
There is a great little story in the Bible about a character called Jabez. Jabez means pain, or born in pain, and was a name his mother called him during his birth.
Scripture only gives us a few lines about him, saying that he was more honorable than his brothers, and cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
Think about the power of this prayer. His life is one of pain. His experience of life is pain. His family called him a pain. And so he asks God to expand his experience of life so that its not one of pain. Keep me from harm so I will be free from harm so I will be free of pain.
He is asking God to bless him and deliver him from his painful experience of life. He is asking God to deliver him from himself.
Today, maybe your own experience of life is that of total pain. Perhaps, like Jabez, you can ask the Lord to bless you, and enlarge your own life experience so that you are delivered from the pain of self.
Jesus says, come to me all who are sick of living life their own way. Come, follow me, put my ways into practice, and I will give you a new way of living.
My phone packed it in. The socket where you put the charging cord in has broken. And it picked a great time to do so, on the eve of my going on a 3 day school camp with my youngest son. Nooooo. It was hard being away from the seduction of email, blogging and facebook. Even worse, it was harder not being able to contact my wife.But, I was able to send a message to my dearest via my son’s Ipod, while utilising free wifi at a museum on the Wednesday and retrieving her message back to me at Parliament House on the Friday afternoon.
Our contracts were up on our existing phones and sadly we were not able to match the previous deal – the contract had kinda and kinda not expired 18 months before, which was with Crazy Johns, and Vodafone who had taken the company over, was trying to get us to take on a new one. I can’t say I blame them.. we had two phones for $55 with a very generous calling, texting and data allowance. Vodafone finally sent us a letter saying that contract would expire in mid Sept. I could have fought them on this, as our contract with Crazy Johns was an open ended contract – where it says we could keep that deal going as long as we liked while using those phones.
But, we had decided to go with another carrier, as their service wasn’t up to par. Eg, we couldn’t receive calls in many parts of our home. And when we were away, we found we couldn’t use our phones most of the time we were away.
Anyways.. We sorted out our new carrier and I decided on a Galaxy S5. Now I’m re installing all my previous contacts..and this time, am going to make sure I keep a hard copy of them on my puter. Life would be so much easier if I had done the same for my previous phone.
A friend was put on the spot, when someone asked her to tell her life story in one sentence. She goes onto say that we can put our story to a song, or a book, but a sentence is extremely hard.
What about you, can you put your life story to a sentence. If you can, how about sharing it with us.
My sentence is, “I am a normal Aussie bloke, who has lived and experienced a not so normal life.”
I have been reading Fast Forward to Mission by Alan Hirsch. My facebook friends can access a free download from a link on my timeline, but, for technical reasons beyond my ability, I can’t provide the link here. My paraphrase of this work is.
The gospel of Jesus connects our own story to the story of God, working through, over and within history, and in doing so, gives us meaning and understanding of our own place in the universe. Not only does it give us meaning and understanding – it connects us in meaningful ways with others as we understand the story of God who works not only through us and for us – compels us to engage with all of humanity allowing the experience of God to challenge, change and continue to draw all to himself …
Perhaps like me, you too struggle understanding the meaning of many of the stories that Jesus told. Some of his stories are easy to understand, while others are much harder. One story / parable that I have struggled to understand is one found in Matthew 13:44, where Jesus told a parable about a hidden treasure that someone finds in a field. He tells how the person who finds it, goes and sells all they have to buy that field; such is the immensity of the treasure.
I’m currently reading Dallard Willard’s book, Revolution of Character. On page 60 he gives an explanation of this parable which I think totally nails its meaning. Think about the treasure that is found in the field. It’s so valuable, the person who found it, gladly and joyfully sold all they had to buy that field. Do you think this person was sad and reluctant to sell all they had? No! Not at all!
The meaning of the parable is that Jesus is the treasure. He calls us to give up our life to come and follow him. He doesn’t call us to come follow him reluctantly. He calls us to come follow him gladly. He calls us to deny ourselves to come and follow him. But what is it we are denying? And what is it we are gaining? We are called to lose ourselves in his eternal immeasurable love. Allowing that eternal immeasurable love to change us, mold us, hold us, cover over, well up within and flow out from us.
Why would we want to hang onto our own lives – whether our life is good or bad – when, such a immeasurably valuable treasure is freely offered to us… all we need to do is deny ourselves, acknowledge the fact that there is a better way and accept Jesus.
Perhaps you would like to pray this prayer with me. _ Jesus, I need you. I need your love to permeate through me, cover me and flow through me. I turn from my ways and accept you. Help me to know what it means to walk in your love. To walk in your forgiveness. To turn away from my sin. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and show me the riches of your immeasurable love.