Church

Church“They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” {Acts 2:42 NIV}

I will never forget the first time I read this passage. I was sitting up the back of a bible college lecture and for the first time, this beautiful vision of the church and all she is and could be, came pouring over my thoughts.

Imagine a church like the stunning picture in Acts 2. Where those around her are not lacking, not hungry, not in need because she cares for them. Her heat beats as the Father’s does, because she is filled with His Spirit.

Imagine a church that found the Word of God such a joy and so deeply challenging they longed to learn from Him constantly, daringly committed to remember Jesus and all he gave to build her.

Imagine a church so passionately committed to each other they met with joy and grace each day. Filled with genuine love and delight to see each other to share their friendship and their homes.

Imagine those around her found love, grace and the Spirit’s power within her, so that in the strength of God she made a marked difference in the world around her. Not only would she make a difference but people would stream in to meet and know the Jesus who had made her so beautiful. A place of hope, truth and mercy.

Imagine a church God builds, a church he so deeply loves, that he calls to deliver his goodness and gave his Son to build. Imagine a church that believed this with all her heart and offered Him all her praise.  I love His church, I love the vision of the church God gave to us and I love that he loves His church even though she fails.

Love, Grace and Sweet Fellowship for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 14 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Song of Heaven

music“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:1-4

Our church is going through a vision series at the moment, and this is the passage of the week. We studied it in small group tonight, friends together sinking deep into the scriptures to know God more. These are the things that struck me as we read.

I want to seek his face always. This personal God who can be personally known. How profound that the bible tells us to seek after him, to look for him. Not just the truths about him, not just the doctrine, although these things are beautiful and good, but his face. That intimate knowing of God himself. Look for him, look for his strength, be ready for him and what he will do. Be ready for him to show up, to speak, to whisper, so that we can know him. Not just know about him, but really know him. Friends with the one who summons thunder.

A mandate to know him and to tell of him. And how can I not tell of him? Because to know him is to know how he has carried me. To seek his face is to see where he has been and what he has done, in every moment. Each story wrapped safe in Jesus, the one who saves, where we most beautifully see the face of God.

A precious girl friend once said to me, ‘when we sing praise to God, we are caught up in the song of heaven, we join with the angels forever singing’. I had never thought of it like that before. To Sing Praise is to join in the anthem of the story, to lift up the one who saves, to adore with all he has made, that he is good all the time. From this place of worship we declare his fame, seek his face and strengthen our hearts and the hearts of the gathered company on earth and in heaven.

I am so encouraged by this calling, so comforted that my God is not far off but wants to be known. My prayer is that I will forever seek him and forever find more of him.

Love, Grace and more of Jesus for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 13 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

They Will Soar

Eagle Mountain“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV

Today was one of those, God speak to me moments, when you pick up your Bible, flip it open and hope for the best. Have you ever done that? I don’t do it all the time, but some days, it’s what I love to do. I hold it in hope, what will he speak into my life today? It’s usually in a needy moment, where my heart is saying, ‘please speak’.

Thankfully bibles, pretty naturally turn to the Psalms, it’s a big book, right in the middle, and there is always comfort found there. But every now and then in those moments, where you hope for a God sized talking too, you open to a passage that is well worn and at the sight of it you think, ‘thank you Jesus’, that is just what I needed to hear today. I love those days.

This morning I read Acts and Job from my bible plan, and it was full of goodness, I sat and let the words soak deep. But this afternoon, when I walked through the door, I had a ‘please speak to me moment’. I opened to Isaiah, and the word of God reminded me to remember Him, to not forget Him, He hasn’t left, He won’t leave, He’s right there, all the way. A gentle whisper to remember who He is, this gentle word;  don’t forget Him, don’t lose sight of Him, remember who He is.

The Ancient of Days, full of wisdom and stronger than youth. The creating one. This God who says I will not get tired of caring for you, I will not weary from loving you, I will not rest from helping you, wherever you are, whatever is happening, I will carry you, so that you will soar. The one who flung the stars into the sky says so. Where you have lost your strength the strong one makes you stronger, where you have lost  your fervor, the alive one will renew it, where you have lost your way, the wise one will guide you. All my strength is found hoping in him, hoping in the saving one, who forever keeps his promises.

I needed that word today, it was all I needed, just a reminder to look up and hold on, He is greater, He is good.

Love, Grace and Strength for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 12 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Heaven’s King

Heaven{Reflections on my reading of Luke 24 NIV}

Only a light as bright as the Son, could have pierced the darkness that the Savior of the World had left in his death. The three days when hope had died, and the earth had suffocated under the pain of his loss. His friends with their hearts sunk within them. The whole city moved in the aftermath of a terrible day.  

Yet he appeared to them almost like at the beginning of the book. Almost as if the beginning and end of the book of Luke are a beautiful framing to an incredible story.

The angels announce to the women, that the King of heaven is not dead but alive. Just as the angels told Mary of her pregnancy and heralded His birth to the Shepherds. The entrance of Jesus comes totally unexpected and somewhat unnoticed. Jesus, the son of Heaven born in a manger, then walks the Emmaus road unrecognized for who he was, even by his friends. The unlikely shepherds herald His birth and declare his praise. The disciples anointed to declare him as Heaven’s living King run to Jerusalem to worship.

The heart’s cry to worship at the feet of Heaven’s Son who trampled the sting of death. From despair to hope. From death to life. The framing of the gospel of Luke, Heaven’s King come to earth, the dwelling of God with his people brings, healing, restoration, hope, wellness, peace, and life to any who would believe. Believing this King, knowing and being known by the Him, drives every believer to worship.

Victory over that oldest of enemies, death, stirs the soul to sing, to declare it’s weakness in the presence of a Mighty God. I have never noticed that the book ends in worship. Before the acts of the Apostles in Luke’s next book, the disciples, pause to worship, continuously at the temple, praising God. That is where their mission started, in adoration of the one who they served.

My prayer is that I will be found here.

To first know Him, and to let that knowing lead to adoration, and then that adoration to lead to praise, before I go anywhere else.

Love, Grace and Worship for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 11 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

The Darkest Place

StormMy reflections on {Luke 23:44-49 NIV} 

In the darkest place people gathered to witness the Son of God breathe, until his breath was gone.

As light grieved the murder of creation’s hero, his friends, even the women, stood at a distance.

As the dwelling place of God with man was broken, Jesus worshiped, singing the Song of Israel and committing Himself to the care and strength of his Father.

{The song he whispers is found in Psalm 31:1-5 NIV}

And the first to truly see in the darkest moment of earth’s history was the one closest to him. The Centurion, this man with blood on his hands was the first to speak praise, as Jesus uttered his final words.

That day. To see the sun, creation’s first, hide at the most terrible moment, to feel the silence of his friends and to hear the confusing sound of chests being beaten. Like earth retreats from the Calvary moment.

Then to witness the first and most unexpected worship from the soldier who stood alongside him. The sound of the coming Kingdom, where all people stream to the one who gives life abundantly. This soldier a sign, standing next to the cross, that all are welcome to know Him. All are welcome to His salvation. There is none so far. None so close.

This terrible day. As the dust caught the blood of the who had fashioned it. As a tree held the weight of the Prince of Peace. As the sky refused to hold over a betrayed Savior. Jesus answered the question of “Save yourself” with a simple no. And as he died, I lived for the first time. All my failings, all the times I have been failed, dying with him. In the place where he refused to save himself, he saved me.

Love and Grace for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 10 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Never To Leave You

Mountain“I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will  not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. {Psalm 121 NIV} 

This Psalm is one of those quiet whispers of God that roar courage into my soul. He is the God of the journey. The one who says I walk with you.

Who in the heat of day, promises to walk alongside, bringing shade, a resting place of comfort and peace. In the night sleeping, when afraid and uncertain the strong one who does not sleep, holds guard. Through the valleys and the high places he doesn’t let my foot slip, he guides my path holding steady. Every moment held safe.

In the valley as I look to the heights of the mountain I see the Saving One who rushes to my side. This is the nature, of the Kingly Warrior who carries salvation, to watch over, hold steady, bring rest and build strength on the journey that leads home.

He Did Not Save You To Leave You

He did not save you to leave you, in his saving he comes close and walks with you all the way home. You can be sure that as your eyes lift from the valley and see the one who comes armed with salvation, this saving act, this help from Salvation’s Hill, brings life altering transformation.

Every chapter, every story, every valley moment redeemed in the grace of his story, calling us out of our fear and into the courage of his great adventure. Made safe in the King. And from his fullness,  he makes us able to walk with others through the journey.  In the valley moments, declaring that there is one who brings help. Not unafraid, but unashamed.

Like every person my story is marked with valley moments, the kind that rattle your soul and cause you to question your place and purpose. Parts of the journey where you walk a little slower, and need to break for rest. There are moments where I find myself on the heights, punching above my weight and wondering how I got there. Each season is marked with his grace and care, each moment has found me safe in salvation’s story. Because the one in charge of the story, the maker of heaven and earth has kept me safe, even in the night.

Love, Grace and Peace for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 9 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

This Widow

The Widow

“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you”, he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth: but she out of her poverty put in all she had to  live on.” Luke 21:1-4 NIV

 In the story’s procession of the most vulnerable, a widow enters the pages of Luke. A small unnoticeable woman, in a small unnoticeable act is dignified in the presence of Jesus. Where others would use her vulnerability to exert their power, Jesus brings honor. He sees her heart and faith and declares it before the crowd. Echoing the words he had just spoken, he exalts the humble as he speaks of her generosity.

She didn’t have anything to bring, but she brought all she had, because she knew the one to whom she brought it. She loved and trusted the King of Heaven and her heart poured out to him with the last of her coins. Nothing to offer, nothing to bring, holding everything at the feet of the one who saves. And in her moment of generous invisibility, Jesus saw her.

Her gift was not demanded but rather given. Giving out of all she had was an act of dignity. She did not hold on to her last to keep her safe, she gave to the one already keeping her.  He allowed her to give, to minister an act of faith and worship. In her poverty she was not excluded from ministry, her offering as much an act love as the one who enabled her to give.

He did not make her weak but strong, he did not make her to fear but to live, to fully join with the community in declaring with all she had that her God is good and worthy to be praised. Her God is good and worthy to be trusted. She was not invisible as a widowed woman, he saw her strong heart.

I have lived with little and strength was found in giving, not in keeping. My prayer is that as I give worship to the one who my soul loves I would give fully, no holding back thankful for the strength to join in heaven’s song.

Love, Grace and Strength for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 8 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

And the Smallest

Beach“People were bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

{Luke 18:15-17 NIV}

They are Welcome.

Welcome to learn, Welcome to know Jesus, Welcome to his Kingdom.

They don’t have to wait to grow up, don’t have to wait till they are quiet enough, behaved enough, eaten their veggies enough, done their schoolwork enough, he is enough for them just as they are.

This same Jesus who is enough for the sick, the healthy, the rich, the poor, the sinner, the ‘saint’, the old, is enough for the smallest ones too, they are included.

This passage speaks deep to the heart for me. From my earliest memory I remember loving God. I remember wanting to know him. I remember asking to go to church. I remember sitting on a hard wooden pew, right on the edge of it and hoping to understand more about the God I so badly wanted to know. I remember not understanding what the preacher was saying, I remember hoping I would learn. I remember being sad that I didn’t understand, and how badly I wanted too.

Then one day, in another church a little while later, I remember hearing in words I could understand that Jesus loved me, just as I was. This church didn’t say I was too young to learn, but made a way for me to ask questions and know the deep things of God in childlike language with childlike faith. They truly took hold of this passage and believed as a child I was as valuable as an adult, that I too could hear the simple message:

Mountain & Valley J L M

I will be grateful forever to the minister and his family who looked after me, to the children’s minister who spoke of the God I so wanted to know in a language I understood. They will never know the depth to which their care and investment has blessed my life immeasurably, and not because I haven’t told them, because I have over and over again. But because if I had all the words there wouldn’t be enough to say,  Thank You x

Love, Grace and Welcome for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 7 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Two Men

man fenceJesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord,“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” {NIV Luke 19:1-10}

This man of wealth runs ahead of Jesus, just to get near him. Life filled with possessions anxious to see the one people were flocking too, he climbs a tree. 

Just before this story Jesus walks by a man sitting in the dust on the roadside. A blind man begging hears Jesus and calls for him. ‘Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me!’ {Luke 18:35-43}

Two men, side by side in the story. Both desperate to see Jesus, one rich and up a tree, the other poor and sitting in the dust. Jesus stops for both of them. This Jesus they were looking for, declares that he came to ‘seek and save the lost’ {Luke 19:9}

These men, lost from Him, forgotten by his people, but precious to Him. These men who should have been cared for. One sits in the dust as the people walk by him, silencing his pleas. The other at the invitation of Jesus stirs the unholy mutter of disapproval.

But the writer mentions the name ‘Son of David’, and all the whispers of the old promises begin to fill and bring depth to the story.

“I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See I have made him a witness to the peoples,  a ruler and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God the Holy one of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near”

{Isaiah 55:3-5 NIV} 

The man in the dust calls to this ‘Son of David’ while he is near, Zacchaeus runs to him, and Jesus the ‘Holy one’ bestows on them splendor. He restores the sight of the blind man and he eats with the ‘sinner’. Calling back the people, scouring the earth for those lost and helping them find their way back to him.

Two men, none with so much that he cannot save, none with so little that he cannot love. Still the same today. Always an invitation to know him and be welcomed in, those with much and those with little. 

Love, Grace and More of Jesus for your day

Rachel x 

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 6 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Mercy

Man Forest

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God I thank you that I am not like those other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said. ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14 {NIV} 

From when I was a little girl, this story has gripped me. I remember sitting in the back of a kids room in the church where I grew up reading about these two men. I felt drawn to this man who whispered ‘mercy’ in such contrast to the one who proclaimed ‘Righteous’.

My heart stirred deep for the man in the story who must have summoned all his courage to enter into the temple’s court to pray. To stand alongside one who would declare himself worthy when he himself felt the ache of unworthiness. To be real in a world of smoke and mirrors. To know that what he brought could cause more shame, greater loss and humiliation before the gatekeepers of his time.

What stirs me is that he came, not counting his worthiness, not displaying his medals of morality, but drawn to the one for whom his soul thirsted. He would rather be laid bare and begging than distant and empty. It’s the story of one who will simply come because he hears the call of the one whom he longs for. But somewhere deep in his heart, he knows he has nothing to bring other than himself, and when he measures himself in relation to the one with whom he speaks he finds himself wanting.

He calls to God in the anguish of all he lacks and begs for mercy. His chest heaving with the weight of shame and guilt. Eyes low with hope unspoken. Humble.

In a great story we could hope that God will give him a way back, we hope that somehow this man doesn’t need to stay halted in this broken state. We hope for restoration, our souls are hard wired to look for it in every story, a turn that says what is broken can be made new. We look for a thread in a story that will give the smallest glint of faith a chance, bringing color to the whole story even in the dark chapters. We hope that the one who breathed life into this man and commanded his breath would know the way back, know how to help him.

This hope hard wired into us does not disappoint, for the one who tells the story, points to grace. The storyteller breathes a story that finds its meaning in him. Jesus, the beautiful saving one describes a man whose life has brought his face low to the ground, dependent on mercy. He knows the stories of the heart and declares to every one  that calls to God for mercy they will find it because those that are brought low will be exalted. His compassion spills over as we see Jesus the storyteller take the place of every person who is brought low in shame and guilt, needing his mercy.

When he declares that all who are brought low will be exalted, he stands with sinners, his feet on the dust of the earth, chapters before he walked himself to the lowest place, the most humble place, the saving place. For all who are low, he made himself lower that we might be exalted with him.

For all our shame there is a Savior, for all our guilt there is a redeemer, for all our need a God who comes to us and loves us.

Love, Grace and Hope for your Day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 5 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x