Worship – Declaring Salvation

Stars and Mountains“When Israel came out of Egypt, Jacob from a people of foreign tongue. Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion. The sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back;  the mountains leaped like rams the hills like lambs. Why was it, sea, that you fled? Why Jordan did you turn back? Why, mountains did you leap like rams, you hills, like lambs? Tremble earth at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.” Psalm 114 {NIV}

The songs of Israel declare the good God of Israel, singing over and again of his goodness. Declaring salvation, telling his story intertwined with theirs, paused for a moment in wonder at his power. They remember fleeing, they remember their captors, they remember where they were, they can look back at the darkness of what was. Where they were lost, not at home, afraid. 

In this darkest moment they see his power on display in all his fullness. In the lonely hour he runs to their side and leads them out, walking them home to the place where he dwells with them, the loving Father King, from a land of oppression to a city of his strength.

They sing of the journey leading home, where the powerful God of Creation moved the mountains from their place, caused the ocean to run out of the way, and provided for them with water he broke from stone. Declaring to earth that he is God, that a move of his cannot be stopped, not by mountains, oceans or even his people, he always makes a way.

Now we sing that this same God of Israel moved heaven and earth to walk on the mountains he created, to stand on seas that would have moved out of the way for him, and to be held down on a hill, that would have bowed down had he let it.

Our worship declares our story intertwined with the saving one, we sing for the moment the earth held it’s breath. That moment where Jesus stood in the trembling place before the wrath of the Father. We sing because the trembling place did not last, it could not hold him, the earth where he laid could not keep the Saving One, death itself could not hold down the King of Heaven. The one who makes oceans run and mountains move, even moves the unmovable, death.

We sing like Israel of our journey home, the wonder of our rescue and the welcome into the House of the King. Singing through our still dark moments, recalling to ourselves and each other his goodness and his power and swiftness to help.

Love, Grace and Worship for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 4 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Awake

Morning

Awake, awake Zion, clothe yourself with strength! Put on your garments of splendor, Jerusalem, the Holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck Daughter Zion, now a captive. For this is what the Lord says: “you were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” {Isaiah 52:1-3 NIV}

Get ready for the news. Be alert, prepared and dressed in the dignity of freedom. Redemption is on the way, your freedom is close. These are the words spoken before the good news of Isaiah 52:7-10, a message of preparation from the Heavenly Father to a people he loves that are held captive, again.

In their weakness he calls to strength, in their captivity he announces freedom, in their brokenness he whispers healing and in their shame he gifts dignity. This is the beautiful God of the Old Testament, the Father King of a City he so loves, Zion, Jerusalem the City of his people Israel. He puts his love on display through them and to them. He displays salvation in them like a picture that declares him as the one who can bring help even in the darkest moments.

Like a Dad calling to his child in the midst of fear and trouble, get up help is on the way, get ready I’m coming and I will be there soon. But he is no ordinary Father, he is King of Heaven and when he speaks the Angel Armies take their mark. He speaks with grace, authority and power and his words call to wake up and listen.

Help is on the way.

And he was. He was on the way. The saving King who would buy his people back not with money, but with his blood. His life in exchange for theirs. This is the love of Jesus.

He still speaks this to us today, never changing, forever the same. The Father King who loves you. Calling out that it is not us on the way to him, but he who already made his way to us. Purchasing our freedom, dignity, hope and strength by giving himself over to that which held us captive, giving everything so that it cost us nothing, this is his love.

The promises of the Old Testament are all made most fully true in Jesus.

In our weakness he calls to strength, in our captivity he announces freedom, in our brokenness he whispers healing and in our shame he gifts dignity. This is the beautiful God of the Bible, the Father King who so loves you. He puts his love on display through you and to you. He displays his salvation in you like a picture that declares him as the one who can bring help even in the darkest moments.

Wherever you are, whatever you fear, he does not just help, he is help. Rest assured if you call for him, he is already on the way.

Love, Grace and Freedom for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 3 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

 

How Beautiful on the Mountains

Girl

“HOW BEAUTIFUL ON THE MOUNTAINS ARE THE FEET OF THE MESSENGER BRINGING GOOD NEWS, BREAKING THE NEWS THAT ALL’S WELL, PROCLAIMING GOOD TIMES, ANNOUNCING SALVATION, TELLING ZION ‘YOUR GOD REIGNS! VOICES! LISTEN!” 

Isaiah 52:7 {The Message} 

The story of Israel the holy people of God, as told in the pages of Scripture, tell of a nation at times held captive by oppressors. Holding still, hoping for deliverance, waiting for a sign of life, for a break in the noise of terror that had become white noise to a broken people. Waiting… A displaced people, in a displaced land. Ruined.

Would hope turn up?  Would life make an entrance again? Was the strong arm of God long enough to save?

 Can you imagine what hope the words of Isaiah built in the people as this message dropped from his mouth. The kind of message that tingles up your spine and stiffens your resolve. Help will come, the waiting is measured and its end awaits a Good News announcement. A declaration of Salvation for us. Sweet words of Joy, peace is coming and the one true God will bring it.

And he did. He brought the news himself. It was not enough to merely send an announcement of peace and good news, Jesus, God himself would come and embody the message with dust on his feet. Humanity’s Hope, a King in a Manger announced to creation that there was now no more alone. The Saving one had come ‘God With Us’.

“WHEN THE LORD RETURNS TO ZION THEY WILL SEE IT WITH THEIR OWN EYES; BURST INTO SONGS OF JOY TOGETHER, YOU RUINS OF JERUSALEM, FOR THE LORD HAS COMFORTED HIS PEOPLE, HE HAS REDEEMED JERUSALEM. THE LORD WILL LAY BARE HIS HOLY ARM IN THE SIGHT OF ALL THE NATIONS, AND ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH WILL SEE THE SALVATION OF OUR GOD.”

Isaiah 52:8b-10

The Good News himself, God’s delivery of hope, the ‘Lord’s Arm’ walked through the streets of Jerusalem proclaiming peace and salvation, declaring the news that ‘all’s well’, reminding Israel that her ‘God reigns’. He declared this news in his words and in power when he healed people of their sickness, death, blindness and brokenness, when he whispered authority over creation to raging storms and bread itself. The hope of humanity walked to a cross, where the ‘arm of the Lord was laid bare before the nations’ and in a moment of seeming weakness bridged a divide impossible to cross through any other means. This cross showed earth the once for all Salvation of our God.

Hope’s Invitation to a relationship with God himself through the Sacrifice of Jesus. Good News and true Peace’s beginning opened on a Holy Mountain and showed the strength of God when death could not hold him and the one who spoke life rose again.

Love, Grace and Good News for your day

Rachel x

 Girl 31 LargeThis is Day 2 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Welcoming Meal – Imagine Eating with the King of Kings

Sheep

Based on Luke 15:1-7 these are my thoughts and wonderings as I read today

And they were all gathering to hear Jesus. The tax collectors, the sinners. The outcast, rejected and despised gathered around to listen to Jesus. Leaning in close at a meal to hear him, and I wonder what attracted them to him? What was he saying that those who did not normally feel worthy felt safe in the presence of Jesus? So safe and brought in that they felt welcome to share a meal with him and lean in to his words. What was he saying that drew a crowd? I wonder what it was like to be at that meal and feel that safe.

What a contrast that the hound of heaven would leave his court of glory, to eat in the dust with the fringe of humanity on the pages of history.

A vulnerable dinner as you draw close to the one who would speak grace and truth over you. The safest place, fully known and fully loved. No pretending, no masks, no hiding, no performance, simply fully known and fully loved.

Imagine at this vulnerable meal where you sit alongside the King of Heaven, totally unworthy in his presence and yet welcomed in like you are welcomed home. Then in the midst of this glorious welcome, those who would accuse you of not being fitting to join in the meal called it out, the whispers of your lack spoken by the gatekeepers of society. What shame that could wash over you in that moment. They have seen and they know I do not belong here, I am not enough, they have called out my lack, this lack that I have carried with me like a signpost of all my failings.

Lack of belonging, lack of grace, lack of standing, lack of dignity spoken loud in the midst of this meal before the one I had gathered to hear. This meal where for the first time it was like listening to the sound of living water running into to my soul, filling the empty spaces that my lack had always left.

Then this one who had not only eaten with me but dignified my presence with his words speaks, and the living water that I thought was filling my soul becomes a rushing river that seeps through every part of me, when he faces head on these words of shame and condemnation spoken over me. Instead he describes his journey from the throne-room of Heaven to the farthest reaches of humanity, that this hound of heaven came for me. Intent, focused, purposed.

I discover in this moment that it was not me who came to him, but he who had chased after me. This meal where I lean in to listen he came to have. Now he tells those whispering and declaring my shame that the very throne room he had left in pursuit of his so loved, stands in worship declaring the greatness of Jesus who has brought me home.

I can’t help but wonder if this is what they might have thought, or how they might have felt. I can’t help but imagine what those gathered heard as Jesus declared this holy pursuit, his gracious love and heaven’s celebration.

When I reflect on this meal, I am overwhelmed with love for the one who sat in the dust with those found by the gatekeepers to be unworthy and all I want to do is the same as him.

If my calling is to tell of the beautiful love of Jesus, then let me share with you for the first time or the millionth that relationship with Jesus brings hope, life and strength, lean in to his beautiful word as he declares to our lack that he is more than enough and you are safe to bring all you are and all you have to the feet of the one who saves.

Love, Grace and a Meal of Strength for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 1 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Sitting In Church

Shane Dirks Preaching

This past weekend was the first weekend in I think in maybe 9 and a bit years that I sat with my husband in church and listened to him preach without distraction, I didn’t realize how much I had missed this.

I know at first I really missed it, I was fresh to the whole ‘mumming’ thing  and I remembered what it was like to have a focused mind, I remembered sitting in church and listening. I remembered going out for coffee after church with friends and talking about church and Jesus and playing cards. Entering parenthood suddenly, permanently and to an increasing degree my mind was overtaken by answering questions, changing nappies, feeding little ones… unable to ever really focus for too long on one thing without being interrupted…

In our last two churches I have led in our Sunday Morning kids programs, which has meant when my kids were in church I was right there with them. This was a massive blessing to me and something I would not change for the world, I got to be a part of shaping the ministry where they were cared for, and that I loved.

Turning up to church again in the evening with kids in tow and sitting in a room the service is streamed into really did pose the challenge to listening well and ‘feeling’ part of church on particular evenings. Mind you I love those rooms! I am so grateful to the churches we have called home for providing a space where my kids can play, be fed, feel welcomed and I can care for them well.

There was a time as a new mum when we were meeting in a hall and for that particular season of church life we didn’t happen to have one of these beautiful toddler rooms. My baby was crying, pretty loudly actually and I remember walking out into the cold and sitting in my car trying to feed him. No one asked me to leave, no one even expected me too, but as a new mum I was nervous about the fact that he was noisy in a quiet room where people were trying to listen.

I decided in this season to do all I could to learn and not expect it to all happen at church on Sunday night, not a bad idea for life really, but an important moment for me. I listened to podcasts while walking with my kids in the pram, and most recently when I got home from church on a Sunday night and the kids were in bed I have listened to teaching while I have done the ironing {it’s win win really}. This really helped me when I was having one of those nights sitting in the toddlers room.

The beautiful thing about this season for my family was standing with my kids as we sang, talking about the announcements on video and who was in them, talking about the people we love on the platform, EVERY SINGLE time they walked on {which is all of them by the way}, talking about the songs our church are producing and how we love them {City Alight you guys rock our world}, watching teenagers turn up and love church, my kids were watching and they noticed their heart for Jesus and his church and waiting to talk to their fave people when the service was over.

Church is so much more than the teaching, so much more than the hour on Sunday, but I am so thankful I got to sit with Shane and listen well again.

To all the parents out the back, it’s worth it, worth doing church with your kids, worth having a noisy journey, worth investing in learning beyond the distractions, worth being gracious to yourself and your family, worth turning up, worth serving and worth turning up again. I do not regret A SINGLE SECOND of serving and distracted listening. I have loved churching with my little ones, through noise and distraction because they belong, kids belong, families belong, noise belongs. But it really was nice to listen undistracted this week.

To everyone who welcome kids and families into the church, for the structures set up by people with a heart for families, thank you.

Love, grace and a moment to listen for your day

Rachel x

She is in the Bible

She Woman

Who is SHE in the bible? Where is SHE? What has SHE done in the Bible? What has SHE seen? How does SHE live? 

When we read the pages of the bible we find many stories of her and how her God saves her, for SHE is his. She is bold, courageous, wise, lost, found, broken, healed, intelligent, strong, weak, afraid, waiting, betrayed, taken, given, held, loved, transformed, known, unknown.

Scattered through the pages of the bible are stories of women who have lived and play an important role in the bible’s story. SHE is found in the pages of HIS story for SHE is loved.

She is EVE – Genesis 2 & 3

She is SARAH – Genesis 21

She is LEAH – Gen 29-30

She is RACHEL – Gen 29-30

She is TAMAR – Genesis 38

She is MIRIAM – Exodus 15

She is RAHAB – Joshua 2

She is DEBORAH – Judges 4

She is RUTH – Ruth

She is NAOMI– Ruth

She is HANNAH – 1 Samuel 1

She is MICHAL – 1 Samuel 19

She is ABIGAIL – 1 Samuel 25

She is BATHSHEBA – 2 Samuel 11

She is THE QUEEN OF SHEBA – 2 Chronicles 9:5-7

She is ESTHER – Esther

She is GOMER – Hosea 3

She is ELIZABETH – Luke 1

She is MARY – Luke 1

She is ANNA – Luke 2

She is THE SUFFERING WOMAN – Mark 5

She is A WIDOW – Luke 7

She is MARY MAGDALENE – Luke 8

She is MARTHA – Luke 10

She is MARY OF BETHANY – Luke 10

She is a WIDOW – Luke 21

She is a SAMARITAN – John 4

She is TABITHA – Acts 9

She is LYDIA – Acts 16

She is PRISCILLA – Acts 18

She is PHOEBE – Romans 16

These are the names and titles of some of the women in the bible and the places you can read about how they are interwoven into the greatest story ever told.

Love, Grace and Faith for your day 

Rachel x

Through The Church

Let The Church

“His intent was that now , through the church,  the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Ephesians 3:10-12 {NIV}

This image of the church speaks deeply to my heart. The intent of God and his heart for the church that she would display his MANIFOLD wisdom. His deep, wide, over and beyond wisdom of the ages. He would choose the church to be the one to preach, display, embody and make known his wisdom. He chose the church, the messy, imperfect, beautiful church. 

She not only gets to make known his wisdom on earth to all people, but the church preaches, makes known, displays his MANIFOLD wisdom to the heavenly courts. She is on display and through her he shows his wisdom. This was not his wisdom that was reacting to a problem. No, this was wisdom of ages past, eternally thought through, planned and purposed before the first creation breath. He chose her, he loves her, he purposed her to display his beautiful and perfect wisdom.

She can display his wisdom because it was accomplished in Christ. Jesus is the manifold wisdom of God. The church displays and makes known Jesus’ rule and reign, that is her mandate, her calling.

She makes known his grace that says there is none so far that God will not draw near, there is none so broken that he cannot heal, none so lost that he cannot find, none so low that he can not lift high, none so far that he can not reach, none so abandoned that he can not love, none so taken that he can not redeem, none so damaged that he can not make new. The love and wisdom of Christ shows that he is not far off, he is close in saving.

It is in Jesus and through faith in Him that we can approach, walk up, be in his presence, speak to and hear from the Creator.

Heaven watches as the Sons and Daughters of God {the church} draw near to Him, they watch and marvel at the story. They look on and see that He brought her in, so that she might know him and the gates to his presence were opened with the sacrifice of Heaven’s King. He then gives her this story to tell, he whispers to her; now what you have seen, what you know, go and tell, I will be ever with you, and the court of heaven watches as she displays all that has been given to her in Jesus.

Love, Grace and Strength for your day

Rachel x

The Prettiest Days

The Prettiest Days

“The Whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.”

Psalm 65:8 (NIV)

One of my favorite things in the whole world is a foggy morning, a world draped in mist. The smell, the feel, the veiling of all that you can normally see creating suspense at the arrival of it’s view. I could sit and watch rain and fog for days. I like to credit it to my English heritage that has given me a natural affection for what others would deem miserable weather.

These are the prettiest days.

My beautiful daughter has embraced my love of foggy days and can be heard from her bedroom screaming my name “MUM, MUM it’s a foggy morning, you’re gonna’ love it!!!”. She runs around the house awaking the family to the dawn of a day covered in fog like it’s Christmas, she then hustles me beside her to sit and take in the beauty.

The beauty on these days, is always her heart that outshines even the prettiest foggy morning. She has a way of celebrating with you what you love and declaring with joy unbridled, that the creator has in fact created a perfect day. {Truth be told, she will also make up songs and sing them, very loudly}.

She teaches this verse to me, heaven’s whisper in a little girl’s exuberant smile. His creation calls forth in her, songs of joy. She feels no need for quiet pondering solitude, bless her, but only joy shared and declared.

She is a worshiper of her Savior at heart.

She reminds me of childlike faith, Small and Big all at once.

Looking at the world and seeing the fingerprints of her creator all over it and in return offering him praise, declaring his goodness to all within her scope and means. This Girl is Strong, and it runs in her family. Her strong and creative God made her, just like she is, on beautiful purpose and I am blessed, because I get to be her Mum.

Strong, good things await her as she continues to grow into all He has prepared for her. I am praying faith filled days ahead of her, praying that she never loses her heart for people, or her deep joy. As her mum I consider it my mandate to speak these words of truth, hope and strength over her, that she might always know my love for her and deep belief in her.

Love, Grace and a Misty Morning for your day

Rachel x

He Makes my Feet Like the Feet of a Deer

Habakkuk 3“The Sovereign Lord is My Strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:19

This has been my verse this year.

A few years ago I was encouraged by a good friend of mine to have a verse for the year, I wasn’t totally sure how to go about it, or if I could be that committed to a small thing for such a long time. Normally that kind of pressure detail turns my brain inside out, but I wanted to try it. I don’t know that there is a particular science to this, so I prayed about it until I felt that prompt of the Spirit that said, this is it. Each year this small thing has been such a huge blessing to me.

Habakkuk 3:19 has been so incredibly special to me. I began the year with what seemed a challenge I would have to work hard to meet. Going back to full time work with 3 kids, 2 at school and 1 starting preschool whilst still supporting Shane in ministry. Not to mention my job, which is full of challenge as all jobs are and quite frankly one of the big reasons why I love mine.

This verse has framed my year in remembering the strength of God to help when it seemed beyond me.

One particularly challenging day I woke to read my bible. I was away at the time and got up early to pray because I knew what the day held. I use REAP as my bible plan and on that particular day the reading was Psalm 18, this passage also contains the same phrase. I couldn’t believe it! Tears rolled down my face as I considered God’s good timing. Of all the days, this was the day I got to read a simple verse that had brought me comfort all year.

Later that evening as I was going to bed I heard a weird noise and looked up, standing on the grass in front of me were a herd of deer, {seriously right! of all the times, in all the ways} the noise that had startled me was their feet. They all looked up. It’s safe to say I stood crying for a minute as I again considered the sweet nature of God and thanked him for framing my day in his strength and comfort, reminding me that he is good and he always brings help.

Love, Grace and Strength for your day

Rachel x

A Showcase Exhibit

People“I will make a nation out of the long lost, a showcase exhibit of God’s rule in action.” Micah 4 The Message.

Can you imagine what this would look like, a gathered company of people who are loved by God and who love him in return?  The imagery of this verse is so beautiful to me, God’s far reaching love for the long lost and his desire to exhibit in them what it looks like to be found and loved by God.

Imagine if people could see the love of God in action, by real people who were far from God, far from hope, people who knew what it was like to need mercy and find it, who knew what it was to be lost and find purpose. People who believed that the very words of God could be read and understood that they were not lost from knowing the one who had made them and purposed them to live a life that would bring honor and glory to the King of Kings.

Imagine if such a people lived for a God who was known for how he loved. Who set his rule by how the earth could be filled with kindness and hope, compassion and brave servant-hood, the kind that resulted in the care and building up of humanity. What if their God was so good that he cared not only for the successful but that his eyes saw those who were missed by society, the refugee, the poor, the broken, the widow and the fatherless. What if this King gathered a people where he would choose to give them the same vision he had to bring blessing to the last and the least.

The thought of such a God would create music on the earth, a song would sound that had never been heard before because an Ancient King of Kings, the same one who had told the story of the earth had created new life where there was desolation.

Can you imagine if in all his power and splendor what would transpire when he moved heaven and earth to establish such a people. If rather than being far off he walked in the pages of history with them, showing them himself what God’s rule in action looked like as his feet touched earth.

Such a God would be worthy of my whole hearted devotion and would create a movement that would transcend time, power, nation and politics.

I love that for me this is more than an idea, it is the story of Jesus found in the pages of the bible, with footsteps in history who most perfectly showed God’s rule in action and continues to work through his imperfect church to exhibit his kindness.

Love, Grace and New Songs for your day

Rachel x