Embassy of Love

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20

Have you ever considered yourself an Ambassador for the Kingdom? When people ask what you do, have you ever considered answering, “I am an Ambassador?” And when they raise their eyebrows at you, you continue, “for the Kingdom of Heaven.”

I don’t know Ludmilla, but guess she may answer that way! Watch why…

What is an Ambassador?

A bible study I am currently in describes an ambassador as “a dignitary whose full-time job is to live for a period in a foreign land, intentionally building relationships with the people native to the land and purposefully representing to those people the desires of his king or sovereign and is given authority to speak and act on his behalf. Adapted from Chris Patton.”

How are we Ambassadors?

We are living in a foreign land until God calls us home. While we are here we represent  our Sovereign King. We live purposely by continuing the work of Jesus through the work of the Spirit that transforms our character and guides our steps. We are called to reflect God’s goodness and speak of His love.

Often I can get wrapped up in my wonderings of what my purpose is. Yet, God has it already laid out in His word!

Have you ever considered yourself as an Ambassador of God’s Kingdom? What resonated for you in Ludmilla’s story?

But you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 

Love Holds No Record of Wrong

(Originally posted on 2016 but a timeless message of love).

In our human world, it is natural to want to have rules to follow, laws to live up to, yet is that what God calls us to? Are His ways the ways of the world? Does He call us to follow the way of rules to become worthy of being complete in Him?

I tried to find my own words to answer these questions with what I think is truth but Paul’s words say it so much superior.

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. Galatians 2:20-21 The Message

I’m struggling friends, of what to write, as there is so much here to unpack! It is the foundation for understanding how much we are loved without needing to ‘impress God.’ It is through this love, our identity in Him, we no longer are  ruled  by our egos, others opinions of us, and our human vulnerabilities. And we are free to love ourselves and others as Jesus loves who keeps no records of wrong.

(Love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:5

When we grasp this understanding that we are already complete in Christ, loved wholly and unconditionally, we no longer need to be loved by anything else in this world. Often our hurts, offences made against us are from expectations we have on others on how we think we should be treated. Our identity gets wrapped up in our attachment to how others satisfy our egos. So when others do not live up to our own expectations, our character feels attacked, and we take offence. We become afraid and build our walls of defence.

In other words we become a slave to others opinions and treatment of us.

The Way

But Jesus showed us a Way out of this entrapment to freedom. He showed us how to love.

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24

They do not know what they are doing. No judgement, no unmet conditions, just Perfect Love seeing the brokenness in his offenders, and keeping no record of the wrong. Instead, He rose and came back into a world that crucified Him because He loves us that much!

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When we grasp this understanding of this perfect love He has for us, where there is no condemnation, no-need to please or make-up for our transgressions, we begin to love ourselves as the Father loves us, freeing us to let-go of any need to be loved and treated a certain way to feel okay in this world. And in that way we free others too, from our own judgement and conditions. This leads us to take no offence and casts out our fears of being vulnerable because we are complete in Christ, and fully loved just as we are now.  We can then take that understanding of God’s love for us and return that same love out to the world.

The Promise

Friends, I don’t pretend to know it all. Paul’s words again express this so much more superior than mine.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12

Camp on these words for a moment-Christ Jesus took hold of me. He’s got you, looking out for you, because of who He is-Perfect Love.

And how can we understand His perfect Love that holds no record of wrong, that does not take offence and extends only grace? I believe only through the Holy Spirit, asking our eyes and heart to be opened to Our Good Father.

Open the Eyes of My Heart-Michael W Smith

 

 

Lessons of (new, real) life

 

sky (35 of 1)Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3: 2-3 AMP

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One summer vacationing in Vancouver, BC, with my daughter and two grandchildren, I found myself slowly stepping across the 450 ft (137m) long, 230 ft (70m) high Capilano Suspension Bridge.  Looking down, one hand gripped the twisted metal rail, the other held my camera tightly against my chest. People passed me, some whose quick steps swayed the bridge causing me to step even more slowly while muttering to myself that never again would I do this! Heights swell fear within me. Somehow my imagination sees me misstepping and falling, even though realistically I am safe and secure.

Once across I am in a 27 acre park of coastal rainforest where Western Red Cedar, Douglas Firs, and Western Hemlock trees grow among the delicate ground forest plants. My young grandson runs behind a tree and the trunks circumference hides him from our sight. But we know he is there.  We call out to him, and he comes back into our vision. He holds my hand securely as we step along the paths carved through this forest.

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When our minds play out scenes from our fears, we loose sight of the presence where we are now safe and secure. When life events cause our steps to be uneven and we try to fix our struggles in our own strength, we grow weary and worrisome.  I’ve been in a season of uncertainty experiencing the fears and worrisome mind. What I saw of as my security seemed to be dwindling away and a broken wrist deprived me of my regular exercise and photography pursuits.  I could say I sailed through looking up to heavenly things as Colossians 3:3 teaches, however keeping it real, I hid myself in a lot of Netflix and slept much more than usual!

We can’t hide.

Even when trying to hide behind screens and under covers, God though, knew where I was, always. And like my grandson unseen behind that tree trunk but known by us, his mom and grandma, nothing is large enough to  hide behind to not be known by God.

So the beginning of this 2020 has been like walking a swaying suspended bridge. Letting go of my grip and keeping my head up with hope and trust, and learning–learning the lessons (some of them the hard ones!) along the way.

My verse for this year is Roman’s 12:12-13 

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Have you a verse for the year? Or a verse that gives you hope during troubled times?

A Breath of Waters

Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. Matthew 14:22

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
― E. B. White

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A Breath of a Past Adventure

We’ve had a very rainy summer in my part of the world. How about you? I’ve not had new adventures this summer, however I have been blessed by past summer adventures taking me off my beaten path. One such adventure was during an early July weekend in 2014. Three friends and I explored the highest peak of Mount Assiniboine in the southern continental ranges of the Canadian Rockies.

We reached Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park by helicopter from Canmore, Alberta  The park can also be reached by 15 hour hike that includes an evening at Byrant Creek Shelter.  But the helicopter ride up was worth every cent in my opinion! I remember exiting the helicopter and saying to my friend, “No other moment this weekend can get better than that!”

However, there was no moment that topped another. Our two days were full of stunning scenery, satisfying hikes, and a lot of laughs along the way. Yes, we were clothed in many layers and our rain gear (mine completely out-fitted by MEC, my favourite ‘forever lasting’ adventure clothing gear store) was well-used, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. Instead, the weather added to the adventure. Later my girlfriend remarked how one of my photos captured our one minute of sun breaking through the clouds.

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We spent our nights in one of the 5 Naiset Huts. and cooked our meals in the adjacent cooking hut. Cooking huts are a wonderful place to easily engage in conversations with other travellers. We spent our first evening enjoying a beverage in the charming common room at the Assiniboine Lodge.

When it was time to leave, my friends L & J decided to hike out.  When B & I took the helicopter down, we also got to sit in the helicopter’s front seat! A couple of days later I found out from L that they missed a turn, leading them on the wrong trail and adding six hours to their return hike. Yikes! Having an experienced, excellent map reader is a must on any back country trail! Yet, even then, we can all make mistakes and get on the wrong path. But thankfully, with perseverance and a hopeful spirit, our way is righted.

 

I’m ready for another adventure. How about you? What is one of the favourite places you have visited? Or, what place do you recommend for my next adventure?

 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

A Breath of Wind

“So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” John 3:7-8 The Message

Take a breath and meditate on the passage above as you watch & listen to the wind rustling through the trees. (best in HD and fullscreen).

A Breath of Experience

Open yourself up to the love that will come with hurt and the hurt that will come with love; and to the success that will come with failure and the failure that will come with success. Susan David, PhD, Emotional Agility

We can’t love without experiencing hurt, have success without experiencing failure, and live without experiencing those cloudy days.

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 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

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What verse in the reading from Ecclesiastes resonates for you today? What might God be saying to you through His word?

Breath of Spring

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”
― Mark Twain

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It was so much fun getting to know some of you better from your comments in my last post! As summer approaches, my life gets a bit fuller with the extra work around the home.  And I also spend more time in my favourite places outside. So over the next few months, I’ll be bringing you a little more of my home through less words but more photographs, creating a breathing space just for you.

(A small note regarding writing. I recently won a contest at Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship  for this piece. And it’s encouraged me to fix up a few other pieces I have to be contest ready. Have you ever entered writing contests?)

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. 
Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.  The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”

Song of Songs 2:11-13

What are your favourite things about spring and summer?

Peace from an Empty Place

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On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came among them and said, “Peace be with you!” John 20:19

An empty tomb.

The tomb which had held Jesus, their Saviour, their teacher, their friend, was empty. The broken body of their King, gone!

Peter and John, along with the other disciples (except for Judas for he had betrayed Jesus, and for Thomas who was not with them that day) drew together behind a locked door. John’s gospel teaches it was a first day of the week, and Peter and John had recently witnessed an empty tomb except for strips of linen, and the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.
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Then….

Then, He is suddenly standing before them.

“Peace be with you,” He says.

Peace be with you.

Even after all He had endured—whippings, a crown of thorns, a cross to carry, nails in His hands, and all the sin of world upon Him…
You can read the full post at Inscribe Writers
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Your all in all

They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up. Hosea 8:7

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In Hosea 8:7 who are they? They are the Israelites who had sought forbidden relationships with Assyria and Egypt for military power, and had mixed in worshipping forbidden gods along with God. They were no longer being faithful to the One who could provide them all they needed. Harvesting good seed in grounds bathed by sunlight and filled with nourishment, produce a sturdy crop. The Israelites, though,  expended their energy on activities without roots for their souls, leaving them vulnerable. Danger was coming from foreigners–eventually the Assyrians invaded and conquered Israel.

I know I too, can spend time on hollow activities instead of taking the time to plant, sow, and wait. I can Netflix binge, or mindlessly scroll my Instagram and my Facebook accounts to ‘numb’ out. I can seek instant gratification that only leaves me unsatisfied. I can eat those four girl-guide cookies instead of taking the time to cook the nourishing spinach and eggs. I can try to fight my own battles by seeking out who I think will agree with me, commiserate and create an alliance, instead of seeking God first.

But these attempts at self-preservation only pull me apart from God. When I try to become more secure in the world without God, I’m left vulnerable to the pull of all things that only blow away in the whirlwind of time.

When we put our security in God, we become too deeply rooted to be swept away. We are less tempted to engage in that ‘quick fix’ or reach out for things that leave us hollow and wanting. Instead, we grow closer to the One whose faithfulness is everlasting.

“Truly is not my house so with God? For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, Ordered in all things, and secured; For all my salvation and all my desire, Will He not indeed make it grow? Samuel 23:5

What things are you putting your security in? Is there something God is asking you to give up so He can be your all and all?

Linked up at #TellHisStory