Tag Archives: jesus

To My Christian Friends, Why I Do Yoga

 

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For years my husband Chris and I have been looking around in church and noticing that there are not many (if any) people our age. Have you noticed it too? While our churches might have decent sized youth groups, once those kids graduate high school and head off to university they seem to stop coming to church. We find ourselves hoping that they’ll eventually come back to church, but if we’re being honest we will realise that a lot of the time they don’t. 

That is what Chris and I came to recognise, after years of attended church and having no Christians our age to share life with. So we ventured out with a few others in search of creating a church service designed to meet the needs of twenty- and thirty-somethings interested in finding out more about Jesus. And you know what… it worked! God brought people to our church, people our age who wanted to be in community with others who loved Jesus. It was so refreshing and fun. We suddenly had a network of Christian friends our age who we could do church with, do bible study with, and do life with.

But then God called us to move to the United States, and when we got here we discovered the same old story… a distinct lack of twenty to thirty year olds attending church. So again I’ve started wondering, how do we reach twenty- and thirty-somethings who are outside of the church?

Recently an old back injury flared up and at the point of desperation I cried out to Jesus knowing that I needed to do something about it. Yoga seemed like the most obvious answer. Now to give you a bit of background information, I’ve always resisted practicing yoga. Years ago I read a book called The Death of a Guru, by a Hindu Brahmin turned Christian who explained that Yoga was designed as a means to open your mind and body up to union with Brahman. It was important for me that I did not seek to be in union with anything but Jesus Christ, so I avoided doing yoga from then on. However, I am extremely inflexible and my back injury is exacerbated when I get too stiff and tight through my muscles, so I asked God whether it would be ok if I did Yoga at a local studio down the road. Sensing God say that it was OK, took myself off to yoga.

After two sessions I cannot otherwise describe it as to say that I sensed God’s Holy Spirit say to me, ‘It is Good for you to be here’. Why, you might ask is it good for me to be practicing something specifically designed to open myself up to Brahman? Well, firstly, I believe the God I worship, Jesus Christ, is greater than any Hindu god therefore I have nothing to fear in attending these classes, but secondly because all those twenty and thirty-somethings who aren’t in church are doing other things, like yoga. Honestly, I’ve never seen so many girls and guys my age all in one room together – this yoga studio is a mission field!

So while I’m attending yoga I am seeking to gain a better understanding the worldview of people outside of the church, to know and appreciate where they are coming from. But this is also a chance for me to step out of my ‘Christian Bubble’ into the world and mix with people who do not know Christ.

Dan Kimball in his book They Like Jesus But Not The Church says that there are two chasms that stand in the way of those in the world accepting Christ. The obvious one is the Cross, but the other one which we often don’t recognise is Christianity itself and the Christian subculture that we have created, which causes so many outside of the church to have a negative reaction to us. It is essential that we build bridges over these chasms and seek to remove the barriers which stop people from even considering Christ. We need to get out of the safety net of our christian subculture and start interacting with the world, befriending those outside of the church and building trust with them. For we live in a world where many twenty and thirty-somethings admit to being on a spiritual quest to find purpose and meaning in life, but they never stop to contemplate Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life. These people are probably not just going to walk into our churches, so we need to get out into the world and show them who Jesus is and how much he loves them.

So my challenge to you is this – if you look at your life and your social group and find yourself surrounded by Christians then make a commitment to step out of your Christian Bubble and into the world. Ask God to show you where He would like you to spend your time and with whom He’d like you to spend time with. It may not be at a yoga studio, it may be a coffee shop, or in a sports team or a book club. Wherever it is, let’s get out into the world and win some hearts for Christ!

Best Lesson of 2013


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Looking back on my highlights from 2013 one which stands out for me is learning more fully about the importance of prayer. Since starting to read Too Busy Not To Pray by Bill Hybels I have been challenged to give more priority to prayer and I continually use this book title as my motto because I am literally too busy not to pray.  Life has so many ups and downs, so many questions, changes, and challenges that it has become clear to me that daily moments with God are essential for living life well; without prayer life becomes just a matter of survival. I’ve also discovered that the more time I spend with God the clearer I can hear his voice and his leading. When I neglect daily prayer and the reading of his word I struggle to discern God’s voice, his direction, and his will for my life. This year I’ve come to discover that God’s plans for my life are extremely different to what I have been planning for myself therefore I need to be able to tune into his voice in order to know what is going on. Being able to hear God’s voice clearly through regular prayer makes all of this a lot easier. I’ve also rediscovered the ACTS prayer model – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. This model of prayer has really helped grow my prayer life and refocused my attention to the most important reason of prayer which is adoring and worshiping God. Ultimately I’ve learnt that the more I invest into my relationship with God the more enjoyable my life is. Life is not necessarily easier when I pray regularly, there are still many ups and downs but my response to those constant changes is better because I am aligning myself with God everyday and constantlybeing reminded to look to Jesus as my role model in life. 

 

What is the greatest lesson God has taught you this year? 

God’s Special Possession

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“As you come to him, the living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you also, like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5

You are God’s special possession, chosen by God, for God. You are like a living stone and everyday God is moulding you, shaping you and building you into a spiritual house, a temple of his Holy Spirit. Be encouraged. You are one of God’s precious stones. You are loved, cherished and adored. You are God’s special possession and He is zealous for you, all of you. Let Him have you heart, your will, your all – a spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Are you seeking God’s presence or his presents?

 

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Too many of us long for His presents, rather than His presence

– Joyce Meyer. 

 

My husband and I have been journeying through the heartache of “unexplained infertility” for four years now. Not an easy journey and one that I would never wish on anyone, but one that God has called us on. And yet it just occurred to me that during the whole of the last four years, most of that time I’ve been seeking God’s presents rather than his presence. Every single month for the last four years I have desperately begged and pleaded with God to give us a child, but rarely have I thought to stop and seek him instead. All that time I was seeking his gifts, his presents, rather than God himself, the giver of the gifts. 

Recently my Mum told me of a book she was reading (of which I do not know the name) which taught that when we are longing for something, instead of focusing on the desire and repeatedly asking for it (for God knows what we want), we should come to the Lord in worship and praise, focusing on him alone. So while going through this round of IVF I thought I’d give it a try. Seriously, what did I have to lose? 

Whoa! I tell you, what a difference worship and praise of God has made to this cycle of treatment! Previously, I have been a nervous wreck during each fertility treatment, constantly analysing the changes in my body and being tied up in knots of worry about whether I am going to respond to the treatment and finally get pregnant. But this time it just doesn’t seem to matter. Worshiping Jesus has brought me so much peace and joy. I feel like I have finally surrendered to Him like never before. I know and trust that God is bringing good things to my life, that he has plans for my husband and I, plans for our welfare and not for harm, but for a future with hope (Jeremiah 29:11). So whether the fertility treatments work or not doesn’t really matter anymore: if it does then the Author of Life has ordained for this child to come into the world for his purposes, and if not then God has another plan for us and I am ready and willing to walk that journey with him. I’m not saying that we won’t feel sadness and grief if the treatment doesn’t work, but ultimately the God of the Universe holds my life in his hands and he has got an amazing purpose for my life which he is bringing about here and now. I trust him completely with whatever he has in store. No longer do I ask, Why are you doing this to me God? But rather I know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). And all this confidence and trust that I have now has come through worship and praise, seeking God’s presence, not his presents. I honestly wish I had learnt to do this earlier as it would have probably helped prevent a very broken and shattered heart. But God’s healing is here!

So if you are struggling with worry, fear or anxiety, desperately longing for prayers to be answered and change to come then I encourage you to seek the Giver of the gifts rather than the gifts, themselves. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). Come to God seeking him first with a heart of thanksgiving and praise and let him fill you with his love, his joy, his peace and his spirit. You are his beloved child and he is holding you in the palm of his hand. Know that his plans for you will come in his timing. Trust him. Surrender to him. Worship him. 

If only I was Smarter…

ImageI have got some amazing christian friends who I would classify as “academically intelligent”. They are seriously smart and at times I feel like I need to look up a dictionary to find out the meaning to some of the words they use. They blow me away with the depth of thinking to which they apply to thinking about God and what is going on in the world; I truly admire this strength in them. 

Last weekend I spent some time with one of these friends, talking about God and listening to some of her views on theology (of which we both study) and the world around us. I came away thinking “Wow! She is so intelligent and God will be able to use her powerfully”, but the subtle lie that then snuck in as an after thought was, “God will never be able to use me like He can use her, because I am not nearly as smart and I do not think through things as deeply as she does or argue as clearly as she does”. In all honesty, I did not even realise that in my admiration for her I was letting condemnation come against me. But God did. 

The other morning I woke up and could not get back to sleep, I figured God wanted me to sit with him, so I started reading the Gospel of John. As I was reading through the book these two random little verses stuck out to me and stopped me in my tracks. The verses came from John 2:24-25, “But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.”  I was mystified as to why this snippet of scripture, from what I had read, would jump out at me so strongly; I wasn’t sure what God was trying to teach me from it. The notes in my bible on v. 24-25 said, “On the ability to discern what is in everyone, see also 1 Sam 16.7; 1 Chr 28.9 and Ps 139.” So I looked these passages up and what came from it completely opened up these verses in John and revealed what God was teaching me through it. 

The truth is that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in God, for He formed my inward parts and knit me together in my mother’s womb (Ps 139. 13-14). God designed me a particular way for his purposes, for specific needs in the building up of his kingdom and if he wanted to me to be academically intelligent he would have designed me that way. Furthermore, God does not compare my intellect to others, for he does not see as mortals see; he looks at my heart (1 Sam 16.7). Subsequently, God does not want me to compare myself to others, he does not see me as inadequate and therefore I should not judge myself as being so. Finally God wants my sole focus to be on serving him with a single mind and willing heart (1 Chr 28.9) and to find my identity in him and him alone. Jesus found his identity solely in his heavenly Father, he did not entrust himself to others or try to find his “self” in what others were saying about him, nor did he compare himself to others. No, his identity what firmly established on the solid foundation of how God saw him and he set his mind solely on the mission God had sent him into the world to do. What I learnt the other morning was that God wants me to entrust myself to him alone and to find my identity in him, because he has created me and set me apart for a particular purpose, one that is probably going to be more practical and “on the ground work”, something that is more relational than academic because that is how he has designed me. 

Do you find your identity in Christ? Do you know that he has set you apart for a specific purpose? Or do you find yourself comparing your abilities to others, wishing that you were smarter, or better at teaching, or better at hearing God, or maybe better at speaking? Whatever it is, know that God has designed you just the way you are. He formed your inward parts, giving you specific strengths that he can use for the building up of his kingdom. If you are willing, he will use you for his purposes.