Twenty two liberating truths

I love a website called True Woman. They’re a women’s ministry in America, and they have awesome resources. Paula Hendricks, one of their bloggers, recently posted “Twenty two liberating truths on Independence Day.” Now, not being America, Independence Day isn’t particularly relevant to me. But these truths are relevant, regardless of what day it is. And being 22 years old, I was drawn to them myself.

I would love to hear your views. There are a few contraversial ones in there.

1. God is good (Ps. 119:68; 136:1).
2. God loves me and wants me to have His best (Rom. 8:32, 38-39).
3. I am complete and accepted in Christ (Eph. 1:6).
4. God is enough (Ps. 23:1).
5. God can be trusted (Isa. 28:16).
6. God doesn’t make any mistakes! (Isa. 46:10) Everything that comes into my life has been “filtered through His fingers of love.”
7. God’s grace is sufficient for me (2 Cor. 12:9).
8. The blood of Christ is sufficient to cover all my sin (1 John 1:7).
9. The cross of Christ is sufficient to conquer my sinful flesh (Rom. 6:6-7). I don’t have to sin (Rom. 6:14).
10. My past does not have to plague me (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
11. God’s Word is sufficient to lead me, teach me, and heal me (Ps. 19:7; 107:20; 119:105).
12. Through the power of His Holy Spirit, God will enable me to do anything that He commands me to do (1 Thess. 5:24).
13. I’m responsible before God for my behavior, responses, and choices (Ez. 18:19-22).
14. I will reap whatever I sow (Gal. 6:7-8).
15. The pathway to true joy is to relinquish control of my life, husband, children, and circumstances (Luke 1:38; 1 Pet. 5:7; Matt. 16:25).
16. The greatest freedom I can experience is found through submission to God-ordained authority (Eph. 5:23).
17. If it is the will of God, there is no higher, holier calling than to be a wife and mother (Titus 2:4-5).
18. Personal holiness is more important than temporal happiness (Eph. 5:26-27). Happiness is not a right.
19. God is more concerned about changing me and glorifying Himself, than about solving my problems (Rom. 8:29).
20. It is impossible to be godly without suffering. Suffering is a tool in the hand of God to conform me to the image of Jesus (1 Pet. 5:10).
21. My suffering will not last forever (2 Cor. 4:17-18; Ps. 30:5).
22. “It’s not about me; it’s all about Him!” (Col. 1:16-18)


When men cease to love

This morning I turned on my computer to discover that homosexuals were being blamed for causing the earthquake on Tuesday. In fact, I think the exact wording was ”lesbians running loose on the South Island as if they own the place.” This can’t be found anymore, it was on a website that is now “temporarily unavailable.” Alongside this, MPs around New Zealand have allegedly received emails from Christians telling them that civil unions, as well as abortions and legalising prostituions, are to blame for the earthquake. So now I have my joke answer for when people ask why this happened, “It was those darn gays, always running loose like they own the place,” but more seriously, as a Christian, I have something to answer for.  

Nothing in my Bible indicates to me that this happened in any way because of the gays, the prostitutes, or any other sin. My Bible tells me that God has already dealt with the sins of the people of Christchurch. He did not send His Son into the world to die for the world, just to continue punishing people through natural disasters, war, or any other means.

Yes, in Old Testament times, God did send certain calamities to punish people for their sins. But in Old Testament times, people used to have to sacrifice pure animals, only eat certain foods, and live in a way that showed complete dedication to God in order for their sins to be forgiven. We are not living in Old Testament times.

Our sins were dealt with 2000-odd years ago on the cross. And it’s a once-and-for-all deal. God will punish those who do not follow Him when He rewards those who do. If the earthquake was punishment, then what about all the Christians affected? If they’re being punished, then the blood of the lamb did not cover their sins. I have something to be very, very afraid of if God’s sacrifice does not save me from His wrath, as He promises it does.

Shortly before Jesus death, He promised things like this would happen. At the end of a long speech in which He tried to prepare His disciples for what would happen, Jesus said to them “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b) In this world, there will be earthquakes. There will be cancer, there will be rape, there will be hunger, there will be nightmares. In this world, you will have trouble. But Jesus doesn’t say that in this world you will be punished, He doesn’t say anything at all to answer to the trouble we will experience. He just reminds us that He has already overcome the world. He is bigger, stronger and more powerful then anything this world throws at us. And the interesting thing is that, as far as I can see, no where in John 16 does Jesus say “You’ll have trouble, and it’s probably punishment for various sins.” It’s like having trouble is just a given. Not a punishment, but a natural part of life. But take heart! He says.

“Though the mountains be shaken
   and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
   nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
   says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
Isaiah 54:10

Why not me?

In light of the earthquake in Christchurch and it’s surrounds on Tuesday, I’ve had a lot of conversations with people asking “Why, God?”

And I’ve noticed that I don’t struggle with “Why?” I understand why. God promised it would happen. It is unspeakably unfair that it’s the second big earthquake for them in such a short time, but God must have a reason. I trust Him to know what He’s doing, so I don’t ask Him why.

What I do struggle with is “Why not me?” Why Christchurch twice, when it hasn’t happened to me once? I don’t struggle to understand the suffering of others, I struggle to understand my own good fortune. Why isn’t pain spread out evenly amongst us all? Why don’t I suffer?

So now I’m just waiting. Because surely it must be coming soon. My life, my good fortune, is so fragile. On Monday, the people of Christchurch and it’s surrounds were still saying “Wow, we are so fortunate that no one died in that 7.1 magnitude earthquake in September, now we can get back on our feet and start to recover.” So many reports have people saying “We thought we were safe.” That’s the thing that freaks me out so much, we just don’t know.

I find myself looking around to figure out what I’m going to do if there’s an earthquake. I’m nervous about going to Melbourne with my friends in March now, because my husband won’t be there and something might happen while we’re apart. I dream more than usual about being bombed, or rebel soldiers marching up my road, or some other aspect of war. I wonder what it will be that happens to me, and I hope it’s not too bad.

I can’t stop thinking about the friends and family of those who are still missing. When something like this happens, all you want is to be able to get hold of your loved ones and know they’re okay. There are people out there who have been waiting two days to hear that their loved ones are okay, and there’s the ever-increasing possibility that they aren’t. Not knowing must be beyond horrible. And then there are the people potentially still trapped under fallen buildings. I don’t really want to think about what they must be going through.

I can’t find a quote that really encapsulates this blog. It seems disrespectful to use a quote about ceasing to love, or the beauty that’s all around us, even though the people who wrote those quotes knew pain like no other. I don’t want to  take away from anyone’s pain. So, for today, no quote.

Beautiful and good things

Today, I am writing in anticipation.

This evening, I will be in the midst of 300 people with varying disabilities, leading a group of 10 volunteers who are giving up their long weekend to prepare food, serve meals and wash dishes.

Last year was my first experience of CMWDT National Camp (Christian Ministries With Disabled Trust).  We were short on volunteers, but you never would have noticed. These girls were amazing, and watching their hearts melt and grow over the weekend was almost more inspiring then watching people who can’t even walk or talk lifting their hands in worship to God.  

I remember the 12 year old volunteer who burst into tears upon hearing the testimony of a man with a brain injury, and the way he enveloped her in her arms and held her as she wept for him. I remember the young, cute guy whose legs didn’t work, and the way he flirted with all the girls to get extra helpings of lunch, and the incredible power in his arms as he pulled himself up the rockwall. I remember the way my heart didn’t stop swelling with happiness the whole weekend. But what sticks out most in my mind, is the volunteers and staff alike wanting to be out helping, serving, because it was so clear that God was at work.

So today, I am writing in anticipation. I can’t wait to see what this weekend will bring.

“Unexpected intrusions of beauty. That is what life is.”
— Saul Bellow

I saw tomorrow

World,  I am so excited for you.

I’m excited because these incredible young people are being sent out to change you, to love you, to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to you.

It was a few weeks ago, but still I get goosebumps when I remember almost every single one of the people in this photograph on their knees, praying “Jesus, I believe, but help me with my unbelief.” And then to remember the privilege it was to cry with several of the beautiful girls, and to pray for them. I never would have thought it would have been me, that I would have been one of the ladies who encouraged and supported teenage girls. Sometimes I still can’t believe it. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

There’s nothing quite like the confidence I felt as I hung out with these incredible young people. So often, when looking at children and young people today, I just feel despair. So many times, I have cried while watching them. Not knowing – or worse, knowing – what they’re going to home to, or what pain they have in their hearts. It is terrifying, the world our babies are born into. But these young people that weekend, around them all I could feel was hope. Fifty-something young people, every single one of them just brimming with potential, overflowing with God’s love. Knowing they’re out in the world gives me hope for the future.

Imagining the things they will achieve in Jesus’ Name, world, I am so excited for you.

“I saw tomorrow
I saw tomorrow marching
I saw tomorrow marching on little children’s feet
Within their forms and faces, her prophecy now complete.
I saw tomorrow look at me from little children’s eyes
And thought, how carefully we would teach if we were truly wise.”

Whisper words of wisdom

“There’s a road, we must travel. There’s a promise we must make… The riches will be plenty, worth the price we had to pay.”
– I Know Where I’ve Been, Hairspray

I was watching Hairspray last night, and I know it’s not very often that a cute little musical inspires action against injustice, although, admit it, I know you tear up a little when Motormouth Maybelle sings “You can’t stop today, as it comes speeding down the track. Child, yesterday is history and it’s never coming back! Tomorrow is a brand new day, and it don’t know white from black (Yeah!)”

But during the march scene, the emotion that built up inside me was so strong I just had to get up and dance. This isn’t unusal, dancing is often what I do with pent up emotion. It meets with the music and flows out through my body until I have nothing else to feel. 

I felt sorrow. Sorrow for all the people I know are out who there suffering. Sorrow for the hearts of young girls who don’t know that they’re worth dying for. Sorrow for the millions dying each day without having ever lived. Sorrow for the least of these.

I felt anger. Anger because we’re not doing anything about it. When the African Americans were fighting for equality, it was not enough for them to stand up. It took for them to scream. But when they did, they were heard. The young men, women and children trafficked into sexual slavery do not even have legs. They are hidden without a voice and without hope. They can’t fight. But I can stand. I can speak out. I can shout. I can scream. I can fight. And I don’t. I always say that I’d like to think that if I saw some injustice, I’d do something about it. If I saw somone hitting their wife or child, for instance, I’d step in and help that woman or child. But I know I wouldn’t. Because I see injustice every day, and I ignore it. 

I felt despair. Despair because sexual slavery is such a huge problem. Certainly too huge for one person to have an influence. But we’re all one person, and if each of us stood up and screamed for this injustice to stop, the problem wouldn’t seem so big. It is overwhelming, but it is not bigger then my God. And I have a responsibility to do something about it.

What will I actually do about it? That’s up to God, and my prayer is that He would show me. Because I can not ever say I did not know.

The heritage of the servants of the Lord

Beside me as a I talked on the phone was a nail, probably about 3 inches long, with the pointy half of it covered in red paint. And as I talked on the phone, I ignored it. I did not hyperventilate, I did not begin to stim, I did not silent scream. I just continued talking on the phone.

This would be a pretty normal thing for anyone else, but I don’t open windows. I’m scared of safety pins, and of leaving pens lying around. I have weeks where I can’t sleep because of the images I see when I close my eyes. A normal day will be shattered when I run past something sharp and realise I could have been hurt. To sit beside a nail, especially one covered in red paint like blood, and not have an adverse reaction was previously impossible for me, because I was phobic of eye injuries.

But with God, all things are possible, and I know that my phobia is gone. Because this afternoon, I got a message to say that an incredible woman I know was on the phone, and did I want to talk to her? I watched this woman pray healing into the life of a little girl traumatised by abuse at the hands of her mother. She’s already prayed healing over me, regarding another phobia I had – one of people touching my ears. So of course I wanted to talk to her.

I took the call in the property office, the only office where no one was, and she prayed for me. When went to the root, which stemmed so simply from having had a handful of sand smashed into my eye when I was 11, and handed it over to Jesus. I literally felt a tightness around my chest release. I had been set free from the bonds of this fear. And as we went on to talk about me getting married and her daughter going to uni, I noticed the nail. And so unimportant was it, that I didn’t even realise until afterwards that I’d seen it and not cared.

I am healed. I am set free. No weapon forged against me shall prevail. My God is stronger then the spirit of fear.

“No weapon forged against you will prevail,
       and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
       This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
       and this is their vindication from Me,”
       declares the LORD
Isaiah 54:17

Someone like you

A woman born in South Africa is more likely to be raped then to learn how to read. A survey found that 60% of school children think that it is not violence to force someone you know to have sex. Damage from the rape of babies can be so severe that surgery is needed to rebuild even the respiratory system.

During the recent war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rape was used as a weapon against hundreds of thousands of people, especially women and children. Many women now live with chunks of flesh torn out by bayonets or sticks, urine and blood continuously streaming from between their legs. Most are too poor and ashamed to seek help, and too afraid of backlash to report the rapes.

The estimated number of people trafficked into slavery of various forms is more than the population of New Zealand, several times over. In many places all over the world, children are sold into sexual slavery by their parents or another relative to pay off debts. It’s not that these children are unloved, it’s that their families often have little other choice.

I am not the norm. My life is not representative of any other life out there. I am unbelievably, unfairly privileged. Yes, I have had moments of intense darkness and pain in my life, but I do not have a vaginal fistula due to gang rape or lack of medical care after childbirth. I don’t have enough money to buy everything I want, but my body is not paralysed by hunger pains. More people are in need then are not. More people are suffering then are not. How did I ever get to be one of those fortunate people born in 1989 in New Zealand? Why is this my reality? Why do I get a house, a bed, food? Why was I allowed to live without terror? When the odds were so slim, why me?

There are generally two statements that will be made when discussing the holocaust. The first is “How could the world have let that happen?” and the second is “That would never happen these days, because information is far more easily gained now. People would know about it and stop it.” We’re lying to ourselves. We let it happen. We sit around and say “Oh, that’s so sad” and don’t do anything about it. It does all seem so huge. What could we possibly do to stop it all? We could never eradicate human trafficking. We could never stop anyone from ever being raped. There is so much we could never accomplish in our lifetimes, but we must try. How could we not even try?

I must admit, I do not want to go to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the place that haunts me most, but I do not want to go there. If there is a way that I can help, while sitting safely in my lounge, I would gladly do it. But God, please, do not send me there. I am too terrified of being raped by 10 soldiers. I am too scared that one will rape me with a rifle, and then shoot me from the inside. I do not want to be one of them. I can barely grasp just how fortunate I am, but I do know that never would I ever want to know the suffering they have experienced. Just knowing that so many of the crown of creation have suffered in this way tears me up. I feel physical pain in my sympathy for them. But I am not as brave as they are. I could never live through that.

The thing that scares me most is the thought that my good fortune will not last. Any second, any day, I could become one of those statistics. A war could break out here, or a natural disaster could occur. My freedom could be lost in seconds, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I guess that’s where it really hits me. These are women just like me. The 9 year old Cambodian girl who was sold into prostitution today, was just like me at 9 yesterday. Apart from the fact that I am unbelievably privileged, and they are not, young women in countries terrorised by sexual violence are just like me. She could be me. I could be her.

Oh, thank You, Lord, for Your unexplainable mercy. Don’t let me forget just how lucky I am. Don’t let me go through my life without doing something with what You have given me. I know that You have made me so incredibly blessed for a reason, and I know that I only have too much to give too much. Don’t let me forget, Lord.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”
Dr Seuss