One Step At a Time? How?

Imagine… You are climbing a mountain. Now you are on the final ascent—the pinnacle is within sight. Exhorting yourself on, you shout on the inside, “Come on! I can do this. Just a little further.

And just for another moment. Imagine… What do you do, once you have reached the mountain-top, celebrated the victory & surveyed the land laid out before you?

Have you ever thought about what is on the other side? Or do you simply presume you would descend the mountain using the same path by which you climbed it?

Are you curious—even a little bit—about what lies on the other side? Or do you presume it would be the same as what you experienced before? And after all… you just want to get there. No surprises. No distractions. No detours along the way. Tired & weary you turn. Ready, set…

Suddenly, you realise you are not alone! Instinctively, almost as if you are being drawn to a magnet, you turn to your left & slightly behind you.

There stands a Man. Dressed for hiking complete with sturdy boots & a backpack, he stands holding his hand out towards you with a welcoming gesture.

You sense your soul within you relax. At the same time, there are some things you simply just know… He is a Man with strength & power born out of identity & authority. His confidence & wisdom gives you assurance accompanied by peace that finds its way deep into the very centre of your being. You see that he knows what he is doing. Looking into his face you recognise—reflected in his eyes— an authentic kindness & honesty… an ‘openness’ together with a warm twinkle that draws you into a place of wanting to get to know him more.

You realise that you deeply want to remain with him.

You recognise something else. Where there was weariness within you & all around you like a blanket—now there is a new energy. Perhaps you might even call it… joy.

Whatever it is, you know that within, something has changed. Hope has lightened your soul where there was previously heaviness & an unrecognised (to you) expectation of loneliness, boredom, routine, of ‘going through the motions’ & more… that you thought was all you deserved.

Now you know… you will go anywhere this Man goes. Adventure beckons. The promise of enjoying the journey. Even the landscape around you seems different! Through fresh eyes, you see colour. With unplugged ears, you hear the sounds of life. And it is good.

Come”, says this Man. “Come to me. I AM. Walk with me. I will show you the way & lead you. You will not be disappointed.

Together we will travel & together we will explore. I will provide for your journey… Look! I have everything you will need—I come prepared. Do not fear getting lost—I know the way. I even know what we will encounter along the way—I will shield you. I will help you. I will steady you when you stumble.

The adventures we will have together will give you stories to tell that will amaze all who hear of them. Others will want to join you! Place your trust in me—it is safe to trust me. Take a risk. Come on… take a risk!”

It is safe to place your faith & trust into the Spirit of the one true God revealed to the world through His Son Jesus Christ, the Man. 

Yeast & a loaf of bread…

I could tell by the smell of my bread baking in the bread-oven that something was wrong. My family’s hope of fresh homemade crusty bread for lunch that day was not going to be fulfilled. When I looked at the finished product—resembling something like a sad, tooth-breaking biscuit-slice, I realised what I had done. I forgot to add the yeast!

One of the illustrations Jesus used to help us understand the ‘Kingdom of God’ is recorded in Luke 13:21: “It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

What happens when we surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? What happens (personally, family, ministry, work, relationships, etc) when we let God’s authority rule and reign in power within & over our lives? The very atmosphere around us is changed by the Presence of the One True God. In Christ & by Christ in us (the hope of glory)… we become agents of change in a world desperately in need of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

It is mankind’s natural inclination to want to go his / her own way & be in control. But we know don’t we. God’s Kingdom is different to the kingdom of the world. You & I have stories about the times in life when we chose to surrender to God—our Daddy—even in the face of temptation screaming at us to resist Him, to turn away & do ‘it’ our own way. But the Holy Spirit helped us, didn’t He! He helped us to stand firm, trust our Father & Jesus, resist the devil & so we saw amazing things—miracles—happen.

Jesus said, (Matthew 6:31) to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, & He will give you everything you need.”  It seems to me that this is an ‘inside-out’ lifestyle. The power of a transformed heart & mind is amazing & brings glory to God. Our lives are being daily transformed to be like Jesus by the renewing of our minds—work being accomplished by God, the Holy Spirit. But we must choose to agree with His thoughts & His ways.

Are you even now in the midst of a situation where you must practice the presence of God & allow His Kingdom to rule here on earth? You are not alone. Turn to God in surrender. Keep your peace. Listen to what the Spirit of Jesus is saying to you. Look at what He is doing. Who does God want to be for you today? Remember when… Remember your testimonies of faith. (If you need to, turn to Hebrews Chapter 11 to be inspired by examples of faith.)

Begin to worship God even in the midst of today’s trial. His joy really will be your strength. His love will usher in rest. His wisdom will give you strategies that will change everything. And sensing the Holy Spirit’s confidence in your spirit, you will turn away from fear & the temptation to be in control. Be patient & wait for Him to act… God’s grace will be sufficient for you.

Our God … will give you everything you need.

Second-hand Shoes

The ‘year of the shoes’ stands out in my childhood memories. That year my mother passed on to me a secondhand pair of ‘Sunday-best’ shoes (‘hand-me-downs’) complete with the unspoken expectation that I would and could walk in someone else’s footprints. It was never going to work for me. Not only were the shoes too big for me but into them had been imprinted a legacy that did not fit me. Instead of taking delight in going to Sunday School, I became overly-conscious of my feet—anxious and fearful that I might fall down. I tried so hard to fit into those shoes…

Using this story (of the shoes) as a metaphor, have you ever been expected to walk in someone else’s ‘footprints’? What legacy has been handed on to you? Has it been a positive experience? Is it bearing good fruit? Have you been freely walking—taking delight in following Jesus—living the ‘rich and satisfying’ life that He came to lead us into? (John 10:10) Or… have you been so focused on maintaining your balance to avoid stumbling and falling down, that now you are beginning to recognise just how weary you have become?

Or was it you asking another person to accept something that no longer fits you or someone in your care? Maybe in that moment when you first tried to walk in those ‘shoes’ never designed with you in mind at all, you began looking around with a burning question in your mind, “Who can I pass this on to?” “How can I get rid of this…?”

What do you do with a legacy which you have inherited and are perhaps even now trying to operate under? What might be the expectations wrapped up in it? Has your identity been entangled or even somehow lost in it? How has your attitude—your stance in life—affected your behaviour? 

With the eyes of your heart (your mind), let God’s Spirit help you to re-focus on to Jesus. Who does God want to be for you? What does He need to do? Take courage! Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there really is freedom. Is today the day the Lord has made for you to surrender to Jesus and let the Holy Spirit fit you with ‘shoes’ lovingly, wisely created by Him—tailor-made for youwith a Kingdom of God calling and purpose.

Our gracious, merciful and creative Father God calls you to trust Him and follow Jesus walking in His footsteps. His grace means that His Spirit will help you to do this daily. Your footprint is unique to  you as it is to every single person, but we each discover in Jesus, a perfect fit—the ‘sweet-spot’! Freedom in Christ!

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me (Jesus Christ). Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message —emphasis mine)

I wonder how God our Father through the work of His Spirit—the Spirit of Jesus Christ, plans to apply this in your life? Have a conversation with Him today. Ask questions. Be prepared to listen and watch for the answers…

Love, problems, opportunities…

What is written in blue (below) was something I wrote last week as I enjoyed time with God. It seemed like He was giving it to me as a gift. As Monday approached last week, it seemed right to share it in the ‘Monday Morning Minute’. Ross (my husband & MMM’s International Director) challenged me to ask God how it might be applied to our lives. I pray that as you read it, you’ll encounter the beloved Spirit of the Lord Jesus &… explore the Father’s heart.

I have loved you with an everlasting perfect love—untainted by the dust of the world. Pure & undefiled, this love brings life. This love has brought an end to the problem of sin & pain. This love builds up—it does not tear down.

My love is My character reflected & expressed in Jesus Christ. My love is good—all the time. My love has divine, eternal purpose. My love is like an oasis bringing hope & life in the desert. My love is a well watered garden that produces fruit in seasons & out of season. In my love there is no fear of lack, no anxiety of famine. I send My love to you & … I will perfect it in you. The world needs to know My good & perfect love.

My love sets you free—to be who I call you to be—for the glory of My beloved Son Jesus Christ. When you honour Jesus by recognising that He is My only begotten Son, righteous & holy, pure of heart… you honour Me.

Submit to the authority of Jesus in all things. In this way, you please Me. Through you, My joy will overflow & change atmospheres. Practice resting back into Jesus & you will be made whole by the work of My Spirit.

The process of you being made whole is a glorious one—enjoy it! I do!

What is our default ‘turn-to’ setting when we have a ‘problem’ in life? Some of us might want a problem-free life but what if God actually needs us to have a different mindset? What if He needs us to view our problems as ‘opportunities’? Opportunities inviting us to explore the Father’s heart in a new way. Opportunities where perfect love has a chance to flourish & drive out fear. Opportunities that are created where believing God & trusting Him displace doubts about who God is & wants to be for us. Opportunities to let God out of the ‘box’ & give Him the freedom to be God in, all around, through our lives. Opportunities…

I’ve noticed Jesus attaches the gift of a promise to each ‘problem’ that His Father permits to intersect with my life. Years ago, I was surprised by the voice of the Holy Spirit who seemed to say, “Heather, you’re an overcomer.” Of course He was giving me such a gift… being intentional, compassionate & eternally lovingly kind, my Daddy (God) needed me to be more than an ‘overcomer’ in Christ. Just as important as that is, He needed me to know & accept that I am who He says I am! The first step of this process becoming a reality was, by faith to receive His good gift.

Various ‘problems’ rose up to challenge His gift to me over the following year. But God was equipping me by His grace & goodness. Contrary to my former thought patterns, I began to exchange the (mindset) lie for the truth… “I’m an overcomer” & reflecting to God words like, “I will trust You. Thank You for making me an overcomer in Christ.”

By giving me a constructive, life-giving framework to which I could continually reference what was happening in & around me, the Spirit of Jesus helped me move through the problems in life rather than getting lost in them or disabled by them.

When you & I encounter a problem, it might be like arriving at a T-intersection on a road. We need make a decision & choose which direction we will take. Do we turn ‘left’ reacting as if we are orphans—all alone—not knowing who our Father is? Turning that way, we might find that fear, anxiety & worry have opened the door to other things like the need to be in control, relying on our own resources (or those of the world) & working to navigate a safe route through an unsafe land.

Or, do we intentionally choose to turn ‘right’ into the arms of our Father through faith in Jesus who has everything we will ever need (& is not reluctant or miserly in giving!). That would be like jumping into the River of Living Water in which we are gloriously out of our control & depth!

Submitted to the flow which is neither haphazard or without meaning, we are carried in & nurtured by the Water, whose Source never ends, will never be defeated, will never be overwhelmed & will never be taken by surprise. Nothing is impossible for HIM! Let us today & each new morning, surrender in trusting submission to the Lover of our souls.

Upon Him we can depend with certainty even in times that scream to us, “uncertainty’ ahead”.

Enjoying God—and the story of two birds.

Walking along a beachside track with Ross last week, I was startled by a brief flash of dark colour & the sound of something nearby. Hearing the sound again, its source still eluded me. Quickening my step around the bend in the path, I was amused to see a bird running for the cover of a bush! 

Another day & another walk… This time it was on the cliffs high above the beach. Perched on the fence, I saw a young magpie watching our approach. Despite Ross’ sudden & inexplicable attempt to make it fly away, the bird settled back & focussed its attention on me! The pleasure I felt in the moment of interaction brought a deep bubbling-up sort of joy from within!   

These two experiences led me to think about what might characterise our relationship with God. He makes no secret of the fact that not only did He decide to adopt us into His own family through Jesus Christ but it gave Him great pleasure to do so. (Go to the Bible & explore the book of Ephesians Chapter one to find out more.) 

Imagine. Jesus (He exactly represents Father God) is walking towards you. Hearing His footsteps before you even see Him, you take flight running for cover. Hiding, your heart is beating with a sense of anxiety & fear accompanied by something else you can’t identify & you wonder why… Why did you hide from He who is Love—from He who does not condemn you but comes to save, heal & deliver you? 

Imagine again… Sitting on a fence, you watch as Jesus approaches you. Something just tried to scare you off but this time… you’re determined not to give way to fear, anxiety & worry. Watchful, you sit even while poised to take flight.

But peace has come near, the atmosphere has changed & your confidence & trust develops moment by moment. More settled now, you listen to the sound of His voice—He might even have something to give you. Even as you wait, you’re becoming bolder & more courageous as you take joy in soaking in the life-giving pleasure & delight He has in you! Yes, you!

The Spirit of Jesus—our God—is calling us! It is time. It’s time to plunge deeper into a true heart-to-heart intimate relationship with our majestic, powerful Father for whom nothing is impossible! In this place (in Him), competing forces vying for His rightful place in our lives melt away recognising their defeat!

It is impossible to live the ‘rich & satisfying, abundant’ life that Jesus said His purpose is to give us (see John 10:10b) if we are habitually running or hiding from His Presence. It’s time to come down off the ‘fences’ straddling the high places of life & the sea of God’s radical, life-changing love, grace & goodness. His ways. His Kingdom.  

Come on! Let us joyfully & courageously choose to surrender & submit (all things) to our God whose good thoughts towards us outnumber the grains of sand on the sea-shore! His plans for us are all about Jesus Christ… establishing the life of Christ in us for His glory! 

We are in the process of learning to authentically live a life of glorious obedience to Jesus who calls us not to worry about everyday life & whether we will have ‘enough’. He says (See Matthew 6:25-27—NLT), Look at the birds. They don’t work or harvest or store food in the barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Let us joyfully, faithfully & courageously walk in a submitted, surrendered, trusting life of joyful obedience to partner with our God! Come on beloved of the Lord! Let us practice resting back into God, our Daddy—from this place of love—we lean forward & give out on life’s journey. Let us not give into intimidation or fear of that which belongs to the world because, the victorious Jesus Christ… He is our Lord! And empowered by the Holy Spirit, we will walk in His footsteps! 

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The Rhythms of Life

I want you to observe the rhythms of life. The words wafted through my mind like a gentle breath of cool fresh air. The words—an invitation—held the promise of deepening intimacy in relationship with He who spoke them into existence…

But what did the words mean? Rhythms of life? Now & then I have felt myself being drawn back to them… I see myself looking at them, testing them out like I’m tasting & smelling them or feeling & listening to them. Rhythm. Life. Come with me to explore them but then keep exploring, one day at a time, hand-in-hand with God the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ said, The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, & destroy. But… He went on to say words reflecting the ‘Kingdom of God come here on earth’ reality wrapped up in love, faith, hope & glory (truth & a promise)… I came to give life with joy & abundance. (John 10:10—The Voice). God’s amazing grace & love in action—His love-gift to the world.

Paul wrote in the Bible, You were dead because of your sins & because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us & took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers & authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15 NLT)

So then, we are free, in Christ, to observe the rhythms of life by the power of His Spirit to the glory of God the Father. Back to that question I asked earlier. What are the rhythms of life? If it was God who asked me to observe them (& it seems right to share this message with you today) then He holds them in His hand & wants them to be a deeper reality in my life & yours.

Rhythm speaks to me of music… the music of heaven. Rhythm speaks to me of the sound of flowing water in the river… the River of Living Water.  Rhythm speaks to me of the sounds of birds singing in the early morning… glorious songs of praise & worship lifted up to our Daddy God whose mercies are new every morning.

Rhythms of life… flow from a life connected deeply into & embedded securely in the heart of the Father through the Spirit of Jesus Christ… Prayer life—listening, talking, writing. Community life— embracing relationship with God & people. Work life—being lived in partnership with Jesus empowered by His Spirit for the glory of God. Rest life—being still & letting our Lord be God. Taking time to let our bodies rest, relax & be restored & renewed. Letting our kind, powerfully strong & gentleman Father God carry our burdens as we continue on our journey through life.

Only in & through Jesus Christ, the hope of glory, will we discover true life-giving rhythms. Why? Because He is rhythm itself. So when our being is one with His, we will be moving in concert with Him… in harmony with the rhythms of life.

Heather Henson – 16-11-2015

A Clay Jar & the Light of God’s Glory—a ‘Monday Morning Minute’

2 Corinthians 4 verse 7 (The Voice): But this beautiful treasure is contained in us—cracked pots made of earth & clay… And the same verse from The Message: (you might hear an echo back to the story of the shell in my vision experience) If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at.  (Emphases in all quotes are mine) 

In the New Living Translation of the Bible, the phrase used for ‘cracked pots’ is ‘fragile clay jars’. Are you feeling a bit fragile or cracked today? Do you fear that you might crumble under the weight of the busyness, the cares, stresses or worries in or around your life? I believe that the words the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write next (verses 8-10 in 2 Corinthians 4) will be of great comfort to you. They seem like a promise to me…

We are cracked & chipped from our afflictions on all sides, but we are not crushed by them. We are bewildered at times, but we do not give in to despair. We are persecuted, but we have not been abandoned. We have been knocked down, but we are not destroyed. We always carry around in our bodies the reality of the brutal death & suffering of Jesus. As a result, His resurrection life rises & reveals its wondrous power in our bodies as well. (The Voice)

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT) He is powerful, tender-hearted & nothing is impossible for our God who hears you & sees you. Let the Spirit of Jesus Christ hold you & care for you in harmony with the Father’s heart. His loving-kindness never ends. Allow the Holy Spirit to take you into ever deepening intimacy of relationship with Jesus who is one with the Father—our Daddy who is in heaven. And remain in community with your brothers & sisters. God has saved you into relationship… not into a life of isolation. 

And how does God care for us, His children? Each of us could give testimony of how we have felt urged to pray for someone. We will also have equally powerful, life-changing stories of how we seemed to be a part of God’s answer to those same prayers. 

Watch & wait & see what He will do. Let go & let Him be God. Trust Him to be God & be at peace.

God is faithful so… let us have thankful hearts & praise Him from whom all blessings flow. It is He who said “Let there be light in the darkness,” & made this light shine in our hearts so we could know His glory that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6 paraphrased)

Heather Henson — 24th August 2015

Coming Home

Hello! Just a few days ago my husband Ross & I came home from 10 weeks away in Africa… 4 weeks in South Africa & 6 weeks in Zambia. So many adventures… I have met so many people or have got to know other people better. Each one of them have enriched my life in some way.

Why were we so far from home? Ross is the International Director for the MMM International Alliance (MMM was once known as Mobile Mission Maintenance). Part of his job is to visit each of the MMM member centres i.e., Australia (where we live), New Zealand, Hong Kong, Zambia with Associate Centres in Thailand & South Africa. Earlier in the year we were in South East Asia for 6 weeks for MMM related work in Thailand & Hong Kong.

His job involves consulting type work… training, equipping, encouragement, reviews, strategic plan development, etc. (If you’d like to know more about the ‘etc’ you only have to ask!) By the way, the work is a voluntary position… if you would like to investigate what partnership with us would look like, contact Ross at mmmidross@gmail.com

My job? As well as the normal stuff of life… Ross appointed me (last year) as his ‘Communications Director’. I think this position probably involves a lot & not much! Maybe somewhere in between depending on what’s going on at the time. I do know that I’m sometimes out of my comfort zone but even so, I enjoy learning new stuff & ‘having a go’.

Having said that… this blog is & will be a work in progress. If you know about WordPress blogs or about IT stuff & you would like to help me, you’re welcome as long as you… keep it simple!

I’m in transition at the moment… home is great & I love spending time with my family, friends & (Eltham Baptist) church family but after so many weeks away, it’s hard to get back into any sort of routine. (Note… “Be kind to myself”.) Of course, Ross & I are not the same people we were at the time we left home so it’s hardly surprising that it’s hard to ‘settle back’ into life as we knew it before.

I’m not the sort of person who normally likes to dive right into the deep end of a pool. I absolutely do not like cold water so I take a gradual approach… one step at a time getting used the temperature of my surroundings so I guess it’s hardly surprising that I get back into ‘normal’ life (whatever that is) gradually.

The photo is from a day from our week’s holiday at Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve been hearing about the Cape of Good Hope since I was in high school so it was exciting & surreal to be standing right there!

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