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Sunday, 20 August 2017

GOD IS: Part Three



GOD IS: Part Three

Straight into it this week :) 

God is...

K – KING OF KINGS

I love royalty. Admittedly, I’m just as drawn to the romantic, totally fictitious side of it as I am the truth but there’s just something about royals that has me in awe. I love reading about them – both the real, live ones and those gracing the fairytales and novels on my bookshelves – and I love writing about them. Queen Elizabeth II will always be one of my absolute heroes.

It only struck me recently, though, what it means that God is King of Kings. Crazy, I know, since I grew up reading and singing about him by that name. But maybe that’s why, because it was so familiar, I never thought to consider it. King of all Kings. The most powerful kings and queens on earth answer to God. They’re powerful, their mere name or approval of something can set in motion wars, life and death. And yet, they’ve got nothing on God.

I love the reminder of this in the story of Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6). King Darius was the most powerful king the world then had ever known. But he wasn’t powerful enough to save Daniel. Only God could do that. Where Darius couldn't change the law he'd made and was forced to throw Daniel into the den of lions, God closed the lion's mouths. The king spent a sleepless night worrying. God spent the night in complete control. God is the King of Kings.

Daniel 6:25-27

Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world:
“Peace and prosperity to you!
“I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel.
For he is the living God,
    and he will endure forever.
His kingdom will never be destroyed,
    and his rule will never end.
He rescues and saves his people;
    he performs miraculous signs and wonders
    in the heavens and on earth.
He has rescued Daniel
    from the power of the lions.”


L – LOVE

God is love. It’s written on almost every piece of Christian paraphernalia you could ever imagine. It’s probably the first thing I ever learnt about God. And with good reason. It’s true. Truer than we’ll ever be able to comprehend. God doesn’t just love, he is love.

I remember sitting one day in church, daydreaming about what it must have been like for the disciples to actually walk with Jesus. What he must have been like. It wasn’t a vision or anything but the Jesus in my imagination turned and, through the crowd, stared directly at me. I’ll never forget his gaze. It was only a split second of a moment, but time ceased to even exist as I basked in the absolute love I saw there. He saw me. He knew everything about me – good, bad, secrets, shame, triumphs – and he loved me. It was an acceptance that went beyond anything I’d ever known. I wasn’t just another face in the crowd. He cherished me. He wanted the best for me. He would have done anything for me.

I’d always wondered, reading the accounts of Jesus asking the disciples to drop everything and follow Jesus, both how they could have obeyed so instantly and whether I would have had the same courage. In that instant of seeing Jesus’ gaze, I knew both why they had and that I would. You can’t see that love and walk away. God is love.

1 John 4:16

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.


M – MIRACLE MAKER

One of my favourite quotes is this: “Odds mean nothing in eternity” (Kathy Tyers, Firebird). I love it because it reminds me that, no matter how unlikely something looks, or how utterly impossible a situation is, if God wants it to happen, it will. God made the world and all its people. If he wants to stop the world turning, he can. If he wants to make a virgin girl pregnant, no problem. Take two completely different people living on opposite sides of the world and bring them together? Easy.

The Bible is full of miraculous stories – stronghold walls falling down with a shout, fish jumping into nets, blind people seeing, dead coming back to life, food falling from heaven, water coming out of a rock. One of my favourites, and the one that encourages me the most to believe for the impossible, is Saul/Paul’s conversion.

Here was this man who was an absolute terror. On his personal authority, Christians were being wiped out. Horrifically. He hated Christians and made no secret of it. And then, one day, he had a vision of Jesus and his whole life turned around. He didn’t just stop terrorising Christians, he became one of the greatest evangelists the world has ever known. Talk about a miracle! God truly can do anything. He is the Miracle Maker.

Matthew 19:26
With God, all things are possible.

N – NEAR

F was Far. N is Near. Perhaps it sounds like a contradiction but it’s not. I love that God is far enough away to not get caught up in my little problems, but I also love that he’s near enough to see them and care. It’s the little things that remind me just how close God is. Things that really aren’t all that important, and yet, they mean the world to me. Things only God would know.

I wrote once about getting pyjamas for my kids in the mail. I have story after story of God coming near like that. Times when it felt too inconsequential to even pray about something (which, coming from me who pretty much prays about everything, says a lot) but God did it anyway and I was left, once again, in complete awe of both how close God is and how much he cares.

Not only that, but he came to earth! Or, as The Message puts it, God put on flesh and moved into the neighbourhood. How cool! There’s Jesus, walking his dog down the street. Up at the local park, chatting with a bunch of guys as their kids play. Turning snags on the BBQ at Bunnings. Watering his garden. Hardhat in hand as he heads off to the construction site. Sitting in Emergency, waiting for x-rays back on a possible broken arm.

He could have stayed far away but he came near, choosing to be part of this world. So that we would know that he knew what it was like. God is near.

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. 


O – OMNISCIENT

Big word but hey, it starts with O. God is all-knowing. Or, another name for him, El Roi – God who sees. God knows everything. That should scare me – someone knowing everything about me, everything everything – but it never has, because he’s on my side.

Though I’ve totally forgotten where I read it, I’ll never forget the story I read once of a cleaner mopping floors. He cleaned them shiny once, then they got walked on. So he went back to the start and did them all over again. And was just finished when another heap of dirt came in. So he did them again, and again, they were messed. He was standing there, dejected, staring at the messy floors he’d just cleaned three times when God spoke to him. “I saw you the first time.”

Okay, so I probably missed all the details of the story but the gist was there. God sees. Having little kids, including one in a high chair who likes to dump whatever he’s not eating on the floor, I can totally relate to that cleaner. I’ll vacuum and mop the floors and two minutes later, it doesn’t look like I did anything. To say it’s discouraging feels like an understatement. I do the same thing, over and over every day, and by the end of the day, it doesn’t look like I’ve done anything at all.

But God saw it. He saw me try. He saw me find the strength to get out of bed, he knows the courage it took to talk to someone who scares me, he knows when I’m disappointed or discouraged, he knows how I’m really feeling when I dodge the question of ‘how are you?’ and how much the virtual bunch of bright yellow flowers my little sister messaged me this morning meant to me. 

He hears the prayers I pray, over and over, and fills in the blanks when I don’t know what or how to pray. He sees beyond the person I let the world see, the person I think I am, to the very heart of me. He sees both who I am and who I will be.

God sees me. And that makes all the difference.

Genesis 16:13
Hagar gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”



May you be encouraged this week by the all-powerful, miracle-making king who loves you, knows you and sees you. No matter how you’re feeling. I pray God finds you where you are and that you let him draw near. He loves you more than you could ever imagine.


Over halfway there! Eleven letters to go. Wondering what X, Y and Z will be? Stick around to find out. And if you missed Parts One and Two, check them out too!





Monday, 7 August 2017

GOD IS: Part Two



GOD IS: Part Two

There’s something about putting actual words to what I love about God which has really encouraged me lately. I’m not usually one to blame tough times on spiritual attacks, I figure that’s just life, but the past few months especially have felt very much like an attack. Every time I sit down to write or spend time with God, something happens. I get sick, my kids get sick, a meeting I have to be at gets scheduled at that exact time. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Where usually I consider Bible verses or pray through the day as I think of it, lately I’ve been using them as weapons. Claiming them when life gets me down. Reciting them when I feel as if I'm losing the battle. Putting up that post last week – GOD IS: Part One for those who missed it – felt like an absolute victory. Not only had I published the post I'd been trying unsuccessfully to find time to write for the past couple of months but every word of it was my personal testimony of God's goodness. 

So, to continue on, here’s Part Two of my alphabet of attributes I love about God.

F – FAR

I know, God is near and incredibly personal. I love that. But I also love that he’s far away, far enough to not get caught up in my little problems. When I’m standing in front of my wardrobe, assuring myself that deciding what to wear is not worth a panic attack while feeling like I’m heading toward exactly that, I love knowing that God’s not panicking too. He’s bigger than that. Far enough away to know that it really doesn’t matter. He sees the big picture while I’m stressing about the tiny little details.

Isaiah 55:8
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

G – GOOD

G was easy to come up with because it’s something I remind myself of over and over and over every single day. God is good. Life is messy. You only have to watch a few minutes of the news each day to see that. People dying, being abused, suffering for simply being born in a particular place, mass shootings, businesses going under, inoperable cancers – the list goes on and on. And it’s not just the things that make the news. There are just as many struggles closer to home – friends and kids struggling, sickness, exhaustion, that crazy five o’clock hour each afternoon when any semblance of control I think I have goes out the window along with the screams of my toddler furious at me for not letting him play with knives or climb up on the tv stand…

Life is messy. God is good.

Psalm 116:1-7
I love the Lord because he hears my voice
    and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
    I will pray as long as I have breath!
Death wrapped its ropes around me;
    the terrors of the grave overtook me.
    I saw only trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “Please, Lord, save me!”
How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
    So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
    I was facing death, and he saved me.
Let my soul be at rest again,
    for the Lord has been good to me.


H – HELPER

Life is tough. Some days more than others. There are days when I wake up in the morning and wonder – albeit because my arthritis is flaring up or because I’ve been up half the night with a baby – how I’m going to find the strength to get out of bed let alone through the day. And then I remember, I’m not alone. God is my helper. God is the one who will get me through minute by minute, hour by hour. Is he a crutch? Absolutely. I lean on him with every depleted bit of strength I have.

My strength, my courage, my hope, my resilience, my joy – every bit of it comes from God, my helper. The one who keeps me standing. God is my helper.  

Psalm 63:7-8
Because you are my helper,
    I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your strong right hand holds me securely.

I – IRRESISTIBLE

God is irresistible. Utterly and completely irresistible. Believe me, I know. There was a time when I tried to ignore him. He’d let me down, or so I thought. Betrayed my trust and how does one recover from that? When your whole life is based on the premise that God is good and trustworthy and that is not only shaken but crushed, how do you go on? I did my best to ignore God and turn my back on him. I really tried. Stopped reading my Bible, stopped praying, refused to listen or believe that God was good.

It didn’t work. Six months later, I came to the realisation that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t walk away from God because no one else had ever loved me like he did. No one else had ever accepted me so completely as he did. No one else had ever made me feel so beautiful. Never anywhere else but with God had I found such peace.

When you’ve known that peace beyond understanding, that completely unconditional and overwhelming love, that incredible goodness, it’s impossible to be satisfied with any less. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t stay away. God is irresistible.

Psalm 63:1
O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.

J – JUST

I like justice. I never realised how much until I was faced with a decision that simply wasn’t. The bad people got away with being bad and those who’d done nothing wrong were left to languish, simply for being alive. It wasn’t fair. It grated against me. I couldn’t find any way of being at peace with it. It just wasn’t fair.

Sadly, life often isn’t. But, God is. One day, justice will be served. Life will be put back to rights – the good being blessed and the bad being punished. Life will make sense again. Because God is just.

Psalm 73:16-17
I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
    But what a difficult task it is!
 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
    and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.

So, there you have it, my favourite attributes of God starting with the letters F to J. How about you? What would yours be?

Keep a look out next week for the next instalment, and feel free to check out Part One of the series if you missed it.


Until next time :)