Moses and the presence of God

English: Border collie dog Deutsch: Border Col...

English: Border collie dog Deutsch: Border Collie Hund (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” Exodus 33:15&16

I am challenged by the thought that Moses was not prepared to move anywhere without God. He insisted on following the presence of God himself, saying, “If your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here”. He wasn’t satisfied just to make things up as he went, he was not content to keep on going and hope God would turn up at some point. The presence of God was so vital to Moses that unless the presence of God went with him he wouldn’t move, he wouldn’t just guess, he wouldn’t carry on. No matter what the pressure or the embarrassment – he was happy to wait for God.

This is mirrored in my collie dog Gemma. When I take her for a walk she is constantly checking to see where I am. Now and again I try to hide from her, it is very difficult, but if I manage it as soon as she realises she has lost me she comes charging through the undergrowth to find me again. She is not prepared to go anywhere unless I am walking with her, unless she is aware of my presence.

‘We need to pay a price to see God more clearly. Moses’ whole life groomed him to see God. His success as Israel’s leader depended entirely on his ability, moment by moment to perceive and follow the presence and voice of the Lord.’ Bill Johnson Face to Face with God p86

Am I prepared to pay the price to follow the presence and voice of God? Will I lay down everything at the call of His voice? Will I be prepared to wait on God again and again for as long as it takes? Does the desire for His presence bring tears to my eyes with longing? It is challenging to ask these questions. It is easy to be in a meeting full of habits and empty of presence where there are no risks and we are in control. It is easier to follow the clear loud voice of man than the small whisper of God we may have to wait for.

The presence of God is so special we should hold it in high esteem. We should give time to it, cultivate it and enjoy it. In his presence we are changed, set free and find our identity. In his presence we glimpse heaven, see eternal truths, experience revelation and receive dreams. In his presence we find unity, freedom and flow together. In His presence we receive healing, experience miracles, sense his breath, know his touch and laugh with joy. We should never ever undervalue the importance of the presence of God.

‘Moses was the great leader he was because he was not focused not personal success but on the God who could be known.  Moses preferred the wilderness with God to the Promised Land without God, a noble choice for sure’  Bill Johnson Face to Face with God p87

Today: How much of your daily life relies on the presence of God?

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Phew what do smell like?

Nose

Nose (Photo credit: World of Oddy)

For those of you who have just joined us –welcome. Let me explain the things us ramblers are chatting about. We are looking at the way God is bringing us from an old culture into a kingdom culture. To help us do this we are looking at the Philippine culture and seeing what God is saying to us through it.

Smells

Every country smells different. The different fauna, food eaten, spices used and manufacturing going on. In the Philippines there are the lovely smells of food and the most beautiful flowers, and then there are the less pleasant smells of rubbish, open sewage and the exhaust fumes from all the traffic. Banana bunches smell quite strong, the chlorine from the swimming pools, the smell of heat in the air, the sweet smell of pineapple and I love the smell of a wood stove with something delicious cooking on it. The fragrance on the air can change quite dramatically in few steps and then change to something else in another few steps.

Philippines has such colourful, large flowers. The national flower is the sampaguita a type of wonderfully scented pure white jasmine. The smell is very strong and is carried on the air quite a long way from where the plant is situated. You can’t help but be arrested by the smell in the air after a thunderstorm when the air is fresh and the frogs have all woken up, swam with the running water to the river below and started their frog chorus. This noise is so loud it sounds like car engines revving.

For too long I have smelt unpleasant smells in ‘churchiness’ :the smell of frustration, the fragrance of sweat and toil, the odour of grease and dirt. Perhaps in the air there has been the whiff of staleness and putrid rottenness. Sometimes their is the artificial smell of an air freshener trying to cover up a smell that shouldn’t be there, something unpleasant. Then there is the smell of sparks flying as people with chips on their shoulders clash in relationships.

Yesterday I listened to a talk on worship by Jenn Johnson and she talks about people not being real in the church. They are trying to be perfect so when they make a mistake they don’t know how to deal with it. “Everybody poops, so everybody needs to flush. It is just in the church there is a lot of poop lying around”. I guess that might smell a lot! You can listen to it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?=3mIOnVpJDnY&list=PL330BDC3EE47414D9A

This new kingdom culture has a fragrance of its own. It comes a beautiful smell of freshness. The air reeks of freedom and excitement, liberty and power, creativity, acceptance and love. There is no smell of striving but of finding fulfilment. There is no air freshener of cover up but of beautiful unity.

I don’t know if you have ever been gathering worshipping before the throne before now and actually smelt heaven. It has happened to me a couple of times. I have wanted to hold my breath to keep the sweetness of the fragrance in my lungs. It smells of heaven, of beauty, of holiness and purity. This kingdom is heaven come to earth –it is the smell of heaven.

You know what else I smell in the air at the moment? – revival coming. There is the whiff of it coming like the strong aftershave announcing the arrival of a man in pursuit of beauty. In our travels What is so exciting about exploring this new kingdom culture is that so many people are talking about it. They may not talk about it in the same terms I am using, that doesn’t matter. Having spent time travelling and talking to people over this last year I have met people from different backgrounds, nations and Christian streams. I get the same impression –something new is happening. Many talk about a near revival, many are seeing healings like never before, many are seeing a new heart connection across different church tribes bringing unity, many are experiencing afresh the Fathers heart, or times spent soaking in the Spirit. From Australia, Philippines, Norway, India, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Rugby, Wolverhampton, USA, Canada, Congo, Italy – I have spoken to people from all these places (and more) and felt something new.

Can I take you back to the Sampaguita flower? It stands for purity, simplicity, humility and strength – how beautiful. Imagine a church full of purity, simplicity, humility and strength and what a beautiful fragrance they would carry in their towns and cities. I feel these are the keys to fill the atmosphere with the fragrance of heaven.

Today: What fragrance are you giving off? What do your relationships smell like?  What smell is filling your atmosphere? Is it beautiful, sweet fragrance of heaven?

Travel in the new culture

Photo i have taken myself, for the "jeepn...

Photo i have taken myself, for the “jeepney” gallery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you who have just joined us –welcome. Let me explain the things us ramblers are chatting about. We are looking at the way God is bringing us from an old culture into a kingdom culture. To help us do this we are looking at the Philippine culture and seeing what God is saying to us through it.

With the heat soaring up to 100°F and humidity around 80% the Filipinos find it uncomfortable to walk. It was amusing trying to explain to our Filipino friends that some Britains enjoy walking for fun – they couldn’t believe it. Because few people walk in Manila there are lots of differing transport to choose from. You may want to travel on a Jeepney, a taxi, a tricycle, a motorbike, car, horse and cart, bicycle or coach. Take your pick. The roads in Manila are full of traffic, swerving, beeping their horns and finding their way from A to B. The road markings are guidelines and marked lanes are not mandatory. Vehicles are joining roads, changing lanes, overtaking and turning from everywhere, it is a real experience to see!

If you did choose to walk along the roadside there are rarely pavements. There may be one for a while and then a few market stalls, or a ditch with rubbish in, or it might just disappear.

The journey in this new culture, we have been exploring together, is different from anything we have experienced before. There is not someone telling us where to go, what to believe and what to do. In my Christian walk I feel that I have always had authorities giving me white lines to travel within, markers that define what I think and how I should behave. There has been temptation to clone thinking and behaviour, to count as dangerous or an alien anyone with differing thoughts and to restrict movement so that it is containable. Now I feel the white lines are optional. I can choose, think and behave according to the real me.

No longer are we travelling on mass. There is still unity, still co-hesion, but there is also a new freedom to explore. Some may wish to take a Jeepney to the market, others a tricycle to the mall, others a taxi to eat out. Different groups of people have the freedom to go where they want without judgement.

Even those that chose to travel together they will not find they walk in single line behind a leader. They will explore different things and come back to share what they have found. One may go to the cloth stall to feel and explore the colours, one may go to the bakery to try the cakes, one may go to the book stall to find some further knowledge – then the individuals will cross paths, share stories and perhaps take each other to the best places. The adventures then meet up with a unity of spirit to share the exciting treasures and truths they have found together.

What stops this turning into chaos? It is the heart connection. The honouring and respecting of authority that pulls everyone together and sets a direction for the next area of exploration. For the desire of the travellers to honour each other and put each other first. Togetherness is no longer the fact that everyone is in the same room doing the same thing, but a connection of heart in their various stages of advance. It is being real, honest and sharing a common vision and purpose. There is a compass of God’s word, there is a direction to head for, but there are ways of exploring all that Jesus has done for us.

Today: What area of God are you exploring right now? Why is it you are exploring that? Who are you meeting with to share your new found treasures?

Called out of Egypt

I recently heard on radio 4 that ‘a traveller doesn’t know where they are going and a tourist does not know where they have been’. One journeyer does not appreciate the way ahead, the other does not recognising the importance of the path behind. I do not wish to be like either one; wandering aimlessly in life not knowing how I get to where I am heading or nor having any idea how I came to be here in the first place. I want to be one who looks both ahead and behind and finds strength, solace and direction in understanding.

Culture Change

 ‘You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.’ Exodus 19: 3-6 (MSG)

The Israelites had been slaves for many generations since their ancestor Joseph had died. They had become slaves and been ruthlessly treated. During their time in Egypt the passing generations had gradually adopted the customs of this culturally rich nation. They dressed and put make up like the Egyptians, ate their tastes in food, became used to living in the style of housing, they ate on Egyptian designed plates with Egyptian style cutlery and drank Egyptian speciality tea.  They read the language, spoke the language, understood the traditions and worshipped the same gods. They even walked like an Egyptian ( 🙂 )

God was calling them out of the land and out of a nation of people. They were not Egyptians they were Israelites and they needed to find their own identity again.

Not only did the culture became ingrained in their way of thinking they had become accustomed to the role of slavery. They were told where to go, what to do, given boundaries to live in, ordered to follow certain rules and to obey without question certain people. They had become so used to taking on the mantle and chains of slavery in a foreign land that God had to call them into a wide free space to find out their personal and co-operate identity.

We see God speak to them to start kick-start the truth of their identity in the verse above. He tells them “You are not to be slaves to men, you are a free people. You are not objects to be owned with a number – you are precious children, my special treasure. Far from being nothings and nobodies remember you are a chosen people, a priesthood, holy nation. Not only have you been chosen there are times when I carried you myself to freedom and made a safe place for you. “ This was Father God calling imparting truth into his children

The life in the desert was to be a time of re-adjustment for the people. They had to learn afresh how to be free, loved, powerful, holy, treasured and Gods. This was time to learn a whole new way of being, way of thinking to a new way. God’s way.

Today: Say out loud to yourself ‘I am not to a slave to men, I am a free person. I am not an object to be owned I am a precious child, God’s special treasure. I am not a nothing and a nobody but I am part of a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Not only have I been chosen there are times when has God carried me himself to freedom and made a safe place for me. “

Allowing the ‘real me’ into the sunlight

English: Parrot painting Ελληνικά:

English: Parrot painting Ελληνικά: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something is happening to my friends on this adventure right now that excites me. I am seeing a release that is causing new songs, new dreams, new drawings, new rapping, new paintings, new life changes, creative time management and much more. Something is stirring deep in my heart too. Let me explain what I see:

In order to appear spiritual and successful we have been encouraged to pretend to be someone we are not. This person is not us, it is who we would like to be. We hide our weaknesses and faults thinking that the ‘real me’ is not acceptable. We put a different persona forward – this persona is all sparkling, slick, organised and confident. We may be encouraged to hide ‘real me’ even deeper inside if we try to express our fears, weaknesses and doubts that ‘real me’ is feeling and we get rejected or are misunderstood. Perhaps we get told to pull ourselves together, we get told to confess the truth and stop crying, we get told to have faith and think of others in worse situations than ourselves.

We subsequently become ashamed of who we really are. Our weaknesses and faults make us feel like failures. People seem to love our new persona and not be so impressed with the ‘real me’.

The only trouble is that we start to hide not only our hurts, bed memories, mistakes and pain we also hide the good things we are. We hide our sensitivity, responses, choices, passions, opinions, things we care about. These things at the core of the ‘real me’ get hidden away. We feel they are not suitable for public show, they are embarrassing and not up to standard.

By hiding our core we start to become numb. We lose our wow factor- our wonder in the small things that make us look and say “wow”.  Appreciation of beauty needs our emotions and a very personal response -but we no longer trust these things.  In loosing our sensitivity and delight we loose touch with all that is creative inside us

The journey I am on has meant that all the cupboards of my life where I have stored the unacceptable memories, the painful words, the shame of mistakes and the ‘real me’ have been overflowing. I have had them all packed up nicely along with my sensitivity and ability to feel. I have made a choice to unpack these and face what is inside. This means facing loss, grief, misplaced trust etc. but what I didn’t expect to find is that as I have deliberately started to deal with the negative things I have started to find myself.

The ‘real me’ has started to find its way through the rubble of the healing process and out into the open. I can start to make choices, feel, respond and not be ashamed. I can show my weaknesses and mistakes and it is ok. I can not have it all together but still be loved. I have started to draw, paint, write songs and think again. It is exciting to feel a fresh expression of things inside.

Freedom brings creativity.

Freedom and Creativity

English: old craft

English: old craft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,  to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts Exodus 31:2-5

This is first time that we see someone as being described as being filled with the Holy Spirit in the bible.  He was filled with all wisdom, ability and expertise in all kinds of crafts in the Holy Spirit. When was this expressed? After freedom had come. Freedom looked like an individual overflowing with decisions and choices, these choices created something from heaven – a spiritual beauty on earth.

There is something about freedom that causes people to find their core identity from which they can express themselves fully. We were made in the creator’s image and when we express our true selves it is full of creativity. We were beautifully and wonderfully made so what we create in the spirit reflects this like a mirror.

Bezalel was filled with the Holy Spirit for practical skills, gifts and knowledge. It wasn’t for experience but for expression. We find the same explosion of expression and release when we speak in tongues. It wasn’t for abstract intensity but for a supernatural reality. It was for ….

  1. Creating beauty out of the ordinary
  2. Skilled engraving –making a mark, writing lasting words, impacting lives with permanence
  3. Mounting gemstones –taking a rock from the dirt, seeing potential, honing it patiently, bringing out its beauty and then put in the best place to show its glory
  4. Working with gold, silver and bronze -adapting to different metal  resistance and properties and bringing the best out of each material
  5. Carving wood  -working with that which people think as base and plain and make out of it something of beauty

First we need to find our core identity. Until we know what this we cannot express who we really are. Who are you and what are you all about?

Today: Start a discovery to the core of your being. Become filled with wonder as you find out who you really are.

The Golden Calf – identity

When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain,

P question

P question (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.” Exodus 32:2

What had happened to the chosen of Israel? Those whom God had said of them ‘I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.’ Exodus 19:4-6 (MSG) When did they forget that they were a chosen nation – a  special people? Did they forget what God had done bringing them out of Egypt?

Moreover had they forgotten the vital role Moses took in laying his life down to rescue them from their strong oppressors?  He had been a skillful communicator, a powerful advocate and a caring leader. He had been willing to lay his identity down as a Prince in the palace to lead a group of lost ragamuffin slaves out into the desert. He had been faithful, consistent, strong, obedient to God and showed incredible courage. He had been the man who had met God face to face and spoken with him as a friend. Wow what a guy. Let’s look again at how the Israelites described him – ‘this fellow Moses’. How disrespectful, what a lack of honour and appreciation for who he was.

When we loose sight of all God has done for us, loose respect and honour for the anointed of the Lord  we loose our own identity

 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off!  9

If you are the Son of God prove it. If you are God’s chosen people prove it. If you are a special nation prove it. If you are holy priesthood prove it. The enemy would like us to doubt who we are. He would love it if we felt we had to prove ourselves all the time. This leads to squabbling, jealousy, back biting, pushing ourselves forward and self promotion. He wants us to forget where we have come from, forget the miracles he has done for us, forget the journey we have been on, forget the times he has carried us and held our hand.  The enemy would like us to break heart connection with our Father and each other. When we are isolated and bitter we are no longer effective.

Let us instead honour one another, speak well of each other, remind each other where we have come from, speak highly of one another – this is the way we find ourselves and our Father. We are special, chosen, holy and royal – this is your identity.

Today;  Ask these questions of yourself: who are you, where have you come from, what has God done for you, what are here for and where are you going? For if you are confident in who you are you will be affirming and honouring of others and who they are.