You don’t belong here

Downtown Chicago Building Roundup: North

Downtown Chicago Building Roundup: North (Photo credit: Josh*m)

The only way you will find a new culture is if you realise the old one isn’t for you 

Later she gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, for he explained, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.” Exodus 2:22

 Moses was adopted into the Egyptian culture at the highest level. He was an adopted prince living in the palace of pharaoh himself. He had experience the best of life in this rich land. He had known the best of the fashion and cloth, architect, social structure, artwork and delicious cooking. His original family were nomadic wanderers, farmers – those nutters who went on about a promised land. In worldly terms he had the best life as prince in such a powerful nation – yet he knew that he didn’t belong. He knew that he was not one of them and he couldn’t settle.

He named his eldest son “foreigner” so that every time he called his son he was reminded of his home land far away. His heart would leap once more at the promise there was something better. A land where God lived amongst his people and it was like heaven on earth.

His ancestor Abraham saw the same

10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Heb 11:10

Moses knew in his heart that although he couldn’t fully understand what it was there he knew there somewhere even greater than this land and culture that he was an integral part of.

Life may seem good. You have what you need and the friends, family around you. You are settled, happy and content. If you are then can I suggest that you are not ready for an adventure? If you set off with others you will always be harping on about what you left behind, what you could have been, where you could have lived. If you are settled and happy – then exploring a whole new culture isn’t for you.

This adventure is for those searching for a better kingdom. For those not satisfied with the number of people they have seen healed, how many people they have helped their lives turn around or the state of family and community. They are not satisfied with the lack of justice, the suffering of the poor, the loneliness of the old, the vulnerability of the young. They are not settled and want things in their old culture to change. They are nnot happy with aggression, drunkenness, depression, confusion and self-rejection filling their streets and churches. This kind of person sees something better –a different kingdom. These people are desperate for change. They think about it every day. They are ready for something big, new and exciting.

How about you? Are you ready to give up everything to understand something bigger and greater? Are you hungry for the kingdom of God, His city and his culture? Or are you too settled?

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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. “

More thoughts on creativity

Creativity

Creativity (Photo credit: Mediocre2010)

Creativity of Egypt and Israel

Egypt was rich, there was plenty of gold and silver. I have never seen the pyramids but in the national museum in London you can see beautiful artefacts from Egypt. They had skilled craftsmen and perhaps woman (I am not up to date with equal gender rights in Egypt).  So what is the difference between the creativity of God’s free people as seen in Exodus and the Egyptians?

Egypt in the bible is a picture of the world.  All people are made in Gods image wherever they live, whatever they believe – creative and skilful. There is some fantastic art filling the four corners of the earth. If, however, we believe that being full of the Spirit of God adds a new dimension we need to ask the question how? and what does it look like? (cf Exodus 31:2-5)

I am aware that I will be making massive generalisations about art and creativity but please give me that licence to work my thoughts through. Creativity in the world is often measured, assessed, pondered written about, judged and criticized. Many make art for a commission, end product or money. Even at college or University the students are expected to be creative for a finished assessed product to attain a pass. This probably affects the way the artist progresses further on in their life. For many artists the appreciation by others of the finished product is their main motivation.

Could it be that creativity for God is not about the end product but of being. Could it  be as an overflow of the mix of our spirit with God’s Spirit? Could creativeness be an expression of freedom with no purpose but just because I am. Is it for our own exploration and for God to enjoy? There is no right or wrong way.

If we are being the creative masterpiece how do we live our life? Predictable, staid, controlled,? If your life is a canvass what colours are you using? Are you constantly learning new skills, developing new thoughts?

Creativity is….

  • A process not a product
  • Treasure inside coming out not made to make treasure
  • Made from enjoyment not for enjoyment
  • Made for heaven not made for earth
  • Has heavens fingerprints mixed with human fingerprints all over it

Creativity in the wilderness reminds me of 2loaves and 5fishesm- the little boy who brought what he had. I mean they had to build a tabernacle with what they had escaped with the land of Egypt with. They didn’t have sophisticated workshops and skilled equipment. They didn’t have furnaces for smelting metals or the right tools. The people used what they had. All their skills and knowledge, and a heart connection with the creator.

What helps creativity?

  • Confidence not self-consciousness,
  • Acceptance not rejection of ideas
  • Flowing of our spirit. God is spirit and we are spirit –we are made to flow together. We can be moving, active, filling spaces, bringing life
  • Reaching into heaven and expressing it on earth -seeing new colours, new shapes, hear new sounds, experience new relationships
  • Taking away the boundaries and boxes – no longer holding tight or controlling but uncontainable, free, open, powerful,
  • Learning new skills
  • Making space and time
  • Drawing the best out of each other

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.

We are the Prophetic Message

 

Gan Eliezer, Rehavia, Jerusalem

Gan Eliezer, Rehavia, Jerusalem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a strange man. Eating locusts, dressed in camel hair, no wife, no kids, no house – what was he thinking?  His name was John the Baptist. He was a man declaring that there was something coming far more important that this life, these pleasures. He showed his message in his life he lived.

Moses second son was prophetic too – by the name he carried.

Exodus 18:4 Eliezer – which means ‘God was my helper, he rescued me from the sword of Pharaoh

Moses sent his wife and 2 sons off to stay with Jethro (his father in law) to keep them safe. This was sometime before the Israelites escaped from Pharaoh. One month into the journey around the wilderness and Moses sees his children and wife again. What a fantastic re-union. How he must have missed them. Moses tells them all that has happened and about the amazing miracles God did – the way he helped them cross through the sea.  Eliezer heard all about his name being fulfilled. He understood who he was. He had found his identity.

The name of his son shows what faith Moses had that God would rescue the Israelites. Even before the mass exodus Moses named his son “he rescued”. This was a brave step to stake his belief so clearly in the name of his child. Everyday when Moses looked at ‘he rescued’ he must have wondered when his freedom was going to come.

Jethro is delighted at the testimony Moses brings.  He sees the hand of God in all that had happened. The testimony takes him to the presence of God in worship. Aaron and all the elders feast in God’s presence.

My name means noble and for years I only felt shame. God brought me out into a place of freedom where I saw his grace on my life and I understood who I was. I discovered my identity as a noble princess of the King. It is something that I am still discovering and coming to an understanding of. As I change and tell my story I am the message. I rub off God’s love and goodness into other peoples’ hearts.

Your story (testimony) of all that God has done for you will turn peoples hearts to God. You will cause them to desire a relationship with God. Be generous in sharing your story around.

Today: What does your name mean? Feel free to adopt a prophetic name that you see being fulfilled. Eg loved of God, free son, adventurous daughter etc Share your story with someone today and be the message to them.

Lies and labels

In Exodus 5 we find that because the Israelites  were trying to find freedom to go and worship their God Pharaoh put the pressure on big time! Do not be suprised if whilst try to shake of inhibitions and find freedom that your enemy starts putting the pressure on for you to stay the same. We must be careful that we don”t react in fear but stand strong.

 “That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people:  “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw.  But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and worship our God.’ 6-8

Traditional target arrow and replica medieval ...

Traditional target arrow and replica medieval arrow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They are lazy!! What a label for a people crying out under the constant work load demanded of them. If I was trying day in day out just to keep going and get everything done  and someone turned around and called me lazy it would be like an arrow to my heart.

I have had arrows like that thrown at me before. Often I dodge them as they are thrown in jest – “Oh Alison you are crazy!” . I can brush them off when I don’t agree with them. They do no damage to my heart and I do not listen to them. But sometimes things people say stick to me. I remember a lie said to me once by a leader – “You are negative that is why you are not feeling happy”.  I agreed with the assessment of me  as I listen to them and the arrow was given permission, by me, to land into my inner life.

The arrow started to cause problem with my daily living. It was painful and caused me to accept other lies. I thought “I am negative and a bad influence on other people and I will just bring everyone down”. I stopped talking in fear that I would be negative. My lack of interaction in conversations made me think up questions whilst people were talking and I thought that it was a symptom of being negative. I  sometime thought the questions were wrong and perhaps I was not good hearted after all—- I think you get the picture.

The key to dealing with lies that people throw at you is not to agree with them. They can only stick on you if you let them. If you brush them off they loose their power straight away. Laugh at the cheek of the enemy to try and stick  false labels on you. The time that is hardest to brush off a lie is if you know that there is a glimmer of truth in it. You see the sugar coating is true so you swallow down the whole pill into your depths thinking that the medicine is yours.

Today: List all the lies and labels people have put on you over the years. It might be a church leader, school teacher, friend, spouse, parent etc. Sit down and break agreement with the lies you have agreed with and allowed in. Tell them they have no place in your life.

Don’t just read this post but be deliberate in taking each of those arrows out – they wont go away by chance 🙂

The call to unshackled worship

I remember the first time I danced before God. It was in a Spring Harvest meeting 1984 

English: freedom in the rain.

English: freedom in the rain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and I was sat a long way back. The song was ‘I get so excited Lord every-time i realise I’m forgiven’ It was a battle of wills for me but knew if I was excited I couldn’t sing the words standing still. I felt so embarrassed to start with and then a freedom burst inside that I had never felt before. I stopped taking myself quite so seriously. It was a breakthrough in truth that still causes me to dance even now.

 

 “This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” Exodus 8

 

The Israelites were  eventually given freedom by Pharaoh  in order that they could go and worship their God. They were not randomly allowed to go free – there was a reason, a purpose. Our primary call, our purpose in being free, is to worship God.  Lets use our freedom to worship God with unshackled hearts and hands.

 

In the story Pharaoh didn’t like this ‘free’ worship – he wanted to restrict and control the worship the people brought their God. He perhaps felt threatened that the people thought there was someone higher, greater and more powerful than he. It must have hurt his ego somewhat. He agreed to let God’s people go to worship Him but he tried to lay down guidelines in which to restrict them

 

  •  Ex 8:25 go sacrifice to God in this land

This is worship with not much effort or movement. There is no change to the position of what they are doing already. This keeps complete control on the activity.

 

  •  Ex 8:28 don’t go far away

This is worship with tight restrictions. You can worship a little way off but don’t go mad you still have tight limitations as to what you can do.

 

  •  Ex 10 :11 Go now you who are men

This worship is not inclusive of the whole family. It lacks united generations, enthusiasm of the young, wisdom of the old, practicality of the experienced and dreams of those starting out.  It lacks unity, togetherness and therefore power! It is only half a family encouraged to worship.

 

  •  Ex 10: 24 Let your flocks be held back

This is worship of our body only but doesn’t include the sacrifice of our money or time. If we withhold our finances and belongings our hearts are severely restricted in overflow and abandonment.

 

Let us use our freedom to worship God with crazy overflow. To go all the way. To do what we feel God telling us to do – no matter what. This is what we were set free for.

 

Today: Is there any expression of worship that you struggle with or do not express? Eg lying prostrate, dancing, giving, standing on your chair, etc. decide that you will not be held back any longer but you will make full use of your freedom to bring all your worship