He comforts to the point of strength

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I have no words yet I have all the words. Death seems to have a way of breathing new life into our bones and shifting our focus on the eternal. Thank you all for your love, prayers and messages these past few weeks. We have felt it. God has wrapped us up in His love. For those who are new here. Here’s the link to our journey over the past while.

I have been meditating on the valley… because it is a familiar place to us at the moment. It would appear this valley here is no sprint – but what I do know is that ‘even though I walk through the darkest valley.’

THROUGH. Phew

 Rick Warren describes the valley as : Inevitable /\Unpredictable/\Impartial/\Temporary

Valleys happen, they are no respecter of persons and never happen at a good time – read more of his devotional here  – he ends it with this ‘…There is an eternal glory. This is important. Pain can be productive. There will be a benefit for our problems if we respond in the right way. While we have the temporary hassles there is long term, eternal benefit when you go through a valley and respond to it correctly.’

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Our God the comfort, He comforts well – to the point of strength. That’s our promise even when emotions weigh us down and grief gets in the bones. Even in the darkest valley moments. There’s always, ALWAYS light.

Because of promise. Because He is light. And there is no darkness in Him. And at times like these. When we’re fighting for the day. There is a community that rises up. With encouragement and food, and cakes (because sweet things are comforting ;)) meals out and a whole lot of love. Thank you.

….and today I am procrastinating on a uni assignment because I seem to have misplaced creativity. I am supposed to be writing a Fantasy story for 7-9 year olds – so I decided to ‘winterize’ the (neglected) veggie patch instead.

As I begin to turn it over, and weed – I pull up a whole harvest of misshaped carrots – I find monster zucchini hidden under shrivelled leaves – and an abundance of tomatoes desperately crawling on the ground. Yes, there is still fruit – even when it appears we’re not on top of things. There is harvest in this mess.

And a surprise selection of sunflowers grow tall. Facing light.

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After my gardening today I came in for tea and (more) cake and read an article by Danny Silk.  ‘Your life is a gift from God to you. It has infinite value to him, which he communicates to you in all the many ways He loves you…healthy relationships grow between people who have embraced their individual responsibility to tend to their own gardens. …You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else. If you have ever been on a plane, you have been subjected to the flight attendants’ spiel about what to do if the cabin loses pressure. They explain that oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling and show you how to put them on. Every time, they remind you that if you are traveling with a child or someone else in need of assistance, you must be sure to put your mask on before you try to help anyone else. The implication is clear. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you won’t be able to care for anyone else. (Thanks Danny!)

So as we walk through the valley we care for ourselves, we hide in the rock, and hear Jesus whisper ‘get up’…. and we take a few more steps.

And even in these past few weeks loved ones near and far have faced their own valley –unexpected news, accident, illness and loss.

Friends: God is near to you – He is near to the broken hearted He rescues those who are crushed in spirit – He prays for us. What a perfect opportunity for the Holy Spirit to meet us in our weakness and pray on our behalf. He knows us.

That’s all for now!

Love, Michelle xo

 

A few days before we returned UK Phil preached on the book of Job – little did we know we’d practicing what he preached… you can listen to it here.

 

On Finding Gold

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At the end of our Oregon road trip we popped across to Bethel Church in Redding – an 8hr drive, we’ve got this road trip thing down. We love Bethel’s worship and teaching and often tune in.

A few friends asked us ‘So… what’s it like at Bethel’

We were so blessed to be in touch with the pastoral team through our friend who arranged for us to receive prayer from the Bethel pastors. Of course they took it to another level and saved us seats, a parking space and blessed us with a gift bag of books and cds – reviews and book clubs to follow 😉

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We were prayed for during the course of the day by several of pastors who immediately felt like friends, who loved us, encouraged us and called out dreams that had only been whispered in secret places.

We heard Carol Arnott speak on Sunday morning and Bill Johnson on Sunday evening. During Sunday evening we saw over 60 physical healings – of injuries and sicknesses, many of which had been around for years. We saw freedom from pain… and feathers floating.

All this time the ‘man’ didn’t run around praying for people, nor did people run to the man, no glory was given to anyone except God. It was very low key and almost understated in terms on man’s involvement. The involvement came when Bill encouraged those in the congregation to pray for one another or in his words ‘church family you have a job to do.’

I love all of the above – there was so much we took away from Bethel, mostly the genuine culture of honor, which is fostered among ALL the people. You might know the book ‘Culture of Honor’ written by Danny Silk. He writes that ‘Honor means relating to someone according to his or her God given identity… Honor looks for gold in people’.

Danny Silk writes that honor – accurately acknowledging who people are – will position us to give them what they deserve, and to receive the gift of who they are in return.  Honor relinquishes the desire to control, accepting risk and trusting freedom.  Honor leads with love and creates zones where people feel safe and important.  Through honor, masks come off, walls come down, and hearts come out.  People’s gifts are revealed, affirmed, and released. Life flows through honor.

He also writes: A controlling God, who is usually represented by a controlling church leadership, is just not good news. How can church leadership create freedom and not more rules? How can we bring out the best in human beings and keep it at the surface even as we deal with their problems and shortcomings? Can we empower others and release them to live from their best natures and from the truest reasons they are alive?

Imagine if we all grasped hold of this truth and were able to say:

‘I carry something that no one else carries. I must develop and release my gifts into the Church and the world and do my part in bringing Heaven to earth’

Does it feel like a difficult, risky task to verbally identify someone’s identity through honor? Possibly for some – our own insecurity might prevent it, underlying judgments that the person does not deserve it, maybe? Fear? Don’t know what to say? Start with ‘you are loved…’ and go from there.

That’s what I carry from Bethel to Willow Park. To see the gold in people of our community, our city. ‘In a culture of honor, leaders lead with honor by courageously treating people according to the names God gives them and not according to the aliases they receive from people’

YOU are loved!

Michelle x