Wednesday’s Wisdom

I may have mentioned this before but I love Bob Goff! I enjoy hearing him speak and reading his books. I think he has a great outlook on life and sounds like a lot of fun. I can’t imagine that Sweet Maria (his wife) is ever bored! 😂 If I could meet up with him for a day and just talk about life I think it would be such a lot of fun and so inspiring.

This quote kind of reminded me of when I read the Ikigai book too. For most of my adult life I’ve seen myself as a bit of a ‘Jack of All Trades’. Not that I did everything at once but I turned my hand to a lot of different jobs at home, at work and at church, not to mention in the community and basically wherever I could. I’m not an expert in anything really but I’m able to do lots of things, and I like to help out. I guess what I’ve realised though is that just doing what you’re able to do isn’t necessarily fulfilling so I’ve been trying for a while to figure out what I was made to do – and I think I’m getting closer to the answer. I loved this quote from Bob’s book as a reminder to do what I was made for and not just what I’m able to do.

What were you made to do? Do you feel like you’re already doing it and if so how does that feel? If you’re doing something that you’re able to do but doesn’t feel like what you were made to do what’s stopping you from changing course? If you’re working towards doing what you were made to do what does that mean for you?

I’m always reading something or other. Books, social media feeds, study notes, blogs and more. Recently I’ve become even more aware of how much wisdom I come across in what I read so I decided to share some of it with you. I’m honestly not sure how consistent I will manage to be with this or how long I’ll keep it up but I’m going to try. It’s all part of the growing I need to do.

Wednesday’s Wisdom

From “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy

This is from another great book that I got recently. There are so many little gems in this one too. I need to remember this often – sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent. If you did this today I’m proud of you.

I’m always reading something or other. Books, social media feeds, study notes, blogs and more. Recently I’ve become even more aware of how much wisdom I come across in what I read so I decided to share some of it with you. I’m honestly not sure how consistent I will manage to be with this or how long I’ll keep it up but I’m going to try. It’s all part of the growing I need to do.

Wednesday’s Wisdom

There’s so much wisdom in this book it’s hard to pick just one bit. I’m not even finished reading it yet but I think it has the potential to be life changing. If you haven’t read this book I’d highly recommend it. Maybe one day I’ll write a wee review of it but until then I hope you benefit from this snippet of wisdom. It definitely made me think.

I’m always reading something or other. Books, social media feeds, study notes, blogs and more. Recently I’ve become even more aware of how much wisdom I come across in what I read so I decided to share some of it with you. I’m honestly not sure how consistent I will manage to be with this or how long I’ll keep it up but I’m going to try. It’s all part of the growing I need to do.

When Heaven Invades Earth

I was recently reading this book by Bill Johnson for the night class I’m attending (virtually these days) through church. As an assignment for the class we had to write a short reflection on the book and I mentioned this in a previous post. Today I wanted to go back and reread what I had said in the reflection; partly because I know that there were some things I planned to act on after writing it and I wanted to make sure that I’m doing this. I thought while I was going back over it I’d share it here to let you guys in on some of my recent thoughts about faith. Please feel free to leave questions or comments but be gentle – a lot of this is stuff that’s still pretty raw for me and I’m still processing and working through. I’m not at the end of this journey yet – maybe I never will be. So without further ado – here it is:

Reflection on When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson

On reading this book there were so many things that stood out for me; things that I want to be able to put into practise.  For the purposes of this reflection I’ve narrowed these down to four main themes that I felt were particularly powerful for me (in no particular order) – power, presence, testimony and superior reality.

Power

The first theme I want to look at is power.  I realise that my appetite for the impossible has shrunk over the years and that I have not been expecting miracles to happen in or through me.  Although I knew that anyone could access the prophetic, I was guilty of believing it was not my gift and therefore neglecting the prophetic. I have buried the gifts I was aware that I had out of fear of man or fear of being wrong.  I feel like my Christianity has been a compromise – there has been little supernatural power involved and little impact for the Kingdom.

Reading this book has given me an increased desire to see this change.  As it states in Chapter 11 “to re-present Him without power is a major shortcoming.” I want to display the power of God in and through my life so that the people I come into contact with get a true representation of Jesus. I realise that to do this I will have to be bold and take risks but in doing this I will become dangerous to the enemy.  In Chapter 3 we see that “Hidden sin…has kept us from the purity that breeds boldness and great faith.” I want boldness and great faith so I’m going to look to God to expose any hidden sin in my life so that I can be pure.  I intend to pray specifically about diseases that I want to see God heal through me and for the boldness to be obedient and the tenacity to keep on doing it even if I don’t see results straight away.

Presence

The second theme I felt was significant is the presence of God.  I feel that there have been seasons in my walk with God that I have been intimate with Him but I know that there is more.  I have been guilty of striving and being led by my intellect rather than living out of a place of rest and allowing Him to lead me.  I feel that I have also allowed others to influence my life more than I should have rather than listening to God. I know that my hunger and my passion for God is not what it has been in the past and I want that back.

I am already starting to spend more of my quiet time worshipping and developing intimacy with God. I am realising increasingly that what I need is His presence more than anything else and I want that continual anointing.  I want to feel His manifested presence as I walk with Him minute by minute.  I want a deeper encounter with the Trinity and to live completely surrendered to God.  I am praying for a hunger for the presence of the Spirit of God in my life so that I will be changed and humbled and He will be glorified. 

Testimony

Chapter 2 states that “When we are silent, we have chosen to keep those who would hear away from eternal life.”  This was a bit of a wake-up call for me.  I am often silent – about many things – and I have not been particularly vocal about my faith; in particular I have not been evangelistic.  I don’t want to limit other people’s opportunities to come to Jesus.  I have also listened to scepticism about the miraculous and allowed myself to be swayed towards unbelief.  I know that I have also believed lies about the value of what I have to say.

I am praying that I will conquer and be released from whatever it is that stops me from boldly speaking out.  I have already begun to declare the truth of what God says, out loud, every day and will continue to do this.  I also intend to make a point of reading and watching more testimonies about what God is doing to feed myself and increase my expectation and desire for the supernatural.  I know that God’s natural realm is the supernatural and what He has done before He will do again.  I am declaring that when I speak people will come to know Him.  I will continue to listen to God so that my faith is increased.  I want to speak out the message of the Kingdom and see that backed up with His power.

Superior Reality

For many years in my Christian walk I have lost sight of the superior reality of the kingdom and focused too much on the ‘natural’.  Like many Christians I have prayed for people who have not received healing and that has led to a fear of appearing to live in denial.  I think I have been guilty of focusing more on my inability than on His ability and I realise that I need my mind to be transformed.

I now understand that there is reality and a superior reality.  The reminder that Jesus lived as a man and could do nothing in himself, that He performed miracles and signs and wonders in right relationship to God made me acknowledge that as a Christian I should be doing this too. I want to live a life of ‘history-changing significance’.  I repent of my wrong thinking and surrender completely to God’s rule.  I am choosing to agree with God and stop partnering with what appears to be the truth in the natural.  I will ask God to open my eyes so that I will be more aware of the superior reality of the mysteries of His Kingdom.

In conclusion I want to stop living as a ‘good person’ and instead live as a citizen of heaven on earth.  I want to insist on a supernatural lifestyle that truly allows the world to encounter Christ.  I abandon my heart completely to Him and I am praying for a faith that brings the reality of heaven to earth.  I want a faith that knows God will do it when I pray for healing.  I want to discover who God truly is and put aside the religious misconceptions I have had which affect my faith. I want to take up the authority He has given me and move in that. I want to have a faith that “moves heaven, so that heaven will move earth.”

Ikigai

It must be around 6 months since I first heard of the concept of Ikigai.  This diagram was the first thing I saw and it drew me particularly because I had been wondering what to do about my job and my business and what my ‘mission’ in life should be.  Apparently Ikigai translates roughly as life’s worth or purpose and is the reason that those who find it get out of bed in the morning.  It is about doing something that you are passionate about and never wanting to stop.

At first looking at this diagram it seemed to me like Ikigai might be pretty difficult to achieve but when I started to break down each area I felt like I might be closer to seeing what it would look like for me.  I haven’t found it yet (still working on that) but since then I have watched a couple of video clips about it and read the book by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles.  The book has the strapline “The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” and looks at some of the most elderly people and communities in the world and tries to work out what their secrets are.  I love the subtitle of the first chapter ‘the art of staying young while growing old.’  It’s not that I have anything against growing old – in fact that’s a good thing when you think about the alternative – but I don’t want to feel old inside, I don’t want to stop ‘living’ when I get to a certain age.  As you might have guessed the book says that finding your Ikigai or reason for living is key to this and “whatever you do, don’t retire!”

I don’t imagine that any of the advice on Ikigai will be new to you – it’s all been around for ages in various forms but it’s certainly interesting to see it all put together in this way.  Rather than go into it all I’ll give you some bullet pointed advice from the book and you can decide for yourself if you want to read more.

Secrets to a long and happy life:

  • exercise your brain
  • find a way to reduce stress and anxiety (although a little stress is good for you)
  • too much sitting will age you (you don’t necessarily have to do strenuous exercise just make sure you move)
  • get enough sleep
  • find flow in everything you do and do it passionately
  • eat less (and eat healthy)
  • never stop learning
  • smile and have a good time
  • don’t worry or hurry
  • celebrate and enjoy life
  • give thanks
  • connect with nature
  • nurture your friendships
  • develop resilience
  • live in the moment
  • find your purpose in life

Sounds like heaven doesn’t it?  Obviously there is a lot more detail in the book in particular about finding your purpose, finding flow, resilience and the Ikigai diet and exercise.  So if any of this has piqued your interest you might want to read it.  There are some themes in the book that I don’t agree with as they don’t line up with my faith but the concept itself is totally complimentary as you can probably tell from the list above.

I’m definitely going to be working on finding my Ikigai.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

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If you haven’t read this book yet – do it! I know I’m really behind the times and people have been talking about this for ages but I’ve been kinda busy over the last couple of years/ my life and I hadn’t made time to check it out.

If you enjoy warm, funny, raw, honest real-life fiction you will love this book. It’s so easy to get into and I love the way the author drip feeds you information about the characters. It’s like making a friend getting to know Eleanor. I finished the book a couple of days ago and I kinda miss her.

I don’t want to give too much away in case you haven’t read it but there are a few themes in the book that are quite relatable such as struggles with mental health, image, love and friendship.  The author addresses these in a very honest and thought provoking way.  Probably one of the best fiction books I’ve read in ages.  Totally recommend it.

Abba’s Child

Earlier this year I started reading Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning.  I finally managed to finish it on holiday last week.  Don’t assume that the length of time I spent reading it means that it wasn’t good – it really was.  There have been so many other things going on this year that I’ve had a lot less time to read than I normally would and I ended up putting it down for weeks at a time without touching it.  Anyway, I digress.

This was one of those books you can really get your teeth into.  I have parts underlined on almost every page.  There is loads of food for thought and it’s not just jelly and ice cream food it’s a whopping great steak that you really have to chew over.  It’s well worth the chewing though ’cause it’s so refreshing and satisfying.

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What I’ll do is give you some of the little nuggets that I took out of each chapter.  I reckon you could read it and get something different though.  It has so much to say.

Come out of hiding
The first chapter talks about our view of ourselves and our assumptions about how God views us.  It talks about our tendency to hide our true selves from others and from God (there’s that mask again!) and even to begin to accept our portrayed self as reality.  God desires that we come out of hiding and realise that we are safe with him.

Christians who remain in hiding continue to live the lie… We cling to our bad feelings and beat ourselves with the past when what we should do is let go… But when we dare to live as forgiven men and women, we join the wounded healers and draw closer to Jesus. (p29)

The Imposter
In this chapter Manning talks about the image that we portray in order to be accepted and approved of by others.  This false self has a ‘perfect’ image and is driven to perform rather than to live by grace.  The imposter is a liar.

This is the man I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him.  And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy.  (Quoting Thomas Merton, p37)

The Beloved
In contrast to the imposter, the beloved, is our true self.  Our real and only true identity as one loved by God, ‘not (loved because of our) works, so that no one can boast’ (Eph 2:9).  The beloved lives in the present presence of God and only in grasping this identity is able to touch others.

When I allow God to liberate me from unhealthy dependence on people, I listen more attentively, love more unselfishly, am more compassionate and playful.  I take myself less seriously, become aware that the breath of the Father is on my face and that my countenance is bright with laughter in the midst of an adventure I thoroughly enjoy. (p58)

Just that one quote inspires me.  I want to be that person.  To be completely free to be the person God made me to be and to rest assured that even in my imperfection Abba loves me and will use me to show His love to others – not in a way that burdens but out of the overflow of His heart for me.

Abba’s Child
Have you ever noticed how annoying predictive text can be?  Every time I want to type ‘Abba’s’ it wants to correct it to ‘ABBA’s’ or ‘Anna’s’ 😝.  It’s driving me nuts!!

Anyway back to the book.  This chapter focuses on God’s indiscriminate love for His kids and Jesus example of growing intimacy with the Father and compassion for humanity.  It develops the idea of how we live out the gospel and build His kingdom as a result of living out our true identity.  There are several parts of this chapter that I’d love to quote but this one about the unknown struggles that even those we disagree with or even disapprove of is a little gem.

The heartfelt compassion that hastens forgiveness matures when we discover where our enemy cries. (p69)

Just chew over that for a minute.  I feel like we would all be less judgmental if we could only let that concept take root in our hearts.

The Pharisee and the Child

Jesus did not die at the hands of muggers, rapists or thugs.  He fell into the well-scrubbed hands of deeply religious people, society’s most respected members. (p80)

Not too surprisingly, the chapter about the Pharisee focuses on our tendency towards hypocrisy.  None of us wants to think of ourselves as a Pharisee but if we are brutally honest about it I doubt anyone can say that they have never been judgemental or refused to show mercy.  We feel justified when we look at someone else’s actions and decide based on our own experiences and backgrounds or legalism that they are at fault.  Yet Jesus (the only man who was truly perfect) brought a message of mercy and grace.

In contrast the child in this chapter ‘delights in the relentless tenderness of God.’  The child falls down over and over but then picks herself up, dusts herself down and tries again; knowing that her Abba still loves her and delights in her efforts to keep running towards Him.  The child is aware of her own failings and reaches out to help others who have fallen along the way.  Jesus is pretty clear that it is this child-like relationship with our Abba that he desires in us.

‘Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in.’  Matt 18:3 TPT

Unless we reclaim our child we will have no inner sense of self and gradually the imposter becomes who we really think we are. (p94)

Present Risenness

An awareness of the resurrected Christ banishes meaninglessness … helps us to see our lives as all of one piece, and reveals a design never perceived before. (p99)

This chapter spoke to me about the reality of Jesus presence in our lives as He walks with us through the valleys and on the mountain tops.  He is living and active in our day to day and we need to be aware of Him.  Our hope and our ability to stand during difficult times and our ability to endure sadness and suffering are all connected to our consciousness of Christ’s present risenness in our lives and it is this that shapes us and transforms us into His image.

Resurrection power enables us to engage in the savage confrontation with untamed emotions, to accept the pain, receive it, take it on board, however acute it may be.  And in the process we discover that we are not alone, that we can stand fast in the awareness of present risenness and so become fuller, deeper, richer disciples.  We know ourselves to be more than we previously imagined.  In the process we not only endure but are forced to expand the boundaries of who we think we really are. (p105)

The Recovery of Passion
I love the title of this chapter.  I feel like passion is so important and life giving and too many of us lose it or have it knocked out of us for one reason or another.  The story of the man who found treasure in a field and sold everything he had to buy the field and get it is an illustration of the treasure that Jesus is and how desperately we should run after Him and His Kingdom.

The recovery of passion begins with the recovery of my true self as the beloved.  If I find Christ I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him.  This is the goal and purpose of our lives.  John did not believe that Jesus was the most important thing; he believed that Jesus was the only thing. (p123)

The pursuit of an intimate relationship with our Saviour and Lover which throws aside self-consciousness and is all about our present response to Him is what our lives should be consumed with.

Fortitude and Fantasy
As you know I’ve been inclined to people pleasing in the past – trying to keep the peace and make everyone happy; to do what was expected of me.  Manning encourages us to ‘accept our core identity as Abba’s child’ and to be true to who we are whatever others think.  He also talks about the balance between being and doing and not raising the importance of one over the other as we can see what someone truly believes by the way they behave.

When we stand on our own two feet and claim responsibility for our unique self, we are growing in personal autonomy, fortitude, and freedom from the bondage of human approval. (p137)

The Rabbi’s Heartbeat
In the final chapter the greatness and unconditional nature of God’s love is unfolded.  Allowing our minds to be engaged and our hearts affected by this great love, confessing our sins and humbling ourselves and allowing Abba to love us where we are brings freedom.  Aligning ourselves with His heart and living out love and compassion and forgiveness for others is what should drive us.

Wise men and women have long held that happiness lies in being yourself without inhibitions.  Let the Great Rabbi hold you silently against His heart.  In learning who He is, you will find out who you are:  Abba’s child in Christ our Lord. (p166)

I hope this encourages you, maybe to read the book but if not at least to drop the mask and pursue Abba knowing that He loves you just as you are.

‘But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly!’  Rom 5:8 TPT