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I love the slow pace of the new year – its time to rest, chillax, stop collaborate and listen… which for me means binge watching west wing, sleep ins and reading lots.

To kick the year off I read Shawn Bolz Translating God, which if you’re interested in knowing God more and making Him known more is well worth the read.

In Translating God he talks about connecting with Brian Welch, guitarist of Korn, who is a born again Christian and seeing God at work in and through his life.  Korn for those who don’t know, is a heavy heavy heavy metal band.  Its lyrics and concerts are not pretty.   Think drugs, sex rock and roll and then multiply that by 10 and you’re maybe getting a clear picture.  After getting saved Brian stepped away from Korn, realising that it perhaps wasn’t the best environment to walk with God and live free.  After about 10 years though he felt led by God to rejoin the band and now at concerts has a team of prophetic people scout around the audience handing out VIP backstage passes to meet with him.  These fan meet and greets however aren’t just about signing autographs or having selfies with Brian, they’re gospel presentations and supernatural encounters that see people saved and set free.  Heavy metal fans who went for a concert and met their Saviour.

I wouldn’t call Brian ordinary, but God chooses to use ordinary people to extraordinary things.  I love how God loves to use the unexpected to do amazing things.

Think about some of the main players in the Bible.

Moses – Hebrew baby, hidden away despite a death order for all male babies, then adopted by the Egyptian princess, raised in the palace who then discovers his heritage, murders an eyptian and flees to the backside of the desert where he becomes a shepherd for his father in law.  God then uses him to deliver the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt and to lead them to the promised land.

David – a man after God’s heart, who commits adultery and then has the womans husband murdered

Peter – a fisherman who often speaks before he thinks, who denys Jesus 3 times, even after Jesus told him he would

Mary was an unwed mother.

Jonah ran away from God.

Elijah was depressed and suicidal.

Jacob was a liar and a cheat.

Paul, who wrote at least ½ of the New Testament, orchestrated the genocide of Christians in the early church.

 

God has proved time and time again that He moves in unexpected ways through unexpected people, yet when it comes to our own lives we often want God to colour inside the lines, to be a cosmic genie granting our wishes and moving in predictable safe ways.

 

Think about some of the key moments in the Bible:

Walking around the walls of Jericho in silence until the 7th day was an unexpected battle plan.

Splitting the Red Sea was an unexpected escape route for the people of Israel as they fled from Egypt.

From the prison to the palace was an unexpected progression for Joseph.

Boy chosen to defeat a giant was an unexpected choice and a massive risk!

An elderly couple who have been barren have a promised son is outside the laws of nature.

The first preacher of the new church was an uneducated fisherman who just over a month ago had publically denied even knowing Jesus was an unexpected leadership promotion.

Being born as a human child to a virgin teenage girl, who then wed a carpenter and grew up in obsecurity, becoming a capenter himself, revealed as the Son of God who then was arrested and executed on the cross – our Saviour Jesus Christ, whose death seemed like defeat but was the greatest victory as it was the punishment for our sins and the price paid to rescue and redeem us, and was not the final say as Jesus didn’t stay dead but rose to life!

 

This morning at the start of the year I want to challenge us to say yes to the unexpected and to equip us with some keys to empower us to thrive when the unexpected comes our way.

 

 

 

Nothing is Unexpected to God.

 

One of the things I love about God is that nothing takes Him by surprize.  We will face the unplanned and the unexpected this year, but we’re loved by a Saviour who knows no surprises.

Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

 

Luke 12:7 says that God knows the number of hairs on our head which means He is paying attention to even the tiniest detail of our lives!

 

God is never surprised. To be surprised you have to be uncertain about what is coming. You have to not know things. God never not knows about the future or about anything. He is never uncertain about what is coming.

We can know this for at least two reasons. One is that the Bible shows that knowing the future, even the future of human decisions, is part of what it means to be God. And the other is that the Bible shows that God knows the future because he plans the future.

Sometimes  you just have to yell PLOT TWIST and then carry on in full assurance that God is the author of our life and that your plot twist did not shock Him.

God is all powerful and when we find ourselves facing a giant, or blocked by the red sea, or up against walls we can be confident that God is able and that nothing is impossible to Him.   We often box Him in and place our human limitations on God who has no limits.

This means that we can put our hope in God.  We can put our trust in Him.  He is the God who never fails.   He is the God that promises to complete the good work He has begun in us and that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his children who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.

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Does anyone here when they watch movies find that they are linking the movie to stuff in the Bible or seeing parallels between the gospel and the characters in the movie?  Just me?

 

How many times have we seen a film where a handful of brave souls take a stand against evil? Consider The Lord of the Rings, where the fellowship is pitted against the forces of Mordor, or the recent Star Wars, which features a light side and dark side.  It’s Xavier vs Magneto.  Autobots vs Decepticons.

One of the most heart-wrenching moments in The Chronicles of Narnia is when Aslan surrenders himself to save Edmund. It’s a horrible, beautiful moment when power of love is on full display.   How many times have we seen one of the good guys give up their life, or think they’re giving up their life, or give up something else important, in order to save the day?  Beauty and the Beast.  Saving Private Ryan.  Batman vs Superman.

We love seeing the underdog win.  We love seeing the flawed hero overcome their struggle to win the day.  We love happy endings.

Cinderella meets her prince charming.

Nemo and his dad are reunited.

Westly and Buttercup get married.

 

Is it also just me that cries in almost every movie they see?  Tangled.   Yes.  Cinderella.  Yes.  Star Trek.  Yes.  Force Awakens.  No.  Seriously.

And this part in Thor.

I think my favourite Marvel movie so far is Thor.   Thor really is awesome!

Thor in the movie is sent to earth because of his pride and arrogance by his father Odin the All Father to learn some humility.

NOT A PARALLEL to the Bible.

Stripped of his super powers and cut off from his home in the heavens he walks as one of us – an extremely ripped version of one of us but still.

Unable to wield his might hammer Thor comes to accept that he is no longer worthy of his esteemed position as the Crown Prince of Asgard (his home world). Yet when we the good people of earth are threatened by The Destroyer (a super powered Asgardian security guard) Thor steps up to face the threat despite his (relatively) feeble form. He is willing to sacrifice himself to save us.

There are obviously many differences between Thor and Jesus but the similarity of the basic story of the Son of God sacrificing himself in order to save us should be familiar to most of us.

Philippians 2:5-11 says this – this is what Jesus did and who Jesus is….

Jesus who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!   Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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“true courage is pursuing your dream

even when everyone else says it is impossible.” Barbie

 

Yes Barbie.

The doll.  The animated movie star.

 

We own quite a collection of the Barbie movies now – my daughter is just about growing out of her, but has being up to now a certified big fan.

And i confess I am too – I love the beautiful dresses and the stories of heroes and heroines and the singing and dancing and the pinkness.  Who would have thought eh.  I’ve always had a soft spot for fairy tales and fantasy genre.

 

One of the things that jumped out at me when watching Barbie and The 3 Musketeer was this quote.

“true courage is pursuing your dream even when everyone else says it is impossible.”

 

In my life my dream is the call of God.

The dream is the dream that God has placed in my spirit to serve and follow Him.

Sometimes it looks impossible, improbable, unlikely.

Who am i?  Just me.  Just me.

BUT God has made me.  HE has called me.  HE empowers me.  And so i press on with courage, the courage and faith thatHe who calls is faithful to complete the good work and that He who calls calls for a reason and a purpose and that is HIS glory.  And so i have hope. Courage.

I turn off the lies i could tell myself that i am not good enough, smart enough, qualified enough, popular enough, funny enough, spiritual enough.

I just follow, eyes fixed upon God.

My courage comes from him.

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this would be my top ten favourite movies (that i can remember today)

some are old time favourites, such as krull, the first movie i saw on video ever, some are action, some romantic

some whimsical and some deep

but i totally love them

 

Les Miserables

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

Defiance

Star Trek Into Darkness

Once

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Endless Sunshine of a Spotless Mind

Tristan & Isolde

Willow

Krull

 

special mentions: LOTR, The Hobbit (1 & 2), Star Wars (IV, V, VI), Tangled, Frozen, Dances with Wolves

 

 

so what are your favourite movies?

 

 

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after being in hospital a fortnight ago tony and i made the most of the kids being with their granny and me not wanting to really move and caught The Hobbit.  it had being out intention to go to it at the movies that day anyway in the evening as a date night but we went mid afternoon and just relaxed in the lovely air conditioned theatre.  it was a great distraction and i did love the movie and how it makes it so come alive.  i loved seeing Evangeline Lilly do her stuff!   i love love love the closing song I SEE FIRE by ED SHEERAN.  i’ve heard it about six times since then while at the supermarket / shopping.  def win.

 

 

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on my christmas list for the past maybe 7 years has being The Revival Bible (edited by Winkie Pratney) and THIS YEAR i got it!  i read a bible plan on youversion each night so have reserved my Revival Bible for some special reading in the morning.  I’ve been getting up early and getting my hustle on and then reading my bible while i wait for the kids to wake up.  The Revival Bible has some revival history and other revival “stuff” and i love it!  i also love having a fresh bible, nothing underlined, brand new brimming with revelation!  and its super sweet, evangeline comes in at about 7.30 and reads with me.  i like holiday time for these precious moments!

 

 

 

Turkish_Pide_Gluten_Free_Bakeworks

when i was in hospital we hit a wall when i was finally able to eat.  in fact i NEEDED to eat to poop to go home (tmi?  oversharing?) but the hospital didnt have anything suitable for my allergies right then and there.  so i made an emergency food call to my lovely husband and sent him on a gluten/egg/dairy free bread search.  first port of call was my local NATURAL HEALTH FOOD CO but alas and alak they were out of the bread i could have.  so i sent antonio around the shop looking at other products.  and he found pide.  i love their pide.  bakeworks make the bread i can have and i did a happy dance when they made their pides and torpedo rolls.  he got me lots.  more than enough for hospital so i’ve had a few in the freezer, which is wonderful but also filled it up so that other things couldnt fit.  so the other night i made turkish pide pizza.  slice them in half, toast them in the oven, spread with pizza sauce and add gluten free ham and other toppings (tomato, capsicum).  bake again.  oh so good.  i think i was in pide heaven!  my tummy was so happy!

 

 

 

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today i took the kids to FROZEN.  wow.  so loved it.  fell in love with Kristoff and Elisa.  incredible singing talent for the whole cast.  stunning animation.  my nearly 12 yr old son and 8 yr old girl loved it too.

 

 

and as always.  i love Jesus with all i am and all my heart and all my soul and all my days. For His glory and the building of His kingdom and the rescue of the lost.

so what are you totally loving this week?

… check out what other peeps are loving whatever day of the week it is over at MNM’s BLOG

things im loving

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i’m probably leaning on the extra extroverts scale… but i’m married to an intro and a high proportion of our housegroup peeps are introverted… so i like to give myself some tools so i dont freak them out and so that i can do life with them… Quiet was a really interesting read about the power of introvertedness and strengths of being wired this way.

 

 

TheButler the_help1

speaking of quiet heroes – when mum was up we watched THE HELP on dvd and went to THE BUTLER at our local movie theatre.  Both carry interesting taglines: Change begins with a whisper (The Help) and One quiet voice can ignite a revolution.  Both were stunning movies, disturbing to think of how recent they are history wise and the deplorable behaviour of some people and the prevailing thoughts of a majority and the revolution that stirred as a result of ordinary people making a quiet stand.  both beautiful in their acting and costuming.  watching The Butler with my mum, at the movies, was hilarious as i was the youngest person by far in the theatre and those there wanted to give historical commentary as they watched.  aka older people talked in normal voices because they cant hear a whisper means i got to overhear some interesting insights.  was wonderful!  i wonder what movies they’ll make about our generation…?

 

 

 

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we had our wonderful church annual fireworks & bonfire night last weekend, a week after guy Fawkes because of the rain.  was great fun, with good bbq food, good conversation, the young (mostly) guys getting on the field and playing something loosely resembling gridiron with a skyball, feeding animals, sparklers for the kids and the highlight, the huge HOT bonfire and fireworks. 

 

 

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my mum was up from the South Island last week for a few days holiday with us.  Cue bring out the craft things evangeline had been given for her birthday (that are in the too hard basket for craft-challenged mummy!) this however rocked.  the cupcake pillow doesnt involve sewing put you press the little bits of fabric in to make swirly puffy bits.  dont mock my lingo!  def recommend for non crafters and kids!

 

 

 

 

 

and as always.  i love Jesus with all i am and all my heart and all my soul and all my days. For His glory and the building of His kingdom and the rescue of the lost.

so what are you totally loving this week?

… check out what other peeps are loving whatever day of the week it is over at MNM’s BLOG

things im loving

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love holiday times for heading to the movies!  monsters university was a big hit with my 11 yr old – and my 7 yr old too – and their friends that we went with!  lots of giggles and also lots of meaningful learning conversations out of it.  i also thought despicable me 2 was funny and sweet!

 

 

 

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well the whole world went on wait with kate as her due date passed… i so felt for her knowing the eyes of the world were upon her and timing and everything… but their lovely new baby has arrived.  loved the sweet messages from wills and the palace.  now i wonder what he will be named?  i wonder if there will a “spencer” in the mix somewhere, a gesture of love and acknowledgement of princess diana…

 

 

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while we were all #royalbaby watching most of NZ were watching #xfactornz – i confess we were benny fans (we being me – evangeline loved casssie/jackie/moorhouse) though watching via twitter was somewhat more amusing/shocking sometimes!  well done jackie and hope you all go on to live the dream!

 

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our youth were at GET SMART CONF this past week and looks like they had a blast.  top left corner is one of our awesome housegroupies who got selected to be a young gun preacher and do a 5 min preach on the mainstage.  how cool is that!  so stoked for him!  love what God did and the lives changed!

 

 

Claire McLean LandL

and an updated photo of me to go on the Leading and Loving It website as i’ll be a CONNECT leader (VCG) this upcoming year!  mega excited!

 

 

 

 

and as always.  i love Jesus with all i am and all my heart and all my soul and all my days. For His glory and the building of His kingdom and the rescue of the lost.

so what are you totally loving this week?

… check out what other peeps are loving whatever day of the week it is over at MNM’s BLOG

things im loving

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* may contain spoilers

 

went and saw Les Miserables last night.  wow.  wow.  wow.  i cried from about, hmmm, the start of the movie all the way through and then they rolled credits and i pulled myself together for about a minute and then cried again.  never done that before.  was so moved by the redemptive theme all the way through.  stunning.

 

the acting in it is so raw and real.  hugh jackman is jean Val jean. and wolverine.  he deserves every award and there is a link below to where he credits his performance to his dad and how his dad lived out his faith and goodness.  moving.

anne hathaway when she sung i dreamed a dream i so wanted to wrap her in my arms and cry with her.  her eyes glistened with that promise, and then they faded as that promise was ripped away and died, becoming the hell she was living.  i wanted to sit with her and tell her about jesus.  not just her.  every lost person.  because right now someone has that as their theme song and they identify with it so personally.  that person needs grace.  that person needs jesus.  that person needs someone like me to be like how jean Val jean was, to reach into the darkness, to pick them up and carry them to safety.  to take a small child’s hand in the dark winter woods and bring them to a new life.  at that moment, she was every lost person.

russell crowe was formidable and iron in his resolve, but oh so misplaced.

 

but the one shinning through all the movie, whose fingerprints was in so many moments, was God.  and it made me love Him more.

from the priest giving thanks for their honoured guest, then giving him the candlesticks

and the solo in the chapel

to the rescue at the wagon

and the providence of “the yellow shirt” man

to chance meetings

i dreamed a dream that God would be forgiving (i almost jumped up and said HE IS!)

and the release of javert in the alley

and the rescue of marius through the sewer

and the sacrifice of gavroche the sparked the hearts of the people

the bring him home song, okay almost every song, but esp that song

and the i dreamed a dream song.  so not very susan boyle.  when you listen to the words it is one of the saddest songs i have ever heard.

and hearing the people sing resonating in my spirit

and the grace grace grace that changed a life

and saved a soul

and called a man home

and influenced who he was

oh the grace of God made me weep

stunning

 

i’d go and see it, and cry again, tonight.

and tomorrow night.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0r8F3_Pvw3g  – trailer

 

check out some amazing behind the scenes footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_lFp6nZkq0

 

Hugh Jackman talks about Les Mis

seriously… we watched Wall-E this week, my son loved it… and so did we.  so cute and funny and clever! 

as i watched it my brain was bursting with mini parables, things i could learn and relate to…

did you notice how all the people forgot how to be human.  they forgot how to walk and forgot about earth and dancing and swimming and how to make decisions for themselves.  they jsut went with the flow and followed the lines and went with the programme.   the parable for me is that sometimes as christians we forget what real christians do – how we should think and act and be… and we just go with the flow and follow the lines and are assimilated into the programme… we let culture shape us and set the limits…  we forget that God is real and supernatural and that he told us to “Go and make disciples” and to demonstrate his love and grace and power through the demonstration of the Holy Spirit as we pray for people and talk with them and live our lives.  just like the wall-E people rediscovered their human-ness and made their own decisions and discovered the swimming pool and all that we should rediscover God and his kingdom and his realities….  so there you go…  what i learned from Wall-E…

i cant just help be inspired by things like this!

i think it is partly because God makes us warriors at heart… he puts a fight in us to stand for right and righteousness, to stand for the cause of justice and to not back down…

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