Monday, 26 December 2011


Every year for the past few years, I have felt less and less in the Christmas spirit. So, a week or so before Christmas this year I started listening to the Glee Christmas albums, volume 1 and 2, to start psyching myself up and “feel” Christmas.

One song they did really elegantly was O Christmas Tree. Such a beautiful song, melody.. but singing all that about a Christmas tree? I found it slightly ridiculous. Then I substituted Christ for Christmas tree and it became this beautiful hymn to God who “is like a tree that is always green” ~Hosea 14:8. It was only when I looked up the original lyrics, that lo and behold, there is a verse about God right at the end.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer's here,
But also when 'tis cold and drear
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can'st give me;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can'st give me;
How often has the Christmas tree
Afforded me the greatest glee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can'st give me.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
From base to summit, gay and bright,
There's only splendor for the sight.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!!"

However, I still didn’t feel very Christmassy. Didn’t help that I worked right up to 5pm on Friday, 23 December. [Side note: Whatever happened to companies closing over the Christmas period and people slowing down to really savour it?] Anyway, my point? Not feeling Christmassy.

Then I attended an evening my aunt and my cousin orchestrated on Christmas eve. What a blessed event that was!

 They rented a small community hall, put a few decorations on the tables, served some delicious food, and …
A story was read to the children to speak about the meaning of Christmas, using a story about trees. (Oh, light bulb moment, another tree reference! Hehehe).

My one aunt played 3 Christmas carols on the piano and we sang along. (My aunt can play piano? And secondly, we haven’t done THAT in.. have we ever done that as a family and not just at a church service?)

My cousin’s husband sang an inspiring song about God (he can sing? Surprise!), my other cousin’s wife read a Christmas poem about God and then shared a verse in the Bible that got them through a very difficult year. And you could hear that this verse had become a lifeline.

Hebrews 13:5-6 (Amplified Bible)*
Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support.

[I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]

So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?

*And since this is my funny coincidental life, this very verse from this very translation was read on a TV sermon the next morning

My dad made a speech that almost had me in tears it was so touching. (I am so proud and so lucky to have my parents – they are stellar people.) One of the things he said was, “what would the world be without Christmas? The year would just end, no special times with family etc.” For all that we complain about Christmas I, Karin, really would miss it AND we choose to make it a meaningful holiday or a shopping extravaganza. We CHOOSE.  It’s not big expensive gifts, it’s just having a time of year that we make special, that we decorate our homes, that we make nice meals.. just doing something special!

My step-cousin also made a speech that nearly had us in tears again. About how beautiful the evening was, how important family is.. I could only agree.

Everything was done from the heart, sincerely. No pretence. No hoopla.

It was beautiful.

It was Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Our God Reigns

I must be one of the few Christians who start grinding my teeth when a praise/worship song has the line "Our God Reigns"

Let me explain my reasons why and please keep in mind this is just my opinion and I respect that you may not share it or see things the same way. Respect then that this is how I see it.


Firstly it seems to divide people into 2 groups. There's 'our' group that sings about "our God" and then 'your' group that doesn't serve this God of mine or doesn't serve Him the same way.  The attitude seems to be one of "This is my God, na-na-na-na, He is so much better than yours!"

It's gotten to the point where I have to rewrite the meaning in my head for it to mean, "God of all people; Of all the earth," even if there are people that have yet to meet or accept Him.


In my eyes, there is only one God, God of heaven and earth, creator, sustainer, consisting of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  One God. No competition.

So if you sing "Our God Reigns" who are you singing it to?  Who are you trying to prove it to?

Why not just sing of your love for Him and extol His virtues. It will unite and invite, and not divide.

I know, I know, I'm different/strange/quirky. Thank you for bearing with me! :)

Friday, 24 June 2011

Oooh! Oooh! God's gonna get you!

Today I was reading a blog post on Growing with God called "Reverse Justice" .  It ended with the following "You can feel safe asking God to help you heal your spiritual wounds while he covers your heart. Allow your heart to trust in him".

It's beautiful, and it speaks to me about God being with you always in all ways, meaning He never forsakes you. So it's funny to me (and not in the ha-ha sense) how so many Christians presume to speak for God when confronting a fellow Christian they believe are rebelling or whom they believe are willfully sinning, presuming to speak for God, saying God will not stay patient for always. Decoded: "You better stop what you're doing or God's gonna get mad and you will be in trou-ble!"  And they do it with so much "holy" glee. They almost seem to be glad God is going to punish the person if they keep doing what they're doing, because in their eyes it means there's some justice in the world. If they have to follow the rules, then by golly so do you!

Only problem is, if you're going to say God is love and we know that "love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.." then I think it's safe to assume God has a wee bit more patience with us human beings than we do with each other. It also means He sees into our hearts, and knows why we do what we do. Knowing the motivation behind a person's so called bad behaviour leads to compassion.  God is compassionate.

So today I come to the conclusion that God is actively wooing those whom we may see as willfully sinning, trying to heal their wounded heart. He is not getting ready to whip them into shape if they dare to continue for one more second to "defy" Him.

We are all saved by grace. Maybe we should extend some to our neighbour.

*Passage quoted on love is from the well known scripture 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Monday, 04 April 2011

Do you understand what I have done for you?

Jesus washing his disciples' feet is a familiar passage. I think most of us have experienced a setting where a group took it literally and washed each other's feet.  Humbling. Nice. Symbolic. Nothing to write home about I am ashamed to say.

So, I found myself reading it again, but in my NIV translation. (I usually prefer the New Living Translation). Jesus asks his disciples a question and this time it pops out and SPEAKS to me:

Do you understand what I have done for you?(Jhn 13:12)

And it's like I get it... what the crucifixion and resurrection means. The atonement. It's not just about the forgiveness, reconciliation and eternal life.  It's about how Jesus washed us clean, spiritually.  Only it's not just the fact of him washing us clean that is jumping out at me, but the tender love that went into it that I experience in my heart.  It's the love of Abba, Father.

God is lovingly washing me clean, like I am a treasured baby and He is asking me: Do you understand what I have done for you?

Do you understand what He has done for you?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Hard hearted!

Misty Edwards sings "tears made my heart soft, I am ready for the return of the  Lover" in a song to God.

In the Bible it says "for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in." [Mark 6:52]

Jesus said to His disciples, "Don't you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? You have eyes, can't you see? You have ears, can't you hear?" [Mark 8:17-18]


When you hear what I say, you will not understand.
When you see what I do, you will not comprehend.
For the hearts of these people are hardened

and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.

[Mat 13:14-15]

We make the choice to harden our hearts. We can make the choice to soften them too! We can make the choice to allow ourselves to cry;  to allow those tears to fall. Only we are too proud! "Oh, not me!" we say. "I am not going to cry!" Once you do let go though, you'll find it's a beautiful place. A holy place. A place where you meet God and feel His presence. So today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts. [Heb 3:7-8]

Tears made my heart soft, I am ready for the return of the  Lover

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Just kill me now, Lord!

I think we all know the story of Jonah and the whale.  How he was to go announce God's judgement on the city of Nineveh and how he tried to get out of it..only to land up in the belly of a whale.

Why did God want to go pronounce judgement on a city? What happened to Him being a God of love?  Well, the chapter ends with a verse that explains God's heart towards Nineveh and even it's animals.
But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”  (Jonah 4:11)
God was not rubbing His hands together in glee, just waiting to distroy Nineveh. He wanted SAVE the people and the animals.

After Jonah went to Nineveh and gave them God's judgement, the people repented and changed their ways.

Did Jonah feel happy about it? Oh no! Oh no!

In fact, he complained to God saying the reason he ran away the first time was because he knows God is kind and compassionate and merciful and slow to anger and that if the people of Nineveh repented God would save this city.   He went on to say "Just kill me now, Lord! I'd rather be dead than alive if what I predicted (the destruction of the city) will not happen."  (Jonah 4:1-3)

Can you imagine that?  He'd rather be dead than see God save the people of Nineveh?!

What saddens me is that some Christians also react this way when God saves people they think don't deserve it..people they deem sinners, freaks, evil or whatever they have labelled them. How dare God save them? God is love but surely He can't love those people.

Sobering people. Sobering. Are you judging someone God accepts?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Away with your noisy hymns of praise

When you start singing with a music ministry band again, even if it's only informal jam sessions, and you read the book of Amos it is humbling.

Amos is definitely not a pleasant Bible book to read, but Sunday I found myself reading from it:
I hate all your show and pretense — the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
(Amos 5:21-24 nlt)

You sing trivial songs to the sound of the harp and fancy yourselves to be great musicians like David.
(Amos 6:5 nlt)

The interesting point this book highlights though is the reason God found their worship offensive was because their lifestyle didn't match their singing. It says "You care nothing about the ruin of your nation." (Amos 6:6)

It would seem to me the biggest sin these people were committing in God's eyes were in oppressing the poor and the needy. (Amos 4:1-2)

God is just not interested in our worship, our lip service, if we ignore hurting people around us, or worse, are the ones hurting them.

"Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living." (Amos 5:24)

Or as it says in Matthew 25...
For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.’
(Matthew 25:42-45 nlt)

Wednesday, 09 February 2011

Ignorant of the very thing you worship

It is actually physically uncomfortable to watch or be part of worship when the singers/band do not reach out to God with their spirits while they worship. You can feel it. It's.. flat..dead. I start squirming in my seat.  And, no matter how hard I try on my own to just worship God irrespective of what's going on in the service, the fact is I am still very influenced by it.
Matthew 15:8-9
‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’
Why does this happen?  Why do people who profess to love and want to worship God not really worship Him then?  I can give you a reason - It's hard to worship God if you don't really love Him, but actually just feel it's your duty, or worse,  fear Him.  

Acts 17, verse 23 talks about worshiping a God you don't know, a God you are ignorant about.  I feel this is sadly what happens in so many churches, or even happens in the hearts of Christians.

You're not going to love God if you don't know Him. You're not going to get know Him by obeying the rules, and doing or saying the right thing. He's not about rules.  Got that? He is NOT ABOUT RULES, no matter how much your pastor preaches on sin, preaches on how you fall short, preaches on how you better stop doing this or that and get in line. God is about relationship. He is about love. He is about drawing you with kindness.

When do you feel love for someone? Isn't it when they accept you unconditionally, love you, care for you, look out for you, are positive and fun?

So why do we think God is like, completely the opposite of the above! That He doesn't accept us, love us, care for us, look out for us. That He's not positive or *gasp* fun?

Just read this, from that dusty book Deuteronomy that we all usually avoid like the plague..
In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.
The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him.
He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields.
He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag,
with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats,
with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat.
You drank the foaming blood of the grape.
(Deut 32:10-14)
Start thinking about love, about God. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 .. would a God like that not be worth getting to know... learning to love?

And then, when your heart is overflowing with that love for God..guess what happens? * drum roll please* Yup, you guessed right! True worship!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Praying honestly

Last night, as we were closing our bible study/cell group with prayer, I felt frustrated. I kept on feeling we were just on the brink of really powerful prayer but we never crossed over. We were praying for things close to our hearts, but the prayers felt... not powerless exactly, but not very effective either. I know God still heard us, but today as I was pondering this issue, I finally realised what the problem is. We were not praying honestly.

I'm sure the other members of my group must at this moment think I'm not very nice for saying that, but let me explain what I mean. I believe we will all agree on my definition in the end. :-)

Do you know when I really feel that I've prayed and reached God? It's when I tell Him exactly what I want to happen, what end result I would like to happen more than anything in the world and THEN leave Him room to talk to me about it or to make it happen.

Well, what do I mean by this?  Say, for example, there's this woman you know in an abusive relationship. You really want her to see the light and get out. You want her to leave that poor example of a human being, she calls her boyfriend. That is what you want.  But when you pray, you ask God in general terms to intervene, to touch her, to help her, etc.  You don't come before God and just say: "God, I want Miss X to leave Mr Y. I can't stand to see what he's doing to her. You know though, that I can't make another person do anything." You add whatever else is on your heart regarding this, then, with your heart open because you've been completely honest, you wait before God. Maybe He leads you into what to pray, maybe He's silent. But you leave it with Him and I tell you, He usually then does something about the situation that completely and very pleasantly surprises you.

God knows. He knows what you really want deep down in your heart.You are not fooling Him that you don't feel passionately about something by saying a meek "politically correct" prayer. And when you honestly tell Him what you want, it just opens up this huge powerful honest space between the two of you.

Have I made sense?

In love,

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The frustrated Jesus

So, Jesus arrives in Bethany 4 days after Lazarus has died. The people are wailing and crying, loudly. It was part of their culture at the time to show public displays of grief. Jesus had known Lazarus had been very sick, but he waited four days before He set off to Bethany. He had told his disciples when they first heard of Lazarus being sick that "“Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” (John 11:4). Before they reach Bethany He tells them that “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” (John 11:14-15)

We are all acquainted with the part of this story that says Jesus wept (John 11:35). What we fail to take notice of is that just before this, in verse 33, it says a deep anger welled up within Him, and He was deeply troubled.  Jesus got angry? Angry that people were mourning the death of a loved one? What's up with that?

Remember now, He had told His disciples this would not END in death. He had performed many miracles. The people still did not believe!

In fact, it says in verse 38 that Jesus was still angry as He arrived at the tomb.  So I imagine when He said "Roll the stone aside' it wasn't a friendly request. Martha then jumps in saying there's going to be an unpleasant smell because he has been dead 4 days after all.

I imagine the next words of Jesus was still not the friendliest: "Didn't I tell you that you would see God's glory if you believe?" (John 11:40)

These people are not listening to Him!  I believe we all know the frustration when people just. don't. listen.

Jesus then goes on to pray what I believe is a very exasperated prayer: “Father, thank you for hearing me. [Karin's note: Father, at least YOU are listening to me].You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.

Then, what does He do? He SHOUTS: Lazarus, come out!

The title of my blog is Listening for God. Are we really listening?