Body Prisoners

If you’re part of the body of Christ, you’re joined to prisoners. We’re in this together.

“Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.” Hebrews 13:3

When a truck struck and killed a young woman towards the end of 2016, a man I grew up with from youth group, a friend, had his life change forever. As the driver, he was instantly imprisoned in guilt, remorse and grief. Months later, he was sentenced by the judge. He’s still in prison.

It’s changed us all, most notably his family. This week, I’m staying at their place.

I’ve been praying for him and his family for months, but last night I saw a news report on a similar accident where the driver didn’t go to prison at all. I felt renewed faith to believe for early release.

So today I did a study of bible heroes who were imprisoned (or in solitary confinement). Jesus was a prisoner, so was Peter, John, and Paul. Almost all of the New Testament was written by prisoners. The Old Testament is full of prisoners, too, most notably Joseph but also Samson, Jeremiah and Daniel. The legacy of these prisoners has changed the world, not just during their lifetime, but for thousands of years.

Today, they inspired me. I was reminded of our anointing, our purpose, to believe for the impossible, to see the supernatural, to set prisoners free. Christ came to work freedom miracles – that we’d be free indeed (John 8:36).

Jesus told us that when the nations are judged, one of the criteria for righteousness is visiting prisoners (Matthew 25:36). Yet most of us, haven’t had that as part of our spiritual expression, ever.

I’m prophesying release for my friend. If you’re praying for someone in prison here’s my notes from this morning’s study: Bible prison

Whether we’re physically in prison or not, we can believe that God will repay two blessings for each of our troubles (Zecheriah 9:12) . He’s a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Photo by Pablo Padilla on Unsplash

 

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Camel Choking, Creativity & Productivity

I want to introduce you to the gentle art and joy of camel choking.

It’s transformative – particularly in the spheres of creativity and productivity.

It’s an ancient art. And true Masters are rare.

But we’ll come back to our humping friends later.

Speaking of friends, I’ve just come back from spending two days at my best friend’s house. She probably wouldn’t describe herself as having the gift of hospitality. But she’s always been beautifully hospitable to me.

It’s been thirty years this year since we first travelled overseas together. We discovered a lot about each other on that trip. She knows me. And she loves me.

Her prophetic hospitality preemptively provides what I want without me even having to ask.

But this morning as we were leaving, I realised I’d never been through her front door. I asked if I could use the front door on my next visit. Her husband said “No. Only people who are selling something come to the front door. All our friends and family know to use the backdoor.”

Stories are like that. They have a creative backdoor way of accessing parts of our heart that are intimate. Statements and strangers might try and knock on the obvious entrance way. But they’ll be left on the front porch with their pitch. They’ll never know the real way to get inside us. They’ll never be invited to relax and hang out with us on the back deck overlooking the lemon tree and other things we’re nurturing in our private garden.

Maybe that’s why Jesus made up so many stories.

But He also warned us not to neglect the front doors – the obvious pathways – the things designed specifically to be entered into first.

Can you imagine if Jesus was a full-time blogger? I love the language and imagery He used to describe our very human ability to miss the bleeding obvious.

“… you are blind! Think about a man picking a little fly out of his drink and then swallowing a camel! You are like that.” (Matthew 23:24 ERV)

I’m starting to realise I catch too many flies. And I inadvertently swallow too many camels.

Camels are designed specifically to be too large and too lumpy to sip down without realising it. And yet, sometimes, I do.

I get so consumed with the tiny fly details of everyday life that I overlook the obvious. I drink in negativity and stress all too easily and i neglect to pause and recognise the positivity and productivity that’s found in the bigger issues of life.

Lately, I’m determined to choke on the camels.

One of the large and lumpy things I think I’ve missed, is the very first verse in the Bible.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created…. 

There was darkness and chaos and lack, but God created something beautiful.

He didn’t try to make the best of a bad situation. He created a new situation.

Another version translates Jesus words as “you are straining at gnats”. Part of the flies in my drink are when I’m straining … straining to be more patient, less judgemental, more kind and loving.

All the things that I know Jesus displayed.

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the “exact representation” of God (Hebrews 1:3 NIV).

But why am I straining to be more patient and less judgemental when the front door that God created for me to enter into first was the door of creativity?

The first time God mentioned love, prayer, scriptures, church, faith and patience are practically light years away. But He shows off His creativity in the first verse.

If you’ll make time for church and prayer and scripture – you’ll do well.  But can you first create a little more time in your schedule for creating? I promise you it’ll be transformative if you do!

The exact representation of God must first be creating. And when I look at His exact representation Jesus was creating all the time. Some of His best creative works were His stories.

If being a creator is the front door of being more Godly, then creating stories is the front door of being a creator.

I have no idea (let alone any other of the required capabilities) how to create a whole universe. But even children can create a story.

One time when I was a children’s church leader, I was putting up the Christmas tree and one of my toddler congregation, Naomi, came in not long after I had just started. Curious about the still bare tree, she asked me “where are the decorations and the presents?”

Feigning a panic, I invited her to be my co-creative and solve our universe of the darkness, chaos and lack.  “Oh no – there’s no tinsel and no presents! What are we going to do?”

She took it all in her stride. She shrugged her shoulders and held up both hands. Then emphatically said “It’s okay. We can just pretend we’ve got them.” Then, clearly satisfied with her solution, she joyously skipped outside again.

The story she’d told herself was one where the lack of presents and tinsel didn’t exist anymore. She’d created a pretend universe where “we’ve got them”.

If creativity is the front door of Godliness, and stories are the front door of creativity, then the story of the seed is the front door of stories.

The Parable of the Sower, as it’s more commonly known, was a story Jesus specifically designed to be the large and lumpy first thing we enter into.

“Jesus told them: If you don’t understand this story, you won’t understand any others.” (Mark 4:13 CEV).

This story is kingdom kindergarten. It is an opportunity to find the ideal way to multiply. The first few times, the sower failed. He failed to find a place where his seed could do what seeds are designed to do – reproduce themselves; in other words create something new – the exact representation – from the old.

The camel is obviously to create a copy. That’s what great about stories. They are highly leveraged – they can be copied over and over and over again – for free. I’m still copying this story a couple of thousand of years later – talk about reaping a harvest!

Thousands of year before Jesus told this story, this was the first commandment that God gave us (before He gave us any of the more famous commandments).

Genesis 1:27-29 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

Our design, our blessing, our gifts are all about productivity; to be fruitful and multiply, to be seeds who create trees and produce fruit that yields seed … copying ourselves to create a new generation of copiers.

Patience, and all those other Christ-like characters are fruit. They are reproduced. They are created copies. They can’t come from spending our time straining, only by creating. When we do the creating part, they are the natural, joyous ending. If we try to achieve them outside of the creative process – it’s like trying to produce an orange without an orange seed – it’s at least straining and stressful, if not impossible!

I shouldn’t be straining at the gnats of impatience in my life. They should be swallowed up. By what? By the large and lumpy works of creativity that I’m producing. My camels should be huge enough to be a choking hazard for anyone!

When I see Jesus interacting with people, He doesn’t seem to be straining at their gnats, He seems to be creating. When people are hungry, He reproduces lunch. When people were maimed, He creates limbs. When people are hurt, he creates love. When people have died, He creates life.

Sometimes, He’s creating curiosity, then surprise, and healing, like with the woman at the well. Jesus enjoyed that so much, He skipped a meal to do it. There’s a bouyancy that creativity brings that’s better than breakfast!

When He first called the professional fisherman, He created a great catch of instant income for them. In the same place they’d ended up broke the last time they tried it, He created so much their nets broke! When it was tax time, He created their tax money.

When those same fisherman saw Him walking on the waves, they were terrified. He turned their fears into an invitation to have fun when He said to Peter, “Come!’.

Lunch, love, life, limbs, curiosity, surprise, income, fun…. It may seem obvious, but what if being more Godly was just about ignoring all the gnats you’re not and choking on the camel of creativity? For God, it was just the beginning… and it brought about a total transformation. I wish you a new beginning – not just in your personal relationships but in your business productivity and income, too.

For me, I’m spending a lot of time in kingdom kindergarten – story-telling. Making stuff up is way more fun than straining to be patient. As I’ve started treating everyone I meet like they are a patient who’s just entered my creativity clinic, being patient has become a tiny gnat issue. I’m rediscovering what a joy it is to truly live like Jesus – not just for me – but for all those around me. I’m gonna make more stuff up!

Kisses, cupcakes, comedy, camel stories… What will you create for the next person you meet?

 

My night with Boy George

Wednesday night was one of the coldest night’s in Perth for five years. I was miserable. It was hump day.

And I was going to a Culture Club concert at HBF Stadium.

There was so much I should love about it – I love live music, I love doing something different, I love going out with friends… but I was cold.

And I hate being cold.

Also I had the sniffles – my nose was like a snot tap that had blown a washer so you couldn’t turn it off you just had to try and use tissues like a cork to plug it up every now and again.

The opening act was Kids in the Kitchen. Aussie band. From the 80s.

So much to like – I love anything Aussie, I loved the 80s, I love bands.

They were woeful.

But they served as a valuable reference point.

Because when Culture Club took the stage, I realised that Kids in the Kitchen had the same venue, the same crowd, the same sound system and lighting and …. it was only the lack of talent that was holding them back.

Boy George (I feel like since we’ve both been around since before the 80s, I should call him Man George now) entered to a standing ovation.

Yes, that’s right. Before he was even on stage, he commanded more applause than Kids in the Kitchen had for their finale.

I won’t tell you all the things that happened after that.

But it was strangely spiritual. And I was no longer cold. So I’ll give you the bit that’s like the warm weather between spring and autumn.

#summary

Mind blown.

After my review was published, the owner of Culture Club’s PR company was so impressed, she showed it to Boy George himself.

I’m always amazed about where my words end up. So I should know better. And I do regret my comments about his green eye-shadow.

But here’s my review for Primo Life magazine (Pic credit: Primo Life)

My Night with Boy George

 

boy george review

Beyonce, Jay-Z, Blue Ivy and Me

12742376_10153370296015924_5515112143764004321_nI was boarding my flight from Sydney last week when I noticed that Beyonce was sitting in first class with Jay-z. Their daughter, Blue Ivy, had the most amazing pink bunny ears on top of her head for Easter, and I really wanted to ask them to have a selfie with me. But I restrained myself because I imagined what it would be like if everyone on the plane asked them that, and how invasive it would be.

But about 3 hours into the 5 hour flight, Beyonce and Blue Ivy came walking down the back of the plane just as I was getting up to go to the toilet (okay I might’ve got up a little bit quicker, when I saw them. Little bit). I crouched down in the aisle and said to Blue Ivy “I love your bunny ears!”. Her eyes lit up and she wrapped her tiny, pudgy arms around her mother’s impossibly long legs and said “someone else likes my ears mommy!”

It was just a tiny kindness. I’ll remember it more than her for sure. But what happened next, blew me away!

I was one of the last people to get off the flight and nearly everyone else had long since left the arrivals gate and hurried off to collect their baggage from the conveyor belts conveniently located about a million miles away, down two flights of stairs. But as I was about to hurry off myself, a stewardess touched my elbow and said “Miss Jones, I was asked to give you this.” It was an envelope with very florid hand writing on it. It said “Miss Bunny Ears”.

I opened the envelope and inside was a letter from Beyonce. She wrote about how homesick Blue Ivy had been during their Australian tour, and how she had had “a total meltdown” at the hotel that very morning because she felt like she was so far from home and had no friends, no-one even noticed her, everyone just wanted to talk to her mummy and daddy. And she just wanted to go home. She was not looking forward to going even further away from home, to Perth.

There was also a drawing, obviously done by Blue Ivy. This kid is no Picasso! But I think it was her with the bunny ears, her mummy and daddy (who were very skinny), and I’m guessing I’m the very fat woman who is crouching down with her huge bottom in the air!

Along with Beyonce’s letter and Ivy Blue’s drawing, was a cheque, signed by Jay-Z (I didn’t know his real name was Shawn Carter until that moment). It was in US Dollars. And it was for one million of those dollars.

Giving up a selfie, and giving a self-less compliment to a little girl, had left me jumping for joy at arrivals gate 23 in Perth airport!

Sometimes not getting what you want is even better than getting what you want.

Okay. Of course, I wasn’t a flight with Beyonce – she has her own private jet! And I didn’t get a million dollars from Jay-Z. I just made it up.

The point is, sometimes life as a witness is better when you make stuff up.

Understand that Jesus didn’t use very much scripture. He mainly used scripture when he was talking to religious people. But when he was talking to everyday people, especially when he was speaking in public, he hardly ever referred to bible writers.

He mainly used lies. Well, not everyone calls them lies. Some people call it pretend or creativity or fiction.

He made stuff up.

There really wasn’t a sower who started sowing on rocky ground – he just made it up.

Do you really believe there was a prodigal son who spent all of his father’s money? No! He just made it up.

As for a good Samaritan, that’s like saying there was a good Osama Bin Laden. He just made it up.

The point is that all of his stories had a point. All of his fiction was designed to tell a truth.

Pablo Picasso, the amazing artist, died in 1973. But his art will never die. And one of his quotes about art is illuminating for all who seek to witness.

“We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.”

Jesus might never have painted a canvas, but he was very creative in his communication. He often used lies to reveal a truth.

I’m not suggesting you start telling lies about facts. But I am suggesting that you practice storytelling. God is the Creator. Ask for God’s help in creating creative stories.

Hopefully, you’re going to be a witness for the rest of your life. So think about how you will be telling your story in five years’ time. Think about what sort of technology you can use to tell your story now.

I had a young girl look very surprised tonight when I told her I was on snapchat. She said “Oh, I thought that was just the younger generation, like fourteen year olds”.  Let me tell you, this forty-nine year old is already thinking about how I can tell creative stories using mobile and virtual reality technologies that aren’t even available yet!

Practice creating new stories from the everyday world you live in, that will put the spotlight on a truth others might not yet be able to see. If you’re worried about developing the reputation of a liar, I’ve found the morning of April Fools’ Day is a great time to practice.

The above is an excerpt from my new book “Witness” which is available for pre-order now on Amazon.com

 

 

Global Networking

My focusing phrase for 2016 is “Expand and Advance”.

I’m planning to expand and advance in many areas this year.

One of those areas is to expand my global network.

I’m looking primarily for Christian business people in Australia, as well as all different parts of the world.

I’m also looking for people who have nothing at all in common with me. People who will challenge, critique, educate, inspire and stretch me.

So if you’d like to join my global network this year, please follow the blog, leave a comment and let me know how I can serve you. #GoGlobal

global network

Environments That Cause Prophets To Thrive

exceptions

Did you know that it is dangerous for humans to enter the storage chambers of apples? It is not a harmful, toxic gas.  Rather, the atmosphere is changed and is devoid of oxygen.

There are some things, seemingly benign, that can change atmospheres in ways that make it impossible for humans to thrive.

I think a major part of the prophetic is changing atmospheres… but not in a harmful way.

‘But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”’ (Mark 6:4).

Jesus said that a prophet can not be separated from honor. The two grow together in the same atmosphere. They are inextricably linked… well almost inextricably.

A prophet can be extricated from honor in just one environment… his own. His own country, his own relatives, his own house – his own environment is toxic to prophetic honour.

When we see a prophet as “one of us”, we sever the honor that they carry on them… even if they are the Son of God!

Just like apple seeds, the prophetic will produce radically different results in different environments.  Jesus told a story of a seed that produced nothing on stony ground and 100 fold on good ground.

A prophet can’t be one of “us”. If she is, she is not honored as a prophet. Familiarity breeds contempt.

To receive a prophet properly, you must receive a prophet differently.

So if a prophet is not one of “us” who is she one of?

Jesus made it clear that the act of receiving is the act that links us all the way up the chain – to God Himself.

“He who receives you

receives Me,

and he who receives Me

receives Him who sent Me.

He who receives a prophet

in the name of a prophet

shall receive a prophet’s reward.” (Matthew 10:40-41)

There is honor and reward when you treat a prophet as a prophet – one sent from God, not one from our backyard.

Often the first thing a prophet will do after she is introduced, is remind people that they are not here to hear from her, but from God. They shift the atmosphere and help people focus their faith in Jesus, not her.

So, if you’re a prophet and you’ve been separated from honor, what is the strategy to be restored?

There’s only one thing you can do.

Leave!

That’s what Jesus did (Mark 6:6).

Go to another place where they will receive you. It will allow you to receive honor, and function in your gifting. And allow those that receive you to receive prophetic rewards.

I don’t know any prophets who are still prophesying in the place they were born. If they were I doubt they would be honoured at all. Like apples, prophets aren’t meant to be stored up in the one place.

Go!

What do you think? Can a change of environment change results both for you and those you are sent to? Leave a comment and let me know – feedback is one of the environments I thrive in 🙂