Taste and see

Basking!

His Grace

delights my soul.

Quietness stills my heart.

His hand provides for today.

I look, splendour fills the moment.

The future is unknown, needs clamour loudly.

His warmth envelopes my anxious thoughts

Pausing,      I rest.     He’s enough!

Goodness covers my life.

Taste   and    see!!

Moments savoured.

Hope.

Author – Bill Tidsbury

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Inherited Identity

When life flows out of grace, there is tremendous freedom that comes with it. The essence of grace is Your Life freely given – pouring and cascading through our lives. It isn’t that I have to “do” anything, it is just the nature of your Life within me.  You flow freely through who I am. To not experience the wonder of your extravagant flow requires me to withdraw and barricade myself within my walled isolation so that the wonder of my internal resurrection does not come crashing in on me! If I but open my eyes – if I but risk a peek – what I find shimmering within is treasure. It is immeasurable! Treasure to be discovered – so different from my accepted internal negative dialogue. In fact, it is uncomfortable enough for me to be quite certain that it cannot be a part of me!

And yet,

It haunts me, once I’ve peeked, because its essence resonates within my being. I know I have been created for more. The wonder of your grace roars out over my destiny and calling.

To relax into a larger inherited identity is glorious because it arouses Life, vitality, expectancy, power, possibilities and curiosity! It is full of shift, full of intense knowing. It trembles with an anticipation that roars and a victory that overcomes and shatters fortified gates. It is beautiful and generous, open and kind and so perfect for me.

It is the answer to my longing, the joy of my song and it’s flow sets my heart dancing and my feet leaping. It crushes the enemy and his darkness beneath my feet!

Freedom and grace live together. Running and hearing are twins. Laughter and the King are synonymous!

The Kingdom is ever increasing. I either ride the wave as it grows or I get off and hide – yearning for a vitality I want to box and watch safely! Life is only alive when it is wild. Grace is free, grace is extravagant. Grace is wild. Don’t live with glory chained – soar on the wind, ride on the heights, leap into Life!

Author – Bill Tidsbury

The mystery of being present

As I ponder, caught between two cultures, I struggle to untangle what can possibly be shifted when violence seems to be in control! How do mind sets get softened? How does life become a vision of gentleness and grace?

I keep meeting a people shaped by pain in a way I can’t comprehend! So many have experienced hurtful abuse at the hand of fathers. I can’t imagine being suspended with your hands tied together over your head while a father whips you as you hang helpless and in pain!! How does that warp your perception of love and discipline?? I can’t begin to fathom!!

When your experience is not solitary but also shared by others (and in multiple forms and variations)- though obviously not everyone in a culture will experience this- but enough to not make what you have gone through unusual but relatively “normal”, how do you deal with such deep broken trust? It sure makes it much easier to understand why police and armies view harshness as a reasonable extension of justice – when you don’t even have a family relationship with someone who has not obeyed the law!!

The majority of people here have also had family members murdered in bloody and ruthless fashion. I can’t begin to comprehend how that affects how you see and understand the protection of a “good God”. When a gangster,  for no apparent reason, has senselessly turned and shot your mother innocently sitting on the doorstep watching the street, how do you process the shock and sorrow? When you can not turn to law enforcement and expect resolutions for the violent acts of others, when you are afraid to take issue with those you know are responsible, how does that not increase your own self reproach? To lie silent in fear when injustice walks before you unscathed -is clearly a difficult reality to comprehend. I have not passed through anything that would begin to approximate any of this!!

Yet, I am present. So I seek to somehow, speak wholeness when brokenness seems to reign unchallenged.I speak hope that I see takes on tangible form in people’s hearts -even though I personally can’t envision it.

I am continually having to recognize my own limitations – those powerful moments of truth!

I can’t ever offer solutions to pain and horror, I can’t fix others.

I can sit with people and listen to their pain. I can sit at someone’s level and look deeply into their eyes and be present with them. I can give of my time. I can share that I have a confidence in what I see in them that is greater than their own accusations. I can share myself. I have nothing else really at the end to offer.

The wonder for me, is that in offering myself, in transparency and grace, somehow a bridge is formed and precious people somehow also taste of a connection to the Spirit of God and a redemption that is beyond me. I become a window, a “thin place” where their reality gets impacted by a much greater reality that is ever present, very gentle and so capable of unravelling knots, scars and horrors. A being who is loved personified steps across time and gently brings a kiss to someone who no longer hopes for anything but to endure another day. I see hope actually take form! I see peace settle into pain driven eyes! I see the crease of a smile, the acknowledgement of something unexpected bubbling up inside!

One life, touched seems so tiny. One moment in one life, does not shift a culture. One moment does not undo history. However,one life is all I can manage to affect, my reach is rather short! So I walk, as each of you do, with the challenge of looking at the one in front of me, of looking into their eyes and doing something, some small gesture that says “you are not alone”. To matter to someone else is a powerful message. We become real to each other and confer the honour of being with them – if but for moment! Such is this journey!

Author – Bill Tidsbury

Mysterious moments

When I feel tranquility deep inside my soul, when I feel your peace filling every hole, I then find songs arising deep within that opens space within which you dwell. I actually do not know or understand why when I seek the solace of open space, I find a grace that seeps within and brings delight to a part of me that greets eternity. I do know that I will give everything and all I have each day to just have space where I find that you suddenly appear and I’m made whole.

The mystery is greater than I will ever know, how it is that you come in and surprise my soul. My spirit rises up with eager delight, when I sense that moment when your “suddenly” breaks in. I never know what scene or dream will create that perfect “moment” when you drop in. I find encounters so expansive, as they move me through to places that shake my perceptions. I hunger for encounters, I thirst for your face, I know that without them, I will never live outside my soul.

My spirit knows its calling, it is great and full of fire. I yearn for these encounters that release things hotter than fire. I truly seek a passion, one I can not comprehend, one that burns with furious glory in the openness of your eyes. To be known for who I am, to be called a beauty born, to be given the feeling deeply, that no eye but mine is thine.There is a knowing that comes in silence, a knowing that arises in peace, when my heart and soul are twined with the Oneness of your infinite Love. To stand forever naked, unashamed and yet so free, to be found, amidst the longing of a heart forever sealed in thee.

Jesus you really are more than life, your name is so achingly true. Your gentle whisper grips my heart and stirs up realities I just never knew existed. Before you, when I stand, I feel the need to bend so low, but when I am laid so low, I find a depth in me that soars to heights that exceed dimensions and I find stillness face to face in your embrace. Jesus, you truly are man’s desire, Jesus, you are more than breath to me. You define me, you entwine me, and you’ve opened the way to Papa, who created me for fire. He has named me. He has called me. He has poured out of His Spirit.  Now, the wonder that I am perfect as in worship I’m enthralled. Surprised! – I am sealed by grace alone! I have everything to live for. So the joy, in these my waking moments, to leap up into the honour, to be part of shifting hearts, shifting gazes to your throne alone. All this, so that you may realize, the aching desire for which your heart so deeply longs.

Author – Bill Tidsbury

Garments for Beauty

The Lord loves me! He loves you. His love is so free and liberating that it has no counterpart in our experience. So often we experience what we think is unblemished love from those around us and then discover that there is an overlay of broken human need mixed in with that love. We begin to sense that people often need me, not for me, but for the possibility of feeling good themselves; people need me, because I have looks or position that enhance their own; people convince themselves, that I am a reflection of their own desires, and then are disillusioned when they discover I am  truly other than themselves.

The Bible describes God as saying  “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” (Jer 31:3). He says “I led them with cords of human kindness,  with ties of love”; ( Hosea 11:4) Paul,  a writer in the Bible calls people to “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma”. (Eph 5:2). The focus of each statement is that  God has loved you. You – yes, you – as you are, not as you wish to be.

The writer Paul, captures this amazing depth of love in Ephesians when he says God’s mercy towards us flows out of a love which he has for us. This love, didn’t arise out of His heart as a result of the changes he has made in us, after he fixes up the broken patches in us. He loved us while we were yet messed up and rotting. Christians tend to make this statement very impersonal and abstract. It is so tragic when we make this a theology, not a life changing look of love.

Stop and think about this! God’s eye roved over the earth and saw you. He saw your lying, he saw your addictions, he saw  your hatred and acts of violence towards others but His eye didn’t stop there. He looked past that, to even then, look at you.

What did he see?

He didn’t see what you see. What he saw, did not cause Him to recoil in shock and dismay. What he felt was not a quickly covered gut reaction of disgust. He looked into your eyes and as He did His heart turned over within Him. His eyes sharpened. His attention focused. He groaned with a powerful recognition. He loved you. He was captivated by you. He wanted to come into your sphere of attention. He desired to be known by you. He desired to be loved by you. Would you be willing to feel toward Him what he feels toward you?

Many say they know this, but unfortunately that understanding is all tied up with our own past experience. We frequently come to terms with being loved for something other than ourselves. We intrinsically believe we are not worth loving as we are.  We comprehend that our physical  beauty is not really as good as it could be, so we need to add to it to make ourselves more attractive; to hide our “flaws”. We understand our own shortcomings and character flaws. We passionately hang on to the thought that others are not as aware of these scars, as we are, when we stare at ourselves in our own mirror. We are often gripped by fear of being discovered, of being “naked” and ashamed. So we hide behind activities, pretence and addictions. We are terrified of true nakedness. We belief that to be seen without our outward clothes of respectability will condemn us to the horror of disgust across the face of the one we need to truly love us. To be truly naked and unashamed, is to allow all of who we are to be known, without dressing it up in the clothes of tender acts of love, or gentle words of wisdom. The invitation is to be resting in love; Resting in the eye of the beholder – this God who is the King of Joy, the Prince of Life.

In the first part of the Bible, the Old Testament, the priests were given garments especially designed to enhance who they were  When we step back and consider this idea, it makes sense to us. We do dress up to enhance our appearance. There can be a delightful elegance and shimmer to clothes that enhance a person’s complexion, their eyes, their form. The little girl who spins in front of an audience knows that the eye catching garments will draw eyes to herself. She wants to be seen, to be acknowledged as a beauty. This desire is not just to showcase a piece of silk or colour, but to showcase herself, the beauty underneath the silk.

I believe that most of us recognize that our woundings in life create a problem for us. They taught us that, while the attractive things we put on were amazing, somehow there was something lacking in us, the vulnerable childish one who thought she might be seen. When we shockingly receive the life rending impact  of these powerful arrows of censure and judgement, our journey of chasing after elusive recognition and love begins to accelerate. Very often, our life courses are set early, by unknowing comments and looks, that chase us down through the hallways of time.

Our clothes are tattered and torn. We race, weeping deep within, trying to cling to our sense of self. Sometimes lashing out in various acts of aggression, sometimes curling up to hide, hoping if no one sees us, the arrows will not be aimed at us.

Yet, still the echo of our heart’s cry, is for love. The cry to be seen for who we deeply wish we were, and not for who we so woefully, despairingly, believe we have become.

And then, we learn of a new set of brilliant clothes that can become ours.

New people entering the community of faith, soon become aware of the qualities that are attractive. Since we are social beings, we are designed to be aware of the signals that speak of acceptability. Generally, we zero in on those very early in our relationships with new groups. We quickly determine if we have the clothing needed to belong in this particular group. When we find ourselves lacking, we seek to discover if we have the potential of conforming to the new dress standard.

What would you say is the social dress of the day in the circle of people who you know call themselves Christian ? Does it feel that their are messages of inadequacy that they broadcast to those who don’t conform to their standards?

The standards of Christian conduct that most Christian people would adhere to goes back to what is seen as the traits that would have been seen in the man called Jesus. The characteristics that often come to mind when we think of him are  the  virtues of humility, of kindness, of gentleness, and love. I personally am also attracted to righteousness and justice as I grew up in a  third world country that often lacked these qualities. These qualities are generally well perceived in our communities.

To be a person who has these traits is a significant benefit to any person. They are gifts of God and precious.

When a person takes a look at what God says in the Bible, it is interesting to note the imagery that God, as a Father uses to describe our relationship to these types of traits. Job, a writer from Mesopotamia, refers to the fact that he puts on good healthy actions towards others as clothing and throws on  justice like a robe and a turban. We can just see the image of a man  dressing himself to go out in the world!

This imagery of dressing ourselves with actions that are good continues on throughout the Bible. It frequently refers to putting on things like compassion, gentleness, love and other wonderful human traits. When the Bible paints a picture far into the future of the human race, it describes a beautiful bride dressed up in a gorgeous white wedding dress, representing all these acts of human virtue accomplished by humanity.

The point is that the Creator of humanity does care about our clothing and has given us the ability to be clothed in beauty! We can and should delight in this gift of hope.

 

Now, there is a question I must ask you. Please set aside the wounded realities of your own history and dwell on the world as it should be.

When you love someone truly, do you love them for their clothes, or for who you have come to know them to be? It is a shallow, self absorbed man who only loves a beauty for the clothes she wears. Everyone yearns to be seen. To be treasured, apart from the expensive silk.  We truly want to know, Do they see me? Is the clothing an accessory or is it at core what is really capturing the attention? If it were someone else in the silk, would the same sparkle be in the eye? We know that if it were, we would have lost everything. We would have nothing! Love in relationship, says, Who I am is ever so much more than anything that drapes around me as an accessory.

I want you to reflect back on the things that the Christian community so highly values. To what extent do you identify characteristics such as righteousness, gentleness, humility, and love with the person? Do you love others for these traits? Are you aware of clothing yourselves in these things, knowing the value and esteem that they are held in by your brothers and sisters? Is it easy to love others for their clothes of beauty? Have you been caught being attracted primarily by these garments of salvation, of righteousness, and humility and missing the person under the clothes?

Moving a little deeper into your own heart, is it possible that you also attribute Jesus’s love for you as tied up with these traits? Do you feel the need of your clothes of beauty, to cover the shame of who you are?

Do you run and hide when missing these clothes of beauty? Does shame fill your being, and disgust toward yourself, fill your heart when you have once again fallen short? Perhaps, you have gone past that and have just given up inside, knowing you just can’t make it?

I want to call you back to consider what our great God has said:

John says “ 16We know love by this, that (A)He laid down His life for us” (I John 3:16). We started our thoughts out by reminding ourselves that our gentle lover has loved us with an everlasting love.( Jer 31:3)

When did he love you? It was before you were cleaned up. It was while you were deeply wounded and angry. It was when you spouted hatred at him and slapped His face. It was then he looked in your eyes and said “ I pick you”( I Thes 1:4).

Oh, dear beautiful one. Loved, of your gentle, yet powerful hero and friend. Settle in and rest a while. Allow the immensity of the tender heart of Jesus wrap you in His mantle of grace. Contemplate it:

He loves me.

He loves me in my filth.

He loves me. Crazily and impossibly He loves me.

He loves me in the midst of my weakness and shame.

He delights and laughs with joy in catching my eye.

He sees me first and always.

His eye is on my eye.

My briefest glance causes His heart to beat with hope and joy.

I  look to him and he mouths, ”I picked you!”

Don’t believe the whispered lies of your past. He did not choose you for your clothes of beauty. When he saw you, you were dressed in filthy, rotting rags ( Is 64:6). Yet, he saw your eyes, and looked into your soul. Knowing all that you are, in you, he saw the beauty, he saw the courageous gallant warrior. He is hopelessly, overwhelmingly, delightfully in a love relationship with you forever.

The writer of Hebrews invites us into this relationship of rest. He calls us to cease from our striving and working(Heb 4:10) Rest comes from knowing I am His beloved. I stand naked and unashamed. Accepted, delightfully blessed by the twinkle in the eye of God. Take time to be still and bask in his love. He invites me into His heart of love. His warm whisper is to leave the lies of shame behind and lift my eyes to His face. To look into His eyes and know that I have made His heart beat faster! He yearns with expectation that I will be with Him. He waits for the look in my eye that says,” I want to be with you!” He eagerly waits the passionate cry of my heart that says” I pick you, forever and always I pick you! Above all else in this world, you have captured me with your love. You are my yearning. You are my hope.”

The Spirit of the Living God is always moving peering in the nooks a cranny’s of hearts for the faintest glimmer of desire. He passionately seeks for a response to the mighty Lion, the Lamb that died for you. Take time to breathe the Spirit’s empowering presence.

He calls to you now.

Take time to risk stepping out into the faith of love. Open up your heart and soar in the exultant call of heaven’s joy.

It is time to enter into the joy of being who I am while being held in the arms of God. His person keeps me safe, protected and gently lifted up into destiny and calling. Give yourself permission to cry out with the voice of the Bride “ Draw me after you and let us run together” (S of S 1:4). Hear his voice of laughter as He captures your hand and leaps on the mountains with exhilarating joy.

Author – Bill Tidsbury

Whom have I?

In a world that is dark and broken, and anguish grips the heart, how can I not find your bleeding heart next to mine?

In a place where people’s eyes scream horror and turmoil, how can I not but run to you to take the pain and grieve with me?

In a time when Satan’s roar reverberates across a broken sphere is there not something within me that releases the roar of triumph that echoed from a hill so long ago?

In a hand holding shattered shards,is there not the hand of You pouring out healing grace in time to a tune never heard in peace?

In the striking fist and the hate filled eye, is there not the grace to suffer with you, the one who hung upon a cross for me?

When worlds hang in balance and certainty seems to have fled, is that not when your foundations come alive and gift the soul of man with reason to believe?

When I begin to run and find the wind is carrying me along, is that not when I begin to learn that I was born to soar with you above the earth?

When I’m alone and have left all behind, then alone do I find that I have none but you and in finding you I’ve found my deepest dreams made live.

 

 

In a world where life is beautiful and the colours paint the day, how can I not find that which reminds me of you?

In a place where people’s eyes shine bright with hope, where can I go without being astounded by your heart?

In a time when heaven’s voice is heard and change’s momentum offers expectancy filled with wonder, are you not there dancing lightly?

In a hand held grasping grace, tears filling eyes seeking solace, is not your presence filling the aching void?

In a tender touch, the fleeting smile of one well known, is not your present intention found embracing peace?

When rivers meet and waters splash, am I not then feeling freshness soaking my inner being’s needed watering?

When Spirit’s fire settles gently on the wondering soul of a man found, have I not met you in the gentleness of wisdom?

When I am alive and you are here, how can I not but know that what I’ve found is better than life?

When you entwine my being and wrap your eternity deep into the folds of my spirit’s song, the resulting kaleidoscope opens my identity and I know, I just know, and am known.

Faith

I find that in my own life I often confuse need, and even more, desperate need with faith.

Deep need is a powerful driving force in life. It creates desperation and a willingness to go to great lengths to lay hold of someone or something to make them see that I need (…. you can fill in the blank!) for survival, for hope, for grace. Need is most clearly seen when people mob a rescuing helicopter clamouring to be noticed above all the other needy victims. They clamour to be noticed so their need can be known. The cry of need is – notice me!!

Faith is different, in that it rests in the reality of goodness and of the security of provision. It rests, not having received but knowing – not just hoping – that what is needed is coming. It rests in knowing there is enough and I will receive. The disaster food distribution line is a representation of faith. People line up because they know they have been noticed and that provision has been made. They line up not to be noticed but to open their hands to receive. (While there can be struggle in these lines – it is about how long I have to wait rather than whether or not I will I be noticed.)

In my life journey – on behalf of myself and others, I often find I am seeking to be noticed by my Daddy God rather than resting in His amazing commitment to provide and stepping in to Him with open hands knowing I will receive what is promised.

My heart knows the difference – I like my relationships when there is faith. Receiving flows in the quietness and deep knowing that flows from confident trust.