“Z Best Is Yet 2 Come”

So, I’ve been reading the Bible lately as previously stated in my last blog. I’ve finished Exodus and started reading all the introductory information on Leviticus (the avoided book) which is extremely helpful in creating expectation on a previously perceived “boring book”.

Exodus has been helpful in opening my eyes to more of the details of our story as Christians. For example, you have ‘The Exodus’ (the exit or leaving) of the children if Israel out of the land of Egypt and of slavery. THE PASSOVER – which I couldn’t write enough about – full of symbolism and justice that makes me cry when I think about it. The Israelites were to take a pure, spotless lamb once a year for their passover feast and slaughter it and place the blood of the lamb over their doorposts to be safe from the judgement of G-d. GUYS. Jesus, our pure and spotless lamb spilled his blood over that tree at Calvary to forever cover the price of our sins so that judgement would be replaced with mercy in our lives.
I cry. I weep. I write blogs about it. 

The Law was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai and then immediately broken (literally and literally) by the people sinning downstairs and when Moses threw the tablets to the ground in a hissy fit of justice-rage. But, Moses was given reminders of the covenant promise of G-d redeeming His people and Moses reminded G-d of His own promises as well. We see redemption over and over in this narrative.

The BEAUTIFUL and precise instructions were given to our main man Moses for the construction of the Tabernacle (The Holy meeting tent that the Lord decided to dwell in so that He could be with the children of Israel and that they could worship Him in). Peoples hearts were overwhelmed with gratitude and generosity and began to give to the building of the temple to where they had far more than they needed. The Lord showed his compassion to this group of people by sending His Spirit (end of chapter 35) to equip His people with SKILL to complete the building of the tabernacle.

I find it reassuring to know that the Lord doesn’t always EQUIP the CALLED but He equips those in the line of His COMMANDS. We find two men here in chapter 36, Bezalel and Oholiab, along with others in ‘whom the Lord put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary… in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded’ (v.1 ish). We see no reference to the Lord speaking directly to them and telling them that they are ordained to build this sanctuary… We just see them in the path of a need that the Lord was going to accomplish. By being willing to help with whatever, they were equipped by the Holy Spirit to be useful.

G-d I want to be in line of your commands. I don’t have to be ‘called’ but I do need to be available and I trust that in my availability and being where You are that You’ll equip me for whatever YOU have commanded on the earth.

After all of this is said and done in Exodus it leaves me with such a reassured ease as I try and read Leviticus. You see, I know the end of the story and the completion of the prophecies in the New Testament. I know of the New Covenant and our immediate access to G-d and the lack of all animal sacrifices I’ve ever had to perform in my life. I can look at the Israelites wandering the desert and think, “The best is yet to come! Just hold on and keep believing!”

This all ended up rolling through my head as I made my way downstairs
to see our house sign say “Z Best Is Yet 2 Come”.

I think G-d often smiles at me, I feel it when I’m laughing at myself after ‘ah-ha’ moments come and I realise how blind I am without the guidance and revelation of the Spirit. I was reminded of the expectation I’m bringing to Hillsong Conference. I was reminded of MY story with Him and how much I’ve grown in the last 5 years. I was reminded of all the prayers that I’ve prayed and still pray and the ones I’ve forgotten that I asked for. I think G-d smiled at me and reminded ME that The BEST is YET to come…
I can look at the past all day and mentally help those people in hardship and tell them, “Wait, your story isn’t over” but in looking back and reflecting I can sometimes forget that the Lord is looking at me saying the same thing.

Moving into Hillsong Conference ISN’T same ol’ same ol’. Starting another semester with a whole flock of new students isn’t same ol’ same ol’. Each and every service and chapel isn’t the same… it’s progressively THE BEST.

Pastor Brian Houston coined that phrase for our church but I’m just starting to REALLY GET IT. It doesn’t matter if your last week was crap or the best thing ever. It doesn’t matter if you’re still sitting in emotional slavery waiting on deliverance or you were just given everything you’ve been asking and praying for. THE BEST is still to come.

Hillsong Conference is another opportunity that we as college students have to refresh and serve our hearts out – I pray that our expectation is heightened and that we follow where we feel the Spirit is leading. I pray that we end up in the path of the commands of G-d and even if we don’t feel called that we begin to accept the equipping of the Spirit and move forward knowing we have what it takes to change something. I pray that no matter how difficult it is, or how tired we become that we don’t lose sight of the BEST that is still coming. I pray that no matter how amazing and life-changing it is for us that we realise that there IS STILL more.

Many of those reading this aren’t college students here in Sydney, Australia and to those I pray that your jobs come through – I pray your children come back to Christ or find Him for the first time – I pray that you are set free from emotional bondage of an abusive partner – I pray that you see a little bit more hope in your situation but also that you know that even in the beautiful times, the birth of your children, the promotion at work, the marriage of your best friends… that there is STILL more.

Thank G-d for hindsight and THANK G-D that I don’t know everything.


The Exodus and Leviticus links you find in this blog are from guys called
‘The Bible Project’ – They summarise the books of the bible along with explaining other key topics in a comic sort of way that keeps us creative types entertained.
Check them out.

Just Cause

Amos 5:21-24
(NIV, emphasis mine)
“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

One of my classes this last week focused on Worship and Justice. We looked at what these two have to do with another and what expectations have changed since scripture was written up. I was shocked to discover the call in the Old and New Testaments to the leaders and governments to keep justice in the courts – be fair to the widow, orphan and poor. We have to assume these warnings were written to 1) keep them on track and 2) clean out what was already bleeding through the culture of oppressing those who couldn’t support or even defend themselves.

We as students were given different portions of scripture to look at: what it meant to the people it was addressed to, what it means for us as a collective body of Christ and what it means to us individually. My group looked at Exodus 23. I’ll summarise it for you…

  • Don’t lie about people
  • Don’t pervert justice and lie in court
  • Be fair to poor people in court
  • Be kind to your enemies property
    • Not JUST to them but even their stuff
  • Don’t take from the poor just because they are poor
  • Don’t oppress a sojourner (don’t beat down, put down, dishearten, suppress a visitor, companion, inmate, visitor, lodger, different nationalities, different religions, refugees)

When we as a group looked at what it might have meant for the Israelites we assumed maybe they had corruption in the courts and were probably exposing heaps of poor people because they thought they could get away with it. We assumed there were crooked people who were so wrapped up in the culture of slavery that they had just been delivered from that they were treating others as slaves. Granted, that’s what they knew to do but it still wasn’t just or fair. We assumed they were treating people less than what they would want to be treated like and that they were disregarding taking care of people who didn’t belong to them.

Then we moved to a harder question – What does this text mean to us as the body of Christ?
How do we take on these scriptures in the Church?

 We talked about Public Justice (How society treats and manages others),
and Private Justice (How I treat others and manage myself to benefit others).

So the public justice level around this passage would look more like how many Christians are educating themselves on the elected ‘in-charge’ of our governments and nations. Are they contributing to who is in the courts and even becoming those who are in the judges in courts deciding what is fair for all? Are we as a local church involved and benefiting the community around us? Are we investing in families and defending those trapped in Domestic Violence? Are we doing all we can to find homes, clothes, food, and clean water* for refugees and flood victims alike?

There are many more things the Church COULD be doing but there are loads of things that fall more on the individuals that make up the Church that we should probably be looking at.

Private Justice –
The hardest and most confronting question of all that we addressed is how this all applies to me? How do I treat others?

This was the hardest one to speak out loud.

I grew up in a westernised, bible belt, mostly white’ish people culture. But I also grew up with the news… I knew what areas of Tulsa (and now Sydney) to avoid if I was alone and I rarely ever walk in a park without looking over my shoulder. I grew up with a fear of homeless people because at no point do you know if they’re going to rape you, if they’re mentally unstable, if they’re in a very real sense ‘battling their own demons’ or how they would react to a conversation. But my fear grew out of judgments that began when I didn’t take the time to look them in the eyes as I walk by them on busy Sydney streets. My very judgments dehumanised someone with a story. I wasn’t being fair – I wasn’t being just – I wasn’t being anyone who remotely resembled my Saviour. Jesus, who took the time to look a naked woman in the face and tell her that He held no sins against her. Jesus, who when Himself was oppressed by the government didn’t fight back with entitlement or ‘rights’ but instead STILL SHOWED LOVE to all. I know much this last paragraph makes me seem like an ignorant… dirtyword… but this was my honest heart condition.
My ignorance turned into judgments that disguised itself as fear so that I could neatly sweep it all away as, “I’m just protecting myself”.

Am I saying single girls should stop at every homeless person and strike up conversation? No, that’s not what I’m getting at… But maybe just get involved and start to add humanity back to those around us. Maybe just start to learn the faces and names of those we equate with statistics and numbers.

My thought is that we are already a pretty passionate generation – I think that there are specific desires that are unique to individuals. Where our Private Justice comes in is EDUCATING ourselves on the issues of our hearts and GETTING ACTIVE in those areas.

Some of your hearts are absolutely wrenched for the homeless, some want to take care of the elderly, some have a resolve of adopting, some are desperate to help stop domestic violence, some of you can’t sleep at night because you’re broken over those still enslaved in sex-trafficking.

Great, I hope something breaks your heart – I hope you let yourself cry sometimes while praying over these neglecting issues that Christians love to talk about but sometimes never DO anything about.
But, OUR G-D… the one who CREATED JUSTICE calls us also to be just

The Lords desire is more for justice and fairness than for one more ‘Christian’ to write Him one more song, or worship Him one more time for all they have. He wants us to give to and restore those who DON’T have.

So after you forgive me for being a little too honest again, find one of the links throughout this blog and research, get involved, be the just cause… just because.

Quality, Quantity: Both and Neither

*Downtown Tulsa – Shades of Brown. Hot and fresh chai tea lattes in hand – you know, the ones that taste like Christmas if Christmas was a marshmallow. The background music is even farther away with the sounds of the kitchen staff yelling through the teatime rush and I am staring out the window trying to collect my thoughts*

Thing 1: “Whats going on Laina?”

Thing 2: “… I think sometimes my standard for myself is too high, or maybe that it’s just high enough and I don’t forgive myself well enough.” 

I’m sure from this point they break out into High School Musical-type song but I’m not songwriting today.

I was reminded again this week of my passion, which is funny enough because I continue to do what I love even when I don’t love it. I made a commitment to write every week (or every day and post once a week) and for the most part I’ve loved what it has taught me. It taught me that I CAN.

I missed two weeks ago and was frustrated with myself until last night. We had a masterclass for the Writers Guild in our creative community where Kylie Beach read to us her Letter To The Poets. Please do take a read, it’s beautiful.

As she read this letter I thought of my daily/weekly commitment and how sometimes I actually miss the mark. Sometimes I write a blog that I hate or feel isn’t my best work and I don’t want to publish it. Sometimes I post on Saturdays even though my goal is Fridays. Sometimes I post at midnight even though my goal is noon. Sometimes (only once in over a year) I actually don’t set the time out to post at all.

Occasionally though, I write a blog that I actually tell my friends in person about (with my real words) because I feel like G-d just might have put His seal of approval over it. But set aside all the good blogs, the bad ones and the ones I haven’t written to be judged yet and I still have a need inside of me to write my heart out.

“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred.
What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all.
We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits.
We are terrified, and we are brave.
Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege.
Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise—you can make anything.
So please calm down now and get back to work, okay?
The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert

What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. I could never post again and what G-d wants to accomplish though my writing will still happen if I continue to seek Him. But, I could continue to post every week and grow, learn discipline and correct my sometimes terrible grammar. I can read articles on what makes a great blog, how to edit, study literature and use all the tags on WordPress… But at the end of the day my prayer is that if any of what I write is what you need to read – that it finds you timely. And if anything I need to learn is something that you’re creating, that you’d be brave enough to create, share and discipline yourself in your craft. I promise – you can make anything.

*I’ve never read Big Magic before but this quote was shared last night as well…
I’ve attached a link to the book on Amazon for some birthday ideas, or some random gift ideas, or some
“Happy Friday” ideas. So. That’s that.

Obey: Journey and Heart

I think this one is hitting home for the last #ThinkBackThursday this season. It’s now been a year; 52 posts of old material that G-d used to once again locate me and challenge me. This blog was birthed out of obedience, and while I didn’t want to be THAT Christian-Hillsong girl who writes a blog about my journey… I am. And I LOVE it because it’s what G-d has put on my heart and in my hand to do. So dang it – I’m going to do it well. I’m going to do it out of obedience and trust and I’m going to do it out of self-reflection and self-location because I’m going to want these things written; I’m going to want these stories that I get to live with others retold because I have enough faith to believe that Jesus will turn up in the midst of them.

The biggest THANK YOU to those of who you have read my blog faithfully, inconsistently, never read it but always intended to and to those who’ve stumbled upon it now.

THANK YOU for reading… not because it’s my blog but because I’m honoured that you somehow might believe in my story. Thank you because your time is valuable and spending 5-10 minutes, twice a week to catch up with me means heaps to me. You are so treasured.

I have such love for you all.


5 November 2008-

“G-d, I’m listening, and I don’t know what to do-
I’m doing my best to listen to what you tell me to.
Putting actions with my words has become the hardest thing
When I cannot speak anymore, LORD, you’ve taught me how to sing.”

All I’m hearing lately is “OBEY”; Even though I have NO idea the outcome or the process that He will lead me though. Sunday night G-d surprised me and just told me to obey… it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt (thus far), but I did. I have no idea when He will mend what he’s asked of me or how many days it will last. But, I’m learning that it’s not about me anymore.

G-d has something amazing in store for those who seek them, and He’s leading me beside the still waters so that I can.

I watched “Everything Is Spiritual” by Rob Bell, with our leadership core on Sunday afternoon, and throughout all of it what really stuck out to me is “Sitting on top of the mountain”.

*G-d called Moses to Obey… Exodus 3.11-14 ((EDITED))
(a)
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go ((Insert G-d’s resolution to a personal problem here))?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have ((Fixed your problem the way I TOLD you to)), you will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go ((Oh, I dunno… OBEY, what then should I tell people?)), ‘The God of your fathers has sent me…’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am… ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

(Actual Verses Cited below)

Something that I couldn’t get out of my head is the thought that all He’s asked us to do is obey. Just to sit with Him, hear Him out and obey the words He has given to us. Moses was instructed by G-d to go up Mount Sinai and meet Him there.

(b) “The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain.”

Just to meet Him. Just to spend time with Him. Just to listen to Him.

I attend The University of Tulsa (Community College) ha… Ahem, anyway I have classes every Tuesday and Thursday from 8-9.20am, and then another class at 11am. I was given a book called “Practicing the Presence of God”, so I thought I would read it during break. There is a hallway at TCC that everyone refers to as the ‘breezeway’, because it is a hall of windows, and I suppose seeing the outside is just as good as being there nowadays? I sat in the breezeway staring out until a bench outside caught my eye. It was tucked away underneath two trees no taller than a one-story house and decently shaded, and still allowing enough light to keep whomever was underneath warm. I gave G-d a sarcastic look in my head and thought, “Why do you want me outside? I could just read in here and not have to move.” G-d has a funny way of returning my cheeky favors, so a little more clear and for no particular reason I get a nudge to get off my rear and go outside. I start down the breezeway when I realize that I’ll have to walk through the smoking area to get to my little picnic table that G-d wanted me at, and I begin to think “I don’t want to go through the smoking area, I hate the smell of smoke it’s bad for you.” As I make my way to the Library G-d pulls all the more hard telling me to go to table and reminding me that sometimes he takes you through something you don’t really want in order to get you alone with him.
I sat and read and didn’t really understand why I had to be there. But it’s not about me… G-d just told me to obey and I’m trying my hardest to do so.

(c) “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.”

G-d, do you really think that of me? Am I really a treasured possession of YOURS just because I listen? That’s enough for me – it has to be enough for me.

So I’m stuck, at the top of the mountain waiting on the Lord to come find me. I can’t do this alone because I wasn’t created to be alone, and right now trusting in G-d is all I need to be leaning on.

Just some thoughts of a Follower of Christ trying to find whatever He needs of me.

“And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For you are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm”

Exodus 3.11-14 (a)
11
But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

Exodus 19.20 (b)

Exodus 19.5 (c)

I’m Halfway Listening To What She Thinks She Knows

Hippie music to enjoy whilst reading my blog

– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5ASEfYFADs
­ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMd35tfCiXQ

I enjoy being someone who is readable (no pun intended). I have a lot of people who know me and know me very well. Of these people some of them still enjoy my company and having a laugh or two with me (and at me). The most confusing thing about me is when I’m speaking and don’t even know what I’m talking about, or the fact that I change my mind a lot. But I have decided something – people are allowed to change their minds. I’m a planner. I like my weekends filled with sunshine and my work-weeks packed to full. I like my work schedules a month in advance and my new posts to come out on Fridays. Because of this I often have a difficult time letting myself change things up. Once I have black ink to a calendar I rarely give myself the opportunity to cross it off and reschedule.

Something I’ve learned in the last 2-6 years is the fact that things change. Always.

It then becomes our opportunity to learn how to respond to such things happening because they WILL in fact happen. It used to cause me legitimate anxiety that found it’s home in my stomach when things didn’t go according to a neat schedule and while I still believe it is important to be timely, I have found the freedom of occasionally rescheduling a thing or two. Obviously commitments that are pressing aren’t things to be thrown onto a different date… but you get what I’m saying.

(Please get what I’m saying)

Sometimes, I really like to rant. I get super passionate about a lot of thoughts and things and sometimes I just need to say a lot of words around that subject. I love when I find people who will just smile at me and let me talk. I love when people get me.

Sometimes, I think I’m super sneaky or really good at hiding feelings. Guys and lady-faces, I SUCK at this. I’m a freaking open book and often people can guess what I’m going to say word for word based on the ridiculous smile that I have on my face. I’m not fooling anyone. Except myself. I trick myself into thinking that I’m fooling other people. But I’m not.

Sometimes, I really enjoy people I can just BE with. I love the ones who can be sitting across the room not having a consistent conversation flowing and still just being pleased that they are there. I enjoy company more than conversation and tend to feel like I know you a little better when you spend time with me. It’s like a collaborative investment and I think it’s beautiful.

Sometimes, I don’t have anything to say to G-d. My quiet times can be ironically quiet. I’m not entirely sure if I don’t try hard enough in these times and can occasionally feel guilty when I miss a day journaling. Then I realize: G-d gets me. He knows me WELL and I feel like occasionally laughs at me. He lets me change my mind and doesn’t hold it against me. He keeps my weekends full of sunshine (unless it rains) and reminds me to leave space on my calendar for dates with Him, even if all we are doing is sitting on opposite sides of the room and mutually investing time there.

He lets me rant.

When I think I have something to say He allows me to splurb and blab on and on until I’ve exhausted my passion and thought process to finally come to a conclusion. That I will likely second guess. And change.

He gets what I’m really saying when I actually talk to Him, and He isn’t ever fooled by my replies assuring Him that, “I’m fine”. I don’t think I truly realize how important His character is to me or how much I appreciate who He really is. Sometimes I let weeks go by and feel like I’ve learned nothing about Him and that I’ve gotten no better in my attempts to be a super person (whatever that means).

But as I allow life to change around me and take the turns that it will, I find that He allows ME to change. I love realizing just how much has changed and how much has healed.

I love that He gives me time, investment, love… and that HE GETS ME.

Spoiled Society : Literature

Coming from a book-nerd who is currently sitting in the resource center (bookstore) at church all I can think about as I read this again is how unbelievably blessed we are with the freedom of information we are surrounded with. We have been given much more knowledge and freedom of expression than we realize and it’s a shame that we don’t take more advantage of the literature we have access to. Please enjoy this #ThinkBackThursday


John 14.15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

And what does He command? Devotion

            “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your G-d.” Micah 6.8

G-d requires daily time spent with Him, in His word, seeking Him with all we are.

I have an NIV bible, I have an app on my iPhone with loads of versions of the Bible, it even plays audio. I can instantly read, listen to, and spend time in the Word of my heavenly father. And, guess what? When I do, no one is there telling me I can’t, no one is telling me I’ll lose my life if I study it. My family doesn’t threaten to abandon me; the government officials aren’t holding a gun to my head. The Bible is currently banned in North Korea and throughout time it has been banned in hundreds of areas and people groups. Americans, the people with arguably the most access to G-d’s Word, probably (collectively) know the least about the Bible. Correct me if I’m wrong – please – but list your 10 closest, most “G-dly” friends and think of how often they spend time studying and weeping over the Scriptures. I’ve been reading a book talking about the underground church in Asia and how pastors and people alike will join, cramming in one room and study for hours at a time. For them, this risks all they have.

But for them G-d’s Word is ENOUGH.

Sometimes I only put enough value in the Word of G-d to read one chapter – and even then I settle without understanding it. My G-d has commanded me to walk humbly with Him. Humility reminds me of lying down yourself and chasing after something that has NOTHING to do with you; with how busy you are, or how tired you are. I show my Savior that I love Him by following His commands, how do I know those unless I spend time reading them?

G-d, forgive me for embracing this spoiled societies view on “getting around to it” when millions of people go hungry for Your Word. Change my heart and grow my desire for Your Word. Give my mind new understanding and my soul steadfastness. G-d break off my “Christian cookie” and show me what it is to follow You.

I pledge allegiance to the Bible

G-d’s HOLY WORD

I will make it a lamp unto my feet

and a light unto my path

I will hide its words in my heart

that I might not sin against G-d