Baking Bread

When I was living in my husband’s rural home in China, I was amazed at how much they could do in the kitchen with so few tools! Pretty much everything was done with either chopsticks, a wok, a knife, or a stirring utensil. Need to whisk eggs? Chopsticks. Need to peel potatoes? A knife…but wow, they got a lot done, and made some amazing food! In our Western kitchens, we have a gadget for everything! Apple corer, cheese slicer, whisk, cake mixer, electric beater, dishwasher, egg slicer, 100 different sized measuring cups and spoons… so convenient.

Sometimes I wonder if this has crept into our Western “Churchianity” (to quote Ben Taylor). We now have fancy sound sets, lighting, buildings, a course for everything (can’t be a proper Christian without the ____ Course!), and lots of teaching videos, spotify playlists, and media which, well… let’s be honest, some of us may have become a bit dependent on. I guess there’s nothing wrong with these in and of themselves, but have we forgotten the simple things of reading the Word, prayerful meditation, and simply obeying Jesus, no matter the cost? Without the fancy sound equipment, polished worship, big buildings, and church programs to tick the boxes and give us all the right feel-goods, do we still know how to hear from God, seek His will, and be obedient to what He tells us to do? 

I love this quote from Brother Yun, a man greatly used by God in times of revival and the persecuted underground Church in China:

“When I’m in the West I see all the mighty church buildings and all the expensive equipment, plush carpets and state-of-the-art sound systems. I can assure the Western church with absolute certainty that you don’t need any more church buildings. Just because you have a church building does not necessarily mean Jesus is with you. He is not welcome in many churches today […] God’s Word is missing. Sure there are many preachers and thousands of tapes and videos of Bible teaching, but so little contains the sharp truth of God’s Word. Not only is knowledge of God’s Word missing, but obedience to that Word.

When revival came to believers in China, the result was thousands of evangelists being sent out to all corners of the nation, carrying fire from the altar of God with them. When God moves in the West, it seems you want to stop and enjoy His presence and blessings too long, and build an altar to your experiences.”

― Brother Yun, The Heavenly Man

This was the great commission Jesus sent us on: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Quite simple really. Not easy or convenient, but not complicated, and certainly not fancy. And He didn’t leave us on our own to do it, in our own way. He said He would be with us, and He is! 

The early Christians, empowered by the Spirit, saw amazing things happen. Each one of them took their place in the Church (not the building, the body of Christ), and learned to walk in obedience to Jesus, meeting together regularly, serving and learning from one another.  It was pretty simple. Not easy, but simple. Simple tools, simple “skills”. Similar things are happening in places all over the world, but not much of it seems to be happening in the West. As we examine these movements of the Spirit (in Iran, Africa, Thailand, China, India, Indonesia, and many, many more) we see that it’s much like what was happening in the times of the early Christians in the Book of Acts. The believers are passionate about Jesus, obedient to the Word, filled with the Spirit, fulfilling the great commission, and not distracted by fancy stuff!

I love this passage from the bible, and the quote after it from Brother Yun:

1 Kings 19: 11-12: “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, a still small voice…”

“So many Christians seem impossibly distracted from hearing God’s voice. Instead of listening to that still, small voice that brings true peace and joy, they blindly follow the voices of mainstream religion.”
― Brother Yun, Living Water

So interesting… how easily distracted we are by all the loud and fancy tools of “mainstream religion”, or what I now like to call, Churchianity (thanks Ben Taylor!). But in it all, a lot of us have forgotten the simple things that Jesus asked us to do. Not all, but a lot.

Going back to the kitchen analogy, if the great commission was something like being asked to simply bake bread to feed the hungry, and we’re always spending time in a fancy kitchen full of tools that can make cheesecakes, creme brulee, and black forest gateau, how easy it would be to get distracted from the simple task of baking bread.

How many fancy tools do we really need in the kitchen? The rural Chinese would probably answer that… “none”! Why? Because they have skills. How did they get the skills? Lots of practice. I’ve seen a Chinese lady cut potatoes into perfect, identical thin slices at 100 miles per hour with just a simple kitchen knife! Can we also let go of some of the fancy stuff and really learn how to pray, listen, disciple, and obey? I think we will find so much joy (and power!) in Him when we do.

Let’s get back to the simple skills and tools that Jesus has given us, and let him do the fancy work of changing lives… the most meaningful work of all.

Voice Recognition

Sue’s Views
Voice recognition has become a reliable and safe way to open bank vaults and entries to confidential information. It’s amazing that no two voices are the same! Our hearts and minds are like a safe. They hold the treasures and things that are most valuable to us. We don’t want just anyone to have access to them. God knows us better than anyone ….. so we can trust Him with those things. Just like the sheep recognise the voice of the shepherd ….. so we need to be able to distinguish His voice from all others. Give Him permission to open the safe ….. and listen for His voice.

Hearing God’s Voice

Sue’s Views
A while ago I was challenged to ask myself ‘If God told me to ask for anything I wanted ….. what would it be?’ King Solomon was asked this question and He asked for wisdom! My answer was to be able to hear God’s voice and to see things from His perspective. There are so many voices clamouring for our attention ….. many of them out to deceive! The only way to hear God is to tune in to Him so much that fake voices will be obvious. 
In Bible times a shepherd led his sheep by the sound of his voice. They knew it so well that it was the only voice they followed. Jesus said in John 10:27
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Seek First The Kingdom Of God

Sue’s Views
It’s never easy being the odd one out ….. but the majority are not always right! We’ve been given a brain to think for ourselves ….. but let’s do it prayerfully and respectfully. Jesus was the perfect example. He stood against the political and religious leaders because He followed the will of his Father. He carried the sins of the ‘herd mentality’ to the cross. Isaiah the prophet said ‘All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.’ Jesus said ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God ….. and all these things (things you need) will be added to you.’
Sent from my iPad

Nothing too small for God

My 5-second memory had once again let me down… I had a mental list
of things I needed from the supermarket, and it only had 2 things on
it! I could remember one… but couldn’t remember the other one. Try
as I might, my mind went blank.

Then the thought came to me… “Why don’t I pray and ask Jesus to
remind me what it was? He knows!”.

So I did.

Immediately after praying, the words “floor cleaner” came to my mind.

Jesus, You are awesome…

From Death to Life

Sue’s Views
When all seems hopeless ….. and you feel like it’s over ….. God’s ability is just beginning. He specialises in breathing life into dry bones ….. raising dead dreams ….. restoring dead relationships. Give Him your grief ….. despair ….. disappointment ….. and see Him turn your mourning into dancing ….. your sorrow into joy!

Choose Wisely!

Sue’s Views
Who do you look up to?  We need leaders who are strong but who can identify with those they lead. Leaders who are not out for personal gain ….. but to influence and change things for the better for all concerned. Most of all ….. they must be people of integrity. People who do what they say ….. and say what they mean. When God chose a king ….. He looked not at the outward appearance but at the heart. With elections coming up ….. let’s do the same!


Turn It Around!

Sue’s Views
Every choice we make in life paves the way for the future. If only we had a fast forward ….. and a rewind button! Most decisions are made on the spur of the moment. If only we took time to think ‘how will this affect my life ….. and the lives of others?’ Thankfully ….. most mistakes can be learned from. Forgiveness and restitution can turn them into something wonderful. Don’t let shame or regret keep you on a downhill spiral. Some of the best testimonies are honest confessions of our mess ups ….. and how we turned them round!

The Valley of Weeping

Sue’s Views
The ‘weeping willow’ always reminds me of Psalm 84. 5-7
‘Happy are those who are strong in the Lord, who want above all else to follow your steps. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains! They will grow constantly in strength …..’
We will all go through the ‘valley of weeping’ at some stage. We can use it to make us bitter ….. or better! I remember reading a book many years ago called ‘Don’t Waste Your Sorrows’. They are not there to drown us but to open up a fountain of blessing. Not only for us ….. but also for others. Our sorrows enable us to identify with those around us ….. and of course with Jesus ….. who suffered the greatest grief ever.


Power of the Tongue

Sue’s Views
One of the most challenging verses in the Bible says ‘Life and death are in the power of the tongue’. The tongue is one of the smallest parts of the body ….. but it is one of the most powerful! Words have tremendous power. They can build up ….. or tear down. They can share truth ….. or spread lies. They can label someone for life ….. or give them something to live up to. Once spoken ….. they cannot be taken back. Let’s choose carefully before we speak and think about the consequences of our words.