A letter to Jesus

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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil 4:6)

By Heather Djunga

This is your chance to write a letter which you know Jesus will read. You’ve been given a postal stamp and envelope and the mailman has promised to deliver your letter straight to the Throne Room of Heaven. This is the same Throne Room where Gabriel received his marching orders to go forth and announce to Mary her imminent pregnancy. The same Throne Room in which the enemy comes to accuse God’s children to justify his curses and sin. The same Throne Room which Jesus enters as your advocate to tell the accuser to be silent. The same Throne Room in which the angels and seraphim serenade the Lord and sing ‘Glory! Glory!’
This is the address written on the envelope which will hold your letter.

Are you going to take the opportunity, knowing God on His Throne in Heaven will read it? The eyes that blaze like fire will read every word and weigh them up with compassion and righteousness.
Such letters written in Jesus’ name, sealed by His blood and addressed to the Throne Room of Heaven carry great authority. It is written, the accuser is silenced when your letter is opened.
The letter you pen to Jesus today has a 100 percent chance of being answered.

When I was a kid I watched the Mickey Mouse Club. You might remember the jingle: “Who’s the leader of the club who’s made for you and me… M-I-C… K-E-Y… M-O-U-S-E.”
Then some kids and teenagers came dancing on the stage – something like High School Musical only more low key – less pink lipstick and blush, less blond hair and shiny clothes.
These were the typical ‘all American kid’ variety who also just happened to be friends with Mickey Mouse.
I felt like I was friends with them too and so one day I wrote to them. I wrote about my country at the bottom of Africa, and included photos cut out from Custos Magazines of buck and lions. I even tried to lighten up my presentation explaining that we didn’t REALLY have lions walking around in our back gardens as Americans liked to believe (this was before social media and the internet dispelled such myths).
I sent the letter in a luminous pink envelope, written on luminous orange paper… this was the 80s, understand. It was sent to Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
I never got a response.
Not from Britney, or Tiffany or Damian or the gang who sang Mickey Mouse songs. Some ‘friends’ they were.

Then I grew up and realised people are just people. Give them enough time and they will disappoint you by being ‘imperfect’. Give yourself enough time and you will realise these same weaknesses exist in you.
I learned about Jesus and I experienced His presence and His Spirit in my life. He became my friend and my Saviour. He is the friend who responds. He is the one who gets back to you. When you pour out your heart to Him, He hears. What you give your heart to, He sees.
Today, I didn’t know what to pray. My words escaped me. I felt Him say to me, “Write me a letter. Tell me what’s going on. Petition me. Remind me of My promises to you. I promise to answer.”

God asks us to present our requests with prayers and petitions. When you write to Him, remind Him of what He says in His word and His promises. Maybe you feel all prayed out – then write to Him, an old-fashioned hand-written letter. Use paper from that fancy paper collection you built up as a child. It will get to Him. It will pass through His hands. He will read it, and He will answer.

In your letter and petition:
– Tell Him what’s going on.
– Remind Him what He says in His word about what you are going through. In other words, include scriptural promises specific to your circumstances.
– Remind Him of specific promises He has given you by His Holy Spirit.
– Thank Him for the name and blood of Jesus which allows your letter to make the throne room of Heaven.

Post your letter on your knees before Him.

There’s no ‘snail mail’ in Heaven. Heaven’s been using a superior e-mail system for ages – forever actually. The moment you give it to the Father, in Jesus’ name – the letter is opened and you are heard.

“But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
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I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
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So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
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“All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
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Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
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For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
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Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” (From Isaiah 41)

To read the story behind the Living out Loud blog, visit https://living-out-loud.blog/2017/12/30/the-birth-of-a-new-blog/

©Copyright Heather Djunga 2018.

The Pillow Thief

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By Heather Djunga

When an old friend started to accuse me of stealing her pillows recently, I was not just taken aback but deeply hurt. This was because this was someone I love very dearly.

I have watched her slip into dementia and tried to reach her, failing to do so. Words I have spoken to her have been misconstrued and she remains suspicious of me and everyone else.

I want her to ‘see me’ again, and when I glimpse in her eyes the special person I knew growing up, I feel my heart break.

It should be as simple as reaching out and touching her, but she is out of reach.

One of the effects of dementia is a cool apathy and this is a hard one for loved one’s to understand or deal with. I don’t remember her heart being so distant and I long to be able to move her heart, to help her to remember herself and to remember me.

The Lord says in His word: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekial 36:26)

When we read this verse, we tend to think it is for everyone else. “Lord, please give … (insert name here)… a new heart.”
We reel at the stoniness of other’s hearts – I mean, how could they be so mean? – and then the Lord comes to show us, maybe our own hearts need a little working too.

See if we only love people because of what they can do for us or give us, then that’s not love. That’s just about us. But this pillow thief is learning that sometimes you love just because that person matters to you and it is in your heart to do so.

I think this is how the Lord feels about us.

I repeat the words from the beginning of the blog, but now read them as a letter from the Lord Jesus to you… “I have tried to reach her, failing to do so. Words I have spoken to her have been misconstrued and she remains suspicious of me… I want her to ‘see me’ again, and when I glimpse in her eyes the special person I know, I feel my heart break. It should be as simple as reaching out and touching her, but she is out of reach… her heart is so distant and I long to be able to move her heart, to help her to remember herself and to remember me.”

He gave us His all at the Cross, so that we could be in relationship with Him again because our relationship with Him matters so much to Him. I know the pain of seeing someone I love ‘lost’ and out of reach. How it must grieve Him to see His beloved children lost and refusing to respond to His touch. But Jesus is the Good Shepherd who comes for every one of His lost children, to breath remembrance into their hearts – so that they once again see Him and receive Him, and come alive again, by His love and grace.

“… And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Cor 11:24.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

To read the story behind the Living out Loud blog, visit https://living-out-loud.blog/2017/12/30/the-birth-of-a-new-blog/
©Copyright Heather Djunga 2018.

Messiah

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Words and illustration by Heather Djunga

I don’t believe people get saved by my ideas or by your’s, or by philosophy, even theology. Their lives aren’t changed by clever speeches. They don’t need some wise solution to a great problem.
Otherwise you could take a group of overweight people and give them an exercise programme and expect weight loss or give an eating plan to an anorexic and they would be fine. Or you could clear an alcoholic’s house of booze and he would be ok. Or you could take a broken-hearted person, introduce them to a bunch of singles and expect to hear wedding bells in the near future.

When will we understand that sometimes people can’t help themselves?
What if they are in a prison of sorts without an identifiable key? Is God expecting them to become MacGyver?

In the Bible is this expression called ‘Good News’ and I can’t see Good news in the full onus of salvation being on me, using my flawed human thinking to climb out of a pit which I can’t in my human understanding fully comprehend, to fix things that are too broken.

Is that Good News?

There’s this saying, ‘God helps people who help themselves’. That’s not in the Bible. Surely, a Saviour is for people who can’t save themselves.

We don’t need lists and theories and clever arguments– we need the one who gave the Word, the one who is the Word. We need to ask Him to step Him.

And that’s really as simple as asking.

The Lord says of Jerusalem that she is like a woman, doing everything in her strength to improve her situation, going from pillar to post to get help and comfort, each time finding herself betrayed and forsaken because she doesn’t know her own worth (not her own worth as she or others define it to be, rather her value to Him, her Messiah). If you read Isaiah 53 and 54, the Lord explains to Jerusalem that this self-same Saviour who has paid for her and won the battle for her, is her Messiah, her Redeemer.

He’s going to do it for her.

Restore her.

Rebuild he walls.

Set her free.

Justify her.

Defend her.

Vindicate her.

Bless all of her sons.

What does He want from her in exchange for all of this? This is the Good News part. It’s for free. She just has to open her heart and life and let Him in. Can you imagine the moment this woman fully comprehends that there is a Messiah who has done it all for her.

The Lord has already seen this moment. It looks like this: she stands to sing a song of joy. Not of contrived joy. Rather, a joy from deep within her heart. All the things she most fears won’t happen because He has come for her.
I think of Mary Magdalene, the moment she saw the risen Jesus, there in the garden outside His tomb (See illustration). He was alive! This was not a time for apathy, but to run into His arms. She didn’t need a poem about happiness. She was with Him and He with her.

Saviour means ‘save’.

Jesus means’ God saves’.

I need saving when I can’t save me.

This is the Messiah. This is the Good news.

You can’t do it? Great. He can.

Messiah.

It saddens me to say this because I so love Jesus, but I think I am only just starting to realise what Messiah means. But if in my blogging and the story unfolding through my blogged life, you can seem Him, the Messiah, glorified, then it’s OK if I look a little naïve and foolish.
We aren’t that different. You have your own stuff too. You also want your life to be lived out loud… real life not that contrived, airbrushed life that looks so great in Facebook posts.

So it goes like this … when I was in ‘Std 5’ (back in the day), I was awarded the Class Award for Sense of Humour. I never forgot that award. It stands out as my greatest achievement.
I remember at the time, standing up completely amazed when they announced my name as the winner – wondering how they had noticed I was funny.
Was it that obvious?
And so tentatively I went up, the shy, awkward kid, to get my trophy. I hoped they didn’t expect me to say some stand up comedian acceptance speech. Fortunately an awkward half-wave to the wide-eyed audience of children was enough. I didn’t trip as I went back to my place or anything. I wasn’t – and am still not – that ‘slapstick humour’ kind of funny.
Rather it is my ability to see life in a fresh way and almost appreciate the heart of joy and love with which the Lord considers our quirks and unique attributes which I believe gives me my humour.

While it was a floating trophy, which meant another funny kid received it a year later, it has stayed with me my whole life.

Life then happened.

A lot more life happened.

And about a year ago, I was praying and I felt the Holy Spirit say to me, “Don’t forget the funny”.

I was taken a little aback. I had become so serious because of things that had happened, I had forgotten my trophy, if you could call it that. How had Jesus remembered when I had forgotten? Did He want me to have a sense of humour again?

Did He get what had happened in my life?

Really now Jesus, it was no laughing matter.

It was very serious stuff.

Don’t force me to make light of this thing that has broken my heart.

But He was saying something so much more. He was saying to me, “Why have you forgotten who you are?” and more importantly, ‘What have you forgotten who I am?”

This year again, in my new mission to live out loud – things started to happen the opposite way.
I have found myself hurt by decisions I have had no control over, faced with my inadequacy and inability to change many things.
Maybe the Lord allowed this to bring me to His throne, probably being the most honest I have ever been with Him.

We sat there in silence – a woman with her God.
I said nothing. It seemed He said nothing either. We just sat there together.
I didn’t know what to pray.
Somehow I didn’t need a list of theological answers from Him. I didn’t even need a reason. I needed to know He was still there.
So we sat together. In the stillness.
I realised, I just needed Him.
In the silence, a word crystallised in my heart.

Messiah.

I was feeling weak. The most unfunny I had ever been.
Maybe you feel that way too.
I’m usually so filled with so much hope but this was the first time I felt the wings of my hope break.

I’m usually giddily filled with hope but I had come to a place of winglessness.

I watched this cartoon movie with my son once. As I write, the name evades me. There was this group of birds that had to migrate, but they had gone in the wrong direction thanks to some directionless bird who had directed them south instead of north. And so they landed up in icy territory, lost and too weak to fly to new land.
It looked as though all hope was gone for them, until one day they spotted a big Boeing 747 just a way off. Now this thing looked scary. “Like, guys can we trust this thing?” one of the birds asked.

One of the smallest of the birds crept up to the Boeing (Actually the same clever bird who had been the lousy GPS and led the flock astray) and he stretched out a little foot, and specifically his baby toe and touched the Boeing. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when he wasn’t zapped or electrocuted or anything.
He shouted out something along the lines of, “Hey guys! Come here. This thing can fly!”
Give the cue, the others came forward. The flock of birds, tired and snow-surrounded, entered the belly of the Boeing. That winter, they migrated First Class via Boeing 747. They flew on wings greater than their own.

Messiah.

There’s a Boeing 747 waiting to be your wings. There’s a God who loves you so much, He has arranged First Class for you.
But now why stay in the snow and keep flapping those little wings of yours which are so tired?
Just get on board!

I hope this ministers to someone.
I know it ministers to me. Even as I write, I am excited.
I can’t fix everything or control all this stuff that’s going on. But that doesn’t matter! I have a Messiah.
Jesus died on the cross to be my Boeing 747 and yes I am on board. I don’t know how He’s going to get it right. I don’t know how He’s going to navigate His aeroplane over some stuff. But I’m in my seat on His plane and my seatbelt is fastened and I can feel Him with me. Just as He was with me when we sat together in silence in my prayer room the other day.
He’s there, in my boat on the sea and so I know it will all be OK.

Could we dare to believe that the answer to this nation isn’t in clever debates and lists and reasonings – rather in us opening the gates to allow the King of Glory to come in – into our hearts, into our families, into our communities and cities and into our nation.

He is our Messiah.

To read the story behind the Living out Loud blog, visit https://living-out-loud.blog/2017/12/30/the-birth-of-a-new-blog/

©Copyright Heather Djunga 2018.

Follow the star

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“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15)

By Heather Djunga

He’s small and lovely and definitely an unexpected surprise on this ordinary evening in Bethlehem. Tiny hands and feet. Minute features. At this point, the baby is lighter than the crown He will one day wear on His head.

So cute and lovely is He, it’s hard to imagine He is the King of everything. But look above Him, above the stable where He has been placed in a manger, and see there is a particularly bright and unusual star – directly overhead.

A road map, if you will, pointing to the Way – Jesus.

I believe when the Lord brings a sign or wonder, this is never without the intent of drawing attention to Jesus and glorifying His name. The Lord is deliberate and purposeful in His action.
The Holy Spirit always speaks with intention and to point to the Lord Jesus Christ.

This magnificent star in the sky was intentional and its intent was Jesus.

Too often, we seek signs and wonders, like kids wanting to get high on helium. We worship the signs and wonders, and even judge ministries on how many signs and wonders are present. We think if someone gives us a word of knowledge or has spiritual knowledge or operate in signs and wonders, immediately they must be close to Jesus but we need to discern – how has this pointed me to Jesus and how has this stirred in me a desire to draw closer to Him?

The shepherds did not choose to camp in the pastures and worship the star. They proceeded onwards to Bethlehem! There was a reason the star was there – and they were determined to find it. If it was such a glorious star, imagine the glory of the one it pointed to.
The Lord says seek and you will find. He says to His people in the book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29), that when they seek Him with all their hearts, they will find Him and they won’t be disappointed.

Imagine being among those shepherds who after following the star all night, arrived to see the first and most beautiful Christmas gift ever.

Those who choose to follow the star and seek the one it points to, witness things to wonderful to write about.

Pay attention today.

The Holy Spirit will guide you through revealing Jesus to you.

There in your office. There in your home. There in the traffic. In the shopping centre or coffee shop. The soft, gentle voice of the Holy Spirit, will be there to guide you and reveal to you what Jesus is doing in your midst and then invite you to be a part of this – ‘to follow the star’ and to see the glories of what is revealed to those who by faith and perseverance seek out the King of Kings in their everyday lives.

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)

To read the story behind the Living out Loud blog, visit https://living-out-loud.blog/2017/12/30/the-birth-of-a-new-blog/
©Copyright Heather Djunga 2018.

Faithful and True

Determined

He won’t give up.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:4-7)

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ (Isa 65:1)

(The Sketch Chronicles: 18 of 365)

To read the story behind the Living out Loud blog, visit https://living-out-loud.blog/2017/12/30/the-birth-of-a-new-blog/

©Copyright Heather Djunga 2018.

When Jesus spits in your eyes

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In scripture, the guy who couldn’t see didn’t expect Jesus’ answer would come in such an offensive way.

By Heather Djunga

When you ask the Lord for healing or help in an area, you don’t expect Him to say to you, ‘Just hold still while I put some spit in your eyes?”

But this messy mixture of spit and mud rubbed across the eyes by the hands of Jesus was just what the doctor had ordered.

Voila!

Sight was restored.

We were talking about this with a group of ladies during a prayer meeting at Monday. One of my friends related how her daughter, who recently went overseas to Thailand for a season as a teacher, had learned through having had her luxuries reduced to necessities, the value of small things.

She and her boyfriend have had to brave tough conditions and build up a new life from scratch in setting up home in a foreign land. This has not been easy and most recently, they acquired their own table, and a pile of towels, from an American couple who were selling their things to return home.
She was elated about having her own table!

She is teaching at a disadvantaged school in Thailand and decided to buy a little bag of sweets to give to the children for good work. Her partner is teaching at a more privileged school at a more upmarket part of Thailand.
She said just giving the Top 5 in her class a tiny sweet each, motivated the entire class to work extra hard.

This same incentive didn’t work with quite the same effect in her boyfriend’s school.

But had things not been so tough in building up their lives from the basics, the small blessings of everyday life might have remained unseen by her.
In the messy ‘spit and mud’ situation of having to find her feet in a new country, the Lord has opened her eyes to see. These things would have remained unseen to her before.

So many people have been affected by the tough economy. How many things which you took for granted before do you now realise have great value? Like a holiday by the sea. Or coffee and cake at a fancy French-style café? Or movie and a jumbo sized box of popcorn? Even toenails painted at a local spa. These are the things many of us have had to cut back on because of ‘tough times’.

Some of us have learned to leave our ivory towers and stand together, braving reduced budgets and sharing from bulk purchases. We’ve learned the value of each other and community through the ‘spit and mud’ of what could very well be one of the way’s the Lord is bringing us together as a true rainbow people and not just a ‘Rainbow Nation’ on paper and in theory.
Things a little spit and mud messy?
Maybe there’s something the Lord wants you to see.

To read the story behind the Living out Loud blog, visit https://living-out-loud.blog/2017/12/30/the-birth-of-a-new-blog/

©Copyright Heather Djunga 2018.