Life on the front porch

Faith, life, kids & bikes


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The best song ever, hands down

To my favourite, most loved children in all the world,

What is your favourite song of all time?  Is it a happy song, a reflective song, a love song, a sad song?  Is it the message, the tune or a special memory that causes you to love this song?  What do you think God’s favourite song is?  Ask him.

from http://i.telegraph.co.ukDid you get a chance to read through the Song of Songs last week?  Did it make you blush or did you just read really quickly over any sections?  In a book like this, it’s easy to see how people get messed up on it.  Also easy to see why many people avoid it altogether.

Many of the ancient Jews and also many Christian Bible teachers considered this to be the most important book in the whole Bible?  One guy preached about 100 messages and only got to chapter 2 – he just kept getting new insights into God’s loving heart for people as he read and meditated on the words in this book.

For this week, here are some cheat notes to understanding what’s going on in this book.

The Song of All Songs:  “The Song—best of all songs—Solomon’s song!” (Song of Songs 1.1, The Message)

There are many ways people read this book, and a few that I enjoy, we’re going to look at this as a story of the love between God and an individual believer. Let’s meditate on this story and try to understand our place in the Divine love story.  We will also see how this story of passionate love is played out in the life of Jesus and the experience of the early church.  (I have a suspicion that Song of Songs was the Apostle Paul’s favourite book too.)

There are 4 characters in the story:
The Lover: This is the bridegroom king (Solomon) who to us, represents Jesus.  The one who loved us, even before we loved him.
1 John 4.19We love because he first loved us.” 
Jesus also considered himself to be the Bridegroom in Luke 5.34Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?”
The Beloved: This is the bride (the Shulemite) who represents the sincere lover and believer of Jesus.  She is being made ready to meet her husband.
Ephesians 5.27 “ and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
The friends of the bridegroom: This is probably the easiest way for guys to begin to meditate on the story, as groomsmen or family of the Groom.  These are the ones who watch and enjoy the blossoming of love between two lovers.
This is the role John the Baptist saw himself in John 3.29 “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.”
The daughters of Zion: These are the ones who see what is happening but don’t understand it (at first).  The love that the king has for his bride is captivating for them and love the bride has for her Lover is motivating.  You might imagine them as young and immature believers.
We are encouraged to love Jesus in such a way that it is visible by Peter when he says: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3.15

This week, read the whole story through up to 4 times.  Each time, imagine that you’re a different character (Groom, Bride, Friends, Interested observers).  What do you notice when you read it this way?

I love you.

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Top tips for fasting well #1

I am reminded of the rewards that come by fasting and praying for this understanding:
  1. Fasting leads to tenderizing our hearts so that we feel God’s presence more.
  2. Fasting leads to changing our desires and enlarging our desire for righteousness (Heb. 1:9).
  3. Fasting leads to increasing our understanding of the Word and receiving prophetic dreams.
  4. Fasting leads to making our body healthier and changing what we desire to eat and drink
  5. Fasting leads to strengthening our sense of identity as sons of God before the Father and as a bride before the Son. Our identity is rooted in the knowledge of God’s affection for us.
The grace of fasting is God’s answer to our cry for “more.”  Fasting enlarges our capacity to receive truth, and accelerates the process of God’s truths taking root in our own hearts.  It is the God given way to make room for more of God and therefore, is an essential component to the age-old question of “How do I grow in love for God?”
– The Rewards of Fasting, Mike Bickle & Dana Candler


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How can you make space for more joy in your life?

   This is your invitation to enjoy Jesus.  Now I suspect that some people might react to this statement with questions or even shock – how could I enjoy Jesus.  Serving sounds easy, worshiping is understandable but enjoying?  This is the journey that we will take together through the season of Lent.  A journey of discovering God as lovesick over us and of enjoying Jesus, the great bridegroom.

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What is Lent?

     Imagine that your mom is making your favourite meal for you.  She’s spent time this week shopping and planning and she’s spent all day in the kitchen baking and cooking and thinking of you with every dish she’s preparing.  Now imagine that on your way to this feast, you stop off at McDonalds and have a Super-sized Big Mac Combo and a milkshake.  As amazing as that might sound, it’s garbage compared to what your mom prepared and when you show up to eat, you aren’t even going to be hungry.  Who of us would do this (at least intentionally)?  No, if someone is making us a special meal, we want to come to the feast hungry.

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Is there a point to waiting?

Dear friend,

As we prayed last night for the end of your season of waiting I thought that perhaps this is a bigger topic I need to reflect on.  Yours is just one of many stories of waiting that I’ve come across lately.  It seems that the Lord allows us to go through something and then uses it to bring help to others.  I also feel like my brief encounter with intense waiting has given me confidence that God is present in waiting.

write down what God has promised

Write down what God has promised

 Every season is a season of waiting

I walked into the post office to see if anything had arrived for us from Belgium.  It had been our 2 weeks stretched into 5 with no firm end, just empty promises.  Now Rosenort is a small town’s small town, you can’t go anywhere anonymously.

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Fasting is easiest when you’ve got friends with you (#6)

Okay,  I’m running to the end of this little series on fasting.  It’s been good for me to reflect on my own discipline and to remember that I am after joy, peace, full life and the good things.  By fasting, I am making more space in my life for these things.

Through a lot of failures and mistakes (I make more than most) I’ve learned a few things that help me practically in fasting.

  1. Do it in community. Let your family know before so you don’t have to be awkward and actually be supportive.  I have friends who have a list on the fridge of what everyone is fasting and their schedules.  Don’t put it on Facebook or twitter, that’s not quite the spirit of Godly fasting.
  2. There are certain questions you should not ask people who are fasting: “how’s it going?” What are you doing for your fast?”
  3. There are helpful questions to ask? “How can I pray for you in your fast?” “Is there anything I need to know about your fast?”
  4. Fasting is not my licence to be grouchy.  If I’m getting grouchy, chances are, there’s something that God is revealing in my heart that I can be set free from.  How exciting and gracious of God to do this through fasting.
  5. Include my children.  By talking openly and inviting them to know and understand fasting, I’m giving them a jumpstart on a lifestyle that will set them apart for the things of God’s kingdom.  Being wise, children can participate in various types and lengths of fasts.

My prayer is that you would experience the depth & height, the width and breadth of the love of God and that you would find fasting to be an accelerator.  Jesus came so that you could know God and he’s given us great gifts to help.

If you’ve questions or stories about fasting, I’d love to engage with you and help where I can.


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Why flog a topic when it’s not necessarily popular (fasting #5)

I often think in lists – things to do, people to see, topics to write about.  As I reflected on why I’ve just spent a month thinking and sharing on the discipline of fasting, I wondered to myself, “Why?”  It isn’t a topic that grows crowds or inspires lots of conversation. Teachers who want to grow big crowds, tell them what they want to hear and make promises that are larger than life.  Teaching on fasting is a bit of a downer compared to other interesting topics.

There are 3 main reasons why I teach on fasting:

  • It’s hard for me.  I don’t like to be hungry but I want desperately to be hungry for God and his provision.  My first reason is to teach myself.
  • There’s a serious lack of good teaching on Biblical fasting (there are some great resources, but not many). Resources I’d recommend include Richard Foster’s Celebration of the Disciplines and www.ihopkc.org – follow the link to resources where there is much written and spoken on fasting).
  • I believe the life following after Jesus is a life of delayed gratification (which includes fasting food).
    • Giving is a fast where I keep less of my money.
    • Sabbath is a fast where I provide for my family on one less day of labour.
    • Abstinence is a fast of sex outside of the marriage relationship.
    • We believe that less with God is infinitely greater than everything without God.

Pray with me today that you and I would be hungry for the things of God. Jesus invited us to look for God’s kingdom first, and to be made right in the way that God makes things right. This is his answer to the worry and stress in our lives because his promise comes with his reward: everything we need to live daily will be included in what we receive.

Jesus I believe you, I will look for you and I will find your resources.  I will follow you and you will be enough for me. Amen.


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Someone Else’s Testimony on Fasting (#4)

When I crashed with my back, and was literally put on my back for some time, we attended Southland church. The month of January was focused on Fasting and Prayer. Was kinda a new concept for me, but was very excited about this. And so I felt very strongly to be a part of this. My husband and I both committed to fasting every Mon for that month. And it was amazing what God taught us both through this.

I have since then done for of it but not so faithfully.

Would love to be encouraged to do more of this faithfully.

I truly believe if we were faithful to do so, it would be so exciting as to how God would change me.