Wisdomeats : Chicken Shawarma

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Since the beginning of May I have been part of a fantastic lifegroup lead by my friend Sam.  I won’t try to distil all the information she has shared with us about food, our bodies & health.  I have a complicated relationship with food so it feels vulnerable every week to put myself in a place of loving, informed challenge.  Last night was our social night and Sam had asked her husband Roger to make his homemade burgers for us (AMAZING I should try and get the recipe off him!), he was delighted to thinking that they’d the the usual 8 of us, instead Sam being Sam invited not just us but our entire families which ended up closer to 30 people! It was such a great night especially because they are incredible hosts and live in the most beautiful spot in the middle of Northern Ireland, on a farm, right beside a river with the Sperrins in the distance. I wish I had photos to share but TBH this post is a last minute idea because I promised I’d share my chicken recipe from last night and then had an unfortunate accident with my phone and some water.  Beauty, community and great food – the perfect combination for a great night. Here’s the recipe….

 

ingredients:

8-12 boneless skinless chicken thighs (or Chicken breasts fillets)

marinade:
5 tbsp light olive oil/coconut oil/?
5 tbsp lemon juice
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp paprika (i prefer smoked but any will do)
2 tsp ground cumin
6 tbsp thick natural yoghurt

how to:

  • whisk together marinade minus the yoghurt – then add yoghurt and combine in a large non metalic bowl
  • add the chicken thighs and cover well in the marinade
  • marinade from 30mins to 8 hours in the fridge (as long as possible)

to cook you have options:

  • OVEN – preheat oven to 200C place chicken in a oven tin in a single spread out layer and cook until starting to crisp and brown around the edges.  turning ½ way (approx 35-45mins).  test in the middle to make sure there is no pink.
  • BBQ – put the BBQ on and make sure it is very hot.  BBQ the thighs in a single layer spread out, turning a couple of times but not too often until they are crisping on the outside and cooked in the middle.  (the time will depend on your bbq)
  • add salt and pepper just before cooking

serve:

  • Serve with herbed pomegranate cousous
  • dried couscous, add salt cover with boiling water with an extra centimetre of water on top.  cover with a plate and leave to one side for 5 mins.  Add mixed chopped herbs (mint, coriander, parsley), pomegranate seeds.
  • Flatbreads/pittas/chapatis
  • mixed roast vegetables –
    • peppers, red onions, corvettes, feta cheese, whole garlic cloves, in olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper – cook in oven at 200 for 20-30mins.
  • or potato wedges & salad
  • After the chicken has rested for 15 mins slice and place on a serving plate.

*when my phone recovers I’ll update the photo with my own chicken pic I promise!

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Living the Kingdom story part 4

living the Kingdom story

This is the last part of this mini-blog series, and now we’re into the fun part our participation!

How do we participate?

This is God’s Kingdom we cannot administer, participate and take new territory in the Kingdom without the Holy Spirit. It is His Kingdom. It is the Kingdom of God and we need the Spirit of God to participate. We cannot fully extend God’s Kingdom without the person of the Holy Spirit.

We see shadows and moments of the Kingdom breaking in and throughout the world through many and all people, those who have a relationship with their Heavenly Father and those who don’t. You see God is our creator; we are made in his image every single person on this earth who has been, is or ever will be. They have God’s fingerprint on them, he knows how to communicate with them, he just can’t make any of us love Him or obey Him. But He can influence us. I believe that every good and perfect gift comes from God. I believe that he is the source of perfect love, He is Hope, He is justice and anytime we see glimpses of the purest forms of these we see God and His kingdom pushing back the powers of this world. But those are like shadows and moments. We as children of God, as His sons and daughters, walking, living temples of the Holy Spirit, we get to participate at a whole other level. We are not running on a battery source we are plugged into the mains. I don’t want to only see glimpses of God’s Kingdom coming here on earth I long to see more it fully. The sick healed, the deaf hear and the blind see;  the poor in heart, mind and body hearing the good news of Jesus;  man made cultures and institutions that exploit the vulnerable and poor eradicated brought low.  And to see all of that we need the Holy Spirit, how could we ever imagine we can participate without Him.

Those of you who know me or have heard me speak before or read this blog will  know that I have a passion for social justice. I love seeing everyday ordinary people consumed with a passion to see wrongs righted and those without a voice defended. But even the best social justice without the person of the Holy Spirit is not the full representation of the Kingdom of God. It’s a sign post, it’s a stop gap until the church wakes up and sees that its Her job!! We need to wake up to the needs of the world, our nation and neighbourhoods and realise that this world is desperate for this good Kingdom of God, they are broken and wearied by the kingdom of darkness and Church it is time to wake up and step up!!! Get over our fear of loss of reputation, get over our fear of looking stupid, get over our fear of loosing our money or even our lives. The problems are real, the gaps are real, the solutions are within reach and good people with huge hearts who don’t even know who God is yet jump in where the church should be leading the way, because we have the wonderful Holy Spirit and the world does not.

Racism – where are we church?

Reconciliation – where are we church?

We need the Holy Spirit we cannot do this on our own and neither would I even want to, The kingdom of God is advancing, the question is, church where are we? Are we on sidelines criticising, or are we maybe applauding as the army marches by, clicking a like or a share here and there; or church are we up to our eyes in the mud and the blood of the battlefield.

God is His mercy and kindness has not asked us to participate in His kingdom coming to earth on our own.

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jersusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

To be a witness is to see something, the evidence of something. Our lives are to the evidence of the Kingdom of God through the person of the Holy Spirit. Our lives are to illustrate the Kingdom.

Holy Spirit Come.

Could you risk this week? Here’s your challenge or your homework depending how you’re wired. This week when you are sitting with someone listening to them, and I mean really listening to them, go a step further than active listening and ask them ‘can I pray for you right now for this’. This is more than a prayer for them – you could do that on your own – but praying with someone right there in the moment is inviting them to expect God to move in their lives. When we pray we pray with expectation, expectation that God hears us and that he answers our prayers. As we pray with others we invite them into this place of expectation and then they get to watch and see as God turns up and changes things in their lives.

A LITTLE EXTRA FOR THE BLOG

As you have read these posts what has the Holy Spirit been whispering in your heart?  What battlefield is he summoning you to?  It could be your family, your street or your workplace.  It could be to roll up your sleeves and begin the Holy work of fighting racism, building reconciliation, or fighting local poverty and disadvantage. Or He could be whispering a global mission in your heart.  A nation, a people or a cause so much bigger than yourself that to even say it loud would make you faint.  Please don’t ignore His whispers, ask Him to fill you with the lovely Holy Spirit and give you plan of action and take the bold step today of simply telling someone.  Thats the very step, speak it out, your words will breathe oxygen into this mission and the light that you bring into will help illuminate the path before you.

 

Living the Kingdom story Part 3

living the Kingdom story

If you have missed Parts 1 or 2 you can catch them on down this blog. I love to 2 way conversations so please comment your thoughts or if you’re too shy why not email me on michelle@vcdgn.co.uk. Part 3.

Imagine a world where Jesus is in charge

Lets start global.  What would the Kingdom of God here on earth look like globally? An end of poverty? Everyone has enough, no lack, no sin that leads to the exploitation of the poor and marginalised. No power and control over the weak keeping them down so others can climb up the ladder to accumulate more and more and more for themselves at the expense of exploiting others.

What about nationally in our country what could the Kingdom of God bring here? An end to racism? And end to sectarianism? When Jesus comes back and we step into eternity with Him, we do not step into eternity on our own (sorry introverts!) We don’t get our own personal Jesus to hang out with. We enter eternity with every tribe and tongue who have followed Jesus to there. There are many rooms, many tribes, many nations and we will all live in love and unity together with our God. There is something about the longing for this that causes my heart to ache. An end of racism and sectarianism. An end forever of the language of the other and “them uns”. There will only be brothers and sisters in heaven, imagine we got to see that part of Heaven flood the earth! There would be no more wars, no more dehumanising of the ‘other’. No more powering up of countries against each other, shining off their newest deadly weapons to intimidate and dominate, while the rest of us cower in fear. No more people being treated less than because of the colour of their skin, or their country of origin or the different language that they speak. Every tribe and every tongue.

And up close here in our lives, what would heaven look like in our homes and hearts. I imagine homes and hearts without fear, without worry and without anxiety. I imagine homes and hearts that not only care for their own but love their neighbours as themselves. I imagine hearts and homes that pray your kingdom come Lord and expect Him to do just that. Imagine hearts and homes where His Kingdom touched down.

Lets go beyond imagining – we are called to participate with God as sons and daughters.

How do we bring heaven to earth?

Most of what I know of Kingdom of God theology comes from the founder of the Vineyard Church Movement John Wimber.  John recognised that in the western world we had made the church intellectual instead of expressive. Jesus came to right the wrong of the Kingdom of Darkness, caused by the fall of the Adam. He says this.

“The presentation of the Kingdom is illumination – it enlightens us, informs us but participation is the illustration of the kingdom.”

John Wimber, Founder of the Vineyard Church Movement

How do we illustrate the Kingdom? Its when we follow Jesus in His Kingdom ways, its when we do what Jesus did, when we pray for the sick – there is no sickness, disease or death in heaven. None it does not exist there, Jesus prayed for the sick to demonstrate to illustrate what his kingdom looked like. I believe as he walked around this earth doing miracles he wasn’t showing off, or doing tricks; he was moved with compassion by the brokenness of this sinful world and the pain in it, His Kingdom looked completely different to the Kingdom of darkness so He had to heal the sick, he had to raise the dead, he had to preach the good news to the people because he could not not do it. His kingdom leaked out of him all over the place.

My prayer today for all of us is that we would begin to grasp the Kingdom of God, when we begin to grasp it our reading of the life of Jesus the new testament is transformed. You read the accounts of Jesus and you hear His invitation to participate and you ask “ wow  do I get to do this?” The answer is yes you do!

When it clicks with us that the stories there aren’t just about teaching (acquiring more knowledge) or about behaviour modification we are no longer simply thinking and talking we are expecting to see God move and to participate in his Kingdom advancing. It changes how we pray. Holy prayer that beings much help, much fruit. We move from talking to experiencing God’s presence in that moment.

More tomorrow.  Hope I’ve stoked the fire in your belly.

Living the Kingdom story Part 2

living the Kingdom story

I was preaching on Sunday, actually preaching as apposed to the normal talking, teaching and having a chat that best describes my communication style.  I had a fire in my belly and it sparked out. I want to share it with you in parts this week, it started yesterday, today is part 2. If you prefer to listen than read, then here is the link to the talk on soundcloud.

What does it look like when our prayer ‘your Kingdom come’ is answered.

To answer that question I want to ask you what does heaven look like?

John 14:2

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

A place prepared for everyone. No one left out, noone homeless, no one without a place to belong, a place in the Father’s house tells me even more than just a bed or room for everyone but a family for everyone. No more fatherlessness no orphans. No more elderly alone going weeks without seeing or speaking to another person. No more young people locked away with social anxiety hiding behind screens and distracting themselves with social media, video games and box sets to numb the pain of loneliness and hopelessness. Your Father has prepared a place for you in his family for you.

Revelation 21:4

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Suffering, pain, sadness and mourning all done. Gone. No sickness, no death, no mourning.

Revelation 5:9-13

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

Unity. True absolute unity. Every tribe, language, nationality all in one song worshipping King Jesus. No racism. No division.

I love how Rich Nathan so eloquently puts it. (you can read the whole article here)

“There is a secret that God has kept for all eternity, but has now disclosed. Everyone who listens to Jesus hears the secret that God’s kingdom is going to come in two stages. In the first stage the kingdom is going to be hidden. It is not going to be obvious. You have to look for it and search for it. In the second stage God’s kingdom will be evident and open. It is going to be overwhelming, like a boulder from heaven. In the first stage God’s will doesn’t displace every other will. In the first stage of the kingdom coming into the world, God’s will is done, but so is the will of sinful human beings, so is the will of Satan.

In the second stage of the coming of the kingdom, when Christ returns, there will be only one will done on earth, the will of God. Right now, during this era, God’s will doesn’t always win the day. God’s will can be resisted. God’s will can be ignored.

The mystery of the kingdom is that the kingdom of God is here, but it hasn’t replaced every other kingdom. The will of God is being done, but so is the will of sinful men and women, and so is the will of Satan. In this age, we’re running on parallel tracks. When Christ returns creation is going to run on a monorail. Our world is going to run on the will of God.” Rich Nathan, Senior Pastor, Vineyard Columbus, Ohio.

The kingdom of God coming here, near and now means imaging our world right now if Jesus was in charge! In the next part we will imagine a world where Jesus was in charge.

Living the Kingdom story Part 1

living the Kingdom story

I was preaching on Sunday, actually preaching as apposed to the normal talking, teaching and having a chat type communication that I usually do.  I had a fire in my belly and it sparked out. I want to share it with you in parts this week, it starts today. If you prefer to listen than read, then here is the link to the talk on soundcloud.

When people encountered Jesus during his 3 years of mission there was a common reaction to him and it was mostly awe and wonder. People where astonished at the things he said, the things that he did and the manner in which he did both. I recommend the book of Mark if you want to catch a glimpse of the way people saw and thought of Jesus – its quick paced. Jesus was not only adored but was controversial too the teachers of the law and the Pharisees very quickly began to see him as their enemy and regularly went to toe to toe with him in the temple and on the streets.

Mark 2:7

‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’

People literally left their livelihoods and families and followed him after the briefest of encounters.

Mark 1:16-20

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.

When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

I think it is fair to say that Jesus was far from boring, he was compelling regardless of whether you loved him or hated him. Jesus took their breath away.

Jesus central message was the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven are exactly the same thing. It was the message that Jesus hung his ministry on. 72 times Jesus mentions it not to mention the many other times that he demonstrates it.

Mark 1:14–15

‘After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’”’

In studying the Kingdom of God I find other Pastors and teachers who can describe it in a more succinct way than I.  Rich Nathan from Columbus Vineyard says it this way,

“So what is the kingdom of God? What did Jesus mean when he said, “The kingdom of God has come near?” Is he saying Christianity has come near in my person? Is the kingdom of God the Christian religion? No. Is the kingdom of God the church? Is Jesus saying the church has come near? Not at all. Is the kingdom of God heaven? Not really.

What are we Christians praying when we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?’ Very simply, the kingdom of God is what things would be like if Jesus ran everything and if his will was done everywhere. The kingdom of God is what things would be like if Jesus was in charge. When we pray “your kingdom come,” we are saying that we want this situation to be like what it would be like, if you, Lord, were in charge, if your will was done. We say the kingdom has come when the Lord totally has his way, when he is running the show. And if Jesus was running the show then everything would be exactly as it should be.”

We can say all 3 of the Kingdom

It’s here

It’s near

and It’s now

So what does life here on earth look like when heaven is here, now or near? In Part 2 we will begin to unpack it.

5 things we wish we’d known 22yrs ago

Love is a verb – in fairness to Jason he did try to tell me when we were dating that love was a choice more than a feeling. I was horrified and told him it was the most unromantic thing I’d ever heard. I set myself a challenge to prove him wrong. He did fall head over heels for me shortly after but continued to prove that love is a verb, a choice, an action right up until today. The feelings of love ebb and flow and circumstances, mood and notions have an impact. But when we choose to love from an act of our will it’s a solid thing that lays a foundation for the harder years which will come.

Keeping the rules and being a good Christian does not equal happy ever after and a handsome Prince on a horse. That is definitely more Disney than scripture. What my faith in Jesus for all those years did do though was teach me to recognise when God shows up because I know who He is. Marriage has taught us that when He promised to never leave us He meant it. That when He told us that no circumstance in heaven or earth could separate us from His love we could totally trust that as truth. When the storms in our life have raged; storms of heartbreak, grief, disappointment and sickness have broke out against us we have found that God is our solid foundation and our faith in who He is the house that we find ourselves safe in.

Promises are easy to make but hard to keep.
We stood 2 very young 24 &25 yr olds and took our vows with seriousness and hope before God and those we loved. We meant every word, but what we didn’t know is that those promises need exercised daily to remain true. That even when you break them they don’t have to break beyond repair. Promises are mendable, that’s as long as you want to mend them. Just start keeping them again and the fibres of the promises are strengthened. Like broken bones they mend with time, patience and care.

Our family of 5 would be EVERYTHING
We had absolutely no idea just how much we’d love being parents. 18 months after the first dance Caleb made us Da & Mama. Before he was born we wondered if we’d love him enough – how crazy that seems to even write. The moment we heard his heartbeat in utero, saw the first scan and held him in our arms our hearts where his forever. Then with Micah we worried that we wouldn’t have enough love for 2 – again the craziness of that idea, all over again we got a whole new heart full of love for Mickey. And then came our gift of grace Matthew Jack 11months later making his big brother Micah an Irish twin! We never dreamt that we could love 3 tiny humans this much. As the lads grew into each stage I would announce “oh I love this stage” until eventually I realised I loved every stage with them. Now as young adults we love this stage too. Our family is our sanctuary. When we are hurting, lost or worn out it is the safe place we run too, circle the wagons and we draw each other close. We look at them now and we can’t believe these amazing humans came from us. Young men full of compassion, creativity, resilience, intelligence and strength.

Intimate equals vulnerable
We entered marriage wide eyed and crazy about each other. The intimacy we hoped for though was 2 dimensional. Disappointment and heartache lead us to raw, fully open, vulnerable truth telling that healed our wounds and lead us to discover an intimacy that brought us to tears. There are no short cuts or hiding places. True intimacy of heart, soul and body requires trust that is given and cherished. The person we go to for accountability for everything in our lives is each other. We made this promise early doors and we keep it still. Vulnerable, open and honest accountability equals intimacy in our marriage.

Our Soundtrack Chelle loves Jasy Playlist

The gospel for International Women’s Day

This might shock some of you but I think that Jesus loves International Women’s Day. I imagine that he sees the sea change,this moment where the tide is beginning to turn, as a breaking in of His Kingdom here on earth. 2000+ years ago this revolution of valuing women was pioneered by Jesus. Everywhere He went He elevated the status of women from less than, to beloved. I remember when this revelation hit me for the first time some years back and instantly my reading of the gospels took on a new lens. It’s like the women appeared centre stage for the first time. They moved from the shadows – where I had placed them – into centre stage. What changed? I changed; I went to India and witnessed first hand misogyny (confession time I had to google definition first time I read the word) my friend Nina sent me a copy of Half the sky and God broke my heart with every page I read. I returned to India and on that second trip everywhere I went I was surrounded by little girls. I’m a fierce mama of 3 sons and tbh I often feel more at ease with males so I was intrigued at what the Father was doing with me. In a session that we’d planned for the women in a womens centre I ended up surrounded by little girls and as I washed their feet and prayed for them I wept deeply. In that moment I was forever changed. My life since has taken a different direction, and the Holy Spirit put a new lens in my eyes. I just don’t read the Bible differently but I see everything through my new lens; the news, conversations, non verbal communication – it all!

Jesus’ gender blindness was completely and totally counter culture. He sought out encounters with women – the Samaritan lady at the well. Jairus daughter whom he came too and healed (daughters where less than too). His close relationship with Mary & Martha. The women who were part of his close knit community. Time and time again Jesus engages with women in a way that elevates them, gives them dignity, and proves their equality without ever having to speak of it directly. I love Jesus!! He communicates time and time again most clearly with his actions. In this moment of western history it can feel like the church is trying to catchup with society but that is so upside down, the world is catching up with the gospel, the good news of Jesus.

Around the world, east, west, rich and poor. What’s good news then is good news now. What’s good news there is good news here, what’s good news for me needs to be good news to a village woman in India. To the woman covered in scars tissues and sores from setting herself on fire in slum in Bangalore. Or the story of the girl sold into temple prostitution in the place that we traveled overnight in the train too. Or the child bride married as a second wife (basically a slave for the first wife) How does the gospel of Jesus elevate them from the culture around them.

How does Jesus elevate the young girl who is feeling pressured into having sex at 14 before even going on a date, in a porn saturated Britain, where young girls as young as 11 are performing sex acts that young boys expect because that’s what they’ve seen in porn. How does the gospel lift them from that culture into a place where they value themselves and their bodies as a precious gift to be given not a commodity to be demanded. And lets be clear here the same culture is drowning our boys and men, devaluing their desires and telling them what they want, what they need and what they are entitled too from girls and women. The gospel of my Jesus lifts them and elevates them from the prevailing porn culture.

Or the single parent of 3 children of 3 different fathers left to provide for and bring up her children on benefits, living in a council estate that is a no go area after dark. Where loan sharks roam the streets and corridors sniffing the desperation in the air for their next victim. Or the drug dealers peddling a temporary escape from the despair and fear. Or the groomers stalking the area, preying on the vulnerable teenagers with only one intention to exploit their bodies for their own profits.

Or a girl trapped in a culture that insists that she is less than and that her beauty is a threat to men and she must learn to cover herself up to protect herself and to protect men from their lusts. Its her responsibility. She is the property of her father until she becomes the property of her husband, sometimes a man much older than her and an arrangement that is mutually beneficial for their families but she will not be considered, who she will not choose but who will be chosen for her, it may like many arranged marriages become one of love and commitment and respect, or it may be one of martital rape, abuse and servitude. In many countries even when the worst scenario materializes the women will have no right to divorce, no right to any justice as she is the property of her husbands and therefore he can do that he pleases to her. The gospel of Jesus must be as true to her as to me.

Or the 35 year old woman climbing the carreer ladder, pushing herself to prove that she is as talented and hard working as her male colleagues. Feeling the pressure to not only out perform them to stay in an equal footing but must look a certain way too, be perfectly groomed, slim, appropriately dressed. But in this stage of life yearning to find a partner to share her life with and maybe have children but she cant seem to find the time to do that, and how can she take maternity leave now with the prospect of the next promotion in 2 years? And if she does step out for 9 mths, she will be more than 9 mths behind her colleagues, she’ll unofficially of course be at the bottom of the pile, because everyone knows her priorities will change now she is working mother. The gospel of Jesus must break into her culture and elevate her too to be true.

It must elevate the widow in Africa who when her husband died lost the rights to the land that she and her children live on and seek their livelihood from. Who’s property was grabbed from her and she was left homeless and without an opportunity to provide for her family. Is the gospel of Jesus that we are teaching and preaching in our pulpits, in our blogs and status updates is it the same gospel that elevates and brings up to this widow?

It must be true to all these daughters of the king and all the many other lives and circumstances not told here if it is true anywhere, it must be true everywhere.

On International Women’s Day 2018 I believe more than ever that the gospel of Jesus is good news for women and men everywhere, that His Kingdom is breaking in and advancing more each day.