Sometimes it's not so much about walking on water as it is about staying afloat.
"...so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ" ~Ephesians 3:8
A couple girlfriends and I get together Wednesday nights to share our victories and defeats from the week, to encourage and enable each other, to pray and to study God's word. We have been doing Erwin McManus' video podcast series on the Beatitudes. This week's was on being meek. "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." ~Matthew 5:5
I looked up the definition of meekness as there was some question as to how it differs from humility. Simply stated, meekness is the reluctance to assert oneself. Which is in essence a fruit of humility.
I loved the illustration Erwin provided of a stallion - wild, snorting, powerful - who when brought under submission is still as equally powerful but is now obedient, he has harnessed that power. Erwin was making the point that meekness is not weakness. Meekness is simply power under control. Meekness is using the power we have to empower not overpower others.
Meekness is what Christ exhibited in the garden of Gethsemane when Judas came with the Temple guard to arrest him. He had the power to call down the angels to protect Him, and yet He chose not to use it. "Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" ~Matthew 26:53-54. Instead, He exhibited His power by miraculously re-attaching the severed ear of the Guard which had been sliced off by Peter's sword.
It takes great strength to bridal our power - to place ourselves in what others may perceive as positions of weakness. There have been times in my life, where I had the power, the right and the ability to assert myself, but chose not to. Instead I decided to let it go - to submit and trust that God is in control. I have learned and in truth am still learning, that when we relinquish our power and control and submit to God, it is then that we experience true strength and the power of God can work through us. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." ~2 Corinthians 12:9
It's interesting that the promise for the meek is that they will inherit the earth. Experience, scripture and reason supports this promise. God wants to give us the world, proverbially speaking. His dreams are much bigger than anything we can dream for ourselves. So it stands to reason that when we submit our will to God's, when we bridal our power so that His can reign it is then that we will inherit all that He has in store for us, both on earth and in heaven.
It's been a few days since I've written a post - that was intentional. I felt that with all that I had going on last week, and not feeling so well, that I would take a break from blogging. It was great, it cleared my mind and allowed me to focus on the moment and there were a lot of great moments! I received my Indian VISA, I spent time with some great people, and I just spent time being really present.
Ashamedly, however, they were not all good moments. I had an experience on my way to pick up my VISA on Saturday, that spurred some reflection. I was driving the 401 to Toronto and back for the 2nd time that week. I drive a lot and have been driving a lot for more than half my life. As a result of that and the fact that my dad was a driver in the Air Force and taught me everything he knows, I consider myself a pretty skilled driver. So here I was, getting overly annoyed with those who appeared to be less than adept drivers. People who did not drive at least the speed limit, people who did not use their signal to indicate a turn or lane change and people who rode their brakes were frustrating me to the point I heard myself saying out loud "Really?" in disbelief.
Then I realized - it was only 17 years ago that I was the person who drove tentatively, the one who forgot to signal, or who made improper lane changes or continually rode the brake. How soon we forget.
I've also experienced this in Christian circles, not in reference to driving, but in how we can easily forget how far we have come in our spiritual walk and fall into the trap of judging others. Not growing up in a Christian home, I thought myself perhaps immune from the temptation to judge others, being able to identify with them. However the longer I'm a Christian and the more I grow in wisdom, and experience, the more I seem to face the temptation to put myself above others, and to get frustrated with the behaviours of those who simply are less experienced or less informed. This I believe is one of the most dangerous places we can be as Christians, it's a place you get to by way of pride. Be wary of the proverbial pedestal you may find yourself upon. It's just when you think you have made it or you think you know all there is to know about something, that life has a way of opening your eyes as to just how far you still have to go, and how little you really know."For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." ~Romans 12:3
Half way home, again, I found myself annoyed by the 3 expensive cars that passed me at alarming speeds. I was unimpressed, condemning them, and considering calling 911. Then I noticed my own speed and realized that while I was not going as fast as they were, I certainly wasn't doing the speed limit. It was an obvious plank in my own eye moment. Here I was so concerned about someone else's wrong doing, that I had completely ignored or even justified my my own. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." ~ Matthew 7:3-5
"Pride is a sin in us by nature; we need to be cautioned and armed against it." When speaking of Pride and Pedastals, I am reminded of this cliche but trustworthy saying "Pride comes before a Fall."
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' " "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."~Genesis 3:1-5
Another great episode of LOST entitled "The Last Recruit". Tonight, Jack came face to face with Faux Locke other wise known as the Man in Black. He engaged in conversation with him, wherein Locke challenges what He has come to believe, contradicts what Jacob has already told him and advices him that in essence Jacob is trying to deceive Him. He suggests that it would be in Jack's best interest to gather the candidates and leave the island with him. Through many of the Season 6 episodes, we see The Man in Black constantly planting these seeds of doubt in the minds of the candidates, clearly reminiscent of the depiction of how Satan works in the hearts and minds of people.
Soon after Jack is reunited with his sister, she shares her delight that Jack would be leaving the island with them, to which Jack responds he had not made that decision as of yet. The next line is the one that stood out for me. Claire's response to her brother Jack was "You decided the moment you let him [Man in Black] talk to you - whether you like it or not you are with us now".
Compromise begins with the first conversation. This "what not to do" was exampled for us from the very beginning. Eve entered into conversation with Satan about whether or not she should eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She was clearly advised by God himself of what not to do, but entertained the ideas of the devil, and got entangled in his deceitful plot of destruction. So too, do we risk getting caught up in the plans of the enemy the moment we entertain ideas or opportunities we know are contrary to God's will and plan. Satan tries ever so subtly but cleverly to engage us in conversation through our thoughts, other people, situations and our emotions, in order to see us defy the plans of God.
All this being said, let us not give Satan to much credit. God gave us a brain, and He gave us Christ through whom we can overcome all things. We can be assured that even though we may falter, and fall, we are not left trapped in the schemes of the enemy. Hurley makes the statement to Sawyer "you can go to the dark side and you can come back to the light." 2 Peter 2:9 reads "then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation". Again we read in 1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it". When we turn to God for help He his faithful to provide us a way out of our struggles and temptation, if we so choose to take it.
As LOST comes to a conclusion, we are relieved to see Jack jump from the boat, taking a literal leap of faith into the ocean swimming back to the island and so defying the plans of the "Man in Black." The man of science converting to a man of faith, placing His trust in Jacob.
If you had a piece of spinach stuck between your teeth, would you want your friend to tell you? If you had a piece of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe would you like someone to point it out to you?
Me too! So I wonder why we often don't appreciate it when someone in love points out to us other areas of our life that leave us looking like fools. Jack Nicholson has a famous line in the movie A Few Good Men "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth". Sometimes we are scared to face the truth about ourselves. We would prefer it if people tell us what we want to hear, rather than what we need to hear.
Personally I would much rather receive constructive criticism from someone, than a compliment. I would hope that if I was conducting myself in such a way that I was drawing negative attention to myself, or was engaged in behaviours that were detrimental to me spiritually, physically or emotionally, that those people who care about me would point it out.
I emphasize that this is best received when it comes from someone, who I know cares about me, has a relationship with me, and is seeking my best interest. Even still, I may not always like what I hear, but when I reflect on it, I know that it is intended for my benefit. Proverbs 27:6 says that "wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." The enemy referred to here, is the one who sees the spinach in your teeth and says nothing, so that they can get a good laugh at your expense or more accurately the person who tells you what you want to hear, in order to get what they want. Judas appeared to be a friend of Christ but his deceitful, treacherous, kiss literally brought about Jesus death. "Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, "Hail, Rabbi!" and kissed Him" ~Matthew 26:49
When someone speaks into my life, as painful as it may be to hear, I know that I am to receive the criticism in the way in which it was intended, as helpful and not derogatory hindrance. I am also responsible to be there for the people I care about in a myriad of supportive and encouraging ways and sometimes that includes rebuke. The verse preceding Proverbs 27:6 reads "Better is open rebuke than hidden love." What good does it do anyone if we simply sit back and watch as the people we care about enter into situations and behaviours that have the potential to destroy them, or at least cripple them. All this being said, we must remember that we are not God, He can use us, but ultimately it is His working in the hearts of His children that brings about change. All rebuke is to be given with prayerful consideration, careful instruction, patience and gentleness. We should love people so much that we encourage them to realign their heart and behaviours with the image of God, resulting in life and life abundant.
This I believe to be a true and trustworthy statement worth remembering: True love cares enough to confront.
I am passionate about seeing people grow in their faith, to the point where that faith pours out into every area of their life, creating epic ripples that echo into eternity. Much of what has formed my passion is personal experience, God's word and the teachings of John Wesley among others.
I particularly hold to Wesley's biblical interpretations and theology with regards to works of piety and mercy meeting with repentance, as necessary to full sanctification, if not at least as evidence of full sanctification. “True faith is manifestly shown by good living and not by words only…true faith is no unfruitful thing but a thing of perfect virtue, of wonderful operation and strength, bringing forth all good motions and good works.” "Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" ~1 John 3:18
Further to this I conquer with Wesley’s insistence that “the church is best defined in action, in her witness and mission, rather than by her form of polity.”
God has called the church to be salt & light, this in essence is our witness, our mission our faith in action. "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." ~Matthew 5:13-16
But salt left in the shaker does no one any good, nor does a light hidden under a bucket. We need to get out of our churches, off the pews, and into the world. Being Salt is all about getting in there, mixing in with the world, so that we can season it, purify it and preserve God's kingdom, so that we can usher in Heaven on Earth. Being light, means that we are to shine, reflecting the joy and hope we have found in Jesus.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" ~Matthew 5:4.
Why? Why would those who mourn be blessed? Because mourning is a result of having loved.
If we've never mourned, it means either we have never lost something we loved, or we have never loved something we lost. The old cliche "it's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all" rings true!
We can risk loving, we can even risk losing because we know the promise God has given us. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." ~Revelation 21:4
One of the iSERVE * iPRAY challenges that participants have the opportunity to choose is "think of someone you have a hard time liking, let alone loving, and then love them in a real tangible way." If we are honest, I think we each have people in our lives we do not like, people who may upset, annoy, frustrate or disappoint us. There may even be people in our lives we feel don't deserve salvation or love. However the people we are quick to judge or write-off, are often those God calls us to share His mercy, grace, love and Gospel with. Jonah faced a similar experience, and in the end his prideful, self-righteous character was revealed to him in dramatic fashion.
I love the depth of this book; it reveals the ulterior motives of a reluctant servant, ulterior motives that many of us have but rarely ever admit. More than a giant fish tale, the book of Jonah tells the story of a reluctant missionary. Jonah was the man that God was sending to the gentiles of Nineveh, demonstrating the total reaching mercy of the Lord. Jonah however wanted to run in the opposite direction, and that is exactly what he did. It appears that Jonah’s reluctance had less to do with fear, or humility, like Moses and Ezekiel and more with bitterness and judgment towards his enemy.
Jonah’s prophetic message was of few words and it is interesting that there was no call for repentance, like most prophetic proclamations. I wonder if this is due to the fact that Jonah was not interested in seeing Nineveh repent and strictly looking forward to their judgment. God worked powerfully through the words of Jonah, resulting in the immediate and complete repentance of Nineveh. This however is what Jonah did not want to happen, it was the reason he had ran from God in the first place, he wanted to see his idea of justice extended to the Ninevites and it had more to do with their destruction than their salvation. Jonah wanted his prophetic message “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned” [3:4] but instead God’s grace and mercy was extended.
It is interesting that Jonah’s disobedience and reluctance to God’s call had a tangible affect on those in his path, including those on the boat “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us?” [1:9]; “I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you” [1:12] says Jonah.
Jonah ran from God and as a result nearly died, but “from the depths of the grave, I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” [2:2] God in is sovereignty and power has the power to restore his people, bringing them back from the brink of death literally and proverbially. I can personally testify alongside Jonah “but you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God.” [2:6] though notably not from the pit of a whale’s stomach.
My friend posted the video below on her Facebook wall today. Cute story.
All of us, Lost & Found - Saint & Sinner are created in His image. It is right there in black and white on the very first page of the bible "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them" ~Genesis 1:27. Each and every person is valuable to God. God loves the Saint as equally as He loves the Sinner. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8. We are blessed and a blessing when we can look past our differences, in order to see that God has created us more alike than we sometimes care to admit. Okay perhaps I have extrapolated a lot from this simple little clip, but it remains the beautiful truth.
Walt: People are going to die, a lot of people and it is going to be your fault
Walt: "Because people are listening to you now Hurley"
WOW! This short dialogue at the beginning of tonight's episode of LOST got my attention. When we are privileged enough to be used by God to share His word, to have individuals turning to us to share His truth, we must be sure to not take that lightly.
It is not only about what we say, when given the opportunity, but also what we refuse to say. In this way Hurley reminds me of Moses. Hurley is a prophet. Jacob is speaking through Him, using him to lead His people where they need to be in order for Jacob to do His will. Yet he is tentative, replying more than once this season, in a similar fashion to the way Moses did when God asked Him to speak to His people on His behalf. "Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?" ~Exodus 4:1
It is not only the words we say, but those we don't which can affect people's lives. I am reminded of a powerful message I heard a year or so ago from Pastor Perry Noble, which speaks to this truth, in no uncertain terms.
"If you want to make it for the long haul in ministry - especially as a pastor you need to deal with your pride and insecurities - especially Insecurities.
God called Moses and instead of accepting the call the first thing Moses said was "WHAT IF". We are "WHAT IF'ing" God to death - God speaks to our heart and tells us to do/say something and we say what if - what if the deacons/what if the elders/what if the lady who has been in the church for 50 years...If God put it in your heart to say it and you don't say it - if God put it in your heart to do it and you don't do it....
You're not a prophet of God, you're a prostitute of the church.
It is not my job to keep the sheep happy - make everyone happy - take an opinion poll every time I speak to the congregation. It is my job to ACCEPT THE CALL of God - the ANOINTING of God - to WALK IN THE POWER of God - LISTEN TO THE SPIRIT of God - PREACH THE WORD of God - and WATCH what God can do when a person gets SOLD OUT to God."
This doesn't apply only to pastors, but to each of us as ministers of the gospel, as friends , family and accountability partners. Sometimes the worst thing we can do to a person, is keep quiet, when what we need to do is speak life giving truth into their lives, regardless of how we perceive they may react to us, or what it may cost us.
The episode continues, with Jack confessing his need to give up control and trust others....I could spend forever talking about that one from personal experience - perhaps tomorrow's post.
I am impressed and inspired by the simple and authentic actions of Christians. On the other hand people who have incredible biblical knowledge, astounding giftedness, and pious spiritual lives, leave me yawning, if it is void of simple and sincere expressions of their faith, and love of God and others.
I've said it before and I will say it again, I am a Walton's kinda girl, content with a Walton's kinda life. While I personally love academics, the arts and culture, what really delights my heart is community, relationships with people and God.
Friday afternoon, I experienced a Walton's moment. One person's simple and sincere action left me encouraged, inspired, and refreshed my faith in people, the church and those who serve in it! A young pastor from an FM church in Cloyne, knocked on the door of our church office, asking if any of the pastors were in. I was the only one remaining in the office that afternoon I told him, to which he asked if it would be alright to come in and pray for me.
I was astounded by what I learned next, this young pastor and another gentleman he was mentoring, had driven to Kingston for the sole purpose of going church to church to pray for the pastors. No hidden agendas, so self serving motives, no grandiose gesture, but a gift that spoke volumes. This is in large part what I believe it looks like to be the "church" - it is relational - it has a face - it seeks to serve others, to the glory of God. It is simple, it is pure, it is selfless. This one action, was so refreshing, like being offered a glass of the coolest water, in the dryest of deserts.
It certainly served as affirmation and encouraged me to initiate "iSERVE * iPRAY" that Sunday. The encouragement continues as people decide to join in. So man dedicated to growing in love and service of God and others. One participant wrote on the Facebook discussion page that their "Live the Word Challenge" for today was to "write a thank you note to a person from their past who has made a difference in their life". This is what they shared "...She was my JMS (Junior Missionary Servants) leader in church when I was young. She taught us songs in Swahili and who knew that years later, I would sponsor a beautiful girl in Kenya and have the chance to visit her and meet so many wonderful people. My heart is in Kenya and I thank God all the time for Mrs. Smith. She's an amazing God-fearing woman, everyone that knows her, loves her." Simple actions that impact the lives of others in profound ways, ways we may never even realize this side of heaven what a difference even the smallest acts of service may have.
"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward" Matthew 10:42
Practicing what I preach, my live the word challenge for today is: to commit to praying for 2 people everyday for the next 6 months. 1 person from your church and one from your community. I have committed to praying for an amazingly generous and kind woman from our church, who faces mental and financial challenges and yet remains one of the most generous, and kind people I know. The person from the community I'm praying for everyday is our Mayor Henry Rosen. I know little about Him, but plan to learn a bit about him personally and His service to our city each day and will pray specifically for him based upon what I learn.
This morning was great! My excitement was not in vain! God is up to something, He is always up to something, but we have been invited to play a small part in seeing His plans come to fruition.
Today we launched the iSERVE * iPRAY movement. I refer to it as a movement, because it is not so much a program as much as it is a lifestyle change. 40 days towards developing a heart and habit, of focusing on God and others. Over the next 40 days, I truly believe people's lives are going to be transformed, they are going to grow in faith, and love. As a result the lives of those around them are going to changed, as well as their churches and community.
Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." ~Matthew 5:16
This was all initiated with the belief that everybody wants to change the world, but many don’t even know where to start. iSERVE * iPRAY is 40 days of Prayer & Service. A humble little 40 day devotional and action plan, for ordinary people who want to make extraordinary things happen. It is a practical guide to being salt and light in our world. When implemented with sincerity of heart, purpose of mind and the power of prayer, we will not only see our self change but will potentially experience a transformation in our life and the lives of those around us that will create ripples which will echo into eternity. If we give a little of our self— we really can make a difference!
Having practical application, in addition to God’s word and prayer helps us to grow in both our being & doing as Christians. It is important that we keep this is balance – If we just do the actions we simply become powerless humanitarians, and if we just pray and read God’s word, we become pew potatoes.
I printed off 160 devotionals believing that this would leave us with a few extras, for those who could not make it this morning, as well as friends of friends etc. Much to my surprise and delight, by the end of the service all 160 were gone, and I was rushing to get more printed! People were requesting copies for their small groups, bible study groups and friends. There was a definite excitement and anticipation in the air.
As stories are shared and my own experiences develop over the next 40 days, I will be sure to include them in blog posts.
If you would like more information about the iSERVE * iPRAY movement, and /or are interested in receiving a free copy of the devotional and action plan, feel free to contact me.
A busy day, with much to say but a late night and early morning tomorrow - so I am posting an old devo I wrote years ago and revisited today. Tomorrow I will share some of today's sweet happenings.
I've found that when it comes to my spiritual walk, I keep on keeping on. I pray, do my devos, worship, go to church on Sunday's, sometimes during the week and prepare sermons, and yet at times I can still experience a staleness. I am guessing I am not the only one who has had this feeling. Have you ever felt stagnant in your walk, like you really aren't moving ahead, drawing closer?
I propose that we get this feeling because we settle, we get to a place where we are doing what we are "supposed" to do, but rarely push past this point - and thus we hit a spiritual wall.
So my question to you is, in Reflection of the "good fruit-bad fruit" references in the bible:
What dead branches are still left in your life, that you need to allow God to prune, so that fresh vibrant ones can grow, so that you can push past the wall of stagnancy? "Search my heart Oh God and reveal any unclean way in me"
Sure in the embryonic stages of our Christian life we lose many of the outward dead branches that were suffocating the breath of Christ in our Life. However as we grow in our relationship with Christ it is the less obvious branches that we find harder to deal with, so we ignore them, thinking they really will not affect our relationship. FEELING STALE? STAGNANT? Get rid of the dead weight.
Secondly, what are you doing to fertilize your soul so that it produces good fruit. The same old same old does not suffice. We need to be continually Pressing into God, giving Him more of ourselves. We need to nourish ourselves with more than bottle milk, we are no longer babies, we need meat.
What I have learned is that if we want to experience that newness and freshness, a perpetual closeness with God, then we need to be continually pressing in. A fire needs to be fanned."I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."~John 15:5
I would suggest the best way to fan the fire, is to be continually growing in the spiritual disciplines through this your soul will be fertilized, dead branches will fall away and good fruit will be produced.
If you are wondering what some of the spiritual disciplines are I have provided a list. Perhaps you exercise some but need to add more weight, in order to increase your muscle in that areas and subsequently good fruit. There may be new ones you do not practice that would work a whole new set of muscles - helping to produce even more good fruit.
Study & Prayer, Fasting & Frugality, Service & Submission, Solitude & Silence, Worship & Celebration, Fellowship, Sacrifice, Confession & Accountability ( I took liberty of adding this one)
"Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.; To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." ~1 Corinthians 19:9, 22-23
I read the following devotion tonight and was reminded of something Louis Giglio shared in his DVD "Fruitcake and Ice cream"[ I highly recommend everyone, christian or otherwise watch this video ]. Louis explained how the apostle Paul, wanted to go out of his mind for God, to just go crazy from the overwhelming love he had for God, but instead, he stayed in His right-mind. He did this in order that he might be able to reach some without potentially turning them off or confusing them. In doing this, he was not denying His passion for Christ, simply reserving His demonstrative expression, until such a time that those he was seeking to minister to would come to know God and the joy of the Lord for themselves and would then join Him in the celebration of the Saviour - going out of their mind together for God.
The following is an amended excerpt from the book "Spiritual Disciplines Devotional" by Valerie E. Hess.
When I discovered the different theories of personality types, it changed the way I communicated with people. I learned that some people respond well to strong, forthright communication, even if they disagree with you. Others need to have a bit of chit-chat and laughter before you can talk to them about more serious things. Some people are more concerned about their safety (emotional as well as physical) in particular situations.
In the verse above, Saint Paul talks about using language that people with differing worldview can relate to so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ mat get a fair hearing in all places. Those of you who have raised or taught children know that we need to speak differently to each child, even about the same issue.
Part of the discipline of service is communicating well. And part of communicating well is knowing who your audience is. Sometimes we can be a hindrance to others and to their reception of the gospel if we do not take the time to learn how they hear.
True story...this past weekend, my 14 year old nephew Austin and I were watching TV and during a commercial he randomly tells me that he had a dream last week, informing me that it was about the apocalypse. Now Austin doesn't go to church and while he is quite intelligent, I was a little shocked that he described his dream as being apocalyptic in nature. He went on to explain his dream. The sky was brilliant red, purple and orange. The sun got brighter and brighter till it was bright red and then exploded (though there was still light). He told me of 4 horses (green. white, black and red) located at the 4 corners of the earth, sitting upon them were warriors. Apparently there was two sides in a war for the earth. There was a creature with 7 heads, each head had a horn. The warriors looked like animals but were muscular like men and had giant wings. He said each of the warriors had a name but he could only recall the name of one called "Famine". That's all I remember him telling me, needless to say I was taken aback, though I did not let on. I asked if he had read or watched anything about the apocalypse, but he said no. When I talked to his mom the next day, she said he had come home from school and had mentioned something about 2012, and perhaps that is what initiated it.
December 21, 2012 the hyped date of the end of the world. Let me share something with you, the bible says, we will not know the day or hour of Christ's return. "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come." By the shear fact that December 21, 2012 has been thrown out, we can know that this is not the exact day. Regardless, the day is not significant - the outcome is, and for those of us who have placed our trust in Christ we need not be afraid. The original apocalyptic writings of John found in the book revelations gives us the truth we need to know.
Be assured VICTORY is the LORD’s and the book of revelation serves as His final word to His chosen people. John the apostle, working in the office of prophet, vividly portrays the fulfillment of all the promises of God. What was begun in the pages of the Old Testament finds it’s fulfillment in the pages of this last book of the Bible, where God’s glory will ultimately be revealed through Jesus Christ the conquering Saviour who wins the final battle over evil. God has always, is and will forever more, be in control and His Will shall be done. Though the days of a Christian may be marked with suffering their lives will be marked by salvation. So with prophetic vision in mind, John writes to the seven churches of the days ahead, to warn and encourage them of the demise of Rome and in essence speak to the Holy war and God’s victory and the coming restoration of all things unto Him.
“Write therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later” [1:19] this is the charge given to John and this is exactly what he has accomplished in the pages of Revelations. John shares with the readers, what he has seen and what had already taken place through the King of Kings, Son of Man, Son Of God, Jesus Christ. “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father – to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." [1:5-6]
God is so intimately aware of our human nature, knowing our tendency to worry and fret about the future, that in His grace He provides us an account of how it is all going to turn out. Revelations serves as a sort of assurance to our otherwise worrisome souls. We can relax knowing how it is going to end, perhaps not all the details – but certainly who rises as the victor – Jesus Christ our Saviour & Lord to whom all glory and honour is due!
My favourite verse from revelations is presented as a trustworthy and TRUE saying “He who was seated on the throne said, “'I am making everything new!'” [21:5]
Yesterday was Easter Sunday, a time of celebration, a time spent with family and friends reflecting on the joy we have, on the victory that we have, because Christ overcame death. As a result I opted to not take away from the celebration by sitting in front of the computer and so did not have a post yesterday. However, I am on it this morning - bright and early, while everyone is still sleeping :D
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21
What has your heart today? Matthew 6:21 states a universal truth, your heart will be focused on what you treasure the most. If your treasure is found in God, then God will have your heart. I am sure we would all like to attest to the fact that our treasure is found in our relationship with Christ; that what is most important to us, is loving God and loving others, making a difference and changing the world. Jesus knew all to well though the myriad of things that would be competing for our hearts; Popularity, Power, Fortune, Fame, Pleasure and Acceptance. He also knew how fleeting and temporary these treasures are. Which is why He advises us to make those things which we treasure most, the joys and gifts of heaven and to place our happiness in things eternal. To spend our time, money and talents on things which will leave an eternal legacy.
Want to know where you treasure is? Do some treasure hunting. Take an honest assessment of where you invest your time, money and efforts and find out where the majority of your resources are spent. Ask those closest to you what they see as being most important to you. Did you find that your treasure is found first in God and then in selfless relationship with others? Are you pleased with what you've discerned about where you're treasure is? Is God? If not consider changes that will see you living for treasures that will last into eternity.
"The love, kindness and value we have given authentically to others will be our remaining treasures at the end of life" ~ Steve Brunkhorst
"If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love." ~1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Paul tells us if we have everything but love we have nothing. Is it therefore fair to say that if we nothing but love, we have everything? This has certainly been my experience. In order for us to become non-judgmental Christians who leave love-prints on the hearts of those God brings across our path, our goal is to need nothing and depend entirely on God. We must love as if we have nothing to hide, nothing to prove, nothing to fear and nothing to lose.
We go on to read in the next passages of 1 Corinthians what this Love, Christ calls us to, should look like lived out. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." ~1 Corinthians 13:4-8
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." ~John 15:13. This is how Christ Loves - selflessly, sacrificially all the way to the cross and as a result through His love we experience life and life abundant! In turn Jesus says to us "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." ~ John 15:12
“...Freely you have received, freely give” ~ Matthew 10:8
God—the creator of life, is teaching us everyday, through His creation how we are to live. Take the heart for example; it functions physically in the exact same way God would have us function spiritually. The heart has two valves, one valve that pumps life giving blood in to the heart and one that sends that life giving blood back out to the body. God created us the same way, like a heart's beat we are created to receive from our Heavenly Father, and then called to give all that we have received to others. If we do not take time to receive we will run dry and shrivel up and die, and at the same time if we keep all we have received for ourselves, and not allow God’s love, grace and mercy to flow through us we will surely implode. Our heart does not think twice about it’s function, freely it has received—freely it gives, and in that giving and receiving we sustain life.
It's when we freely give all we have received from God that our heart's begin to beat in sync with His. As we share the blessings God has poured out upon us, understanding that He blesses us so we can bless others and as we minister to others in the same way He has ministered to us, we will experience healing of our spiritual health, the transformation of our lives. The impact of this divine heartbeat will impact the lives of those around us, our communities and His Kingdom.
“You have been treated generously, so live generously” ~ Matthew 10:8 (The Message)
It was a sombre but powerful evening. At tonight's Maundy service, we reflected on the events leading up to Jesus' Crucifixion; the last supper, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and his ultimate betrayal by Judas. We read the passage from Matthew 26:20-50 and watched the scenes unfold from the passion of the Christ. When we came to the part about Peter denying Jesus, I couldn't help but recall a piece of prose I've enjoyed. I have always found it a powerful story, but in light of the events on the night of Christ's betrayal, it has taken on a deeper meaning.
One day I woke early in the morning to watch the sunrise. Ah, the beauty of God's creation is beyond description. As I watched, I praised God for His beautiful work. As I sat there, the Lord brought His Presence on me. He asked me, "Do you love me?" I answered, "Of course, God! you are my Lord and my Saviour!"
Then He asked, "If you were physically handicapped, would you still love me?" I was perplexed. I looked down upon my arms, legs, and the rest of my body; and wondered how many things I wouldn't be able to do - The things that I took for granted. And I answered, "It would be tough, Lord, but I would still love You."
Then the Lord said, "If you were blind, would you still love My creation?" How could I love something without being able to see it? Then I thought of all the blind people in the world, and how many of them still loved God and His creation. So I answered, "It's hard to think of it, but I would still love You."
The Lord then asked me, "If you were deaf, would you still listen to My Word?" How could I listen to anything, being deaf? Then I understood. Listening to God's Word is not merely using our ears, but our hearts. I answered, "it would be tough, but I would still listen to Your Word."
The Lord then asked, "If you were mute, would you still praise My Name?" How could I praise without a voice? Then it occurred to me, God wants us to sing from our very heart and soul. It never matters what we sound like. And praising God is not always with a song, but also when we are persecuted. We give God praise with our words of thanks. So I answered, "Though I could not physically sing, I would still praise Your Name."
And the Lord asked, "Do you really love Me?" With courage and a strong conviction, I answered boldly, "Yes Lord, I love You, because You are the One and True God!" I thought I had answered well, but God asked, "Then why do you sin?" I answered, "Because I am only human. I am not perfect." "Then why in times of peace do you stray the furthest?" "Why only in times of trouble do you pray the earnest?" No answer; only tears.
The Lord continued, "Why only sing at fellowships and retreats? Why seek Me only in times of worship? Why ask things so selfishly? Why ask things so unfaithfully?" The tears continued to roll down my cheek. "Why are you ashamed of Me? Why are you not spreading the Good News? Why in times of persecution, you cry to others, when I offer you My Shoulder to cry on? Why make excuses, when I give you opportunities to serve in My Name?" I tried to answer, but there was no answer to give.
"You are blessed with life. I made you not to throw this gift away. I have blessed you with talents to serve Me, but you continue to turn away. I have stretched forth My Word to you, but you do not gain knowledge. I have spoken to you, but your eyes were turned away. I have sent you My servants, but you sat idly by as they were pushed away. I have heard your prayers, and have answered them all."
"Do you truly love Me?" I could not answer. How could I? I was embarrassed beyond belief. I had no excuse. What could I say to this? When my heart had cried out, and the tears had flowed, I said, "Please forgive me, Lord. I am unworthy to be Your child. The Lord answered,"That is My Grace, My child." I asked, "Why do You continue to forgive me? Why do You love me so?" The Lord answered, "Because you are My creation; you are My child. I will never abandon you. When you cry, I will have compassion and cry with you. When you scream in joy, I will laugh with you. When you are down, I will encourage you. When you fall, I will raise you up. When you are tired, I will carry you. I will be with you ‘til the end of the days, and I will love you forever."
Never had I cried so hard before. How could I have been so cold? How could I have hurt God as I had done? I asked God, "How much do You love me?" And the Lord stretched out His Arms, As they were nailed to the cross. I bowed down at the feet of Christ, my Saviour. And for the first time, I truly prayed. ~ Author Unknown
The incredible thing that struck me, is that even after Peter told Jesus that he would never deny Him [Matt 26:31-35] but then ultimately did 3 times, it did not destroy Jesus' trust in or love for Him. The morning of His resurrection - he appeared to Peter. In fact it was upon Peter that Jesus built His church. While our actions at times, leave us denying or worse disowning God, He will never disown His children. If we turn to Him, His grace is sufficient to forgive us. His love endures forever.