master of life in earth, sky and sea

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Archive for the month “February, 2012”

No defects

Came from my class last night where the CEO of Christian Blind Mission did a presentation on five points his team wants the organization to believe in and head towards over the next five years.  Since CBM deals with individuals that have disabilities in the poorest areas of the world, it was noted that in fact, they were working among the poorest of the poor.  He took time to describe a church in downtown Toronto called, Abilities.  It is a church the encourages the worship and celebration of faith to take place among all individuals.  The worship leader has cerebral palsy.

How does that fit into most of our lives today?

I mean, we want to see the best looking, hear the best sounds, musicians on your mark, vocalists come with clarity – perfection, an offering worthy unto the Lord – to give Him our best.

Being a steward of life has just gotten a bit tricky.

What would I do?

We been talking about this for a while, so lets put it into practice.  When God sees a person with a disability, what does He see?  Ahhh, beautiful isn’t it – He sees a creation that He has created, and “it was very good.”

So is there anything to this offering up perfection and excellence to God?

Yeah, I think we talked about that a few times too.  God looks at the heart, doesn’t He.  We make our mistake by looking with our eyes – lets ask God for discernment and ask Him to allow us to see each others heart.  The heart sacrificed to God is better than any other sacrifice – and the worship and service given from such a heart – is perfect, its excellence.

So we are encouraged to continue in the reverence of His name, His truths, His ordinances, and commandments. Let us beware of hypocrisy, and examine ourselves concerning our sinful defilements, seeking to be purified from them in the blood of Christ, and by His sanctifying Spirit. Whoever attempts to expiate his own sin, or draws near in the pride of self-righteousness, puts as great an affront on Christ, as he who comes to the Lord’s table from the gratification of sinful lusts. Nor can the minister who loves the souls of the people, suffer them to continue in this dangerous delusion. He must call upon them, not only to repent of their sins, and forsake them; but to put their whole trust in the atonement of Christ, by faith in His name, for pardon and acceptance with God; thus only will the Lord make them holy, as His own people – with no spot or blemish – perfect, excellent.  Matthew Henry

 

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Trying not to be thrown out

How many times I have heard people complain about why we should suffer because of what Adam and Eve and done in the garden – in other words – I didn’t do anything wrong, so why am I being punished with their sin.

I never did get this.  I mess up all the time.

Of course, the best of us will try to look as good as we can or point to another direction of blame (oh, that’s been done before).

My son has been threatened on numerous occasions that he would be thrown out of his room if he did not get it cleaned and straightened up.

The temptation is to try to be as good as we can in the hopes that our good will outweigh our bad when it all comes down to judgement day.  If I get the big picture, that will never happen.

However, every day I have a choice and in every situation I have a choice.  Making the choice to do the things that God would have me do is a wise choice – doing that consistently is even a wiser route to follow.

Figuring out what is culture and what is God ordained can be a bit tricky – I come with a lot of “church” baggage.  A good friend of mine saw nothing wrong with having sex as often as he could with as many women as he could.  He even lead the college and career class at church – he says he didn’t know any better – it was just part of his culture that he was familiar with – he had sex with every woman in that group.  When it finally dawned on him that this was not the culture that God was aspiring for him, he had to make quite a few amends.

They say that in some Bible colleges in our country that 60% of the student body is sexually active.  I know, it just does not seem right does it?

So, in a sense, trying to stick to the straight and narrow is a tough thing to do – so not making that a decision every morning I wake up – makes it tougher.

So today, I make the decision to stay in the garden – keep my relationship with God a holy one.  Praising God for keeping me from falling to temptation and then for delivering me.  Keeping my mind on the things of God.

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I am the Lord

Well, if God is God then we do not have to worry about either avenging or getting revenge on another follower of Christ who has done us wrong.  We also do not have to deny any who asks us for a favour, even you were denied a favour by them.  Jarchi illustrates it this way –  one says to him (his neighbour) lend me thy sickle; he answers, no (I will not); on the morrow (the neighbour comes, who had refused, and) says to him, lend me thy hatchet; he replies, I will not lend thee, even as thou wouldst not lend me; this is vengeance: this was reckoned mean and little, a piece of weakness with the very Heathens:

In fact, if God is God then you can not even bear a grudge against another follower of Jesus Christ.  Almost like you never saw the injury even take place, did not even take notice of it and definite do not even remember it – forgotten.  So  much so that you do not even call out the former unkindness, because that means that you have retained the grudge.

So, if God is God, then we should love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves – sincerely and with purpose – doing as much good to them as we would do for ourselves.  We would desire that all blessing would be theirs and that all suffering would be refrained from their lives.

If God, being God, is the Creator of everything, including us, and He asks us to love one another and leave the avenging, revenge, mean-spirited, immature nature of others and grudges with Him.  All He wants is radical obedience.

What does that look like?  It should be the same as when we wrong ourselves, but we soon forgive ourselves those wrongs, and they do not at all lessen our love to ourselves; in the same way, we should love our neighbour. We must in many cases deny ourselves for the good of our neighbour.

How do we so all this?  Simple to say – hard to do – because God is God and we are not God.  We only mess up when we think we are God and all these things fall under our jurisdiction. They do not.  Our one call, our one purpose – love our neighbour – nothing else matters.  For when we engage in judging – we cannot love.  When we love – we cannot judge.

 

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Spend a day in self-examination and humilty

It is amazing to me sometimes to see principles in places that are highly regarded by the populace and yet are unknown to be elements of God.  I say that because I just re-read Daniel Goleman‘s book on Emotional Intelligence and one of the principles of having emotional intelligence is the ability to have self-awareness.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to participate in a spiritual exercise of fasting for 21 days.  I was now in my 6th month of eating properly and felt it was time to add a spiritual dimension to the start of the new year. It is  not only abstinence from food, but that penitence and humiliation which would give me some scope and purpose.

Nothing helps to get a better understanding of where you stand with God then a time to reflect and a time to be humble before Him.

Every August, during the first two weeks, I spend a day in each of those weeks in the woods with God for prayer and meditation.  God basically directs what happens.  I have had times of incredible weeping over my sin, times of worship and praise over the memories of His hand directing my life, plans for what I need to do to move my life forward and every time, walking back into my world a little bit more humble than when I left it.

In the summer of 2010, my first day of my prayer walk in the woods, God called me to the ministry of SAT-7 Canada.  Almost half my pay, no benefits, the tiniest of operational budget, the possibilities of sinking or swimming were in the hand of God.  My first reaction was to tell God that there was no way my wife would agree to this.

The following week, in my prayer walk in the woods, God called me to the ministry of SAT-7.  He showed me lives being changed, He showed me followers of Jesus being strengthened in their walk with God, He showed me how He needed SAT-7 to share the gospel to the most unreached people group in the world.  I said I would accept and go and tell my wife.

You see, you and I sit in this thick darkness, there is a veil over our hearts though the light of the glory of God is shining all around us, but not in us because of our unbelief.   Then when we come to apply the atonement, the blood of Christ, on our souls and ask God to remove our wrong, the times we decided to go our own way – our sins – we then, through the name of Jesus, are set free and we live.

How deep the humiliation can be when we come face to face with how far we have strayed.  That is the scary thing about being alone with God.  You might be changed.

 

 

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The penalty of intrusion is death…

…that is until Christ came into the scene, took the penalty for our sin and enabled us to come boldly before the throne of God without any condemnation.

However, it the past few days I still have been hearing how we have to “prepare” ourselves to come into the presence of God.  I am not sure that a child of God, a follower of Jesus Christ, a servant on the streets of this world, a slave with a heart of devotion for his Master needs to do that.

I enter into His presence with one word – Jesus, and I am there; I am in; we are connected; the world stands still; evil is arrested; my sins are forgiven; I enter into His favour; all is well.

I know our world does not offer us any models on this.  Few businesses these days let you through their employees’ entrance without an identification badge. “Authorized Personnel Only” signs quickly inform us that access is restricted. In the government and military branches, some places are “Top Secret” or “Restricted Access.” The penalties for violating such restrictions are often severe.

What we do need to remember, for our times we come to God as a coke machine instead of coming to worship, is that God’s presence is one of holiness. For us to have this awesome relationship with God, it must take place on God’s terms.

To come up with your own set of rules, to ignore the only way, truth and life – Jesus, to create a balance sheet where good offsets evil, to use the form of religion or any other creative measure you can think of – unfortunately, at the sigh of your last breath, the penalty of intrusion is still death.

 

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Have you been healed?

Part of the experience of stewarding this life is the promise given to us of healing.  That is indeed a special commission when we understand that this world can only give us disease.

I remember one experience when I was 21 years old.  I was getting pretty serious about this amazing, beautiful Italian lady and on her 20th birthday, gave her a promise ring.  So the day was memorable to say the least.  The afternoon provided for a time of soccer (Dutch and Italians), and the competition was present.  I had not noticed some fence post holes alongside the yard, and at one of my infamous moves around my mafia opponents, I landed in one – everyone heard the snap.  Hospital records indicated that I had torn my tendon and was to remain off my feet and on crutches for six weeks.

Sure enough, the following Sunday, there was a healing service at the church and anyone who wanted prayer could come forward.  I mean, talk about peer pressure – I visibly had crutches!

So off to the front I hobbled.  Here is what I remember – someone took my crutches and I could not see where they went.  Then I was prayed over. Then I was on the ground, but very conscious of my surroundings.  I decided to keep my eyes closed as tight as I could.  Then I started to pray – it was simple – God, I am on the floor.  I want to get up, but I would be so embarrassed if you did not heal me.  In fact, I would rather stay on this floor forever until you do heal me.  God, I am going to get up, I am asking quite simply that you heal me – you know I want you to do this for my sake, but I know I am supposed to ask this for your sake, but still know that I would rather you do it for my sake.  I breathed – always a good thing to do – took a deep breath and decided if I did not get up while people were still being prayed over, too many people would be watching.  So I got up and walked out the church doors – walked around the block – I can tell you for sure, I was totally healed.

Here is the thing.  I went to work the next day and everyone thought I had faked my injury.  Then I told them of the prayer – dealt with the Ernest Ansley routine schtick for the balance of the day – and never did tell another soul of this until today.

The greatest healing of all of course is when we, who have been separated from the love of God, make a decision to come home.  God by His grace has brought us back to Him and the Church should, with tenderness, joy, and sincere affection, receive us into the family of God.  Since many of us have experienced this, we know how important it is to take care that these newcomers to the family of God should always be encouraged, not discouraged.

When you are declared healed of your sin, you are healed indeed!   I think we need to tell someone…

 

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Seven

This is the ministry that I work for in Canada.

Much more recognizable in the USA and of course on the air in the Middle East and North Africa, 24/7, in Arabic, Arabic KIDS, a combination of those two and a combination of 20 hours of Farsi and 4 hours of Turkish.

The number one question, or at least in the top three, has to do with the number seven in our logo.

Seven is that number in the Bible that has reference to wholeness, or completeness, or a heavenly promise.

What I did not know until today, is that in reference to the above, it is about time as well (my favourite chapter in the entire Bible is Ecclesiastes 3 – a dissertation on time).

Did you know that most diseases change or alter on the seventh day?

Talk about sensing anger and holding your breath and counting to 10 – forget it – how about praying, meditating and seeking God out for seven days.  Then check out how holy or unholy your anger was.

Here is my new leadership strategy – to be absolutely sure, I will practice and teach this – I will not be hasty in my judgements, but will diligently search and examine everything before hand – at least, minimum, for a period of seven days.

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I am the Lord, I want to be your God, you must therefore be holy, for I am holy

The calling card of all followers of Christ – the call is clear, the response is clear – and if we just breathe in deeply, the desire and the output are so far apart, are they not?

God wants me to be visibly separate from others.  Sorry for the sport analogies, but they are coming in pretty strong these days – James Reimer with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Gary Carter who recently passed away and we had a glimpse of what he looked like from his teammates – he was with the Expos for quite a few years, Tim Tebow – no introductions required there.

Living holy lives and conversations are the most common thread in these and others who have determined that they will be different.  That determination has to help in their ability to follow Christ – I mean, look at those who have fallen – Jeff Gordon with NASCAR would be an example.  When you step away from determining to be separate, you become – unholy.

Of course, I am not stepping away from determination, I am stepping away from God and that reflection that I carry around with me, that imitation of Him who has chosen and called me to be His.  Since holiness is His nature, it becomes them who are His family.

His family – has a great ring to it doesn’t it?  Being around others in the family really helps us to stand and be when we know we are not standing and being alone.  Incredible difference when I moved my family from a church of 100, to one of 1,000.  The changes were immediate.  There was a whole lot more visible signs of worship, engagement, loving God, being alive to God – holiness with the signs of being strong and courageous for the things of God.

We couldn’t do it if God didn’t love us as much as He does, could we?  Nothing enables me more than to know that first of all there is no other God like God and secondly, that He wants to be my God – I think He likes me.

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fire

I am an OT kind of guy – I am always tempted to rebuke someone and ask God to blind them, wither their right arm, give them leprosy and consume them with fire….

Don’t worry, it lasts for about a second in real life and I proclaim His grace and love for that individual and God is glorified in my life. Can’t say it lasts a second in my dream world, but that is not reality so lets say that does not count.

I guess I miss the incredible display of God’s mighty power.  God and fire were an awesome combination in the day.  People fell to the ground in awe.

Some people today wonder if God really exists, because they don’t see His activity in the world.  I know He is.

Someone asked me the other day why we Canadians do not have dreams and visions of God like the people in the Middle East and North Africa.  I think that God tends not to display His power in the form of mighty physical acts and instead, He works to change people’s lives through the work of other followers of Jesus (in the Middle East and North Africa, that body of believers does not exist).  When we realize this, we will begin to see acts of love and faith in our life that are just as spectacular as anything recorded in the OT.

Fire today is one of the elements that describes the work of the Holy Spirit.  The purification of my heart manifests God’s presence in my life.  He enables me to fulfill the mandate and the commission on earth, and to love and serve the Church.  I have come to expect to have the presence of God here in my life so that I might resemble the character of God.  I know that without holiness, I will not see God for how can I enter into the Holiest but by the blood of Jesus?

So I joy when the fire of the Holy Spirit consumes me for then I have the appearance of the glory of God.  There lies my true joy and pleasure as the spiritual blessings by Christ, and the gracious presence of God in me.   I fall down on my face with all reverence and humility, under a sense of the divine Majesty being so near to me, in this sensible token of His presence.

 

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personally

I think it starts with this simple understanding – to show that your praise, prayer, giving – in other words worship comes from you, out of an expression of what is in your heart, it has to be given voluntarily and therefore if this gift of worship you bring to God is from you, then bring it yourself, with your own hands and heart to God.

It is so easy to read someone else’s material, pray someone’s else prayer, quote someone else’s poem, sing someone else’s song, dance someone else’s dance when we come before God.

Has to sadden Him that we cannot engage Him personally.

It does take time, and it does take effort which might be two of the best reasons we do not engage personally with God, even though He sits everyday in the livingroom of our heart waiting to share, give, bless, listen…

There is no one like me in the world – and God knows that what comes out of me is going to be unique, special, touching and a blessing to Him – so He waits patiently for me to come forward with an offering from my hand and heart.

We cannot rely on other people praying for us – let’s pray ourselves.  Let’s take time to express our thanks to God, personally.

http://youtu.be/LzFn1H0-r1A

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