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Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Remember to Celebrate

The biggest obstacle in celebrating is just remembering to do it – setting aside time to prepare for a celebration, a good celebration, takes time, and for time to work, we have to remember to do it.

No celebration really takes place unless there is some kind of food involved.

In our family, we celebrate birthdays for a week – mostly because we have to fit our food into it – Friday’s a special pizza, Saturday is the birthday cake, Sunday is a special restaurant, Wednesday is a special homemade dinner with the birthday boy/girl asking for their favorite meal and deciding who will make it (I have had the privilege to do this a few times).

My wife’s family have great celebrations in the backyard and everyone comes to attend.  Those times call for a roasted goat on a spit over an open fire – and throw in a soccer game – just so this Dutch guy can teach a few tricks to his Italian in-laws.

Those are celebrations that people have taken the time and effort to make them happen.

I like celebrating spiritual occasions too.  When our children made decisions to be water baptized, we made a big deal of it.  Our niece just made a decision to follow Jesus and we are taking time each Sunday to celebrate with her when she joins us at church on Sundays.

That is what makes friendships so amazing.  If we do not take the time to celebrate friends, we seem at a loss, even unconnected.  Thoughts come into our mind that are not healthy and we find ourselves a bit alone.  So taking time with friends, just for the sake of friendship is an amazing celebration to remember.

The same could be said when going home to visit parents.  We rarely go without something to bring that enables some sort of celebration to take place – of course, food plays a big part in that too as well as little trinkets that amazing in their own right.

I read a posting from a friend who was taking three days to be alone with God.  I can tell you that I was instantly jealous.  I love celebrating my relationship with God, and His love language is time.  What a blessed celebration that is unique and inspiring – life changing!

One thing for sure – there needs to be an abstinence from work for everyone – so one cooks, another cleans, another sets up and another takes down, another one sets up games for the kids, and yet another one sets up games for the adults.   Everyone participating in celebration means that everyone remembers it’s a celebration.

 

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The Test

Good leaders are not always godly leaders.

We are warned against false prophets who encourage worship that was not directed to the true God.

Often new ideas from inspiring people look attractive, but we mush judge them by whether or not they are consistent with God’s Word.

When people claim to speak for God today, we should check them in these areas -

  • Are they telling the truth?
  • Is their focus on God?
  • Are their words consistent with what you already know to be true?
  • Do they speak the truth while directing you toward God, or do they speak persuasively while directing you toward themselves?

Someone may say the right things but still lead you in the wrong direction.  God is not against new ideas, but He is for discernment.  When you hear a new, attractive idea, ask these questions before getting too excited.

False prophets are still around today.  The wise person will carefully test ideas against the truth of God’s Word.

I think that God permits such impostors to arise to try our faith and to put our religious experience to the test; for we who experimentally knows God cannot be drawn away after idols. We who have no experimental knowledge of God, may believe any thing. Experience of the truths contained in the Word of God can preserve any person from Deism, or a false religion. Without the Word, we  are a prey to the pretended prophet, and to the dreamer of dreams.

So is the test to whether we love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul; for should we be drawn aside from the true worship of Him, and serve other gods, then it could be said that we do not really love Him.

Even if the sign and wonders or the foretelling of the future came to pass, understand that this could come about through the Deceiver, who acts like an angel of light, but in the end takes you away from your worship of God. My father became involved with and became quite the foreteller of future events and they all came true.  He and my mom thought they were getting closer to God through these psychic phenomenons.  One day my mom was reading one of Edgar Casey’s books where he declared that Jesus was not really God.  She knew enough from her childhood days in Sunday School that this was wrong, and convinced my dad to also renounce what they were doing.  That was the last day my dad ever foretold the future again and they burned all their books on future telling.

I think that it is possible for any one of us to be deceived.  We have to be well acquainted with the truths and precepts of the Bible; for we may expect to be proved by temptations of evil under the appearance of good, of error in the guise of truth.  Our standard for the truth is the plain, express testimony of God’s Word.  It happens to also be the proof of sincere affection for God.

 

love and obey

If there are ever two misunderstood, widely misused and abused, it has to be these two words – love and obey.

With that, we have God asking us to do both.

Without love there cannot be obedience, no happiness for the soul.  For a heart destitute of the love for God, is empty of anything good and miserable.

Without obedience there cannot be a love for God.  We are a headstrong, selfish, and controlling people, prone to rebellion, and violently addicted to placing every and anything as God in our lives as opposed to God.  We always run imminent risk of being seduced by other religions and can’t seem to shake the characteristics of our lifestyle we just left when we made our decision to serve God.

Love will work in obedience, and that only is acceptable obedience which flows from a principle of love.

God modelled it.  God loved us so much He sent His son to die for us.  Jesus loved the Father so much, He offered Himself.  When I think of how much I am loved, I stretch my hands from side to side as far as they will go and remember this is how much Jesus loved me and He showed the whole world.

Is that kind of love so hard to follow?

 

 

 

 

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The Lord will go before you…

Can you imagine, not only do we move forward holding the hand of God, not only are we comforted and encouraged by His presence that will never leave us, the Lord also goes before us, ahead of us, to scout out the situation and prepare it as a place of safety.

The same God who guides and directs, is the same God who protects and defends and is the same God that goes ahead of me to make sure there is nothing standing that will destroy me.

I know that this drives me to God – I engage my hope in Him.  He assures me of victory, by the presence of God with me. I have to caution myself to make sure that I do not, even for a moment, have the least thought of my own righteousness, as if that procured this favour at God’s hand.In Christ, we have both righteousness and strength; in Him we must glory, not in ourselves, or in any sufficiency of our own.

What does that look like in my life?

Personally, when we go visiting our family, we ask God to go before us to prepare the visit.  We want our family to know Jesus and we pray that He will “set-up” whatever is necessary for that to happen and secondly, we are always concerned of events that might happen there that will not ensure the safety of our own family.

In my job, as I visit people, I pray that God is already preparing the hearts of those I am going to see before I arrive.  I pray that my own heart will be sensitive to their needs and that I will know what to share, read and pray with them.

Results of the Lord going before me – He is increased, I am decreased and He receives the glory and the thanks for all that is accomplished.

http://youtu.be/X769VI3ivGQ

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When the Lord brings you…

I am attending a class called Perspectives every Monday night for 3 hours.  It is a missions based course designed to properly align God‘s missional purposes with our own. It is quite an eye opener and its unique approach allows for a different speaker each week.

Part of me looking forward to each class are engaging those who attend.  There are those around my table that gather each week that we are starting to get to know.  Some are seasonal veterans, most are rookies, and then there are others like myself who need to have a solid foundation even though they are already engaged in missional work.

Last night a gentleman approached me and we discussed what God is doing among our families and how we need Him to reflect Himself through us when we are around them.  We pray that those who do not know Jesus will respond to His call.

He ended the conversation with this thought – it’s not a new thought, but a renewed one as I have not heard it spoken for quite some time – that many of us pick up our bags and go missional.  His concern was in the calling of God.  When we go missional, we engage in spiritual authorities and powers that are over certain communities.  To go and not be called, to go and not address the armour of God, to go and not be supported in prayer, to go without holding the right hand of God or to go when the Lord is not bringing you…means possible disaster.

When the Lord brings you – He leads, guides, protects, enables and delivers.   So the call to go missional is there for all of us – go where the Lord is bringing you and may you have incredible opportunities and testimonies of discipling whether that is in the local daycare, the group home, the work place or, if you really need to, and the Lord knows, a place in Hawaii :)

 

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Listen to learn to obey

Listening is absorbing and accepting the information we read and hear about God.  Learning is understanding its meaning and implications.  Obeying is putting into action all we have learned and understood.  All three parts are essential to a growing relationship with God.

Clarke points to these five action steps:

1. God speaks to the people.

2. The people are called to hear what God speaks.

3. To learn what they heard, that they may be thoroughly instructed in the will of God.

4. To keep God’s testimonies ever in mind, and to treasure them up in a believing and upright heart.

5. That they might do them – obey the whole will of God, taking his word for the invariable rule of their conduct.

When I hear the word of God I must learn it; and what I have learned I must put in practice, for that is the result of hearing and learning; not to fill my head with notions, or my mouth with talk, but to direct my affection and conduct as I serve my Lord and Saviour.

 

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listen, obey, live, enter, possess, obtain

Paying attention, even if perceived to be general, any special mentions and expected enforcement of the fundamental principles of the promises made by God to us, including the spiritual nature of the Trinity, and God’s exclusive right to our allegiance, and appreciating His abhorrence of idolatry in every form, and that His choice was us for His followers means we have everything we need to be the stewards of life that God has called us to be.

So we need to be concerned about rites and ceremonies, judgments – all that concerns matters of civil right and wrong.

We do this at the same time remembering the great and good things the Lord had done for us, ever since we made the decision to follow Him.  The times we could have gone hungry, but we did not, the times we should have been harmed, but were preserved and the times we needed wisdom to overcome, it was given -  for nothing is a greater incentive to obedience than the kindness and goodness of God.

So we have the law of the Old Testament, and the Gospel of grace and truth by Jesus Christ given to us not just to hear but to do.  In doing we live and do not think that applies only to our spiritual and eternal life – but a corporeal life, a contented enjoyment of the blessings of our earthly life.

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Normally, it takes only days

I mean there are two ways of looking at this – we know if we help or get involved and make the butterfly come out sooner it will die because the struggle creates the strength to survive and we have used the analogy many times.  What if it should only take days, but ends up taking weeks?  What then?

There are many, many times when I feel that somehow my life has been put on the shelf and God has forgotten me – I mean He still loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life – but for now, that means I am on the shelf.

I have to  say that I start thinking if maybe I have been rebellious or have missed the call or the opportunity has passed me by while I was taking detours.  Maybe it was my unbelief that caused me not to see the way.

It might all be true and then again it might not.  Maybe this was part of the training, part of the experience, part of the practice of being, and getting prepared for the ultimate task or adventure.  Maybe I needed to practice more obedience then disobedience, more to the still, small voice then the booming voice inside my head, maybe I had to learn how to take and keep taking one step forward instead of one step forward and two backward.

So with these thoughts I start breathing again, knowing that my trouble and struggles enable me in the run of my journey with Christ to go forward in my course to follow Jesus and to know that regardless of when that calling of direct and visible purpose may come, I am encouraged with the promise of spending eternity with Him.

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Heard you were coming

What kind of testimony do you have that you become so important, so sought after at seminars and conferences, such a wanted commodity, that people who know you are coming, will make sure they drop everything just to hear your story?

Well, I am not too sure what kind of testimony that would be, but I do know that this kind of testimony comes from the way God takes His people to Himself.  It is a testimony of ones journey following God.

Everyone’s testimony is important, even if not infamous.

The former events of our lives are usually mentioned in a testimony and there are usually descriptions of God’s providence, seen or unseen at the time, in our lives, or at least in the life of our family.  There are also stories of where we used to live and occupied our life with. There is even a reflection on our attitudes.

Following that we have the revelation of sin, ingratitude and disobedience followed quickly by the kindness of God that leaves us without excuse for our sins.  So much so that we would never want to travel the paths we travelled on before unless we could travel them with the hope and grace of God so that we would not commit these sins again.

That testimony is something that goes before us when we declare it loud and clear.  We boast in the glory of God and it is the glory of God that goes before us wherever we go.  Have we been telling it – if so, there are people who are hearing it and when you come they can’t wait to tell you that they have been waiting for you to tell it again.

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Keep your word

I know that when I make a promise, I rarely express it with the idea that I am making that promise not only to another person, but in the presence of God.

Since God is a witness, my violation of my word puts me at odds not only with the other person, but also with God.  I think that Peter draws into this thought a bit when he talks about husbands who have arguments with their wives.  He mentions that if husbands do not take care of that and resolve it, then God will not hear their prayers.

By realizing the danger of my sin, I am more inclined, without murmuring or arguing the point, to consider the interests of others as well as my own.  So the law of love requires me to work it out, to make the first step or even if my promise has ill effect on me, to suffer.

This is one of those areas that come and go in our lives and we do not realize that God will hold us accountable as if we made the promise to Him.   I am not sure how far you and I may want to take this, but at some point we might want to restore the fulfillment of the promise.

 

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