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Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Rejection

I was just finishing a story that I was reading of a son born as a result of a relationship between his father and a prostitute.  His father kept him among his own children and his wife.  Eventually that young man grew into manhood and maturity and it was then that the brothers decided to throw him out to make sure that he did not receive anything from the estate. All this even though this young man had done nothing wrong.

The young man became quite the leader of other rejects.  He maintained His relationship with God.  He found a way not to blame his brothers and did not become discouraged and that assisted him in his achieving success.

So successful, that his community, in dire straits for excellent leadership, turned to him and ask him to be their leader, knowing that he had all the qualities to get them through some very difficult times ahead.  He cleared some things up with his family, had some spiritual reconciliation with them, and then accepted the call.  The Holy Spirit empowered him to do many things and he was very successful.

After reading it, I immediately wanted to remember all the people in the Bible who were rejected by someone or by society, but God blessed them and supported them.

We tend to drive away those who do not fit the norms dictated by our society, neighbourhoods, or churches.  Often potential is wasted because of prejudice – a refusal to look beyond ill-conceived stereotypes.

I find myself being in situations where I feel rejected because of my lack of education.  Somehow that conversation comes up all the time and my answer never quite measures up to the standard and I find myself on the outside looking in.

Maybe I need to take some time today and look around me to see if there are others being kept out due to factors beyond their control.  The most important thing to me, and what I would share with them, is that everyone can have a place in God’s family.  As I turn my rejection to God, I can go and help others gain acceptance for their character and abilities too.

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Humiliation

A trait that I see more and more in those that lead – in their desire to rule without trusting God or taking on His character – is the humiliation of those that serve with them.

There is no safe place anymore.

Everyone is taking the first opportunity possible to humiliate the other and set themselves up as superior by calling out and making known the miscues of even their most loyal followers.

I see it in the home – there is so little pride between spouses and they with their children.  I see it in the Boardroom, in the leadership team meetings, in the Church and in the workplace.

Just this week I could tell you ten stories of how I have been humiliated and being a hyper-sensitive individual, I am devastated this morning.  I happen to recover quickly too, so I pray that as my devotional time with God continues, I will be made well before noon.

Then I need to make sure that I do not fall in the same trap – for the temptation to make oneself feel better is sometimes to humiliate someone else.

Why do we humiliate?  It has to be from a position of fear – real or imagined.  It is not a fear that is tangible but one that is spiritual.  Therefore the answer to dealing with the temptation to humiliate is to love and the answer to those of us being humiliated is to receive the love of God.  God’s love casts out fear.

 

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Why does God use individuals?

I am a firm believer in teams.  I love them, work well with them, and rarely see them fail.

So why does it seem that God enjoys working with individuals?

Yes, I know that Jesus worked with the 12 disciples, but even then, He worked with them individually too even though they may traveled as a group and were taught in a group;

I believe that He chose to work with individuals because He could reveal the excellence of His power to everyone.  In other words, there would be no guessing that this favour was not something that any one person could accomplish – only God.  So the empowered one fills others with confidence that their God reigns and those who do not follow God are filled with a sense of fear – they are on the wrong side.

God sets that odds so that all will know that He is to be praise for any victory – it is our activity and wisdom that need to be dependent on God.

Not doing so might bring us through a place where our trust is displaced and replaced with unbelief in what God can do.  The other side of the coin would be the infamous arch-enemy called pride where not only do we think we can do it by ourselves, we would exalt ourselves in such a position as to say we no longer need God and set Him aside.

So as a leader, we know that God is calling us to lead and will empower us with everything we need to do the job.  If you do not remember to praise Him and give Him glory in all that He does – do not be surprised if your numbers start to sag. That is not the end of the day, just a little bit more prayer, listening and then engaging God’s plan for all to see His hand and view His wonders will set your course back on track.

 

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Cry out for help

I think it is a fair question to ask, “When do we cry out for help?”

Is it when the opposing forces have mounted such insurmountable numbers that we have no other choice or is it after a really long time of being oppressed and finally, finally we wake up and realize that we can cry out for help?

I think that it might even be worse than this.  What if we cry out for help only when our distress gets to such a level that only when we see that there is no other way of relief, we turn to God, our last choice.

So we slight Him in prosperity, and we slight Him when we are in trouble.

I have been in a place where I call out to God for help and it seems that there is no answer – for months, and in one case for years.  But I can say that He did answer my call and both times were miraculous.

Come to think of it, we are always helpless are we not?  The need to call on God for help is a daily pattern of trust.  Our battles are rarely in the physical realm, but definitely rooted in the spiritual.  Our need is rarely in “things,” but rather a living faith in God.

So it is that when we think we have an idea of how God can help us, we are amazed on “how,” because it rarely matches up to what we were thinking or wanting.  Yet when we step back and look at it in hindsight, we are so grateful.

 

 

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Two generations worshipped, the next did not

I was listening to the radio one day as I traveled to an appointment and heard that it takes up to three generations for a family to lose their identity in following Jesus if they do nothing to purposefully pass along the testimonies of their experiences in following Jesus themselves.

My job is meeting with people, Christians in fact, and I can tell you that number can go as low as two generations and the next one following could care less.

If we are called to lead, surely we must lead our families before we can even think about leading others or stewarding life.

What we do instead is cherish and indulge our own appetites and passions; therefore God leaves us to ourselves, and under the power of own sins, we experience ruin.  You will notice that it is not just us, personally who suffer, but our entire generation of families that follow after us.

Most of us already are aware just how naturally it is for us to be deceitful and judgmental and how are hearts are not necessarily bent towards the things of God.  Even so, we are not willing to believe it, almost as if we are in a state of denial until by making bold with temptation we find it true by sad experience. We need to examine how matters stand with ourselves, and to pray without ceasing, that we may be rooted and grounded in love, and that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith.

Let us declare war against every sin, and follow after holiness all our days, so that the generations of our family that follow after us will have an example of God’s mercy, love and grace and can see just how adventurous it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

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Why have you not obeyed?

The act of obedience seems rather simple, maybe so simple that it makes it easy to disobey.

Consider the call to share the gospel with others or to destroy anything in our lives that would consume us more than God – very simple instructions to follow – yet a very hard thing to do and we get used to not doing them so that it becomes the norm.

Are our hearts that far away from God, have we become so filled with ingratitude for what He has done for us, or are we just prone to worshiping money, power, sex…and liking it?

We deceive ourselves if we think we can take advantage of our friendship with God and at the same time, our friendship with the world.  Our own sin becomes our punishment and will get in the way of us moving forward.

I know that at times, when I have wandered and have come back to the Word of God, I cannot be engaged with reading it with dry eyes as I am overwhelmed with His incredible love.  Had I kept close to God and was firm in my decision to follow after Him, I would be singing and worshiping instead of weeping over my sin.

 

 

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The Lord gives us rest

I think that sometimes life seems so stressed out, so fatiguing, so much like traveling in the wilderness.

But one thing I know is that we will enter into a place of peace, rest and safety and have to trust God to bring us to that place in due time.

And in between these two times, I also know that God can take of anything else that can come up against us. He can be the cut off, He can take our place and the war is not we have to fight – He will fight it.

In due season all His promises will be accomplished; then will his people acknowledge that the Lord has exceeded their largest expectations, and made them more than conquerors, and brought them to their desired rest.

 

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Sacred lottery

I was thinking something totally different when I came up with the title for this posting and then in trying to find an appropriate photo to go along with some of my thoughts I ran across page after page of these kind of photos.

Omikuji are random fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. Literally sacred lottery, these are usually received by making a small offering (generally a five-yen coin as it is considered good luck) and randomly choosing one from a box, hoping for the resulting fortune to be good. In the beginning of a new year, Japanese people gathered to visit different shrines and pray for a good year.  Basically, it is no different from getting a Chinese fortune cookie.  I knew that there was more to the Chinese fortune cookie than just “for fun.”

So when does a lottery become sacred and is there such a thing, especially in light of the fact that we are stewards, masters, responsible for setting the course?

Obviously, if we put God into the equation, we might be able to come to the place of calling such an act, sacred.

I think, in the Bible, there are quite a few references to what it describes as “casting lots,” a lottery of sorts and it was sacred in the sense that God was given the process and was asked to determine the outcome according to His plan.

I believe that happen with Aachen who stole some produce from Jericho – lots were cast from tribe to clan, to family, to household, to the exact person in the household.  It happened when the Israelis divided up the Promised Land upon their arrival.  It happened with Jonah as the people who owned the boat determined who was the cause of the storm.  It happened when the disciples had to choose a new member to the group because of the loss of Judas.  These just come to my mind at the moment – might be a few more.

I remember I did something like this to determine what mission field I should consider pursuing.  I filled a basket with the names of certain countries (can’t remember the criteria for the choices) and then asked God to help me pick the right one – it was Japan.  I ordered the languages lesson and learned a few lessons and that was it.  Maybe it counts that after 30 years my daughter, while in university, decided to spend the summer in Japan with a musical team.

I also remember a really sacred time when I was 14 years old.  Having pursued God to the best of my abilities and not moving a millimeter further into that relationship after 2 years (12 to 14), I decided to give up on God.  Laying on my bed I realized how does one give up on God.  So I picked up my Bible and said, “God, this is your last chance, you best speak to me now if you really want me.”  So, with eyes closed, I randomly (lottery) opened my Bible, and randomly (lottery) put my finger on a page.  Opening my eyes to the verse that supposedly He had chosen for me.  It was – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”  I landed on Psalm 32:8 in my New King James Bible.

All I can say is that my life changed.  I sensed the presence of God with a peace that passes all understanding and description.  I can only describe it as a sense of comfort, strength, courage, adventure, protection, safety, trust – something you feel when you are hugging the one person you love very much.  Similar, only better.

So, even if we are supposed given the rights to lead, sometimes we have to follow.  When God leads, I think He uses whatever He needs to get our attention and move us where we need to be.

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I am sure you can . . .

. . . because the hand of God will be upon you for good!

Herein lies the hidden secret of our souls.  Sure we can, but we want God to do it all.

Laziness or maybe I should say slothfulness is natural to us all; it requires a lot of training to induce some of us to labor for our daily bread; if God should miraculously send it we would wonder and eat it, and that is the whole.

The concept of striving to enter in at the strait gate or stay on the narrow path is an ungracious word to most of us; we profess to trust in God’s mercy, but work hard to not enter into that rest.  We think that God will reverse His purpose to meet our slothfulness.

We do so because we fail to understand that those of us who overcome shall sit with Jesus upon His throne. It is the overcoming, taking on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all – to Stand. Remember, that only those of us who endure to the end shall be saved.

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Othniel

Sometimes I run across rather obscure individuals in the Bible that are recorded there because I think they are examples for what a leader looks like.

Othniel is one of those individuals that you see capturing an entire town for the love of a woman.  That makes him extra special – and that woman is a rather astute leader herself and she knows what they need as a family to survive and goes after it.

For some time we never hear about him again – it was a pure and simple love story.

Over time, the people fall away from God – there is a downward spiral of sin and fall into enemy hands.  The pattern of sin, sorrow, repentance and restoration – the cycle of sin – begins with the very first leader to restore the people back into a relationship with God.  That leader, who became a judge over Israel, was Othniel.

All this time he kept faithful to his relationship with God.  When everyone else was doing their thing, worshiping whatever idol seemed to be the flavour of the month, Othniel kept his relationship with God intact and followed only Him.

What an incredible encouragement to me!  When everyone was going one way – away from God – Othniel kept going towards God, even though that was not so popular a thing to do.  That is what made him who he was – a decision every morning that he would follow God – no matter what came against him.

At the end of the day, when people start waking up and realizing that they have strayed so far that they are totally outside of God’s grace, they look for someone to lead them back.  It is a hard road, requiring someone who knows the voice of the shepherd.

It helps when God empowers us for the job with His Holy Spirit, something we should be asking for each day too for we do not know the day that we will be called upon to lead.  The sure sign of God’s leading is that with Him comes peace.  In Othniel’s case – peace for 40 years.

That surely is a great story of someone who said they would commit to following God, no matter, and place their lives under the stewardship of God and lead others from that relationship.

 

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