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Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Secretly doing things that are wrong

Just reading the title and my secret sin pops out at me, mocking me.

Ruin coming across our path always seems to stem from some public sin, but it is possible to assume that all public sins started off as a secret sin.

It is the condoning of the secret sin that turns into evil and idolatry and the secret sin is always worse than the public sin.  They are the ones we don’t want others to know about because they are embarrassing or incriminating.

Even though our head tells us that the sin done in private is not a secret to God and that they have the same terrible results as sins committed in the open, we are somehow fooled that no one is getting hurt.

Most of us keep our secret sins hidden and covered in the form of our worship so that the natural eye cannot determine that there even is something we are hiding from our closest companions.

Of course, just our thinking of these things determine our real belief system.  We do not believe that God is omniscient, that He cannot see, that He has taken a journey and is away from the things that matter on earth for a short time period.  We come up with whatever rationalizing thought possible in order to do what we want to do – the atheist within us taking over our hearts where we rule until such a time we see fit and necessary to revert back to putting God back on the throne of our lives.   The worst of us even able to quote scripture to justify this sort of abandonment.

 

 

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Right, yet still wrong

It is not so bad being right or wrong, it’s more about being wrong and thinking you are right.

An embarrassing situation to be in that is for sure.

Happens to the best of us – I hear it in the arrogant prayers of those who think they have God in their back pocket, I hear it in my own voice as my children were growing up, I hear it in the politician’s voice, I read it in my daily newspaper and thankfully, our family has found a church home were this is heard much less frequently from the pulpit.

Charles Wesley thought this happened so often that he wrote a poem about it ridiculing the conduct of those who, without any disposition to ordination, think they have authority from God to dispense all the ordinances of the Church.

“But now the warm enthusiast cries,

The office to myself I take;

Offering the Christian sacrifice,

Myself a lawful priest I make:

To me this honor appertains,

No need of man when God ordains.

[Some go into the contrary extreme, and in effect say, no need of God when Man ordains.]

Though kings may not so far presume,

‘Tis no presumption in a clown,

And, lo, without a call from Rome,

My flail or hammer I lay down;

And if my order’s name ye seek,

Come, see a new Melchisedek!

Ye upstart (men-made) priests, your sentence know,

The marks you can no longer hide;

Your daring deeds too plainly show

The loathsome leprosy of pride;

And if ye still your crime deny,

Who lepers live shall lepers die.”

Even so, being right and yet so wrong, God spares us, uses us, guides and leads us as we lead others.  His grace knows no bounds, even so, may we still strive to serve Him without the leprosy of pride.

 

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Examples

I was reading a bit of Elisha today and had some incredible examples of what its like to be a leader in my world – in fact, we are so amazed with what Jesus had done and have failed to realize that they have already been done by Old Testament prophets – nothing is new under the sun.

All that is required are followers of Christ who are willing to lead.

There was a young boy who died – the disciple of Elisha could not pray him back to like, Elisha had to go and the result was a resurrection from the dead – Jesus had done a few of these.

There was some food that had become poisonous and was served to some of Elisha’s friends.  He put some flour into the soup and all was well and the men did not die.  Sounds like the promise Jesus gave us – if we have unknowingly take something deadly into our being, it will not harm us.

Then there was the gentile officer who heard a healing could be obtained from Elisha for his leprosy.  Sounds like the centurion who met Jesus looking for healing for his son.  Since I work for SAT-7, I like this one best because it’s the first instance I have seen for contextualization in the Bible.

Unfortunately, I also read of greed among followers of Elisha and was reminded of the same of Judas and was saddened by that outcome and yet warned to stay pure and only keep my eyes on Jesus.

It was a great day of encouragement today to be what God has called me to be and do what He has already gifted me to do – glorify Him in everything.

 

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Will you help me fight?

What a great request and for someone like me with a rescuer mentality, the answer is usually yes.

I am getting better in determining “how”  I will participate in a fight only because “how” one fights determines much of the outcome.  So much time and energy can be wasted if not fought correctly.

Helping another with their fight is an automatic encourager.  It tells the one the who asks that they matter.

Lately, I have been reading many stories of people fighting.  The ones who are winning are the ones who are asking for help in their fight to save their lives.  One story in particular – a lady fighting for her marriage went out of the home for a moment to pray.  She had prayed other times too, but this time, as she looked up at a starry host in the night sky, she connected with God, gave up the fight and gave it to Him to finish it.  Amazing things have been happening since then – love that!  Why?  She shared her story and I know I pray and I am sure many others did and together we fought through for her, God heard our prayers and how much we cared and answered it with a strong and visible result.

We all feel sorry for ourselves because of our predicament.  If we can take that feeling and turn it into one action – ask for help – then we are not alone.  If we together turn to God and ask for His help, we have engaged a God who truly cares and loves to rescue.

Even if you have said yes to helping in a fight and failed to engage God at any time in the process, it is never too late.  God can be engaged at anytime – so don’t worry about Him – He is there, just ask Him.

You may think that you do not have to ask – it should just come from people who already know of your dire situation.  Understand that even good people neglect doing what they should be doing until they called to action.

My favorite story though is where those who have decided not to follow Jesus make sure they stick very close to the ones that have.  They somehow know that they are better for the relationship and friendship of someone who knows God.  When a fight is necessary, having God on your side is a pretty awesome thought.  Many have turned to Jesus as a result of such friendships.  They will realize the confidence of those who know God because to us, we know we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.

So we engage confidently, doing the “what” and “how” of God’s battle plan and looking forward to Him engaging in the battle, winning the fight and glorifying His name to our world.  Do not turn down that wonderful opportunity.

http://youtu.be/y2-hf3tP7us

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Is it true that there is no God?

I mean, the latest polls suggest that they do, however, who is God?

There was a day I walked into Covenant House for an interview with the head Sister.  Conversation was going well until I pointed out the verse that is carved above the door that exists the room – “be still and know that I am God.”  I asked her how she is able to relate God to people who were in depths of despair and how would this verse relate to them?  She quickly pointed out that “God” did not have a specific meaning, just a notion.  God could be whatever the individual wanted him to be, but most likely it would not be the God of the Bible.

Another gentleman I meet with, periodically, indicated that there cannot be a God because of all the evil in the world.  He understood that there has to be an Ultimate Supreme Being involved with us, but refrained to call that God.

Islam is on the rise by sheer population explosion and bring with them a new name, but then again, its a resurrection of an old name – Allah.  Centuries before Mohammed, Christians in the Arabic Penisula used the word Allah to denote God.  Europeans stole the word “Got” from the druids and eventually we have come to describe God in its current spelling.

I myself, at the wise age of fourteen, declared there was no God because I asked Him to reveal Himself to me and He did not.  Minutes later, when I was giving Him one more chance, I had the most unique and personal message from Him that has given me incredible confidence in how I live my life for Him.

The Psalmist has a description for those who say there is no God – but what about those that do and yet act like there isn’t one.

I have a friend who really has made a point in her life to know God.  She was a single mother, raised two daughters and had a strong relationship with God.  A couple of moves and a quite a few years later, I heard through her daughter that she was seeing a fortune teller in the hopes of getting a glimplse of what the future would hold.  I was blown away by that because is it true that there is no God that she needs to connect with a fortune teller?

Let me insert my own story at 14 years of age – contemplated killing myself – pulled a chair to the balcony of the apartment we were living in, stood up, looked down from 14 floors and determined this would do the trick.  All this happening in seconds – I look out contemplating – God speaks.  “You wake up every morning with Me, what do you tell the world every morning, those that do not know Me, when you end your life even though I am with you? If I am with you, what do you have to fear, and if I created you, then you know that I have called you – come.”  I looked to suicide before I looked to Jesus and He caught me with His grace.

What is so amazing about God is that He is very personal.  When we ask Him to be part of our lives, He comes in and takes us up on our offer.  He actually takes up residency within us.  What other “god” out there does that – other than a demonic spirit?

May we not find ourselves rejecting the life-giving God, rejecting Him for a lie or some other commitment that costs us nothing, and may we declare that there is only one God – may our journey with Him, reveal Him day by day and may we only go to Him for all of our needs and wants.

http://youtu.be/U5Cjct1YItQ

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Is there not a follower of Jesus here?

When your life really counts on it, you want to make sure that the advice you are receiving, or the partner you engage with business in, or the person you are considering to spend the rest of your life with in marriage, is someone who really wants to follow Jesus.

Being a youth pastor for a few years, I saw, in the lives of our church family, how easy it was to slide into a manner of worship that would betray the most godly of people.  They took on the form of godliness, praised by those around them, yet declared untruth whenever they presented.  There were others who would rather hear a presenter from Yale or Harvard on a certain topic – lets say leadership – then to hear what the Word of God had to say about it.  Others would minimize or lower their scale of expectations as to how they conducted themselves – a little pornography, lying, cheating, stealing, drinking – that’s all okay.  Using a language that is becoming more and more acceptable as part of every day conversation – like the “c” or the “s” words and most times connected with the word “holy” – words which should cause us to cringe has become the norm.

We have become ashamed of our Jesus and fail to take Him with us “everywhere we go” and at most times have no regard for Him whatsoever.

Then when life matters, when there is nothing else you can do, when the chips are down and you need answers, there is one person you will be looking for.

Where is the one who takes Jesus with them wherever they go?  The one who declares their love and shows reverence for the Word of God, follow it, obey it and try to bring it into their lives and their community.  The person who doesn’t mimic the truth, but embraces it and has their spiritual senses sharpened and ready for action.

You would rather have one of them then hundreds of your friends that you have surrounded yourself with.  Those same friends are now giving you a hard time for even engaging with such a follower of Jesus.  They are telling you that this person that you have turned to is really rude and foolish, trying to get you to do something that will advance their own interests and ultimately, to deceive you.

Yet, you are no longer listening to them.  You have need of a real follower of Jesus.  You have found one.  You will not let them go until you have become such a follower of Jesus too.

 

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God’s patience

If there is a character of God that I depend on more than any other, it would be His patience.  I mess up so badly, so often and He waits for me, willing to forgive me, love me and see me through another day.  There are days where I do not even have the courtesy of saying thank you either for small or large blessings that He shares with me, so little gratitude for what He has done for me.

I know that without Him, I would have been consumed and lost.  His intervention and then willingness to favour me has set me up on my feet with confidence and boldness.

My story is not new.  I read about what He did at the Red Sea, with 300 soldiers under the leadership of Gideon, Jericho and the walls tumbling down, David and Goliath, Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal, and of course the ministry, followed by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

He is the one and only God and that He is and was and ever shall be. He is the Author and Sustainer of life. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Almighty.

Our God reigns, and our God rules.

God’s patience is the message we bring to a lost-in-sin world. We want the world to know that our God reigns, that He is the One and Only God, that He triumphantly acts to save His people.  Over and over again He reveals Himself and is continually rejected, refused.  Over and over again He calls us to spend time with Him, sit by the fire, talk a bit with us and we are too busy, we have no time for the God who created time.

He waits for us, patiently, knocking on the door of our heart until we invite Him in – gently, lovingly, with a heart of kindness, He bids His time so that we will one day taste and see how good He really is.

Until that day, He will continue to protect, guide, direct and bless us, totally disregarding our lack of gratitude.  His patience, thank you Lord for patiently waiting for me – today I come into your presence to thank you.

 

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Power Encounters

Even when the miraculous happens in our lives, there are those, who having seeing the power of God evident and real, will try to rise up against Him and fight Him.  What happens when we come up against these “powers” that wish to take on the things of God?

Jesus is Lord” means more than that He is Lord of the individual convert’s world view, standards and relationships, and more even that He is  Lord of culture.  It means that He is Lord of the powers, having been exalted by the Father to universal sovereignty; principalities and powers having been made subject to Him – who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Those from Asia, Africa and Latin America have spoken both of the reality of evil powers and the necessity to demonstrate the supremacy of Jesus over them more so than our North American and European Church family.
For conversion itself involves a power encounter.

People give their allegiance to Christ when they see that His power is superior to magic and voodoo, the curse and blessings of witch doctors, and the malevolence of evil spirits, and that His salvation is a real liberation from the power of evil and death.

Some are questioning today whether a belief in spirits is compatible with our modern scientific understanding of the universe.
I wish to affirm, against the mechanistic myth on which the typical Western world view rests, the reality of demonic intelligences which are concerned by all means, overt and covert, to discredit Jesus Christ and keep people from coming to Him.

It is vital in evangelism to all cultures to teach the reality and hostility of demonic powers, and to proclaim that God has exalted powers,  and to proclaim that God has exalted Christ as Lord of all and that Christ, who really does possess all power, however we may fail to acknowledge this, can (as we proclaim Him) break through any worldview in any mind to make His lordship known and bring about a radical change of heart and outlook.

I want to emphasize that the power belongs to Christ. Power in human hands is always dangerous
Recurring theme in Paul’s two letters to the Corinthians – God’s power, which is clearly seen in the cross of Christ, operates through human weakness. Worldly people worship power; Christians who have it know its perils
It is better to be weak, for then we are strong. We honour the Christian martyrs of recent days who have renounced the way of power,
and followed the way of the cross.  Love the stories from SAT-7 where the “would-be” martyr has also been saved by God’s amazing right hand saying, “no, not today.”
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Confirmation

Just to make sure we are on the right page – confirmation is not affirmation – both start and end at different purposes.

This morning I will share my testimony as part of Father’s Day.  My Dad played a huge role in my life, in who I am, because he pushed me towards Jesus, I had no other friend to walk with me through those days.

Jesus and I talked about everything, anything and He knew my heart – I gave it all.  Together we planned and executed a number of wonderful things.

When I became married and my wife became a very important part of my life, there was an incredible struggle with looking to her for confirmation on decisions and at times looking to her too much to confirm decisions that I knew we needed to taken care of.  For a few years it seemed that nothing went right and we were looking more to our emotions for confirmation instead of to God.

So we do things a bit different, still not perfect, but different.  We believe that if God directs one of us, He will confirm it to the other.  Yes, it does sound easy but it is terribly difficult because we are human.

When I decided to join SAT-7 Canada, my wife was in total disagreement – if you did a list with pros and cons, there would be nothing on the pro side other than my knowledge that this is where God wanted to take me.  My wife was never going to be listen to this move – it violated everything about her sense and need for security.  I actually went ahead without her blessing – the first time in 28 years.

I am blessed that the confirmations keep coming in though – the best one at the time of my resignation with the President who then called me back and shared how the Board wanted to bless me by paying for the education of my two children.  My wife broke down and cried so hard – she loved being loved by God and all was well.

Confirmations are important.  Being a lone wolf can be depressing and you need another to come along side to give confirmation to what God is doing, saying, or wanting from you.  Our emotions just get in the way sometimes – a confirmation gives strength to do what God would have us do.

leading others into sin

As we discussed sin in our youth adventure class, we had to remind each other of the definition of sin – any action that separates us from God and by that does not glorify God.

Sin is always judged harshly, but the worst sinners are those who lead others into sin.  The New Testament notes that it would be better if such people had a millstone tied around their necks and were thrown into the sea.

If you have taken the responsibility of leading others, remember the consequences of leading them astray.  Teaching the truth is a responsibility that goes hand in hand with the privilege of leadership.

 

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