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Archive for the month “October, 2012”

The finest gold has lost its luster

I am not sure how it happened or why it happened, but I do not have an interest in pursuing money.  When I get it, I give it away.  I am truly happy when I have enough.

That’s different to having a lot of money and it loses its value or priority.  It’s like treating gold as if it were normal dinnerware or a flowerpot or water jug.

This is just another reminder that we cannot glory in our prosperity for while we do, we might find ourselves falling into spiritual bankruptcy.

A friend of mine has left the stock market quiet a few years ago believing that when it is going to crash, it will be a really bad one.  So he has put all of his investments into gold and looking at the gold prices these days, he is doing quite well.

One day I reminded him of the time Canada went to war and confiscated on the personal gold held by individuals as part of the governments efforts to pay for the war.  He knew of this.  So I asked him how he is planning on keeping his gold as I am sure the government is quite aware of the quantity of his possession.  He shared that he also had a stash of firearms and would love to see the government come and try to take it.

What a said thought of what the future holds.  All this money, so tangible, so unreal and not really ours.  I pray that instead, we take what we have so generously been blessed with and feed the children of our neighbourhoods, take care of the crying babies, share our bread and water with those who go without, a tangible expression to those that are begging on the street.

I think that if we spent more time thinking about our call to stewardship and not why others are suffering so much, we might find ourselves addicted to giving and helping and by that making a difference in our lives and in the world around us.

 

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Walking away from God’s presence

I have to wonder how people think when they walk away from God and then blame Him for all their misery.

I am in a pretty irritated mood at the moment, because I see the wealthy, rich, spoiled children of wealthy, rich spoiled parents, unhappy.  Everybody wants to know why their kids are messed up.

They are messed up because they do not need God.  They say one thing with their heads but live their lives with their hearts and God is not there.

They are rude, racist, discriminatory, disrespectful bullies.

They say that this is who they are – this is how they operate.  Once the hour and half of nonsense has taken place, I lead these youth into worship.  You guessed it – they couldn’t – not even for a moment, not even for a faster worship song.  Do you think they knew why they didn’t get it?

Funny how they do not seem to get it – that when they spend zero time with God during the week, what do they have to give when they come together for worship – nothing.

It almost seems like its better for us to spend an hour in prayer so they can get right with God before we start anything with them.

They are my perfect example of what it is like to walk away from God’s presence. There is fooling no one – its obvious – and like Adam and Eve we hide ourselves from His presence when He comes looking.  Lord, help me lead these youth to You.

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Lovers and friends

Loudest sobs and flowing tears usually happen when I think I have lost someone I loved or who I thought was a good friend.

I have not been there for sometime, but was thinking about how much I am trusting people right now and thinking about how I might even trust them more than I do God.

Funny how I feel that I am setting myself up for such a night of sobs and tears.

My prayer is that God would be my best lover and my best friend.  I need Him to bring others into that relationship, but my hope and my trust would always and only be in Him.

It takes so much to trust Him and yet He is God.  Can’t imagine why it is so much easier to give my trust to others.

When I think of my numerous rebellious actions, I wonder if I have caused God to cry over me.  Has my stubborn sinfulness separated me from Him in more ways than I could imagine.  Is the grace He gives real enough to forgive and forget such wayward actions and will He love me again as He did the first time we met?

Yes, that is why my sobs and tears take place on His shoulder.  That is why I need to run to Him first, not last.  His calling is not the one I want to reject, His promises are not the ones I want to ignore.

Lord, if you are my lover and friend, no matter what may come my way, I know I can make it.  Forgive me for turning to others when you have always been sitting in the living room of my heart, waiting for me to come and sit, share, laugh, cry and love You.

 

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Epilogue of Jeremiah

In the world’s eyes,

  • Jeremiah looked totally unsuccessful.  He had no money, family or friends.
  • He prophesied the destruction of the nation, the capital city and the Temple
  • Political and religious leaders would not accept or follow his advice
  • No group of people liked him or listened to him

In God’s eyes,

  • He successfully completed the work God gave him to do

Success must never be measured by prosperity, fame or fortune, for these are temporal measures.

King Zedekiah for example, lost everything by pursuing selfish goods.

God measures our success with the yardsticks of obedience, faithfulness and righteousness.

If we are faithfully doing the work God gives us, we are successful in His eyes.

 

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He is still our God

In the midst of chaos, our minds race and we fret, worry and a moment or two of anxiety attacks, stop eating or eat too much, do not get much sleep and to others seem quite caught up in ourselves and what we are going through and always willing to tell the story of our struggles to whomever will listen.

There are times when we even think that our problems and difficulties are too much for God.

What makes our relationship with God even more unexplainable is that in the midst of the chaos, He does not shout, take charge, lead the way, or jump in to save the day.  He whispers our name in the middle of the night, calling us to come to Him and let Him love us.  You can almost feel His hand wrapped around our heart, pulling us gently to our knees, and in that holy, quiet moment, we are set free – He is our God.

There in that quiet time, we are refreshed, renewed.  We see the others around us that are hurting more than we are and God instructs us on how to bless them.  We see that this time is not a time that will hurt us, it is bringing us to a place of trust.  We see that no harm can come to us unless God allows it – and He is assuring us that this is not that time.

The whisper of our Lord is the most powerful voice in the universe – who can almost hear Him creating our world in that still , small voice – imagine if He thundered and roared – no evil could possibly stand before Him.  Thank you Lord for being my God.

http://youtu.be/2SoCB6E2JjA

http://youtu.be/r1-4YNnAo8A

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Go deep into the desert

If I was going to flee somewhere in order to save my life, I would go deep into desert.

Living in Canada, I might not have that opportunity – probably would need to settle with the wilderness or the Arctic Circle.

I think this comes from reading the Bible stories of King David when he was running away from Saul.  It also came from reading about the early Christians hiding in Petra, a very desert place in Jordan.

But the desert has a dual meaning.  Jesus spent time in the desert prior to his ministry.  I think they said Paul spend 14 years in Saudi Arabia and John the Baptist had his ministry in the desert.

Most of us would probably refrain from entering a desert.  I have been in one for a few months and only now am learning to embrace this quite time with God and using it to go deeper into my relationship with Him.  I can see why some leave their faith thinking that God has abandoned them in the desert, but I find that He is right there, just not as pleasant a journey but one exercising in discipline and remembering to keep things simple.

Either way, the desert is an image of a safe place.  Probably need to learn a bit more in order to actually survive in one, but I am intrigued.  I pray that we can embrace this time of isolation and discomfort as one where we rely totally on Him and trust Him to keep us safe and take us through.

http://youtu.be/U94lGTSzaoU

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Asking for and then denying God’s help

This is our dilema is it not.  We want people to pray for us, we feel so small and insignificant, we want to know what to do and where to go – what is God‘s Will for my life.

We even do more.  We make deals saying that if we even think about doing something contrary to what God wants us to do, He can be on all the trouble He wants, because we know at that very moment, whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord, we will follow Him alone, knowing full well that by doing so everything will turn out well.

Then something happens in between the time of our seeking and the time of God’s reply.  His answer doesn’t make sense.  From the time we asked for His help and the time He answered, we figured it out ourselves and the two no longer match.  Now we decide to distrust the answer or the messenger that gave us the answer.

We lead not with confidence in God, but decide to continue to place our confidence in ourselves and that was the exact confidence that got us in trouble in the first place.  Yet for some reason our eyes are blinded, our hearts our turned.

I know that trust is a huge issue for most of us.  There are enough people walking around these days declaring the wisdom of God and yet are just blowing a lot of hot air and there are not enough that seek the face of God and declare His purposes without leaving out a word or emotional expression.  So we have to choose, discern and understand the character of God so that we are enabled to live confidently under the blessing and protection of the hand of God.  May our call for help lead us into the hand of God.  May we trust Him enough not only to make the call, but to do what He asks us to do when He answers that call.

One thing is certain, asking and then denying will in no way help you hear His voice better the next time a decision needs to be made.  Start early in asking and following through, it will only build your trust in that still small voice that will guide you over the years to come.

 

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Don’t fool yourselves

This past weekend I attended an Acquire the Fire youth event with 13 members of our Arabic youth.  It was the first time they had ever gone and it was a pleasure to see them enjoy the company of another 4,000 youth and time will tell what they took away from the event spiritually.

At one point, a speaker shared a story about a couple who had won $400 million dollars through one of the US lotteries and the trouble and turmoil their family had gone through as a result of having so much.  It was definitely a sad tale.  What messed me up more was the admission that money had ruined the family – but my issue is – then why are you keeping it – give it all away and be the family you want to be.

But we fool ourselves don’t we – we can have that one drink, that one smoke, tell that one lie, have that one affair, have that one peek at pornography – and we will be okay – God still loves us.  Thankfully He does, but that does not stop the fact that there are consequences to our action, even though we might not seem them immediately.

No matter what friends we call on, no matter how many favours we pull in, no matter how much money we spend to rectify a problem, the consequences will have to be faced and God’s will of bringing us back home to Him will take place.

I think Kind David is my prime example I go to on this.  David fooled himself with Bathsheba.  But he didn’t get fooled too long – God loved him enough to bring things up so that David could came back to acknowledge God as his God.

Maybe if we can look at those little steps we take each day that are steps away from God and remind ourselves that we are the only ones being fooled – let’s stop.

 

 

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Don’t leave out one word

I know that I have sweetened my words quite a bit when it comes to my place of employment and the associates I work with.  Do the same thing with my family.  I do that because I still have to live with them – that is 8 hours at work and then another 8 hours at home and if I want to sleep with my wife as opposed to the couch, another 8 hours there.

Thus the world of dysfunction begins with being passive aggressive, depression, denial, hear no evil-see no evil-speak no evil etc.

I think we do the same thing to God.  I think we always hear Him saying. “I love you,” and I believe He does, but I also thinks He challenges us and calls us out on things but we stop listening after the “I love you.”

The scary part is that most of us are going to church at least once a week and think we are all right – just take a look at the letters written to the seven churches in Revelation and we know that it really is possible to mess our relationship up with God.

If I am going to be of any use to God, I think I need to hear/read God’s Word and apply all of it in my life, not just the portions that make me swoon in my love relationship with Him.

We do the same thing these days in church while we worship.  For those old enough to remember the hymns that used to be sung, they were really convicting – talked a lot about prayer, sin, confession, repentance and holding the line in our commitment to God.  Not today, we all raise our hands up in the air, tell Jesus how much we love Him, sway a bit and bend our knees as we worship with adoration – but I digress with another partial rant.

So, Lord, as I hear you and read your Word, may I have the courage to not leave out the uncomfortable stuff.  May I be brave enough to come before you and get the truth of where we stand in our relationship and to do what You are asking me to do.  Lord, if I do and find that I can, may you also lead me with wisdom to share these same truths with others, not to judge, but in love, to ask others to follow You with the same mission of transparency and honesty.  Lord, as my relationship with You is healed, may my relationship with others be healed also.  Amen.

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We will wait

Do you go through times where you feel that God is no longer in the business of blessing?

I know that I meet many people during my day who feel this way.  There are examples in the Bible where God removes His hand of blessing from time to time based on the rejection of His followers. King David,in one of his Psalms, spoke of travelling through a desert when he tried to speak of his relationship with God at the moment.   I have heard others describe their prayer life as if the heavens were made of brass.

Others are so determined to re-engage with God they will even resort to fasting, giving up favourite things – to no avail as the troubles and conflicts of life continue to pile up.

One of my rants is the TV evangelists who say that Christians need to be wealthy and healthy and if we are not then … well, let’s not go there.

But I do think that is where our problems start … we listen to other people … looking for encouragement and getting the wrong kind or getting judged – those are usually the two outcomes.

The prophets of God had the best advice – wait – and that is a very difficult thing to do.

While waiting – people die because of poor health, war, famine, and disease.

While waiting there is a lot of crying, pain, feelings of complete abandonment and rejection.

While waiting the absence of peace is overwhelming at times and there is wonder if we will ever experience it again.

While waiting we settle down, we confess, we ask God not to hate us, we ask Him to remember to glorify His name through us, to remember His promise to bless us.

While waiting we know full well that there is no other God, there is only God, and we are determined to wait for Him to help us and we tell Him so.

Then somehow, as Isaiah documents so well, at some point, as King David clearly spells out, we start walking, then we run then we start flying and we are never tired and we are energized with boundless capacity, enabled to do what we could not do before because of only one fact – we waited.

http://youtu.be/-iWj8wPhimE

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