master of life in earth, sky and sea

…and the adventure begins, the most exciting and fulfilling journey imaginable

God is jealous over those He loves

Being-Jealous-of-Gods-Generosity-300x199It is this very important passion of God that allows us to completely trust Him and enable us to put ourselves into the palm of His hand.

I know that jealousy is usually associated to sin as this characteristic is usually teamed up with control, selfishness and narcissism.  God’s jealousy is more like unconditional love, the exact opposite of what we see in ourselves when we experience jealous thoughts.

Mess with one of God’s children and He says that it is better if you were to tie a millstone around your neck and throw yourself into a river.  That brings up another word – vengeance.

For us, this is not an option.  God keeps the option of vengeance for Himself alone.  Even though He furiously will destroy His enemies, He is slow in getting angry.  Arouse Him and His power is incredible and mess with Him and find that exacts out the justice with little room for forgiveness.

If we are afraid of natural storms – hurricanes, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis – imagine when God gets engaged.

A word of advice – if you are going to mess with a follower of Jesus, consider yourself messing with God Himself.

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Bethlehem

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Just thinking how little and low Bethlehem is at yet she has produced the mightest of kings.  We are obsessed with our wealth and postion and yet this tiny town, poor as it was, would be the birthplace of the only King who could save His people.  Our deliver, the Messiah, would be born, as a baby, in Bethlehem and at the time of His death would reign as the eternal King.

 Here is a click from someone who went to visit Bethlehem

 

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Afraid and running away

RUNNING AWAY in fear

I know this is going to sound weird, but if I don’t say it, it will always be in the background of my year trying to encourage and understand how to be master of life on earth, sky and sea.

You see, when one obtains a close relationship with God, and He begins to mentor and develop a leadership character within, there comes a day when He calls to ask us to do something.

It is that call that scares the living … out of me.

I have been so close to Him and all of a sudden I pull away because I am afraid of that call.  Take a look at what I see in the Bible.  Abraham has to leave his entire family, Noah has to build a boat and for 120 years or so endure the laughter of his neighbours, King David ran most of his life, Jonah took off, Jeremiah couldn’t be married, Hosea had to marry a prostitute, Isaiah had to do stuff, Ezekiel crazy stuff and then there are others today.

Some have gone to work in the Garbage Village of Cairo, or in Mumbai – others past the Arctic Circle, others to Mongolia or Papua New Guinea.  Some have to carry a large wooden cross around the world, others have to stand up in a bus and proclaim the gospel and the list goes on.

At the end of the day, it’s all about trust.  I do not trust God to look out for me and so I keep in control of the situation and do not allow Him to get too near so that I actually cannot hear the call – in fact – I am running away.

Deep down I know that He is preparing me for the task for which He is calling me and that when the call comes, it will be something I would lay my life down for.  What makes it harder is that one of my youth, a 16-year-old boy, shared with me that he does not want to get too close to God because he is afraid that God will call him into ministry and his parents are totally against that – choosing between God and his parents is too great a task and he knows he will choose his parents over God and that will devastate him.  What do I tell him when I myself am running away from that same task?

Lord, before this year is out, if I am truly going to lead in the areas you have called me to lead, I have to stop being afraid and I need to stop running away.  A new, healthier fear may be the thought that if I don’t, I might be swallowed by a whale 🙂

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Proud of your self-sufficiency?

self-sufficiencyOne of the things my father did when I was born, was to declare that I would be an ambassador to nations.  The one act he did to back up that statement was to purchase a set of encyclopedias from Compton in 1967 – I was 5 years old.

Almost 5 years ago, I gave that set to Goodwill.

With the rise of the internet, I had current information at my fingertips – what I did not know and could not find – I found out who did and who could.

I was self-sufficient in obtaining and understanding information.

Self-sufficiency is not bad, its being proud about it that messes you up.  I keep thinking about King Nebuchadnezzar and how God turned him into a mad person because he failed to honour God as the one who blessed Him.

When I think about all my strengths – which one do I feel most safe using and what if God took that safety net from me and I fell.   What if God orchestrated a series of events that would show my inability to be self-sufficient and I would be incredibly humbled.  What if my wealth defined me and thieves came in and stole everything I had.  What if my friends turned against me and what if I thought I had wisdom and discernment and really just ended up being confused more than anything.

Do I feel secure and proud of my self-sufficiency?   If I did, I would be just fooling myself because there is no lasting security apart from God.  If I ever felt secure in objects or people, I would have to ask myself what they really had to offer for possessions and people can disappear in a moment.  The all-sufficient God who provides everything I need is the only constant.  In fact, He is the only one who can offer the kind of security I really need.

As I contemplate my role as ambassador to the nations, my security is actually in my humility.  humility gives me incredible accuracy in providing perspective of myself and the world to which I am sent.

 

 

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Prayer is a powerful privilege

prayer a poweful privilege

I think that I forget this truth more often than not.

There is the temptation to boil prayer down to the Lord’s prayer, or prayers of petition or grace, even prayers of blessing – but powerful?

Then if I get to the section where it is part of the description of what the armour of God looks like – I think of a prayer of protection – like Psalm 91.

But you cannot look at the life of Moses and Amos and not see that to them prayer was a privilege.  Its harder to see it in Abraham because he did a lot of face to face negotiations with God and Jesus did a lot of early morning and all night stuff – so again we didn’t see a lot.

Both Moses and Amos got in good with God.  God would show them His plan for the future and both Moses and Amos saw the privilege of that close communication and asked God to spare the destruction of so many.

Is it possible that we have not stood in the gap for the world as much as we should be?  Have I taken my relationship with God so personal that I have left the things of this world to “just happen” when I could have made a difference by calling on the grace and kindness of God?

I have been reminded in the last two weeks to really think about praying for my nation.  Maybe I am the one who can stand in the gap, see revival grip my heart and those around me.  May I see prayer today as a privilege, and stand for those who either cannot or will not.

 

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Really? “Fat cows?”

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One of the prophets got away with calling women, “fat cows” in his day.

He must have been pretty upset because that was quite the slanderous tone to take.

It seems that the wealthy women of the day were compared to fat cows because they were pampered and well-fed.  These women selfishly pushed their husbands to oppress the helpless in order to supply their lavish life-styles.

Since I am a guy and not a gal, I have only this comment to make.

I have seen guys in ministry get messed up because of the women in their lives who desire money more than ministry, comfort more than prayer, the things of this world more than the things of God.  Since our Christian culture in ministry does not condone divorce, the men cater to the desire of their wives and eventually give up ministry all-together to pursue a “career.”

It is my hope that one day God will give me wisdom on how to advise men in this position, because as of today, I do not have the answer.

 

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Are you good at watching sheep?

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There is something about watching sheep that is missing our attention.  Shepherds are on God‘s radar screen to bless because they have something in their hearts that is very close to the heart of God.

So what is it and can those of us who do not watch sheep for a living capture the same heart?

It seems that a shepherd is a shepherd so that they are not caught up in the things of this world.  When we have to make a stand or be “peculiar,” we can.  It also means that money is probably not the most important thing in our lives either.

It seems that a shepherd has time on their hands to really connect with God – how many shepherds in the Bible were not friends with God in some way, shape or form?  This passion proved to be a launching pad into ministry for many of them.

There are so many times when I am made to feel that it is not glamorous and definitely not “spiritual.”  What turns the tap in my heart that makes me look past how I feel and enables me to be a channel of God’s message to others?  What I know is that if I am in the place God wants me to be than God and I can do extraordinary things, no matter how ordinary my occupation seems to be.

 

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Listen to the older generation

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My key ingredient that I am trying to express is listening, not learning from our older generation.  Even though I am sure that we have lots to learn from them, I think we have really failed in our task of listening.  Their journey has been incredible, richer than ours, full and with experience, and it is in those stories that comes a listening ear.

My father-in-law and I could talk (I asked the open questions, he talked and I listened) for hours.  He joined the Italian army at 18 just about the time when Italy decided to turn its back on the Germans and join the Allied forces.  He was soon captured in Greece and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Germany.

There were things I wanted to know about that, there were things he needed to tell that he had never told before to anyone else.

Then after the war, he helped to rebuild Germany and was employed there, in construction, for four years.  Many more stories there, and they were all his to share, his experience, what he learned living away from home for 9 months of the year, relationships with your employers and the team you worked with, even how to handle temptation when it came to women through the long absences from home life.

I said it earlier, and I think we can sometimes get hung up on the “learning” from our older generation that we have stopped listening to them.  They have a history, a life story no matter how much older they are than us.  There have been some successes and some failures and if we learn from that great, but bask in the story – that’s where the rubber meets the road.

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What are we doing with our wealth?

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How we spend our wealth indicates what are value systems are.  Most of us will take whatever prosperity we obtain and will use the money to express the idols of our hearts.

That might mean food where I will go out more often than having a family dinner at home, moving up in the real estate of our home giving us opportunity of newer and larger residences, more entertainment and more often as opposed to taking opportunity of discounted Tuesdays, newer and finer cars, we actually do not think of God nor our need of Him – we are satisfied and comfortable with what we have and we will spend it at our the desires of our heart.

It seems that the more God gives, the more we spend on ourselves.

The problem arises in this issue – the money was never ours to begin with – it all belongs to God.  I know, we forget so easily.  We think its ours because we work hard for it and yet God keeps insisting that everything in the world is His and therefore He would like us to understand that we are His managers and that our hearts should be thankful for His blessing, and our hearts should be asking, Lord what would you like me to do with this blessing that you have given me?

That could still mean that you may have the desires of your heart in terms of material wealth. However, it may mean that your vacation to Hawaii turns into a mission trip to Mongolia, or it may mean that instead of a larger and newer home you help build a house with Habitat for Humanity, and instead of a newer, finer car you provide transportation for a struggling family that has no vehicle, and instead of eating and entertainment you become part of the weekly dinner to the street people of your community and offer to be part of entertaining them during and after their meal.

As we prosper, we must look at where our money is going?  Is it being used for God’s purposes, or are we consuming it all on ourselves?

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Let us return

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At the end of the day, when we realize that God is in ultimate control, we have two choices.  The one choice is to be separated from Him forever or to return to the Lord.

Today we struggle because we feel that we have been actually torn in two and how can a loving God allow that to happen to us.  We can arrive at two conclusions – on the one hand there is no God so it does matter anyway.  The other hand, He may have allowed the tearing to happen, then again He is the only one who can heal the tear.

If He has actually wounded or allowed the wound to take place in our life, then it makes sense that He can bind us up together again too.

We return to Him because it is better to live in His kindness than to be separated from Him.  It is better to trust Him, even though we may not know Him.  It is better to press on getting to know Him than to live without Him.  Without a shadow of a doubt, He will respond to us as surely as the sun rises each morning.

So let’s not wait too long to come back to Him.  The longer we wait, the longer the pain and the further from Him we travel.  Let’s put aside our desire for only the external benefits that come from worshipping Him, lets simply just return, seriously.

Matt Redman – Come Let Us Return to the Lord

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