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Archive for the tag “United States”

They will be safe

they will be safe

The imagery of safety is a strong one for me – one of the characteristics of God is that He is omnipotent.  I think that there is a wall of fire protecting me and my family when I allow Him to be my glory.

What I still can’t quite grasp is that this is not as important to most Christians as one might think.  In fact, I know that if we were living in an opulent lifestyle and God called us out to go to a place a little bit more rustic and a little bit more in the open plain, we would reject the call.  Maybe I should go one step further.  I am willing to suggest that even if God warned us that the opulent lifestyle was going to end and that destruction was coming to the region or our immediate world, we would still not want to go.

How do I know this.  Just take a look at Lot’s family – I mean the angel pretty much had to drag that family out of Sodom.  Look at the children of Israel after 70 years in Babylon.  They did not want to go back to Israel even when God warned them the Persians were coming to destroy Babylon.  Would you believe that 90% of the people of Israel decided to stay and perished in captivity.

Just the fact that I would know that I am no longer under the protection of the Almighty would make me want to go wherever He is calling me.  He will always be my safe haven, my shelter, and my refuge.  From that perspective I can lead with confidence.

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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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Has a lawsuit been filed against you?

lawsuit against you

Well, not just anybody, but has God filed a lawsuit against you?

He probably could you know.  I mean, really, where is my faithfulness, where is my kindness, does anybody know God, His personality or His character?

I mean, we enjoy swearing and lying, others of us actual have killed and stolen, not to mention committing adultery and definitely involved in pornography.

There is violence against God everywhere!

We wonder why everything is messed up.  Everywhere we look there is sadness, sickness and death.  I mean it even seems like there are fewer animals, birds and fish.

So what do we do?  We point our finger at God and try to blame Him!

Surprise, surprise when God points His finger at you and me.

We are the one stumbling in broad daylight, never mind we are doing it in the night.

We really do not know God do we – why are we surprised when God does not recognize us.  In our haste to forget God’s ways, He will “forget” to bless our children.

Eventually we have exchanged the glory of God for the disgrace of idols – hence the possible lawsuit.

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Illustration

illustration-of-apple-tree-on-white-background

There are many sermons that challenge us to understand that our lives are the illustration of God to those who have never opened a Bible or entered into a church or have ever had a conversation with a follower of Christ.

I believe that this is true.

If I do believe this is true, then my experience through job loss, marriage difficulties, pain and suffering, financial difficulties, raising children, success, loss of a loved one and life in general are God’s illustration of Himself through me to others.

Wonder what that painting looks like?

Does it show resentment, anger, disappointment, confusion, hate or does it show love, compassion, yielding obedience, a servant, submission, honour, respect or awe?

I believe that I am caught sometimes thinking I have the right to be….whatever…and God catches me and quietly shares with me that the world is watching – what do I want them to see.  Do I want them to see God or do I want them to see me?

Marriage difficulties I have had – with divorce among Christians at the 50% mark we have no better track record than the rest of the world.  My wife and I entered in marriage with the idea that we would never divorce, and if we did, we would follow the Biblical practice of not remarrying until one of us dies.

That was a good standard to follow because it helped me work through marriage issues until they were resolved.  However, the real issue for me was this — I tell everyone about the awesomeness and power of God and if I was to bail on my marriage, where would that awesomeness and power be?  That is correct – non-existent.  If God is not powerful enough to work in my marriage, then what can He really do?  Those are what drove me to my knees demanding God’s presence and hand and love to fill my marriage.

My marriage has also illustrated my own relationship with God.  How many times have I taken my marriage for granted illustrating the point of how many times I have taken God for granted?  How many times have I left my wife at home alone while I went on my adventure illustrating how many times I have left Jesus on the living room couch of my heart alone while I did my thing?

As I connect the dots between my life being an illustration and life events illustrating my relationship with God, especially with my relationship to my children, God opens the door of communication because I understand what I see sometimes more than what I read or hear.

We may not want to experience the pains or successes that we will experience in this life, but one thing is for sure, God is going to use them as an illustration of His love, gentleness, kindness, mercy and grace.  Also His saving power and the might of His right arm, but also the protection and refuge, a strong tower in times of trouble.

For those of us who God has asked for extraordinary obedience, we pray for trust – God has a special purpose for this particular illustration and has called us to provide it.  May we be satisfied with the knowledge that the pain involved in obedience may benefit those we serve, whether or not it involves us personally.

http://youtu.be/YWk7RUg3ZV4

 

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Thankless

This is an actual street address in Rising Sun, Maryland US.  Just as you cross from Penn through the Kennett Oxford Bypass into Maryland you run into the town of Rising Sun.  Since my US office is in Maryland, and I like driving, I take advantage of different routes to take through the US.  For those who have taken that ride, especially in the first week of October when the leaves are changing colour, know how beautiful the drive is.

All that to say my wife and I were thankful for such an experience this year.

I think that we suffer from not being thankful enough.  I mean it is great that God loves us so much and allows us to vent, scream, yell, vent, rage at Him as we go through life’s darkest days, but I think that He is really offended when we are thankless and rarely accepts that kind of attitude.

If He had a choice to bless someone who was thankful or thankless, I think He would choose the thankful person and the thankless person would get what’s coming to them.

Canadians are very polite according to our US friends – saying thank you, excuse me, pardon me, sorry etc.  But they start mimicking me once I am around them.  The same thing can happen though if we are thankless.  We start passing around a negative attitude.  You are in no way passing around or entering into the glory of God by being thankless.

Today, let’s be thankful for everything and see what happens – could be quite an adventure.

 

 

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Be strong, be brave and do not be afraid

This is a great motivational line for you today, but you and I know that we need more.

Part of being strong and brave and courageous is what we do in preparation for the days when these characteristic traits are required – they do not come naturally, nor to they come because you listened to some motivational speakers.

There is a plan that you are working through already in your life.  A plan that first of all understands that in this world you will be attacked because of who you are – a child of God.  A plan that robs you of the things that you want and desire in order to fill your world with the things that God wants you to have and trust that He will give you the desires of your heart.  A plan to find those weak spots in your character and strengthen them, weak spots in your armour and develop them, adding to them, creating new opportunities for the Holy Spirit to gift you with other strengths.  A plan to mentor and support others so that you are surrounded by others who are like-minded in their desire to be strong, brave and courageous.

Basically, when the time is called upon to be strong, brave and courageous, may you see with eyes of faith, may you realize that what is opposing you, no matter what the difference in number may be, those numbers mean nothing because the Lord is on your side.  Victory is not by might or power, its by the Spirit of God.

Our confidence lies on where we stand with God and where others around us stand with Him.

http://youtu.be/OgR7UDeABSE

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Disobedience leads to…

…the right answer is death but we all know the journey that gets us there is a rough road.

Disobedience can be found both in the active and passive sense.  By that I mean not only doing wrong, but actually failing to do right.

We actively disobey by attempting murder, ignoring God‘s instructions and looking to understand the future through fortune-tellers.

We passively disobey by neglecting to ask God for guidance as we are called to rule the world God has given to us.

Obedience is also active and passive.  It is not enough just to avoid what is wrong, we need to actively pursue what is right.

Have I ever asked God for guidance?

Most definitely, however, the real litmus is asking at the start of the day for example as opposed to my frantic requests to God after I have tried doing everything my own way.  Basically, never going to God unless there was no where else to turn.

Guess I can’t be surprised when He doesn’t answer.  When we ask God for selfish reasons, they are just cover-ups for our stubborness and rebellion.

 

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Honest and Trustworthy

They say that I am rather naive when it comes to trust.  I rarely require someone to prove their trustworthiness and rather give it first and allow the other person the opportunity of losing it.

With that naivety comes the openness in my management style that allows individuals to keep track of their time, their expenses, their activities and allow the only indication of accountability as goals being reached.  That’s not because the end justifies the means, but rather the extended hand of trust that you are honest enough to come and say you need help or open enough to say you could do it better but cannot see how.

That does not work with everyone.  Not everyone wants the reputation of being trustworthy or honest.  They do not want to put in the effort of working hard for that reputation and would rather be told the how, what, where and when and then to produce the markers that indicate that all requirements have been met regardless of the outcome.

Since I am that way, I sometimes relate this to my other relationships where I am doing the following and not the leading.  Sometimes it works, but when it doesn’t I sometimes take it personally.  I take the accountability factor and make it like they do not trust me enough and therefore have to have me fill in my time sheet or account for every penny.

That is not true of course.  Each handles the responsibility of leadership differently.  I work really hard to earn the trust of those I work with and pray that one day that trust is rewarded with an introduction to someone else that describes me as an honest person.

May God honour us to with such a description of our character too.  May He find us faithful in the little things He passes along to us each day and in the end, pass along larger responsibilities because we have shown Him this character trait of being honest and trustworthy with what He has given to us to take care of for Him.

 

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Convocation

Whenever I am in the midst of a large gathering, or responsible to ensure that a large gathering is present for an important meeting, I try to think through the process that makes it as formal as possible.  Formality allows the participant to enter into the importance of the meeting without saying a word.

My wife and I were recently invited to North America’s first year anniversary of the Christian Youth Channel – a satellite television program based in Canada among the Coptic and completely youth based initiative.

The tickets said black tie was optional so you knew something was up.  As we entered into the church parking lot, we figured that the event was in the church hall – but what a hall it was – beautifully designed, simple lines – you knew you were going to enjoy the evening.

First impressions matter.

We allowed a few miscues to go by as a result, but the important message that was to be delivered by the founder of this youth channel did not do his job.

I compare his presentation to my own CEO of SAT-7 when he visited the US and Canadian offices.  We had no fancy attire, probably messed up the first impression, but of the people who came, 80% filled out a response device and all of them praise the clarity and incredible ministry of SAT-7 in the Middle East and North Africa.  Can you imagine 80% of your audience giving a financial gift, encouragement, and willingly desiring to participate make the ministry of SAT-7 successful.

What was the difference?

Convocation – the reason for the large assembly is not to impress only, but with the impression, to share an incredible,  powerful message that will change our worldview and shed light not only on the world at large, but how we fit into that world.

Prayer is mandatory.

Scripture is mandatory.

Worship is mandatory.

May the same principles be found in our own personal lives too.

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