Ponderings and possibilities


Dangerous mind?
April 29, 2009, 10:54 pm
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How far should we take our thoughts so far as putting ourselves in someones situation, really, and going through the motions as to what we might think, feel and do?

There is that gap again; keeps coming up in thoughts and conversation.

Should I back off on over thinking it and rather than look for clarity, pray for increased faith to take each day one at a time?  Feels like I get boiled like a frog this way..  each day passes and I think tomorrow will be the one.   I so want to make a difference for the kingdom, but I so don’t feel like I am having an impact day to day.

Kids need protection,  homeless need food and help to get on their feet, relationships need fostering to draw people to the Gospel and make disciples…  I’d love to do these, but I am too busy (ugh).

So, am I really putting myself in these peoples situations or am I just being selfish and not taking action once I have gone through the motions?

I am going to continue thinking and praying through what these people in need might be feeling in this world, but keep my eyes and ears open to see if there is someone that I should be looking out for as they are on the road to a nasty ending after they become dust. 

Colossians 1:24 Paul’s Labor for the Church

24Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.



Fruit.
April 27, 2009, 10:09 pm
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Signs that the Holy Spirit are working  in a persons life are clearly identified in Galatians 5:22.  There is no use in trying to fake these fruits, it would be a fruitless effort (pun absolutely intended).  The Holy Spirit living in us is providing these fruits, but not for our own selfish purposes, but for His.  Glory is all to God.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Love – “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). Through Jesus Christ, our greatest goal is to do all things in love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Joy – “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Peace – “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Longsuffering (patience) — We are “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:11). “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

Gentleness (kindness) — We should live “in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left” (2 Corinthians 6:6-7).

Goodness – “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power” (2 Thessalonians 1:11). “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9).

Faith (faithfulness) – “O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Isaiah 25:1). “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:16-17).

Meekness – “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

Temperance (self-control) – “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).



Mind the gap
April 22, 2009, 7:18 pm
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The infamous gap between the train and the station.  This is the same gap that is between theory and practice.  It is a dangerous gap that can cause injury or cost lives if accidently under-estimated!   There are so many examples of this, whether it is learning to drive, writing and estimating software, raising kids or anything else.  We all use judgement to form some opinions based on hearing/reading/watching something (the theory) and we don’t know really what it will take until we do it (the practice) or experience it first hand.

How does this translate in the Word and in His Kingdom?  Pick up the sermon on the mount and think about how high those standards are that Jesus sets for what it means to lie, cheat, lust and anger.  Think about how the commandment is that we are to love one another.  Think about loving enemies, walking with them, giving them more than they ask for.

Numerous times, I have underestimated this gap when reading scripture and thinking about how I judge how I am doing in this area (note – key words ‘judge’ and ‘I’ in that sentence – ugh).     I think I am something because I do one thing in a verse on a particular day – yeah me.  How painful it is when God humbles me either at that time or some time later and shows me I am NOTHING WITHOUT HIM.   I guess I have asked for it, as I asked aggresively to be shown my failings and sin – boy am I getting it.   He is showing me the gap between His Word and what is in my heart.  It is painfully humbling but I am rejoicing in this (was in self condemnation mode for a bit until I was “re-minded” that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus).

Some things I am noticing to mind the gap:

Humble myself – Don’t let thoughts of judging myself take my mind over to the left or to the right (under-estimating the gap hurts and is somewhat avoidable!).  Just think scripture and be humbled by this.

Be Guided by The Holy Spirit – If it is under my own strength I will fall into the gap; doesn’t mean suffering free and easy with expected results, but does mean His Will Be Done, not mine.

Be ok with making mistakes – Nobody is perfect; it is better to make mistakes trying to get on the train than standing on the platform in case I get the gap wrong!  If it is for His Kingdom and is His Will then he will catch me and I will learn from this to know the gap and pray for this to become smaller.  It is an important step to growth in Him and seeing where I do/do not abide in Him.  This does not mean be wreckless.  There are many places the Word says be Diligent and Careful, but it doesn’t say don’t help, don’t use gifts, don’t love etc.

Don’t play small when God wants to go big – I can’t take every opportunity that comes my way, but do consider that He will increase faith and provide gifts for furthering His Kingdom.  A lot of times these are bigger than I can phathom; I can shy away and cast it off as a crazy thing I once thought about, but what if that was from God and what if He would want that to happen using me to make that so?   Surrender the comfort and submit from obedience.  Expect it to be painful and expect persecution.  Don’t step down or shrink back because of thoughts, just do it from love and obedience.

Summary – Mind the Gap between theory and practice, but get on the train brothers and sisters, for we have work to do.  As we humbly step out in Faith, He will give us all we need, He will bless us and He will deliver all that He has promised.  LORD, PUSH ME, PROMPT ME, GIVE ME THE FAITH TO LIVE OUT YOUR WILL AS IT IS IN ISAIAH 58.

Isaiah 58

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.

2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.



Worry and Stress
April 21, 2009, 10:58 pm
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It’s not ok to just to be surviving when really we can be thriving!  We should be rejoicing in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.  It is a command in The Word.  If I am not rejoicing, perhaps I spent too much time pointing out things that are wrong in this fallen world than being content with the things that are eternal?  Perhaps I have gone inward rather than outward – perhaps I have lost sight with HOW INCREDIBLY AMAZINGLY BIG OUR LORD IS! 

Yet again, more selfishness, self-focus and then the struggle of being in the world versus being of the world.  Yes – the worlds is messed up because of sin.  No – It does not give us an excuse not to rejoice in the Lord, in fact, it should do just the opposite.  So, when I am bumming out because someone cut me off in the car or I had to work late because I am worried – I should remember and be glad that the Lord is so much bigger than these things.  For He alone is worthy.  I am not, so be glad in that!

From Francis Chans book – Crazy Love:

Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.

Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace towards others, our tight grip of control.

 Philippians 4  – 4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.



Tension
April 16, 2009, 7:57 pm
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There is tension everywhere.  It is in the news from all over the world, in work places and at homes.  The biggest tension I see in myself, is this battle between being in the world but not of the world. 

Examples galore at work – what counts from a lot of executives is results and the bottom line.  They don’t care what means, whether it is insulting people, putting unreasonable pressure on them or cutting them off; for them it is all about results.  They don’t understand servent leadership style management where respect, love and co-operation is just as effective longer term as micromanaging, whip cracking and letting people go.

For me, I struggle with this.  I am about the relationships and smoothly working towards goals together.  Evidently, this is a tension and when it gets to breaking point, I fall on my knees and pray that the Lord wanted me to choose relationships rather than choose being harsh with people.  I am in a spot where I am trying to figure out what is it I am supposed to be doing so far as meeting expectations for a company that changes its plans, demenour and values?

I don’t like conflict, particularly if the finger is pointed at me.  I don’t like the thought that exit interviews would be full of negative comments.  The flip side of this, is not being responsible for peoples interpretation. So what does the Bible say about work and relationships?

A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment? (Ecclesiastes 2: 24 – 25).

Jesus said to them [the Jews who were persecuting him for healing on the Sabbath], My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working. (John 5: 17).

You yourselves know that these hands of mine [Paul’s] have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: It is more blessed to give than to receive. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you. On the contrary, we worked day and night, labouring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If a man will not work, he shall not eat. (2 Thessalonians 3: 7 – 10).

Questions I am asking myself —

  •  Am I selfishly ambitious? (James 3: 16)
  • Do I consider my boss’s needs (Philippians 2: 3 – 4)
  • Am I trying to steal the credit? (Luke 14: 7 – 11)
  • Am I really submitting to my boss’s authority or simply doing what I am told? (Titus 2: 9)
  • Do I genuinely forgive my boss when he or she does something wrong? (Matthew 18: 21 – 22; Ephesians 4: 32.)
  • Do I love my boss and actively seek opportunities to express that love? (1 John 3: 18)
  • Do I fail to see opportunities in apparently adverse circumstances? (James 1: 2 – 3)
  • Do I communicate my problems with my boss to him or her – and do I do it lovingly? (Matthew 18: 15)


Love
April 10, 2009, 11:46 pm
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He knew what He had to do and He did it, despite being slandered, mocked, punched, flogged, spat on, hit on the head with staff’s, pierced with a crown of thorns and nailed to a cross through His hands and feet; He went through with it.

Nuff said.



Absolute Truth. Stop thinking, just believe!
April 4, 2009, 10:42 pm
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I’ve had quite a few conversations recently regarding the Word of God, as to whether it was ‘just’ written by a bunch of guys or if it is absolute truth, Gods Word, written by divine inspiration through various men through the times.  
It doesn’t seem like it is my job to persuade or convince people that this is God writing directly through men, but I am learning that this is a big hurdle that people resist and struggle to believe…  I see that this is where love, prayer and  The Holy Spirit impact people and give them eyes to see and ears to hear the Absolute Truth.

I was once on that side where it sounded fine to have a guide book for life generally, all good stuff to not kill people, but instead love them.  So, in no way am I considering myself smarter than they are now, for God takes the foolish and shames the wise.  What I am noticing, is how the conversations go down with people who aren’t on the same page. 
It takes a step of Faith to believe it as there is no absolute sign, evidence or proof.

It would be too easy for us if we could all instantly discern what is of God and what is of Man (then what is God working through Man).  If it was this obvious then we wouldn’t need faith, prayer and taking steps to test all things and hold what is true.

I need to remember that not everyone I talk to understands what the Bible ‘really says’ and then remember that they don’t necessarily believe this is from God.  If I assume these things going in to a conversation with someone then it can go squirly as I am missing their perspective and quickly get written off in their minds.  Assumptions make an Ass out of U and Me!

 So, at a more granular level – taking things literally versus metaphorically when I am reading has been interesting recently.  Sometimes I think I take too smaller context and digest it too literally then let myself become phariseeical and overly critical of it?  Perhaps that is ok and is part of the process? 

Over 600 rules in the OT, then among them pops out Deut 23:1  1“No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD.     My good buddies texted each other this one and joked about me, being an usher would need to check the guys as the came into church on sunday.

Some words in Luke 10:25-37 really sunk in and helped me out with this recently.  The words of Jesus saying “desiring to justify himself” to a lawyer — I realized I try to get too specific and legalistic about situations where I am supposed to just love!  This is the Absolute Truth as it is written in Gods word. 

If I am not just loving people then I am trying to Justify MYSELF rather than be justified by the Lord Jesus Christ and do what he commanded.

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

 29But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30