Friday, August 30, 2013

Decision Making Made Simple

There are a lot of decision we have to make in a day. Some of them are as simple as turning right or left. Others seem to be of greater importance, like which courses of study to choose or whether to buy that house you visited yesterday. But sometimes the simple choices can have a far greater impact on our day than the big ones. So how do we know? How do we choose?

I may not have the answer to that for you but I know what works for me .I bring it all down to one common denominator that I can understand in all circumstances: Choose Jesus.

Everyday I am faced with all kinds of circumstances that I have no control over. For example, last night my phone froze at 1:48 am. It has never happened before. I had no control over it. The problem is that my phone is my alarm clock, so when I was suppose to be getting up at 5 am I kept sleeping. At 6:15 am I woke up but by then I was already 15 minutes late opening our family store. Without thinking I went into action and got myself out the door. I was left with a decision: do I complain about it and allow it to ruin my day, or do I choose Jesus, trust him that all will be well and allow that joy to continue in me. I choose Jesus.

Then, after opening our store late, I discovered that the water had been cut off in part of the city because of a mistake a construction crew made. I had no control over it. I had a choice: let this provoke my earlier frustration and declare it to be a horrible day, or, choose Jesus and ask him for encouragement and support. He reminded me that I had bottled water so I could continue making coffee. But I didn't need it because he arranged to have the water back on before it became a problem. I t always works out when I choose Jesus.

There are hundreds of circumstances in our day that we can either allow to rob us of our joy and peace or that give us the opportunity to increase our trust in Jesus. We have no excuse for declaring that a day is horrible. In fact, it is rather embarrassing as we demonstrate our lack of faith and trust.

Now this is a bit different than deciding to choose left or right, or which courses to take, but if we continue practicing our faith and trust in Jesus, we will become more sensitive to right decision in the Kingdom. Jesus told us not to chase after the same priorities as the world does. Kingdom values are different. He told us to chase after the things of the Kingdom, in other words, choose Kingdom values. When we base our decisions on these things, choosing Jesus, we will soon begin to recognize which decisions honour our Father.

If you don't care about honouring the Father then you go right ahead and do whatever you think is best for you. But if honouring the Father is at the center of your day and decision making, practice choosing Jesus in the circumstances of your day and when it is time to make the big decisions you will know exactly what you need to do. Have an excellent walk with Jesus today and my your living glorify him.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

All I Want Is Jesus

All I want is Jesus.

That's all I desire in my day, to walk with Jesus, to join him in his work and have a joyful day of obedience. It means whatever I do I desire to do it for the Lord. I want him lifted up. I want him to receive all the glory. That's my desire but it doesn't always work that way.

I am growing.

When we accept the sacrifice of Jesus, realizing what we are and wanting God's design instead, we don't always understand the process of re-birth. There is an instant change for sure, as the Holy Spirit moves in and our sin nature loses control, but there is also a road we begin to walk. This road leads to spiritual maturity which we need to obtain the full measure of Christ, or, in other words, to be just like him.

The process can be long as walls are torn down, old bits of our character are removed and new spiritual muscles are developed. Like any other process it is filled with failures and successes. It is like falling off a bicycle when you are learning to ride. Eventually we stop falling. The important thing about the process is to trust God's grace, the nature of forgiveness and to keep on going. Paul describes this process, contained in the safety of the Body of Christ:

Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong. This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

We have been given trainers whose purpose is to teach us how to serve and it is in the process of serving that we find ourselves knit together, growing, maturing and becoming like Jesus. The Church is far more important than people can imagine and excluding yourself from it because you don't agree with something is only going to impede your growth in spiritual maturity.

Now Paul includes something important here and is the reason I started off with "All I want is Jesus". Paul basically tells us to stop acting like children and grow up. There are some things we need to do in order to grow up. We have to put away childish things:

We must stop acting like children. We must not let deceitful people trick us by their false teachings, which are like winds that toss us around from place to place. Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head of the body. Christ holds it together and makes all of its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of love. (Ephesians 4:14-16)

I think most of us understand when we have been acting childish. It is when we allow our emotions to keep us focused on ourselves, which is in direct opposition to maturity in Jesus. It is when we get into petty arguments because someone hasn't respected our opinion or our ideas. It is when we put ourselves ahead of other people. We need to be honest about this before we can start growing in Jesus. We must understand what needs to be changed so we can surrender it to the Spirit.

A personal example: I lost my problem with temper the day I accepted the Spirit's conviction about my self-centered attitude. Suddenly people became important to me. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with compassion. Suddenly I understood. Now people constantly speak of my patience (although I still feel immature in this area).

All I want is Jesus.

If this continues to be my desire, it is easy for me to turn my back on self, false teachings and the sins that attract so easily. It is never about what I want, hope and fear. It is always about the Father's will and submitting my own will to it. That is the essential of the relationship: in love I desire to obey. All I want is Jesus.

Can we say that today or are our desires rooted here, in this world governed by the desires of the flesh? What do we want: to have that girl smile at us, to get good grades, to get a raise, to add to our retirement fund, to get a better parking spot, to buy a bigger house, to own a better car? Maybe you are like me and have even more basic needs: to have food on the table tonight, to pay the rent, to buy a bus pass, to buy diapers. But even these basic desires interfere with our only proper focus. Jesus said, don't worry about these things, don't chase after them because our Father knows our needs. Instead, focus on the things of the Kingdom. It's so sad that it is so simple because it means that we are not even mature enough to do simple. But it is simple, so ...

All I want is Jesus, today and every day.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

This Too Is Love

There is a lot more to love than what we are hearing from preachers these days. Yes, God is love. He defines love; love does not define him. So if we want a non-distorted understanding of love we need to look to everything we know about God. We really need to get to know him because the enemy is doing all he can do to twist the image of God.

I am sure that many of us have seen the t-shirt displayed on social media that reads "'Believe in me or I will send you to hell' - this is love?" But the world can't understand that they already stand condemned because of the rebellion they were born into. They are already going to hell and God is doing everything he can to save them from it. The t-shirt should read, "Hey look out! You are going to hell. Trust me and I will rescue you."

What we understand about love and God depends on whose perspective you look at it from. If we try to understand it from our vantage point we need to understand that our perspective is limited. Paul said it is like trying to see through a clouded window. We can see shapes and movements but we can't make out details. However, when we allow God to show us from his perspective we can have a much better understanding, although we are still unable to understand everything yet and must trust the goodness of our Father.  But even still, with a cloudy window, most parents understand that love is not always "butterflies and daffodils".

What kind of parent would you be if you gave your child whatever he asked for? A popular one? Maybe, for a little while. But our responsibility is not to raise spoiled and needy children. Love means saying no when what they want is not beneficial to their development. Our responsibility is to teach them and help them mature into productive and responsible adults. It is our responsibility to introduce them to Jesus, to teach right from wrong, how to make mature decisions, how to love God and others. We also have to teach them how to avoid dangers, not to hurt themselves and to be wise in their actions. It is a full plate and we cannot always expect our children to understand but we can expect them to trust and obey. Sound familiar? Now, about that t-shirt.

Our Father's longing is for us to be with him for eternity. His first desire is to save us from the dangers of hell but his second desire is also to mature us so that we will be like Jesus. There are a lot of things he has to help us go through. Just as a good parent will use every situation their children get into as a teaching opportunity, God will often allow use circumstances we have gotten ourselves into as teaching opportunities.

Now, what is greater love, to rescue us every time and spoil us, or to strengthen us to face situations so that he can teach us and help us mature? Is it not enough to know that he is with us in it and that he will never allow a situation to overwhelm us? Sometimes we have to face that "valley of the shadow of death" but knowing he is with us is all we need to keep going.When a parent teaches a child to swim, the parent is in the pool. That parent has to let go of the child so the child will learn but if the waters overwhelm, the parent is there to pluck the child from danger. This too is love.

My concern is that many preachers are preaching an immature love, a love that does not include risk and correction, a love that spoils the child and fades with time, a love with no real eternal perspective; just a feel good in the moment or a false sense that all is well. This love says that mom and dad love you too much to correct you for breaking that thing they told you not to touch. That love says, mommy and daddy would never punish you for doing what comes naturally. They ignore the truth of God's love:

None of you have yet been hurt in your battle against sin. But you have forgotten that the Scriptures say to God’s children,
“When the Lord punishes you,
    don’t make light of it,
and when he corrects you,
    don’t be discouraged.
 The Lord corrects the people
    he loves
and disciplines those
    he calls his own.”
Be patient when you are being corrected! This is how God treats his children. Don’t all parents correct their children? God corrects all of his children, and if he doesn’t correct you, then you don’t really belong to him. Our earthly fathers correct us, and we still respect them. Isn’t it even better to be given true life by letting our spiritual Father correct us?
Our human fathers correct us for a short time, and they do it as they think best. But God corrects us for our own good, because he wants us to be holy, as he is. It is never fun to be corrected. In fact, at the time it is always painful. But if we learn to obey by being corrected, we will do right and live at peace. (Hebrews 12:4-11)

I didn't want to leave any of that out. The same Father who calls to the world in love, "Trust my Son and be rescued", also pours himself into our development so that we will be holy as he is holy. We should not try redefining this love, instead we should be rejoicing in a love that corrects our wrong and teaches us so we mature. We should not avoid his correction but celebrate it. We should say, "Examine my heart and see if there is any offensive way in me, that I will be corrected and set upon the right path".

This too is love. This is God's perfect love. And we trust him for it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It's A Daily Walk, Not A Weakly

How quickly does the refreshing of a Sunday wear off for you? How quickly do you feel the dullness invading, causing your keen insights and revelation to slip away? How quickly does discouragement and doubt come knocking? How quickly do you lose your sensitivity to the Spirit? It's not suppose to be like this.

Maybe you didn't realize? Maybe you thought this was just normal; how it worked? It's not.

We don't belong here.

There is a condition in this world that has twisted our basic nature so that the world is in constant rebellion against its creator. We did that. We introduced this rebellion and made everything dull, cold and ugly. But our Creator loved us too much to leave us like that, even though it was our decision.

So he punched a whole in this thing to allow us to escape and enter into vibrant, colourful life again,where he lives in us and we in him. He did this through Jesus who had to sacrifice everything so we could gain everything. But there was more to God's plan.

He couldn't bring us home yet because we are part of his plan to bring the good news of what he has done to the four corners of this planet. So because we had to stay in this dull, dying, rebellious place, he filled us with himself; his power; the Spirit of God, to keep us fresh, alive, colourful, and equipped to do his will. But we have to participate.

The moment we take our focus off of Jesus the dullness of this rebellious place crowds in. We have no power of our own to drive it away but we are filled by the power of Jesus through the Spirit of God. So we must stay focused. We can`t become distracted. We can`t allow the dullness to prevail. We must overcome every day.

Jesus had to as well.

He did not walk this planet as God. Although he is fully God and fully man, he set his divinity aside to fulfill his mission. His power came via the Holy Spirit who took from the Father and gave to the Son. Did you not notice that Jesus started off his day in solitary prayer and he ended the day in the like manner. Jesus, who is God, had to walk this spiritually dull and rebellious planet as us and it must have drained him as it drains us. He needed refreshing every day. Every single day he looked for his spirit to be renewed in the presence of his Father.

What about us?

Do we think we are better than Jesus, that we can go from Sunday to Sunday without refreshing, without renewal, without sweet communion with our God? I pray all day long about everything and everyone, but it isn't the same as coming aside from this dull world and sitting in the presence of my Father. Of course it is my desire to be aware of his presence 24 hours a day, but I am not there yet. I am like Jesus; I long to be renewed each day, to have the dullness of the rebellion washed away and to be re-energized in worship. Every day.

That is the cure to your spiritual dullness; worship. Seek our Father's face. Desire to be in his embrace. Listen to his voice. Listen for instruction. Search the Word. Study. Dig deep. Dance in his presence. Present yourself to him and allow him to do what needs to be done. To repair the brokenness. To remove the hurt. To restore your energy. To be reminded of his grace, his strength and his purpose for you.

Don't wait until Sunday. It is a daily walk that requires daily refreshing. Be renewed today.

Monday, August 26, 2013

You Can Burn Our Churches But You Can't Touch Our Faith

I came across a photo today as I was updating some of my social networking sites. It was of some Egyptians holding up a sign that read "You can burn our churches but you can't touch our faith". I guess some could even write, "You can take my life but you can't touch my faith". That's fairly challenging for us whose faith gets overwhelmed by financial and relationship problems. We need to get over it. We need to get over the inconveniences of our life in this world and understand the priority of the Kingdom to which we belong.

I am telling you today that every force that the enemy of your soul has available to him, he will use against you. He will use circumstances, emotions, sin to provoke doubt, fear and anxiety. He will use the culture of our society that he has manipulated for his own purposes and he will use every temptation that plays upon your old sin nature which is still trying to regain control over you. He hates you and wants to destroy you, because he hates God but can't even come close to touching him; except through you.

The great news is you don't even have to give him a second thought as long as you are centered on Jesus. Christians throughout the world are facing angry mobs, hateful governments, and life-ending situations. Seventy thousand are jailed in North Korea. Let me write out the zeros for you; 70,000. Only God knows how many are jailed in China. I wonder how many pastors were forced to watch theiir homes burn and their families beaten in India. But yet you face even greater danger because at least they can see the persecution they face; you can't.

The enemy is easy to deal with though.There is one thing that will always cause your persecutors to pause and will put the enemy of your soul to flight. David understood it because it is what he had learned to do since being a shepherd with his family's flock:

With praises from children
and from tiny infants,
    you have built a fortress.
It makes your enemies silent,
    and all who turn against you
    are left speechless. (Psalm 8:2)

Worship is our greatest defense because it lifts our eyes from the illusions of our enemy and helps us focus on our reality. Don't think for a moment that the shadows we call life is our reality. Far from it. We belong to something far greater than any of this. A bullet to the head is not reality but something to provoke fear. The nails in the hands and the empty grave, the out pouring of God's Spirit and our oneness with Christ is our reality.

As we lift our hearts, minds, eyes, and voices to what is "above" we are reminded of who our Father is and what Jesus has done for us, and what we have become. As we lift up the name of Jesus the enemy of our soul is reminded as well. "You can burn our churches but you can't touch our faith". You can confuse my finances, manipulate my circumstances, provoke the world into hatred against me but you can't touch my faith. You can try to provoke my emotions, accuse me of past sins, have the world call me names but you can't touch my faith.

Praise will make your enemies silent today. Anyone who has turned against you will be left speechless in the face of your trust in Jesus. Your heart will be emboldened and your spirit lifedt as you wave the banner of Jesus' love for the world to see. Remember who our God is so you can be reminded of what you have become and where you belong.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why Are We Such Hypocrites?

So many of us Christians fall for the lie that we are powerless in this world. Certainly we can pray to God but he doesn't always answer, right? It still leaves us in a place of powerlessness. Have you ever thought that the reason it doesn't appear like God is answering is because he already gave us the authority to do something about it?

What do you know about the Holy Spirit? Most of us know some fundamental stuff but few of us understand that Jesus did what he did through the power of the Holy Spirit. Few of us comprehend that the apostles only did what they did through the power of the Holy Spirit, given to them and the whole Church by Jesus. And what do you think is the greatest power Jesus gave to us?

The authority to forgive sins.

If you realize you have the power to forgive sins then you will realize the power to heal the sick, calm the storms, see into people's thoughts, raise the dead and whatever it is that God would have you do on your mission for him.

We read in Luke 5 about a bunch of men who have faith that Jesus could heal their friend. They were so determined that they ended up making a hole in Peter's roof and lower the man in front of Jesus. What was the first thing that Jesus did? He forgave the man his sins. And what was the reaction of the religious community? Blasphemy! they said. Only God can forgive sins! they said. Here is Jesus' reply:

“Why are you thinking that? Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and walk? But now you will see that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” Jesus then said to the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk home.” (Luke 5:22-24)

Of course the man did exactly that and everyone was shocked. But which had the greater impact on eternity, the forgiveness or the healing? When Jesus had given the disciples the authority to drive out demons they returned all excited. But Jesus told them not to be excited about that authority, instead be excited over their own salvation.

That's fine, you say, Jesus is God and God forgives sins. But Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit so we can operate in his authority. Look at John 20:

After Jesus had greeted them again, he said, “I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don’t forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven.” (vv. 21-23)

Before you consider the option of not forgiving you had better consider the entire instruction of Jesus. In Matthew 6 Jesus instructed:

If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (vv. 14-15)

A sobering thought about our responsibility and the authority we have been given with the receiving of the Spirit. But let us not forget what else Jesus did for that man who he commanded to pick up his mat and walk home.

What kind of authority do you think has been given to you? If you have the authority to forgive sins and those sins are no longer held against that person by God, would you not think you also have the authority for the less important physical matters as well? You sure do! Why doesn't the world believe in Jesus? Because the Father's children have an identity crisis. These are the words of Jesus:

Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father. Ask me, and I will do whatever you ask. This way the Son will bring honor to the Father. I will do whatever you ask me to do. (John 14:11-14)

In this day and age of zombies, vampire lovers, mystics, meditation, ghosts, card reading, and magic, why do we who are believers struggle with the Holy Spirit and the authority we have been given? When the world can chase after fantasy and believe, why do we struggle with our spiritual reality? It is crazy dumb and the biggest critics of the Holy Spirit are found within the Church. We are willing to take all the lovie dovie stuff, the good feelings, the crutch stuff, but we aren't willing to walk in the power and authority of Jesus Christ. We would rather hold on to our depression, illness, incurable diseases than to take Jesus at his word. I hear constantly that God uses all kinds of ways to heal but yet in the Word of God I only find one.

We are a bunch of hypocrites and no one is being saved from the pit of hell because of it. We claim to be a people of faith but what do we have faith in? We certainly don't take Jesus at his word. We would rather find all the loop holes and excuses to explain our lack of faith. No wonder Jesus questioned whether he would find faith on the earth on his return.

I have tasted of this authority and it has scared me. I would rather serve in my own skin, in my own ability, where I am comfortable. But that is not what Jesus called me to. Those are not the instructions he has given. So I repent of my selfishness and seek the full measure of the Holy Spirit, that I will operate in the authority of Jesus Christ in what ever God gives me to do in that given moment. I am a preacher and a teacher of God's Word but I must be more. I must be a doer and I have been given the Holy Spirit to enable me to be exactly that, a doer of God's Word.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Highest Standard Is Love

It's crazy that we have police and politicians who are responsible for making and enforcing laws but who believe they are above the law. Here in Canada, we just had one of our party leaders admit that he has smoked marijuana after being elected. In Canada it is illegal to smoke marijuana except if you have a doctor's permission due to an illness. The law remains and is enforced for the ordinary citizen but Mr.Trudeau believes he is above this law.

It doesn't matter which law was broken, the fact remains that our politicians are suppose to hold themselves to a higher standard. Even if they disagree with a law, they still have the responsibility to abide by it. This goes for speed limits, paying taxes, or any other law we want to consider. If they disagree with the law then they should work to change it but in the meantime, abide by the law like every other citizen must.

Now why would I bring politics into my blog which is all about all things connected to Jesus Christ? Simple: The same principle is in play for us who belong to the Kingdom of God.

We seem to be a confused people concerning the law and grace. We use grace as an excuse for ignoring the fact that our Father is holy and has called us to his righteousness. Grace simply covers us when we get it wrong but what matters is the attitude of our heart. If we purposely set out to deceive God by doing what is contrary to his righteousness then we are only deceiving ourselves. We don't get to do what we feel is right. In fact. Jesus brought us to the deepest part of the law which is governed by love.

Jesus taught that the law says not to murder but love says do not hate, which is the root of murder. Jesus taught that the law says do not commit adultery but love says do not lust, which is the root of adultery. Jesus moved us from the law, which deals with the surface, to the root of the law which is governed by love.

If you love me, you will do as I command. (John 14:15)

These, the words of Jesus, do not give us the right to sin but instead hold us to a higher standard. Certainly we will fail because our bodies have not yet been redeemed. It is the weakest link. But our flesh should not be dictating to us when we have been empowered by the Spirit. We must command our bodies to obey our spirit which longs for intimacy with God's Spirit. This should be our desire, our longing, our hope so that any thought of disobedience would seem repugnant to us. There must be a desire in us to want to obey Jesus Christ.

I will be personal with you. There have been times when I have allowed fear to knock me off course. In my position it means other people, a lot of people, have been effected by my fear. I have feared my future and my finances. Some would feel that it is only normal because of my situation but it is not normal for me. I am a man of faith. I take God at face value. I trust his promises and to allow fear to manipulate me is to say that I do not trust. This is a sin because faith means to trust. I have learned that I must confess my weakness so Jesus can show his strength through it. I have learned to refuse fear and purposely do exactly what I fear. And every time God has revealed himself in glory.

We cannot hold on to our sins, flaunt them before the world and use the excuse that we aren't perfect, only forgiven. It should be with some shame that we come before God, admitting our failures and allowing him to restore his Spirit in us. We need to desire to obey his will without hesitation. We should take delight in his law, delight in his holiness and delight in his righteousness. We need to press in more every day, getting closer, surrendering more, desiring more. We don't want less righteousness, we want more. We don't want less of Jesus, we want more. We don't want less of the law, we want to go deeper.

Politicians, who are our lawmakers, who refuse to follow the law because they disagree with it, are wrong. Many won't see it that way but it eats away at the foundation of our society and opens the doors to all kinds of abuses and wrongs. It is the reason they are held to a higher standard. But far worse are Christians who refuse to obey the Spirit, allowing disobedience to eat away at their foundation, opening the door to all kinds of abuses and wrongs. They fail to understand that we are held to the highest standard, Jesus Christ and it will have eternal consequences for them and all those they influence.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why Are We Playing Church?

Many of us go through the motions with God without any substance to it. It is like a well worn routine, like what you do in the morning. Your alarm goes off. You slowly get up, put on a house coat, use the washroom, take a shower, brush your teeth, get dressed, have some cereal, have a cup of coffee, catch the same bus at the same time every day, because that is your morning routine. You don't think about it, you just do it. Most of us are like this with God. But that is not what he intended for us and it is not what honours him. In fact, there is no value to it unless it is by faith and empowered by the Spirit.

I have heard countless times from Christians, "How do I know he is real?" Well, if you have to ask that question you have never experienced the anointing of God; you have never been bathed in the Spirit; you have never stood in his presence. And this is the problem: Too many Christians are living a religious life instead of a Spirit-filled life.

Don't you want to know that he is real and present every moment of your day? Don't you want to hear from him and receive instruction from him? Don't you want to experience his power as you speak his Word and act on his love? That is what it is to be controlled by the Spirit.

Consider Peter for a moment. Peter was an Everyman. He represents you and me, the simple and common people. There was nothing special about him. He was uneducated. A fisherman. He got it wrong as often as he got it right. He lived by extremes; all or nothing. This was the man who first confessed Jesus as the Son of God one minute and then tried to dictate to him the next. He is the man who pledged his undying support to Jesus one day and then denied him three times the next. But then something happened to change Peter into what Jesus called him to be; the same thing that is suppose to happen to us.

The cross provided salvation, forgiveness, for everything in Peter's life, even the denials. It opened the door to the possibility of transformation, going from what he had been to the new creation the Father desired for him to be. But the power for this transformation came later. The power to live a victorious life in Jesus came after the cross. Jesus, in us, took place after the cross and it happened with the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

Peter went from a hot and cold guy to a spiritual giant. Soon after receiving the Spirit, Peter addressed a crowd and the anointing was so strong on him, the power of God so evident that three thousand people accepted Jesus under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. That is the difference between doing things for God in our strength and knowledge compared to doing it under the conviction and power of the Holy Spirit. We need that anointing.

Good is not good enough in this dying world. I am sure Peter would have served Jesus adequately, with lots of ups and downs, but compare that to the man Peter became. The man who people lined the streets to see in the hopes that his shadow would fall on them and they would be healed. Check it out for yourself in Acts 5. That is the power of God worked through us by the Holy Spirit. It was intended for us as much as the apostles.

We have settled for the ordinary. We go through the motions but they lack conviction and power. That doesn't mean our love isn't real. It simply means that we have lost the knowledge we once had and because we no longer understand the Spirit and who we are in Jesus, we live our religious lives in the best way we can, honestly loving God. But we are wrong for it.The Word clearly states that anything that does not come by faith is sin. It's one and the same.

Jesus stated we would do greater things than he had done, but now we scoff and ridicule those who take him at his word, surrender control to the Spirit, and walk as Jesus walked. We should not be operating for God without the anointing of the Spirit. Without the Spirit we are doing it in our own strength and anything we do like that, even though it is in Jesus' name, will not be honoured and will be burnt up.

I know this may sound strange to you and you may be content with your little life and your little service and your little love, but check it out for yourself. Do a study on the Spirit. Search for the Spirit in the gospels and you will discover that Jesus did nothing in his own ability but always by the Spirit. Do the same thing with the book of Acts and you will discover the apostles only operated by the Spirit.

What a travesty that the vast majority of the Church knows nothing of the manifestation of the Spirit, of the anointing, of the power or of the conviction. What are we doing playing at Church? Renew me Lord, in your power and strength. Come great Spirit, we need you. Come great Spirit we pray. Come in your strength and your power. Come in your own special way. I am praying for you and me both friend.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Homophobic? I Think Not

According to my daughter and a lot of other people I am homophobic and I take issue with this. You should too, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ who understands our mission. I even have issues with the term "homophobic". What it is suppose to mean has nothing to do with a phobia but rather a hatred, but it doesn't even mean hatred any more. It has been used to label anyone who does not agree with homosexuality. It means I do not have a right to disagree, to have a different perspective from the homosexual community.

The reason this is a concern for Christians is because those who understand God's Word and stand by it are labelled as "haters" with the term homophobic. This flies in the face of what Jesus taught, what he has done for me and the transformation I have gone through. I have no desire to hate anyone and I have nothing but respect for human life, even if I disagree with what that human life is doing. I have a long list of things I disagree with:

I disagree with:
    - abortion
    - prostitution
    - domestic violence
    - child abuse
    - smoking
    - drunkenness
    - drugs
    - speeding
    - over-eating

The list goes on. Some of these things are very common and others no so much. Do I hate the people who do these things? No, I don't. I would show them compassion and grace because that is what I have received from my God. I have not walked in their shoes, I cannot judge them but neither do I support or encourage their behaviour. If they walked into my store or my church I would treat them with the same love and respect as I would anyone else; the same as I would treat a homosexual, even if I disagree with their choices.

I am not meaning this as a political statement but a spiritual one. I am not about to allow the false prince of this world to label me with something that doesn't fit. I am not a hater and by God's power never will be a hater. But I am pursuing God's righteousness, the One who has defined right and wrong for us. I cannot agree with homosexuality based on that righteousness. Because of his love for me and mine for him, I have no choice but to be obedient to his love, to what God has defined as right and wrong, and no human being can persuade we otherwise.

God's Word states, from the mouth of Jesus, "God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die." God loved us in our rebellious state so much that he sacrificed himself so we would not have to be punished. However, it does mean we have to walk away from our rebellion by the power he has given us in Jesus. But who am I not to love people in a fallen state when God sacrificed so much for these same people? But just as God does not accept the behaviour of our fallen state, either can the followers of Jesus Christ. This is at the foundation of our belief and the enemy will not rob me of this love by labeling me a "hater".

In this same Word that coneys God's love and the grace he is showing a rebellious world, we are warned that there is a limit; that there will be one day of judgement. We forget that just because we live in this age of grace and free will, does not mean there is no accountability. Remember the Words of Jesus:

Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only the ones who obey my Father in heaven will get in. On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, “We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles.” But I will tell them, “I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!” (Matthew 7:21-23)

And this is what we spend our days trying to convey to people. It is because we love them that we need to share the truth, to warn. They have the freedom to choose but we want to make sure that they understand there is a choice. If I refused to love them I would refuse to tell them the truth. It's like when someone is lost on drugs, they need to be confronted and told the truth. We don't abandon them, hate them, spit on them, call them names, but we don't withhold the truth either.

So I refuse the label of "homophobic" and any other label that our changing society wants to place on me. I am a child of God, a follower of Jesus, a bearer of the Light, a teller of the truth, a prophet of God's Word, a lover of sinners, detesting sin and longing for God's righteousness. Don't let the world bully you into anything less than what our Father has called you to be.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Counting My Complaints

What are you thankful for this morning?

I actually have to stop to think about that. Strange, because I can easily list my complaints. I have already spent a good part of my morning complaining to people about one thing or another, and most people would never consider me a complainer. That's how common it is. Complaining is just a natural part of our day.

But should it be?

Yes, there are all kinds of things that go wrong every day. We live with the reality that we are in a fallen and imperfect world. We live in a system that is in rebellion to God on top of the small every day imperfections. So we have a whole slue of things we can legitimately complain about. But just because it is legitimate does not mean that it is conducive for a heart that is one with Jesus.

I look at where my heart is right at this moment and I can feel that I have allowed my "legitimate" complaints to disturb my peace. And to what end? What has my complaining accomplished? Has it made me or anyone else feel better? Has it changed the situation or circumstances? Not at all.

Although our God will listen to our complaints, as he did with the psalmists, he is really looking for his children to maintain a thankful heart. I shouldn't have to work at it. With all the great stuff that our Father does for us, thanksgiving should be an ever flowing stream from our mouths. It should be a natural product of an ever increasing relationship with Jesus but we have to be aware of the need for it. We need to cultivate it until it takes root in us. It is the Spirit transforming us. Paul wrote to the Colossians:

Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful. (Colossians 3:15)

I like the the word "let" in this verse. Let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. We have to give it permission, to allow it to control. This is fundamental if we desire to live life with a grateful heart. The things that rob us of our thanksgiving are usually things that are beyond our control and belong to someone else. We have to overlook those things to let the peace control our thoughts and to be thankful.

It's true. When I examine each subject of my complaints this morning I see that it was the result of someone else's actions. Each thing was either out of my control or something I was not brave enough to deal with directly. So I need to accept what I cannot control and take action on what I can deal with, all the time allowing Jesus' peace to control my thoughts.

Suddenly those things don't seem so important. Suddenly I remember who holds my day. Suddenly I begin to remember all the good things for which I am thankful. It's a much better way to start my day, praising my God from the overflow of my thankful heart.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Good Morning Monday

Do you know what always greets me Monday morning, besides the cat? Emptiness. Doubt. Fear. Worry. Anxiety. Discouragement. Maybe you are surprised by that. Maybe you know exactly what I mean.

It's not that those things belong to me or even are generated in me. They belong to and originate from the enemy of my soul. You see, he hates me. He hates the fact that I received such great sustenance from the Lover of my soul on Sunday. He hates that I was encouraged in the Spirit and received new strength. He hates that, whatever plans he had for me last week, were washed away as I stood in the presence of my God. He hates that a feast for my soul was laid out for me right in front of him and that I ate and drank until I was overflowing with the blessings of the Lord.

So he was here to greet me this morning with his tired old tools that still work if we are not alert to his schemes. But I am alert and will have nothing to do with it. I know what he is up to and more importantly, I know that yesterday's experience with God is my same experience today.

Jesus does not occupy a temple. I do not have to go to a special place to meet with him. I do not have to have a priest mediate on my behalf. I don't need the trappings of a religious system to be in his presence. He is with me now, here, and I am with him now, seated on the right hand of the Father. All I have to do is turn to him, take his hand and begin my day.

The enemy used to trip me up on Monday mornings, when I was young and not yet wise in the Lord, when I did not know the Word. But now the Spirit has equipped me to walk all over the enemy's schemes because I know the Word:

But a time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth. (John 4:22-24) 

I am nothing without the Spirit. My job today is to remain sensitive to him. These are the Words of Jesus, who taught a great deal on the Spirit; teachings much of the Church overlooks. He also told us plainly:

I am one with them, and you are one with me, so that they may become completely one. Then this world’s people will know that you sent me. They will know that you love my followers as much as you love me. (John 17:23)

Jesus is in us and we are in him, and we are one. No wonder the enemy is so scared. No wonder he hates us so much. No wonder he will do whatever he can to convince us of his lies which are designed to trick us into leaving the oneness with Jesus.

Did you wake up to his greeting as well? Was the first thing you faced this morning a thing that washed you in discouragement? Don't let it turn into despair and then depression. Those are all tricks of the enemy of your soul. Instead, crank up the worship. Dance before the Lord and take your delight in him. Confess your trust in him and do it out loud. Put voice to your faith and put the enemy to flight. Drink deeply from the Word before you start your day. Renew what took place yesterday. Renew the teaching you received. Renew your love for the Lord.

Don't let the enemy have his way with you this morning. Put him in his place, which is under your feet. Have a glorious day in the Lord. Sing. Dance. Shout the name of Jesus so nothing else can possess your soul.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stop The Insanity That Is Your Life

You do realize don't you that Jesus knew what he was getting into when he made the decision to love you? He knew you before you were born. He knew you as you were knit together in your mother's womb. He knew you as he examined your days and laid down his plans for the decisions you would make. He knew you as you took your first breath under the loving stares of your parents. He knew you when you took your first act against him. He knew you in your full rebellion and he knew it all before he took the cross for you. He knew it even when he made the decision to love you.

So why would you think that he would hold any good thing from you? Why would you think you are abandoned; unloved; alone?

You are far from alone.

It may be that in your stubbornness that you can't see him. It may be in your insistence on doing things on your own that you can't hear him. It may be in your demand to have it your way that you can't feel that he is right there with you, but he is. He definitely is and he is hoping you win.

Sure, Jesus detests sin but it didn't stop him from showing grace to the adulterous woman when everyone else wanted her dead. Jesus didn't want her dead. He wanted her forgiven and free from sin. He knows your sin too but it doesn't stop him from loving you, desiring the best for you; it doesn't stop him from showing you grace or for desiring you to be freed from the power of sin. He's on your side. He wants you to succeed. He wants you to win.

If you knew the Word of God he would speak more plainly to you. He would remind you of what he has said and done. The Spirit would comfort and encourage you. He would lift you up off the floor and say "Dance with me". But just because you have neglected his Word doesn't mean he is not speaking to you now.

He is all around you, using everything at his disposal to grab your attention, to show you his beauty, love and glory. If only you would desire to see him, you would. If only you would seek his face, you would find him. If only you would let go of the insanity of your life, he would catch you.

He's the potter and you are the clay. If you would realize that you would stop fighting against him and allow him to shape you into what he created you to be. Just stop the insanity and say to him "Have your way Jesus". Stop fighting and surrender to his love. Just look at him, what he has done and promised, and make the decision to trust his love.

Nothing you have done surprises him. Nothing you have done lessens his love for you. Nothing you have done changes his desire for you to win. But you have to make the decision to trust.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

We Need To Get Out Of Bed

There are some days when it is hard to get moving; you just don't want to get out of bed. Sure there is a long list of things to do, but it would also be great to be able just to stay under the covers and keep the world at bay for a few more minutes. Then there are those days when, even though you did get out of bed, you just don't feel like doing those things on your list. If only we had fewer responsibilities, fewer items on the "to do" list, fewer work hours in the day. This flesh can get lazy at times.

Now, I am not talking about those necessary down times or vacations. Our bodies and minds need rest. God created it and we need it. But there are times when we want to take rest in the midst of the work. It is at those times that we have to dig a little deeper, push a little harder. It can make the difference between success and failure in the day. It is no different spiritually. There are a lot of parallels in the physical and spiritual realms.

How often have you felt too tired to spend time in the Word or to go to the Lord in prayer? How many days or weeks have you spent having nothing to do with God except for your little prayer before you eat? How many times has the Spirit provoked us to call or visit someone but we just didn't feel like it? Our spiritual failure often happens because we do not know how to push through those moments. It is called discipline and many of us lack it. It is the reason our walk with Jesus is often more like a roller coaster ride.

We admire someone like apostle Paul but we are not willing to pay the price to serve with the intensity he had in service. And when we encounter other Christians who do have that similar spirit we often marginalize them so we don't feel guilty. They have discipline and we don't. They have determination and we don't. They push through and we don't. We decide that they are not normal and we are. But, according to the Kingdom they are the normal ones.

This is what Paul said about keeping his flesh in check so that the Spirit would reign:

You know that many runners enter a race, and only one of them wins the prize. So run to win! Athletes work hard to win a crown that cannot last, but we do it for a crown that will last forever. I don’t run without a goal. And I don’t box by beating my fists in the air. I keep my body under control and make it my slave, so I won’t lose out after telling the good news to others. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

The knowledge of how to make our bodies our slave is something that the Church is lacking. Wait, let me get personal with this; it is something that I am lacking. I am doing my best to gain it back but I know the ability to do so only comes from the Holy Spirit, so I am taking steps to ensure every day that he has control. I do this by repenting for every incident where I took control back. By being aware of what I am doing I am demonstrating a deep desire to change. The Word says that God loves a repentant heart.

We are a new creation because of Jesus and we live that out by the Holy Spirit in us, but it means we must take control of our bodies. It means the desires of our flesh must be denied so the will of the Father will be our priority. It doesn't mean austere actions but a disciplined approach to life. Just as we need to know the right foods to eat and the right activities to participate in for a healthy body, we need a regime of discipline to feed our spirit what it needs and to participate in activities that bring health. It means we need to say no to ourselves or understanding the words enough and satisfied. It means a denying of self and taking up that cross. It means following Jesus, not just admiring him. It means keeping the body under control and making it do what we want it to do.

A walk with Jesus is not a coasting along in life; it is a process, a growing, an increasing, knowing what our goal is and making the correct decisions to enable our Lord to get us there. So get off that spiritual coach and do something. Plan out your day to include alone time with Jesus. Decide on a course of study in the Word. Plan worship in your day. Seek the face of God. Ask for a greater anointing. Seek more of the Spirit. Meet with brothers and sisters to pray, share in testimony and encourage one another. So no to evil. Turn your back on the enemy of your soul. Pray with and for your spouse. Pray with and for your children. Pray for your parents instead of criticizing them. Fight for your pastor and the church leadership. Desire greater maturity, a closer walk, greater sensitivity to the Spirit and to be used in the battle for the souls of this doomed planet.

At the very least, take the first step; get out of bed.

Friday, August 16, 2013

In Your Anger

Anger is such a waste of energy and emotion.

Yes, I know; Jesus got angry. But Christians use that as an excuse and they have no idea what they are talking about. Jesus getting angry over the abuse of his Father's House (the temple) is in a different universe to our getting angry. Let's consider it for a moment:

There he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves in the temple. He also saw moneychangers sitting at their tables. So he took some rope and made a whip. Then he chased everyone out of the temple, together with their sheep and cattle. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins. Jesus said to the people who had been selling doves, “Get those doves out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a marketplace.” (John 2:14-16)

Jesus came into the temple, his Father's House, a place of prayer and meditation; a place of teaching and discussing the Holy Scriptures, and finds a noisy market place. Forget the fact that is was an unfair system that extorted money from the poorest of the poor. Just the fact that there was a full market in a place of prayer is bad. Man using religion for his personal financial gain was a great disrespect of our Holy God. Can you understand the anger of the Son? But look what he did with that anger.

Jesus did not allow the anger to destroy him. He did not take it out on other people. He dealt with his anger by correcting the situation, addressing the people concerned. Some people may look at this from the perspective that Jesus was mean and destructive but those people were a destructive element preventing innocent people from approaching the Father. God's righteous anger will always act against those who touch the children. But this was not the only time Jesus got angry.

It was the Sabbath and the Pharisees were watching Jesus carefully to see if he would heal on the holy day:

Jesus told the man to stand up where everyone could see him. Then he asked, “On the Sabbath should we do good deeds or evil deeds? Should we save someone’s life or destroy it?” But no one said a word. Jesus was angry as he looked around at the people. Yet he felt sorry for them because they were so stubborn. Then he told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did, and his bad hand was healed. (Mark 3:3-5)

Even though Jesus got angry at the unkindness of the people, at their unwillingness to be honest about their heart, he permitted his compassion to outshine his anger. He put his anger away as he felt sorry for those who would trap him. His love was greater than his anger. And note that he did not allow his anger to prevent him from doing the right thing.

Then there was the time that his disciples tried to keep the children from disturbing Jesus. Instead of being pleased by their act of protection Jesus became angry. They still did not understand his purpose:

When Jesus saw this, he became angry and said, “Let the children come to me! Don’t try to stop them. People who are like these little children belong to the kingdom of God. I promise you that you cannot get into God’s kingdom, unless you accept it the way a child does.” (Mark 10:14-15)

Notice that Jesus did not lose control. He did not rant and rave. He simply corrected the situation and then used it to teach an important spiritual truth. He was productive in a positive manner in his anger. Now compare that to your anger.

Let us be honest with each other. Our anger almost always comes from a self-centered root. It is a reaction to what people do against us or when something impacts us. In this case Jesus instructed us to allow forgiveness and compassion to overshadow any selfish emotion that may have been provoked in us. Easier said than done but it is easier when we walk in step with the Spirit. The further away we are from Jesus the more focused we are on ourselves. The closer we are, the more of his character shines through us.

Then we have the question of what we do with our anger. Does it become a destructive force in us? Does it kill a bit of us and anyone who is around? Does it manifest in violent action, words, attitude? This is not what Jesus did and there is no comparison to God's anger if this is how we react with our emotion. Jesus made positive things happen. He corrected the situation to the benefit of the innocent. He did not take it out on those closest to him. He did not do things he would need to apologize for later. He responded in his anger instead of react by his anger. Few of us can say the same.

The best thing we can do with our anger (and we will get angry) is learn to surrender it to the Lord. If we are not directed by the Spirit what positive things we can bring about in our anger then we need to give it to the Lord. Don't say those words you will later regret. At least ask the Lord how to impact the situation in a positive manner, which causes you to stop and think. Don't take any action that you have not spent a least an hour praying through, especially an action that will permanently impact the days to follow.

Try to be honest about this emotion we call anger and be honest about the root of it. There is no sense pretending about something that our God sees through. However, it is amazing the great things that God does with our surrender. On its own, anger is a destructive emotion in us. But in the hands of God it can become a positive force that produces positive outcomes, especially for the innocent.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Discouragement The Morning After

Do we not understand that everything in this world is bent on our destruction? Not that we need to be concerned about it because Jesus is our protector, but we need to at least be aware that we live and breathe in a hostile environment. When we walk in the light, any brush with darkness has the potential to discourage us. This is the reason why the day after great spiritual breakthroughs it can seem to be filled with so much discouragement.That's when it is good to remember Jesus' promise:

I have told you this, so that you might have peace in your hearts because of me. While you are in the world, you will have to suffer. But cheer up! I have defeated the world. (John 16:33)

The darkness may be bent on our destruction but that's because it has already been defeated by Jesus. It is too bad that we can so easily be distracted from the truth of who we are in Jesus and what Jesus has made possible through him. Yes, each day is a great challenge but the challenge is to keep our focus on the source of all things; the source of joy, hope, peace, and power. Paul asked:

If God is on our side, can anyone be against us? God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won’t he freely give us everything else? (Romans 8:31-32)

We are deep in the Spirit, surrounded by Jesus Christ and every promise he has given. Don't philosophy about it. The promises were given to us to act on every single day of our life. Because our Father has given us the Son, he also freely gives us everything else, including joy in the midst of the darkness. Paul continues to ask:

If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed! Christ died and was raised to life, and now he is at God’s right side, speaking to him for us. Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? (vv. 33-35)

When we come away from an incredible spiritual experience with Jesus Christ, we are not coming away from Jesus. We are simply walking through the darkness where it is easier to be distracted by its limited attractions. We still walk in the Spirit, are still surrounded by the promises, are still under Jesus' protection, are still blessed and partake in all the benefits of a relationship with Jesus. Despite the challenges you may face because of the darkness today, remember:

In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. (v. 37)

I know the dark can provoke fear and anxiety but when you turn the light on you see there is nothing to fear. Let Jesus be that light today, so the emptiness offered by the darkness will be revealed and all those fears and anxieties will flee:

I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, 39 and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord! (vv. 38-39)

And that's all we need today as we walk in the Spirit in a world that is hostile toward us. Yes, be aware that everything is bent on your destruction but don't fear it. Just be aware of it so you will never desire to leave the protection of the Spirit; be aware of it so you know why you should always have a thankful heart. This is an excellent day because we get to spend it with Jesus. It is excellent because we get to see his promises in action. It is excellent because we have an opportunity to serve him so the darkness can see that the Light is alive and well.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why Most Couples Don't Pray Together

As my wife and I did our devotions together last night, I was shocked to discover that less than 6% of Christian couples pray together. That is quite the revelation as to where marriages are these days. Couples take on tremendous battles together. They have to face financial challenges, balance schedules, train children, earn money, be aware of spiritual attacks and create intimacy. The home is under so much attack that it requires a couple who understand how to fight shoulder to shoulder to protect the family for which they are responsible. At the same time, they have a responsibility to each other to continue building intimacy with each other daily.

There is no more intimate moment then when we expose ourselves to God in prayer. This is when we really open up and reveal ourselves. All day long we have probably protected ourselves with our walls, allowing people in only so far but always having our limits. What an incredible privilege to sit in the presence of God and hear the heart of our partner as he/she pours out their intimacy to God. This is also probably why many don't pray together.

Unfortunately many people do not practice repentance and forgiveness in their marriage. Instead we use our hurt and pain to build walls against our spouse. "They hurt us once but we aren't going to let them do it a second time." Unfortunately healthy marriages don't work that way. We don't work on a "don't ask, don't tell" policy either. Secrets, lies, hurts, unforgiveness, lack of repentance, all contribute to our lack of desire to pray with each other because we don't want to be revealed.

My wife and I do not have a perfect marriage but one thing we have gotten good at is honesty, saying "I was wrong", forgiveness and forgetting. Really, we forget our offences against each other. We can remember that there were times we were upset at each other, even that we had fought but because we forgave and did not mark it on our "list", we can't remember the details. I believe the Spirit assists us with this, helping such things to be forgotten as we cover each other in the love of Jesus. It is because we are already honest and forgiving with each other that we do not have a problem praying with each other.

When my wife and I have failed to pray it has been due to periods of laziness. Some would call it tiredness but it is laziness. This flesh does not dictate to my spirit but my spirit to this flesh. I can give in to the flesh, say I am too tired, roll over and turn off the light, but that is in direct opposition to the desire of my spirit. I have to decide to allow my spirit to lead. Prayer is important so my wife and I make sure that prayer and the Word are the first and last activities of the day. We have the privilege to share in this activity together at the end of each day and it is the most intimate moment of our day.

Prayer is not an option. We have to stop treating it as an option. It must be a priority that we look forward to each day. Yes, I pray without ceasing every day. I have conversations with Jesus throughout my day. I discuss everything with him. I intercede for others throughout my day but the time I really look forward to is when I get to curl up with my wife and come into the presence of our Father together. It is hard not to love my wife who I pray for constantly. It keeps Jesus the center of all we do.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Are you desperate? Is there something you are facing that is beyond your ability or capacity to do anything about? Good; you are right where God wants you to be.

Do we worship a sadistic God? Not at all. We worship a Father who knows his children all too well. When we are desperate, we move closer to him. When we are satisfied, we move away.

Look at Israel. Every time they were at peace and had everything they wanted, they moved away from God and sought out false gods. Whenever enemies were attacking they grew desperate and turned back to God; and he always rescued them.

Look at Solomon. He had everything he wanted; rich beyond compare. He ended up following the gods of his hundreds of wives and concubines because he was not desperate for God. In the end this "wise" king was a fool and the dynasty fell apart. Yet,when he was young and afraid of the responsibilities he was given, he was desperate and called out to God and God was pleased to respond.

When was Israel the strongest? When they were desperate for provision in the desert. The generation that emerged from that 40 years of dependence on God every day was the strongest generation that ever walked this planet.

Why did God send his chosen people into exile? Because he had to make them desperate again so that they would seek him. They had forgotten how to be dependent. They were lost to him and he needed to wake them up before he lost them completely. Why do families do interventions when a member is killing themselves on drugs or alcohol? It seems cruel at the time but they are desperate to get through to that person, to save them. God is forced to do intervention with us when we turn from him and face certain death.

What did God say to Solomon after the temple was built? Listen to the heart of a Father who knows his children and has a plan to save them:

When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

When do people seek the face of God? When are they interested in knowing him better? When do they start praying without ceasing? When they are desperate. It is amazing how desperation gives birth to determination. I am determined to see God because I am desperate for him. However, now I have the maturity that it does not take provision to provoke me to desperation. My desperation comes when I feel absent from God. I am desperate for his presence because I know I have nothing and am nothing without him.

However, when I was younger, my greatest growth in faith came every time I was forced to seek Jesus for protection and provision. I was desperate to be aware of his presence; desperate to be reminded of his promises; desperate to know deeply his love, compassion and grace. It was in those weary moments, panicked moments, lonely and desperate moments that Jesus became real like never before.

There is nothing wrong with desperate moments. Like Paul discovered, it is when we discover God's grace is sufficient and that in our weakness he shines brightest. In these moments we can often react like Paul as we are overwhelmed by the beauty of our Lord: I want to be weak all the time!

It is unfortunate that our old nature still tries to convince us that our Father wants us independent and strong. Just like the Israelites, our relationship with God is filled with great intimacy and great independence, and it is in those moments of independence that we set up other gods. We live in such times now, as we rely on everything but God.

We need renewal in our relationship but it isn't going to happen until we are desperate for him. To seek his face requires determination but determination requires desperation. Do you see what we have become? Do you see how far we have wandered away? Do you see how independent, self-sufficient we are? Does God really need to allow disaster upon us before we wake up, before we become desperate? Can't we hear his voice now? Won't we respond now? Haven't we learned from the generations before us? Why aren't we desperate?

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Rumblings Of Renewed Purpose

We say that we are followers of Jesus Christ but I challenge that assumption. I believe we are very religious but few of us act as followers. To be religious is not such a stuffy stoic thing. The current message of the Church, that God is love, is producing a great deal of religious hearts. Although it is true that God is love, without repentance we cannot reap the benefits of that love. So we set up a false sense of security based on the assumption that in the end, despite everything else God has warned us about, his love wins out. But his love only wins out when a heart is humbled by that love, corrected by that love, redeemed by that love and changed by that love.

The reason that we are religious and not followers is because we follow a system instead of following Jesus. Does this describe you?

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. (John 4:34)

Who's will is most important to you? No quick answers here. Examine your day and your process of decision making. Is there any consultation with our Father? Do we consider his instructions? His direction? Do we sense we are in step with the Spirit? Or are we just doing our best; what we think we should do?

What is the Father's will? That everyone would be saved.

What is your role in this will? To make disciples.

Worship should be like breathing to us, a natural and important part of our day, but it isn't your purpose. It is like saying breathing is my reason for being. It's not. It's what keeps me alive so that I can do other things. If we only focus on worship we are missing our purpose. Jesus told his disciples and thus us:

Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” (vv. 35-38)

We have been sent out as reapers into a world that is ripe for harvest but we are too busy building a farm house for ourselves. We are in a hostile land, in the middle of spiritual battles and we set our armour aside to look after our own needs. This despite the fact that Jesus told us to trust the Father to do that while we seek after the Kingdom things.

Could it be that the many messages that are coming out from the Church that get us to focus on ourselves instead of the harvest, are clouding our understanding? Could it be that we have allowed the enemy of our soul to convince us that the system of this world is like God's system? Can I tell you that there is no early retirement in the Kingdom, no "freedom 55", no setting aside, no taking it easy, no "me time"?

Jesus told his disciples that his "food" was doing the will of his Father. This is the one we claim to follow. Jesus also taught that no student can be better than his teacher. Have we lost sight of the fact that Jesus spent three years showing us how it is done; how it is that we are to live by the Spirit; how to live the Father's will? We are great at building communities of like-minded people but not so great at living a Spirit-filled life bent on the will of the Father.

I am sure if I studied our history long enough I would discover how we got to this point, how we got it so wrong, but I am not sure that matters as much as recognizing that we are at this point. We need more than revival in our land; we need a deep renewal of relationship and purpose. We need fresh wind and fresh fire as the Spirit sweeps through the heart of God's children again. We need to hear the shout of the Father to his children, calling us back to him, back to what is important, back to his will.

Before you conclude that this does not apply to you, ask yourself how you have walked like Jesus this week? Have you put the Father's will above everything else in your life?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

What Are You Without The Spirit?

We are crazy you know. Imagine trying to follow Jesus Christ while ignoring the Spirit. Are we kidding? We can't do anything of any eternal worth without the Spirit. We can't hear from God. We can't have kingdom eyes. We can't serve with anointing. There is no power. No sustainability. No conviction. No direction. No communion. No wisdom. And there is no need for us to try it without the Spirit.

Honestly, do you feel you are where you are meant to be with Jesus; in the relationship I mean? Are you always aware of his presence? Are you receiving direction throughout your day? Do you sense God's power to do anything you are asked to do? Do you feel you are living in obedience? Do you know him as you should, in the deep personal places of your life? Do you love him with all your passion, your very being? Be frightfully honest because you aren't fooling him.

Do you know that Jesus did nothing without the Spirit? At the moment he had John baptize him, Jesus also received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This was a foreshadowing of what was to come for his followers. Jesus did not need either baptism but he told John that everything had to be done correctly. He was following a script that had been written in the ancient of days. In the letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote that Jesus did not consider equally with God something to be grasped but, found in the appearance of a man, he became a servant. A servant baptized by the Holy Spirit to carry out the Father's will as an example of how we would serve.

Have we forgotten Pentecost? Have we forgotten the need for the baptism of the Spirit. The baptism by water is a "John's" baptism, a thing of repentance. It is the baptism of fire, that of the Spirit, that brings life and power. Power to live our life to the glory of the Father. Power to obey. Power to overcome. Power to be victorious in all things. Power to love. Power for compassion. Power to forgive. Power to heal the sick. The power to stand in his presence, to serve him all our days, to breathe our last breath to his glory.

You cannot see God, the Kingdom, nor understand his will for you and your days without the Spirit:

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

In fact, if you do not have the Spirit of God you do not belong to Jesus. We live by the rules of the Kingdom even though we live in a fallen world. We are not governed by the rules here because the rules we follow are much higher. The Word puts it clearly that we do not belong to this realm:

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:9)

Again, if you do not have the Spirit of God you do not belong to Jesus.

The Spirit is not dormant in you. If you cannot sense him, if you do not hear him, if he is not speaking to you, directing you, then you have no part with him. The Holy Spirit is active in us, reminding us daily who we belong to, what his promises are, providing the power we live by and telling us what we are to do. The Word is very clear on the Spirit and yet we ignore him at our peril.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:14)

Notice the word "led". A very important word. Can you say you are led by the Spirit?

Are you living by the Spirit or by your flesh? It is a question I am asking myself every day now because it is easy to give in to this flesh and let it lead for a while. It is easy to live by my own wisdom and experience. It is easy, but it is without Christ. It is without power. It is without conviction. It is without hope. It is without peace. It is without joy.

I don't want that!

I want Jesus. I want to be in him and I want him in me. I don't know anything and he knows everything. Rise up in me Spirit of God and lead me in the path of righteousness, the path of my King, the path of my Saviour. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Enticed By The Enemy Of Your Soul

Sin is foolishness and we are the fools. Don't think you are not because you are only one decision away from being unfaithful to the God who is nothing but faithful. We are a wayward wife, refusing to find satisfaction at home, and rushing around town, searching for anything that will thrill us. It is like we forget who our husband is and care not the consequences of our actions. We flirt with the dangerous, the things that will hurt our God if we were to get involved with them. We excuse it away, find someone else to blame or refuse to see it for what it is, giving it a new name and calling it good.

We allow the enemy of our soul to court us, as if we did not already have the finest husband. We allow him to introduce us to things that seem so sweet to taste without realizing the cancer it will produce. We look around, see so many others doing it, ignore what we already know to be the truth and consider that there must be safety in numbers. We know we shouldn't but the enemy of our soul, dressed as a beautiful vision of white, encourages us on.

Solomon, in warning his son against an adulterous woman, stated it in a way that describes all sin that attracts us away from God:

And so, she tricked him
    with all of her sweet talk
    and her flattery.
22 Right away he followed her
    like an ox on the way
    to be slaughtered,
or like a fool on the way
to be punished[a]
23     and killed with arrows.
He was no more than a bird
    rushing into a trap,
    without knowing
    it would cost him his life. (Proverbs 7:21-23)

Remember Jesus' words:

If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me and for the good news, you will save it. What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What could you give to get back your soul? (Mark 8:34-37)

If we do not understand the seriousness of our relationship with God perhaps it is because we don't know Jesus or we have allowed many things to distract us from him. How, in all seriousness, can we be willing to chase after the world after experiencing the benefits of Jesus?

We are not surprised by the depravity of the world's thinking and the action that arise. We are saddened by it but not surprised. However, we should be shocked and horrified to find sin entertained and celebrated in the Church. Yes, unfortunately there will be times when our unredeemed bodies will cause us to stumble, but we don't excuse it or try to hide it. We run to our Father and present it in all our shame to have him wash it away with a word. But when we invite it in, excuse it, accept it as part of us, celebrate it and even allow it to rise higher than Jesus, we are in a lot of trouble.

The untrained, undisciplined, unsaved masses of the Church are falling for the courtship of the enemy. They are following after the lies of demons. They are chasing after the world dressed in the vocabulary of the Church. They are deceived. What will they do to get back their soul? What trap have they flown into like an unaware bird?

Quick, flee to the feet of Jesus. Surrender to the direction of the Spirit. Repent of our ways and seek the face of God. Be renewed in righteousness. Claim the holiness that has been proclaimed over us. Know that you have an enemy and he is out to destroy your soul. Look to the things above. Set your heart and mind on the things above. Let go of the trappings of this world and find your satisfaction in your husband, in our Lord Jesus Christ. You are his bride, his most beautiful, radiant bride, so act like it. Be devoted to your husband, faithful until your very last breath.