I think of being in the right place at the right time as fortuitous.
Fortuitous also means unforeseen, unplanned.
I prefer to think of fortuitous as a positive, good-fortune event, or a "happy accident".
But is can also describe and unfortunate event or accident.
Graham Cooke talks about "the suddenlies of God", to describe events like David's anointing by Samuel or Moses at the burning bush. I think that God loves to surprise us with gifts and opportunities and that He sets ambushes for the enemy.
I think that there is music coming that will be an important way that God will speak to people, drawing them to himself. If you have studied revival history, you will know that music has played an important role.
In all my trouble I am still very happy.
In all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
-Paul, 2 Corinthians 7:4
We can experience joy, no matter what our problems. That is the Spirit-filled life. God is the source of real joy. The Holy Spirit is the most optimistic person you will ever know. He is also the wisest and the most comforting. Sorrow, grief, and anger have their times and places. But through their toughest times, the Holy Spirit gives us joy. There is a heavenly optimism. In Christ, everything really is ok. There is suffering, but it's suffering with God.
Nobody is perfect or sinless except the Lord Jesus Christ. God is looking for something that pleases Him in men and women, girls and boys.
The word "pleasing" might be a bit old-fashioned. It means to give pleasure. Pleasure is still sort of old-fashioned as well. It can mean a sense of sensual well-being, but it usually means to have a sense of gratification, joy, or delight. God may be pleased or not pleased and it's wonderful to be pleasing to God.
One of the two men in the Bible who didn't go through death, but was taken by God, while alive, is Enoch. The record in Genesis says that he walked with God. What does walking with God mean?
One verse that mentions walking with God, might also describe it:
He has shown you Oh man,
what is good and what the Lord requires of you:
To do justice and to love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God.
Abstaining from sexual immorality pleases God (1Thess. 4)
Sacrificial giving pleases God (Phil. 4).
Doing good and sharing pleases God (Hebrews 13).
To hear God whisper, "you are pleasing to me". Is a priceless gift.
After waking at the same time on Tuesday, I read Psalm 91 again and wondered what, if anything, God might be saying to me. I now realize that perhaps God was preparing me for some bad news and showing me how to cope with it by running to Him and finding rest for my troubled soul.
On Tuesday night, just before leaving work, I read some bad news that was like a kick in the stomach. I realized that a lot of my reaction to this bad news is that I want to fix the situation or see it fixed. I want what it seems that only God can do and since I'm not God, I can only pray to God and do the small things I can do. This reminds me of Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer (1934) that was adopted by Alcoholic's Anonymous in 1950: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
I think it gives you serenity to accept that you cannot change something, while fully believing God can although you can not control God, but just humbly ask.
That leads me to The Ninety-first Psalm's words: To dwell in God's presence and experience being under His protection. When I dwell in God's presence, I am connecting with God who is all powerful and at complete peace at the same time. God gives me serenity, courage, and wisdom. I am reminded that God cares about people in trouble more than I do.
To dwell is something I do, something I have control over. It's a faith action on my part. It's like running to, or seeking out the river and getting into it. Being under God's protection is what God does. The psalmist says that is you take action to dwell in the secret place, that you will end up abiding in God's shadow of protection.
For me, what this means and the experience of it is that I've got to dial down and retreat into connecting myself to God. I word picture would be that I'm a shepherd of my thoughts and feelings and reactions. I have authority over these and can take them into the pen where the chief shepherd is and let him say, "peace" to them. It is an exercise of faith to seek God and God rewards seekers with His presence. God gives me peace that passes all understanding.
You might say that you don't know how to dwell. To dwell is to commune which has to do with communicating. Communicate with God. Start there. Be honest, pour out your heart. If you're so upset, you can't speak, then just sit; focused on God and open your heart.
It's ideal actually to always dwell in God and be protected.
By Adrianus Valerius
Translated to English by Theodore Baker, 1894
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!
We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and
petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Taking stuff to God in prayer is great advice. But Paul says to tell God about what's bothering you with thanksgiving. I think that what this does is to keep us from prayers that are just negative complaining prayers, where we recite the facts of how the proverbial glass is half empty.
Adding thanksgiving puts a positive note into your prayers. God is fully aware of the thing that is driving us to prayer. Being thankful in prayer is an act of faith. Being thankful says, "no matter what I believe God is good".
Praying with thanksgiving is not victorious denial. We are not thankful for sin, death, or loss. We are thankful for God, who is good no matter how we feel.
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in ChristWhy would Paul say that giving thanks, no matter what, is God's will? I think it's about alignment of you with God. God is good no matter what. This isn't self-help or affirmation therapy, but wisdom from God.
1 Thess. 5:18
We don't say thanks for sickness, loss, or defeat. But in all circumstances, we thank God for his goodness. No matter what happens, God is good.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his
courts with praise! Give thanks to him;
bless his name!
The inspired psalmist says that we cross the threshold of God's domain by thanking him and we get into His dwelling place with praise. When you are calling upon the King of all, isn't it absurd to begin with a complaint, a request, or even a confession? Beginning with thanksgiving and praise establishes the relationship. It states the obvious, but it also states reality. And this establishing is for your benefit. God already is firmly established in his identity. We have to re-establish it in ourselves as long as we're alive on earth.
To try to come into God's presence without thanksgiving and praise is to implicitly take God for granted or deny his God-ness. Your heart is not in alignment and your words do not connect with God. God still hears your prayers, but you don't get into God's presence.
That song, by Robert Lowry, a Baptist minister who wrote 500 songs and lived until 1899; tells of what I believe is the ultimate thing we can be thankful for.
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
The early church began calling the taking of communion or the Lord's supper, the eucharist. That word means thankfulness.
In the evangelical church culture that I'm familiar with, people often ask each other, "what church do you go to?" To imagine asking Jesus this question, during his earthly life as a man, illustrates the absurdity of the question, yet we keep asking it and using it as a point of reference. Today, I feel so strongly about how church is a "what", rather than a "where", that I would even hesitate to say that this thing we do, like having (a) church in a house is the church we go to.
When Jesus walked the earth as a man, he went to synagogue "services" and went to the big temple as well. In the midst of that culture and his participation in it, he said, "I will build my church." It seems obvious that he was saying his gathering(s) of people would be something new and different. I don't think he was saying that it's going to be like the synagogue or temple meetings, only with updated theology.
Jesus' church is described and illustrated and documented right there in the four Gospels. Why would we look for a blue print in the rest of the NT? Jesus himself is the blue print. The church is his, he plans it, and builds it. So, Jesus prescribes what the church will be, will do, and be like.
The Gospel accounts are not just history and theology, but praxis.
"For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,
“Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls."
Tarriander: While God tarries, you meander. Tarry means delay and meander means circuitous windings. Meander can seem like a negative word, but it is really a positive thing. It is to wait and keep moving. It looks aimless from the outside view, but it is really purposeful or faithful! Think of an airplane in a holding pattern outside the landing zone of an airport.
The above passage directly precedes Hebrews 11, "the faith chapter", where faith is extrapolated upon and illustrated. These words here say to endure and believe the word, even when circumstances say otherwise.
The Hebrews author says that the the exercise of faith acts as a preservative for our souls: "have faith and preserve their souls". You find the promise by faith, you believe the promise by faith, and you receive the fulfillment of the promise by faith. Faith is action. There's got to be continued action based upon confidence in the word, for the soul to "stay alive" to the word.
If you've ever had a dinner party, you know how much preparation goes into it. But, what if all the guests who will partake of it have not yet arrived? In fact, they are late. You have to keep the kitchen going and continue to check if the table is set and the candles are just so. You peek out the window and look at the clock, then at the phone, and check on the food again. You're meandering while your guests tarry.
Concierges are caretakers, doorkeepers, custodians, head porters, or a hotel employee who assists quests as by booking theater reservations or arranging for transportation.
The job of Concierge has also evolved into personal assistant: people who do all the time-consuming odd jobs for someone, like running errands.
The early usage of the word has the meaning of "keeper of the candles" and the then "keeper of the keys", and "doorkeeper".
Concierge can be summarily defined as the expert servant.
Jesus came as a servant. He said: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20.
Years ago, Chuck Swindoll wrote a book called "Improving Your Serve". The title was memorable, but I had no idea what it was about. Seems so obvious now. Steve Sjogren talks about serving your way into someones or a city's heart. If Jesus came to serve, then what about his followers. Service is about serving and servants serve. Serving is a humble thing.
Jesus is the model for evangelism, pastoring, apostleship, and the prophetic and he came serving. That says serving is a pretty big deal and a key to growth- personal and church. So, why is so much of the Christian culture or "Christendom" about getting service? 'I want my teaching, my music, my (goosebumps in) worship... " We want to be entertained whether it's in your living room or at the big room church. 'Serve me', we say; and then we wonder why it doesn't work. We have lean souls.
Serving should be a life-style for the Christian, if they are a Christ-follower.
I was introduced to this word, Soroptimist today. It means sisters who are optimistic or best for women. The International Soroptimist Society has been going since 1921 and it, "is an international volunteer organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world."
Hope is expectation. When we hope for something, it means we want it. When we lose hope, it’s because we’re running out of patience or it means the circumstance are so opposed to what we want, that we get hopeless. For example, when a team falls further and further behind, the prospect of winning gets hopeless.
So what if circumstances build a case for hopeless, but you have a word from God that goes against circumstances? That was the predicament of Abraham and Sarah, who had been promised they would have a child, but did not.
There are two statements that Paul writes in describing this situation: First, “in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” And second, “In hope he believed against hope” (Romans 4:17b-18a).
God who stands outside time, speaks a word about the future of a man and his wife. This man, Abraham, puts his hope in God’s word, over and against the hopelessness of his situation. He is our example of exercising faith.
This painting is called "Flight into Egypt" by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609). This is a part of Jesus life that we perhaps don't ponder much. His early childhood was spent hiding in Egypt. Imagine walking that far with your baby. When you worry that things are not going so smooth for you, look at what Jesus went through. It is so awesome to me that Jesus and his parents went through rough patches and needed God's help just like we do.
He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. (Colossians 4:7b, NIV)
Those are pretty good credentials, don't you think?
- He is dear: loved and loving, warm and special.
- He is a brother: speaks of family, relationship, tied by Christ to brothers and sisters in Christ.
- He is a faithful minister: He serves, day in and day out.
- He is a fellow: He is connected to the apostolic mission.
- He is a servant in the Lord: He is a bond slave of Christ. We know Christ owns him.
You could extrapolate that as you move on in service of the Lord, you start as a brother, move to one who serves, and finally graduate, as it were, to being a full fledged slave as your identity. We could also look at these as three spheres. Some people are happy to be brothers or sisters, in the Lord, but don't want to serve or be bond slaves of Christ. Other people take on the title of minister which is supposed to mean server and they may very well serve in what they do, but they cannot accept the identity as bond slaves and act like masters rather than slaves.
I found a good article on the film by Rich Tatum. The long list of comments following, and I have not read all of them; is good in that it is dialogue, but it's also systemic of the fact that there is so much disunity among American Christians. Maybe not. I could be defensive of any criticism of Lou Engle or his style, but what I hear Rich saying is that he isn't used to that sort of thing and he's warning against certain things which are valid, but Lou isn't responsible for excesses in the past, of course. Lou was just encouraging Levi and that's one thing that the gift of prophecy is for!
I dream of a church that is a matrix of relationships centered on Christ.
I dream of a church where we usually share with each other what God is teaching us and occasionally are taught by an equipping teacher.
I dream of a church that is an army, who "meat" in the street and homes and marketplaces, doing the stuff Jesus did.
I dream of a church that is for believers and not-yet-believers, where life and vitality is measured by how many babies are among us and not by individual growth and knowledge.
I dream of a church where the creativity and artistic expression of God is reflected in his people.
I dream of a church that is a dangerous place for fakers and frauds, where rebellious sin will be exposed in a loving and straightforward way.
I dream of a church where God is King in everything.
I also dream of a church where the people serve rather than consume.
I also dream of a church that is self-governing, where everyone has the same badge and uniform, and can say "halt" if they decide someone is going too far or is too loud or too fast for them.
I also dream of a church that is a "house of friends".
I also dream of a church that is not segregated by age or stage.
The first thing is to love God. God so loved the world that he gave his only son and that son Jesus said to go into the whole world and make disciples. Yes, that's true; but first we love God and then that is what we disciple people in. Jesus said first love God, then love your neighbor.
Mary of Bethany got this. We minister to God first, then minister to people or seek out ministry for ourselves. The more our lives are fully given over to ministry to God first, the more effective we will be in ministering to others. Are you ready to minister to Jesus so much and be so captivated by him that other people give you a hard time? God does not need worship to feel better or something like that , but to give God worship and adoration is to come into proper alignment with what the truth is, and doing so is righteous- it puts you in the right order and then everything else can fall into place: "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace."
When I woke up later, I looked up Jesus word to pray for your enemies. I thought about people who don't yet believe the gospel and want to wipe out those who do. These are the ones to pray for.
Hor-haggidgad means "hole in the cleft, place in the desert, cave, crowded"; from "gadad" witch means crowd pressed together, assembly of troops, crowding in upon to attack, and "gad" means troop.
Jotbathah means "pleasant place in the desert".
"He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend."
" Let your speech always be gracious"
I had a dream that I was with my grandma and she had sugar cubes for teeth.
I had a cigarette in my hand and there was a black cat at our feet.
"Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the most high, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil."
There is a shortage of kindness today. Unkindness abounds. When we practice kindness we are reflecting God. It seems so paradoxical to be kind to our enemies and those who are unkind to us and in one way or another are trying to do us in, but it's God's way and if you are his, this is your code of conduct and you will let him sort it out.
This is how is reads in The Message:
He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents. If they refuse, I'll come and put the land under a curse.The curse issue seems pretty harsh, so it must mean that this is really important to God.
I've been wanting to get a knock box for my coffee set up and finally did the research that led me to the Grindenstein. It's from an Australian company that only makes this one product and stands behind it with a 30 year warranty. They have a great website and I discovered that Mark Prince also put it to the test and liked it.
I saw a movie over Memorial Day about the guy who was a conscientious objector in WW2 and who went on to win the medal of honor for his bravery and the idea has stuck in my mind until now. I finally realized that the message for me is the idea of staying out of the wars and fights that we're tempted with. I'm all for good communication, speaking the truth in love, boundaries, fair fighting, and loving enough to confront. These are all great topics I could talk or write about, but what I'm saying here really is the idea of ceasing from killing and sniping, and mouthing off at people as a way of paying them back, getting revenge, or playing God. This can be done overtly or covertly, out loud or under your breath and in your thoughts. It's all bad and toxic. It's unforgiving and nonspiritual.
When you're lost, you're utterly lost. You could be near home or help, but you don't know where that is. It's as if you are blind in the dark and have to have a helping hand or you're lost.
When you're lost, you're in more danger than you know. Most people who are lost have no idea they are lost.
God sends people to help those who are lost get found. My grandpa and the father of my friend both had Alzheimer's disease and they would get out, far from their homes, going for walks, sometimes late at night. Kind police officers brought both of these men back home. I had an incident where I could have drowned about 9 years ago and a lifeguard saw me and rescued me. He saved my life. Thanks James!
Update: The next morning my wife had this dream:
My wife dreamt that she and I were going to switch bodies and roles. She'd be going to my workplace and I would stay home with our eleven kids. She wondered how she would do my job and I told her to tell them that she'd been hit on the head and forgot all I do there and would need to be retrained. She then realized that our eleventh child did not have a name, then chose Kaycey, which I said was fine with me.
"But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards."
The key to making it through life storms is to practically work out Christ's teachings in your life now. It's not about knowing stuff through maximum exposure to Bible studies, classes, and sermons; but it's about doing the stuff he did in your daily life. Then when it comes, you're already there.
Jesus says that just listening, just reading, just talking about it, just knowing it, just knowing people who walk in it..... these are sand foundations, not solid for storms and winds; and worse yet, it's foolish- stupid.
You have to do it for it to work. To have a life in God, you must participate you must work out.
You can't be passive and think you're ok. It's by faith, but you have to exercise your faith. Faith is not faith unless it is acted upon. It's a continuous acting upon, a lifestyle. He did it for you, but now you must do something. You don't do what he did for yourself, but if you have faith in what he did, then you'll do something and if you don't, you really don't believe in him and you are not his.
PS- after writing much of this post, I visited a young campus evangelist / church planter's blog from UCLA and was introduced to a missionary from Alabama named Paul Washer, under the title "Shocking Message". Paul was preaching from the larger passage that contains the text about building on the rock. He said that many people in churches and church groups will be going to hell because they aren't really saved. Paul has a deep passion to see people genuinely saved and transformed.
able to run it or are empowered to run it because of God's grace.
Another athletics picture is of a reciever in football.
You run downfield, open for a pass continually.
I could say that you'll catch that ball by God's grace
and that's true, but my real point is that you keep going downfield,
you keep going out, without seeing the ball coming,
although you still expected the ball to come,
and it may never come, but because of grace, you keep going. You don't keep going
because you know you'll getsomething, but you keep going because the one you're going for is good.
Some reflections on waiting on God:
You're waiting on a person. It's personal. You need something, but you need God
Waiting is worship. The highest form of worship is the lament. Worship is not an event, but a way of life. Bring a sacrifice of praise. Get all your eggs in one basket. Bet the farm.
Waiting is active. A surfer on a wave or a ballplayer at their position, waiting.
Prayer is primarily about changing the one praying. As you wait, you are transformed.
(The picture above are people waiting for "old faithful" to go off!)
If we could figure life out, we wouldn't need God. Life is not about figuring, but trusting. It's not just about trusting, but who you trust. Not your self or your creed but God himself. The living God. Whatever I want to get figured out, God already knows backwards and forwards. Most believers would agree. What God wants is for us to put our faith in him. He wants to help and take care of us. You and I have problems that need solving, big ones and small ones. God is the expert problem solving. he can solve any problems and has everything figured out. Part of our job down here is to trust God. It's better to be in need that not. We're all in need, but we don't all know it.
Can you get your mind around how the people in Jesus lifetime were offended with him? It seems hard at first when you're thinking of the Jesus who is your personal favorite. I mean, you might have a caricature of him or a persona you project on him that you just love. But the real, authentic Jesus might offend you at times. This seems so paradoxical because Jesus is such a good person. God is love and Jesus is God, right? Then how in the world could you or I get offended with him?
I think the beginning of the answer is that the problem is on our end- sorry. We always have to be careful to get out of the "God seat" (throne). Being God means you know what's best, and you know the future and can see everything. Not being God means you don't have these abilities and if you believe in God, it's a good idea to let God be God and not try to be God your self. It's as simple as that, but we confuse things and complicate things when we start to (mentally) sit on the throne reserved only for God.
So, being in relationship with God, like in seeing God as your salvation and the almighty to be worshiped by you, for example. This means that you will serve him or her no matter what and see God as ultimately good and call out to God for justice and goodness, rether than being offended at God for stuff that happens that God, being God, allows (to happen).
Back to Bill's message, based on Matthew 13 and Mark 6: it's tragic that when people get offended with God that they themselves cut themselves off from the benefits of God's intervention in theirs lives.
As a medical doctor, one of the most important problems that I encounter among my patients is that of bitterness, resentment,and unforgiveness. It is a major reason why people don't heal. This book offers extremely practical information and refer many of my patients to it for reading. It is the best book that I have seen on the subject of forgiveness and I highly recommend it to everyone.
God wants to do things that have never been done before. But sometimes (most or all of the time), if you want God to do something He's never done before or you've never seen; you have to do something different. I've been listening to Kim Clement talking about this.
When Jesus multiplied the food, the disciples had to take what they had and start giving it away.
A good husband, who loves his bride, would give her anything in his power, would help her find whatever her heart seeks, and would open any doors for her that she needs his help at.
This presupposes that the bride has covenanted herself to him and he to her. This is what marriage is although it isn't often recognized or understood in our society.
A covenant says all I have is yours and all of you are mine. A marriage covenant also entails renouncing covenants or allegiances or ties to all others than the betrothed.
Matthew seven-seven is a promise written to those wholly committed to God in Christ. These are Christ's bride and God's children. Read Matthew six and seven to get the context on seven-seven. These words are written to Christ's intimates, people who are looking to him for everything and in turn are giving him all of themselves.
We ask covenanted in Christ, we seek covenanted in Christ, and we knock covenanted in Christ.
But if he makes a gift out of his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall be his to the year of liberty. Then it shall revert to the prince; surely it is his inheritance--it shall belong to his sons.
Ezekiel 46:17 teaches that if the prince gives land to somebody that is not his child, that the land has to go back to the children of the prince at the jubilee (50th) year. We don't know the details of why people outside a family would be given stuff that normally would be the inheritance for the children, but as it happens now, it happened in ancient times as well.
Imagine that your earthly father gave away your inheritance. Or maybe your life feels like God has given what you thought was your destiny to other people and left you behind. We don't want to get into a sense of entitlement with God, but what if who you believe God is to his children and your experience of him just don't line up. You don't want to blame God or your self. Maybe you were ripped off and God allowed it? That's Biblical. Did you know that NT Wright says that the exodus, the liberation from Egypt is the central event that the whole OT is organized around and is the back drop for Jesus?
Many people have declared that 2007 would be a jubilee year, in a practical way of God moving in people's lives and I'm with them and believe it is a widespread issue that will be happening during the second half of the year.
".. the allusion is to the year of jubilee, when liberty was proclaimed throughout the land, and every man returned to his possession, and to his family, (Leviticus 25:10) , and so the Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret it of the year of jubilee; a type of the heavenly glory, and of the joy of the Lord, which Christ's faithful servants enter into; and when there will be a manifest difference between them and slothful servants, and the gifts of the one and of the other, and of their use of them, as well as between sons and servants: after it shall return to the prince; signifying that such gifts are not durable; they are revertible to the donor of them; who will call these servants to an account for them at death or judgment, if not in time of life: but his inheritance shall be his sons' for them; the prince's inheritance shall be theirs; for being sons they are heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ: or that which is given them for an inheritance shall always continue; it shall never be taken from them or returned; but it shall be their own, for themselves, and enjoy it for ever; which is a confirmation of what is said in the preceding verse."
The point that John Gill makes that I see as well, is that just as in Jesus day and before Jesus and to today; there are people who say they are speaking for God and doing God's work, who are really not God's children. Yet, God allows these players to play. But God also deals with them sooner or later and promotes those that are truly his to places of spiritual care.
The minister who officiated at the boys funeral did a great job. What can you say? He quoted a number of scriptures, some of which I have used at my grandparents funerals. These scriptures are true and comforting. But I have reflected on how that the highest form of worship is the lament. When we relate how much pain we are in and how confused we are and even angry, I think that should connect with where we are truly at
23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
From this passage, we get a definition from Jesus of what it means to be "saved". It means to enter the kingdom of God. Being saved or becoming saved is not defined as one who is (now) going to heaven, but as one who has become subjected to God's kingdom, and those who have willingly subjected themselves into God's kingdom will inherit eternal life. Those who walk in and under God's kingdom and his reign will continue to do so after they die.
Also from this passage, we recieve the insight that it's harder, almost impossible, for rich people to become saved; although with God, this is very possible. Jesus is saying that the difficulty is on the human side, that wealth makes it harder for people to become in need of being saved.
I also believe that most Americans and first world people fall into the wealthy category. I think that we make it too easy for people to get saved. When you give your life to God, and that's what it means to be saved; it's not like joining a club, or putting a new credit card in your wallet, or building a room addition on to your house. It's surrender. To recieve Him, you have to give all of you. When you enter the kingdom of God, you come under God's total rule in your life and become recipents of God's blessings. This is salvation.
So salvation is an event and a lifestyle. Saved people behave a certain way, they love a certain way, they are generous, they're on their master's mission.
We consecrate the communion elements when we bless them or ask God to bless them. We consecrate our meals the same way. We also consecrate our selves to God. We also can consecrate our homes our places of worship our times together. To me, it's a raising of the bar, in taking seriously that God dwells among us and that God is real and that God's presence changes everything.
If we are consecrated and our place of meeting is consecrated, then we can really love each other and really be loving and gracious and kind and optimistic. If we are consecrated and dwelling in God like a branch in the vine, we'll be able to confront evil as well; wise as serpents and as gentle as doves.
When we are consecrated we also cherish the sacred things. We need to see God and the Word and the Spirit as sacred. What has been consecrated becomes sacred and needs to be held dear. This is the raising of the bar I mentioned. We need to recognize how we treat each other or God or worship or the Word with contempt, even subtly. We need to repent and consecrate ourselves.
As you might know, The Call Nashville will take place on 7-7-07. Watch the video on the sidebar here to find out more.
Update (9-4): My friend said that 777 means God's perfect timing. Just came across an article where Ryan Wyatt says that 7 means perfection, rest, refreshing, and promised land.
"Is not the cup of thanksgiving a participation in the blood of Christ?
Is not the bread we break a participation in the body of Christ?" 1 Corinthians 10:16
The word participation could also be translated communion and also means intimate fellowship.
When we participate in the Lord's supper we are communing with Christ's broken body and shed blood. When you get close to God all sorts of good things can happen.
Tithing is like paying a tax. It's impersonal. You write your check to your church or ministry you support and that's it. When you are a giver, as a life-style; your hand, your wallet, your checkbook, your pantry, your closet, and all your stuff are untethered. Your possessions don't possess you.
Can you both tithe (10%) and give? Yes. Can you give and not tithe? Yes. What if you give less than 10% of your income, is that ok? Yes.
Serving is an all-the-time lifestyle. Serving is not something you go and do for a time, and then revert back to a non-serving lifestyle. If you are a servant, you serve.... all the time. You don't just serve when it makes you look good, like serving by speaking to a group or being on a ministry team, but it is a way of life. It's not about going to church to serve or to be served or watch people serve, but rather; if you are a Christian, you are the church everywhere you go and, you are called to serve. The phrase "Church service" has become an oxymoron in our Western culture. You don't go to church, just like a married person does not go to marriage. They're married or they aren't. When they aren't with their spouse or in their home, they're still married. If they only act married when they are with their spouse or in their home, we would say that it's not a very good marriage. Service is something that you give as awell as recieve. A real church service would mean that everyone that is in the church is serving.
The essence of being a Christ follower is to serve. God loved the world so much that He served by sending Jesus to serve and his followers serve as well. If you say you're a follower of Jesus but don't serve as a life-style, something is wrong.
Thank you for your service.
It's all about the serve.
Service is everything.
Serve, baby, serve.
And you know what Bob Dylan said.
I'm reflecting on this text: Romans 4:18, that says, "against all hope, in hope Abraham believed, and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, 'so shall your offspring be.'"
Abraham didn't make it happen. The one who promised him did it. He put his hope in the one who promised, in the word of the one who spoke.
"Many of the insights drawn from the experiences of "Jim and Casper" parallel the findings of Barna Group studies among the unchurched. Some of the critical discoveries were the relative indifference of most churched Christians to unchurched people; the overt emphasis upon a personal rather than communal faith journey; the tendency of congregations to perform rituals and exercise talents rather than invite and experience the presence of God; the absence of a compelling call to action given to those who attend; and the failure to listen to dissident voices and spiritual guidance to dig deeper in one’s faith."
My top 5 are:
Here's a few things the report said about what each strength is about:
You are considerate, caring, and accepting. Certain of the unity of humankind, you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures. Sensitive to the invisible hand, you can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives. The exact articles of your faith will depend on your upbringing and your culture, but your faith is strong. It sustains you and your close friends in the face of life’s mysteries.
You are fascinated by ideas. What is an idea? An idea is a concept, the best explanation of the most events. You are delighted when you discover beneath the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are. An idea is a connection. Yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections, and so you are intrigued when seemingly disparate phenomena can be linked by an obscure connection. An idea is a new perspective on familiar challenges. You revel in taking the world we all know and turning it around so we can view it from a strange but strangely enlightening angle.
Your Responsibility theme forces you to take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, and whether large or small, you feel emotionally bound to follow it through to completion. Your good name depends on it. If for some reason you cannot deliver, you automatically start to look for ways to make it up to the other person. Apologies are not enough. Excuses and rationalizations are totally unacceptable. You will not quite be able to live with yourself until you
have made restitution. This conscientiousness, this near obsession for doing things right, and your impeccable ethics, combine to create your reputation: utterly dependable.
You live in the moment. You don’t see the future as a fixed destination. Instead, you see it as a place that you create out of the choices that you make right now. And so you discover your future one choice at a time. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have plans. You probably do. But this theme of Adaptability does enable you to respond willingly to the demands of the moment even if they pull you away from your plans. Unlike some, you don’t resent sudden requests or
unforeseen detours. You expect them. They are inevitable. Indeed, on some level you actually look forward to them. You are, at heart, a very flexible person who can stay productive when the demands of work are pulling you in many different directions at once.
You can sense the emotions of those around you. You can feel what they are feeling as though their feelings are your own. Intuitively, you are able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective. You do not necessarily agree with each person’s perspective. You do not necessarily feel pity for each person’s predicament—this would be sympathy, not Empathy.
The places of growth and rich revelation in the Bible are often liminous times. These are times of change and disorientation. Much of Abraham's life was liminal, for example.
The Bible says that Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss and that Jesus addressed him as, "friend".
For Judas, an intimate greeting was only a formality; it didn't really carry any meaning. He could both kiss the purest person he had ever met and betray that person in one stroke.
It's interesting to me that, at the moment of betrayal, Jesus addresses Judas as "friend". For me, it puts things in perspective. If Judas was Jesus friend, then what does that say about Jesus? I think it says that he was incredibly secure in the Father's love. Jesus is our example of how to live. We are to be anchored in God, but hold our earthly relationships more loosely. It's so deep that I can't find the words, but Jesus knows that we all will betray him at some level, yet he calls us friend. Friends will betray but God is faith full. Peter betrayed Jesus, although in a different fashion than Judas and ended up being faithfull.
Presumption: You may be presuming that you see or know the whole picture and you stay stuck because of this. We always do not have the whole picture. We always must humble ourselves to be lifted up or to recieve grace. It is presumption to think we know how things should be. People reject what God does because they presume.
Incompetence: You may be saying that you've done everything you could do and now it's not up to you. You may fall into apathy or laziness because you feel your job is done and now it's up to God and others to make things happen. This is a spirit of incompetence and is the opposite of the spirit of excellence that we are called to. Excellence is when we continue to work hard and be gracious and generous when we have not had breakthrough.
Occult spirits keeping things hidden: We have to remember that we are not struggling with flesh and blood. Linda said:
"There is an occult spirit keeping things hidden... The way we contend with this spirit is first of all to set ourselves against it. Take up your authority, contend with it, and command it to let go of what belongs to you. Command it to allow it to come to the surface and be seen. Say, “You will let this be uncovered. You will let go of what is mine.” The Lord said that we will not break through and recover in passivity. We have to stir our spirits and step up to a new place of authority and contend in the spirit. We will also have to hear the Holy Spirit. We cannot just spout off in our anger and frustration about the circumstance. We cannot contend with an occult spirit out of our soul. We have got to contend by the Word of the Lord. We have got to hear the Holy Spirit and declare the Word of the Lord. We have got to war with the Word of the Lord until that occult spirit breaks and bows its knee to the Word of the Lord. We will have to gain deeper revelation of the Word of the Holy Spirit, then take it and not stop warring until that occult spirit submits to the Word of the Lord. In this, we must not be in agreement with any occult spirit. We cannot be in authority to withstand it if we are in agreement with it."
I found these insights to be helpful and I hope they help you too.
I'll never forget sitting in a small group with Jackie Pullinger. She said it can take over 10 years to change the hearts of christians to be kingdom orientated - that was far too long for her - she advocated finding not yet christians who were already kingdom orientated and working with them.
It takes people who have been Christians any length of time (7 years, 3 years) about 10 years to unlearn stuff they've learned in church that isn't the real deal. What is the real deal and what is not? That's a big question that has a long answer. But part of the real deal is the issue of the kingdom of God. Jesus came proclaiming the kingdom of God (not the church or any "program") and he said that we would preach the gospel of the kingdom until he comes again. It's interesting that he didn't say something like, "preach the gospel of salvation through me until I come".
I'll add to this later!
Good grief isn't about regaining equilibrium. Grieving can be very angry, deeply sad, filled with numb shock, or filled with questions. Equilibrium may be found temporarily and then waves of emotional processing or bleak depression can sweep over a person. A paradigm shift may be occurring as we seek to make sense of life in the face of loss. There is a time to mourn.
Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word
Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day
Eleanor Farjeon and the tune is a Scottish Gaelic Christmas carol that originally carried the lyrics, "child in the manger, infant of Mary". In 1961, Floyd Cramer, who was a pianist who played on many of Elvis Presley's records, including "Heartbreak Hotel"; recorded "Morning Has Broken", with the familiar piano melody, of which Rick Wakeman played, with his own flair, uncredited, on Cat Stevens 1971 recording.
Or to put it another way, how does it work when you believe God has given you faith for something, but you don't see it happening and there is plenty of evidence that it can not and will not happen? What if you have faith for something that seems impossible? I've thought a lot about faith and exercising faith, as well as Jesus words to pray, "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." I have also thought a lot about Abraham and his faith walk. God called this childless older man, "the father of many nations". Paul says that God can say such things or make such impossible claims on people because he, "calls into being that which does not exist". God's word is settled in heaven and we are just being brought into alignment with it. Another translation has Romans 4:17 as "calls things that are not as though they were".
About Romans 4:17, Commentator Albert Barnes says, "I regard it as having reference to the strong natural improbability of the fulfillment of the prophecy when it was given, arising from the age of Abraham and Sarah, Romans 4:19. Abraham exercise power in the God who gives life, and who gives it as he pleases. It is one of his prerogatives to give life to the dead (\~nekrouv\~) to raise up those who are in their graves; and a power similar to that, or strongly reminding of that, was manifested in fulfilling the promise to Abraham. The giving of the promise, and its fulfillment, were such as strongly to remind us that God has power to give life to the dead.
And calleth, etc. That is, those things which he foretells and promises are so certain, that he may speak of them as already in existence. Thus is relation to Abraham, God, instead of simply promising that he would make him the father of many nations, speaks of it as already done, "I have made thee," etc. In his own mind, or purpose, he had so constituted him, and it was so certain that it would take place, that he might speak of it as already done."
"Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!"They had to be silent as they went about the marches around Jericho, until the end of the seven marches around on the seventh day.
There is something about being silent as we walk in faith around our Jericho that only God can defeat. Walking around it is an act of faith and obedience, but so is being silent as we do so. It's a different kind of faith than the kind that speaks.
Today is the anniversary of the parting of the Red Sea. After all the plagues that had been visited on Egypt, the Israelites were finally let go and given tons of gifts as they went, but then the Egyptians decided to pursue them and try to destroy them. the Israelite's ended up with their backs up against the Red Sea and the Egyptian army closing in on them. Then God made a way where there was none and then destroyed the whole Egyptian force. There is speculation that there were four groups of Israelites. One group said that they should surrender and return to Egypt. Another group advocated mass suicide. Another faction said they should valiantly fight the Egyptians. The fourth group said to pray to G-d who delivered them from Egypt to get them out of this trap and that's what happened. God intervened.
1When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
2Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
3The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
4Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.
5They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
6He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
If your hopes have been dashed and your prayers seem unanswered, come again.
You will come again with rejoicing and with a harvest.
The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. Now it happened at the end of two full years... Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh.
I was thinking about this issue of waiting for God when you believe he has promised you something. I think it's normal to feel frustration and disappointment. It says that the word of the Lord tested him. The word there for tested is the same word used for the refining fire that the goldsmith puts gold through to make it pure: "goldsmithing".
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? 
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected  by men;
a man of sorrows,  and acquainted with  grief; 
and as one from whom men hide their faces 
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief; 
when his soul makes  an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see  and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, 
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, 
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
 53:1 Or Who has believed what we have heard?
 53:3 Or forsaken
 53:3 Or pains; also verse 4
 53:3 Or and knowing
 53:3 Or sickness; also verse 4
 53:3 Or as one who hides his face from us
 53:10 Or he has made him sick
 53:10 Or when you make his soul
 53:11 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scroll he shall see light
 53:12 Or with the great
 53:12 Or with the numerous
I've been listening to This song from Faith by Jason Upton in my car:
You’re the sun in my horizon
All my hope’s in you, Jesus
I can see you now arising.
The root definition of robust is "oak, strength". Robust means physically strong, or marked by richness or fullness of flavor. It can also refer to ethereal strength in the sense of an argument or faith, or the strength of a signal. A team could have a robust defense. A cruise ship could have a robust structure that can withstand sinking.
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion--
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
We got the meaning of oaks, but what does righteousness mean. What would it mean if you were called or described as a robust person of righteousness? If were peruse Isaiah 61 a few more verses down to verse ten, he shows us the meaning of righteousness:
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.God grants salvation and deliverance and makes you righteous. He covers you and puts you in right standing, sets you in the right place. Then as this covered person, you can live a righteous life. Not perfect, but when God puts you in right standing with Himself, you can't help but do right in your life. Without the later, the former isn't genuine; but the later never creates the former.
So, ministry by the Spirit of God: the proclamation of the good news to the poor, the binding up of the brokenhearted, the proclamation of liberty to the captives, freeing the bound from prisons, and proclaiming God's favor; creates robust people walking in God's righteousness.
Making people into figurative oaks is God's work, "the planting of the Lord", and God does this to bring glory to himself, "that he may be glorified". Remember the Westminister confession catechism says, "“What is the chief aim of man?” “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
Robust. Like an oak. Planted by God, glorifying Him.
While doing research on Tuesday, on "the suddenlies of God", I saw a link of an article by John Paul Jackson on Synchro-something and it stuck in my head.
On Tuesday afternoon, I was delayed and left work later than I had planned on. When I was pulling out of my parking garage, I saw a car that looked like my third car that I have not seen for 2 years. I ended up right behind it so I could read the license plate and believe it or not, it was my old car. I called my wife to confirm the plate.
And here is the picture of my old car, on the bookcase that she looked at.
Today I looked up that post by John Paul, and he says:
When we recognize and begin to value these spiritual events—learning to see them when they occur—helps us tap into God’s nature and Heaven’s activities guiding our lives. As the Bible says, we plan our ways, but God directs our steps (Proverbs 3:6). We may know where we want to go, but God decides how we get there. Such moments are deeply His.In order for us to take advantage of the opportunities that are being readied for us to grasp, we must recognize the spiritual essence and weight of the moment as it occurs. This is when the marvel begins and the purpose for which God created us begins to surface. Too many opportunities are lost due to a failure of our spiritual senses to grasp God in the moment. Over the years, I have discovered four keys that allow these events to unfold.
What this event says to me is that God is in total control. I knew that, but the demonstration of it inspires awe in me. I felt like it was demonstrated to me that heaven and earth are intersecting in my life. I tell people that they are on a collision course with God's destiny for them.
1. Recognize that God is present and continually active in His creation. Creation itself is not God, but everything in creation is made by God. God is involved in His creation; He is not passive about His handiwork. God will move Heaven and earth for our sake. He aligns various elements in creation to converge at just the “right” time. Scripture calls this the “fullness of time.”
2. Recognize that heavenly beings are forever working in our lives. Angels and other spiritual beings, which are created by God, are continually arranging people, places, and things to act on our behalf. These heavenly beings arrange things years in advance; convergence happens when God’s plans and timing intersect. At that moment, the “suddenlies” of life seem to happen.
3. Learn how to connect your desires to God’s desires. All of us desire a sense of connection with God and with each other. We are relational beings; we need each other to reach our God-given destinies. Synchronous convergence cannot happen without relationship. The tighter a family or circle of friends joins themselves to God’s desires, the easier it will be for them to recognize God’s activities in their daily lives.
4. Harness your soul (mind, will, and emotions) through meditation and prayer. These powerful tools capture the unseen, rein in its spiritual benefits, and propel us to our destiny. Through meditation and prayer, we break out of the fog that shrouds our spiritual awareness. We are able to touch and be touched by the realm of the Spirit, who searches the deep things of God.
(6/2) Lastly, I thought it was cool that this happened on 3/20. I began to think about what is the 3:20 verse that I like and I remembered Ephesians 3:20.
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us"