Beauty Instead of Ashes! Out with the Old! In with the New!

Beauty for Ashes

“Instead of” are powerful words repeated throughout scripture. As we end one year and prepare to enter a new one, may the truth of these words resonate.

  “to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair…
Isaiah 61:3

As Jesus began his earthly ministry he read from the scroll previewing this portion. Then he sat down and declared these incredible words,

 “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:21

Today

From that day on everything changed! The waves may still roll, but Christ is present! He is with us!

God is willing and able to grant an excellent exchange for whatever burden we are carrying.

Shame, disgrace, humiliation
foolish mistakes, failures, or fear,
death of dreams, hopes
or a loved one….

Instead Of

His presence guarantees not only comfort and provision in the midst of struggle, but much more:

  “beauty instead of ashes,
joy instead of mourning,
praise instead of a spirit of despair…

Even a child recognizes a good trade when they see one! However, there is one condition! God is asking us to give Him our ashes, mourning and despair. Are we willing to let them go?

Beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of a spirit of despair! Click To Tweet

Broken

When I yielded my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I had only brokenness to offer Him. My track record had produced failure and disappointment in multiplied measure. Suicidal thoughts and depression had left me a broken shell, without hope.

But Christ came! Everything changed – some pieces radically and instantly, others slowly and progressively.

He continues to invite me to yield to Him things He never intends me to carry. His offer to replace them with something incredible still stands.

Wasteland to Beauty

Thorn bushes are rough and dangerous; their pointed barbs sink deep. Jesus bore such a painful crown pressed firmly in His brow.

Thorns

Applauded one hour and disdained the next, His beauty and deity were unrecognizable to most earthly eyes.

Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign…
Isaiah 55:13

Junipers in the Middle East are tall willowy bushes growing in desert places. Travelers often find shelter under their bending boughs. The myrtle bares intensely aromatic white blossoms delicately edged in the colour of royalty, purple.

Myrtle

Jesus surrendered His true Kingship and bore the crown of thorns. In so doing, he now gives us ability to be overcomers in our thoughts. He grants us peace instead of the harsh reruns that plague our minds with

words cruelly spoken,
images that cut through innocence,
or paralyzing pain of loss.

Jesus traded an authentic crown for a mocking one. Today, he invites us to exchange every unnecessary weight for the authentic beauty He offers. It is a good trade!

Garbage Can

A few months ago, a friend was struggling to personally receive God’s “instead of.” All her short life, she had been juggled from house to house – unwanted and undervalued.

We set a garbage can in the middle of the room and began to toss crumpled bits of paper into it. Each piece represented an image, thought or message that had been embedded into her belief system shaping how she now saw herself.  When the mark was missed, we walked over and picked up the wad of paper and made sure it landed deep into the metal bucket.

Garbage

I had several wads of my own to toss!

Once the trade is made, no dumpster diving! Click To Tweet

Once tossed, we gave each painful wound into the hands of the only One who can fully erase their weight.

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Psalm 103:12

Once the trade is made, no dumpster diving!

It is not just our stuff that God is perfectly able to trade. God wants to release us from everything anyone else has done against us. God’s “instead of” applies equally to both!

Eternal Glory

God is a master of transformation – a divine recycling! Out with the old and in with the new!

Though once my mind was racked with dark thoughts of death, now I help others find the light of hope. This is not unusual! God delights in taking what was once our greatest infliction and turning it into a powerful tool of redemption.

Those once bound by chains of chemical addiction now show others the way through the tangle to beautiful fulfilled lives. People once tormented in a variety of ways now lead others into places of health and wholeness. As a matter of fact, your place of greatest struggle is probably the very area God has destined to use you to bring freedom for others and glory to Him.

“For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all.”
2 Corinthians 4:17

We cannot always fully see what God is working out. His “instead of” is always greater and better than the troubles we are are trading in.

Whatever we are going through is working! It is working for His glory! It is working the best in us and for us! God will receive the glory and renown He is worthy of, as we are willing to exchange what we are holding on to.

Before this year ends, trade it in! I am excited to see what new thing God has for each of us  through Christ!

Out with the old! In with the new! What a beautiful exchange! Click To Tweet

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Additional Resources!

Another read: Do it Again Lord! Renew! Restore! Revive!

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Creating a Culture of Honour – Honour God! Honour All!

Culture of Honour

Recognizing the need for honour in a culture of entitlement is not easy. Living a life of honour demonstrates true empowered living.

Today’s society largely focuses on dishonour. Think of how leaders are spoken about in the media, whether their leadership is political, spiritual, or in the marketplace. Dishonour shows up in our driving habits and how we treat those who are in the service industry.  In many ways, we have become too casual in approach to show honour to others.

Honour Authority

Honour is choosing to value others through respect and gratitude. It is a gift we chose to give!

Culture of Entitlement

“I deserve this!”

Entitlement is the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. Neither gratitude nor appreciation surround entitlement. Life is about “me”!

I read that 93 percent of people feel undervalued and unnoticed! The uncomfortable truth is that the more self-focused we become, the less fulfilled we actually are.

93 percent of people feel undervalued and unnoticed! Click To Tweet

As we set our aim to honour entitlement vanishes!

All People

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”
I Peter 2:17

“All” includes people who don’t deserve our honour. We have practiced the feeble philosophy of loving those who love us, respecting those who treat others with respect and honouring those who are worthy of honour.

When we follow this rule, we are allowing the conduct and behaviour of others to dictate how we live. We create judgmental lists of evaluation with headings marked “Worthy!” and “Unworthy!” In so doing, we limit our ability to love Christlike.

Jesus set the bar high as He honoured all!

Honour all

Honour must be intentional and genuinely from the heart! It brilliantly disarms people with what they are not accustomed to seeing.

Simple words like “I’m sorry!”, “Thank you!”,  and “I appreciate you!” are phrases we need to consistently practice creating this renewed culture. They are especially effective when spoken to the undeserving!

A Reward

The first command with promise is connected to honour! In showing value and appreciation to previous generations, we are promised to live a long enough life to influence and impact others.

“Honor your father and your mother,
that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”
Exodus 20:12

Honour Elderly

As we honour, we are granted increased influence and favour.

“If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God,
you will be given the same reward as a prophet.
And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness,
you will be given a reward like theirs.”
Matthew 10:41

Some bible versions use the word “honour” instead of “receive”. To receive someone is, in fact, a demonstration of honour.

Everyone wins in a culture of honour! In preferring others for their position, spiritual gifts, character, or even for no particular reason at all, we are promised reward! 

We get to participate in what we are willing to honour! Click To Tweet

Leaders

Good leaders know how to follow well!

In blessing those in leadership, you yourself have patterned a culture of honour for those who will some day follow you. In following well a person is actually validating their own ability to lead well!

During a military battle, the Israelites were winning as long as Moses held his staff above his head. But his arms grew weary. Every time his arms fell, the enemy began to triumph. Although Aaron was a leader in his own right, he willingly came underneath to hold up his leader.

What a beautiful example of honouring leadership!

“we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you,
and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
… 
to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.
…be at peace among yourselves.”
I Thessalonians 5 :12-13

Honour Leadership

We have no way of knowing how many “hits” our leadership take for us each day. They are in the front lines making decisions that effect many more people than we realize. When Satan’s arrows fly, our leaders get hit first!

Although we have all probably experienced poor or self-seeking leadership, in choosing to value and appreciate leadership we are empowering them to have their greatest impact.

Grace to Honour

We each have opportunity daily to demonstrate this quality in our homes, communities, and workplaces.

I find that when I honour in my heart, my words and actions will follow. The battle for me is to maintain a pure heart and mind.

The hardest person to lead is ourselves; so give yourself patience as you practice the grace of honour. Don’t give up! You may face rejection or fail! With time and effort we can each make a difference in our spheres of influence. Lead the way!

Let’s make honour contagious!

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Christmas – The Reason Jesus Came to Earth!

The Reason Jesus Came

The festivities of Christmas have begun: family and social gatherings, decorations, baking, gifts, anticipation and excitement. But why was Jesus born? Why did He come to earth?

Hallmark sells about 93 million cards for Father’s day and another 141 million for Mother’s day. Valentine’s Day tops that at around 151 million. Does anyone want to guess what the number of Christmas cards might be? Those figures come in at 1.6 billion!

In spite of any push away from recognizing Christmas, these numbers speak for themselves. Christians and non-Christians alike place tremendous value in celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Christmas

Many of us follow traditions of previous generations, or have created our own traditions of how we celebrate Christmas. However, the significance of Christmas reaches far beyond traditions.

Why was Jesus born?

Angels Announcement

The birth of a baby is an anticipated event in any family. New parents approach the day with excitement and concern while extended family wait to see, touch and smell the new addition.

So it was for Mary & Joseph!

When a mother was ready to deliver her baby, midwives would be called. Family and friends would congregate on the roof awaiting the announcement from a close but guarded distance. Following the birth, the midwives would take a broom and knock on the ceiling. Then they would break into jubilant song; their familiar chant announcing the details!

“I bring you good news,
today in the town of __________
born to (names of father and mother)
this day a (son or daughter)
He/she will be (occupation, destiny or purpose)”

Their predictable chorus would set the roof top guests into clamorous celebration!

For Joseph and Mary, however, there were no midwives. Neither family nor friends attending the birth of this “unplanned” child. Alone, the Baby came! Only the sounds of chewing of cuds or gentle cooing from the rafters filled the night air.

Angel

God could not and would not allow this birth to go unannounced! Angels were released to declare the song of the midwives!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Luke 2:10-11

This Child, Jesus Christ, was not for limited purpose or design! This Child was “for all the people…Saviour!” The Messiah had come!

Son of God and Son of Man, born to die, to take away the sins of the world.  The journey to Calvary began in Bethlehem – for all!

Calvary

The journey to Calvary began in Bethlehem! Click To Tweet

His Purpose

People continually misunderstood Him. Even for those who believed in Him, their hope of rescue clouded their vision. They wanted a king to set them free! Now!

Just before His crucifixion Jesus responded to Pilate’s questioning,

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king.
For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—
to bear witness to the truth.
Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
John 18:37

The One who always was came! The One without beginning or end “was born“! A king? Yes, but so much more!

The One who always was came! The One without beginning or end was born! Click To Tweet

Every aspect of His birth was swaddled in the supernatural with angelic visitation and divine encounter. Yet, Jesus lived fully Man. At the same time, He was a fully natural demonstration of the fullness of the Father, the fulfillment of the law, revelation of love, and peace in a tormented world.

Jesus came “to bear witness … to testify to the truth!”

 “The true light that gives light to everyone
was coming into the world.
 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God—”
John 1:9 &11

Christmas

Christmas! The Truth shining in all His brilliance came to a world unprepared – unwaiting!

Are you ready? Am I?

It is  challenging to intentionally celebrate a Christ-centered Christmas. With Holy Spirit help, we can add a little more Christ to this Christmas.

Love

Several years ago we had a few guests staying with us over Christmas. We decided to share something we were each thankful for. As it turned out everyone around the circle talked about how significant their relationship with God and with family was to them. These moments had a powerful impact on a young visitor. He neither had a living relationship with Jesus or strong family connections. This simple time was transitional in his life.

Small things can made a big difference! For this young man, Christmas became an encounter with the Saviour!

Christmas is a reminder that real love is shown through sacrifice. For this Jesus was born, testifying with His life and death the truth in every respect. The Truth wrapped in swaddling clothes is love.

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Another read: Meeting God in the Ordinary – From Common to Holy

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Lovelessness! Choosing to Love More!

Learning to Love More

To the statement, “I couldn’t care less!”, Mother Teresa responded, “I couldn’t care more!” To love is to serve especially when lovelessness surrounds us.

Several years ago our granddaughter, then around 3 years old, was walking down the street of a small city with her mother. Approaching them was a homeless man. Gently she pulled on her mother’s arm and softly said, “He has no family.”

She intrinsically sensed his deepest need. Without being able to articulate it, her 3 year old heart saw him uncovered, unprotected, unloved and without dignity or place of belonging. Already she knew that family, true family, is a place of love and value.

Family Love

We look but don't see! We see without wanting to look! Click To Tweet

Why did she at only three so clearly see what we as adults miss? “He needs a family! He needs love!”

We look but don’t see!
We see without wanting to look!
(Mother Teresa)

Lovelessness

“But anyone who hates another brother or sister
is still living and walking in darkness.
Such a person does not know the way to go,
having been blinded by the darkness.”
I John 2:11

Hatred to me is a very strong word. However, the literal translation of this word here is actually “to love less“. If I love anyone less, God equates it to hatred.

Why? In loving less, I become willfully “blinded” to the needs of others. I have opportunity daily to love more or to to love less!

Broken Love

Wedges in relationship are evidence of lovelessness:

Divorce says, “I love you less.”
“I am afraid to love” we whisper to the aborted.
Churches split because of lovelessness;
family feuds linger for generations in loving less.
Gossip, slander and complaining announce it!
Pride, prejudice and jealously demonstrate it!

Loving More!

Just the other day, a small group of young adults picked up a pan-handler, bought him a meal, gave him a ride, loved on him and prayed for him. For them, it was a natural act affirming value and worth to someone.

They loved more!

Love Lives Here

Another group of people I know have given themselves to consistently love and care for drug addicts, gang members, prostitutes and children in the inner city. They give more than a warm drink, food and a safe environment. Warm socks and jackets come with the hugs, prayer and genuine concern. Their motto? “Love lives here!”

They love more!

I recently met a young girl who cares deeply for inner city children who don’t have a safe place to go after school. She is spear-heading a ministry giving them food, loving and validating them, while teaching them bible verses and songs. Though she is little more than a child herself, she leads in tangibly loving about a hundred children in her area.

She loves more!

I also know a couple of grandmothers who are putting their hearts and feet in difficult places. They book a spot at porn conventions to “interpret dreams” as a way to love and pray for prostitutes, pimps and johns.

They love more!

Prayer

I haven’t mentioned yet those who:

  • foster children to make sure each child feels loved and wanted
  • risk they lives in volatile nations
  • go on medical missions, build orphanages and schools
  • jump into the lion’s mouth of domestic violence, abuse and brokenness bringing love and restoration

These love more!

You and Me

Though the dis-ease of love-less-ness is obvious all around us, you and I can make a difference. We have an ability to turn the tide, one person at a time!

I was recently told every person will influence approximately 20,000 people through their life, either directly and indirectly. Our choices determine what that influence will look like?

“The King will reply,
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
Matthew 25:40

Jesus considers His own brother or sister the “least of these.”

Many today have set their hearts to love “the one” in front of them. In so doing they have transformed nations! They recognize the face of Jesus in every person, seeing each as a person worthy of love and dignity.

Each one I touch with love will have a greater freedom to love others. With prayer, my little effort is a seed where more love may some day grow.

Colour it Love

Let us pick up the brush of faith and colour our world with love. By choosing today to have our eyes open to love, lovelessness can be broken in our midst!

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Childlike! Change and Become Like a Little Child

Like a Child

The bible challenges us to maturity. Yet, without contradiction, Jesus emphasizes the importance of possessing childlike qualities in our relationships with God and others.

“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3

Simple Faith!

As a new Christian, my Sunday School Superintendent asked if I would be willing to teach a group of two and three-year old children. I quickly learned what a dozen children can do with scissors and glue in a short amount of time! But I learned so much more!

Faith Trust

Children receive and believe with open heart and hand the love of God; they absorb truth like a dry sponge.

The older we get the more reasoning and intellect can hinder us from receiving in faith God’s love for us and His gift of salvation. It seems too simplistic, too easy, for most adults. A child, however, will believe with unquestioning faith biblical truth.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6

Though fundamental to our Christian walk, having a childlike faith is perhaps the hardest to regain. Yet, it is absolutely necessary!

Joyous Expectation! Hope!

A friend related this true story of her little niece:

One day she awoke excited and asked with great anticipation, “Is today the day I get a bunny rabbit?”

Her parents had never heard her request or had in any way suggested they would gift her with a rabbit, so they were quite surprised.

Later that afternoon, she excitedly bounced into the house after school, “Is my bunny here? Did it come today?”

The next day was a repeat! She couldn’t contain her enthusiasm, “Is today the day? Is my bunny coming today?”

After school, she was anxious to play with her new pet, “Is my bunny here? Was today the day my bunny came?”

Expectation Hope

Day after day, week after week, month after month, her excitement and joyous anticipation never wavered! Every morning she was sure “today” would be the day her beautiful pet would arrive! Every afternoon, she had unwavering hope that today was “the day“.

Finally, months later her joy was complete; a little rabbit awaited her when she arrived home from school.

As the story was being shared with my friend, her young niece was giggling in an adjacent room as she played with her bunny. This story clearly illustrates the anticipation and hope that we are called to.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1

The character and nature of our Heavenly Father is good all the time! Everything He has for us is good! When we come to Him, we can expect He will respond out of His absolute goodness.

“You are good, and what you do is good…”
Psalm 119:68

The character and nature of our Heavenly Father is good all the time! Click To Tweet

Like a little child, we can confidently hope in God, the Source and fullness of all that is good. Out of His nature, He generously gives all that is good.

Wonder!

When our granddaughter with young, she had a fascination for all creatures, but especially ladybugs.  By spending time with a children, the wonder of creation can be re-ignited in us too.

Wonder

Creation has the ability to point us to The CreatorAs a matter of fact, creation so clearly directs us to God that we are “without excuse!”

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities
—his eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,
so that people are without excuse.”
Romans 1:20

We are invited to slow our pace and see God in His creation, regaining a childlike desire to know, examine and understand more fully everything around us.

God is not intimidated by our questions. He never grows weary of our curious wonder while believing Him for the impossible and unexplainable.

Simply Childlike

The next time we have opportunity to spend time with a child may we see it as God’s invitation to ask which childlike attributes He might want to revive in us:

  • vulnerability and trust
  • abandon and joy
  • curiosity and capacity to learn and grow
  • ability to forgive quickly and fully
  • love without reservation

Childlike

No matter how old we may be, it is wise to regain the childlike qualities we have lost, placing our hands into the hands of our Father and allowing Him to lead the way.

Regain the childlike qualities we may have lost! Click To Tweet

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Another thought: Hebrews 11:1 “Now Faith Is”

The Way Up is Down! Go Low! The Rewards of Humility!

Humility

Willingness to bend, submit, and yield go against the grain of human instinct. Yet, the only way up is down! The rewards to humility are many!

I am the mother of five robust sons; all exceed my height and frame by a country mile. It is only in the last ten years or so that they have given up challenging me in a “tangle”. Out of fear of hurting me I’m sure!

In younger years when they would test my strength, I would first give them a look that questioned their sanity! You know the look a Momma gives her insolent young? The look that says, “You really don’t want to go there!”

If the look didn’t make them back down, my tenacity often would. The never-give-an-inch grit that went low and dug hard was predictably effective.

Go Low

Go Low!

Decide in advance to go low!

Jesus noticed his group of followers patterned themselves all too easily by the cultural norm of jostling for positions of status and favour. Many times through parables or simply talking straight, he illustrated the truth that humility precedes honour.

“Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke14:10-11

Kingdom principles work in complete opposite to earthly ones. The only way up is to chose to go low! It is far better to have someone else assign you a place of honour than to presume one upon yourself and end up humiliated.

Humility

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”
Philippians 2:3

Expectation

One of my favorite biblical illustrations of someone going low is the woman with the issue of blood.

“She had suffered a great deal under the care
of many doctors and had spent all she had,
yet instead of getting better she grew worse.”
Mark 5:26

She approached from a low position with high expectation.

“Just then a woman who had been
subject to bleeding for twelve years
came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.”
Matthew 9:20

Expectation

This poor woman risked big! She wasn’t supposed to be in public without crying out, “Unclean! Unclean!” Yet here she was on her hands and knees in the middle of a moving crowd with one intention, touch the hem of his garment. She knew with all her being that is she did, she would be healed!

There is no mention of how many times she trampled or kicked in the process.

Jesus instantly knew something supernatural had happened. The disciples laughed it off. Dozens had touched Jesus that day as the crowd bumped along. Only one was healed!

That one was a woman who purposely went low with high expectation! Healing was hers!

Lift Them Up

Going low is the best position to lift others up. For me, the most exciting part of ministry to see others being propelled forward into excellence. I love being the one who comes underneath and gives others a boost!

Boost

It often doesn’t take much effort. At other times, however, it may require walking beside someone for years to see them advance into their full calling.

None the less it is thrilling!

Only when we position ourselves intentionally beside someone are we close enough to give them momentum to excel.

Humility

The rewards of humility are multiple! Giving our lives for the benefit of Christ and others fills one with a sense of richness.

Humility Honour

The greatest illustration of humility is Christ Himself!

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
 by taking the very nature of a servant,
 being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
 he humbled himself
 by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
 and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
 in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
Philippians 2:5-10

He took the form of humanity created from the dust of the earth! God became dirt! The Sinless and Holy wrapped in flesh! We will not fully comprehend the depth of humility Christ walked until we see Him enthroned in the place of majesty, dominion, and power –

crowned in glory,
exalted in power,
radiant in beauty,
awesome in majesty,
excellent in perfection.

Crowned in glory, exalted in power, radiant in beauty, awesome in majesty, excellent in perfection. Click To Tweet

What little He is asking from us to joyfully assume a low position to honour Him and others!

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Further Reading –

Faith or Fear? Which Will We Choose?

Setting the Goal of Love – Hit the Target!

 

Do it Again Lord! Renew! Restore! Revive!

Renew! Restore! Revive!

The prefix “re” added to any word means “again” or “again and again”. God has an “again and again” desire and purpose to renew, restore and revive each one of us!

Renew!

As I look in the mirror grey hair, wrinkles and sags declare the reality of more years behind me than ahead.

Measure

As you stretch out the measuring line over your life, where are you? Are you beginning? Are you half-way through? Time on earth is finite. Honestly, no matter where we think we are, our time is uncertain!

Daily pressures and responsibilities have a subtle but pervasive way of distracting and pulling us away from the eternal qualities that really matter: faith, hope and love!

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.”

I Corinthians 13:13

Lord I ask for a renewing of our minds, tenderizing of our hearts and focusing of intentions on what will remain eternally. Unite us with the your highest values, Jesus.

Restore within us a life
grounded in faith,
anchored in hope and
growing in love.

Grounded in faith, anchored in hope and growing in love. Click To Tweet

Do it again Lord! May our lives be marked with eternity – imprinted with your value system.

Restore!

Before God created heaven and earth, before anything existed that now is, God knew you and saw you complete – perfectly you. You were beautiful, purposeful, fantastic and amazing in every dimension. You were a one-of-a-kind rarity! A special design!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.

You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:11-13

Often life is cruel, relentlessly eroding us of value and distinction.

Rarity

Every day I encounter people at various levels of brokenness and disengagement, without identity, or personal worth. Look around and you will see them too!

Ask God what His thoughts are toward you. Ask Him what your next step is to begin to walk into the dream and destiny that is planted like a seed in your heart and soul.

Don’t read another word! Ask! You will be surprised by His lavish response! He is listening and ready to water that seed within you with truth!

Lord restore this beautiful one to his/her divine purpose. Speak again the dream and design You have written for him/her. Erase the abuse, effects of monotony, weight of weariness, wall of discouragement, and marks of debasement from this life. Reconnect them to your heart and purpose. Realign them to a position and place of joy and fulfillment. Restore each one to the strength and perfection of their calling and design.

Restore

Revive!

Revive means:

  • restore to life or consciousness
  • to regain life, consciousness and strength
  • give new energy or strength to

What areas of your life might need “reviving”? Ask God if there are places where your conscience has become calloused. Are there areas where you once moved in strength and confidence, but lack vitality today? Are you tired of being tired in a dimension of your life?

There are several that God has been pinpointing in me and my relationships. Some spiritual gifts have been kept strong through constant exercise and risk. Unfortunately, I’ve relaxed in other ways and my spiritual muscles are atrophying.

Atrophy means “gradually decline in effectiveness or vigor due to under use or neglect.” It isn’t pretty, but is a fitting description of spots in my life for God’s gentle, yet powerful, ignition of life to revive to full potential.

Broken Crayon

Broken crayons may need a little sharpening, cutting away of the outer layers, to expose the vibrant core. Nevertheless, once the excess is gone, the true colour appears ready to imprint and create beautiful on everything it touches!

Is that you? You may feel broken beyond usefulness. As you look at your life, you may see only the shavings and feel the pain of being whittled! Don’t despair…

God’s purposes are true!
His promises are faithful!
He wastes nothing in your life or mine!
Get ready! Revival is coming!

Expect and anticipate revival in your heart, your community, your church, and the nations! God is doing again what He has done before! He is breathing life, hope and purpose back into His people. He is drawing those that don’t yet know Him into this beautiful relationship with Him.

Do it Again!

Build in us, Lord, a childlike expectation for you to do it again!

“After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.”
Hosea 6:2

Revive

“Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?”

Psalms 85:6

The answer is “Yes!” Yes, He will! Yes, He is!

A great tidal wave to renew, restore, and revive is approaching. In fact, it is already transforming the global landscape in proportions we cannot yet fully define. God is beginning right here with you and with me!

Lord we agree with your heart!
We align ourselves to your timing and purpose!
Renew us!
Restore us! Revive us!

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Further Reading: Is there a Wrong Way to do The Right Thing? Attitude Makes All The Difference

Worth, Benefit, Profit, or Value? Is It Worth it? Jesus is Worth It!

Missions

Is it worth it? This is a question we commonly ask when weighing the cost of a particular decision.  The “it” we are referring to when we pose this question can refer to a number of different things, such as our time, our money, our strength, our safety or our comfort.  We weigh the potential gain against the necessary risk to determine if we deem something to be “worth it”, and decide accordingly.

Is it Worth it?

I remember telling a family member about our plans to do YWAM in 2012.  Their response sort of shocked me.  After sharing with them all the details of what we’d be doing, they matter of factly said “well that’s a waste”.

It was during our time with YWAM that I first heard of missionaries who were serving in in the Middle East, and initially, I too was disinterested, and my heart was unmoved.  I thought “who would want to go there?

Lamp

Often when we first tell people about our plans to move to the Middle East, they have a similar reaction; an unmoved heart that questions whether what we’re doing is really worth it.

“Foolishness!”

“You’re going to waste your life in a country where many people will reject you and the message you are there to share?”

“That’s foolish!”

“A waste!”

Middle East

 

A Beautiful Thing

The disciples had the same reaction to a young woman when she poured her alabaster jar of costly perfume on to Jesus the week before he would be crucified.

Indignant, they said, “Why such waste? This perfume could have been sold and given to the poor!

When a room full of disciples, the very men who would establish the early church, looked down upon a young woman for what they saw as foolish devotion, Jesus does not stay silent.

He says “what she has done is a beautiful thing to Me”. 

And then the Son of God goes on to commemorate her act of extravagant devotion in saying that wherever the gospel is preached, so should the story of what Mary has done be told.

So then, is it worth it for us to move to there?  Is it worth it to leave the relative safety and comfort of Canada for the Middle East? What about spending years learning a new language and adapting to a foreign culture? Is it worth it?  Is it worth it to be thousands of miles apart from loved ones?

Middle East

No, it isn’t.  “It” is not worth it.

Then what motivates us to go?

It isn’t the need for workers, it’s not rules or commands, not our own compassion, nor is it statistics, or even a miraculous call.  All of these reasons have validity and play a part in why we are going, but none of the reasons above will be able to sustain or fulfill us.

Jesus is Worth It

We are going because our hearts are gripped by the realization that Jesus is worth it. 

He is worth it.  

We all have a choice to make when it comes to following Jesus.  Like the rich young ruler in the book of Matthew, we can choose to hold on to our treasure or follow Jesus.  That treasure will vary for each of us, but one thing is certain – if it is anything other than Jesus, we must lay it down to follow Him, for “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21).

Is it Worth It? Middle East

Give it Away

We can choose to hold on to something inferior to Christ and walk away sad and dejected, or we can believe that He is worth more than anything we could gain in life, and more precious and valuable than anything we could lose in death.

I want to be like the man who found a treasure in a field, then joyfully went and sold all that he had to buy the field.  I want to be like Mary, who upon realizing the worth of Jesus liquidated her inheritance as she poured expensive perfume over his head.

What has Jesus been calling you to give?

Go ahead, give it away.  You’ll find out that He truly is worthy of it all.

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(Posted with adaptations from A & A who are leaving for the Middle East within the next few months. If you would like to support them prayerfully or financially contact them @ ourambition@outlook.com )

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Here is another great blog!

The Ends of the Earth! No Small Task – Salvation to all Nations

Lost to Found! Death to Life! The Prodigal is Coming Home!

Prodigal

I have memories of getting lost in the back woods and coulees of the Qu’Appelle Valley. Many hours were spent exploring and forging new trails where only deer, fox, rabbits, and the like occupy. At times I would be lost and not even know it! In my wandering, I would eventually arrive back at a familiar place and could find my way.

At times I would be lost and not even know it! Click To Tweet

Lost

It is one thing to be unknowing lost, but quite another to come to the place where you realize how lost you are.

Lost Puppy

Jesus relates a parable of just such a young man. In his immaturity, he prematurely asks and receives more than his share of father’s estate. Off he goes as far away as the cash in his pocket will take him. He leaves more than his father’s home. He discards family values and faith.

Only when he is entirely broken and destitute does he finally see how lost he is. At the bottom of his self-made pit, he looks up, “My father is my only hope!”

 “When he came to his senses, he said,
‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare,
and here I am starving to death!

 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

 I am no longer worthy to be called your son;
make me like one of your hired servants.’

 So he got up and went to his father.
Luke 15: 17-20

Found

Heavier than the stench of the pig pen was the shame and guilt that cloaked him. Each step home was a painful reminder of how he had drifted. Words of repentance could no longer be silenced!

Pig Pen

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

We have no idea how long the father had been watching and waiting; we do know he never forgot or gave up. Compassion never ends! Love never fails!

The day dawned! The day long waited for was now!

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
Luke 15:21

The son starts his well-rehearsed confession, but never gets to finish it. He is home more than willing to be a servant forever! “Let me work! Let me labour! Don’t call me a son! I’ve gone too far! It has been too long! I’ve done too much! I’m not worthy!”

Father’s Heart

Son-ship has nothing to do with being worthy; it is has everything to do with relationship! My sons are my sons! There is nothing they could do to change that! My DNA is in them. They are loved beyond measure for no other reason  more than being sons. Even if they choose to forget, I cannot and will not forget.

Father Son

“But the father said to his servants,
‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him.
Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.
’ So they began to celebrate.”
Luke 15:22-24

Just as he is, the son is welcome. Brokenness of sin, stains or life, cannot stop the Father’s lavish love. Love covers!

The part we see is only the beginning. The relationship once severed now completely renewed. Once lost, now found! The dead is alive! Every day forward would be a reminder of restoration.

Lost at Home

The second son, though faithful to the core, lived with a father he never knew. The character and nature of his father was completely hidden from him.

Stubborn

He saw his father as demanding, stingy, and hard. Neither did he comprehend his own need for grace and forgiveness. The father did not wait for his oldest’s attitude to adjust; he went immediate to him.

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in.
So his father went out and pleaded with him.

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
But we had to celebrate and be glad,
because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.’”
Luke 15 :28-32

Too often we are not dissimilar to the older son. We settle for working and doing, rather than resting in the shadow of the Father’s love and acceptance. The Father simply wants us to be a son or daughter.

We settle for working and doing, rather than resting. Click To Tweet

We can be in the right place doing all the right things and yet be lost – separated from the Father’s love and character. Prodigals are not always easy to identify. Yet, the Father loves completely and generously, inviting each of us home.

Just like me for so many years, one can be lost and not even knowing it!

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The Unbeatable Team! Power and Authority! It’s Amazing

Amazing

I think it is amazing that anyone could amaze Jesus! Who was this incredible person? What qualified him of such status?

Who?

We read about him in the gospels. He is a captain in the Roman army, an unnamed centurion,  overseeing about one hundred men. His solid reputation among the Jews, sincere concern of his slave and love for the nation qualifies him a notch above the norm. He also helped build the synagogue.

These attributes make it clear he was not the typical army commander of that day. Packing these characteristics into one human is enough to amaze me!

Though the word “love” only appears once, it permeates all he does. Whether behind closed doors where only servants witness or in the public square, a love that went above and beyond marked his life.

Centurion

The word “amazing” is perhaps overused today :

My grandchildren are amazing.
(I challenge anyone to disagree!)
The meal was amazing,
amazing hospitality, sunset, feats of strength…

To amaze means to fill with astonishment, to take someone’s breath away, to stun or leave someone open-mouthed. Somehow, I have a hard time visualizing Jesus in this way. Yet it is true!

Why?

“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him,
and turning to the crowd following him, he said,
‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’ ”
Luke 7:9

Why was his faith amazing? The recorded interaction shows he had a firm understanding of authority.

Authority

“… say the word, and my servant will be healed.
For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.
I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one,
‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant,
‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Luke 7:7-8

Authority combines both legal ability and authorization to exercise power. It also carries the strength for enforcement. Power is the actual exercise and use of the power and influence of authority.

Authority is the permission granted to actually carry out a task. Power is the force exerted to complete it.

Authority it the permission granted to carry out a task. Power is the force exerted to complete it. Click To Tweet

The Start?

Matthew said Jesus

“… taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”
Matthew 7:29

Supreme Court

Everything Jesus did (His power) flowed from this place of authority. In Christ, authority and power presented an unbeatable combination.

“Say the word,” the centurion said “and my servant will be healed.” His confession to Jesus was, “Speak and it will be!”

Whether it was words of healing, calming a storm or blessing a meal, Jesus moved in both power and authority.

Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy,
and he was healed at that moment.”
Matthew 17:18

Others

Jesus gave authority to the twelve disciples:

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him
and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and
to heal every disease and sickness.”
Matthew 10:1

And then to seventy-two others:

“I have given you authority to trample on
snakes and scorpions and
to overcome all the power of the enemy;
nothing will harm you.”
Luke 10:19

Snakes and scorpions were the cause of excruciating pain and even death. Walking in the authority of Christ produces the ability to overcome. That is good news!

But it didn’t stop there! One of the most profound statements in the bible is

“Just as you sent me into the world,
I am sending them into the world.”
John 17:18

Jesus came with power and authority, teaching and doing all the Father instructed. Just as the Father sent Jesus into the world with power and authority, so Jesus is sending each of us. I honestly haven’t grasped the measure of this truth, but I’m working on it.

I once read: “Power is the ability to do something. Authority is the right to do it. Power without authority is abuse. Authority without power is pointless.”

Power is the ability to do something. Authority is the right to do it. Click To Tweet

Senseless

Amazing?

Do you believe Jesus would send us out on mission ill-equipped or unprepared? Absolutely not! Everything we need to do even greater things is at our disposal.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me
will do the works I have been doing, and
they will do even greater things than these,
because I am going to the Father.”
John 14:12

Through Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit, we have the capacity to walk in both power and authority. It truly is an unbeatable team!

“We must have the devotion and the confidence
to believe that He will not fail and cannot fail.”
Smith Wigglesworth

The centurion, the twelve disciples, Smith Wigglesworth and countless others took hold of the winning combination of authority and power.

For you or I to rank in the mix, we must grasp not only the concept of authority but take the nature of a servant, like the centurion did. I action flowing from a heart of love impact our generation.

Do you believe it is still possible to amaze Jesus? Jaw-dropping astonishment might occur more often as faith is put into action. Yes! That is our hope!

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Normal? What Does It Mean To Be Normal Christian?

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