A Time to be Silent and a Time to Speak

Thankfully God gave me two ears and only one mouth! Given that ratio I should be listening twice as much as speaking. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, God positioned my mouth visibly in front!

Charles Wesley wrote a great hymn called, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” Honestly, at times I have trouble managing one tongue, let alone a thousand! Only what goes in through the ears comes out through the mouth!

Democracy attempts to give equal voice to poor and rich, unknown or famous, young as well as old. Though I reside in a democratic nation I actually attempt to live from Kingdom of God principles. A kingdom is not democratic!

Tongue talk!

Lately my King Jesus has been pinpointing some of my speaking problems. Sometimes the issue is a shortage of words; other times it is the type of words resonating from my lips that create the difficulty.

Advice to a King

This morning I read a mother’s advice to her kingly son. Listening to your mother is always important! When such advice is in the bible, it deserves even greater attention!

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31:8-9

Many segments of our society are “voiceless”, and easily ignored, even in a democracy.

Silenced by fear and intimidation,
bullied into the shadows,
multitudes know
the censorship of accusation,
manipulation and control.

The cost of speaking up can be extremely high! Who will speak for the unborn, the elderly, the intellectually disabled, the ones without home or identity? The challenge reaches beyond a king’s son to each of us.

The Problem

The bible speaks on numerous occasions admonishing the importance of listening. In many instances silence is the wiser, more excellent, way! Here is a sampling:

  • Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalms 141:3

  • “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
    but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3

  • “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
    Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” James 1:19

  • “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
    and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” Proverbs 17:27

Silence!

There is just reason for such encouragement! I will spare you the details of my personal tongue wagging when silence would have been appropriate. Understanding combined with grace contribute of listening well.

Silence arises either from the womb of wisdom or the tomb of shame? The first releases life; the second is a dark prison.

“There is a time for everything
…a time to be silent
and a time to speak,”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,7

A Time to Speak

When is the right time to speak? And how? Solomon offers sound advice:

“…the wise heart will know
the proper time and procedure.
For there is a proper time
and procedure for every matter.”
Ecclesiastes 8:5-6

Jesus said,

“A good man brings good things
out of the good stored up in his heart,
and an evil man brings evil things
out of the evil stored up in his heart.
For the mouth speaks
what the heart is full of.”
Luke 6:45

Speak up!

My tongue may be situated close to my brain, but it is inseparably connected to my heart! If I’m having trouble with my tongue, the heart, not diction, is the real issue.

  • “When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.” Proverbs 31:26

  • “Like apples of gold in settings of silver
    is a ruling rightly given.” Proverbs 25:11

  • “Let your conversation be always full of grace,
    seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

  • “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply 
    and how good is a timely word!
    Proverbs 15:23

The Power of Words

Words hold incredible power

to forgive and restore,
build and encourage,
impart wisdom and share knowledge,
inspire and motivate,
teach and train.

At times, wordless voids create deafening silence. A silence leaving others feeling unloved, unwanted, insignificant, used, or shunned. The right words validate, show respect, affirm and cherish. They sooth wounds and minister healing. Well spoken words bring understanding, lift burdens, and ease pain. They release permission to dream, aspire, and hope. Words powerfully protect the weak and ensure justice prevails.

“If anyone sins
because they do not speak up
when they hear a public charge
to testify regarding something
they have seen or learned about,
they will be held responsible.”
Leviticus 5:1

Responsibility!

Silence is not always an option! Failure to use our voice has eternal consequences!

Responsibility

The most important message we have is the Gospel of Jesus Christ; “it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes”. Many have misquoted Francis of Assisi as saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

Actually, he was advocating for words and actions to accurately reflect each other. Look what Francis of Assisi modelled:

(He) clearly spent a great deal of time using his words when he preached,
“sometimes preaching in up to five villages a day, often outdoors.
In the country, Francis often spoke from a bale of straw
or a granary doorway. In town, he would climb on a box
or up steps in a public building. He preached to . . .
any who gathered to hear the strange
but fiery little preacher from Assisi.”

Paul asks his Roman readers a relevant question,

But how can they call on him
to save them unless they believe in him?
And how can they believe in him
if they have never heard about him?
And how can they hear about him
unless someone tells them?

Romans 10:14

Ears to hear!

We have both voice and influence. Daily there is opportunity to share our personal stories of faith with others. These simple heartfelt words may be the channel God uses to bring someone into faith in Jesus Christ.

No Greater Joy

A young woman excitedly shared how she through faltering prayer, lead a friend into personal relationship with Jesus. Her own conversion to faith is fresh; her bible knowledge limited. One thing she knows — Jesus is worth it all!

Tears of joy and gratitude streamed down her face as she spoke. This experience of witnessing someone come to Christ has trumped her Christian experience. Well it should!

Yet mixed with tears of joy were also tears of sadness as she exclaimed, “Why didn’t someone tell me? Why did I have to wait until I was over thirty years old to hear about Jesus? How different my life would have been if someone would have shared Jesus with me sooner!”

There is no greater joy!  With equal enthusiasm heaven and earth should celebrate when a sinner comes home!

“In the same way, I tell you,
there is rejoicing in the presence
of the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:7

Ducks in a row!

We don’t need all our spiritual “ducks in a row” with impeccable theology or living in holy perfection to be effective voices for the Kingdom of God. God looks for the willing!

Voices willing to speak
when hearts are tender;
voices willing to challenge
when injustice rises.

Today I’m praying for the right words combined with boldness to speak them! The results are up to God! I can hardly wait to see what He will do!

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Advent – Mary, Mother of Jesus

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a perfect example of God’s way of choosing those the world would call ordinary to reveal His extraordinary. Man places emphasis on outer appearance; God focuses on heart.

“But God hath chosen the foolish things
of the world to confound the wise;
and God hath chosen the weak things
of the world to confound
the things which are mighty;”
1 Corinthians 1:27

What did God see in Mary? What set her apart from all others?

Favoured Mother

An angel appeared to Mary saying,

“Greetings, you who are highly favoured!
The Lord is with you.”
Luke 1:28

Favoured here means to bestow grace upon or endue with special honour. It is the same verb used in Ephesians 1:6 where it is translated, freely given, poured upon, blessed with, bestowed, or made accepted. It is a reminder that all merit or grace comes from The Lord — for Mary and for us.

Pregnant

The angel continued,

“…Do not be afraid, Mary;
you have found favour with God.

You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you are to call him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called
the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him
the throne of his father David,

and he will reign over
Jacob’s descendants forever;
his kingdom will never end.”
Luke 1:30-33

Questions rose like unstoppable waves in Mary’s mind. A virgin conceive? The angel gently calms her fear; this conception, unlike any other, will be through the Holy Spirit.

Mary received by faith what many professing Christians continue to doubt — the virgin birth of the Messiah. How could this be possible?

“For no word from God will ever fail.
Luke 1:37

Servant Mother

This verse literally translated says, “With the word God gives, He gives the power to fulfill it”. Mary believed! Her faith rested in the Almighty God who gave His Word.

“I am the Lord’s servant,”
Mary answered.
“May your word to me be fulfilled...”
Luke 1:38 

Don’t be deceived! Mary’s declaration wasn’t new! Long before this day, Mary had already chosen The One she would serve. Choices predetermined in the calm will not waiver in the storm. Decisions made in the day will go unquestioned during the night. In human weakness, God proves strong!

Newborn baby

Mary quickly hurried off to see Elizabeth & Zechariah. Elizabeth carried in her once barren womb the child destined to prepare the way for the coming Messiah.

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the baby leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:41

Elizabeth prophesied blessing upon Mary and The Holy Child hidden within. What extravagant worship flowed from the hearts of these two amazing mothers — one whose days appeared almost over, another whose life was barely beginning!

Humble Worship

Mary`s first words acknowledge her need of a personal Saviour,

“…My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.”
Luke 1:47,48

Power, position, and privilege reveal true character. We find in this young woman, probably still a teenager, a steadfast, humble heart of worship.

Woman in worship

Embedded in her prayer is a dozen quotations from Old Testament Scriptures. Although she undoubtedly had no formal education and was illiterate, Mary had listened closely to the reading of God’s Word hiding it in her heart.

This treasuring of God’s Word continued. Whether coming from the mouths of worshipping shepherds or from the aged prophets, Simeon & Anna,

“…Mary treasured up all these things
and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19

God’s words at times were piercing; at other times, like honey to the soul. Mary received them all with equal grace, humility, and surrender — treasuring, valuing, cherishing each as precious. Every utterance pregnant with promise!

A Mother’s Surrender

It is one thing to surrender ourselves; it is another to surrender our children. Mary, together with her husband Joseph, dedicated Jesus to the Lord. Women weren’t required to attend the yearly Passover; yet together Joseph and Mary went.

It was Mary who spoke up after Jesus had gone missing,

“After three days they found him
in the temple courts,
sitting among the teachers
listening to them and
asking them questions.”
Luke 2:46

Jesus felt “at home” in God’s house. Even though she didn’t understand, Mary again “treasured all these things in her heart.” Content, perhaps, to know her Son possessed a listening heart!

A mother, surrendered and listening to God, willingly yields her children to His design.

Years pass quickly! Like his father Joseph, Jesus became a carpenter. But for three days the carpenter’s shop was quiet; the apron unmoved upon the bench. A recent baptism! A cluster of followers forming!

Carpenter shop

Something was shifting; her mother heart knew it.

“They have no wine,” were her only words to Jesus.

“Woman why do you involve me?
Jesus replied.
My hour has not yet come.”
John 2:4

Refusing offence, her words to others echo her knowing heart, “Do whatever he tells you.” Surrender precedes miracle!

No time for demanding or needing,
manipulation or co-dependency,
self-pity or control.

“Do whatever he tells you.”

Steadfast Mother

Without understanding all God was doing, Mary gave her Son again, and again, and yet again to His Sovereign will

as an infant and then a child,
at the wedding in Cana,
and when people called Him
crazy or demon-possessed,
even at the cross,
and the tomb.

Jesus, death and resurrection

From conception on, Mary believed.  She followed Jesus both with a mother’s love and a disciple’s commitment. In steadfast devotion, she accompanied His last fatal journey to Golgotha.

To the tomb she plodded with heart numbed by grief. Here, on resurrection morning, sorrow turned to joy! Mary and a handful of women were among the first to voice this powerful message,

“He is not here:
for he is risen, as he said.”
Matthew 28:6

Was she one of the unnamed with “The Eleven and those … assembled together” when Jesus entered revealing nail-scarred hands and feet?  Later after Jesus’ ascension, we see her among those continually praying in the upper room. Waiting and seeking the promised Holy Spirit.

Years of prayerful abiding, sustained and prepared her.

And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another advocate
to help you and be with you forever
 the Spirit of truth.
The world cannot accept him,
because it neither sees
him nor knows him. But you know him,
for he lives with you
and will be in you.”

John 14:16-17

Mother of Promise

Mary was one woman, a “humble servant”, who treasured God’s promise — not for a moment but for a life time.

What about us? Whether man or woman! We too can become people of promise as we

surrender in humble submission,
cherish God’s word as precious,
believe beyond understanding,
position ourselves in prayer,
and steadfastly follow
The Master.

In weakness, we find strength. God is adequate in our insufficiency. Upon common circumstance, He breathes His extraordinary, crowning our little with favour.

The Bible

Until, in Him we too become children of promise!

 “So in Christ Jesus you are
all children of God through faith,

for all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile,
neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

If you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham’s seed,
and heirs according to the promise.”
Galatians 3:26-29

Mary became an unexpected heir of promise, not once but twice. First in her womb, as a virgin; then in her heart, as a disciple. What generations had long hoped for, Mary received — Christ, the Saviour!

Now by faith in Jesus Christ, there is equal access. The promise of eternal salvation is offered freely to each of us. Who today will believe? Will you? Will I?

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Looking, Seeing, Keeping Eyes Open

Looking without seeing is a blinding condition in more ways that one! I can drive the same road day after day, week after week without noticing the environment around me. Suddenly, I will see something as if for the first time that actually isn’t new. Though I was looking, I wasn’t truly seeing! My eyes were not open to the obvious.

Does anyone else have the same problem?

“Keep your eyes open for God,
watch for his works;
be alert for signs of his presence.”
Psalm 105:4 MSG

By watching closely, we will see evidence of God all around us.

Ezekiel

God brought Ezekiel to the temple court – the place where the priests minister. When Ezekiel looked, he saw a “hole” in the wall.

"I looked and I saw a hole in the wall"

“Then he brought me to the entrance to the court.
I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall.
He said to me, “Son of man, now dig into the wall.”
So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there.”
Ezekiel 8: 7-8

When Ezekiel began digging “into the wall”, a doorway became visible. Looking, seeing and digging wasn’t enough! God asked Ezekiel to go through the doorway to look harder, more intentionally, at the condition of his city.

He challenged Ezekiel, “Look! Observe! Pay attention!

What Ezekiel saw was disturbing!

Looking Personally

I assist hurting people every week as they wade through destructive life circumstances, helping them “look” at the truth of God’s word personally and “see” hope in Christ. My work with others often awakens a fresh awareness of areas needed in my own personal development and healing journey.

Opening the way to see!

God desires for each us to be on a continuing trajectory to health and wholeness. I have come a long way, but have a long way to go.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me was not without effect.”
I Corinthians 15:10

What you see now is not what I used to be! Thankfulness for all God has done is appropriate. Allowing myself to be blinded to the need for continued personal growth, however, is harmful. Change is not optional, but rather mandatory, for Christians!

As a lay minister, it is often in this place of assisting others that my own “gaps” and “holes” become most evident. It is the perfect place for God to reveal points of His unfinished work.

“Stop! Look closer!” I’ll sense Him say.

When I am willing to look, He allows me to see more broken jagged edges!

Taking a closer look at negative life patterns

Holy Spirit reveals hidden places of self-protection, negative thought patterns and recurring destructive behaviours. Blinded by familiarity, these patterns would otherwise go unnoticed.

It amazes me how much of life can be lived without any serious looking or digging!

Only when I am willing to become honest before God and others will the avenue of healing and liberty be exposed to view. Thankful for victories past, I prepare to work on present trouble spots! In the space between past and future I feel the burden of now — fragile, exposed, and vulnerable.

Progress

Looking isn’t easy! The depravity within and without is wearying, even horrifying! My willingness to see, however, precedes any victory to come.

Seeing the best of every circumstance

God will not do the work for me; He waits for my active participation in the process. I must look with intention! Purposefully digging beneath protective layers requires obedience to open the door of my heart and mind to His examination.

In the looking, Christ is with me.
He is enough in the digging.
In the opening, He is present.
The cross has paid the price.
In my groping,
I find “It is finished!

My eyes turn back to the bible, as I continue to read

“In the morning
the word of the LORD came to me…”
Ezekiel 12:8

There is always a morning! A new day! A fresh opportunity!

His Word transcends…
Truth penetrates…
Light overcomes…

His Word transcends… Truth penetrates… Light overcomes…

There must be present a purposeful intention both inwardly and outwardly; never so outwardly focused I am inwardly complacent nor inwardly minded that I am outwardly negligent.

Never so outwardly focused I am inwardly complacent nor inwardly minded that I am outwardly negligent. Click To Tweet

God was the One who directed Ezekiel’s sight-line. He is willing and able to aim my own.

With a Purpose

It is possible to maintain a quiet trust and confidence embedded within a surrendered heart. He turns my gaze, focusing my vision on what He wants me to see and become.

When He is says, “Dig”, I will have the strength to respond! When He says, “Look”, I will have the grace to see. Then, and only then, will He give me the wisdom to open the doorway to the next place of deliverance and freedom.

In it all, we see Christ and His divine purpose:

“We look at this Son and see the God
who cannot be seen.
We look at this Son and see God’s
original purpose in everything created.”
Colossians 1: 15 MSG

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen.

It is astonishing to realize that in everything Christ can be seen, when we are willing to look. Regardless of circumstances, God’s wonder is revealed in every direction, including our common ordinary.

We look
to see,
surrendered,
moving beyond,
ever forward
from strength to strength.

The courage of one, raises the tidal mark of bravery for others. As one person strides forward in victory, others are inspired to take similar fragile steps. Is this not the appearance of faith? Looking and seeing! Keeping our eyes constantly open for the movements of God!

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Personal testimonies worth sharing again:

A Daughter’s Redemption! Dawn Enters a New Day!

The Prodigal Returns, Prayer Answered! Running No More!

The Lost Meaning of Repentance

Language is in constant fluid motion; words often change meaning over time. Repentance is one example of a word with value and meaning shifting over the years.

Linguists, those who studies language, tell us that youth culture changes language about every 6 months. Dictionary writers update, adding new words and adapting meanings of existing words, continuously. It’s not much wonder confusion arises when certain words are used. Some members of the population may understand one meaning, while another segment may have a totally different concept in mind.

Here are just a few words as examples:

  1. Awful now means something very bad or unpleasant, disgusting, horrible or terrible. At one time, awful meant “worthy of awe”.
  2. Fizzle once referred to the act of producing quiet flatulence. Now it simply means to come to a gradual end.
  3. Clue, or clew, was a ball of yarn. Today it has the meaning of “evidence or information used in the detection of a crime or solving of a mystery”.

Repentance

Biblical repentance goes beyond the dictionary’s definition of “sincere regret or remorse“. Remorse is a deep regret or guilt for wrong committed. A person can be sincerely remorseful without ever repenting.

Remorse, regret and repentance

“Why is definition important?” one might ask?

Jesus responded to accusations of socializing with the wrong crowd by saying,

“I have not come to call the righteous,
but sinners to repentance.”
Luke 5:32

If Jesus purposefully came to draw people to repentance, it is imperative we have a clear understanding of what He was actually meaning.

After hearing Peter’s first sermon, the people were deeply remorseful and knew they needed to do something about their spiritual condition, but they honestly had no idea what to do. Peter’s response was,

“… Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins.
And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2: 38

Repentance to biblical writers reached beyond feelings of guilt or shame. It was necessary for anyone coming into relationship with God. Years later Peter’s message hadn’t changed:

“The Lord … is patient with you,
not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9

Eternal Significance

Truth is truth! Whether I believe it or reject it, truth remains true forever. Where each of us will spend eternity hangs in the balance of this one word — repentance.

In a world of political correctness and apologetic niceties, I must be honest. Eternal hell is full of those deeply remorseful and in constant regret of sin.

Godly sorrow brings repentance
that leads to salvation and leaves no regret,
but worldly sorrow brings death.”
2 Corinthians 7:10

To repent is simply to change one’s mind toward God and sin. It is a voluntary change of will, feeling and action toward God involving not just a feeling bad about what one has done wrong or the consequences faced. It is a “godly sorrow” leading one to confess and renounce sin turning away from it completely.

Repentance is a changing of one's mind

Where once sin held great pleasure and lure, now it is seen clearly for its true destructive nature,

“For the wages of sin is death;
but the gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 6:23

Sin is always deadly! Always! But when a person repents, God extends His wonderful gift of life, available because of Jesus’ work through His death and resurrection.

A Good Trade

Sometimes I have made what would be considered a “poor” trade to give someone else an advantage: taking the smaller portion of desert, using the broken pencil, choosing an uncomfortable position… I’m sure you have too.

A few years ago a man traded a single red paperclip. Fourteen trades later, he traded with the Town of Kipling Saskatchewan for a house. A paperclip for a house is a good trade, but not the best trade!

“If my people,
who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray
and seek my face
and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven,
and I will forgive their sin
and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14

I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land

Now we are talking good trade! Trading pride for humility to draw close to God! Better yet, repenting and turning from “wicked ways” and receiving forgiveness and healing. That is a good trade!

I love the “I will”s of the bible. There are promises of God available if we assume our responsibility. This one verse contains three such amazing promises — all are connected directly to repentance.

No Regrets

Sometimes people genuinely feel so attached to their sinful life style they honestly feel to repent would deprive them of joy. It is a perceived “sacrifice” many are unwilling to make.

True repentance accesses indescribable freedom and pleasure in obeying God. Undoubtedly, there is a loathing of the sin that once held them in bondage. For Christians, life is not a list of “dos and don’ts”, but rather fullness of joy in fellowship with God and others.

“You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Psalm 16:11

The fullness of joy!Sin holds pleasure for only a season! Repentance is the path to enjoying life fully now and for eternity.  There are no regrets to such a life choice!

It remains vitally important that we maintain the biblical meaning of repentance as God intended. Individually and corporately it is a principle leading to life and spiritual wholeness.

“Repentance means turning from
as much as you know of your sin
to give as much as you know
of yourself to as much as
you know of your God,
and as our knowledge grows
at these three points so our practice
of repentance has to be enlarged.
J. I. Packer

Choice for Today

To the tender-hearted person of faith, repentance is a continuing process. Holy Spirit both convicts us of sin, bringing us into sharpened awareness of areas of rebellion toward God, while convincing us of the immeasurable grace available to all who believe.

Today is the day of salvation!

The liberating force within repentance is difficult to articulate and wonderful to experience.

“For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you,
now is the time of God’s favor,
now is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2

There will be no better day than today! No better time than right now! Test and see just how good God is! I encourage you to take the step beyond remorse and regret to the freedom found in genuine repentance. It is the right time to experience God’s favor!

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Perspective and Choice – From the Bridge of the Cross

Since I’m nearsighted, I’ve worn corrective glasses since grade school. Being nearsighted may present problems, but having clear vision gives new perspective.

Failure to see clearly from an eternal viewpoint creates even more of a dilemma. Will I have a nearsighted perspective or choose a panoramic view? The cross of Christ is the bridge between two significant perspectives.

Paul put it this way:

“For now we see through a glass, darkly;
but then face to face: now I know in part;
but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12

Now we see dimly!

Stick with me as I illustrate!

Boxes

In my office with laptop before me, dozens of national flags dot the wall beyond my desk. The telephone and my bible are tucked close. A travel mug of icy water completes the items within my limited view.

To my right, a picture of my husband, a thank you note and a certificate clutter my desk.  A reed basket of discipleship material sits atop a tote of children’s journals. Three prints of personal paintings fill the remaining desktop. They represent an invitation to worship, to intercession and to fullness of relationship with Christ. Above the desk, a hand painted banner from a young worship dancer declares “Church rules! God rules!

When I adjust my position a quarter turn, I view my office mate steadily working at her computer. A song of praise continuously flows both from her heart and the speaker beside her. Her backpack slumps lazily from a comfy corner chair.

From the final perspective, I view through a large window into a hallway. The window pane originated from the “mother” church planted within our city decades ago. Imprinted in the glass are images of the vibrancy of that little mission church with a sign announcing “Jesus Saves”.

Since I spend so much time here, I might be deceived into thinking this “box” I call my office is “my world.” Here the ceiling hangs low, the lighting artificial.

Boxes of familiarity will foster either love or hate!

We grow to love or hate our familiar boxes!

The Bridge

As I exit the church, the air is crisp as the wind wisps my hair in uncontrolled fashion. The noise of the street rises as I make my way unto the bridge spanning a busy bypass beneath. From the bridge, the view is drastically different from my office.

As I look back, my office is hidden within the larger church structure that dominates my view. A senior’s complex snuggles in the church’s shadow. On the opposite side of the roadway rests a cemetery sheltered by mature elm, maple and spruce. A condominium unit fills the remaining gap within focus.

Turning southward, I notice the university,  nestled by Wascana Creek. A teepee village circles the front lawn of one of the nearest buildings. The rush of traffic comes and goes from beneath my bridge.

To my right the view changes completely, as I look toward parks and walkways. Trees, wildflowers, and chirping birds invite me further.

Another quarter turn and I face the traffic full on: coming and going, crossing and merging, entering and exiting. The constant din of motors and wheels, exhaust fumes rising from hot pavement and rapid movement of vehicles bombards my senses.

Then I look up! Wisps of white swirl upon a otherwise barren canvas of cerulean blue. The sun’s warmth intensifying even at this early morning hour.

Spaces

I don’t stop here making my way to the other side. Though I am very close to the bridge the sounds and busyness are immediately hushed as I venture along this “natural” walkway. Trees gently bend their boughs in open arm movement overhead. Children laugh and play undisturbed in a nearby park. Birds swoop and twirl in the gentle breeze.

A space to breathe and then breathe again!

I look back wondering how I can still be so close to the bridge but so far removed from what was just steps away. My soul breathes, then breathes again.

I want to stay, to linger, to rest! Responsibility calls me back over the bridge to my office.

Perspective

My shared office is small with both limitations and opportunities. In this little “box” struggles, trials, and hurdles are overcome daily. I am thankful for the privileges and blessings here as well. “Boxes” bear many labels: marriage, life situation, illness, financial restraint…

My perspective of life can be viewed only from a “box” of duty or commitment. I can jealously look at other boxes and wonder why some are larger, more elaborate, with more benefits than mine! I can even begin to resent my box and its limitations.

Blessings are equally distracting! Opportunities or comfort obscure by vision, causing me to forget it is only a “box” – a part of the something much bigger.

Bridges span two realities. There is before me a solid bridge — the cross of Jesus Christ, connecting present reality to the truth of heaven’s eternal promise. From this bridge, perspective changes. Without ceiling, The Light is pure. It is the transition point between the world in which I walk and the eternal realm in which I truly live.

Under the cross all life flows! I am exposed to cultures beyond my own. It is fast paced, at times draining, but always satisfying. There is nothing boring about living the way of the cross!

From the cross I catch the breath-taking view of heaven’s domain. I touch a different reality, feeling the freedom of life fully lived. There are “cross-over” moments of resting in the Presence of the Almighty. Eternity welcomes me further!

Questions and Answers

The questions we have and the answers we seek will be determined by perspective. Sitting in nearsighted little boxes, questions of God may be self-seeking and self-motivated.

Questions and answers from the position of the cross usually focus outwardly toward others. Here a world view forms in line with scripture and the finished work of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

As we taste and see the goodness of God in brief glimpses of what is to come, questions lose their urgency, answers become unnecessary in the Presence of the One who is The Answer!

We often fail to ask the right questions! Jesus, however, presented a question we all must ask. The answer will be a reflection of perspective.

“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,
Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist;
others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah,
for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood,
but by my Father in heaven…”
Matthew 16:13-17

The ultimate question is, “Who is Jesus?”

While most people viewed Jesus from the lens of nearsighted religious perspective, Peter saw more. Jesus, the Messiah, Saviour, God with man, stood among them.

“Who do you say I am?”

The Answer

The answer to that question will determine how we face every other answer-less question. Is God who He said He is? Is He incomparably loving, immeasurably compassionate, completely just, righteous, gracious and kind. Do I know Him as all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present? Can I trust Him?

Though the fig tree does not blossom
And there is no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive fails
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock is cut off from the fold
And there are no cattle in the
stalls,
Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord;
I will [choose to] shout in exultation
in the [victorious] God of my salvation!

The Lord God is my strength
[my source of courage, my invincible army];

He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence]
on my high places [of challenge and responsibility].”
Habakkuk 3:17-19

In Him is courage and strength. Though weak in body, I consistently move forward in spite of challenges. Because of Jesus, I am free to enjoy the safety of my “box”, the connection of the bridge to God and others through the cross, as well as the wonder and abundance of heaven.

We shall be known, face to face!

With new perspective we can all “rejoice in the Lord” and “shout in exultation in the victorious God of (our) salvation.”

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Further Reading:

Something Better! God is Faithful to All He has Promised!

Hebrews 12 Throw Aside Every Weight and Sin

Second is Better Than First! When Second is Best!

No one intentionally aims to rank in second position. In fact, the desire to excel begins surprising young. For most people, expectations to consistently rank in top place is unrealistic. Is there ever a time when second is actually an advantage? Can second be best after all?

I have a lot of experience at second place! I was second oldest among my siblings. Scholastically I worked hard to achieve good grades, sometimes even coming in second best. At track meets the majority of ribbons earned were red, the reward for second. I even entered a writing competition in grade school. You guessed it — second place!

“Whatever is worth doing is worth doing right,” was my father’s motto for excellence. He was right! It is always a good practise to aim at doing our best.

Whatever your hand finds to do,
do it with all your might…”
Ecclesiastes 9:10

Trying for first! Achieving second!

Work willingly at whatever you do,
as though you were working for the Lord
rather than for people.”
Colossians 3:23

Often our best efforts don’t get us to the finish line the fastest, merit the achievement we hoped, or gain academic excellence. Then what?

The Issue of Pride

Jacob’s firstborn, and the one who should have received the birthright, was Reuben. But God rejected him for committing adultery with his father’s concubine. Simeon and Levi in vengeful anger annihilated an entire village. They too were checked off the list of eligible candidates for first place.

Jacob preferred Joseph’s son Ephraim for the honour of top choice. But God saw things differently!

“Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
but he chose the tribe of Judah…”
Psalm 78: 67-68

Why was Ephraim rejected as “first choice”?

You go first! I'll go second!

His name means “double fruitfulness“! What is more, the tribe of Ephraim was acclaimed for their skilled and mighty warriors. (1 Chron 12:30) Sounds like a top qualifier to me!

As we follow history, we see Ephraim’s descendants become overly proud of their abilities. On several occasions, they were more than a little upset about being excluded from battle or shunned from being chosen first. Pride, rebellion and disobedience enjoy cohabitation. The tribe of Ephraim accepted this ugly triad which ultimately led them away from God.

“Ephraim is joined to idols! Leave him alone!”
Hosea 4:17

Why Judah?

But why did God choose Judah? Judah was Jacob’s fourth son from his first wife Leah  — the wife he did not love. Jacob had two wives, two concubines, 12 sons and a daughter. To describe family life as dysfunctional would be a gross understatement!

First or second? Depends on the direction you're going!

In comparison to his older brothers, Judah would never be considered “righteous”. He had his own set of deviant behaviours! So why Judah?

Maybe, his mother started it!

“When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved,
he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.
 
Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son.
She named him Reuben, for she said,
“It is because the Lord has seen my misery.
Surely my husband will love me now.”
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son
she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved,
he gave me this one too.”
So she named him Simeon.
Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son
she said, “Now at last my husband
will become attached to me,
because I have borne him three sons.”
So he was named Levi.
Genesis 29:31-34

Break Through

Second place is one thing; second place to a younger sister is unbearable. Especially when you share the same husband! Leah did everything she could to earn her husband’s favour. Nothing worked! She somehow reconciled herself to ever-present rejection, dwelling in the land of unloved.

It's my turn to be first!

Only those who have experienced such an agonizing existence, can appreciate her brave strength to praise God in the midst of her unending storm of pain.

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son
she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.”
So she named him Judah.”
Genesis 29:35

Sacrificial praise extended in the midst of unbearable grief! Leah gave birth to more than a son. She brought forth undaunted worship, courageously choosing to turn her gaze away from people to God, Adonai, her Lord.

Judah’s birth was a turning point for Leah.

Another Second

Follow the family tree down a few generations and we come to David.

When the Israelites demanded a king, God agreed and sent Samuel to anoint Saul as the first king to rule over his people. (1 Sam 10) Saul, however, proved himself unfaithful being far more concerned with what people were thinking about him than how he stood before God.

“… Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has rejected you as king.”
1 Samuel 15:23

Who is king now?

David’s father, Jesse, didn’t consider his young son even a remote possibility when Samuel came to anoint the future king. But God saw in David the perfect candidate to lead his people.

“So Samuel took the horn of oil
and anointed him in the presence of his brothers,
and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD
came powerfully upon David...”
1 Samuel 16:13

Undeniably, David as second king exceeding the first!

First and Second

The disciples felt an urgency to replace Judas Iscariot. They prayed, cast lots, and confidently chose Matthias. (Acts 1:24-26) God’s choice wasn’t on their list of applicants — Saul of Tarsus! The persecutor of the church, murderer of men, women and children? Saul? Yep, Saul! After Judas the traitor, Saul didn’t appear to be any step up, but he was. The second ultimately became the greatest Apostle of all, planting many churches and writing a large chunk of the New Testament.

Resting in place!

There is One “second” who is even greater. His name is Jesus. Jesus? Second? How could the Lord of all possibly be second?

 “So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”;
the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
The spiritual did not come first,
but the natural, and after that the spiritual.
The first man was of the dust of the earth;
the second man is of heaven.”
1 Corinthians 15:45-47

The first Adam sinned in the garden gaining for all mankind death while losing most everything else. Through his death and resurrection, the second Adam, Jesus, restored all the first forfeited.

“But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
1 Corinthians 15:57

There you have it!

After reading this, I know beyond a doubt that sometimes second so far exceeds the first, it is unbelievable to conceive it was ever second. In fact, Jesus was always God’s first plan, His only plan, His best plan.

Can second be best after all? Absolutely!

 

 

Timeless or a Capsule of Time? Time in Perspective

Any one else struggle with time? That fleeting thing that whizzes by at breakneck speed past days, months and years. Only by gazing at the Timeless One will we fully appreciate the capsule of time we are given and reign time into its proper perspective.

We micro-manage time with intensity.  With day planners in pocket phones that never leave our sides, we organize time for work, family and recreation. We divide our time into minutes, hours, days, months and years. Sensing the fleeting nature of time, we pack every moment with busyness.

Moses who lived a good 120 years, much longer than I anticipate life to be, said,

Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12

Life goes fast! Too Fast!

Life goes fast, too fast!

“I don’t have time!” are words that echo often throughout our culture. We postpone the things that should be done for what must be done!

Capsule of Time

If we experience even the years of Moses’ life and measure them against eternity, it would be like the tiniest capsule floating almost invisibly in an endless ocean.

Time is the most precious of all commodities. If I lose all my wealth and financial resources, there is opportunity to regain some portion. When health fails, The Healer stands close; heaven’s reality holds neither sickness nor death. If I lose even the closest ones I love, the hope of being reunited in eternity sustains me.

Timeless eternity!

Time is the only commodity never to be regained! This moment replaced by the next — both instantly gone!

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done
from beginning to end.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11

We stir with an awareness of more! For surely we were created not for fleeting moments but everlasting days.

The Perspective of Time

Every part of creation is affected by time — everything! One glance in the mirror at my deep wrinkles and laugh lines and the crown of thinning grey shouts, “Time is passing, girl!” Youthful subtle skin thins, bones ache, eyesight dims, memory comes and goes.

Time management!

Hide it? Ignore it? Excuse it? Nonetheless, time wears through the most resilient, defying restraint. All of creation succumbs to its influence.

Because our minds cannot fathom anything apart from what we know, it is impossible to perceive Someone,  the self-existing God, beyond time.

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years,
and a thousand years are like a day.”
2 Peter 3:8

Time is an earthly concept defined by multiple terms of measurement: decades, centuries, millennium. Time-words define our time, not God’s, because He is both within yet beyond all expanse of time.

The Timelessness of God

God has no beginning and no end. He has no past and no future living in the ever present now. In fact, He inhabits beginning and end simultaneously. Now that exceeds comprehension!

The only One expanding beyond all scope of time is God; He alone is absolute everlasting!

Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
Psalms 90:2

Counting the moments of time!

Because mankind was created in His image, we too were made for timelessness.

“To be made for eternity
and forced to dwell in time
is for mankind a tragedy of huge proportions.
All within us cries for life and permanence,
and everything around us
reminds us of mortality and change.”
A.W. Tozer

We live in this tension of time! Its deep significance, yet fleeting nature. Time has intrinsic value, uncontainable essence.

Making the Most of Our Time

So how do we best value time? The obvious is to not waste it. Yet, we all have “time-wasting” pursuits. Television, computers, Facebook top the list of many. Less obvious perhaps are procrastination, fear, daydreaming and indecisiveness.

Time is to be treasured!

People and relationships are the most significant endeavours that should occupy our time. Because most of our days are spent in the workplace, create opportunities for deep and caring relationships with colleagues. Family will NOT always be there, as we sometimes perceive; seize moments to love and invest in close and distant relatives. Friendships take time to develop levels of trust and commitment that speaks mutually of love and value.

Live wisely among those who are not believers,
and make the most of every opportunity.”
Colossians 4:5

People are the only “things” we actually can take to heaven!

What about time for the greatest relationship of all — the one between us and the Lord? Is there time for prayer, reading and silent meditation of scripture, study of God’s character and nature, or serving Him by serving others?

Between Time and Timeless

A young man told me once that he actually liked funerals. Astonished, I asked why! Early on he recognized that funerals brought him face-to-face with the shortness of his own life. A wise young man, I think!

“It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart.”
Ecclesiastes 7:2

It is neither in the beginning of life nor in the fullness of busy days that we come to realize that faith in Jesus Christ is not optional. Christ is the only solution to the fleeting nature of life on earth. In Christ “God’s eternity and man’s mortality” collide.

Time is fleeting!

Christ acquired the great victory for man’s dilemma with time!

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
For sin is the sting that results in death,
and the law gives sin its power.

But thank God! He gives us victory
over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:55-57

We must all remember and view with brevity the limited time we have before we the leap from numbered days to limitless eternity. Today God extends His irresistible invitation. Death should never be “normal”. It pushes against all we are created and destined for. Thanks to Christ and the cross death never has the final word!

“For he says, “In the time of my favour I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour,
now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2

Today is the day to secure your place in eternity!

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Further Reading:

Finding The Solution for Pressings Problems and Difficulties

 

Developing Wisdom – Where Can Wisdom be Found?

The list for developing wisdom might possibly include reading, encountering new experiences, extended education, befriending wise people, and even travel. There is a common notion that wisdom can be sourced through people or the world around us. Such a quest echoes Job’s words, “Where can wisdom be found?”

“But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
No mortal comprehends its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.”
Job 28:12

If Job is right, we may see elements of wisdom in the writings of the wise, gain increased perspective from a variety of experiences, people, cultures and study, but wisdom will not be found in the world around us.  What is more, Job believes we underestimate its core value.

Wisdom Albert Einstein

For What It’s Worth

The preceding verses of Job 28 explain in detail the depths people go to reveal earth’s “treasures” of precious metals and gems. In the darkest recesses,

“people assault the flinty rock with their hands…”
Job 28:9

I’ve never been a miner searching for gold or diamonds, but I have had my share of swinging a hammer to chisel against “flinty rock”. In one of my not-so-wise moments, I decided to make a flagstone path between one farm house and another in our yard.

My Dad showed me the proper tools and technique. Now it was up to me to search the rock piles on our farm and beyond to find the right rock, the flinty rock, that would yield to the not-so-subtle persuasion of hammer and chisel. It took persisting through summer’s heat, enduring back-breaking labour to split, haul and set each stone. All for flinty rock!

Build your home on wisdom!

I did it though — for the sake of a path!

This is an unworthy comparison to the efforts taken to uncover “precious” metals and gemstones. Am I willing to make such effort for wisdom? Will I seek wisdom with similar determination?

If I value wisdom, I will!

Why the Effort?

“The beginning of wisdom is this:
Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have,
get understanding.”
Proverbs 4:7

If I don’t correctly assess the true value and benefit of wisdom, I will give up before finding it. Why should one make the effort?

Wise mind - wise speech!

Here’s a few valid reasons found within Proverbs 4 and 8 alone. Wisdom will

  • protect and watch over you
  • exalt and honour you, giving you a garland and a crown
  • provide “riches and honour, enduring wealth and prosperity
  • give a “rich inheritance to those who love” it

Solomon says the benefits of wisdom

“..are better than gold, even the purest gold,
my wages better than sterling silver.”
Proverbs 8:19

Where Can Wisdom be Found?

Since Job’s companions were lacking in wisdom, Job answers his own question,

God understand the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells.”
Job 28:23

“…The fear of the Lord — that is wisdom…”
Job 28:28

Job throws in a bonus giving us both the “where” and the “how” of wisdom’s source. Is there an easier way? Another way? Any other way? Isn’t “fear of the Lord” outdated — archaic?

Wisdom - John Bunyan

Solomon, the wisest man that lived, emphatically confirms,

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Proverbs 9:10

James acknowledges there is, in fact, a kind of “wisdom” to be gained now from the things around us. He warns that such “earthly wisdom” will eventually produce the unexpected results of bitter envy, selfish ambition, disorder and every evil practice. We don’t have to look far to see ample evidence of this principle at work.

“Such “wisdom”…is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.”
James 3:15

Billy Graham - wisdom

He, too, points our vision upward to the ultimate Source of all wisdom.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven
is first of all pure; then peace-loving,
considerate, submissive,
full of mercy and good fruit,
impartial and sincere.”
James 3:17

This is wisdom worth taking hammer and chisel too, worth pursuing with all diligence and effort, worth seeking and holding on to at all cost. Don’t you agree?

But How do You Gain Wisdom?

Paul draws us to a centrality that neither Job nor Solomon had the privilege of experiencing.  In writing to the Christians at Colossae, Paul says,

The Son is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For in him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Colossians 1:15-16

D.L. Moody wisdom quote

Paul persistently laboured so that everyone might know Jesus Christ, because in Him

“…are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Colossians 2:3

Splitting flinty rock won’t expose the greatest treasure available. Wisdom is discovered, granted and given to all those who are willing to pursue the vastness, beauty, magnificence and wisdom within the invisible God, made visible through Christ. Through a vibrant relationship with Wisdom, and here alone, does one become wise.

Simple Advice

The people who now walk that little garden path will never know the hours of labour it took to transform flinty rock into usefulness. Thousands of steps have skipped, jumped and hopped along that little winding trail.

In the same way, as one looks to only earthly sources for wisdom, one is tempted to skip, jump and hop from one good read, piece of advice, speaker, preacher and scholar to another without truly gaining the depth of wisdom and understanding available.

Fortunately, many people seek wisdom; unfortunately most people search in an array of earthly and psychic realms.

Here is simple and sure advice from James,

“If any of you lacks wisdom,
you should ask God, who gives generously
to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you.”
James 1:5

Let us confidently and boldly ask for wisdom to saturate our lives, resting in His Presence, seeking His face, knowing Him more, and somehow moment by moment becoming more like Him in wisdom.

Chesterton Quote

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Further Reading:

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

 

 

 

 

Transition of Seasons – Embrace the Change

September’s dawn hesitates with each new morning, weary perhaps from the busyness of summer’s unceasing activity. The long daylight hours are filled with a multitude of treasured moments to remember throughout winter’s dark freeze. Cooler nights and shortened days herald the transition of seasons and prepare us to embrace the change.

Our summer certainly was filled! A June wedding, God’s gift of a fresh start, in Nevada and our own 46th anniversary of life together. A jam-packed family camping adventure with hiking, fishing, biking, boating, lounging, campfires, games and giggles topped July’s memory making attempt. Mid August brought the completion of internship closing the chapter of Master’s Commission training. We laughed with friends marking birthdays from the north and south. Many moments captured forever in our grateful hearts!

Season of Change

As I consider personal transitions, the most dramatic came with marriage: single to united, independent to interdependent, under my father’s protective wing to another man’s, enjoying the benefits of my childhood home to making our own. Marriage brought a lot of change, that continues to this day.

Transition of Seasons

Seasons predictably come and go! Here in the northern hemisphere, the transitions may come subtly but the changes can be drastic!

The church that began with the apostles over two thousand years ago has seen major transitional changes, as well. Each change acutely different from the one before; each sparked by a fresh dawn of revival, while restoring an element of something lost.

With the Reformation and Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door in Wittenberg in 1517 came an awareness that salvation is by grace, and grace alone. It cannot be bought, earned or waggled into.

Luther - Wittenberg - 95 Theses

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

not by works, so that no one can boast”
Ephesians 2:8-9

The price of redemption paid in full!  Jesus death and resurrection is forever enough! Nothing added and nothing taken away!  This cosmic event bridged the great, dark chasm between God and humanity. Now that’s enough to make one dance, leap and shout with joy!

However, it didn’t take the church long to grow lethargic. Another transition was needed to stir up the greying coals of revival.

The Great Commission

Prayer is always the unseen channel of fresh fire. It would take Edwards, Wesley, Whitefield and others to again stir the church reviving and awakening the desire for evangelism. The church jolted to action! God’s grace is for all!

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name
of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;
and lo I am with you always,
even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20

Go into all the world!

For the first time since the evangelistic wave of the apostles, “go” was back in the “go”-spel! The church took seriously the commission to bring the Good News to all peoples!

But how does one effectively go without the tangible Presence of the Lord?

Preparing for Change

There were many forerunners to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street in 1906: D. L. Moody, Maria Woodworth Etter, Charles Parham, Evan Roberts and more. But Azusa Street became the fault line of the greatest quake of change in the church since the original Pentecost of the Book of Acts.

The outpouring! The Holy Spirit moved to the forefront with restoration of signs, wonder and miracles:

“These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe:
They will cast out demons in my name,
and they will speak in new languages.
They will be able to handle snakes with safety,
and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them.
They will be able to place their hands on the sick,
and they will be healed.”
Mark 16:17-18

Miracles, signs and wonders will follow them who believe!

Every shaking of revival transforms those willing to change. Recoil or embrace? With each restoration of truth, fearless, faith-filled, hungry, even desperate, God seekers step from the familiar and welcome the inexplicable grace of God’s open hand.

The Father’s Heart

The most current transitional change broke forth with fresh awareness of the goodness of God, a revelation of the Father’s heart. With impeccable timing, it broke into an environment plagued by fatherlessness.

The Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century quotes deaths through wars and oppressions alone totalled more that 188,000,000. The twentieth century became marked as the most lethal in mankind’s history. Each death represents families broken. Millions of fathers snuffed out, removed forever!

God’s heart most certainly must have wept over man’s ability to annihilate and destroy! Great grace flooded over chaos with a tsunami wave of His open heart of love through the Toronto Blessing. The impact continues worldwide!

God is good!

“For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Psalm 100:5

While the outpouring of Holy Spirit at Azusa Street created more denominational divides than any other movement, the revelation of the love of The Father has drawn denominations together like no other.

Change is Coming

As distinct as the shift from summer to fall, I feel another change coming. It is an exciting time! The church is rising and growing at unprecedented rates secure in restored revelation:

  • Salvation through grace and grace alone
  • The gospel for all peoples
  • Filled with the Holy Spirit
  • Radically loved by The Father

Wait! Pardon me for mentioning it, but my bible neither starts nor ends here! There is more!

The first act of God in Genesis was to prepare a garden for the union of a special couple, Adam and Eve. It was a place of constant fellowship between God and man, filled with peace, joy and unbridled communion.

The last act of God in Revelation is presenting the bride to The Bridegroom. Can you imagine that wonderful day?

The bride is getting ready for the Bridegroom!

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.”
Revelation 19:7

Every season of change for the church, every transitional wave of blessing and revelation, is for one purpose! The bride prepares for the Bridegroom!

Pulled close by His grace, the global church rises with arms reaching all. She is alive in the Spirit, immersed in the Father’s love. She is being slowly transformed into the likeness of The Bridegroom. Christ is coming back for a bride fully representing His heart, His character, His nature and His glory. He will not be unequally yoked!

“The bride has made herself ready!” There she will stand, a glorious church filled with strength, dignity, purity and honour.

However, to be ready, she must be willing to embrace change.  The same transitions that have occurred corporately are to be approached personally and intentionally as well. Welcome each season with confidence that every change is, in fact, a preparation for the Bridegroom.

Get excited! The wedding day is perhaps closer than we think!

 

 

 

The Friendship Model – David & Jonathan

Most of my life has been lived in a rural farming community where friendships run deep and long. When my husband and I sensed God was moving us to the city, we had many questions. Now looking back, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for the new friendships developed. David & Jonathan form a godly model of mutual friendship.

In the last few weeks, one of my best friends has taken flight and headed south permanently. It is an opportunity I don’t want her to miss. However, my heart is filled with a mixture of joy and sadness, longing and releasing, holding on to friendship while letting go.

Friendship is walking together through life!

Friendships are as varied as the people forming the relationship, each a unique blend of the personal and corporate individuality.

Friendship Loves

Think about your closest friend. Where did you meet? What were the surrounding circumstances? Your friendship probably didn’t begin like Jonathan’s meeting of David.

David had just finished slaying Goliath, the harassing giant. The proof was his head tucked not so neatly under David’s arm. How is that for an image?

King Saul had just called David in for a personal interview. As soon as “Dad” was done, prince Jonathan introduces himself,

“Jonathan became one in spirit with David,
and he loved him as himself.”
I Samuel 18:1

Why such an instant connect between David and Jonathan? Jonathan, too, was a proven mighty warrior. As Jonathan looked at this half boy, not quite man, full of godly audacity, he loved him.

Jonathan loved David’s faith-filled reliance on God. He loved is courage, wit and agility. Jonathan loved David deeply and fully. There was an instant connection!

Friendship takes time to develop!

The strength of the cord within friendship is love – a love beyond self!

“Jonathan made a covenant with David
because he loved him as himself.”
1 Samuel 18:3

Friendship is Generous

There were some aspects of this friendship that may seem logical, but not all. Friendship gives generously!

Jonathan was so committed to David, he willingly surrendered everything.

Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing
and gave it to David, along with his tunic,
and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”
1 Samuel 18:4

Every symbol of sonship and royalty, Jonathan gave freely to his friend. In this one act, they became equals. Every instrument of self-advancement, self-protection and self-preservation was yielded.

The unity of genuine friendship embodies preferring another above yourself.

Friendship Defends

Increasing unpredictable and emotionally unstable, Saul planned to kill David. Such reasoning was beyond Jonathan’s ability to comprehend. To protect David, Jonathan stepped into the dangerous gap.

“Why should he be put to death?
What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father.”
1 Samuel 20:32

Friends grow together!

Saul hurled the spear intended to kill David at his own son! Jonathan bore the brunt force of his father’s unleashed anger. His father was beyond reason!

“…They kissed each other and wept together
but David wept the most.
Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace,
for we have sworn friendship with each other
in the name of the LORD..”
1 Samuel 20:41-42

What a beautiful illustration demonstrating the sacrifice between friends.

Friendship Strengthens

For fifteen years, David was on the run from Saul’s deadly intent.

“…Day after day Saul searched for him…”
1 Samuel 23:14

How do we help a friend is in distress? You know the kind! The day after day, relentless, nagging, intruding, no-hope-in-sight kind of trial!

I love this part of the story! Saul with his hundreds of expert warriors, trackers, and interrogators could not find David, but  friendship does. How far did Jonathan go to find his friend? How many caves did he search?

Friends stand together!

He ultimately went to the Desert of Ziph where David was hiding. Ziph means “melting”. Jonathan knew that his friend was in need. Perhaps faith was melting! Maybe courage was melting! The heat of the desert melts resolve, purpose and even divine calling.

“…Saul had come out to take his life.”
I Samuel 23:15

The enemy is always out to destroy, but friendship speaks life!

Friendship Encourages

The investments of friendship yields in multiplied measure. Friendship seeks to draw others into the fullness of all God has for them.

“Jonathan went to David at Horesh
and helped him find strength in God…
My father will not lay a hand on you.
You will be king over Israel…”
1 Samuel 23:16-17

Kingship should have been Jonathan’s portion, yet he reinforced the God call on David’s life. He reminded him of Samuel’s anointing and prophecy of kingship. Jonathan helped David look beyond the cave back to the palace. Beyond the tangled present to divine future!

Each time these two meet, we read:

“The two of them made a covenant before the LORD.”
1 Samuel 23:18

Friendship endures through the seasons!

Friendship went beyond mutual satisfaction or personal gratification to life-long commitment.

Friendship Endures

You are probably familiar with the rest of the story. Saul and Jonathan died in battle. David did become king. However, David grieved the loss of his friend – a grief that would not be solaced.

“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left
of the house of Saul
to whom I can show kindness
for Jonathan’s sake.’ ”
2 Samuel 9:1

“Yes, Mephibosheth!” was the response.

David quickly had Jonathan’s crippled son brought to him. He restored his inheritance of land and provision. David also gave Jonathan’s grown son a place at his own table. In other words, David took Mephibosheth as his own son.

Though Jonathan was no longer alive, David found a way to honour and show love to his friend. Friendship endures even into generations!

Relationship’s Key

It is the context of friendship that sustains all viable relationships. Friendship is the unbroken cord holding fast personal relationships of parent and child, peer to peer, and husband with wife. It is the bridge often spanning generations, ethnicity, status, and gender.

The greatest context of friendship ever is God reaching down to humanity.

I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from my Father
I have made known to you
.”
John 15:15

Don’t miss it! Jesus, the Lord of all calls us friend.

This brings me to my knees in humble disbelief and incomprehensible joy!

The covenant example of friendship between David and Jonathan is an image of the enduring friendship we have in Christ. We are as unworthy as the shepherd boy receiving the princes garments. He took the violent swing of death over our lives on the cross.

In our own desert of “melting”, Christ comes with the word of strength and encouragement, “you are My friend.”

With arms stretched wide, Jesus extends to us the profound simplicity and unparalleled favour of friendship! What a blessing to offer it back to Him in return.