Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven
where moth and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal

Friday, December 31, 2010

Worse Than That?

I’m not going to look it up but there’s a line where Jesus says that a time is coming where the state of suffering and violence and warfare is going to reach a level that has never been seen in the world until then and will not be repeated afterward.

Worse than what was taking place when He walked the earth?

The New Testament was written at a time when sophisticated society watched violence, murder and mayhem for entertainment. Death and violence was a spectator sport.

The New Testament was written at a time when children, both male and female were sold into sexual slavery.

The New Testament was written at a time when cults of all forms and types were tricking basically good people into turning their backs on families and giving their all to the movement.

The New Testament was written at a time when most religious people wouldn’t accept Jesus and His claims to be God incarnate.

The New Testament was written at a time when religious zealots and terrorists were wreaking havoc upon civilization.

The New Testament was written at a time when those in government were abusing their power to gain riches for themselves.

The New Testament was written at a time when there were many spiritual people but very few truly devout, who truly loved others in an agape way.

The New Testament was written at a time when sexual indulgence and the fulfilment of self was promoted as good and right; homosexuality and paedophilia were accepted norms.

“But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Galatians 4:4,5

At just the right time. Not too early. Not too late. Exactly as predetermined before the universe was even brought into existence, Jesus came to the world for the first time. He came when conditions were exactly as planned.

Nothing could derail God’s plan for the entrance of Himself in physical form into the material world.

“He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” Hebrews 9:28

At just the right time. Not too early. Not too late. Exactly as predetermined before the universe was even brought into existence, Jesus is going to come again. When conditions are exactly right for His intervention, Jesus is going to return for those who have been waiting for Him. Jesus is going to come bearing the wounds that we inflicted upon Him.

For those who reject His offer of salvation, the wounds from His crucifixion will say,
“Here is what you did to Me.”
For those who accept His offer of salvation, the wounds from His crucifixion will say,
“Here is what I did for you.”
Zephaniah 2:3 - Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

If Only!

. In my Province there are 3,500 children in urgent need of Foster Care

. That number jumps to 9,000 for Ontario and every other Province has the same dilemma

. In Canada there are 30,000 children waiting for adoption

. Multiply those numbers by a factor of ten for the United States

“As you have done it for the least of these My children, you have done it unto Me.”

If only ten percent (10%) of those identifying themselves as Evangelical Christians adopted one of these children, each and every one of them would have a home.

What once seemed daunting now just sounds embarrassing.

No wonder non believers call us hypocrites.

If only we practised what we preached.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Biggest Day Ever!!

There are a couple people in our congregation (well they used to be in our congregation) who have been taken in by the Latter Rain Cult - this is a Judaic Cult that says the Rapture of “true believers” is going to take place on May 21st / 11 - and that, according to this Judaic Cult is why “true believers” should leave the Christian Church immediately.

This cult can be found under many different names but you can get information at and

I need to make a few comments on the errors of this cult’s teachings. I know the post is long but people are being taken in by this scam and I want to address the Cult’s most egregious comments.

1) The Cult takes the verse from Acts 1:7 where Jesus says, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”

Why did Jesus say this? Because His disciples still didn’t understand the concept of the Kingdom of God. So immersed in the belief that the Messiah would be an earthly King who’d come to free Israel from Rome that they’d asked the question, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

And what is the cult’s interpretation? “From these verses we learn that during the church age there would be a great curiosity concerning the time of the end, but believers were not to be at all preoccupied with this question.”

- First of all that is NOT what we learn from “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom.” Second the people in this Cult are absolutely preoccupied with, even obsessed with the time of the end.
- - - - -

2) Next this Cult turns to Ecclesiastes 8:5 and, taking this verse completely out of context tells us, “The wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.” The context is talking about dealing with a King properly, as well as stating that principle and prudence set limits on our freedom. Further, this cult completely ignores vs. 9 “Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?”

And who has a wise heart, according to Cult leaders? Why, it’s the people selling the Cult's books of course.
- - - - -

3) What the Cult tells us is, “However, it was not until a very few years ago that the accurate knowledge of the entire time-line of history was revealed to true believers by God from the Bible.”

True believers means leaders of this Cult - the people selling the books.
- - - - -

4) There is a line that the Cult leaders use to give us information that they know and we do not. The line is - “Several years ago we had learned . . .”
. “Several years ago we had learned . . .” The seven year Great Tribulation spoken of in Revelation is actually a 23 year period that began on May 21, 1988

. “Several years ago we had learned . . .” Since May 21, 1988, no one has been saved from within a Church congregation. It makes me wonder when these people received forgiveness of their sins through faith in the work of Jesus on the cross.

. “Several years ago we had learned . . .” “This salvation is not occurring in any church, but will continue outside of the churches to the end of the Great Tribulation, on May 21, 2011.” From the comfort of their airconditioned homes the leaders of this Cult worship where they please, as they please, when they please, funded by any job they have chosen to have and living with families in near perfect peace and safety, and from this vantage point the leaders of this Cult declare a Great Tribulation in progress.

. “Several years ago we had learned . . .” May 21, 1988 was the last day of the Church Age.

. “Several years ago we had learned . . .” Since May 21, 1988, “the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from all of the churches as well as the entire world.” I believe this is called hell but . . .

. “Several years ago we had learned . . .” “Because at the beginning of the Great Tribulation period (May 21, 1988), Christ removed the seventh and final seal from this book.” It boggles the mind how these people can read in Revelation the horrors that come with the breaking of each of the seven seals and they expect us to believe that these things have taken place in the world - eg. “The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” Rev. 5:14
- - - - -

5) 1st Thessalonians 5:2,3 - “For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

The Cult interprets this verse as saying that, “[Jesus is ] coming to destroy those who deny that near the end of the world the true believers will know the time (the hour) of Christ’s coming.”

Other Scripture tells us that “Like a thief” means that Jesus will come suddenly or unexpectedly. “If you had known when the thief was going to come you would have been prepared.” Every single believer that I have ever met agrees that in theory Jesus could come before we’re done reading this sentence. Or that our life could end in the blink of an eye and the next thing we know we’re in the presence of Jesus. It is important to be “prepared” i.e. in an intimate, healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus. Those who are not saved, of course, think that this is nonsense. Many deny that Jesus even existed let alone that He is coming back in a manner whereby every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord of lords and King of kings.

Nevertheless this Judaic Cult says that it is Jesus, not satan, but Jesus who is going to come to steal, kill and destroy.

vs. 3 “While people are saying, “Peace and safety, destruction will come on them suddenly.”

It seems obvious to me that those who are not saved do not believe that Jesus could come again at any moment. The unsaved believe that they can bring about peace and safety through the creation of wealth and education for everyone. This Judaic Cult however says that the people who are going to be judged and destroyed BY JESUS are those who - “Yet they believe they are at peace with God and safely under His care.”

Now, I admit that there are going to be people who believe they are right with Jesus and the awful truth will be found in Jesus’ comment, “Get away from Me. I never knew you.” But why is this Judaic Cult saying that genuine followers of Jesus are not saved? Because these people have the audacity to say that May 21st 2011 as the date for the Rapture of "true believers" cannot be known.

“The language of this verse (1st Thessalonians 5:3) describes perfectly all of those in the world who on May 21, 2011 are still following any church. Because churches teach many things that are not true to the Bible, including a plan of salvation that is contrary to the Bible, and the Holy Spirit has abandoned all churches, those still following any church on May 21, 2011 are not saved.” (emphasis mine)

Think about that!
Think about what the Bible teaches regarding the means of salvation!

Mark 16:16 - Jesus said, “Those who believe and are baptized will be saved but those who refuse to believe will be condemned.”

John 1:12,13 Jesus said, “Unless you are born again, you can never get into the kingdom of heaven.” There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust Him to save them. But those who don’t trust Him have already been tried and condemned for not believing in the only Son of God.

John 5:24 - Jesus said, “I say emphatically that anyone who listens to My message and believes in God who sent me has eternal life and will NEVER be damned for his sins. He has crossed from death into life.”

John 8:24 - Jesus said, “For unless you believe that I am the Son of God, the Messiah, you will die in your sins.”

Romans 3:27,28 - Our acquittal is not based on our good deeds, it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in Him. So it is we are saved, by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do.

Romans 9:32 - Because they were trying to be saved by keeping the law and being good instead of by depending on faith, they have stumbled over that great stumbling stone, Jesus.

Galatians 2:19 - It was through reading the Scriptures that I came to realize that I could never find God’s favour by trying and failing to obey the law. I came to realize that acceptance with God comes by believing in Christ.

1st Thessalonians 1:8,9 - The Lord Jesus will bring judgement on those who do not wish to know God and those who reject His plan to save them through our Lord Jesus Christ. They will be punished in everlasting hell, forever separated from the Lord, never to see the glory of His power.

Yes, there are Churches that do not preach the Gospel of Jesus listed above. That, according to this Cult is NOT how one is saved. In order to know salvation, according to this Cult, you have to buy one of their books and remove yourself from any Christian congregation. The Church, the community of believers is the Bride of Christ yet the leaders of this Cult demand that people leave the Church and tells them they will not be saved, that they will face the judgement of Christ if they don’t leave the Church.

Think about that!

Here comes this Judaic Cult telling people that they can lose their salvation simply because they belong to a Christian Church and dare to agree with Scripture that says, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

If you agree with Scripture, according to this Cult, you will lose your salvation.

Or so says Harold Camping from Family Radio. While claiming to divulge secrets long hidden in the Bible, we still, according to Harold, need to buy his books - not the Bible - his books (“Read this booklet for an honest Biblical look at God's plan for salvation and the end times we are living in.”) to find out what the Bible says about how to find salvation and the forgiveness of our sins in and through Christ Jesus.

If you’re tempted to be drawn in by the Latter Rain Cult, if you’re tempted to be alarmed by yet another in a long, long list of goof-balls who have left their families and responsibilities behind so they can sit on a hill and wait for the “imminent” return of Jesus, just think about what this latest Cult is telling you; think about the lie that it’s telling you regarding your salvation.

For a good summary on the false teaching of Harold Camping and Family Radio Dot Com see

If this ridiculous topic interests you, here are some sites that document the hundreds of end of the world scenarios that have been presented to date.

He Knows What It’s Like

Now that we know what we have — Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God — let's not let it slip through our fingers. We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all — all but the sin. So let's walk right up to Him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
Hebrews 4:14-16

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Love - only love

I’m using a message from our Sunday Service, given by Pastor Dennis Friesen

Account One: Steven Kavolski grew up in middle class Canada. In comparison to the rest of the world, middle class Canada means incredibly rich. When Steven Kavolski was a young man he became a Priest and as a Priest Steven believed he was called by God to go as a missionary to the slums of Calcutta. Obeying that call, Steven Kavolski moved into a 1 metre by 2 metre hut with no windows and holes in the roof (standard for the slum). Outside the entrance to his hut (there wasn’t a door) ran a trench with pure filth flowing down it. He ate one meal a day (standard for the slum) contracted a fever and never really regained his health until the day of his death (standard for the slum) twenty years later.

Mr. Kavolski moved to the slum, applied for, and as soon as possible became a citizen of India. Steven became one with those to whom he ministered. Steven Kavolski left a virtual paradise to live and die in a slum so that he could show people the way to salvation through faith in Jesus.

Why would he do that?

Love - only love.

It is so easy to give less than our best. Many if not most Christians have motives for living, priorities for living and goals for living that are virtually identical to those of their pagan neighbours. Get more, accumulate more, spend and spend and spend on ourselves.

“Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's disgusting materialism. Mark my words, love of the world will squeeze out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world — wanting your own way, wanting to buy everything for yourself, wanting to appear important by what you own — these things have nothing to do with the Father. They just isolate you from God. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out — but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.” 1st John 2:15,16

The world will literally not survive if that is how we live.

Account Two: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in exact nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even to death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

We say that Jesus was God incarnate. To “incarnate” means “to become” or “to embody.” Steven Kavolski became one with or embodied what it meant to be a member of Calcutta's slum. Their life beame his life. God, became human, in and through the form of Jesus. I doubt that it’s possible for us to imagine the step down that the Creator of the universe took in becoming a human being. C.S. Lewis compared it to us volunteering to become a slug but even that hardly touches it. Rejected, humiliated, shamed, misunderstood and tortured to death, Jesus, while God, became in form, a human being. He came to earth to live and die as we live and die so that He could lead people to the way of salvation.

Why would He do that?

Love - only love.

You Get What You Ask For

And since they're so obsessed with evil, God rubs their noses in it — gives them what they want. Since they refuse to trust truth, they're banished to their chosen world of lies and illusions.
2 Thessalonians 2:12

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Shepherds and Sinners

There’s an old hymn that goes, in part:
“Saviour like a Shepherd lead us, much we need thy tender care; in the pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us Thine we are”

By the time Jesus came to earth, like atheists down through the ages, the Jewish people had come to see themselves as better than others. Even within the Jewish culture of the time there was a strong hierarchical system. Women and Shepherds were at the bottom as were those who were unclean (eg. those with leprosy) and of course those who were outside the will of the Church.

Anyone who knows anything about Jesus knows that He identified Himself strongly with Shepherds. He was purposely born into poverty and in circumstances that provoked outrage and judgement. Jesus touched the unclean; he made physical contact with the untouchables. He welcomed women - outcast women - into His ministry. Jesus who is Creator God showed through His example of seeking them out and spending time with them that He loves sinners.

Jesus came to earth because He loves you!

The Bible of course was written with references that seemed more relevant to an agrarian society than to ours. Yet, even now we can see how important it is to have a Shepherd, a Leader, a Guide, a Saviour whose main concern is not for Himself but for those who are in His care.

“I myself will search for my sheep and look after them . . . so will I look after my sheep.
I will rescue them from the places where they were scattered . . .
I will tend them in a good pasture . . .
I myself will tend my sheep . . .
I will search for the lost and bring back the strays . . .
I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak . . .
I will shepherd the flock with justice.”
Ezekiel 34:11-16

When you finally turn to find Jesus, you’ll find that His Love has been pursuing you all along.

So great is the tender loving care of my Lord and Saviour that to be called a “sheeple” by the ignorant atheist is of no great concern to me. Let them mock.

I’m secure.
I’m home.
I’m safe.

I am a citizen of God’s heavenly kingdom.
Thank you Lord.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8

Friday, December 24, 2010

One Giant Leap

“God gave us the greatest proof of love that the world has ever seen.”
Andrew Murray

In 1969 an astronaut stepped down off the ladder onto the moon and said, “This is one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”

Well, some have agreed and some, not so much. One thing is certain. There has never been a greater moment in the history of human existence than when the Creator of the universe pitched His tent among us. Our Saviour, Jesus stepped onto earth and lived among us in conditions so appalling that no one reading this on h/her computer will ever have to experience.

Thank you Creator God for what we celebrate at Christmas. Thank you for such a love as this.
Zephaniah 2:3 - Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

atheists celebrate reason

ya, that's funny!

"this season, celebrate reason"

everything came from nothing by nothing

If you enjoy the humour of irony, here's an atheist expressing the wonders and the certainty of the Big Bang while never touching on the "atheist reasoning" of everything coming from nothing by - according to actual reason and logic - nothing material, since nothing material existed UNTIL Big Bang.

Amphetamines or Love?

There was a new volunteer at The Bridge today. The way she bounced around the room shaking people’s hands and asking them their names and telling them how much God loves them, I first thought she must either be on amphetamines or running for City Council.

Turns out the only thing she was high on was Jesus’ love. She was one of those hand waving charismatic types but a nice person nevertheless. She’d brought her five teenage daughters with her and al of them were hard workers. They didn’t seem embarrassed by their over-the-top mother. Guess they were used to her.

I’ll give her this. That girl could haul a mess of soup and coffee and love.

“As you have done it for the least of these My children, you have done it for Me.”
“The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”
Vincent van Gogh

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bruised Knuckles

Is that what it takes to get you to release your grip on life? Does God have to whack away on your knuckles with a stick to get you to let go of control? That’s what hardships are all about you know.

“God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1st Peter 5:5-7,10

. Our pride and our ego cause us to take control of our lives.

. Our pride and lack of faith cause us to hold back portions of our lives from God.

. Our lack of trust causes us to think that the One who died for us, even while we were still His enemies doesn’t love us enough to provide for us.

It’s pretty silly.

Because running our lives on our own is bad for us, and because God only wants what is best for us, He allows life and the consequences of living in a fallen world to encourage us to let go and let Him be in charge.

By letting us experience the pain of doing things our way, God is saying, “Give up your supposed rights. Surrender your flawed plan. I know it’s hard. I know it’s counterintuitive. But do it. Humble yourselves under My plan and when you’ve learned to do that, I will lift you up and provide for you an abundant life.”

That’s what disappointments and hurts and painful memories are for.

. Letting go of doing things our way provides for greater intimacy with our Creator.

. Letting go forces us to trust Him even when we can’t see any positive outcome.

. Letting go causes us to stop manipulating other people to meet our goals.

. Letting go of control allows us to be done with resentments and bitterness.

. Letting go allows the Holy Spirit to release His power in us so that we can rejoice in our suffering, sickness, rejection and lack of approval from others.

Only the humble are able to trust God enough to do this.
Only the prideful cling to this life on earth.

Knowing that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble should surely be enough to help us make the correct choice and save our knuckles.
“Not until I went into America’s churches and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her greatness and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
Alexis DeToquiville

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Saddest Song In The World

Oh her eyes, her eyes, make the stars look like they’re not shining
Her hair, her hair falls perfectly without her trying
She’s so beautiful and I tell her every day

I know, I know when I compliment her she won’t believe me
And it’s so, it’s so sad to think that she don’t see what I see
But every time she asks me,” Do I look ok” - I say

When I see your face there’s not a thing that I would change
Cause you’re amazing just the way you are
And when you smile the whole world stops and stares for awhile
Cause girl you’re amazing just the way you are

Her lips, her lips, I could kiss them all day if she’d let me
Her laugh, her laugh, she hates but I think its so sexy
She’s so beautiful and I tell her every day.

Oh you know, you know, you know
I’d never ask you to change
If perfect is what you’re searching for then just stay the same
So don’t even bother asking if you look ok

You know I’d say,
When I see your face, there’s not a thing that I would change
Cause you’re amazing just the way you are . . .

And on it goes - Of course this isn’t the saddest song in the world because there are tens of thousands of songs just like it. In fact they’re all the same song because the secular world has nothing but external appearance to offer the human dilemma. When our deepest longings have not found fulfilment (because God’s love is not accepted), one’s body becomes the object of obsession and self-worship.

It is so profoundly important to be in control of what we watch, listen to, read, absorb. Ellen and Oprah and - well - pick one - any one - they’re people who are preaching to you sermons totally in conflict with what Jesus said is most important to finding the abundant life. Out of all the choices with which to fill our minds, most of those choices are not very healthy. The one whose message we listen to most frequently is the one who will shape who we are as individuals. Those who influence our longings will either draw us closer to God or pull us farther away from Him.

The fact that this boy’s story is becoming common is no accident -

We find ourselves pulling back from our Creator when He’s trying to teach us something we no longer want to hear. For example, If you have come to believe that how you look is very important, you simply can’t be in agreement with God because He says our appearance is of almost no importance at all! People in the entertainment industry will tell you that appearance is critically important. God says that message is wrong and self-destructive. Who you gonna believe?

Listening to and accepting the world’s measure of self-worth is terribly dangerous to our well-being. Basing our worth on the ebb and flow of cultural likes and dislikes makes for a very unstable life. God is not so foolish, nor so cruel as to tell people to base their value and worth and security and sense of belonging on the things that they can do, or even in the fleeting words that others may say. What is so sad in the words of songs like the one above is that people are attempting to exalt the created, not the Creator. This is like throwing a party for a beautiful painting and completely ignoring the artist. “For it is God who has made us, and not we ourselves. Not that we are competent in ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”

I am absolutely certain that our survival will come in large part because we train ourselves to focus on whatever is true, noble and right; whatever is pure and lovely; whatever excellent and praiseworthy. It is those things and those kinds of people that we must think about, meditate on, dwell on and focus our very being on, and if we do this - listen up ‘cause this is important - if we do this, the peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds; His peace will infuse our very being. Philippians 4:8

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Marriage?

Besides God’s forgiveness, there is nothing that the world needs more than people who love* each other. And there is no other place more suited to learn how to love than within the context of a Christ ordained committed marriage relationship. Not everyone in a marriage takes that opportunity, but it’s there.

This is important because most marriages include children. If you haven’t seen your parents demonstrating love towards one another while you were growing up, it is VERY difficult to adopt this characteristic as an adult.

Many in the secular world say that if a marriage is to last it’s important to “find the right person.” Jesus says that it is more important to “be” the right person. All through the New Testament we are given examples and commands on what Godly love looks like. An example is the teaching on forgiveness.

“Master, how many times should I forgive . . .”
“Forgive as your Father in heaven forgives you.”

In reality, a marriage that is working (of course this can’t and won’t happen when only one person is on board with the process) is a marriage where two people live in a perpetual state of forgiveness, as is the case when we’re in a healed and forgiven relationship with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Christ.

It’s my opinion that only Jesus gives us a pure example of agape love along with the power to carry it out.

* I’m not talking about the kind of love with which we ARE born capable of giving (I’ll be good to you if you be good to me first, if you make me look good, if you cause me pleasure and happiness - then I’ll “love” you). Scarlet Johansson says of her latest failed relationship, “We entered our relationship with love and it's with love and kindness we leave it.” I’m not talking about that kind of farcical nonsense. I’m talking about the kind of love with which our Creator demonstrates His love for us - the willed, desired, volitional, decision to treat another person, even our enemy, with kindness, tenderness, mercy and grace.

This is no small thing. Our planet will not survive without it.

Right From Day-One

Actually, before day-one came into existence God had a plan for those called according to His purpose.

Long before we first heard of Jesus and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.

Because of the sacrifice of Messiah, His blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people - free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans He took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in Him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
Ephesians 1:11, 7-10

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Growth From Hell

Early in my counselling career I did some work for Mobile Crisis Intervention. It’s a mobile unit that handles the grittiest and most desperate situations, usually in the inner city. We were called to a house where the parents hadn’t been seen for a couple days. There were small children known to be in the home.

Upon our arriving at the house, a child who appeared to be about 4-years-old opened the door to us. He said that his mom and her boyfriend had indeed been gone “since tomorrow.” He let us in and we began to look around as we asked questions of the little one. The fridge door was wide open and next to nothing in the fridge. Spilled cereal lie on the table and floor where the little boy had been feeding himself. A jar of jam was on the floor, as well as an empty bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken - and then -

“Rod, come here!” from the woman who’d gone out on the call with me. She was standing just outside an unlit bedroom. The smell of poo was really strong.

“There’s a baby asleep on the bed in there, with a growth from hell on it’s abdomen.”

My partner asked the little boy if the baby (perhaps 2-years-old and wearing only a diaper) was alright.

“Sure. She’s just sleeping.”

“The lump on her tummy. Can we touch it?”

“Sure. It’s just a piece of K Fry chicken. I put it there in case she’s hungry when she wakes up.”

After my partner and I were done laughing at each other, Social Services was called and the children were apprehended. I don’t know when or if the mom and her boyfriend ever came home but this leads me to the point of this post.

The headline in this morning’s paper was, “Too Many Children in Foster Care.”
The content of the story - Too many children in this Province are being apprehended.

Did you get that? Too many children are being apprehended.

It’s NOT - There are too many homes that are unfit for raising children. It’s that too many children are being taken out of unfit homes. That means that the standards will be changed so that more children will be left in unfit homes.

That’s what humans do, you know.
. Too many divorces? Don’t do anything about the state of marriage. Instead, tell people that divorce is actually a good thing.

. Too many people screwing strangers? Don’t do anything about our moral state. Instead, say that what we do in the privacy of our homes is nobody’s business but our own.

. Too many people abusing drugs? Don’t do anything about our desperate mental / spiritual state which drives the demand for mood altering chemicals. Legalise drugs and make them more accessible instead.

. Too many people sodomizing? Hold parades to celebrate sodomy.

. Too many people with STD's? Don't EVER suggest that we shouldn't be screwing strangers. Instead, invent medicines to reduce the symptoms of STD's.

. Too many children coming into care? Don’t do something to increase the spiritual health of parents or to ensure that there are a mom and dad present. Instead, change the definition of "good enough" parenting. For example, maybe dirty needles lying on the kitchen table isn’t that big a deal. Maybe watching dad beat the crap out of mom shouldn’t be any body else’s business. Maybe mom and her boyfriend not coming home every day can be adapted to. After all what is childhood about if not learning to look after yourself?

Do I sound angry? Ya, just a little. And you know who I’m angry at?

Christians - that’s who.

There are enough people on this continent calling themselves evangelical Christians to look after every single kid who needs a home 10 times over. And instead of that happening, instead of caring for those who need safety and love, standards are going to be changed so that more and more children are going to be left in homes with adults who are unfit to look after those children.

“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat.
I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink.
I was a stranger and you invited Me in.
I needed clothes and you clothed Me.
I was sick and you looked after Me.
I was in prison and you visited Me.”

The growth from hell, in our society is sin which in broad terms can be defined as corrupt self-love, where we look after ourselves and ignore those in need. We are at a stage in society where for many if not most of those who call themselves Christians, their motives and goals and priorities for living are identical to those in the secular world. Jesus says there’s going to be hell to pay for those who ignore the needy.
Matthew 25:41-46
Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 19:10

Friday, December 17, 2010

Doing Sex Right!

“When a man takes a new wife, he is not to go out with the army or be given any business or work duties. He gets one year off simply to be at home learning how to make his wife happy. ”
Deuteronomy 24:5

From the perspective of Marriage Counselling, that is really, really good advice. We men are notoriously poor lovers. That’s mostly because we’re profoundly different than our wives in our sexual needs and expectations. And because we’re so selfish and self-centred, a year is just barely enough time for men to become the kind of lovers their wives need and deserve.

In an episode from “The Office” Michael says, “I like sex, particularly near the end.”

That pretty much describes the dilemma right there. Some women are like Michael. Others, in a desperate, pathetic, pitiful need for male attention and approval, attempt to mimic the sexual desires and habits of men. Regardless, nearly all men are terribly goal oriented when it comes to sex. They want to get to the good stuff as fast a possible. This is especially true if they’ve spent years immersed in porn and masturbation. When that’s the case, men come out believing that they’re pretty good lovers since their fantasy partner is always deeply satisfied. While women are certainly capable of strong fantasies, their desires within the context of a marriage are simply different than men.

Instead of Michael Scott’s idea of sex, a woman is more likely to say, “I like sex, particularly the actions throughout the week or day leading up to intercourse. When that’s happened I like sex at the beginning and during intercourse. When that's happened, I really like sex at orgasm and especially the holding afterward.”

Michael Scott may have funny lines but . . .

I’ve long noticed and it’s well documented in study after study that those who have a strong spirituality within the context of Christianity report a superior sex life compared to those adrift in the secular realm. There are many reasons for this but one of them is -

“Researchers who have studied the neurochemical processes in the human brain have noted that the passion leading to spiritual fervour and the passion leading to sexual activity stem from the same kind of physiological chemistry. Though in distinct but parallel channels, spirituality and sexuality are separated by a wall thin enough for a strange osmosis to occur.”
Marshall Shelley, Leadership Magazine.

Don’t depend too much on that osmosis. Take the time to learn how to make your wife happy. Jesus took special care to include women in the founding of His Kingdom and there are several dozen verses in the Bible (including the one above), where men are told to adjust our thoughts, attitudes and behaviours so that we adapt to the special needs, longings and desires of women.

Get it right man and quit pretending that you know it all when in reality, you know next to nothing.

Grab The Ring!

So, friends, we can now - without hesitation - walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The "curtain" into God's presence is his body.
So let's do it - full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going.
Hebrews 10:19-22

Thursday, December 16, 2010

You’re Too Brown

Grrr - All of our children are minority race. They’re beautiful. Sure they're brain damaged but to me they are really nice kids.

Last night when I was praying with my kids, my five-year-old said that three of the kids in her class said they didn’t like her because “I’m too brown.”

O my how my heart aches!

I mean, I can think of some other reasons why kids might not like her (believing she’s the queen of earth for example) but because she too brown?

How stupid can people be? Whites spend a bizillion dollars a year on trying to get brown. They lie in tanning beds and travel to the beach and smear themselves with creams and lotions to get rid of the ugly pasty white and then they despise those who are naturally brown.

How does God keep from killing us all? I really don’t know.
“These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against your neighbour and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this declares the Lord.”
Zechariah 8:16,17

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping you heart intact, you must give your heart to no one. Wrap it carefully with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in a casket of your own selfishness. There it will not be broken: it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."
C. S. Lewis

Homosexual Delusions

The whole world must cater to the demands of homosexuals, and if that isn’t the case then you can expect a hissy-fit - or so demonstrate homosexuals in response to the head of FIFA when he warned people about their behaviours while attending the 2022 Qatar World Cup of Soccer.

“Do not try to rescue us from self-destruction,” seems to be consistent theme in the homosexual community, even when the warning comes from someone who is genuinely trying to protect their lives, as is the head of FIFA.

The funniest comment to come out of the story was:
“If sport cannot serve to change society . . . then it is little more than grown men chasing a ball and we should treat it as such."
Retired Homosexual Basketball Player

Are you kidding me?

Sport IS just grown men (and sometimes women) chasing a ball!

And we SHOULD treat it as such.

Yes these athletes can do things you and I can’t do but that doesn’t make them quality human beings. The world can survive without sports or other distractions that cause us to take our eyes off the real problems of the world. We cannot and will not survive without quality human beings.

Change the world my arse!

That’s like Hollywood actors saying, “If you can’t recognise us as world leaders then all we’re doing is providing entertainment!”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2 for 1 Woman

I’ve been with the same woman for 40 years. You’d think I’d know her pretty good by now - right? I mean just how dull would a man have to be to not have this individual figured out?

Well, pretty dull I guess.

My wife has three kinds of conversations - all very different in intent - all sounding quite similar. Let me give you an example:

First - “I don’t know what we (hear the we? Sounds like I’m included right? Not so fast Jack) - I don’t know what we should do for Chelsey’s birthday. She wants to go to a craft place that does birthday parties but she also wants to just have some friends over. I wonder what we should do?”

“I wonder what we should do?”

Sounds like an invitation to enter the conversation - yes? No, no, no. This is NOT an invitation to say what I think. It took me three decades to recognise that this first type of conversation is simply an invitation for me to listen - LISTEN! Not talk. Not give my opinion - but listen. Ok, I’ve got that much figured out. I said nothing more than “Hmmm,” and watched the road - which unfortunately led my wife to up the anti.

Second - She repeated the above statement in almost identical wording. She included some information on comparing costs and she talked about which would be easier for us, and then, “What do you think we should do?”

Ok, now, there it is, “What do you think we should do?” Sounds like an invitation - yes? Not necessarily. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Compare it to the third method of conversation (which IS an invitation to give my opinion) and you tell me the difference.

Third - “I don’t know what we should do for Chelsey’s birthday. She wants to go to a craft place that does birthday parties but she also wants to just have some friends over. I wonder what we should do. What do you think we should do?”

Can you hear the difference?

Can you see how in the second she just wants to talk while in the third she clearly wants to hear my thoughts on the matter? Can you hear the difference?

It’s subtle. You maybe need to read the two again. Or maybe a thousand times. Do it again. Can you tell the difference?


Neither can I. The tone is the same; voice inflection the same. One is a trap and one isn't, but how can I tell the difference?

After 40 years of being together I still cannot tell which of the second or third methods of conversation I’m supposed to enter into and which, at the risk of physical harm (I’m joking) I should just shut up. Because not saying anything can be just as disturbing to her (some days more so) as me saying what I think she wants to hear - meaning, my opinion.

So, we’re on our way into town yesterday when my wife gives me the First and Second, OR the First and Third, OR the First, Second and Third (I didn’t know which until it was too late) conversations. Like I said, I cleverly and astutely recognised the First for what it was and that insight on my part got us about a third of the way into town in perfect harmony. We weren’t in town yet so she decided, as is often the case, to say pretty much the same thing all over again. I then, mistakenly, thought I was listening to the third version until I noticed a sizeable up-tick in the level of tension in the vehicle.

What’s happening?” I thought to myself. “Why is she sounding so annoyed? All I’ve done is give my opini . . . oh, right! I gave my opinion.”

It wasn’t the third version. It was the second. How stupid of me!

It sounded like an invitation to give my opinion but it wasn’t an invitation and when I give my opinion at the exact moment when my opinion is not wanted, well, apparently that’s a bother to the one who is giving the invitation - or at least to the one who is sounding like she’s giving the invitation.

Ugh! I live with one women but I’ve got two for the price of one. 99% of the time she’s pretty easy to get along with but once in awhile . . .

We’re All The Same Before God

The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I've been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.

This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God's way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.
Ephesians 3:4-8

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Is Not My Home

I went to see the doctor today. In the waiting room, on the tv was a show called “The View.” If you’ve never seen the show it has five tedious and annoying women talking at each other.

This show was not cancelled after three episodes.

I can hardly wait to leave this planet.

Paul and Sceptics

Some skeptic is sure to ask, "Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this 'resurrection body' look like?" If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a "dead" seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don't look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we're raised, we're raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that's planted is no beauty, but when it's raised, it's glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!
1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-44

Friday, December 10, 2010

Whatcha Gonna Say?

When you’re standing before Creator God and He asks, “Why should you be allowed to spend eternity in paradise? Gimme one reason why you shouldn’t spend eternity in hell?” What are you going to say?

Are you going to tell the only perfect Being in the universe what a good person you’ve been?

Are you going to tell him how you washed your hands and prayed five times a day or said the rosary on cue and genuflected at the door?

Are you going to turn to Mary and ask her to put in a good word for you?

Are you going to to tell your Creator how you never missed a Church service in 45 years?

Are you going to be like the fool Bertrand Russel and say, “Sir, you did not give me enough evidence,” as though the existence of a material universe that came into existence out of literally nothing isn’t enough?

In reality, there is only one thing that anyone can say:
“I have placed my trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins - Jesus - my Saviour, my Deliverer, my Defender, my Lord.”

We have done nothing of significance to make us worthy of forgiveness

We have nothing of value that should compel God to forgive us.

Don't get me wrong. We do have value, but it's because God values us. And yes, God does loves us, but it's not because of who we are. God loves us because of who He is.

God IS Love.

Because God is love He paid the penalty of our sins against Him.

At His expense God made it possible for us to spend eternity in His presence.

Our only hope is to place our trust in Jesus; to cast ourselves upon His mercy and grace.

Nothing else will suffice - Nothing.

Screw The Rules!

Jesus Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ's hard-won gift of freedom is squandered.

I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law.

Isuspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Jesus, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit.

For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.
Galatians 5:1-5

Thursday, December 9, 2010

“Come To Me”

I remember seeing an interview with the singer Sarah McLaughlin. Some kid had phoned in asking for advice, telling Sarah that she was an inspiration and role model. Taken aback, Sarah responded, “Me? I’m the most screwed up person I know.”

Jesus had no such qualms. In fact Jesus said just the opposite about Himself.

“Come to Me,” He said. “Learn from Me. I can give you life.”

What a statement!

“I can give you rest for your souls.” “I will give you an abundant life.” “I will give you peace - not peace like the world gives but real piece.” "If you let Me, I will save your souls."

When people talk of exhaustion, being overwhelmed, drowning, the problem is obvious. Our load is too great. We either need to increase our strength or find a means of lightening our load.

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I Am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30.

Jesus diagnosed the problem of a weary soul as a soul not properly aligned to Him. The solution? “Come to Me. Follow Me. Become like Me.” Get back into proper alignment. All around Him Jesus saw souls who for one reason or another had wandered away and needed to return to Him. On our own we are like sheep without a Shepherd, looking to mood altering chemicals, relationships, eating disorders, wealth, power, and keeping busy - always busy and all the while drifting further and further from the safety of His love.

“Take My yoke upon you” is just the opposite of adding to our load. In fact it is a means of off-loading our burden. To find rest for our soul is to rest IN Jesus. To rest in Jesus is to abandon all results to Him, accepting that we do not have within ourselves the power, the wisdom nor the insight to make our lives turn out as they should. In fact, rest for our soul begins with the admission that our efforts have only made matters worse.

Trying to control our lives is the opposite of 1st Peter 5:5-7,10

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

We cannot exist in humility and attempt to be in control of our lives.

We cannot humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand while telling God that we are going to do life our way.

We cannot cast all our anxieties and worries on Jesus while grasping for control of our lives and worrying about outcomes.

Longing for predictable outcomes is simply not part of the Christian walk.

We have no choice but to rest in His plan for us, secure in the knowledge of His love and protection. To not rest in this type of trust cannot do anything but lead us away from Jesus and into pagan wisdom which is no wisdom at all. To allow our desires / will to drive our decisions is to invite our own destruction and our own inability to find rest for our souls. The desire to be in control of our own lives cannot help but cause an alienation from God.

Really, when you think about it, what have you got to lose? Just come to Jesus and enjoy the rest of your time on earth.

Why Jesus the Man

Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Saviour took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by His death. By embracing death, taking it into Himself, He destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.
Hebrews 2:14

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

I think the American Constitution has a line about that in it somewhere. It’s a good idea IF (and I think it was Jefferson who said as much) the populace pursues happiness within the context of Christian morals, values and obligations. If that is not the case, then we find a world with relationships moving in the direction that we now see - dysfunction, breakdown, violence, alienation and willful isolation.

In fact, the pursuit of happiness, or following our desires has become the be all and end all of what people call a “good life.” But how can we survive when we’ve come to see others only as agents meant to serve us and our desires? This is exactly the opposite of what Jesus says is our main goal on earth, to love God and to love others As He Loves Us.

How are men and women to love / serve each other when society says that just the opposite is the goal; that pursuing happiness, even outside of the marriage is right and good? How can we be devoted to one another when pursuing a better deal somewhere else has become the right and duty of every citizen? How are we to be devoted to each other when our partner is just one of many possible alternatives? No wonder marriages are failing. No wonder children are being abandoned by the millions.

The pursuit of happiness is indeed a wonderful thing IF that pursuit takes place within the guidelines that our Creator has placed before us.

Sin vs. Grace

You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in - first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.

All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn't, and doesn't, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that's the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end. Romans 5:12-21

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Are You Healed?

Ah, Christians. We are such a weird bunch - embarrassingly weird. I just read a book about a kid ( who was in a car accident and sustained a Christopher Reeves type of injury, i.e., skin and tendons were the only things keeping his head from rolling onto the ground. Long story shorter, while the boy was thought to be dead, he was able to describe, as he tells in the book, watching the paramedics work on him. From somewhere outside of his body, Alex could describe what they were wearing, and where they sat in the helicopter. He tells about knowing things that happened to his dad who was taken to a completely different hospital as well as describing going to heaven and interacting with Jesus etc. etc. etc. That’s not the weird part. That stuff is fascinating, but not the kind of weird that I’m talking about.

The part that I consider weird and I’ll admit it, sad, is that the parents belong to a “Word Faith” “Name It and Claim It” Church where they believe that if you tenaciously think the right thoughts and say the right words, God will have to give you what you ask for. The key in Word Faith is that you must never, ever think wrong or doubting thoughts. In the book, the helicopter pilot, the mother of this child, two or three Pastors and numerous fellow members of the congregation, all believed (God gave them this message) that Alex was going to be “fully healed.” Well-meaning people, who wanted to be encouraging said (believed?) that God had told them this miracle was a done-deal.

I don’t know what it means to you when six years later the boy is not even minimally healed - let alone fully healed - but to me it means that it wasn’t God who gave them this message. I’m not alone. The dad, who co authored the book with his ten-year-old son, wasn’t quite so sure about this “fully healed” business either.
That, in Word Faith circles is akin to treason.

. In the Word Faith universe, ANY doubt can derail all the good stuff that God wants to do for you - including fully healing your quadriplegic son. An omnipotent God simply can’t do His thing if you doubt.

. In Word Faith circles the fault for a lack of healing is always pointed to someone besides God, usually at the victim h/herself.

. In Word Faith circles, just by speaking or thinking negative thoughts, you can make negative events happen.

They don’t call it Voodoo but . . .

In reality, from the perspective of being “fully healed,” something negative did happen to this boy. Six years after the accident, Alex is still a quad. With the aid of science and technology he can make his wheelchair get around by hitting a wand with his chin, but that’s about it. In reality, Alex is not going to be fully healed, as we understand physical healing. It was so pitiful - to me - when near the end of the book the dad said, “Fully healed may mean when he’s in heaven.”

Well duh!

Why can’t people see that God’s concern for our physical self is only important to the extent that it helps to further His kingdom? Because of that, a quadriplegic might be exactly as God wants him.

In my own case, my disability from arthritis has made me far more effective as a counsellor than I’d ever have been if I’d been healthy. “You aren’t threatening,” is a common comment. We connect with others through our points of weakness - not through our points of strength.

Why can’t people see that God’s power is shown in our weakness, not in our strength? God’s power is seen in the acceptance of our spiritual poverty, not in the stockpiling of our financial wealth. Alex has such a powerful testimony as is, but that isn’t good enough for the health and wealth crowd. An attitude that says, “Follow Jesus because of all you can get,” strikes me as so very immature. This boy has a strong relationship with Jesus. Because he has a forgiven and close walk with Jesus, he is as “healed” as any person can get, in spite of the fact that he’ll never walk again on earth.

We are not physical beings with a spirit. We are spiritual beings inhabiting a frail and dying body. It is our spirit, our soul that requires healing and Alex has had that happen to him. In the only area that counts, Alex is fully healed. However, this was true for him before the accident ever took place.

Paul, a follower of Jesus says, “Though outwardly we are fading away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

Why isn’t that healing good enough for people?

Are you healed?

I’m All In!

And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and He wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials.

And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
Ephesians 6:10-12

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mother Mary

"When I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, Let It Be."

Were the Beatles Roman Catholic?

Would all these pagans have lined up to sing this song if Jesus instead of Mary had been the focus?

Snerk! You and I both know the answer to that one.

An Awesome God

Since He has at His command all the power in the universe, the Lord God omnipotent can do anything as easily as anything else. All His acts are done without effort. He expends no energy that must be replenished. His self-sufficiency makes it unnecessary for Him to look outside of Himself for a renewal of strength. All the power required to do all that He wills to do lies in undiminished fullness in His own infinite being. A. W. Tozer

Friday, December 3, 2010

One Thing

We find an interesting character in the Gospels, a woman by the name of Martha.
“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Jesus, and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:40

Pretty good lesson, don’t you think? ‘Martha,’ Jesus said, ‘there is nothing in this world more important than your relationship with Me. Mary’s found that, and I won’t take it away from her so she can focus on less important things.’

Lesson learned?

Not exactly.

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:1-4

Martha is still doing it! Jesus is just days from being physically out of her life forever and there she is, fussing in the kitchen. I wonder. Do we do the same? Aren’t we distracted by a 101 things that we put before our relationship with Jesus. Haven’t you spent all day at home on a day off and there Jesus is, waiting and waiting and waiting for you to seek His guidance, to tell Him about your day, your relationships, your fears, your hopes, and instead maybe He’ll get three minutes as you nod off to sleep.

“Only one thing is important.”


“By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward - to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.”
Philippians 3:13-14

It seems to me that for many, the Christian life is one where Jesus is just an accessory to life. He most assuredly is not Lord and Master. It’s no accident that we’ve arrived at a point in history where “christians” divorce at a rate the same as or greater than their pagan neighbours. People are content to coast - to put value on how they feel rather than on obeying Jesus the Messiah.

I wonder if this happens because we don’t sense how desperate our situation is? For many, once they’re “saved” Jesus is placed in line, not at the head of the line but in line, to compete with all the other “important” things of the world. Yeats thought that “the worst are full of passionate intensity,” but I don’t think that’s true for very many of us - good or bad. I think that for most of us, sorting out what’s important from what’s merely a distraction requires too much effort. That means that those who want to distract us from the “One Thing” have a much easier time than they deserve. And that’s true for both the secular and the religious leaders of our day.

My concern is that the secular world seems to be convincing us that how we feel, in marriage and other relationships is more important than doing the right thing. I find it so sad - so tragic - it breaks my heart. Entertainers like Katie Perry sing songs with lines that go, “Let’s go all the way tonight. No regrets. Just love.” O God how stupid can these people be? Oh, and she tells Rolling Stone Mag that she prays in tongues (((sigh)))

“Just one thing is important,” says Jesus. For millennia those who ignore that One inevitably turn to their bodies for the sole source of pleasure, value and power. With nothing else of value to offer, our children are encouraged by entertainers to offer their bodies first as enticement for relationship. Literally, morally bankrupt, there is nothing else to offer.

Pagan entertainers call what they’re peddling “Freedom.” Slaves to their bodies, these sheeple march willingly into prisons of corrupted self-love. And so we have a world where concepts of right and wrong, good and bad are anchored to the ebb and flow of human desire. Freedom - ya they’re free alright. Free like a ship on the ocean with no means of finding location or direction. These pagans consider it freeing to be able to go in any direction they feel like going - completely incapable of finding safe harbour for their soul.

Only one thing is important and that is a healed, and forgiven relationship with our Lord and Saviour. And in case this sounds too dismal? Check out the IHOP web page for the ad that announces an event the draws 20,000 young adults to a One Thing weekend of worship Dec. 28-31 in Kansas City. Several people from the Soup Kitchen where I volunteer are heading down - again.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Post-Traumatic Success (2)

Those who wish to reject the Gateway to Freedom that I posted yesterday are, by and large, those who are looking for reasons to not forgive. Contrary to what you might believe, the degree of hurt that one has experienced does not dictate the degree of difficulty that people have in regard to forgiving. I’ve long been amazed how some people who have experienced at the hands of others - broken limbs, or smashed faces or horrible betrayal, seem to “move on” rather nicely, while someone who “always got hand-me-down skates” marinades in bitterness. If a resistence to forgiving others describes you, then there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

1. If you do not forgive those who have hurt you, God will not forgive you. And that’s a promise. Love and forgiveness are the language of heaven and Jesus will pound us with opportunities to practice what is essentially a foreign language. Forgiveness needs to become an essential part of our character.

More than anything else - More Than Anything Else - the world needs God’s forgiveness.

Until that takes place we remain His enemies. I am obliged to forgive others because of the huge and unpayable debt that has been forgiven me by my heavenly Father (Matthew 6:14-15). Jesus gives no exception, no loopholes. The proof of our being right with God is when forgiving has become second nature. We aren’t to be counting to see when we’re up to 70 x 7. We just let it go - Period! Not forgiving is not ok.

2. If you do not forgive those who have hurt you, you will lose opportunity after opportunity to demonstrate God’s love to an unforgiving and profoundly angry world. Forgiving others lets others know that God is real. This is because forgiving is not something that we do naturally. It requires a supernatural change of character to make a forgiving character possible. Forgiving makes us like a city set on a hill. People cannot help but take notice. They might think us stupid or foolish but when we forgive those who have or who continue to hurt us, that kind of mercy and grace cannot be ignored.

God’s forgiveness and grace toward us is shocking, counterintuitive, and to many, abhorrent (“You mean if Hitler asked for forgiveness just before he died . . .”). We can offer no less to those who do wrong to us. To walk in the light of God’s mercy points people directly to the cross.

3. If you do not forgive those who have hurt you, you will remain imprisoned, unable to enjoy God’s grace and mercy in your own life. As someone has said, “Holding on to bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

It breaks my heart when those who call themselves Christians look for reasons to withhold forgiveness from those who have done them wrong. Withholding forgiveness is the way of the world. It should never be the mark of someone who claims to follow Jesus.

. Forgiving is not intended to mean forgetting, although that should happen to a degree over time.
. Forgiving is not intended to erase strong emotions, although that too should come with the passage of time.
. Forgiving is not intended to mean reconciliation with the offender as that would require his/her input.
. Forgiving is not intended to mean condoning the abusive behaviours.
. Forgiving in not intended to mean that you begin to trust the offender.
. Forgiving is not about what’s fair or unfair.
Now for what forgiving is. The simplest definition of forgiveness is “When I give up my supposed right to punish, or to resent you for hurting me.” While that’s a nice start, forgiving is much, much more than that. For one thing, forgiving is not the result of emotional health. Forgiving is the beginning of emotional health. Forgiving is about entering into a deeper, healed relationship with God.

“When you forgive a person who wronged you, you set a prisoner free, and then you discover that the prisoner you set free is you.” Lewis Smedes.=====

4. If you do not forgive those who have hurt you, your anger at God will become visible for all to see. “Don’t hold your breath!” That’s what I’d say to anyone who is anticipating an apology from God upon their entrance to heaven - or hell for that matter. God is Love. It is insane to direct our anger toward a Being Who is incapable of doing ultimate and unjust harm to us. The agony we suffer on this earth is a normal part of living in a fallen world. God takes those trials, ALL of them and will use them to develop within us the very character of Jesus. If we want anything less than that, we’ve missed the point of living and may very well end up being angry at our Creator.

Of course it’s God’s fault that loss or suffering or tragedy has entered your life. He could have protected you from it but chose not to. Whether He caused it or allowed it to come to us, the result is the same. The reason He has no need to apologise is because God uses our trials to make us “more than conquerors.” Here is what we know for a fact. God is sovereign, God is love, God is fair and just and incapable of doing to us arbitrary, capricious and callous harm. Events in our lives DO NOT change or determine the facts of God’s character.

As Christians, our lives have meaning and context and purpose. Suffering never has the last word.

I know that a lot of people have suffered in life far, far more than I have. A common thread that runs through the lives of us all, however, is the decision to either “move on” or to allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity. The choice is ours.

We can be destroyed by the relentless blows that life in a fallen world delivers or we can allow Jesus to bring us to a point whereby we experience Post Traumatic Success.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Post-Traumatic Success (1)

By using this title, I in no way want to diminish the anguish that comes with Post Traumatic Stress. These words just go together in a way that is too good to resist.

As well, I know that a lot of people have suffered in life far, far more than I have. Regardless of the degree to which we’ve been pummelled by life, a common thread that runs through the lives of us all is the decision to “move on” or wallow in self-pity, anger and bitterness. We can either allow a natural process of healing to take place or we can obsessively pick at our scabs to morbidly watch ourselves bleed. One decision leads to greater stress while the other leads to success.

If the Gospel Message is The Gateway to Salvation, what I’m about to post could be called The Gateway to Spiritual and Emotional Freedom. I have used it as a handout over the years for several dozen people. In each and every case (well, almost) people have used it to allow Jesus to lead them from potential defeat to assured victory. Last week was the first time that I was chastised by someone who was obviously not ready to quit picking the scab. “What if a holocaust survivor should come across this” was her reasoning for rejecting the message contained in the hand-out. My response is, “Well, what if a holocaust survivor DOES read it?” Small suffering or great, the recovery process for all of us is the same and that’s why it has been “indiscriminately” distributed through God’s Word all around the globe. For better or for worse, I present it here.

God brings / allows difficult events and people to come into our lives to highlight areas of needed change in our character. If our motive for living is to become like Jesus, this push for change is what we’ll notice. If our motive is anything else, if we want to ruminate on the pain, then the pain / betrayal / disappointment will push character change out of the picture. For God to bring a difficult person into your life is no accident. What satan would love to use to destroy you, God wants to use to transform your heart into one like Jesus. When our goal becomes one with God’s goal for us, then suffering becomes so much easier. When our goal goes from trying to change others so that they begin to treat us right, to allowing God to change us into someone who can and does love others, well then we’re on the way to greater peace and joy. To that end God purposely puts us into situations where we are forced to admit our powerlessness. “Only s/he who is helpless can truly pray.”

Jesus said, “They will know you are My disciples because you love one another.” Why would loving one another mean anything special regarding our relationship with Jesus? Because without Him we are not capable of loving the difficult to love. “Even the pagans love those who love them.”

I don’t know how to motivate you to go down this road other than to promise you - PROMISE YOU that this is the road to recovery. Jesus has promised us that if we obey His command to “Follow Me - Become like Me - Do what I did in my relationship with others” - THEN you will come to know a life of peace.

Paul says in Philippians 3:10 “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I want to suffer with Him . . .,”

And how did Jesus suffer? He accepted injustice and cruelty and contempt with patience. It is sooo empowering to just let people do wrong to us and realise that it takes nothing of value or worth from us. “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1st Cor. 6:7). Jesus, our character example overcame evil with good. He did not complain when He was insulted. Jesus and His followers bore injury with patience and even joy because they knew that absorbing hurt for the sake of God brought a payoff that was more than worth it. I know that it sounds completely counterintuitive, but I can tell you from experience that this is absolutely the road to peace and joy. And there are so many chances to practise! :-)

This manner of relating to others forces us to take ourselves off the Throne and depend totally on Jesus for our safety and security, for our value and worth. Taking ourselves off the Throne allows us to stop punishing others for being who they are. We quit punishing others for not giving us what only God can give. That is what love is; absorbing pain and loving in return.

The more that we do this, the more that our personality becomes reorganised around God and His eternal life, and self-denial moves to a settled disposition and character. When we die to self the fact that I do not get what I want does not surprise or offend me. In fact such circumstances lose their control over me. George Mueller writes - “There was a day when I died: died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of the brethren or friends, and since then, I have studied only to show myself “approved unto God.” Small wonder that someone said of Mueller, “He had the twenty-third psalm written in his face.”

The reason that I keep pushing this “dying to self” paradigm with you is because there is no hope of anything less being able to save your sanity in the midst of insanity. This is exactly what the Sermon on the Mount is all about. Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who are the most desperate because it is THEY and not those who seem to be doing alright who will cry out for God.

. The world says we are to enter relationships and see to it that our friends (relatives) treat us properly.
. Jesus says that we are to enter relationships and see to it that we serve God.
The former often leads to broken relationships. That latter leads to honesty and openness.

Those who have learned to die to self; those who actually want to obey God by wanting to die to self will be largely indifferent to the fulfilment of their own desires. They will find life by losing it. They have matured to the point that getting their way no longer has significance for them. Not getting their way no longer disturbs them because their focus has shifted from the love of self to the love of others. They know at a fundamental level that God causes all things to work together for good and the good that is worked towards is a heart that is transformed and conformed to the likeness of Jesus. They don’t have to look out for themselves because they accept that God is in charge of their life. How their spouse / friend is behaving no longer has the power to derail their spiritual journey because their lifelong goal is solely to learn to love; even to love their enemies which sadly sometimes includes one’s spouse / family / “friends.”

That is why Paul directed the Christians in Thessalonica to “see that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another” (1st Thessalonians 5:15). Notice this is not in spite of evil, but especially in the presence of evil that has been directed toward us.

Jesus commanded, “do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39) and Peter calls us to follow Jesus in “not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for that very purpose . . .” (1st Peter 3:9). The evil that comes to us is no accident. It was known about since before the founding of the universe. It was allowed so that we might be transformed into the likeness of Jesus.

These teachings are commands as surely as Do Not Murder! You can’t begin to even understand them, much less follow them, except from the posture of self-denial firmly supported upon a confidence that is firmly based upon the strong experience of God’s all-sufficient presence in your life.

To step with Jesus into the path of self-denial immediately breaks the grip of sin in our lives and opens the way to a fuller restoration and amazing transformation of goodness to the soul. This obedience gives access to incredible, supernatural strength for life.

I repeat:
God brings / allows difficult events and people to come into our lives to highlight areas of needed change. What satan would love to use to destroy you, God wants to use to transform your heart into one like Jesus. God purposely puts us into situations where we are forced to admit our powerlessness. “Only s/he who is helpless can truly pray.”

Like experiencing a flat tire on a lonely stretch of highway, we are left with two choices. We either fix the tire or we sit by the side of the road while the rest of life passes us by. In our natural state we are tempted to deal with tragedy and betrayal in a way that leads to greater stress. God’s method leads to success.