Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Count the Cost - 1, 2, 3...

 Jesus tells us that if we want to build a house, we should count the cost to make sure we have enough money. Apparently no one in Mexico has ever heard of this – I’ve never seen a place with as many half built buildings dotting the landscape and city corners as in Mexico. Jesus still asks us the same question. Have we counted the cost to be a true disciple of him? Paul urges us to be living sacrifices – it’s not easy and rarely pleasant.

This week, over at Kingdom Bloggers, we’re writing about sacrifice. If you click over there now, you’ll find my post. I encourage you to read David and Joyce’s posts from earlier this week also and remember to return to the site on Thursday and Friday to read Tracy and Tony’s writing as well. When you like what you see from David, Joyce, Tracy and Tony, click to link to their personal blogs to view more from these talented writers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Show Me Yours, I'll Show you Mine

This is a lesson about what not to do. 

During my working career, I worked in human resources for an independent recruitment agency.  I was recruiting for a Chief Financial Officer position in a one of the city’s top-rated companies. I had secured enough interest from a potential candidate to secure a lunch date to talk more about the job opening. I brought one of my firm’s partners with me to the lunch.

As soon as we sat down to lunch, I started telling the candidate about the job and company. We hadn’t even ordered yet. After I had finished extolling the merits of the job, the candidate began to tell me about his preferences for a new job and reasons why he would consider a job change. I realized that in my haste to talk about the excellent qualities of the job and the company, I had not considered how the job would personally benefit the candidate. Even though it might have been a good career move for the candidate, I had made a misstep in the approach.

On the way back to the office, the partner offered feedback. He suggested that I introduce a topic of common interest, apart from business, to let the other person know we were interested in developing a relationship, not just a way to make a buck. He told me to let the other person speak first. He advised that I get to know what the candidate wanted so that I would know how to better propose a change because most people don’t like change. If I could do that effectively, the candidate will respond more positively to what I am offering. It was an important life lesson. 

Evangelism works in the same way. Unfortunately there are too many over-zealous Christians who speak first and listen later. The stakes are high (nothing worse than eternal damnation) and I appreciate the urgency to share your personal testimony with others and that they too, can know Jesus. The trouble is I don’t think many people respond favourably to a megaphone and a sandwich board that says, “Repent, you evil sinners!”  It’s not until you say, “Show me yours” within the context of relationship and listen to what they say that you earn the privilege to tell them about your God.  

Paul, the apostle was a master at evangelism this way. In Acts 17, we read about Paul preaching in Athens. Paul did not tell them their gods were small ‘g’ gods and were worthless and powerless. He did not berate them for having an ‘unknown god’. Instead, he looked for commonality – the people of Athens had an interest in spiritual matters and Paul used it as a bridge to bring his word of the Gospel and salvation. And the Bible says some believed.

Do you think “Show me yours, I’ll show you mine” is a proper and valid way to evangelize? How do you share and communicate the Gospel?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Psalms for Sunday - III

Psalms for Sunday are posted guessed it, Sunday. Subscribe by email and receive it directly to you.
I brought a gift to my Lord and discovered that it wasn’t my gift to Him; it was His gift to me.

I invited Him to come down and commune with me here; He invited me to the throne room to dance for Him there.

I take one step towards Him; He is already running towards me.

I tell others of His great love; He tells the angels of my faith and counts it as righteousness.

My thoughts of love for Him bring me to tears; His love for me brought death to His Son.

I am hungry and He satisfies me with good things.

I am thirsty and He gives me living water to drink so that I am overflowing.

I feel small but His eyes range throughout the whole earth, looking for me so that He might give me strength.

He is mighty, and I hide beneath the strong arm of the Lord.  I am safe and he holds me close so that no one and nothing can hurt me.  I have peace because He is peace.

I am silent and reverent before the Lord and He makes me laugh out loud.

I feel His presence on me; it is warm and I feel the weight on my hands.

Friday, June 24, 2011

You Can't Wear Short Skirts and then Complain When the Boys Whistle

Years ago, before my Man was officially my Man, he had a groupee. She was cute, perky and dumber than a stick but she played the victim perfectly, which infuriated me. Girls, you can relate, right? My Man is a protector; his natural inclination is to protect everyone but especially women. He’s marvelous in that way, but this time he didn’t get it. The groupee was playing him and he was falling for it. Men can be so dim-witted at times.

The groupee was over at his apartment. I was there too, protecting my claim. The groupee starts complaining about the classless men who were catcalling and whistling at her as she walked by. I looked at her and said, “Honey, you can’t wear a short skirt and then get mad when the boys whistle.”

Okay, I lied, I didn’t say Honey.

It’s true, though and people do it all the time. We want attention, but then we don’t want it. We say one thing and then when we get it, we complain. As Christians, sometimes we focus on the negative and wonder why the church is full of skepticism and offense.  It works great for evangelism. I mean, who isn’t attracted to backbiting and complaints?

The unofficial motto of the church I attend is, ‘church for people who don’t like church’. I understand what is meant by the statement but it’s not much of a stretch of the mind to think about what we end up with -people who don’t like church. Most disgruntled people like to share their negativity with others, so now we have a lot of vocal negativity directed at leadership and each other.

I’ve been guilty of it myself and I’ve had to repent. I asked God for grace and mercy for my leaders and I asked God to move through them, not around or in spite of them. I want to see change but I want the change to be sustained by leadership, otherwise it will probably fizzle and die.

What is the solution to negativity and changing our perspective? The Bible tells us to focus on things that are positive.

Philippians 4:8, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Scripture later says to think on things above, that is – get a heavenly perspective. Heaven’s perspective is that God’s plans are not thwarted. Heaven’s perspective is that God’s Word does not return void. Heaven’s perspective is that ‘It is finished.’ The victory is won; praise is the appropriate response, not complaint.

How about you – where do you see need for re-evaluation of your expectations and thought patterns?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wanna Come to a Passion Party?

What’s better than 1 blog writer? Five blog writers.

I’m honored to be invited to be part of a writing community at Kingdom Bloggers. Each week, David of Fire and Grace introduces a topic and Monday through Friday, 5 different bloggers offer different perspectives. It’s kind of like the Gospels, except that there are 5 writers and not 4, and the fact that it’s not the Bible – so maybe it’s not like the Gospels at all.

I write on hump day, or Mittwoch as the Germans say. Head over to the site here to catch my latest ponderings and while you’re there, read David and Joyce’s perspective on Monday/Tuesday respectively and then come back on Thursday and Friday to read Tracy and Tony’s thoughts. 

This week’s theme is passion; since there are 5 of us, you could call it a passion party. I was going to host a passion party once. I was careful about who I invited because Christians like to keep it a secret that we have sex, (I’m whispering in case I offend somebody). It’s especially offensive if you’re in a leadership role, which I was at the time. Even though, it was on the down-low, word got around faster than a spider running from my vacuum and I had to explain to church leadership why I was having a passion party. Did I mention that they are all men? It was awkward to say the least.

The passion party over at Kingdom Bloggers is completely different.  Come on - click here to check it out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It isn’t WWJD but HWJDI

About a decade ago, the Christian catch-phrase was “What Would Jesus Do?” abbreviated WWJD to gain appeal with pop culture. The phrase became so popular even within secular mainstream that irreverent variations began to show up on t-shirt designs. The clichéd phrase lost meaning to those touting bracelets with the letter WWJD embossed on the silver plating.   

It’s the hypocrisy of the question not being lived out that rubs me the wrong way. If you ask the question, find the answer and then do it. Too many people only want to ask the question but not live out the answer.

I have somebody in my life that is needy. We all have somebody in our lives that are needy.  Not only is this person needy, but also prideful, self-absorbed, and unteachable. This person also requires financial assistance – assistance which I am able to provide. I don’t want to - at least not just help. Every Teacher inclination in me wants to help and teach, but the present situation isn’t a teaching moment, it only calls for help.
As I was venting a friend challenged me by asking,

Do you want to be like Paul, who preached ‘right living’? Or do you want to be like Jesus, who loved mercy?

I already knew what Jesus would do. He would be merciful. My problem is not what would Jesus do, but how would Jesus do it (HWJDI)? Mercy is difficult for me. On spiritual gift aptitude tests, mercy rates between 0-1. But just because I don’t score high on an aptitude for mercy, I’m not excused from showing mercy. 
Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  

The Bible says, ‘freely you have received [mercy], freely give [mercy] (add-in mine). It tells us God loves a cheerful giver.  We’re supposed to give freely, without exception and without strings. Sometimes mercy is giving means financially, sometimes mercy is different. There is not cookie-cutter formula to follow every single time.

Through Jesus, mercy is displayed in many different ways. He didn’t have a formula but he did tell us something important. Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing. Therefore, we need to do what the Father is doing. The way we do that is to know the Father and the way to know the Father is to spend time with him.

King David is considered a ‘man after God’s own heart’ and yet he displeased God by thinking winning battles was a formula. He lost a battle when he didn’t wait to hear from the Father. I need to be more dependent on the Father so that not only will I know what would Jesus do, but how he would do it.

Do you struggle with showing mercy? What does ‘showing mercy’ mean to you? Does it change in different circumstances? Answer in the comments.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Psalms for Sunday - II

Psalms for Sunday are posted guessed it, Sunday. Subscribe by email and receive it directly to you.

I am before you; your eyes pierce me to the depths. 

I cannot hold your gaze; my head bows in shame and submission. 

My legs bend under me and I am on the ground. You say to me, 

‘Look at me.’

I am frozen and unable to move.

I make the slightest motion to look through the veil of my worship object but you tell me,

‘Look at me with the boldness of your own eyes.

I weep.

Your beauty is too much and your glory is too violent for me to behold. 

I am not scared. I feel your love like a liquid that pours over my face.

We are in that space for a moment and then, with deliberation, you veil your own face with the blood.

I look up, relieved.

Friday, June 17, 2011

5 Ways my Dad Taught Me About my Father

In honor of Father’s Day on Sunday, I’m writing about my dad. I have an awesome dad. Most people don’t. Father wounds are the largest reason inner healing is necessary. The great part about being in the family of God is that we have a brand-new heritage and family legacy. Any story you read in the Bible, you can take as part of your legacy and if that’s still not good enough, go ahead, graft your story into mine and claim my personal legacy as your own because we’re family.

1.       My Father will rescue me
When I was 16 a boy took me on a date to a hockey fundraiser in another town. It was winter and a blizzard started during the evening; driving was not advised. My date decided to stay at a friend’s overnight. I knew that wouldn’t please my parents but I had been drinking and I was afraid to call my dad.  I called and both my parents came to pick me up. Instead of condemnation and fear, I felt safe. Whether or not they knew I had been drinking didn’t matter. I was protected and I knew that My Father will go through a storm to bring me home.

2.       My Father upholds my reputation
A couple of boys from school were looking in my bedroom window. I didn’t know who was outside but I told my dad and he went outside to find them. My dad brought them into the house and sat them down at the dining room table. He spoke to them about my reputation, and how it was his job to protect it. When he was finished talking, he let them leave. It taught me that my Father upholds and protects my reputation from stain and tarnish.

3.       My Father likes spending time with me
During high school my social calendar was – social. I was busy working, hanging with friends or being with my boyfriend. I didn’t make time for family unless it was required. My dad began to invite me on breakfast dates. I don’t remember when the dates started but it became a regular event throughout high school; just him and me. The conversations weren’t always revolutionary but my dad was genuinely interested in what I had to say and what was going on in my life. I learned that my Father enjoys my company and likes hearing my perspective. 

4.       My Father is interested in developing me as a whole person
It didn’t seem fair to me that I had to learn how to mow the grass, change the car oil, and handle a chainsaw when my older brother didn’t have to learn to clean the house or make dinner. When I sold World’s Finest Chocolates for a school fundraiser, I’m 100% certain I was the only child with a detailed sales pitch - why the chocolates are the world’s finest, the benefits for the buyer and why it was important for me to sell the chocolate. Looking back, I realize my dad was developing skills that I might need later in life. My Father develops skills and abilities in me too so that in season or out of season I produce fruit.

5.       My Father treats me with value
From the time I was small, my dad taught me to make eye contact with people when I spoke. My dad taught by example, to treat others with value and respect because I had value and deserved respect. Our family was not wealthy but I never felt I was anything less than someone who did have money. My dad treated me like a princess and taught me to behave like royalty. My Father agrees.

I love my dad and I’m grateful that he is still alive and is close enough to see him frequently.

What do you love about your dad? Did your dad help you draw closer to the Father? Tell me how in the comments.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Is worship more than songs?

I grew up in a church where “worship” consisted of 3 praise songs and 2 worship songs prior to the Sermon. Praise songs were catchy and may or may not have included drums.  Worship songs were introspective and slow in tempo. Each song was distinct and separate from the next, perhaps repeating the chorus a 2nd time, but no more than twice. If the worship experience was particularly meaningful, someone might have raised their hands, but everyone knew hand-raising wasn’t appropriate for every song. It’s a little different at the church I attend now, but only a little.

The problem is I can’t sing. Not even a little. And that makes me to be pitied most of all among Christians. It’s like a Canadian who can’t skate, or a Labrador who doesn’t like water. Lady Gaga was born with horns on her head, Christians were born to sing. What happens when you can’t?

The first time I heard the back story to Matt Redman’s song, “Heart of Worship”, I was intrigued. A whole church stopped playing music? What would that look like? Matt took the opportunity to pen the song, which includes this portion,

When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come / Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart… / I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, Jesus

Around the same time, God was building a new theology in me – living a life of worship. Again I questioned, what does that look like? Eric Liddell, a Scottish Olympian is quoted in the movie “Chariots of Fire” saying, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” Isn’t that what worship is about? Giving God pleasure? Just like the song says, bringing something that’s of worth. If God has given us a gift, then that’s what we use to worship him because everything God gives us has worth.

God has recently given me a new form of worship – with flags. I have to admit, it was outside my box. Way outside. But when I watched other worshippers and their flags, I was mesmerized by the flow and beauty. I wanted to try but my own inhibitions held me back. Not long after the first introduction, I felt God say to me, Make flags and worship Me in private. I did, and now I have my own worship. I thought it was a gift I was giving to the Father, but in actuality, it is a gift He gave to me so that I could bring something that’s of worth.

What about you? How do you worship? What do you think of non-traditional ways of worship? What does a ‘life of worship’ mean to you? Answer in the comments.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Psalms for Sunday

Psalms for Sunday are posted guessed it, Sunday. Subscribe by email and receive it directly to you.

I delight in the Lord, my God.

He is above all, there is none that can compare; others may bring their gods for me to consider but they are nothing but counterfeit and I will not turn my eyes away.

He is the source of my joy; in Christ I find my soul satisfaction.

He is my praise and my passion, if I could, I would speak of Him all the day long.

I feel His presence and know His delight when I am in my private place.  My Father exalts me to the highest places; I am seated already in heaven.

He is extravagant in His actions toward me. I cannot contain the pleasure of His presence.
I love His every Word; it is life to me. 

He tells me secrets and I know His heart; it is always turned toward me.  Even in discipline, the Father is good.

He teaches me things in season; he makes me to be wise in understanding and noble in character.

He teaches me a new language and offers me new clothes so that I might dance for him.

I look with pleasure to the night, because my spirit communes with the Creator unencumbered.

He is majestic and beautiful and every day, I wait upon Him until He shows his favour and His face.

I trust Him with my life completely.  I will walk in the darkness and yet it will be as day because He is light and He is always with me.

He makes me to be bold and have no fear because of his promises.

He has given me a sword and also strength to use it.  He has anointed me.

The future is not troubling.  I am eager for it because my God is triumphant.  I will sing songs of worship and I will praise my King, my Saviour.

I will speak of His works; of His power and might.  He is my praise and I will worship.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Are Christians like sports fans?

Vancouver, where I live, is in the middle of hockey fever; the Vancouver Canucks haven’t made it to the final round of the Stanley Cup since 1994. They have never won the Cup. Although I’m not a hockey fan during the regular season, I am caught up in the excitement and energy that goes along with the playoffs. I cheer and jeer at appropriate intervals and I love the bravado amongst fans from both teams.

What troubles me is how quickly Vancouver fans turn on the team that represents us when they are not playing better than the other team. Most of the criticism is directed at Roberto Luongo, the goalie. Jokes are told at his expense, his salary is questioned and people wonder if he should even be playing in the series. 

Many Christians react to God like sports fans. When God is blessing us or He performs a miracle on our behalf we enthusiastically and spontaneously give praise. We cheer God. We love God and express it eagerly. But when things aren’t going so well, we jeer God. We’re quick to criticize and judge. We’re what you might call fickle.
The antidote for fickle is faith. Canucks fans around the city are proclaiming, “We believe”. Really? What is the belief, that the Canucks have the skill to win, or that they will win? If it’s the latter, isn’t that hope without a foundation? Similar to hoping you’ll win the lottery. 

Faith that has substance can only be found in God, even when circumstances are not going well. Anything less does not give hope a platform on which to stand. It takes faith, grounded in God, to believe in spite of how the situation appears that will make a difference in our outlook. Is it any wonder then that faith is such a valued commodity in heaven?

A few years ago, my parents moved to the West Coast. It was a big move for them at their stage of life and it was preceded by a lot of prayer. In their petition, they asked the Father for confirmation for a job offer for my dad from a particular company. God answered them exactly as they asked. Not long after they settled into their new home, my dad discovered the job he had prayed for, the one that confirmed God’s direction for their lives, was not turning out to be what he had originally thought. 

My dad went through a series of jobs and companies before finding a job that seemed to be a great fit. During that period of time, my parents questioned whether they had heard God correctly. I reminded them that God has answered their prayer exactly as they had requested and to keep believing that God will bring his word to pass. 

The Bible tells us that the word of the Lord will not return void, without accomplishing the task it was sent. God will do it, but we must have faith to believe.

Are you in a season of testing? Are circumstances in your life tempting you to jeer God and blame Him for not performing? If you’ve passed through a season like that, how did faith act as a guiding light for you? Please share your story in the comments.
Go Canucks! We Believe

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

the Appointed Time

There is a date notation in my Bible beside Habakkuk 2:2; it says 3/4/04. “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” Wow. Seven years might seem like procrastination and perhaps it is that too, but on reading the passage again, my mind hovers over verse 3, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.”  

In my Spirit, I believe we are living in the end time prophecies. I believe I was born for ‘such a time as this’. I believe I am ‘a voice of one calling in the desert, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”’

This blog is an effort to be faithful to the word of the Lord. It is an attempt to write and teach plainly what I hear is on the heart of the Father. It should also be clever and witty and sometimes make you laugh.

Isn’t it just more noise on the internet, you may ask. I hope not. I believe not. There is a fresh voice in heaven that is waiting to be expressed on earth. It’s more than one person can do. I’m going to complete my task and rejoice with others who bring another word.

It’s a work-in-progress. I’m listening to the Father and finding my voice. A few weeks ago, I decided and declared to my Man, I’m going to write a book, please don’t disturb me for a few hours. Fifteen minutes later, I emerged and he asked, Are you finished? No, I replied, but I decided it was too much work for today.

A book might be too big. Instead, I’ll be faithful with the revelation I’ve received. I’ll enjoy the process, and the people I’ll meet along the way. Thanks for coming on this journey with me.

Please leave comments and feedback; pretty please with a cherry on top.
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