Monday, October 31, 2011

Are You Living the Dream?

About once a year, I have a dinner party where I invite two couples and instruct them to each invite another couple who I wouldn’t know so we have 10 people around the table; two couples of which I am meeting for the first time. When the guests arrive, each guest is given a number which corresponds to a table seat and at every seat I’ve placed a question to ask another person; their evening’s mission is to find the answer. The questions vary from what is their most daring accomplishment to what type of animal do they best relate. It’s an evening my Man, who is an introvert, looks forward to every year (not) but his involvement is an incredible testament to how much I am loved.

My favourite question is to ask is to find out what their childhood dream was and if they are living their dream as an adult. This week on Kingdom Bloggers, I’ve posed the question to the others. I can’t wait to learn about the others, and while we’re sharing our childhood dreams, why don’t you answer the question in the comments.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Psalms for Sunday - XXI

My mind doesn’t ever stop asking questions, and pondering, to the point that I am paralyzed by curiousity and I lose focus from everything. You left us the Counsellor, counsel me.

When you are present, my mind can only focus on one thing – your beauty. All the questions I wanted to ask flits away like a butterfly on a spring day and I can’t think of even one.  I want to lean my head against your heart and feel the comfort of your heartbeat.

In your presence, my mind is at peace and I have rest. The ferocity of my love for you is uncomfortable but at the same time sweet. How can that be true?

Let me stay here forever. The dishes undone, the house in disarray, people needing me, people needing you – I want your presence, that’s all. Thank you for letting me sit at your feet.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lies Christians Believe #1

It grieves the heart of the Father to see his children walking and living in defeat. John 10 tells us the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, and by a quick survey of many North American churches, it appears we’ve rolled over and bared our bellies; not believing we have a choice in the matter as the enemy plunders the fruit of our lives. It’s wrong and it must stop, but it won’t until we replace the lies the enemy has been telling us for years with the truth God desires to reveal to us.

A few months ago I had a heart to heart conversation with a friend who was struggling with passion for Christ. She had many concerns in her life – parenting, financial, work, relationships. She was weary by the constant struggle. I felt powerless to offer practical encouragement but then she said something that made me realize what the root problem was. She said, “Maybe God wants me to hit rock bottom, so that I’ll call out to him.” Ummm, back up a step – wrong.

What she was saying is that God - our loving Father - delights to pin our head to ground with the heel of one boot, only to kick dirt in our face with the other and not let up until we cry, “Uncle.” It seems ridiculous to read it like that but there are many, many Christians who believe it.

The problem with believing the lie is that we allow the enemy to steal from us. Jesus died and everything is paid for. Don’t you hate it when you are double-billed for something? If that happens, don’t you point it out to the cashier and ask for a correction? Jesus paid it all, so why do we insist on paying for it again? When we do that, it nullifies his death.

The truth we need to replace the lie is that God is good – always good and we walk in victory, never defeat.

2 Corinthians 2:14, But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. (ESV)

It doesn’t mean that we won’t have temptation and we won’t be led into hard places, but we can walk in victory. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted, but where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom [to be victorious].

In the book, The Seer, by James Goll, he writes:
Jesus is our example. In the wilderness, Jesus was full of the Spirit and led by the Spirit, and from that place He had victory over the devil. The only way we can ever hope to engage satan and come out victorious is to be filled with a lead by the Holy Spirit...Filled and led by the Spirit, we have the power, as Jesus did, to encounter and defeat the enemy. It is only under the Lord’s umbrella of protection that we are safe.

Defeated Christians don’t project very much of the gospel, which is called good news. It can only be good news if it’s good. Defeated and beaten down Christian lives are not attractive and thus could not be said to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ.  Let’s stop believing the lie and being to believe the truth that God is good and he leads us into a triumphant parade.

Have you believed the lie? How would it make a difference to believe that God leads us in victory through Christ?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Developing a Culture of Honor

I was shocked when I learned I’d spend eternity in heaven with Catholics, or Anglicans, or any other denomination that was different than my own. Seriously, I was surprised. When I was younger and I met someone who professed to be a Christian, I would politely probe a little deeper to find out what kind of Christian they were and if they admitted they went to the United Church or something equally liberal, which equated to godlessness - or worse, Catholic - I immediately made a judgement. “Oh, they aren’t really a Christian,” I thought.

Oh, come on now, I’m not the only one. I didn’t learn to think like this in a vacuum.

When the Alpha craze swept across churches around the world in the mid 1990’s; even Catholic churches were participating – that gave me cause to pause. During the same time, I was part of an informal prayer group of women. Eight or nine women gathered around the dinner table of my dear, late friend (you can read about her here), and pray. Among us 5 or 6 churches were represented; one gal was Catholic. I watched her more closely than the others but I couldn’t find fault. She loved Jesus, worshipped him as Lord and desired to have more of the things of God - like me.

I don’t want to be judgemental towards believers any longer, so I’ve asked the Holy Spirit to keep me on a short leash, convicting me when I put myself in place of God over another. We are one in Christ, and serve as one body to a world that desperately needs salvation. Not one person would claim that a baby is mature; likewise, there is no one that is born again as a mature believer. I know this most of all, and for as much grace as others have shown me, how much more I should show grace and honour to others.

God is intensely personal with each one of us and all of us are working out our salvation with fear and trembling. It looks different for many people and the journey we take is unique to us, how can we judge another? If we developed a culture of honour, understanding each person has value and bears the image of the living God – let me repeat that, we all bear the image of the living God –would church look and feel different?  

Is there a way to honour each other’s differences without judgement?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Catching a Reflection of God in the Rearview Mirror

I am a homebody; I love hanging out at home and living my everyday life. It’s comforting, but at the same time, too much of a routine can lead to complacency and our spiritual eyesight can become dull. Sometimes, a change of scenery brings a fresh jolt from the Spirit, which causes us to sit up and take notice. Everyone needs a ‘pop’ in our faith journey and this week on Kingdom Bloggers we are writing about a time when God met us on a road trip.

This week, we also welcome Dave Tvedt . For those that have been reading Kingdom Bloggers for a long time will remember him. I’ve recently met him online and from the excitement that Joyce and Tony express, I’m looking forward to getting to know him more. As for now, I just think of him like his caricature – short, bald and a big head.

We welcome Dave, but say good-bye (at least for a while) to Tracy Chiara. Tracy is a sensitive, thought-provoking writer but her non-virtual life has been overwhelming for the past while and it’s necessary for us to release her with grace and loving-kindness and wish her God’s blessing and providence. You can keep up with her, on her personal blog, Abundant Living.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Psalms for Sunday - XX

Like a dog before a meal, I am impatient for the Lord to accomplish the promises. Haven’t you read? The Lord is strong and true. Our God wins. Rejoice, and make celebration because the lamb who was slain has trampled the serpent.

Where is the victory? When will we see it? Will it be prolonger even more that my children are waiting and watching still?

The Kingdom of the Lord has suffered violence. I am violent. Don’t hold me back any longer.

Oh, but you are always good. You hem me in, behind and before so that I am in season with you. Bless you, my Lord, my Saviour.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Opposite Day

If you ask me to manage an office, I could do that. If you ask me to edit a document so it is client-ready, I’d say yes with confidence. If you ask me to lead a Sunday School group, I would have no problem. If you me a question about Scripture, I’ll probably have an answer. I’ve studied and put in a significant amount of time regarding these activities and I’ve gained wisdom through experience.

Most people start at the bottom and work their way up to reach the top echelon. It takes time. It is virtually unheard of for a university graduate to be offered the CEO or CFO position. Instead, the graduate must start in an entry management position before climbing the corporate ladder. Even an uneducated person can reach the top, but it takes longer than a university graduate.

Why then would the Lord use a group of ragamuffin tradesmen to lead a movement that changed the world? All of the original apostles, save Paul, were uneducated with no perceived political clout or honour.

It’s like it is opposite day in the kingdom of heaven. In fact, it’s not just opposite day but simply opposite all the time. Jesus told us the first will be last and the last will be first. Jesus said if someone sues you for your tunic; give him your coat as well. God chose the foolish things confound the wise.

I was reminded of this kingdom truth again in the past week. I quickly become intimidated by those I perceive as more ‘advanced’ in the faith. Often they are older and I’ve always been taught to defer to my elders. While it’s true that we should honour those that the Lord has established, when God has given us gifts and a calling it’s wise for us to be found faithful to walk in them.

Promotion in the kingdom of heaven is not based on how long you’ve worked for something, but rather, do you seek after Jesus. Peter and John walked in great authority and yet they were unschooled men (Acts 4:13); Paul exhorts Timothy to not let anyone look down on him because he is young, but to rather be an example (1 Timothy 4:12). Jesus said all authority was given to him and inferred all that authority to us, his body (Matthew 28:18-20). There is no junior Holy Spirit and the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us (Ephesians 1:18-21).

It seems opposite to what we’ve been taught for so long, and it’s hard to make a mind shift. Do you get caught up by intimidation by those who have been in the faith longer? How do you combat your thoughts to change your mindset?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pair O' Dime Shift

Yesterday morning I returned home from a trip to Bethel Church in Redding, CA. When the host who offered us accommodation showed us to our room last Wednesday, she pointed to the mirror. On either side of the mirror were two dimes put in place by faith (for real, no glue). She said to me and my friend, “I want you to have a pair o’ dime shift when you are here.”

I was in agreement because it would be tragic to travel all that distance to have a God encounter and leave unchanged. My expectation was high because I had a vision of Jesus presenting me a present, wrapped in brown paper and tied with a red bow. I was excited to open it and I had anticipation that the present was related to the pair o’ dime shift I was invited to have by our host.

Nothing happened on Wednesday, or Thursday. Nothing happened on Friday morning, or Friday afternoon. My anticipation was building because the conference was over on Friday evening. On Friday night, I was sitting beside a man from Idaho; he had come to the conference to receive physical healing. During worship, I felt the Lord say to me, “Give that man your gift, without any ulterior motive that would make you think I’ll give you another gift.” I wrestled with the Lord’s request. I had come to receive something too, but Jesus was asking me to give it to the benefit of someone else.

God has been so good to me, so even if I never receive another crumb from his table, I am full. I spoke to the man beside me and gave him the gift. I am certain the gift was for his healing. I resigned myself to leaving with my expectation left unfilled. I wanted to wallow in pity for myself a bit longer but God had other plans. At the host’s home, we had a time of sharing and fellowship with the other guests. We were from the 4 corners of the earth – Egypt, Australia, Russia and Canada (we were the Canadians).

We prophesied over the Russian man and he said what we had spoke about were the secret things in his heart and we were the first ones to ever have spoken it exactly right. He was encouraged and affirmed by the Lord. It was awesome to bless another of the Lord’s beloved like that. The evening went on like that and when I went to bed, I was still sad about my present that I wouldn’t be getting but was appreciative that God would use me to bless others.

On Saturday morning, I went to the Healing Rooms to experience the environment that is sought after around the world. While I was there, I prophesied and prayed healing for others; it was good. As I was doing that, the Lord showed me the Olympic swimming pool sized cup I had brought to receive from his fountain. He showed me I did bring the pool-sized cup except it wasn’t empty as I had imagined, but it was already full from the work he had already done in my life and I was going to leave it all over Redding and give it to the nations that came through their centre.

Suddenly, I got it – my pair o’ dime shift. I have undermined the work of the Lord in my life. I’m not a baby in the faith, as I suppose, but one who is filled to overflowing so that I can minister to others.

Matthew 10:8b, Freely you have received, freely give.

Is there a pair o’ dime shift that you’ve experienced?
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