Sunday, July 31, 2011

Psalms for Sunday - VIII


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

Who am I that I should feel entitled to your favour? Is there anything that I could do to make your love for me increase?

No, and yet I act like as chancellor over your created ones, the ones you adore. I am too quick to bring judgment and condemnation as though I deserve something better. I am drawn to the bloodshed of their own doing like a child to a puddle. I laugh at the ones where my prosperity comes from.

They are godless, but your love doesn’t fail. When they prosper, I prosper.

I will repent and pour myself out in prayer for them and ask for grace and mercy and peace on their behalf. I will worship on the land where they dwell, and here in my worship you will hear me. You will bless them because I bless them. You are able to do it.

It is by your great mercy and your goodness that they might recognize your loving-kindness towards them, so that the way of transformation is possible. How blessed will that day be?

Lord, help me to hunger after righteousness on behalf of the ones that give trouble to me. Help me to rightly see that it is only through your grace that I am saved and not in the same place.

I love you and I will love the ones you love.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Child - No More, No Less

It’s bittersweet that this is the last Friday in July and the month’s posts which focussed on identity are over today. Over the past 8 posts (each Tuesday and Friday), we talked about being under the standard of heaven, being a saint, being in Christ, being a new creation, being covenant people, and being adopted.  We’ve covered many areas of identity but we’ve only gone ankle deep in understanding the full identity of who we are as Christians. We could go on (but we won’t).

If I have one wish for humanity, it would be to understand who we are in Christ. If we understood, the church would be unstoppable and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. If we understood who we are in Christ, lives would be re-formed and we would walk in power and authority. If we understood, then the promises of Deuteronomy 28 would be manifest. If we understood, then we could know that we stand in worship and watch the victory that the Lord will bring (2 Chronicles 20).

Every year on December 24, we celebrate a birthday in our home. No, it’s not Jesus’ birthday – personally that grates on me like the Server at Olive Garden grates cheese on the [all-you-can-eat] salad. We celebrate the spiritual birthday of my Boy. And every year, I share a few words about the last year (and the family endures the process, because you know how moms can be – they go on and on and can be sappy and sentimental). What I want to impart most to my Boy is that no matter what he does or doesn’t do, he is a son and there is nothing that will make the Father love him more, just like I couldn’t love him more.

And that’s what I want to say here. If the only thing you take away from this month’s posts, I hope it’s this: you are a son, or a daughter, and there is nothing you can do that would make the Father love you more than he already does.

1 John 3:1, How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are!

Romans 8:16, The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now, if we are children, we are heirs

John 1:12, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

Children may or may not grow up into maturity – they are still sons and daughters. Children may or may not participate in the family business - they are still sons and daughters. Children may or may not make bad decisions – they are still sons and daughter, wholly and dearly loved. Take a moment and absorb it. It’s a biggie, so I don’t want anyone to not hear the fabulously good news – we are children of God.

There are [too] many people who have not had a great childhood, not even a good childhood. If that describes you, hear this – you have a heavenly Father that loves you exactly as you wished your natural parents could have loved you. And as a son or daughter, you have access to everything that the Father has in his house. You want a snack? Rummage through the fridge. You need money for the movies? Ask your Father. You’re in trouble? Your Father will help. Everything the Father has, he gives you.

One of my favourite posts is from Father’s day – it’s worth reading again and then share with someone who needs to hear the message also.

The Father loves you because you are a son, you are a daughter - not because of what you do. That’s worth telling someone about. Why not start with telling us how you experience being a son or daughter of God?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Had a Dream...

I had a dream on Sunday, July 24. In the dream, I was looking at a People magazine and instead of the usual celebrity gossip and humanity stories, the entire magazine were descriptions of people’s churches, much like our topic this week on Kingdom Bloggers. I thought to myself, “How did David know this was going to run in People magazine the same week we were writing about it on our blog?” And I marvelled at how widespread the interest in finding a church was that even People magazine was printing stories along the same theme.

I believe there is a day coming when the harvest is great and those people who see Jesus, the hope of the nations, will be looking for a church that will disciple them. How marvellous that will be. Until then, step into the shoes of Kingdom Bloggers writers for a Sunday and experience what we experience.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jesus Was a Bastard and Why That's Good News

Have you ever wondered how Jesus felt around Joseph’s family while he was growing up? I’ve heard many sermons on how Mary was/is an excellent example of forsaking your own reputation for Jesus, and yet, I’ve never contemplated how Jesus might have felt. Yes, I’m sure it was difficult for Mary but more so for Jesus, I would think. He was a bastard, the one who didn’t belong, not like James his brother.

Joseph might have accepted Jesus, but he had an angelic visitation, which is fairly compelling I’m sure. His family didn’t see or hear from an angel, what was their reaction? Did the grandparents splurge on birthday and Christmas gifts for Jesus, the same as his siblings – the real children of Joseph and Mary?

I wanted 4 children but when I discovered that I couldn’t have [more] children (the story is told here) and that my one child was a miracle – I contemplated adoption for about 3 seconds and decided I couldn’t do it. I love my Boy - so much that it feels like the love is using all the air in my lungs. I was not confident of my ability to love a child that didn’t come from my body. Some people can, and do it spectacularly. I knew I couldn’t.  

Some people have an enormous heart and ability to love and include adopted children unconditionally and without distinction. I’ve seen it in action, but I’ve also experienced and witnessed the opposite – adoption that divides and withholds. Because of that, I’ve struggled with the concept of adoption as sons [and daughters] of God in the Bible, and I’ve said to the Lord, “Adoption isn’t good enough. I need more assurance.”

Ephesians 1:5, “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.”

The Lord answered by correcting my understanding of adoption in the days of the early church, and then he showed me the greater significance of the seen at Jesus’ baptism found in Luke 3.

It wasn’t a common practice to “adopt” a child that wasn’t part of your family. The early church understanding of adoption meant that at an appropriate age, the father (the head of the family) would bring his son to the town square and publicly declare, “This is my son.” The implication was the father was giving the son the ability to conduct business on behalf of the father; that when the son did something, it was as if the father was doing it. In this sense, the son was adopted by the father.

It’s a remarkable difference and made me feel better but I still had questions – to be a [true] son (or daughter), meant you had to be born into the family and be blood related.

Again, the Lord answered. Don’t you just love how he knows everything? Nicodemus asked Jesus a similar question under the cover of night. Jesus answered that he has to be born again (John 3), not in the natural but by the Spirit. This is only possible through faith, by the blood of Jesus on the cross. Therefore, we are born and we are blood-related.

Scripture doesn’t linger over the trials and tribulations of Jesus’ childhood, but we do know that he was despised and rejected by men, acquainted with sorrow, and familiar with suffering (Isaiah 53). He may have been treated differently by Joseph’s family but he had a Father, by whom he was loved. The scene at his baptism has greater depth for me now – to know that the Father audibly confirmed sonship, approval and love. The same acceptance and adoption is made available to every one of us also.

There are no orphans in the family of God.

What is your concept of adoption? Have you considered adoption yourself? Does the thought of being adopted by God encourage you? Please share in the comments.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Psalms for Sunday - VII


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

This Sunday is a special entry – it’s more of a prayer. It was written by Anne Waterton on August 4, 1956; it was taken from her journal. I wrote a tribute to Anne, which can be found here. She lived to be 94 and died this year. Her entire life was given in devotion to her heavenly Father, whom she knew intimately. Please enjoy the prayer today.




August 4, 1956

May we with awe and wonder and humility ponder on our new position in Christ.

Father, we thank you for our position before you – saved and sanctified – not through any good in us – no in spite of the sinfulness of the human nature, Jesus paid the price by shedding his precious blood and now we are free, washed and sanctified in a Holy God’s sight. Now help us day by day – to first thing in the morning to state this ourselves (and the powers of darkness) who it is that we belong to. Every time a lying thought comes to our mind, we must take out stand – dead to sin and alive unto God. If we do sin and repent, we are wonderfully forgiven. David’s words, “Against thee – thee only have I sinned,” need to be our words as we repent from the heart and accept our forgiveness.

Our Saviour was attacked by Satan – but even in the desert God’s presence was with him and the same Presence is with us as we walk through trials. The only time God’s presence was not with him was when on the cross he took our sin on him and paid the price. What love for the Father and for us.

Help us to keep our thoughts in captivity to the obedience of Christ and speak out and think the true treasures which are ours because of what Jesus did for us.

We can sing with the hymn writer, “More love to thee o Christ.”

The eye has not seen; the ear has not heard the things God has prepared for those that love him.

Friday, July 22, 2011

One for All and All for Me?

The North American church gives Satan too much credit. Every time something goes wrong in our society, churches and families we think Satan has had his dirty hands in it all. The truth is Satan started something a while ago, and we have done the rest. Now he can sit back and watch us implode on ourselves and he hasn’t even had to do anything. It’s quite a genius plan - divide and conquer.  Even Jesus said even a house divided against itself will not stand. Genius, did I say that already?

How, you might ask, is Satan dividing us? Denominations and doctrinal issues notwithstanding, individualism is killing us. We are designed for corporate relationship. Yes, I know, becoming a Christian is an individual decision that every man, woman and child must make, blah, blah, blah. But once the decision is made, we are born into a family, a body, a nation – all of which must bypass the individual for the effect of the whole. That’s kingdom living.

In our western culture, we have difficulty to grasp community identity as God intended.  We have perfected narcissism and individualism – as if maintaining individual rights and privileges is more important than the whole.

The effect of [true kingdom] community is exponentially greater than what one person can accomplish (Deuteronomy 32:30). Many other cultures already understand this. I live in an area with a high density population of Indians (from India). It is common for multi-generations to live together and share responsibility for the mortgage, many even own a business together and they all work together. As a result, their homes are large and generally have expendable income.  Compared to our western mindset where we move away from our families, work hard to buy a modest starter home and live only 2-3 months away from financial straits, it’s not hard to see which system has more practical benefits.

We say we value community, but what we are really saying is that we want community when it doesn’t stifle our own individualism, which is exactly the opposite of what God intended. We are a covenantal people, not a covenantal person. The definition I use for covenant is the willingness to be defined by another. We are a corporate people – that is part of our identity.

·         Abraham was blessed so that all nations could be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3)
·         We are given gifts for the benefit of everyone (1 Corinthians 12:7)
·         The Lord decrees that we are his people  (Leviticus 26:12)
·         We are told to keep meeting together (Hebrews 10:24-25)

If it wasn’t for community, then what did Paul mean when he said to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21)? When I learned through the Perspectives was that my life was expendable for the greater good of the Kingdom and it has made me live life with abandon and delight and freedom, much more so than trying to protect what is mine. Community brings freedom and security – I am not afraid that you’ll steal from me when you are looking out for my best interest.

However, if you are looking out for just yourself, then perhaps you will want what I have so now I need to protect myself from you. You become the enemy to my security. Genius plan, right? Divide and conquer. Individualism is the mindset and we do the rest of the dirty work, trying to protect our own.

Community is our identity, not individualism.

How do you feel about individualism vs. community?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's Your Favourite Worship Song?

It’s Wednesday, and you know what to do: head over to Kingdom Bloggers and read this week’s theme on favourite worship songs.

There are so many great worship songs – both old and new that it’s hard to pick a favourite. Instead of making a definitive choice, I prefer to comment on the worship song that is most meaningful for me at the moment. It changes, depending on what God is doing in my life.

When we get in the car, my Boy insists on making me turn up the volume to listen to Misty Edwards’ song, People Get Ready. My Man might comment that his favourite is Michael W. Smith’s song, Blessed Be Your Name – not because it’s really his favourite but it never fails that in the two times a year that he comes to church with me, that song is in the line up – and has been for the past 5 years. At least it’s familiar to my Man and he can sing along with everyone else.

If you want to know what my favourite song is and why, check out today’s post at Kingdom Bloggers.



 Misty Edwards, People Get Ready


 Matt Redman, Blessed Be Your Name


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Releasing the New Man Puts Sin to Death

It's been just over a month that you and I have had a relationship and I think it's time we make a decision - do we keep it between you and me, or should we open it up to other people. That's what I thought too. So, we're opening it up to other people and the first up is my brother by the same Father.

I met David Johndrow the same way I'm meeting many of you - through a blog. We share a mutual love for Matt Appling's blog, The Church of No People. I liked his comments there, so I started lurking around his blog too. David has great vision and insight. I've learned a lot from him and I hope you'll love what he has to say here, and then be sure to check out his blog, Fire & Grace.

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There are many way in which we identify ourselves. As Christians we have a new identity, but somehow we've been taught to live like sinners.

As humans we do have frailties which the word of God has not yet been able to eradicate; some of that is due to the lack of knowledge, His sovereignty, His timing, and in some case, His grace. If we are saved, we are God’s mess now.

What I find in the church (and I suffer from it too) is that we still work hard to gain the approval of others, we strive to out-perform one another, find creative ways to blame others when we don’t measure up, and hide our shame.

These dynamics are human, and they are NOT God.

We are often told that we are in the process of sanctification; that we were saved, that we are being saved and that we will be saved. It is the Kingdom of God which always was, which is at hand (within us) and the eternal Kingdom to come.

I see it differently.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Are we not a new creation? We can't be a half new, or half old; no we are NEW! The question is this, then how does sin fit into the picture of a new creation? It doesn't. That is why we need not identify with it! When we sin, we are not in God's will, and we are operating from the soul and the flesh. It is unfortunate that our old creation sticks around as a vessel for the new one to dwell in. It is an interesting dilemma, one which can only be discerned with the spirit whom identifies us with Christ.

The task at hand is to let the old creation die.

Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

The trick to releasing the new creation is to live by the spirit. We cannot live by our emotions, our culture, or our thoughts; we must live by faith, being ever watchful of what the Father is doing. When we release the new and perfect creation, we cannot sin, and our identity is truly in Him. Of course this is impossible all the time. As we are intimate with the Father, we will hear from Him more often, and more clearly: putting to death our shame, our need to blame others, never again relaying on performance and perfectionism or the approval of others.

It’s a wonderful plan; let us know how you put it in action.

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Many thanks to my northern neighbor for an opportunity to guest post on her blog.

David Johndrow is a musician, software engineer and amateur blogger; author of Fire & Grace and weekly contributor on Kingdom Bloggers - a sushi eating, caffeine fueled reformer and rock music loving warrior of King Jesus. He has worked as a short term missionary in both Brazil and Norway, and ministered in various denominations as a conference speaker and itinerant preacher. He now resides in greater Boston with his wife and three daughters. David is currently part of the ministry at Faith Worship Center in Pepperell.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Psalms for Sunday - VI

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

I feel spent from worship and I need a break. You say,

Come sit with me.

We sit. We lay back and look at the clouds.

You point to the clouds and ask me if I can see the Lion? The Eagle?

I think it interesting that the Lamb is asking if I can see the Lion. Yes, I can see the Lion. The Lion is coming, moving quickly as the cloud shifts.

The clouds are getting thicker and are building up the rain. The deluge is coming. I can feel the tension of the storm like a farmer who feels the weather on his skin.

I turn again to my left, and look at you. I feel rested.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friends with Benefits

I’m writing poolside, watching my Boy and his BFF tackle an inflatable Ogopogo (the Canadian version of the Lochness Monster, who according to myth lives in the Okanagan Lake). I like his friend and I give kudos to my Boy for picking a good friend. Good friends are important. They can either encourage us to do good things, or they can bring destruction upon us.

We are still exploring the theme of identity, which has been our topic for the entire month of July (if you’ve missed some of the previous posts, click here or here to get caught up).

If God says something is not good, we’re wise to take notice. In the first chapter and a half of the Bible everything God made was called good but in Genesis 2:18 God says something is not good for the first time – it’s not good for man to be alone.  Hold up. Is God saying that man, in this case, Adam, needs more relationship than just God? Hmm, that’s an interesting thought to ponder. Since I can’t cover the theological implications in less than 500 words we are going to assume that it is God’s purpose and design to be in relationship with others. Friendship is part of our identity. 

Okay, so we reason that friendship is God’s idea because he told us it wasn’t good for man to be alone and he had his own friends – Abraham and Moses.  Scripture also says quite a lot about who should be in our company and why:

Proverbs 22:11, He how loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.

Hebrews 10:24, And let us consider how we may spur one another onto love and good deeds.

Proverbs 22:24, Do make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.

All of that is good to take notice of; most people will not argue with a. Humanity’s need for friendship and b. Our need for good quality friends, but there is more. Alanis Morissette may have coined the phrase, “friends with benefits” and Angelina Jolie (pre Brad Pitt and family woman public image) may have made is socially acceptable to publicly speak about her “friends” but Jesus first described the true benefit of being friends – so that we know what he is doing. 

A master/servant relationship is different than friendship. A servant doesn’t know what the master is planning but friendship puts us on a more equal grid – something many of us feel uncomfortable, considering ourselves equal to Jesus and yet, Scripture doesn’t lie. The Father wants to share his plans with us because if we do what he commands, we are called a friend of God. To me, that is astonishing – the words of David come to mind, “Who is man that you are mindful of him?”  

What do you think the purpose of friendship is for? Are you a friend of God?
                

picture found at awkward family photos

i’m an outsider by choice, she said, but i’m hoping that won’t be my choice forever. ~StoryPeople

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Make Your Joy Complete

Guess what? It’s Wednesday, your dog’s favourite day –hump day so head over to Kingdom Bloggers for this week’s instalment of Joy, brought you by the letters J, O, and Y.

According to dictionary.com the definition for joy is 1. the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation. 2. a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated. 3. the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety.

Jesus’ joy was complete (John 3:29) and he wants our joy to be complete (John 15:11). Make your joy complete by reading the full week of testimony at Kingdom Bloggers.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Am What is Right with the World

A tweet read, “What’s wrong with the world? I am because I am a sinner.”

I disagree. I’m a saint and I am what is right with the world. If anyone who believes Jesus died for our sins and is resurrected and we share in his resurrection life is a saint and you are also what is right with the world. Together, we can change the world. Unfortunately you don’t qualify if you are a sinner; saints only for this particular mission.

Oops. Did I make you feel uncomfortable? Did I just include you in a bold-faced claim that you don’t want to be made accountable for? Do you feel like I’ve blasphemed the Lord by saying I’m not a sinner? If so, you may want to cover your eyes and rock back and forth until you hear the men with the padded cell buckle me into a straightjacket and take me away. 

The problem with making a claim – any claim - we must accomplish it lest we be called hypocrite. Being called a hypocrite is obviously worse than sinner because no one admits to being a hypocrite. No, we don’t want to be a hypocrite but we have no quandary about continuing to refer to ourselves as sinner even though it was 5, 10, 30 years ago that we walked across the border between darkness and light.

You may wonder if I’m so much a saint, do I still sin? Sadly, it is true but even though I sin that doesn’t make me a sinner – no more than barking makes me a dog.

The Bible tells me I’m a saint. We can believe the Bible or not. I choose to believe.

Colossians 1:12, “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints of the light.”

1 Thessalonians 3:13 “so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”

Jude 3, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”

It’s just words - sinner, saint, you say. True, we were all sinners. But if we still think ourselves to be sinners even though the Bible clearly argues that we are saints having received forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, there is not a question about whether we will sin because, sinners sin. What you focus on, you become.

We are dead to sin as per Romans 5-7, and alive in Christ as per Galatians 2:20, We are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) – called a saint, no longer identified as a sinner. We reflect Christ’s glory, which is the purpose of world evangelism – to see Christ glorified through transformation. How will he do that but through his saints?

I am a saint, and I am what is right with the world. I am what the world needs. You are what is right with the world. Well yes, Jesus is what is right with the world and Jesus is what the world needs but because Jesus is represented by his saints, ergo, you are what is right with the world.

Do you think of yourself as sinner or saint? Is it easier to think of yourself as a sinner, rather than a saint? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Psalms for Sunday - V


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

The demands on my day overwhelm me -
work, housekeeping, motherhood, fitness, volunteering, the list goes on -
I cut out everything that isn’t deemed necessary. In my short sight, I abandon my time with the Lord.

Is there any wonder I have no peace for the day?

Your Word says, Apart from Me, you can do nothing. I’ve read that but I thought it was meant for others less organized than myself. In my arrogance, I thought I was different. I thought the Bread from yesterday would sustain me today.

I’ve read, I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me, but my eyes deceive me and I only see I can do anything. Without delay, I’m aware that I cannot do anything at all.

At mid-day, I see the day unfold and I’m left without hope so I turn to my only hope
– I enter Your presence.

The tasks will wait – they will not be completed. I repent and I worship. I know Your forgiveness and I feel Your delight. My Peace returns.

Before my eyes close at the end of the day I praise the Lord because everything was accomplished.
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