Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Are You Sure You Want an Open Heaven?


God’s glory has been manifested through what appears to be gold dust and a glory cloud at Bethel Church in Redding, CA with increasing frequency since August. This post is not a debate whether you believe it or not and even if you don’t truth is not diminished by your lack of belief. The Bible says nothing is impossible with God and if God is in it, I want it. I have friends who have first-hand testimony of the phenomenon happening at Bethel Church. I want to experience it in my church, but lately, I’ve been wondering: are we prepared for it?

Last week I was reading the book of Mark; I noticed something I hadn’t seen before in Mark 1:10. It says when Jesus was baptized in water he saw heaven torn open. I was struck by the words torn open. It depicts violence and I had to look it up in my Greek Bible. The original word is schizo, which means to rend, divide, break and it denotes a violent action.

Everyone wants the effects of an open heaven but are we ready for the violence to receive it? It’s exciting what is happening at Bethel but I have to stop and remember they have been stewarding the presence for more than a decade, and they have experienced a lot of tearing, rending and dividing to be where they are today.

What’s more, any time an open heaven is mentioned in the Bible, the individual or people group are thrust forward into ministry – Jesus, disciples at Pentecost, Saul (who became Paul) on the road to Damascus. Abraham, Jacob and Moses are examples in the Old Testament, too.

We forget, at least I forget, Jesus was a man like us and experienced pulls and forces working against him, and yet he never turned his face away from the Father. Oh, to be like that - let that be our prayer. Jesus preached the good news, which is the kingdom of heaven is at hand. He could confidently say that because wherever he went, the heavens had already been divided and torn apart so he always had an open heaven. Jesus tells his disciples, and he tells us the same, to preach the good news that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, within reach. Amen, praise God.

I fasted for most of November and instead of feeling close to God, I described myself as feeling ‘schizo’ –the exact same word as the Greek word for the tearing heavens at Jesus’ baptism. As I meditated on the scripture in Mark, I realized the heavens (the ruling powers) are tearing around and in me, and I rightly used the correct word. Things that are not of God must be torn away - with violence - so I can be wholly devoted to the Lord and ready to not just experience an open heaven but to be an open heaven.

It takes effort and a willingness and surrender to subject yourself to receive an open heaven. Jesus told us to count the cost; somehow we skip over the cost and only want the effects. We chase signs, instead of the sign.

Are you still sure you want an open heaven?


Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent - Hope


Yesterday was the first day of Advent for 2011. According to the World English Dictionary the word advent is defined as:  an arrival or coming, especially one which is awaited.

Many children will begin opening an Advent calendar on the first day of December as their countdown to presents. I love presents too (sure, it’s great to be the giver but I love receiving just as much), but Advent is much more than the countdown to opening presents. A true Advent season waits with anticipation of the Gift, which is Christ. Some churches celebrate Advent, others hardly acknowledge it. I’ve attended both types of churches but since I was 20, I’ve celebrated Advent through daily Bible readings, directed towards the 4 themes for each week of Advent – hope, joy, peace, love.

Join the Kingdom Bloggers each day for a personal reflection on the week’s theme; included each day will be a Bible reading which will engage you into the theme of Advent as well. We welcome your comments and Christmas Advent memories.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Psalms for Sunday - XXV


Let’s dance for joy, all you lovers of the Lord.

Dance, dance, dance for the Lord, our King.

Shout, shout, shout to the Lord, our King.

Sing, sing, sing praises of the Lord, our King.

The glow of your presence is warm and stunning; I want to stay forever.

Your love never fails, and your mercy never fails. I could sing of your majesty all the days of my life and it would still not be enough.

We are healed in your presence, and upheld by your might.  

All things are made new because of the Lord; all things are made new in the presence of the Lord.
Let’s dance for joy, all you lovers of the Lord.

Dance, dance, dance for the Lord, our King.

Shout, shout, shout to the Lord, our King.

Sing, sing, sing praises of the Lord, our King.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Top 10 Thankful List


I had a migraine today; it started in the morning, about 7:30. As I laid in bed, I started thanking the Lord, not for the migraine but for things like the fact that it was happening today (Tuesday) and not any other day of this week when it would really inconvenience me. I thanked him that my Boy is old enough to help me by taking care of the dogs and the horses before school. I thanked him for neighbours that I can call to ask them to bring my Boy to school. I thanked him that I get “auras” that warn me before the migraine starts so I could quickly finish up some things before I had to lay down and I thanked him that on a scale of 1 to 10, it was only a 7 in severity.

The peak of the migraine lasted only 4 hours, but the rest of the day, I feel what I describe as “fragile”, so I lay low and keep my activity and conversation to a minimum. In my introspective state, I began to think about all the things I’m thankful for. This wasn’t my post idea for Friday but I think it fits, seeing that my American neighbours to the south have been celebrating their Thanksgiving holiday.

Here’s my Top 10 Thankful list (not necessarily in order):

One:  I’m thankful for a husband that adores me and loves me so much it’s ridiculous. We worked hard and went through some very difficult times to get to this place but the difficult times are probably the reason I am so loved by my Man.
Two: I’m thankful for gorgeous men like Ryan Gosling (who should have been voted People’s Sexiest Man) and for Bradley Cooper (who is People’s Sexiest Man). They are a wonderful part of God’s creation but they have nothing on my Man. It’s true. The society women call my Man, “Hot Name” (insert his first name) because even though he well into his 40’s, his abs are every bit as nice as Ryan Gosling.
Three: I’m thankful for my Boy who makes me laugh. He’s always had a great sense of humour and is very witty and quick off the cuff – he takes after his father.
Four:  I’m thankful for finances that allow us to live comfortably (but not extravagantly) and be generous with others.
Five: I’m thankful for being Canadian. It’s Canada’s time to shine on the world stage and I’m proud for what my country stands for.
Six:  I’m thankful for living in an area that is rich with good Bible teaching and opportunities within a reasonable distance to drive. Other parts of the country and province are desperate and hungry for what is available right here, in my own backyard.
Seven:  I’m thankful for a church that makes me excited to attend every Sunday morning. It’s been several years since I’ve been excited about church.
Eight:  I’m thankful for many new relationships and connections God has been putting in my life in the past year. Of course, I love my long-time friendships as well.
Nine:  I’m thankful for a fantastic mom and dad, and for a mother and father-in-law I adore and have a great relationship with.
Ten:  I’m thankful for the gift of salvation through Jesus who died on the cross, which enables me to enter the throne room of God with boldness and confidence; and as a child of the Most High God, I can sit upon the lap of my Father and call him, “Abba.”

What are you thankful for?
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