Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Haggai 1 – Repentance Reconciles Revival

“And the people feared the Lord…”
— Haggai 1:12b (NIV)
Revival is always preceded by a great repentance (2 Chronicles 7:14). As people, or as the people, respond to God’s eternal voice — for righteousness and justice over the land — they’re blessed in the earthly realms by a blessed obedience for their acts and impetus for further obedience — the means of revival, be it personal or corporate or national. In other words, they’ve been given more power to obey for their obedience of repentance.
The obedience to repent brings about God’s Spiritual power to continue to obey.
The people of Haggai’s time were too busy building their own houses and their own lives to build the Lord’s house. They were inwardly focused and it dismayed the Lord that his own people would be so self-centred.
Haggai prophesies to Zerubbabel (the Governor of Judah) and Joshua (the high priest), admonishing them as representatives of the people — both in terms of secular State and spiritual State. Judah is a State of the Divine — a people of God. Their leaders (Zerubbabel and Joshua) are both addressed. This oracle goes out to all the people. And all the people respond. The nation responds. And something special happens: revival. Something is stirred in their spirits… Zerubbabel is stirred to repentance and action. So, too, Joshua. And “the remnant of the people.”
The book of Haggai teaches us that there’s a blessed empowering in our turning back to God.
The blessing we automatically think of is we’re rightly oriented to life again. That’s only part of it. Being blessed in the returning means not only are we rightly oriented in life again, we’re also empowered to obey.
We cannot obey God unless we have repented, but repentance, in itself, is a kind of first fruit of obedience.
The people of Judah learned that, in fearing God once again, in returning their hearts back to him, his Holy Spirit would empower them to be rightly motivated to work on the rebuilding of the Temple. Their obedience to turn back was blessed by God through an empowering for further obedience.
Obedience is blessed with power to obey.
The more we obey God, the more we can obey him.
To repent is to experience God’s power. To repent is to advocate God’s truth. God’s truth is magnified in us in our repenting, and God’s truth bequeaths power to us.
When we obey God we receive God’s power to do what he wills us to do.
When we repent, God makes us willing and able to do the things he’s planned for us from eternity to do.
Revival depends first on repentance.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

2 Reasons Why Your Life Has Purpose and Meaning Today

YOU may have had enough of life to this point. You may be having a wow of a time. You might have landed on your feet eventually or suddenly. You may be so over life as it stands. You may be ready to move on. You may even find yourself in that extraordinary position of being where you never dreamt of being.
The truth is you are where you are, as am I; as each person in the rest of the world is.
We have little say over where we’re at in life, now, as we need to accept it this moment, but we’ve had a say in where we’ve come to be. Still, life is what it is, and we hardly had a say over the vast majority of things that characterise our lives, to this point.
Notwithstanding the things that we cannot control — those things we’re wise to simply accept now, and moving forward — there is great purpose and meaning to your life… to all our lives.
There are two compellingly irrefutable reasons:
Your Day — This Day — Is Yours — Is God’s (See Psalm 118:24)
This is such an amazing fact you’ll hardly believe its simplicity as you begin the journey of exploring it. This day, this very time of your life, as one twenty-four hour period, is where history is written.
Your personal and remarkable history.
Think of the power of your choice. You’re writing a book, this very day. Every choice, every thought, every act, word, and deed is written in the history of you and your life. That is significant. That is worthy of your attention. That impels you toward purpose and meaning. Nothing you think, say or do is void of significance.
That may bring pressure, but equally it brings hope!
Your Destiny — Coming to You — Coming to All — Soon (See Revelation 21:5)
This is something that can be taken from no one: one’s eternal destiny. We shall all die. And we all get to choose not if we’ll return to God, but where and in what capacity. We’re far from home. Yet home is just over the horizon. Your life is fleeting. Mine or yours could be over today. We just don’t know.
A decision for Jesus is purpose and meaning for the very minute, even the second. We make that choice and we blessed in all eternity, because we start to live not simply for now, but for the now to come! That now will last and last and last. It’s so opposite to this now. And that now will not only last eternity, it will have no pain, no tears, no suffering, trials, and suffering; just blissful joy.
Your day and your destiny: an eternal purpose and meaning for eternity.
Your day is pregnant with possibility and your destiny heaves with hope.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

Friday, October 2, 2015

God, What Are You Like?

“WHAT are you like, God?” I said in my mind as I sat in a theology seminar. God didn’t answer. Not audibly on any account at all. But I mused that if God were to speak in a language that we know, he might say to us, “I’m incomprehensible to you, and always will be… as I have said, I am that I am.”
He might also say, “Does that help you?” And, (God already knowing our answer), we might otherwise say, “No, that doesn’t help much at all,” to which he might be expected to answer without an answer. Silence. We’re left in a conundrum.
But we’re looking in the wrong place for the answer. Perhaps the answer is self-evident in history. We look to the cross. We look to the resurrection. We take a look at Jesus’ life. We look to the Holy Spirit’s work in preparing the way of the Lord through the Prophets. We must also look to the Lord of Creation.
“What are you like, God?”
God says through the history of the world, in his Word, “Look at my Son.”
Jesus’ witness gives us some clues. Yet there is something of a limitation to how much we might know Jesus’ life. There are the limits of our understanding and there’s the limit to what might be understood. We read of Jesus’ compassion for the vulnerable so we know he’s compassionate. We read of Jesus’ merciful forgiveness so we know he’s gracious even (especially even) when he’s the one being assaulted. We read of Jesus’ grip on justice, so we know he’s righteous. We read of his miracles of healing, so we know he’s got divine power, and even actually Divine.
Our compassion, forgiveness and justice wavers, yet God’s never does. We have never seen God, but we have seen God’s works. We have never touched God, but he has touched us. And, though God has transformed us from old life to new, we have no idea how his power has wrought such a thing. As life is a mystery, so, it seems, is God. Yet creation tells us that God created the world and sustains it.
God has made himself known in and through the person of Jesus Christ.
Everything we know about God will line up in the Lord Jesus. God cannot disagree with himself. God is both simpler than we imagine — by far — and so far beyond our comprehension. God is the simplest being and comprehensive beyond comprehension. More completely mysterious than any concept or thing, ever. But realer than anything.
We can know God if we know Jesus, but we cannot know Jesus unless we read and study the Bible. God reveals Jesus to us through the Word. God reveals his will to us through prayer. All other things may be conjecture. But anytime we think we know God better than another person we ought to check our thinking.
The more we know about God the more we may feel we don’t know him at all. But that just makes us what to know him more.
We cannot know God unless we’ve been gifted a personal relationship with him. (A gift is given and it cannot be acquired any other way, so it’s no real credit to us.)
It’s a healthy question to continue to ask: “God, what are you like?”
The more we know the less we feel comfortable with what we know. And that’s okay. May God ever be a mystery. A thrill in the chase of wonder until life makes way for death and we hence met him face-to-face.
When we continue asking “God, what are you like?” we can expect to continue to be led by his Holy Spirit.
Oh, to know the Father’s Jesus,
And the gospels, trustworthy and true,
Oh, to know this Jesus,
And to follow him no matter what I do.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Holy Spirit – Companion for An Untenable Soul Loneliness

GRACE has an answer for every suffering that threatens to level us. Grace. Simply grace. Grace is the murmur of the Holy Spirit spoken irretrievably out of the heavens, into the created spaces of earth, into the spaces of peace and holiness within our experience, articulated into our hearts resting in our souls.
Grace flees every vexatious situation with an exilic eternality, but as soon as humility returns via repentance grace returns as if it were eternally present — as it is.
The beauty of this grace is it’s the portent of the Holy Spirit — a transactional dimensionality — where God is immediately present, there, with us, in our spaces.
The Holy Spirit is irretrievably there, right there, with us, eternally, as we seek the solace of God in our soul loneliness; this is the soul at rest in its existential truth, for ever away from home, given a home of transience on earth.
Being alive has the characteristic of being away from what is truly home. We’re never truly at harmony with our experience, yet, with the Holy Spirit indwelling our experience, grace makes something pleasantly urgent of our experience; call it hope.
Hope makes out of our soul’s loneliness the abiding belief that all will be good.
When such a feeling abides we’re graced with the contentment that surpasses all understanding. Finally, there is the felt promise of the Holy Spirit. Felt. Acknowledged. God with us!
Again, it is hope that we may call it. Peace is its by-product. And a joy unattained otherwise. There is no gold nor silver over the face of the earth — any wealth of possession or fame — that could compare with what has now been deposited within our hearts, resting upon our souls.
Beauty is amazing when we have the cognisance of God’s Presence, there, in us, activating our spirit sense. Beauty is captivated and approached and apprehended.
Beauty has at last graced our shores, and our experience of life — abiding even in the soul’s acknowledged loneliness — is grand from then on. Such is hope.
Hope is that piece of beauty that transcends all experience. From hope come peace, joy, and a satisfying cacophony of blessing.
The Presence of the Holy Spirit magnifies hope and brings it to bear over our existence. The indwelling of such an experience for life has dramatic effect. We’ll never be the same ever again. Praise God.
A blessed companion for life and loneliness is grace; the felt Presence of the Holy Spirit abiding within.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.
Photo Credit: David Campbell.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

4 Hopes of Purpose and 4 Seasons of Peace In the Psalms

HOPES of purpose and seasons of peace. Life has them both. My thesis is there are four of each along the continuum of life.
The hopes of purpose are the stages through which life flows. There are these four purposes of hope: 1) our base identity — in Christ; 2) growth propelling us to contribute; 3) contribution-making forging a legacy; and, 4) the legacy we give that makes life worthwhile as we invest in others. All of our lives might feature any and all of these hopes of purpose. At the pinnacle of life we experience all four simultaneously — solidity of identity, the fullness of growth, the self-worthiness of contribution, and the value-to-others of legacy.
The four seasons of peace are different. These are actual locales of the heart and mind during which each season might be enjoyed for a different outcome of peace — but peace all the same. Four seasons of peace that I suggest are: 1) abundance — the joy that comes when our lives feel full of blessing; 2) contentedness — the joy that comes, being at peace, whether in want or in plenty; 3) stilled-of-soul — the nexus of human spirituality as it merges into the divine, notwithstanding suffering and challenging realities; and, 4) assurance — a stand-alone form of peace interconnected with the other seasons for the brief consideration of what lies awaiting us in eternity. These are seasons of peace to strive for, to attain, and to maintain.
Through & For the Peace of Abundance
Psalm 100 is a regal psalm of thanksgiving; so pithy yet powerful. It anchors our identity in the abundance of praise for God’s goodness in our createdness.
David appreciated how the Lord had given him the abundance of his heart’s desires in Psalm 21. Such a psalm inspires faith for the faithfulness of God when we face the uglier periods of growth.
Psalm 96 gives us an abundance of confidence in the God of creation as we preach the gospel to all nations — as we make an evangelistic contribution, as we all should. We preach out of the abundance that God has given us in our hearts.
Psalm 8 is simply a majestic psalm pregnant with abundance. It’s something we can sit in, within our legacy. The Lord is always enough!
Through & For the Peace of Contentedness
Psalm 84 is a psalm for those who wish to ground their identities in contentedness perhaps because it’s absent.
An appreciation for God’s good grace permeates Psalm 32, the blessings replete of obedient honesty, which breed contentedness and esteem the purveyor to growth.
For those wanting stability in a relationship of sole devotion in the Lord, there is Psalm 16. This is a most personal psalm of David’s; the disciple of a heart after God, alone.
When we’re desperate we need to know we can reach out to the Lord in desperation to be heard and delivered. Psalm 34 speaks of God’s faithfulness to that end. Even in the grip of desperation we can pray this psalm over our lives and borrow contentedness from the Lord.
Psalms of contentedness, as we reflect over them, in whatever season the day brings us to, give us a glimpse into what might be. Contentedness is something we might rarely achieve, but it’s something so worthy to aspire to.
Through & For the Peace of Soul Stillness
With Psalm 30 we have another faithfulness psalm; one this time that wreaks of stillness-of-soul. It speaks of David’s reflection when he cried out to God, and then was answered; from weeping came joy, and from mourning, dancing.
Psalm 46 is famous, of course, for verse 10: “Be still, and know that I am God.” There can truly be no more powerful a word in seeking or having attained to a stillness-of-soul.
Psalm 24 speaks of the unison of God’s prevailing majesty over the earth, and, in the form of Psalm 15, the confident stillness-of-soul to be had in a cogently simple obedience.
And no better psalm carries us off into the image of a stilled soul than Psalm 131. A royal psalm of ascent, this one helps us reflect over a life of being still-of-soul just as much as it calls us into that serenity-of-being.
Through & For the Peace of Assurance
The assurance of the Lord is known in the love of the Lord. Psalm 103 is purely regal in this regard. Its theology is comprehensive as it provides for our identity in the matter of assurance.
The Lord is the rock and our salvation in whom all should trust, for trust in idols proves a folly. Psalm 62 is a great assurance that the nature of life is generally trustworthy, though justice flags with the truth, and both lag well behind falsehood. But the Lord will not let the guilty go free — let’s be freshly assured.
Psalm 91 is an assurance psalm, and it will help anyone whose faith is shaken.
Wisdom psalms prove a windfall when it comes to assurance. They’re steady and sound. Such a poem is Psalm 111. It speaks unswervingly of God’s unchangeable character.
Quadruple the Hope!
The fourfold purposes of hope drive us through life on a wave of meaning. With an identity grounded in hope, we have a hope for growth so a worthy contribution can be made, and a legacy can be left. Yet any and all of these purposes of hope have a unique role in our spiritual lives depending on where the moment holds us. These four hopes, therefore, run in series and in parallel.
If there’s two things we all need it’s hope and peace. Hope propels our faith so we can live life courageously. Peace is an outcome of living a right life, and it undergirds the experience of joy.
The purposes of hope fuel faith and seasons of peace breed joy. Blessed is the person finding hope and peace through the psalms.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Jesus – Home, Help and Hope of Compassion

JOURNEYS from wilderness to road to town to city — Jesus saw the plight of a people who were like sheep without a shepherd. Their priests had deserted their service of the people. Their prophets had denounced, for centuries, those who had a responsibility of care; those who had long proved derelict of duty. And finally, then, the Son of God came: Jesus :— the hands, feet, eyes, ears, heart, shoulder, and voice of compassion.
Jesus, God’s Incarnate Son, had compassion on God’s people. All people were God’s people, yet those who most needed the compassion of those who could and should have cared were left most vulnerable. “Harassed and helpless” the people were. Those in power had defaulted on their anointed and appointed role.
Anywhere the people are harassed and helpless — at any time — God’s leaders may be, again, derelict in their duty. But there are many times when people are just harassed by the demands of life and helpless against the ferocity of their reality.
Jesus knows. Jesus understands. The compassion of Jesus weeps for the struggles we find impossible to reconcile. The Son of God has hands that bring his heavenly, eternal, and healing touch. Our Lord of Glory is fleet of foot and his feet never tire. His eyes roam constantly over the earth; they see everything, and nothing — absolutely nothing — does he fail to see. Our Saviour hears the cries of our hearts and his heart feels with a depth of compassion we could never approach. He is our Priest who bears our load over his shoulder that is strong for our every burden. And by his Holy Spirit he speaks of resurrection, even out of the depths of defeat we’re exposed to. Jesus’ compassion is a home for the restless, help for the vulnerable, and hope for the weary.
Jesus’ hands are compassionate. He touches people’s hurts and heals them.
Jesus’ feet are compassionate. He ventures far and wide to come close to us.
Jesus’ eyes are compassionate. He sees our injustices and weeps for the exploited.
Jesus’ ears are compassionate. He listens to and hears the vulnerability in our soul.
Jesus’ heart is compassionate. He understands our lack and promises his care.
Jesus’ shoulder is compassionate. He is our shoulder to lean on when life is hardest.
Jesus is the voice of compassion. He speaks of resurrection through his Spirit.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Psalms for the Purposes and Seasons of Your Life

POEMS of affirmation, for confidence, for spiritual stability, for response, for divine empathy; for the purposes of God in our lives: these are the biblical Psalms. These sonnets of Scripture do easily carry us through the journey of life, and, per this suggestion, can help through every age and stage, and every purpose and season of life.
My thesis is this: there are four broad seasons of life: 1) spring (ages 15-28); summer (29-44); autumn (45-69); winter (70+). Each of the seasons is longer than the last one, God-willing, as far as that commends itself to the last season. Throughout each of life’s seasons there are four purposes: 1) the underpinning purpose of identity; 2) the inspiring purpose of growth; 3) the building purpose of contribution; and, 4) the loving purpose of legacy. All these purposes are crucial for the experience of hope in life.
Through every season and in every purpose there’s a psalm that will help as in that stage of life. Here are my suggestions:
Through Spring
Psalm 139 tells us that we are unique, hand-crafted by God, and worthy as anyone else is to live this life. It’s an identity psalm. As we meditate over it, during any season of life really, it nourishes a sense of specialness in us.
During “spring” we are growing a great deal, but we’re also contributing and leaving a legacy. Psalm 19 is a wisdom psalm that speaks to us in our youth. Psalm 18 reminds us, in its length, of the importance of social justice; of making a contribution. Psalm 51 gives us a way of repenting; a legacy for the ensuing seasons of life.
Through Summer
Psalm 1 is a princely psalm that ought to be our byword in the going out and coming home of summer life. It reminds us of who we should and should not associate with; and what we should always do: meditate on the Word of God. This psalm sustains our identity in a key period of contribution in our lives.
Psalm 25 will keep us reaching high for growth during the hotter months of life. Psalm 49 is another wisdom psalm that reminds us of the folly of wealth, so we might make worthier contributions to life. Psalm 127 is a legacy psalm reminding us where our efforts leave lasting results — in and through our children — and where our efforts might be wasted.
Through Autumn
Summer is not the best period of life; autumn is. The years 45 through 69 (roughly speaking) are where perspective is attained, and less of life is wasted in hurry. Identity, here, is underpinned by the classic Psalm 15. This psalm could actually underpin our identity of integrity through every season of life. If we do what Psalm 15 commends for us to do, we will be blessed!
Psalm 91 fills us with the assurance of God’s inimitable Presence, through the entire lifespan. It’s a richly warm psalm for continued growth right into “winter.” Psalm 27 gives us the confidence of summer in autumn when we might be feeling our age. Psalm 78 is a long psalm designed to get us out of life and reflecting over God’s goodness and greatness over the history of his relationship with Israel. This passing-the-baton psalm inspires us to leave a worthy legacy.
Through Winter
The Psalm of Moses (Psalm 90) is a perspective psalm ideal, again, to pin our identities to. This psalm abides with us and in us as we look back over a long life lived.
There is still growth to be had, a contribution to make, as well as a legacy to leave in our winter years. Psalm 37 is an encouraging psalm in the wisdom set for when we feel weak; it encourages us to continue growing. Psalm 71 teaches us that God won’t forsake us when we’re old and grey — we still have a contribution to make. Psalm 23 reminds us of God’s Presence as our legacy is transformed from our life through the passage of, and beyond, our death. Our presence remains with our loved ones as his Presence does.
So through the seasons of life come the purposes of life. Life is crammed full of purpose throughout every age.

© 2015 Steve Wickham.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

7 Ways to Pray for the Vulnerable

INTERCEDING for those in our presence is a powerful medium that promotes healing, as the Holy Spirit comes alongside the moment, making a cord of three strands.
Prayer is precious when two people are focused on the same thing with God to the exclusion of all distractions. Can God not do abundantly more than we’d ever hope or imagine? Prayer makes it possible that a myriad of supernatural dimensions are enabled. Not least of these, there is the fact that prayer changes us in some of the most unpredictable yet welcome ways.
Here are seven ways I’ve found helpful in praying for the vulnerable:
1.     Discuss what they need prayer for and pray for them right there: ensure you make time to truly listen in order to understand their true needs before starting to pray. It takes courage to admit we don’t understand what they’ve said, but it’s better to confirm than pray on assumption where the Spirit’s power is asked to operate in falsity. Checking our information as to their real needs proves we truly care.
2.     Ask appropriate others to join in: there is power in numbers, but only if the intimacy in the prayer won’t be compromised. Only ask appropriate others. These are other people who would bless the person being prayed for. If you have any doubt ensure you ask their permission.
3.     Pray with compassionate boldness and sensitivity to the Spirit: making our prayers about the Spirit and not about us is the key to an effective prayer. This is about getting lost in the prayer. All those praying need to be lost to their self-consciousness and found in that spiritual fullness that comes from God’s Presence alone.
4.     Pray by God’s Word: seeking a Word for the time and situation, God is sought for that Word. God never fails to provide, yet a Word may seem askew. Trust in the timing of the Lord.
5.     Pray by song: sometimes singing together is so good for the soul because it disinhibits us providing the breakthrough opportunity the Spirit needs. Song is especially powerful where there is the manifest grip of fear or pride.
6.     Pray silently: this is especially poignant when there are no words to say; where presence alone is the healing touch of God. To ‘sit Shiva’ (sit and mourn seven days silently) with someone in the pit of great and imminent loss is the healing touch of God in the moment of incomprehensibility. Seven hours is better than three. And seven minutes is better than three. We may simply hold their hand, place a hand on their shoulder, or put an arm over their shoulder (according to what they feel comfortable with) to remind them we are there, with them, in a very real way.
7.     Promise to continue to intercede for them: don’t promise if you don’t intend on continuing to pray. I’ve found that praying for them as soon as we part, perhaps as I’m driving away, is the best way to stay good to my promise. I ask the Holy Spirit to remind me of them and their case, and it very often happens. When this happens I try to contact them and let them know I’ve been praying for them.
The effects of our prayers often lag. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer from the aspect of their reflections later on. People can often only tell the power of God to deliver them as they reflect on months or years that have passed.
Keep praying in faith! — with no promise of blessing in sight.

© 2015 Steve Wickham.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Jesus, the Ultimate Answer to Evil and Suffering

“From submission to suffering and death and hell came victory, the shattering of the powers of evil, the ransacking of the strong man’s house, deliverance for his prisoners, the redemption of his possessions, the reversal of his plans.”
— Peter Hicks
LIVING as a Christian is about letting God have his way. This radical metanoia is the turning from everything we ever knew implicitly over to a form of life that is so counterintuitive it actually requires real acquisition of the Holy Spirit. And that is it. For when we’re indwelt with the Spirit the Spirit communicates to us, and suddenly we’re a subject in the spiritual realm, and this involves warfare — God will ask us to suffer, as he asked Jesus to suffer. The only way through spiritual attack is to obey God. For God will make for us a way through.
Christ is the way to victory, because greatness was achieved only one time in this entire world: on the cross. The cross was one human’s triumph for all humans. The resurrection was God’s triumph, for God and for humanity. The cross was the once-for-all-time demonstration of how to respond to evil and suffering. And the resurrection was a once-for-all-time transaction — death unto life — so all who would partake in suffering would also reign victorious over it through being risen to new life. We cannot explain the resurrection reality in our mortal flesh when we bear our crosses, but that’s what happens.
Spiritual warfare seems to make for us many of our suffering situations. Spiritual attack comes in the mode of situations that don’t merely offend, but castigate us into a death in the reality of life. Yet, the attacks of warfare we experience in this life are simply pointers of antecedence to the incoming power we receive as God raises us — through our obedience in the struggle.
We can see how Jesus was attacked by the very being of Satan as he endured his passion. Satan threw everything at Jesus and still Satan failed. Satan was unable to see the redemptive plan, because he was unable to understand it.
Evil cannot comprehend the self-effacing nature of love in the kingdom of God.
What might seem so very hard — to bear our trials, suffering and struggles patiently — is possible with God. And what is possible is actually the way to defeat the attacks with which we, ourselves, attack ourselves with. Satan works by turning us on ourselves. Satan works by self-destruction and self-sabotage. But when the gentleness of God is fervent in us, we have a way beyond fretting; to know that fretting only causes evil (Psalm 37:8). Fear takes us away from God every time. Only via faith can we please God (Hebrews 11:6).
Jesus shows us in human form how we’re to deal with suffering and cope, trusting the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is our exemplar for spiritual life when any other response would bring certain spiritual death.
The point of the Kingdom is evil and suffering ultimately don’t matter. All that matters is God. This is a faith statement — it can only be true by faith: the decision to commit to a specific action of faith. This doesn’t mean we don’t have a mission; we do. We ought to advocate for justice for the powerless. But we ought to do so knowing that God is in control and everything abides in God’s plan.
If we’re offended in any way about the suffering that God would allow to occur we ought to be quickly counselled of our limited knowledge. We do not know what is coming. And we do not know what God’s purposes are in anything.
Jesus can help us in our suffering because Jesus showed us how to suffer.
Doing the will of the Lord is the way to his enduring power over suffering.

© 2015 Steve Wickham.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

8 Ways Satan Wants to Wreck Your Life

WARFARE of the spiritual kind is something akin to territory known in the life of a spiritual person. The more connected to God we are, the more we’re shaped for his purposes, and the more situated to serve that we are, the more subversively Satan may try to wreak havoc in our lives. Not that I made the previous sentence a generalisation. Some may be more prone to spiritual attack than others.
Here are just 8 ways that Satan works to nullify the effect of God’s Kingdom:
1.     He deceives us through skewed truth: we are given a part truth and we begin to subscribe to that portion of truth as the whole truth. This always takes us entirely in the wrong direction of response. If we see the deception we’re able to opt only for the truth — some of which is probably going to be unknown or unknowable. We never know as much as we think we know.
2.     He makes us wish to do the right thing at the wrong time: as justified as an action may be, it’s still crucial that it’s timed well, that it’s done in the right way, for the right reason. Doing the right thing is not always enough, and many times it’s a recipe for trouble.
3.     Master of Discouragement, Satan makes little of the good we do: we begin to notice when encouragements for the good things we’re doing aren’t coming. Notice how Satan makes us notice even the little things we receive no thanks for.
4.     Master of fear, Satan makes much of our mistakes and failures: moral or not, our mistakes and failures are great fodder for Satan to needle us with, intuiting fear. Fear makes us doubt our competence, our role, our effectiveness, and our fit. It seeks and destroys at the level of our identity. Depression is not usually just about discouragement; there’s a very real source of fear embodying us.
5.     Satan first disarms us through ego: pride is such a nemesis to God in the human condition, and we’re all afflicted. There is only one source of rectification: humility. It never feels good to be humbled, but if we do so with a cheerful approach Satan flees.
6.     When relationships seem more caustic and ‘good’ people seem to be turning bad: watch for this one! Satan wants us thinking good people are wickedly motivated. He is more than willing to show us their wrongdoing. This is the type of ‘insight’ nobody really needs.
7.     Interrupting our prayer life, Satan will remind us how ineffective we are: Satan hates prayer. He hates it when we pray, because he knows he’s in his proper place; out of contention for a role of influence over our lives. He’ll do anything to make sure our prayer life is undermined in any way.
8.     Satan’s worst deed is to undermine our place in life: suicidal ideations can often be grounded in the enemy’s work. He is a spiritual troll; an angel of trolling.
Silently and slovenly the prowling lion preys,
The enemy’s attacks are cunning and cruel,
Satan seeks to devour every night and day,
The last thing we need to do is give him fuel.
A liar, a schemer, an accuser is he,
Discouragement and fear are his friends,
Satan seeks to enslave the free,
And get them to work for his very ends.
So, to recap, Satan skews our truth, confuses our love, is the master of discouragement and fear, exploits our pride, interrupts our prayer life, and makes us question even our existence.
Satan should we fear?
No, not when God is near.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Trekking the Lonely Pilgrimage of Hardship Into Wholeness

TIMES of distress are paradoxically also times of challenge. When we least want to make for change, change it seems most wants to take us with it. And this makes for somewhat a lonely pilgrimage, full of doubt and groaning contemplation.
We want the answer to what ails us, but amidst the confusion that overwhelms there’s no easy way forward. What works one day doesn’t work the next, and so on.
God invites us to take the pilgrimage out of what we’re suffering into the Godhead of his wholeness. The Father cares for his children. The Son cleanses us from all unrighteousness. The Spirit advocates for us on his behalf.
God’s invitation involves taking us as we are into something new for the present and future. In a pilgrimage that starts from today, we learn not to look back, whilst taking with us the precious possessions of our persecutions as impetus for purpose and prosperity. These very trials are what forge our way forward. We wouldn’t have been forced back into the Godhead if not for them. Our trials have compelled us to draw near to God. We had found that ‘pilgrimage’ was the only way to successfully disentangle ourselves from the rot of soul stagnation.
Suffering takes us there: to where our souls are loneliest and most vulnerable.
We’re there for a purpose: for a fresh infilling of the Lord. And then… to not look back.
So as we set forth on this new adventure, one promising peril in the first instance, we must take courage. We must take faith to risk enough to keep stepping, eyes fixed on Jesus. We must take humility to not be put off by the relational stumbling blocks ahead. We must take perseverance enough to rest when we’re tired, instead of giving up. We must take on loan the joy of a hope that will arrive in us as we arrive at our destination. We keep pressing forward in the hope that one day we’ll be able to look back with some fondness for where we’ve come from.
The journey of pilgrimage has its perils and its promises. We cannot hope to attain the promises without embarking on something potentially perilous.
We can know that he who begins the journey with us will not forsake us part way through.
The lonely pilgrimage out of spiritual frailty into wholeness is never lonely as we look back. Our courage to journey litters our memory with worthy insights and joys.

© 2015 Steve Wickham.