Tuesday, March 20, 2018

No such thing as an article for all persons and all seasons

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God was doing business in me recently when I had to realise something well beyond my control. In 400-words I cannot satisfy all His truth; I can only hit one angle.
Most books cannot cover all the territory the author would want to cover.
The concern came in how I lead others in understanding how acceptance comes through the process of grief. Within a few weeks I wrote two articles[1] that could seem to contradict each other. God made me aware of this having written the second one — He gave it to me to wrestle.
Having wrestled, the key issue is they both, individually, reflect different truth — two different persons’ truth. In this case, as far as recovery from grief is concerned, two people’s responses are polar different. The first one experiences no immediate recovery to acceptance, and suffers for a decade or longer, grieving at times traumatically. The other has the opposite experience: tragically loses a child, yet, having grieved for a time, has an epiphany that reduces all the sorrow to meaning. It seems for the one, that God hasn’t stepped in, yet for the other He has. I do not think in such terms, though.
Both responses to grief are equally valid because they’re both real case scenarios lived out by real people.
The conflict I experience in writing what God lays on my heart is the torment at times that I’m leading people wrongly. In writing about one perspective of truth, people are bound to read these words in the absolute sense — like the truth I write is the only truth. It is truth, just not all the truth; just one sliver of truth within myriads.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seriously considered giving up writing, and the many times I’m made such an attempt. But either God goaded me back or other people did. I certainly cannot stop. The Lord speaks too much to be ignored. He has chosen this medium for me. (Like it’s taken only 19 minutes to write this… and still He’s speaking…)
This article is an attempt to reconcile how I feel about the possibility that I may have betrayed the reader.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Accepting the things that cannot be changed as chosen

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“Those things I would not have chosen, have become things I would not change.” — Elizabeth Oliver
There is something incredibly stark about wisdom; those pithy little statements, often alliterated, and often so profound they cause more than a moment’s captivation.
There we were in the dark, out the front of the church, musing about our experiences of grief, when Mrs Oliver said that exact thing!
The reason this wisdom resonated with me is it spoke to my lived experience — grief that was excruciating and lasting, a hellish process, but through which new light and life is now known. For without the grief, there would be no grace.
I make a caveat for the person who thinks this wisdom is bizarre — even an impossible folly. I guess we must agree that faith must decide whether it believes God can make of what happens to us worth the pain. I would suggest that God can make it not only worth our pain, but that He can show us things we otherwise could never know.
Indeed, God can change our entire mindset in a moment — nothing is too much for the Lord. Does God always break through in these ways? No, not always, and certainly rarely with immediacy. But if God can speak through a little mother bird who chirped serenely having just lost her chicks, then it is possible.
Back to the concept of this article. If we turn it around and test it, I think the same thing is possible: we can learn to accept as chosen the things that cannot be changed, particularly if we’d choose now not to change them; that we accept life as it is now, without regret. This is no betrayal of those we have left behind us. Perhaps eternity will make sense of it, and that is a reasonable hope.
If we cannot alter the flow of change in our lives, there is much to be said for changing the flow of our attitude toward whatever we cannot alter. It is very wonderful, in that it works.
Another way of looking at this is, accepting something that happens to us beyond our will is logical, especially as we cannot change it. God is faithful and helps us adjust to it.

Blessed is the person who, whatever happens to them, has the capacity to move forward without delay or regret.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Jesus not for Superfluousness, Jesus for the Soul

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In teaching children about the cycle of recalcitrance-ruin-repentance-restoration, God has made it clear to me that we are people of His heart who continually reject His heart.  
Chrysostom (349—407) puts it this way: “While we leave unattended the fountain of our ills, we still hope to have the streams unpolluted.”
As a humanity we constantly look outside the problem to solve it. The spirituality is easy to explain. None of us wants to come under the dominion of anyone or anything else, least of all God. We want life our way, thank you very much.
Disobedience is in every single one of us most of the time — especially even in the ones who the world thinks ought to know better. It is a scourge against us all. By the sins of both commission and omission. We are only a matter of misfortune away from misdemeanour, and merely a season of such malevolence as to completely walking away. Anyone who thinks they are beyond this is kidding themselves.
There is in all of life, the great I AM; the all-powerful EVER WAS, the all-knowing WILL ALWAYS BE. He is the eternal Father, the Jesus from the Ages, the Holy Spirit of God.
God designed life in the inextricable way of us needing Him. Whenever we disparage this idea our lives go poorly — we become people who insist on the stream being crystal perfect, yet we put up with the ills that come from the filth we insist upon drinking. Even us so-called followers of Jesus.
Our only hope is a momentary repentance graced by heightened awareness of our nature. Not pointing our finger to the sin of others, all the while minimising our own sins. Jesus told us we must get the log out of our own eye before we can even hope to see the speck in the other person’s (Matthew 7:1-5).
Jesus is not for the superfluous. Jesus is for our soul. He is the Vine of truth who shows us our error for our good; for our freedom. Where are we ignoring Jesus today at our peril?
Jesus’ heart is for followers to live authentic lives, not as those who continually contrive an act.
Jesus is not interested in how much we know about God, but what we do with God in our own lives.
Jesus is looking for genuine sacrifice, not for something that looks good.
Jesus wishes us to bless the world without us insisting on the world loving Him.
We must admit we are very good at getting Jesus wrong. Being honest about this is blessedness.
Jesus seeks and speak to the heart, beyond superfluousness; He desires connection to our soul.

If we seek His heart, Jesus will give us His heart. And He will ripple outward into the reaches of our world from within us.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Did they really say you’re suffering because of your sin?

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If Job’s life teaches us anything, it’s that we don’t have to do wrong to suffer. Indeed, that’s the point of Job — to show us that righteous people will suffer.
Read Job chapter 1 and there are several striking ironies. Even though Job is blessed greatly, he takes none of his blessedness for granted (vv. 1, 5). Job’s children are not pure, but somehow, they are sanctified by the sacrifices he makes for them to God (v. 5). God is found in discussion with Satan (v. 7). God also appears to think Job is beyond reproach (v. 8). Satan, in accusing Job, appears to correct God (vv. 9-11). God is one with all power and apparently empowers Satan to test Job (v. 12). The theology here is amazing.
And, the most striking irony of all; Job always did what was right, and he was about to be cursed as much as anyone could be — in this life!
We should always ask ourselves why accounts like Job’s life made it into the Bible and stood the test of time and have been retained. Especially when the theology in such a compressed unit seems bizarre to our western twenty-first century minds.
Consider also the running cliché just about everyone has heard: if you’re suffering you must have some sin in your life that God is punishing you for, or God cannot and will not heal you because of the sin in your life. Most Christians have heard about this dumb and insensitive theology. From a ministry viewpoint, it has become folklore for what not to do. Yet, we still hear of it occasionally. The best thing we could ever say in response to such false teaching is to point them in the direction of Job.
Let us set the record straight, theologically and biblically, using Job. Here was a man that had every reason to complain, yet he suffered in silence. He had no idea why God had allowed him to suffer, and he suffered not only loss on a cataclysmic level, but he suffered fools as friends who were poor comforters.
God has given us the book of Job so we can be encouraged when we suffer, with the sufferings of a friend in Job, whose sufferings exemplify Jesus’ sufferings in so many ways — they did not deserve to suffer, and we may not deserve our suffering either.
Job is given to us to prove that good people do suffer, and, when it occurs without cause, it is always a mystery. Such is the sovereignty of God.
Nobody can say for sure why it is that God lets people suffer. But we can postulate, and the Bible gives us its view. Based from my own experience, my theological reflection is that suffering draws us into the mystery, where we may ultimately accept the mystery of suffering. Acceptance. The object of suffering is to lead us on a journey to acceptance. Acceptance of the mystery draws us into a journey with God where we learn the blessedness of God reliance — which seems to reconcile all manner of problems we have in this life.
Suffering for no good reason is a humbling reality in life, in a life where humility is a virtue we never have enough of. See the kind of life suffering produces? We do well not to resent it, but we are forgiven for our complaints when we do. Not even Jesus enjoyed suffering.
Perhaps the only encouragement we can receive when we’re suffering for no good reason is that it is not sin that has caused it.
It is enough to suffer, and more than enough to suffer without apparent cause. It is too much to believe that sin causes all suffering.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Why we never need to be good enough

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Preaching a message recently on Jesus being the author of gender equality reinforced an idea: I will never be good enough to preach such a message.
You see, I will always be a man. I will always see from an unbalanced viewpoint — either too much for women or too much against, or just unable to see properly from a woman’s viewpoint. Of course, this is okay. God made me a man. And the women who heard the message were encouraged. It is enough. Though I am tempted to think it isn’t enough.
It is a time to remember.
Good enough is knowing I never need to be good enough.
That Jesus was enough for all eternity for all who are not good enough.
There are so many things at which, and situations where, I am not good enough.
There are times and situations where we would all like to be more. But we must accept we are not.
It is a good reminder that in many different ways I never need to be good enough — in other words, I don’t need to rise to the standard my perfectionistic pride would set for myself. It is only ever the shadow of myself — the one who is ashamed that I’m not perfect — that asserts himself. I am more than that shadow. I am the redeemed new creation in Christ Jesus. And so are you.
Why is this liberating concept a concept of the grace found only in the gospel?
Well, let me present an eternally assuring truth for which I am ever thankful — here it is:

At times when I don’t feel I’m enough,
I defer to what Jesus did,
and I know that, IN HIM, I’m always enough.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The scourge of drugs and addiction on family and society

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There are so many grandparents these days who are morbidly concerned for their children and especially grandchildren. A scourge has hit the heart of family and it bleeds into every sinew of connection, poisoning intimacy. It takes its prisoners on many accounts and it ruins myriad lives. In some cases, it takes no prisoners because death is involved.
Drugs and addictions steal the heart of the family member. Their heart is no longer for what is best for everyone. Their loyalties are divided; their heart is for the substance now. Drugs and addictions kill the hope that once throbbed and thrived within them. Those dreams seem lost and, at least for a time, irretrievable. And drugs and addictions destroy every semblance of peace and safety from the family unit. There is never a time when everyone can relax, and perhaps there are some who are never at ease.
Despite the chatter of the drug user — who has become an evangelist for their substance — there is no good thing about their substances/s of choice; it only produces harm. They have come to protect a component of their life they will not, and in many cases cannot, live without. Addiction causes the addict to manipulate people; they must in order to get what they need. We may also know something of this. We may share some of their story as our history. So many of us do, and this is how we can testify to the truth, that drugs and addictions are a scourge for society. We paid the price. And so did our loved ones. Addiction is no respecter of persons. It can snare anyone.
So, what can be done?
The prevailing wisdom is tough love. We do not enable them. We do not bail them out. We pray for the rock bottom experience that will bring them to their senses. We don’t make excuses for them. We do not give them money or the means to continue their harmful habits. Hard as these things are, we must pray that they find no enablement. Unfortunately, there are always some who will insist on ‘helping’ them.
What if there are dependents involved? This is the saddest reality, because we become eye witnesses to the abuses of neglect, among other abuses that are carried out. The World Health Organization (WHO) arrange child abuse into four categories: physical, sexual, emotional or psychological, and neglect. If we see abuse, what should we do? We should do the right thing, of course. Be prepared to report it. Do as much as is possible to get the abused the help they require. But be warned, things often get worse before they get better. You will need every ounce of strength and every minute of support. The situation may get more painful than you could have previously imagined possible.
One thing we can do is pray. Another thing we can do is be a positive influence in the children’s lives, but we also must be prepared for an eventuality where access to them may be curtailed if the drug addicted family member feels threatened. Things can turn nasty quickly.
It can be difficult, even impossible, not to enable yet maintain a working relationship.
One thing to remember always is we need to exercise the wisdom of self-restraint. Maybe you are the only sensible adult influence in the child’s life. That’s a precious role you have. You have a God-anointed function in their lives. Do what you reasonably can to stay a part of their lives. And see what you can get them involved in that builds hope, joy, and peace into their lives.
But we should resist the temptation to retain a role in drug-affected lives through enabling the addict.

Where we as grandparents and parents (and at times as children of addicts) do well is to have faith that change can occur, but change only occurs when the person needing to change is honest with themselves and others and stays honest.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Jesus to Men, Jesus to Women

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What might Jesus say if He were to speak to the average man and woman? Plenty of men and women know Jesus, but what might Jesus actually say to us if He were to speak to us directly, face-to-face?
Scripture helps us locate the biblical Jesus. Obviously, we need to be cautious, but we may frame responses Jesus might have to the average man and women around the things we know.
From the outset, I must declare my biases; even though I am firmly in the egalitarian set, I see there are distinct gender differences, and at times, in certain situations, gender roles. I believe women should teach and preach if they are gifted and passionate — and not just to other women or children. I believe women can be the senior leader in organisations — that they can lead men — again, dependent on gifting and merit. I believe we desperately need both genders in solving complex problems in today’s world and church. That will give you a feel for what I believe.
What might Jesus say to men, to women, and to each group about the other group?
We could imagine Jesus advocating gender equality, so women are taken on face value — for what they offer — so they are not pigeonholed or stereotyped. We might picture Jesus looking at a man with consternation who would have a woman ‘put back in her place’. This represents the biblical Jesus who stopped to talk to women in His day, even those of other religions, rejecting social norms. God ensured women were eye witnesses (when men were not) to key moments in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection — at a time where women had no legal rights to testify as witnesses in court. Jesus was even supported financially by key women. And with Mary and Martha, we learn that Jesus elevated the learner and seeker in Mary above the housemaiding of Martha. Jesus applied standards of the day accorded to men, to women. And He used children to communicate who were the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven… the least of these being greatest. Jesus’ Kingdom is indeed an upside-down kingdom.
Indeed, the depiction often presented of Jesus as our friend doesn’t present an accurate portrait of the biblical Jesus — who would stop at nothing to challenge us if He needed to. And, let’s face it, is there a day that goes past when we shouldn’t be rebuked? I am sure Jesus is not as congenial as we like to think He is. We can think of this in today’s terms of being convicted by the Holy Spirit to repent. The fruit of repentance should be thriving in all Christians, where Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Anytime we proved legalistic or showed pride He might deal with us like He did the Pharisees. But the time when Jesus would be especially affable would be when we are suffering injustice, are being excluded, are overwhelmed by anxiety, or are suffering abandonment — when harm has befallen us.
I imagine Jesus telling men that they must learn to control their anger; that they are to treat all women with the respect they often save for other men out of fear or face-saving. I think Jesus would tell us men that older women ought to be treated like our mothers, those of the same age as our sisters, and those who are younger as our daughters — with implicit love, respect, and safety. Jesus is an advocate for children, and He might implore men to treat children preciously, diligently, carefully, and again, to be very vigilant regarding anger.
I imagine Jesus telling women to turn their back on social norms of prettiness and image, where the objectification of women is rampant. Jesus must be telling us men that we, too, ought to advocate jettisoning these norms, and actively repel the pornographic culture that sets women up as liking things that they do not like. Now, there is nothing wrong with a woman enjoying her physical appearance, just it’s her choice. I also see Jesus asking women (and men, too), as is characteristic of some women, mainly younger women, to tone down aggression. But by far the most aggression still comes from men. Men, women deserve better than our aggression. Women, don’t go down the path of aggression. Men get scared too.
I imagine Jesus telling women to respect men, but not unconditionally. Respect is generally earned. And it is easier to respect someone who is seen to be respectable. Men, imagine Jesus inviting us into humble respectability.
Of course, this has merely whetted our appetites, but that’s where I’m leaving it.

On earth as it is in heaven… imagine it; no quibble about, and an appreciation of, gender differences.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Worldly strength is spiritual weakness

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The gospel is a paradox in many a sense, and here is but one dramatic example. There is a strength we rely on that is a key disadvantage. This is the bad news that runs cross grain to the good news. But we are to be assured, the good news is always good news. The good news is God doesn’t need us strong.
Here is a key question our lives-by-our-choices answer every moment:
Where do we place our reliance?
This is our greatest problem. We place our reliance on anything but God. It’s our human undertaking, our default, driven by our sinful nature.
Christians are past masters at trusting in every little Christian thing — including the church — in favour of trusting God. Traditional forms of reliance other than God are popularity, status, reputation, assets, money, personality, eloquence in prayer, the influence we have, our Christianese, how wise we are, the ‘goals’ we have kicked for Jesus, and the friends we have in high or strategic places. The list is inexhaustible. Reliance on any of these is futility.
For pastors, it’s the churches we have pastored, our skills in communications/preaching/pastoral care, the Christian personalities we know, our networks, our biblical and theological prowess (knowledge puffs up![1]), the converts and baptisms and members we have notched into our belt, the books we own, have read or have written, the weddings and funerals we have performed. Again, the list is inexhaustible. Reliance on any of these is futility.
The salvation of Jesus is no good to us if we don’t trust Him. And we must trust Him continually. Sure, we may be saved, but Jesus also saves us from our idols of reliance on things other than Him. We need Jesus all the time.
What is the character of this strength that bears itself as spiritual disadvantage? Exclusivity and exclusion is weakness whilst being excluded while being inclusive is real spiritual strength; i.e. being disadvantaged is an advantage in the Kingdom of God. Set yourself apart as elite and it thwarts you. Claim anything as your prize and the prize in heaven vanishes. Prove you know this or that and you claim your worthless vice as a prize. It is a poor choice indeed to select what humanity values, which is temporary, over what God values, which is eternal.
But we do this kind of spiritual posturing all the time.
Now, about loss…
We should never besmirch the reality of loss that casts us deep into God-reliance.
But we do. It is understandable. We rail against it. Until we are broken enough.
Indeed, loss heaves us into the blustering waves of grief so frequently, day after harrowing day I mean, we have many opportunities to learn the same thing, the same lesson. That is the purpose of loss; it teaches us what we cannot learn otherwise — that God is great and awesome, that life is beyond our control, and these two facts in unison are a banquet of truth for our hearts to absorb. It’s going to take time. It must. These are horrendous truths to absorb for any human being.
Loss is designed to break the chains of our reliance on everything that does not work. We soon realise these appendages don’t work. So we reach higher, recognising that it is God alone who can and does help. Still it takes time to realise this and practice it.
What we must realise in loss is that we must lose everything we value first before we can truly value God. Is this any black-n-white reality? No, there are shades of grey. I mean, who loses everything? But we can feel as if we’re losing it all.
What we cannot understand here on earth is a rich possession sown up in heaven. This is what we must believe to work out our faith. Experience earth-shattering loss, endure that cavernously awkward space, and our reward will not be taken from us.
Heaven help us when we are so well equipped to rely on others or anything apart from God.
As soon as we do recover from loss, and that is usually a process of years, we end up retreating into the same disadvantage as long ago — our strength lying, again, in the things of the world.
Lord, be merciful enough to take away every scaffold of dependence on any other thing than You!
Do I live this, myself personally? Not enough. Not nearly enough.
So, help me, Lord Jesus, to identify these idols of reliance in my life and rid myself of them, one moment and one iteration at a time.
The beatitudes of Jesus reveal His upside-down kingdom. Strength in the world’s terms is disadvantage in His kingdom. Being happily weak shows great strength. Just don’t expect the world to understand. We, ourselves, do not understand, unless by faith we choose to see as Jesus sees.

[1] 1 Corinthians 8:1-3.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Holding it together when everything’s falling apart

Leading a worship service at a nursing home should not be an especially difficult thing. It is actually an enormous privilege for those of us who have the opportunity. But one particular Sunday I was battling not only the technology, but also my own mind. I wonder if you relate.
Do you ever have times when you’re trying to do three things at once and nothing is getting the attention all three things deserve?
I arrived with one other person, and all seemed fine until I couldn’t get the television to work (which plays our background music when we don’t have a pianist). With the rest of our arrangement having arrived, I sought the help of a staff member and got it going, but the songs were out of order with the song sheets. Not a big deal. The gentleman who was leading the service was happy to run with it. The next challenge was to coordinate the volume control, song selection, and sing. Gee, to me it felt so uncoordinated. In my flesh I felt like such a fool. At one stage, with two excellent baritone voices accompanying, we decided to abandon the music and go acapella — worked a treat. When it came to me sharing the word of encouragement I decided to abandon much of what I had prepared and go with the flow of a service run by the Holy Spirit — spoke on the story of John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, as well as Billy Graham and John 3:16-17.
In my embarrassment I learned something old in a fresh way. God can do much through us as we simply hold ourselves together the best we can when everything seems to be falling apart. It always seems worse in the moment, but God does something with our best efforts, even though we ourselves are cringing.
Indeed, having seen this in others, I can attest to the power present in a person who reveals their vulnerabilities before others — who is not afraid of being seen in their weakness. There is something very ingenuous in a person who serves without thought of and for themselves when they’re exposed, like they have nothing to hide.
It is for this this reason I draw comfort.
May our weakness further the witness of the Father’s Son in us.
It’s God’s strength in our weakness helping us be honest that helps us hold it together when everything’s falling apart.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The purpose of Gratitude in mental wellness

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God spoke again recently, saying, ‘Think grateful thoughts, and search for ways to be thankful, and that will busy your mind enough that it will not wander into dark places.’
I said, ‘Wow!’ Suddenly such a revelation; to know I’ve thought both ways enough to know the truth.
It is the Lord’s discipline, that we capture each thought and make it obedient to Him (2 Corinthians 10:5). But, equally, the Lord knows just how difficult it is for us to do that with consistency.
The mind flits from this thing to that thing to another thing, always falling foul of itself.
Capable of great accomplishments that match and better the body, the mind is also weak, tempted by the heart to abscond.
But the mind is also a powerhouse of strength — when we take our thoughts and make them captive to obey Christ.
Gratitude is living in the light, acknowledging the truth in that light, as that light shines into our lives — lives touched by grace — and outward into others’ lives.
The more I have filled my mind with little things to be utterly grateful about, the less my mind has wandered into what isn’t worthy to be thought about.
The issue is simple. Leave our minds to themselves they conjure up all sorts of fantasies — good at times, but some dark, and the rest positively evil.
Mindfulness steeped in gratitude is thinking indwelt with worthiness. To use the apostle Paul’s words, it is thinking in honourable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, and excellent ways (Philippians 4:8). Gratitude is something wholly worthy for our thoughts to engage. It is a safe and positive way to think.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Truth I’ve discovered doing 10,000 Reasons

YOU may be aware that I’m currently pursuing 10,000 Reasons for my heart to find why God is good. Well, on top of the initial gratitude I was chasing, I’ve discovered something else.
It’s possibly the reason long campaigns don’t tend to work.
Recall that I was finding 100 Reasons every day for 100 days = 10,000.
Recall the reason? God challenged me to find 10,000 Reasons because I lacked gratitude.
I’m currently on Day 36 and I’m stalled on my 3,683rd reason. It isn’t unusual that I’ve stalled. I’m finding it hard work. But something else I’ve found is, in the legalistic drive to get my 100 quota each day, I’m looking so hard that I’m no longer experiencing gratitude. I am mentally grateful for each reason, but I’m not feeling it in my heart like I was.
This is clearly a challenge. But not something that cannot be overcome.
One thing that has coincided with the fact I’ve lost my gratitude edge is the busyness of moving to a new house. Anyone who has experienced the stress of packing everything, moving everything, then unpacking everything knows what’s involved. There were countless cardboard boxes on top of all our furniture and other items. For the month before the shift there were regular tasks, including work and ministry loads. The daily quota of 100 helped enormously when there was so much to do — under intense pressure is the best time to be grateful. Then the days around the shift I made sure I was slightly ahead of my quota each day to alleviate the pressure.
It is sad that I’ve had to come to recognise that I’m finding reasons without a heart to find reasons.
So now it is time to repent. To turn back to God and make sure every reason I find I can be genuinely thankful for.
I have 6,318 reasons to go. Still on track to finish by May 1 though.
Like the Tower of Babel, God will not allow me to master gratitude so it can become my idol. I can only achieve gratitude when I’m simply grateful. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The schemes of man in the Dominion of God

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PEOPLE serve the Lord wholeheartedly, until they are hurt, then they redeem those works as their own.
I’ve seen this time and again in the church. It is too easy to say that these people never did their works for the Lord in the first place, but that doesn’t cater for the human element in following God. Let’s empathise.
Let’s unpack what I’ve said:
People serve the Lord wholeheartedly… They do. Few people sowing deeply into the work of God do so for selfish motives. People who are committed to Christ’s church do their works as faithfully as any human being can.
… until they are hurt… Something happens. Something they could not have predicted. Like the extinction of the dinosaurs, what was significant vanishes as if it had never been there. Something’s happened. A significant wound has been received. None of us are beyond being hurt to such an extent we might leave our church, or the faith for that matter. Think about it. We are all vulnerable. There is a thing, indeed several things, that could happen that would turn our lives upside down. How we respond at these times is the true test of our godly character. But there are times when something wounds us mortally, and we may reel in such shock that to come back is a chastening, harrowing test.
… then they redeem those works as their own… they pick up what they did, what they started, and they take those things with them, as if they were done for themselves.
It happens time and again.
It is rare, very rare indeed, that people have the character to consider their trials pure joy (James 1:2-4). This is why it is so important to read and study our Bibles — to become more and more like Christ. It is our only chance to protect ourselves against the kind of hurt that says, Goodbye!
If we are interested at all in the Kingdom we will, in these secular days, develop a compassionate passion for the dechurched — for their hurt. And yet many, too, who are unchurched may also come into the church for a time and expect secular standards of performance and morality. It is sad to say they may be disappointed. In this modern day I have seen it first hand; the church in many cases is being left behind in both performance and morality. The schemes of man are ever at the forefront in the dominion of God. And the secular world has embraced the systems approach to managing care, and care is done for efficiency gains, if for nothing else.
In the church we must always cater for the human factor, recognising we are all sinners saved by grace, not from sin, but from being condemned for sin.