and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Dad Is Bigger Than Your Dad!

       Time was you would here those words on the playground or in the school yard at least once.  As most children, we saw our dad as the big, strong one who always took care of us and would protect us from all harm, including the bullies of life.  We had trust in who our dad was and what he would do for us, just because we were his kids.  Dad was larger than life in our younger years.

       Something you never heard children saying was, “I’m his kid.  I know I’m his kid.  I know who I am to him.  I know what I can do with his help.”  Sounds a little arrogant doesn’t it?  Not that you didn’t know these things, it just seemed silly and insignificant to brag about them when compared to the strength and superiority of our dads.

       I hear a lot of teachers saying that we need to know who we are in Christ.  Let’s agree to that point, but remember balance is always best, and in this case (in my opinion) it is best to allow the ‘other side’ to be more prominent.  What ‘side’?  The side of seeing and knowing who Abba Father, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit are, their omniscience (all knowing), omnipotence (all powerful), and omnipresence (all present) certainly make them the superior and only living deity in all the universe.  That is something to brag about!

       By continuing to center on who we are, we are focusing on the fragile* part of the relationship, namely the child.  Can the child ever be as trustworthy as the parent?  If we are too busy looking at us, we are no longer focusing on the strongest part of the relationship**, namely our great and mighty God.  And we are supposed to be maintaining our focus on our Lord.  (Heb. 12:2)  Over 90% of the Psalms start the first sentence focusing on the Lord God. 

       Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh the Lord said let us go, not we are God’s children so let us go.  (Ex. 5 on)  When the children of Israel lost focus on God, Joshua and Caleb tried to redirect them, almost dying for it. (Num. 14: 1-10)  When meeting Goliath in battle, David focused on the Lord winning the battle, not on his puny self. (1 Sam. 17:45-47)  Jesus focused people’s prayer on the Father. (Matt. 6:9-14)  In fact, how many times did the prophets and apostles focus their writings on who they were in God as compared to who God was in their lives?

       If you are born again/ saved, know you are now God’s child.  Get to know Him through reading your Bible (ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand before you start), spending time with Him in prayer and listening to Him speak to you, and attending a Bible believing/ following church.  Keep your eyes on the Lord (Ps. 25:15), trust Him (Pr. 3:5) and know He is able to go above and beyond what you ask or think. (Eph. 3:20)

       Stop pointing at yourself, jumping up and down and yelling, “I’m His child, I’m His child!”  Start pointing to the Father and shouting, He’s my Dad!

*LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Psalm 39:4
For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away 1 Pet. 1:24
**But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  2 Cor. 4:7 NIV

Friday, September 16, 2011

Two Minutes

If you had only two minutes to make a difference in someone’s life what would you say to them, or what would you do?

Knowing me, I would probably try to reach out and touch their hand or shoulder, look them straight in the eye so they hopefully see the love of Christ in them looking back and say:  (here's my two minutes- using a timer:)

       God loved you so much that as soon as man first sinned, He made a plan for you to be saved.  He sent part of himself in Jesus Christ to live and die for you and by His blood you can be saved.  You need to believe in Him, repent of your sins, give your life to Him and He will be your best friend forever.

       He wants to be part of your life.  He wants to love you.  He wants to spend time with you.  With Him, you will never be alone again.  With Him you have the best friend you could ever ask for.  He loved you so much when He took Jesus back to Heaven, He sent another part of himself in the Holy Spirit to live with you, teach, and lead you the rest of your days until you can be with Him in Heaven- forever!  

Well, time’s up!

Probably makes a difference speaking because my typing is slower than my speech, but I guess any short time we have to express God’s love to mankind is worth using.

Lord, help me to utilize any opening for Your namesake.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Paranoid Herod

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Matt. 2:1-3

       Why did Herod, the king of Judea become agitated when he found out the wise men were looking for the newborn King?  To understand better you need to know the history of Herod.  He was elected as king by the Roman Senate but had no true claim to the throne for his heritage was from Edom where they had been forced to convert to Judaism or leave their country.

       Since Herod and his family lead a decadent lifestyle and broke Mosaic laws, he was hated by Jewish religious leaders.  He also appointed the high priest as opposed to who God said should hold the position.  Although he had an extensive building program, his taxes were extreme for those days.

       His reign was marked by bloodshed:  he had many of his family executed including sons, in-laws and at least one of his ten wives.  He burned alive students and teachers for removing an idol in the temple, regularly employed mercenaries and secret police who often reverted to violence to achieve their goals, was possibly responsible for the monastery at Qumran being destroyed by fire, and was rumored to rob Jewish tombs for treasures,.

       Herod was very paranoid about family wanting to take over his throne, hence the reason several of his sons were executed.  Also, Jewish scholars of his day believed they were in the 76th generation since creation and the Messiah, who would deliver Israel from foreign rulers, was prophesied to come in the 77th.  Into this environment Jesus was born.

       So when the wise men came asking to see the newborn king of the Jews, Herod must have gone ballistic.  Certainly his advisors, friends and family must have also been alarmed given Herod’s agitated state.  Herod knew he was a foreigner in his rule and I’m sure he thought that the child the magi sought would one day try to overthrow his reign.  That was why he called them in to find out the star appeared two years prior, and why he slaughtered all the baby boys two years old and under born in Bethlehem.

       The whole story makes me consider some questions:
Am I being true to who I am and what I believe?
Am I doing whatever it takes to achieve my position or goals despite morality or God’s will?
Do I ever try to usurp the position of someone already in their rightful place?
Do I lead by example or by oppression?
Am I paranoid about losing ‘my’ ministry leadership, ‘my’ seat, ‘my’ standing in other’s eyes and do I then work at harming their reputations to retain my position?

       My personal belief is that if everyone was humbly using their God given gifts, there would be no paranoia or power struggles in the body.  We should all work together like a ‘well-oiled machine’.  Unless by miracle of God, I will never be a worship leader, but I can still sing my heart out to my Lord.  I may never preach again, but I can share God’s Word with anyone, anywhere I am.  I may never head a ministry, but I work in many ministries every day just like every other Christian: at home with my children, my husband, friends and neighbours, at work with bosses, co-workers, clients, and with fellow believers in and out of the local church.  We should never worry about our status, but should only be concerned that we do what God wants us to do at this particular time.  Let God decide, because He knows best.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Lord Never Abandoned Man

       You know that picture you see of man in a sinful state beside a chasm or deep void with God on the other side.  Somehow that picture always stayed with me when I read Genesis chapter three and the ‘fall’ of man.  I imagined Adam and Eve outside of the garden on the other side of that void unable to be in God’s presence because of his sin, but that wasn’t so- God immediately made a way. 

       The Lord came back, knowing what they’d done, to walk in the garden and talk with them while in their sinful state and too ashamed to be seen by Him.  Then after He kicked them out of the garden (there remained consequences…), He still met them outside the garden and they talked.

Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence (Strong’s 6440) of the LORD God… Gen. 3:8 
The Lord still came and talked with them, and clothed them.
And the LORD said unto Cain,… Gen 4:6,9  Cain spoke back to the Lord. v. 9,13
And Cain went out from the presence (6440) of the LORD, Gen. 4:16
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face (6440) to face (6440)… Gen. 32:30 
And the LORD spake unto Moses face (6440) to face (6440), as a man speaketh unto his friend… Ex. 33:11 

       God’s presence/ face was still available to Adam’s children and later generations as seen in Jacob and Moses.  6440 in the TWOT* is the word panim or face.  The face is characterized by some personal quality, and is extraordinarily revealing of man’s, or in these cases, God’s emotions, moods, and dispositions.  There are some impressions you can get by a person speaking over the telephone, but to fully read their emotions, mood and disposition, you need to see them in person. 

       So man has the potential to be forgiven by God and to be in His presence.  Adam and Eve were clothed by God with the first dead animal skin.  Cain and Abel brought sacrifices.  Obviously early on they understood the repercussions of sin and the forgiveness of God.  We can still be in God’s presence today all because forgiveness is available by the blood of Jesus Christ.  (The cross in the chasm...  God put it there.)

       I also like to think we can still see the Lord face to face, but so far He hasn’t blessed me that way.  Still, I strive for it knowing that if it never happens while I am here in this flesh, it will surely happen when I awake in Heaven and I will be fully satisfied to finally see Him.  (Ps. 17:15)

*Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Hug from a Stranger

       It was a simple question the cashier asked me, but with an intensity in her eyes that I wasn’t used to- like she really wanted to know.  She said she noticed I was undergoing treatment and knew how difficult it could be (the bald head with a bandana wrapped around it must have given it away).  After my reply, she told me of her husband who had finished another round of chemo for stomach cancer. 

       Her story was sad.  He could not be cured by surgery, so every couple of years he would undergo treatment again to prolong his life.  He determined to continue this way as long as he could for the sake of his very young children, but he wasn’t sure he could continue longer then their upper teens as it was becoming increasingly difficult to get through the treatments.  I felt compelled to pray for him and his family as often as remembered.

       Over the next few months when I would see her at the store, she would always ask about me.  Then over the next three years I would continue to see her but only rarely. Since I didn’t end up at her checkout we didn’t speak.  Finally, she was there again and I was able to say hello.  I asked about her husband’s welfare, and her children.  She was surprised that I remembered her story, and I told her that I’d been praying for them.  Her eyes welled up with tears, and she said, “Thank you,” then she came out from behind the counter and gave me a hug.

       Two people not knowing each other very well, but touching each other’s lives with similar struggles, were able to bring a little comfort, a feeling of not being alone to one another.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be. 

(God) …who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.  And why does he do this?  So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. 2 Cor. 1:4  TLB

After we hugged I walked away thinking, “She’s not a stranger anymore!”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

True Beauty

       I’ve seen the East Coast with its rolling hills, and red rock shores, rugged terrain and inland lakes.  I’ve gazed at the calm of the rolling plains with white clouds floating among the blue canvas sky.  I’ve stared in awe at the majestic Rockies thrusting forth out of the crust of the earth, and seen cities nestled in green hollows on the ground from the mountain tops.

       I’ve observed waves breaking over the red slate shores, coloured rock bursting through the evergreen tree lines.  In the hills of the badlands I’ve followed striations of colour and in parks I’ve walked through ‘waves’ of sand beside the coast.  Throughout North America I’ve seen unique and stunning formations in caves so deep few men had seen.

       I’ve witnessed true exquisiteness in my daughter’s face the first time I held her delicate body in my shaking arms.  And when her tiny fingers curled around my finger, my heart nearly burst out of my chest.  Still, it took her first precious genuine smile, joy dancing as light in her eyes, to cause the tears to start flowing at such loveliness as I’d never seen.

       Such beauty You have created oh God, such beauty as I have seen.  My words will never describe it well enough.  The wonders of this universe, so immense and magnificent to behold, only pale to a mere sliver of a shadow when compared to Your glorious splendor.

I’ve never seen anyplace or anyone more beautiful than You!