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Showing posts from March, 2008

Moral Filth

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save. James 1:19-21What is moral filth? I’m currently reading God's Grace and the Homosexual Next Door by Alan Chambers. It talks about the extreme attitudes towards homosexuality. Some are active trying to make homosexuality part of mainstream, normal society and others are vocal about how much they hate not only homosexuality but also homosexuals and take every opportunity they can to spew their conviction that homosexuals are the epitome of moral filth, the worst of the worst.

But when I read the verses above from James, I see no mention at all of homosexuality. Instead, James seems to define moral filth and evil as being slow to listen, quick to speak and quick to become…

Perseverance

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. … Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:2-4, 12I read James 1 last night. It said so much to me that I never got past that chapter. I’m hoping I can remember all the thoughts that came to me while I was reading and re-reading. This progression stood out to me:

Trials-->Perseverance-->Maturity/Completeness-->Crown of Life.

We need the trials. Without them we won’t learn to persevere and without perseverance we won’t mature.

What does perseverance look like? And how do trials produce it? Maybe we need to start by thinking about what trials are. The whole of verses 2-18 seems to be on this topic. I find it interes…

Difficult Times

I haven't been writing here much in the past week or so. Easter was a difficult time for me for some reason and the difficulty has continued into this week.

I do know that God is good, even when everything around me seems bad. As Job said, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Life and Love or Death and Hatred?

I have in my possession The Book of Common Prayer published in 1885 for use by The Church of England. I don’t often open it but today I did. One section is entitled “The Collects, Epistles, and Gospels to be used throughout the Year,” where I found the pages for Good Friday. The passage from the epistles is Hebrews 10:1-25 and from the gospels is John 19:1-37. But what grabbed my attention was one of the three collects:
O Merciful God, who has made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to they flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen…

While He Was Still Speaking….

“One day … a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!" While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!" While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!" While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, "Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are …

"Scenes from the Passion of Christ"

I subscribe to Art of the Day on my igoogle home page. Each day a new photo of a work of art inspired by some story in the Bible appears on my computer screen. I love them!
Today's work of art especially appeals to me because of the extreme detail. The painting by Hans Memling is from the fifteenth century, and places the scenes of "Holy Week" scattered in and around a medieval walled city. If you go here there are "hotspots" over which, when you hover your mouse, a description of that scene appears.
Holy Week. What does it mean to you? Do you mark this week as different in any way? As you go through the week, are you conscious of what was happening in Jesus' life on each of the days? Does your church offer special services for any or all of the days? Do you eat a special meal on Maundy Thursday to remember the Last Supper? Do you pause often throughout Good Friday and recall what part of the crucifixion was happening at that hour? Do you spend Saturday in co…

A New Church Home--Week of Prayer

My intention with church was to not make a definite decision about where I was going to call “home” until the summer. I figured that, even if I stayed at the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard, I would spend the first several months simply observing. The week of prayer changed that.

It began with 24 hours of non-stop prayer, beginning Saturday evening, in the Comfy Couch Room transformed into a prayer boudoir. I use that term to describe it because of the bolts of various kinds of chiffon in different shades of red draped from the ceiling to create a mood of intimacy and closeness. Around the room were various stations, most faced with an overstuffed, leather-covered couch on which to relax while praying. Much prayer, thought and creativity had been used to create a place one was reluctant to leave and that at least one person wished could remain beyond the time for which it was created.

The first station made me think of the Cloud of Unknowning and I probably spent the most time here. A q…

A New Church Home Part II

(Disclaimer: Some of the following information is based on my memory of what I've heard and been told in the past. My memory has been known to make mistakes. If someone reading this sees any inaccuracies, please inform me either in a comment or via e-mail.)

The church is in the heart of the neediest part of town. Prostitutes wait for customers beneath the church windows. Drunken brawls take place outside the tavern across the street. Too poor for other drugs, sniffers carry paper bags hiding baby food jars of glue--five dollars a pop. Homelessness, poverty, violence, alcohol, drugs, gangs and murder are common fare.

Winnipeg Centre Vineyard was founded by David Ruis who had (and, I'm sure, still has) a passion for the oppressed, to bring them the justice and mercy of God. For this reason, the location of the church is intentional. What better place for a house of God than in the centre of hell?

The brick building is an old tractor factory, four stories high. Looking fro…

A New Church Home

The house church I loved so much closed. The pastors moved on and all but five of us went looking for new places to worship. The five who remained found the church reshaped by new leadership in every way. For nearly two and a half years I tried to adjust to the new ways and finally was forced to say that it simply wasn’t a fit for me. The fourth Sunday in Advent this past year was my last day. It was hard to leave because I love the people. It’s a good church and is doing awesome things for God but it had become very evident that my time there was over.

So I went church hunting. I didn’t need to search for long. When I entered the first church on my list, it felt like I had come home. Two and a half months later all I can say is, “Thank you God for bringing me here.”

There is much I want to share but I hardly know where to begin. Do I describe for you the uniqueness of the building? The neighbourhood of the church? The variety of people who attend? The incredible connection these people…

Why Do I Love Him?

“Satan replied to the Lord, ‘Yes, Job fears God, but not without good reason! You have always protected him…. You have made him prosperous.... But take away everything he has and he will surely curse you to your face!’” Job 1:9-11 NLT

On what is my love for God based? Is the only reason I love him because I live in a comfortable house in a nice neighbourhood? Because I have a husband who excels at his job and acts exceedingly responsible in the matters of finance and physical security? Because God has given us four delightful sons who have become young men who give us a great deal of pride and joy? Why do I love him?

Would I still love him if I lost my home, my financial security and my family and found myself living on the streets? Would I love him if I was in constant pain or put into an institution where all control over my life was taken away? Would I love him if everyone I know turned against me with anger and venom? Why do I love him?

Oswald Chambers rewords Satan’s accusation to G…

Responsible for What You Know

“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1 NIV

It was the middle of the night. The only ones to respond to the sudden death in x-ray at the hospital was a medical student, a doctor and a young cardiac nurse. Together they did what they could to bring the man back to life. Then the doctor, a pathologist more accustomed to bodies in the morgue, misunderstood the heart line on the monitor and ordered an injection of a drug the young nurse knew would be fatal.

What to do? How dare she contradict the far more educated doctor? And yet, the state law said that she is responsible for what she knows. If a doctor orders something that the nurse knows is wrong, if she follows orders and the patient dies, she is responsible.

She not only refused to give the injection but when the doctor angrily prepared the syringe to give it himself, she grabbed hold of his arm to stop him, refusing to let go regardless of…

The Water Lily

Several years ago I was blessed to have someone take two long Friday evenings to walk me through Neil Anderson’s Steps to Freedom in Christ, with three others gathered around us praying and interceding. It was an exhausting time as I faced a multitude of sins in my life that I did not want to admit so that I could renounce them and become free of them.

After the step of Forgiveness, during which I recalled all the people who had wounded me and how that wounding felt and then forgave each person for their sin against me, one of the intercessors described a picture that had come to her while she was praying. The picture was of a water lily—exquisite, pure white, beautiful—and how this now described me—accepted by God with joy.

It’s been a symbol to me of forgiveness ever since—of how God has forgiven me and for me to continue being a forgiving person. In my prayer room I have a mounted photograph of several water lilies in a pond and my custom is that when I come to it, I thank God for hi…

Don't Waste His Grace

“In our work together with God, then, we beg you who have received God's grace not to let it be wasted.”2 Corinthians 6:1 (Good News Translation)

If you believe that Jesus Christ is everything he said he is and have accepted the forgiveness and life he gave at the cross, you have received God’s grace. But what are you doing with that grace? Are you wasting it by not calling on God in time of need—large or small?

Verse four reads, “In everything we do we show that we are God’s servants by patiently enduring troubles, hardships, and difficulties.” And the following six verses list all the troubles, hardships and difficulties that Paul and his companions endured with patience: Beaten, jailed, mobbed, overworked, hungry, sleepless, disgraced, insulted, treated as liars and so on. How did they endure? By calling on God’s grace in time of need.

In verse two, Paul shows us what God’s grace to us is: “’When the time came for me to show you favour, I heard you; when the day arrived for …

Silence

"The Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.' Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'" 1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV

We live in a noisy world. At home the clock ticks, the fridge hums, the TV blares. At work the phones ring, the heating/cooling system fans whirr, typewriter keys clack. Walking downtown the traffic roars, reversing trucks bleep and traffic lights send out their signals to the blind. We rarely find silence and yet it is in silence that we best hear …

Stand Firm

“Stand firm in the faith.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV

“Put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then….” Ephesians 6:13 NIV

Oswald Chambers points out that it is easier to fight than to stand but “our conflict is not so much a fight as a standing on guard.”* It is easy to go on the attack—attacking homosexuals for the lives they lead; attacking the abortion industry; attacking the education and judicial systems for removing prayer and/or symbols of Christianity from their midst—but how do we stand?

How do I stand? What do I do when the “little” things come along to test my faith and my obedience? Do I continue to stand or do I bend because “it’s no big deal” or “no one will ever know”? A well-known American pastor was part of the visible fight against homosexuality but it turned out that in his private life he was doing the very thing he was fighting against. He could figh…

Nudges from God

I finished reading Healing Touch: The Power of Prayer by Melanie Hemry a couple of weeks ago but only now am I taking the time to think through the section at the end of each chapter called Heart Check. Hemry was an intensive care nurse for many years and uses stories of her experiences to teach us about prayer. It’s an awesome book and worth reading.

In her first chapter she tells the story of her first night as team leader in ICU. One open-heart surgery patient caught her attention. Something just wasn’t right so she called the surgeon on call. He asked her several questions, which she answered, and then told her she was wrong and to not call him again that night. But the dull nagging wouldn’t leave her. If she was right, this patient would die. If she was wrong and called the senior surgeon away from the party he was hosting at home, she would lose her career. What to do? Deciding that death is more permanent than career she called the doctor. If she was right, the patient needed im…

Believe

“Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29 NIV

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” “Believe in God, believe also in me.” “He who believes has everlasting life.” Belief is obviously a very important thing when it comes to Jesus but what exactly did he and the New Testament writers mean when they used that word? Is it mental assent? Is the work of God to give mental assent to the notion that Jesus died to save us from our sins and/or to the idea that Jesus is God? I fear that many think this way to their peril, agreeing with these truths and then going on to live unchanged lives.

I like what Oswald Chambers has to say about belief. “With our Lord to believe means to commit. ‘Commit yourself to me,’ and it takes a man [or woman] all he is worth to believe in Jesus Christ.” “…whatever happens we will hang in to the fact that he is true.” We believe “not about him, but in him.” “Every…wrong-doing in spiritual life …

Where You Do Not Want to Go

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” John 21:18 NIV

The following verse indicates that this was a prediction of how Peter would die but Oswald Chambers uses it to discuss two stages in a believer’s life: The new believer who still determines her own course and the mature believer who has submitted her will and all of who she is, does, thinks and says to God.

Immediately before this verse, Jesus has just finished asking Peter for the third time if he loves him and, when he says yes, for the third time tells him to “Feed my sheep.” His words immediately following this verse are, “Follow me.” Could Jesus be saying, “Feed my sheep and follow me even though this will lead you to where you do not want to go”? I think so.

We live in an age of individual independence but Chambers says “We are built for God, Himsel…