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Showing posts from October, 2008

Outward Appearance

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 NIVToday I read a blog post called Fat Haters. The author, Lyn, tells the story of how she had just lost a very wanted baby through miscarriage. Life has to go on at these times and, in her emotional agony, she went to the video store where her son put some late videos in the drop bin and returned to the car. A woman came out of the store and started yelling at her, thinking she was trying to avoid late fees, and told her to never return to the store. Lyn writes:
I want to emphasize that you NEVER KNOW what someone else is going through, or has gone through. You don't know if the person in the grocery store seems grouchy because her husband passed away last week. You don't know if someone is thoughtless because they just had cancer treatments. You don't know if someone's actions are because they just lost a child. And you don't know if that fat person is losing weight, gaining weight…

Gift of God

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NIVOswald Chambers points out that it is the gift of God, not the gift from God*. I’d never thought of that before. Is the gift God himself? Compare with the following verses (emphases mine):

“...God’ of righteousness....” Romans 5:17
“But each man has his own gift from God....” 1 Corinthians 7:7
“If I have the gift of prophecy....” 1 Corinthians 13:2
“ the gift of God’s grace....” Ephesians 3:7
“ into flame the gift of God....” 2 Timothy 1:6

Gifts of righteousness, prophecy and God’s grace means we’ve been given righteousness, prophecy and God’s grace. Would not “gift of God” mean we’ve been given God himself? If so, what does this mean? What am I doing with this Gift?

Are you the gift, God? You gave your one and only Son. The gift isn’t eternal life as I’ve always thought. That’s merely the outcome. You are the gift! You have given yourself to me and to…

Do Not Panic

And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don't panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won't follow immediately." Luke 21:9 NLT

You never saw anybody in a panic who did not grab for themselves, whether it was sugar or butter or nations. –Oswald Chambers*

The clearest evidence that God’s grace is at work in our hearts is that we do not get into panics. –Oswald Chambers*
Panic. Chambers wrote these words in 1914. World War I had just begun and, understandably, Britain was frightened, terrified, scared, alarmed and in panic. Each of these words are used in different translations of the verse above. Chambers chose the Moffat translation, which uses “scared,” but the word he focussed on was “panic,” even though the NLT wouldn’t be produced for another 82 years. Panic. Britain would lose, in WWI, more than twice the number of military personnel it would lose later in WWII—a good reason for panic, though in 1914 no one knew the outcome of the war.

“You never saw a…

Stepping Stone Oases

She sits in a small room, her eyes closed, hands open as she waits. Love, soaked into the walls, permeating the air, moves in and around her—a sponge absorbing the Presence. Years of prayer in this room tell.

Three huddle over the room. They too wait.

Can we show her?”

“Yes, but first she must feel the pain.”

“Isn’t that cruel?”

“It’s the only way she will understand.”

“I don’t know if I can watch.”

“We need her to harden as diamonds and soften as gold. Not all can take the heat and pressure but she can. She must.”

“Look! She’s screaming! Her sister is trapped under a car. They can’t get her out. Oh, whew! Finally! But the sister’s face is burned to the bone. Will she live?”

“Yes, but she will need a good surgeon for many years. The parents will spend much time and have great sorrow over this one.”

“And the one we watch?”

“She will feel abandoned, neglected, unwanted. She will choose to withdraw from others and walk alone.

“Alone? She’s just turned four!”

“Yes. She will hurt because…

Control and Serving

I have a friend who is going through crisis. Last night as I went to bed, I cried because I'm scared for her. I also cried for myself because her crisis echoes what's been happening in my family the last five weeks (it seems so much longer). I can't handle both. It's too much. What if, in the midst of all this, I got seriously ill? What then? I lay with my tears and fears and asked God, "What am I afraid of?"

I'm afraid of my world falling apart. Does that mean I see myself holding everything together? Perhaps. I tried to go to earlier places where I felt or was afraid of things falling apart but I couldn’t get there in my emotions, just with my logic. I thought of my parents' break-up when I was eight. I can’t remember any emotion around the night we left or afterwards.

Have I been trying to hold things together since I was a child? Is that why I took on so many responsibilities as a young girl at home, trying to keep my world from spinnin…

Set Apart

Sanctification. It is a word we do not use outside of a religious context. What does it mean? I often hear and see the word used to define the process of developing a godly character. Some authors speak as if sanctification is something that takes years to achieve and then only with the utmost vigilant attention to removing sin from their lives.

As I look at the Hebrew and Greek lexicons, I find the word, qadash in Hebrew (and its sister word qodesh, which means holy) and hagiasmos in Greek (hagiazo being the root) to mean the process of setting something apart. Objects used in the tabernacle were set apart for use only in the tabernacle. God is holy or set apart from all other gods—there are none like him. God set his people apart from all the other nations. They were to keep separate because God had a specific purpose for them.

Believers today are to be sanctified, set apart, but are we? How separate are we from the people around us? How separate is Christian “culture” from …

Production of a Saint

A saint is a living epistle written by the finger of God, known and read of all men. A saint may be any man, any wastrel or vagabond, who discovering himself at Calvary, with the nature of sin uncloaked to him, lies in despair; then discerning Jesus Christ as the Substitute for sin and rising in the glamour of amazement, he cries out--"Jesus, I should be there." And to his astonished spirit, he receives justification from all his sinfulness by that wondrous Atonement. Then, standing in that great light, and placing his hands, as it were, over his Saviour's crucified hands, he feet over His crucified feet, he crucifies for ever his right to himself, and the [sin] baptises him with the Holy Ghost and fire, substituting in him a new principle of life, an identity of holiness with Himself, until he bears unmistakably a family likeness to Jesus Christ. --Oswald Chambers*

*"Christian Disiciplines, Volume 1" in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers page 291.

En Rapport

The soul of the sanctified saint is en rapport with God, he has no responsibility, he is 'without carefulness' because his Father cares, God's predestinations are that soul's voluntary choosings. --Oswald Chambers*God, I want to be en rapport with you, to be so intimately connected with you that I have no worries. so connected with you that without even thinking, I choose your ways. But my soul still rebels at times; it wants its own way--a way different from yours. Lord, I don't want to break my will but rather to meld my will to yours so they are one. Is that something that's even possible, God?
...For as gold is tried by fire
So a heart must be tried by pain.

...And bless the cleansing fire
And the furnace of living pain!
--Adelaide Anne Proctor (quoted by Oswald Chambers)*Father, if fire and pain are the only way to be en rapport with you, I choose them. So be it.

*"Christian Disciplines, Volume 1" in …

A Confusing Contradiction

“By every standard we know, saving one, the God of the Bible is a confusing contradiction to Himself.” – Oswald Chambers*A startling remark. Isn’t God the same yesterday, today and tomorrow? Yet the God who told Abraham to kill his son, later gave the command, “Thou shall not murder.” He told Hosea to marry a prostitute despite his law against adultery. When Jesus sent out the 70, he told them nothing would hurt them, yet later he warned his disciples that they would be killed. Paul advised the Corinthians to bear injustices brought against them but when he faced Festus, he appealed to Caesar.

What does Chambers consider the one standard by which God is not contradictory to himself? ...the standard of personal responsibility to God on the basis of personal character [where]...decisions are made on the basis of personal character in its responsibility to God. The blunder of the saint lies in saying, "Because I decide thus in this crisis, therefore that is the rule for all.’ …

Jesus and Glory

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. John 17:4, 5 NIVSeveral things stand out to me in this short passage. First, Jesus is saying that he has already completed the work God gave him to do. He is saying this before he is arrested and crucified. What work had he completed?

Secondly, by completing the work God gave him to do, Jesus brought God glory. It wasn’t through a lot of words and declarations that God was brought glory but by the (maybe not so) simple task of doing and finishing his assigned tasks and purpose. That means that when I am obedient to God and doing what he tells me to do, I too bring God glory. My obedience brings glory to God. Wow!

Thirdly, Jesus was given a job to do by God. I believe God has a job and a purpose for each of us as well. What is mine?

Fourthly, God bringing glory to Jesus seems to hinge on Jesus first bring…

Musical Prophesying

Last night, my reading of the Bible took me to the last chapters of 1 Chronicles. The following passage stood out to me:
David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals. ... The sons of Asaph were under the supervision of Asaph, who prophesied under the king's supervision. As for Jeduthun, from his sons...under the supervision of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied, using the harp in thanking and praising the Lord. As for Heman.... All these were sons of Heman the king's seer. They were given him through the promises of God to exalt him. ...All these men were under the supervision of their fathers for the music of the temple of the Lord, with cymbals, lyres and harps, for the ministry at the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the supervision of the king. Along with their relatives--all of them trained and skilled in music for the L…

Here is My Warrior!

She stands on the edge of her pain, a door open through which she can see the beginning.

Three huddle together in conference. “How will we manage to do that?” One asks.

“I have a plan. I have someone, yet to be conceived, who can do what we need.”

“But how? The job is too big, too difficult.”

“This one we will prepare from the moment of conception. We will fill her life with pain, sorrow and hardship. We will do this so she will become strong and unafraid. She will be hardened as diamonds and soft as pure gold.”

“What if we lose her to the pain?”

“We won’t. I have just the right parents for her and will bring them together.”

“Those two? The man is twice the woman’s age! She’s innocent and naive. He will disrespect, use and abuse her.”

“Yes, I know. That’s part of the plan.”

“They’re not married.”

“I know. They won’t want her. They will be alarmed at her growing presence inside the woman and will look for ways to get rid of her.”

“But if she’s the one we have chosen, and they are the …

Stuck in the Box

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39, 40 NIVYesterday I went googling to see what I could find about a new (to me) ministry I've been learning about. I spent two weekends listening to the teaching of this ministry and one thing that struck me was how Scriptural it is. No verses or passages were twisted to fit and nothing taught was dependent upon a particular translation being used.

But as I googled, I was saddened by the plethora of writing against this ministry—saying it is unscriptural, dangerous and of the devil. My reading of Oswald Chambers this morning speaks to why this happens:
...we have made up our mind that God will only come along certain lines, and like the religious people of His day, when He comes on another line, we do not recognise Him.*

...we are always prejudiced over what we know least about and we fore…

Behind Contempt

What kind of Lord Jesus have we? Is He the All-powerful God in our present circumstances, in our providential setting? Is He the All-wise God of our thinking and our planning? Is He the Ever-present God, “closer than breathing, nearer than hands or feet”?*What are my present circumstances? Hmmm. The setting is my home and family. The circumstances are the crisis we’ve been in. This crisis has stirred a lot of fear in me. I discovered a lot of self-contempt, self-loathing yesterday.
As long as contempt is present, shame will not stop a person in her tracks, but will energize action and movement away from the dreaded exposure.**What exposure am I dreading? That I’m not lovable, desirable, valuable. I’m not worth people’s attention. I’m not worth God’s attention. I’m not worth anything.
...longing for what the heart craves intensifies the anguish of the soul. ...To feel good in relationship with another, like no other experience, opens the door to past horror and future terror. ...a strong…

Why Talk about my Marriage?

An explanation is needed for the following post. For years I lived my life thinking that I was right with God and all my problems were because of others, not me. Then I came face-to-face with my own depravity in the form of same-sex attraction. It’s been seven years since the day I realized that I needed to change—seven years of an exciting, turbulent ride that has humbled me, drawn me closer to God and brought healing and freedom to me on many levels.

As I’ve allowed God to uncover the diseased and dead parts of me, I’ve discovered there’s a whole lot more rotten in me than I knew. I’m beginning to see how I’ve been the source of my biggest problems. Several days ago I wrote about bitter-root judgement and expectancy: how we develop expectancies of things to happen because of past experiences and how others unconsciously conform to those expectations.

I’m starting to see how this is true in my life—how my negative expectancies have shaped those around me to behave in ways that are…

Pray for Haiti

CNN reported this morning that nearly 800 people in Haiti have died from a string of hurricanes which whipped this already-poverty-stricken nation with heavy rains, flooding and mudslides. Another 2.3 million Haitians are estimated to have "fallen into food insecurity, with dramatic increases in prices for staple foods."

Pray for the people of Haiti!

Lord God, I cannot comprehend the devastation to this small, impoverished nation. It is too big for me. But it's not too big for you. A hurricane fits into the palm of your hand and you can do with it as you will. Haiti also fits into the palm of your hand and I know you love the people there. Have mercy, Lord! Have mercy! So be it.

Worthless and Precious

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. ... Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who...made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:3-7 NIVTwo days ago I wrote about finding my worth in being “the best” and have been giving a lot of thought to and prayer about that. This morning my study took me to the passage above. Unknowingly, I have been living much of my life out of selfish ambition. What else would you call not feeling worthy unless I’m the best? My ambition has been to feel worthy, acknowledged and valued—very selfish and self-focused.

Jesus, on the other hand, is eminently worthy of all praise and adoration and yet he gave up that right and emptied himself of all apparent worth to come and live among us. He did the very opposite of what I have been doing: I have been grasping for worthiness and he gave his up. It’s a sobering t…

Evangelist Worth More than Osama bin Laden

Since reading his end-times novels and Epicentre, the book that explains the prophecies and world politics the novels are based upon, I have been following the blog of Joel Rosenberg. One post has captured my attention: Exclusive: Al Qaeda Targets Arab Evangelist For Preaching The Gospel To Muslims.

Father Zakaria Botros is an Egyptian Coptic priest whose in-your-face “ninety-minute program...has become ‘must see TV’ throughout the Muslim world.” What makes his program so compelling? Perhaps it is his explanations “without apology what he believes is wrong with Islam...why Jesus loves them and why [Jesus] is so ready to forgive them and adopt them into His family....” Maybe it's because he takes on any question his (often antagonistic) listeners ask. It most certainly is because of the furor he has evoked amongst Islamic leaders.

The Muslim clerics have “named him one of the ‘most wanted’ infidels in the world,” putting a bounty on his head for as much as $60 million. Compare…

The Glory and the Shame

...[Jesus] took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Luke 9:28-31 NIV
You would think that this transfiguration of Jesus, where he is revealed in all his glory, would be the apex of his time on earth. The disciples finally see him as he really is. What is left for him to do? For us it would be enough. Nothing better or more glorious could be seen or had. This is it!

But for Jesus, this is not it. This is not the apex of his time on earth. This is not what he has come to do. In the upside-down kingdom of God, Christ’s highest point comes not in dazzling, heavenly glory but in the shame and disgrace of the cross. That which was despised he embraced and now invites us to do …

Nothing or Something

Be “strong enough to decline to exercise your rights.”*This is an intriguing statement, especially in light of things I’ve been contemplating lately. It occurred to me last week that I have been finding my worth in being “the best,” and yesterday I realized that I do this out of a fear of becoming nothing, invisible, worthless. I’ve been asking myself if I’m able to relinquish to God this need to be known and acknowledged, to be best; to give up my methods of self-protection, jump into my fears and trust God to do what’s best.

Can I do this? Do I trust God more than I trust myself? The “correct” answer that all good Christians want to give to such questions is, “Yes! Of course I trust God!” But when it comes down to the nitty gritty, do I?

In North America, we talk a lot about our rights. We have the right to be who we are, to be self-determining, to live safely. Jesus said “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:3…

Bitter-Root Judgement and Expectancy

[My thoughts are scattered and I'm having trouble concentrating. I started writing this a week ago and I realize now it may make no sense. I'm posting it anyway.]
See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15 NIV
I’ve been slowly making my way through the book The Transformation of the Inner Man by John and Paula Sandford. The chapter called “Bitter-Root Judgment and Expectancy” really spoke to me.

What is a bitter-root judgement? As a child (could be as an adult too), when we experienced or observed something we didn’t like, we often made judgements about the person we connected to that event and then developed an expectancy that others would behave in the same disappointing way. Because of our expectancy, those we become close to will actually unconsciously conform to that expectancy. This sets us up for a lot of painful relationships and interactions. Those judgements and expectancies conti…