Blog Archives

Words That Work – We Have a Wise God

We press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God… Ph 3:14  The christian world, those who strive to find God’s calling in their lives continue to press forward each day, hoping they will someday find that elusive calling or purpose in their lives that God promised.

Perhaps it’s God’s way of keeping us struggling forward knowing that  he has to dangle the bait in front of us to keep moving, never stagnating, never being completely satisfied with this life on earth.

Content? Yes. Satisfied? Never

We have a wise God.

God Owns Us, So Relax

The modern-day mantra this generation has embraced is, “you can be anything you want to be, you can do anything you want to do”.  Everywhere you turn, life coaches, motivational speakers, the swimming champ giving a talk at a primary school, TV ads. This philosophy has  also infiltrated the pulpit and our christian teachers. Yes its good advice for doing your best, going for gold, pushing yourself to be the man God wants you to be. Or is it?

Does Jesus see it that way? Is that God’s message to the true believer? How does that mantra fit into the very fiber of our spiritual walk with God.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7 that we are bought with a price. That each of us when we gave our lives to Jesus, when we came to the Lord and said, I’m yours now Lord, do with me what you will.

I don’t believe he then goes on to say. “OK buddy, now go out and do the best you can, be the best you can be and be what you want to be.  If God owns us then He knows exactly where we fit in, who He wants us to be.

Many of us struggle with this because as the months and years pass we still are confused with who we are and what place we are to fulfill God’s plan.  When in fact we are exactly where we are supposed to be, with those we are supposed to be with, and in the exact place we are to be. Of course we always want to do more, be more for God and show God how much we love Him by doing the best we can with what He gave us.

There is a fine line between doing our best for God and letting God do His best through us because what God may see as His best for us may have gotten garbled in transmission some where along the line in our communication with Him as we pursue being our  best for Him

So if we are bought with a price then God owns us. If God owns us then it is up to Him how He wants to use us, what He wants to use us for and when He wants to bring it altogether.

If you are struggling with your God identity which is a common affliction with us Christians, just relax, God owns us so let Him worry about all the rest.

What Is Your Measuring Stick?

“Don’t tell me what you believe, show me how you live each day and I’ll know what you believe.”

This quote has been a measuring stick to me for many years now. It helps me keep a balance between good preaching, teaching,  advice or instruction I give to others.

I believe as a christian that God instructed us, no I will be more forthright, commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Now we can take that literally or metaphorically or just as good advice.

It may not always need to come in the form of standing at a pulpit or being a missionary in a far off land. It may have nothing to do with being a youth minister or even standing on a street corner handing out gospel tracks.

How ever you proclaim your faith, you better be able to back it up with how you live your life on a daily basis.

Now if I was to invite you into my home to live with me for a week so you can see first hand how I live I may have to give out a hit of  no dose or V or even a shot of adrenalin because I guarantee, you could even die of boredom.

So when I tell others about Jesus, talk about the lessons I learn or how I have lived my life for Him in the past, can quote you scripture and verse, tell you what Daniel meant in prophecy or argue creation verses evolution it all means absolutely nothing if  I can’t back it up with a Godly presence on a daily basis.

And I am not talking about how I can read God’s word in the morning, or review my memorized scriptures, pray for an hour at a time. It certainly has nothing to do with how much I allot for missionary giving or how prompt I am in getting to church on Sunday or how good I am at leading the Wednesday night bible study.  No in fact even if it was those things I would fall short.

If you viewed me from a physical aspect you would be mostly disappointed, I am sure of that as much as I know that the sun rises will rise every day in the east.

Personally I would look for how a person makes me feel when meeting them for the first time, if they more a listener than talker. I would look to see how they interacted with others, their neighbors, strangers. How they would treat that annoying telemarketer that called for the tenth time.

I would look and see how he treated their work mates or if they are the boss their employees. I would look at how they interacted with those less fortunate than themselves.

I would watch very closely how they reacted to situations that are out of their control such as erratic drivers that cut them off in traffic or how patiently they wait in line  or their attitude toward those that are different to themselves such as those of a different faith, sexual orientation or color of skin.

I would look at how they treated their children, their wife or husband, girlfriend or boyfriend.  How they treated their in-laws (well ok, maybe I’m over doing it and asking too much now)

One thing I know for sure, what is in the heart will come out in some way or form.

I guess if I were to invite you into my life for a week I would want you to look at those things I stated above. I may not live up to your standard but I can tell you for sure, that I am trying my best to be the way God wants me to be.

I guess what I am trying to say, as a christian I am  compelled to tell others of the good news,not because I should but because I want to.

I also have to be willing to be judged not by what I say but how I live my life.

What is your measuring stick?

You Are My Church

When I started this blog  just over two months ago (April 2013) I had only one thing in mind. I wanted to say the name of Jesus, I wanted to see it in print, I wanted think it in my mind when I typed it, I wanted it to permeate my whole being.

You see I don’t go t church, I don’t fellowship with other Christians, I don’t talk about the Lord around the house, we don’t play christian music, I don’t sing out loud. I very rarely get to say His name in public. I don’t go to bible studies or watch the televangelist on TV. I don’t correspond with other believers.

My kids have out grown daddy reading them bible stories or praying with them before bed or before meals. When they were sick or when they need to be reassured that Jesus was always there with them They are grown and with their own personal  beliefs and finding their own way in life.

My wife and I have drifted over the years in our personal walk with the Lord so our conversation is not based around saying the name of Jesus.

I missed it,  so when I started this particular blog (I have had a few since starting almost two years ago), I decided I just wanted to talk about Jesus.

My blog was never to be a pulpit, a school of learning or instruction. It was not meant to be an encouragement to others. It was not started to be for anybody but me, for my encouragement, my time with Jesus. I wanted to lose myself in the time I gave myself to write about the Lord. When starting I thought I might as well throw in some stories about my life. That again was for my sake, to reflect on all the Lord had done for me throughout my life.

I am normally a very private person. My thoughts are usually very well embedded way down deep inside. For others to try to find a way into my personal life is not an easy task. I am not and have not always been an open book but for some reason I wanted to be honest in this blog.  I wanted Jesus to know in words how I felt about Him. How his love had affected my life for the past forty years.

Almost immediately I started to get feedback. Others started to follow my blog, I began to make some friends. I began to read other christian blogs. I began to resonate with those that were willing to open their hearts and tell their stories.

I have read hundreds of christian blog posts over the past two months. Some use their blog as a pulpit, some as teaching lectern, some as a soapbox, some as a journal, some as a sharing experience and some just to proclaim their love for God.

I don’t relate to all but one thing stood out to me is that everyone who blogs about faith, about Jesus, about God is part of a phenomenon that continues to spread throughout the earth.

We all have one common bond.

Jesus.

A man that we have never met in the flesh miraculously lives separately in each and every one of our hearts that makes us want to shout His Name.

I am so grateful that I am one of those.

I am grateful for you, my new church.

This is why I blog.

Thank you for visiting.

Gifts and Talents Can Come and Go…..

If you are anything like me you may have questioned  the Lord from time to time  and said, “Lord when you were passing out the gifts and talents what happened to me”?

To some of us the talents the Lord has available are not always so obviously apparent. Some seem to have them ready-made as a child. Many have had to work hard to make them usable and for some it seems that we  wouldn’t recognize a talent if it was to smack us upside our head.

I will go out on a limb and state that the gifts and talents are different, they are  given to us to enhance our calling.

In I Corinthians 7:20 & 24 Paul says Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he is called. & repeats his point 4 verses later. Brethren let every man, where in he is called, therein abide with God.

If we can see look back at the beginning of our walk with the Lord, our calling was probably staring us in the face. I believe mine was.

To go into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature,  and to be like the man (Jesus) who went everywhere doing good. That was mine in a nutshell and in retrospect, that has never ever changed.

And in a quick review of my life I realize I have been the happiest and most content when yielded to that call. The most miserable times in my life were when I put that call on hold, tried to give it away, throw it off a bridge or hide it in the cupboard.

I am one of those whose gifts and talents were discovered mostly by trial and error.

Let me tell a story.

While hitchhiking through Canada, (23 years old)  not long after finding Jesus and telling anything that moved and had life that Jesus was now my best friend and I wanted everyone to meet him .

My money had run out and I needed to get some work to get me to help me along.  I found myself in  this little town somewhere north that was hiring in the constructing industry.

I got a job right way. My first hour on my first day I was up on a roof with the boss nailing beams. I was there no more than fifteen minutes into it when the boss put down his hammer and says to me. Sammy, you seem like a nice kid, you need to find yourself another way to make a living because you have no future in this trade. He showed me the ladder. I lasted fifteen minutes and have barely lifted a hammer since.

My attempt to follow in Jesus steps of becoming a carpenter was just not going to happen.

As a teenager I can remember one morning while having breakfast with my dad, my mom comes in and says “Al (my dads nickname), you need to find the hammer and nail up a few picture frames for me.”

My dad looked at me like she was speaking a foreign language. Those picture frames to my recollection never got hung up. I never had a chance.

Music was also never in my families DNA. We never sang, played music or watched musicals. It was not something I learned to love or become a part of as a child.

But when I became a christian and saw others playing a guitar and singing about the Lord and his love I thought it was a great way to get out the message. I had to again go into my memory bank to see if there was any latent talent waiting to bust out.

I again took a trip down memory lane.I clearly remember my foray into the music world as if it happened yesterday. I was in elementary school we were told that we each had to pick an instrument that we wanted to learn. Our parents were responsible for buying it for us and we were to practice at home and bring the instrument to school to learn its craft.

I wanted to play the drums. An emphatic no from mom. AS a backup I chose the trumpet. Mom reluctantly agreed. My parents bought me a brand new trumpet. I was so proud of it.  I took it to school a few times a week to learn to play and practiced at home. I was a slow learner and  If nothing else came of it the stray cats which were a nuisance in our neighborhood found more peaceful surroundings.

One day my mom told me that someone had broken into the house and stole my trumpet. I was devastated, I cried and my budding musical career came to an abrupt end.

Over time I amused my self when thinking of those days and wondered if somehow  my parents played any part in the sudden disappearance of my trumpet. Perhaps a neighborhood conspiracy to bring peace and quiet back to the four block radius? I will never know what really happened and as far as I know there were no written confessions from my dear parents when they passed on.

But my second attempt was much more successful. Fast forward twenty years I learn  to play the guitar, self-taught. I was never going to be  Crosby Stills Nash and Young material but God gave me enough talent to use as a vehicle for my calling, for a time.  It brought many a tear to the eyes of those I witnessed to. Hmm.

But I have learned that we have to use what ever gift or talent, big or small no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time to further the calling that the Lord gives to us.

It is God who passes out the talents and he not only knows who to give them to, he knows when to give them to us. We may need them for a short period of time to use as a way to enhance our calling or these talents could blend so well with our calling we could have a hard time telling the difference between the two.

But in my humble opinion I will say this;

Gifts and talents can come and go…but our calling remains forever.

All Is Forgiven But Not Forgotten

BrokenWindwsWhen I was about thirteen, my little gang of never-do-well friends hung out  in this local hamburger shop. A one man band, the proprietor an elderly man (about the age I am now).

The major attraction was not the food but the two pinball machines that kept us occupied (and spending our money) on the colder days after school.

The owner (who I will call Max) didn’t mind us hanging around, even after we all spent our daily or weekly allowances. He was quite tolerant towards us rowdy teenagers. He was ok and I actually got along with him ,for an old guy.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying we were friends but I enjoyed being around him as he had some funny stories about the ‘old country’. One day we had a disagreement about something. I can’t remember but I was upset by it and stormed out of the place.

To say the least I had a temper on me. I remember one time I got mad at my sister (who is eight years older than me), I was probably about ten years old or so. I picked up a poker, a proper steel one with a tip that looked like an arrow-head. I chased her down the hallway with the weapon above my head ready to strike. She made it into the bathroom locked the door but that didn’t stop me. I pounded the door that resulted in large holes before I came to my senses. Yeah, I really needed Jesus.

Back to my story, I walked out of Max’s store in a huff. A few nights later under the cloud of darkness I made my way to Max’s store and planted myself in an alley way across the street waiting for him to close up shop. When the time was right and no one around, I pulled a rock the size of a tennis ball out of my pocket and let fly. Smash, his store front window destroyed in one single act of lunacy.

I waited a few days and made my way back to Max’s and acted like nothing happened. He was still waiting for the glass men to come and fix the window as it was boarded up and I could see the frustration on his face. To this day I am not sure if he had his suspicions it was me. If he did he didn’t show it. I went on with life as if nothing ever happened.

When I came to Jesus, I was taught that He forgave us for all our sins, past, present and future.  Thank God because my list was so long it would take me an eternity  to right each wrong. In the time it took to surrender my will, my life and my heart to God all my wrongdoing were wiped away. In an instant, in the blink of an eye.  Never to be remembered again, by God that is. Whew….

As time passed by there was still certain events in my life that would pop into my mind from time to time from my past that would make me cringe. I knew I was forgiven for these misdeeds but they seemed to come up every once in a while.

Giving the subject more thought I came to the conclusion that although our sins are forgiven our slates wiped clean forever then why do they come back to haunt us.

My take on it is this. They are like scars that are with us while we are still here on earth. A reminder of what we were like before our transformation. A reminder of what God sacrificed himself by giving us his only begotten son, Jesus. The scars will remain and when we look at them (we remember the incidents) it will be a constant reminder of what we were like before we gave our lives to God.

Oh how I would have loved to right some of these wrongs. To come face to face with Max and tell him what happened to his window and how sorry I am and ask for his forgiveness. Well, I think Max already knows and I think that someday after I have clocked out of this world I just might get that opportunity.

So, lets not beat ourselves up over our past but look on these times when we are reminded of certain memories  that seem to linger in our hearts and minds that they are what they are.

Scars from our past that remind us of who we were, not who we are now.

      “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)

 

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Yesterdays Faith Is No Good For Today

A few weeks back I had one of those days that was out of character for me. Since God has been in a rebuilding stage with me, demolishing everything but the foundation, my life has been disruptive to say the least.

If you have ever had your rooms re-carpeted or re-tiled, a new porch or room added to your home or your kitchen remodeled you understand how it can be an invasion of our privacy and at the least an inconvenience. That is what my life has been like the past year except God has been rebuilding from the bottom up while I still have to live in my body.

So when I say that I had one of those days, I mean it was one where everything went better than good. Everything I touched that day turned to gold and I was rewarded with some unexpected blessings.

For me these kind of days have been few and far between but I did have one and it was a fantastic one  from morning till night.  At the end of the day I reflected on the perfect day  and milked it for all it was worth. I tried hard to remember what I did right so I could replicate it the next day.

Uh, no, it doesn’t work that way. The builders (God and his helpers)  were back buzzing everywhere continuing to rebuild and renovate and life was back to normal and generally disruptive.

Yesterday is the past. Good or bad, perfect or imperfect it was yesterday. Our faith for yesterday is used up and no good for today. A new day needs new faith.

For those like myself who are coffee lovers and like to brew it to our liking, we wouldn’t  even consider using  yesterdays left over coffee. It just doesn’t work.

Faith is not much different. Every morning we have to start all over.

That  is also why we tend to worry about tomorrow and all the things that are going to be coming up in the future. We  somehow think we need to put  some faith aside from today’s intake in case we don’t have enough for tomorrow.  Nope, sorry it doesn’t work like that.

We will never ever have faith for tomorrow or the day after or any where in the future.

We can’t use yesterdays faith for today and our faith for today is no good for tomorrow.

“though our outward man perish, yet our inward man (our faith) is renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 (KJV)

Are You Still Waiting On God

Through out my christian life I have heard and often adhered to the proverbial motto of God speaks in three ways, yes, no, wait. So when praying for some direction, leading or intervention in my life and praying for God to give me an answer to what was on my mind I would obediently wait for yes, no or wait.

Since my direct link with God was somewhat dubious and the line was not always a clear one, I reverted to hearing through the Word.

Since I didn’t know any scriptures on God saying “yes son, this is what I want you to do or no son, this is not what I want you to do I waited a lot because nine times out of ten the scripture “wait on the Lord: be of good courage and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait I say on the Lord”  Psalm 27:14 (KJV)  would pop into my mind.

So a good portion of my life was waiting on the Lord for one thing or another.  Most of the time I waited myself out of faith, forgot about what I was waiting for or something more interesting came along that I could wait on.

So let me throw a spanner in the works for  those  of us who have used this method of hearing from God for his leading our lives.

In Matthew 9:27-30 as the story goes; two blind men followed Jesus knowing that he was doing all these miracles. They called out, Hey Jesus how about us, can you heal us?  To my knowledge Jesus didn’t say yes, he didn’t say no and he didn’t say wait. His answer was with a question. Do you believe I can I can do it?

They said yes. It says that Jesus touched their eyes and said “According to your faith be it unto you.” (Matthew 9:28)  Their eyes were opened they were healed, they could see.

The point I wanted to make is this. We as Christians are content to wait on the Lord, wait on His perfect timing, wait for the Lord to make it so obvious for what we are praying about that many times we wind up waiting ourselves out of faith.

It’s not always about what God wants us to do. Many times it’s about what we know we should do, because God has already shown us and we are looking for validation. Just say yes to Jesus when he asks “do you believe I can?”

So when asking God for an answer lets trust Him that his answer be with a  yes, no, wait or do you believe I can.

My money is on Matthew 9:28 According to your faith be it unto you.

Memorize

When I was a new christian my church had a really neat program for newcomers to the Lord like myself. Part of  which required memorization. They had these cards with Verse references from the bible neatly organized under various topics such as Salvation, Discipleship, Witnessing, Prayer, Love etc.

There was maybe one hundred or more verses to get  started. The purpose was to flood the mind and heart with the word. Jump start your new life.

It wasn’t easy for me to memorize in those days, as my brain cells acted more like a pin ball machine rather than taking in and processing information because of the drug abuse I subjected my body to.

At the time It would actually have to read a line two or three times before I was able to zero in on its meaning. God had quite a bit of work to do to get my mind rewired. The memory project helped immensely.

Once I got the hang of it I devoured those verses like they were M&Ms or popcorn. Once you start its impossible to stop until they are all gone. In fact looking back on those days it was the one thing that I can say that helped me the most in laying a good solid foundation in my christian life. I am so thankful for those days.  I still have my original bible and every time I memorized a verse I would circle its reference with a red pen.

As time went on and I grew older, got married had kids etc memorization became a thing of the past. But the word of God remained in my heart, never to be taken away. Even when it seems to lay dormant sometimes for years  like it did in me when I put my bible aside and found myself off the straight and narrow. The cares of the world got the best of me and there was a long period of time where I floundered like a fish out of water seemingly taking me further away from God, his word and his love.

Coming back to the Lord many years later I realized that if I was to renew my relationship with the Lord I needed once again immerse myself in the Word. Another jump start.  I started to read the bible again and realized that I had all these verses memorized some forty years prior. I knew it would be quite a task to re-memorize them but somehow I knew I needed to get the Word flowing through my veins as quick as possible and what better and easier way than to get back to the basics.

I took out my old bible, dusted it off and started going over  any verse circled in red pen. I was amazed at how quickly those scriptures came back to me in full. I was a little rusty at first but before I knew it I had the word flowing freely from my head to my heart.

A year later and I am constantly being reminded of verses popping in my head and able to quote verbatim giving me the full power of the word for any situation that may arise and anytime doubt would try to cloud my heart. Once again it became a great tool to have God’s word constantly on my mind and heart.

I have even been able to memorize a few new ones that I know will be helpful down the track. It is not as easy as when I was younger so I am very grateful for the insight my spiritual parents in the Lord had in instilling in me the importance of hiding the word in my heart.

My advice?

Memorize.

“Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee”  Psalm 199:11 (KJV)

Make It Personal Part 5

BE A GOOD LISTENER

iStock_000004060935XSmall[1](2)When I first started witnessing on the streets of Vancouver, armed with only a bible in my first months as a Christian, I came out guns blazing and I didn’t stop until I was the last man standing. I left it for the more mature sensible elders to pick up the pieces.

I didn’t know any better and of course experience and time are the best teachers. With thousands of hours clocked up on the front lines ( streets, Universities, Colleges and where ever there was a heart beat) I learned  that one of the greatest tools we have as a believer is a listening ear.

When I go to the doctor, the first thing he will ask me is “what’s wrong, what’s the problem, what’s bothering you.” The doctor needs to hear it from me to explain to him what symptoms I have. From there he will invariably poke and prod and ask more questions. If the problem is not visible on the body. If its internal he needs to gather the most information he can from me the patient.

In other words he has to listen to what I am saying about myself by asking leading questions.

Personal one on one witnessing, for success is not much different. It’s not always easy as I  experienced, especially in my early years that my guns were loaded, the safety off and my finger on the trigger ready to fire.

In my overly zealous enthusiasm I thought I already had the answer and was just waiting for the right time to fire away not really understanding what a person needed in his or her life at the time.

It took me a long time, many, many years in fact, before I learned to listen by asking the right questions. Questions that would put me in a position to have to really listen to what a person is trying to convey.

By asking the right questions I became a good listener because I was hearing what I needed to hear about a person that would help me to know how give them Jesus in a way that would be easily understood by them. Given a chance people love to talk about themselves and will open up if they know they can trust you with their heart.

It’s our job as God’s Ambassadors  to lead them to Jesus, show them the way. If they are ready to pray there on the spot fine but sometimes they just need directions and sometimes all they need is a listening ear.  If we have asked the right questions,  listened well, and pointed them in the right direction we have done our job. All the rest is icing on the cake.

“…let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak.. James 1:19 (KJV) Now this may have been taken out of context and James may have meant it for something other than personal witnessing, but that is what is so great about God, He can apply HIS word any way he wants.

So if we want to be better witnesses let us use both our ears, first and then be very slow to speak. I

We may not know until we get to heaven to see all the souls that we influenced along the way. How great it will be when Jesus greets us with a “well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord”