The Blank Canvas

Before us lay 365 days that are like a blank canvas awaiting the brush strokes of the artist.  Our confidence and hope lay in the brilliance of the artist who will not waste a stroke, every one being intentional and mindful of the final outcome.  Like the artist, God has in mind what he wants to accomplish in and through us. Every action, every so-called “coincidence” has the final product in view.

Listen to what God is designing through you and I:

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another-showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shapedup for the tasks God has for us.     

2 Timothy 3:16-17 The Message

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. 

Philippians 3:7-8 ESV

God is designing us to be people who grow to maturity in Christ to become like him through the application of his Word to our life. And, we grow to become mature in Christ because we understand that to be the greatest priority of our life.

How does God do this in us? He does so as we make daily choices over a long period of time to honour him through our obedience to his Word. It is not an overnight, quick process. One choice at a time, one decision at a time and one day at a time. It is not complicated but requires a God-centred obedience that aims to please him in everything.

He also does this through the refining fire of suffering. Sickness and disease, difficult relationships, our own bad choices, unexpected and unwanted circumstances all are a part of the Master’s brush strokes as he carefully paints on the canvas.  This is where daily life happens and daily choices are made. God refines us into the mold of his Son. Our experience of suffering causes us to yearn for more of God and less of ourselves. We slowly come to realize that everything in life has a  spiritual component to it. Yes, I did say everything!

Before us lay a years worth of opportunities to experience his grace. Our goal as individuals who belong to the community of faith is to encourage one another to patiently allow the Artist the freedom to create what he has in mind.  For far too long in my own walk with God I attempted to use God to get what I wanted. I used spiritually sounding words to manipulate people and circumstances. But God would have none of it! He had a greater plan in mind that he persistently and patiently continued to draw on the canvas. Save yourself some time and heartache, my friend, do what he asks nothing more, nothing less UNTIL he tells you what the next thing is.

I read years ago that our lives are the result not of the dreams we dream but of the decisions we make daily. Personally, I choose to awake early to read the Scripture and pray. Nothing mystical or magic about that but it is determinative. It speaks to what is priority and what is the goal of my life. If you have developed this habit, keep going, it is worth it, if you have not yet, do it and find someone to keep you accountable.

This blank canvas before us called 2018 will slowly begin to be painted upon. Each hour, each day, each week and each month will uniquely contribute to the final product. Think about these words of the Apostle Paul as you consider what you desire for this year,

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 3:13-14

Not So With You

notsowithyou.PNGWhat does it mean to be a ‘spiritual giant’?  I have been thinking about that term that we often use in regards to those who have tremendous significant input and influence in our lives.  They could have been a close friend, an influential author, a faithful pastor or someone whose life speaks to us today having served faithfully.

I think spiritual giants seldom, if ever, realize the total effect of their lives at the moment.  I don’t think, either, that this is ever the goal a person has. It is the by-product of faithfulness over time that has produced ripples of influence to you and I today.  I believe that there are common characteristics of people who leave positive marks on our lives. Let’s talk about those.  Continue reading

Running to Win

No self-respecting athlete ever enters a competition just to say he was just there. I am not an Olympic athlete, not even close, but I know by the hours and years, the self-discipline of training, the restricting your diet to eat what will enable you to perform the best possible on the day of the race. One enters the race to win it.

It doesn’t matter what dirunning-and-lifting-1scipline you train for, be it a 100 meter sprint or the marathon, or something in between, the goal is to win the prize at the end of the day. The great tragedy is when a runner is eliminated by an error that was totally in his control to be able to change. Many Canadians will remember the year (1988) when Ben Johnson apparently won the Gold Medal in the 100 meter race. Tragically, it was discovered later that Ben was disqualified by something that was totally under his control to deny. No one forced him to take a drug stimulant to race faster, he had total freedom to take it or to say no to the temptation. The choice was his to make. Today, he lives with the consequences of his decision.

Continue reading

A Complete Makeover

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The great struggle that you and I have as we walk the Christ-life, is that of getting on the same page that God is on.  From the moment that we decide to become life-long followers of Jesus Christ, a royal battle is ensued.  Before that moment, we were quite content to live life for ourselves.  We could say that we were a law unto ourselves.  Continue reading

What in the World!

By this all people will know that you are my disciples...

By this all people will know that you are my disciples…

 

In recent days there has been a lot of hand wringing among the people of the church.  There is a general feeling that everything is out of control and that the world is careening rapidly down to the hill into the abyss of hell.  The announcement last week of the United States Supreme Court decision in regards to same-sex marriage has caused an uproar among people of faith.  I have had the privilege of living in the United States and know how patriotic most of God’s people are. There seems to be a very close association between government and the church. To many government is a reflection, or ought to be, of Biblical values. Continue reading