Roadblocks to Peace

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The older I get, and I am getting there fast…the more I am beginning to understand, notice I said “beginning!”  There was a time not so long ago that I thought being a Christian was all about following carefully crafted rules. Those rules, I thought, triumphed relationships every single time! My “Damascus Road”  experience came as I thought about the conflict I have experienced as a Pastor. That conflict was mostly over methodology and control.  Some people want both no matter the cost, even at the cost of relationships.  Continue reading

Unparalleled Love

IMG_0927“When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, thy richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride..”

“See from his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flowed mingled down, did err such love and sorrow meet or thorns compose so rich a crown.”

These are powerful lyrics that point to the greatest need that every human being on the planet has, that of redemption from sin and divine love that took our rightful place of sin’s penalty. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was born at just the right time to redeem mankind (Galatians 4:4), gave his life for sinners like you and I. Undeserved grace was ours because of his willingness to submit himself to the eternal plan of God.

The words of Jesus in John 10 present the stark truth; Jesus willingly was tortured at the hands of those he had created and loved in order for the transaction of salvation to be completed. Stop and think about that for a minute! How unreal that is! Read these words slowly and meditatively, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18)

Let the full impact of these verses find their way into your heart this season of the year, and all year-long actually! The bottom line here is that Jesus loved you and I so much that he died the death of a criminal for us! What are the implications? They are life-changing! We quite literally not sit on the fence here. Because he gave his life for you, he loves you! He loves you more than you could ever imagine.

I will never forget when I first heard as a young Christian the full price that Jesus paid for my sin! I was moved by his willingness to be subjected to the cruelty of the crucifixion for me because of his love! Despite of my sin, my rebellion and my wanting nothing to do with him, he still showed his love for me.

Today, I live in gratitude for this divine love that would not let me go. It has grasped my heart with such tenacity that it changed the direction of my life. As a non-Christian, I used the excuse that if I received Jesus as my Lord and Saviour that I could not have as much fun! But, oh how wrong I was! The life that God has now given me because of the cross of Jesus is more satisfying, more peaceful and more meaningful that I could ever have imagined.

Friend, God loved you so much that Jesus gave his life for you! That statement if applied to your heart, soul and mind will change you forever. The world tries to match it but fails every time with its cheap, momentary thrills and shows. Sometimes believers can get their eyes off the cross and shift their sight to the world hoping to find something else but do so in vain.

Embracing the full weight and significance of the cross defines all of life. God’s love demonstrated that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Once we do so, the rest of life is altered forever, we can’t shake it and we live in gratitude forever.

Glory to the New Born King!

Glory to the New Born KingJesus Christ was born to buy back you and I from the cruel taskmaster of sin. I have attempted to draw a picture with words this month of the beauty and humble majesty of his coming to dwell among us.

My prayer is that he would be exalted as the King of my life everyday and that everyday I would worship him with every fibre of my being! Would you join me in that prayer?

Here are the 4 blogs, really personal devotional thoughts, that reflect the desire to live for him daily!

The Hope We NeedThe Hope We NeecThe Process of PeaceThe Process of PeaceReally Good NewsReally Good NewsWhen Love Came Down When Love Came Down

Does it Hurt? 

“Does this hurt?” “How about here?”  At certain times all of us have heard those words from a Doctor who is checking out what physical problem we may have. I recall running across the lawn of a neighbours’s yard and not seeing the little wire fence in the dark of night, tripping over it and breaking an arm! It wasn’t difficult for the emergency room nurse to tell I had a problem as my arm twisted in the wrong direction!

Less obvious are the spiritual wounds we carry around that come as a result of our own sin, and that of others. Emotional wounds that were inflicted by a parent, a spouse, or another person we trusted, carry their own set of damages that leave scars. We human beings have an uncanny knack of hurting one another, sometimes we don’t even realize that we do so. But when we put our needs and wants before serving God and others, we cause damage. And, the result is that we ourselves become twisted emotionally and spiritually.

The twelve men who followed Jesus Christ were not exempt from this malady.  You will recall that one of their most heated discussions had to do with which one of them would be the greatest, the most important, when the kingdom of God reigns on the earth! Really? How could it be that after the Lord announced to them that he was going to be delivered to the Jewish authorities to be killed, that these men thought it correct to discuss the place of their importance! However, without them even knowing it, these men, in a spiritual sense, began to inflict themselves with a world of hurt. 

Whenever we begin to think about “me first”, like the disciples did in Jesus’day, we unknowingly begin to hurt ourselves. We convince ourselves in thinking that this is something we deserve! But unless God is the one who gives it to us, our striving for position or priority actually hurts ourself, and those closest to us. We unknowingly trip over the neighbour’s invisible wire. Our attitude needs to be that which places God first, others second and me last. 

Here is the sad thing we need to acknowledge, repent of and confess: the church has been the cause of this type of pain. To be specific, I’m not talking about the church as in the building, rather the church as in people who have knowingly hurt people. We have run over people in our effort to establish our agenda (we use “spiritual” language to do so!).  We turn member against member. Sooner or later God will call us to account as to what we have done! 

A Holy Spirit led, driven movement of God is not that. It is one where God’s people confess their sins one to another, and they don’t allow hurts to trip up God’s agenda. It is a movement in which the fruit of the Spirit is evidenced and God’s agenda takes first place. Nobody needs to ask who gets the credit but rather everyone knows it is God who gets the glory all day, everyday. 

Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! May we treasure him, and may that be reflected in our desire to encourage others to do so as well!                                                                

Helpless and Harassed

The English author C.S. Lewis wrote,

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks

IMG_49B99134FACD-1in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

It has been a tough week. We are witnessing before our eyes the humbling of the fourth largest city in the United States.  The images we are seeing on our televisions are real. They are difficult to watch because they are people like you and me who are losing everything, literally everything. Furniture, clothing, televisions, cars, precious memories like family pictures, and in some very heart-breaking way are losing their loved ones.

Near where I live, many people have lost their homes and all their belongings in the fires of Western Canada. Through no fault of their own, they were forced to evacuate their homes without notice. Their lives will carry these moments for many years.

What do we do in times like this?  I am reminded of the description of Jesus Christ as he witnessed the helplessness of those who are described as “harassed and helpless”, that he did NOT berate them for being in that position. Nor did he call them out for the evilness of their hearts. Here is what we read about our Saviour, “he had compassion for them.” (Matthew 9:36)

His compassion was a result of seeing the condition of their heart. They are described by Matthew as being “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”  The predicament they were in describes them as people who were in some sense being taken advantage of through no fault of their own. The response of our Lord is so unlike us. We want to find someone to blame! Someone’s head had to roll because of the mess these people were in. But Jesus does not go there.

What Jesus does do it absolutely amazing!  Here is the Son of God with all the power to change the circumstances of these helpless and harassed people. What does he do? He turns to his followers and tells them to pray. What should they pray about? Pray that God would send people to relieve these hurting folks of their difficulty. I find that fascinating. Don’t you?

The “megaphone” of God in the suffering of these dear folks in Houston has as its response, that God’s people pray that He would send compassionate people to help, people who would give if they cannot go and people who will pray.  There are so many agencies that are reaching out right now like Samaritan’s Purse, who are sending chaplains as well as sending physical aid to assist Houston’s hurting people.

God now has our attention! He is moving us to action. Let’s not sit this one out but actively pray, give and if possible, go!

 

The Great Deception

 

design-1One of the great questions that people often struggle with is that of identity.  It is one of the three that people frequently ask: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going?

How important is the question of identity? The lack of finding significance, is one of the huge causes for the suicide rate that is growing by the day.  People are dissatisfied with the answers that are coming from the great halls of learning, answers from society itself and those that come from the religion of humanism.

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