*Cleans off dust*

I had forgotten that I had this :P Much great stuff is going on currently. My life is like a reverse country music song as everything that has gone wrong has gone right. All I can say in the midst of it all is that God is good and prayer does availeth much.

Happy Memorial Day and other thoughts

Happy Memorial Day to everyone. Don't forget to think about those who paid the ultimate price so that we all could live with the freedoms that we have. We can write our opinions of our government without fear of a little black sedan coming along and taking us away for treason. We can believe as we want without fear of retribution because it doesn't align with those around us. We can be what we want to be career wise without being told that is not within our proper role in society. Take some time to dwell on that and if you are praying person, thank God for those people that made that sacrifice so that you wouldn't have to.

On another note Memorial Day makes me think of those in spiritual sense who have gave their all so that others can be free. The Christian walk is often compared to a battle with God and His own on one side and Satan and his on the other with us in the middle. I think of people like Mother Teresa who spent her whole life in poverty so that she could bring hope to poor, sick, orphaned, and dying in Calcutta, India. I think of the five male missionaries were speared by members of the Waodani tribe while ministering to them who paved the way for others to share their faith with the tribe and bring salvation to them. I also think of pastors who work in small churches endlessly and often thanklessly discipling and ministry to struggling churches in an attempt to bring their walk back in line with their talk.

It also leads me to think of those who have fallen away from the faith, who right now our foundering behind enemy lines so to speak. It's so easy to forget them but we should never forget to pray for God to bring healing and restoration to them. So long as there is still breath in their bodies then there is still hope for their return.

Again, have a happy Memorial Day and remember what the day was created for.

Thoughts for the New Year

These are some thoughts I had that I wanted to share for anyone who might want to read them:

Isaiah 61:1-4 MKJV

The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is on Me; because Jehovah has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to preach the acceptable year of Jehovah and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the mantle of praise for the spirit of heaviness; so that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that He might be glorified. And they will build the old wastes, they will raise up the ruins of former times. And they will repair the waste cities, the ruins of many generations.

I read this verse the first day of the new year and I felt that God was saying something to me through this. Currently, all around me there is hurt, there is loss, there is pain. We all have lost something in this past year, be it loved ones, our sense of security, self-worth, financial stability, or any number of other things. We are all hurting.

This is a new year, a new start. I believe that Christ is saying that this year can be the year for myself and for all of us to find healing in our lives. Some of us our bound by our struggles with various sins, some of us are bound by loneliness, some by fear. This can be the year that those of us who are held captive by these things can be set free. Christ “proclaims freedom for the captives and release from the darkness for the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1). He will free us if we will let him, if we will trust Him enough to give over to Him those things which we have allowed to bind us.

I think the two biggest fears that I have had voiced to me over the past year were financial and relational. Both of these fears are normal as no one likes to be alone nor does anyone like to be in need. It’s frightening to think of a life of singleness or a life living by the goodwill of others as you can’t provide for yourself. But Christ has promised us “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). I remember, prior to meeting my wife, how lonely I felt, how I let it drag me down. I felt like God was denying me that which would truly fulfill my emotional needs. The truth is that He wasn’t denying me anything. I was denying myself the fulfillment of my needs. I wouldn’t allow him to be my all in all, to fill that God sized hole in my heart. Also, He had put people around me to show me that I was not alone, friends in my life who wanted to help bear my burdens. Eventually I realized that I really wasn’t alone and found my solace and belonging in Christ. I allowed him to speak through those he had placed around me to encourage me, to support me. Allow Christ to do that for you this year, seek your belonging in Him. Allow Him to bind up your broken heart.

He has also said “Therefore I say to you, Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Behold the birds of the air; for they sow not, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them; are you not much better than they are?” (Matthew 6:25-26). God will provide for your needs. He knows what you need exactly when you need it so trust Him to do so. I have seen Him do so again and again in my own life. I recall an experience from a few years back where I was going on a mission trip and I was wondering how I would be able to get there as I was unable to raise the money I needed. I prayed about how I would get there and talked with several people from my church about it. Some time went by and then several of them came to me with funds to take care of essentially the entire cost of the trip. This is just one example of many times that God has provided. It’s always been just when I am on the verge of losing hope. Sometimes I think God must have been a fan of the old westerns because he tends to show up as the cavalry did, just in the nick of time, to save the day.

Also, this year is a time to allow God to free you from your sadness. With the failing economy, this overall feeling of hopelessness that surrounds us, it’s easy to fall into depression, sadness, and misery. This year God says that he wants to “comfort those who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion”. He can turn your spirit of despair into a garment of praise. I suffer from depression and anxiety myself and I have had to realize how helpless I am to control it and turn it over to God, allowing Him to renew me. He has done that and more. He has helped me to hand over control to him of those things I try to hold on to, he has taught me that I have nothing to fear for He is with me. He has taught me how blessed I am. He is calling out to all of us saying “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29). Let this year be the year that you find rest in Christ.

In closing, this year is also a year where areas of your life that you feel have been desolate, barren wastelands or lost to the enemy for far too long to be redeemed can be restored. There is no time limit for giving areas of your life back to God, for asking him to reclaim parts of you that the enemy has taken hold of. He has stated “And they will build the old wastes, they will raise up the ruins of former times. And they will repair the waste cities, the ruins of many generations.” (Isaiah 61:4). Let this year be the year that you say “God, take these areas I have long held onto or handed over to the enemy and restore them. Allow them to bear fruit again. Allow them to be rebuilt.” He is faithful and will not leave them unrestored if you ask Him.

Lets “proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor”.

Peace at Last

Key Verses:

And he showed me a pure river of Water of Life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of its street, and of the river, from here and from there, was the Tree of Life, which bore twelve fruits, each yielding its fruit according to one month. And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And every curse will no longer be; but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will serve Him. And they will see His face, and His name will be in their foreheads. And there will be no night there. And they need no lamp, or light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light. And they will reign forever and ever.

(Revelation 22:1-5)

Sometimes I find it hard to imagine a world without pain, suffering, or loss. Currently we are all surrounded by financial hardship, sickness, treachery, and other sources of pain. The world seems to be coming apart at the seams with wars, famine, disease, and natural disasters. In the midst of all this chaos we do have this promise from God, that He will restore this world we live in to the state it was meant to be in; one of peace and free of the pain and suffering of sin. In Revelation we are given a picture of a world where there is no more sin, there is no pain, where every tear will be dried. As followers of Christ we will someday see this world and that should give us hope. No matter how bad things may get we can always remember that a new day is coming, that this world will be sane again, and that Christ shall reign over it forever and ever.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Key Verses:

The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. "Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

(Ezekiel 34:1-10)

That is one of my favourite comic book quotes, what Uncle Ben says to Peter Parker, "With great power comes great responsibility". This rings true to anyone who is in a position of authority or leadership. As a leader, our responsibility is not, as the world seems to believe, to fatten our bank accounts, buy bigger homes, and add more to our portfolio, but to care for those that have been placed under our authority or leadership. We are to provide for their needs, to care for them, to look after them. Here in Ezekiel God is chastising the leaders of Israel for failing to care for their people both spiritually and physically. They were more concerned about their own selfish desires than the needs of those they claimed to serve. As a result, God tells them that they will lose their position and authority. We need to watch ourselves so that we do not allow ourselves to fall into that same trap. Like the leaders of Israel, if we are not good stewards of those that God has placed in our care then He may remove us from where we are.

Pride Goeth Before the Destruction

Key Verse:

I find it so easy, when I am meeting with success in my endeavors, to become caught up in myself and my accomplishments and take full credit for them. I find that I also have this problem in the spiritual arena as well, getting caught up in self righteousness and pride at what I see as "spiritual greatness". I also have found that, in these circumstances where my pride begins to take hold and I forget that God is the one behind what good my come from me, that God gives me an opportunity to learn a lesson in humility. I am reminded in those times that all blessings come from God and thus all credit should be given to Him for them. If we we forget that, like Nebuchadnezzar, we too may be humbled.

Slow to Anger, Long in Compassion

Key Verse:

The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy. Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels. He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.'"

(2 Chronicles 36:15-23)

I have often asked the question to myself of is how God can both be a God of love and a God of wrath? How can God say He loves someone if he causes hurt to them? This passage addresses that question by giving an example from the nation of Israel's journey. In this passage it shows how God demonstrates his compassion towards Israel by sending his messengers and prophets to them to appeal to them to turn from their sin and return to Him. He does this several times, He does not give up easily because His desire is that none of His children should be lost, that none should be brought unnecessary suffering. His first response was not to bring discipline upon his children, but to restore them gently. And while it might not seem like his eventual disciplining of Israel is loving, even that demonstrates his love for them. Hebrews 12:5-6 states "And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." Even in God's discipline there is love. If He did not love us then he would leave us to continue our self destructive behaviours and live in our sin, but he disciplines us to try to bring us back to where we need to be. If you are experiencing chastening in your own life please do not see it as God giving up on you. Remember that it is out of love that he disciplines and with love he is also seeking to restore you through it.

Actions and Words

Key Verse: Ezekiel 33:30-33

"As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses: and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, 'Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.' "So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with thier mouth they show much love, but thier hears pursue their own gain. "Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. "And when this comes to pass --- surely it will come --- then they will know that a prophet has been among them.""

Is it important to hear God's word? Absolutely. There is one thing that is just as important as hearing it and that is doing what His word says. We need to take what God speaks to us in our hearts and apply it. If we do nothing more than listen to what he says and then do not do what he says we are "like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." (James 1:23b-24). God's word given to us through his preachers is more than a pretty voice every Sunday, it is one of God's ways of communicating with and convicting our hearts so that what we see in the mirror of God's word can be made to reflect more of Christ's righteousness and less of our sinfulness. Thus go out and do what God has called you to do. Do not be only hearers of His word.

Tilling the Soil of the Heart

Key Verse:

"This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: 'Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.'"

Jeremiah 4:3

If you have ever done any gardening then you know how hard it is to plant anything in soil that has not been properly prepared. Unprepared soil is often hard and dry making it difficult to place the seeds in the soil. It is also often full of weeds, thus they will choke out the seeds that have been planted. Likewise, our hearts are hard to have God's word and commandments planted in if it is not prepared for it before hand. Our hearts need to be prepared to hear and obey what God is trying to say to us. Often that may be why God has not given us what we are seeking as far as His will, be it who we are going to marry and spend our life with, or what our ministry for the kingdom shall be. Our hearts our un-tilled and full of weeds. So how does one prepare their heart and remove the weeds from it? These things are accomplished through time in prayer, contemplation, reading of the scripture. Sometimes it requires stepping away from the craziness of life and being alone with God to allow Him to help you find and remove the weeds that have taken root in your heart. When you have prepared your heart then you will hear from God.

From Father To Son

Key Verse:

All of us have been influenced by the actions of our parents for good or for bad. Our parents have done things to heal us and things to hurt us. These actions can affect how we view the world and the choices that we make for good or bad depending on our response to them. In these verses, Ezekiel reminds us that we can choose our response to these actions. We can either f"Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor's wife, does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father's iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity. "Yet you say, 'Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?' When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

Ezekiel 18:14-20
ollow in our parents footsteps and repeat their mistakes, or we can choose to observe their mistakes, learn from them, and not repeat them. The choice is up to us and we will be judged on our actions without the option of placing the blame on our parents. The question that I pose to you is "Which of these paths will you choose?"