Monday, May 27, 2013

The Law of Commanded Blessing...

The Story of the the Tower of Babel has always intrigued me. I'm not sure if it's because the arrogance of a group of people who said they were going to build a tower up to heaven or because God said they could do it.
And what was the reason God said they could do it? 
His exact words - "because these people are united, there is nothing that will be impossible for them to do" (Genesis 11 - see below).
Wow - godless people, with a proud plan to make a name for themselves and God says they would be able to do it because they were united.
This should be great news for anyone reading this right now. With unity there is nothing you can't do.
Let me help you understand the importance of unity. Have you ever been in a relationship that is so strained you don't even know what to do? You don't know how to speak to that other person, or what topic you could possibly bring up that wouldn't be filled with tension? Maybe that person is your spouse or a business partner or a church member?
What does that feel like? How productive can you be together? How much work can get done in that state?
It's brutal isn't it?
Well, that is the power of disunity. The ability to make almost anything you set your mind to or invest your time in - mostly futile.
But, the opposite is also true. Find a couple or a group that can connect in vision, passion and execution... and nothing is impossible for them. The work gets easier and more fun, even though you know that what you are endeavouring should feel hard and stress-filled. It's almost like there is a law that governs the universe. A law of unity...
That's because there is.
It's found in Psalm 133 - it's the law of commanded blessing in unity.
Ps 133  1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! 2  It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. 3  It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing— Life forevermore.

Unity is like… the extravagant anointing of a priest or life-giving water from the mountains to the dessert...

There is commanded blessing where there is unity…

I believe it's an intangible law of the universe - "with unity you can do anything". Kind of like gravity, but with far better consequences (and I am a BIG fan of gravity).

God wants you to be blessed. He wants to "command his blessing" on you. You're not like those who were building the Tower of Babel - out for a name for yourself. You honestly want your family, friends and business partners, your city and your world to be blessed. You want to be blessed, so you can be a blessing.

So, there you have it. You now have one of the great secrets of the universe. The law of commanded blessing. 

Now what are you going to do about it?


Gen 11 - Tower of Babel - At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. 2 As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there.
3 They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) 4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”
5 But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. 6 “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! 7 Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”
8 In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.

Monday, May 13, 2013

TGIM - Thank God It's Monday

TGIM - Thanks God it's Monday. 

Monday gets a bad rap, but for me it's one of my favourite days of the week.

This past weekend could have been an intense roller coaster ride had I let it. Reports of wonderful news to very challenging news; from broken relationships to renewed relationships from the past; announcements of new life, to a life that ended too soon.

Years ago, I determined that I would not make any serious decisions while either on an extreme high or extreme low (the roller coaster). A time of significantly heightened emotion is not good ground to stand on when jumping out into the unknown.

Around the same time I learned of a few things that you can depend on, no matter the situation.

Firstly, God's character. He doesn't change... period! 

He is good - so He can't be bad. 

He is wise, so He can't make a poor decision. 

He never leaves us , so we're never alone.

Next, Good friends. They don't change either. While they will never understand everything we face (and we shouldn't expect them to) they are ALWAYS there. And that is really the point, at the times of deepest emotion nothing needs to be said - and that's probably for the best.

And finally - for this post anyway - Good Coffee. Sorry, I know you were expecting something more spiritual. But it really is. While taking time for a great coffee, you can reflect on God and friends and then everything comes back into perspective. 

What you're facing is seldom as bad or as good as you first think it is.

Step outside the situation, take a deep breath (or 10), trust God, confide in friends and have a coffee. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Pray without ceasing…

If you've been around the church for any length of time, you've heard this verse quoted quite often. It's recorded in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV).

Pray without ceasing. That's a lot of prayer.

My problem is I like to eat and play sports and sleep and read and drink coffee with friends and, and, and... well, you get the picture. And, I don't think I'm that different from most people. I have a very busy life full of stuff I like to do and full of stuff I feel that I'm supposed to do. If I'm totally honest there are sometimes during the day that I am not praying.

"Pray without ceasing" can't mean that prayer is the only thing we get to do, because if that's what it means I would suggest we have all failed.

Let's take a closer look at "pray without ceasing"in a few different translations.

The New International Version says. "pray continually".

The Living Bible says, "pray and never stop".

The Amplified Bible says, "Be unceasing in prayer (praying perseveringly).

Check that last word, "perseveringly". It means to "continue in some effort or course of action  in spite of difficulty, opposition, etc. - to be steadfast in purpose .

I think we're getting closer to the real meaning behind the words. Let's look at some of Jesus' teaching to verify these thoughts.

In Luke 18, Jesus tells us that we should "pray and not give up". After he makes this statement he tells the parable of the persistent widow that kept going back to the judge to get the verdict she wanted. Many times the judge turns her away, but eventually he grants her request in what appears to be his final effort just to get rid of the lady. 

In Matthew 7:7 and 8, the words of Christ are recorded. Here he says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 

Most commentaries suggest that a more literal translation of these words are "ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking". Then he adds that if earthly Fathers know how to give good gifts, how much more does our Heavenly Father long to give good gifts to us, His children.

I want to add here, that the description Jesus gave of the summary of his life's mission on Earth was that he "only did what I saw the Father doing" (John 5:19).

Let's pull this all together and see how this can play out in a practical way in our lives.

First, we spend time with God to see what his desires are - what He wants to do, or is doing - and see how we can partner with that. We do this by listening more than we talk when we are with Him. Rather than coming to Him with a list of things we think we need, we seek His kingdom and plans first realizing that this will actually lead to what we really need (Matthew 6). In our times with Him, He will give us insight and foresight into what He wants to accomplish in and through us.

Then, with God's desires in mind we move forward, conscious of our need of His strength and guidance to fulfill His plans in such a way that pleases Him. In doing so, we recognize our need to persistent in prayer until we have seen in the natural realm what God showed us through the eyes of faith. The timeline on this can be a few minutes or many years. But, we are already committed to praying and walking it out until we see God's intended end to any given situation.

In this model or more specifically this lifestyle, we exemplify the words of 1 Thes 5:17... to pray without ceasing. 


"Prayer postures us to partner with the prophetic"

Monday, April 22, 2013

"F - One Another"

Farginen is one of my favourite words. It is a Yiddish word which means "to wish someone well, to delight in someone else's delight", "living life open wide", "to make a pact with another individual’s pleasure or happiness".

Farginen is the opposite of  "schaudenfraude" which means to "begrudge or envy". 

It is becoming more and more apparent in North American culture that we are not very good at "Farginen". We're not open, relational, nor willing to delight in other people's delight. Unfortunately, it seems like we are a lot more schaudenfraude, than farginen.

I'd like to see that change, so I have started a "F - One Another" campaign.

The "F" stands for FARGINEN. The "One Another" stands for all the Biblical imperatives that connect us as Christians to each other and how we are to live our lives in a "pact" with each other.

I will end this post by simply listing a few "one anothers" from scripture for you to consider. But my guess is that after reading them you may want to reconsider how you are "Farginening" others - I know I did.

Romans 12:5… so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
1 Cor 12:25… that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another

Gal 5… 13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

Gal 6:2… Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Eph 5:19… speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord 

Col 3:13… bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

James 5:16… Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
1 Peter 4… 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1 John 4:7… Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Heb 10:24, 25… And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Monday, April 15, 2013

To get at ______, you have to come through me

"To get at _________, you have to come through me!"

That is how I've chosen to define, "love like Jesus does".

Isn't that what Christ said when He died and rose again? Isn't that what He is doing right now as he is our advocate in Heaven?

"Devil, to get at ________, you have to come through me."

Let's back up a bit... I've been reading John 15 lately and the words of Christ that have jumped out of the Book and hit me in the heart  are these, " This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends."

Now it's easy to see how Jesus fulfilled the words of laying down his life for his friends, but how are we doing with this? When was the last time I actually gave up anything (let alone my life) for my friends? But this is how he equates whether I love people or not, AND he calls it a commandment.

Unfortunately, this is where many of us stop. We justify our lack of love or commitment to people with thoughts like... "Well, this is too hard, so I'm sure I need to find a way to reason myself around this words of Christ. There must be another interpretation. Maybe there is an easier way".

I don't think there is an easier way, there's no back door theology we can throw into the mix to negate our responsibility to "love like Jesus does". This "new commandment" of love that Jesus commands and exemplifies is how He redefined our relationship with God and those around us. He makes the statement and then He lives it out by laying down His life for His friends - making the ultimate declaration on the cross - "to get at them, you have to go through me". 

So, I've chosen to define how I qualify my love for people in the same way. I love my family, I love my friends, I love my city...

AND to get at any of them, you have to come through me first!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Processing the Dream

We spent most of the weekend with long time friends of ours, Mark and Tammy Griffin. When I say "long time", I mean "30 years - long time". That's a long time. We have been through just about everything together. 

What quickly became the talk point for the weekend was the length of time we have all spent pursuing dreams in our lives.

I had invited Mark to speak at our church, Freedom House, so they were in town for the weekend. We booked them at the Best Western Hotel - the same hotel we were all at 16 years ago when God had originally spoken to them about the dream of a Ministry Training Centre. 

Interestingly, Tammy "confessed" to me that when they originally shared their idea of the training centre with us that weekend 16 years ago, my response was something like, "well, you better settle in for a vision like that - you'll be a couple of years before that can happen" AND SHE WAS TICKED that I would suggest it could take a "couple of years". There is a big difference between a couple and 16.

Don't skip by the timing I just mentioned... 16 years... read it again... 16 years... ok, one more time... 16 years.

Most people don't keep anything for 16 years... not a pet, not a car, not a spouse, not anything - let alone something as intangible as a dream.

Yesterday at church, Mark masterfully wove the picture for us of what happens in the the process of the dream. He took us from dream... to development... to delay... to destination - brilliantly weaving in Biblical characters such as David, Joel, Peter and Joseph (and his technicolour dream coat).

As Mark spoke to the church he also unfolded the tangible outflow of the dream by showing us pictures of the Hotel and restaurant they had just purchased in Germany, to use for their training centre.

Now for me, the potential here is to write a huge list of applications we should walk away with from this, but I will refrain. I do, however, want to encourage you to do your own soul searching for a few minutes today.

Do you have dreams that perhaps you have laid aside too soon? 

Have you given up on the dream altogether or perhaps even the Dream-giver?

Don't give up on your dream - the One who gave it to you is patiently waiting to help you fulfill it.

Let me leave you with the Biblical passage that Mark used as his text yesterday for your consideration as you start this week off. 

Psalm 126 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion we were like those who dreamed.Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.