Pray or play

 

Tedeschi-Trucks Band-Lord Protect My Child

 

I have been researching on “play” and its role right alongside work. I wanted to see if there were similarities when it came to its value. The theme is still surrounding the idea of how we practice the presence of God in our lives, or better still, how do I bring myself into the kingdom of God and can play do that.

I ran across this book by Frank Laubach – The Game with Minutes. It was interesting and I believe that little was new to me there but I can say that I never seen it before as a game. However I was encouraged by how much prayer plays a role. 

 Pray without ceasing – 1 Thessalonians 5:17  ESV

I liked the idea of praying more than playing because when I am practicing the presence of God, I am not trying to control it. My eyes need to be on God However, I get how we can become so serious, to the point that our spiritual life becomes too controlling, more so than is healthy. I think that is the time where the element of play could/should/would come in.

As a follower of Jesus, it would seem to me that prayer is actually a training for prayer.

“By running and breathing yourselves every day, you are the fitter to run in a race; so the oftener you come into God’s presence, the greater confidence, and freedom, and enlargement it will bring.” – Thomas Manton

I look at Jesus and read or at least get a sense of implication, that He spent the night or rose early in the day to pray. As I am still figuring out play – enjoy this prayer.

O Thou, by whom we come to God, seeing Thou hast Thyself trodden the way of prayer, and didst never turn from it, teach me to remain a suppliant as long as I remain a sinner, and to wrestle in prayer so long as I have to wrestle with the powers of evil. Whatever else I may outgrow, may I never dream that I may relax my supplications. – C. H. Spurgeon

 

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True rest

 

Brian Doerksen – You Are My Home

 

As I read about the last days of Kind David I was thinking that he was finally going to rest. Even so, there is conflict right up to his last days. I sometimes think that my last days are going to be in retirement – travelling, gardening, visiting, discipling but I best be prepared to be in the thick of things right until my days are counted as my last.

Not only in the thick of things, but discipling, mentoring and coaching my successor(s). I think success is dependent on succession. I know that David did everything in his power to make sure that Solomon was prepared to build the temple, except he failed to make him king – to take his place to lead. In resisting to pass on the torch of leadership, not only did he fail to disciple Solomon, he opened the door for his second oldest son to think that he could possibly be the next ruler of Israel. While some of David’s key men supported the idea, most knew it was Solomon who was the one to lead even if he was young and inexperienced.

Reminds me of the conversation Paul had with Timothy about not putting youth and inexperience as a hindrance to ministry.

In fact, Paul warned the Corinthian church that our battle was not of the earthly kind but was in the spiritual realm. Has nothing really to do with how old we are.

 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. – 2 Corinthians 10:4  ESV

Alan Redpath former pastor at Moody Bible Church, Chicago, writes that…

The process of victory which our Lord taught His disciples was this: that if you cease to resist in the realm of carnality, then you are resisting automatically in the realm that is spiritual, and in this way you overcome the enemy. Resist, counterattack, deal with the situation upon the same level that the world deals with it, and you are defeated. But refuse to follow that principle of life; take up rather the principle of the cross and by non-combat in carnal levels you are combating the enemy in spiritual levels and therefore you will overcome.

I think Paul was trying really hard to tell us that we are only who we are in Christ as we come under His saving Lordship. It is in the obedience and the life of obedience that we encounter and experience the truth. The Navigators have what they call a Wheel Illustration that identifies the entire Christian walk surrounded by obedience. It is a synonym for salvation. It would be fair to say that obedience is a mark of true salvation.  There we find our true rest.

 

 

 

 

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Holiness

 

Take My Life (Holiness) Uplifting Version by Passionate Praise

 

Holiness was the name of a study by Jerry Bridges, published by NavPress, that was at the beginning of my life growing deeper as a follower of Christ.

There are two things to realise – there is the fight against sin and lack of success. They might look like they are contradictory but I think we might be thinking of failing and becoming a failure, which are in fact just that. I know I am going to fail.

“The righteous man always resembles more a loser than a victor, for the Lord lets him be tested and assailed to his utmost limits as gold is tested in a furnace.”  – Martin Luther

This is an important part of discipleship, especially in my eyes as I am in my mid 50’s and still learning to persevere through my failures. Failure does not make me quit, it makes me repent more diligently and press on, not in my strength, but in the Spirit’s.

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body[a] and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. – 2 Corinthians 7:1  ESV

Here is Paul’s strong message to the Corinthian church for holiness. The very next verse he gives a secret to how that journey begins.

Make room in your hearts[b] for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. – 2 Corinthians 7:2  ESV

If you can carry unholiness in your heart, there must be room there for you to carry holiness too.

This verse is definitely dealing with impurity of some kind and there seems to be a darker element here than in any of his previous writings to the church. Money usually plays a part in some of the misunderstanding between Paul and the church and that is why he never asks this church for support. I believe this church found themselves partying just as hard as their secular neighbours and if not, they tolerated it for sure and they were part of their friendship circles.

No wonder there were rumours that the Agape or the Feasts of Love, were scenes of complete senselessness.

In case you were looking for good news – the Corinth church did in fact repent and beautifully responded to Titis’ visit.  Good news indeed.

 

 

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In suffering or in glory

 

All Sons & Daughters – For Your Glory & My Good

 

I am not too sure why I think that I will be in glory more than I will be in suffering.

But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,  beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;  by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;  through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;  as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed;  as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. – 2 Corinthians 6:4-10  ESV

When was the last time that someone gloried in me – cannot say I remember. But over the past month, I can remember clearly that individuals have tried to label me with a dishonouring report. Basically I have been slandered, my motives were called into question and my name aspersed.  I have been left to feel that I am a deceiver and an imposter. So how do I go forward trying to continue in commend myself as a minister of God? For starters, I do not return the slander, I manifest a Christian spirit and if possible, live down the accusations and if also if possible, doing good to those who have done me wrong. If one has gone through this kind of pain, you will note that this is more difficult to endure than pain you have experienced in your body and therefore more difficult to bring out a Christian spirit. To my human nature, to have my name slandered or cast out as evil when I am only conscious of my desire to do good, is difficult. Now they did call Jesus the master of the house of Beelzebub, and I suppose than it is sufficient for me to expect the same. What a place to find the opportunity of showing the true excellency of the Christian spirit and it gives me the inexpressible privilege of being like Christ – as He was in His suffering and in the moral excellence of character. If I am called to be His disciple then I should be willing to be anything if it will make me like my Redeemer – whether it be in suffering or in glory.

And I think to myself, how I have allowed myself to be unequally yoked to find myself in these kinds of situations.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  What accord has Christ with Belial?[b] Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?  What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God. – 2 Corinthians 6:14-16  ESV

I am continually called to come apart and to separate from this world as Jesus did. I look at my milestones of following Jesus and one of them is having a heart and all of its desires severed from the world.

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Why do we joy in Jesus?

 

Since Christ my soul sin set free BPMC Jerusalem Choir

 

We have so many things pulling us away from our walk with Jesus.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. – Philippians 4:4  ESV

Why do we rejoice in the Lord? He is the one where we will find the basis for our joy.

Joy is defined as cheerful and having sincere delight. It can be an emotion that is evoked by the feeling of well-being and happiness.

My initial joy was experienced when I became aware of the privilege of the calling to be a follower of Jesus. Breaking away from the old me to becoming the new me – when my heart accepted the grace of God and took in the understanding of just how deep His love for me was. The joy is thrilling, it is new and it is spiritually energized by the Holy Spirit. With it, I serve Jesus and the kingdom of God.

I found this old commentary on this chapter in Philippians, and since it focused on joy, I thought I would leave it with you.

“Now see how it pleaseth the Lord, that as the Apostle comes againe and againe unto this holy exhortation, and leaves it not with once or twice, but even the third time also exhorteth them to rejoyce in the Lord; so I should come unto you againe and againe, even three severall times with the same exhortation to rejoyce in the Lord. Againe, saith the Apostle, I say rejoyce, even in the Lord alwayes, for that is to be added, and resumed to the former place. From which doubling and redoubling of this exhortation, I observe both how needful and withall how hard a matter it is to perswade this constant rejoycing in the Lord, to rejoyce in the Lord alwayes. For to this end doth the Holy Ghost often in the Scriptures use to double and redouble His speech even to shew both the needfulness of His speech, and the difficultie in respect of man of enforcing His speech. In the Psalme, how often doth the Prophet exhort the faithful unto the praises of the Lord, even before all the people, that they and their posteritie might know them, saying, O that men would therefore praise the Lord for His goodnesse, and declare the wonders that He doth for the children of men! Even foure several times in that one Psalme. And wherefore? but to shew how needfull it was they should do so, and how hardly men are drawne to do so. How often likewise doth our Saviour exhort His disciples unto humilitie and meekness? sometimes saying unto them, Learne of Me that I am meeke and lowly in heart; sometimes telling them, that whosoever among them would be great, should be servant unto the rest; sometimes washing their feete, etc., thereby to teach them humilitie. And wherefore doth He so often beate upon it, but to shew how needfull it was they should be humble and meeke, and likewise how hard a thing it is to draw men unto humilitie and meeknesse? How often likewise doth the Holy Ghost exhort to the putting off of the old man, and the putting on of the new man! No part of Scripture throughout the whole Bible, wherein the Holy Ghost doth not speake much, though not haply in these words, yet to this purpose. And wherefore else is it, but to imply both how needfull a matter it is to be perswaded, and how hard a matter it is to perswade the mortification of the old man, and the quickening of the new man? And to let other instances passe, in the point whereof we now speake, how oft doth our Saviour exhort to rejoyce and be glad in persecution, because of the reward laid up for us by God in heaven; to rejoyce because our names are written in heaven by the finger of God’s own hand; to be of good comfort, because He hath overcome the world, that is, to rejoyce in the Lord! And wherefore, but to show how needfull it is to rejoyce in the Lord, and how hard it is to perswade this rejoicing? So that by the usuall course of the Scripture it appeareth, that our Apostle doubling and redoubling this his exhortation, thereby sheweth both how needfull, and withall how hard a matter it is to perswade this constant rejoycing in the Lord, to rejoyce in the Lord alwayes: so needfull, that it must be perswaded again and again, and withall so hard to be perswaded, that it cannot be too much urged and beaten upon. “But it will not be amisse yet a little more particularly to looke into the reasons why it is so needfull to rejoyce in the Lord alwayes, and why we are so hardly perswaded to rejoyce in the Lord alwayes. Who seeth not, that considereth anything, what mightie enemies we have alwayes to fight withall, the flesh within us to snare and deceive us, the world without us to fight and wage warre against us, and the devil ever seeking like a roaring lion whom he may devour? Who seeth not, what fightings without, what terrors within, what anguishes in the soul, what griefes in the bodie, what perils abroade, what practices at home, what troubles we have on every side? When then Satan that old dragon casts out many flouds or persecutions against us; when wicked men cruelly, disdainfully, and despitefully speake against us; when lying, slandering, and deceitful mouthes are opened upon us; when we are mocked and jested at, and had in derision of all them that are about us; when we are afflicted, tormented, and made the world’s wonder; when the sorrowes of death compasse us, and the flouds of wickednesse make us afraid, and the paines of hell come even unto our soule: what is it that holds up our heads that we sinke not? how is it that we stand either not shaken, or if shaken, yet not cast downe? Is it not by our rejoycing which we have in Christ Jesus?” 

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Gloom and Joy

 

George Beverly Shea – Then Jesus Came (1992)

 

I found this book from G.K. Chesterton called Orthodoxy. It talks about how sorrow is inevitably a part of us right now, but never the most important part and what is essential to humanity is joy because of the nature of who God is in life. The last chapter talks about how we live in a world that looks at it the other way around right now – they think that joy is superficial and despair is deep. So read these two portions and see what you think and compare them to the words that were sung by George Beverly Shea.

Thus, for instance, I was much moved by the eloquent attack on Christianity as a
thing of inhuman gloom; for I thought (and still think) sincere pessimism the
unpardonable sin. Insincere pessimism is a social accomplishment, rather agreeable
than otherwise; and fortunately nearly all pessimism is insincere. But if Christianity was,
as these people said, a thing purely pessimistic and opposed to life, then I was quite
prepared to blow up St. Paul’s Cathedral. But the extraordinary thing is this. They did
prove to me in Chapter I. (to my complete satisfaction) that Christianity was too
pessimistic; and then, in Chapter II., they began to prove to me that it was a great deal
too optimistic. One accusation against Christianity was that it prevented men, by morbid
tears and terrors, from seeking joy and liberty in the bosom of Nature. But another
accusation was that it comforted men with a fictitious providence, and put them in a
pink-and-white nursery. One great agnostic asked why Nature was not beautiful
enough, and why it was hard to be free. Another great agnostic objected that Christian
optimism, “the garment of make-believe woven by pious hands,” hid from us the fact
that Nature was ugly, and that it was impossible to be free. One rationalist had hardly
done calling Christianity a nightmare before another began to call it a fool’s paradise.
This puzzled me; the charges seemed inconsistent. Christianity could not at once be the
black mask on a white world, and also the white mask on a black world. The state of the
Christian could not be at once so comfortable that he was a coward to cling to it, and so
uncomfortable that he was a fool to stand it. If it falsified human vision it must falsify it
one way or another; it could not wear both green and rose-coloured spectacles. I rolled
on my tongue with a terrible joy, as did all young men of that time, the taunts which
Swinburne hurled at the dreariness of the creed —

“Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean, the world has
grown gray with Thy breath.”

But when I read the same poet’s accounts of paganism (as in “Atalanta”), I gathered
that the world was, if possible, more gray before the Galilean breathed on it than
afterwards. The poet maintained, indeed, in the abstract, that life itself was pitch dark.
And yet, somehow, Christianity had darkened it. The very man who denounced
Christianity for pessimism was himself a pessimist. I thought there must be something
wrong. And it did for one wild moment cross my mind that, perhaps, those might not be
the very best judges of the relation of religion to happiness who, by their own account,
had neither one nor the other.

Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the
Christian. And as I close this chaotic volume I open again the strange small book from
which all Christianity came; and I am again haunted by a kind of confirmation. The
tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other,
above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost
casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never
concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such
as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and
imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger.

He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they
expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something. I say it with
reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness.
There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray.
There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous
isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He
walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.

 

 

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Doing my utmost

 

My Utmost For His Highest

 

I am encouraged by Ittai today for this unknown person has shown what it means to be a disciple of Jesus as he walked with David. David was fleeing Absalom and this man left Jerusalem to go with David into the wilderness, bringing his whole family with him. David told him to stay in Jerusalem and he refused. By his actions and his words he declared himself a soldier, ready for scars, wounds and even death. If I am going to be a disciple of Jesus, I must enter into the same conviction and with the courage from His grace, be His servant.

Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home. You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the Lord show[d] steadfast love and faithfulness to you.” But Ittai answered the king, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” And David said to Ittai, “Go then, pass on.” So Ittai the Gittite passed on with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. – 2 Samuel 15:19-22  ESV

Believe it or not, this kind of devotion has a good side to it, but there is a bad side too. When I do everything I can to serve Jesus, there will be those who will hate me. I am introduced to Shimei today. His hatred for David were unjust, he had done nothing to deserve it and yet, in his humility, David received his words as true. So David was cursed when all he did was returned to Saul good for evil and had shown himself righteous, patient and holy. He had never avenged himself and always respected Saul, even honouring him with a funeral lamentation.

And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” – 2 Samuel 16:7-8  ESV

While I might think that doing my utmost for Christ will bring rewards, and they might, I need to think of those who will also hate me for doing the same.

So my confidence is still in Jesus and in our victory for it gives me motivation to give Him everything I have and to live faithfully. This is my goal as a faithful disciple summed up well.

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. – 2 Corinthians 5:9  ESV

When I come across the words of a spiritual abuser, which Psalm 71 really relates well too, there is no worse arrow in all the quivers of hell. If David felt it, and Jesus felt it, it is no wonder that I will feel the same at some point in time if I am to give my all to Him. The barefaced lies that I will hear, especially when I am down, will come because those will think that it is safe to insult me for they know there is no one to rescue me. The cowardly act of someone who, in pride, wants to wound the soul of a follower of Christ, does not know that the cry of that follower to the Lord their God, will endure their cruelty. 

“God has forsaken him;
pursue and seize him,
for there is none to deliver him.” – Psalm 71:11  ESV

 

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