RSS

Tag Archives: Lord

The Absence of Presence

This morning I woke up to an instant message from my cousin. She asked, “No post today?” and she appended a crying icon at the end. She’s one of the subscribers to my blog and she keeps tab on the absence of my presence. After she sent me that brief text it sparked some other thoughts.

Thinking about the absence of presence I began to ask myself these questions about our spiritual conditions. Did you talk to the Lord today? If you didn’t, did you miss the presence of prayer? Did you read God’s word today? If you didn’t did you miss the presence of God speaking to you? Did you practice being like Christ today? Did you miss the absence of a Christ-like presence today?

There are so many things in the Christian life that is crucial to your sanctification and it is often absent from your life. You should miss the presence of that! You should miss the presence of God in all of the forms that he reveals himself in your life and if you are not experiencing him then you need to cry out to him for Paul says that he is not too far from those who want to reach out to him.

Make a decision today not to go another day with the absence of his presence.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 26, 2012 in General Blog

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Old But Not Cold

One stimulant to my faith is the fiery faith of old believers. I am immediately encouraged when I come across believers who are on fire for the Lord in spite of their old age. I sometimes catch myself thinking, “When I get old I want to have a faith like this man or this woman.”

The reason I am encouraged by the faith of the older folks is because most often people start of their Christian lives on all six cylinders. They have all the turbos on and of they race to capture every “trophy” Christianity has to offer. I have found it frequently true that many people start of their Christian life with a spark and end with a sputter. For some of them even a kick-start or a boost just doesn’t work.

At The Phoenix Fellowship, where I pastor, there are a few old folks who are great at stimulating my faith through theirs. I thank the Lord for these godly men and women. They remind me of another old person in the Bible. His name is Caleb. Caleb’s contagious faith is revealed to us in Numbers 14:6-15. Let me remind you of Caleb’s faith. Caleb is reminding Joshua of his allegiance to the Lord when he was a young man, an allegiance which prompted Moses to make a promise that Caleb would one day be a recipient of a piece of the Promised Land (verses 8-9).

Caleb declares this about himself, “Joshua 14:10-11   10 “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old!  11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” Here’s an eighty five year old man who’s still got what it takes! This is Christian maturity at its finest. Spiritual growth and intimacy with God should never wane with the onset of physical advancement, if anything, it should grow with physical advancement. At eighty five years of age “old man Caleb” is still flexing his spiritual muscles. What a picture of faith!

I suppose it’s one thing to flex our spiritual muscles but it’s quiet another matter altogether to put those muscles to good use. Caleb does what most old folks don’t do. In coming to Joshua to claim his “prize” he says this, “Joshua 14:11-12   11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.  12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” Wow! Forty five years later and Caleb is still in peak spiritual condition. Wow! At the age when most people have gone passed the age of retirement and are watering a garden somewhere in their back yard, “old man Caleb”, at that age is ready to take on a mountain. Caleb does not choose an easy, cushy task. He chooses something that will challenge him because he knows who is God is. It is very clear that Caleb knows God in a very personal way. When the frailty of physical advancement should bring doubt and create a barrier for growth and spiritual advancement, Caleb breaks that barrier down by displaying a resolute faith in God.

Here’s what you can learn from the life of “Old Man Caleb”

  1. You must do a spiritual diagnostic of your spiritual life right now. Do you have a sputter after starting of with a spark?
  2. Is your faith, like Caleb’s, a growing one? Look back on your life and check if you have grown.
  3. Are you a mountain conqueror? Do you have such a radical faith in God that you demand the challenging stuff from the Lord?
  4. Notice that Caleb followed the Lord wholeheartedly. With what percentage of your heart are you following the Lord? If God does not own all of your heart then you won’t be courageous to be a mountain conqueror. You most likely will be satisfied even if you didn’t have a prize.
  5. When I look at the life of Caleb there is one characteristic in common about him whether he was young or old. In his youth (forty years) he stood out of the crowd. He felt they could take the Promised Land in spite of opposition. Now, forty five years later he still stands outside the crowd. When the average Christian person would go for the easy victory, Caleb chooses the difficult one. Life will be this way for you too. The question is, “Will you be constant (standing outside the crowd) as you grow older?

Many people today are “old” Christians, but many of those “old” Christians are “cold” Christians. Will it be said of you, that you’re old but not cold?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 10, 2012 in General Blog

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

You Cheapskate!

You Cheapskate!

We all love to save a few bucks on a deal right? I’ll bet that you bargain with the salesman every time you walk into a store to but something big…or small. No matter how good you think the deal already is, you will still bargain. The bottom line is, you want things cheap. After all, why pay a few rands extra for something when you know you can make a saving.

It’s very unfortunate that you have brought that same attitude into your Christian life. Think of how many times you have tried to bargain with God. When God said, “I want your whole heart.”, you said, “Whole heart? Come on Lord, at least leave me with one third of it!” When God says, “I want all your attention.” You say, “Come on Lord, you can’t really mean that, can you? do you? All my attention?!” You see, you and many Christians all around the world always try to bargain with God. Is it any wonder then that we accomplish so little for him? Is it any wonder then that we don’t get everything that his word says we could have? We are master at giving our Lord tokens. We give him a token of time. We give him a token of money. We given him a token of energy. We give him a token of heart. We give him tokens and we think that we’re doing all right in serving him and glorifying him.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said this as he speaks of discipleship and how much we bargained our way out of it, making it cheap. This is what he says, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift has to be asked for, the door at which one must knock. It is costly, because it calls to discipleship; it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly, because it costs people their lives; it is grace, because it thereby makes them live. It is costly, because it condemns sin; it is grace, because it justifies the sinner. Above all, grace is costly, because it was costly to God, because it cost God the life of God’s Son – “You were bought with a price” – and because nothing can be cheap to us which is costly to God.” (Discipleship)

Look at yourself the next time God wants you to do something. See how you bargain with him. You always want to pay half the price or less. Look at your circle of “Christians”, see how they too bargain with God. This is nothing new, but in the Twenty First Century Christianity is becoming dangerously close to being just a fad. It’s not a relationship with our Lord and Saviour anymore, we’ve turned it into a relationship with our ‘salesman”.

You can make a difference today, by giving our Lord everything. No half measures. No half confessions. No half circles in repentance. No half energy. No half wealth. No half time. No half heart. Don’t bargain with our Lord about how you can get out of something instead start asking him how you can get into something. Wouldn’t it be great if Christians stopped being cheapskates and started giving God exactly what he wants.

 

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 2, 2012 in General Blog

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fearless

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all fearful people. Every one of us fears something. Moreover every one of us are so paralyzed by certain fears that it hinders our responsibility to the Kingdom of God and it prevents us from doing his will. I’ve been on boards and in meeting long enough now to realize that what people call strategy and sensible thinking is really a paralysis brought about by fear. From the time we are born, fear has been planted in us, especially by our cautious parents. If you have children you may be familiar with these words, “Tommy, don’t climb the tree!”, or “Jon, stop playing in the sand, you’ll get germs.” or “Lisa, don’t speak to black people, they’re dangerous.” Fear has been planted in us by overly cautious parents, equally cautions friends who supposedly have our best interests at heart and some of our teachers. Fear has been planted so subtely in us that we don’t even recognize its control and influence over us. We’re fearful of speaking out. Why? Perhaps because we’ve been taught at home that outspokenness is a form of disrespect. We’re fearful of making friends outside of our current circle. Why? Perhaps we’ve been taught that people outside of this circle are dangerous and harmful. We’re fearful of helping the poor or sharing our possessions. Why? Perhaps we’ve been taught that what we’ve worked for belongs to us and us alone and that sharing would deplete our resources. If we were to take a mental walk back toward our childhood we will discover how much we’ve been programmed to be fearful instead of fearless.

Even after we’ve become Christians we still carry the baggage of fear into our new life. We may proclaim that we are fearful in doing the will of the Lord and I don’t question your integrity. However I would ask, “What does it really mean to be a fearless Christian?” To be a fearless Christian means that you make right EVERY area that you’ve wronged God in. Do you take drugs and alcohol? Make it right! Do you have relationships that are displeasing to God? Make it right! If you are not spending enough time with your family, make it right! If you are not reaching people with the Gospel, make it right! If you are not reading your bible daily, make it right! If you are not praying daily and regularly, make it right! Are you hanging out with the wrong crowd? Make it right!

In the book of Numbers chapter 13 and verses 26-33 we see two types of people. In the persons of Joshua and Caleb we see FEARLESS people and in the people of Israel and the other ten spies we see FEARFUL people. This is Joshua and Caleb’s response after the exploration, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” and the people respond in this way, “We can’t attack those people, they are stronger than we are..we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.”

In 2012 and beyond would you like to be living inside the land of God’s promises or outside? If your answer is inside then you must be fearless. Only fearless people experience the blessings of God. Only fearless people live in the land of God and enjoy its fruits. Only fearless people survive. What kind of person are you, fearful or fearless? Today, you can choose to be fearless!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 27, 2011 in General Blog

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

If You’re Thinking of Leaving a Church

If You’re Thinking of Leaving a Church

This blog post is excerpted from Mark Dever’s book “What is a Healthy Church” – Pages 57

Before You Decide to Leave 

  1. Pray
  2. Let your current pastor know about your thinking before you move to another church or make your decision to relocate to another city. As for his counsel.
  3. Weigh your motives. Is your desire to leave because of sinful, personal conflict or disappointment? If it’s because of doctrinal reasons, are these doctrinal issues significant?
  4.  Do everything within your power to reconcile broken relationships.
  5. Be sure to consider all the “evidences of grace” you’ve seen in the church’s life – places where Gods work is evident. If you cannot see any evidences of God’s grace, you might want to examine your own heart once more (Matthew 7:3-5)
  6. Be humble. Recognize you don’t have all the facts and assess people and circumstances charitably (give them the benefit of the doubt).

If You Go

  1. Don’t divide the body
  2.  Take the utmost care not to sow discontent even among your closest friends. Remember, you don’t want anything to hinder their growth in grace in this church. Deny any desire to gossip (sometimes referred to as “venting” or “saying how you feel”).
  3. Pray for and bless the congregation and its leadership. Look for ways of doing this practically.
  4.  If there has been hurt, then forgive – even as you have been forgiven.
 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Church Planting and Development

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Most Excellent Soul

The Most Excellent Soul

Henry Scougal said this, “The worth and excellency of a soul is measured by the object of its love.” (The Life of God).

In the church everyone claims to love Jesus and everyone claims that they give their best to Jesus. But if we move beneath the surface for just a moment we might discover that although they do love Jesus, they do not love him as much as they love other things. Underneath the surface we might discover that although they claim to give Jesus the best of their time, energy and wealth resources, their diaries tell another very different story, the physical enthusiasm during sermon times and ministry times are a dead giveaway that they did not come with their best energy and their bank statement will never lie about where their other wealth is going. Matthew 22:37 tells us very clearly what the greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew then says that this is the first and greatest commandment. It is very clear then that the most excellent soul is one that is undivided in its affection toward God. It is the soul that loves God first and loves him most.

What do you love most? If you say you love God the most then I would push you further by asking, “How do you show that you love God the most?” and after you answer this I would push you farther and ask, “Let’s look at the secret places to see if your love for God is what you say it is.” Let’s look at your prayer life. Let’s look at your church life. Let’s look at your social life. Let’s look at your family life. Let’s look at your career life? Let’s look at that credit card statement. Let’s look at the checking account statement. Let’s look everywhere! Once we start looking everywhere then and only then will we know where our true affections lie. As I leave you today let me ask you again, “What do you love the most?” or “Whom do you love the most?”

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 24, 2011 in General Blog

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

God is NOT done with you yet!

God is NOT done with you yet!

Today I was having a conversation with a guy in our neighborhood. I was standing around talking to him while he was repairing his car. The car was old and he felt that he had been ripped off by the purchaser. However as he was bending down and pulling a panel here and straightening a panel there he said, “This is such a junk; its fit for the scrapyard!”. After listening to him talk I said to him, “We are all like this car in the sight of our Lord, but instead of God assigning us to the ‘scrapyard’ God graciously bends and straightens us back into shape.”

I want you to know that God is not done with you yet! If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ then God is set on completing the work he started in your life; “Being confident of this that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” God, our Father is resolute about completing in us what he started. He wants to shape us more into the likeness of Jesus Christ and that involves some serious “spiritual panel beating” but when he’s done with us we’ll be a sight to behold; in fact as we willingly submit to the process we will definitely be a sight to behold. If we truly want to be the masterpiece that God intended us to be then we must “Continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in us to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

God is only done with us when we stop cooperating with him in the process of this “spiritual panel beating” but please remember this, that until then, God is NOT done with you yet!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 23, 2011 in General Blog

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: