Shalom. May you be blessed to be a blessing and loved to be loving and encouraged to be encouraging.
It’s a privilege and a calling to follow that which God has for you. Some of those things seem obvious… for me as a Pastor it does. Then there’s those vocations like policeman, lawyers, doctors, nurses, firemen (do we still call them that?) that many feel a sense of call too.
But the truth is that we are all called and what we do is, or should be, a part of that. Ultimately our calling is to be a disciple of Jesus and encourage others to be the same, yet our vocation is as varied as possible. Some people seem to find their calling easily, whilst others stumble around for years struggling to be satisfied, always searching for that elusive perfect fit. Perhaps they’ll never find it because they have so much to offer, that one vocation isn’t enough?
I’ve had over 20 different jobs, and have been a Pastor for nearly 24 years, so my 20’s were busy. Back then it wasn’t seen as a good thing to have been so varied, but now it’s ok. However, I don’t know what else I’d do as this calling hasn’t diminished over the years and it is a varied and satisfying role… most of the time!
I don’t know what you do, but I know this… whether you’re retired, at school, studying for your dream career, continuing in something you’ve done for the last XX years, taking a break or rediscovering the next thing…
1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Romans 12 The Message
So have a great week discovering how to do this each day. Remember the hope that we have available to us can transform the most stressful or boring day, cling to that hope… his name is Jesus.
Shalom. Remember that every word we utter bears witness to who we are.
Words are powerful and can be used for great good, great evil or anything in between. I’ve had things said to me over the years that have been painful but life giving and others that are just painful. Honestly I think that what counts is the motivation behind them as much as the words themselves.
When people I know, love and trust say harsh but honest things they generally also say how it could be better, they encourage me. However I have had others say things they believe are honest and harsh but no encouragement. At those times I think if there is anything good I can take away and ignore the rest.
Much of this comes down to the difference between conviction and condemnation.
The Holy Spirit is into conviction… he’ll tell you what’s wrong… he will probably tell you there’s not a lot you can do by yourself but then he’ll remind you that …. God loves you just the way you are. But He refuses to leave you that way, He wants you to be just like Jesus… then he’ll help you change.
Satan’s into condemnation… he’ll tell you what’s wrong… he will probably tell you there’s not a lot you can do by yourself and he’ll remind you that you’re worthless, always making mistakes and no good at what you’re doing… he won’t try to encourage… he’ll just leave you feeling bad about the situation and yourself.
Truth is… this is also what we can say to ourselves… it’s one reason Paul tells us to be ‘transformed by the renewing of your mind…’
It’s not easy but we can change that internal voice inside… we might need help from others… in fact it’s most likely we will… and then we can learn to filter the condemnation of others and ask God to shape it to conviction.
Then, if there’s no encouragement we can glean (aka… constructive criticism) then we discard it.
Some people are simply mean and hate seeing others better themselves. Sometimes we get swept up in the crowd and pick on others… (feeling for some British tourists even if they’re slightly culpable)
Sometimes we have bad hair days and get nasty when we normally aren’t.
Whatever the reason, it seems our motivation doesn’t reflect that great commandment… love God, love others, love ourselves.
I’ve found most criticism has validity, but often it’s only valid to the one giving it as they often try to tell us we should be just like them…
Don’t try to be… remember God loves you… be just like Jesus.
Have an awesome week.
Shalom. May you be reminded of Gods love, his grace and his healing presence.
This last week has been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve been to Christchurch and spent time with my brother who was in a serious accident on his hand bike and has spent the last week in ICU. Early days yet, but indications are favourable and I’m believing, along with hundreds of others, that he’ll pull through with no further disability. Only time will tell and the ability for his body to heal. If you’re into prayer, please do pray for him…
I also travelled to Hamilton as well and visited someone in hospital there who is thankfully on the mend and hoping to be home soon. Whilst there I managed to coincide my time with a nice meal out with my wife for our 31st wedding anniversary.
I don’t feel too busy, but weeks like this do seem longer when you look back. I’m sure time stretches and shrinks depending on circumstances. Last Friday and Saturday seemed to last a week as we waited to see if my brother would hang in there. Then all of a sudden it’s Thursday!
My word for the year is ‘Hope’. In light of what’s happened since then, it’s been appropriate and just. But hope in and of itself doesn’t mean much and this past week I’ve been reminded who I have hope in…
Romans 5 in the ‘Passion’ Translation says this about hope…
2 Our faith guarantees us permanent access into this marvelous kindness[c] that has given us a perfect relationship with God. What incredible joy bursts forth within us as we keep on celebrating our hope of experiencing God’s glory!
3 But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. 4 And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. 5 And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy,[d] because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us![e]
I found that Jesus was very much present over the last week and I’m so excited about what he’s going to show each of us this coming year. I hope and pray you will be too.
Shalom. May God remind you that everything is under his eye. That all that happens can work for good.
This weekend sees Nicky Moran performing her prison gospel concert on Saturday night. A question asked is ‘What is prison gospel?’
Well I’m sure Nicky would have a better answer but I said…
‘It’s understanding the context of incarceration… those people don’t have a lot of free choices about when and where they’ll go or do. But ironically, it’s the choices they’ve made, whether wittingly or not, that have led them to this point in their lives. They’re in prison, but sometimes the worst prison is the one we put ourselves in…’
Jesus came to give us freedom and hope. So no matter what situation, circumstances or place you find yourself, hope and freedom is available. We don’t need to imprisoned by attitudes, addictions or actions. It may not be easy but we can seek freedom and hope.
On Wednesday night I found out that one of my brothers was in a serious accident… struck from behind whilst riding his hand cycle. He’s a paraplegic and hasn’t allowed the accident that caused him to be in a wheelchair… a cycling accident… to stop him from doing the things he loves, and he loves exercise.
He’s currently in a coma in Christchurch hospital so I’d really appreciate any and all prayers.
Shalom. May the truth of Christ be your surety, may the love of Christ be your hearts beat and may the wisdom of Christ lead your mind.
Love is one of those words we use far too often in ways that demean it and too infrequently in ways that empower it to greater heights of revelation and understanding. I can love my wife and ice cream at the same time, yet obviously the intent behind each is completely different.
Both the Greek and Hebrew had multiple words for love, and in some ways, so too does English. But the difference is that the ancient languages had specific words that meant specific aspects of ‘love’.
Love is a vital ingredient for life and without any we can literally die. This death might be one of succumbing completely to the inevitable end all face (unless Christ returns) or might be one that affects our mind, heart, soul before completing its passage in our body.
Yet in what can seem an oxymoronic situation, we are encouraged to die to find life, does this mean that in Christ we are to die for love? In one sense, yes; in another no – we are called to die so that through love we may yet live.
It was Christ’s love for us that led Him to the cross and kept Him there till He died. It was also the same love that resurrected Him from the grave. This power that gave Christ life again is now in us and is most ably demonstrated in the way that love is expressed among us; for Christ calls us to love one another as He loved us, and by this will all men know you are my disciples. (John 13:35)
This love propels us to a greater depth of holiness, of purity, of right living; but it must come from a base of grasping the essence of grace and remaining firmly aware of the continuing need for grace to fuel a character of spirit based life. Love based in grace and seeking holiness encourages us to embrace others without judgement of who they are, but allows us to be accountable for what we do. It is freeing and enabling at the same time as giving us boundaries and guidelines. Because this love is revealed through Christ and empowered through the reality of Holy Spirit as He draws us ever closer to Jesus.
I hope we grasp a deeper glimpse of love, grace and holiness this week.