just can’t seem to let go

not about to let go ppt pic

He doesn’t get the answer he was hoping for. Surely he hoped this guy Jesus would make him feel better – but it didn’t happen. The rich man went away feeling even worse. Disappointed that he could not bring himself to do the one tough thing that would assure him of eternal life.

Encounters with Jesus do not always come with ‘happily ever-after endings’. Some leave grumpy, some leave offended, some leave still searching. (I’m thankful for all those who meet Jesus and leave healed, forgiven, freed, inspired – but in Mark 10 we read about a rich ruler who leaves disappointed.

The story raises a few questions for me – how about you? What are the dangers of wealth? What one thing holds us back from receiving and entering God’s Kingdom? What one precious item do we cling to that prevents us from clinging to Jesus? …… and what has the camel got to do with all this? Hey, it’s all there tomorrow morning, Sunday August 04 2013 as we take a good look at Mark 10.

ENOUGH!

Psalm 6:3 My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?”

No one likes a trial. And tests are for school, not life – right? Yet, somehow in the sovereignty of God, these ‘ t’s ‘ (tests, temptations, trials, tribulations) are allowed. These ‘ t’s ‘ can tease us into turncoat rebels, ready to fire all our violent, aggressive complaining heavenward; OR, they can promote strength and health, dependency and devotion.

Lest you think you are the only one crying out to God, lest you think your chosen path in life should be solely smooth and sweet, fuel your faith today with some words penned by C.H.Spurgeon:

* Men may be drowned in seas of prosperity as well as in rivers of affliction

* Temptations and trials lurk on all roads

* By them we may illustrate the power of divine grace, test the genuineness of our virtues, and increase our spiritual energy.

* Worldly ease is a great enemy to faith. It loosens the joints of holy valor and snaps the sinews of sacred courage.

* While the wheat sleeps comfortably in the husks, it is useless. It must be threshed out of its resting place before its value can be known.

3 survival techniques when someone hurts you

Richard Wurmbrand, leader of the “Underground Church” in 20th Century Communist Europe, is well known, and not just to his own Romanian people. His life of Christian faith is an encouragement to all who are persecuted, to all who go through trials and tribulations of every kind. We can learn from his book, Tortured For Christ, 1967, Hayfield Publishing company.

Part #4 Three survival techniques when someone really hurts you.

Rev. D. Johns           Jan. 30//12

Thankfully I have not had to face persecution or physical pain like so many less fortunate than me. Current struggles around the world, and similar stories from history, reveal so much brutality – some of it beyond comprehension. Inhumanity numbs me, scares me. I am afraid of pain. Sure I have had people betray me, undercut my leadership, spread lies about me (yes, this is a reality even in churches) – but I have not faced war or torture.  Richard Wurmbrand spent 14 years in a communist prison. During that time he says the guards often wondered how the Christians could be happy in such terrible circumstances. Hunger and torture were daily realities. And the prisoners, likely emulating the Philippian prison posture of Paul and Silas (Acts 16), would often sing – only to be beaten even more fiercely. Here are three of Wurmbrand’s personal survival solutions.

  1. He meditated on Job. He says “I knew the end of the story!” God would restore, replenish, rebuild and reward. More than what was lost would eventually be replaced. In the middle of the trial I know it is difficult to believe this, but that is where faith comes into play. We will be stronger when it is all over.
  2. He envisioned the final destination of a Christian believer. A picture of a splendidly crowned saint in the holy and glorious presence of a raised and glorified Jesus was his motivation to never lose hope.
  3.  In the jailers who whipped us we saw the possibilities of the jailer of Philippi, who though first whipping Paul, eventually became a Christian convert. We dreamed that our brutal guards would ask the same question posed to Paul and Silas: what shall I do to be saved? It was in being tortured by them that we learned to love them”

launching into a new year

I slept for less than two hours and then I couldn’t get back to sleep. I can usually sleep anywhere anytime! I have always wondered about those people who, within three seconds of waking up in the night, piously report that they pray, or read their Bible. That is not usually me. My habit, on those rare occasions, is to get going on some unfinished work or writing. Today I promised I would start first with a brief daily devotional from C. H. Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening. It led me to a phrase in Isaiah 58. In minutes I was consumed with the entire chapter. Here are a few of the lessons learned. by the way, is there such a thing as “God inspired insomnia”? Good chapter for a new year don’t you think?

Isaiah 58:11 = The Lord will guide you always. Not sometimes, not now and then, but continually. Moses said that without the Lord’s presence we might as well stay where we are! Exodus 33:14,15 = The Lord replied: My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest … Then Moses said, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”  The Lord’s presence in the future implies that we have experienced it now. The next adventure launches out of today’s experience with God. Hebrews 13:5 = I will never leave you nor forsake you. C. H. Spurgeon = If you have to change your position in life; if you have to emigrate to distant shores; if you are cast into poverty or suddenly promoted to a more responsible position; if you are thrown among strangers or cast among foes, do not fear for the Lord shall guide you continually, a perpetual leader.”  Strength and satisfaction and success come with God’s presence (Isaiah 58:11, 12). Your stability tomorrow begins with your spirituality today. (all of Isaiah 58)

people were crying at the bank today

People were crying in the bank today: no, not because of the world economic chaos; no, not because of offensively high service charges; no, not because there was a robbery in progress – but because the bank staff excelled in customer service. And I thought of Jesus, and the angels in heaven. Yes, let me explain.

I was standing in line, waiting patiently (those of you who know me will find that statement a little hard to believe, true) – when the lady behind me could wait no longer. She rushed in front of me and urgently asked a question of the customer service rep. This lady appeared somewhat frantic. It seems she had been to the bank earlier. Sometime during the day she had lost a ring. She was now retracing her steps, hopeful to find that someone somewhere had picked it up and kept it safe.

The customer service rep went to one of the tellers, who said “yes, I found it and locked it in the drawer”. What followed the joyful tearful reunion of this woman and her ring was stirring. It was an engagement ring. I don’t know how fancy or expensive it was. I do know that it was of utmost value. The owner started to sob, so appreciative of the bank staff. Somehow her dark and broken world would be restored. Bank staff had tears in their eyes. Even customers stopped and gulped. A public display of emotion on all our parts. Something of great value – lost – searched for – found – relief –rejoicing. We had witnessed something very intimate, very profound, very moving.

Jesus talks of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. A careful and costly search follows. The lost item is of such incredible value. And when located, the whole world is to know – and all heaven rejoices. Tears of joy. Just like I saw in the bank today. The Bank of Montreal in Brockville was the location of today’s spiritual lesson. Luke 15 is the location of the parables of Jesus. This is why we engage in mission. This is why we partner with God. This is God’s heart revealed. This is at the heart of our church right? Not competition, not politics, not agendas, not empty ritual – finding that which is lost, returning it to its rightful owner, and crying with joy when the lost is found!

When was the last time you saw God’s truth played out at your bank?

CHAIN REACTION

– IT IS TRUE: WHAT YOU THINK CAN TAKE YOU IN ONE OF TWO DIRECTIONS

If you don’t follow Michael Hyatt yet, you should. He offers excellent leadership tips and practical advice. Recently he wrote about two kinds of thinkers. One kind leads to success, joy, and fulfillment. The other leads to failure, fear, and discontent.

The first he calls an ABUNDANCE THINKER. This person will greet people with a big smile, a hug, and an encouraging word. You will leave his presence energized and affirmed. This kind of person invests in another’s success. And that success is returned in abundance.

The second is just the opposite. He exhibits a hoarding mentality. This kind of thinker never picks up the bill, even if you were invited to lunch. They constantly complain—about everything. They leave you drained and diminished. Michael describes this individual as a SCARCITY THINKER. And success seems to pass them by.

Listed below are Hyatt’s eight attitudes/behaviours of both. Which list describes you? Better question: which list will you start cultivating in your life?

ABUNDANCE THINKERS

  1. They believe there is always more where that came from.
  2. They are happy to share their knowledge, contacts, and compassion with others.
  3. They default to trust and build rapport easily.
  4. They welcome competition, believing it makes the pie bigger and them better.
  5. They ask themselves, How can I give more than is expected?
  6. They are optimistic about the future, believing the best is yet to come.
  7. They think big, embracing risk.
  8. They are thankful and confident.

SCARCITY THINKERS:

  1. They believe there will never be enough.
  2. They are stingy with their knowledge, contacts, and compassion.
  3. They default to suspicion and find it difficult to build rapport.
  4. They resent competition, believing it makes the pie smaller and them weaker.
  5. They ask themselves, How can I get by with less than is expected?
  6. They are pessimistic about the future, believing that tough times are ahead.
  7. They think small, avoiding risk.
  8. They are entitled and fearful.

As we enter into a new teaching series, I want to establish this truth – which I believe has Biblical foundation:

Our lives, in part, are directly affected by how & what we think, how we approach a crisis, our attitudes. What you see unfolding in your life is indeed linked to your thinking patterns, your philosophy, and your worldview.

I invite you to join us tomorrow as we begin an examination of the attitudes of – and this may surprise you – prisoners, those held captive, and in chains. There are some inspiring “SUPERHEROES” emerging from the darkness of the dungeon to shine the light of hope. Their thinking caused them to strive, thrive, and survive. Are you ‘chained down’ or ‘chained up’?

the danger of drifting

When I am on holiday at my favorite Florida resort, I love to drift in the lazy river. I could do it for hours. When I was a child at the cottage, I loved to take the boat out into the middle of the lake, kick my feet up, and fish while drifting with the wind. On these occasions, drifting is a relaxing, refreshing, freeing experience. It’s not wasting time because the purpose is just that: slow down, chill, calm the body and the spirit.

But drifting can be dangerous on other occasions. I recall the story of a friend who laid back in a canoe in the Florida everglades, closed his eyes behind his sunglasses, caught a few zzzz’s until he was rudely awakened by a rocking motion – an alligator trying to get into the canoe with him! Or drifting in the Niagara River above the famous falls is probably not a good idea either.

 

Hebrews 2:1 = we must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away … how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?

 

Disobedience and disinterest can have fatal implications. Do not drift towards death and destruction. Embrace the gifts God offers in his son Jesus.

We are finishing 6 weeks of study and preaching on Rick Warren’s popular decade-old book The Purpose Driven Life. I feel like the warning of Hebrews is appropriate in this context too. What a tragedy to waste a life. Let’s know why we are placed here on earth, for this time, for these purposes. Let’s live according to our divine design. Let’s not squander the short time we do have.

I don’t think Rick Warren is making this stuff up out of thin air. I see it in the Bible: Ephesians 5:15-17, Psalm 90:12, Deuteronomy 10:12,13, Acts 26:9-20, 1 Corinthians 9:19-27

Are there specific steps you can take to make sure you live according to purpose? It is never too late. Here is my simple prayer: God help me to learn from the Apostle Paul how to ‘get purpose’ and how to ‘stay on purpose’. I’ll be paying attention tomorrow.