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Friday, January 27, 2012

Tough times provide opportunity
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I guess the one thing I always like parents of teenagers to remember is. . .
. . . tough times bring opportunities!

Think about it, the times where everything goes softly, smoothly and without stress, are generally the times when we learn little about ourselves and really little about each other or how to take on life.

Then teenager years come with the turmoil, change and stress! This is where the opportunity arrives to be able to be a positive influence in our kids and our own lives. Here is presented there is ability for us to learn new skills, change opinions and grow in life and it’s knowledge.

It’s not easy, but it is incredibly rewarding if approached the right way. For everyone!

That’s why when I read that sentence written by James in the bible. . . “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”[1]  

. . .it motivates me.

As adults, we also face tough times, and I think we give our heavenly Father tough challenges to answer. (he seems to have no difficulty answering them though J ).

Like teens, we fight, resist, and often do the wrong things that in the long term will damage us if not corrected. However, if we focus on listening to the heavenly Father despite the tough times we are rewarded.

People say the reward comes after death and that’s what that verse is saying. Perhaps, but I think the reward happens in life at the same time.

 I have seen people in tough circumstances approaching those times in a positive Godly way, while others in almost identical circumstances are swearing and being ungodly about their approach.

It is interesting to see the person who takes the Godly approach may have a similar experience of the pain and life stress, but their emotional pain is significantly less and if we could see spiritual pain, I hazard a guess the difference would be enormous!

Look at the example of a person being laid off work!

It can be devastating and people can sit around and mope, being negative and hateful. As Christians however, we should be seeing this as opportunity for change, helping others, and re-evaluating our lives. We can learn new things, do that sport we haven’t been able to take part in and get healthy, look at what is important and what is not, look up old friends and take time with them.We should be looking to the high road of life and rejecting the easy low road that given some time runs out into ditches, mires and swamps.

God is with us! Holy Spirit re-invigorates us! We forgive and love! We are visitors in this experience we call life no matter what circumstances deal out. Think of it even death is a reward to someone who loves Jesus!

So as we go into today we need to see the opportunities and use them.

We need to live in the Kingdom of God, not the pain of the world!

Have a good one!



[1] James 1:12 NIV
Fri, January 27, 2012 | link          Comments

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The apocalypse of near sighted belief!
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Over the past few day the media has been reporting strange sounds in the sky all around the world.

Interviews with people who had heard them often turned up a comment that the person was thinking it was part of the coming of Jesus.

Hey! How about we read the bible?

It says in Matthew 24. . .

“‘the sun will be darkened,
   and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
   and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

  “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

So what parts of the sun being darkened, the moon not giving lights, stars falling and heavenly bodies shaking actually happened?

 
Zip! Zero! None!

 So could it have been a coming of Christ?

Nope!

Yet people jump to conclusions as soon as they cannot explain something!

 The scientists suggest it is due to the solar flare and it is not unlikely since solar flares pump huge amounts of energy into the upper atmosphere and that can cause energetic upheavals that can cause sound. Note scientists don’t say it is that, only that it might be that. Perhaps this is because scientists are careful by nature.

We as Christians could learn a bit here couldn’t we?

Each time we predict the end of the world incorrectly we need to be ashamed for misleading and lying.

 In the old days before Christ there was a punishment for false prophecy, this is what the bible says

The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”

 You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.” [1]

I guess God doesn’t like false prophets too much!

We all make mistakes, but we need to learn from them. Saying sorry, and promising to never do it again is what I think God wants of us. What do you think? Then, we need to take more care on how we speak, don’t we?

Isn’t it amazing how words have almost become toys to play with, not the clear conveyors of truths they should be. We don’t use words with care, but tend to spew forth the first thoughts that come into our minds and if we get a laugh so much the better!

Laughter is good, but false words are not!

Next time someone predicts the end of the world on a certain day quote this to them. . . Mark 13:31-33 from New International Version (NIV)

 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.

Anyone who says they know the day or time of the end of the world is saying they are God the Father, and that is blasphemy!

So they are way, way, way out of line! As a minimum they are saying they know more than Jesus! Nonsense!

Words like this are apocalyptic near sightedness! Let’s not give them ability to move onto others. Let’s just stop them in their tracks! That type of sensationalism is not good for anyone!

So today, if we hear someone speaking in this way, how about we gently pull them aside and tell them about these bible writings and suggest they revise their thinking.

Have a great day!


[1] Deut 18:17 to 22 NIV
Thu, January 26, 2012 | link          Comments

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The difference between rich and poor Christians?
   
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 Have you noticed how easy it is for some people to say they are Christian, simply because they have an easy life, plenty of money and no overburdening stresses on their existence.

Not that they consider that they have plenty of wealth, normally those with wealth only see their inabilities to have even more wealth and security. This often extends to them desiring to have more pleasures!

Then there are the poor who worry about the really important things in life, like their next meals and how to say warm and clothed.

God loves both sets of Christians, but wants those that have to turn to those that don’t and do something about their circumstances.

James says, “Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.”

There is no shame in humble life! When I lived in Africa, I was privileged to know many who had little more than the clothes on their back and a small room where they could sleep each day. Yet some of these people positively radiated the love of God as they went about their day.

God would help them through their trials minute by minute and they experienced his love first hand and they knew the hand of God in their life.

Our problem in western countries is that with the wealth and prosperity, comes less need and more self assurance. With self-assurance comes the belief we don’t need God and sometimes that we don’t even need others.

Our wealth dulls our ability to perceive God at work, and definitely dulls our faith. Our need of faith is replaced by a bubble of false security.

We need to remember Proverbs 22:2 “Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all.” and this 2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

 There is a richness that is derived from Jesus’ gift of life with God. Being part of God’s kingdom is the ultimate rich life. Yet that cannot occur if our hearts do not extend to those in need. Doesn’t James say in James 2:5 “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

Our measure of wealth should not be our assets but our experience of God daily.

It is harder for those with the worlds wealth to open their eyes and ears firstly, and their hearts secondly, to hear God’s spirit talking to them. They see what they are doing to create and maintain their wealth before they experience the needs and pains around them. True wealth is when, despite having money, our hearts reach out to those in need and we take from our abundance to help them.

That is a desire I have for myself. I am sure I fail often from God’s perspective, but my attitude is one of changing that and becoming more subject to God’s desires. In this way, I honour those around me more and that means helping them too.

How about you?
Wed, January 25, 2012 | link          Comments

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Unstable belief, unstable world!

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Life is in upheaval everywhere and anywhere we go we see the signs of change impacting our world.

There seems to be two kinds of people, those who seem to thrive on change and gather opportunities at each point where the cataclysmic forces meet, and those who are less sure of themselves and struggle to meet the objectives of each day.

Core to our lives as Christians is an understanding of who we are and how we stand in relation to our great God.

It is not a weird, complicated type of love we experience, but a deep penetrating and everlasting love that brings with it the confidence that the world is in the hands of the Almighty and that we are part of a wonderful plan that unfolds eternity in complex beautiful patterns serving to emphasize the glory of God and produce awe in the minds of even the most amazing intellectuals.

God is good! We know it, but we need to live it!

James says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”[1]

Wisdom to deal with life’s perturbations with grace and love, the wisdom of Jesus to meet the circumstances of our day and the grace of God to deal with them! Wow! That would help a lot wouldn’t it?

We can have this as God gives generously without fault!

The problem in all this is ourselves, since James continues to say “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

Belief! A simple word but sometimes difficult to turn into action!

We have to know it is true that God is God. We need to know it is true he loves us. We need to know that he stands by us each day and generously gives us the wisdom to cope with the days circumstances.

We must not doubt or the power that is ours to use each day is cut off at the source by our own indecision.

Seems simple doesn’t it? All we have to do is believe, but belief is a fickle thing and some days we just fail to have strong faith.

There is a solution. God gives generously without fault! So instead of trying to force this faith, we simply ask God to help us grow it within us. We accept we have faults and allow the God of the universe to overcome them and grow us into his paths. We can then walk through life with the wisdom of God in our hearts and his guiding Holy Spirit quietly advising our minds.

Now isn’t that a great way to go through today?


[1] James 1:5 NIV
Tue, January 24, 2012 | link          Comments

Monday, January 23, 2012

Is “perseverance” a word less used in our modern times?
Is “perseverance” a word less used in our modern times?

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“Try and fail, but don't fail to try.”

 Stephen Kaggwa

Most of us know the quote “ If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” by William Claude Dukenfield.

It captures the essence of perseverance, that effort to a goal that we still need to achieve!

Coming out of the world wars, this attribute of perseverance against overwhelming odds, with creativity, humour, and steadfast effort was respected, considered honourable. In general, most people aspired to have this attribute as part of their toolkit to take on their world.

Then that disillusionment with the world set in, and by the sixties, our world was moving in different paths.

“Perseverance” was starting to be traded for “free love” and “effort” for “selfish indulgence”.

Selfish indulgence when linked to effort produced the energy for rampart capitalism which is not the same as a capitalist outlook. (I believe a loving social capitalism is good!) Rampart capitalism is one where there is no other view of modern man other than as tools to increase wealth. Rampart capitalism aspires to tools that are manipulated by the few manipulators to increase their wealth wrestling the control away from the common many.

Perseverance moved from the perseverance for the common good, to perseverance to make myself wealthy (and hopefully happy).

Parents pushed kids to get degrees, post grad degrees and be successful with this vision. They indicated that if they put in this effort they would be “happy”.

Unfortunately for the parents, the kids are finding out that this was a lie. Graduates leave schools in droves and have great difficulty finding work. Many fall out of the program before completion and they have even less opportunity.

This has resulted in a new lethargy! One where the understanding that the effort is leading to little, and they know that happiness can be obtained without the efforts prescribed. They know that being part of the huge machine blindly driven by rampart capitalism is crazy. A large number of insightful young people are moving into the “new” disillusionment period.

These youth don’t react like the “free love” hippies of the past, because that message is understood and they know sex is available without cost to all who are careful. They also know abusing it, doesn’t provide for more than loneliness.

Instead, they settle into a deep depressed funk, living life in a way in which they strive for stimulation to ease this pain of their future. The perseverance is for stimulation to ease this pain. New, weird, horrible, fast, glittering, and anxiety producing and relieving activities, are lined up as fast and furious as possible. Some even use their work that they have in this manner, filling it with risky tough challenges that take their mind off reality.

Why?

Why, when God gives us the ultimate answers and purpose in our lives?


James, brother to Jesus (we think) says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

We think James is a brother of Jesus because “Jesus had two apostles named James (Mt 10:2, 3), but it is unlikely that either of these wrote the letter. One apostle, James the son of Zebedee, was martyred about 44 CE. This would be very early for him to have been the writer. (Ac 12:1, 2) The other apostle James, the son of Alphaeus, is not prominent in the Scriptural record, and very little is known about him. The outspoken nature of the letter of James would seem to weigh against the writer’s being James the son of Alphaeus, for he would likely have identified himself as one of the 12 apostles, in order to back up his strong words with apostolic authority.

 Rather, evidence points to James the brother or half-brother of Jesus”[1]

Notice James says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds”

PURE JOY to FACE TRIALS?

 Crazy?

 Not really! What do we do day in and out to give us stimulation? We setup and conquer challenges! Often artificial challenges, ones we conjure up to give us meaning.

Sometimes they have value, but often they don’t. Modern youth will identify with that focus as being a bit like playing the video game “Prince of Persia” and understand perseverance in that regard.

Yet God wants to give us real, cosmic, critical and universe changing challenges. These trials will bring eternal joy as well as joy now in the Kingdom of God on this earth.

James says that facing these trials tests faith. Notice he does not say stay away from faith testing situations but tells us to face them!

 As an aside, churches should learn from this and address tough questions in the pulpits. Like how to love your homosexual or lesbian neighbour, how to love the pregnant teenager, how to embrace and pull in the divorced person. (Okay I know I hit a few buttons there, but isn’t it true we need to face these questions head on with God’s love?)

James (who knew Jesus’ heart real well[in human terms]) then says “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

We need this from of perseverance! The one that acknowledges pain and effort don’t always seem to pay immediate dividends, but where it has eternal consequences.

Here we can face life with strength, knowing we are completing valuable challenges. We can have joy in our hearts and a smile on our face in difficult times, knowing we are not wasting precious life seconds.

How about we go and persevere at those tasks today?

Have a great one!
Mon, January 23, 2012 | link          Comments


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Rift in Evil

By Ken X Briggs

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This suspense thriller centers on Kiara, a beautiful young woman pursued by a murderous group of people, who relentlessly and ruthlessly hunt her and her sisters. Kiara has no idea why she is being targeted! When Kiara and her family turn to the law for help, this fails. Her pursuers’ powers reach deeply into the political and law enforcement world. Family support for her dwindles when they too have to flee her pursuers. Can Kiara escape the clutches of both the law and dishonest big business? With the media broadcasting that Kiara and friends are dangerous and subversive, can Kiara clear her name and bring her pursuers to justice?

 

 
  

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 RiftInEvil.gifThe town of Zinaville is dropped into a spiral of evil causing a young man and a beautiful but abused woman to launch into an investigation that unveils an evil conspiracy.

A horrific mining accident results in Joshua Robyn's father being killed. Joshua struggles both with himself and his townsfolk as he tries to make sense of an incomprehensible situation. Is it an accident or a murder? Why is there a seeming link to evil? Why is his work environment suddenly threatening? What is the conspiracy about and what are they trying to do? As action moves dramatically from exotic African grasslands to the heart of North America's cities, the plot unfolds and the pace quickens. Will there be time? Why is a beautiful abused young woman in the center of this plot?

Evil tendrils tighten on their lives and the interplay between the visible and invisible world shows opposing forces at work.

Will there be a rift in evil?

Will they be able to stop the evil in time?

 

 

 
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  • Published: September, 2010
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  • Pages: 208
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