Getting somewhere requires effort,
faith to push on,
it's easy to screw up,
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Journeys, adventures, and opportunities
Thu, August 16, 2012 | link
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
~ Greg Anderson
Over the next few weeks I will be travelling to Africa, and through South Africa. A journey I am looking forward to and which is going to expose
me to new people, places and activities.
It’s amazing how we can cover such huge distances in such short times and it
got me thinking about those guys who walked and boated around the time of Jesus.
Jesus was not as much of a walker as Paul and some others. There is now a trail
that goes where Jesus did go, and that you can walk in Israel, that covers about 65km and can be done in
about 4 days. According to wikipedia the trail is as follows:
Day 1: Nazareth
to Cana via Sepphoris
· Day 2: Cana to Kibbutz Lavi
Day 3: Kibbutz
Lavi to Moshav Arbel
· Day 4: Moshav Arbel to Capernaum via Mount of Beatitudes
Probably something I
would like to try sometime!
Yet Paul is the amazing traveller. In just one journey Paul travelled between Jerusalem
and Rome, a distance of about 1430miles or 2300 kilometers.
On foot and boat with probably the odd donkey, or camel on the way!
He did many other
journeys with similar distances between them.
Travelling then, was different to today. Danger was everywhere!
Paul describes his hardships as
“ Five times the Jews gave me 39 strokes with a whip. Three times I was beaten with sticks.
Once they tried to kill me by throwing stones at me. Three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open
have had to keep on the move. I have been in danger from rivers. I have been in danger from robbers. I have been in danger
from people from my own country. I have been in danger from those who aren't Jews. I have been in danger in the city, in the
country, and at sea. I have been in danger from people who pretended they were believers.
I have worked very hard. Often I have gone without sleep. I have
been hungry and thirsty. Often I have gone without food. I have been cold and naked. “
Most of us who travel have less to deal with than that, thankfully!
No hotels on the way there! Maybe the odd room or cave or guesthouse,
but the modern hotel was not even conceived of.
Those early travellers spend days walking in the dust and sun, being rained upon and struggling
to find food along the way. They fought off robbers who knew people had to carry cash to survive their journey.
Tough times, so why did people
like Paul continually do this?
To give others the chance to get to know Jesus!
Perhaps today it’s just to easy to tell others. Perhaps
that's why we don’t value it the way Paul and the ancient Christians did!
A short while back I travelled to Mexico to do the
work of God helping the poor there. We took some young people with us! A fond memory of mine is of a young man who relates with great emotion, the meeting
of an older man who thought he was not allowed to accept Jesus.
He describes how the older man was almost in tears because he thought couldn’t
have Jesus in his life. Simply because of his previous religious faith! Then, how the young man was instrumental
in explaining to the older guy that Jesus was able to help anyone, anywhere, and there was no restrictions. How this older
guy was so happy when he received the gift of eternal life and Jesus.! How the younger guy that we had taken with us to Mexico
was brought to tears by the joy of the occasion!
power of God at work in a distant land!
That’s why we really journey! My prayer is as I travel for the next few weeks there would be
opportunities to get to know and help others.
Perhaps today you could look for someone to help? It’s simple really! It just takes love, patience and a touch of courage.
Enjoy today! Also, please
note that I cannot blog as easily while I travel, so perhaps you can read a few of the older blogs on days I fail to get to
write. Last year this time, or pick a subject and search the blog listing.
Have a wonderful day and be blessed!
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Damascus, Syria and the bible
Wed, August 15, 2012 | link
Explosion hits near Damascus hotel used by UN:
state TV ~Globe and Mail
Damascus is an ancient city that seems to have continually had strife. Our Christian bible describes encounter upon encounter where someone
was attacking someone else in this region.
It is considered to possibly be the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, and definitely in the
Levant, the place where
civilization started and spread. It is carbon dated to have been settled about 6300BC and around it are settlements dated
to 9000BC. It was part of the Hyksos kingdom region of Amurru (The Hyksos were Canaanite Egyptian rulers), and a Jewish historian
Josephus indicated that Damascus was founded by Uz, son of Aram.
Alexander the Great conquered the city when he took over the known world of the
time. By 64 BC the Romans had taken control and incorporated it into the Decapolis.
Maybe it is the age of this city that is the reason that there
is so much written about it!
The first time we hear of it in the bible, is when Abram (not yet Abraham) chases the people who had captured
Lot his nephew, to get Lot back. The bible says
“During the night Abram separated his men into groups. They attacked the
enemy and drove them away. They chased them north of Damascus as far as Hobah.”
This was in
a time before great nations, a time where each city was its own city state. Obviously, Damascus was one of them. Today it
has 1,7million people, then, it would have had perhaps a few thousand at the most.
It’s a dry semi-arid city, but does have a river that flows
through it, the Barada River. This is the same river which was named differently in 2 kings 5. This is where Naaman, commander
of the king of Aram, preferred to wash over the Jordan river when he was told to go wash by the prophet.
He said “And
what about the Abana and Pharpar rivers of Damascus? Aren't they better than any of the rivers of Israel? Couldn't I wash
in them and be made pure and clean?"
Even he got
angry when told to do this!
A New Testament reference to anger and Syria, is when Saul goes to get letters to enable him to capture and kill Christians
“He asked the priest for letters to the synagogues in Damascus. He wanted to find men and women who belonged to
the Way of Jesus. The letters would allow him to take them as prisoners to Jerusalem”
It was on the road
to Damascus, that Saul meets Jesus, later resulting in him becoming Paul, and one of the greatest writers of the New Testament.
God had a plan and
this city was entwined in the biblical records of God’s plan. In fact, the last mention in the bible is in the letter
to the Galatians where it says
“I didn't go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was. Instead,
I went at once into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus”
Paul’s struggle within himself around visiting the other apostles of Jesus.
Now today there is civil war threatening the city. People are
taking up arms and fighting.
It seems that Damascus will be the center of conflict for a long time to come.
It would be good for peace to settle on the place. Until it turns
the focus from hate to love, this will probably not occur.
Similarly, we often have areas of our lives that are war torn and hate filled.
We should learn
that no matter how old the hurt, how often the damage, there is only one way out of this type of conflict and that is to allow
God to bring peace and love into the situation.
Maybe today we have to face our own Damascus. Maybe we, like Naaman will need to submit to God to be healed. Maybe if we go to
Jesus and ask him to heal the hurts and replenish our spirit in these areas, we can have peace and joy in our own lives.
I know it’s
my prayer for Syria right now!
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Controlling those unwelcome thoughts?
Tue, August 14, 2012 | link
Animals have an advantage
over us, they have no unwelcome thoughts to intrude upon their morality.
Ever had those unwelcome thoughts that we know are just not right to have?
I have!Last week ,I was told by someone that they
kept dreaming violent dreams.
Dreams themselves can be controlled and some cultures make it an art form to mold dreams into forms that is acceptable
to their cultural values.
Yet, most of us don’t feel we have that control!
Most of us, even fail to control our waking desires and impulses, or at least to control the thoughts they
have an instruction from God that goes like this;
“Don't worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to him. Then God's peace will watch over your hearts
and your minds because you belong to Christ Jesus. God's peace can never be completely understood.
my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely
and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.”
Just really hard to do! Right?
Isn’t it true that the more we try not to worry about something, the more it seems to increase its
hold over us?
Have you noticed how it’s those thoughts we want to avoid, that seem to intrude and come back
to mind with ease, and those thoughts we would rather have, seem to elude us?
This is because it is hard to avoid something without
having it in our mind, and if we have it in mind, it tends to capture our thoughts and then it achieves the very thing we want to
avoid, taking control of our thoughts.
Catch 22! To avoid it, we must not think of it, but to remember to avoid it means it has to be on our mind!
easy to end up feeling guilty because we cannot control the thoughts! Satan loves this and wants to keep us guilty and failing! He wants
us to obsess about things that take us down, and he wants to make the thinking feel compulsive.
Is there a way out?
describes the effect of compulsive thinking in Romans 7
“Here is the law I find working in me. When I want to do good, evil
is right there with me. Deep inside me I find joy in God's law. But I see another law working in the parts of my body. It
fights against the law of my mind. It makes me a prisoner of the law of sin. That law controls the parts of my body.
What a terrible failure I am! Who will save me from this sin that brings death to my body? I give thanks to God. He
will do it through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So in my mind I am a slave to God's law. But in my sinful nature
I am a slave to the law of sin.
we find out that Paul understands how these selfish, nasty and ignorant thoughts drag us down.
Yet Paul somehow believes that Jesus provides a way out!
Let’s go to the first
verse referenced above.
It says... Don't worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to him.
advice is to tell God about everything!
need to let God know how we are struggling with the thoughts and what they are stealing from us.
Jesus understands, he walked this earth and had many problems
in his life. Yet he had peace and joy.
When we pray we are being mindful of the thought, but placing it directly under God’s control. We release
it in the presence of God where it has no power to do harm.
Letting God know, ensures we have no fear of guilt that comes from hiding things,
or ourselves from God.
God knows all! We simply need to tell God of these things, to fully realize we are not |God and that we recognize that
God does know all!
Next, ask Jesus for help! If there is one person who can help in this area it is Jesus!
Probably, none of us have been so emotionally distraught
that we sweat drops of blood!
Jesus has been there and so he knows what it is to have the Father intervene in his life. Jesus sent
Holy Spirit to be with us and he helps because he knows just how hard life is.
Jesus wants us to win and knows how each of us need
specially crafted guidance to gain victory. As we speak to him and let Holy Spirit guide us, he lets that joy that is locked up deep inside
us surface, and this allows God’s peace to take control. By following God’s guidelines we gain control!
happens let’s thank Jesus for the victory!
These battles of our mind happen frequently, and so should be frequent triggers to talk to
Strangely enough, once Satan realizes that triggering these unwelcome thoughts results to us talking with God, he stops
Soon we will find we have been for long periods of time without the unwelcome thoughts returning!
the way to way to control unwelcome thoughts!
So today, lets pray, and in so doing turn our thoughts to good things, removing the power of
the unwelcome thoughts, and replacing it with God’s joy and Jesus forgiveness!
Monday, August 13, 2012
Suffering how did Job do?...part 4 : Summary and conclusion
Mon, August 13, 2012 | link
“The truth that many people never understand,
until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant
things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt” ~ Thomas Merton
the last in the series discussing Job and suffering!
In the past three blogs on this subject, we have looked at story,
including the scene in heaven that is the prologue, which Job never gets to see or understand but which is revealed to us
we see God not only loves Job, but entrusts Job with faith, that Job would still love God despite encountering very difficult
see Satan as God’s antagonist, wanting to see Job suffer, and telling God that Job will curse him as he suffers.
Then we see how God allows
Satan to have his way with one exception, he may not take Job’s life.
Job’s life becomes a misery! He loses everything including his
health and he is tortured by sores, itches and inability to keep down enough food to stop getting extremely thin. He is so
ill that he wants to have his life taken away from him.
During this time, his three “friends” , Eliphaz a mystic, Bildad a traditionalist and Zophar
a dogmatist, all tell Job he is the cause of his suffering due to evil he has done and sins he has committed. Job rejects
this as he knows he is innocent, but he himself asks why God is doing this to him. He does not turn to understanding Satan
is behind it, but himself, considers God to be the source of his trouble.
Then, Elihu speaks again, blaming Job for his situation. God then intervenes
and his words don’t allow Job to dwell on himself, but turn Job’s understanding to the omnipotence and awesome
greatness that God is.
This is the start of Job’s turning point. He starts to realize how self-focussed he has become because of his
suffering, how he has neglected understanding and truly worshiping God. He sees this as the wrong he has committed and asks
forgiveness. God then tells him to pray for his three “friends” who failed him in his time of need. Job does and
he is reinstated to an even better state and health than before he suffered.
Reading Job in the bible is far better than this short synopsis of the
I think we need to draw out some key truths this story provides;
Firstly there is an end to suffering!
limits on what we are permitted to endure in this life. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIRV) says “You
are tempted in the same way all other human beings are. God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted any more than you
can take. But when you are tempted, God will give you a way out so that you can stand up under it.
For Job, Satan was not allowed to go beyond what God allowed. God is still in control!
Secondly, God is aware of everything
that happens to us!
He knows our situation and needs better than we do... Luke 12:6-7 (NIRV) "Aren't five sparrows sold for two pennies? But God does not forget even one of them. In fact, he even counts every
hair on your head! So don't be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”
We see that
God always fully understood everything happening to Job, even when Job didn’t feel or experience God’s presence
in any way! We need to understand we don’t have to “feel” God is there, for him to be there!
“why” is okay but we must be ready to not understand or receive answers.
Job asked “why” and challenged
God to tell him. God in the book never answers Job’s question directly. Instead, God reveals who he is to Job. We need
to understand that we do not always get clear-cut reasons for suffering. Suffering is not necessarily, because we are evil
or not. Looking for “why” can be a chasing the wind. Sometimes we just never know why in this life!
is not necessarily in the business of clearing up accusations against us, but rather providing opportunities for us to grow
in our relationship with Him!
Job was so certain of his innocence that he failed to see that he was so self-focussed he could not see beyond
this. We often become so self-focussed that we cannot see beyond our pain.
Yet, when Job moved passed this point, he grew in faith, understanding
of God, and in fact in his case (and we do not necessarily always have this) was rewarded by gaining back twice what he had
prior to his suffering.
God wants us to gain spiritually all the time. Sometimes we are the ones who hold ourselves back by selfish, self-focus!
Fifthly, God is just and rewards accordingly!
No matter how unfair our life’s circumstances are, God knows and
promises to reward, either in this life, or the one to come. He also indicates revenge is his to take, as only He can fully
know all circumstances. We need to simply accept this, and move to the point of growth with God, letting go of what we think
is our need for revenge, compassion, or whatever is holding us back!
Six, Let’s trust God when we are in bad times!
is not easy, there are many tough and even horrible, nasty events around us, and that happen to us and our loved ones. The
fact that these exist, is due to the selfish, nastiness and ignorance in the world, and not due to God. Let’s trust
God! Even when the going is rough!
Lastly, Let’s learn from our situations
God wants us to gain and grow! Our life is
structured to give us these opportunities. Every event, good, or bad, is an opportunity to apply spiritual power to the task
at hand, and learn to grow. We are given opportunities to train our minds, emotions and will to be God focussed instead of
self-focussed. God will look after us, if we love him and those around us.
Job learned this and we see “The
Lord blessed the last part of Job's life even more than the first part.”
Life is temporary,
eternity is everlasting!
Let’s gain the skills to forge a powerful grace filled eternity, where we are fully enabled to serve our eternal
purpose with skill and power.
The training ground is right now.
Suffering is one of the most powerful tools that we can use to gain these skills. In fact, some people seem
to be blessed with a power walk with God just because of suffering. Think of Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela and others that
have suffered much and how powerful their lives were and are due to this suffering.
We are on the brink of great gain if we can understand these hard
apply them in our lives!
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIRV)
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