Friday, 27 October 2017

Dearest Daughter- Letter #2

This letter is part of series of letters I have written to my daughters. Please read them as though they were for your daughter, or from your mom. There is a downloadable letter at the end of the post that you may print and share with your loved ones.


Dearest Daughter,

What I want you know is that you possess something the world cannot attain-

deep down 

JOY.

People everywhere want to offer up love to one another,

but the problem is,

when you scratch beyond the surface of their love you will find

hostility, sadness, and fear.

I plead with you to guard yourself from these emotions.

Do not conform to this way of thinking. 

Let your love run deeper.

I pray that below your surface is the joy that only God can give.

Your joy is something that comes from knowing who you are,

and you are,

the daughter of King,

safely bound to him for all eternity.

This world needs your joy, this world needs God’s joy.

You must know with all your heart 

that Satan can crush your body,

but he can

never

crush 

your spirit.

Because of that, you can laugh freely without fear of tomorrow.

You can dance in the midst of your pain knowing it is temporary.

You can sing a joyful song to the Lord of lords and King of kings.

You are his, and he is yours.

My child, hold this tightly.

The freedom you possess while laughing, 

the smile you do not hesitate to reveal 

will be a beacon of light in the dead and despairing world.

They will notice and want what you have.

Let that joy etch itself across your face as you grow.

This world needs to see something they have yet to see.

Joy unspeakable.

Walk confidently my daughter,

laugh in the face of adversity,

and let the joy of the Lord be your strength.

Love,

Mom

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9





Top photo by Bahaa A. Shawqi from Pexels 


Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Living in Authentic Faith Even in the Midst of Pain



One quiet day when no one was home I found an old box in our basement. I had just read a story in The Good and Beautiful God of a professor who had his students beat up a box to prove a theological point. I’ll get to the point in second, but let me back up to tell you what happened the day I gave it a go. 

At first I was careful. I gently took a knife and punctured a hole through it. To my surprise tears flooded my eyes. I kept going being less and less gentle with this box. Each rip, each stomp represented something in my life that had changed who I was, something that hurt deeply. Each crumple and each hole was a painful memory from my past. I kicked the box around my kitchen awhile longer thankful that no one was around to watch the spectacle.

So what was the point?

I took my beat-up chunk of cardboard and went to my dark basement. I stuck a light inside the box and stood back to survey the damage. Shining into the darkness was the light that was inside the beaten up box. It occurred to me in that moment that where the most damage had been inflicted was the exact spot that the light could escape more easily and shine the furthest.

How often do we try to the cover the wounds and hurts from our own life? But here’s the thing...when you attempt to cover the rips, the wounds, and the imperfections life has left you on, you deny God the ability to shine through your weakness. 

Living as authentic Christians we don't get to claim we are perfect either in our words, our actions, or by what we keep concealed deep inside. 

You see, on our own, our lives are a dumpy piece of unusable cardboard. But, the moment we invite God to be part of our lives, he enters in and does what he does best. He takes our damaged lives and enters into a union with us so he can shine through our mess into the darkness around us. That's the Good News of our salvation!

There is nothing we can do in our own ability to cause God's hope to shine forth from us. We are not saved by our good deeds. We can only walk out our lives openly and vulnerably in a way that others can see that it is by what Christ has done for us that we find our value. 

We need to stop beating ourselves up to be better tomorrow, continually grasping at being a “perfect” Christian and falling short every time, until defeat swallows you up. It’s time to let perfection go, my friend. Neither you, nor I will make that mark on this side of heaven. 

Remember God’s promise to Paul though? He says that his power is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)  He understands we are weak, and imperfect. He weeps for us when we are crushed and damaged by the sin of this world. Then, His strength and power shine brightly out of our wounds and darkness loses the battle once again. 

I encourage you this week to let your guard down and allow God to shine through your weakness spreading hope to those around you.


For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor 4:6-9)

Monday, 16 October 2017

5 Ways my Husband Reflects Christ


Young ladies, if you are at an age where finding a spouse is on your radar, do yourself a favour and find a man who reflects Christ. As we watch marriages crumble all around us, I can't help but to be thankful for a husband who (while he isn't perfect...though I'm no walk in the park either!), certainly works hard to be a reflection of Christ in action and words. Don't settle for anything less than that! 

Here are 5 ways my husband reflects Christ...
                                                                     

1. He loves as my lowest lows.

Last year I struggled against depression after having had what I will just call "2 year long post-partum depression". He fought hard for my health, but what meant the most was that he loved me when I was unlovable. I was angry, sad, anxious, and tired all day, everyday, without a break. He gave me comfort, he reminded me it would have an end point, he never let me think I was going at life alone.

2. He would correct my bad behaviour because he knew I was capable of better.

This is tough one. We often see Jesus as our chummy buddy who loves us without rebuke. No doubt he loves us unconditionally! But the thing is, if he didn’t call on us to be better, our own sinful nature would take over. 

My husband does not scold me, instead he reminds me there are better approaches than the one I just chose. He has seen me in my finest hour and knows what I am capable of. He does not want to see me give way to something less than who I am. It does not come from his own pride and selfish motive, but because he knows I'm worth it. When I am living better, we are living better together. (see point 1 to remember that on my lowest days he still loved me for me.)

3. He can lead well.

It is difficult for us women who have been bombarded with the rise of empowerment for our gender to step back and let our men lead. I, for one, love to see strong men rising up who can take the lead and do it well (can I get an "amen"?!). There is something utterly attractive about a man who can see the needs of his family and meet them through his leadership. I can rest easier in my day knowing that the tasks he does are done well and will benefit our family. I don’t need to think about them, which frees me to do other tasks that I need to do. 

Could I do what he does? Some things (he has a lot more brute strength than me which often comes in handy...especially for pickle jar lids...haha! Kidding dear, I love you for way more than your strength!). But, I don’t need the weight of the world on my shoulders. That’s not for me to carry. 

He has shown me that Jesus leads well and I can trust handing over all aspects of my life to him knowing he has a perfect plan.

4. He knows HOW to love me.

I’m not talking about sex here, it’s way beyond that. He is my greatest lover and knows me intimately. He gives me gifts that mean something to me. He knows my love languages. He thinks of me often through the day and lets me know it in varying ways. I see him across the room and swoon at his presence because out of everyone in that room, only HE knows how to love me in a way that matters to me. He gets me! 

It is this point that he has taught me the most about our Great Lover. Jesus knows each of us so intimately it should make you blush. That’s a lover worth having a  relationship with. 

5. Relationships take effort 

Our relationship has been marked by trials and has put the “worse” part of “for better or for worse” to trial. It takes extraordinary amounts of commitment and intentionality to stay married. We have had to fight for each other on more than one occasion. He for me, and I for him. 

Marriage is not something you should do on a whim and expect great results. It is process of fighting past the temptation to run and handing the relationship over to the hands of God to hold together. 

By my own doing, I will not stay committed to Christ. I am rebellious in nature and, in spite of what I want to believe, my sinner’s body would cause me to become, at the very least, complacent (if not running in the opposite direction altogether). 

Much like my marriage, when I feel myself begin to wander, I place my faith and relationship with Christ back in the hands of God to strengthen it. I fight past the temptations and work at my relationship with Christ remembering all that he is to me.

Married women, in what ways does your spouse reflect Christ? Let's give the young ladies some encouragement!




Thursday, 12 October 2017

Dear Church We Don't Need More Gimmicks We Need More of Jesus

                                                                                                                                
Dear Church,

You have done well for me as I grew up in the safety of your walls, teaching me, training me, and comforting me. But as I stand on the line between one generation and the next I am concerned. I see a younger generation whose hearts are growing cynical and who may walk away never understanding the beauty of what you offer. Here’s the thing: I see some validity in their cynicism simply because you are not the church I grew up in. In fact, I’m not sure that even YOU see the beauty in what or who you are suppose to be anymore either. You were once a place vibrant with the reverence of the Almighty God, but your reverence has diminished and has been replaced with fear and worldliness. You believe if you can just compete better with the world you will “win.” Your vision has become myopic and you have lost sight of the grand scale of what we are up against. This is a war, Church, not a competition. You are using worldly thoughts and actions in attempts to  persuade strangers to come through your door, but you have invited the enemy in with your tactics, and you are losing, not gaining, ground as a result. 

Have you forgotten? We do not belong to this world, nor are we to compete with it. You want a worship band that appeals to the masses, complete with fog machines and light shows. Oh, but they don’t want a rock concert -- they went to one the world offered them last week. You offer bookmarks and keychains to newcomers as if to say, “You are welcome here.” I assure you, what those newcomers really wanted someone to look them in the eyes and say: “Please come back next week, I’ll be here for you when you come.” And your outreach events? These are foreign to my younger years with you, Church. When I was younger, we invited our friends to hear a message that challenged the listener to rethink how they went about their week. God’s Word use to be enough. Now you have decided to “woo” your neighborhoods with bouncy castles and carnival rides. I fail to see how this helps those who come looking for a First Aid Tent because they need to heal wounded hearts trampled on by this world. Instead of you offer them more of what has already hurt them. 

Church, there is a generation rising up that cares very little about what your building looks like. They don’t need theatre seats. They don’t need stained glass. They don’t need espresso bars. The world already tried to persuade them with those. They long for more. They would be happy in a humble living room if the presence of the Spirit was so alive it was tangible. This a generation wanting more than anything to see authentic faith in action, walking among their communities as Christ did with the lost, the broken, and the disregarded. This is a generation who has little regard for walls and a steeple.

Listen, Church! It is our responsibility to be the Joshuas of our day, committed to raising a generation obedient in faith to our God. It is on our shoulders to equip them in battle. It is our job to breath oxygen onto their flickering sparks in hopes of igniting a forest of believers who will love like this world cannot offer. It will be by the WAY we love that we will surpass anything they have seen before. It will be in our willingness to lay down our own lives for others that the world will take note. But, before all this can happen we must put away the foolishness of competing with this world. Whatever you think you can offer through your worldly approaches, know that the world has already offered the best of it. We have hope though, because we have something the world does not. We have the hope, joy, and love of knowing our precious Saviour saved us from death. We have the Creator of this universe at the helm of our lives. We have the Holy Spirit to guide and equip us. Because of them, there is no competition. We won. Let’s live like it.

Love,

A New Generation


Saturday, 7 October 2017

He Stood Between the Dead and The Living

A short clip on a powerful verse in Numbers about Aaron standing between the dead and the living, and how we are still called to do the same.

Pray on mighty warriors!




Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Radical Christianity vs Radicals of the World

This is part 2 of a two part super-tiny-mini series on Radical Christianity. To view part 1 click here.



Everywhere you turn there is a new breed of "radical" being formed. Radical Islam, radical conservatives, radical leftists, white supremacists, anti-fascists, and the list goes on and on as our world heats up. So it begs the question: Can and should Christians be radical or should we remain neutral?

When God declares in Genesis that he was in the beginning of time and formed earth from nothing, He set himself apart from other religions of the ancient world. He makes no subtle claims that to follow one omnipotent God will set you apart as He is already set apart from any other world-based theology. 

The last post revealed that we have radical freedom in Christ. Radical freedom means radical living and leaves no room for neutrality. If we are not for God, we are against him. Undoubtedly, this is a call to Radical Christianity, but how do we separate Radical Christianity from just another “radical” in the world?

Let’s take a look at few comparisons...

Radicals of the world say, "My life is worth it". Radical Christians says, "Your life is worth far more."

Radicals of the world shine the spotlight on their power. Radical Christianity shines the spotlight back at God.

Radicals of the world thirst for praise and attention of man. Radical Christianity is never thirsty as we drink from a living well that never runs dry and gives us more value than man ever will.

Radicals of the world say, "My thoughts are superior to yours and as such I will destroy you to reign supreme even if I die in the process.” Radical Christianity says, "I will lose my life if it means I can save yours."

Radicals of the world say, "I refuse to communicate with those who are not like-minded.” Radical Christianity says, "I will intentionally cross into borders where I have little in common with people in the hope that I can be salt and light in darkness.”

Radicals of the world compete amongst each other to be right. Radical Christianity says, "It is not a competition. It is a war for your soul and I will fight for you while you take time to weigh the possibilities of your eternal future."

Radicals of the world stir up anger, strife, hostility, division, and jealousy. Radical Christianity stirs up love, joy, peace, kindness, and patience.

Radicals of the world calls for self-indulgence. Radical Christianity calls for self-control.

Radicals of the world satisfy the bonds of slavery to the flesh. Radical Christianity provides freedom from flesh. 



“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.” (Mark 8:35)

Monday, 2 October 2017

Radical Freedom

This is a two part super-mini series on living radically. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s part 2 on what it means to be a Christian Radical in world full of radicals.



Oh, what joy we have in freedom! And, oh, that we may embrace the gift of living a life of freedom! Galatians 5 tells us: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1)

In order to understand the magnitude if this beautiful Scripture's call to action we need to back it up to Chapter 4 of Galatians. Check this out...

 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. (Gal 4:22-26 emphasis mine)

What then does it mean to not submit to the yolk of slavery? It means the shackles that bound us to our inward desires of self-indulgence and self-righteousness have been shattered. Our freedom has left us with no room for fleshly desires, leaving only hearts that are beating with an outpouring of love from our Heavenly Creator. 

Go forward from today knowing that through Christ whatever bound you to the slavery of sin has been put to death on the cross. Whatever desires, addictions, lust, personal motives, pain you have caused, or has been caused to you has been wiped clean from your past. 

For the sake of your freedom CHRIST HAS SET YOU FREE!


Enjoy this song with powerful lyrics about the freedom of our Great Rescuer.