Tag Archives: prayer

Unplanned pregnancy

The young woman had a huge problem. She was dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. In her culture, at that time, this was the height of shame. She was betrothed to be married. Everyone would assume the worst. They would assume she had been unfaithful. Not only that, she was poor. If her husband-to-be ended the betrothal, she would not only be ashamed and an outcast, but also poverty stricken.

The young woman had a huge blessing. She had been visited by an angel who had told her that this child was from God and that she would be the mother of the Messiah.

She had a choice. She could look at her problem or she could heed the voice of God.

The young woman, of course, was Mary – or, more properly, MIriam – the mother of Yeshua (Jesus). Shortly after this angelic announcement, during a visit to her cousin Elizabeth, who was also expecting a child in her old age, Mary burst forth in song. She chose to focus not on her potential troubles but on the promise of God.
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name.”

As things turned out, her husband-to-be stood by her. He too had a huge problem – what to do about this unplanned pregnancy. But he too received a huge blessing – a visit from another angel, who disclosed the identity of this child that his betrothed was carrying, and gave him the courage to proceed with the marriage.

Their life would not always be easy. The challenges were multiple and ongoing. They had many occasions to fear. Yet through it all, they chose to focus on the promise of God. And His promise to them was not in vain. They, and their son, did suffer much. But He also gave to many a foretaste of the coming Messianic Kingdom, and by embracing the way of the Cross He opened up the gates of life for all who would enter.

As we pray for our city and its people, let us set our hearts on the promise of God. Many are the problems, difficulties and griefs that assail us – and our neighbours – in these days. But we are a people of Advent hope. We know the King is coming. We have the deposit of His Spirit in our hearts, assuring us of a coming inheritance. Let us fix our eyes on the eternal things, that the Lord may continually renew our hope even in days of trouble. And let us pray for our neighbours, that even in the midst of fearful and vexing times, some of them may have their eyes opened to see the King in his beauty.

Share

Nuggets of Hope 18 – Go Buy Oil

Go Buy Oil.

There are some who would say that this is a great time to buy oil stocks, when prices are at historic lows due to the COVID-19 crisis. That may be good financial advice, but it’s not the focus of this blog. Rather, in the midst of the current crisis, I want to encourage you to buy oil for the lamp of your spirit, while you still have time.

It’s clear from Scripture that before the return of the Lord, pressures will increase in society. The current crisis is not the end of the age, but it is a reminder that God has promised to shake all things prior to the return of the Lord. How we position our hearts is of the utmost importance.

In Matthew 24-25, Jesus is teaching on the end of the age, and he tells a parable to encourage us to keep our lamp of faith burning. The context of the parable is a typical first century Jewish wedding.

In a traditional Jewish wedding, after a year of betrothal during which the bride and groom were to remain separate and sexually pure, the groom would go to the bride’s parent’s home at an undisclosed time, to fetch her, and bring her to his father’s house where a place had been prepared for her. The friends of the bridegroom would await his return. When he returned with his bride, there was a loud shout of rejoicing, and the wedding festivities could begin.

The ten young women in Jesus’ parable were among those awaiting the bridegroom’s return. They were all invited to the wedding festivities but in the end, only five of the ten made it to the feast. It got late, they got sleepy, and five of them ran out of oil for their lamps. While they went to get more oil, the bridegroom came, the wedding feast began, and they missed it. Misty Edwards tells the story in this powerful song.

Jesus describes five of the young women as wise, and five as foolish. The foolish ones didn’t bring extra oil, but the wise ones did. The wise ones wouldn’t share their oil with the foolish ones, because they didn’t want to miss the wedding feast. Jesus doesn’t criticize them for this. In fact, he praises them.

So what has all this got to do with us, you may ask? Plenty. In the midst of this pandemic, it’s easy to get frustrated as we wait for it to be over. But the boredom of waiting is actually a spiritual opportunity which we shouldn’t miss. Jesus has instructed us to stay watchful and spiritually alert as we wait for His return. The key question for us is whether we will stay awake, with our lamps lit, ready for that day. Your lamp of faith and prayer can’t run on someone else’s oil. You have to have your own relationship with God. You can’t borrow someone else’s. The Holy Spirit is available to all believers, but some cultivate His presence in their lives while others run mostly on their own resources. It’s up to us whether we invest in our relationship with God. No-one else can give you their prayer life.

The pandemic will end eventually. Other crises will follow – some bigger, some smaller. Every challenging season that tests our faith is an opportunity to check our oil supply. God is willing to give us all the oil we need, but we have to seek it from Him – and it’s best not to wait for the last minute. If we want to be able to stay steady in challenging times, it’s up to us to develop the stamina we need. If you haven’t been cultivating your life in God, this is a great time for a reset. Right now we still have time to go buy oil for our lamps. Don’t waste the opportunity. One day, it will be too late.

 

Share

Nuggets of Hope 13 – All Things

All things. Yes, I did mean all things. All things work together for good. 

All things? Everything?

Yes, all things. That’s what it says. Romans 8:28. You know the verse.

Even COVID-19? Lord, surely you couldn’t mean that.

Yes, yes I do. I do mean exactly that. For those who love Me, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to My purpose.

But God … how can you mean that? How can this pandemic be good?

I didn’t say it was good. I said it can work for your good. But since you’re asking Me questions, I have a question for you. It’s a really important question. The most important question anyone will ever ask you. Do you love Me?

Well …. it’s a bit complicated right now. I mean, you aren’t exactly managing things the way I would like.

Well, do you?

I think so. Sometimes. Sort of. A little bit. But I don’t like some of the things you do – or allow.

Then maybe you should spend some time with Me, and let me show you what I want to do in you through this test.

Maybe. I guess that would be a good idea. But God, can’t you just make things like normal again, and make this coronavirus go away? I don’t like tests. I don’t like upheavals. I don’t like it when I can’t control things, or when my life doesn’t work the way I think it should. And I don’t like to see people suffering.

I know.

Yes. Yes, I suppose you do know. You know my thoughts, don’t you.

Yes, I know your thoughts. But you don’t seem to know My thoughts very well. Did you know there’s another part to that verse?

Is there? Doesn’t it just say all things work together for good for those who love You?

That’s part of it. But remember that bit about being called according to My purpose?

Oh yeah. That part. So what’s that all about, anyway?

You tell me. What do you think is My purpose for you?

I dunno. A nice, easy comfortable life here on earth – after all, I’m a Christian, right? I go to church, I believe in you, I hang out with my nice Christian friends, I do good Christian stuff, and you’re supposed to protect me and my family and make sure we don’t have any trouble. After all, we’re good people. And then I get to go to heaven. But it doesn’t quite seem to be working out the way I thought. This COVID-19 thing really has me rattled.

Yes, I noticed. But did you know that you left out a couple of bits? My purpose for you is a bit bigger than you thought. 

It is? I was afraid of that.

Yep. Did you know there’s a part in there about becoming like Jesus

Really? You expect that? Nobody can be as good as Jesus. He’s special. He’s different.

Well, I didn’t say you had to do that part by yourself. You can’t make yourself like Jesus. You can’t change yourself. Especially not when you keep trying to play it safe and stay out of trouble. That’s why I’m helping you out by letting you go through some problems. 

That’s supposed to help me?

Well, how else am I going to teach you to depend on Me? You spend most of your time trying to figure everything out by yourself. So I allowed the devil to stir up a problem that was too big for anyone to handle. 

I have to admit, I did wonder if maybe the devil had his hand in this. But I don’t understand why you would let him do that. I still don’t see how this pandemic can lead to anything good.

You see how your leaders are trying really hard to cope, keep everyone from getting sick. And medical researchers are working really hard to find solutions, things they can use to manage this problem. They want to find a vaccine. They don’t want to have another problem like this one again. I understand that. I understand that you’re all frightened, and you just want it to end. Believe me, I feel it. I’m hearing way more prayers than usual, and most of them are full of fear. But at least they’re praying. That’s a start. But most people haven’t got a clue what this is really about. 

What is it about then?

My enemy – the devil – wants to destroy you all. He always does. He hates you, and he hates Me. But I’m not going to allow that. I am letting him test you, though. To see how you’ll do. To see how many of my people – those who say they’re my people, anyway – will actually turn to Me. Did you know that’s how you become more like Jesus?

By turning to you and paying attention to you? Really? It’s that simple?

Yes, really. That’s how it works. And not just when things are hard. All the time. You have no idea how much I love you and want to see you grow up into the amazing, glorious person I intend you to become. I want you to live with Me in My perfect Kingdom that is coming, where there is no more suffering or death or pain or anything evil. But none of that can happen unless you go through some troubles. Without troubles, you won’t change, because you’d rather stay in control, you’d rather keep things safe and comfortable. The reason I allow troubles in your life is so that you’ll turn to Me and let Me have My way in your life. 

Ouch. But yes, you’re right. I see that, a little bit anyway. I do want to learn to turn to You and trust You more. I’m tired of being afraid. So what should I do? How can I fix this?

You can’t fix it. That’s the whole point. But I can. I can work in you so that you’re not so anxious, so worried, so stressed. I can teach you to trust Me. I can make you more like Jesus. I can cause you to grow in love, so that you can actually help people in this crisis and not just worry about yourself. I can prepare you for My glorious Kingdom that is coming. I can do all that. But you have to pay attention to Me. 

OK God. Let’s give it a go. I think that would be a good thing. My way’s not working so well.

I noticed that. Glad you’re on side. Walk with me through this. 

Thank you, Lord. Please help me. Teach me Your ways.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. (Romans 8:28-30 NLT)

 

 

 

Share

Nuggets of Hope 6 – Members of Christ’s Body

Good morning. Welcome to Nuggets of Hope.

These brief daily reflections are intended to bring hope and encouragement during the COVID-19 crisis.

During these times when self-isolation is being imposed on us to keep us from getting sick, many feel cut off from others. This is hard for all of us. Today I want to look at the key truth that no matter how isolated from others we may feel, those who belong to Jesus are in fact organically connected.  We are connected to Jesus and to each other.

In a very well-known passage of Scripture, the Apostle Paul wrote these memorable words

For just as the body is one and has many members,
and all the members of the body,
though many, are one body,
so it is with Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12 ESV

First of all, we are connected to the whole human family. It’s important to acknowledge this. Scripture affirms that all of us are descended from one original couple. This makes us one family. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. Remembering that we are connected to the whole human family helps us to pray and serve all people – simply because they are made in God’s image as we are.

Secondly, those who belong to Jesus are always connected to Him, no matter the circumstances. I recently re-read a summary of the life of Richard Wurmbrand, a Jew who became a Communist who became a Christian who became a political prisoner of the Romanian Communist government. During his two bouts of imprisonment, together lasting over fifteen years, he spent three years in solitary confinement. It was his relationship with Jesus that kept him sane during those times. He would meditate on the Word of God – large chunks of which he had memorized – and to keep himself sane he composed a sermon each night and preached it to himself. The power of the Word of God kept him connected to Jesus. Our life comes from Him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. We are organically connected to Him by our faith in Him, by the power of His word that sustains us and renews our minds, and by the power of His Spirit living in us. 

Thirdly, those who belong to Jesus are also connected to each other. Paul says that we are members of one another. Just last night, Marion and I spent some time in a video chat with two dear friends who are part of our weekly home fellowship and Bible Study group. We can’t meet in person right now so we met through the blessing of technology. I’m looking forward to connecting with the whole group in this way on Thursday evening. But even without technology, the Holy Spirit connects us to everyone who belongs to Jesus. Believers in Wuhan, in South Korea, in Israel, in Pakistan, in Italy – they are our brothers and sisters. We can strengthen one another through prayer.

This is so important. Those who are persecuted for their faith often testify to how much it means to them to know that they are being prayed for. The same is true in the face of this virus, and the fear it brings.  Stay connected. Remember that you belong to Jesus. Remember that you belong to the human family, and bring the needs of your neighbours and your leaders before God. Remember that you belong to the Body of Christ. Your brothers and sisters around the world are praying for you, and you can also pray for them. There may be other practical acts of service that we can perform as well, but whatever our situation, we can always pray, and meditate on His living word, and in so doing we stay connected to Jesus and to each other.

God bless you.

Share

Let’s talk about mental health

The stimulus for this post is the Bell Let’s Talk campaign which is intended to encourage people to talk about mental health.

When I was a young pastor I battled depression, although I wouldn’t have had the words to describe what I was dealing with. Looking back, I am convinced that the battle was mostly spiritual in nature. I wanted to fix everything that was wrong with the world, but I couldn’t even fix myself. I was oppressed with negative thoughts (condemnation, self-hatred, perfectionism) which I believe came ultimately from lies sown by the one Jesus called the father of lies and Christians often refer to as the enemy of our souls.

Freedom from this oppression did not come overnight, but the turning point came when I recognized that the battle was essentially spiritual, that Jesus had conquered darkness, and that he had given me the keys to share in his victory. I did not come to this realization on my own, but through the help of precious friends, teachers and mentors for whose help I am very thankful to this day.

Since then I have gone through many difficult events and circumstances, many of which were the direct result of my desire to follow God’s call on my life. But through the help and support of my friends and mentors, these challenging circumstances helped shape me into a healthier, more positive and more resilient man. Though the path has been long, I have come to a point where my life is mostly ruled by the peace of God, even when times are hard. Not that I never struggle, but now I know what to do about it.

There are physical, relational and spiritual components to my self-therapy. I walk or bicycle, I talk and pray with friends and especially my beloved wife, I find ways to serve God through serving others, I spend time with my children and grandchildren, I dialogue with God, I read the Bible and remind myself of God’s promises, I pray for others who are suffering, I play my guitar and worship. All these practices keep me mostly stable, anchored and productive. But I remember what it was like to battle depression, and I don’t want this post to sound as though I think I have it all together. For me, the truth is somewhat different. As the apostle wrote years ago, in Him (Jesus) all things hold together. This is the truth that anchors my life and keeps me healthy.

Share

Knocking on heaven’s door

This morning at church, I did something perfectly ordinary. I left my seat and stood in the aisle to let Grace pass by so that she could sit with her older sister and her parents.

We had just finished singing three beautiful songs of worship and adoration, and faith was stirring in my spirit. As I stood there in the aisle, watching this pretty pre-teen girl child make her way to her seat, my eyes were opened and I was given a vision from heaven. In my spirit, I saw Grace standing in front of a large wooden door. She had her right hand raised and her knuckles formed into a fist. With childlike confidence, she was poised to knock on the door.

As I briefly pondered the meaning of this vision, I immediately realized that it portrayed the teaching of Jesus about faith-filled prayer.

Ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7

Grace is a wonderful young woman, the beloved youngest daughter in a warm, loving, faith-filled family. I concluded that this was a message from God about her developing character, and I made a mental note to share the vision with her and her parents to encourage them.

But my internal dialogue with God didn’t end there. As I prepared to sit down, I sensed that this vision wasn’t just for Grace. My thoughts immediately turned to my own daughter Bethany, also the youngest in our family. Although she is married now and no longer living in my household, Bethany knows – like Grace with her Dad – that if she needs something from me, all she has to do is ask me. If I can do it for her, I will.

I realized that Father was showing me something about His heart towards His beloved people. The vision was not just about Grace. It was a picture of the Bride of Christ, His beloved, knocking on the door of heaven and asking the Father for favour.

Grace is still a child. There is much she doesn’t understand about life, but she does know that her Dad loves her. Even if he doesn’t always give her what she wants right away, she knows that he will always answer her in love. She knows that she can trust him.

The message was clear. Knock boldly, knock with confidence. Even if the answer is delayed, it’s for a good reason. Keep on knocking. The One behind the door is faithful, and in His good time He will answer.

We live in times when many things are being shaken. There is trouble all over the earth, there are wrongs and injustices everywhere, and in many places God’s people are hard-pressed. But there are also signs of the Kingdom in many places for those with eyes to see.

In times like these, some will be tempted to shrink back and become discouraged and fearful. Others will press on boldly, knocking on the door of heaven and trusting Father to answer.

The ones who press on are the ones who understand the character of the One behind the door. They know they are His beloved, they know He has a glorious destiny for them, they know that Jesus will partner with them to rule the earth in the age to come. And so they keep on knocking.

This is how the Bride grows up and comes into her glorious maturity. She keeps on knocking, standing and waiting in faith and hope and love, until she hears the Father’s answer. She will keep on knocking until her Bridegroom returns to reign on the earth, and invites her to reign with Him.

O glorious day.

 

Share

One Day in Your Courts

Love is at the core of every special day. Think back to some of the best days of your life—days marked by joy and excitement. If you scratch beneath the surface of those days, you will find love at…

Source: One Day in Your Courts

Share

My dream date with Justin Trudeau

A few nights ago I had a dream. It wasn’t one of those confusing dreams that you can only half remember. The main lines of it were crystal clear.

In my dream, I was at some sort of public event (a dinner or conference of some sort) with Justin Trudeau. At this event, I had an opportunity to talk with the PM face to face. He made time to chat with me at some length. My dominant impression of him was that of a sympathetic, respectful, idealistic, engaging and likable man, who took what seemed to be a genuine interest in me and my concerns. 

As my conversation with the PM came to an end and he moved on to other things, I realized with some chagrin that throughout this conversation my focus had been entirely on myself and my own goals and concerns. I had taken time to talk with the PM about my views on various matters (I don’t remember details of what I said), but I had not offered to pray for him or asked him about his needs or concerns, or the needs of his family, so that I could pray for him with more insight.

On realizing this, I tried to contact him again so that I could ask him about his needs and how I might pray for him, but his attention was now elsewhere and I no longer had access to him. My opportunity for direct contact was over and I realized that if I wanted to offer to pray for him, I would have to send an email, which would almost certainly be handled by a member of his staff and would probably not get his personal attention.

Then my dream came to an end, and I awoke.

I knew that this dream was significant, so I asked God for insight, and He spoke to me with unmistakable clarity.

My dialogue with the Lord about this dream follows.  Some of this input from the Lord came immediately, as I journaled the dream that morning, and some came on further reflection. I have added links to Scripture references that undergird what the Lord showed me about this dream.

Father, what do you want to say to me about this? Why did I have this dream?

Because I want you to prioritize prayer for Mr. Trudeau and not focus on trading or expressing negative views of his leadership with fellow political conservatives. Like most people, your tendency is to think of the Prime Minister in terms of his office, not as a man. You think of what he can do for you and what you want him to do differently. You do not think about his personal needs, especially his need for salvation and a relationship with Me.

Many of your concerns about his leadership and his policies are justified, but I don’t want you to focus on this. That is not what My people are called to. You are called to pray. The governments of this age will inevitably fall short, but he is a man who has very genuine spiritual needs and he is spiritually open and hungry and has a soft heart. So pray for him. Pray for him as if it matters. Don’t just pray that he will change his political views. Pray that he will see Me for who I am, and turn to Me in genuine humility and repentance. When Paul the Apostle had access to the governor and the king, he testified. He didn’t plead his own case or try to influence the governor’s policies. His concern was for the salvation of the men in whose presence he found himself. So should yours be. Pray for your Prime Minister. He is first of all a man like you. Pray that he will put his hope in Me. That is all that ultimately matters. If Justin turns to Me, many other things will change as well. But I don’t want you to focus on that. I want you to focus on cultivating a heart of mercy towards him as a man – a man whom I love, a man for whom I gave My Son’s life, a man who is despised and mocked by many of My people who should instead be praying for him as a man in need of My salvation. 

I knew that I had been rebuked by the Lord. Over the past few days, His rebuke and his appeal to my heart have prompted the following further reflections.

By and large, most North American Christians have drifted far from the spirit of the New Testament in the way we relate to the governments of this age. When we see unwelcome changes in our culture, or when we have concerns about the direction of the nation, our tendency is to find fault with the government of the day and those who hold influence in our society. And indeed, at one level there may be much to criticize. But what Biblical support can we find for this posture? None whatsoever.

We are instructed to honour rulers, to pray for them, but not to put our hope for change in them. Our hope for change lies in the coming Kingdom of God in which Jesus our King will rule a restored earth from Jerusalem. Most of us don’t live as though we actually believe this. We live as though we believe that it’s up to us to rule the earth now, and we become offended when the government of the day doesn’t cooperate. But this is not New Testament Christianity. It is something else.

I believe the end of the age is approaching, and the Lord is purifying His people and calling us back to our true identity. Part of that identity is that we are a people of prayer whose hope is in the Son of David, the Messiah of Israel who is coming to rule the earth. When our hope is in Him, then we are free to love others without becoming offended with their failings. This includes government leaders. Our first responsibility towards them is to love them and pray for them.

I know all these things – I have known them for years – but I am guilty of allowing myself to be influenced by the political spirit that characterizes so much of the North American church. There is so much bitterness, resentment, anger and judgment in the attitude of many Christians towards government. Many of us are fearful of the changes that we see in society, and we have allowed our fears to influence our thinking, instead of keeping our hearts anchored in the peace that comes from God’s sure and certain promises.

I believe it is time for the church to renounce our idolatry of political power, repent of having placed our hope in the governments of this age, and place our hope once again in the Jesus of the New Testament. It’s time for us to be imitators of Him – to devote ourselves to His ways of prayer, servanthood and love. That is our true identity and calling.

 

Share

Birthdays and anniversaries

perspective-1

I will never think of my birthday the same way again.

Tomorrow my love and I will host a family gathering to celebrate the April birthdays in our family. Bethany, Carmen, Dunovan and I all have birthdays within a four-day span from April 21-25.

It’s a lot of fun to get together with our Ottawa area family for the April birthdays. I am looking forward to seeing my children, their partners, and my grand-daughter Maddie. The weather is starting to turn warm and we can fire up the BBQ and enjoy each other’s company as we celebrate God’s good gift of life.

But this year, I’m also remembering a stormy spiral of events that began a year ago at this time. The same people were at our place to celebrate the April birthdays, and Carmen wasn’t feeling well. Little did she know that her small bowel had somehow become twisted and was beginning to die inside her. After a misdiagnosis in the emergency room of a local hospital, she ended up in emergency surgery three days later to save her life.  A second surgery followed a few days later. As a result of these events, her life has been drastically changed. For our family, this time of year will now be forever marked as both a time to celebrate a birthday, and a time to remember an anniversary.

Carmen tells her story here – and it’s well worth reading. But since each of us remembers shared events through our own personal lens, I also want to tell this story as I lived it.

I experienced this time of intense testing from the perspective of a father and grandpa who desperately wants to see his children blessed. Although I myself was not the one in surgery, my own insides were also being ripped open, metaphorically speaking.

I have never prayed as much, or with as much intensity and singular focus, as I did during the few weeks following this crisis. When I got Joe’s call during a busy time at work, telling me that Carmen was in surgery, that her life was at stake, and asking me to pray, everything else receded into the background. I sought the Lord as I have never sought Him before. For most of the next several weeks, Carmen, Joe and Maddie were at the forefront of my thoughts and prayers.

Today, looking back, I am thankful for many things.

I am so thankful that Carmen’s life was spared. I am also thankful that she is doing so much better than the doctors had originally expected. I am thankful that Maddie Joy still has a Mom, that Joe still has a wife, that many people who treasure Carmen still have her in their lives.

I am also thankful that although Carmen’s life is full of new challenges, she is rising up as a woman of faith and courage. I am thankful that she is reaching out to others who have suffered similar traumas and is becoming a source of strength and encouragement for many.

I am thankful for the new depth and maturity that I see in my son Joe. He and Carmen have been through many tests in the past eighteen months, and Joe has been a rock of strength to Carmen and Maddie through it all. Carmen’s medical crisis came during a time when they were still adjusting to having a newborn and were under significant financial stress due to job loss. Yet today, one year later, they are together, Joe has completed a retraining program and is working in a trade, Carmen is alive and winning the daily battle for hope and courage, Maddie is thriving.

There is a reason why Joe and Carmen are doing so well in spite of so many challenges. The reason can be summed up in one word. God.

Yes, they have had the support of many (hundreds) of people, but at the end of the day, none of those people holds life and death in their hands. Only God does.

I recently re-read the Biblical account of Job’s life and sufferings. It re-opened the question for me of how people of faith respond to unexpected tragedy. Like Carmen, Job had no real answer or explanation for what was happening to him, but he clung to his stubborn conviction that his Redeemer was alive, and that in the end his faith would be vindicated. And it was.

As I was praying for Carmen and Joe last April and May during those first two critical weeks when her life was in the balance, I remember being so thankful that I serve a God who listens and responds when I pray. Over and over again, the Spirit gave me perspective and hope, and so I was able to continue standing before God as an intercessor on their behalf. So for me, this tragic series of events has only served to confirm and strengthen my hope in Him. I fully expect that Carmen’s life will bear fruit for eternity that would not have been possible without this horrendous test. Am I saying that God caused the test? No, it came from another source – but He did not prevent it, choosing instead to weave it into His good purpose for her life.

At my age, people sometimes ask (or hint) at the question of how I feel about approaching old age. My health is still very good, but I know that my life in this age will not last forever. But that’s not the sum total of my hope. I am convinced that God has made me for an eternal purpose, and that how I respond to the opportunities and challenges of this life will determine my eternal destiny in the Age to Come. I am looking forward to sharing in the glory of God, and I know that I have a choice in every situation. I can turn towards God, or I can turn away from Him.

When trouble comes, you can let yourself be defined by the trouble, you can decide to fight it on your own strength (always a losing proposition in the end, because your strength will one day run out), or you can turn to the One who holds life and death in his hands.

The way you turn makes all the difference in the world.

 

 

Share

The Bridal Seal of Love

For the past several weeks I have been making Song of Songs a major focus of my devotional life and as part of that focus, I have just finished listening to a wonderful 12-part teaching series by Mike Bickle (of International House of Prayer) on the Song of Songs.

Although this is not my first time devoting a season of my life to the Song, this time around I found it so motivating that I wanted to encourage you all to consider giving some time to contemplating the message of the Song (which really is the message of the First Commandment, in poetic form).

Because the Song of Songs is poetry, and because it is set in a culture very different from ours, some parts of it may seem strange to us. For this reason a guide may be helpful. I have been greatly helped by Mike Bickle’s teaching on the song – as well as his testimony of how God overcame his reluctance and taught him to love the Song. So, for any who would appreciate some help, here is a link to the final teaching in the series, to give you a taste and get you started.

I debated whether to share this with you all, because I don’t want to just promote my own agenda. But I don’t think it is just my agenda. Teaching the Bride to love the Bridegroom is central to God’s purposes in the Last Days. Nor is this at odds with focusing on the Great Commission. Rather, it’s the fuel for carrying out that commission without burning out.

Often we pray in a task-oriented or results-oriented mode. We pray for this need or that need. There is nothing wrong with this – Jesus told us to bring our requests to the Father – but the highest goal of our life, and what Jesus is returning for, is to be a Bride that is fully in love with Him, so that whatever we do is fuelled by our love for Him which in turn is fuelled by His love for us.

Increasingly, this is the mandate that the Lord is bringing to the forefront of my attention – to go deeper in knowledge of His love, and then to let everything else I do be motivated, shaped and fuelled by that love. Although I fall far short of this, it is my vision and my heart’s desire, and I believe it is also the call of God, the reason He created us and the reason Jesus came to earth – that He would have a people who know the fulness of His love.

In Jesus

Peter

Share