Monday, 30 May 2011

Where's the Sting?


Ephesians 1:13-14 "It's in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first instalment on what's coming, a reminder that we'll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life."

It's been awhile since I sat down and wrote, so you would think I would have lots to say or write about, but it's been a real struggle for the thoughts to flow. I did however come across the song that I have attached to this posting (Matt Maher - Christ is Risen).

This song starts with the line:

"Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
But fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to Him who showed great love"

I've lived in that shame and sometimes I still live in it as well but I want to run to Him now who showed great love and bled for me.

This song took me in a roundabout way to Hosea 13:14  "Who is afraid of you, Death? Who cares about your threats, Tomb? In the end I'm abolishing regret, banishing sorrow."

The enemy wants me to live in my shame, to believe the lie that my sin defines me. That I am a failure, a screw up, a bad example, unsuccessful, unfaithful, unreliable and doomed to always be. But these are lies and hollow threats. The truth is that Christ is risen from the grave and I can rise out of the grave with Him, out of my inward shame.

Straight up, I am a sinner, just as the apostle Paul said "I am the chief sinner".   My enemy likes to call me an adulterer, a liar, a failure, lustful, a covenant breaker, a thief, a dead-beat dad, an abuser, because I have done all these things - But tonight I say "Oh death where is your sting? Or hell, where is your victory?, My God is not dead He is alive, trampling over death!"

Hosea means Salvation and also happens to be the name of my youngest son.  Two years ago when my wife Lorilee was pregnant, God told her to name our son Hosea even while I was off having an affair and wanting nothing to do with her. I have to be clear here, I did the same thing to my first wife and this has been a pattern for me, one that I am very ashamed of. So an easy lie for me to listen to is that I am an adulterer, and that I bail when my wife is pregnant. But God is good and God has a bigger plan then that for me.

My God is so great, he brought me to this song tonight and to the book of Hosea so that it would come in loud and clear for me. "Kevin, don't believe the lies, don't live in the shame anymore, don't live in remorse and regret. I love you and have called you, everything that I have planned for you will come to being."

"Lord forgive me for listening to lies and not to you. Forgive me for living in shame, regret and remorse. Help me to live in the freedom and abundant life that you promise for me. You loved me in my sin and you love me now. Thank you for what you have done in my life and what you will continue to do."

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

It's Out Of My Hands


Matthew 10:39 "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

I live life with an agenda. Everything I do has an agenda to it if I realize it or not. I work so I can be comfortable, have a home, eat good food, enjoy my spare time. I treat my wife how she wants to be treated because, didn't you know? - A happy wife means a happy life. I teach and discipline my children so that they will not hurt themselves and so they can be successful in life. I hang out with certain friends because they make me feel good. I do what my boss wants so I can keep my job, the list goes on and on. 

Life has become a giant formula. If I do "Task A" Plus "Task B" Minus "Bad Habit C" equals "Kevin is Happy" or A + B - C  = :)

So why am I a Christian? Is being a Christian just part of my agenda? Has it just become part of my magic formula?  If I put the mirror up to my life and look long and hard I have to say yes. 

I didn't have any real answers tonight, just this confession and lots of questions for myself.  I did know something though, that this is not how I want to live out my life. This is not the abundant life God has promised me. Having an agenda does not give me the freedom that God has promised me either. Living my faith within a formula isn't really faith at all, its just me trying to take back control of the life I gave to Christ.

But thankfully God brought me to this song tonight (please listen to it) and to this verse above.  I need to remember that its out of my hands and that I need to lay my life down to truly find it. It was God who lifted my head, It was Him who set me apart. It was out of my hands - RIGHT FROM THE START!

WOW what a great formula!! God - My Control = Freedom and the Abundant life!! He has already done it all for me. He saved me, He changed me, He loved me before I ever did anything. This is where I need to live, this is the truth I need to wait passionately on.

To give up control, to let go, to open up my hands I just need to trust my saviour and live my faith out in obedience to Him.  - Because its been out of my hands, right from the start!

"Lord forgive me for trying to take control of my life again after I gave it to you. You pursued me, you sought me out and found me. You set me apart and you lifted my head, not because of what I did, but simply because you love me. Help me to live in this truth daily, moment by moment and to trust and wait on you."

Sunday, 1 May 2011

He Called and He Shouted


Mark 10: 13 - 16 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Its been a few days since I last wrote, life has just been busy the last few days. So I sat down tonight knowing that I wanted to write, but with absolutely no idea about what. Now its about 2 hours later and I have to say God met me here at my kitchen table tonight.  I was lead to this scripture and the song I have attached and to the overwhelming feeling and warmth of my heavenly fathers love for me.

My Heavenly Father has broken me softly tonight. Its so apparent to me that I have been taking too much time trying to dig deep to search for some hidden nugget or to find some new gem about my God.  But thanks be to God that he shouted through my blindness and got hold of me tonight.  He has made it abundantly clear to me that sometimes I need to stop looking so hard for the life application or the lesson that I need to learn and just enjoy His love for me.

Passionately waiting can just be resting! Passionately waiting can just be enjoying my Fathers presence! Passionately waiting can just be praising. - And in waiting on Him, I can be transformed! I was created to have a relationship with my God, and that can mean just spending time with Him, enjoying his closeness and love.

Also I have been challenged so much over the last couple weeks while writing this blog. At times I have felt guilty, ashamed and unworthy to call myself a Christ Follower and to put pen to paper on here, so to speak. Since I wrote my last post about being real at work, play and at home, I have found myself measuring every conversation and interaction closely. I have been trying to check every thought and emotion and I have to say that I am tired, I feel emotionally drained. I have messed up and I have been feeling like a failure. Somewhere along the line I made the mistake of thinking that by being open and vulnerable, I could take control of my life and become pleasing to God again.

But today Pastor Mike spoke a great sermon about the "Good Stuff". The "Good Stuff" is the great truths from God that sometimes get trampled on, choked out blown away and don't take root in our hearts. I have to confess that my heart has been hard to the truths as I listen to lies about myself. I think that I have screwed up too much, that I have messed up too many relationships, sinned too much, hurt too many people and basically I have disappointed my God.

But God called and he shouted, broke through my deafness and has made it so clear to me tonight that he loves me the way a new mother and father love their new born baby. God looks down on me with pride, amazement, happiness and joy!!  And now, like a new born baby, "I breath in and breath out - I'M ALIVE AGAIN!! You shatter my darkness you wipe away my blindness and I breath in and I breath out, I'M ALIVE AGAIN!!" (Matt Maher - Alive Again)

"Lord forgive me of two things, for searching too hard for impressive insights and wisdom and not just sitting at your feet and enjoying you. And forgive me for believing the lie that you are disappointed in me and that I need to work really hard to please you and letting that harden my heart. Thank you for breaking me softly tonight, for breaking and softening the soil on my heart to be ready to take the seeds of your truth. I love you Father!!"

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Whack Job

Matthew 10:32-34 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Well, I just got whacked. Not Mafia style whacked, I am not writing this from a trunk of a car as we speak, typing with my head in a vice or swimming with the fishes as I blog. I just got whacked by God. It was like he said to me “I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.” - “Either put your life on the line or don’t bother writing anymore.”  You may be wondering what I mean by putting my life on the line.

I have to be straight up here and totally honest with myself. I can lead a double life sometimes. I find it easy to portray myself the way I want to or the way I think people would like.  I find it easy to blend in, to make people like me and to just go with the flow. It’s also very easy to write this blog knowing my church friends and people might appreciate it, but it’s another thing completely to consider all my friends, my co-workers and acquaintances may be reading this as well. Will they read this now and think “Who is this Kevin?” “Where did the normal Kevin we see and talk with everyday go?”

I have to be honest with myself again and ask some tough questions; Am I ashamed of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ? Or am I just ashamed of how I have carried myself, the conversations I have had, the jokes I have made, the gossip I have been involved in and the attitudes I can have? – It’s the latter. I am not ashamed of Jesus and his Good News, people know what I believe, but do my actions portray my belief at all?

Only two days ago I wrote: “If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it”  - WHACK!!

To put my life on the line today, tonight, this week, and right now I need to open myself up to the chance to be criticized, to be called two faced, to be seen as un-authentic and to maybe lose some respect in people’s eyes. I need to own up to the fact that I am not the most shining example of what a Christian should look and act like.  I need to repent of that and make changes, but also, I want to passionately wait and hang on to Gods truth fro me today:

Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

There is hope in this verse for me. It’s a promise from God that he will be faithful to me, show me my real identity and give me a true purpose for my life.

So, tonight, and from now on, all my blog postings will go directly on my Facebook wall, where all my friends, co-workers and acquaintances can find it. No more hoping that just my church friends will read along. I may be found wanting in the looking and acting like a good Christian department, but I don’t want to hold on to my life or my pride anymore. I want to lay it down at the Cross and let God continue to change me, use me and mould me, warts and all. I want to be authentic, even if what I see in the mirror, I am not proud of yet....

“Lord, forgive me once again for holding on to my life and my pride. The silly thing is that it’s not even worth hanging on to. Lord change me, I want to be the same man at work, at play, at home and at church. Give me the courage to stand for you, the ability to say I am sorry, the humility to be able to own up to my shortcomings and mistakes. May I also humbly and thankfully accept your Grace – Which is you working inside me and changing me. Lord you love me just the way I am but you refuse to leave me this way”

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Changed By Waiting

Romans all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
I came across a great quote yesterday: “If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it.” I came across this quote as I was doing some training for a local cleaning company of all things. The founder of this company, Marion E. Wade, was a strong Christian man, and was famous for using this quote that he built his business model on.
You may be wondering, as I was last night, what am I doing training for a cleaning company?  Well over the last year or so I have been struggling with what exactly God has called me to do with my life. About 2 months ago God made it clear to me that my purpose and my calling right now is to be a Great Husband, a Great Father and a Provider for my family. Once I get a good handle on that, he will have more for me to do. So I thought, great I got it now, now I can relax. The fact of the matter is I believed this was my calling but I didn’t make any changes to fulfill it. I wasn’t living it, so I didn’t really believe it.  
Financially we have struggled these last few years, and I have a tendency to put my head in the sand and hope for the best.  I decided I can’t do that anymore, so I got myself a part time job on top of my full-time job to help provide for my wife and family.   This quote I heard last night was confirmation that God was pleased I was, in a small way, living my beliefs out.
I have to admit that this is just a small part of me being a Great Husband, a Great Father and a Provider for my family. I don’t measure up in lots of ways; I have a son in another city I don’t see or talk to nearly enough, I constantly mess up with my wife in so many ways, I struggle often to be a good dad and step dad to my boys, I could go on and on....But now I am starting to live out my purposes.

I realize that it’s often my feelings of guilt and shame that have paralyzed me into doing nothing. It’s my thoughts of not measuring up or feeling like I am not good enough that have kept me ineffective.  My pride has kept me from stepping out because I want to have everything in order before I try something new or step out of my comfort zone. There are just some of the lies and some of the tactics Satan uses to keep me from fulfilling my purposes.  
I have to say that I am so thankful for the time I have been taking to Passionately Wait on God. In this short time something very cool has happened. I was waiting for God to fix some things I wasn’t happy with or to change my circumstances. But instead he is actually changing me and through that I am changing my outcomes, with His power and with His leading!!  The lies I sometimes listen to are being drowned out by the truths that God is showing me. I am now starting to live what I believe, and only because of the Grace of my Heavenly Father!! What a great God I serve and wait on! 
“Lord forgive me for believing the lies that I am not good enough and that my past sin and guilt will keep me from fulfilling my purposes. Thank you that you love me so much that you change me on the inside even when I don’t realize it.  Lord thank you that as I draw closer to you that you draw closer to me and I can’t help but to be changed in your presence.”

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

An Indescribable Perspective


2 Chronicles 6:18 Can it be that God will actually move into our neighbourhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn't large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I've built.
I realize that often my perspective of things isn’t always right. Often my highs at work are too high and my lows are way too low.  Issues I have with people or family can seem insurmountable, tasks and responsibilities seem extra daunting.  The Canucks winning or losing seems so super important (well it is). Life can be super hard, and life can be so amazingly great!
I was looking up a passage today which I wanted to read again, but I stumbled on this portion of scripture instead. King Solomon, the wisest man who has ever lived, just finished building the Temple of God in Jerusalem and was praying at the opening ceremony, so to speak. Right smack dab in the middle of his prayer, Solomon brings some perspective to the situation: “the cosmos itself isn't large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I've built.”   I love this; the wisest man in the world, one of the richest kings ever, brings clarity, perspective, reality and humbleness to the forefront.  Basically he says “God you’re really, really, really, really big and we are really, really, really small.”
In this though, I don’t want to forget that this job of building the temple was a really big deal. God had promised to King David that his son would build a permanent temple for God to dwell in. So this was a big deal to God and to the whole nation of Israel. I like Solomon, also have some very important things to do; provide for my family, love my wife and children, live a Godly life, and take care of my responsibilities; these are all very important things. This is however where Gods Grace kicks in. This is where his love gets a chance to live out:
-We are just like the temple.  We are a beautifully designed, created, constructed and crafted by God and for God to live inside us. This was promised for generations and generations:  Colossians 1: 26-29 ...this mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it's out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you...
Back in 2 Chronicles, Solomon goes on to pray for people who offend each other, for war, for famine, for disasters, for when people sin for the whole nation. He got his perspective right and then he laid it at Gods feet. God was now coming to dwell amongst His people in a house they created for Him. He was asking for God to care about every situation.
One of the things that I find the hardest about passionately waiting for God is that I sometimes don’t trust that he cares about me or that he really can help me. This is when I need to change my perspective.  Unlike Solomon I didn’t have to build a temple, I just had to be available and willing to accept him - Now He dwells inside me.  The Kings of Kings the creator of everything good, the source of life, lives in me!! How’s that for a proper perspective?  I did nothing, I didn’t deserve this, I really truly am totally undeserving of Him, but God chooses to love me and live inside me!! How can I not now wait with passion, with hope and with fervency to see what He will do through me and in me?
Now that God is living in me, he wants to live in my life completely, my job is to be obedient and humble enough to bring everything to God. Each responsibility, each relationship, each stress, each tragedy God wants to breathe His life into. More than that, He doesn’t just want to bless and make things work out for me. He wants to live and interact in each moment with me.  Everything I do should be an opportunity for me to let God to work supernaturally through me. Oh how I fail at this!!  But oh how amazing that would be!!
“Forgive me Lord that I forget how great you are. Help me to be like Solomon and continually re-focus and shift my perspective. You are truly indescribable and great! Help me Lord not to do things out of my own strength but to use the gift, the fact that you are living in me! Thank you again Lord that you loved me enough to not just die for me, but to also live inside me and change me.”

Saturday, 16 April 2011

It's a Surprise!

# 7

2 Corinthians 2: 9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Grace, it's always a surprise. It comes when I'm not expecting it, if I thought I deserved it then it wouldn’t really be grace anymore. Its so much more then mercy, it takes mercy and builds on it. Mercy is the starting point, Grace is where the action is, where the party is, it's where His love lives.

Tonight I thought of a moment in my life about 3 years ago. I was off being a complete ass for lack of a better term. For those of you who don’t know, I had an affair on my wife and in that time left home to live with another woman. One night Lorilee (my wife) and I had an intense evening, I was trying to leave her and she didn’t want me to go. A few hours of fighting and talking she decided to just let me go. This was showing me mercy, she could of kept hounding me, because she had the right, but she let me go free. But that was just the starting point. Lorilee went to go inside, as I was packed to go, but then she stopped at the door, came back and said to me. “You look like you need a hug”. - WOW GRACE!! WOW WHAT A HUG!!

I needed a hug badly!! Yes I was hurting Lorilee, more then I knew, but also in that moment I was weak and hurting too. God saw that weakness and used Lorilee to love me. That hug, that act of grace, stuck with me the whole time I was apart from her. Gods love lived in that moment, He lived in that act of grace, and it started to change me. Praise God for His Grace.

Tonight as I write, I write with a heavy heart. Yesterday Lorilee and I found out that she had a miscarriage and the baby we had been expecting is gone. I have to admit, I am hurting right now. But in this moment, in this time of hurt and emotion I feel Gods arms around me.

God has already shown me mercy, he gave me the right to live a free life, to do what I want, to go where I want, to be who I want to be, but for some reason Gods eyes are always on me. And now in this moment God has stopped, noticed, and has come alongside me to bring comfort, hope and peace. He sees that I need a hug tonight and he is drawing near to me: “Kevin, you look like you need a hug”. His love is being lived out in his grace – His kindness and comfort for me. What did I do to deserve it? - absolutely nothing.

What a pleasant surprise His Grace is tonight! - Praise God!

Thank you Lord that your grace is sufficient for me, Thank you that when I am weak, that then I am strong because of you. Lord Forgive me for forgetting that you are always watching over me and that you care for me. Help me to praise you in all circumstances. Thank you for your unending Love and Grace.”