ME THINKETH YOU TALK OUT OF BOTH SIDES OF YOUR MOUTH

People come in whining about their  problems then when suggestions are made they shoot them down or say, “well it really isn’t that much of a problem!” So I ask, “OK so why not let it go and refocus on grabbing the life in front of you?”   “Well, they reply, it is too big of a problem to ignore and get on with life, but too small to buckle down and deal with.

People will admit that they are messed up and say “I must be hard to live with.” This would lead the listener to assume that they are ready to change. Then nothing happens and they continue to do the same “messed up” behaviors and do not seek help. They seem to be saying that by admitting that they are messed up others should see them as honest and humble and not require genuine effort to change.

The scriptures point out that the same mouth will say “I love God so much!” and then turn around and find fault with, get mad at and put down everyone around them. Yet it is a lie to say your love God and hate anyone he made and died for.

We say that our neighbors will go to hell for eternal separation from God and that we care about them. Then few show up to go calling on those same neighbors when the church has outreach days.

They say that we are trying to grow and are open to feedback and that we love the Word. Yet all scripture reproves and they never report any of the reproving from having read the word. If you gave them any feedback they would punish you by counter attacking, or by defending or explaining why it isn’t true or even by agreeing and then becoming depressed but not changing.

So, what shall we say then? Whatever is just, lovely, honest, well spoken of, virtuous. Go ahead and quote scripture and sing hymns but please let us STOP and ponder “what manner of persons aught we then to be in living holy lives?”

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BLESSINGS ON THE LITTLE (weak, untrained,troubled,ignored, etc.)GUY- YOU and I!

John Wesley was led by the Lord to take the gospel to the uneducated working classes, and a great revival saved western civilization as a result. The Bible says that not many strong, not many wise  in this world’s opinion, not many rich will be used or chosen. We have this treasure in vessels of clay that the treasure might be seen the more awesome.

This is not to suggest that we should justify being unstudied in the word or unpracticed in prayer, or unused to witnessing, but rather that we not wait to serve till we “seem”, in our own eyes or the eyes of others, to appear strong and wise.

It also guides us to look at our families and churches to discern who seems to be the weakest and to remember that according to I Corinthians 12 21 they are MUCH MORE important than the rest. So we would do well to think, “what do we need them for, how can we give them ministry and let God bless us through them?” We need to give more honor to these weaker parts. So who do you have on your list of the “seemingly” small and weak?:  The old,the teens,mentally challanged,women, children, uneducated, low income, short, ugly, low IQ, shy, quiet etc.

I am real excited about what God is doing in my church and we are growing spiritually and in numbers but seem to not have figured out how to pull in the old, the shy, the teems. Oh, we have a vibrant youth ministry but we have not figured out what we NEED them for. Sure they are the future of the church but the “WEAK” do not so much need to be ministered to as they need to be needed, and not in a general sense such as, “Well, we need everyone.” but in a, “If we can’t draw them into doing their part then the battles will be lost and the church will not thrive!

In our church the teens go off an are not often seen in the door to door calling or visiting the shut ins or in upholding the needs in prayer. Young men, especially, want to be called to do great deeds and fight the good fight and become part of the other warriors in a battle with purpose and with things that they can do. But they have been told that they need to “socialize” with other teens and “find themselves” and “develop their individual identities”. So they go off by themselves and play and when they pass you, they look right through you if you are an older person, as if you don’t exist.

What about the shut ins? What a potential powerhouse of experience and time to tap into for prayer if we would let them know the details of the battle.

The Lord has pointed out that I have two young men in my Sunday-school class who have trouble understanding basic things and get lost in the discussion.Whey we identify a prayer need and I ask for someone to pray for the need, they never offer to try. Yet their prayers would be powerful before God. One of the difficult balances is that “WEAK” people often react to being challenged to participate with refusing and then not coming back. That is probably because they have been comparing themselves to others. Somehow we must find out how to entice them to do the little that they can without driving them away.

God has called me to minister with and to affirm the place of the seemingly weak in the body of Christ. Evey time I try to do a class or support group or in other ways contribute in the church, few people sign up, the ones who come rave about how real and helpful it is—and then don’t invite others or even keep coming themselves. So God seems to be leading me to put more effort into this online ministry. (I am so grateful to Him and to my daughter Cheri for making this possible and to all of you who choose to get my writings and podcasts.) I am also going to devote Wednesday nights to visitation of the shut-ins and the “weak” in the body of Christ. Please pray for direction and chances to bless others.

 

IS IT WAR THEN?

Recently, in the USA, we have experienced a very different involvement in war than in the past. We would fight , win then move on through peacetime, call our troops home and settle down till the next war. Now, it seems, our troops are fighting overseas a never-ending war. This requires a very different approach, a very different soldier, and very different supports.

This new war is very similar to the old war between good and evil, God’s kingdom and the devil’s. This war started long before we were born and will continue till long after we die. Fought in our own strength, we would soon grow weak and be defeated. My wife Lois has pointed out that the side of evil seems to have more stamina in our country than the godly forces. They fight to pull down marriage, to allow everyone to have sex with everyone, to discourage frugality, to encourage whining victim mentality, to encourage us to look to the government for security and not to God or his kingdom. They fight and lose, fight and lose, fight and win a little, fight and win a little more and soon we just give in. We want to do battle and then coast. It is a long distance race, a lifelong battle and we should make up our minds to be good to the last drop.

Often my view of the average Christian soldier is someone wandering the battlefield with no training, no sword, no support team, no battle buddies, no instructions, no goals, clad in bermuda shorts and a Hawaaian shirt, sipping lemonade and when the enemy shoots at them, they throw their glass of lemonade at the enemy and whine about how they did not sign up for this.

When we become Christians we are in a war and have joined an army and the enemy will certainly want to shoot at us.

So what does it take? First put on the armor and get up each morning by reminding yourself that your thoughts are protected by the helmet of salvation and we overcome the devil by declaring that we belong to Jesus and are purchased by the blood of the Lamb and we do not fear the devil though he arrange to have us killed. When he attacks and accuses us brethren, that is his job, we remind ourselves and him that we have our hearts protected by the breastplate of Jesus’ righteousness. When he temps us to be wishywashy on “does the Bible really say?” Maybe we should trust the secular scholars who say don’t spank children and have lots of sex before marriage in order to be better prepared to commit long term. We respond that we have the belt of truth in God’s word and will trust that. When he temps us to judge others and wall ourselves off and be defensive rather than tearing down the gates of Hell, we assure ourselves and him that we have our feet shod with the good news of Jesus death and resurrection and that Jesus died for ALL and we will attack his kingdom with this good news. We will train ourselves in the use of jour weapons the quoted word and spoken prayer and witness. We will seek and reward feedback from our brethren as iron sharpens iron, we will let others know of our struggles so they can come to our side, and we will continue to build while fighting the good fight till we finish the lifelong course and receive the prize.

 

LISTEN

We often us pat phrases that sound good but leave the follower of Jesus feeling confused and vaguely guilty because we have no clue what they mean or how we are to apply them to our lives. For example: lean on Jesus, trust in him, rest in grace, or listen to the still small voice.

Maybe I can share my recent experiences on a mission trip to Montreal. This is one of the darkest of all mission fields. Asking people to turn from idols and demons to Jesus is pretty simple compared to talking to people living in a modern city driving nice cars and finishing college. Especially is these people have rejected the version of Christianity found in the Catholic church. They believe that science has proved that there is no need for God and that “all that stuff is just a crutch”.

As I have often shared, I am very shy and one of the hardest things for me is “cold calling” on doors. So I jumped in the deep end and delivered invitation cards to about 600 homes. I think that the Lord “talks to us” through helping us feel our weakness and letting us know that where we are week he is strong so go in the direction of most resistance. So here I am passing our cards in french, and my french is 40 years old and rather mediocre. The cards are saying “come to our church and don’t trust in works religion” These people have no religion at all and would be loath to “waste” a sunday morning going to some strange church. Now in Michigan it is against the law to put fliers in mail boxes but you can ring door bells. In Quebec it is against the law to ring doorbells but you can put fliers in the circular mailbox which is on almost every home. So I’m getting in touch with my insides and talking to the Lord, ” these fliers are a bit irritating and will probably just be tossed, so why am I out here dropping these off?” He spoke into my head that he agreed that the fliers were not real great but they did have the plan of salvation on them and he was capable of preparing hearts and causing people to stop and read. He then put the thought into my heart that I should do my calling following the rules he gave the disciples in the Bible that if one was received then let “YOUR” blessing come on the house. He pointed out that he was blessing me with abnormal, “for me” peace and joy. So at each house I stopped and asked God to bless the people within. This changed my view  from being out there “irritating people for Jesus” to being out there spreading Gods blessings and making his work in hearts and minds easier. When I was asked by people what I was up to, I could truthfully say, in french, that I was a soldier of Jesus Christ out asking him to bless them and their homes and their street and city. They all responded with “merci beaucoup” This was very encouraging. Then he placed the idea in my head to pray outloud because the devil can’t read minds and he wanted the devil to hear me as I prayed than God would “jetter le diable loin d’ici” which I think means. Throw the devil far from here. (that was the closest I could get in french) Then I came to a house where the box read , PAS DE CIRCULAIR, or NO CIRCULARS! Now what? The lord suggested I shake the dust off my feet and move on as they were not open to me. I felt kind of weird doing this as I had little dust on my feet and it did look weird but that is what the Bible suggests. As I moved on from one such house the people drove up so I went back and had a nice chat with them so I guess God had a special reason for that contact. Still I had few real conversations but enjoyed spreading light and peace in a place of darkness and tension. At one house the lady Julia came out to find out what I was up to and we got to talking. It didn’t take long to find out that her English was better than my French. She struggles with depression and had been putting together a collection of helpful prayers to encourage her. I was able to do some counseling and connect her to my blog site. So pray for her.

So hearing from the lord happens as we are ENGAGED in life and are being REAL  about the difficulties of the situation and the limitations of our tools and abilities, then we need to be STEEPED IN THE WORD, and ideas RELEVANT to the task will come into  our heads and the MORE WE GIVE THEM A TRY the more ideas come and we find the tension fading and service is a joy.

Maybe you could share how he talks with you.

HONEST TO GOD?

When I was a child, my father said that the mission board did not want the folks back home to be told the truth about the struggles of spiritual warfare. “Make it all sound good or the supporters back home will stop giving.”

Question, is God ever served by making things sound better than they are?

During the Vietnam war, the commanders inflated their success. The numbers would have added up to more than the total population!

Can we “fake it till you make it?” Or should we “Act in the fact?” The fact is that 1.God is in charge and we have great reason for joy and hope. 2. Things in the church and family can look pretty bad.

I think that pastors feel that they can’t be real about the battle facts or we will go to a different church or drop out of the fight. But then, how can we pray or build our faith or give God glory when he pulls victory out of an impossible mess?

Examine yourself, do you find it thrilling to be pulled into a battle that is going poorly. Do you even recognize that we are in a great lifelong battle.

Lois and I just returned from a mission trip to Montreal to join in the battle there. The church has grown to where it doesn’t fit the building but the people are immigrants and were trained by missionaries to take handouts and not to give a hand. They don’t pay tithes while driving expensive cars and sending their tithe home. They go out calling,as a group on Wednesday but visitors don’t feel welcome. Half are Haitian,half are African and don’t mix at gatherings.

OK how many of you are thrilled to join with me in praying for God’s power to be shown?

We must join in with enthusiasm when things look bleak if we want to grow. I personally grew in my learning to rest in the Lord and enjoy my small part in this battle.

Next blog l’ll share what God taught me about listening to his still small voice.

2 Timothy 2:3 Therefore endur hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

 

LIFT UP THE HANDS THAT HANG

As I observe people in psychiatric help locations or even in the supermarket, I see a lot of “hands that hang down”. It may be OK for the world to walk around with bodies screaming, “poor me!” but I don’t feel that it pleases the Lord. I also think that it feeds the misery. Now I don’t think that the Lord expects us to “just snap out of our misery” He knows that no chastening is pleasant: but keep your eye on the benifit it will produce. When we lose a special person, we do grieve: but not like the heathen for we have HOPE.

Look with me at Hebrews 12: 1

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Wherefore LIFT UP THE HANDS WHICH HANG DOWN AND THE FEEBLE KNEES;
And MAKE STRAIGHT PATHS FOR YOUR FEET, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled;

What do we expect to gain from droopy faces, shuffled feet, deep sighs, mumbled responses? Do we want to be let out of current responsibility, get others to do our part, cause God to owe us one? Seems the only reasonable result will be to say to the dominant “habit” part of our brain; “lets wallow see how miserable we are” You can’t tell your “habit” brain to fight back against life’s problems if your arms and legs “hang down”

I’ve read that 80% of speech is done with our body parts and not with our mouth. “See”, we say with our posture, ” I am a christian and what a miserable thing that is!”

The antidote? Look to the passage above and 1.remember the friends and family that are already with the Lord. Remember that their warfare is over and ours will be soon. Remember that being a fellow sufferer with the Lord is a great privilege. Imagine you’d been asked to carry his cross, would you have whined about how heavy it was and how it scraped your shoulders? Well, he does ask you to take up the cross daily but when you give this sacrifice, wash the face and put on clean clothes and don’t let everyone know how hard it is by work or by sagging body. If you suffer for righteousness sake, how happy is that? If you deserve chastening and get it then you are a legitimate child and not a bastard. Focus on SIN and not on comfort, affirmation, power, function etc. If there is no sin then how light our spirits should be for it is sin that weighs us down, not suffering. Either the sin that brought on the chastening or the sin of moaning and groaning about the cost of discipleship.

I wish us all erect backs, lifted feet, look others in the eye, put on clean clothes, smile,while we appreciate what we DO have, what we CAN do, and who IS in our lives.

 

BLATHERED

When I was a teenager, I went on a trip with a group of classmates in a bus. The trip was long and it was hot and the adult group leader was wise and warned us that we would find ourselves in a CONDITION which would “excuse” irritability and complaining. She suggested that, instead, we might catch ourselves and choose a kinder response, In Spite Of our condition.

In the twelve steps they talk about a tool called HALT, which stands for Hungry Angry Lonely and Tired.

These are conditions, or states of being, that can either be an excuse for falling into sin, (in AA that would be thinking “I just can’t help it I have to drink” or “This is just too much I didn’t count on this , if this hadn’t happened I could have made it but now I just have to have a drink”)

It is our responsibility not to wander the battlefield bumping into buried mines and ambushes but to watch for the places, people, triggers and conditions that we have used to excused sin in the past. Are you feeling bored, lonely, angry, tired, happy, excited, rejected, depressed etc.. Are you BLATHERED? (I like that better than just HALT). You can always spot an ambush, it’s when you are experiencing a temptation or stress and start thinking that you weren’t expecting this, this is too much!

Then run to Jesus.

Prov 27 12 A prudent man foreseeth evil and hideth himself but the simple pass on and are punished.    Maybe Peter would have taken a different path if he had heeded the Lord’s warning that he would betray him and ask Jesus how to find grace to not do so rather than proudly protest that he never would.

Most of us would “prefer” to do things God’s way but it is a preference not a conviction. In Romans 6 Paul says, “why do I do what I don’t want to and don’t get around to doing what I do want to? The frontal lobe can give lectures on what healthy responses would look like. It can give wise advice to others. Still, the habit part of our brain tends to win and we wind up doing it the same old way. Then our brain starts searching for an “excuse” such as: “I was tired, bored, lonely etc.” We need to ask God to help us be people of principle and conviction, to be No Matter What! If a man grows up thinking that he usually shouldn’t hit women, then the time will come when he does. If he grows up thinking that a man just never hits a woman no matter what, then he won’t. The difference is between a preference and a principle. If you think that one usually should remain calm, kind, joyful, loving, patient, gentle, and  godly :then you will often be tense, unkind, miserable, impatient, rough, and ungodly. If you commit to relying on the Holy Spirit to be these things through you NO MATTER WHAT and NO MATTER WHEN with NO MATTER WHO at NO MATTER WHERE  so help me God even if I have to die in the process. Then you will stand firm.

Dear Lord help me to stop finding exceptions in my weak moments because You say that when I am weak they You are strong for your strength is made perfect in my weakness. Continue reading