Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Long time no see...
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Letter from Satan
I saw you yesterday as you began your daily chores. You awoke without kneeling to pray. As a matter of fact, you didn't even bless your meals, or pray before going to bed last night. You are so unthankful. I like that about you.
I cannot tell you how glad I am that you have not changed your way of living. Fool! You are mine. Remember, you and I have been going steady for years, and I still don't love you yet. As a matter of fact, I hate you, because I hate God. I am only using you to get even with God. He kicked me out of heaven, and I'm going to use you as long as possible to pay him back.
You see, Fool, GOD LOVES YOU and HE has great plans in store for you. But you have yielded your life to me and I'm going to make your life a living hell. That way we'll be together twice. This will really hurt God. Thanks to you. I'm really showing Him who's boss in your life. With all of the good times we've had..... We have been watching dirty movies, cursing people out, partying, stealing, lying, hypocriting, fornicating, overeating, telling dirty jokes, gossiping, backstabbing people, disrespecting adults and those in leadership position, NO respect for the church, bad attitudes: SURELY you don't want to give all this up.
Come on, Fool, let's burn together forever. I've got some hot plans for us. This is just a letter of appreciation from me to you. I'd like to say "THANKS" for letting me use you for most of your foolish life. You are so gullible. I laugh at you. When you are tempted to sin, you give in. HA HA HA. You make me sick.
Sin is beginning to take its toll on your life. You look 20 years older. I need new blood. So go ahead and teach some children how to sin. All you have to do is smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, cheat, gamble, gossip, fornicate, and listen to and dance to the top 10 jams. Do all of this in the presence of children and they will do it too. Kids are like that.
Well, Fool, I have to let you go for now. I'll be back in a couple of seconds to tempt you again. If you were smart, you would run somewhere, confess your sins, live for God with what little bit of life that you have left. It's not my nature to warn anyone, but to be your age and still sinning, it's becoming a bit ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, I still hate you...... IT'S JUST THAT YOU'D MAKE A BETTER FOOL FOR CHRIST.
P.S. - And if you really love me, you won't share this letter with anyone.
Written by UNKNOWN
Saturday, January 13, 2007
What a great passage! I have an idea of posting as often as I can, and using http://www.myotherprofiles.com/dailybibleverse/ as a kickstart for something to talk about.
So, what jumps out at me from James 1:17? Well, I'm actually reading through James at the moment in my personal Bible reading.
How many of the gifts we receive are actually perfect? We have only one perfect gift; Jesus taking upon Himself of our sins, and bearing the weight and pain of them in our place.
Also, God doesn't change! That's possibly the most reassuring thing for me. I can go off on my lofty, unplanned adventures, maybe forgetting God's purpose, and when I finally do come to my senses, God's right where He was when I got sidetracked. But, I'm not talking physically (although that is a distinct possibility). I'm talking about how the values, morals, plans, ideas, commands, gifts, forgiveness, grace and mercy of God don't change.
We might be conned by Satan into thinking that when we get so involved in sin and poor standards of conduct, that we're too far in danger for God to help us. Let me assure you that the exact opposite is true. God made each of us and for that reason, He loves us more than any human parent, and He wants us to stay in touch with Him. So, God will do everything He can to get through to us.
If you're thinking that you're so far involved in an unhealthy way of life or thought, and you feel it's too late to change, look at 1 Corinthians 10:13 - "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
So, ask God to get you through whatever is dividing you from Him, and know that God has a way out. The sin or habit you're in might be so far entrenched in you that it will feel extremely painful to get rid of it, but rest easy, you are in the Lord's care!
"Heavenly Father, I want to bring to You people and situations that are affected by unhealthy sin habits. I ask for your Holy Spirit to be upon the situation. May you plant crops of love in the people's heart and may we all seek you out. Thank you for Jesus. Thanks for the freedom you give us by His shed blood and rising to life! In His precious name I praya. Amen!"
Sunday, January 07, 2007
What a year!
2007 appears to have arrived hitched to the back of 2006, akin to a semi-trailer being driven by a crazy, impatient monkey.
On this the 7th day of the new year, I feel like taking a step back and reflecting on how 2006 turned out.
Around April, God gave me the desire to get rid of a certain sin element that's been dogging me my whole Christian life (7 years and counting). I'd prefer to keep it secret, but needless to say the last 9 months (and counting) have been the hardest of my life. God and I have a lot of hard work ahead, but so long as I take everything to the Lord in prayer, I can look forward to living God's way. And, I'm so excited about that.
2006 has seen my first relationship (and breakup... lol). I learnt a lot from it. Namely to choose a person to date with whom I have a connection! Also, be more communicative. And give her space. I guess you can't please everyone, but it took a lot out of me. Been 2 months since we broke it off, still getting my head together. But, I have a lot of great memories.
In 2006, I got a lot more involved in church. Lead church many times. As well as that, I preached for the first time. Really enjoyed that, can't wait for the next time! I've also been teaching English on Sunday arvos. Not every week, but usually once or twice a month.
If my dear friends and partners in crime remember anything memorable that happened in 2006, let me know, and I'll post it next.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
My First Sermon!
Called to Contentedness
When Paul wrote Philippians Chapter 4, not only was he showing how grateful he was for the gifts that the Philippians had sent him, but he was also letting them know that he wasn’t waiting for gifts from people.
Paul wanted to let the Philippians know that his trust in getting what he needed came from the Lord, and that as such, he had learnt to be content in every situation.
Today’s idea of contentment really isn’t contentment. Marketing and advertising geniuses tell us, “buy the newest of everything!” only to bring out a new model a few months later, and say the same thing.
Lottery and gambling organizations tempt us with delicious images of what we can do with the winnings. A new car, nice house anyone?
The problem with wanting more and more significant things in life, or those which manifest as such, is that we can never, ever be satisfied.
The Bible’s definition of contentment is thus:
Contentment is satisfaction coming from our confidence in God that allows us to joyfully celebrate life.
I confess that it does seem silly for me to preach on contentment! I’m always looking for new things to make me content. I tell you, I’ve looked all over the place for lasting joy and contentment, and I haven’t found it in the world! But, I have found it in Jesus!
There are three simple ideas when it comes to being content:
Contentment is a Learned Idea
Contentment doesn’t come easily for us. Paul says he had to ‘learn to be content’. Our human nature has us:
Comparing ourselves with others
Always wanting more than we have – Adam and Eve
To interpret another person’s good fortune as being at the expense of our own
We don’t need to teach ourselves these things! They are natural to us.
Attaining contentment is not something we can just wake up with one day; it has to happen progressively.
We can however learn new things in order to be content. A new perspective, a new attitude and a deepened faith in God. We can’t buy these things, they need to be developed.
Contentment is not about Possessions or Circumstances
There’s a man called Steve Brown, who once told the story of a discontented king. He couldn’t rest, sleep or think, he was so anxious. So one of his very wise and ancient advisors told him to find a contented man in his kingdom. “Wear his shirt for a day and a night and you will be contented”, the wise man said. So the king sent out his servants with the instruction of finding a contented man, and procuring his shirt. A few weeks went by before the king’s servants came back. “Well, did you find a contented man? Where is his shirt?” asked the king. “Oh, we did find a contented man, sire, and he didn’t have a shirt…”
So, contentment is not about what you have. It’s an attitude, as Paul reminded Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6-11:
Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. [1 Timothy 6:6-11 (NIV)]
Paul gives Timothy some good advice. We start with nothing and we end with nothing, so contentment means living with satisfaction in the Lord, day by day.
Paul also warns Timothy about wanting ‘stuff’, as dangerous stuff can happen when we desire possessions and circumstances in order to feel content. We’re left open to temptation, and we might even compromise our own values and principles to get what we want. As a result, there is a potential for our desires to dictate our values, rather than the other way around. And if we let our values be defined by what we ourselves want to get, we become discontent and drift away from God.
But let’s be honest. In this world of fast cars, nice houses and fast food ads, it’s hard to be content when things are tough. There’s this little thing we get called jealousy when we see what others have and think they’re doing better than ourselves.
It’s hard to be content when we’re:
Ill or injured, and the doctor’s results don’t look good
Left out of a job promotion we felt we deserved
Suddenly forced to change our plans
Faced with loss
Loosing contact with loved ones
Not financially secure
So, it’s hard to feel content when life doesn’t go how you want it to.
However, I feel it’s harder to feel content when things are going well. When we’re having a rough time, we dig deeper in our faith, and hold onto friends and loved ones closer.
When we’re in times of plenty, we get lazy and become tied to our possessions. I’d like to end this point with Proverbs 30:7-9:
“I ask you, O God, to let me have two things before I die: keep me from lying, and let me be neither rich nor poor. So give me only as much as food as I need. If I have more, I might say that I do not need you. But if I am poor, I might steal and bring disgrace on my God” – [Proverbs 30:7-9 (GNB)]
Contentment comes from Learning to Appreciate What you Have in Christ
The greatest contentment we can have is to understand that Jesus died to take away our sins. We can’t even comprehend just how significant the sacrificial death of Jesus is.
Discontent comes from the feeling that we have been deprived of something, or that we deserve different things than what we receive.
When we really consider what we truly “deserve” and compare it to what we have actually received in Christ, then we can say that nothing else matters other than having Christ.
The contentment we feel is entwined in a relationship with Christ. Paul says, “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Paul is reflecting that he has joy in every situation he encounters, whether it’s good or bad because of the strength he finds in Christ.
I’m reminded of Psalm 73:
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. [Psalm 73:25-26]”
Contentment in God’s Grace
So, our contentment is grounded in our relationship with Christ. No matter what happens, we’re living a better life than we really deserve. We really deserve eternal punishment, but we have been given eternal life in Jesus. We should be excluded from God’s presence, but we are called to be His people! Do you understand this treasure? Nothing, absolutely nothing else compares to what we’ve received from God. Because of God’s grace, we are indeed the richest, most content people!
Contentment in the Providence of God
We draw contentment from knowing that God has control. God isn’t this external ‘thing’ that pops down to earth every so often to do a miracle so we keep believing in Him; He’s personal, and He cares deeply for us, and leads our lives like a skilled artist.
I’m reminded of the song, Above All. We don’t always see what God has in mind, but He keeps sculpting and smoothing, until He creates in us a beautiful item.
As the clay, we might often feel that the strokes laid on us are harsh, even though they are ultimately intended to make us more beautiful to the Lord.
We need to find contentment in God in every situation, both good and bad, because we trust in the hand that holds the sculptor’s tools. Paul believed that he was able to bless others because of the help God had given him in all times.
Contentment in the Promises of God
Let’s think about some of the things God has promised us if we follow Jesus:
1. God has prepared each of us a place in Heaven
2. He will never leave us or forsake us; we never have to face a battle alone.
3. He will provide for our needs.
4. He will guide us into the truth. When we need guidance, we know that God will lead the way.
5. The things He will do in our lives will far exceed our imagination. So we don’t trust what we see, we trust God!
We find contentment in God’s promise to look after us. No matter what the circumstance is, the promise still holds. God will protect, defend, guide and strengthen those who are willing to follow Him.
If I may, I’d like to give you some ideas for how you and I can live contentedly.
First, we should understand that we need to be completely present in the present. What does that mean? We need to realize that we mustn’t focus on how or what something could have turned out like, or how it will turn out, but we need to be looking at what’s enjoyable right now. We will become more and more content when we live each day for what it is, not what it might be, or what it once was.
Some ways we can apply the idea of just focusing on today can be appreciating the home we live in now. Instead of wanting the “new and improved” model of everything, be thankful for the way the “old and deficient” thing does the job. Stop thinking of what the moment could be, and just enjoy the moment for what it is.
Secondly, we should understand that the things we’ve been given are tools designed to help with a certain purpose. Coveting, or wanting what another person has, makes us selfish. We build up a vast number of possessions for ourselves, because we believe we need a lot of things in order to make ourselves happy. The person who is truly content is generous and willing to share because they understand that contentment comes from honouring God.
Lastly, contentment grows when we grow to love Christ more. Far too many people believe that happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction come from power, possessions, promotions and pleasure. But these are dead-end streets. There is only one road called Contentment, and it goes through Jesus.
So, what must you do to receive contentment? Turn to Jesus. Receive the grace that He so freely gives and trust that in your daily lives, He’s providing for you. As you look to Jesus, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace”. When that happens, you will truly begin to enjoy the “moments of life”. You can leave the worries about tomorrow with the Lord, and know that every one of the situations you encounter in life, both pleasant and painful, are lessons learnt in God’s gentle classroom. And if you learn in God’s classroom, you will be content!
Thanks for reading it! Peace out, dudeskis!
Friday, December 01, 2006
Jesus Cleans our past!
I got a bulletin on my Myspace (found here) and I wanted to share it with you guys:
Someone close to me is reading Joshua Harris' book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" and they shared with me this dream that he had, now this dream just lets you know how much Jesus loves you and it really hit me hard when I read it. I hope that you can get just as much out of this story as I did.
A Cleansed Past:
How Jesus Can Redeem Your Past
I DON'T USUALLY SHARE my dreams with people, but I'd like to tell you about a particularly stirring one I once had.
As Christians, we "know" certain things such as "Jesus loves me" and "Christ died for sinners." We've heard these statements countless times, but the dust of familiarity can dim the glory of these simple truths. We have to brush them off and remind ourselves of their life-transforming power.
A dream I had one humid night while visiting a pastor in Puerto Rico was one such reminder. It summed up what Jesus Christ did for me and for you.I share it here because after a chapter on the importance of striving for purity, we need a reminder of Gods grace. For some, myself included, a discussion of purity is an exercise in regret; it reminds us of our impurity and the times we've failed.
Maybe you've blown it. Maybe you reflect on past actions and wince with remorse. Purity seems like a lost cause. This dream, called "The Room," is dedicated to you.
In that place between wake fullness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files.
They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalogue system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.
A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their contents. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed."
The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird: "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in Anger," "Things I Have Muttered under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes there were fewer than I hoped.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my twenty years to write each of these thousands, possibly millions, of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed contents. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.
Suddenly I felt an almost animal rage. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took the file at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.
Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused, I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.
And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.
But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please, not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.
I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?
Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands, and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.
Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.
"No!" I shouted, rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.
He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and continued to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished.
"I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.
More than a Nice Story
I originally shared the story of my dream back in 1995 in a magazine I published. Since then it’s been emailed and spread by many people- even by those who aren't Christians. For some no doubt it's a nice story, and though it isn't real to them, its religious overtones and theme of forgiveness makes them feel good.
But this is more than a heart-warming story. It's not imaginary. The dream is a picture of what Christ truly accomplished when He died on the cross. He literally took our guilt on Himself. And this meant much more than just having His name on a card. It meant receiving the punishment from God that all those sinful words and actions deserved.
Here is what's important to understand: It is only by repenting of our sins and putting our faith in Christ that this substitution can take place. We each have a "room" containing all our sinful deeds and thoughts. But just because we admit this or feel bad about it doesn't mean we're forgiven. Remorse can't save anyone. Only faith in Christ can. Only trust in His death and resurrection for us.
Whose Name Is on Your Cards?
The Bible teaches that one day we'll each stand before God to be judged. "So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12). All the "cards" from our life will be dumped out before Him for review.
The hope I have for that day isn't that I've written enough good cards to make up for the bad. My hope for that day is in the fact that I've put my faith in God's perfect Son. He has already paid the penalty for my sin. Even though I deserve to be punished, even though I'm guilty, the name of Jesus will be on those cards.
For sinners like you and me, there's no better news. We can be forgiven. Every man and woman who believes on Jesus can be cleansed, no matter how dark the stain of sin.
"So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light" (Romans 13:12). Admittedly, some will have more to lay aside than others; more memories, more pain, more regrets. But the past needn't determine our future. We have choices right now about how we'll live. Will we set our hearts on God and walk in His paths?
"Let us behave decently," the passage in Romans continues,"....not in sexual immorality and debauchery.... Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (w. 13-14).
Not one of us can stand completely pure before God. We are all sinners. But no matter how filthy the rags of our defilement may be, in a moment of repentance and faith the heart turned toward God loses its impurity. God clothes us in Christ's righteousness. He no longer sees our sin. He transfers Jesus' purity to us. So see yourself as God sees you, clothed in radiant white, pure, justified.
Maybe you have a particular memory that continues to hound you, a memory that makes you feel unworthy of God's love and forgiveness.
Turn away from it. Don't replay that moment or any others like it. If you've rejected all those behaviours, God has promised to remember them no more (Hebrews 8:12). Move on. A lifetime of purity awaits you.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Bit of shameless promotion to my mate Tim, find his blog on tdix.blogspot.com.
Me and a few mates have started up a boules team, called the McNeilly Park Boules Club. Our aim is to get on Tim Webster's Weather on the 6pm Channel 10 news.
I'm in a band called Chalk. Well, not really an active member, but if bragging rights are up for offer, I'll claim them.
It's 10pm, and I'm tired, so I'll write a proper intro later.