Sunday, 29 June 2014

Childhood Colours

Proverbs 4:1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.

      In August of 1987, on a beautiful Australian day, I walked into a room and was welcomed with a pleasant scent of crayon. I sat down and wrote these thoughts.
The Line Of Colour
I thought of colouring books and western scenes, there in a flash a long past dream.
A memory alive I remember the smell of crayon upon pictures coloured pastel.
Fast running horses and Indians a-flight, with purple and orange feathers and rust coloured guns.
Colouring my best to stay within the lines, till finally with heart the drawing was done.
Now I colour life with payments on house, tulip garden, and loving spouse.
Bringing up babies to stand as men, to choose colours that make mankind friends.
It hasn't changed much life and time, we still try to colour within the lines.
      When I look back to the times when I was on the floor with my son colouring on one page of the colouring-book and my son colouring the other, it was a time of great joy and learning for us. With soft voices and muted tones, we talked about the everyday. Anything said was safe and simply responded to. 

      My son would talk to me in confidence. "Pecky-dog chewed one of my runners. I found a really big huntsmen spider in my room today, it was dead. The papayas don't taste too good right now, mom says to add orange juice, yuk I still don't like it. Mom says she has a new baby coming. Aah, I guess a brother would be OK. I like the mangos, yea! What do you think of this picture dad?" What a time of love and spiritual transformation that was for me. God was in our home and more than welcome there. Prov.15:1a A soft answer turns away wrath.
       How fast that time past. One day I'm on the floor colouring with my small boys and the next they are driving away because they just got their driver's licence. What did I sow in their hearts during those years? Do they know their God? Do they pray, give and bless the Lord as I hope? When they pair off with a spouse to be, are they choosing a chaste path? Will they colour within the lines of God's word? Prov. 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. I notice that the proverb says, "When they are old they won't depart from it." It does not mean there will be no trouble in between.
       How do we as parents, not meddle and get in the way of the Lord's workings in our children's hearts after they are accountable to their God? Hopefully, we have laid a non-hypocritical path for them to learn lessons from. Psalm 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. 

      Do we, as parents, trust God that He will lead and take care of our children? Can we actually hand our children over to God, because they do belong to Him in the first place? He created them for His pleasure. We have to stop interfering with God's plan for their lives.
A man says to his wife."Honey, you have to stop meddling in our children's lives, they live on their own now."
The wife says, "I don't interfere or meddle in their lives!"
The man says, "Really. How old are our grandchildren?"
The wife says, " Well, the lawyer is seven, and the doctor is five."
      We have to get out of the way and let God be their God. That does not mean we stop being influential parents. On the contrary, we will always love them and be there for them. At the same time, we will trust God to teach and lead them. Prov. 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.
      Never stop praying for our children and never stop being a Godly example for them. We also pray for the children who are not in fellowship with their families and ask that they may, through God, be united to those who love them. Mal. 4:5-6a Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers. I thought of colouring books and western scenes, there in a flash a long past dream. It might be time to do some colouring with our children and grandchildren. May it bring us the joy of the Lord.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Forgiving The Unforgivable

Proverbs 20:20 Whoso curses his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.

        Forgiving those who have betrayed or harmed us is hard and even harder is forgiving family members who have done the same. We read of a family betrayal that if it were done today would bring out every type of law enforcement, let alone televise all the emotional scars that would be carved on the person's soul. 
      Joseph suffered this type of betrayal. Gen. 37:26 And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood 27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. It says, "His brothers were content." This is hardheartedness. To be content with a decision not to murder a brother but rather agree that selling their family member into slavery is a better option? 
      This is all wrong. How did the family become so cold? Yet, after many years Joseph forgives his entire family. Gen. 45:4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.15 Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.
       My Father was a sick and brutal man. I had a horrific childhood but have never used the events of that childhood as an excuse to become a criminal, addicted, or abusive. Were the opportunities available to become an addicted abusive criminal? Yes, but no thanks. Did I struggle with some of the shrapnel that en-lodged itself in my soul? Yes, but, with time and the grace of my Lord Jesus, I was delivered from its pain and crushing weight through the forgiving of my father. 

      In 1996 I wrote the story called I'm telling on you Doug. These are memories of when I was five years old. This next paragraph is an excerpt from that story describing the abuse that was suffered by myself and my mother, but most importantly, the eventual forgiveness of the whole time.
      Down came his hand with a slap, then up flew the fist with a punch and a smothered sound that accompanies the impact of the blow. The rage in his voice mingled with the choreography of two people entangled in a blur of each other's movements. Blood stains are creating new patterns on the dress that my mother is wearing and smearing the floor in the area of this dance of violence. 

      I am paralyzed with fear and apprehension, because as I see the blood flowing from my mother's beaten face I can no longer look up at the longing expression of helplessness in her eyes. I feel incapacitated, because I am not able to help deliver her from this present anguish. 
      I am slipping into myself as my eyes cannot look beyond the bloodstained waistline of her dress, because beyond this point I cannot understand or carry this hideous image in my psyche. The fabrics of our lives are knitted with screaming, arguing, bludgeon back-hands, and the acrimonious intent of our destruction. Will this ever end?
      This is a small part of a large story that we suffered fifty-six years ago. I give testimony that my mother and I are healed and living a blessed life. My mother is now married to a good man of God who loves her dearly and I am walking in the peace and joy of the power of forgiveness. Matt. 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. 

      Forgiving the unforgivable is what Christ did for each one of us. His grace was extended to me so that I could extend it to my father who truly needed all of our Lord's grace and forgiveness. When you forgive the unforgivable you are allowing all the bondage's and family curses to be broken and repeated no more. 
      My family has never felt an angry backhand against their faces. I sow peace into my next generation by forgiving my past. It is time to man-up and get healed saints. Stand tall, put your shoulders back and shout it out loud, "I forgive you completely in Christ." Luke 23:34a Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Grace Is Not Fragile

Proverbs 3:34 Surely he scorns the scorners: but he gives grace unto the lowly.
      
       The arguments from the pulpit concerning the abuse of grace these days has set me to wondering. Some of the ministers who say the extreme grace being taught, allows all sin to be acceptable, and this is just unacceptable to them. They say that this teaching is too loose and it lets people think they are getting away with sin. 
      No one gets away with sin, whether they think it or not. Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
      First, and foremost, I do not believe grace is as fragile and delicate as their arguments state. It is defiantly holy because it comes from the heart of God, but not fracturable. God's grace and the blood of Christ did cover all sin that ever was, is, and will be. 
      All sin was paid for; not just some, but all including the ones committed during our lifetime as we walk in our salvation with Christ. The Lord's grace is not some weak ready-to-topple over gift that might or might not work because of our shortcomings. John 1:16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
      It is the Lord's constant hand extended to all who have sinned and come short of eternal life. We, the sons and daughters of the Lord, are the result of God's generous grace. God will keep pouring His grace on us for a testimony of God's goodness in us. Acts 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all
      We sometimes think that when we commit a great wrong that the Lord's grace stops flowing. Not so! Saul was persecuting Christians and God's grace was extended to Saul on his way to Damascus. God's grace with conviction had such a profound affect on Saul he became a Christian and immediately changed his message. 
       Even after the first murder - and we would agree that it was a heinous crime, grace began to flow right after the judgement of Cain is set. Gen. 4:13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that finds me shall slay me. 
      Cain makes a plea that he cannot bear the punishment of being separated from God. He says, "From thy face shall I be hid." This reality is too much for Cain to carry in his mind and begins to describe his possible destruction. Cain is calling upon God's grace and mercy during his sentencing and God blesses Cain with a promise. 
      Gen. 4:15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. Even though Cain deserves to reap what he had sown, he ends up with a grace that brings a certain amount of deliverance. 
      As I write this blog I am not advocating that everyone run out and act helter-skelter and throw our holiness to the wind. I don't act right in order to earn God's grace. I live right because I have God's grace working in me. Eph. 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 
      As long as we live on this earth we will be in need of improvement in our hearts and our everyday attitudes toward God and our fellow man. With the grace of God at work at all times in our hearts, we will be able to do so. It would be hubris to think otherwise. 
      I do not think we have scratched the surface of grace and our understanding of it. I think there will be an eternity of learning how wonderful the Lord's grace toward us really is. No, grace is not some weak crackable gift of God that will not stand up to the sins of the human race. Grace is much stronger than what we have been presenting it as. 
      Grace is the unmerited favour given to every human being if they want it. Grace stands up and is strong! 2 Cor. 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Seeing Farther

Proverbs 12:20 Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.  
      
         When I was a kid we had aspirin for headcase, hydrogen peroxide for deep cuts, and maybe if we were really sick, a prescription of penicillin for major infection and pneumonia. Today, kids at an early age are already acquainted and using drug products such as Ritalin, Prozac, and antipsychotics such as risperidone, aripiprazole, olanzapine, quetiapine and paliperidone. Yea, I can't pronounce them either. It seems acceptable to sedate children for some peace and quiet.
      Peace is not a chemical product produced in a lab. Peace is a gift that comes from a real relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 
      Interesting words in this verse where Jesus says, "Not as the world gives." The world's method of giving always has major strings attached. It always overstates and underdelivers just like a bad stock promoter. If you buy this dream home, you will be the happiest family on the block; however, in a short time, you realise that you have a nightmare mortgage. You do not own the home; it owns you and the dream fizzles. 
      Not to worry, if you take that vacation to Las Vegas and really let loose you will be refreshed and feel much better about yourself. On the way home you might be fretting as to how you are going to pay for the over-indulgences. As you now know, the house always wins. 
      Peace is not found in stuff or lame activity, it is found in the person of Jesus. The world cannot give you the peace you were created to live in. Rom. 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. I heard someone say the worst thing that ever happened to them was having a wish granted. They were basically saying, "The only thing worse than a wish not granted was having a wish granted." His reason for saying this was that through a family member, he was able to get a down payment on a house. 
      Shortly after moving in the same family lender was demanding payment of the loan because of a mess he was in. It caused a great strain on finances and family relationships. He said, "He should have waited until he had all the monies needed and have done the down payment right." His new wish was that his old wish had not been granted. The world had promised the home buyer peace, but he got family strife.
      We have got to see farther than what the world offers. That is why the Lord admonishes us to seek first the Kingdom and the Lord's righteousness. This will help us see farther and beyond the world's bobbles of temporary fun. Matt. 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. If we are looking at God's kingdom and righteousness, then the world's stuff looks insipid. 
       In 2 Samuel chapter 13, there is a tragic story of Amnon the son of David who loved his half-sister Tamar. I would not call it love, but Amnon was obsessed with the idea of being in love with Tamar. He was obsessed to the point of uncontrollable lust. The world was promising Amnon a peaceful love story but would deliver perpetual shame to everyone. 
      Through subterfuge he tricked Tamar and raped her. 2 Sam. 13:14 Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her. 15 Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone. Basically, within an hour his love had turned to hate. Fickle you say. No, worldly, carnal, and immature in life did not let Amnon see the future harm he would cause to the whole family. 
      Oh give me the peace of God that I may see farther and see what God sees. May my peaceful seeking be of the Kingdom and our Lord. Amen.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Truth Or Other

Proverbs 29:1 He, that being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

      I ministered in the prisons of New South Wales and Queensland Australia for just over four years in the early nineteen-eighties. I was often taken aback by the generational family lines that were there in prison. In one case there was a young man who was telling me he had no choice that he was in jail because it was his unfortunate destiny that he would be a crim. His reasoning at that encounter was his father was a crim and his grandfather was one also. As a matter of fact, they were all incarcerated at the same time in different prisons around the state as we spoke. 
      He went on to say that his brother was headed in the same place. Ah, how sweet the conversation at Christmas dinner for this family. Talk about having to change the generational curse or even family traditions. Prov.16:25 There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. It sounded like a modern caste system that was being enforced by their own family values. What nonsense to believe this poor excuse for existence.
      
Being deceived and choosing to believe a lie is within our realm of choice. Deut. 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.
      Being deceived may take some time to deal with. The deception may not be noticed until there are some issues coming up in our life that points to the deception and, thus, we repent. John 16:13a Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. 
      Choosing to believe the lie is ignorance gone to seed. Gal. 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? As my blog friend Jami Rogers writes. "I tried to row the boat with the anchor in the water and then cried because of the struggle." How often do we find ourselves in that boat because of our choices? The answer is repent, change your mind.
      God corrects those He loves. Heb. 12:6 For whom the Lord love he chasten, and scourge every son whom he receives. That is a hard concept for a nation of people who do not like being wrong. In their mind correction seems intrusive and even insulting to some. This makes repentance harder than it really is. Yet, how will we come into the blessing of God if we insist in doing salvation our own way? 

      Repentance is a blessing, whether we believe it or not. Repentance simply means to change our minds on something God has been pointing at or has His finger of conviction on. Repentance or changing our minds to do what God said to do is a healthy part of Christianity. It is the only way to live our Christianity. Isa. 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
      We read in the story of Cain and Abel and how God had come to Cain and tried to get him to change his mind concerning the jealousy Cain was feeling because of his rejected sacrifice. God asks Cain a good question. Gen. 4:6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 

      Then God offers some very good advice and gentle prodding to repent about how he feels toward his brother. Gen. 4:7 If thou does well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou does not well, sin lies at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. As we know the advice was ignored and a calamity of events leads to the first murder. 
      What could we change in our lives if we would just change our minds to what God is saying to our hearts? Eze. 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye. God takes no pleasure in our suffering in sin. He wants us to live by His truth and no other. Lord, help us have a heart of repentance. Amen.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Wisdom Is Strength.

Proverbs 24:5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increases strength.
   
       How-to books are a billion dollar industry. How to get things done right and prosperous at the same time. Change our bad habits into good ones, and change our character in three easy steps. The only how-to book that I know that will work continually and efficiently every time is the Bible. The word of the bible will help character development and our hearts change into what God created us to be. Rom. 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 

      Yes, you can get a lot of good help by reading and practising some of the theories and formulas that are written about in all the self-help monologues, but nothing can change a hard human heart like God's word. Nothing can keep us on the right track like the living word of God. John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 
        
The word states that we get off track and need help when we start believing a different voice other than God's. Rom. 1: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. 
      The smorgasbord of available beliefs that are dangled in front of us daily are so numerous that if we did not have our foundation in God's word and His word working in our hearts, we too would become casualties of false doctrine. Matt. 13: 22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
       I am not easily shocked but I had one of those jaw-dropping situations this week when I heard a person say "better to reign in hell than serve in heaven." This person actually meant what he had just said. There was no amount of logic or spiritual reasoning that made sense to this lost person's mind or heart. How does a soul get to a place in the heart that actually believes this nonsense? Prov. 23:9 Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words. 
      Living and bound in foolishness is how a person starts to believe the lies and nonsense from the enemy of our soul. There is no wisdom nor strength at work in this man, because there is no belief of God to help him along the way even though God is waiting to help and bless if asked.
         Prov. 24:5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increases strength. The more we know God, the stronger we get. You will notice that I did not say "The more we know about God, the stronger we get." Knowing Him and knowing about Him are two different relationships. The children of Israel knew about God, but Moses knew God personally. Psalm 103:7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.  

      Someone might ask. "How do I get to know God and not just about Him?" Heb. 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Faith in God's word is how we will get to know the one who wrote the living word so we can live in strength and victory. Wisdom in the word of God is the strength to live every day. Acts 17:28a For in Him we live, and move, and have our being. 
         Psalm 14:1a The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. There are a lot of fools out there in the everyday world. If you are growing in the strength of God's word, you may be the only bible these fools will ever read. What will they read from your life? Will they want some of the victories you are living? A wise person is strong in the Lord and will keep getting stronger because God is at work in them. You are an Epistle read of men. May the people be reading the story of Jesus. Amen.