Monthly Archives: January 2012

Blessed to be a blessing

I have this loose policy where, if someone asks for money, I will give it to them if I have it. It is always a rad opportunity to say “hey, totally pumped to help you out, bless you bro!”.

However a funny thing happened on Sunday.

I was asked by a guy for $10 for a bus fare. I pulled out my wallet and checked what I had. Two ten dollar bills. Nice. I hooked the dude up with one of them and he went on his way.

Monday morning I opened my wallet again. And guess what? Two ten dollar bills. “Praise God” was my response, and for the next half hour I was walking around with a delighted little smile on my face.

The smile didn’t last long as I began to wrestle with WHY a $10 note had magically appeared in my wallet. In my mind and heart there was no doubt it was God, but I couldn’t for the life of me understand why. There is poverty in this world, damaged people, death from illnesses…and I get a $10 note…WHY??

In Luke 6 Jesus is talking about loving people, about walking in the ways of the kingdom. At one point He says “with the measure you give, it will be given to you”.

Now I do not think this is about money. Nor do I think of this as Jesus pointing to personal prosperity. Giving is not, and should never be, about receiving. Giving is, in any capacity, an opportunity to love and bless someone. I do believe that God provides and acknowledges our giving. However, in giving to you, He puts you in a position to continue in the purpose He created you for –  living a life of giving.

We are loved in order to love.

we receive grace in order to be graceful.

we are BLESSED in order to BE a BLESSING.

And to me, that $10 is a small blessing to me, in order that it may be a big blessing to someone who so desperately needs it. Perhaps, that $10 could be a signpost towards Jesus for someone who needs Him.

Anyone need $10?

Jesus, the Gardener

Luke 6:43-45

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

I used to garden. Reluctantly. In fact, had my mother not sent me out into the garden with pruning shears, I would’ve gladly spent my Saturdays at the skatepark avoiding such work. Sadly however when i was roped into it, I would do it. It kind of frustrated me though because this one tree always grew back. Regardless of how well it was pruned, it was mere weeks before it once again covered the pathway or driveway.

Sometimes this reminds me a little of the christian walk. It seems that somewhere along the line, the good news of the kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus became some kind of “sin management” system. Like we can go to Jesus the gardener and have him shear off our bad fruit, only to have it grow again because, frankly, we aren’t in the environment that produces the necessary nutrients to provide good fruit.

I think Jesus the gardener, the Lord, the Redeemer has so much more in store for your tree.

I think Jesus lovingly says “I want to gently pick you out of the ground, and lovingly plant you in the good soil. I want to tend to you. I want to shape you. I want to help you reach for the sun. I want to plant you in new life. I want to plant you in the resurrection

When we are planted in the good soil, the new life, good fruit is inevitable. Now sure, bad fruit from time to time pops up, and Jesus deals with it because He loves us. But being rooted in His goodness, His grace, His love and His way, can only lend to producing good fruit. Fruit that starts in our hearts, and is carried out in our lives.

Perhaps I should have moved that tree to a better area, better soil, a place where it could be enjoyed and didn’t get in the way. A place where it could be fruitful, and flourish.

And perhaps Jesus is inviting us to let Him uproot us from our “ok” soil and plant us in His good soil. A place where we can be fruitful, flourish and live in the new life.

Romans 6:3-4

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life”

Uniquely human, divinely God

…And it shall be that before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear

– Isaiah 65:24

Almost every week someone at church puts their hand up to receive prayer. The request is always unique but never unimportant.

“I haven’t felt God’s touch in a long time”

“I am hurting”

“I am weary”

“I want Jesus as my Lord and Saviour”

“My body isn’t working”

“Nobody loves me”

“I am not worth anything…. I don’t deserve His love…”

The list can go on and on. The afflictions, burdens and worries are as numerous as the stars in the sky. Hills and valleys are a reality of our humanity.

But that moment where someone humbly slips their hand up and asks to receive is something very, very special.

I watch as people – brothers and sisters in Christ – gather around this person. they lay hands. sometimes they hug. or hold. sometimes there are tears… Tears of joy and tears of grief. Words are spoken over this person, and God is invited into the situation. The Holy Spirit brings comfort and peace. This is a tender, loving and graceful moment where the body of Christ and God are united as one. Things feel complete.

Years ago I remember a girl at university running up to me and telling me that she had prayed the night before. She had known me for a long time and had often heard me talking about Jesus, but was never interested. The night before she had been drunk and she found herself on the side of the road in the rain. Having nearly been hit by a car she was disorientated, upset and hurting.

And she prayed.

Prayer isn’t something that christians just do. It’s a human response. It is instinctual. Something deep inside every person that yearns for connection with something that is bigger, something that without seeing physical proof, we know is THERE.

And God, knowing our hearts, having created us, waits patiently for US to step into a place where we are ready to receive from him. His gentle voice is always there, calling us, guiding us…We just need to be ready to listen.

These moments of prayer – they are uniquely human. They are part of who we are. But they are moments that allow God to step in and do what He so desperately longs to do.

Love us, hold us.

Prayer is the moment where man steps into alignment with his Creator.

And it is beautiful.

Pointing North

Last night I had the privilege of receiving some wise words from a wise man.

I always appreciate these little nuggets, and this gem, in relation to decision making, is something I have to share.

So often I see people (myself included) making serious decisions that are more detrimental than beneficial. So how do we make decisions that are life-giving and Christ-centred? How do we stay pointing due north? On track with the things God has in store for us?

Perhaps this will help.

Back in the day, when sailing through a channel, a captain would line up three tall pine trees in the distance. This would keep the boat on course and steady.

Bob Mumford, a prominent 20th century leader,  spoke of three pine trees for christian decision making.

1. Alignment with scripture – Does your potential decision fall in line with the word of God? It’s easy to think something is great for us, but scripture is always a great litmus test, so make sure God’s word holds a special place in your process.

2. Counsel of wise leaders and friends –  Share your ideas and receive input from the wisest people you know. Sometimes these people are friends, but be weary of just going to people who will say the things you want to hear. Approach people who you know will give you deep, honest insight – and perhaps say some things that are difficult to receive.

3. Inner peace – Finally, just be honest with yourself. Is there a great sense of peace about your decision. is it right? Often we choose to repress the truth we know in ourselves just to get a short term fix or escape our surroundings. The reality is you know, deep down, that things aren’t quite right.

As these things draw together I think it is fair to say that your ship finds its due course, pointing north, towards the plans God has for you.

These things bring about a huge sense of challenge to my own life, and I cannot help but see that in wrestling with these things, God’s best for my life is revealed. I pray you find the same challenge and joy in your decision making as you move from your plans to God’s plans.

Blessings.