Let’s Get Biblical

In a recent discussion I mentioned that the word “revival” did not appear in the New Testament. It may be there as a heading in certain versions of the Bible but the headings were added by men and are not part of the inspired Word of God. We were looking at the way we as human beings attempt to make things happen instead of just waiting on the Lord and responding to what He is currently doing. And, He is always doing something in our lives and church assemblies.

So, I was commenting that revivals are not found in the New Testament and that the early believers simply lived radical and revolutionary lives, sharing the good news with people and the Holy Spirit moved in amazing ways. A God-wave of the Spirit verses a man-made wave or emotion and hype that we call revival.

As I shared someone asked about Charles Finney, known as a revivalist, and his revivals. I mentioned that they were called Awakenings not revivals. But, really that was not an adequate answer. A better answer would be to go back to Bible once again. In the Bible we do not see the role of “revivalist.” We have five main ministries – apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. These are the fivefold ministry or the ascension gift ministries Jesus gave to the Church. They represent the fullness of Jesus’s ministry while ministering for three years in Galilee. It seems we don’t think they are enough so we invent other ministries – revivalist, intercessor, burden bearers, exorcists, priests, and the list goes on.

So, man has made up the term ‘revivalist’ just as we have created this vehicle called “revivals.” We even schedule revivals. They last several weeks and run in the summer. They are a means to bring the lost into the Kingdom. The Old Testament revivals had nothing to do with the lost – they were simply to call God’s people back to God. A call to repent. John the Baptist had such a ministry as the Old Covenant was coming to a close and Jesus was about to start the new covenant between the human race and God our Father. We call it a revival. John saw it as a call to repentance.

So, in church life today we have youth revivals, laughing revivals, prayer revivals, tent revivals, church revivals, spring revivals, fall revivals… One church I visited recently has every Friday night revivals with coffee and cookies nonetheless. Add to the revivals such events as “Burn” nights of worship that have sprung up all over North America. There are a vast number of man-made events that continue to pop up and occupy a great deal of the limited time people have today. It keeps the believers busy and occupied, feeling good about what they are doing for God and the Kingdom.

It might be good to cut back on these events that we don’t see in the New Testament Church. Recognize them as religion for in many ways that is what they are. Our attempt to please God and convince Him to do something that we think needs to be done. And, then, free up the believers to become involved in what the Lord has expressly told us that we must do.

He told us to “seek and save the lost” going “into all the world and making disciples.” This, in most cases, is not the focus of believers and the local assembly. We are busy instead waiting and praying for the next move of the Spirit. When, in reality, He is busy moving the hearts of the lost, convicting them of sin so that they would respond and repent and come into the Kingdom. We need to join Him in what He is already doing and commanded us to do … and that is biblical.

It would be good to look at and examine what we believe and what we are doing in our churches to see if it is really biblical. So much of what we do and the activities that we can become involved in are simply man-made programs in an attempt to have a move, a new wave, of the Spirit. Let’s just build deep in our relationship with the Lord and obey Him as we go about our daily lives. Opportunities abound to build solid relationships within which we can then share the Gospel. This is what the Lord is calling all of us to do.

Some are writing on Facebook that revival is here. It is not. Some are constantly praying for revival. Not the way they happen. If you want a revival then go out and do what Jesus told us to do. Get a few people born again, begin to disciple them, and watch how that revives your love for Him and commitment to His command to make disciples in your family and community and even the wider world.

Code Blue

My wife has recently had a total knee transplant and so was in hospital for a few long days of preparation, operation, initial recovery, and therapy. She is now home slowly, very slowly, returning to normal. But, she is home and we are thankful to God and to the doctors and nurses that took such good care of her.

Each day as I sat there during the various stages of her stay in the hospital; each day I heard a “Code Blue” call over the hospital intercom system. It is spoken out a minimum of three times along with the floor, ward, room, and bed number. And, it means someone’s heart has stopped. The race is on to revive a life. Of course, we never knew if it was successful or not. But, it did make me stop and think.

We are often so focused on our issues. After all, my wife was in the hospital for a long awaited knee replacement. There were some risks. There would be a fair amount of pain. There would be a seriously long recovery from the operation with physiotherapy on a regular basis. We had already been through classes, had home visits by various people – physiotherapist, pharmacist, nurse, and on the list could go. It has been an ordeal. It has been a serious focus in our life and home for many months. Many changes have had to happen. Many more changes will now begin to be required to accommodate recovery.

But “Code Blue.” That means someone’s heart has stopped. That means they are as close to the edge of eternity as you can get and not permanently cross over into the next life. Code Blue means your life, or death, is in the hands of those who have been trained for these types of situations. They call the machinery that goes with the Code Blue the crash cart. So, the person is about to crash out of this life permanently and into the next life. That leaves much room for thought.

Is this person ready for the next life? Has a believer built a solid relationship with them over the length of their current life which might now be ending permanently? And, has this believer been successful at sharing the love of God in practical ways as well as in words? Has the person heard the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom in such a way that they understood what God was offering to them through His grace and the death of Jesus, His Son? In other words, is this person ready to (permanently) die and meet His Creator?

Often we, as believers, are so focused on the details and circumstances of our daily life that we forget that others have not heard the good news that ‘Jesus saves.’ In a world full of church buildings many have never heard and thus never considered the real message of the Christian faith. In spite of all the Christian radio and television that is available 24/7 most non-believers do not listen to the programs. And, even if they did, most programs do not present the Gospel. In fact, most Christian broadcasting speaks to Christians and not non-believers and a lot of what is presented is not biblical. 

Maybe the person who is now “Code Blue” has been a church attender all their life; that is really irrelevant. If the person has not been born again and thus does not have a personal relationship with the Living Lord Jesus … all the church attendance in the world will not suffice to bring them into Heaven. And, again, many many churches do not believe or preach the foundational message of salvation through Jesus Christ and Him alone. 

We who are believers are so personally preoccupied with what seems to us at the time our personal “life and death situations” that we are not focused on building relationships with non-believers so that they can see the true gospel of the Kingdom lived out in front of them. And, most believers do not believe that it is their task to share the gospel verbally. In fact, statistics and surveys show that many do not believe in evangelism at all. So, their faith becomes a private matter and not shared with others.

So, “Code Blue” reminds me that there is a powerful message that needs to be shared with those with whom we share a relationship. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom and it “is the power of God unto salvation.” And, we never know when one of the people we know and love will face their own “Code Blue” and, if they do, it might be too late to share the love of God with them.  

The Journey

I believe that life is a journey. And, that on this journey we should always be moving forward. That means we should be learning, growing, changing, becoming more mature. I am in my early seventies and I am continuing to change and grow. I have a hunger to read and learn. I am interested in so many things and want to experience new things on at least a weekly basis. I get bored really fast and this helps me to continue to move forward on the journey.

I recently read an amazing and candid book called “Becoming” by Michele Obama. I am not a political person and read it because it was recommended highly by my sister and her adult daughter. It was an amazing read. Michelle Obama is an amazing writer and has had an amazing life both before and after her eight years as First Lady of the United States of America.

In her book, the epilogue, she writes, “At fifty-four, I am still in progress, and I hope that I always will be. For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end. I became a mother, but I still have a lot to learn from and give to my children. I became a wife, but I continue to adapt to and be humbled by what it means to truly love and make a life with anther person. I have become, by certain measures, a person of power, and yet there are moments still when I feel insecure or unheard. It is all a process, steps along a path. Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigour. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.” (Becoming by Michelle Obama, page 419)

One of my first mentors always said that many people suffer from “Destination Disease.” They set a goal and work hard to achieve it. And, when they achieve it they begin to live like they have arrived. They have reached their destination. They don’t set new goals. They don’t find a new vision for their life. They simply, at best, coast through the rest of their life … or park and stop growing.

When I first heard the teaching and then later read it in one of his books I determined that I would never “arrive.” I would never catch “Destination Disease.” I want to continue growing, developing, maturing, learning. So, I set goals. One consistent goal is to read a book a week. If the book is a shorter one – under 200 pages – then I read two during that week. I read because I need to. There is an inner hunger to learn more, to grow, to develop. And, there is so much one can learn from others just by reading. I make time to read. Anyone can do that as well if they want to. 

The current younger generation seems to not want to or like to read. I recommend books to the young men I disciple and mentor and they admit that they have not read a book in years. Some don’t try. Those that do quickly fall in love with reading and thus growing through reading. Those that don’t almost always stop the discipling / mentoring relationship. They just, at this stage in their life, don’t see the need to read. Maybe they are growing and maturing through what they watch on You Tube and listen to on their smart phone. Maybe not. But, there is such potential for growth and maturity if the individual will simply pick up a book, get alone, and immerse themselves in the discoveries of others. 

Of course, I drag a paper copy of the book around with me. I am never without a book in my car. You never know when you might find 15 minutes to read while waiting for someone or something. And, I have graduated to ebooks as well. Partly because I have run out of shelf space and am almost out of floor space so cannot stack many more paper books. Partly because of convenience and it weighs less when travelling by plane. The new eReaders are waterproof which makes reading while camping and kayaking a pleasure. 

So, we are all on a journey. Hopefully you believe that you never arrive but just keep learning and growing. And, books are my prime way to learn and to grow. 

Flooded With Life and Overflowing

The Bible states that “In Him (Jesus) was life and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Jesus was not the ‘light.’ The very life, character, and nature of God (the Father) in Him was the light. This is called the ‘life.’ Jesus was not the light – the life in Him was the light.

This theme of ‘life’ is amazingly throughout the New Testament. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. He told us that He was the way, the truth, and the life. His gift of grace is eternal life. 

When we are born again this life is deposited within us. Jesus said to the woman at the well of Sycar, “For when you drink the water I give you it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, springing up and flooding you with endless life!” (John 4:14 The Passion Translation).

Christians have life – the very character and nature of God dwelling inside them. The Holy Spirit was deposited in to you when you asked Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour and experienced a conversion to Christ. He is the One that breathes life in you (Romans 5:5). And, as believers who live His life and live with hope we should be enthusiastically engaged with life every day. We should be enthusiastic and excited about life and the opportunities each day brings to us. We are to be proactive and embracing life and celebrating all that God has and is doing in and through us. 

When non-believers look at us they should see people who are consistently excited and “up” as we join the Spirit of God in what He is doing that day. We are not victims. We are not overcome by our circumstances. Even on a tough day we need to remember that God is still in control and He does know what He is doing. We need to be ‘alive’ and on fire for God. We need to walk in His life.

But, there is more than just a ‘gushing fountain’ that enables us to move forward with hope and certainty every day. There is a second encounter with God that the Bible calls the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Jesus talked about it on a number of occasions. One of the first times He mentions it is in John 7 when He is speaking at the celebration of a Jewish religious feast day and He says, “All you thirsty ones, come to Me! Come to Me and drink! Believe in Me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your inner most being, just like the Scripture says!” (John 7:37b-38 The Passion Translation referring to Ezekiel 47:1, Isaiah 44:3; 55:1; 58:11).

These rivers don’t seem to be flowing as Jesus predicted. Many who are baptized in the Holy Spirit focus on such great gifts as praying in tongues. However, they are not grasping the immensity of what Jesus said here. There is so much ‘life,’ His life in us that it is busting the seams and flowing out to touch all others we come into contact with. There is more than enough for each and every person we speak to each and every day. But, you may ask, why is this not the case? Good question. 

The reference to living waters flowing from within could have been translated as: “rives of living water will flow from His throne within” (see Ezekiel 47) 

And, many believers – even those baptized in the Holy Spirit – do not have Jesus as Lord sitting on the throne of their heart. And they are still functioning in life as if it was up to them and that they are seriously in control of their life. So, Jesus has not been enthroned as Lord. The throne is occupied by ‘self’ and thus this abundant life flowing like multiple rivers is not experienced. 

Jesus came full of life and this life was the light of men. This life in us is meant to be the light for others who are living in spiritual darkness. But, they won’t see the light if we are not daily experiencing and then overflowing with His life that is ours because we have asked Jesus to be God in our life. Jesus said, “Your lives light up the world. Let others see your light from a distance, for how can you hide a city that stands on a hilltop?” (Matthew 5:14 The Passion Translation). In other words, shine so brightly that people will see the difference from far away and it will get brighter as they come closer. 

So, as believers, we are called to celebrate life, His life in us, and to release that life so it can light up the spiritual darkness that surrounds those who don’t know Jesus. We are meant to be flooded with life and overflowing.

Relationships

The other day I went to get the mail. There is a mailbox at the local postal outlet where the majority of our mail goes. This way, when I am on the road travelling, it is not piling up out front for all to know that I am away from home. Never know who might take advantage of my absence. 

It is good to have to go and “get the mail.” It gives me opportunity to chat with those who work there and to build relationships with each and everyone of them. I have had tremendous opportunities to share the love of God in very practical ways with a number of them. We are all called to be ambassadors for the Kingdom in our community and neighbourhood. 

Today, in the mailbox there was an advertisement from a Canadian ministry regarding an American speaker who is coming in October to speak in their church. Interesting. I have never heard of the local church. I looked them up on the internet and they seem like a great local church with some solid leaders. So, I noticed that the return address on the oversized postcard inviting me to attend the event is a Florida mailbox. So, I looked up the speaker and, sure enough, he has mailed me the invitation. 

What is most interesting is that his ministry is one I have not connected to in over 20 years. He was once located in California and lost his local church and Bible school due to his chosen lifestyle. Then he relocated to England and set up shop there. Now he is in Florida leading a local church and a training school. So, my name and address has survived 20 plus years and at least three locations. And, out of the blue I receive an invitation to attend his ministry coming to a Canadian church. No contact over all those years. Literally no connection to him or his ministry. And, I am still on a mailing list because I purchased a set of DVDs several decades ago.

Listen folks – the Kingdom is all about relationships. The local church is only as strong as the relationships that exist within the fellowship. It is not about mailing lists and selling ministry resources and holding big events. Ministry that is changing lives and transforming families and communities are all relationally built. Programs are not working. Conferences don’t change lives or transform people. Even mass crusades are having little permanent effect on society, the culture, or individual lives. God works through personal relationships.

I personally stopped attending conferences years ago. I am not interested in spending money on travel, hotel, meals, and registration … then spending money when offerings are taken and resources are offered. I can invest my time and money much more effectively. I work in a local church where I live and, when on the road, minister to local churches. No large conferences. Just relational connections to local church leadership ministering to their people and helping the local church grow strong and effective. And, because we are relationally connected I return to these churches on a regular basis and connect in-between visits as we work in the Kingdom together.

So, a conference 1,800 Km away with someone I don’t relate to or respect in a church I have never heard of… I think I will pass thank you. I wonder if I can get my name removed from the ancient mailing list being used?  A list that I never asked to be placed on in the first place. 

Insecure Leaders

Recently on a trip here in Western Canada I had the honour of joining a group of pastors and ministry leaders for a meal and some fellowship. It was a good night and one that hopefully encouraged those who took the time to attend and participate. The local church and leaders who hosted the event were amazingly welcoming. The food was excellent. The setting was indoors due to the weather and the numbers attending.

As we arrived there was coffee and an opportunity to get to know the others as they were arriving. I did notice that most of the pastors did not arrive on time. Arriving late can be a subtle indication that they think they are so important that people will wait for them. It is a lack of respect for other people’s time. One couple arrived an hour and a half late. Good that we did not wait for them. Some who said they were attending were ‘no shows’ and did not let the host know plans had changed. Totally inconsiderate. But I digress and have entered the arena of my pet peeves. 

As we finished the meal we were asked to share who we were and what we believed God was doing in His Kingdom and the Church currently. We are talking pastors here. The host did not give us a time limit and so there is an open door here to preach a little. The sharing was good. Several took the opportunity to push an event that they were planning or hosting. I guess every good event needs room for advertising. Some actually did introduce themselves and shared briefly what they believed the Spirit was doing. One man made a tremendous point about how we do things that create camps – a ‘we’ and ‘they’. So, in general, it was okay. And, yes, there was some preaching.

But, and there is almost always a ‘but’ in these things. I did notice that almost everyone who shared talked more about what they were doing and how their ministry was doing instead of what God was doing. It was seriously evident in the sharing. And, it is very common when leaders and pastors get together. It seems that we are out to impress each other regarding what we are doing for God – not what God is doing through us. And, how active and alive our church or ministry really is. I think we are trying to impress each other. I believe it is because most leaders are insecure and so need to “huff and puff” and work to impress people. 

There is this thing that happens when leaders get together. We judge the success of the ministry – and thus the minister – by how many people they have in their church and by how busy they are. So, you will hear leaders talking about their programming, their current special event, and the guest speaker that is coming. If the numbers attending is growing they will certainly mention this. You will hear them tell you how busy they are in ministry and how tired they are at times. Again, as if this is a badge of honour. You seldom or never hear them mention issues they are having in ministry or anything personal regarding how they are doing spiritually in their walk with Jesus.

In general, my observation is that leaders are very insecure. They don’t trust others – especially other leaders. They also find their self-worth in the ministry and not in their relationship with the Lord who called them into the ministry. So, if the church or ministry is growing or doing well they feel good about themselves and have a sense of worth or value. If the ministry is taking a downturn then their sense of worth or value takes a hit. This is so sad. Our sense of worth or personal value should always come out of our relationship with the Lord and not from what we are doing or not doing for Him or with Him. 

I believe it is time for leaders in the Christian Church to renounce this “performance religion” and to build a dynamic and personal relationship with the Lord. It is from this personal relationship – not a ministry relationship – that pastors can become secure in who they are and no longer identify with what they do as the basis for their self-image and self-worth. 

As we shared around the table one leader mentioned that he believed that the Holy Spirit was calling us back to an intimate walk with the Lord. I could not agree more. He was definitely in touch with what God is doing in His Kingdom the His Church today. 

Wounded Leaders

Recently on a trip to the United States I was able to attend the first night of a weekend conference. In a church building that seats maybe 300 half the seats were occupied with pastors and church leaders from that area and some from even 4 or 5 hours away. The night I was blessed to attend we had two separate worship sessions. And, as pastors do, they engaged fully in the worship, worshipping with their whole hearts. 

As I watched and listened I realized how wounded so many of them were. I wasn’t amazed by what the Holy Spirit was showing me. I work with leaders and pastors in a number of countries overseas and across Canada and the United States. I know that leaders are wounded. They are wounded by the people they lead, pray for, and teach. They are wounded by those who call themselves ‘friends’ and often turn on them and become enemies. They are wounded by the traditional structures they work within – denominationalism. And, if they are a more non-traditional version of the church they are often wounded by their church board. They become wounded because of people’s expectations – spoken and unspoken, met and unmet. 

But, here they were raising their hearts and hands to worship the Lord. In their woundedness they sought to worship the Healer. Not to be healed although that would be great and an added bonus I am sure. But, simply because they sincerely and deeply love Him whom they serve. But, I was overwhelmed spiritually and emotionally by the depth and severity of their woundedness. There were likely few there who would admit that they were deeply wounded but there were very few who were not. 

We need to be praying for our Christian leaders – the pastors, the teachers, the elders … and, if you are so blessed to have the fullness of the ministry of Christ in your local church then for the apostle, prophet, and evangelist who are leading and blessing you. Our leaders need healing. And, most times they will not tell you they do. They don’t trust you. 

Because they have been wounded by ‘the Church’ they have a hard time trusting ‘the Church’ – believers. And, so they go along silently hurting and trusting no-one. But unless they admit that they are wounded and need healing it only gets worse until they find themselves either indulging in what is neither healthy or wholesome leading them into sin or they simply walk away from the full-time ministry. Often never to return to ministry or the church. Our leaders are deeply wounded and are often unable to share with those around them because of the lack of trust and the structures within which they operate and work.

This is a sad fact. That the Church and, dare we say it, the Christians, are simply not safe. The Church is not a safe place to be real, open, and honest. Leaders are overwhelmed with unrealistic expectations and demands. They are crushed by betrayals, criticisms, rejection, judgments, and gossip and most often have no one to turn to for help. So, they suffer in silence unable to personally find freedom and wholeness. Not only do they find it dangerous to be real with their own people but because of the design of the system other pastors and leaders are not called upon in time of need. There is a sense of competition between leaders and the leader needs to protect his image and reputation. There is a need to come across that everything is all right and we have it altogether. Nothing could be further from the truth.

So, pastors and leaders need to take action to build healthy relationships with two or three people who can be their support team and accountability partners. These people need to be healthy themselves. They need to be trustworthy. And, they need to treat the leader with dignity and respect. It will take time to build these healthy relationships but they are essential to bringing health back to the leadership of the Church. And, then, with healthy leaders, we can begin to restore health and vitality to the local church as well. 

It is time for wounded leaders to make time to care for their own health and wellbeing. It is time to build healthy and open relationships with others who can support and encourage them. True friends. And, it is time to return to the pattern of the ministry of Jesus where people were loved unconditionally, accepted as they were, and forgiven if and when needed.

If you are a leader, I commend you for sacrificially helping those that you lead. But, first priority should be to become healthy and whole yourself so that you can, once again, continue to lead in the long term and be more effective.  It takes time. You will need to be intentional as it won’t happen by accident. And, you will need to be real and open. It will be risky but it is worth it. 

 

Careful What You Believe

Do you read Facebook posts from Christians? I don’t. I have recently removed myself from almost everyone’s newsfeed. Why? Thanks for asking! Because most of what they post is totally irrelevant to life – their life, my life, anyone’s life. They post random thoughts which usually prove how little and how seldom they really do think. And, who really cares what their opinion is on the current things floating through cyberspace? A lot of postings are mindless as well as pointless.

And then you have the Christians who post Scripture passages. As if anyone is going to read them or really cares. If a non-believer reads them they are turned off totally because they don’t like being preached at and spoken down to. If a believer sees them they don’t even glance at them because they either know the verses or simply don’t care. Or, like me, think posting Bible verses is pointless. If you don’t have an in-depth personal relationship with a person then don’t try to influence their thinking by quoting the Bible. And, Facebook connections are not real relationships with real people. 

On a recent trip to another area of Canada to minister I was confronted, once again, by people who are believing some of the oddest things. One young man, a vocal believer, was quoting from a non-Christian series of books written by a very popular motivational speaker whose books and seminars tell you to dream about who you want to be and what you want to have and then confess your dream into reality. He promises success and prosperity for those who do. Of course, he is succeeding and is seriously wealthy. He is not a believer. And, a lot of what he teaches is New Age and not in the least biblically based. But, he is believable and appears to be living the dream so many believers want to live. This young believer referenced him several times. 

Be careful what you believe. Even Christian preachers are not always forthright and honest. And, certainly are not always biblically accurate and correct in their teachings. They are many who are ear-ticklers. Paul warned Timothy, his disciple, that in the last days many would be looking for teachers who tickle their ears. In other words, tell them what they want to hear. Teaching from and to the soul – the mind, will, emotions. Yet Jesus said that His Word was spirit and truth – not soul and falsehoods. And, Jesus warned of false teachers and prophets.

I was sitting in a major sharing time with 30 or so believers. And, some of of what was shared was edging towards New Age. Some even crossed the line. Several shared what was ‘prophetic’ in name only and the prophecies did not glorify Jesus or draw attention to Him as the prophetic is suppose to do. Just because someone says they are a prophet and posts prophetic words on the internet does not mean they are or that their words are accurate. Some shared what they believed the Lord was saying to them over the past week. Again, really? But, it seems we hear what we want to hear and regretfully it seldom is what the Holy Spirit is saying. 

Careful what you listen to and read. Careful what you believe. To discern truth from error you have to know the truth. There is no such gift as ‘discernment.’ There is the Discerning of Spirits – a gift of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12. But, that is not the same as discernment. Discernment – recognizing falsehood and lies – comes only by seriously knowing the truth. And, Jesus came full of truth (John 1:14) so get to know Him. He said the was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. So, come to Him, know Him, hear His heart. And, most importantly, know His Word, the Bible. Let it speak to you. Read it without your religious glasses on. And, don’t read it out of your needs and wants – read it from a heart hungry for whatever God wants to speak to you. 

I am amazed at what people truly believe to be the truth. I am astonished at what believers are building their lives on – certainly not the rock, looks more like sand. I am astonished at who Christian listen to and read thus believing what they are hearing and seeing. I am saddened that most believers are really not rooted and grounded in the Truth – Jesus and His Word, the Bible. 

So, I have said all that to say, “Please be careful what you believe.” A lot depends on it now and into the days ahead. Test everything you hear to God’s Word. Not what you think the Word says but what it really does say. Don’t spiritualize the Word. God said what He meant and means what He said. Just read and believe and apply. What you think you hear can be so subjective. God’s Word is objective truth waiting to be received and applied to your life. So test everything you think God is speaking to what He has already spoken.

So, careful what you believe. 

It’s a Rainy Day and a Monday

It is a Monday morning and I have just returned from 5 days on the road. Ministering is something I still enjoy even after 40+ years of being involved in it daily. Meeting with people, discipling young believers, mentoring leaders, fellowshipping with pastors, and teaching God’s Word. Always amazing. 

But, I come home tired. I spend many hours each day talking with people, building relationships, and ministering to those who are moving forward on their journey with Jesus. Because I live in people’s homes and not in hotels I then spend time wth those who are so kind as to open their homes and their hearts to me. So, each day is a full day. Then there is the travel to and from … this current trip was 1300 Km of driving… often it is planes and trains. Sometimes it involves jet lag. Not this time.

So, I woke up this morning and it is a cool fall day in Western Canada and it is lightly raining. And, as I began to, once again, fit in to a daily routine at home which involves time in my study, time in my office, time with family members, and the various messages and things that are needed to keep a household and a ministry together I am taking a few hours to sit, contemplate, and reconnect with my personal life which is often put on hold when travelling and involved in trans-local ministry.

I am sitting with my Bible and a blanket over my knees. My best friend is sitting in the next chair under his blanket (his name is Cuddles, he is a Bishon, and the best dog anyone could wish for). And, I am reading the words of Jesus.

It is interesting how God can speak to you when you are open to hearing His voice. And, He does speak to me clearly through His Word daily as I spend time with Him. But, this morning the Holy Spirit brought back to mind a song from the 1960’s. Yes, I am that old and then some. It is by The Carpenters. The lyrics go like this…

Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old

Sometimes I’d like to quit

Nothin’ ever seems to fit

Hangin’ around

Nothin’ to do but frown

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

What I’ve got they used to call the blues

Nothin’ is really wrong

Feelin’ like I don’t belong

Walkin’ around

Some kind of lonely clown

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Funny, but it seems I always wind up here with you

Nice to know somebody loves me

Funny, but it seems that it’s the only thing to do

Run and find the one who loves me (the one who loves me)

I know. Not very spiritual. But, the words spoke to me and to how I am feeling as I recover from almost a week on the road and super involvement with people and ministry opportunities. I am feeling ‘mellow’ and quiet. Lonely. Empty. Maybe even a little overwhelmed by all that has just happened as I travelled. In need of something, Someone. This is not a new feeling so I relate to the words of the song. Especially the last few lines… read them again.

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Funny, but it seems I always wind up here with you

Nice to know somebody loves me

Funny, but it seems that it’s the only thing to do

Run and find the one who loves me (the one who loves me)

So, I have run to the One who loves me. The One who never gives up on me. The One who refreshes me after a week of give, give, give. The One who accepts me as I am and loves me unconditionally. God’s Word says that there are “times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord” and I can assure you that this is very true. 

So, it is a rainy day and a Monday and I am sitting next to my best friend Jesus and my second best friend Cuddles knowing that, to quote an old hymn, “it is well with my soul.”

So, just so you know…

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Funny, but it seems I always wind up here with you

Nice to know somebody loves me

Funny, but it seems that it’s the only thing to do

Run and find the one who loves me (the one who loves me)

Truly, it is the only thing to do … “Run and find the one who loves me.” His Name is Jesus!

Morning Coffee 

I am drinking a cup of Starbucks coffee in an airport. It is 5:00a and I have been on the road since 3:00a. It is quiet in the airport although I am always surprised at how many people there really are working towards catching a flight to who knows where. I stood in line at Starbucks waiting for them to open so I could have my first cup of coffee for the day. Hotel coffee does not count as the first cup or any cup for that matter.

Had a great ride in to the airport. Last night I met a believer whose name is Steve. He was our connection at a conference I was attending. And, he was my ride to the airport. What a terrific brother in the Lord. It was an amazing time of sharing our testimonies about how and when we were saved by the Lord and then chatting about what He is doing in our lives today as we continue to serve Him. Mutual sharing back and forth … so good, so very good.

It is always amazing to meet people in another nation – and I do work in a number of nations – who have had amazing encounters with the Lord. People who are true disciples of Jesus and are still growing and maturing becoming more and more like the One whom they follow. Not only have they had an initial encounter but they continue to have experiences with the Lord on a regular basis. And, so they are excited about the Lord and they have lots to share that is ‘fresh manna’ and so powerful to hear.

We talked and shared the whole way into the city – an hour of driving in the dark with little to no traffic. Times goes so quickly when sharing real fellowship and testifying to what the Lord is currently doing in our lives. It made me think about how amazing heaven will be as all of us will have so many stories to share that will glorify and honour the Lord as we spend eternity with Him. Our lives now, then, and forever should, as believers, point to Jesus and bring Him glory and honour. 

It was a great time and made the drive into the city go much faster than it usually does. We were not talking ‘church.’ We were talking Jesus. We were not discussing church issues. We were talking Jesus. We were not swapping medical histories and naming all the drugs we take. We were talking Jesus. We were not sharing things that are heavy on our hearts. We were sharing Jesus. We were not sharing the difficulties and circumstances that we are facing. We were talking Jesus.

It is so refreshing to have the opportunity to talk with another serious believer and follower of Jesus and focus our whole conversation on Jesus. Jesus is so amazing and we should never run out of things to share about how amazing and awesome He really is in our lives.