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Build Them a House


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I was recently having a meal with the children and staff at the Children’s Lighthouse in Perrysburg, OH. This place is certainly a bit of a haven for the kids … and also for the various animals. There are koi, chipmunks, cats, a couple of dogs … and two pigeons, Hope and Harmony.

Hope and Harmony come and go as they please … but they seem to love being here. In fact, it is nothing for them to eat out of the hands of the children or to stay overnight in the greenhouse on the property.

As we were all sitting out on the courtyard, I saw the two birds perched on the roof of one of the houses. My initial thought, as I was pondering how much these birds obviously love this place and feel welcome here, was: “Why don’t we build them a house of their own?”

Immediately, I was reminded of the Scripture surrounding the narrative we know as the “Transfiguration.”

Matthew 17:1-6- “Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.

Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials[a]—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. …” (NLT)

And it was as if I could hear the Father saying to me, “I have sent these birds here for several reasons. One of those reasons is this: that you might be reminded that I am pleased with this place and with the ministries it is carrying out to these children, the community, and indeed, the whole world.”

Certainly, there are many other truths that we can derive from this narrative BUT I am encouraged to look only at this one right for the time being.

What is truly done for Christ is what is blessed.

God empowers us to perform those tasks to which He has called us.

And He speaks over us, “These are my beloved children who bring great joy to me.”

I am not attempting to take the power of the Matthew 17 passage away from the words it speaks concerning Jesus Christ; it certainly speaks to His divine purpose … but I want each of us to know and to understand that God truly loves us. He is pleased with us … not because of anything we do or have done … but because of what Jesus has already done … because of Who Jesus is.

And He is pleased with the ministries to which He has called us.

And He empowers us to perform those ministries.

That makes me really excited about what God is doing in me, in the ministries in which I am engaged, about what God is doing in you, and in the ministries in which you are engaged. So let us go forth, knowing that He loves us, He purposes us, He equips us, and He is pleased with us … and it is all because of Jesus.

Looking at Others


I have a special privilege of working with college and graduate students from all around the world. Of course they each bring things of interest to the table and I learn greatly from them as horizons are broadened.

Recently, one of my college students from a Latin American country wrote me a requested paper concerning freedom and what it means. It was interesting that she (and others) determined that the USA is not a free country because we have to follow certain laws, while persons in her and other countries did not have to follow certain laws.

She brought up the idea that children could drink if they wanted to in her country … without fear of being arrested. She also brought up the idea that persons in her country did not have to pay taxes, and therefore, when coming here to the USA, they felt that they could certainly take advantage of the system here because, in their frame of reference, the requirements that we have are of no concern.

Now please note, she was not being belligerent, nor was she being argumentative; in fact, she was even supportive of the opinion that she was stating; she was simply stating a fact.

I was amazed. It never occurred to me WHY people were doing what they were doing and acting like they were acting. And I had to stop and think for a minute: I wonder what would happen to our thinking IF we could take the time to try and understand why others acted, responded, and spoke out like they do.

And again, this is not an attempt to get us to pardon wrongs done to and within our country; it is to cause us to stop, listen to them, see where they are coming from, and then make the judgment that needs to be made. Of course, this is in complete contrast to the way that we sometimes do things. You know, see something we don’t like and then rant and rave about it.

Maybe what we need is a little more understanding.

Maybe we need a little more caring.

Maybe we need a lot less “jumping to conclusions.”

It may or may not change our thoughts.

It may or may not change our responses.

But it certainly will change our understanding.

It certainly will change our perspective.

And it certainly will change our attitudes.

Certainly there is a lot more that could be said about this, and perhaps more will be in the future, but for now, be challenged by the idea of giving others a chance. We may not change our minds … but we might just learn something.


I had a very exciting conversation with a young lady today. She was telling me that she had once began her studies to become a veterinarian but gave up because she was having too many difficulties with the studies. She obviously does have a learning difficulty but she had determined that her difficulty was simply too hard to carry on with her task so decided to lower her expectations a little to switch and become a veterinary technician.

As she was telling me her new goals, which she has been working on for about a year now, you could visibly see her lighten up and you could hear the excitement in her voice. In fact, she told me that wanted to tell many people of her new goal in life.

The excitement I heard, and that I related back to her, was her passion. She was iterating her passion. And it was contagious.

I have no doubt that Amanda will go on to finish her studies and will become a veterinary technician.

And I am pretty sure that she will specialize beyond that.

Why?

Because she was and is in the zone of her passion.

Passion is that objective that you have to have. You eat it, drink it, dream it … and live it.

And passion will carry you through in times when otherwise you might want to quit or give up.

And I know passion.

And I think we all know passion.

When is the last time you ever dreamed something so hard that you couldn’t let it go?

When’s the last time that you really lit up when you were talking about something … or someone?

When is the last time that you wanted something so badly that you knew you couldn’t live without it?

That’s passion.

A story is often told of a young boy who desperately wanted to learn a martial art. It is said that he sought out the training of a wise, old sensei.

In the boy’s search of the old man, he did find him. And he found him fishing in the middle of a stream.

The boy waited patiently on the side of the stream for what seemed like hours … simply in pursuit of being recognized by the old man.

Finally, the old man looked over at the boy and said to him, "boy, what is it that you desire?"

The boy anxiously responded to him, "Oh great master, I desire to learn your martial arts."

The old man simply looked away and continued fishing … seemingly ignoring the young boy.

After a while longer, he again looked over at the young boy and said, "boy, what is it that you desire?"

Again, the boy responded, "Oh great master, I desire to learn your martial arts."

And again, the old man simply looked away and continued fishing.

Finally, after another hour or so, the old man looked over at the boy and said to him, "boy, what is it that you desire?"

And, as the boy had before responded, he said "Oh great master, I desire to learn your martial arts."

The old man motioned for the boy to come out into the water with him.

The boy, desiring NOT to show his excitement, waded out into the water to the old man.

When the boy reached the sensei, the sensei violently grabbed, pushed, and held the young boy’s head under the water.

The boy struggled violently as well.

..until at last, four bubbles come from his mouth

…then three bubbles

…then two bubbles

… then one bubble

At which the old man, grabbing the boy by the hair, lifted him out of the water … obviously (and literally) dying for air.

And the old man looked at the boy and said to him, "Son, when you want to learn the martial arts from me … as much as you wanted that next breath of air … come back and I will teach you.

This is an illustration of the power of passion.

Passion causes us to come back when all Hell is coming against us.

Passion is that thing that causes us to NOT give up when nothing else seems to be going our way.

Passion is what finds us successful.

Why?

Because passion creates within us an "I’ve got to have it … or die trying" attitude.

So again, I ask each reader today … what are you passionate about? And what’s it going to take to see your passion fulfilled?

And when you have answered those questions … carry on …. and see your passion come to fruition.

The Road


It was a hard, cold, snowy winter in the mid-west this year. Historical temperature and snowfall-level records were broken and new ones were set. And schools in my area surpassed their allotted levels of cancellations several times over. Some have even said that the students are going to have to go well into the summer break in order to make up for those cancellations.

And many people continually fussed about the depth of the cold. In fact, it seems that complaints about the winter of 2014 far exceeded the appreciations.

But I chose to take a different tack. This year, I am learning to count my blessings and to appreciate the winter, the cold, the snow, and all other parts of life. In fact, for four weekends in a row, my wife and I had to travel between Chicago and Toledo round-trip. We experienced icy roads, sub-zero temperatures, white-out conditions, cars and trucks driving too fast and dangerously, and a doubling of travel times.

But rather than complain, I learned (and am still learning) to embrace this winter. I learned (and am still learning) to appreciate the cold, the snow, the wind, and the long travel times.

Why?

Because the Bible tells us that we are to focus on “what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

Our attitudes must be transformed from the negative, sorrowful ones that many display into that which is full of hope, purpose, and vision. In fact, one of my favorite Christmas movies expressed a similar attitude as Bing Crosby sang:

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings

As I looked at the snow, felt the coldness, experienced the wind, and drove through the extreme slowness of the traffic, I chose to count my blessings, and to enjoy the journey of being blessed by Him.

I embraced this winter season.

Can you embrace the winter season of your life? And THEN move beyond it.

Deadlines


As I write this, I am aware that recently, the last night of late night show host Jay Leno was on the air. My favorite part of his show has always been his Monday night "Head lines."

But in this blog, I want to mention something that sounds similar, but plays out much differently:

Deadlines.

Deadlines are those things that many of us hate and yet, others of us love.

The deadline is that final moment when all must be said and done … And all must be turned in and submitted.

As I said, many hate these things. For those of us, these bring unneeded stress and pressure. These have driven men and women to do things they would later regret or to live in such a manner that one’s life could be shortened or caused to be less than full.

And other people love deadlines. For those of us, deadlines bring something similar to an adrenaline rush … And cause greater and more concentrated focus of attention and on detail.. Somehow, the need to finish by a certain time causes that time to be a motivator.

We all respond differently to deadlines.

But I want to suggest to each of us that deadlines are nothing to be played with. In fact, we each have an appointed time when life as we know it will all be over and all will have been said and done.

For that reason, I urge each of us to respond more intently to that focus of the journey of our life.

Our journey is not about what we have done right or wrong. It’s not about what we have planned and dreamed. And it’s not about what we have succeeded in or failed.

Instead, it’s about how we have lived. It’s about how we love God. It’s about how we treat others.

As Martin Luther King Jr. has said (and others have repeated):

    • It’s not about how long you have lived …
    • It’s about how well you have lived.

And Hillary Cooper once said,

    • Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take
    • But by the moments that take our breath away.

So I ask you today as you live, as you breathe and as you enjoy the journey:

    • How have you loved God?
    • How have you treated others?
    • How have you lived and forgiven yourself?

Answer those questions before the deadline is upon you

… while you still have time to do something about them …

While you have time to truly love and honor God …

While you have time to show and tell those whom you love that you really do love them …

While you have time to stop beating yourself up for all your shortcomings and failures …

While you have time to forgive yourself and to love yourself …

You know the time I’m talking about …

I’m talking about that time …

Before the deadline is up.

Bumper Sticker Religion


We have a lot going around of what I call “Bumper Sticker” Religion. By this, I mean we tend to fill our lives with short, snappy statements that really sound good and really seem to make sense.

Such statements include: “John 3:16”, “Forgive and Forget”, “Let go and let God.” Of course, there are a whole lot of other, similar statements.

Obviously, few things are rarely as simple as they seem.

Surely, “John 3:16” is a simple statement that refers to the Scripture and is somewhat separated from these others but it is my fear that other such statements often do more harm than good.

I want to set the record straight.

Faith in Jesus is the beginning; faith in short, pithy statements is often a distraction.

Relationship with God is not initiated with cuteness and conciseness of communication; instead, relationship begins with revelation from God Himself and that revelation comes through prayer and/or the Word of God.

Relationship takes intentionality and some degree of work. And by work, I don’t mean accomplishment and defeating the impossible; what I do mean is that series of efforts of knowing Him.

(Of course, we could never get this part right on our own; we need His strength and His grace.)

And we are further equipped with the knowledge that as we draw hear to Him, He draws near to us. (And that’s the effort I’m talking about: drawing near.)

Never rest upon the concept that uttering the right words is enough.

Never rely on the thought that the summation of spiritual healthiness is achieved by a bunch of verbal gymnastics.

Instead, let us each draw near to God … let us establish a habit of seeking Him … and let us enjoy the journey.

If this article interests you, write me with your comments at: jgarrett1958@hotmail.com


I had been working at a restaurant for several months as a cash register operator. I have always been pretty good at working with other people and have also found myself able to find a place of commonality with almost everyone.

One of my techniques is that I always look for some “in” in each person’s life, whether it is the manner of dress during the depth of winter, military clothing that they might be wearing indicating that they might have been actively involved in the armed services, to unfamiliar accents to … well, you get the idea.

Recently, a young lady came in on a Sunday morning.

After eating, she came to my register to check out.

Her bill was $12.83.

She paid me in all one-dollar bills.

So I, using my “skill” in finding an “in” to create conversation AND by the fact that I was working in the food preparation business, came to the following conversation:

So I am guessing that you are a waitress/server.

Again, I am just looking for friendly conversation.

And she, looking at me … but quickly turning away to leave, says “No. I am a stripper.” … leaving my dropped-jawed.

The moral of this story is that we should assume NOTHING of ANYONE.

Each of us is who each of us is. While we all have opinions of one another, we are sometimes short of the mark in getting that assumption correct.

On that note: no one really knows us except of God … and ourselves.

While we often are influenced by others’ opinions of us, the truth is that that it is we … and God … who are the true influencers of who we are and what we become.

Don’t let the nay-sayers and doubters sway you from your progress and personal determinations.

Follow who you are becoming … and be proud of it.

 

Dr. James Garrett can be reached at: jgarrett1958@hotmail.com

Earth, Wind, and Fire


This is a post from one of my students from Ashland Theological Seminary, Dr. Darrell Williams. It is reposted with his permission. If you appreciate this blog, please send Darrell a thank you note at darrell527@sbcglobal.net

11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” (I Kings 19:11-12 NKJ)

In I Kings 19 we read of the prophet Elijah dealing with the earth, the wind and fire. Elijah was on the run from the evil Jezebel for his obedience to God concerning the false prophets. He took off on a journey into the wilderness. The angel of the Lord directed him to go and stand on the mountain. It is here that Elijah deals with earth, wind and fire. As Elijah stood on the mountain, a great wind came that was so strong that it broke the rocks of the mountains into pieces. We all have been in storms and experienced issues of life where it seemed that everything around us was falling apart. The Bible says the wind “broke the rocks into pieces” but notice it also says “but the Lord was not in the wind.”

As Elijah continued to stand on the mountain, an earthquake occurred; like so many of us the storms of life rage around us and as we are shaken pieces of our lives fall around us. We may begin to lose our footing and find ourselves in a state of panic. If the storm itself were not enough, now the very foundation of our lives is moving, unsteady. The Bible says “but the Lord was not in the earthquake….”

And finally there are the fires that spring up in life; the small sparks as well as the uncontrollable blazes; those issues that may test our patience as well as our perseverance. For pastors, it sometimes seems that congregations have several “small fires” burning throughout the church at all times. Despite your wise counsel and fervent prayer, Sister XYZ married the guy who could not even spell “LORD”, and now she and her “husband” are having marital difficulties. THERE IS A FIRE BURNING. Deacon XY has been way out of order in his duties; the congregants are beginning to notice so you must deal with him. THERE IS A FIRE BURNING. The pipes burst in the church from the cold weather and Trustee Y doesn’t have the “time” to handle the business to have it repaired therefore service may have to be canceled or moved to another location and it’s Friday. THERE IS A FIRE BURNING. The Bible says “the Lord was not in the fire.”

Throughout the earthquake, the wind, and the fire the Lord was not in any of them. But in verse 12 it says “a still small voice” was where He could be found. When you are faced with the trials and issues of life you must position yourself in a place to hear that still small voice of God. Your building/temple of your physical body may be breaking into pieces with the foundation of all you have ever known shaking around you, fires and flames hot against your face but the Lord can be heard in that still small voice if you seek Him.

Notice where Elijah was when this happens, he was on a mountain alone; by himself. When was the last time you went away by yourself to seek the face of God? It could be somewhere in your own home that is peaceful and quiet free of distractions or for pastors it could be at the church. The Lord told me that He wants to speak to you while you try and handle the earth, wind and fires in your life. But when He speaks you MUST recognize HIS voice!

So be encouraged even during your storms, the earthquakes and fires of life that the Lord is still there yet take a lesson from Elijah and go to that quiet place and meet God there.

Concentrate on the last sentence of this letter. As the words get smaller it is more difficult to read. The big letters are easy to see but as the letters get smaller you must look more closely. The Lord is waiting to talk to YOU.

How will He do it? In a still small voice!

Be Encouraged

Doc Williams

Touch Not Mine Anointed


Sometime comments are made by trusted individuals that are parallel with one’s own. Such is the case published below by Daniel Juster.

In I Samuel 26:9-11 we read about David’s refusal to take the life of King Saul even though Saul was pursuing David and seeking his death. David had Saul trapped, and Abishai, David’s soldier, asked permission to kill Saul. David responds:

“Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless? … the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed …”

A Dangerous Doctrine

From this text, some have derived a very dangerous doctrine of the spiritual leader. According to this doctrine:

The pastoral leader, or apostle leader over a network of congregations, is understood as having a position like the ancient King of Israel. He is God’s anointed. Therefore he is not to be removed by any process of men, no matter what he does. He is not subject to congregational or even network discipline. He is the decision maker. While he may have elders or a board, they are advisors only, and all decisions are his to make. Within his sphere he is the final authority or dictator. If he abuses people or they do not like his decisions, they have two choices. They can remain under his leadership and trust the situation to God or they can quietly leave the community. In any case, they are to make no waves or protest in their leaving. The authority of the pastor or apostle is taught in very absolute terms. Once you know whom God has chosen, it is taught, this is the proper response to leadership. Such a person may be over a local congregation or a movement. When anyone questions his leadership or decisions, they are told, “Touch not God’s anointed.” It is shocking that this is taught in many places around the globe and has even influenced the Messianic Jewish world. I believe it is a destructive and erroneous doctrine, and that believers should guard against this teaching.

Here are several of the reasons this doctrine is unbiblical and wrong:

New Covenant Congregational Government

While anointed leadership is important, the model of government in the New Testament is not the model of a pastor king or an apostle king. There is not one text that supports this. I do believe in the role of a senior pastor or apostle (or “rabbi” in Messianic Jewish congregations). However, that role is to be the leader of a team of elders who together have strategic and decision making responsibility. This is very clear in the book of Acts, where elders are appointed in plurality to lead the congregations planted by Paul. We never see a reference to the head leader. Even Yeshua raised His leaders to have a peer relationship with him and then called them friends.

The Truth about the Authority of the King in the Hebrew Bible

This model ignores other evidence from the Hebrew Bible. The King is not as absolute as the Samuel passage would lead some to believe. Note that in the Hebrew Bible there is a division of powers among the priests, the prophets and the civil rulers. All are accountable to God. By sacrificial conviction that came through divine revelation, David knew that he was not to take Saul’s life. This does not hold in all cases. The prophet Elisha anoints Jehu specifically to take the lives of the wicked kings of Israel and Judah. He does so with God’s blessing (II Kings 9:6-10). In addition, the prophets of Israel challenged various kings in ways that really undercut what the kings wanted to do. So threatening were the prophets, that at times they were killed, jailed and put in a pit as was Jeremiah.

Later in his life, even King David was reproved by the prophet Nathan for sin. However, the “Touch not God’s anointed” teaching asserts that the pastor or apostle is not to be challenged. So even if such a pastor sins, lies, abuses people, or commits sexual immorality – there is no recourse. Some of these leaders can be harsh, and people shy away from even attempting to give a righteous challenge.

The Failure of the “Touch Not” Model to Understand Healthy Community

One of the most troubling aspects of this teaching is its failure to understand the nature of New Covenant community-building. It is our call as leaders to build the people together into a close-knit community. I know that this goes against the grain of today’s “churchianity” where the essence of church is the religious event. But the central idea of the New Covenant Scriptures is a discipling covenant community that builds lasting relationships (I John 1:7). If a leader falls and even needs to be removed, the community should be able to survive his fall since the people have been built together. Any person should be able to initiate a process of correction for any person including a leader. Matthew 18 says, “If your brother sins …” The leader is first of all a brother and should have a humble, servant heart.

This central value of community ownership motivates members of Tikkun’s American network of congregations to participate in approving annual budgets, approving the appointing of elders, and affirming major directional decisions from elders. The false, dictatorial doctrine makes the leader the owner of the community instead of the people, and thus people are required to quietly leave and lose community for the sake of the untouchable leader.

The Lessons of Church History

After the Protestant Church was birthed in the Reformation, new patterns of leadership developed in the Protestant denominations. They knew the corruption of the “royal” leadership style in the Catholic Church and sought to establish checks and balances as foundational in church government.

We can learn from their experience. We encourage congregations and their leaders to incorporate checks and balances in their structure, both at the local and network levels. At the same time, genuinely anointed leaders should be allowed to lead and to flourish without undue restriction, as can be seen in some forms of government. We endeavor to combine the wisdom of church history with the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11, especially the role of apostles and prophets. However, our approach still focuses on elder-led congregations whose leadership is subject to checks and balances, with accountability to the congregation and to the network leaders at the network level.

Sadly, most believers seek to simply attend where they have a good experience and a good program. The issue of governmental/leadership structure should be one of the central elements in choosing a congregation. Some in the New Apostolic movement are teaching the royal model of the dictator apostle as if it were the Biblical model. There are also patterns in ultra-Orthodox Judaism that teach a Jewish parallel to this where all submit to their head rabbi in the dynastic style. This is cultic in any case and a terrible mistake. It has destroyed many, leading to financial abuse, sexual abuse, personal abuse in how people are treated and other types of injustice.

So let us be done with this devastating, unbiblical doctrine. It is inspired by pride and insecurity. May God provide strong leaders who are secure enough to be accountable. I have a lifetime commitment to this principle and have made every effort to set a personal example of accountability in every leadership position in which I’ve been privileged to serve. If I am not ready to be corrected, disciplined and even removed if in sin, I am not qualified to lead God’s people.

By Daniel Juster

Trust the Process 1


I am sorry that I had to resend this. After I received a copy, I realized that certain links were not working. Thank you for understanding. (j)

Jeremiah 29:11- For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (NLT)

Diamond

Consider the process of carbon being turned into diamonds. Scientists tell us that diamonds are formed from carbon, much like coal, that has undergone a process requiring great time, great heat, and great pressure. In fact, these same scientists tell us there is a limited amount of space, 90 miles beneath the surface of the earth, where this process can take place. Further, they tell us that the process of the formation of diamonds requires a temperature of at least 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. They also tell us that it takes several million years for diamonds to form. (I don’t agree with them on this point because I do not believe the world is nearly that old.) What I want us to see through all this is the fact that a diamond, that valuable stone that some consider to be a woman’s best friend, comes to us through a process. Notice it takes a GREAT length of time. It takes GREAT heat. And it takes GREAT pressure … all of this in a LIMITED amount of space HIDDEN deeply beneath the surface of the earth.

Life Principle: In fact, I would like for us to realize that every good thing comes by means of a process. And the process, while often painful and time-consuming, and many times cramped and hidden, is a necessary part in the production of anything of true value.

Rest assured, as far as God’s Kingdom is concerned, you are valuable.  And God wants to take you through the process

And in this matter, consider the Biblical Patriarch, Abraham. God took Abraham through the process. The Bible tells us that Abraham stepped out in faith … not knowing what he was to face or where he even was going. 

Genesis 12:1 The LORD  had said to Abram, "Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you." 4 So Abram departed as the LORD had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. (Gen 12:1 NLT) 

Abraham

Notice these things about Abraham’s adventure: 1) God said, “(Abram, you) go!” 2) God said, “I will show!” 3) God said, “I will bless!” And 4) God said, “You (Abram) will be a blessing to others!”

Life Principle: God’s process requires faith.  Faith to begin … faith to stay in the process … and faith to complete the process.  Trust the process. It will bless you … and others.

Notice, too, that Abraham began his adventure at about 75 years of age. Why is that an important statement? Because there is not a “too young” or “too old” age to begin your adventure. There is not a “too anything” in order to start being used by God. The limits we place on being used by God are limits that are artificial or at least merely conceived in our own minds; they are not God-imposed limitations.  Notice, too, that when God spoke to Abram to begin the process of becoming a great nation, he (Abram) had no children and Sarai was barren. But God’s process doesn’t recognize our human limitations; eventually, Abraham fathered his chosen son when he was 100 years old (and his wife was 90.)

Life Principle:  The process has NOTHING to do with age or any human set limitations. It is all about preparing us … maturing us … completing us.  Trust the process. 

As in each process that all God’s servants go through, Abraham’s faith was tested by the sacrifice of his son, Isaac. Notice that this was part of the process. Because ALL processes always contain pressures of some kind. At least we call these pressures … pressures, tests, trials, and all sorts of other things. And these pressures are painful … but necessary for God’s work to be completed in us … and I assure you, God’s “begun” work will be brought to be a “completed” work. Philippians 1:6 reminds us, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (NLT)

Be reminded of thee things: The process ALWAYS requires obedience and sacrifice.  The process always requires testing.  And The process will be painful … but the end result always will be worth it … for the Kingdom of God … and for you and me.

Life Principle: The process may require us to sacrifice the very thing we believe to be the answer … the way to the blessing.  Trust the process. 

Abraham completed the process and walked out his purpose and was blessed by God. He truly did become the father of many peoples. And he was a very financially (and otherwise) prosperous man. And he did become a blessing to the world. In fact, his blessing continue reach the entire world. Did you know that more inventions and achievements per capita that have been for the good of the world have come out of Abraham’s descendants, Israel?

And know this as well: You, too, will be better because of God’ process. And you, too, will be used of God to bless the world.  

Life Principle: Stay in the process, obedient and faithful.  You will see how God used the process to prepare you and use you and mature you and complete you.  Trust the process. 

Through God’s process in Abram/Abraham, His plan prospered in that process. And God’s plan for you will prosper in the process … both His Kingdom plan and His personal plan for you.

Life Principle: The diamond is a very beautiful stone. It required much time, intense heat, and great pressure. And its worth is valued by all … Not just those who shop at Jared’s or similar jewelers. As a small stone is valued only after it has passed through the long time, the extreme pressure, and the intense heat, so our true value is revealed only after the time, the pressure, and the heat of the process. Trust the process.   

So a Biblical truth is now revealed: God takes His children through the process. In fact, there a multitude of Biblical illustrations I could state here.

Daniel3

One is of Daniel’s three Hebrew friends who faced the process. We know them as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Let’s look at what the Bible tells us about them: 

Daniel 1:6- Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. 

Daniel 1:19- 20- “The king talked with them, and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service. Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.” (NLT)

Yet their lives were extremely uncomfortable.

Daniel 3:12- “But there are some Jews– Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego– whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They refuse to serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up." 

Daniel 3:14- “Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up?”” Daniel 3:16-17- “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.” (NLT)

And we just need to notice that sometimes the process is uncomfortable.  Trust the process.

But let’s move on: these young men were willing to die in the process.

Daniel 3:18-  “But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up." (NLT)

So you see, dying to self is part of the process. We must trust the process …even as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did. In in their lives, God’s plan prospered in the end  

Daniel 3:24-25- “But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, "Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?" "Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did," they replied. "Look!" Nebuchadnezzar shouted. "I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!" Daniel 3:28-29- “Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!" (NLT)

The three Hebrew children prospered in the end … as did God’s entire plan and Kingdom.

Daniel 3:30- “Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon. (NLT)

The Biblical character Job also faced the process.

Job 1:8- “Then the LORD asked Satan, "Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless– a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil." (NLT)

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Job’s process was a particularly uncomfortable one.

Job 1:12- "All right, you may test him," the LORD said to Satan. "Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically." So Satan left the LORD’s presence.” (NLT)

And Job was so intent on serving God that he was willing even to die in the process.

Job 13:15- “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” (NIV)

But the again, as did Abraham and the three Hebrew children, the Kingdom of God prospered in the end, Job prospered in the end, and you, too, can prosper when the process is over.

Job 42:10- “When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before!” (NLT)

Or consider for a moment one of Jesus’ closest followers, the one called the Beloved: John the disciple also faced the process. It, too, was an uncomfortable process. Historians tell us that he was boiled in oil. He was later exiled to a prison island called Patmos. And through the process, God’s Word, written by the hand of this “man in process” went out to the Kingdom of God. And it’s still enlarging the Kingdom of God. Have you ever heard of the Gospel according to John or the Book of Revelation? Some reliable theologians and historians say this same John wrote 1, 2, and 3 John as well. The important fact is that through this John, this “man in process,” the Kingdom of God was extended and is still being extended.

REVELATION_John_Patmos2-250

Life Principle: The process is uncomfortable.  Some kind of dying will go on in the process.  Choose to stay in the process.  But it is working in you something great. 

So truly, the process is always for His good … and for our good as well. Again, I like to remember that passage in Jeremiah 29:11- “For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (NLT)

We, too, either are facing the process or right in the middle of it. And it will, in all probability, be an uncomfortable process. There may even be a sense of “death” in the process. But we should remember those famous words of Job 13:15- “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” (NIV) And we will prosper in the end … as will His Kingdom. 

Romans 8:28- “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)

Life Principle: The process is preparing you … Maturing you … Completing you.  You see yourself as that piece of coal.  God sees the diamond He created you to be … and He is after that diamond.  Trust the process.

Pastors Jim & Cheri Garrett

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