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The Veil Calls

June 6, 2014 — 2 Comments

maya[pp]I struggle not so much with the chaos of the world as I do with how to reshape the world. My life must count beyond this life. I know it matters. I know there is an eternal world just thinly veiled beyond my walk. The veil solicits me to poke holes in it so the healing will leak in.

Matthew 27:51 (NKJV)
Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

 

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I’m not a big fan of cursing the darkness. As a Christ follower,  we should be primarily concerned with being salt and light. While it’s true, the Bible calls us to reprove the works of darkness, reproving darkness and cursing the darkness are two different approaches entirely.

Cursing the darkness is throwing condemnation at those who are outside of Christ, while reproving darkness is shining our light as to awaken the sinner from their sleep. The first is done in the same spirit Jesus rebuke James and John for when they wanted to call fire down on those who rejected Christ. (See Luke 9:54)

The latter is done in the Spirit of love that understands that those outside of Christ are under condemnation already, and we have no need to throw more their way. (See John 3:18) If we are to win the world to Christ, we must do so in the greatest power know to man, which is the love of God.

Hate never reached or rescued anyone, but love has proved time and time again to rescue the most hardened heart. Jesus died to prove love real. We are called to do more than talk about grace; we are called to demonstrate grace to everyone. Yes, Even the ungrateful and evil. (See Luke 6:35)

In Ephesians 5,  we are called to take no part in unfruitful works of darkness. We are told to expose them. We expose them by  letting our light shine, and be visible, not by trying to curse the darkness and win a religious argument. When we love like Christ, His light shines and awakens the sleeper from darkness to light.

Many Christ followers need to return to trusting in the love of God to win the lost. We need to  stop trying to win them by persuasive arguments of men, arguments of condemnation.

Allow me to say it again, Hate never reached or rescued anyone, but love has proved time and time again to rescue the most hardened heart.

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When you find yourself around a self-centered person, the easy thing to do is withhold love. Show them God’s love regardless. They may not want to experience that kind of love but give it nonetheless.

The act of compassion you do toward others may not be remembered by them but do it anyway. You will be vulnerable when you move in the way God moves but walk His way anyhow.

What you give away to others might not return to you in the form of a blessing but give abundantly notwithstanding. It makes you smell like God’s servant.

From the cross,  we see true agape love.  Luke 23:34 we read, 34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”

Just a few thoughts from me to you.

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That so many Christians are satisfied with only a vertical relationship with God and feel no pull to the horizontal mission field they live in daily astonishes me. Ministry happens only in their lives by accident instead of on purpose. The problem is, God is not satisfied with that kind of life because He has created good works for them to be part of every day, if they would only look on the harvest field Jesus spoke of. We must remember God never sleeps, and He never slumbers. He is watchful and waiting on you to enter the field.

When I was a young man, my father bought some land and had a vision to farm it. We cleared several acres over several summers, and we had it stocked with many animals. The highlight of the acreage was our field of sweet potatoes – three acres of sweet potatoes! For those of you who love math, that is 14,520 sq yards of blood, sweat and tears. My father had a rightful expectation that the field would produce. After all, that is what a field that has been planted should do when it is looked after with care. I can remember working hard in the field alongside my father. I can still see his face now and the joy he got from the expected future.

When he would leave to run into town or some other errand, he would always say to my brother and me, “Work hard boys, I’ll be back.” We knew exactly what my father meant. He would be returning, and we were expected to continue working the field as though he was right beside of us. My brother and I would always try to work harder while he was gone so that when our father returned he would be well pleased. What brought him joy brought us joy. Why did my father work so hard? Why did my brother and I work so hard? There was a purpose; there was a future harvest. We simply wanted to see the greatest harvest possible. I know God the Father wants the same from us. He wants to seek the lost through us. That is what God desires to do through every believer. All He needs from you is the promise that He can interrupt you anytime and anywhere. When He gets you to that place, you will become a page being written under His mighty hand, and when the chapter is completed, all of Heaven will celebrate. What are you waiting on? The fields are white for harvest … get going. He is waiting on you.

 

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 68-69).  . Kindle Edition.

You can purchase a copy of The Descent to Compassion on Amazon. Click Here

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I have a confession. When I was a little boy, I ripped off a label on a mattress that didn’t belong to me. It read, “Under the penalty of the law this tag is not to be removed except by the consumer.” It felt dangerous and in some strange way I loved it.

As a Christ follower, I often try my best to rip labels off people because we are constantly told not to label people. I’m not sure who came up with that rule. I’m not even sure if it is right or wrong. I guess at times it could be either.

We use labels to define those around us. I label people, and you label people. It’s just a fact. However, I’m not writing today in order to defend if it’s right or wrong. I’m writing today to encourage you to wear a label of the future that will set you apart in a good way.

We are told in Galatians 4:7, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”

In other words, God has labeled you and me as His very own and calls us heirs. We are heirs of a future kingdom that can be lived out in the now, while we wait for its fullest at the second coming of Christ.

If the world is going to label us, we might as well give them something Godly to talk about and label us by.  We are God’s image-bearing children. Our entire lives proclaim redemption to a world that is broken and fallen. We are people that carry a label of hope, healing, mercy, grace and the love of God…all manifested by actions.

Matthew 25: 35-36 says, “ For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

I want you to notice that these acts of God are to be done by Him through us, and they can only be done in the now. One day, at the second coming, there will be no more sin, and no more injustice. Until that day overtakes us, we should be found taking as much pain away as possible. That my dear friend is a label I gladly wear, and so should you.

When we feed someone that is hungry in the now, we are showing him or her that one day they will never hunger again, if they place their trust in Christ. When we give water, we are saying you will one day never thirst again. When we entertain a stranger, we are pointing to a day no one will be a stranger. When we clothe the naked, we are saying to the world, you will one day have all that you need. When we take care of the sick and visit those in prison, we proclaim future wholeness and freedom in Christ.

I end today with a quote from N.T. Wright

“Our task as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to a world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to a world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to a world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion…”

What are you thoughts? Share with others by leaving a comment.

 

legacyEvery person wants to be remembered. We want to be remembered, not only in this present time, but we also want to be remembered after we are gone. Today, I encourage you to take an inventory of your life in light of leaving a legacy behind.

You will be remembered. You will leave some kind of Legacy. Legacies are not born; legacies are cultivated one day at a time. The legacy you leave behind is both a choice on your part, and a voice to those that follow behind you. What you do in the here and now will be remembered by someone forever and what you do in the here and now will follow you into eternity.

Here are a few ways to leave a legacy print on the world around you.

 

1. Acknowledge Christ

Your walk with Christ is the most valuable part of your life. Words are powerful, but your walk speaks much louder. In order to have a strong walk, you must have an intimate relationship with Christ daily, and moment-by-moment. Proverbs 3:6 tells us, “in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” In other words, allow God into every part of your walk.

2. Encourage at all times

Think ahead of the next person you run into by asking yourself, “After I encounter this person, what will they say about me 20 years from now?” You can make a choice about how you want people to talk about you in the future, by making the right choice in the now. You have the power to lift people up or to tear people down. Don’t choose the latter. Matthew 5:16 tells us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

3. Live beyond yourself

Yes, you must take care of yourself. Yes, you are valuable, but the greatest life you can live is a life that is lived beyond yourself, for the sake of others and for the glory of God. You need to make your life about something much grander than yourself.  John 15:13 tells us, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

4. Don’t be inconsistent

The voice of action deep inside of you is the Holy Spirit speaking to act. Listen to that voice and obey. God will get the glory, and you will create a lasting legacy. When you hear God speak to do an act of kindness…obey, obey, obey! God is trying to use you, and that is a great way to develop a lasting legacy. I’ve often said to the church I pastor, “Demons obey God; nature obeys God, but people struggle with it.” Make the choice to obey God without struggling, and you will be amazed at how grand and full your life will become. Divine moments are all around you if you will only see them.

To go deeper with leaving a legacy and living a life of compassion, get a copy of my book, The Descent to Compassion.

 

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We are called to live heaven on earth. We are called to live the future virtues of the Kingdom of God on this earth. Col. 3:1 says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” When you are seeking things that are above, don’t fail to live it below. Simply put, we are people of the future in Christ Jesus.

In Acts 1:9-11 Jesus is taken out of their sight. He is enthroned and is Lord of All. Then they are told to go to the upper room and wait for the promise of the Father. I love the picture of this whole passage. It is full of the echoes of the past. It is full of the echoes of God’s promises to His people. It echoes the Exodus.

Once Moses was at Mt. Sinai, he ascended; received the law, and then descended to bring it to the people of God. The message was clear-We’re God’s people, and this is how we should live. Moses went up, and Moses came down. In Acts, Jesus went up, and the Holy Spirit came down.

The message is still the same. Jesus is said to have received the Holy Spirit from the Father to pour out. Acts 2:33 reads, “Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”

The promise of God in the O.T. was to one-day write the law upon the tables of the human heart. That happened on the day of Pentecost to the 120. The Holy Spirit came down and began character transformation on the group, in essence saying-this is how the people of God should live on earth. The future of the Kingdom was brought into the now.

The people of God were launched out into the sea of humanity, to live the charter of the Kingdom now. N.T. Wright says this, “God has started something off in you, in your hearts and minds and lives, and God is going to carry it on until he’s finished the job.”

Never forget, we are the called to be lights in this world. We are called to be salt in this world. Let’s not hide our lights and let’s not allow our salt to go to waste. You have God living on the inside of you today. Get out there and walk the Kingdom, and live the Kingdom.

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There is a difference between planned compassion and natural compassion.

Often, the church puts programs into place, and people come and volunteer in the programs. The programs act too meet their benevolence goals for the year. People then put the planned compassion on their calendars, and wait for the day to arrive. When the day finally comes, and if something else pops up that is a little more important, they simply plan it for another day… after all, it’s a program, and it will be available to do the next time.

On the other hand, finding yourself in a divine moment that is not planned is much different. God has brought you there, and put you right in the middle of a choice to reject Him or not to reject Him. You can’t plan that on a calendar. It must be obeyed. In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks of taking care of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.

The people then answer Him and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we wee you sick or in prison and visit you? Then, Jesus says, “I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” It was so natural; they had to ask when.

I’m not saying that programs, such as feeding programs, are wrong. After all, when I was Pastor of Providence Christian Center in San Francisco for 14 years, we served 600 meals each Sunday, and gave away 500 boxes of food each Friday. What I am saying is…if your neighbor is hungry and you walk by them on your way to a program at your church without helping them you have missed God trying to show you an opportunity to feed HIM.

Don’t neglect planned compassion, it is important. However, keep your ears open for God to speak and show you an un-planned act of compassion.  You just might be surprised how often He will speak.

Read Matthew 25 and then go and do.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.

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Jesus and His disciples at the last supper

The very thing He wanted them to notice – the basin, the towel – they didn’t see at all.  Jesus goes over, takes up the basin, takes up the towel, and heads over to the first disciple and begins to wash his feet. I can’t speak for you, but I believe that the first thing I would have felt that day in that moment would be shame. I would have been beating myself up asking myself why I didn’t notice that water basin in the corner of the room. God gifted it to me, He put it right in front of me to notice, and I was too caught up in the wrong definition of greatest that I was blinded to what was in front of me all the time.

Jesus washed the feet of each of them. He washed their feet just after a misguided fuss about who was greatest. He washed their feet knowing they would fail Him in the future. He even washed the feet of Judas, who would soon betray Him.  He washed their feet because that is what love does, and that’s what service looks like. Jesus, who is God, gets down on his knees and washed the feet of His children.

He knew they didn’t understand what was actually happening, but He desperately wanted them to see it. He knew they didn’t understand what He was doing. However, He also knew they will get it one day in the future, and it will change their lives forever. It is never about the crowd outside cheering them on. It’s about serving each other. It’s about not missing the opportunity to pick up the water basin and the towel and serve someone.

Speaking with Peter, In John 13:7, Jesus says, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” In other words, you don’t get it now but you will soon. That word, “know” is very important because it means that one day, in a very intimate way, you will understand what I’m doing.

You see, Jesus had already taught them to do good to people who do bad things against them. He had already taught them to feed their enemies and to give water to their enemies when they were thirsty. Now He is showing them that He lives what He has been teaching them. He was trying to teach the disciples that they should serve the way He was serving.

Have you ever stepped over the basin? How can we be more aware of the divine moments to serve that are around us each day? Share a comment or insight.

 

Today is part 4 and the final post in this series on witnessing and working among the forgotten of the world.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Listening and Co-suffering are lost gifts that need to be recovered in our witnessing.

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Through Listening We Witness

When I speak of listening I mean to be able to hear their secret hurts covered by multifaceted learned responses coupled by years of denial. I do my best to listen in such a way as to pick up on where they are truly wounded in their emotions by paying careful attention to each and every statement they are making.

I’m looking for where their life is unadjusted to the work of the Spirit of God.  I am convinced to find true and lasting healing a person must adjust their life to what God wants to do in their life. Once I have listened to them and  feel I have heard where they are truly wounded. I like to walk them through Romans 8:26-28.

 

Through Co-suffering We Witness

The bible says in Romans 8:26-28 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

This portion of scripture has over the years become very powerful for me in walking people right into the very presence of God. For me, this passage shows that without the leading of the Spirit of God, the perfect will of God, which I believe to bring lasting peace and joy, cannot fully be realized. It would do well at this point to pause and insert a thought. By speaking of lasting peace and joy I am in no way saying trouble or conflict will completely disappear from a person’s life. In fact, it is my belief that some hurt and pain this side of heaven will find its ultimate healing only when we find ourselves in His presence face to face.

Romans 8:26-28 is very power when applied to our life and the lives of those we are witnessing to. Notice verse 26 says, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” This is an incredible picture of the Spirit involved in the believer’s life by co-suffering. The Spirit of God actually comes along side of a believer and walks with them through their pain.

Another reason this verse is great to use is found in verse 26 because we are told that we don’t even truly know how to pray the perfect will of God for our lives without the help of the Spirit, who according to verse 27, searches our heart and knows the mind of the Spirit-then intercession is made according to God’s will.

Then and only then can Verse 28  be fulfilled which again says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I love using this portion of scripture because I believe it truly demonstrates God centered witnessing by showing a person that God by His Spirit is truly connected with the believer’s everyday walk. At this point I’ve found it’s much easier to lead someone to Christ or minister to someone that is in Christ but has simply lost their way.

 

How are you at listening and Co-suffering? Do you think you listening well? Do you Co-suffer well? Leave a commit and share your thoughts with others.