He Came For You

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God didn’t create this world or come to this world so that you could be part of an organization.

He came, ‘Immanuel-God with us,’ so that you could be part of him and his purpose for your life.

Organizations will come and go, but his life in you is what he died and rose again for; Easter.

He looked forward, with joy, to the cross, the most heinous of deaths, for one reason; you. You are the prize that he couldn’t wait to attain. It is you that he deeply wants to have in his proximity and relationship. It is your attention that he wants.

It is yours and my selfishness, stubborn, and prideful autonomy that put him in that ‘compromised’ position in the first place. He came to reconcile that. He paid that price. It cost him everything so that you and I could have unprecedented access to his very presence, to him.

It’s a big deal! It is called worship.

Then, when you meet someone else who has the same passion, focus and desire, its called fellowship, intimate bonding and relating; church. It is so beautiful, so meaningful and precious. It is the fellowship of ‘God with us.’

Don’t waste it on a structure, a system, a method, a building or denomination. He didn’t come for that.

He came for you!

Joseph Series: Dressed for Success

Joseph was robbed of his identity as the favoured son; they stole his coat to show it.

Joseph refused to be identified as a traitor and an adulterer; he abandoned his cloak to prove it.

Joseph became the ruler of the land; the garments of royalty declared it.

It took thirteen years and three coats for Joseph to discover his identity.

It would be easy for someone in his sandals to lose heart, to be forced to accept the overwhelming circumstances, to be compelled to give up, but the clothes of authority that he needed to wear demanded success; the leader that he was called to be required no less.

Identity is no easy assignment; it seems to bring with it the very struggle that could derail it. Joseph could have quit, and we would never have known. Conversely we also never would be taking courage from this story of the Amazing.

God was at work in Joseph’s life; growing up he saw his dad struggle with God, and he must have learned it well.

“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.” (Acts 7:9-10, NIV)

We are instructed in the scriptures that God does not show favouritism. That means that what he does for one he will do for others. That means:

God is at work in your life!

He calls you son, and he calls you daughter he identifies you as his.

What clothes do you need to put on?

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The Joseph Series: Sometimes It Gets Bad

There was disdain that the brothers had built toward Joseph; legitimately it could be called hatred. Joseph was his father’s favourite and his brother’s bane. When Joseph was sent to check on his brothers, and they spotted him coming a long way off, they plotted to kill him. Well, most of them.

Joseph was sent by his father to see how the brothers were making out with the family business of shepherding. They had relocated many kilometers away, and in a day with no communication resources, Joseph was the communicator between home/dad and his sons.

A couple of these brothers had previously committed mass murder, it was in their history, and now all but one brother was ready to kill Joseph. Rueben pleaded and they compromised by attacking Joseph, stripping him of his robe, and throwing him into a waterless pit. No sooner did Joseph hit the bottom that they sat down and ate their meal. Heartless. It was just another day in their wilderness, tending sheep.

The brothers, with the exception of Rueben intended to leave Joseph there to die.

Joseph was guilty. Of what? He was guilty of previously sharing his dreams and goals as he tried to find a place within the family dysfunction. He was also guilty of receiving an inordinate amount of favouritism from his father. He had the robe, the Dreamcoat to prove it. Joseph was the firstborn son of Rachel, the wife that Jacob had loved more than the other wives.

Animosity was not new to this brood. The family’s distain and contempt had been growing for a long time.

Unaware and totally naive, Joseph walked straight into the ambush. He was the easy target of a family that was full of anger, disunity, unrest, and deception.

Insult to injury, the brothers had a twisted moment of conscience. They decided, rather than kill him, sell him to a traveling caravan of Ishmaelite’s.

Joseph sold for eight ounces of silver. At today’s price, his life was worth $147.52.

For Joseph, this was not a good day. However, he was able, through thirteen years of processing, to get an accurate perspective. But, it was equally not a good day for his brothers. They just didn’t know it yet.

Much later Joseph said this before he died, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20, NIV)

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You Don’t Have To Live: You Get To!

Personal Care

So, I read a story today about a guy when he was young, who, almost cavalierly, asked God to fill his life with the power of the Holy Spirit. He accounts that God immediately answered and he felt God’s power. His life went on to be amazing. The events of his life took a positive graph position, up and to the right, and, looking at his life today, that appears to be exactly what happened.

That is not what happened to me. Oh, when I was young, I felt God amazingly fill me, but my life went anywhere but up and to the right. This reading today was an emotional GPS moment of truth versus feelings for me.

I would like to be able to tell the story of success and accomplishment, according to my version of those things, according to the way that story I read today worked, but that is not my story. Rather my story is one of a very Blue Collar, slug it out, and figure it out type of life. The two books I have written, Blue Collar Theology and Path Out – Eliminate the Swirl, tell some of these accounts.

My point?

Does God show favouritism? Do some get the “Blessed or Easy Way,” while others of us get to clean up the mess? Sometimes it seems so. But, it is not so!

God carefully, amazingly, intimately, and personally cares for you. He is working a plan that supports and includes you, even if it isn’t immediately obvious.

He wants to connect with you in such an incredible and purposeful way. All you need to do is what I did: Acknowledge him in all your ways, (this includes your emotions at the moment) Proverbs 3:5&6, and choose truth over feelings.

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

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Who is Your Fan?

My last weeks were filled with preparation. I worked a full-time job, gave hours of volunteering and I took on two different speaking engagements with just two week’s lead time for one and one week’s lead time for the other. I spent hours of preparation for two different audiences with two various topics to be relevant to two separate groups of people. Why, because my message was important and I didn’t want to waste anybody’s time or be unprepared for the topic at the moment.

I wanted the audience for which I was preparing to be fully appreciated.

We can perceive our life to be daily viewed and reviewed by all who are proximal. These proximity persons could be mistaken as our audience. We might even find ourselves bending or straining to gain their approval. The pressure that we perceive from them could if we let it force our decisions. “What will they think if I…did, or didn’t do…?” But really, is this with whom we should be concerned?

I remember a phrase that I heard many years ago, “We play for an audience of one.”

The urbandictionary.com gives a definition to the ‘audience of one’: focusing our “performance–what we do, say, think… or not, so as to be acceptable to one person, individual or deity”

Paul, in a context of those proximal, says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV)

Our words affect others; our actions may inspire, instruct, or even discourage, but we only play for the audience of one.

At the end of the day, the end of my life, there is only one person whose approval I want. “…Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 5:21, NIV)

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You Don’t Have To Live; You Get To!