Dreams

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I was looking at the “I have a dream . . . ” speech by Dr King, and while I found it powerful, and wonderfully delivered, it lead me to ponder dreams.  Here I am not talking of visionary aspirations, as Martin Luther King put forward, but actual dreams.

What started as a humourous musing, led to a real discovery.  Which King had a dream?  Well, yes Martin; but also the literal kings, Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar.  We often note that the prophets could have divine visions through dreams.  Both Joseph and Daniel did.  What is more inspiring is that the ungodly kings of Genesis and Daniel were perplexed by their dreams.  It took men of God to show them meaning, and a way forward.  God can use any medium to show His will to the world.  It might be Pharaoh, or even Balaam’s donkey, but in the end it brings glory to the creator of all.

Are we dreamers of dreams?  If so are we also interpreters?  If not interpreters, are we seekers of meaning from those who are, or from those with the teaching and wisdom gifts?  If we are not “dreamers” are we those ready to act on the dreams and visions of those who inspire us? Are we ready, to share in a dream today?

Padre

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When it is Dark

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Today’s post is definitely a mere musing.   If there is any spiritual insight in it, it is incidental.  In the 1970s a musical called “Godspell” came out.  One of its numbers was titled “All for the Best.”  It has such phrases as “[you] feel under a curse, your life is sad, your prospects are worse. . . your temples are graying, your teeth a decaying, creditors are weighing your purse.” Life for many people feels that way from time to time, and for some – much of the time.  The Psalmist felt it too.  In a passage (yes a foreshadowing of Christ’s suffering but nevertheless his own experience as well), he cries out “why God are you so far from my cries?”

Jesus promises that God only wishes us good. In Luke 11:11-12 we read: 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if [he ask] a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

God as a Father provides good.  So why do we suffer?  Why are the first three centuries of the church “the age a martyrs?”  Such questions perplex us.

The account of Job, while I am sure our sufferings lack the same root as his, does give us one ray of clear hope.  God is God, and He will reward us for any of our earthly hardships.  Does that make it easy?  Probably not, but in our suffering we are still loved, by God and His children.  We are not tested beyond endurance (though it might seem it), and in the end “its all for the best.”

Again reflections and musings, not great attempt at giving theological proofs.  But as I work through these issues, I will share any additional insights.  Till then as always, please keep me in your prayers.

Padre

Preparing to Move

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Pastor Emmanuel Kokonyo delivered an incredible message today on our transformation in Christ.  He based his message on James 4:10: “ Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  In Christ we can be elevated, lifted up to greater things.

This has two stages, as the Word makes it clear.  We must first humble ourselves.  That is our job.  We cannot do the elevating.  That would be self-exaltation or pride, and in it all we can expect is a fall.  Nor, should we (as Brother Emmanuel so rightly said) call on God to humble us.  If we do, He will be faithful, but beware the results.  Just look how far He allowed Job to fall, and he didn’t even ask for it.  So the humility of the heart, the appreciation of God given gain is up to us.

The second stage, it that God will prepare us for the elevation to come.  He will give us the opportunities, skills, mentors, and challenges to prepare us to make the move.  This is not the time for stagnation.  When you see the building equipment, Brother Emmanuel explained, you know something new is coming.  Are we ready to face the challenge?  If we are truly humble to the Lord’s guidance, then we like Christ will say “Your will, not mine be done.”

When the stages are complete, God will lift us up to new heights, new opportunities, and new responsibilities.  This building up is God’s job, not ours.  He is faithful and true, He is the exalter.

So be humble, be vigilant, be ready to grow.

Padre

Shabbat Shalom

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As it is Shabbat it seemed a good time to reflect on Brother John Onelum’s message on the topic of Sabbath rest from last week.  John noted the need for rest, and how God in His wisdom and plan worked this into our week.  God even gave us the example, when He rested on the seventh day after the creation.

God set aside the Sabbath that we may recharge, but it was also that we might trust in Him. It would not be by our labours, but through His gifts that we might have life and blessing.  In John’s words, ” God equaled the maths.”  We might not make ends in six days, but probably not in seven either.  We trust in Him to provide, to make up for the shortfall.

The people of Jerusalem had failed to heed that lesson. In Nehemiah 13, the people had taken to  “treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day (verse 15).”  They were trying to make up the deficit themselves.  What they did was separate themselves from the fount of all, blessings. Nehemiah notes that he was forced to testify against them.

Do we trust in God?  Are we putting our hopes in our own efforts?  Or are we willing to trust in the Lord of the Sabbath to give us our Sabbath’s rest?

Shabbat Shalom.

Padre

More Than Just A Foot

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On Sunday, Pastor Vince shared a word in which we were reminded that we are all valuable in the sight of God.  God so loved the world (and each and every individual in it) that He sent His very own Son to die, that that world might have life.

Yet, many of us question our value. We wonder if we, or our roes are important.  This is not new, however.  Paul told the church at Corinth:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.

Whether hand or foot, eye or ear, we are all needed in the kingdom.  We are all part of the body.  And every single member is loved.  So loved in fact, that even if we were a body of one – Christ would still have come and died, just for you; just for me.

You are more than a foot!

Padre

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Brother Jerry from Youth For Christ recently did a lesson on the importance of Easter for Christians.  He noted all of the usual points on Jesus’ celebrity welcome into Jerusalem, the events of the week, and the last supper.  He came to the crisis of Gethsemane, and the crucifixion.  He then went on to challenge the students with the fact that all this was in a greater plan.  It was a plan with one aim – to overcome, and erase our sin.  This took the ultimate sacrifice by the ultimate being.  Why did he do it?  Why did He die?  The answer is our sin.

Sin, Jerry explained is the breaking of the relationship between humans and God.  And how was that relationship broken?  By the same method our human relationships are damaged and destroyed: Selfishness.  At the heart of sin is an I.  At the heart on sin is the fact that we put “I” first.

When we look after our own desires and wants;  when we insist on our “rights;”   when we neglect our responsibilities we often enter into sin.  It is putting ourselves ahead of God’s will.  It is ignoring His omniscient wisdom in favour of our own weak understanding.

Fortunately Jesus did not share in our self-centredness. He said “not my will Father, but thine.” When we were lost in sin, He “so loved the world,” that He paid the price of our selfishness.

Let’s try to remember that next time I and its friends me and myself rear their heads.

Padre

A Friend of God

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Brother Joe and the worship team did a spectacular job of leading us in praise yesterday. What stood out to me, apart from the clear presence of the Spirit in the room, was the focus of our relationship to God as friends.  “I am a friend of God.”  “God has called me friend.”  What a wonderful testimony.

In John 15, Jesus said:

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends . . .  .”  Jesus, the Emmanuel (God with us) has thereby recognised us as friends.  Not just servants, disciples, or even flunkies, but as partners in the intimate relationship of friendship.  

One shares with friends, cries with friends, and celebrates with friends.  What a great blessing and honour to be in such a bond with the Creator and Master of the universe. So let us celebrate our friendship today!

Padre

Prayer

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Prayer is the verbal or mental communication with God.  It sits centrally in the experience of most persons of faith.  In Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus taught His disciples a model prayer:

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’

This set of words has ever since had an important role in Christian life.  For some it is a communal and liturgical expression; for others a focus of private devotion.  For others still, it serves as a model, and its style, ideas, but not by rout recitation is used to frame communication with the divine.

Theologically prayer takes for main forms – Adoration (praise); Thanksgiving (expressions of gratitude); Confession (a time to apologise and admit wrongs); and supplication (asking for things).  Supplication is further divided into Petition (asking on ones own behalf); and Intercession (praying on behalf of others).

I find it easy to identify all of these except Thanksgiving in the Lord’s model prayer. My first reaction is that the thanks is assumed in Jesus’ words, as the positive response from the “Father” is assumed by nature the parent -child relationship. In any case, as we talk to our “Daddy” today, let us not forget to add it.

Padre

A Leader Like Moses

 

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Recently I noted that Jesus was “a prophet like Elijah” in that He showed the coming of the Age of Messiah but His actions at Nain.  In the same way, the First Century Jews awaited a leader like Moses. The feeding of the five thousand is a manifestation of this fulfillment as well.

Mark chapter 6 notes: “35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages[a]! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat? 38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.” 39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.”

Notice He puts the crowd into companies (50s and 100s) – as Moses did.  There is also the power of God manifested in the same way God had provided manna in the desert – an abundance of satisfying food.

Jesus is Messiah, and the fulfillment of expectations.  He can fill our expectations today as well.  He is our salvation, our help and our friend.  A leader for this age and for eternity.  A wonder-worker in our lives.

Padre

On Obedience

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I have had the good fortune of being blessed two weeks in a row by powerful messages from dedicated, godly sisters.  Sister Cheryl brought a wonderful message on obedience today, it was from the heart and touched some key but often overlooked points.

She began with the reflection that Jesus showed the ultimate act of obedience in fulfilling His father’s plan.  More importantly His obedience was an act of love – to the Father, but ultimately to you and me.

Sister Cheryl noted that obedience is a mark of our legacy, as our example influences those around us.  We are loved and forgiven, and we are the roadway to that same blessing to others from our examples.  We should never underestimate that responsibility, or opportunity.

She also noted that being faithful in the little things is just as important as the grand demonstrations of faith.  She in humility and honesty admitted to the “lies” of her faith when a youth. What an example from this sister!  How many of us try to let those points of our journey remain in the shadows, hoping no one ever recalls them?  Being always obedient is hard, but how infinitely easier than the obedience shown by the Lord.

Again, are we focused on following the lead of the Saviour?  Where He calls us, we should go.  What He commands us, we should do.  Thank you Cheryl for the inspiration, clear delivery, and honest witness!

Padre