Monthly Archives: July 2013

IN THE SHOES OF PHILEMON

A live in worker, you employed, has left your home abruptly while you were away.  Upon leaving your home, this worker, took money from your wallet and other valuables from your household.  You arrive home to this discovery.  The emotions you go through are: anger, hurt, broken trust, betrayal, and sorrow.  You make a vow to yourself, “If I ever see this person again; I am going to________!”

Time passes then all of a sudden a letter arrives in your mailbox.  The letter is from a minister of Christ.  Oh, how you love and respect this minister.  This particular minister is the one who introduced you to Christ.  As you read the letter you discover that while your employee was living on the street he crossed paths with this minister.  And the minister took this young man in introduced him to Christ.  From that introduction he was ultimately saved by Christ.  A deeper look into this letter reveals that after your employee’s conversion, he stayed with the minister you love and respect.  He served this minister and others faithfully.  Serving and loving them with the Spirit of Christ.

Although the minister would love to have this young man stay with him, and help him, to further the Gospel.  The minister realizes that the young man is your employee, and he realizes that even though this young man has repented, been redeemed, and restored by Christ.  He hadn’t sought forgiveness and been reconciled unto the former employer he had wronged.  This seasoned minister understands the importance of seeking forgiveness from those that we have wronged. The minister discerned that this young man was afraid.  This young man was sure you would put him in prison.  He was sure you would have nothing ever to do with him.  Of the young man’s biggest concern was the thought that he wouldn’t be forgiven; nor get the chance to become a Christian Brother with you in your household.  Something he cherished most of all.

Feeling nothing but love for this young Christian man, and desiring only that the two of you become reconciled to one another; he continues the letter on this young man’s behalf.  The seasoned minister pours his own heart out to you in defense of his young Christian Brother.

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I, Paul, an old man now and also a prisoner for Christ Jesus, I am pleading with you for my child Onesimus,who became my child while I was in prison.

In the past he was useless to you, but now he has become useful for both you and me.

I am sending him back to you, and with him I am sending my own heart. (Paul sees a Christian Brother; not a converted thief)  How do you see him?

I wanted to keep him with me so that in your place he might help me while I am in prison for the Good News.

I did not want to do anything without asking you first so that any good you do for me will be because you want to do it, not because I forced you. (Paul desires authentic love and forgiveness).

Maybe Onesimus was separated from you for a short time so you could have him back forever. (God’s plan all along)

Accept him back no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a loved brother.

I love him very much, but you will love him even more, both as a person and as a believer in the Lord.

So if you consider me your partner, welcome Onesimus as you would welcome me.

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At this point the minister discerned you would have a few questions.  You asked yourself “He wronged me, and stole from me.  Why would I forgive him and accept him as a brother?  The minister was hoping you would realize how he introduced you to Christ.  And what Christ freely did for you.

He says, “If he has done anything wrong to you or if he owes you anything, charge that to me.  I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back, and I will say nothing about what you owe me for your own life.” (Paul will pay Onesimus’ debt, because Jesus paid His debt in full.  He hopes you will see the same.)

You soften as you read this. But then you remember your initial vow: “If I ever see this person again; I am going to________!”

The seasoned minister knows you are contemplating this thought.  So he implores you further, “So, my brother, I ask that you do this for me in the Lord: Refresh my heart in Christ.  I write this letter, knowing that you will do what I ask you and even more.”

At the completion of the beloved minister’s letter, and after knowing what this minister has done for you, and after knowing what Christ has freely done for you.  You again, contemplate your vow “If I ever see this person again; I am going to________!”

You are Philemon: What do you do?  Knowing what you now know; how do you fill in the blank?

 

 

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Renewed Faith and Rekindled Hope

Visiting our past isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There may be times in our life when we need to look back in order to renew our faith, and rekindle hope.  Sometimes we need to be reminded of how far Christ has carried us. 

I remember as a young Marine humping (a Marine term for hiking) the magnificent hills of Camp Pendleton California.  Each time I began the climb, confidence in my abilities ensured that I would reach the top.  Wouldn’t you know it, halfway through the climb, my faith waivered and my abilities were tested.  That’s when the whisper infiltrated my mind.  The subtle whisper said, “You won’t make it; the pain is unbearable.”  The closer I would get to the top the louder the voice became.  When the ringing in my ears became too much to handle, I glanced quickly behind to see the distance I had covered.  In that short glance, I discovered, I was much closer to the top than to the bottom.  Instantaneous renewed faith and rekindled hope overcame the counterfeit voice.  When I reached the top, I paused, and drank water from my canteen.  All the while gazing into the valley from which I had came.

I remember another example of looking to my past in order to revitalize my faith through a continuing hope.  When I was a little boy, maybe three or four years old, my Dad stood me erect against the door jam in the hallway of our home.  He took a black marker, measured my height, and drew a line above my head.  He said to me, “In four weeks we will meet here again and take another measurement.” We repeated this for about a year.  Each time the new mark would inch slowly above the old mark.  Growth was happening.  I could see it, and appreciate it.  When I turned six I tried out for the peewee basketball team, as I tried out I discovered most of the kids were several inches taller than me.  My teammates kept the ball away from me.  They couldn’t risk a loss due to my size.  I left the tryouts distraught and depressed.  When Dad picked me up, he could tell I was upset.  He said, “Son, what’s wrong?” I said, “Dad, I couldn’t do it, I was too short and didn’t make the team.”  Dad and I remained silent for the rest of the way home.  When we got home I headed straight for my room.  I was going to indulge in some self-pity.  I hadn’t made but two steps toward my room when Dad spoke; he said, “Before you go to your room stop by the hallway and look at those black marks.  As you look at the marks, I want you to forget about how short you are. Rather, I want you to notice how much you have grown.”

In these two experiences I have discovered the difference between “Wallowing in” and “Learning from” my past.     

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Legacy

As I was preparing a sermon concerning Paul’s instructions to Titus (Titus 2) the Spirit brought this thought to mind: “Quilting, Campfires, and the Dinner Table.”

I asked the Spirit, “Why quilting, campfires, and the dinner table?” He said, “Let me address quilting first.

Quilting is a place for older women to gather with younger women. During this gathering; they learn about God from a woman’s perspective, they learn of experienced successes and failures, they share things which narrow the gap between generations.

The campfire is a place where older men gather with younger men, after the hunt. During this gathering; they learn about God from a man’s perspective, they learn of experienced successes and failures, they share things which narrow the gap between generations.

The dinner table is a place, where Father and Mother sit together as one flesh. During this setting the young are invited to sit with Mother and Father. They are invited to too learn about God and His grace, and share in all that has arose and fell. They learn about the value of wisdom through the example of combined; experienced successes, and overcome failures. They are invited to ask questions, tell stories, and feel the strength of the unbreakable bond of family.”

After he ended, I asked “Why is this custom a rare find in our culture today?” He replied, “Because of time. Time today, has become reserved for building possessions, prestige, and covetousness. Leaving legacy to fend for its self.” At this point I was in tears; I said, “How do we rekindle this desire and carve out time.” The Spirit of God replied, “When young and old regain the once held, and cherished “respect and affection” for one another.”

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Error Code

Have you ever noticed how just about everything we do or own today requires a pin/password?  Things like; online banking, online programs, enrolling in online college, and even a password to rent a movie.  So the other day, there I was, attempting to set up and log into a new email account.  I painstakingly filled out the monstrous amount of information required for the account.  The last thing left to do was create a password.  So, I freely chose a password that I could remember.  I entered it, waited, and then it happened.  I got what we all dread, an error code.  This error code says “The password you entered isn’t good enough.” I thought “What? It isn’t good enough?”  So, I took a moment to calm down then I thought, “The password I came up with is powerful, creative, and I could remember it. But yet it’s not good enough?”  Wait there is more to the error message.  It’s a very legalistic error message, it says, “It must be at least 8 character…s long, it must contain two uppercase, two lowercase, two numbers, and two special symbols.”  I scramble feverishly while looking at the key board.  I type in Legalistic&@44. Then I hit enter and “Boom” I am now approved, and accepted to use this email account.  I now, thanks to closely following the rules, have the power to access something that was freely mine all along.
The process above left me tired and feeling violated.  Then I thought, “Thank God Jesus came and rescued me from stipulations, regulations, and rules.  Afforded by His death, and at my salvation; He freed me from needing special qualifications, rules, and man’s approval of my character to take possession of what was freely available to me all along.  In his book “The Grace Awakening” Dr. Swindoll claims, “There is one and only one password for entering heaven: Grace.”  This really spoke to the Spirit within me.  I got the feeling, because of Grace, the next time I made a mistake I wouldn’t have to fear getting an error code.

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Brook Trout

Brook Trout

GOD’S PAINT BRUSH

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July 4, 2013 · 10:19 pm

quote by Derek Prince

If you are walking in the pathway of the righteous, the light gets brighter on your path each day. And, any day you are walking in the previous day’s light, you are moving backward. I do not say this to condemn anyone; I just wish to point out that every day has more light than the previous day—if we will receive it!

 

 

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THE SEED

For seed to consistently bear fruit, it needs continually to be received into good soil.  “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matt. 13:23)

In this parable Christ gives us a vision of reception through the process of fertilization.  When the seed, soil, and fertilizer combine reception occurs, and conception is realized.  Then the deeper life begins.  We have all heard of reaping and sowing.  But, have we heard of receiving and growing.  Let us continue to be the furrow that receives God’s word.  Let us continue to be available rich soil, for the Spirit, of the Root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:10) to fill, use, and enjoy. 

How to receive? For the sake of Christ.

By considering our self “fruitful good soil” instead of “lifeless bad dirt.”

By becoming a “receptacle” instead of “spectacle.”

By becoming “vulnerable” instead of “impenetrable.”

By finding our self “Worthy” instead of “Worthless.”

By loving God’s Image in others; regardless of their behavior toward or against us.

 

Receiving is continued believing and believing continued; continues receiving.

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