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He is With Me, or The One on the 23rd Psalm

Today I want to talk about the 23rd Psalm.

Psalms 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;  For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;  and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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Verse 4 says:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;  For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Now looking at those verses, which I’m pretty sure that even if you aren’t a Christian you can probably recognize them.  They are everywhere, and I don’t think a lot of people really put a lot of thought into these verses.

Because they are everywhere they are only ever taken at face value, which I think is a pity.  Now personally I had an epiphany the other day where I was listening to some worship music on my way home from work and that verse is quoted in a song and I just I realized that when the verse is that ‘Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.’ it’s not saying that there will be no valley of death.

Let me say this again: it’s not saying that there will be no valley of death.

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It’s not saying that you will never go through a hard time.

It’s not saying that you’ll never have a season of difficulty, a season of decrease, a season full of the absolute most horrible things that have ever happened to you.

But what it does say is that ‘I will fear no evil for you are with me.’

It doesn’t say that there will be no evil.

It doesn’t say that there will be no evil ever.

It just says you will ‘fear no evil because you are with me.’ and by here I mean God is always with me so what is there to figure out exactly?

‘Your rod and thy staff they comfort me.”  especially in the context of shepherds, the Bible frequently names  guide the sheep to the right place and Rod to have the discipline the sheep.  Because sheep, no offence to any sheep herders out there, sheep are stupid.

U1FF2OID4JYes we are God’s sheep.  We are less than God;  we do not see the full picture.

Therefore we are like sheep, and yeah stupidity is part of that to certain degree.

What I am saying is that God is, like a good shepard, always with us.  It’s saying, ‘He’s going to take care of all of our enemies and I will fear no evil because You are with me.’

And then we get to the next part of the chapter and it says, ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.’ note that it says enemies.

It doesn’t say that there will be no contenders against you, ever.  In fact, it practically guarantees that you will be up against enemies.  And if you have an enemy it’s generally considered that your life is not a piece of cake. It’s usually taken that if you have so much as a nap, you will probably have problems with somebody, whether it’s on the arch nemesis or it’s your high school rival enemy type level is negotiable.

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It doesn’t say that you won’t have any enemies, what it does say is that God is literally going to lay out a banquet for you in their presence and basically rub it in their face that you have prevailed.

It means that you don’t mind if you do have enemies; you are still going to be taken care of, you are still going to do well for yourself, you are still going to be able to continue on with your life, and you are still going to be able to find peace in Him, in His presence.

You are still going to find yourself in a place of increase, and you are still going to be showered with gifts, and you are still going to get all of the things on the planet that you could ever want, ever need, or ever ask for.

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The main thing is, and I think a lot of people continue to forget or just don’t think about it all, is that God has not invited us to a party.  Life is not going to be all ‘let’s go to the disco!’, bustin’ moves and having a picnic, yada, yada, yada, it’s all sunshine and daisies; just because He has canceled out our enemies. And it’s not that God hasn’t invited us to that kind of life at all, but not a lot of Christians get to live that kind of life.

As a Christian you’re basically saying ‘OK. I am going to fight in this war. I am going to have a life of hardship.’

It’s not to say that if you aren’t a Christian you’re not going to have a hard life. More along the lines of, if you’re Christian and hardship comes you will be able to weather it that much better.  You will be so much less phased by anything that can’t happen/will happen etc. simply because you know that God is on your side.

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What did you think happens? I mean really if you die, you die. Boo hoo, you are going to heaven – the eternal realm of party.  Because that’s basically what heaven is; it’s great, it’s wonderful, and we get to be with God every day. It’ll be perfect and I think that’s the best part about those verses. It is that it acknowledges the fact that life isn’t just gonna be all sunshine and rainbows.

It doesn’t matter how great or easy our life is going to be, because God is with us and He is always going to be with us, He’s always going to be a comfort to us, that’s literally one of His names is The Comforter.

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I think that it is really important in this day and age to know that just because you’re a Christian, doesn’t mean that you’re supposed to have this wonderful perfect life.  Yes we are called to be a light into the world, a light in the darkness.

The only reason you can discern light from dark is because there is dark; that means that there is probably going to be some dark times in your life. 

OUEQ1VGTYUI don’t think that sounds fun – it doesn’t sound even somewhat remotely appetizing. If anything, I think that the real gem of this is that despite the fact that it is reminding us that life is life centre into the world and there are four teams are pretty crummy as far as life goes it’s not what it should be, but regardless of anything that happens it’s all good, because we have God.

His rod and staff are comforting, from the highest of highs to your walk through the darkest valley of the shadow of death.

I will fear no evil for He is with me and He prepares a table, before me, for me, in the presence of my enemies;  there may be enemies, but they are about to be dazzled by exactly how blessed I am, and have always been, and will always be by my God.

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Pure Worship

During worship, one can often feel pressure to raise their hands in praise.

The problem with doing this is when we adopt the posture of worship without actually fully giving ourselves over to the spirit of worship.

‘Pretending to do and feel something you’re not.’…. where I’m from that’s called lying – which is a sin if I’m not mistaken.

We are out right lying in the presence of God – what about that sounds right?

Absolutely nothing.

Now don’t get me wrong, one can adopt a posture of worship in the spirit of hope and expectation and truly be able to enter into a real communion with the Lord and be able to break through into true worship.

It is in that pure expectation and hope that real worship happens.

When you come before the Lord and it’s Sunday morning and you are not really fired up to be honest and it’s like:  “OK.  It’s worship.  What are you gonna do?  You gonna do like everybody else?”

What is the spirit that you are coming before the Lord and offering your praise to him?

That really is the root of the problem; is that you really need to step back and think:  “OK am I’m just doing this because I truly want to give an offering to the Lord God on High?  Or is it just because well, everybody else is doing it, so I suppose I should too.”

If you are doing it for the latter rather than the former then you really need to stop what you’re doing and take a look and see what you can do.  To re-evaluate.  To actually be able to enter into that place to enter in to that high communion with the Lord so that you can actually break through.

Here’s this though: just because you aren’t feeling it does not mean that you should feel ashamed in front of your peers.  (Because let’s face it, you don’t feel bad for not worshipping God in front of God, it’s not really possible.)

Some people though, they have to work against forces of evil and of darkness; and not feeling the presence of God is because there’s really something blocking them.  It’s in that case that you really, really, really, have to just keep pressing close and just find that breakthrough.

However sometimes just like with speaking in tongues,  you just have to work for it you know it’s sometimes with worship it’s a little like a muscle.   Part of that is because it’s a physical act showing your love for God and part of it is just the more you do it and you’re not to that place the easier it will be.

Many people say that speaking in tongues is like using a muscle, worship is totally the same; the more you worship the Lord, the easier it gets to really press into the Spirit. It sounds completely ridiculous, but believe me it’s true.  All you have to do sometimes is just work at it; but you’re not going to be able to work at it and you’re not going to actually be able to press in close, if you are not coming forward with a pure heart and good intentions.

The more you get into worship, the less you care about whoever or whatever could be watching.  The less you care about anything except for just worshipping God; which is just a beautiful place to be.

To Jesus, if you are coming before him with good intentions, with pure intentions, with a pure heart; it’s just open it and say I am here for you.  Not:  “I’m holding up my hands because everybody else is doing it and I’m gonna feel stupid if I don’t.”

It’s really got to be in the spirit of, ‘I really am putting the focus on you right now God.  I am, really well and truly.  Because it’s all about you.’ 

When that happens, you will forget about your friends, forget about everything on this planet, and just focus on the Lord and that I believe is just true worship.

For you to just focus on the Lord and give Him your all.  You can wave your hands, you can dance about until your feet are bloody, you can shout, you can sing, whatever you do.  When you come  before God to worship, make sure that you do it with a pure heart and with good intentions

Blame Game

People always want someone to blame, (or something), always.  You gotta blame something: hurt?  You gotta blame something.  Failure?  More blame.

The problem here is that it has become a gut reaction as Christians; we blame Sin.  Sin and Satan, not bad but often inaccurate.

Newsflash sometimes you only have yourself to blame sometimes people will blame even God. Wow what a shock –  not really.

In divorced families blame continually runs rampant.  It is like a cancer and is also what destroys families.  Children especially, are vulnerable to blame due to a lack of communication or lack of knowledge.  Because of blame, lies fester.

No wonder kids blame themselves.

The problem that I have with blame, aside from the obvious, is that it fixes nothing.  Nothing is accomplished when you blame other people and nothing is accomplished when you blame God.  All that it does is just make everybody feel bad and make everybody sad.  So why bother?  Why is it that we do this?

No-one wants to feel stupid, and above all – no-one wants to admit when they do wrong, This is something that goes back to the original sin, in Genesis.

Nobody wants to look bad – and mistakes tend to make you look bad.  The thing is, as Christians, we shouldn’t be worrying about looking stupid.

God is bigger than the bogey man, if looking stupid is the bogey man.

The Bible tells us not to worry about what man thinks, and to not perform for man alone, but for God who sees all and into the hearts of man.  The problem, in my opinion, comes with a lack of faith; and a lack of trust.

How can you trust that God will fix everything if you have no faith?

God hasn’t invited us to a party, but on a wild ride – if we crack under the slightest pressure and begin to blame everything on and off of planet earth, how are we supposed to be able to part the Red Sea?

On Trust

When we wonder why we no longer see ‘Red Sea’ scale miracles, we should take a step back and take a look at ourselves.

In today’s society, very few are adept at trusting God, the problem being that trust is a process; but almost no one wants to devote the time.

Without long practice and determination our trust in the Lord won’t grow.

Practice makes perfect, this is true for more than just daily tasks.  If I can’t learn to trust in the Lord for the little miracles, how am I going to be able to trust Him when it comes to the big stuff?

Being capable of trusting the Lord for the big things and to not fear the little things means that you can become unstoppable.  optimism is a given when you don’t worry about anything, because your trust is in the Lord and you know that your faith is not misplaced.

A Declaration of Worship 

I had an epiphany recently, one concerning Worship; and to be quite frank I am rather more than a little thankful that I had it.
I cannot sing, not for lack of trying, but I can’t really produce any sound that is pleasant to the human ear beyond, “DINNER’S READY!” 98% of the time.
So while I attempt to worship, and by worship I mean sing badly and quietly, or even just lip-sync; it is pretty safe to say that I will never lead worship unless something truly catastrophic has occurred.
This is where the title of this post comes in handy.
Worship does not necessarily mean singing.
Allow me to say it again:


WORSHIP DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN SINGING.



This is probably not news to most people.
‘Yes, of course there’s more than one way to worship. Are you dim-witted to not have found/figured that out by now?’
True, the most common forms of worship outside of singing are dancing and painting.
But worship is not just always a jubilant song to sing; It can be a declaration.
A declaration of Love for Him who created the heavens and the earth.

A declaration of praise.

A declaration of hope.

A declaration of what has been done and will be done by The Most High God.

A declaration of GOd’s unending, forever goodness.

A declaration of the surety of God.

A declaration that HE IS THE LORD.
So, I leave you with this: Every time you worship, you are making a declaration, and even if you can’t sing, you can still praise Him.

My Cup Runneth Over…

In Palms 23 verse 5 it says ‘my cup runneth over’

Conversely: My family was just blessed with an overabundance of frozen vegetables.  We now have so many that we intend to bless other families with these veggies.

And really,isn’t that what that verse is all about?  God blessing us so much that our only reasonable option is to turn around and bless others when we are blessed?

It’s like those stories you read online of the chains of people just carrying over the blessing of paying for someone else’s coffee in a long line.

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The thing that so many people forget about is that fact that God wants to bless us.  God wants to bless everyone to the point where the whole earth ‘runneth over’ with blessings.

Rather, people remember that He wants to bless them, grouse when they don’t see immediate pay-off and, get this, they don’t even ask to begin with.

Now some might object to asking God for blessings, ‘You don’t ask for Christmas Gifts!’, but God has already given us so much already, (Salvation, everlasting life, or forgiveness ring any bells?).

Mathew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given to you…For everyone who asks, receives..

Even if the only time you ever talk to Him is when you ask for something, He is still happy to hear from you.  Sure, He’d be thrilled to hear from you other times as well, but God is always down to hears from His sons and daughters.

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My Cup truly overflows, it may not be with money or other such things, but its does where it counts and I can only hope that as I learn and grow in Christ, my cup will overflow and that I will be able to pass that overflow into other’s lives as well.  Because nothing tastes as sweet as the bread and the water that He gave us. And that gift is nothing if not worth sharing.

The Ultimate Power Pose

It has been ‘scientifically proven’ that power poses.

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(Basically taking up as much space as possible without being rude),  boost confidence.

When we worship, we tend to adopt these poses almost universally.

Coincidence?

I think not.

God loves us and when we worship Him who gives us strength we are also filled with His power and grace.

Because this is more than a ‘power pose’ this is a symbol of total surrender to the God most High.

Conversely, I suppose that from the outside we do need a fair amount of confidence to do the things we do in worship. (see here for more on this topic)

The fact remains, however, that it is only when we completely submit ourselves to God that He gives us all that we need to be the best versions of ourselves because he knows the best versions of ourselves and all that we could be and do as such.

God knows us and loves us so fully we can hardly imagine the depth of the love and caring that He has for us.

We are designed to worship, and I believe that this just proves it.

Faith Like Man’s Best Friend…

The Presence of faith in someone’s life is a beautiful thing.

God has intervened on my behalf frequently, in both the obvious spiritual sense and in the physical.

As I get older – and move into places and times where I am more alone – I am turning into an island of me, where I am in need of intervention as an individual.

My teen years have been, quite frankly, fraught with adventures.  These adventures often require by my heavenly Father.   The frequency of these interventions have done a wonderful thing for my personal faith.

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Because God is continuously rescuing me from all things mundane and otherwise, I have been blessed not only with a fruitful life, but also an unshakable life.

Oh, I still worry – but it’s mostly about the journey, rather than the end product.

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Why worry about the promise, cause it’ll totally happen, God is just that good.

Your Faith Can move mountains and your doubt can create them.

When Jesus rebukes Thomas, He tells him that later there will be people with greater faith despite few signs to inspire it.

I personally have not seen the deaf hear or the Dead Sea split but because God in His infinite mercy and grace has interfered directly in my life on my behalf for His glory and I know it.

Beyond that, my character and my faith have both grown.

An old dog has a faith like no other,That their owner will throw the ball, and that no matter what - the world will align itself.jpg

It May not always be readily apparent, but because I am so sure of God’s protection regardless of what happens.  I have a long-term view on life, whatever may happen long-term, He has my whole world in His hands.

Short term there may be tears, but long terms I am safe and I have been saved.

 

Leadership, Change, Fear, and Faith.

As a leader, a good motto or rule of thumb is ‘Be the Change’.

Being the change is all well and good, but what if your change collapses after a while, or ends up not ‘profiting’ and succeeding in the area it was supposed to. What then?

So do you try to go ahead and lead, be the change? Or do you just not risk failure and the opportunity for change and continue to maintain the status quo?

If you are afraid of change – you have no faith.  With God All things are possible, and if you think that you are going to fail, you are doubting the sovereignty of God. If you say, “I’ve failed before with God’s help.” you need to re-think your definition of that word.

If you are afraid of change.  You are afraid of growth.  You are afraid of success.  You are afraid.

Similar to the parable of the talents, we are all given talent by the Lord, and if you are afraid of change, you are afraid of failure at utilizing your talent.

The absence of change is deadly – not just for individuals, but also for countries. Both societies and characters stagnate in the absence of change.

Without change – nothing will ever happen.  If God hadn’t changed the very fabric of the universe we would very simply not be here.  Without changing somethings, God could not have created the Heavens or the Earth.

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I have some friends who have not led lives fraught with excitement/change, (and by excitement I mean weird and sometimes scary events as a result of living in a sin-cursed world).  While not bad people, because they have not been ‘tested’ as it were, by life.  They have not ‘suffered’ the same character development.  One case being so forward as to presume to be more pious than I; because for all of the things to have happened to me I must have done something to deserve them as opposed to themselves, who have lived their lives, ‘right’.

Essentially, I have led such a singularly crazy life because I am a sinner/bad person.

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Two things to remember here:

  1.  We are all sinners – just because we have been forgiven by the grace of God, does not mean that there aren’t still consequences for those sins.
  2. God loves us, and because He loves us, He does not cause bad things to happen to us. He may allow bad things to happen – but He does not punish us.

Aside from all of this is the fact that hardship forces you to grow, and beyond all of the bad I can see the silver lining.

God may not cause these bad things – but He will use them to glorify Himself.

Change is a part of life, we required change in order to grow; if we fail trying to bring change, we will grow from it and we should not fear that, but be prepared to accept it and move on with grace.