Monthly Archives: January 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?

cat-sees-lion-mirror Everyone who has the privilege of having a cat, or should I say of a cat having you, will know how true this picture is. We see a little moggy, they see the king of the jungle! Our cat thinks that he is very vicious and dangerous, but unless you’re a mouse or bird, you’re pretty safe.

I have become very aware that humans are generally not like that. Self doubt and a bad self esteem cause havoc with most people, but we don’t seem to want to deal with it. Bullying, peer pressure, social awkwardness, fear, and depression can all be a result of low self esteem. Where does this come from? I used to go to a church where we used to joke around all of the time. Nothing wrong with that, but when I look back at what we used to joke around about, it concerns me. We used to use jokes to put each other down, all because we didn’t think much of ourselves and bringing others down was easier than lifting ourselves up. How sad. We ended up having an even worse self view because everyone was putting us down all the time. A vicious circle if ever there was one.

I wrote another blog post recently entitled ‘Looks Like We’ll Need a Bigger Gun‘ where I spoke about praying with the authority that we have been given by God. I had a few people disagreeing with me saying that God has the power, not us, we should ask Him for healing and not command it ourselves. Did Jesus ever pray for healing, or did He command it? Even if you say that we are not Jesus, fair enough, but neither was Peter and he did the same thing. Jesus even tells us to command it, just read Mark 11:23 or Matthew 21:21 and see for yourself! Anyhow, that is not really what I am talking about here, I am talking about how you see yourself so let me ask you this. Is it better to see yourself as God sees you, or how you perceive the world to see you? Think about that for a minute.

If you decided that the way you perceive the world to see you is better, then think about the fact that you don’t actually know how the world sees you, you can only guess. I have watched enough documentaries where they ask someone what they think others think of them, and then ask the others, to get a totally different answer. Besides, if most others have a negative self image too, and are trying to make themselves feel better by bringing us down, are they a reliable source? Let me make it clear, I’m not saying that we should disregard everything that others say, I’m just saying don’t base your self worth on what others say about you.

If you thought that seeing yourself as God sees you is better, then you’re on the right track, but do you really? Let’s look at God’s view of you. You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), you are righteous (Philippians 3:9), you are joint heirs with Jesus (Galatians 3:29)! That is how God sees you, spotless, blameless, pure and blessed. He sees you as His child! Not only that, but He has chosen to adopt us as His own. Even when we were sinners He had already chosen us and wanted us to be one of His children! So then I ask you, who are we or anyone else to underestimate ourselves? Jesus walked this earth doing amazing things, and we can do them too, John 14:12 suggests that we will do even greater. Not because of who we are but because of who He is. Now some people will disagree, and some have gone out of their way to disprove this verse, but I don’t care. I have seen all sorts of miracles and I have even done some, so I know they happen.

You see we need to see ourselves as God sees us, but we need to keep giving the glory to Him. We are not great and powerful on our own, but with the Holy Spirit we can do anything in Jesus name. If we go around saying how weak and pathetic we are, or having a negative self image, what we are actually saying is that what Jesus did on the cross was not good enough. That is a lie. He has united us with God, and God sees us as righteous. We now have the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of God in us. How much more powerful can we be?

I’m not suggesting that you wander around thinking how marvellous you are, but I am saying that you should see yourself for who you are. Who you are now, since you accepted Jesus. You are no longer the same person you were before, even though God saw fit to send His Son to die for you then, you are now a new creation and blameless in His sight! So I leave you with these questions. How do you see yourself? How does God see you? What are you going to do to see yourself as God sees you? And lastly, what are you doing with the authority God gave you through Jesus?

Richard

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Looks Like We’ll Need a Bigger Gun!

I don’t usually publish blog posts straight away, as I am usually two or three posts ahead. However, this is a brand new post and the others will have to wait. I think that this addresses a huge problem amongst Christians. I have touched on it before but today is the day that I take it on, head on.

Last night I had a dream, which was a rather strange one to say the least. But what I believe it represents is a huge deal and an important step forward for Christians! I dreamt that I was in a shop, buying a gun. It was just a supermarket, but I was there to buy a gun (as you do). The salesman was showing me the hand guns, saying that they were perfect for self defence. I turned to him and said the strangest thing. I said, “I’m not on the defensive, I’m on the offensive. I’ll need a bigger gun”, as I gestured to the automatic rifles on the wall! When I woke up I was thinking about this and, as I by no means condone guns or violence, I think it was a spiritual metaphor.

This morning in church the preacher spoke on Ephesians 2:10, and said that we need to accept God’s acceptance of us and that we are in a covenant with Him! They said that we are the link between heaven and earth and that we are called to ‘administer’ what goes on in heaven here on earth! What a relevant and powerful message, it hit the nail on the head as far as I am concerned. Now, let me ask you this question. What are we doing about this? We are children of the Living God, we have the Holy Spirit leading us – the very Spirit of God that enabled Jesus! We are made righteous in the eyes of God, we are seen by Him as more than conquerors! We are a new creation, and God has a plan for our lives, not to harm us but to give us life and life in abundance. He has given us spiritual gifts in order to help us achieve what He has called us to do. Yet most of us are content with just ‘getting by’. Why is that?

You see, we have been conditioned to think that we need to defend ourselves against the devil. This is in fact what the devil has told us, because he doesn’t want to have to defend himself against us… because he can’t. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when we need to defend ourselves, but we shouldn’t get into a defensive mindset. Jesus has won already and has given us the authority that we require. We are not called to defend ourselves, we are called to go on the offensive. We are here to fight sin, poverty, sickness, mental illnesses, depression, hurt, violence, hatred and all other things that are not of God! It upsets me when I hear people say, “Lord, if it’s Your will, please heal this person”. It is His will; how do I know? Is there sickness in heaven? No. Does the Lord’s prayer not say that we should pray for God’s will on earth as it is in heaven? Jesus tells us to talk to the mountain and tell it to move, believe it will move, and then it will! Next time try commanding (instead of praying) this, “Sickness (name the specific one), get out and leave this person in the name of Jesus!”. I bet you’re thinking that if you prayed like that you may get chucked out of the church! Do it, you’ll be better off finding a church which prays that! How do I know this? I have done it (been chucked out of church for using my authority in Christ).

I have heard Christians say to me, “Yes, but you have the authority, I don’t.” What??!! Romans 10:9 says, If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. If you are saved, you have that authority! The only difference between these people and me is that I know I have it and I use it! We settle for not letting the devil win, when we should be sending him running for his life! If our God is for us what can be against us? We are more than conquerors!

I have realised that the main reason why we don’t act like conquerors is because we don’t see ourselves as God does. This is because we don’t read the Bible enough and we let others teach us what they think is right. I have said before, and I’ll say it again, listening to pastors and teachers is wonderful, but it does not exclude us from reading, meditating on and understanding scripture for ourselves. The portion of scripture you read is like the gun in the dream, and I for one am going on the offensive, so I’ll need a bigger gun!

Richard

Keep Knitting, Just Follow the Pattern

I usually post my blog entries on facebook and google+ so that more people are aware of them, which usually results in some comments from readers. I received a comment from a lady who said that she liked reading my posts, but she wasn’t a sports fan so she struggled to relate to the sport related parables. She joked and asked if next time I could do one about knitting. Challenge accepted.

When I was younger, about 10 years old, for some strange reason my mom taught us to knit. No idea why we learned that, my brother, sister and myself all knitting. I don’t remember much, only starting off with 20 stitches, dropping 5 of them, but still ending up with about 30 when I finished. I ended up with a odd shaped red mess with holes in it, not really the scarf that I intended. My mom on the other hand would follow complicated patterns, mix wool types and colours and use different stitch types in order to create amazing woollen products. I bet you’re wondering what I am possibly going to teach from this. Well, here goes.

I have been watching a fair share of God Channel of late, as well as reading various blog posts about Christianity and following God. Every preacher, teacher, blogger have their ‘pet’ topics which they love to teach or preach about. I have no issue with this, that is why we need various teachers, so that we can get a well rounded view of what the bible says. Think of all of these ministries as balls of wool. All different types, fullness, feel and colour. Too much of one could get boring and monotonous, but mixing a few together, could allow you to be much more versatile and get a better finished product. Am I talking about the wool or the ministries here? Both. We need to hear as many points of view that we can, however we need to be aware. Just like steel wool is also a ‘wool’, it won’t work in a knitting pattern. There are some ministries out there that are the ‘steel wool in the wool pile’. Be careful of these. How do you know which is which? This brings me to my favourite part of this post!

Continuing with the knitting theme, what would the word (bible) be? The pattern! Acts 17:11-12 says, “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.” The bible is the pattern, without it, you can have all of the wool that you like, but you’ll never have the finished article. I have some of my favourite ministers, and I even have some ‘pet’ topics of my own which you’ll find here in my blog, they ALL need to be weighed up against scripture before believed. Everyone who teaches scripture at the moment are human, and they can all make mistakes. Even if they get everything right, there is so much to learn in the bible, that no-one can cover it all.

So what does this mean for me? Here goes the explanation, I’m going to mix up the ministry and kitting metaphors, so try and keep up. Go out there and collect as many ‘balls of wool’ that you can, while avoiding the ‘steel wool’, pick up the ‘pattern’ as often as you can and make sure that you are familiar with it, so that you understand what you are trying to ‘knit’. Carefully select the correct ‘wool’ for that part of the ‘pattern’ and get actively ‘knitting’. Don’t give up until the ‘garment’ is complete! Along the way, why don’t you help others to ‘knit’ by providing more quality ‘wool’ for them to use with the ‘pattern’ in their own creating. And just like my mom did, let’s all encourage others to ‘knit’.. Just remember to stress the importance of the ‘pattern’!

I hope that this is not too confusing and that you all understand. We may have to get the lady that requested the knitting parable to explain 😉

Keep ‘knitting’!

Richard

It’s All About the Money.. Really?

You don’t have to look for long to find an article talking about how Jesus feels about wealth and prosperity, but do they always get it right? I fear not. I always seem to see one of two extremes. They either say that God hates wealth and requires you to be poor (financially) but rich in faith, or they say that you must have loads of faith so you can believe in order to have loads of money. Why do they always take extremes, what about all the possibilities in the middle. Let me give you my point of view, then you can go away and decide what you believe.

The bible passages that the anti-wealth preachers use, have more to do with our attitudes towards the wealth that the wealth itself. The rich young ruler who was asked to give up half of his wealth couldn’t do it. Why? Because he loved the wealth more than Jesus. That was the problem, not the wealth. The LOVE of money is a root of all evil, not money itself. People tend to see these scriptures and just assume that because Jesus challenged someone regarding some part of their lives, that this part is wrong. It is not. NOTHING should be higher up our importance list than Jesus. Nothing. The bible is clear about not having idols, however we seem to pick on money, and ignore things like family, health, career, sport, even our ministry. They all have the same ability to become more important to us than our relationship with God. If anything becomes more important to us than God, we need to put it in its place or root it out.

The other half use verses like John 10:10 (which is actually one of my favourite verses), yet they use it for monetary blessings only. It is not. Just to make it clear it does include money, but it says abundance, not endless. I believe that God gives us abundant life so that we can give it away. Look at any spiritual gift, the more we are blessed with gifts, the more we need to bless others, They are useless (and possibly dangerous) if we hoard them for ourselves. Money is the same. The bible never says that we will be stinking rich (money wise) for our own enjoyment, while here on earth, but it also doesn’t say that we have to be poor.

People love to talk about giving, and most Christians love to give, but how are we supposed to give if we have no money? Are we supposed to neglect our careers in order to make less money? Are we supposed to not start businesses because we are scared of making money? If someone blesses us with money, should we refuse it? No. We need to work at our jobs as if we are working for God. If we do that correctly, we shouldn’t be surprised if we climb the corporate ladder and earn more money. If that becomes our focus ahead of God, then you have a problem, otherwise you need not feel guilty. (Remember, guilt comes from the devil and not God). If someone blesses you with money, and you don’t really want to accept it (like I have done in the past), just think how you would feel if you wanted to bless someone else and they rejected your blessing.

So to wrap this post up, and quite honestly I think it is fairly simple. There is nothing wrong with money if you are in control of it, and you are submissive to the will of God. If it is in control of you and it takes your focus off of God, then give it away or put it in its place. If you do choose to give it away, I’m sure you’ll find someone in need!

Cheers for now.

Richard

Degrees of Sin

I have seen various blog post commenting on sin, which is fair enough, yet I have not found one where I can say, yes, I agree with that! They all have angles and certain sins that they pick on, or more disturbingly, try and justify. I know that it is a contentious issue, and that it is very difficult (dare I say impossible) to get it spot on, but I will try to get my view across here.

There are a few contentious issues around whether certain actions are in fact sins, is it a sin to be gay, rich, a woman in ministry or judgemental? You’ll probably get all sorts of people picking certain ones out of here as a sin and others not. You may even get people saying that they all are or none are. What we believe is not really the issue here, the issue is why, and what are we doing about it. Let me explain.

If you read my blog post ‘Judgement Day of Golf‘, you’ll see that ‘judging’ people is not meant to be a condemning act, but rather to help us all improve our relationship with God. I’m not going to re-write the other blog post, so if you have an issue with this comment or don’t understand what I mean, read the other post. Now you have various people picking on various sins. Then you have other people using the fact that those people pick on various sins and not others, in order to try and justify the ‘picked on’ sin. It is becoming a bit of a joke, and a really efficient distraction for us when we really should be looking at it from another perspective. Jesus taught using the cunning use of parables, so I have too. Here is another one.

Picture a football (soccer) team. Now for all of my friends around the world, feel free to substitute your favourite sport instead, just understand what I am getting at. The defenders practise heading the ball, clearances, marking, tackling etc. While the strikers practise shooting, penalties, free kicks etc. Which training exercise is most important? There may well be exercises that are deemed more important than others by certain players or even the coach. However the left back, who may never take a penalty in his life, may be called up to take one in the Champions League final. Trust me, you will want him to get it right. You’ll wish that when he was asked to practise it a week before, he didn’t say, “No thanks, I don’t need to worry about that”.

So what do I mean by this? Simple. We Christians can’t afford to disregard any sin. There is a reason why the Bible says that all sins are equal, it is because God knew that we would pick and choose. Unfortunately people see others pointing sin out as judgemental, and our first response is, “Yes, but what about your sin?” Now first of all we shouldn’t be picking on certain sins over others, but when your ‘pet sin’ comes up, deal with it, don’t try and shift the attention. I think that we see it as someone trying to show how sinful we are. If we honestly saw it as someone trying to help us, we wouldn’t get so defensive. Unfortunately, people don’t often point it out in love, and if they do, others don’t receive it as such. This means that we all run around pointing other people’s sins out, while trying to avoid ours coming to light. How sad. Imagine if we all dealt with ours, how much better off we’d all be!

If we truly want to walk with God and be productive Christians, we need to root ALL sin out of our lives. Now I know that this is impossible, however, we need to strive for it. Not because we will be condemned if we don’t, because we won’t. Because it is not pleasing to God, so I for one don’t want it in my life. So if I may be so bold as to ask everyone to stop picking on certain sins, but get rid of ALL of them. And when someone ‘picks’ on a sin that you may struggle with (or justify), try and ask God if He wants to talk to you about it before just retaliating. Even if someone is rude or has a go at us, even if they are wrong. If we still use that to improve our relationship with God, we will be the winners! As for those ‘sins’ that we don’t think are sins, again, ask God what He thinks and what He would like to tell you. You may be surprised.

I hope that this helps you.

Always improving.

Richard

Social Media Christianity

I have become more active on Facebook and Google+ in a ministry capacity of late, and I have discovered some quite scary facts, which I would like to address here. Most people are on some sort of social media (at least the ones who will be reading this), so I think that this is important to note. I just hope that people will take some action.

One thing that I have noticed in social media, is that people will type things that they would never say face to face. I have been told by someone that they wished I was dead, however talking to them face to face produced nothing but pleasantries. I see so many very angry comments on posts, yet I would imagine that most of those people posting such comments would not say the same thing when standing face to face with the person they commented to. Why is that?

There are 2 possibilities as far as I can see. Either social media makes us angry and brings out the worst in us, or we have ‘limited’ our face to face behaviour for some reason. The first option doesn’t really make sense. Why would social media make us so angry, and if it does, why are we still on it? Granted, we probably don’t hear everyone’s opinion face to face, but we all feel the need to broadcast it on Facebook. This may be why there is more conflict on social media. However, I am referring to people who I know would not say face to face what they type in social media. This must be in the second category.

Looking at the second category, some scripture comes to mind. Now bear in mind that if you are not a Christian, you may have pointed out that I shouldn’t be ‘judging’ you, and you are correct. This is not a judgement, this is merely an observation, and the scripture which I will quote is not relevant to you, so all that I can suggest is that you try and be the same person on social media that you are socially. As for the Christians, if you think that I shouldn’t be ‘judging’ you, go and look up the word judging so that you know what it actually means, and then go and read 1 Corinthians 5:12. I am not saying this in an ‘I told you so’ kind of way, I really want us to understand that us pointing out how other Christians can improve in a loving way is not judging but helping. Read Judgement Day of Golf for more on this.

So, here is the scripture that I was referring to. Matthew 23:25-26 says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” I know that you may think that this is a bit harsh, but please don’t see it as a reprimand, as there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, see it as an opportunity to change. If we change the inside, there won’t be any anger and hatred to come out on Facebook and Google+. At the moment, we are letting the inside out on social media, but showing the outside when face to face. Maybe because typing it makes it less personal for us, I don’t know, but the bottom line is that it shouldn’t be there. Now I am not suggesting that you merely extend your social filters to social media, I am talking about a serious, authentic, God-enabled change within.

I am a member of various Christian communities on Google+ and just seeing how Christians communicate with each other is very upsetting and quite disturbing actually. Yet I bet we are all super polite in church. This is not how it should be. This is not how we should be. I have been very angry, and said some things on social media that I wouldn’t have said to someone face to face, so this is not a reprimand, but more a commitment from me to change within. I am merely inviting all of you to join me! Let’s change ourselves from the inside, ask God to help us become more like Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit, so that next time someone says something (however stupid) on Facebook, we respond in love instead of anger. Then next time we see some comment that upsets us, let’s take a minute to ask God how He wants us to respond. Let’s post that comment instead of just lashing out in anger in the heat of the moment.

In love, as always.

Richard

Switch Them Around

The other night I was wrestling with God about some stuff, about some things in my life that are not going quite how they should be. Standing on the promises of God is not an easy thing when the devil gets into your head and tries to convince you that those promises from God are not true. I brought these concerns to God and, when I was finally silent and listening for His voice, He shared something with me that I wish to share with all of you, as I believe that it could help more people than just myself.

This is what God revealed to me. We as Christians often try and take the responsibility onto ourselves, when we should leave it to God. We take on things that we think that we can handle, like earning an income, running a business, raising children, dealing with relationships with friends and family. All of the day to day things. I don’t know why we take responsibility of these instead of handing them over to God, maybe we think we can do a better job, maybe we don’t want to hassle God, I don’t know. I am not suggesting that we sit and wait for God to do stuff, I mean handing over the worry and stress of handling the situation to God. Whatever the reasons for not giving these things over to God, they don’t make sense. If we think that God can’t handle them, we are wrong, and if we think that we are hassling God, we are just as wrong. We really have no reason not to hand them over, so why is it so hard?

The other half of the coin is things that we can’t handle. Things like spiritual revival, healing the sick, preaching the word, equipping Christians, etc. We often see these things as too large for us to handle, so we sit back and hand these over to God, not doing a thing other than praying and waiting. ‘We are weak but He is strong’ taken to the detrimental extreme.

God’s question to me was the following, “Why don’t you switch the two categories around?” Simple, yet food for thought. You see, if we switch them around, it brings twice as much glory to God! Allow me to explain. If we hand the day to day stuff over to God (which is easier said than done), God will have the glory in that. He will be able to be involved in everything that we do and, let’s be honest, He’ll be able to handle it much better than we ever will. Also, we’ll be better off without the stress, and reaping the rewards for what God does. Imagine God on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ and we get the prizes! Win-win, I reckon. When it comes to the big ‘Christian’ things which we usually leave for God, if we took them on (in His strength), He would get the glory for that too, because there is no way we could do that on our own. We would then be so blessed because we were involved in God’s awesome plan. What could be better than that?

You see if we switch those two categories around, God gets twice the glory, we’ll be better off and less stressed, and we’ll get to be part of God’s amazing plan! Win, win, win! So, then, why is it so difficult to do this? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that even with the best intentions, we often slip back to ‘default’ mode of taking on the small things and leaving the big stuff to God. If only we could get it right (and I include myself here too), we would be so much better off!

I am on a mission to get this right, and I encourage all of you to join me. It is not going to be easy, and it is going to take a daily effort, but let’s give it a go. Hand the day to day struggles over to God and ask Him what big, seemingly impossible, plan He has for you. Remember that the Bible says that God’s yolk (what He calls you to do) is light, it won’t stress us out.

Whatever we do, let’s give it over to God and do it in Christ!

Richard

Happy New Year!

As you may well have noticed, I don’t necessarily post about relevant dates. I resisted the urge to post any Christmas posts as they are a dime a dozen and I didn’t want to add to that just for the sake of posting something about Christmas. I do feel the need to post about the new year because we (my wife and I) have had an interesting but rather stressful and ‘growing’ year, so we are glad to see the back of it.

We always wish people a Happy New Year. What do we actually mean by that? Do we hope that the 1st of January is a happy day, or do we mean the whole year. We, as Christians, should look forward to the new year, especially if the last one has not been that great. It is easy to get into a downward spiral where we think that because this year has been bad, so will the next. Romans 8 v 29 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.” This means that although we may have had a tough year, better things are to come. We just have to ask ourselves what we can learn from the last year; how have we grown by what has happened?

I don’t believe that God brings bad things onto us, or drags us through hardships, but I do think that He teaches us valuable lessons when bad stuff does happen. He uses those bad things to strengthen us and to teach us, He doesn’t send them. John 10 v 10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.

I think that the changing of the year is a perfect time to thank God for what He has done for us over the last year. Instead of making new years resolutions like going to the gym and eating less chocolate (however positive they may be), why don’t we do some repentance? Not repentance as in saying sorry, but repentance as in changing our lives. Changing what we need to change to get closer to God. Use this opportunity to ask God what He wants us to be. Not what to do, but to be (I got that from the church sermon on Sunday). If we can line ourselves up with the will of God, how much better off will we be? Some people think that the blessings we receive will only be in heaven, and not here on earth, but Luke 10 v 29-30 would indicate otherwise. We need to learn from our mistakes and not dwell on them, as there is no condemnation for those in Jesus, and look to the present to change and the future to succeed.

So those of you that, like us, have had a difficult year, let’s learn from it but leave it behind. Get ourselves in line with the will of God, and look forward to a good 2014! Let us keep our minds focused on God and what He wishes us to think about, let’s not look at what we can DO for God but what we can BE for Him!

Happy New Year!

Richard