Blog post: Life through death

This verse from John 12 has been in my thoughts since Wednesday this week, I dont know why!

John 12:24-26 24

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. 25 In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. 26” If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.

—–
But as I meditate on it, I’m starting to see the need for us to constantly lay down our lives (sacrifice our wills in favor of God’s greater plan thru us) in order for true unconditional love to be expressed through our lives.

God has promised to grant us the desires of our heart, when we delight in Him! Nothing delights the Father more than to see His children being carriers of His love & presence on this Earth. Through that I believe we truly can bring the fruits of the Kingdom (righteousness, peace, everlasting joy) to those we minister too.

But it requires a death. There are many things vying for our time. I have learnt to evaluate against eternity. Our time on this earth is very limited. Regardless of our social standing, our physical appearance or our wealth, we can never get back even 1 second of a moment or opportunity missed to share Gods love.

Gods heart is for people. It’s for this reason Jesus rose again, to free us from the bondage that was our carnal, fleshly self, and to set into motion the restoration of our sprit & soul with our Father. Giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit that we are charged with power (dunamis*) to see His kingdom & will established on earth as it is in heaven.

But we must die first before His glory can be revealed. It was the same with Moses, David, Joseph, Paul.. Jesus. Leaving my old, carnal, limited, short sighted thinking behind has opened my eyes & mind to the potential of a Kingdom life! This verse sums it best:

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 9
That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

——

*Footnote:

Dunamis:

strength power, ability inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth power for performing miracles moral power and excellence of soul the power and influence which belong to riches and wealth power and resources arising from numbers power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts

Priorities

Today, 10th Feb, my wife & I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. We took our first “proper” holiday last weekend, to Dubai for 4 days. Our family all took turns watching the kids for us in SL, so we could really have a good rest and getaway. It was one of the first times I went without my laptop. I took my ipad, but I would’ve used it only once or twice during the entire trip! As a consultant, time is money for me.. and on reflection over the last 10 years, I’ve realised that I’ve spent most of my time earning money and all the meanwhile, my wife and kids have supported me – but I’ve hardly invested time in love, for them. God’s grace has sustained us through all the seasons however, and through many challenges. But I still feel strongly today that priorities need to change. The choice is mine, based on how God leads me as the leader in my household. I was reading a card the kids had written for our anniversary, and realised how quickly they grow up, and each day they are influenced by their environment in how their think, their beliefs and value systems, and ultimately, their decisions in life. We cannot rely on anyone else to do this for our kids, or our marriages, but it’s upto us as fathers, to take our God given responsibilities and invest the time, love & care required to make sure our children our prepared for life, God’s way. That our marriages are protected, nurtured and built on a foundation of selfless love, just as God intended, and that ultimately, our homes be shining lights for God in our communities. I feel we have, too often, left all this up to our churches, pastors, schools, teachers and other people to do, when the responsibility is ultimately ours – as the authority and all we need has been given to us by God.

Today, I chose to change the priorities in my life, so that my home, my marriage, and my children are influenced to know, love & obey God, because of the investment of time, love, and leadership that I deposit in them, as led by God!

[Blog Post] The Vine & Branches

I was praying before I went to bed tonight, and also had a few questions I had in regard to my faith, and how it relates to my day to day life, and through my life, impacts those around me?  I was led to the scripture below from John 15.  It’s one I’ve read many-a-time, but sometimes, when God directs to His word, He always has something transforming to teach you through something that you might think you’re already familiar with!

There’s a lot of focus on signs, wonders, miracles in the last days.  True, Jesus said “greater things shall you also do…”, and I’m excited about seeing the power of God in action, in the lives of the hurting, needy, beaten, sick, and many others.  But it begins with me.  Actually, even before me, it begins with a Father, who, because of His furious love for me, chose me, and chased after me to capture my Heart with His beauty & grace, so that just as He loves me, I might love those who have not experienced His love as yet, and through that unconditional love, we may ask Him for what was promised, in Jesus name.  But it all flows out of intimacy & relationship with God, the pursuer of our hearts, first.  It takes a great trust in a relationship to know that even without continuous “signs”, that our love is what binds us together, and because of that love, whatever good I have I will do for you purely because I love you, not because you beg me to.  

Could God love me that much?  He did, He does and He always will.  The greatest miracle, has & always will be a life transformed, stolen from the darkness, and catapulted into God’s furious, unconditional love, from where we will fulfil every purpose & destiny He has created us for!

John 15

The Vine and the Branches

 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

   5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

   9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 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. 14You 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, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Our steps are ordered by the Lord…

I have been very reflective the last few days, just been thinking about the people God has brought into my life over the years, and the ones who He has brought in which have impacted my destiny, and drawn me into His perfect will & plan for my life.  

About 14 years ago, I met a newly married couple at Church in Melbourne.  They had just moved (back) to Melbourne and were looking for a church to call home.  Something drew me to them and we became very close.  Little did I know at the time that our friendship would eventually lead to me meeting my wife, my life partner.  Coming upto 10 years of marriage, I guess that’s why I’ve been thinking a lot about it…

Most times we will never know why we are compelled to reach out to someone, or where it would lead us.  I hear so many people searching for their Mr or Ms “right” all over the place.  But when we live a life led by the Holy Spirit, HE directs our every step and HE knows the true Mr or Ms “Right” for us!!
 Delight yourself also in the LORD,

         And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

 

Also on my mind is friends God brings along us to support us along our journey.  I’m thankful for each one of them.  Tonight at G20 (life group) we had to spontaneously share a word of encouragement for someone in the room.  It was really great to hear those words spoken about each one.  We are so blessed to have the fellowship & love of another human life, made in the image of God, to bless, encourage and “do life with”.  We miss the point by a mile or two sometimes, in searching for some religious ideal and finding people to “reach” when God has placed people right in front and around us, to love & care for. 

That’s it for today.. just sharing what’s on my heart the last few days.  I know it’ll help someone 🙂 

Children of the covenant

Children of the covenant!

“6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” 7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. 8 What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would declare the Gentiles to be righteous because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.” – Galatians 3:6-9 [NLT]

Exactly 5 years and 3 months ago I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia. In that time we have been on a journey of faith in every area of our life, and seen God work miracles over time which has defied the theories & reports of man.

Along the way we have had many people, Christians as well, comment negatively about our faith walk, about the way God has taken use supernaturally in our health, family, work, finances. It’s easy to become blinded by the patterns and measures of success in this world, and allow those thought processes to shape our thinking and our faith. But through every season God has taken use through we have learnt that we are not called to be of this world. Many take that as isolating themselves from the world physically.  But it really is a call to God’s way of thinking, acting and believing!  

I go into 2011 healthier than ever. In 2005, the doctors declared a life expectancy of 5 years for me. It’s a humbling moment for me as I am overwhelmed by Gods goodness and grace in my life that He has a purpose and destiny for me yet to complete and I am still here!  

I am very thankful to God for my best friend & destiny-partner, my wife Sharini, without whom I couldn’t have gone through all the challenges we faced over the last few years.  Regardless of circumstance, she always had a beaming smile, and praise on her lips.  It was such an encouragement to me to see her shine through the darkest of times in our life.  In 2011, we celebrate 10 years of marriage!

My kids; I thank God that from such a young age they have seen God’s power, and experienced His love & faithfulness.  They pray with such sincere and innocent hearts, and God honours their prayers.  It breaks my heart when I hear them pray for me – for God to heal daddy’s eye or his blood and so on, but I realise that through all this, God always receives the glory when they see the miracle of healing, because of their faith.  

Right now where I stand in life, in the world’s eyes, and sadly, in many Christian’s eyes, we might not have “success” in their measure – but what we have right now is more precious than what any money will ever buy, and could ever buy.  Recently we had some good news that Sharini is pregnant with our 4th child.  I received an sms from someone asking if I planned to “rob a bank” – presumably to support the family.. God’s promises over us will return more wealth than the best investment on this earth, and His protection for us is more secure than the hands of the best surgeon, or the largest army.  It is in His presence we live, walk and breathe daily.  

I guess it’s hard for people to understand fully to what extent God provides for us.  But as we remain faithful and obedient to His call, we know without any shadow of doubt, no matter what anxiety & fear man around us has, that God will NEVER leave us nor forsake us:
1 Corinthians 2:9 (The Message)

 6-10We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That’s why we have this Scripture text: 

   No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, 
   Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— 
   What God has arranged for those who love him.

But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.

2011: New Beginnings!

The Christmas Tree

Sharing an email I received this morning.  I think it brings some perspective back to a tradition that might cause us to become complacent to the real meaning of Christmas.  Regardless of whether or not the 25th of December was actually the day Christ was born becomes irrelevant, when we understand and accept the full meaning of WHY He was born in the first place, and the FREEDOM we have because of it!  It’s definitely a cause for celebration!!

582797450960541

Hi Chris

The Christmas Tree

An Australian TV news report recently commented on a private school which had adopted a practice already common in the northern hemisphere – that of replacing the Christmas tree with the holiday tree (lest we offend!)

But it‚s not just unbelievers who have a problem with the Christmas tree. Some Christians feel that erecting a Christmas tree is the Christianization of a pagan practice, though there is a difference of opinion concerning which practice it is taken from. For example:

*Some say it originates from the pagan idea that the evergreen tree represents a celebration of the renewal of life.

*Others teach that it came from an incident concerning Dionysus, the mythic Greek god of wine and male fertility. When he returned triumphantly from India he carried a tapering coniferous tree and some, therefore, have linked the Christmas tree to this.

*Others, again, have traced its beginnings to the horrendous tradition of Yule among early Germanic tribes who sacrificed male animals and slaves, suspending them from branches of trees; in the same way that we hang presents on Christmas trees!

*Then there are those who have linked it with an obscure passage from the book of Jeremiah 10:2-4: „Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple.‰

Martin Luther

There is no proof that our custom of the Christmas tree descended from any of these pagan traditions. There is more evidence that the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas began with Martin Luther. One cold Christmas Eve, around the year 1500, Luther was walking through snow-covered woods and was captivated by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. As the moon shone down upon them, their branches, dusted with snow, glistened and gleamed. Luther hurried home and set up a little fir tree indoors and endeavored to re-create the scene with his children. He adorned it with candles which he lit in celebration of Christ‚s birth.

The Tree Of Life

The Bible mentions two trees in the Garden of Eden. The first was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from this tree. We might ask, „Why is the knowledge of good and evil a bad thing?‰ It‚s not that it‚s a bad thing, it‚s more a question of how do we define what is good and what is evil? Only God is good; therefore that which is consistent with His character and nature is good and that which is inconsistent with His character and nature is evil. Only God is qualified to determine what is good and evil. We were meant to learn what is good and what is evil from God.

When man ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he saw himself as god, and began to relate everything to himself. He placed himself at the centre of the universe and has stayed there ever since. Man sees himself as able to decide what is right and what is wrong. Probably the best definition of sin is Œself.‚ „All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way (Isa.53:6). That‚s sin.

There was another tree in the Garden called the tree of life. Why didn‚t Adam and Eve eat from this tree instead? Because they already had life. God put the tree of life in the Garden of Eden in anticipation of the salvation they would need when they sinned. The tree of life represents Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life.

God said that when man ate of the forbidden tree he would die. Sin demands the forfeiture of a life. The wages of sin is death. But God accepts a substitute, and Jesus laid down His life for us on a tree! When Peter was preaching to the Jews he said, „The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree‰ (Acts 5:30). Later, in his first epistle he taught the significance of that death. He said that He „∑ bore our sins in His own body on the tree‰ (1 Pet.2:21). As Adam and Eve died eating from a tree we live by eating from God‚s tree of life, Jesus.

When I erect a Christmas tree in my home, and hang gifts from it, it reminds me of the greatest gift of all that hung from a tree – the Son of God who died for you and me. The gospel puts God back in the centre ˆ that‚s life!


Or

 By Ken Legg http://www.small-groups-ministry.com/Ken-Legg.html

God rejoices over us!

I woke up this morning with a sense of excitement & expectation! No matter how impossible or hopeless the situation looks, Gods promises always are yes & amen to those who believe.

The bible says the thief comes to rob, steal, kill & destroy. I realize that if he can rob the truth that is Gods word & promises from your life, he has robbed your future, he has placed limits on what can happen in your situation. NO MORE!

Casting off satan’s lies is the beginning of your victory! Know that God rejoices over you. His love overlooks everything of the past to propel you to a greater destiny!

Zephaniah 3:17 (amp)
17 The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior[ Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest[ in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention[ of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing.

I’m stepping into my victory today!

What an awesome Father we have!

 14

 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; 
       I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; 
       I will be with him in trouble, 
       I will deliver him and honor him.

 16 With long life will I satisfy him 
       and show him my salvation.”

Psalm 91:14-16

I was reminded of this scripture this morning as I got ready for work.  Yesterday, I received some great news from my oncologist that the government was allowing me to switch back to the original drug being used to treat the leukaemia as the new one had severe side effects.  When I initially asked the doctor to switch back, they said it was impossible and were instead trying to deal with the side effects.  But the side effects were really impacting on my life, stopping me from working, and affecting me more than the leukaemia ever did!

After much prayer, last Monday I asked the oncologist if he could please switch the medication back.  I had just missed a whole week of work, and it was really starting to impact on our life!  To my surprise, he agreed and but he could only recommend the switch. The final decision was upto a government panel which decided on the drug to be used, and also reviewed the funding (these drugs cost ~USD 3k/month).  We began praying and last night I received a phone call to say the committee have agreed to swap the drugs, which seems to be a rare decision, and it was decided very quickly!

As I shared this news with everyone, someone replied back in excitement that I’m becoming a big debtor to God.  True, but our relationship with God is not a normal relationship.  It’s a Father-Son/Daughter relationship that transcends any earthly understanding – it is fuelled by God’s unconditional & unmerited love, called GRACE!  When I read Psalm 91, I am assured that God ALWAYS has my best interest at the heart of any circumstance or problem I’m going through.  This assurance brings Hope, which strengthen’s my Faith to trust in His love and it’s a constant circle of faith <-> hope <-> love, but it all started & starts with LOVE!

Not just a rhyme..

Life today is so unfulfillin’
Why am I here I keep on hearin’
I wake up each, day, do what I don’t like
Surely there must be so much more than strife.

Created for a purpose, created with a plan?
I hear these words, but my day is so bland.
What must I change, what must I do?
If someone can hear me, please give me a clue.

My failure to act right now would mean
A generation passes, sight unseen
Children of the light, raised to rule
But whats the point, if its all for me n you

I dont want to miss another wake up from above
Another GFC, STD’s, ICE & shooting up
Will we be the ones to raise the standard for today?
To step and say there is a better way..

To rise above standards of the world
to bring forth the glory, of the Kingdom made of Gold
Living each day to love our King
To love His people, blindly trapped by sin

For this I know is the purpose of life
This is the solution, and end to all the strife
Let’s build a foundation, one taht will stand
Build on love, that was God’s eternal plan

So are you in with me, to begin a better day
Let’s get down on our knees, it’s time to pray
Pray for a world where God’s light shines
through you and me together, this is truth,
Not just a rhyme.

cK – 30/08/10

Welcoming a brand new year!

Even with all the celebration and hoopla surrounding Christmas and the welcoming of a new year, the majority of people enter a new year with much fear and trepidation, not knowing what it’ll bring.

The last 3 years of my life have been extremely challenging, and anyone who is close to me will no doubt say that is an understatement. However, entering in 2010 I cannot help but sense a year which could bring us much joy. There are various posts on this blog that talk about my leukemia, then earlier this year the challenges I faced (and still facing) with my left eye. There were financial challenges, business challenges and marital and family issues to deal with. But I think a celebration is in order – because we made it!!

As I look back on the year, I see the favour of God shining through that ever before. His grace sustained us, and He gave us our hearts desires in the midst of the fire.

Yes, we did have many challenges & battles, but we also had the victory. I cannot help but quote Paul from Romans 5:1-5 (MSG) here:

“1-2 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”

So, in hindsight, in spite of all the hardships, it has been a year which many people were touched, encouraged, delivered, ministered to, and healed through what God was doing in our lives – and for me, that is what success is measured in – making a difference in the life of someone else. If 2010 is going to be even better, BRING IT ON! God has only JUST begun!

I wish you and your loved ones all the very best for 2010 – a year in which I hope you will get to experience a God who loves you, sent his Son to die for you and is waiting to embrace & shower his awesome love into your life. IF you already know God, I pray you experience Him more and more each day in the coming year! Go on, He’s just waiting to be invited!

God’s best to you!
Chris, Sharini & the 3 boys.. 🙂