Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Complete Obedience = Complete Freedom

Isaiah 55:4
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples.

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Ford Madox Brown, "Jesus Washing Peter's Feet

This is Jesus.  He leads.  He commands and His people follow.

But Jesus appoints officers.  Shore Vineyard is an officer.  And the desire of the leadership at S.V. is to obey the command of God and lead those He has given us.

We lead because He commands.  But it is our joy!

Keep us focused always on your will, Lord.  Holy Spirit, you will always guide us well.  Our desire is to serve you well.

Keep us humble.  Help us to always practice humility. It is our strength.

We obey because we choose to obey.  Such a magnificent paradox!  

Only in complete obedience is there complete freedom!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Life is a Tabernacle! Isaiah 55:3

This series, the Isaiah 55 series of blog posts was written as an ongoing prayer for my church; but it's a prayer for all churches, for all people.

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Isaiah 55:3
Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.  I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.

David dancing before the Ark of the Covenant
Google image.

People say that the model used to establish our "Shore House of Prayer" is based on David’s tabernacle.  And I think that’s a very good thing!

But God didn’t love David because of the tabernacle, the tabernacle was a demonstration of David’s profound love for God.  And that love created a party; a 24/7/365 celebration of mutual affection.  

That’s something Shore Vineyard seems to be be very good at, living a life of mutual affection.  Loving God should be a party!

God is faithful!  His love, for me, for us, is everlasting!  It never runs out and it’s never withheld.

The culture of Shore Vineyard focuses on developing, fostering and practicing communication with our loving Father.

Lord, it seems as if everything should rest on this foundation of the understanding of mutual love and communication.  That’s my prayer prayer for Shore Vineyard; that they would continue to grow in loving you, understanding your insane love for us and how you communicate that to us.  You tell us, over and over, in so many ways, how you cherish us, approve of us, revel in us!  Help us to always hear you and respond well.

Thank you for being crazy about us!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Satisfaction: Isaiah 55:2

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Isaiah 55:2

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Lives wandering in wrong directions are spent in futility; “spent”.  “Why spend money on what is not bread?”   Why labor for things that don’t satisfy? 

What is bread?  Bread is life!  Who is the Bread of Life?  Christ!

Shalom - peace, love, safety.  Safety.  If we don’t feel safe, how can we be satisfied? There is no satisfaction in fear.  No one can be satisfied with fear.  It is impossible.

Unsatisfaction, dissatisfaction, leads to bitterness, anger, fear.

Lord, everyday, help me to abandon fear, more and more!  I crave your shalom!  I want to invest myself wholly in the labor that brings satisfaction.

This is my cry for Shore Vineyard!  That each member of the body would crave your shalom and throw over fear.

That is power!  That is strength to overcome!  That is peace!  That is the face of Christ!  That is what we are commanded to take to the nations.  There is no need of fear when we walk in Christ, who has redeemed us!  Make us bold, Lord, to go out, to present your face.

Artwork by James Nesbit

Monday, February 1, 2016

Milk and Wine

My sister in Christ asked me to join her in praying Isaiah 55 over our church.  I thought it was a wonderful idea!  So, I sat with my bible, each day, read a verse and then journaled what I heard the Lord saying to me.

For the next 13 weeks I'll be sharing the insights I was blessed with.

Maybe they're for your church too.

I hope they bless you.

Isaiah 55:1
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the water; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

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Lord, we, as a church are situated in a place surrounded by poverty.  Not just poverty of goods but also poverty of Spirit. We open our doors on Food Pantry morning and hundreds of people are fed.  But it’s not just food they receive.  They come and are bathed in kindness.  Joy, Brenda, now Dara Lee, Jack, Eddie, Don, so many others, make sure that the people who come see you.  Your shalom flows out of them to embrace each person.  So, it’s not just bread and water.  It’s not just mac and cheese and beans.  They begin to see that there are riches at Shore Vineyard that are available to them.

You want for them the milk and wine, the best of the land.  They come and some see that so much more is available!

Your peace and safety reside in each one of us.  They surround us like a protective bubble.  But we can expand that bubble to capture others.

Thank you for the privilege of serving others.  Thank you for the knowledge that we can offer the shalom you have given us to others.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Nigeria Notes: Part 14; November 7, 2013, Visiting Ehime-Mbano

Christine, the Beautiful Lady, with her daughter and
my new friend, "God's Gift"
Peter, our very own body guard

Finally we boarded the plane and after a 45 minute flight we touched down in Owerri.   Oct met us at the airport, along with a tall older man whose name I can’t remember, and his tall wife, dressed in a gold and pink two piece dress with a mermaid skirt.  I think she will always be “The Beautiful Lady” when I think of her.  Her name is Christine.  We also picked up Peter, our very own personal body guard.  He’s a member of the local police force and was hired for the day to ride in the front of the van with his AK47 and keep us safe.

The market near the village of  Ehime-Mbano.

 Our first stop was the noisy, crowded market in IG’s boyhood village.  We all got out and  walked through the market, rubbing elbows with the locals.  Some sellers called out to us, trying to entice us to buy, but we only had a few minutes and then it was back in the van and on to visit IG’s childhood home.

Friends and relations in Ehime-Mbano

It was a really pleasant little place. I thing there were three little houses, all clustered very close together, practically touching each other, they were so close.  They made a kind of U shape with a spot for parking in the center.  The house IG had grown up in was on the left.  They all looked alike from the outside, smooth mud walls, painted yellow, with corrugated tin roofs and small porches.              

We were welcomed by what seemed like a sea of relatives and friends, many with their cell phone cameras clicking away.  Once again, everyone was so warm and welcoming.

Ignatius' brother, the Chief of his village.

The man that IG called his “father” is actually his older brother.  His father having passed away, his brother had now become the “father’ of the family.  He wore a special suit, like the pajamas most men wear but made from an open cutwork pattern of lattice strips with beautiful pink embroidered flowers scattered over all.  Very distinguished and rich looking.

The house Ignatius grew up in.

The house was so crowded, not everyone fit!

On our way to view the village
We were invited into the house where we were offered seats on the comfy, overstuffed couches, while as many relatives as could be squeezed into the room around us could be.  The living room walls were painted blue and hung with many family photos, pictures of Jesus and a couple of crusade posters.  It appeared that there was a kitchen behind the living room and on the right wall a door that I assume led to a bedroom.  There was electricity but no running water.  I don’t know where the privy was.

Prayers were offered up on our behalf and then some food was passed around, little buns with sausages baked into the center and small cookies with cheese melted on top, like icing.  Very nice!  

Friday, January 1, 2016

Knowing Verses Wondering

Matthew 8:8-9 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

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Is it a question of “knowing” versus “wondering”?  The centurion understood the hierarchy principle.  The Jews wondered who you were.

The leper, at the beginning of the chapter, said, ‘If you want to, you can heal me.”  He didn’t wonder if you could but he wondered if you wanted to.

The centurion didn’t plead with you to heal his servant.  He stated the facts; he was paralyzed and suffering.  He didn’t say, “Please come.”  He didn't say, “Please heal him.”

When I pray for people I often speak like that.  I tell you what the problem is, like you don’t already  know.   I guess it could be said that I state the obvious.  But then, rather than asking you to heal, I proclaim that it is, or will be done.

You gave us the authority to do what you did and you said we’d do even more.  But the power to heal was not yours while you maintained your earthly body.  It came from the Spirit of your Father moving through you.  And that’s exactly who gives me the power.

Sharpen my mind.
Sharpen my faith.
Sharpen my discernment.

Use me!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How Scrooge Got It Wrong

The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

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But!  The thing is, it’s a joy to provide for those in need!  Because we are all needy ourselves, and you, dear Lord, take such good care of us.  How can we not, out of the overflow of our gratitude, not willingly run to help others in need?

Ebenezer Scrooge probably tithed to his church, as I’m sure he felt required to do.  So he did take care of those in need through that contribution.  But he had no joyful gratitude in doing it but saw it as a grinding chore.  He said he contributed to the prisons and the workhouses.  I wonder if he really meant it or was just being smarmy. 

But when he received his second chance he overflowed with gratitude!  And when we are truly grateful, in love with the One who has shown us mercy, we are overwhelmed with the compulsion to do whatever will most please that Person.

That’s what makes a joyful life!
Thank you for joy!
Thank you for provision!

Thank you for the means to bless others!