Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

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Detour Ahead!  How I have dreaded that sign. Fortunately with today’s smartphone and GPS technology it does not carry the same fear factor that it did when I was younger.  In fact today with a little bit of effort we are able to avoid detours altogether and if we do get stuck in one with a few simple screen touches we no longer have to rely on the often sparsely placed detour signs and can map out our new path to our destination.  However we have not managed a technology that will predict and map out alternative routes to our goals when we hit those life detours that take us away from path of life that we have planned.

1de·tour

noun \ˈdē-ˌtu̇r also di-ˈtu̇r\

: the act of going or traveling to a place along a way that is different from the usual or planned way

: a road, highway, etc., that you travel on when the usual way of traveling cannot be used

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/detour

I have been struggling with this topic for some time now.  I originally thought I would be talk about heavenly detours.  How God diverts our path for his purpose and we just have to kind of ride along.  That is certainly how I felt about this latest chapter in my life.  As I looked at the scene pictured about today (Wednesday October 2, 2013), I realized how different my life was just 9 months ago.  January 2nd Nisa Faith had just joined our family after a 10 year Odyssey of losses, tears and suffering.  Allana was feeling a little ill but we were certain a quick trip to the OB, some antibiotics and we would be good to go.  Ready to run that path that seemed to be so obviously stretched out ahead of us, a Spring and Summer of ministry at The Lewis House, working with Compelled, CityLight and our other partners to spread the Love of God.  What a difference 3 days can make.  3 short days and I would be on perhaps the greatest detour of my life, or would I.  God has been really battering me on this subject, because I truly have felt like this was exactly that, a detour.  When in reality it is right on course but instead of my course, or Allana’s course or TLH’s course, it IS GOD’s course.  When we view these events in our lives as detours, we detract from God’s omniscient role as master planner of everything.  I want to step lightly here because I am not writing doctrine on God’s sovereignty nor am I suggesting that God gave this horrible disorder to Allana, or anyone else.  I think that perhaps my concept of our situation whether thought out or not was of God looking down and saying, ” Oh shoot!  Allana has Leukemia, well I guess I can use that for My Glory ’til we can get things back on course.”  There we go, just a heavenly detour and I am so tempted to detour here into writing the very doctrinal statement that I said was not my intent.  Thank God for the delete button.  However what I have found is that God does not take detours.  Allana and I are not on some end around that will eventually get us back on the path that God has for us.  We are on the path that he has carefully laid out for us.

Jeremiah 1:4-5

4 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 5 “Beforeformed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

No detours for God’s consecrated, God’s appointed, God’s anointed.  There is a point in every Born Again Believer’s life that he or she makes a choice to change direction.  However this is not a detour because not only the route changes, the destination changes.  The Believer is no longer on a pathway to eternal separation from God, to hell, but has turned to a path leading to the mind of Christ.  There is an intentional, continual seeking of God’s presence.  It harks more the etymological root of the word than our current usage.

French détour, from Old French destor, from destorner to divert, from des- de- + torner to turn —

First Known Use: 1738
To turn from, this is the very heart of repentance and salvation.  There is one major difference when we submit ourselves to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ there is not just a temporary course change.  There is a change of destination, and I don’t just mean heaven.  Every man has in his mind a course and destination.  What the destination will be is determined by our core values.  Some pursue riches.  Some pursue power.  Some pursue pure evil.  Some pursue the greatest good.  Honestly some pursue nothing at all, seeking to have no destination at all but simply seeing life as riding out each circumstance to the best of their ability only to find that this is in itself pursuing a course to a destination.  When one comes into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ all of  that changes.  “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.”  Romans 8:28  Suddenly we are on a new course.  It is not one of our own creation but one that God set into motion before the world was created.  This is the confusion.  We conceive of where God has us headed and when things don’t turn out we see it as a detour.  This brings frustration just the same way that an unexpected detour on the road unsettles us.  However when we give God the glory he is do, this evaporates.  “In his heart a man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps.” Psalms 16:9  It is the assumption that God has it all under control that allows to continually apply His word to our situation. “I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.”   Psalm 119:59.  It is in this place that God affirms us even in the midst of the storm.

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Since Allana was diagnosed with Leukemia this place has been a mad house.  People ask the question and I find myself saying over and over, I have had to redefine what is a good day and what is a bad day.  The new normal for Allana, myself and our family is a bad day by the old standards, every day.  As I sit here thinking about this redefining process and my relationship to God it became clear to me that my relationship with God is the catalyst and the key to it.  This is what God does for us.  This is how he grows and draws us close.  A burning bush redefined life for Moses.  Suddenly a good day was risking his life standing before Pharaoh, or before his very own irate people.  I cannot help but wonder if Moses did not wish for the good old days of tending sheep in the hills of Midian.  Joseph had his days redefined in Egypt several times.  An angel by a wine press redefined a good day for Gideon.  Job, well Job is Job and he is perhaps the poster child for the redefining process.  Jesus redefined a good day for the disciples, over and over and over.  Then He redefined it for the universe by dying on Calvary.  I can almost hear God in his best Jerry Maguire impression on that day speaking to His People:  You know our little venture, well it had a big day, a really big day.  Now I complete you!.  Each of these has a real element of BAD to them.  It is important to realize that God does not want us to suffer, but He USES it and yes ALLOWS it because it serves His purposes in achieving Romans 8:28 which outlines the end result of the redefining process.  The good thing about this process is that it has a core.  It is a core that is made of rock hard incorruptible absolute truth.  It is a core that is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and immutable.  What happens is that in all this redefinition we actually come to a single truth.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?   Micah 6:8

Circumstances change but a good day is when we do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.  I cannot say that today was a good day, but We believe and we are learning  God give us grace and power to make tomorrow a good day, no matter what the circumstances are.

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Allana’s Caringbridge Journal

What do you do when the academic suddenly becomes life, when things that you have read about, heard about or even seen become experience?

I sincerely expected my first post after the birth of our daughter Nisa Faith to be one of the joys and trials of new parenthood.   She is definitely much more joy than trial.  She is beautiful, sweet, cute and everything that I prayed for in our new addition.  I cannot let this new storm in our lives detract in any way from the miracle that she is.

Please forgive my rambling, there has been precious little sleep in the last few days.  Actually it has only been five days, five days in which one word, spoken by one doctor has changed everything, “Leukemia”.  I had heard that after a doctor speaks words like cancer or leukemia that everything else becomes a haze.  Now I know that it is true.  My wonderful wife of 11 years has leukemia at 34 years of age and with a 3 week old baby this ugly disease has raised its head and threatened not only the life of my beloved but our family, our ministry and our very way of life.  Well Leukemia we refuse to be threatened.  Allana has declared that we are not to speak that she “has” Leukemia, Allana is “fighting” Leukemia.  We are all fighting leukemia.

The outpouring of concern and support from God’s people, friends, family and even people who have just heard our story is amazing.  We are overwhelmed by the response and so thankful for those who have taken on the job of coordinating it.  I find myself over and over thinking how blessed we are, certainly not in having to deal with this horrible disease but in the fact that God has our back through it.

“…because of the tender mercy of our God,

whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Luke 1:78

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“He has done it!” ends David’s psalm 22.  The New American Standard Bible labels this Psalm: “A Cry of Anguish and a Song of Praise”.  David accepted  that all suffering is simply the path to the miraculous for those who are followers of Jesus.    Nisa will be for us a miracle of new life.  Our family in many ways is born again with the impending birth of this precious girl.  This is an attribute of the miraculous.  It brings rebirth to those it impacts.  Our very transformation from beings steeped in sin and unacceptable in the presence of God to children of the living God and those who are guaranteed an eternity in His presence is perhaps the greatest miracle of all.

If one dares the term, lesser miracles also carry this sense of new beginnings.  They are those points in our lives when our cries of anguish turn to songs of praise.  They are intended to transform on a spiritual level not just impact our physical beings.  It is this spiritual aspect of the miraculous that is so confusing to us.  When we approach the miraculous as simply God impacting our earthly lives (perhaps as reward or even punishment) it fogs the very nature of the miracles.  We become magicians searching for the “spells” or the correct formula of prayer (or behavior) that will manipulate God into acting the way that we conceive that he should.  Paul was singing praises in prison not because he thought this would enable, encourage or force God to act on his behalf.  He did it because he anticipated the miraculous in whatever form it would come.  (Acts 16:25ff)

Right now I can only anticipate and imagine the incredible joy that I will feel when I hold Nisa in my arms.  I am living in the confidence of Paul.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

Paul gives this statement as a basis for his ongoing joy.  He anticipated the miraculous.  Our ability to live out this type of anticipation is a function of the degree to which we embrace the initial miracle of our rebirth into the family of God and our ability to keep our spiritual eyes focused on Jesus.  It is the understanding that the miraculous is not so much about our physical circumstances as our spiritual lives and our relationship with God.  The miraculous operates within its own economy, one established and ordained by God.  It is an economy that ensures  joy for those who live by faith and anticipate the miraculous.

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“Go take for yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry’ for the land commits flagrant harlotry forsaking the Lord.”  Hosea 1:2b

For the complete text of this study including extensive scripture references click here

 

The word of the Lord which came to Hosea the son of Beeri during the days of…”  Hosea 1:1

 

The formula “the word of the Lord” is of paramount importance to who we are as the people of God.  Without this formula Christianity simply becomes a collection of well thought out doctrines without divine power.  It appears Eleven times in Acts, Seventeen times in the New Testament, only once of which is a direct quote from the Hebrew Scriptures ( 1 Peter 1:25 ).

(See full text for references)

It appears Thirty two times in the Minor Prophets and constitutes the very base of their message and core of the authority by which they spoke.  Unfortunately it is very clear that this formula was also utilized by those who spoke falsely, for personal gain or from fertile imagination, often without immediate repercussions.

(See full text for references)

This formula is used Nine times in the Pentateuch.  Twice it refers to a personal message from God to Abraham.  Twice it refers to those who feared or respected God through his messenger Moses.  Three times it refers to the specific will of God concerning a situation and then twice it is used to denote the general commands of God.  In all cases it is something that should be greatly respected, immediately and continuously obeyed and contains the combination of promise and consequences involved in obedience or disobedience.

(See full text for references)

“The word of the Lord” appears Seventy Five times in the Historical Books of the Old Testament,(See your Bible for references) defining a theme of the redemptive history of the Bible.  Add to it the Four appearances in Psalms and the One Hundred and Twenty appearances in the Major Prophets (See your Bible for references) and we have a biblical formula that must not be ignored.  (This gives a grand total of 267 in the NAS)  Yet it is one that I am afraid is down-played in our modern times.  In fact I would even go as far as to say it is largely ridiculed, relegated to examples of crazy ranting, embarrassing exclamations or simply inappropriate use. However the message of the Bible is clear.  The Word of the Lord is IMPORTANT.  It contains promise, command and consequence.  It brings real love, real judgment and real salvation to a humanity that fell in the garden, abandoned God in the Flood, rejected God at Babel and throughout the redemptive record has struggled with the concept of “The Word of the Lord.”

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”  Matthew 23:37

 

Those who have carried this Word have been dismissed, ignored and persecuted throughout history.  So rarely have they been embraced as to almost make it suspect when the general public (even of the People of God) embrace their words.  Today the lack of respect continues even within the church in a land where we have more Bibles per capita than perhaps ever in the history of the world.  We quibble about translations.  We reject inspiration.  We modify to fit our experience and common choices.  Can the end be any different from those who throughout time have rejected the very authority of the Word of the Lord?

The importance in this modern world of the declaration “The Bible is the Word of God” is primary. It is the watershed of modern theological controversy. On the right of this mountain peak are all those who believe that the Bible is the revelation of God and is infallibly inspired. They may differ on many details of interpretation of that revelation, but they agree as to its authority. On the left of this peak are all those who reject the Bible as the primary authority in faith and life, substituting for it any one of several forms of authority ranging from the human mind to the common experience and agreement of the church. Some of these on the left may hold with us as to the truth of every primary doctrine of Scripture, but they themselves do not belong to us because they accept those doctrines on a ground which is insufficient, and if the pressure of the battle becomes too great, they will relinquish those doctrines such as the virgin birth, the unique deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the bodily resurrection, the second coming, etc. Therefore, though we may differ in many details with those who are on the right of this watershed, we belong together and must recognize this modern division in the theological world. Only on the basis of the Bible as the Word of the Lord can we ever have agreement on Christ, on the way of salvation, and on ecclesiastical matters. When we reject the Bible as this authority, it results in the “don’t care for doctrine” attitude of the liberal.”  Dr. Harold John Ockenga  (http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_word_ockenga.html , 10-6-2012)

For Hosea the entry of the Word of the Lord to his world was a life changing proposition.  This was true through out the Bible and continues to be true today.  If one were to research each of the biblical references for this formula I am guessing that one would find someone whose life was changed.  This would indeed be the case for our protagonist Hosea.  He was about to embark on a life journey which would express the heart of God and the depth of His plan for the salvation of a lost world.  It would be an embarrassing and difficult journey.  Disrespect for the Word of the Lord is nothing new.  False prophets, crazy prophets and mistaken prophets clouded the vision of God’s people then even as they do now.  Skeptics doubted and the intellectual explained away the impact of God on Israel, relying instead on the might of nations, the power of wealth and the scheming of men to preserve the nation.  Hosea had a Word of the Lord for them.

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“And He said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ ‘This is the great and foremost commandment.’ ‘The second is like it, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ ‘On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.’

Matthew 22:37-40

Αγαπη, Such a simple word from a relatively simple language.  How much God has packed into these 5 Greek letters! (Ok for the Greek scholars out there most of the forms actually used in Scripture have more than 5 letters).  Quick numbers that I picked up from various sources show that AGAPE and its forms are used over 200 times in the New Testament.  Of course the Old Testament was not written in Greek but when they translated the Septuagint (probably 3rd century) they used this word over 300 times.  There have been uncountable numbers of sermons, teachings, devotionals and studies done on this word.  It is featured prominently in the names of churches, ministries, books, articles and music.  One would think that with its great prevalence in the literature and arts of the Christian world that it would be something that we do well… or not.

Many have tried to define this word.  I am not sure that it is even possible in any human language.  Where our words fail us Scripture provides us clues:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him.”  John 3:16-17

“But God demonstrates his own love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created things, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

I could go on over 200 times and then start on the Old Testament references but I think that you get the idea.  With so many teachings out there on this subject my purpose is not to create a new word study here.  Perhaps it is just to refocus myself on an aspect of our Faith that is so key to the ministry that God has called me too.  So I just want to pick out a couple of things that stand out to me.

Agape involves being called and being sent.  Over and over the Love story that is our Scripture tells us of God calling people out of their comfort zones to be his hands and feet of Love.  Abraham, Moses, Gideon, David, The Disciples and Paul were all called out of their own lives and comfort zones in order to experience and to exhibit this quality.

Agape involves sacrifice.

“1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves ; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:1-8

Thirdly, AGAPE involves obedience to the one true source of love in the created realm, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

“If you love me you will keep my commandments.”  John 14:15

“If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”  John 15:10

While these three aspects certainly are not an all encompassing examination of AGAPE, they are certainly a great place to start.

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And the lessons continue (for me)….

Walking in the Miraculous is about walking as the hands and feet of Jesus.  When we make a conscientious effort to be Christ by immersing ourselves in His Word, in His Spirit and in His Love daily, the opportunities to be His hands, His feet and even His voice come.  I am still shaken in my spirit (in a good way!) when God visibly and miraculously arranges my life to provide me with those opportunities.  I wonder if we are too enamored with the more “exciting” miraculous gifts.  Healing is great.  I thank God every day for my prayer language that builds up my spiritual strength, intercedes when I am at a loss and cements my relationship to the Holy Spirit but Lord please give me the miraculous gift of being in the right place at the right time, recognizing the opportunity before me and addressing it with all the power and love of the Holy Spirit that resides in me.  Here is the kicker, while these opportunities put us in a position to impact someone’s life, WE are the ones who are impacted the most! We are transformed into His image, from glory to glory!(1 Corinthians 3:18).

I think of Philip, God decided a nice trip into the desert was in order.  I have to wonder if Philip did not at least grumble a little under his breath.  All the nice places that God could have sent Philip.  I mean there was still lots of work to be done in Antioch wasn’t there, but now God sends Philip south…all that is SOUTH is DESERT!  But God knew and Philip was given an opportunity to be the hands, feet and voice of Jesus; an opportunity to not only experience the miraculous but the opportunity to participate in the miraculous!  There was a eunuch that day that was changed FOREVER but I have to believe that between the two men in this story the one who was impacted the most, the one who walked away transformed from glory to glory was Philip.  While the miraculous transportation was pretty cool at the end of this story, the miraculous transformation that occurred during the story is the miracle that I want to experience!

Lord help me to NEVER miss an opportunity to serve you and be transformed because I am short on time, to busy or don’t see the point.  Open my eyes to the working of your hand in all the mundane details that shape the paths that I walk everyday and stand ready to be Your hands, Your feet and Your voice in a world that so desperately needs You, in a world where Your children so desperately need YOU!  Help me to truly Walk in the Miraculous!

AMEN!

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“So then does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”  Galatians 3:5

Perhaps one of the most amazing aspects of this new life that God has called me to at The Lewis House is one that I should have had in my Christian life regardless of my profession.  It is one that I am still learning to embrace because (unlike my beautiful wife) I am a bit too logical in my make up and a big part of me want to live on the basis of logical observation instead of spiritual expectation.  God is teaching me to walk in the miraculous.

When we truly hear the Gospel with faith there should be an expectation of the miraculous.  It is part of the package.  This is not a mystical toy store or the ability to bend God’s power to our will for our happiness.  It is simply expecting God to act in my life and then walking out my faith and getting to watch Him moving and working in an around me.  The cool thing is that the miraculous looks a little different every time.  I think that one of the mistake that we often make is when something miraculous happens in our lives we run around expecting that very same thing to happen over and over or even just one more time.  This may be in part to our desire to control the miraculous.  Humanity has always had an inherent fear of the things that we cannot control.  Better to have a god who responds to our requests exactly the same way all of the time, speaking into our lives in the ways that we want Him too (as opposed to in ways that sanctify us, ever conforming us closer and closer to the mind of Christ).

The author of Hebrews reveals the purpose of the miraculous.  “…how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?  After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”  Hebrews 2:3-4  It confirms to us our salvation.  This approximates Paul’s statement in Galatians that we already looked.

The other amazing thing is that God will not be put in a box.  Sometimes we mistake the fact that he is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow for the fact that we will be able to manipulate and predict his actions in our lives.  This error is revealed in Isaiah, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways, My ways,’ declares the Lord.  ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways And my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9  Does this mean that we just drift along being pushed here and there by a capricious God?  Not at all!  We cry out our needs, concerns, suffering and desires to God and the open our spiritual eyes wide and watch Him work.  It will be amazing, and often in ways that we least expect.

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Yes FM Morning Munch Devotional August 13th – 17th

Monday  –  Passionately Involved

Tuesday – The Hard Questions

Wednesday – Ready to Listen

Thursday – Ready to Believe the Unbelievable

Friday – Obedient

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But Jesus called for them saying,“Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

Luke 18:16-17

I just had to share this Facebook post from my lovely and talented wife Allana.  My summer of Kid’s Club ended today because I am going to the Assemblies of God National Youth Convention and Fine Arts Competition in Louisville KY next week.  It has been a blessing to have been permitted to share the Love of God with these kids!

PRAISE THE LORD! In the past 8 wks of the Kids Club lunch program that has been running Monday through Friday at The Lewis House – we have served 93 different children!!! 75 of those children have come more than one time, many of them 10 times or more. We are so excited about the 40 children that we see weekly (usually multiple times through the week). It has been so wonderful forming relationships not just with these 40 children, but their parents as well. A big big thank you to our volunteers who come out weekly to pour into the lives of these children. If you are interested in being a regular volunteer at The Lewis House – please let me know ♥

We look forward with great anticipation to our next season of ministry here in the Five Points Community of Toledo.  As Allana said if you would like to volunteer on a regular basis, just for events or live out of the area but would like to bring a visiting mission team we would love to talk with you!

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