Left Handed in a Right Handed World

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves        Matthew 10:16

How I painfully remember the upside down feeling of learning to write. I was born left-handed, but at Hamilton Elementary, all children learned their penmanship right-handed. Nothing seemed to work for me. I gripped the pen the wrong way, I held my paper entirely upside down, and there on my report card appeared every quarter the inevitable F. Sept-Oct 2013 037

My teacher undoubtedly did me a great service, seeing as I learned type at quite an early age, but what I could never shake was the feeling of being wrong side up and different. That same upside down, feeling is what Jesus is preparing us for as he sends us out to the world. Once we begin to follow Jesus, there are times when everything we do gets turned on its head.

He tells us we are going out like sheep among wolves. There is no real competition when it comes to a fight between sheep and wolves. The wolves have bigger teeth, are stronger and can run circles around sheep. Nevertheless the master sends us out because we have one thing the wolf can never have. We have the shepherd!

For some of us in the church when we get in our first wolf-fight,  our tendency is to sign up for the “How to fight like a Wolf” seminar. We think if we could just try a little harder, change our tactics or develop a quicker response, we would finally come out on top. But that wasn’t our Lord’s idea at all. What Jesus wanted was for us to be ready for the wolves, by walking right behind Him. Being strong and well protected by our teeth can never compare to having the protection of our the Lord. We are no match for the wolves, but they will run away from us as fast as they can, when they come face to face with the Shepherd. Then He will make us lie down in green pastures, even when our world seems upside down.

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Just a closer walk with Thee

Grant it Jesus it’s my plea

Daily walking close to Thee

Let it be dear Lord – Let it be

Anointed at Bethany

Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.  John 12:7

Generally left out of the discussion of passion week is what happened at Bethany. Of all the places where Jesus went during His ministry I find no other place so special to Him as in Bethany,the home of Mary, Martha and LazarusIMG_4760. That is where Martha first invited Him and His disciples for supper. Bethany was where Mary learned to sit and listen to Jesus. Bethany was the place where Jesus declared, “I am the Resurrection and the Life!” Bethany was where Lazarus was raised from the dead. Now, Bethany was the special place where Jesus went to prepare for his journey to the cross.

It was while Jesus reclined at the dinner table that Mary set in motion the beauty of that moment that Jesus said was a preparation for His burial. While Jesus sat at the head the table surrounded by the crowd, Mary searched for something she could do. In her heart was born a great longing to do something more.

She quietly slipped away during the activity and from her private quarters brought out the precious alabaster jar. In that jar were a year’s wages stored in perfume. We do not know if it was a gift she received from an admirer or a dowry set aside by her father to present at her marriage. The only thing we know for sure is that the value of the ointment was so high that it shocked the room into silence as she broke it open and poured its contents, first over the head, and then on the feet of Jesus Christ.

The guests were stupefied, and all was quiet. Then at Judas’ prompting the disciples all began to criticise her saying, “Why this waste?” But Mary understood what none of them could see. Only in Mary’s heart was the clear knowledge that soon, this most precious of all men would be gone. This was her time and she chose to use it to lavish Him with pure worship. The gift of her perfumed ointment would linger, so that the disciples could still catch its aroma a few days later at the last supper. The delicate sweetness would have wafted into Judas’ nostrils as he gave the betraying kiss in the garden. The soldiers who beat Jesus would still smell its fragrance when they pressed the crown of thorns down on his head. Then as Jesus bowed that gentle head and gave His life,He would carry Mary’s love gift right to the throne of God.

But does the worship of Bethany flow from my own heart today ? Am I like one of the disciples, focusing only on temporary things and missing seeing the infinite value of Jesus? This is the last day before beginning of the week of all weeks, I remembered that Jesus commanded us to tell again the story of Mary and her gift of worship, wherever the gospel was told. He wanted us to remember because only a worship like hers can carry us beyond the sufferings of this life. Only the perfume of our own alabaster jar will find its way past the world of men and time and into the eternal presence of God.

Who Will Go?

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”

I said, “Here I am. Send me.”  Isaiah 6:8

ASIN: B00V2H8T7GDIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL

If you are considering Nursing Home Ministry or any other kind of work for God, this workbook is for you! This is a seven week course designed for anyone who senses the call to commit to Nursing Home Ministry. The lessons guide you through seven weeks (Or spread it out to seven sessions over a longer period). Every session is filled with practical projects, pointed questions and encouragement to keep going till the end.

Let Your Light Shine (Portuguese) Deixa Tua Luz Brilhar

Special moments from youth group singing at nursing home

Back From the Dead

One Spring day, When our boys were small I once brought them home a box turtle that I had found trying to cross the road. They were so excited when I introduced them to Mr Turtle. He was such a wonder. Beautiful colors under the shell and quite docile. We made up a nice box for him, with a water dish, some grass and stones.

But our little turtle friend wanted nothing to do with his new home. He never once drank the water we provided or ate a single piece of the food we tried giving him. In fact each day he grew weaker till by the end of the week he simply lay with his head and feet tucked into his shell. I tried bathing him in water, thinking that would help but nothing seemed to work. By Saturday my wife and felt that since he was dying the most merciful thing we could do was to return him to his swamp to spend his final days at home.

How guilty we felt as we drove the car with our boys out to the edge of town.They werKIMG0615e so sad to think that Mr Turtle was leaving, but we gently explained that he was near death and that his only chance was to be set free.

I parked the car at the side of the road and gently took out the cardboard box that had served as his home that week The boys hung back watching as I walked a few paces into the woods, and then bent down and carefully placed Mr Turtle onto the mossy ground and stepped back.

For a moment he remained as motionless as he had been over the previous 24 hours, then slowly almost miraculously one foot, then another popped out of the shell. Soon his tiny claws touched the ground and he poked out his head, Mr Turtle then suddenly stood up took one last look and clambered down the hill as fast as his little turtle legs could carry him! We all burst out in relieved laughter. He had just needed to be set free.

On a dark hill two thousand years ago our Savior walked up Calvary’s hill seemingly destined only for death. He was imprisoned by the guards, then the nails and the crown of thorns. There seemed no hope of life for our Savior. Even the stone rolled over the entrance to his tomb was sealed and guarded. But through His death Jesus was brought to the place where he would find his greatest victory. Early in the morning while it was still dark on the third day, he placed first one foot, then the other on the ground. He sat up and unrolled the cloth from his head. On that first Easter as Jesus walked out of the tomb, He gained freedom that would never be taken away, but unlike our turtle friend, Jesus didn’t just run off to heaven to enjoy His new-found life. Jesus came to give to us freedom from sin and death! What will you do with His gift of new life today?

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance John 20:1

John 3:16 – Even Just for One

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish

but have eternal life. John 3:16

When Jesus was nailed to the cross and was pouring out His life blood for us all, who came to be with him? We know just a little about the disciples that day. One had betrayed Him. One had denied Him. At least one doubted Him, and they all ran away at His arrest. At the cross when Jesus looked out, He saw only His mother Mary, a few of the other women and only of the twelve, only John. Jesus breathed His last breathe and gave His spirit into the Father’s hands, not for the crowd, not for the many, but willingly even if just for John. Later they would all be gathered in the room when He came and they believed. Later a hundred and twenty were praying on Pentecost and three thousand more were saved that day. Later thousands began to follow Him in Jerusalem, them vast throngs as Philip preached in Samaria. When Paul went on his missionary journeys, tens of thousands came to believe and then millions. But on that day, the day of the cross,  He would have done it all for only one.

If today we  have received the eternal life then God is looking to what we will do with that free gift. Whatever your call, whatever your ministry, whatever your service for God. Can He look you in the eyes today and ask you: Would you do it just for one?

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