Saturday, January 29, 2011

What does Abiding look like?

What does abiding look like? The abider moves in the flow of God. The flow of God is complete acceptance that whatever is...is.  Abiding is the complete acceptance that God is in control and His will is the only will that matters.  The abider gives the soul no reign. The abider walks in the spirit and carries out the will of the Father.  There is no “my will.”  Now you say only “Your will”.  Just as Jesus was always about the Father’s business, we, too, are about the will of the Father.
          God is working out His will in and through you.  The Father’s will is active not stagnate.  The Father is always working out His righteousness. He is always working all things together for our good and for His glory.  He is orchestrating all the events of history together to bring His creation back to Himself, to the praise of His glorious grace.  Abiding is accomplished in total trust of the Father.  We trust Him because we know He is good and right, His character is sure. So you are being responsible to let things happen through you, knowing the Father is in control of all things working around you, working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
          The Father works all things together according to His will. Nothing happens by chance. Nothing is by mistake.  All things are designed for the Father’s will, for His Name’s sake and glory.  Not even a butterfly will come into your presence but by the will of God.  So, knowing this, you can trust and rest, living with the Sabbath rest of God, ceasing from your work and accepting His work in and through you.
          The Christian life should feel like you are in the ride of your life, but you are not driving. You are riding without resistance against where you need to go.  You realize it just is what it is. Your life is completely abandoned to God.  As events happen, you accept that event in complete trust knowing God is allowing it for His purposes and His will. You must experience the next event; it may seem "good" or "bad" but it is the necessary event or situation. In fact, the abider assumes that the event is ultimately good because God is working it together for good no matter what it is.
            How do you tell if someone is abiding?  You will see a thankful person.  Thankfulness is the sign of an abider. The absence of worry or anxiousness is also the sign of an abider. Peace is normal. Joy is normal.  The spirit of man is accepted as righteous and holy, full of love desiring to be expressed in every situation because of the finished work on the cross.  So when a storm comes, there is peace.  Peace flows like a river and you say, “it is well with my soul.” God is the anchor of your soul, the foundation on which you stand.  He is the strong tower in which you abide. He is the Rock of your salvation. You will not be shaken. You are secure and solid in Him. He is able to make you stand and He will do it.  He is doing it.

What is Abiding?

         Abiding is described in many ways in the Bible:  walking in the Spirit, resting in God, abiding in the vine, being strong in the Lord, believing, walking by faith,  entering the Sabbath rest of God, living to the glory of God, putting on the armour of God, being in Christ.
          Abiding is living by faith in the completed work of Christ on the cross., being who you are as the new creation, the workmanship of God. You are a masterpiece of God's handiwork. The same God who made the largest galaxies and the smallest atom.  You are a masterpiece, a new creation in Christ.
          In being who you are in Christ, you are not trying to be somebody, you are somebody. You just are who you are. You are not trying to be righteous. You are righteous. You are not trying to be free. You are free.  You are not trying to have peace. You  have been given peace through the Holy Spirit within you.  You are not trying to love. You are a being who loves. You  have been filled with love and are connected into love  who is  Person named Love.  You  are a being who loves unconditionally.  It is just who you are. 
          Abiding is BEING.  You are God’s creation, having been born again through His Spirit. You are without sin. There is nothing in you that the evil one has any hold in. You are a holy being set apart to God. You just are.  You can’t try to be.  If you try to abide, its like trying to be human or trying to be married if you are married or trying to be single if you are single. You just are human. If you are married, you are married.  If you are single, you are single.  You just are.  It's just the way it is.  
          Being encompasses this connection with God, He in you and you in God.  You exist in Him and He within you. This is abiding and abiding is the reality of life in Christ.  In abiding, you experience Living in the Celebrating Life in Christ.  You experience peace in the midst of a storm. You experience joy in the midst of pain.  You love those who are unlovely.  You know that you can do nothing apart from God, but that you can do all things through Christ who give you strength.
          So abiding is being, but abiding is also doing, but it is not YOUR doing.  It’s the Father’s doing in and through you. So abiding is being who you are as a righteous being made new by God, and doing all He prepared in advance for you to do.  But you know its impossible to do what He asks.  He has asked you to love, to rejoice in persecution, perhaps even to die for your faith.  He calls you to walk on water with Him, to raise the dead and see the lame walk.  He calls you to make disciples of all nations and baptise them in His Name. All He calls you to do is impossible to do apart from Him.  But as you abide in Him, fully believing that you are who He says you are and that you can do what He says you can do, He will do amazing things in and through you.  So when people see your good works, they will give glory to God because they will know it’s impossible for a human to do such things.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Blog Address

Alive from the Dead Blog will now have the address of CelebratingLifeMinistries.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reflections on Abiding

     When times are hard, abiding is tested, isn't it?  Will we rest in God, fully trusting Him when things are out of our control?  To rest in God through pain, through misunderstanding, through weariness and exhaustion.  I just flew in from Japan and I was tired after 30 hours without sleep. After night and day at a Japanese hospital, my brother-in-law passed away, finally at peace it seemed with himself and perhaps God.  For 36 hours we walked through Japanese funeral proceedings, which were very intense in comparison to western ways.  We had good times with the family, lots of tears, and goodbyes, knowing that God was in control through the pain.
      As I arrived at the airport in Vancouver, I met my husband.  We had breakfast together, then returned to the airport to send him on his way to San Jose where his aunt, who like a mother to him, is dying.  I drove home alone, to take up life again as a mom of three.
     In the night, the tears came.  The loss of my brother-in-law, the dramatic funeral process of Japanese culture, the difficulty for my sister and her son as they start their lives without a husband and father, and now the dying of Paul's aunt who has invested in our lives and loved us for many many years, all hit me with the force of grief.
     Abiding. Resting in God through crisis, through pain, knowing that God is allowing each of these things and is working His will and good out of everything no matter how hard or painful it is.  He is teaching us, developing us, conforming us into the image of His Son, through tears, through pain, through circumstances beyond our control.  So we rest in Him, loving Him and sit back in Him to see the lesson He has for us to learn, knowing He is good and loves us with an unquenchable love.  He is sure and steadfast, even when life on this planet isn't.
     I am reminded life on this planet is short.  It's only a breath really.  A blink of time.  We have birth and new birth and physical death. Yet in new birth, we are born into eternity and we live forever. So while we are at home in our bodies, we are not yet fully home with the Lord.  As we leave this physical world, we are united fully and completely with God, our Father and Maker. We are eternal beings and what we see on earth is only a shadow. Our walk is by faith while we are here, trusting God who sees the unseen and knows the number of our days.  He knows His will and He perfectly works it out, teaching us and growing us through every moment, every experience, every joy and every pain.
    He is a good God. He knows just what we need to grow. He grows us through suffering, so in the midst of suffering, we can rejoice, counting it all joy, knowing God is in control and He is creating a masterpiece through the tapestry of our lives.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Intensity -- Sitting in Mos Burger

Impending death moves life into intensity. The depth of emotion ranges from joy, to deep pain and back again.  I am sitting at Mos burgers while my sister enjoys a public bath, something I am not ready to do!  Instead I am enjoying coffee and ice cream at Mos burgers, a Japanese hamburger place.  My nephew happened to be here too with his friends.  Its a regular hang out spot. 
     Life goes on around us, yet one mans life hangs in the balance as I write.  His brother is sitting with him now. I can only imagine the depth of the pain he is feeling as he says goodbye.  There is joy in realizing the truth of life everlasting and there is pain in saying goodbye and knowing we will never see him again on this earth.  There is joy is knowing that God is in control and that even through this difficult and painful time, He is bringing good.   and there is pain in seeing the pain in family and friends, knowing the greatness of this loss.       
     Such a mixture. Such intensity.  What necessity to abide in Christ, to rest in complete trust in God, knowing that life and death  is in His hands  He holds all things together and sustains us.  He teaches us and directs our steps. He knows the plans He has for us even when the future is suddenly unclear.  He is clear, He is sure. When the storms come and the winds blow, we stand firm in Him, unmoved from our faith, steadfast in the deeper joy that sustains even in deep pain.
     So though as I walk up the stairs in the hospital with deep sobs welling up in my heart, there is joy overflowing with gratitude to my God who gives such peace in the midst of this time.  He is so incredibly good. So sure and steadfast.  He is our Redeemer.  The end is not a surprise to Him.  His sovereignty gives such assurance that even this is His design. Even in this He will bring great good as we abide in Him and trust.
     Death is the beginning of something new and beautiful when we are His.  Our life on this plane is so short.  We can focus our whole lives on things that really do not matter and miss the reality of why we were created.  Or we can embrace God and live for His glory and His purpose, seeing His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.  His work is eternal and when He works in and through us, our work lasts forever and ever.  Our lives are not really about this planet at all.  Our lives are about connection to the God of the universe, working along with Him as He sets people free and redeems them to Himself.  When we come to Him, surrendering our lives to Him, He connects us into eternity where we live all the time, even as we walk on this planet.
     What joy this thought brings, as we look at death because in death is life, as our bodies die, we go to our Maker and we get to be in His presence forever and ever.  How to comprehend such joy and glory.  I cannot even conceive.  But I believe, knowning that He who called us is faithful and He will do what He purposed to do.  God is solid and immovable and we are immovable in Him.  He upholds us by His right hand and lifts our heads.  He is our joy and peace. 
     Thank you God for your sustaining power fin this time.  Bring comfort to those who are mourning the loss of a husband, a father, a brother, a son and a friend.  Bring an end to the suffering of the one we love, God and lead him into your presence turning sorrow into great joy.  May You bring hope to those he leaves behind,that the God who made them is alive and very real.  Would You touch their lives and bring them great peace.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

from Death to Life -- a testimony

Death where is your sting?

As I sit in the hospital in Kagoshima Japan, watching my brother in law die in his hospital bed, I am amazed at the grace of God.  He knows the Lord.  He is seated with Christ in the heavenly realm now, even in the throes of physical death.  I dont understand the struggle between life and death, yet I know he lives and will be alive forever.
     I am seeing the hand of God and the beauty of God as He works all events together.  I realize He alone holds our lives in His hands.  He knows the number of our days.  He ordained each one. He knows the breath in our bodies. He knows the timing of our life and the timing of our death.  He knows the length of our suffering.  He hold our tears in His heart. He is the Redeemer and the Author of our faith. He is our King and Lord, the Father of those who believe in His Name.  He is beautiful.
     There is joy in pain.  There is healing in pain.  And there is growth.  I see that God is in control.  He knows just how long this needs to go on.  He knows what we need.  He speaks through music, through conversations, through tears, through laughter.  And He sees the impact of this experience, of this life, in the broader scope of all things.  We see only a small window, but He sees eternity.
     I long for those who do not yet know the Lord.  What will physical death hold for them?  Fear?  Uncertainty?  Eternal death rather than eternal life, disconnected forever from their Maker.
     Yet, the joy in Christ of knowing that even in death we live. Death is not the end, but a new beginning when we know the Lord. There is peace and joy in the midst of pain.  There is no sting in death.  Death has been defeated.  We live on forever.  Thank you God for the beauty of Your salvation.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Captains Tale: A story of the soul

     I’ve lived my whole life at sea. I ran my ship with precision, seeking the best profit and reward for the ruthless owner. I profited from my job and I adapted to his ways. He sold slaves and ruined lives, all to promote his own interests and advantage. He stole property and raped the land to benefit only himself, but the owner’s success was also my success. He rewarded me well, yet there was a cost that is hard to describe.

     I continually sought meaning in my life, yet the things I received did not seem to satisfy. The owner promised me success, but the joy of this success was fleeting and I found myself seeking wealth and material things, not caring who I hurt in the process. My way conformed to the owner’s way. The owner determined the destiny of my ship and set the course.
     People fears us when we came into port. People who cower and move away, in awe and respect, yet a respect with fear and mistrust.
     Sometimes the owner beat the slaves that ran the ship. Sometimes he hurt me. But always he justified his actions and words, saying the beatings were necessary to get the outcome he desired. The end justified the means, he would say. You will all see this is best in the end, he would say. I was beginning to wonder, yet the course was set. My job was secure and, although I didn’t receive the promised contentment yet, I always thought it was just outside of my grasp. One day I would find it and be content and happy in my life.
     One day, a stranger entered the owner’s office. A fight broke out. The owner would not back down, but the stranger was stronger. He owner was killed. The stranger walked up to me and declared, “I am now the new owner of the ship. Change course, we are setting sail into seas charted by my Father.”
     This man was not like the old owner. His words were hard for me to comprehend. He spoke with such authority. I tried to argue with him as he turned the ship around and headed the opposite direction. I watched as things around me began to change. I became afraid and unsure. My whole world was changing in a moment’s time and the change was drastic.
     He told me to remove the flag with the skull marked the ship and replace it with his banner of love. This owner was kind and loving, but had strength of steel. In the beginning, I mistrusted the new owner; I fought against every command. The owner’s ways didn’t make sense to me. The owner began to revamp the whole ship, outfitting it for a new purpose.
      He commanded me to dump the guns overboard. “What??!!” I exclaimed. “How do we protect ourselves? We are at war!” The owner said, “We don’t need to protect ourselves anymore. We are protected. We do not fight with guns anymore. Get rid of cannon balls also and put in storage units with wheat and dry goods. We will bring food to every port, focusing on life and transformation of the people. This is my Father’s command. He owns the whole fleet.”
     I tried to intimidate the new owner with with my position as captain. I had been in charge of the ship. I accused the owner to his face, trying to get him to follow my path, but he refused. I tried to gain power and return to the system I was trained under. I was comfortable with the old way, even though it was cruel. But the owner stood his ground. He wouldn’t budge. Calmly, without anger or spite, the owner told me, “We will go this way, charting this new course, whether you like it or not. My Father knows the way and His way is right. I do not care how you feel. Your feelings are trained by the old system you lived under. Now you will do what I tell you to do. This way is right, even though you do not yet understand why.”
     As I watched, I realized the new owner was very good to people. I think he actually loves them. He looks to their interests and not just his own. He is kind and he is patient with them, even when they argue with him or steal something he owns. When our ship comes into port, the people no longer shrink back from us in fear. Instead they cheer with gratitude, for wherever we go, he brings light and health to a community. People in the community transforms around him as he declares to them the love of his Father. Health comes to the people.
     The owner’s very essence is light. It’s very foreign and uncomfortable to me, and I feel myself want to pull back from the light. I don’t quite know what to think. I feel afraid and insecure. Everything is different and I don’t know quite what to believe. Yet, the more I watch the owner and understand who he really is, I am finding that my thinking is beginning to change.
     If I argue with the owner saying, “This is not going to work,” he responds with quiet assurance declaring, “My father is in charge, and He does all his work for the good of the whole fleet, working within every ship, moving it toward the perfect destination. He is fully trustworthy.”
     I would sometimes retort, “I’ve been running these ships for many years, you are new. How can you really know the way?” With steel patience velveted in love, the owners said, “The knowledge I’m bringing is ions old. My Father is the wisdom of the ages, and this is where my knowledge is from. Your knowledge is from your experiences; my knowledge is from a well so deep it’s source is unending.” “But,” I cry, “look at the other ships, they are all dressed for war. They will be ready for battle, but we will stand out and be at risk of destruction.”
     “We have a different purpose that is lasting and powerful,” the owner calmly explains. As I listen, the calm assurance of the owner causes me to listen. “Could it be true?” I think to myself.. “Others work for a different purpose, they seek to serve themselves, and their road will leads to destruction not only for themselves but the others they influence. I’ve seen it happen to others and myself. I sought pleasure, but was never satisfied. Now I had a glimpse of something so different, so freeing, that hope kindled within me. The owner’s Father charted a course that brings peace to his people and praise to Himself for he is a good master, full of mercy and love.” I thought hard. Dwelling on the words the owner said and the results his life produced. I found myself believing the owner and realigning myself to our new purpose.”
     As I began to transform, I noticed transformation around me. People began to praise me and thank me for coming to their city, for helping them so much. I had to say, “it’s not really me, it’s the owner and His Father. I live to the purpose of the Father now. He is leading and His way is transforming my life too.” The owner is retraining me by focusing me on the truth of his Father’s words and on the heart of his Father. The owner teaches me to think differently about my purpose, about myself and about how to love others.
     One day, I pulled the owner aside and asked, “Why are you like this?” “I am just the representative of my Father,” he replied, “who is the true owner of all the fleets. He is the king of all the land and He is good king. His heart is full of love for the people. His anger burns against the slavery of their condition, against the evil things they do to themselves and others. His anger burns against the greed of the evil owners of each evil ship. My Father has come to set them free if they will fully surrender to His leadership. My Father has put me in charge of this ship and this ship will obey me as I do the will of my Father. I will not obey you or let you rule this ship any longer. You must now learn to think like me.  You are a slave to me, but you are free and will be made whole as you trust my Father and me. I’m his child. He’s given me this great assignment. What pleases me is when I come back to port and he declares, “Son, I am so pleased with you. Well done.” My Father loves me and I love Him. I have no greater pleasure than to bring Him joy.”