Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Personalized Look at Psalm 37:1-26

2 Cor. 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Rom. 5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

In Christ, we have become the righteousness of God, because of the cross, because of His grace.  It's by His grace that we have been saved, through faith, it's a gift from God.  Not of our works, so we have no reason to boast.  We have been made righteous because of the work of the one Man, Jesus Christ.  We became righteous through faith in the Son. It's a gift of His grace, not a result of anything we have done.  What an amazing God!
     In light of this reality, I was reading Psalm 37 this morning. Over and over again David, the author of this Psalm, gives commands to God's righteous people. We are the righteous ones and these commands are to us today. He says:

Do not fret because of evil doers.
Do not be envious of workers of iniquity for they shall be cut like the grass.  They will wither.
Trust in the Lord and do good.
Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of you hearts.
Commit your way to the Lord
Trust also in Him
    And He will bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noon day.
Rest in the Lord
Wait patiently for Him
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way...
Cease from anger and forsake wrath
Do not fret -- it only causes harm.

Can you hear the command to abide in God?  Trust, dwell, feed, commit, rest, wait, do not fret, do not be angry.  Trust in God.  Wait patiently for Him.  He is trustworthy, David is saying.  God is faithful and will not let us down. David moves from these commands to promises God gives to His righteous ones. We have been made righteous in Christ and these promises are ours.  As I read through the Psalms, I personalize them to apply to us, His righteous ones. Below, I am going to write parts of Psalm 37:1-26 in a more personalized way:

As we trust in the Lord, doing good, delighting ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts.  (Having given us a new heart in Christ and having made our hearts righteous in Him, we desire what His heart desires.  We desire His will, and His glory. We desire that His kingdom should come.)  As we commit our way to Him, trusting in Him, He will lead us in His way. He will make our righteousness shine and bring justice as bright as the noon day sun.  

As we rest in Him, waiting patiently on Him, not fretting because evil people appear to prosper, we will inherit the earth. The wicked will be cut off and will be no more.  But we, the meek (those bridled and under the reign of God) will inherit the earth and delight ourselves in the abundance of peace.  

The wicked may plot against against us, but the Lord laughs at him.  For He sees his day is coming.  Though the wicked seek to slay the poor and needy and those who have upright conduct, their sword will pierce their own heart and their bows will be broken.  (They will not prevail against us!)

It's better to have the little the righteous has than to have the riches of many wicked people.  For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous. (He upholds us!)

The Lord knows our days and our inheritance will be forever!  We will not be ashamed in the evil time; we will be satisfied even in times of famine. But the wicked and the enemies of the Lord will perish, they will vanish away.

Our steps are ordered by the Lord (the steps of a good man, and we have been made good in Christ!) And the Lord delights in our way.  Though we fall, we shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds us with His hand.  I have been young and now am old, but I have not seen the righteous forsaken nor his descendants begging bread!  (We will not be forsaken by God!)  The righteous one is ever merciful and lends; and his descendants are blessed...

It seems that the power of David's life was in his abiding in and waiting on God. He knew God would come through even if the timing appeared delayed, even if enemies seemed to prosper.  Yet, still David proclaimed faith in God and waited on God.  Our strength is the same as David's.  Our peace is in trust, in abiding in the merciful God who delights in His people, who DELIGHTS IN US!!   He is 
trustworthy!  He will bring about our inheritance and it will last forever and ever. We will not be ashamed.  He will not forsake us or give up on us.  He will bring about all He has promised us in Christ!

What an awesome God we serve!  What an amazing gospel that we should be the righteous ones thanks to the work of the cross!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's totally possible to walk in joy!

Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him,will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."  John 4:13,14

It's totally possible, in this world with all it's problems, to walk in the joy and power of God.  It's possible to walk in victory no matter our circumstances.  It's possible to be thankful when things are hard and don't go our way.  It's possible to have abundant life right while we live in our bodies for this short time God has given us on earth.  In fact, I believe it's our destiny, our right, our inheritance as children of God.

So then why do so many Christians live joyless, struggling lives?  I think part of the reason, if not the whole reason, is that we live by our emotions and our own thinking rather than by the word of God.  We choose to live by sight and emotion rather than faith.  We trust in what we see and feel and form our view of reality based on that, rather than on what God says.  Why would we do that when it means defeat and struggle?  Because what God says is not immediately tangible and it goes against what we see and feel.  It often contradicts the physical reality around us and within our soul.

I lived a joyless, struggling life for years, seeking answers, yet finding none.  Finally when I was about to give up, truth was revealed to me and I believed.  I began to understand that what was within me was new life.  Everlasting life.  And I never have to thirst again.  I have been filled with God and made new in Him.  He is within me and I live within Him. His life flows into my spirit: the new part of me that is whole, holy, clean and pure, 100% of the time.  The work of Jesus on the cross secured my freedom and made me completely new. Completely holy. Completely righteous.  His work is sufficient for me and there is nothing I have to do or could do to improve on His work.  All I need to do is accept it and believe that it's finished!  In this there is incredible joy!

And the praise goes to God!  Not to me and my efforts. Not to a certain Bible study or teacher.  Not to certain methods or ways of praying.  Just to God and what He did in Jesus Christ to set me free. All honour and glory is His. And it's true for all of us who are His. The life within us is Him. The joy within us is Him.  The peace within us is Him.  The love within us is Him.  He is our life and our life is forever joined with His. He is the life force that flows within, filling, leading, teaching and guiding us according to His will for His glory and Name.

It's totally possible to live in joy and peace in this world.  Even in sickness. Even in crisis.  Even when things are going well and we have plenty.  Because our joy is not external. Our joy is a Person who lives within us like living water, a well that never runs dry.  Jesus is the life of the Christian life.  So we fix our eyes on Him. He has authored our faith and now He is perfecting our faith. He is teaching us to believe Him and to live according to His word, not according to the world or our feelings or our views.  We are a created to live according to His view which He reveals through the Spirit of God with in us.  He teaches us the ways and thoughts of God, opening our minds to receive the truth and believe.  So we fix our eyes on things unseen, the eternal words and reality of God. Kingdom reality. The Kingdom we cannot see, but that is greater than anything we can see. The Kingdom that influences all things and reigns over every being, everything of all creation.  All creation moans with longing for the sons of God to be revealed, the reality of the Kingdom to take over and be what it fully is.

One by one, as we believe and walk in the unseen, the power of the unseen impacts the seen world around us.  People's hearts turn toward God as God moves us near them.  He  speaks through us words that ignite their hearts and minds as He draws them to Himself.  Eternity impacting the destiny of generations, as one person after another repents and turns to the only One who can save them.  He stirs up an awareness of sin, of how far we have fallen from His glory.  And reveals the penalty for our sin. We grieve over the cost and we pray for forgiveness, receiving the sacrifice of the One man Jesus, who died to set us free from our sin and bring us to the Father.  And we are made new.  Totally. Completely.  From that moment on and forever.

Never do we have to work for this freedom we have received.  All we need to do is believe and thank the One who set us free.  Who gave His life and conquered the grave for us. Who conquered the evil one for us.  Who conquered the power of sin when He put a new spirit within us and circumcised us away from all sin.  He sealed us with Himself and nothing can touch us now. We are safe. We are secure and whole.  Now our work is to believe Him at His word.

He didn't take us out of the world.  It might have been easier if He had.  But He didn't.  He left us in the world, in our bodies that have a memory of the sinful lives we used to live.  He didn't erase our memories, but tells us to take all thoughts captives  now, into obedience to Christ.  Do not let sin reign that you should obey it in  its lusts.  We fix our  minds on Christ. On His truth. Looking to Him to teach us and reveal what He wants us to know.  We look to Him and we rise on wings like eagles. We walk and we do not grow faint, we run and do not grow weary.  We soar. No matter what our circumstances because the soaring is within our hearts, in the unity we have with the Spirit of God.  We are one with Him and He, amazingly, is one with us.  He flows in and through us, strengthening us, filling us, overflowing through us to the lives of others.

Oh Lord, would You open the eyes of our hearts to know You?  Would You open our minds to receive Your truth and believe You, looking beyond what we see and feel to what is really real and alive within us.  To who we are in You and who You are in us.  We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, but apart from You we can do nothing!  We are joined to You and You are eternal life. Our life is in You, Lord. You will never leave us or forsake us. You cannot. You have joined Yourself to us forever in this infinite plan of redemption. You have purchased us and reconciled us to Yourself, not just for our sake, but for the sake of Your glorious grace. Because You are God and You love us. Because You are good and You made a way to defeat the power of evil and cause good to reign on the earth once again. You are bringing all things back to what You originally intended, one redeemed person at a time.

Help us Lord, to look beyond ourselves and our life struggles. Beyond our families, our jobs, our wants and needs. Beyond our health problems. To look to the eternal plan of eternal life and eternal death.  Give us compassionate hearts to see the lost and dying people around us and to proclaim life to them.  Let us be lights set on a hill, attracting those who need You.  Let us not live for ourselves, but for You and Your glory.  Give us eternal vision to see beyond what we see with our eyes and to see Your glory and Your light!  Let Your living water flow through us into the lives of others who are drowning. They don't even know how desperate they are. They are blind and lost and need someone to show them the way.  Oh, Lord, let us be those people who are on mission with You.  Speak through us Lord and give us boldness to proclaim the mystery of Your plan, what You fulfilled in Your Son.  Be glorified in us.  Let eternity work through us as we love others as ourselves, Lord.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thinking about Suffering

       Walking through this time of sickness (since November 2012) has stirred up many thoughts.  Unanswerable questions.  Why is God allowing this?  Have I done something wrong?  Will He heal me and stop the suffering? What purpose could He have?  Will He use my life again?  And then other questions follow, more philosophical questions:  what is the purpose of life? Is it to be busy doing ministry, reaching out to others with the gospel, being involved in people's lives? Or is it enough to rest in Him, walk through this lesson day by day, loving and enjoying Him in the midst of inactivity and immobility?  Our purpose is to glorify Him, to love Him and accept from His hand what He chooses to give, for whatever reason He might have.  Trusting Him, His unchangeableness.
       God's ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.  Unsearchable. Unfathomable.  Impossible to comprehend unless He chooses to reveal.  The only answer possible is faith.  Trust Me, He says.  Trust my character. Trust my love.  I am a loving Father and I know what I am doing.  I love you.

       Again and again, I am reminded of the solidness of faith. Faith in the unseen, not the seen. Faith in the God who knows the answers, yet chooses to not answer them now.  Faith in the character and solid foundation of God Himself.  He loves me, this I know! He works all things together for my good.   He has a purpose in allowing suffering and a total disruption of my life as I knew it. And it's okay!  God is building my faith, testing it, stretching it, honing it.  Making it more precious than gold.
        A couple days ago, I started reading a book by James Dobson called "When God Doesn't Make Sense".  It's a great book!  Through many illustrations of incomprehensible human suffering, we come face to face with the reality of God and our own human frailty and the questions that plague us.  The unanswerable "whys".    Suffering challenges us and pushes us beyond what we feel to the reality of faith. The reality if hanging on to what is unchangeable and sure.  Hanging onto God Himself, the One who exists and always is, and yet Who we cannot see.  He is the sure foundation, in the midst of the storm of emotion and uncertainty.

Dobson lists four principles regarding God:

1.  God is present and involved in our lives even when He seems deaf or on an extended leave of absence.

2.  God's timing is perfect even when He appears catastrophically late.

3.  For reasons that are impossible to explain, we human beings are incredibly precious to God.

4.  Your arms are too short to box with God. Don't try it!

1.  God is present and involved in our lives even when He seems deaf or on an extended leave of absence.   God is present and involved even when we feel like He isn't!  Every day I have a choice to make, to rely on emotion or to rely on truth.  I find that if I turn, even for a moment, to emotion I flounder. If I turn to truth, I soar.  Emotions are not trustworthy.  They are unstable and constantly changing.  They are fickle and misleading.  Yet how many of us turn to our emotions rather than the word of God?  We do  not "feel" God is present, so we believe He is not present.  His word says "I will never leave you or forsake you."  Jesus said, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  Over and over we hear of God's presence in our lives, watching over our waking and sleeping, intimately acquainted with all of our ways.  He knows our thoughts even before they come to our minds.  He knows us. He is with us. He will never leave us.  So if we feel He is not there,  does that mean He is not there?
      God is with us, no matter what.  No matter what we are going through.  No matter if we understand what we are going through or not. He is with us.  As surely as the branch is connected to the Vine.  We are in Him and He is in us -- FOREVER!  We are one with Him -- ALWAYS.   We don't have to feel this connecting to know it is true.  His word tells us it's true and His word is our anchor, our sure foundation.  Let's cling to it, hold fast to the hope we have in Him.

2.  God's timing is perfect even when He appears catastrophically late.  God's timing is not always the timing we prefer.  We want quick remedies. Quick answers. Quick results.  We would like short or non-existent suffering.  And we would like to understand why suffering is allowed, how long it will last, when it will be over and the purpose of the whole thing.  We would like to have answers and we would like them now.  We want to be healed and can become discouraged if God does not seem to answer.   God's timing is perfect, not matter how it appears to us.

continued another time......

Monday, March 25, 2013

Key 5: Renewing Your Mind

Renewing Your Mind
In Key 4, we learned what we must believe about the Lord and ourselves. In Key 5, we will learn how to live out this freedom in Christ.  Our work in this chapter, and in life, is to believe the word of God and live within it.  Our work is not to try to change ourselves, improve ourselves, or esteem ourselves. The focus is not on ourselves, as much as it is on the One who saved us and the work He did within us.  We focus on the finished work of the cross and the fulfillment of the promises He made to us, which He accomplished in Christ.
Rather than starting from brokenness and asking God to fix you, start from the wholeness of your new spirit and move all your mental faculties to meditate on who we now are in Christ; a work accomplished by His death and resurrection and the miracle of your new birth. (Reading Galatians, 2 Corinthians 5, Ephesians 1-3, Colossians 1-3 helps these truths sink in.) This work of Christ has made you righteous and good, and that is what you are. You are not trying to be good, or trying to be righteous. Accept that God has made you righteous and good and move forward by faith with thanksgiving to the One who saved you and called you for His glory.
  If we are righteous beings, why do we still sin in the flesh?  Doesn’t that make us sinners still?  This question is answered by remembering that identity is formed by birth, not behaviour.  You entered into God’s family through a new birth, not because you did something good to deserve it.  You were dead in your sin and He made you alive. He conveyed you out of darkness and into the kingdom of His Son.  Your identity is set.  You are His.
God designed you as triune beings, with a spirit, a soul, and a body. Your spirit has been made completely righteous and holy by and before God. You are righteous. Fully. There is nothing you have to do and nothing you could do to become more righteous than you are.  God accomplished this through Christ and you have been given His righteousness as a gift of His grace. This is the good news of the gospel. This is who you really are in Christ, and who we all are as His children. As you choose to believe this truth, your soul and body transform; as you believe, your thinking and your behaviour will express the work of God within your spirit.
You have been saved by God, but you are also being saved by Him still.  Salvation means more than our rescue from sin and the wrath of God, though it includes both. Salvation means being made whole. God began His work in your spirit, in the inner core of who you are. He made your spirit whole and sealed it with His Spirit.  He will deliver you to Himself complete. You are saved. You are whole. Your spirit has entered eternity and dwells with God in perfection at all times. Your spirit has received the righteousness of Christ and all the law is fulfilled within it.
Your soul and body were not “saved,” but are being saved.    This is the process the Bible calls sanctification, meaning set apart to God or made holy. You are sanctified, in your spirit, and you are being sanctified.  You are holy in your spirit, and you are being made holy in our soul and body.  You are saved, and you are being saved. You are whole, and God is making you whole throughout your whole being, spirit, soul, and body.
Your soul and body still have sin dwelling within them and must be transformed.  The sin within your soul and body is what the Bible calls “flesh.”  The flesh contains habitual thought patterns of the world that remain in your soul. These thought patterns must be replaced with the truth of the new reality of your spirit.
Transformation happens as you renew your mind with the truth of God’s word and believe that word.  Transformation does not happen when you try to transform or change, but when you accept the change that has already taken place.  Begin from wholeness, not brokenness. Beginning at brokenness assumes the work of God is not complete or sufficient, that you must do something to get healed or whole.  Instead, begin at God’s word and His estimation of you. Accept what He says because He is always right. He knows what He has done in you. Right knowledge leads to right belief, which leads the experience of victory and freedom in our lives. Change and growth in your Christian life occurs as you choose to believe the truth of the gospel and live within this truth by putting your full weight upon the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross and in who you now are in Him.
As we live out our new creation life by faith, the life within us will transform into our outer life. The struggle we often face deals with the apparent inconsistency we see with what God says about us in His Word, and our thought life and our experience. He says we are holy, yet ungodly thoughts still come through our minds and we still sin in the flesh sometimes. God says we are new, yet we still think and do things the old way sometimes.  It’s important to remember that the inconsistency we see has to do with maturity, not essence.  Your essence is holy and set apart to God as His new creation made in Christ. You have been made new. The old is gone.  This is the real essence of who you are. This is your identity forever as His child, but you are not perfectly mature in all of your ways yet.  You must learn and grow. Change comes by believing and living within the transformation God has accomplished, not in trying to change. 
To our earthly way of understanding, this way of the spirit doesn't make sense.  Shouldn't there be something more we should do to change ourselves?  We are not trying to change ourselves because at the core we are new. We are seeking to believe and live within the change God has made.  We move from wholeness to walk with God, not from brokenness.  We move from truth, not our feelings about the truth.  As we focus our minds to the truth of His word, abiding within it and believing it with our heart, the thinking in our soul transforms and our behaviours will respond to the truth we believe. Our behaviours will begin to change and match who we are in the spirit. And these behaviours will be natural to our spirit.  It won’t be hard to change once we believe the change has taken place already.
I say then: Walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.[1] Walking in the spirit means walking out who we really are by resting our full faith and assurance in the finished work God did within us in Christ. Apostle Paul is essentially saying, “Be who you really are in Christ.”  We cannot try to be holy.  We are holy, and we desire live holy lives.  We cannot try to be righteous, as a religion might imply. We have been made righteous by Christ, and we desire to live as the righteous beings we are. 
The order of this command is important. When we walk in the spirit, we will not carry out the lusts of the flesh. Walking in the spirit comes first, behaviour follows. Walking in the spirit means the same as abiding or walking by faith.  It means fully agreeing with what God says and living it out.  What He says does not always line up with our emotions, our sight or our experience at first.  In fact, His word can seem like foolishness to our soul.  As your soul accepts the reality that you are indeed new, you will begin to experience the newness of your spirit.  The feeling of walking in the spirit will follow your belief.  You will have joy and peace, and you will stop trying to change.  You will know you have been changed by God and you will have rest in your spirit. 
We always live out what we truly believe.  Our behaviour and attitudes expose our core beliefs.  This is why Jesus said to watch the fruit.  Fruit does not lie.  If you say you are new, but are still trying to make yourself better, you do not really believe you are new.  Admit and face what you actually believe. Be honest with yourself and others.  It’s not a shame to not believe everything the Bible teaches. No one believes everything in the Bible from their heart.  How do we know?  Because if we did, we would walk exactly like Jesus walked all the time!  He believed God at every point, in every way, perfectly and walking in power and light totally.  The shame would be to pretend that we do believe when we really do not. When we pretend or try to fake it, we fail to grow because pride stops us from admitting the truth.  Maybe we feel like we should know or should be something we are not, especially if we have been a Christian or in the church a long time.  It’s embarrassing to admit that we are not what we think we should be.  We can begin to look to what others think of us, rather than being more concerned about God growing us up in Him.  Admitting where we need to grow is part of the learning process, and healthy. Realizing weak areas in our faith compels us to talk to God about them and seek answers in His word as He teaches us and reveals more. It’s a blessing to become aware of areas we need to grow in faith.  And how do we acquire more faith?  Through hearing His word.
Jesus said “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”[1]  The Christian life is not designed to be hard. It is impossible in our own effort, when we walk after the flesh, but it’s not designed to be hard in the spirit. It’s designed to be easy and light if a person truly believes or rests in the Son. If the process seems hard to you and like a heavy burden, you are trying to change yourself, instead of believing and resting in the finished work of Christ in you.  Reading Galatians through a few times may help you understand.  Paul asked the question of the Galatian church:  Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by faith?  And do you continue in the Christian life by the works of the law or by faith? We are not the only ones who struggle with this question.  The early believers 2000 years ago struggled too.  We are created to walk in the spirit.  When we walk in the spirit, we live by faith alone, trusting the Lord that He has saved us, and is living out that salvation within us for all to see.
When God told us that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, He wasn't kidding.  To the earthly mind of the soul, walking in the spirit seems backwards and feels wrong.  It seems illogical and feels uncomfortable to our soul.  Your soul wants to argue with it and recount all the reasons why you must still change yourself.  Your soul sees its own struggle and knows it is not fully transformed.  It wants you to identify with it, protect it, and work on it until it becomes the focus of your life, making you self-centred and self-absorbed.  Your soul wants to still have a life of its own and reign over the new you.  Your job is to not allow that to happen. The way you do this is by abiding in the truth of God’s word as He reveals and teaches it to you through the Spirit of God within your spirit. You wait on the Lord. He will teach you as you read His word.  He will show you the way and give you understanding. He has promised to do this, and He will do it.
What God says is true, even though it doesn't make sense to the soul at first. Remember Key 1?  Realizing God is who He is.  He is God and He gives correct information about Himself. It won’t make sense to your soul at first because your soul was trained by the earth. Your job is to retrain your soul as the Lord teaches you His truth and ways. Your soul must submit to you, not the other way around, because God defines your new creation reality and you must accept His definition as true.  The kingdom of God is your new reality.  Christ is your new home.
Though you were dead in your sin, He made you alive.  Though you were sick, He made you well.  Though you were broken, He bound up your broken heart by giving you a new one. Though you were captive to sin, He set you free and you are captive no longer. You are free.  You have been fixed, made new and clean by God.  You no longer need fixing. This is the reality and miracle of the Christian life.  You are His. Now all you need to do is grow up into Christ and that takes time and experiences that test your faith. You grow up into your identity, understanding more and more fully you He is and who you are in Him as you grow. You will begin to express who you are more and more, as He conforms you into the image of His Son.
God does not want you to spend your Christian life trying to fix yourself. He wants you to get on board with Him, on His mission, trusting and believing Him that the work He did in you and will continue to do in you is sufficient. God did not give you spiritual health for your sake alone. He did this for the Kingdom and the sake of His Name. If you are not healthy in your walk as a Christian, you will not have a voice for the Kingdom, and you will not be able to make disciples who are healthy This was the problem of the shepherds of ancient Israel. All they did was focus on themselves, trying to acquire for themselves and improve their lives.  They did not do the task God prepared for them to do.
When the Israelites failed to live godly lives among the nations, as we saw in Ezekiel 36, the surrounding peoples or nations did not desire to seek after God.  If we, as Christians, look just like non-Christians in the world, no one will seek after God because they will see no difference.  When people see non-sickness and people who fully function in a dysfunctional world, people praise God because they recognize what a miracle it really is!  It’s impossible apart from God!  Even non-believers recognize that.  As God heals the spirit of a human, people move to worship Him. 
Because of Israel’s disobedience, God made those astounding promises through prophets, promising to create a new humanity, a new Israel.  We are living within the fulfillment of these promises. “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”[2]  We are this new humanity.  All He asks us to do is believe Him. He will do the rest. He wants us to be who we truly are as His holy children of light. If we know who we are, we will desire to live godly lives among the people He has placed us, so they might come to know Him and be saved. How do we know?  Because the new heart He gave us only desires what God desires and He desires that no person should perish, but that all should be saved.  He loves us!!
If we are holy beings, then why do we still sin in the flesh? How do we function as Christians, with a new spirit, but with a soul and body that still are influenced by sin?  The answer is faith. Even though you are healthy, your soul can still choose to live in an unhealthy manner, if you allow it to do so. God made your spirit healthy and perfect in Him. Your spirit has been cut away from soul and body through the circumcision of Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit, so no sin can enter it.
Your soul has not been transformed yet.  Your soul houses your mind, will and emotions.  Think of your soul as the connector between your spirit and body.  With your soul you can choose to walk in the flesh or the spirit. Your body will obey what you believe at the soul level.  If your soul does not believe truth, it will do what it really believes.  If your soul believes the word of God, you will walk in it. But if your soul believes a lie, you will walk in the lie.  Your body will follow what you really believe at the soul level.
When the Bible speaks of the “flesh” it is referring to the independence or sin that still resides in your soul and body. Your spirit has been cut away from the sin in the flesh.  And your spirit has been sealed by God. So sin cannot touch your spirit ever, but it still seeks to influence your soul.  Think of the flesh like the grave clothes on Lazarus.  The cloths wrapping him are external to Lazarus, but they are still there and need to come off because they are hindering the newly resurrected man from living out this new life.  He has to be unwrapped and let go. 
In a similar way, your spirit must be unwrapped from the grave clothes that hinder it.  The unwrapping process is the renewing of your mind, and this is accomplished with truth.  The truth will set you free. From what?  From lies that seek to keep you walking in the captivity you once lived.  Believer, the flesh is not you.  But flesh is there with you and it lusts against you.  It seeks to rule over you. But it has no power over you any longer. You do not have to obey it’s lusts. In fact, you are commanded not to obey it.
You have overcome the flesh in Christ.  Your job is not to focus on the flesh and fleshly thoughts or lusts, but to focus on the truth of God’s word and abide in it.  Jesus commands us to abide in His word, and then we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. How will we know the truth?  He will teach us. This is what a living disciple is all about. Learning from Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit within us.  We are always going to learners. We will always need Him to teach us. We will never be to the point where truth will emanate from us as if we are the source.  Jesus is the truth. He is the source and will always be the source.  We are vessels through which He lives and reigns.  We need God, always and forever.  He will teach us, and the truth will set us free.  He never commands us to try to get free. Knowing the truth is deeper than intellectual agreement with knowledge. It’s the knowing of the heart. This knowing transforms our soul.
You have a whole new system called righteousness working within you in your spirit. Your spirit dwells in the unseen world where God is. Your spirit is always seated in the spiritual realm in God and receives commands from God. This is why your walk as a Christian is by faith. You cannot see God, yet you must live according to His will. To do this, you must listen to God and learn from Him, receiving food from Him through His Word. As you talk with God you will learn from Him.
You grow in faith as you fill yourself up with the word of God and believe what it says about you and your God.  You are learning to live as a whole being by faith alone, not by sight.  Your senses and experiences must all be filtered through the word of God. Your mind, will and emotions, which reside in your soul, have been aligned and trained by the world system. Throughout the years, this training has come through parents, schools, friends, TV programs, books, and a wide variety of sources all claiming that their view of reality is the truth.
As a new creation in Christ, you have come to know that only Jesus can define your reality and the reality of His created beings. You must now look at sight and senses in a new way. Sight and senses will try to deceive your true self and keep you focused on earthly things. Jesus said to fix your mind on the things above where He is.  He says to listen to His word. The word of God becomes a filter for your mind, filtering everything you see, hear and experience through God’s truth.
God has given each of His believers the gift of His Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit walks beside and within your spirit instructing and guiding you in truth. He continuously works from within you, giving you wisdom and understanding for the work He has prepared you to do.  He knows that you have been made new at the core, in your spirit, and wants you to live that reality out according to His will. God gifted you with the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit, so you can understand His ways and thinking.
What happens if you do sin? When you sin, this sin does not touch or defile your spirit. You are His child, born from above. You are in a permanent relationship with Him; He is your Father and you are His child.  Your spirit is sealed by the Holy Spirit and cannot become independent again. The Holy Spirit will you and will deliver you intact and blameless to the Father. This is the Holy Spirit’s job.
As a believer, sin does not cause you to lose your identity as His child.  Your identity was formed by your new birth, not by your behaviour and it cannot be lost by your behaviour. Just as your physical birth to your earthly parents doesn't change your identity as their child when you sin against them, your new birth cannot be undone because you sin. You do not lose your salvation. What is affected by sin is your fellowship with God. Your sin hurts God. It grieves His Spirit within you. You feel the conviction and correction of God until you submit to His rule in you.  This is evidence you are His.  So you repent. You  turn from walking in the flesh and you admit it to God.  He already knows, by the way. You admit you were believing a lie and you choose to now walk in truth.  You apologize to your heavenly Father and accept that you are forgiven.  He may correct you. He corrects His children. If God does not correct you, you are not His.  He will discipline you, teach you and move you into submission to Himself, much like the wild stallion we talked about in Key 4.  God will humble you until you and He ride together in the oneness, without any resistance.  In this oneness, there is joy and power as He works out His purposes on earth through your life.

[1] Matthew 11:30

[1] Galatians 5:16 (author’s interpretation).  Author’s Note: As Greek scholars realize, the capitalization of the words  is subject to the translator’s interpretation, since in the Greek language capitals are not used.  In this particular context of Galatians 5, we look at the context of this passage and it appears that Paul is talking about the spirit God has given a human being.  In this context, ‘spirit’ it appears that a small “s” for spirit is more contextually appropriate than a large “S” which would mean the Holy Spirit because Paul is discussing the spirit of a human being.  Our spirit is one with the Holy Spirit, and our spirit wars against the flesh.  The fruit of the Spirit of God is given to our spirit as a gift.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Awaken us, O God!

Do you desire to know God more deeply?  Do you desire to live a life that is passionate and alive and fruitful with the power of God?   Cry out to the God who can make this possible. He said He is a rewarder of all who call on Him in faith.  He said if you seek Me with your whole heart, I will be found by you.  He will allow you to find Him. He will allow me to find Him.  And when we do, He reveals His thoughts and heart in beautiful, challenging, timeless ways.  We enter into the experience of the holiest of holies where we live. We abide.

Oh God, stir within us, your church, through your Spirit.  Awaken our hearts and minds to seek you with all we are.  Enable us to hunger and thirst for righteousness and to be filled with your mercy for the lostness of lives around us.  Oh God, stir our hearts to beat like your heart.  Revive your church, God. Revive us. So we care less about what we have and do, than about who we are in you and obeying you.  Oh God, may be risk our lives for your sake, as the Apostle Paul.  Give us boldness and clarity in your message to stand firm on your gospel, revealed by your Spirit to our spirit.  

Oh God, there is one church.  One people who are the new creation you have made in Christ.  There are not many peoples, just one people, the people of God, born of the Spirit of God.  Oh God, you have made us one and we are one in Christ.  What momentum and power there would be if we walked together as one, in one mind, one Spirit, on baptism as your people.  Oh God, awaken us to be who we are.  Open our ears to hear your voice and to obey the call to live by faith.

Your heart beats to see the salvation of all those who will come to you in faith.  You desire that all people would be saved God.  And you call us to proclaim your truth, your gospel.  You will set people free from the power of sin and death and transfer them into your kingdom. You bring the dead to life, and enable them to enter eternal life in You.  O God, you are great and good.  Slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness.  Thank you for your mercy and grace.  Open our eyes to stand up in you and obey you as you lead us out into the world with your message.  Make us bold, God.  Help us see clearly, laying aside all worldliness and accept only the holy life of a saint of Christ!

The power of the gospel: Salvation Army beginnings

God has allowed that I should be sick for these past four months. As I have been resting, I have been reading some biographies.  One I am just finishing is on the life of William Booth.  What struck me is that his ministry was focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It seems obvious, but in light of the social ministry of Salvation Army today, it wasn't clear in my mind how it all started.  William Booth was convinced that people could be totally sanctified,, spirit, body and soul. That they could dwell in the peace and power of God when they fully surrender to Him.  I believe He was talking and teaching about abiding in Christ and being who we truly are.  Of living holy lives because we have been made holy by God.  He focused on living out the new creation life in Christ!

The gospel he preached was powerful! Thousands of people came to Christ through his ministry and he called them to live as soldiers of Christ.  His meetings were gospel centered throughout most of his ministry until the ending years when he began to move more into housing people and meeting physical needs.  Whole cities throughout England were impacted by the movement of God through William Booth.  Crime dropped.  Police forces were not needed as much in many parts of England.  Eventually, opposition arose from the alcohol industry because they were losing business because of the radically changed lives of the poor.  City officials who were corrupt began to fight against Booth and his teams.  The persecuted the saints, but the revival just continued and grew.

Booth centred his work on the leadership of God and refused to give leadership to a man.  He refused to accept money that sought to control the work of God.  He chose to suffer hardship rather than compromise.

What would happen today if we had this same zeal for the gospel?  If we chose not to compromise even though the message we proclaim is not politically correct?  Even if it mean persecution and reviling at the hands of people who oppose it?  What is we proclaimed the beauty and fullness of the gospel, trusting that it is the power of God to all who believe, no matter who they are or what level of society they are in?  What if a wave of salvation passed over the country, through Canada, the US, and into the world?  What if so many people were transformed that the society would notice and the gambling halls and bar would lose business?

What would it take?  Who would we need to be to see this happen? To obey the passion of God within us that cries out for the salvation of mankind through faith in the death and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ?  The simplicity and power of the gospel.  The gospel that is sufficient to transform lives.  Just Jesus. Just His truth and complete surrender to Him in all and every way.  Denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him?  Knowing that we have been crucified in Him, and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. And the life we life we live to Him.

May we see revival come in the hearts of God's children. May our hearts accept the truth of who we truly are and understand the peace that passes all comprehension in the kingdom of God where we reign in Christ.  May the spiritual eyes of our understanding be enlightened to know the hope to which we are called.  The power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.  Teach us Lord Jesus. Open our eyes, Holy Spirit.  Lead us Father God into your heart.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Creating Passion

I am more and more convinced that clear doctrine creates passion.

When we know what to believe, and the knowledge we have received is from God through His word, spoken by His Spirit into ours, that knowledge, that truth, sets us free.  For years, I did not understand the gospel.  I thought I did and I tried to live with the understanding I had.  But that understanding did not produce the fruit of righteousness throughout my life.  I still wavered and strove to find something more. Something I felt was still missing.

I wanted abundant life in Christ.  The enemy came to steal from me, and to kill and destroy.  I wanted to have the life that was filled with the living water poured into me through Jesus Christ.  I wanted more than survival and mediocrity. I wanted passion and power to live victoriously and to help others do the same.  But I could only help others get to the level I was at.  And I was struggling.

When I began to cry out to God for understanding, and surrendered myself to listen to Him, He began to reveal His word in ways I had never known.  When I finally had ears to hear what the Spirit was saying, God opened my eyes to see His beauty in new ways.  I began to comprehend the  mystery of the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. The gospel, when believed, transforms life. Not only does it transform life, but it becomes the reality we live within at all times because through the gospel we enter into Christ and Christ enters into us.

We become one with the One was saved our souls.  We become one with God, because the fullness of God is in Christ and He is us and we are in Him.  All we need has been given. This is the reality of the gospel, and the new creation in Christ.  All the work is done for our salvation.  We have received all we need in the fullness.

When I finally understood, that God has made me righteous in Christ, not because of any "good" works of my own, but because of the perfect work of the cross and the resurrection, I ceased striving.  I accepted the word of God as true and rested within it, knowing that God had accomplished for me, for us, what I could never accomplish. He had made me holy and set me apart for Him forever. And nothing could change that.  He had made me new, and there was nothing needed to improve me any longer.  Yes, there is growing to do, but my identity was sealed by Him in my new birth.  My identity as His child, as a being who was made new and is holy and undefiled. Someone who is clean and pure and joined to Him forever.

I have been justified by God, by faith in His Son.  And I, along with all of God's new creation, have been made righteous because I have received as a gift the righteousness of His Son, who fulfilled all righteousness through His live, death and the power of His resurrection.  He fulfilled the law and the prophets, every jot and tittle.  He walked out life as it should have been in perfect obedience to the Father, fulfilling all that was required. And then He offered His perfect life, willingly laying it down for the sake of us all.  He fulfilled the wrath of God and judgement of death against us, taking all of our sin into Himself, and dying in our place under the wrath of Almighty God.  But death could not hold Him, for He had no sin of His own.  God raised Him from the dead and He is alive.  And we are alive in Him.

Once I accepted the truth of His gospel and stopped trying to reason it away because of emotions or experience, I began to experience the reality of the truth and lived free.  I ceased striving and I knew that He was God.  That He would be exalted in all the earth.  And I began to live within the reality of the new creation life in Christ that He made.  What joy there is in His presence!  What peace and power!  Not a power of our own, but His power flowing in and through His people to the praise of His glory and grace.  His work was and is sufficient for us as His people.

May we give up our intellectual reasoning and sit and listen to Him, to hear His heart and His reasoning through His Spirit within us.  To accept Him at His word and wait upon Him as He reveals to us what it really means.  He rewards those who persevere in seeking Him.  He willingly gives wisdom to those who ask Him in faith.  He gladly reveals to those who will listen to His voice and not trample underfoot the pearls He gives.  What a precious gifts to receive a pearl from God, to hear His heart in new and delightful ways.  What joy in knowing Him more deeply and understanding His thoughts just a little bit more.

I'm convinced that clear doctrine created passion and a solid, victorious life as a Christian.  If our lives are not solid, it may be wise to reconsider what we have believed.  The problem is not with God and what He has designed, the problem may very well be how we have perceived Him and His design.

Romans 6:5,6  For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Galatians 2:20,21  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

2 Corinthians 5:17  17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Reflecting on Suffering

I don't have words of my own yet. I'm still processing sickness and suffering, having been sick now for two months without much improvement.  I have a long term autoimmune illness and am having to take pretty strong medication with unpleasant side effects.  And I am contemplating what  good God will bring out of this time He is leading me through.  I know He is good and that He is allowing this time.  I'm so thankful for lessons He has taught me over the past few years. I'm not sure how I would be responding without those lessons.  I think I probably would be mad at Him and question Him, wondering what He is doing and why He is allowing this.  I have wondered why.  I'm not sure I will know yet.  But I do know that God is good and He loves me.  And so I'm learning to trust Him again in a new way.  These two months have been a challenge, but I believe  He is taking me through this to teach me something more.
      As I've been resting, I have been listening to various people on Youtube. People who have endured great suffering and walked through in victory and growth.  Joni Eareckson Tada is someone I have particularly enjoyed listening to. A friend lent me Joni's book called Joni. I've been encouraged as I read her book.  She wrote more than 30 years ago.
     Since I am few on words right now, I want to write down Joni's words that touched me as I read this evening.  Hope they are encouraging to you in some way, as they were with me.  Joni is a quadriplegic  unable to move anything below her shoulders.  She has been through incredible suffering, and God has proven faithful even when He allowed more suffering on top of suffering.  After a disappointing break up with a man she thought she would marry, Joni writes:

      "During the fall of 1972, I began to have serious questions about my future, 'Lord,' i asked, 'if not college, if not Donald, then what? What do You have for me?"'    I believed that if God took something away from me, He would always replace it with something better.  My experience has taught me this as I relied on the sovereignty of God.  'Delight thyself in God,' the psalmist said, 'trust n His way.' As I did so, I became easier to express true gratitude for what He brought into my life -- good as well as suffering.
     "The suffering and pain of the past few years had been the ingredients that has helped me mature emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  I felt confident and independent, trusting in the Lord for my physical and emotional needs.
     "Pain and suffering have purpose.  We don't always see this clearly.  The apostle Paul suffered for Christ  His experience included imprisonment, beatings, stonings, shipwreck and some physical 'thorn in the flesh.'  The blessing of suffering is, as J.B. Phillips interprets Romans 5:3-5, '...we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles.  Taken in the right spirit, these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us.'     I believed He was working in my life to create grace and wisdom out of  the the chaos of pain and depression."

--excerpt from Joni, by Joni Eareckson, 1976, pp.189,190

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Goal of Abiding

The goal of abiding is to know God and make Him known, not do a work for God.  When we say things like “I’m doing this for God,” or “I’m doing this ministry for God,” we are thinking that God is outside of us and we are going to do something for Him, to hand something to Him.  Believer, there is nothing you can do that is pure enough for God to want from you. He wants nothing that originates from us. Our righteousness is filthy rags to God. He only accepts His work through us.  This is why abiding is essential to the Christian life.  I might take it even farther and say that abiding is the Christian life.
We cannot work for God, but we can work with God, knowing that it’s His doing through us that is acceptable to Him. Most religious people want to work for God, not know God.  Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”[1] In knowing God, we love God. In loving God, we obey God, knowing His will is the only will that matters.  

Someone once said, “Love God and do whatever you want.” What do you think this phrase means for a person abiding in Christ?

This question can best be answered by the vantage point of your identity. If you truly love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, you will want only what He wants. This is why Jesus says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”[2] What do you want? The answer depends upon who you are.
Who are you? If you are a new creation in Christ, a righteous being, you want what He wants. You have His desires. You delight in His law. You have His mind, the mind of Christ. You hunger for Him and His righteousness. This is who you are. 
You are made to love Him and abide in Him. You want to listen to Him, spend time with Him, and bring Him pleasure. This is who you are. You delight to do what He says because you want to know Him, and you know that He always knows what is best for you. So you trust Him and depend upon Him, even when He brings you through difficult times that hurt or challenge you, forcing you to grow.  God often uncovers areas within your soul that are clinging to lies, and He challenges those areas, inflicting “pain” on your soul to reveal the lie.  As He reveals the lie, He leads you to truth and, as you believe the truth in that situation, you are set free from the lie that held you captive to do its will. 
Emotions are a part of life.  They often indicate whether we are abiding or not.  We look to our goal to help us see what we really desire:  Do we want God glorified, or self? When we feel unrighteous anger, it comes from having one of our goals blocked. People who abide are not known as angry people, because they don’t have goals that really can be blocked. Their goal is to honour God. This goal cannot be accomplished by the anger of man, but by the love of God through man. The anger of man does not fulfill the righteousness of God.
We see that Jesus always abided with the Father, yet He become angry, four times. What if the person who is abiding has a right to anger? Each time we see Jesus’ anger, it is when people do not want the Father glorified. They want self-glorification. Jesus exposes that heart and deals with the issues until His Father becomes glorified, as we see when He cleaned out the temple with a whip and when He mended a man’s crippled hand.
People who abide accomplish a lot effortlessly. Others see it and wonder, “How do you get so much done?” It’s much like wheat falling to the ground. When the wheat dies, with the seed breaking apart in the soil, it produces life, some 30, 60, 100-fold. God decides how effective we will be. As we abide in Him, we are pleased with whatever that is. We are not trying to become rich or famous or powerful, though we may become rich or famous or powerful. Our motive is obedience, love, joy, building up the body of Christ with no thought of return.
Abiders are powerful people, but not forceful. They are powerful because they are resting in the finished work of Christ, fully confident that He will perfect the good work in and through them. The power is from God, working through His people according to His perfect will. God sets the agenda and the schedule, and it fluctuates one day to the next.  One day it will seem like abiders are not doing very much. The next day they will get a year’s work done. Consider the story of the man who had an employee with his feet up on the desk. The other employees came and told the boss that the man was slacking at his work. The boss said, “The last time Joe put his feet on the desk he saved a million and a half dollars. Joe can keep his feet up for as long as he wants.” That’s an abiding person. 
The hardest work of person is thinking, not doing. So abiders think.  “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”[3]  Abiders think and meditate on words, thoughts, and ideas — without action.  They seek the mind of Christ to show them what true Reality is, from God’s vantage point, not the earth’s. This is how abiders live. Then an opportunity is presented to them by faith, and the abider is ready. He or she says the right words and does the right things effortlessly and may not even know the impact their words and actions are having on others. People will say, “The Lord has spoken through you.” Or “The Lord really helped me through you.”
People will talk about the abider, without him or her even knowing the impact they have had, because it’s not really about the abider, it’s about the Lord working through the abider to bring glory to Himself and His Name. Jesus said, “They will see your good works and glorify the Father.”[4] God uses the lives of those who wait on the Lord, rest on the Lord, fully abandon any thought but the Lord’s;  He uses those who think the thoughts of God, those who have no agenda but glorification of God. “They will mount up with wings like eagles.”[5] They will do things that take a great effort, without seeming to give much effort.  They soar. They run and do not get weary.  They walk on water, for this is where God walks. This is normal Christianity.  Abiding is supernatural, not natural.  Flesh is natural, not supernatural.  Maturity is growing up into the supernatural, being the supernatural being you are in Christ.  
If Christianity is too hard for you, you are trying to do too much — trying to be a Christian, trying to behave right, trying to do the will of God. Stop. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”[6]
The hardest thing to teach people is to abide, because we want to be human doings rather than human beings. People want to produce with their hands instead of their hearts. They want to see the production instead of knowing the production has been dealt with by God. They want the praise and rewards.  Jesus said that if people praise you on earth, you have received your reward.  If your Father praises you, even for work unseen by others, you have a reward that remains in heaven, because you allowed the Father to work through you as a vessel of His glory and grace. 

Abiders always work, but never work. Always do, but never do. Jesus said this: “My Father is always working,” yet Jesus seemed to have time to talk to sinners and the lost, to feed the poor, and to heal the sick, with little stress and lots of love.  At the end of His ministry on earth, Jesus said He did nothing.  It was the Father doing through Him.  All glory went to the Father and the Father gave glory to the Son.  Jesus glorified the Father by walking in perfect faith, perfect trust, perfect obedience and perfect love.  He was the perfect Abider, and we are being conformed to His image, to be abiders in God, spiritual beings born from God, who live in a body made for earth, that God might reconcile the world back to Himself through His saints.
Remember, God did not save you for you.  He is not transforming you for you.  He is not fixing your life for you.  He is working out His will on earth and you get to be a part of that.  Don’t try to do. Just love and you will do greater things than you ever imagined, and you will know it is not your doing, but His in and through you. You will not touch His glory, but you will give Him all praise and all glory, pointing to Him alone as the author of your faith and your salvation. 
The experience of abiding is found when we abide in the Word of God, reading the Scriptures, but not for the sake of being wise or to do something, but really just to enjoy God and know Him. Sadly, intimacy with God can seem too slow for us. We want God to do something instead of be Someone. So our prayers become prayers to do. An abider’s prayers becomes the prayers of a child to a Father — prayer to enjoy, to honour, to experience life with, to work with, not to give orders to a great God or make God a servant of man.
This is the main difference between non-abiders and abiders. Non-abiders want God to be the servant, while the abiders are happy with God being God and themselves being servants. As a matter of fact, abiders can see it no other way. They are repulsed at any other conclusion. They desire the God of love, mercy, and kindness. They desire Him to be their counsellor, teacher, lover and friend, and they don’t rise up saying they are those things. They willingly yield all of their life, knowing that God is at the top and they dependent upon Him.  And they love it this dependence.

[1] John 17:3
[2] John 15:7
[3] Colossians 3:2,3
[4] Matthew 5:16
[5] Isaiah 40:31
[6] Matthew 11:30