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Made To Soar

Made To Soar

When I visit the zoo, I skip the eagles’ cage. I can’t stand the pain of seeing those majestic birds sit there on their perches day after day, their burnished brown wings draped over them like an ill-fitting old coat. They were created for the heights, to dance among the clouds, not to be prisoners in a cage. Those birds were made to fly.
Many people who profess that they are Christ’s men and women are like those caged eagles. They are made to live as free citizens of heaven, but they are imprisoned by their own sin. Their condition must break God’s heart. He knows what they could become, but they have put themselves in a cage. And the irony is that it is a cage with open doors.
The apostle Paul said that we who have put our trust in Christ have died with Him to the sin that confined us in our old life. And we are now alive in Him. We are not the person we used to be. Therefore, we must stop facing life as we used to face it.
Think long about those truths. Remind yourself of them often. Through Christ, you have been set free! You were never meant to be imprisoned in a cage. Confess your sin and trust God anew. You were made to soar.
Lord, I thank You for salvation,
For Your mercy, full and free;
Take my all in consecration,
Glorify Yourself in me. —Codner, Elizabeth
Christ is the open door out of the cage of sin.

Featured post

Never Too Old

Never Too Old

Look at what some people have accomplished despite advancing age. When Grandma Moses was 100, she was still painting. George Bernard Shaw wrote a play at 94. Arthur Rubinstein gave a great recital at Carnegie Hall when he was 89. And at 82, Winston Churchill wrote A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.
The Bible tells of many godly people who didn’t let the advancing years stop them—Caleb and Moses, for instance. At 85, Caleb (one of the men who had spied out the land of Canaan) entered the Promised Land and drove out the Anakites (Josh. 14:6-15). And Moses continued to lead the people of Israel faithfully until he was 120 (Deut. 34:5-7). The secret of their success was faith in God and an attitude of steadfastness until God called them home.
There are many people who have lived far beyond the 70 years mentioned in Psalm 90:10. They are still bearing “fruit in old age” (Ps. 92:14) by encouraging others and using their energy in God’s service. Others, however, far younger, have decided to coast home.
As long as we have strength, we need to dedicate ourselves to the Lord’s service. Then, no matter what our age, we can “rejoice and be glad.”
Growing old but not retiring,
Lord, the battle still is on;
I’ll go on without relenting
Till the final victory’s won. —Anon.
To stay youthful, stay useful.

Church Is Not Nice

Church Is Not Nice

1 Corinthians 12:27 – Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
Ever get the idea that church doesn’t matter much?
“I go to church,” you say. “That’s nice” is the answer. Nice, as if you confessed a passion for rhododendrons or let on you spent Sundays breeding Irish setters.
Not “nice”, says the apostle Paul: You are the body of Christ.
Church is very different from cutting flowers or breeding dogs. You are nothing less than the body of Christ.
There is a wonderful poem by Teresa of Avila:
Christ has no body now on earth but yours;
yours are the only hands with which he can do his work,
yours are the only feet with which he can go about the world,
yours are the only eyes through which his compassion can shine forth upon a troubled world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Reaching Jerusalem

REACHING JERUSALEM

“They will reach Jerusalem with gladness, singing and shouting for joy”
Isi 35:10.

Scenes of “gladness, singing and shouting” are usually associated with sports events. Huge crowds flock joy when victory is achieved. Often the joy is animated with the help of alcoholic refreshment.
Isaiah was thinking in a much more serious vein when he looked forward to the return of the exiles into Jerusalem, their home, their capital and the city of their God. There would be jubilation and celebration, relief, triumph, happiness and freedom for the returned people. Moreover what they would be shouting about was going to be an act of God.
The great festivals of the Israelite faith all commemorated some act of God in their history. Not some human achievement, nor some military victory, nor some marvellous invention but God’s doings were the stuff of which their faith was made.
It is so with the Christian faith as well. We celebrate God’s gift of his Son to be our Saviour at Advent and Christmas. We commemorate Christ’s sacrifice of himself for our sins on the cross on Good Friday. We rejoice in the mighty act of God in raising Jesus from the dead on Easter Day. And we celebrate the ascension of Jesus and the giving of the Holy Spirit on Ascension Day and Pentecost. These are things to shout about. These are events to sing about. These are the mighty acts of a mighty God. They are worth getting excited about! Our worship does not focus on little exhortations to “be good”, nor on homilies encouraging us to “love a bit more”.
They should be occasions of joyous celebration of God and his acts in Christ.

Becoming

Becoming

Romans 12:9a,10 – Love must be sincere. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.

I just returned from leading a weekend retreat with 10 members of my youth group. I selected the theme of “Becoming” and chose Romans 12 as the scripture passage. Over the course of the weekend, I was invigorated by the sincere desires and earnest dreams that I sensed within my youthful friends.
The theme itself came from the song “Place in this World,” by Michael W. Smith. In the song, he uses the turn of phrase, “And this becoming is harder than it seems.” For so many of our youth, this sentiment is a cold reality. I wonder how much we adults contribute to this reality. How often do we judge our young people by what they wear or how they look instead of seeking to discover the love they hold within them?
One of my youth members, in discussing the weekend afterwards, made the comment that, “the whole weekend, everything, was about love; it’s the only real way to live.” May we all take something from this insightful young man and strive to give to his generation all the love and acceptance that our Christian hearts can muster…because every one of them is special and every one of them needs to hear that message.

The Return Of The Ransomed

THE RETURN OF THE RANSOMED

“The ransomed of the Lord will return”.

There is something deeply moving about someone returning to normal life after enforced exile. In his book “Over But Not Out” the Australian cricketer Richie Benaud described a famous match at Lord’s in London just after the end of World War II. An England XI played an Australian XI, most of the players having served in the forces. Before the war a South Australian called Graham Williams had been a fine fast bowler. He had been shot down over Libya and spent four years in a German prison camp, using the time to teach blinded prisoners Braille, and also Germans blinded in the war. Before the war he had been tall, strong and broad shouldered. He was still tall but now he was thin, gaunt and emaciated. As he stepped onto the field to bat the whole crowd rose to its feet and quietly applauded him all the way to the wicket. Keith Miller described that applause as “almost orchestral in its sound and feeling”.
So deep was the attachment of the Israelites to Jerusalem that the prospect of their return to “Zion, city of our God” was profound and moving. The humiliation they would have suffered would have been deeply hurtful – but their return an occasion for great rejoicing and profound gratitude to God. They were home where they belonged.
When a person repents for having strayed from God or sinned (they usually go together) and that person returns to Christ, then again there is that same sense of homecoming. In fact all Christian believers, especially when they engage in worship and partake of Holy Communion, know that they are the ransomed of the Lord returning to where they belong.

Answers At Your Door

Answers At Your Door

Acts 12:13-14 – Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”
Rhoda goes to answer the door. She is being disturbed from a prayer meeting called for Peter who is in prison. She asks who is at the door and Peter says it is himself. She’s so flustered she goes back to the group to tell them Peter claims to be on the other side of the door but forgets to let Peter in. Is the answer to your prayer knocking at your door and you refuse to let it in?

We are invited to take it to the Lord in prayer, whatever the concern may be, but maybe we don’t follow through. Maybe the next step is to live as though the answer were at our door, just knocking to get in. Maybe we should see ourselves as instruments in the answering of the prayers we bring before God.
Go ahead. Open the door. Peter may be waiting for you.

The Road For The Redeemed

THE ROAD FOR THE REDEEMED

“Only the redeemed will walk there”.
Isa 35:9 NIV

At the corner of the cricket field at Kearsney College near Durban in South Africa stands the pavilion. It is elevated several metres above the field and a flight of steps has been built down to the field, provided by college old boys. It is, however, reserved. Only boys playing in the first cricket eleven are allowed to use those steps. Then, once a year on Remembrance Day (11th November) all the boys form up on the field and walk in single file up the steps, pause at the plaque commemorating boys from the college who were killed in wars, then move on.
The road of holiness the prophet Isaiah saw in his poetic vision of restoration after the exile was a special road too. It would be exclusively for those exiles who had been rescued and redeemed by God. To redeem a slave involved buying him (or her) out of slavery and therefore to release him to freedom. To leave slavery behind and to move to freedom, dignity and responsibility was a huge step forward. God, having redeemed his people from slavery in Egypt centuries earlier was henceforth regarded as the great redeemer God.
Jesus Christ is the Redeemer for Christians. People who put their faith in him enter a life of freedom, dignity, joy and hope. And they walk a road of holiness to God. He (Jesus) is their way, their road, their life, their redemption and their salvation. He is their blessedness and their joy, their reward and their destination. The only “special” thing about the Christians’ road is Jesus himself, and he is not reserved in any way. He is available to all, including you.

The Beauty Beneath

The Beauty Beneath

Psalm 139:23-24 – Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

I recently ran across a framed certificate of recognition that I was given a year or so ago by my congregation for my leadership of the Youth Group. As soon as I turned it over, I remembered why it was stored away in a box rather than hanging on my wall.
You see, after I had received it, I put it in the trunk of my car. When I next saw it, I noticed that the writing had become smeared and I assumed that some water had gotten under the glass and ruined the certificate. At the time, things were not going well with the operation of the Youth Group and the smearing on this once distinguished recognition seemed all too appropriate.
However, now that I’ve run across it again and had a closer look, I realize that the smearing is just some ink on the outside of the glass. The certificate itself is not harmed at all and a little water wiped away the problem. (As a side note, things are running extremely well with the Youth Group now.)
The incident left me to wonder at just how easy it is to focus on the negative smears in our lives and forget the good that we have done. In a society that constantly demands us to be our best, to avoid failure at any cost, it’s too easy to forget the good that God has placed in us as part of his creation. Yes, we are sinful; yes, we make mistakes; but YES we have a heavenly Father that blesses us and walks with us despite our failures.