My Covid Response

Featured

It has taken me awhile to sit down and write about this Covid-19. Although I have more time on my hands, I always write out of lessons God has walked me through. I write when I feel freedom and clarity to share the lessons I have internalized. I also wait until I get a sense it is the time to share those thoughts with the world. Social Media is my medium for more spontaneous revelation in these days (of which God is sharing in abundance!).

There are two thoughts that keep swirling around in my head. They have become the focus of a lot of phone and video conversations. The first is that this time came as no surprise to God. He has been aware of this moment and season for all of us as individuals, as a society (global and local) and as the church. He has a grace for this moment to usher us into what he has planned for this time. The second thought is that I do not want this season to pass us before we experience the good things he has for us.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.

Isaiah 40:27-28

This thought that “God is not surprised” brings me such peace. His view is not linear like ours. That is why we can receive prophetic words from him. He shares with us in part as a preparation, but he sees in full. There is no death, job loss, financial crisis, gift, or victory that surprises him. He is sufficient in all of these situations. He is prepared to supply all that I need in any situation. He is sufficient and blessing us in this moment we are in. What he asks is for us to call upon his name and ask for him to provide what we need.

This crisis is doing something extraordinary. It is pulling away those things in this world we cling to for support. Our health, our wealth, our friends and family, our ability to travel and yes, our independence (maybe read back to my last blog). It is revealing the things we think bring freedom and happiness and exposing them as fraudulent. Even movies and TV shows aren’t calming people or giving them life.

There is a beauty in this moment that is stripping away the things that take the place of God in our lives. Those idols we cling to are being shown as worthless and lifeless at this time. Realizing God knew this was coming leads to the beautiful revelation he is ready to take on being God in this moment. As all of those other things aren’t able to provide in this moment, God is. As all of those other things can’t silence the fear, God can bring peace. As all of those idols give no clarity on the future, God brings hope. As all of our healthcare systems are overburdened, God is still our healer, and our future can be secure with the knowledge that eternity is with Jesus!

He is prepared to be the place we turn to.

I have been spending the majority of my scripture time in the story of Moses from the point of the plagues in Egypt to the time that Moses is forced to lead his people in the wilderness. It is interesting God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to letting the Israelites go. There is something God wanted to accomplish in the season before freeing Israel (Exodus 6-12).

“But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.”
Exodus 9:12

We might think the best thing would be for God to soften Pharaoh’s heart so Israel could leave Egypt right away. But there was something the Israelites needed to learn before their exodus. They needed to see who their God really was. They needed to see his power and his care for them. I think of how he instructed them to put blood over their door frames to be protected from the death that awaited the Egyptians. God was teaching them, there is nothing I can’t do, and you can look to me as your protector and provider. This season became a point to look back to for generations to come as a reminder of who God is. What could have been a quick moment of deliverance, became a lasting reminder of who we can turn to, and that he knows the ending before we do.

The people of Israel didn’t fully learn the lesson and we get a picture of Israel turning to an idol of their own creation when Moses is gone too long (Exodus 32). The high priest himself enabled this rebellion against God. Instead of just glancing over this, God told a whole generation that they couldn’t enter the promised land because of their rebellion.

“because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Hebrews 12:6

Is this because God is a jealous God? Yes and no. Yes, he instructs us to turn from all idols, but it is not out of vengeance but grace that Israel must wander the desert. Like any good parent, God disciplines those he loves. He does this so they (and future generations) will learn to trust him and his ways. Discipline is not a pleasant thing but it is always good from God. Discipline looks like long suffering until the point that we get it. His grace will always sustain us in the suffering and we will turn to rejoice in it.

The dangerous thing about this season is if we let it pass without embracing it, we will be left behind. This is not because God isn’t gracious but because we have refused his love. God does not abandon us, but our rebellion (sin) creates a chasm between us which removes us from his presence. The good news is that at any point we repent that chasm is filled by the cross and we are invited back into his presence and provision. But if we miss that moment of grace we could be left behind until that moment of repentance (or indefinitely).

This is the second thought that has been driving my prayer life. “God, I don’t want to miss what you have for us in this season by your grace. I don’t want this to pass and go forward the same as I was before this. I want your church to embrace the good things and discipline you have for us now! Please don’t let this time end until we have heard and entered into your provision for this season.”

Just like the Israelite in Egypt, I don’t want us to miss the provision of God and be unprepared for the wilderness ahead.

Remember how King Saul lost his anointing? Although he had good intentions, he ignored the instruction of God and didn’t wait for Samuel to offer sacrifices. He offered them himself and then became defensive when he was exposed. It seems like he was given such a short time to repent of what he did, and he lived the rest of his life without the anointing of God. It instead passed to David. I don’t want us to live the experience of Saul! Please don’t let this be us at the end of this season.

I have such hope for the church in this season. My hope is we will embrace a fear of the Lord and a lifestyle of holiness we couldn’t have imagined prior. My hope is we will understand the gospel in a new way and be bringers of hope and peace to everywhere our feet touch. This is the invitation of God. Can you hear it? He has the storehouses of heaven to provide for us. Will that be our provision?

The Anticipation Begins

Advent starts this Sunday! I love this season. It invites us to both look back at the anticipation of the coming Lord from the Old Testament and look forward to his return. As someone who has always loved the Old Testament, I love entering into the anticipation of prophets like Isaiah with expectant hope for the sovereign Lord’s dwelling among us. I also join with Paul in setting my eyes on the return of Jesus. In this season we joyfully anticipate the very soon return of Jesus.

Advent is a season I grew up celebrating. My father was raised in the Catholic Church before spending many years pastoring in other denominations (20 of those years in a Mennonite Brethren church in Nova Scotia). He loved this season. He loved taking a look at the Messianic passages of the Old Testament and tapping into the emotions of those who received the prophetic messages from God. Every Christmas he would dress up as a biblical character to share the joy-filled message of the coming, or just born, king. I loved how this drew me into the story. I experienced the anticipation of Jesus and not just the reality of Him already here with us.

Advent is a season in which we are led to anticipate and welcome the return of Jesus. The early believers readily awaited his return. After almost 2,000 years since Jesus’ ascension to heaven, we have lost some of their ready expectation. The long wait makes it really difficult to anticipate his return or even find hope in this promise.

This season is all about rediscovering this anticipation. The intent is to freshly discover Emmanuel, God with us, through the eyes of a people who cried out for his coming, who anticipated with expectant hope the coming of the King.

Jesus comes to a world that is in need of him, has been told he is coming, yet has somehow forgotten. Since the fall of creation, the coming of Jesus has been revealed. The nation of Israel was to be in ready anticipation for the coming of Jesus. Not only that, they were also to tell the world of his coming. When it finally happened the anticipation had been largely lost. There is a beautiful story at the end of Luke 2 in which a man named Simeon is told by God he would not die before seeing the coming saviour. His life was lived in anticipation, in expectant joy for the day of Jesus’ coming. As an old man, he holds Jesus in his arms and praises God!

I have a lot to learn about anticipating the second coming of Jesus. There is so much to anticipate! When Jesus returns, he is ushering in a new heaven and new earth. He is bringing completion to the restoration he began. It is a day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. It is a day when we see Jesus, our saviour, riding in complete victory.

Jesus tells us he is returning soon. Soon means it will be sudden. There will not be warning. We are always to be ready and anticipating it. We are always to find hope in it, and sharing that hope with others. It will be a day when there will be no sin, no pain, no heartache. This is good news to share. Like a captured Israel who knew their need to be saved, we too are living in a world we do not belong in. This is not our home! Our kingdom is not of this earth and we are going to be welcomed home upon the return of Jesus. We are foreigners until the day of his return.

We are faced these days with a global refugee crisis. There are millions of people who have left their home and nation to seek refuge elsewhere. Likewise, as followers of Jesus we are not in our home. We are not seeking refuge here, but are anticipating the day we will be brought home by Jesus. This life, on this earth, is not what we are living for or building towards. We are waiting for the day of our last breath, or Jesus’ return. God has plans for us until then, but how wonderful that day will be! We have never actually been home, but we do know it is better than anything we could hope for. There is no chance of disappointment. There will never be a point where we would look back on this life and wish we could go back and experience something else. Each moment will be better than anything in this world.

Over the next four Sundays I am going to post blog entries looking back and forward, back at what was fulfilled in Jesus, and forward to what we are anticipating in his return.

Gossip and the Fallout

Since so much of our life is spent talking or hearing someone else talk, I thought I could take consecutive weeks to write about the words we use. If you haven’t read last week’s blog, this one builds on the same topic.

Thou shalt not gossip. I am coming to believe this very strongly. Gossip does not fit in the Ephesians 4:29 grid of what is acceptable speech. It is not productive and has so much potential of causing harm. As I am writing this, I am remembering so many times where I have experienced or witnessed pain at the hands of gossip.

Gossip is: “Conversation or reports about other people’s private lives that might be unkind, disapproving, or not true.”
(Oxford Dictionary)

Gossip is conversation that adds no value. In many instances, it is used to compare and make ourselves seem better in comparison. Our value is not increased or decreased based on the value of those around us. Gossip is a way we attempt to set our value rather than receive who and what God says we are. Comparison comes out of an insecurity in who we are. Gossip can be a sign of our insecurity in who we are in Christ.

Gossip can tear apart a community so quickly. It causes people to align themselves on sides. When there are sides within a community, there will be division. There is one side the church is to be on. The Lord’s side.

Gossip is also a source of pain. The times in my life when I have confided in people and heard they told others had negative impact on me for years. I had a tough time forgiving a breach of trust for years with a few friends. It created in me an inability to love and be loved by others. I kept people at a distance. I controlled carefully what I would share, thinking anything I shared would just become public knowledge. My reaction was not okay. My unforgiveness was not okay. My holding on to wounds was not okay. I have repented of my own reactions. But there were deep wounds caused by sin, deep wounds caused by gossip.

Gossip is not lined with a gospel lens of hope. When we as believers see brokenness, our desire should align with the heart of God for restoration. When we think about a person in a broken state, we should be led to pray for their restoration We should desire a future free of the effects of sin. There is no redemptive potential in talking about someone else’s brokenness.

11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
(Ephesians 5:11-12)

So what do we do when we are aware of the fault of someone? Should we just let them keep sinning? NO! Although we are not to talk about it with others, if someone is sinning they are hurting themselves. If someone is hurt, they need comforting. We should not talk about it with others. We are to be present and love the person in need. We correct as it is required. We pray for them as it is needed. We should not even entertain others’ gossip. In a Christian community, gossip should be stopped as any other harmful act should be.

If you ever played the telephone game as a kid, you know that information, as it is passed along, has a way of being distorted. The further you are from a source, the less reliable it is. Gossip is a great example of this. The more it is discussed, the more distorted it will become. We could be spreading false words that wreck a life.

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Matthew 15:18-20

Sin is not to be condoned. When we see it, we need to call our brother or sister to repentance. If they refuse, we bring another into it. If it is still a refusal, we bring the leadership into it. Intentional active rebellion is not to be permitted. But we see Jesus limiting the people involved throughout the process. Discussion of sinful situations is not redemptive. Repentance is.

I will be honest. Gossip is seductive. It is not easy to fight the urge to partake. It takes self control. It takes boldness to shut down conversations. But we have to do it. The health of our relationships and the health of the church is at stake. Be strong and courageous. Speak blessing and not curses. Address an issue with the person at fault instead of others. Invite God to set your value instead of comparing yourself to others.

Fluid yet Firm

I come from a rich heritage of followers of Jesus. My parents and Grandparents on both sides have a love for the Lord that runs deep. There has been knowledge of God instilled in me from a young age for which I am so grateful.

On my mother’s side, there is a beautiful Anabaptist history. My mother comes from a Mennonite background (no not horse and buggies) that has a beautiful pursuit of knowing God in community. Discernment of scripture and the nature of God is pursued as the people of God together. This promotes a sharing of experiences and understanding so that all may be led into a better knowledge of God. It promotes discussion and correction. The motivating premise is that we will not know perfectly the fullness of who God is and how he wants to lead us until we see him face to face.

This creates a fluid theology. Our understanding is not so rigid that we close ourselves to the revelations of others. As our view of God expands, we can rejoice. I love this approach. I learn so much from the people around me in everyday conversations. I can be intimidating at times in discussion. I have a lot of thoughts already formed, but so value others challenging them. Engaging with others is an opportunity for my thoughts to be shifted or solidified.

IMG_20181109_163151.jpg

24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
Acts 18:24-28

Correction contains an opportunity to draw people together. Humility in relationship makes us grateful for the correction of others. I love this story of Apollos. He is teaching out of what he knows, and embraces the correction of those who know the way of Jesus more fully. The result is support, encouragement, and continued relationship. Apollos came in as the teacher but welcomed correction. Priscilla and Aquila didn’t silence him or strike him down. They enlightened him to more of who God is and blessed him as he continued to enlighten others. There is no fighting here (although I am sure there were a lot of questions and working through the theology together).

Although there is much that is fluid, there is also much that is firm. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. There is no life apart from him. God is absolutely who he says he is. He is the I Am, the creator of all things, the beginning and end. The bible is trustworthy. It is firm. It is the authority in our pursuit of understanding. There is a firmness in the Apostles’ Creed.

What helps us determine what is firm and what is fluid?. First off, there is the Holy Spirit that leads us into all truth. Any knowledge of God is revelation given by God. He wants us to know him. The Holy Spirit is not trying to lead us astray, just as he has not throughout history. There are many things that have remained constant in the theology of the church. Some expression of the theology have changed. Those things that have remained constant take a certain level of hubris to change. God does not change. What he labels as sin does not change. There are certain practices that can change in different seasons and different expressions of church, but others that cannot.

As you study church history, you notice periods of time where the church has gone astray, as did Israel in the Old Testament. God always faithfully welcomes us back to a solid understanding. As we try to understand what can be fluid, we must pay attention to our heritage as the church. What has the Holy Spirit held up as constant and what has had room to change? We should not look to culture or the world to tell us this. We look to God first, using the plumb line of scripture in our discernment, in community (including those who have gone to be with Jesus).

Sometimes years later, I recall with someone a theological discussion we had and think, wow, I knew so very little. I am thankful for those updated conversations. It gives opportunity to testify to who God is, keeps me in awe of God, and brings humility into my life. I never want to hold a false or limited understanding of God. I am aware, however, that the partial understanding I have can still be spurring others on into fresh encounters with God.

Humility is key in this. Humility looks like a death to self. It is no longer I who live but Christ. Humility makes us quick to repent, quick to shed false theology, and quick to embrace the things of God. It doesn’t make us quick to shed what we know, just responsive when what we know is misaligned with the One who lives in us. Humility does not belittle what we know, or make us appear less informed, just ready to encounter God and grow at all times.

We should talk with and about God more. We should be talking about God with followers of Jesus and those who don’t know him. There is so much more of God to encounter, and so much of the world that has not yet encountered him. Let us be continually in awe of God.

Set Apart in the Mess

rbsh

I love the gospel narrative of the life of Jesus. These stories contain quite a collection of people besides Jesus. Some are sinful, ostracized, and uneducated . In other stories we see battle commanders, kings, religious leaders, and successful businessmen. Jesus attends to the needs of the broken and responds to the questions of the elite. He does not maintain his image by who he spends time with but by his consistent words, actions and heart.

As followers of Jesus, we have been consecrated (set apart as sacred) to God. We have been chosen as a holy priesthood, set apart for his purposes. The life of Jesus is our model for how to do that in this world.

We see Jesus does not shy away from interactions with prostitutes, tax collectors, adulterers, terminally ill, beggars or partiers. He doesn’t spend time with them in order to condemn them, but to offer them hope. Jesus is the high priest we model our being “set apart” after. We see from his example we are not called to protect our image or restrict who we spend time with. In fact, this priestly call demands we interact with those who are in need of hope.

Jesus intentionally heads into the areas that are most broken because, as he puts it, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) Jesus is the hope of the world, a beacon of Hope for the hopeless. Those who recognize their hopeless state cling to Jesus and cry out in repentance.

We are image bearers of Jesus, consecrated for this purpose. When we display Jesus in the dark, those searching for hope come running to the light.

So, if being set apart is not about physically separating ourselves, what does it mean?

37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.
Luke 11:37-41

Our ability to offer the hope of Jesus requires our pursuit of holiness. We can not be set apart unless we are clean on the inside. Sin, by definition, is anything that separates us from God. If we in any way stand in opposition to God, we are in need of repentance. We need to confess our sin, hand it over to Jesus, and turn to live in line with the heart of God. Our being set apart is reliant on the grace of God and our willingness to repent.

Only those who know hope can display the hope available to those looking. Only those who know the goodness of God can display it. Only those who know his mercy and love can testify to the love of Christ. Sin is evidence we do not know these things. God is on display when we come to know God as our source, when the fruits of the spirit are alive in us instead of the temporary and harmful fix of sin. The Holy Spirit produces fruit within us that is attractive to those around us. Sin, however, cuts us off from this fruit and destroys the fruit in our lives. When we live life in step with God, the Holy Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. We do not produce this.

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Colossians 3:5-10

Being set apart means that we are in pursuit of holiness. We cannot allow sin a place in our lives. There is grace in this process as we repent and turn to holiness. This grace allows us to repent and escape a life of sin. There is no excuse to go back to the old way of living.

Being set apart is an incredible privilege! Think about it. We have been chosen by God, highlighted as his own. We are a royal priesthood, sons and daughters of the king. We have been invited to know the richness of this. God freely offers us the things that the world is chasing after. The pursuits in this world, like wealth and success, are attempts to gain that which the Holy Spirit produces within us. Our being set apart is freedom and not slavery. It is freedom from chasing what only God provides. We get to receive freely from God and join him in what he is doing. Sometimes we hear words like holiness, and think about what we give up. What we give up are the faulty attempts at pursuing what only God can give.

Being set apart is an incredible gift, but must be received. We must put to death the sinful pursuits. One cannot be set apart and still chase after sin. They are mutually exclusive. God shows grace in the process, but we cannot take sin lightly. It keeps us and others from encountering the fullness of God. We are to be clean houses of God in a mess of a world.

The Way of Wisdom

nor

How foolish I feel at times following the way of Jesus. Sometimes it seems foolish to say yes to his commands and follow what he says, what he does. There are many things I believe that I do not fully understand. Faith in the way of Jesus is both simple and complex. We will never in full understand all of who God is or why he has created everything as he has. Many times our attempts to be wise fail us.

Wisdom is a gift given by God. God wants us to love him with our minds, but there are many things we must first trust in faith before they make sense to us. Things like forgiveness. I have come to know the freedom which results from choosing to forgive. I now understand that it is good to forgive, that I was imprisoned in my unforgiveness by bitterness and hate and had separated myself from God. I chose to forgive because Jesus instructs us to do so. I now know the freedom that comes when I choose to obey.

Have you ever thought about the need for Jesus to die? Why did God require this particular act for redemption and restoration? God pointed to the necessity for this from the beginning, and there is no doubt in my mind that it was and is the answer. It is the good news. But it seemed foolish to me as it did to many at the time of Jesus who were waiting for a conquering king, not a sacrificial one… until I accepted it.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
(1 Corinthians 3:18-23)

Jesus told us to have faith like a child. This is an interesting phrase. Two things come to mind. Firstly, the quizzical nature of children. They are always asking why. But why? I also think of the way they believe anything we tell them, or stop asking when we tell them to. They believe something is good for them because someone they trust tells them it is good. Sure they might ask why, but even without an answer they trust.

In many ways we must do the same. Obey without understanding. Trust the part we know without understanding the whole. I had a conversation the other day with some people as we were hiking, and I realized how many times i said the words “I don’t fully understand, but it is what I read and the experience I have.” I love to make sound arguments for or against certain things. I love to strategize and teach fully the things of scripture. But I realize in many things it is simple understanding and testimony that I am left with. There is wisdom in it, but not my own. It will sound foolish to some (and even myself) but even the foolishness of God is wiser than man.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; (1 Corinthians 1:27)

Sometimes when I read scripture, a part of me doubts what I read. I think I can’t just take authority in Jesus name and see a person healed. I think I can’t just ask God a question and expect him to speak. I can’t just ask God for this person to accept Jesus and expect him to show up. I can’t tell the wind and the rain to depart and expect it to happen. I can’t just give God my painful experiences and expect him to remove the taint of sin. Can I? Sometimes I think I shouldn’t turn the other cheek if someone strikes me on one side. I shouldn’t love and do good to my enemy. I shouldn’t care for the people around me as if I were caring for myself. Should I?

Scripture informs me on all of these things, so I choose to believe. Even if the world sees it as foolish, even if I don’t see why it makes sense, this is how I know I am to live. The wisdom of God shames the wise of this world. There is so much in scripture that is plainly written and our attempts to make sense of it muddies the waters. Yes, there are truths that are deep and the more we study and spend time with God, the more we understand. But often understanding comes through acceptance and “foolish obedience” despite our mental objections.

Let us walk out in full obedience the part we know. Let us not wait on full understanding. Doubt is overcome by faith before knowledge. Our God is gracious, and gives wisdom to those who seek it. Let us walk in the simplicity of his invitation with joy, trusting that God is not deceiving us. Let us love our neighbours as he instructs. Let us trust that his sheep hear his voice and that we are the sheep of his pasture. Let us go and make disciples of all nations. Let us walk in the authority we have been commissioned in. Let us ask for the good gifts the Holy Spirit has for us. Let us repent and turn from the ways and wisdom of this world. Let us ever seek his voice, his word, and his way as we run the race set before us.

Learning through Stories

Most people love stories. A good story draws us in and changes us. A well-told story allows us to place ourselves in it and experience it. We get drawn into the lives of the characters and feel the emotions and experiences with them.

While I was living in Abbotsford, I was renting a basement apartment from an awesome family. As we drove together one day to the son’s hockey game, the father told me a story about a friend. This friend was on a camping trip with his family. It was time to leave and they needed to pack up but they were caught in a downpour. This friend decided to speak to the rain to stop and the clouds to part in Jesus’ name. Since I am writing about it, I assume you know what happened next. The sun came out, the rain stopped, and the family spent an afternoon in the lake before packing up a dry tent and hitting the road.

This story stayed in my mind for a while. I wondered,why would Jesus give us authority to do this? Does this bring God glory? It happened. I was encouraged by it, and it had great impact on others who heard it. Yes, I’d say it brought God glory.

A few weeks after hearing this story, my friend Mat came to visit from Halifax. We decided to snowshoe up Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. We borrowed snowshoes from a friend and headed to Vancouver. We had not seen the sun for days, and the weather forecast called for clouds and snow on the mountain. There was no sign of it breaking.

20170323_134821
Photo taken by Mat Wilton

As we began our trek up the mountain, I was reminded of the story I heard a few weeks before. Mat and I started talking about it and thinking, it would be awesome if we could actually get a view of Vancouver from the top. (At this point we were engulfed in clouds.) So, we decided to take authority in Jesus’ name and tell the clouds to part and the sun to shine through as we summit. We passed a man feeding some ravens as we trekked up and told him what we had asked God for.

As we came to the summit, the clouds began to part, the sun came through and the city of Vancouver became clear! The sun beamed overhead. It was one of those mountain top moments where you understand God more clearly and intimately. An understanding of the authority we have been given snapped into place. We praised God and rejoiced in the beauty surrounding us.

 

20170323_161448_HDR
Photo taken by Mat Wilton

On our way back, we stopped and talked with the man we passed who was still hanging out with some ravens. His response to us was awesome. He said, “I believed you guys when you told me it was going to clear.” I think he had more faith than we did. I love that he was part of our experience.

This story occurred after months of learning about the authority we have in Jesus. In the fall, I experienced some great training on authority which challenged how I pray and interact with God. My eyes were opened to a biblical model of prayer that instead of asking for authority, invites us to use the authority Jesus has already given us permission to use.

One of the things I love about God is the way he reveals himself to us. In my story, God used the teaching of others, stories in scripture like Acts 3 where Peter and John encounter a lame man and in Jesus’ name tell him to get up and walk, and a story from a friend. He then provided an opportunity in my own life to change how I live life with him. My goal was not to create an awesome story that I could share with others. It was the result of desiring to walk in expectation and obedience to God.

The extraordinary becomes ordinary and the supernatural becomes natural with God. God makes the experience super and extra! Although we will forever be in awe of God, the supernatural and extraordinary will become normal as we walk out obedience to God. These stories of faith encourage us to further open ourselves to God’s invitation. We learn from these stories what obedience looks like and who God is. As we find new ways to say yes to God, our faith is perfected. Instead of chasing a story to share, let us walk in faithful obedience, responding to the invitations of God.

God is always sharing more of himself with us. In season, God is wanting to renew our minds to live and think like we were created to. Let us be attentive to the teachings, stories, thoughts, and words spoken that can renew our minds and draw us closer to the living God.