Category Archive: Jim’s Blog

  1. The Most Important Thing In The World To God

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    If you could ask God: What is the most important thing to you right now? How do you think God would respond? I think that God has already given his answer to this question. God has already told us what is most important through his Son. Do you know what it is? This idea came to me from a teaching in our local faith gathering (church). I myself preached on this topic when visiting Quito, Ecuador. The most important thing to God is the return of his Son “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt 24: 30). Jesus assured his disciples “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt 24:13). Everything God is doing in the world now, either through his people or in his own power, is preparing this world and its inhabitants for the full restoration of divine sovereignty. That is it! It is that simple and glorious. Oh Lord, let me be conformed to this magnificent reality. May it be reflected in my daily life in the marketplace where you have called me to make a contribution (bear fruit) while influencing others for Christ.

  2. A Marathon Is A Good Thing

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    I have already written a short blog on this topic. However, I also want to make a point here which came to me in my prayer time last year: Life itself is kind of race or marathon and actually running one adds insight as to how we can live it. Here is my simple insight having run my first marathon (half marathon to be exact) in 2015: Just as training and preparation make the difference in running a marathon, so also spiritual preparation in prayer and meditation time with God will make a difference in living one’s life with and for God.

  3. The Year Of Preparation

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    Our local faith gathering (church) wonderfully promotes the idea of a “word for the year” to emphasize a simple approach to goals and life. The idea is this: What is the one thing that could make the greatest difference, help or improvement in your life right now?  WIN: What’s important now? Ask God to direct you find to this word and then listen. Last year, 2015, my word was “preparation.” Over the course of 2015, I received preparation for:

    — more love;
    — more resources;
    — more contribution;
    — more influence;
    — more peace;
    — more wisdom;
    — more productivity;
    — more transformation;
    — more gratefulness;
    — more glory to God;
    — more joy.

    My word (WIN) for 2016 is “glory.” I am anticipating new insight in living for God’s glory in 2016.

  4. Disagreement Not Polarization

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    The United States is experiencing another “election” year and I have been concerned about my harsh attitude (words and thoughts) toward people on the “other side.” Really anyone who disagrees with “my side” and “our positions.” To be honest, I was beginning to do more than just disagree with these fellow citizens. I was beginning to see them as inferior, or worse, as a kind of enemy. I discovered in a number of ways (through prayer and preaching mostly) that I must be conscious about this tendency. I must refuse to think less of people or candidates who disagree with me. This is polarization. Respectful disagreement is fine but polarization is not. It is unrighteous and unbecoming of a Christ-follower. I think God spoke very clearly to me on this: it is okay to care about political issues and disagree with others, just don’t let it get in the way of your love for me (God) and others. I must at all times remain capable of bringing reconciliation to people in a world that desperately needs it. In fact, I must somehow love those who disagree with me. I recall that Jesus had much to disagree with about my life before I came to receive his offer of forgiveness. Can I extend forgiveness to others as Christ did to me?

  5. What Is On The Mind Of Christians In Europe?

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    Last month Emily and I traveled to Spain, The Netherlands, France, Hungary and Finland. I made notes of the repeating topics of discussion:

    1. The Refugee Problem: How should Christians respond? Governments?

    2. Sharing one’s Faith at Work or in Public: It seems to be a very difficult thing to do in Europe where people do not want to talk about God generally. This does not mean they do not have questions about life and existence, they have just become uncomfortable talking about God.

    3. Living and Working as a Christ-Follower: It is difficult to keep oneself honest and free of corruption. Virtue and values have become relative and less valued it seems.

    4. The USA Presidential Election: Will Donald Trump be elected President? There seemed to be a discernible fear of this possibility.

  6. Conditions For Faith In Christ

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    A key tenet of Christian theology abides that Jesus Christ died for all of humanity. Still we understand that not all will enter by “the narrow gate..leading to life” (Matt 7:13-14), meaning while Christ died for all, not all will follow Jesus here in life and eventually to heaven. This year it came to me that through experience I have learned that there are at least three conditions (“good soil” Matt 13:23) necessary for a person, especially an adult, to come to and keep faith in Christ. I have used these as a way to challenge people and get them thinking. Sometimes to keep things lighthearted, I have said “there are actually three qualifications to becoming a Christ-follower; not everyone can be a Christian so let me see if you qualify. May I ask you three questions?”

    1. Are you a sinner? I am sorry, but to be a Christian, you must be a sinner! Clearly a person must repent as a condition of coming to Christ. If they cannot see themselves as a sinner they cannot be a Christian. This really gets the attention of people who think Christians are people who believe they are not sinners and everyone else is!

    2. Are you interested in the Truth? To be a Christian you must be interested in the truth or at the very least willing to inquire about it. I like this condition because it gets out in the open the fact that many people are dishonest skeptics; unwilling to appropriate the truth even when they stumble upon it, because it requires sacrifice, change or admitting they might be wrong. Jesus came to bring “grace and truth” (John 1:17) so if you cannot accept this truth you cannot become a Christian.

    3. Do you have courage? To be a Christian you have to be courageous. When a person comes to understand something completely different about themselves or the world, it takes courage to adjust one’s life to this new reality. To follow Christ is a new and wonder-filled life but it is also “hard” as we go through the “narrow gate” (Matt 7: 13-14).

  7. Joy Is From God

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    Speaking of “joy” (my last blog entry ended with a reference to “joy”), I came to a clearer view last year of “Joy” for the Christ-follower. I have heard teachers and preachers go to great lengths to try and make distinctions between the English words “joy” and “happiness.” I am not convinced a better understanding can be found by doing this. Dictionaries want to define the words in a similar way and often people use them interchangeably. In the world we will see the words happiness, joy, contentment and gladness as states of emotion related to positive events and circumstances. In contrast, the Biblical term “joy” is a fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5). These fruits come out of a Holy Spirit-led life fully identified (those who belong to) in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus only Christ-followers will receive this spiritual joy. It is not based on events and circumstances, and in fact may be magnified to us precisely when trouble itself also comes. Just as the world cannot understand the Spirit of God, so neither can it understand the “fruits” or benefits which accrue to Spirit-led people. As a Christ-follower, I need to cultivate the “fruits” in my life daily (walk, be led, live) gradually becoming less dependent for my “joy” on earthly events and circumstances.

  8. Prayer and Persistence Go Together

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    I have always been a bit perplexed by Jesus’ parable about the widow and prayer in Luke 18:1-14. What does a woman pursuing an unrighteous judge (“he neither feared God nor respected man”) for justice have to do with making requests of the God of the universe in prayer? This year I finally understood in a different way. The widow was persistent and relentless in seeking justice from the judge such that, she was unwilling to stop at anything to get the judge’s help (“so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming’). She pursued the judge like everything depended on it, as if he was her absolute last resort to get help. Then it hit me: What about my prayer time? Am I as persistent and relentless as the widow? The widow put her faith in a worldly legal system working justice for her, she did not give up. Do I have the same resolve (faith) in God’s heavenly majesty and power? I am not saying we get what we want when we keep asking for something. Rather as we keep asking with an expectation of hearing from God, we can expect justice or resolution of the need or problem. Jesus could not have put it more simply: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24). Dear heavenly Father, let me always pray simple but persistent prayers to you in your precious Son’s name allowing your perfect justice and mercy to meet the trials and tribulations of this life. I know your righteousness O Lord vastly exceeds that of the “judge,” so you will always hear my requests and answer that my “joy may be full.”

  9. Real Greatness

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    During the next few weeks, I will be sharing what God has shown me in my daily prayer time. These items are taken directly from my 2015 Prayer Journal. Please feel free to share your thoughts.

    In Luke 9:46-48 Jesus tells his disciples, “For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”  But how can the “least” be “great?” Isn’t this a contradiction in terms?  Still, isn’t Jesus redefining greatness for us? I think he is when he states in verse 48 “whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” To receive God is to receive greatness and to receive God we must do so as a child. To receive God we must be willing to become least of all. In heavenly terms, to be humble and innocent as a child is the starting point of greatness.

  10. Love Is The Measure of a Person

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    During the next few weeks, I will be sharing what God has shown me in my daily prayer time. These items are taken directly from my 2015 Prayer Journal. Please feel free to share your thoughts.

    What we love determines the real (eternal) measure of a person—bad, good or righteous. Jesus spent much of his ministry teaching about the priorities of love: Love God first and secondly neighbor as (and) self. Augustine wrote “he who loves rightly believes and hopes rightly.” Love determines the direction of one’s life and is the measure of heaven. “Seek first the kingdom of God” means seeking God first (because you love him) before all others and things.

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