Thursday, 21 December 2017

Heaven HERE and NOW Pt. 2… Larry Niemeyer – Pst. Aluma's blog

Heaven HERE and NOW Pt. 2… Larry Niemeyer – Pst. Aluma's blog

The words eternity and heaven are seldom
mentioned in association with the birth of Jesus. One reason for that
failure is that we mistakenly make eternity a far off time and heaven a far off place. They are distant – something coming later in time and space.


These two messages point out that Jesus, by his birth, brought both
of them into our lives to be experienced HERE and NOW. Not in their
entirety because both eternity and heaven are infinite. But that
infinity includes everything we call past-present and future in our
earthly time frameworks – everything we call up, down and around in our
earthly orientations for space. Eternity exists beyond our time concepts
of past, present and future. Heaven exists beyond our three-dimensions
of length, width and height.





My scripture this morning is Matthew 6:9-11. It is a bit strange for a
Christmas message, but I hope you will see its significance because
this prayer talks about heaven in a special way and that’s what we want
to take note of this morning.


Heaven – Our Usual Knowledge


We are familiar with many things about heaven. The common scripture
is Revelation 21:4-23. There are many things that will be absent from
heaven: no pain, sorrow, tears, hunger, thirst, bad people, impure
things, temptation, sin, sickness, and death (Rev.21:4).
There will be no darkness but no sun or moon either. There are other
things that we expect: the very light of God, a city with houses (John
14:1-3), people who are numbered in the Book of Life (Rev.20:12), our loved ones (1 Thess. 4:13-17), new bodies (1 Cor. 15:50-54), great food – a feast (Rev.19:9),
Bible characters with whom we can talk – Moses, etc., awesome worship
(Rev.5:11-14, 7:9-12, 19:1-8), and most of all God Himself whom we will
see.


Not so well-known to us is the size of the city described in
Revelation 21:16. An angel measured it and when the measurements are
translated into our more familiar measurements of today, we see a city
that is roughly 2,500 kilometers long and wide – almost the distance
north from Nairobi to Cairo, and west from Nairobi to Nigeria. That is a
city covering all of North Africa. Then, the even more startling
measurement: the city is also 2,500 kilometers high. The volume of this
cube is over 15 times the combined surface of the entire earth,
including both land and water area.


All of this makes us realize how hard it is to picture heaven. It is
mysterious to the human mind because we can only think in three
dimensions (length, width and depth) while heaven has no such limits.
That was John’s challenge when he wrote what he saw in the Revelation.
He had no vocabulary and no experience from which to write. Heaven
defied John’s imagination. It defies ours. In 1 Corinthians 2:9, God
tells us that “… no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has
conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” So, whatever we
can imagine heaven to be like, it is more! It is vastly superior to
anything our minds can dream up.


Now, it’s this ‘moreness’ of heaven that I want to call your attention to.


Heaven – HERE and NOW


Heaven is about many dimensions beyond our three. One man said,
“Since God exists in a world with other dimensions, then heaven is
closer than many would like to think.  It could be all around us and we
would have no way of knowing it.”  I am interested in the ‘moreness’ of
heaven and want to talk about Heaven HERE and  NOW, not about heaven
THERE and THEN.


We are not prepared to recognize the nearness of heaven. As children
we learn that we can go to heaven, but we are seldom taught that heaven
can come to us.  We can somehow go there but heaven doesn’t come here. A
popular tool for evangelism asks, “If you die today, will you go to
heaven?”  Why not ask, “Do you know how to live today so that heaven
begins HERE and NOW?  Why can’t our gospel be about heaven HERE and NOW
as well as THERE and THEN?


My main point is that in Christ’s birth, heaven came to us. Heaven on
earth began at that time. Heaven is HERE and NOW for believers. I
remember a song we used to sing – “Heaven came down and glory filled my
soul. When at the cross, the Saviour made me whole. My sins were washed
away, and my night was turned to day. Heaven came down and glory filled
my soul.” These words did not sink into my heart very well 45 years ago.
Today, they have gotten to me. Heaven came down — came near — came HERE
— came NOW.  Elizabeth Browning wrote: “Earth is crammed with heaven,
but only they who see, take off their shoes and worship.” I
want to take my shoes off and worship at heaven HERE and NOW.  Henry
David Thoreau wrote: “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”  I want to keep looking up but I also want to be looking around for a little bit of heaven HERE and NOW.


How can it happen? Because of Christ – his birth, life, death and
resurrection. Because the Bible says we are citizens of heaven now
(Ephesians 2:19-20, Phil.3:20-21, Colossians 3:1-2).


Relating heaven to the birth of Jesus changes our thinking in four
ways and all these ways are prompted by the prayer Jesus gave us in
Matthew 6.  “Our Father . . . “. especially vs. 10 – “Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  God’s intent has always
been that there would be evidence of heaven on earth.


Four Lessons from Matthew 6:10


First, Matthew 6:10 teaches us that heaven is always
first. It is not to be the last thing, the final destination as we often
think. It is not the end of things; it is actually the origin of
everything because God is there. Life and blessing to not proceed from
earth to heaven, but they proceed from heaven to earth.


This relates to the birth of Christ. Heaven was first for Jesus. Heaven
defined what Jesus would be on earth at his birth – “on earth as it is
in heaven.” He did not become holy, pure, good and loving because of
what he did on earth. He was all this because of who he was from heaven.
The first cell of his life in the womb of Mary bore heaven first.


The same is true of us – should be. When we are born again, we are
born like Jesus – with divine LIFE in us. Heaven becomes first for us.
The only way we can become holy is to live from the Holy – from heaven, God, God’s LIFE.  The only way to become pure is to live from the Pure – heaven, God, God’s LIFE.  The only way to become good is to live from the Good – heaven. The only way to become loving is to live from Love – heaven. The only way to become truly giving is to live from the source of all giving – heaven. And the only way to become godly is to live from God.


So, heaven is first and the birth of Christ demonstrates the reality of that priority.  Keep that in mind.


Secondly, Matthew 6:10 reverses things in our thinking about heaven. In regard to heaven we usually wonder how we can get from here to there.
Most of us live this way. We try to ensure we can get from earth to
heaven – to become holier, more spiritual, more godly, more pure,
righteous, loving, more heavenly – more religious. We seek to rise
higher.


But another way to consider heaven is getting from there to here.
That’s what Jesus did at his birth. He started from heaven, not the
earth. And that’s what should happen when we become believers. We start
from the finish line – heaven. You say, but that’s backwards. Yes, and
that’s a reversal of our thinking.


Relate this to our athletes and runners. The winners are those who
don’t concentrate on the starting line when they are about to begin.
They picture in their minds their victory at the end of the event. A
good coach teaches them to do that. Too many of us struggle at the
starting line of our Christian lives because we have not looked up to
the finishing line. Like good runners and athletes we need to run with
that end IN our minds, hearts and souls. We need to begin our Christian
lives with the end in mind.


Jesus challenged us to reverse our thinking when he taught us how to
pray in Matthew 6:10: “On earth as it is in heaven”. Not from earth to
heaven but from heaven to earth. The prayer he taught us was based on a
heaven to earth principle not an earth to heaven principle. So to live
from heaven to earth, we must learn the secret of living, not from the
past, present, or even the future – but in heaven’s time that is HERE
and NOW.  Jesus came into the world to live this way. From heaven to
earth, from there to here. He lived in heaven’s time while he walked in
earth’s time. We, too, can live in heaven’s time as we walk our own
earthly time. We can live from there to here.


How does that work?  A Korean preacher taught his people to pray that
way. He instructed them to visibly picture the answer to their prayers,
the results, the outcomes. While at Daystar, I once met with a graduate
student from Rwanda. He wanted to pray. He was about to graduate but
his wife and three daughters were still in Rwanda and in much danger. He
was Hutu by tribe but his wife was Tutsi. We prayed by visibly
picturing them safe and well. A few days later, he snuck back into
Rwanda and brought them out himself. He stepped into heaven’s time. He
is now a Methodist preacher in Canada.


So, as Christians, we live not from the answer to our prayer, but we live before
the answer. That’s why Jesus said, “whatever you ask for in prayer,
believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24) We
don’t just wait for the answer; we live IN the answer – HERE and NOW –
heaven on earth. We not from our problems now, but from the problems
solved – in heavens time. We live not from our present crisis, but from
its future resolution – heaven’s time. We live not from our present
obstacles but from our victory over those obstacles – heaven HERE and
NOW.  When we follow Christ, we begin at his birth where heaven came
down. We live from that heaven HERE and NOW. We can even see ourselves,
not as we are but as we are yet to be.


Our thinking about heaven needs to be changed. We need to think
heaven first and then reverse our thinking from there to here, not from
here to there.


Thirdly, Matthew 6:10 helps us see that our salvation is about
heaven HERE and  NOW.  The birth of Jesus fulfilled God desire that the
heavenly would be found in the earthly, that his LIFE would dwell in
human life. God didn’t depend on religious stuff to accomplish this. He
did it himself. All the so-called religious ways to be saved are earthly
hands reaching up to heaven. But the heavenly way is radically
different. It’s a hand reaching down to earth. The earthly can never
attain the heavenly. But the heavenly can attain the earthly –and it has in Christ’s birth.


Now our common talk is that we must be saved to get to heaven. But our salvation doesn’t begin from earth so that we can get to heaven. Our salvation begins from heaven and it permits us to be IN heaven HERE and NOW.  We are not saved just so we can end up in heaven someday; we are saved so that we can begin
with heaven HERE and NOW. In Christ, heaven comes down to us (John
6:51). In Christ, the heavenly visits the earthly. In Christ, the
heavenly One becomes earthly, so that we, the earthly ones, might become
heavenly.  Where does this happen?  – HERE . When?  – NOW.


We don’t achieve heaven but heaven can achieve us. We don’t gain it
or get into it. We let heaven gain us, get into us when we accept Christ
and the Holy Spirit into our lives. We start living a
heaven-to-earth-life, where everything we do begins first from
heaven and proceeds to earth. “We let heaven, through our life, touch
the earth, touch every part of our world… On earth as it is in heaven.”
(Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries 2016,p.213).





  1. Finally, the prayer of Matthew 6 ends with the words, “For
    Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.” We think of
    heaven as a place of wonderful glory. It is. But God’s will is to come
    down to earth to dwell with us NOW in his glory.”
This goes all the way back to Moses who saw God’s glory on Mount
Sinai (Exodus 25:80). But it was also on that mountain that God told
Moses to go down to the plains and build a tabernacle for his glory.
God’s glory that appeared on the mountaintop now descended to the plain.
Heaven came down. Everywhere they went, God’s glory was with them.


In John 1:1-3, 14 it says that the God became flesh and dwelt among us. In the Greek it says that the God tabernacled with us, he dwelt among us. The birth of Jesus brought heaven’s glory to earth. We look at the cross and sing, “Heaven came down.” We need to look at the birth
of Christ and sing that song. Because of Christ’s birth we can dwell in
the glory of God every day of our lives. The mountaintop has come down
to the plains. The tabernacle and temple, the former dwelling places of
God, have been replaced by our hearts.  In our earthly experience, life
is a series of ups and downs, the ups and downs of circumstances, and
the ups and downs of emotion. But in God, the up has come down. Heaven
has come to earth. Even in the lowest places of our life, we can still
dwell on the heights of God’s glory.


Conclusion


I would change the lyrics of the song: “Heaven came down…” Not, “When at the cross, the Savior made me whole,” BUT. “When at his birth, Christ came to make me whole.”
Not as one of the verses says: “Now I’ve a home up in heaven above,
there in those mansions sublime” but, “Now I’m a citizen of heaven right
now, here in my earthly home.”





Let the four points I have extracted from Matthew 6:10 raise four questions in your life:


  1. Is heaven first in your life like it was for Jesus? Jesus was born from heaven; have you been born again from heaven?
  2. Are you living in heaven’s time HERE and NOW or are you bogged down with your past, present and future?
  3. Is your salvation about how heaven has gained you HERE and NOW or how you think you will gain heaven THERE and THEN?
  4. Has heaven come down into your life and filled you with the glory of God?



Think about your answers and repeat the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-11.

Eternity Now by Larry Niemeyer – Pst. Aluma's blog

Eternity Now by Larry Niemeyer – Pst. Aluma's blog

December is a time when we reflect upon Christ’s birth and the many traditions we associate with that birth and the season. Two words seldom come into our reflection though they are very important in connection with the birth of Christ. They are eternity and heaven. We mistakenly make eternity a far off time and heaven a far off place. They are distant – something coming later in time and space. In two separate messages, I want to point out that the birth of Jesus brought both of them into our lives to be experienced NOW and HERE.
A scripture that should raise issues is Titus 1:1-3 where the inspired Apostle wrote that he wanted to further the faith of God’s people and their knowledge of the truth. Then he expressed that truth in words that should make us wonder when he refers to “the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light.” What is the relationship of eternity and time? How can our faith and knowledge be furthered by considering them more carefully? How can we draw closer to godliness in connection with them?
Two recent events in my life have prompted my own search for answers to these questions and the furtherance of my own faith and knowledge in the connection of time and eternity. They have influenced my December reflection on the birth of Christ.
  1. During our recent time in the USA, Ginny and I were speaking in churches that support us in prayer and financially. We found many changes among them and were challenged to present an influential message though our time with them would be limited to one day, a worship service, and maybe a 20-minute sermon. What could we do and say? Fortunately, God prompted a simple message: though our time with them was short, still that brief time was special. Then, I found an old poem that seemed to describe what was special about such short times:
I have only just a minute, just sixty seconds in it, forced upon me, can’t refuse it, didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it. I must suffer if I lose it, give account if I abuse it, just a tiny little minute but eternity is in it.  That’s what I shared.
I want to apply the last line to the birth and life of Jesus – and to our own Christian experience.
  1. Ginny and I have been slowly reading Jonathan Cahn’s book, The Book of Mysteries. Slowly, because this Messianic Jew sees things in scriptures (mysteries) that most of us miss because we don’t have his Jewish background. On one of those days he talked about the rarity of our earthly time, whether ten years or a hundred. “How rare,” he asked. Compare our time on earth to the years of earth’s existence and our earthly life can be seen as very rare indeed. Compare it to eternity and it is even more rare? Our lives become once in an eternity event. They become “one-eternieth” (his own word) – infinitely rare. Our days on earth come around only once in an eternity. Every moment we have comes around only once in an eternity … and never again. “Therefore, he said, make the most of every moment” (Cahn 2016:288).
I want to apply that perspective to the birth and life of Jesus – and to our own Christian experience.
Three Points to the Message
  1. Apply the Lessons of These Two Events to the Birth and Life of Jesus.
Stop to think about that virgin birth, that wonderfully miraculous event. Apply Cahn’s perspective: it was a once in an eternieth event. Apply the last line of the little poem: eternity was in it. The moment of his conception in the womb of Mary was just a moment – but eternity was in it. The Eternal God compressed himself down to a divine cell and fused it with the ovum of a Jewish teenager named Mary.  In that moment, eternity was in it. God the eternal – infinite, without quantity, dimension and limits – became confined to the human form of a single cell that began to multiply. Those multiply moments were one–eternieth moments. They would happen once and never again.
The moment of his emergence from the womb – just a moment but eternity was in it. Women will say, “it is always more than a moment” and we acknowledge that, but in the birth of Jesus, the time was special – eternity was in it. Consider the moment of his first little baby cry – eternity was in it.
Consider his 33 years on earth. They were times infused with eternity. When he was twelve, Mary and Joseph took him to the temple. The rituals over, it was time to leave. Two days later, they realized Jesus was not with them. They found him still in the temple and to their reminder to him of the time, he said to them, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my father’s house” (Luke 2:49). Even at twelve he was conscious of eternity beyond time. His preaching, teaching, miracles, wonders, relationships were all one-eternieth events. People around him, Mary and Joseph, even his disciples, went about their time, but he always recognized that eternity was in those times.
We like the song “Mary Did You Know” with its challenging verses:
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
the sleeping Child you’re holding is the great “I Am.”
We can add some lines:
Mary, did you know
That the divine LIFE in you was eternal?
That Jesus brought eternity to us all?
But all that was then – at his birth and in his life. One man said, “The outrageously encouraging message of Christmas is that the eternal Creator of the universe, the eternal God of Love, entered human time and lived among us.  The one who is before and beyond all things in eternity entered our human timeframes.  He lived … at a particular time as part of a particular people but he bore the divine LIFE that was eternal – perfectly- and he bore it in a human life that was time-bound – perfectly. “ (adapted from Covey 2007:88).
What about NOW? What does the Bible say about eternity, the eternal and eternal life? We can be surprised that the Old Testament refers a lotto the eternal and eternity, but it says nothing about eternal life. And the words eternal and eternity are nowhere connected to human life, just to a holy, distant God.
It is the New Testament where the words eternal, eternity and eternal life become part of a dynamic present. Eternal life, very much related to humanity, becomes prominent and it all started with the birth of Jesus. Even so, there are only scarce references to eternal life: in Matthew – three times; in Mark – two times, in Luke – three times, and in the rest of the New Testament – 33 times with greatest prominence by John – John – 21 times. Good examples are in John 4:13-14, 5:24, and 10:27-28 where eternal life is seen as a dynamic present.
As one author has said, “Jesus did not come to create a religion or a religious world so we might escape from the world of time.  He came to be God entering our times, with all their craziness and pain and confusion. He came to show the way eternal LIFE interacts with human life in all our histories, all our sciences, and all our cultural pursuits (adapted from McLaren 2003:165).
Stop to think about what this means to you personally. The common thing we say is that Jesus came to save us from our sins. That’s true, but it is only one-half the gospel. We need the other half: he came to save us from our sins in order to give us his eternal LIFE – NOW. He came to save us from what we have done in time so that he could give us what we can be in his eternity beyond time – NOW. He came to challenge us to give up our times so that he can give us his eternity. When his divine LIFE comes into our lives, God’s eternity come’s with it.
There is a song that I truly love, but this morning, I realized it is more of an Old Testament song than a New Testament song:
We are a moment You are forever
Lord of the ages God before time
We are a vapor You are eternal
Love everlasting reigning on high.
Because of Jesus, because of his birth we may only be a moment but that moment is a part of God’s forever. We may be but a vapor, but Jesus he brings the glow of eternity to that vapor.
So, I hope the birth of Christ is the basis of the hope of eternity in our lives – NOW.
  1. II. A Few Things About Eternity and Time.
It is necessary to say these few things because so much of our talk about eternity takes place at the end of time and at the time of our death. I went on the web and googled sermons on eternity. I was disappointed that most of them were about death. Why do we wait until someone’s death to start thinking about eternity?
I think it’s because of misconceptions or misunderstandings we have of eternity. These misconceptions about eternity then lead to misconceptions about eternal life. Eternity wrongly seen as a far off time affects negatively on the way we understand eternal life.  There are three common misconceptions. They have been evident in my life and they are probably evident in yoursbecause they might be yours.
1)  When eternity is seen as a far off time, then eternal life begins beyond time as we know it. It comes at the end of our time at physical death. To overcome this misconception, eternal life and our experience of eternity must be seen as  beginning IN time not BEYOND time. John 3:16 is about life with eternity in it from the very moment we believe. The day of our new birth in Christ is the first day of eternity for all who believe. So, for us as Christians, eternity is NOW. Our lives are lives with eternity in them from the time of our new birth in Christ.
2)  When eternal life and eternity are seen as the extension of our earthly life, we again have problems. I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a Christian environment in which eternal life was seen as human life extended after death. Life was elongated, stretched out. I even found that Bible translators in Africa have portrayed eternal life in that (American and western) way. I was blessed with the Chiemba language of Zambia. For them, life was umweo. How could translators bring in the idea of eternal life?  They latched on to the verb, “to go,” in ChiBemba, “ukuya.” Eternal life became Umweo wa muyayaya….Extended life…. after death.
To overcome this misconception, we must realize that eternal life and eternity are the experiences of God’s LIFE NOW, not the extension of our life when we die. As one aauthor has said, “Eternity is not a continuous future but a continuous present” (Peterson 2008:250). Why? Because it is the presence of God’s LIFE – now. Eternity is not simply endless existence of our human life at some future time but it is anointed existence NOW because God’s LIFE (which alone is eternal) is in us who believe.
3)  A third mistaken notion about eternal life and eternity is to see them as a reward we get for being faithful to the end. I was even surprised this week to find a quotation from Rick Warren on What’s App: he could not wait until the day came that he would enter into eternal life and heaven. I was so surprised that his view was so contrary to what I am saying. But it is very common.
Take that time in the Lord’s ministry when the rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life? (Mark 10:22). He was guilty of this mistaken notion. When you consider how Jesus responded, you see that Jesus held out the fact that eternal life is about how you live NOW. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come follow me – NOW.”
To overcome this misconception, we must view eternity and eternal life, not as rewards we get when we die but God’s gift of LIFE – NOW, when we die to sin (Romans 6:1-4) and when we rise in Christ to go on living the rest of our earthly years. Eternity and eternal life are not a pie in the sky by and by deal; this is God’s LIFE in our lives right now, eternity in our time – in every moment of that time.
Judy (my wife of 51 years) and I dwelt on these things as she was dying of cancer in 2015. We were sorry that the Bible says very little about life after death. But it made us to realize and appreciate that it says so much about life before death. And, life before death is blessed with God’s LIFE in our lives – NOW. Judy did not finally get eternal life when she died; she had it all along since the day of her salvation at the age of fourteen when God’s LIFE came into her life.
So, we need to go beyond these misconceptions. When eternity is seen as something beginning after we die, or as the extension of our life beyond death, or as a reward for good living, then we become concerned about life after death –our understanding of eternal life cannot help but become skewed and twisted to something we hear at funerals instead of something we live every day.
III. How Do We Live Eternity NOW?
It has to be very practical. This morning at 9:40am I was at Java House in Galleria eating breakfast. Right there, right at that time, eternity was in in it. I was having a once in an eternity moment never to be repeated.
Ginny and I married because we both wanted to finish up this earthly time with someone we loved. Some days are harder than others. We have those marital moments like everyone else. Some of those days can be like an eternity to Ginny. (Maybe that’s why she has told both Kenyan and American friends, “The more I get to know Larry, the more I realize that Judy was a saint”). But we need to be practical about living eternity NOW. We need to stop and let eternity be in those moments.
We need to let eternity enter the challenging times of our marriages, the conflictive times of our families, the abrasive times of our work place, the broken times of our relationships, the discouraging times of our careers, the limited times of our education and development. God wants his eternity to be in all those times. His LIFE brings eternity’s power to our times of frustration, eternity’s peace to our times of panic, eternity’s truth to our times of doubts, eternity’s goodness to our times of failures, and eternity’s joy to our times of sorrow.
We need to remember the words of Randy Alcorn (or maybe the words of Alcorn that I have changed just a little) – “Time has a beat, a rhythm, a pace, a cadence. Eternity another one. In our times, we hear eternity’s music, but it is elusive, like an echo. The clatter, competing sounds, media loudness and demands, ringing I-phones, droning traffic and mixed voices drown out eternity’s music. We dance to the wrong beat, march to the wrong anthem.  Why? Because we weren’t made for time alone. We were made for eternity’s song” (Randy Alcorn in his book, Dominion, p.99).
Conclusion
I like the inspired words of Paul to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12 – “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Did you hear those words – ‘take hold of the eternal life to which you were called”?  Some people cannot take hold of eternal life because they are encumbered with one or all of the common misconceptions we have considered this morning. “Take hold” is a good message for believers today. Some people cannot take hold of eternal life because they have never believed Jesus. “Take hold” is an essential message for them.
Go back to the poem God brought to my attention: “I have only just a minute, just sixty seconds in it, forced upon me, can’t refuse it, didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it. I must suffer if I lose it, give account if I abuse it, just a tiny little minute but eternity is in it.”  May all your minutes be blessed with eternity in them. Go back to Jonathan’s Cahn challenge – live each moment as a once in an eternity event.
Take hold of eternal life.
Questions for Small Groups
  1. Which misconceptions about eternity and eternal life have been common to members of the group?
  2. How can a recognition of eternity NOW affect marriages, relationships, friendship, work experience, careers, etc.?
  3. Read and discuss John 4:13-14, 5:24, 10:27-28 and 2 Corinthians 6:1-2?
  4. How does the gift of eternal life in these New Testament times, change the circumstances described in Psalm 90:10-12?

Friday, 31 July 2015

Why are Aussies choosing to become full time missionaries


From the Bible Society of Australia - link to their article.

Travel and short term mission key influencers for becoming a full time missionary



MISSION NEWS | Tess Holgate
Friday 31 July 2015
Three Australian scholars have published an article in international journal Missiology on the reasons why Aussie Christians are deciding to become missionaries. Three main factors were found to be most influential: interaction with missionaries, participating in short-term mission trips, and being exposed to the world and its needs.
Richard and Evelyn Hibbert and Tim Silberman interviewed 42 missionaries, exploring the broad range of factors that have been influential in their decisions to serve God long-term.
“God is still calling people, [but] I think the language has changed,” says Richard. “People are more and more talking in terms of conviction that this is the right thing to do. People in the past have had something very dramatic happen to them, they felt that God spoke to them in a certain way, and this still happens today. But today it’s more about that sense of conviction, however that comes.”
The study shows that amongst Australian missionaries, conviction to pursue long-term mission is generally a product of three main influences.
First, all participants in the study revealed that other mission-minded people (whether missionaries, pastors, family or friends) had an influence on their decision to become a missionary.
“Nearly half the interviewees first became interested in missions through a missionary who was visiting their church. Seeing, hearing and talking with a missionary seemed to make the possibility of being a missionary themselves real to them. Hearing missionaries talk inspired them to get involved in mission themselves,” the study reads.
Second, a little less than half the participants indicated that a short-term mission trip was important on their journey towards long-term missionary service. Some of these trips were taken to raise the individual’s awareness of the need, while others were more directed, attempting to answer the question of “how they would fit as a missionary in a particular part of the world, a particular kind of ministry, or a specific team”.
Third, around a quarter of respondents said that exposure to the world and its needs influenced their decision to become missionaries.
“Exposure to new people and cultures enabled interviewees to begin to empathise with people from another part of the world and perceive their need for the gospel.”
“Potential missionaries need as many opportunities as possible to connect with experienced career missionaries. Providing contexts that are positive towards missions and that foster these relational connections seems particularly conducive to the mobilisation of future career missionaries.”
In order to raise up the next generation of missionaries, Richard says we need to expose Christians to the things that God is doing around the world, and the ways in which he is showing his glory.
- See more at: http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/travel-short-term-mission-key-influencers-for-becoming-an-australian-missionary#.VbsHmEd5KUI.blogger

Sunday, 1 February 2015

This just simply sums things up right now.

It is well with my soul


Thank you Lord!

Contentment, Discipline and Obedience

During my last trip to Kenya I spoke at a church about contentment and discipline. That day I was focusing on financial freedom in Christian but now, months later, God is teaching me a lesson about contentment and discipline, about obedience.

Two passages from the Bible come to mind about contentment.

Matthew 6:24-34 NIV
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. [25] "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? [26] Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? [27] Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? [28] "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. [29] Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. [30] If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? [31] So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' [32] For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. [33] But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. [34] Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Hebrews 13:4-6 NIV
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. [5] Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." [6] So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

Here, in Hebrews, the Word of God speaks of contentment. Certainly we may deduce from that context that contentment, the grace of contentment, for those who are married is to be found in the way of living in their marriage in obedience to God. That is the way we experience contentment in all of our life.We must be content.

Contentment is the grace of being satisfied in the Lord's provision. Contentment is faith which understands that my life is not by chance but that it is all controlled of God and that God has purposed an eternal love to save me and to work all things for my good. Contentment is having your heart set on the kingdom of God and enjoying the peace of God in your soul. That is contentment.We have so much! Yet we are filled with discontentment. The cure for our discontentment is not a monastery, but we must look to how we live in our marriages, in this blessing.

A covetous man cannot see God's blessing. And covetous men and women are angry men and women. They cannot have what they want and they blame each other that they cannot have it and they have much strife.To experience God's blessing in a marriage we must practice contentment with what the Lord has given to us.

In the passages above there is one key to this great truth. The key that unlocks the way to true contentment.

Matthew 6:33 NIV
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

This is a lesson we must all apply daily to our lives. A discipline that I struggle with, time and time again...... "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness..." if we get this right then there is a promise attached, "and all these things will be given to you as well."

True contentment only comes through obedience, obedience to God! This is true in every part of our lives. At the moment, I am learning this is especially true in marriage.

I thank God for the gift He has given me in my gorgeous wife, Linda.

Proverbs 31:10-11 NIV
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. [11] Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

Proverbs 31:26 NIV
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31:29-30 NIV
"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." [30] Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Thank you, thank you, thank you

My almost 3 months in Kenya this time has been amazing!
God has richly blessed me and often it has been through people.
So many people have helped to make my time here a blessing to others and to me.
As God has blessed me through you, may he richly bless you.

●For all who visited me during my time in hospital here.
●Pastor William Eyika of Elyon Christian Mission, for the generous provision of a car for my use during my time here.
●Joshua Maraka, of Chosen Children of Promise for all your assistance.
●All the team at CCP, for your friendship and hospitality - making me feel a part of your team.
●My many friends at Lifespring Chapel, for your encouragement and support.
●Stella Mwangi, for helping me coordinate everything, for your encouragement, support and continuing friendship.
●The local Pastors, who invited me to share the pulpit.
●Covenant Guest House, for once again making me feel at home.
●New and old friends, for filling my life with joy.
●My family in Australia,  for understanding my need to make this trip, for all your love and support.
●God, who made it all happen and continues to abundantly bless me.

Inaweza Mungu ambariki awabariki

Asante sana

Friday, 21 November 2014

Such mixed feelings

My time in Kenya this trip (nearly 3 months) is almost finished. I fly back to Australia on Sunday (tomorrow).

Why am I torn between two places?

I know that I am missed back in Australia,  especially by family, but God has given me a passion for ministry on Kenya. Even though I have not yet left Kenya, I find myself thinking about how soon until I return, praying - Lord, show me the way.

I know that I have said it before about my time in Kenya, each time, it is a life changing experience. I have learnt so much about myself, my gifts and my talents but mostly about reliance upon God.

During this trip, God has blessed me in so many ways, confirmed my ministry here and that has increased my desire to move here.
I look forward to returning to Kenya soon.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Last Minute Changes

On these last few Sundays here in Kenya I have been invited to preach at a number churches.

I normally prepare well in advance and have everything ready 4 or 5 days in advance.

However, these last two Sundays although this has been the case, God has prompted last minute full rewrites.

Yet again, what appears to be my theme verse for this trip keeps coming to mind.

2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Monday, 10 November 2014

So Different

Today I attended two very different churches.  This morning I preached at Christian Family Worship Centre at N'gando.  It is a vibrant church full of music, clapping & dancing.

Tonight I attended All Saint's Anglican Cathedral in Nairobi.  They still use the 1962 Book of Common Prayer and they have a choir, complete with robes.

Although the styles are very different,  they both worship the one & only true God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of everything.
Today, both of these churches fullfilled the mandate given in Heb 10.

Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. [24] And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. [25] Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another---and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Bwana asifiwe, Bwana asifiwe tena!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

The truth about Halloween

I came across this information and I must share it. I know many  people might not agree but hopefully it will make some people rethink their involvement.

Thank God for His Grace! I truly believe that once you come to the knowledge or revelation of something, you are then responsible....... In doing research, getting information from people and gathering information from various sources, my mother and I came across some startling and very eye opening facts about the origins of activities, from what we use to consider a fun and harmless time of the year.

Did you know..............

      Trick or treating and wearing costumes were first done by the Druids to keep themselves safe from evil spirits?

      Bobbing for Apples was done to obtain favor with the evil spirits. People would kneel around a tub of water filled with apples. The first person to get an apple without using their hands, would have good luck and favor from the spirits for the coming year.

      Bonfires originally came from these nights of human and animal sacrifices where they would throw the remains of the bodies into the fire. The next morning all that was left were ashes and bones- thus the name bonefIres- bonfIres.

      If this information is not enough, here are 10 more reasons that Kerby Anderson, an author, broadcaster and CEO of a Christian Think Tank Ministry, gives us.

10 Reasons Christians Should Not Celebrate Halloween.

1. October 31st. Has long been known as "The Festival of the Dead." The Celtic tribes and their priests the Druids celebrated this day as a marker for the change from life to death.

2. Halloween today is performed usually by adherents of witchcraft who use the night for their rituals. Witches celebrate Halloween as the "Feast of Samhain" the first feast of the witchcraft year. Being a festival of the dead, Halloween is a time when witches attempt to communicate with the dead through various forms of divination.

3. Christians should not be involved with occultic practice or divination. Note God's command against divination in Deuteronomy 18.

4. Occultist believe Halloween is a time of transition between life and death. Some occult practitioners...believe in lying on the grave and listening to the message from the long departed.

5. Occultist also taught that spirits and ghosts left the grave during this night and would seek out warmth in their previous homes. Villagers, fearful of the possibility of being visited by the ghosts, would dress up in costumes to scare the spirits on their way. They would also leave food and other "treats" at their door to appease the spirits.

6. Occultists also would try to scare away the spirits by carving a scary face into a pumpkin. Sometimes the villagers would light a candle and place it within the pumpkin and use it as a lantern.

7. In some witchcraft covens, the closing ritual includes eating an apple or engaging in fertility rites.

8. Schools are removing any religious significance from Christmas and Easter. Isn't it ironic that most public schools still celebrate Halloween even though it has occultic origins?

9. Participating in Halloween gives sanction to a holiday the promotes witches, divination, haunted houses and other occultic practices.

10. Christians should not endorse or promote Halloween in any way. "The night is nearly over; the day is almost near. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light." Romans 13:12

Source

Friday, 31 October 2014

You never know

You never know when and where something you do or say may have an impact on someone else.

Yesterday we finished the day in the office by celebrating the birthday of two of the staff. I was just returning from teaching a class elsewhere  and I missed the first part of the celebration which was Kenyan tradition of "showering"  them with blessings. Well actually, they get a bucket of water dumped over them (bath day).😊

As I arrived at the office they were all enjoying cake and sodas. Then everyone declared a blessing for each of the birthday ladies. I was the last in the cirlce so I was asked to also pray for them after declaring God's blessing for them.

In some of the blessing from previous people I had heard the phrase "desires of you heart". So, I picked up on this and quoted Psalm 37:4 NIV
"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."
As I have said on previous ocassions, the best translation for this verse is that if we delight ourselves in God, he will fill our hearts with His desires, replace our desires with His will. As we delight and trust in God and his will it becomes our desire, only wanting what pleases Him.

This morning as I arrived at the office I was greeted by one staff member who said that God had used what I had spoken yesterday to speak deeply to her life. She had gone way and meditated on it.

You never know when something we say or do will be used by God to speak into somebody's life.
Jesus himself said that we would be His ambassadors. The questions to ask ourselves is what type of ambassadors are we, good (given honour and glory to Jesus) or bad (bringing disgrace to His name)?

Remember, it is all about Him, not us.
2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

God is good!



Tuesday, 28 October 2014

View of area around CCP office in Kawangware

Just thought I would share a few quick photos that I took while installing a wireless network unit 10m up a tower on the roof of the CCP office in Kawangware. 
The photos give you an idea of the mixture of dwellings in the surrounding area.
Two photos just give you an idea how high up I was on the tower.






Monday, 27 October 2014

What a week!

WOW!
 What a week - all good, just very busy.
My aim was to blog at least every few days but the week has been so busy that it has been difficult to find time to gather my thoughts and write them down. So, here is a brief recap of the past week.

Last Sunday I traveled to LifeSpring Chapel, Syokimau and caught up with some friends. As usual from Lifespring (either campus), the sermon was great and the whole church service amazing.
Most of the week was filled with various meetings, looking at IT issues for CCP, getting a wireless link installed between the CCP office and the CCP Academy (Community Centre), interviewing two ladies from the Kenya Help scholarship program (an amazing interview - check out http://tiny.cc/yijdox), attending a Graduation dinner and ceremony for one Kenya Help scholar (well done Ann) (two other friends also graduated at the same time), attending AFLEWO (aflewo.com) and finishing the week with time at Lifespring Chapel, Embakasi (another clear message - from Pastor Zeph and God). I then spent the afternoon catching up with Rhi, an Aussie from my home church who is interning this year at Lifespring Chapel, Embakasi.

Oh, and to top it all, the Principal from Elyon High School at Dagoretti Corner informed me that his wife had a baby on Monday and they have named him "Rob". This is such an honour and particularly here in Kenya. Please pray for this little one. There have been a few complications but we hope that I can pick them up from the hospital today or tomorrow.

All in all, a very busy week but everyday I have seen God at work both in my life and the lives of those around me. I am truly blessed. Thank you Lord!

God is good!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Scholarship Interview

Yesterday I had the privilege of interviewing two of recipients of scholarships from Kenya Help.

The response from these two young ladies was nothing short of amazing.  The main focus of the interview was "How has the scholarship changed your life?"

The interview is a must see in its entirety.

I hope it will inspire and encourage you.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Mashujaa Day

Mashujaa Day (Heroes Day) is a national day in Kenya which is observed on October 20 to honour Kenyan heroes who contributed towards the struggle for the country’s independence.

Post independence national heroes and heroines such as those in the business sector, sports and arts industry among others will also recognized on this day.

Initially, the day was dedicated to the nation’s founding father, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. It is the day he was arrested in 1952 on suspicion he was the leader of Mau-Mau fighters.

However, the makers of the new Constitution felt it should be renamed Mashujaa Day because there were other patriots across the country whose contribution in the fight for independence was equally important.

This year’s celebration comes at a time when the country has had a difficult year with a myriad of challenges ranging from insecurity, ICC trials of the President and his deputy among others.

Today especially, pray for Kenya and its people.  Pray that peace will continue and above all that God will continue to bless and grow Kenya for His glory.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Elyon High School - Day of Prayer

What an amazing day!

It was called a Day of Prayer. It was to celebrate the senior students (Form 4) as they finish high school and commence their exams next week.
Truly done "Kenyan style", the day was full of praise, worship, music, entertainment by students, speeches, teaching from God's word and of course a meal together.
I was one of two guest speakers and without planning on our part, our messages meshed together so well. It was truly a God ordained connection.

This video is of the senior students entering the hall - Kenyan style.
Pray for these 37 young people as they sit for their exams and begin their lives beyond high school. 

Elyon 2014 Form 4 Procession: http://youtu.be/QmvUP_r-Sdo

Friday, 10 October 2014

An Example to Follow

Soon the final High School exams begin for Kenyan students. Elyon High School at Dagoretti Corner in Nairobi always strive to set good example for the students and indeed the community. Today is a one of those times when they show the importance of having the right priorities and that our Christian Faith is not an isolated or compartmentalised part of our lives but must shape our entire existence.

Today at Elyon High School, all classes for the entire school are cancelled and the whole school community will spend the day in worship and prayer. The day of prayer will have a focus on the Form 4 students (those facing their finals) but will also be a day of general prayer for the whole school community.

What a great example to Christian schools everywhere - dedicating a whole day for the whole school to pray for the students as they begin their exams. What a wonderful way to demonstrate our priorities.

I have been asked to speak today at the day of prayer. Specifically, I have been asked to bring a word of encouragement to them from God's word. It is a wonderful privilege to be asked but also a huge responsibility. Please pray for me as I share from Phillipians 4:4-9.




Thursday, 9 October 2014

Pray for Vanessa

Today I left early to drive a CCP sponsored 9 year old girl, her mum and the CCP nurse (Mable) to a distant hospital where they offered to review the girl for neuro surgery. As it turns out it was too complicated for the district hospital even though this week they have a team of neuro surgeons from Canada.
They ended up referring her to the welfare program at Aga Khan Hospital. So we went there to start the process. The board at Aga Khan Hospital will make a decision on Monday. Please have many people pray for Vanessa.  She turns 10 next month but is the size of a 6 year old. Without surgery on the brain tumour soon she may not last long. She is deteriorating quickly. She had a fit in the car on way home. It was so scary.
Please, please, please pray for this girl and that the hospital board and doctors will make the best choice to help this young girl.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Training - full swing

Well, it has been a very busy week but again an amazing week.
Training sessions are in full swing with daily sessions for the teachers at CCP Academy and two mornings a week for the CCP office staff and then on Saturdays we have a morning session for the CCP volunteers. I have been greatly impressed by the enthusiasm of some of the "trainees". They realise that is is an opportunity to upskill themselves and are grabbing hold with both hands.
Opportunities that "in the western world" we take so easily for granted, are not often available here. It is a privilege to serve these wonderful friends.

On a more personal note, I keep coming across the same passage from the Bible. It has popped up many times and in many places during the last two weeks.
2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV
[7] But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.













Tuesday, 30 September 2014

All clear

Today, I finally received the all clear from my doctor here in Nairobi.

It is such a relief to put all that behind me. God carried me through it all.

Today was a busy one. I started early this morning leading the devotions at Elyon High School at Dagoretti Corner for the entire students and staff.  What an honour it is have them keep asking me back to share a from God's Word.

The rest of the day soon filled with sorting IT issues for CCP, investigating some new ideas to help the CCP office in the future and of course travelling to visit to the doctor.
Thanks to Pastor William Erik a from Dagoretti Corner for the provision of car. May God continue to bless you as you serve Him.

All in all, a great day. Thank you Lord.

God is good!