Friday, January 27, 2006

The Price

One morning God says to Ezekiel:

“Son of man, behold I take away from you the desire of your eyes with one stroke; yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down...” (Ezekiel 24:16).

By evening his wife is dead. And he does all that God has said: refrains from all mourning customs, dresses and behaves as if nothing had happened. When the people come to him and ask why, his tells them what God has told him to say: Someday the “...delight of your soul (the temple) and your sons and daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword.” Then they are to remember his stoic response to this personal tragedy and follow his example.

In this matter (and in many others) Ezekiel and other prophets were a living flesh-and-blood, intellect-and-emotion object lesson of being completely – mind, soul, body, family, stuff – God’s possession. He had the rights to everything about them - their time, health, reputation, comfort, possessions, even loved ones.

I am amazed at such consecration. It’s easy to echo Isaiah’s words in response to God’s call: “Here am I, send me.” But to really live it!

Instead, a subtle but pervasive barter mentality has crept into our ‘sales pitch’ on surrender. We tell those who are holding on to tracts of the self-life (including ourselves) that if we give all to God, surrender every hope, ambition, and dream, eventually and inevitably we will get them all back. That God is honor-bound to come through for us in this life with the coming true of every dream, only better – sort of increased with interest.

That this type of thinking exists is proved by how devastated we are when God takes what we said we offer, and burns it to ashes.

What is the solution? It is the real and actual and conscious abandonment to God to the extent of the meat on the altar, the wine and grain and perfume poured out, without the secret hope of salvaging any of it: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Another picture of it is the corn of wheat falling into the ground to die.

This last picture brings me the most hope. For eventually (and it may not be till eternity) that corn does what it was created to do “...produces much grain.” Even Jesus was clear, though, that the harvest of this may not be gathered in life: “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:24,25).

And from observing nature we know that the form of the harvest from that seed may be utterly unrecognizable. Just as plants differ in appearance from their genesis seeds, so surprising may be the reality of our realized dreams – now or later.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Prayers for Canada

It’s two days away from the election. I’ve been watching the polls and, despite my better judgement, allowing myself to be buoyed or discouraged by them. Along with those come the proclamations of the pundits and the nightly collection of ‘news,’ stories –from clips of leaders’ speeches to the assertions of snubbed reporters: ‘If he’s not willing to meet with us, he obviously has something to hide’ –the sum of which can put one on a veritable emotional roller coaster.

In all this mix, though, I truly believe that spiritual forces are in a struggle over Canada and a larger plan is being played out. Like King Hezekiah spread Sennarcherib’s threatening letter before the Lord, prayed and gained courage from his faith in God’s ability to rescue him, we too must resist the temptation to put our confidence in polls, pundits or news stories and instead continue to pray for God to gain a great victory in Canada.

In this vein, our church has some “Prayer Guidelines and Resources” posted on its web site. Here are some of those:

Some Scriptures to read aloud:

Revelation 12: 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony...

2 Cor 10: 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Some prayers to pray:

1.) A Prayer for Pulling Down Strongholds (those major things that hold people captive, keeping them from Christ, or fighting against the gospel. There are many. The prayer below is a prayer against the stronghold of spiritual blindness and deception):

Pray this prayer:
“By the authority of the Name of Jesus, and by the power of the blood of the Lamb I pull down the strongholds of ‘Spiritual blindness and deception'. Strongholds over my family, you are pulled down, strongholds over my friends, you are pulled down, strongholds over this valley, you are pulled down! My weapons are mighty in God, by faith I proclaim ‘spiritual sight to the blind’ and ‘spiritual understanding’ to those who have been deceived by the enemy.”

2.) A Prayer for Casting Down Arguments ( “...casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” Unbelief is one – there are others):

Pray this prayer:
“By faith in the name of Jesus and by the authority of His Name, I cast down every argument of unbelief! Dark spirits of unbelief, you are cast down, the blood of Jesus is against you, the resurrection power of Jesus testifies against you. Every argument against the knowledge of God – in this moment, by my partnering with God in faith, you are cast down. I take up the shield of faith extinguishing arguments, I take the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, to banish every high sounding argument of unbelief – for ‘greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world!’.”

and finally

3) Pronounce Blessing over our Land!

Pray this payer:
“Now Lord, as Your kingdom ambassadors to this land, and by the authority of Your Name, I speak blessing over my land. I bless the marriages and families, I bless the schools, I bless the businesses, I bless the neighborhoods. Let this community be a place of safety, a place where justice and mercy run down. Lord, let this town be a place of peace, a place where people experience the restoration of all that sin has taken from them. Bless the agriculture, bless the industries. Lord Jesus, bless our children and our youth. For the glory of Your Name, we proclaim blessing over our land – ‘Your kingdom come, Lord, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’…. Amen! "

Monday, January 16, 2006

O Canada, we stand on guard...

We are one week away from the federal election. Our church usually sets aside the first week of the new year for fasting and prayer. This year, that week was switched from the first week of January to this week (January 15-21) – seeing as how our country is on the verge of making this important decision.

Yesterday out pastor spoke* on how to prepare oneself for a week like this.

He read Scriptures like Isaiah 55:6,7 and Leviticus 11:44 , Leviticus 20:7, Joshua 3:5,6 and Psalm 24 in which the people of Israel were called to consecrate themselves to seek the Lord.

He talked about the meaning of ‘consecration’ – and that it involves a devoting, a setting apart from that which is common and unclean.

He named three things which can hinder or keep us from this:
- Distraction
- Delay
- Discouragement

He suggested ways we sanctify ourselves for this type of focused intercession:
- by immersing ourselves in the Bible: John 17:17
- by guarding our relationships, especially marriage relationships: 1 Peter 3:7


Personally, I see this week, among other things, as a time of intercession – intercession for my family, my neighbors, my province, my nation, and the impending election.

When I think of intercession, I get three pictures.

The first is of Abraham, bargaining with the Lord over the fate of Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33).

The second is of Moses, holding up his arms as the Israelites battle the Amalekites. As long as his arms are raised, his people win. But when he gets tired and lowers them, the tide of battle goes against his people. Thus Aaron and Hur join him, standing alongside and holding up his arms (Exodus 16:8-16).

The third is the picture in Joel 2:17 of the ministering priests interceding for the people, weeping between the porch and altar of the temple. (The song “Holy Visitation” by Charlie Hall is based on this scripture: sung in
this clip by Rita Springer.)



Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Earlier this morning, immediately after I wrote this (to clear the air in my head), I read this. Any connection? Maybe, maybe not. But I do think that as Christians, we need to do our bit to articulate the drop-offs we see ahead on the road down which our country is headed.

I was brought up a good Mennonite girl believing that involvement in politics smudged my hands and was really for someone else. I’m not sure I’ve changed my mind about the dirty hands part – the way many politicians behave. But I do think Christians need to be seen and heard in the political arena in a variety of capacities. It’s all part of being salt, a city on a hill, a watchman*.

*watchman: tsaphah, Strong's 6822 - To look out, peer into the distance, spy, keep watch, to scope something out, especially in order to see approaching danger and warn those who are endangered

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