Give it all

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” Deuteronomy 6:5


While in the military I was required to take an advanced electronics course. I did have a mathematical background and found several of the formulas difficult to understand. I was not alone in my struggles but unlike some, I chose not to attend tutorials that would help my understanding. Instead I decided to rely on a technique I employed in high school, memorization. I believed that if I committed the formulas to memory I’d be OK. The first few quizzes went well as all I had to do was memorize a few formulas and correctly plug them into the questions being asked. Test preparation was initially easy, but as we dug deep into the course and more theories and formulas were introduced, preparation became more difficult; in fact, it had become hard. I knew where to apply the formulas, I just didn’t understand them. So, to make sure I had all bases covered during testing, I found myself having to memorize every formula we ever discussed in class. Although I survived the course, I had made it more painful and difficult than was necessary because I had not been willing to give it my all at the onset.

When asked by someone what they must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus replied with a variation of the statements found in Deuteronomy 6. Moses was reminding the people of Israel about the necessity to give all to God. Jesus did the same with these words, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself”. Jesus was saying to inherit eternal life with the Father, you must give Him all of your life. This expectation can be viewed as both easy and hard. Easy, if we are willing to turn over every aspect of our life to Him as soon as we become aware of God’s desire. Hard, because our nature, which is often in conflict with God, pushes us to be in control. When we give it all, we then enter life with the mindset that God is in control and that being yoked with Jesus means we have His power and strength alongside us as we face life. When we keep parts to ourselves, often our finances, our marriage, or even our expectations for our children, life and it’s challenges can become hard.

I wanted to pass the electronics course but from the onset I displayed a behaviour that suggested I was not fully committed.  I was not willing to give it my all and did not put in the time and effort needed to understand the material. Because of my choice to learn my way I found myself having to put a lot more time and energy into preparing for the final exam and that was hard. When we enter a relationship with Jesus unwilling to fully commit, we will find life harder than it should be. We compound an already difficult situation by adding stress and worry. Giving it all to God does not mean our problems will go away. But, it does mean that when we are faced with a dilemma we can face it with God’s strength and hope.

This weekend as you celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving, will you take some time to reflect on what it means to give it all to God? As you express your gratitude to Him for the blessings in your life, will you also reflect on your challenges? Will you ask yourself how can they play out differently if you give them over to Jesus? Will you trust Him to give you strength and hope as together you face your challenges?Take a few seconds to talk with God maybe sharing these words, “I give it all to you, help me give it all to you”.

Giving it all requires a change of mindset which places trust in God for everything. Life with Jesus can be so different when you trust that He wants to help us live life to the full (John 10:10).

Desperate for God

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”   Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

Years ago, I found myself becoming an advocate for prayer. I defended, promoted and encouraged others to pray. I chose this path not because I felt I possessed some new wisdom that needed to be shared. I noticed as I prayeda change was coming over me. Before I truly understood the value of prayer I found I was desperate for God and sensed prayer was the gateway to Him. I wasn’t hoping to acquire His presence in my life because I already believed that God was always with me and the that Holy Spirit accompanied me everywhere I went. I knew He already existed in my life and this desperate need for Him flowed from already having a relationship with Him, but I wanted more.

God didn’t need my endorsement of prayer. His Word contains the names and stories of many who were affected because they spoke and listened to Him. God knew prayer would strengthen the bond between Him and His creation and He had been waiting for meand is waiting for you, to realize this. As my Father, He wanted to listen to me and as His child, He wanted me to listen for Him. I use todo a lot of talking to God but very little listening. I somehow developed a one-sided relationship where I offered Him ideas on how He could help me. I had been praying hoping to get Him to align withmy thinking. I also felt, that in return, I needed to show Him my gratitude by engaging in activities I felt would please Him; activities that unfortunately I felt He’d buy into because I thought they were needed. God has prepared good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10) and these activities were good and in my eyes were God ordained. But as I was growing desperate, I began to wonder if I was doing things that made me feel good and passing it off as God’s work.

What’s the difference? Sometimes we engage in conversation about our choices under the guise of seeking guidance when in fact, we don’t want to hear what is being said. We really want that person listening to us to corroborate our choice. Many do this with God. Many think they have accepted God’s call to join Him but often feel ineffective and don’t know why. Is it because we sometimes pick and choosewhere we want to serve and then talk to God as it were His idea? Or maybe we even put off any service until we feel we are ready, again, telling God that when we get our act together, we’ll join Him.

Followers of Christ are called to take the Gospel to the world. We can do this as missionaries on foreign soils, as pastors or priests, as Sunday school teachers or members or praise teams. Many forget that ALL are called. Even those with families and friends and workcolleagues can be on mission with God and can bring the light of truth as they venture into the world every day. I accepted the call but forgot it was His mission I was on and not the other way around, God being on mission with me. I prayed so I’d have the strengthforgetting my strength would come from my relationship with God who would invite and empower me to do His will.

Are you desperate for more of God? Do you talk toHim about His mission to bring the truth to the world? Do you try to listen and respond? This month’s prayer Shield could help stimulate your relationship with God. As you speak to Him about His people, His mission, and His love for the military, enter this conversation trusting He is just as concerned about your relationship with Him as He is with those who don’t know Him.Enter believing He wants a Father/child relationship for both of you and that prayer is a catalyst to a strong bond. Focus on God as He focuses on you and become desperate for more. Pray seeking God’s will for our military family, not just your desires for them, and then listen to what He is telling you.

Know your weakness

 “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you”. James 4:7b – 8 a. NIV

C.S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, returned to his faith while listening to his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, talk about his faith. Both had been in the military and witnessed some horrible conditions and saw friends die. There is no doubt their military experiences gave them insight into both the ugliness and the beauty of humanity. Both felt society’s corruption was being brought about by those seeking power, yet both had hope and faith in God’s purpose for humanity.

At the onset of the early church, Jesus’ brother James became a leader who was respected for the advice he offered and the wisdom he possessed. He sent letters to the growing Christian communities outside Jerusalem, giving spiritual advice and guidance. James had witnessed the miracles of Jesus, including the casting out of demons. He knew how Satan could deceive and destroy a person, and so he offered believers the truth recorded in James 4, the need to resist Satan by pursuing God. Since his conversation with Eve, Satan has actively been at work doing what he does best, trying to deceive and destroy.  He is real and is out to destroy us and our faith and our relationship with God.

Lewis’s other famous book, The Screwtape Letters, was said to have been inspired by his reaction to a 1940 speech made by Adolf Hitler. He thought about how good people, with a love for life, could be tempted by the promises of a deceiver. His book shares thoughts on the psychology of temptation through fictional accounts of conversations between a senior demon and a trainee. It shares how demons exploit the weaknesses in people so as to get them to make poor, destructive choices. It also correctly identifies the weakness of Satan. He can only tempt us and can’t impose his will on us. Satan is not omnipresent nor can read our minds. He is a created being with limitations and he can be resisted. However, he and his minions know our weakness through observation and they exploit them. Our behaviour, body language and even conversations help them develop their strategy to use our weakness against us.

James tells us to resist Satan and seek God. Our pastors, priests and Sunday school teachers have advised us to memorize and meditate on God’s Word, so we can use them as weapons of resistance. Maybe part of our resistance plan also requires us to conduct a self-examination of our weaknesses. It can help us recognize how they often lead us to do or say something we know we should not.

Do you have a desire to spend alone time with Jesus in prayer or by reading the Word but, as soon as you try to settle down, your mind wanders or you can’t get physically comfortable? Have you ever noticed that many temptations seem to just come out of nowhere? Everything is going well, and suddenly you’re faced with an incredibly tough temptation to sin. That’s because Satan is an opportunist. He knows our strengths and weaknesses and knows exactly where to hit us and the kind of evil suggestions that will tempt us most.  Do you think a weakness of yours is being exploited? For example, are you driven by perfection such that you pursue it at all costs including working late every night, missing out on family, leisure, or time with God?

The evil one has observed what drives us and exploits it. We must be on guard and have a response to fight. We all have a weakness and should become aware of it so that we can respond to attempts of exploitation and temptation. Satan knows our strengths and weaknesses; do you know yours? Resist the devil and he will flee.

Spiritual Journey

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John 14:26

The passenger in a car will often see the road differently from the driver. They turn their head to examine whatever catches their eye whereas the driver should only dart their head side-to-side, but focusing on what is ahead. After several months of being unable to drive my car, this weekend I was behind the wheel. When I came to my first intersection I quickly realized I had to adjust my mindset from passenger to driver. I was not attentive to the car coming from my right and had to brake quickly. After that little wake-up call, I did better as I became the driver engaged in what I was doing.

Driving can be compared to a spiritual journey. As the driver on this journey we can influence our forward movement, as a passenger we can become distracted by what is all around us and not really contribute to reaching our destination. Although we must be mindful of what is behind us, we should not let that stop us from reaching our destination.  We are not in a race, but our efforts should be leading us to God. We do need to stop from time to time to refresh ourselves, see where we are, and engage those we encounter. While on our spiritual journey we are not alone. We have the Holy Spirit as our guide. While on our journey we need protection from what is ahead of us and assistance to resist what is behind. Our windshield and rear-view mirror acts as our protection. Using them as an analogy for the Holy Spirit, we can see the role He plays as we seek God. Our windshield protects us from stones, bugs and whatever else is flying towards us all the while allowing us to see large obstacles far enough in advance to allow us to avoid them. When we accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit becomes our protector and guards us as we move towards the Kingdom. He warns us of the obstacles that can take us off the path; obstacles that exist to help us grow in confidence and learn to address and avoid in the future. Part of the driving experience requires the proper use of the rear-view mirror. It is purposely smaller so as not to distract us from our forward movement. It does alert us to possible dangers, such as potential rear end collisions. However, we must not focus too much on our rear-view mirror as we drive forward and similarity, we must not focus on our past mistakes or sins as we grow in relationship with God. We are all sinners and when we ask, God forgives and then forgets our sins.

We need the Holy Spirit to help us resist revisiting the forgiven past, so we can move towards God. Satan loves to remind us of our past failures and will use them to stop us. However, it is good to remember that when we look in the rear-view mirror we see a small image that moves further and further away. As we draw nearer to God, our past sins should be moving further and further away from our thoughts and should not distract us.

We need to stop behaving like passengers staring at the world moving past us and get behind the wheel to take control. We must be willing to face the world with Jesus’ truths which means leaving the comfort of the passenger seat, so we can drive to what God is placing before us. We have the Spirit of Truth who sees to our future and helps us overcome our past, so our minds can focus on our journey with God.

Anytime, anywhere.

“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” Acts 17:27

Have you ever prepared yourself to spend time with God and found that within minutes of settling down your mind turned to other things? You have your favourite chair, a Bible, high-lighter, a special pen and notebook, and you even have a cup of something hot to sip on. You feel you’ve done all you thought necessary to prepare yourself for some alone time with God, then you begin and your mind wanders. You start to think about things you have to do, or you become restless as your comfy chair is no longer comfortable. This confuses and possibly frustrates you. You know it is important to be with God, but you can’t seem to do it. During small group you’ve heard friends share how God has affected their lives or how they’ve heard from Him and you say to yourself, “I don’t know if God ever talked with me like He does with them”, or, “if He does, I don’t know if I hear Him”.  We compare ourselves to others who seem to be having an amazing life of prayer and might even begin to wonder if we are praying the right way. We can feel very lonely when we sense we are missing out on this prayer bond with God.

Slowing down and remaining focused is difficult for many yet, people can do it. Who has, or who knows someone who has binge-watched something on Netflix? Even after watching a series for several hours, the choice to hit CONTINUE when asked, “do you still want to continue watching a certain series” is easy. So why do people find prayer hard? Maybe we need to focus less on doing prayer correctly? Maybe some of us need to exam the self-imposed rules we have established to pray and get rid of some. Rules such as: must get up at 5:00 AM; always have a bible and paper handy or always ensure isolation from others. Be assured, God does not speak to us because of the routines we follow to set aside quiet time (Luke 11: 37-52). He listens and connects when we are receptive to Him. He’d prefer we connect with Him more often than we do and in the places we frequent every day such as our workplaces, classrooms, grocery stores, or even our homes. He is everywhere showing off His wonder and glory and He wants us to recognize Him and praise Him and bring Him to the attention of others. He wants us seeking Him during our waking hours and to respond when we recognize His presence. He loves it when we acknowledge Him and offer prayers of gratitude throughout the day. He knows that when we learn to walk with Him daily it will also teach us to sit with Him.

Don’t misunderstand this message. God loves the alone time with us but if it’s a struggle, we must rethink why and how we are doing it. It is important to set aside intentional time to be with God and for many, this takes determined practice to get into this habit. It’s important to engage in other spiritual practices and use aides or electronic tools designed to help us connect with God. We shouldn’t abandon the routines we have set in place to connect with God, but if we recognize they are ineffective, we should rethink how we seek to connect with God. We should try to connect more than just once a day or once a week. God is omnipresent (everywhere) and available to us 24/7 and if we can recognize and acknowledge this truth we can connect with Him in ways we had not imagined.

Our preference would be for God to show Himself every time we prayed so we could see Him, hear Him, and understand what He is telling us. It would make praying easier. However, that is not exactly how it works. Paul told us, about God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature would be clearly seen, understood, so that people would be without excuse.” Romans 1:20 NIV. He is near us, but many are not in the habit of looking for Him throughout the day. Seek Him everywhere you go, acknowledge what He does, and remember what you have seen. Start doing this and you will find your time with God changing and you will even be able to get back to spending that focused alone time with Him.

(Idea for message borrowed from Pastor Koch of Ransom Church South Dakota)

Pray with us.

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” Mark 9:24b

Many people find prayer baffling, even those people we consider to be experts. Each day is a new journey with God making each conversation with Him new. We go to bed expecting life to be pretty much the same the next day however when we wake and go into the world, we encounter unpredictable people and circumstances that may bless us or try us; both reasons for new talks with God.

Prayer is often the conversation many don’t know how to start or wonder why they pray. Our perception of prayer can be confusing because of expectations we gleaned from scripture. For example, Jesus not only told us that we can ask for anything using the authority of His name, He said we’d receive it (John 14:13). He also tells us to keep asking (Luke 18:1-8). As so, we ask Jesus over and over again to heal our sickly child, help with our finances, mend broken relationships, and bring us peace of mind. Yet for many, nothing seems to change, and they wonder what happened. They doubt their faith and even their love of God and will erroneously wonder if they had the correct prayer posture or said the proper words. James offers a hint why our prayers seem to go unanswered when he shared, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives” (James 4: 3a). What can be selfish about wanting our spouse’s cancer to be healed or a child to stop being bullied at school?” Tearfully we may cry out “God what do you want me to say?”

Prayer is not just a few words spoken to the Creator, but it is a way to experience Him. It is a practice that must become our way of life and requires an intentional mind shift on our part. God is everywhere, and we need to watch for Him in our life, the lives of others and in our daily circumstances. We need to get into the habit of looking for His grace and blessings wherever we are, then respond by talking to Him. We need to regard prayer as more than an activity we schedule into our day but a catalyst that governs our day. Prayers become the words and responses we offer throughout the day as we witness or experience both good and bad.

God knows that the world we will face each day has been corrupted. It is not the one He created or intended for us. He knows that it wants to corrupt us and that is why He wants us to talk with Him. He wants to bless us and show us His goodness that is still around us. God wants us to talk with him about our lives as well as the lives of others.  He knows prayer can be difficult for many because our quick turn around expectations have the need to slow down, see life around us and listen for God. In addition to the teachings found in scripture, there are numerous books that offer insight into prayer.  They reveal that prayer is an experience meant to be lived. It begins with the belief God wants to connect with us and not only does He listen to us, He will speak to us if we listen for Him. Those, whose life revolves around prayer, share that prayer creates, sustains, and strengthens the bond between Creator and created.

We believe in prayer and accept God’s invite to pray for others. The Shield (our monthly prayer suggestions) is offered to stimulate people to pray for our military community. We identify topics and suggest prayers all with the hope that you will look for God wherever you go and offer your own words to our listening Father. Join us this month as we invite God to change lives.

Choosing Jesus

I was recently asked, “Why did God place the tree in the garden if He knew Adam and Eve would choose to eat from it?” It’s a great question and if we take it further it leads us to also ask, “why God created Satan? or why God allows children to suffer? or why God lets evil people rise to power and destroy so many lives?” Did God create us to live in a world where humanity’s choices would lead to pain and suffering or does His plan offer something more wonderful?

When Adam and Eve were placed in the garden they knew that everything was good. They did not have to make difficult choices to better their daily lives as God provided everything He believed they needed to be content. However, if life continued this way, would their eventual response to His gifts become preconditioned? Would their gratitude become insincere? God wanted more than robotic behaviour and so He introduced choice into our lives. He wanted us to choose Him not because we had to but because we choose His way over all else.

In the 1890’s Dr Pavlov conducted experiments to show how preconditioning could work. He trained a dog to salivate at the sound of a bell vice in response to food before it. He was very successful. However, eventually the dog no longer salivated in response to the meal but to the presence of the Dr. What is not widely published about these experiments is how the dogs suffered horribly. Some had holes cut in their cheek, so the Dr could see if they were salivating. Some were unable to eat, let alone enjoy the food offered because of the alterations to their face. They became unable to choose to enjoy.

We were created as an act of love because God wanted to share His blessing with those who choose to see and accept His love. However, without choice, we could not love or praise God for His wonders because we would not have anything to compare it to. God knew that without choice, Adam and Eve’s response to His gifts could become preconditioned expressions of thanks without true gratitude. He created us in His image and gave us intelligence, senses and emotions to experience His blessings. He wants us to respond to Him from the basis of love, not routine. If God had not placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden and gave instructions not to touch it, would Adam and Eve ever have faced the choice between trusting God or themselves?

Making choices can be difficult. God has made it possible for us to choose wisely. Scripture offers stories and teaching on choices and Jesus’ earthly ministry reminds us that we can make good choices. If we choose, we can even access the Holy Spirit to assist us to identify good choices without forcing us to make them. But not everyone knows God; many don’t realize or care if they are making poor choices. The MCF wants to help our military community make good choices. We want to help them find Jesus. We want to introduce them to His offer of peace, joy, contentment and a full life while they are on this earth, and an unimaginable wonderful eternity with their creator when they pass on. We want to help them see that some choices they are making are offensive and harmful to themselves, to others, and to the One who created them. We want to help them experience and benefit from God’s blessings such that their hearts will cause them to praise God. We want to help them choose Jesus, because we know it is the correct path. We want to tell them that the desire God has planted in their souls will reveal to them Jesus is the only choice worth making. Join us as we pray and serve our military.

Pray

Did Jesus mean what He said about prayer or was he just chatting while waiting for His impending arrest and death? How about other references to praying that are scattered throughout the Old and New Testament scripture; are they just bible-babble? Why don’t we pray? This may seem an odd question to follow this empowering scripture which tells us God wants to hear from us, but surveys, conducted by Pew and Barnacle Research Centres, found 70% of believers surveyed state they struggle with praying. These respondents suggest they are not satisfied with their prayer practices and when asked about the cause of their dissatisfaction, some suggested they are confused as to the value of prayer. They have argued with themselves about their understanding of God’s role in the universe. They wonder if God’s will control all that happens then will He not do what He thinks is required. Why pray if God is going to do what He wants? This unfortunate mindset conflicts with instructions to pray given by Jesus, who is God.

The Gospel of John records that on the night before Jesus was to die, He ate a meal with His disciples and offered words of hope. He knew His earthly ministry was about to end and as a loving teacher, He went over some of His previous teachings with His disciples. He said that when we ask in His name we will get what we ask for. He made statements that reinforced the necessity to call on Him; to pray. He said that we will do even more than He did during His earthly ministry. We know prayer preceded His earthly work and that would suggest that because we will be doing more, we probably should be praying more. Jesus said we can talk toHim about everything and anything, anytime. So why aren’t people praying?

The Apostle Paul tells to boldly approach the throne of the omnipotent, omniscient God, not because God must listen to us but because God is waiting to hear from us. The One who is all powerful and needs nothing, and who knows all, including what His creation needs to survive, does not need us nor does He need us to pray. He, however, desires to involve us in the flow of our lives and even the direction in which the world moves. Unfortunately, too many have forgotten that it is also His desire that we talk to Him. God is self-sufficient and does not need us, but He chooses to use us and our prayers to bring about His glory on earth. When we attribute our existence and blessings to Him, He is glorified. When we seek to know and align His will to ours, He is shown to be righteous. When we acknowledge that God already knows what we need, yet still choose to talk with Him about our own desires and concerns, He is shown to be a caring Father who wants what is good for His children. Prayer does not cause God to change His mind. It does tell Him that we are interested in being used to bring about the good He desires for all His children.

Do you pray? Do you need to realign your thinking about prayer and truly believe God wants you praying?  I can speak from my own experiences, that of friends I know who pray, I’ve read of stories about people who have made prayer a staple of their life. I can even reference scripture that shows from the garden to the cross and beyond, that God has been asking us to talk to Him. But these experiences are worthless if people don’t see the value of prayer. That is why I want to say that to recognize the value of prayer you need to experience the impact of prayer.

I challenge you to talk to God every day, so you can experience this power. I’m not suggesting that daily prayer will turn you into a rich, popular Christian with superpowers to fix lives. I’m saying that when you get into the daily practice of prayer, you will begin to see the purpose in your life and will seek to fulfil it. Not in the habit of talking with God, then consider reading a Psalm. Turn David’s talks with God into your prayer.  Read a translation, such as the Message, that uses language we hear every day. After you have read a Psalm, think about what you’ve read and ask yourself “is that what I also want to say to God?”  If you set aside a few minutes each day to read and reflect on a Psalm, and if you approach this time with a desire in your heart to talk to God and not do it as a ritual, you will begin to sense something new. You will find you have your own words that you want to say to God. Before long you will talk with God about everything and at all hours of the day. You will become bold in your faith and will even ask God not only to change things in your life but in the lives of others. You will talk about healing sickness, strengthening relationships, and asking God to help you deal with the brokenness you encounter. You will talk with Him about choices and decisions that you want to make. You will experience life to the fullest because, regardless of what is happening to you and around you, your connection to God will replace fear and doubt with joy and hope.

Let prayer change your mind about who you are and what God wants for you. God is wanting to hear from you.

Quid est veritas – “What is truth?”

Pontus Pilate has an odd historical persona. All four gospels share accounts of him lobbying to have Jesus released yet he was the one who condemned Christ to die. Historian Josephus recorded that Pilate wanted to keep peace in Jerusalem by allowing Mosaic laws and customs to be practised. Yet, he lost his role as Prefect because of his brutal treatment of the Samaritans. They were looking to view artefacts allegedly buried by Moses on Mount Gerizim; the mountain where they worshipped God. Pilate exercised political and military might and was accustomed to trying to determine the truth in situations requiring his action. If his life was anything like present-day politicians, he must have been frustrated by the distortion of information. The gospel of John records him asking Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38 a) in response to Jesus’ statement, in John 18:37.  Was Pilate’s question to Jesus sarcasm or was it a question asked by someone struggling to know, “What is truth?”

The BBC news service recently showed a short video of a Chinese artists studio being torn down by government officials. He had designed the “birdsnest” stadium which hosted the 2008 Olympics but today is considered an enemy of China. My interest in his story was sparked by the question, “how a dissident could be allowed to leave China”. I went looking for the facts behind the story and went to my regular internet information sources. The accounts of his life story and interaction with the Chinese government was very subjective and I found myself asking, “What is truth?” The search for an answer opened my eyes to the reality that we are living in an age where, despite having access to a lot of information, the truth is hard to find. It seems that much of the information we read is produced by those more interested in their own notoriety vice the facts. However, the truth that is truly important does not come from man’s words but God’s. Jesus’ truth is far more than facts. It’s not just something we act upon. It acts upon us. We can’t change the truth, but the truth can change us.

Jesus stated on several occasions that He was the truth. The truth He spoke about and represents is rooted in an eternal God who is all powerful and unchangeable. A loving Father who, even after He placed His first children in a garden of paradise and they chose the lie of the deceiver over His truth, He did not abandon them. The MCF does not hide the fact it has a self-interest agenda. We want to expose Jesus as the truth. A truth that starts with belief in His Lordship, the need for acceptance and repentance of sin, and recognizing Him as a Saviour who forgives thereby allowing us to reclaim a place beside our Father. We want people to know that scripture contains a truth they may not want to hear. A truth that states that from the beginning we chose the lie of a deceiver over the truth of God. A truth that reminds us that when we were created, God saw us as good and wants to restore us to that status. The truth is found in a God who wants what is good for His children. Even as He expelled us from the garden, He promised salvation in the form of a future offspring who would crush the head of the defeated deceiver Satan.

Jesus is the truth. Truth personified. He is the source of all truth, the embodiment of truth and therefore the reference point for evaluating all truth-claims. Pilate both witnessed and heard the truth as Jesus stood before him. However, he chose to listen to the lies of the jeering crowds and his political consciousness and missed the truth. Jesus’ death on the cross did not stop the truth from being heard. He rose from death, as He said He would, validating His claim of a special connection with the Father. Allowing the truth to be shared with the world.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that God has written His truth on human hearts, in the conscience (Romans 2:16). We feel shame and twinges of conscience when we recognize that truth has been violated. When our family and friends hear truth, if spoken graciously, they can be drawn to it. The heart longs for truth, even the heart that rejects it. Stand with us as we tell others the answer to Pilate’s question, “What is truth?”

Making the right choice!

Genesis 4:7 – What is right?

Recently I volunteered in an accommodation office and had to calculate the bill of an individual checking out earlier than planned. The arithmetic seemed simple. All I had to do was apply the daily rate to the number of nights stayed as well as remove the discount that would have applied if the individual stayed the full duration.  I mumbled to myself as I worked out the total in my head and then stated a number. When I made eye contact with the client I noted a look of skepticism on their face and knew they did not believe me. I knew I was not going to convince them that my figure was correct unless I performed the dreaded act our mathematics teachers demanded of us every time we took a test; I needed to show my work.

We know scripture does not share everything said between God, Adam and Eve in the garden, but we can read the conversation that occurred when God asked Adam and Eve about their choice to eat the forbidden fruit. Their teacher (God) had taught them about choices. There were probably many days in the garden when they could have taken the fruit but knew the answer was no. However, when Satan confronted them and presented their choice in a problem format, they failed the test. It didn’t matter that Eve’s initial response suggested she knew the answer to be no. Both Adam and Eve proved they truly did not understand that the lesson was about obedience, not about fruit. When challenged by God for an answer about their choice, they could not show their work. They knew the answer was no but, with flawed thinking, tried to explain how they reached their decision.

I don’t profess any mathematical prowess that allowed me to boast my initial answer should not be challenged. To ensure the clients were comfortable that I was not just going through the motions of providing a figure, I had to prove what I was sharing was correct. I wrote out my calculations and showed the individual how I came up with a figure. When I slowed down and wrote out the calculation and explained why I used the figures I did, I proved I understood the problem as well as the mathematics necessary to find a solution. It didn’t matter that my calculation resulted in the same figure I presented from the top of my head or that I had never given the individual any reason to distrust me before that encounter. I had to show my work; I had to show that I knew that I understood what I was doing.

We can’t make the right choices if we don’t understand why a choice might be wrong. Our relationship with the Holy Spirit, our study of scripture, and our prayers and worship practices are the work we must do to make good choices. They are especially valuable when we are tempted to do something that we know the answer is NO. If we allow Him, the Holy Spirit will nudge us to reflect on our choice. We will realize that what we are about to do would be offensive to God, to another person, or to ourselves. The Holy Spirit need not bring the Book of Leviticus to our minds, but He will certainly remind us that we know what the right choice should be.

A disciple seeks to learn what the master teaches and applies it to their daily lives, this way they show the work of their learning. So, when they face life issues they will be able to choose the path and show they understand why and what they were taught. God was not trying to trick Adam and Eve by presenting them with a choice they could not make correctly. Satan turned a simple choice into a complicated one. If we never seek to understand what God teaches, we will continually struggle with choices.