Love One Another

In the gospel of John 13:34, Jesus gives his disciples a commandment – to love each other. But in our modern culture with its many variations and interpretations on what love is, how can we know what Jesus meant?

I was praying today and God brought to my mind the passage of scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, a well-known and favourite passage from the bible about love. This scripture is a part of many weddings; in fact my wife and I have a large candle from our wedding day that has this passage of scripture on it.

Yet I began to wonder how true this description would be of our church. Would people really describe us in that way? Can I honestly say:

“The people at Bethel Christian Centre are always patient and kind to people. They are never jealous of others’ success, nor are they boastful and proud. They are definitely not ‘stuck-up’ or snobby, looking down on others. People at Bethel are never rude or insensitive to other people no matter how different they might be. Neither are they are not bossy or controlling; rather, they delight in helping others to discover their gifts and succeed in life. They are not easily offended, and they don’t hold grudges – even when they might be justified in doing so. Bethel is a church that cares about the injustices we see in the world and passionately advocates for those who need a helping hand. They are people of integrity who love truth. You can trust what they say. They never give up, never lose faith, they are always hopeful, and they endure through every circumstance.”

That’s a pretty high standard, but I think that it’s worth aiming for. What a joy it would be to be part of that church! How could we keep people away?

Personally, I’m nowhere near that description, but I would love to think that as I let Jesus shine in me a little more each day, someone might say at lease some of those things about me and about our church someday.



Why Pray?

You may have heard myself or others talking recently about a 24-7 prayer vigil. You have probably gathered how the whole thing works; we have a space where people commit to taking one-hour shifts to pray around the clock for 24 hours. However, you may be thinking “What’s the point of it” or maybe “That’s fine, but it’s not for me”.

Well, I would like to take this opportunity to share my heart and why I think God is calling all of us to commit to praying in this way.

Firstly, prayer is powerful. I have been studying a lot in the book of Luke/Acts recently, and it is interesting to note that everything of significance that happened in the life of Jesus and the early church involved people praying. I guess it seems that God wants us to know that we can’t do this stuff without Him. I can identify with Moses when he said that if God wasn’t going with them he didn’t want to leave the desert.

We need the supernatural presence and power of the Holy Spirit to be the church that Christ intended us to be, and prayer is undoubtedly the key to closeness and relationship with God. Seek first the kingdom of God, and let the Father take care of the details. We can never have too much prayer.

Secondly, I believe that there is value in doing things together. We are created to exist in community. It may not look exactly like the early church in the book of Acts, but that sense of community can be just as strong as we begin to do life together. God has put you in the Bethel family for a reason – both to give and to receive what we need as we journey through life in Christ. Practically, we can’t all be in the same place at the same time. It just doesn’t seem to work. But this is one way that we can all be part of something bigger than just ourselves.

I know that praying for an hour seems daunting for some people. We hope to have a great space with scriptures, opportunities to write prayers, draw pictures, and things to stimulate your thoughts when you pray. I encourage you to be brave and give it a go.

So here’s the challenge: join me in being part of this. Let’s seek God together and see what He will do. Commit 1 hour of the 720 that God has given you for June 2013. What will come of it? I have no idea, but I can’t wait to find out.

Caleb



Trust in The Lord

It’s simple. It’s short. Yet it’s incredibly powerful. Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of the most familiar passages in the Bible–with good reason. It sets forth a life-changing truth that is worthy of our attention. Spend three minutes reading this article, and see if you agree.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Let’s break down this life-changing truth to make sure we understand it.

 

Trust in the Lord.

It starts with trust. Any real relationship has to start with some level of trust. It’s the only way a friendship will endure. It’s the only way a marriage will work out. It’s the simple reason why an employer hires workers, or why the workers stay employed. It’s all about trust. Trust in the Lord, however, takes on an entirely new dimension. This is our trust in an eternal, all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving God. He is worthy of our trust. The trust is important, not just because of who God is, but because of the way in which we must trust him: with all your heart. It involves every fiber of your being. That’s the kind of trust we can have in God–a complete, unshakable, deep, abiding trust.

If you are a Christian, you trusted God for salvation. You can trust Him with the rest of your life, too–every detail.

 

Read on for part 2, Don’t Lean On Your Understanding



Do Not Lean on Your Own Understanding

Read part 1 first, Trust In The Lord.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

 

Don’t Lean on Your Understanding

The verse involves a positive–something you must do. But it also involves a negative–something you must not do. Don’t lean on your own understanding. Basically, the verse is telling us that we ought not to be self-reliant. We cannot pursue a course of action, a financial decision, a business move, a relationship, or an educational choice, simply based on our own understanding. It must be founded in our trust in God.

Self-reliance is such a deceptive trap. We begin to pride ourselves in something–our savvy, our looks, our intellect, our spirituality, our family, whatever. And when we do, it takes away our trust in the Lord. It has become trust in self. The result is a dangerous compromise that will lead to destruction.

 

Instead, Acknowledge God. In Everything.

The antidote to this self-reliance is found in the first command of the verse. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Which is developed in the next verse: “In all your ways acknowledge him.” The word “acknowledge” isn’t merely a polite tip of the hat to the Man Upstairs, or a few words of grace over your meal, or even perfunctory attendance at church to let Him know we’re still cool with what He’s doing. It’s way more. It’s allowing Him access, control, command, and involvement in all your ways.

What’s the result of this? Will God ruin your life? Will he be a Sovereign Killjoy? Will He rob you of fun? The verse ends on a promise. What is it?

 

He will make your paths straight.

The promise is put in the form of a metaphor. What does it mean to have straight paths? Several things. First, paths lead toward an end–a destination, a goal. Thus, trusting God wholeheartedly in every area of life gives your life a sense of purpose and priority. Second, it indicates that there will be a clear understanding of where you are going and what you are doing. It makes daily decision-making an easier and less painful task. You realize you are trusting Him. He, in turn, is making your paths straight. Thus, the way ahead is more apparent. Third, “straight paths” suggests moral purity. It suggests a life that has less of sinful compromise and more of wholesome attitudes, actions, and behavior.

That’s the kind of life that God promises. It’s the kind of life that you can have. It begins with trust. It involves acknowledging God in every way.