Thursday, 29 December 2011

Progress in 2012?

To me, this picture represents progress.  It might not look like much, but given all that has happened over the past several years, this picture is a masterpiece.  When Josh brought home this picture a few weeks ago, Suzanne and I were thrilled.  That he could even hope to compose something as wonderful as this, even with supervision was unthinkable just a couple of years ago.

I often make goals for myself in the New Year.  Some I accomplish.  Others, I don't.  And I often measure my success in life by whether or not I have made enough "progress" over the past twelve months.  But then something happens to remind me of what is really important--and what is important to my heavenly Father.  How does He see "progress" in my life?  By how much I accomplish for Him, or by how closely I've walked with Him? 

I often forget that God sees me just like I see Josh.  My "paintings" might not be all that fancy, but if they are done for His glory, I know that He cherishes them more than the Picassos that other, more talented people might paint.  It's not about how much I can do in Christian service--it's about how much I truly do for Him.  And whether that's in a public setting or in the privacy of my own life, God is truly pleased with that which is done for Him with a pure heart.

Josh's painting represents that unadulterated purity of loving expression.  And it gives me great hope.  Not that he'll necessarily completely shed all of his challenges, but that he'll be a vibrant part of my world.  And that's what my heavenly Father wants from me.  To be a vibrant part of His world.  By allowing His Spirit to fill me and use me to compose wonderful paintings just for Him.  Most of these deeds will be known by only a few--perhaps only He will know.  But if my works are acceptable in His sight--if I have a pure and clean heart that is growing in holiness, I know that I will make great progress in 2012.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The power of Christmas

Today, after I dropped the kids off at school (and snuck a McDonald's breakfast :D!), I drove by John Pritchard School.  As I looked at the sign, I noticed that they were advertising their "Winter Concert".  My first reaction was sadness--so many kinds were filing into that school as I was driving by and I wondered how many of them had no idea what Christmas represented.  But I was also convicted.  Because for far to many years, I have been one of those Christians who looked at the moral and spiritual degredation of our society and only had negative things to say.  "We're living in the last days" I'd sigh.  And then I'd go on with my life.

But recently the Lord has been changing my heart.  I still believe that we are living in the last days, and I also believe that we are seeing a free fall in moral and spiritual decay in our country.  But something else is happening as well--something wonderful and glorious.  Out of the ashes of the old Christianity that I grew up with has come a new and vibrant shoot.  Just yesterday I was talking to a colleague of mine in southern Ontario who planted a church on Oct 1.  He has a special needs child just as I do, with issues that are even more challenging than those I face.  And he has faced great discouragement and difficulty in ministry.  But a new day has dawned!  And the response to this new church has been nothing short of miraculous.  And he's not the only friend and/or colleague who is seeing this revival.  I know of other churches and pastors who are seeing young men and women being moved by the Spirit of God back to the Word, back to a place of sacrifice, and back to a real purpose for living.  In other words, the gospel still has the power to save, even here in Canada!!

I fear that we Christians have become deceived by the Devil.  We feel that people don't really want the gospel any more.  So we mostly just tune out attempting to share the Good News with our neighbours, classmates, co-workers, and family.  Or we are ashamed of our church because we don't sense a passion for God in our hearts any more and we fail to invite people to come with us to a service.  Even the Christmas season no longer moves us the way it once did.

But then something happens to shatter our thinking.  God starts moving--and the power of the gospel; the power of the Christmas message takes root in the hearts to those we thought we totally closed to the good news.  And we are reminded again that it is "'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit', says the LORD of hosts." (Zech 4:6)  The power of Christmas is the power of the gospel--the POWER OF GOD.  The hope of salvation from the penalty and power of sin is that the gospel is available to all who would believe.  And many men and women are being moved to salvation!  And God is currently raising up for Himself a generation of young men and women who are abandoning everything for His sake.  I see it.  I feel it.  And I want to spread the word that God is not done with us!  Let's join Him in His work!